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Poem by Emma Lazarus


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.



Emma Lazarus


Emma Lazarus's other poems:
  1. Mater Amabilis
  2. Magnetism
  3. Sunrise
  4. In the Jewish Synagogue at Newport
  5. Saint Romualdo


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