Emma Lazarus

(22 July 1849 – 19 November 1887 / New York City / United States)

Arabesque


On a background of pale gold
I would trace with quaint design,
Penciled fine,
Brilliant-colored, Moorish scenes,
Mosques and crescents, pages, queens,
Line on line,
That the prose-world of to-day
Might the gorgeous Past's array
Once behold.

On the magic painted shield
Rich Granada's Vega green
Should be seen;
Crystal fountains, coolness flinging,
Hanging gardens' skyward springing
Emerald sheen;
Ruddy when the daylight falls,
Crowned Alhambra's beetling walls
Stand revealed;

Balconies that overbrow
Field and city, vale and stream.
In a dream
Lulled the drowsy landscape basks;
Mark the gleam
Silvery of each white-swathed peak!
Mountain-airs caress the cheek,
Fresh from the snow.

Here in Lindaraxa's bower
The immortal roses bloom;
In the room
Lion-guarded, marble-paven,
Still the fountain leaps to heaven.
But the doom
Of the banned and stricken race
Overshadows every place,
Every hour.

Where fair Lindaraxa dwelt
Flits the bat on velvet wings;
Mute the strings
Of the broken mandoline;
The Pavilion of the Queen
Widely flings
Vacant windows to the night;
Moonbeams kiss the floor with light
Where she knelt.

Through these halls that people stepped
Who through darkling centuries
Held the keys
Of all wisdom, truth, and art,
In a Paradise apart,
Lapped in ease,
Sagely pondering deathless themes,
While, befooled with monkish dreams,
Europe slept.

Where shall they be found today?
Yonder hill that frets the sky
'The last Sigh
Of the Moor' is named still.
There the ill-starred Boabdil
Bade good-by
To Granada and to Spain,
Where the Crescent ne'er again
Holdeth sway.

Vanished like the wind that blows,
Whither shall we seek their trace
On earth's face?
The gigantic wheel of fate,
Crushing all things soon or late,
Now a race,
Now a single life o'erruns,
Now a universe of suns,
Now a rose.

Submitted: Friday, April 16, 2010

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