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Of the warm summer, from a belt of hemp
Meanwhile her poor hut
The old man ceased : he saw that I was moved ;
Reviewed that woman's sufferings ; and it seemed
We sate on that low bench ; and now we felt,
THE VISION OF MIRZA.
When I was at Grand Cairo, I picked up several oriental manuscripts, which I have still by me. Among others, I met with one entitled “The Vision of Mirza," which I have read over with great pleasure, and which proceeds in the manner following :
On the 5th day of the moon, which, according to the custom of my forefathers, I always keep holy, after having washed myself, and offered up my morning devotions, I ascended the high hills of Bagdad, in order to pass the rest of the day in meditation and prayer. As I was here airing myself on the tops of the mountains, I fell into a profound contemplation on the vanity of human life ; and, passing from one thought to another, “ Surely," said I,“man is but* a shadow, and life a dream.” Whilst I was thus musing, I cast my eyes towards the summit of a rock that was not far from me, where I discovered one in the habit of a shepherd, with a little musical instrument in his hand. As I looked upon him he applied it to his lips, and began to play upon it. The sound of it was exceedingly sweet, and wrought into a variety of tunes that were inexpressibly melodious, and altogether different from anything I had ever heard. They put me in mind of those heavenly airs that are played to the departed souls of good men upon their first arrival in Paradise, to wear out the impressions
of the last agonies and qualify them for the pleasures of that happy place. My heart melted away in secret raptures.
I had been often told that the rock before me was the haunt of a genius, and that several had been entertained with music who had passed by it, but never heard that the musician had before made himself visible. When he had raised my thoughts, by those transporting airs which he played, to taste the pleasures of his conversation, as I looked
upon him like one astonished, he beckoned to me, and, by the waving of his hand, directed me to approach the place where he sat. I drew near with that reverence which is due to a superior nature ; and as my heart was entirely subdued by the captivating strains I had heard, I fell down at his feet and wept. The genius smiled upon me with a look of compassion and affability that familiarised him to my imagination, and at once dispelled all the fears and apprehensions with which I approached him. He lifted me from the ground, and, taking me by the hand—“Mirza,” said he, “I have heard thee in thy soliloquies ; follow me.”
He then led me to the highest pinnacle of the rock, and placing me on the top of it-“Cast thine eyes eastward," said he, “and tell me what thou seest.” “I see,” said Í,
a huge valley, and a prodigious tide of water flowing through it.” The valley that thou seest,” said he, “is the vale of misery, and the tide of water that thou seest is part of the great tide of eternity.” “What is the reason," said I, “ that the tide I see rises out of a thick mist at one end, and again loses itself in a thick mist at the other ?” “What thou seest,” said he, “is that portion of eternity which is called Time, measured out by the sun, and reaching from the beginning of the world to its consummation. Examine now," said he, “this sea which is bounded with darkness at both ends, and tell me what thou discoverest in it.” “I see a bridge,” said I, “standing in the midst of the tide.” “The bridge thou seest,” said he, "is Human Life. Consider it attentively." Upon a more leisurely survey of it, I found that it consisted of threescore and ten entire arches, with several broken arches, which, added to those which were entire, made up the
number to about a hundred. As I was counting the arches, the genius told me that this bridge consisted at first of a thousand arches, but that a great flood swept away the rest, and left the bridge in the ruinous condition I now beheld it. “But tell me further,” said he, “what thou discoverest on it." “I ses multitudes of people passing over it," said I, “and a black cloud hanging on each end of it.” As I looked more attentively, I saw several of the passengers dropping through the bridge into the great tide that flowed underneath it ; and upon further examination, perceived there were innumerable trap-doors that lay concealed in the bridge, which the passengers no sooner trod upon but they fell through them into the tide, and immediately disappeared. These hidden pitfalls were set very thick at the entrance of the bridge, so that throngs of people no sooner broke through the cloud but many of them fell into them. They grew thinner towards the middle, but multiplied and lay closer together towards the end of the arches that were entire.
There were, indeed, some persons, but their number was very small, that continued a kind of hobbling march on the broken arches, but fell through one after another, being quite tired and spent with so long a walk.
I passed some time in the contemplation of this wonderful structure and the great variety of objects which it presented. My heart was filled with a deep melancholy to see several dropping unexpectedly in the midst of mirth and jollity, and catching at everything that stood by them to save themselves. Some were looking up towards the heavens in a thoughtful posture, and in the midst of a speculation stumbled and fell out of sight. Multitudes were very busy in the pursuit of bubbles, that glittered in their eyes and danced before them ; but often when they thought themselves within the reach of them their footing failed, and down they sank.
The genius, seeing me indulge myself on this melancholy prospect, told me I had dwelt long enough upon it. “Take thine eyes off the bridge,” said he, “and tell me if thou yet seest anything thou dost not comprehend.". Upon looking up-“What mean," said I, "those great flights of