Page images
[blocks in formation]

You have been So cruel and so cold to me, my lord; And now you send me forth with Ishmael,

Not on a journey through a pleasant land

Upon a camel, as my mistress rides, With kisses, and sweet words, and dates and wine,

But cast me off, and sternly send me forth

Into the wilderness with these poor gifts

A jug of water and-a loaf of breadThat sound was not a sob; I only lost My breath and caught it hard again. Go back!

Why do you follow me? I am a poor Bondswoman, but a woman still, and these

Sad memories, so bitter and so sweet, Weigh heavily upon my breaking heart And make it hard, my lord - for me

to go.

"Your God commands it?" Then my

gods, the gods

Of Egypt, are more merciful than yours. Isis and good Osiris never gave Command like this, that breaks a woman's heart,

To any prince in Egypt. Come with me And let us go and worship them, dear lord.

Leave all your wealth to Sara. Sara loves

The touch of costly linen and the scent Of precious Chaldean spices, and to bind Her brow with golden fillets, and perfume

Her hair with ointment. Sara loves the sound

Of many cattle lowing on the hills; And Sara loves the slow and stealthy tread

Of many camels moving on the plains. Hagar loves you. Oh! come with me, dear lord.

Take but your staff and come with me; your mouth

Shall drink my share of water from this jug

And eat my share of bread with Ishmael;

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

So shall your bread taste bitter with my hate;

And like the water in this jug, my lord, So shall the sweetest water that you draw

From Canaan's wells, taste salty with my tears. Farewell!

I go, but Egypt's mighty

gods Will go with me, and my avengers be. And in whatever distant land your god, Your cruel god of Israel, is known, There, too, the wrongs that you have done this day

To Hagar and your first-born, Ishmael, Shall waken and uncoil themselves, and


Like adders at the name of Abraham. ELIZA POITEVENT NICHOLSON.

HAGAR IN THE WILDERNESS. THE morning broke. Light stole upon the clouds

With a strange beauty. Earth received again

Its garment of a thousand dyes; and leaves,

And delicate blossoms, and the painted flowers,

And everything that bendeth to the dew And stirreth with the daylight, lifted


Its beauty to the breath of that sweet


All things are dark to sorrow; and the light

And loveliness and fragrant air were sad

To the dejected Hagar. The moist earth

Was pouring odors from its spicy pores,

And the young birds were singing as if life

Were a new thing to them; but music


Upon her ear like discord, and she felt That pang of the unreasonable heart, That, bleeding amid things it loved so well,

Would have some sign of sadness as they pass.

She stood at Abraham's tent. Her lips were pressed

Till the blood started; and the wandering veins

Of her transparent .swelled out,

forehead were

As if her pride would burst them. Her dark eye

Was clear and fearless, and the light of heaven,

Which made its language legible, shot back

From her long lashes as it had been flame.

Her noble boy stood by her, with his hand

Clasped in her own, and his round, delicate feet,

Scarce trained to balance on the tented floor,

Sandalled for journeying. He had looked up

Into his mother's face, until he caught The spirit there, and his young heart was swelling

Beneath his dimpled bosom, and his form

Straightened up proudly in his tiny wrath,

As if his light proportions would have swelled.

Had they but matched his spirit, to the


Why bends the patriarch as he cometh


Upon his staff so wearily? His beard Is low upon his breast, and high his brow.

So written with the converse of his God,

Beareth the swollen vein of agony. His lip is quivering, and his wonted step

Of vigor is not there; and, though the


Is passing fair and beautiful, he breathes
Its freshness as it were a pestilence.
He gave to her the water and the bread,
But spoke no word, and trusted not

To look upon her face, but laid his hand,

In silent blessing, on the fair-haired boy,

And left her to her lot of loneliness.

Should Hagar weep? May slighted woman turn,

And, as a vine the oak hath shaken off, Bend lightly to her leaning trust again? Oh, no! by all her loveliness-by all That makes life poetry and beauty, no! Make her a slave; steal from her cheek the rose

By needless jealousies; let the last star Leave her a watcher by your couch of pain;

Wrong her by petulance, suspicion, all That makes her cup a bitterness-yet give

One evidence of love, and earth has not An emblem of devotedness like hers. But, oh! estrange her once-it boots not how

By wrong or silence-anything that tells A change has come upon your tender


And there is not a feeling out of heaven

Her pride o'ermastereth not.

She went her way with a strong step and slow

Her pressed lip arched, and her clear eye undimmed

As if it were a diamond, and her form Borne proudly up, as if her heart breathed through.

Her child kept on in silence, though she pressed

His hand till it was pained; for he had read

The dark look of his mother, and the seed

Of a stern nature had been breathed upon.

The morning passed, and Asia's sun rode up

In the clear heaven, and every beam was heat.

The cattle of the hills were in the shade, And the bright plumage of the Orient lay

On beating bosoms in her spicy trees. It was an hour of rest! but Hagar found

No shelter in the wilderness, and on She kept her weary way, until the boy Hung down his head, and opened his parched lips

For water; but she could not give it him.

She laid him down beneath the sultry sky

For it was better than the close, hot breath

Of the thick pines-and tried to comfort him;

But he was sore athirst, and his blue


Were dim and blood-shot, and he could not know

Why God denied him water in the wild.

She sat a little longer, and he grew Ghastly and faint, as if he would have died.

It was too much for her. She lifted him,

And bore him farther on, and laid his head

Beneath the shadow of a desert shrub; And, shrouding up her face, she went


And sat to watch, where he could see her not,

Till he should die; and, watching him, she mourned:

"God stay thee in thine agony, my boy! I cannot see thee die; I cannot brook Upon thy brow to look, And see death settle on my cradle joy. How have I drunk the light of thy blue eye!

And could I see thee die?

"I did not dream of this when thou wast straying,

Like an unbound gazelle, among the flowers;

Or wiling the soft hours, By the rich gush of water-sources playing.

Then sinking weary to thy smiling sleep,

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]
« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »