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HASSAN;
or, the Camel-driver



SCENE, the Desart
TIME, Mid-day

IN silent Horror o'er the Desart-Waste
The Driver Hassan with his Camels past.
One Cruise of Water on his Back he bore,
And his light Scrip contain'd a scanty Store:
A Fan of painted Feathers in his Hand,
To guard his shaded Face from scorching Sand.
The sultry Sun had gain'd the middle Sky,
And not a Tree, and not an Herb was nigh.
The Beasts, with Pain, their dusty Way pursue,
Shrill roar'd the Winds, and dreary was the View!
With desp'rate Sorrow wild, th' affrighted Man
Thrice sigh'd, thrice strook his Breast, and thus began:
Sad was the Hour, and luckless was the Day,
When first from
Schiraz' Walls I bent my Way.

Ah! little thought I of the blasting Wind,
The Thirst or pinching Hunger that I find!
Bethink thee, Hassan, where shall Thirst assuage,
When fails this Cruise, his unrelenting Rage?
Soon shall this Scrip its precious Load resign;
Then what but Tears and Hunger shall be thine?
Ye mute Companions of my Toils, that bear
In all my Griefs a more than equal Share!
Here, where no Springs in Murmurs break away,
Or Moss-crown'd Fountains mitigate the Day,
In vain ye hope the green Delights to know,
Which Plains more blest, or verdant Vales bestow:
Here Rocks alone, and tasteless Sands are found,
And faint and sickly Winds for ever howl around.
Sad was the Hour, and luckless was the Day,
When first from
Schiraz' Walls I bent my Way.

Curst be the Gold and Silver which persuade
Weak Men to follow far-fatiguing Trade!
The Lilly-Peace outshines the silver Store,
And Life is dearer than the golden Ore.
Yet Money tempts us o'er the Desart brown,
To ev'ry distant Mart, and wealthy Town:
Full oft we tempt the Land, and oft the Sea;
And are we only yet repay'd by Thee?
Ah! why was Ruin so attractive made,
Or why fond Man so easily betray'd?
Why heed we not, whilst mad we haste along,
The gentle Voice of Peace, or Pleasure's Song?
Or wherefore think the flow'ry Mountain's Side,
The Fountain's Murmurs, and the Valley's Pride,
Why think we these less pleasing to behold,
Than dreary Desarts, if they lead to Gold?
Sad was the Hour, and luckless was the Day,
When first from
Schiraz' Walls I bent my Way!

O cease, my Fears! all frantic as I go,
When Thought creates unnumber'd Scenes of Woe,
What if the Lion in his Rage I meet!
Oft in the Dust I view his printed Feet
And fearful! oft, when Day's declining Light
Yields her pale Empire to the Mourner Night,
By Hunger rous'd, he scours the groaning Plain,
Gaunt Wolves and sullen Tygers in his Train:
Before them Death with Shrieks directs their Way,
Fills the wild Yell, and leads them to their Prey.
Sad was the Hour, and luckless was the Day,
When first from
Schiraz' Walls I bent my Way!

At that dead Hour the silent Asp shall creep,
If ought of rest I find, upon my Sleep:
Or some swoln Serpent twist his Scales around,
And wake to Anguish with a burning Wound.
Thrice happy they, the wise contented Poor,
From Lust of Wealth, and Dread of Death secure!
They tempt no Desarts, and no Griefs they find;
Peace rules the Day, where Reason rules the Mind.
Sad was the Hour, and luckless was the Day,
When first from
Schiraz' Walls I bent my Way!

O hapless Youth! for she thy Love hath won,
The tender Zara, will be most undone!
Big swell'd my Heart, and own'd the pow'rful Maid,
When fast she dropt her Tears, as thus she said:
"Farewel the Youth whom Sighs could not detain,
"Whom Zara's breaking Heart implor'd in vain;
"Yet as thou go'st, may ev'ry Blast arise,
"Weak and unfelt as these rejected Sighs!
"Safe o'er the Wild, no Perils mayst thou see,
"No Griefs endure, nor weep, false Youth, like me."
O let me safely to the Fair return,
Say with a Kiss, she must not, shall not mourn.
Go teach my Heart to lose its painful Fears,
Recall'd by Wisdom's Voice, and Zara's Tears.

He said, and call'd on Heav'n to bless the Day,
When back to Schiraz' Walls he bent his Way.
 

William Collins, Persian Eclogues (1742), Eclogue the Second: Hassan; or, The Camel-driver [text from The Poems of Gray and Collins, ed. Austin Lane Poole and Christopher Stone, London, Oxford University Press, 1937, pp. 217-21].


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