BOOK OF PARADISE.
THE PRIVILEGED MEN.
AFTER THE BATTLE OF BADE, BENEATH
THE CANOPY OF HEAVEN.
[This battle was fought in the second
year of the Hegira (A.A.
623), between the followers of Mahomet, who numbered three
hundred and thirteen, possessing two horses and seventy camels,
and the 'idolaters,' or Meccans, whose forces amounted to nine
hundred and fifty, including two hundred cavalry. The victory
remained with Mahomet, who lost fourteen men, while seventy of
the enemy were slain. A great accession of strength ensued in
consequence to the Prophet, who pretended that miracles were
wrought in his behalf in the battle, God having sent angels to
fight on his side, and having also made his army to appear larger
to the enemy than it really was.--See the Koran, chapter viii.,
and ABULFEDA'S Life of Mahomet.]
LET the foeman sorrow o'er his dead,
Ne'er will they return again to
O'er our brethren let no tear be shed,
For they dwell above yon spheres
All the seven planets open throw
All their metal doors with mighty
And the forms of those we loved below
At the gates of Eden boldly knock.
There they find, with bliss ne'er
Glories that my flight first show'd
When the wondrous steed my person bore
In one second through the realms
Wisdom's trees, in cypress-order
High uphold the golden apples sweet;
Trees of life, their spreading shadows throwing,
Shade each blossoming plant, each
Now a balmy zephyr from the East
Brings the heavenly maidens to thy
With the eye thou now dost taste the feast,
Soon the sight pervades thee through
There they stand, to ask thee thy
Mighty plans? or dangerous bloody
Thou'rt a hero, know they,--for Thourt here,
What a hero?--This they'll fathom
By thy wounds soon clearly this
Wounds that write thy fame's undying
Wounds the true believer mark alone,
When have perish'd joy and earthly
To chiosks and arbors thou art brought,
Fill'd with checkered marble columns
To the noble grape-juice, solace-fraught,
They the guest with kindly sips
Youth! Thou'rt welcome more than
e'er was youth
All alike are radiant and serene;
When thou tak'st one to thine heart with truth,
Of thy band she'll be the friend
So prepare thee for this place of
Never can it now be changed again;
Maids like these will ever make thee blest,
Wines like these will never harm
THE FAVOURED BEASTS.
Or beasts there have been chosen
To come to Paradise,
And there with saints for evermore
They dwell in happy wise.
Amongst them all the Ass stands
He comes with joyous stride,
For to the Prophet-City erst
Did Jesus on him ride.
Half timid next a Wolf doth creep,
To whom Mahomet spake
"Spoil not the poor man of his sheep,
The rich man's thou mayst take."
And then the brave and faithful
Who by his master kept,
And slept with him the slumbers sound
The seven sleepers slept.
Abuherrira's Cat, too, here,
Purrs round his master blest,
For holy must the beast appear
The Prophet hath caress'd.
THE SEVEN SLEEPERS.
Six among the courtiers favour'd
Fly before the Caesar's fury,
Who would as a god be worshipp'd,
Though in truth no god appearing,
For a fly prevents him ever
From enjoying food at table.
Though with fans his servants scare it,
They the fly can never banish.
It torments him, stings, and troubles,
And the festal board perplexes,
Then returning like the herald
Of the olden crafty Fly-God.
"What!"--the striplings say together--
"Shall a fly a god embarrass?
Shall a god drink, eat at table,
Like us mortals? No, the Only,
Who the sun and moon created,
And the glowing stars arch'd o'er us,
He is God,--we'll fly!"--The gentle,
Lightly shod, and dainty striplings
Did a shepherd meet, and hide them,
With himself, within a cavern.
And the sheep-dog will not leave
Scared away, his foot all-mangled,
To his master still he presses,
And he joins the hidden party,
Joins the favorites of slumber.
And the prince, whom they had fled
Fondly-furious, thinks of vengeance,
And, discarding sword and fire,
Has them walled-up in the cavern,
Walled-up fast with bricks and mortar.
But the others slumber ever,
And the Angel, their protector,
Gives before God's throne this notice
"To the right and left alternate
Have I ever cared to turn them,
That their fair and youthful members
Be not by the mould-damp injured;
Clefts within the rocks I open'd,
That the sun may, rising, setting,
Keep their cheeks in youthful freshness."
So they lie there, bless'd by Heaven.
And, with forepaws sound and scatheless,
Sleeps the dog in gentle slumber.
Years come round, and years fly
And the youths at length awaken,
And the wall, which now had moldered,
From its very age has fallen.
And Jamblika says,--whose beauty
Far exceedeth all the others,--
When the fearful shepherd lingers:--
"I will run, and food procure you,
Life and piece of gold I'll wager!"--
Ephebus had many a year now
Own'd the teaching of the Prophet
Jesus (Peace be with the Good One!)
And he ran, and at the gateway
Were the warders and the others.
Yet he to the nearest baker's,
Seeking bread, went swiftly onwards.--
"Rogue!" thus cried the baker--"hast thou,
Youth, a treasure, then, discover'd?
Give me,--for the gold betrays thee,--
Give me half, to keep thy secret!"--
And they quarrel.--To the monarch
Comes the matter; and the monarch
Fain would halve it, like the baker.
Now the miracle is proven
Slowly by a hundred tokens.
He can e'en his right establish
To the palace he erected,
For a pillar, when pierced open.
Leads to wealth he said 'twould
Soon are gather'd there whole races,
Their relationship to show him.
And as great-grandfather, nobly
Stands Jamblika's youthful figure.
As of ancestors, he hears them,
Speaking of his son and grandsons.
His great-grandsons stand around him,
Like a race of valiant mortals,
Him to honour,--him, the youngest.
And one token on another
Rises up, the proof completing;
The identity is proven
Of himself, and of his comrades.
Now returns he to the cavern,
With him go both king and people.--
Neither to the king nor people
E'er returns that chosen mortal;
For the Seven, who for ages--
Eight was, with the dog, their number--
Had from all the world been sunder'd,
Gabriel's mysterious power,
To the will of God obedient,
Hath to Paradise conducted,--
And the cave was closed for ever.