Home  »  library  »  poem  »  Slighted Love

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Slighted Love

By Willem Bilderdijk (1756–1831)

An Oriental Romance

Translation through the German, in the metre of the original, of Edward Irenæus Prime-Stevenson

SPLENDID rose the star of evening, and the gray dusk was a-fading.

O’er it with a hand of mildness, now the Night her veil was drawing:

Abensaīd, valiant soldier, from Medina’s ancient gateway,

To the meadows, rich with blossoms, walked in darkest mood of musing—

Where the Guadalete’s wild waves foaming wander through the flat lands,

Where, within the harbor’s safety, loves to wait the weary seaman.

Neither hero’s mood nor birth-pride eased his spirit of its suffering

For his youth’s betrothed, Zobeīde; she it was who caused him anguish.

Faithless had she him forsaken, she sometime his best-beloved,

Left him, though already parted by strange fate, from realm and heirship.

Oh, that destiny he girds not—strength it gave him, hero-courage,

Added to his lofty spirit, touches of nobler feeling—

’Tis that she, ill-starred one, leaves him! takes the hand so wrinkled

Of that old man, Seville’s conqueror!

Into the night, along the river, Abensaīd now forth rushes:

Loudly to the rocky limits, Echo bears his lamentations.

“Faithless maid, more faithless art thou than the sullen water!

Harder thou than even the hardened bosom of yon rigid rock-wall!

Ah, bethinkest thou, Zobeīde, still upon our solemn love-oath?

How thy heart, this hour so faithless, once belonged to me, me only?

Canst thou yield thy heart, thy beauty, to that old man, dead to love-thoughts?

Wilt thou try to love the tyrant lacking love despite his treasure?

Dost thou deem the sands of desert higher than are virtue—honor?

Allah grant, then, that he hate thee! That thou lovest yet another!

That thou soon thyself surrender to the scorned one’s bitter feeling.

Rest may night itself deny thee, and may day to thee be terror!

Be thy face before thy husband as a thing of nameless loathing!

May his eye avoid thee ever, flee the splendor of thy beauty!

May he ne’er, in gladsome gathering, stretch his hand to thee for partner!

Never gird himself with girdle which for him thy hand embroidered!

Let his heart, thy love forsaking, in another love be fettered;

The love-tokens of another may his scutcheon flame in battle,

While behind thy grated windows year by year, away thou mournest!

To thy rival may he offer prisoners that his hand has taken!

May the trophies of his victory on his knees to her be proffered!

May he hate thee! and thy heart’s faith to him be but thing accursed!

These things, aye and more still! be thy cure for all my sting and sorrow!”

Silent now goes Abensaīd, unto Xeres, in the midnight;

Dazzling shone the palace, lighted, festal for the loathsome marriage,

Richly-robed Moors were standing ’neath the shimmer of the tapers,

On the jubilant procession of the marriage-part proceeded.

In the path stands Abensaīd, frowning, as the bridegroom nears him;

Strikes the lance into his bosom, with the rage of sharpest vengeance.

’Gainst the heaven rings a loud cry, those at hand their swords are baring—

But he rushes through the weapons, and in safety gains his own hearth.