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قراءة كتاب Akra the Slave

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‏اللغة: English
Akra the Slave

Akra the Slave

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 7

drawbridge fell,

And wide the glittering portals slowly swung:
And there came streaming out in slow procession
A sleepy caravan of slouching camels,
Groaning and grumbling as they strode along
Beneath their mountainous burdens,
Upon whose swaying summits,
Impassively, the blue-robed merchants sat.
They passed us slowly by,
And then we took the bridge,
And, while our captors parleyed with the guards,
Who stood, on either hand,
With naked swords,
I turned my head,
And saw for the last time, far Eastward,
The cold, snow-brilliant peaks,
Beyond my dim, blue, native hills.
And, as I looked, my thoughts flew homeward,
And I, one dreaming moment,
Stood by my mourning mother in the cavern
Of desolation, looking on the dead.
And then, between the brazen gate-posts,
And underneath the brazen lintel,
At last we entered Babylon.
Before us, yet another wall arose,
And, turning sharply
Down a narrow way,
The living breath of heaven seemed shut from us
As though beneath the beetling crags
Of some deep mountain-gorge--
By cliffs of wall, on either hand,
That soared up to the narrow sky,
Which with dim lustre lit
The shimmering surface of enamelled brick,
Whereon, through giant groves,
Blue-coated hunters chased the boar,
Or 'loosed red-tasselled falcon
After flying crane.
But soon we reached another gate,
Sword-guarded, and we entered,
And plunged into the traffic
Of clamorous merchantmen,
Speeding their business ere the heat of day.
And as we jostled, slowly,
Through bewildering bazaars,
The porters and the idler wayfarers
All turned to look upon our shame,
With cold, unpitying eyes,
And indolent, gaping mouths,
Or jested with our captors,
Until we left the busier thoroughfares,
And walked through groves of cypress and of ilex,
Where not a sound or rumour troubled
The silence of the dark-plumed boughs
And glimmering deeps of peace,
Save only the cool spurt of waters
That, from a myriad unseen jets,
Fretted the crystal airs of morning,
And fell in frolic showers
Of twinkling, rainbow drops,
That plashed in unseen basins;
And through the blaze of almond-orchards,
Tremulous with blossom
That flickered in a rosy, silken snow
Of falling petals over us,
And wreathed about our feet
In soft and scented drifts;
Beneath pomegranate trees in young, green leaf,
And through vast gardens, glowing with strange flowers,
Such as no April kindled into bloom
Among the valleys of my native hills.
We came unto a court of many fountains,
Where, leaping off their jaded mules,
Our captors loosed the thongs that held us,
But left our wrists still bound.
And one with great clay pitchers came,
And over our hot bodies, travel-stained,
Poured out cool, cleansing waters
In a gurgling, crystal stream,
And flung coarse robes of indigo
About our naked shoulders.
And here we left behind us
The maidens and the younger boys,
And passing through a gateway,
Came out upon a busy wharf,
Where, southward, midway through the city,
The broad Euphrates flows,
His dark flood thronged with merchant-dhows,
And fishing-boats of reed and bitumen,
Piled high with glistering barbel, freshly-caught;
And foreign craft, with many-coloured sails,
And laden deep with precious merchandise,
That, over wide, bewildering waters,
Across the perilous world,
The adventurous, dark-bearded mariners,
Who swear by unknown gods in alien tongues,
Bring ever to the gates of Babylon.
We crossed the drawbridge, round whose granite piers
Swirled strong, Spring-swollen waters,
Loud and tawny,
And, through great brazen portals,
Passed within the palace gates,
When first I saw afar the hanging-gardens,
Arch on arch,
And tier on tier,
Against a glowing sky.
Two strapping Nubians, like young giants
Hewn from blue-black marble
By some immortal hand in immemorial ages,
Led us slowly onward.
The dappled pard-skins, slung across their shoulders,
Scarcely hid the ox-like thews,
Beneath the dark skin rippling,
As they strode along before us.
Through courts of alabaster,