The Djinns

Original Text: 

The Modern Book of French Verse, ed. Albert Boni (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1920): 116-20. Internet Archive

1                            Town, tower.
2                            Shore, deep,
3                            Where lower
4                            Cliffs steep;
5                            Waves gray.
6                               Where play
7                            Winds gay, --
8                            All sleep.
9                        Hark! a sound,
10                        Far and slight,
11                        Breathes around
12                        On the night:
13                        High and higher,
14                        Nigh and nigher,
15                        Like a fire
16                        Roaring bright.
17                    Now on 'tis sweeping
18                    With rattling beat,
19                    Like dwarf imp leaping
20                    In gallop fleet:
21                    He flies, he prances.
22                    In frolic fancies,
23                    On wave-crest dances
24                    With pattering feet.
25                Hark, the rising swell,
26                With each nearer burst!
27                Like the toll of bell
28                Of a convent cursed;
29                Like the billowy roar
30                On a storm-lashed shore, --
31                Now hushed, now once more
32                Maddening to its worst.
33            O God! the deadly sound
34            Of the Djinns' fearful cry!
35            Quick, 'neath the spiral round
36            Of the deep staircase fly!
37            See, see our lamplight fade!
38            And of the balustrade
39            Mounts, mounts the circling shade
40            Up to the ceiling high!
41        'Tis the Djinns' wild streaming swarm
42        Whistling in their tempest-flight;
43        Snap the tall yews 'neath the storm,
44        Like a pine-flame crackling bright.
45        Swift and heavy, lo, their crowd
46        Through the heavens rushing loud,
47        Like a livid thunder-cloud
48        With its bolt of fiery night!
49    Ha! they are on us, close without!
50    Shut tight the shelter where we lie!
51    With hideous din the monster rout,
52    Dragon and vampire, fill the sky!
53    The loosened rafter overhead
54    Trembles and bends like quivering reed;
55    Shakes the old door with shuddering dread,
56    As from its rusty hinge 'twould fly!
57Wild cries of hell! voices that howl and shriek!
58The horrid swarm before the tempest tossed --
59O Heaven! -- descends my lowly roof to seek:
60Bends the strong wall beneath the furious host.
61Totters the house, as though, like dry leaf shorn
62From autumn bough and on the mad blast borne,
63Up from its deep foundations it were torn
64To join the stormy whirl. Ah! all is lost!
65    O Prophet! if thy hand but now
66    Save from these foul and hellish things,
67    A pilgrim at thy shrine I'll bow,
68    Laden with pious offerings.
69    Bid their hot breath its fiery rain
70    Stream on my faithful door in vain,
71    Vainly upon my blackened pane
72    Grate the fierce claws of their dark wings!
73        They have passed! -- and their wild legion
74        Cease to thunder at my door;
75        Fleeting through night's rayless region,
76        Hither they return no more.
77        Clanking chains and sounds of woe
78        Fill the forests as they go;
79        And the tall oaks cower low,
80        Bent their flaming flight before.
81            On! on! the storm of wings
82            Bears far the fiery fear,
83            Till scarce the breeze now brings
84            Dim murmurings to the ear;
85            Like locusts' humming hail,
86            Or thrash of tiny flail
87            Plied by the pattering hail
88            On some old roof-tree near.
89                Fainter now are borne
90                Fitful mutterings still;
91                As, when Arab horn
92                Swells its magic peal.
93                Shoreward o'er the deep
94                Fairy voices sweep,
95                And the infant's sleep
96                Golden visions fill.
97                    Each deadly Djinn,
98                    Dark child of fright,
99                    Of death and sin,
100                    Speeds the wild flight.
101                    Hark, the dull moan,
102                    Like the deep tone
103                    Of ocean's groan,
104                    Afar, by night!
105                        More and more
106                        Fades it now,
107                        As on shore
108                        Ripple's flow, --
109                        As the plaint
110                        Far and faint
111                        Of a saint
112                        Murmured low.
113                            Hark! hist!
114                            Around,
115                            I list!
116                            The bounds
117                            Of space
118                            All trace
119                            Efface
120                            Of sound.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
Data entry: Sharine Leung
RPO Edition: