Thalaba the Destroyer : An Extract
Robert Southey  1801

A night of darkness and of storms!
Into the Chamber of the Tomb
Thalaba led the Old Man,
To roof him from the rain.
A night of storms! the wind
Swept through the moonless sky,
And moan'd among the pillar'd sepulchres;
And in the pauses of its sweep
They heard the heavy rain
Beat on the monument above.

In silence on Oneiza's grave
Her Father and her husband sate.
The Cryer from the Minaret
Proclaim'd the midnight hour.
"Now, now!" cried Thalaba;
And o'er the chamber of the tomb

There spread a lurid gleam,
Like the reflection of a sulphur fire;
And in that hideous light
Oneiza stood before them. It was She,..
Her very lineaments,..and such as death
Had changed them, livid cheeks, and lips of blue;
But in her eyes there dwelt
Brightness more terrible
Than all the loathsomeness of death.

"Still art thou living, wretch?"
In hollow tones she cried to Thalaba;
"And must I nightly leave my grave
To tell thee, still in vain,
God hath abandon'd thee?"
"This is not she!" the Old Man exclaim'd;
"A Fiend; a manifest Fiend!"
And to the youth he held his lance;
"Strike and deliver thyself!"
"Strike her!" cried Thalaba,
And, palsied of all power,
Gazed fixedly upon the dreadful form.
"Yea, strike her!" cried a voice, whose tones
Flow'd with such sudden healing through his soul,
As when the desert shower

From death deliver'd him;
But unobedient to that well-known voice,
His eye was seeking it,
When Moath, firm of heart,
Perform'd the bidding: through the vampire corpse
He thrust his lance; it fell,
And howling with the wound,
Its fiendish tenant fled.

A sapphire light fell on them,
And garmented with glory, in their sight
Oneiza's Spirit stood.
"O Thalaba!" she cried,
"Abandon not thyself!
Would'st thou for ever lose me?..O my husband,
Go and fulfil thy quest,
That in the Bowers of Paradise
I may not look for thee
In vain, nor wait thee long."

To Moath then the Spirit
Turn'd the dark lustre of her heavenly eyes:
"Short is thy destined path,
O my dear Father! to the abode of bliss.
Return to Araby,
There with the thought of death
Comfort thy lonely age,
And Azrael, the Deliverer, soon
Will visit thee in peace."

They stood with earnest eyes,
And arms out-reaching, when again
The darkness closed around them.
The soul of Thalaba revived;
He from the floor his quiver took,
And as he bent the bow, exclaim'd,
"Was it the over-ruling Providence
That in the hour of frenzy led my hands
Instinctively to this?

To-morrow, and the sun shall brace anew
The slacken'd cord, that now sounds loose and damp;
To-morrow, and its livelier tone will sing
In tort vibration to the arrow's flight.
I...but I also, with recovered health
Of heart, shall do my duty.
My Father! here I leave thee then!" he cried,
"And not to meet again,
Till at the gate of Paradise
The eternal union of our joys commence.
We parted last in darkness!"...and the youth
Thought with what other hopes;
But now his heart was calm,
For on his soul a heavenly hope had dawn'd.
The Old Man answered nothing, but he held
His garment, and to the door

Of the Tomb Chamber followed him.
The rain had ceased, the sky was wild,
Its black clouds broken by the storm.
And, lo! it chanced, that in the chasm
Of Heaven between, a star,
Leaving along its path continuous light,
Shot eastward. "See my guide!" quoth Thalaba;
And turning, he received
Old Moath's last embrace,
And the last blessing of the good Old Man.