18. Night -

Like sails convened when calms delay
Off the twin forelands on fair day,
So, on Damascus' plain behold
Mid groves and gardens, girdling ones,
White fleets of sprinkled villas, rolled
In the green ocean of her environs.
There when no minaret receives
The sun that gilds yet St. Sophia,
Which loath and later it bereaves,
The peace fulfils the heart's desire.
In orchards mellowed by eve's ray
The prophet's son in turban green,
Mild, with a patriarchal mien,
Gathers his fruity spoil. In play
Of hide-and-seek where alleys be,
The branching Eden brooks ye see
Peeping, and fresh as on the day
When haply Abram's steward went —
Mild Eliezer, musing, say —
By those same banks, to join the tent
In Canaan pitched. From Hermon stray
Cool airs that in a dream of snows
Temper the ardour of the rose;
While yet to moderate and reach
A tone beyond our human speech,
How steals from cloisters of the groves
The ave of the vesper-doves.
Such notes, translated into hues,
Thy wall, Angelico, suffuse,
Whose tender pigments melt from view —
Die down, die out, as sunsets do.
But rustling trees aloft entice
To many a house-top, old and young:
Aerial people! see them throng;
And the moon comes up from Paradise.

But in Jerusalem — not there
Loungers at eve to roof repair
So frequent. Haply two or three
Small quiet groups far off you see,
Or some all uncompanioned one
(Like ship-boy at mast-head alone)
Watching the star-rise. Silently
So Clarel stands, his vaulted room
Opening upon a terrace free,
Lifted above each minor dome
On grade beneath. Glides, glides away
The twilight of the Wailing Day.
The apostate's story fresh in mind,
Fain Clarel here had mused thereon,
But more upon Ruth's lot, so twined
With clinging ill. But every thought
Of Ruth was strangely underrun
By Celio's image. Celio — sought
Vainly in body — now appeared
As in the spiritual part,
Haunting the air, and in the heart.
Back to his chamber Clarel veered,
Seeking that alms which unrest craves
Of slumber: alms withheld from him;
For midnight, rending all her graves,
Showed in a vision far and dim
Still Celio — and in pallid stress
Fainting amid contending press
Of shadowy fiends and cherubim.
Later, anew he sought the roof;
And started, for not far aloof,
He caught some dubious object dark,
Huddled and hooded, bowed, and set
Under the breast-high parapet,
And glimmering with a dusky spark.
It moved, it murmured. In deep prayer
'Twas Abdon under talith . Rare
That scarf of supplication — old,
Of India stuff, with braid of gold
In cipher. Did the Black Jew keep
The saying — Prayer is more than sleep?
Islam says that. The Hebrew rose,
And, kindled by the starry sky,
In broidered text that mystic flows
The talith gleams. Divested then
He turned, not knowing Clarel nigh,
And would have passed him all unseen.
But Clarel spake. It roused annoy —
An Eastern Jew in rapt employ
Spied by the Gentile. But a word
Dispelled distrust, goodwill restored.
" Stay with me," Clarel said; " go not
A shadow, but I scarce know what —
It haunts me. Is it presage? — Hark!
That piercing cry from out the dark!"
" 'Tis for some parted spirit — gone,
Just gone. The custom of the town
That cry is; yea, the watcher's breath
Instant upon the stroke of death."
" Anew! 'Tis like a tongue of flame
Shot from the fissure"; and stood still:
" Can fate the boding thus fulfil?
First ever I, first to disclaim
Such premonitions. — Thrillest yet
'Tis over, but we might have met? —
Hark, hark; again the cry is sped;
For him it is — found now — nay, fled!"
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