The Baya: Or The Indian Bird.

A poem by William Hayley

Let the Nightingale still be renown'd for her song,
The Eagle for strength, and for softness the Dove,
Higher praise to the Baya of India belongs,
For gentle docility, duty and love.

The Baya, dear nymphs, is a delicate bird,
Of intelligent zeal, in our climate unknown;
A bird, in the service of lovers preferr'd
To the turtle, that Venus regards as her own.

The Baya not only will bear in his beak
The letter a youth to his nymph would convey;
But if from her person some jewel he seek,
This bird, at his nod, gently plucks it away.

It chanc'd in Circassia a lovely young maid,
On her beautiful neck wore a crescent of gold,
Hermossan, her lover, the trinket survey'd,
And wish'd in his bosom the gem to infold.

A Baya he cherished, the first of its kind,
At a call to accomplish his master's behest;
This bird, who display'd both a heart, and a mind,
He commission'd to rifle fair Azima's breast.

The bird's gentle manners she often had prais'd,
And begg'd from her lover a vassal so sweet;
"To the honour of serving you he shall be rais'd,"
Said her lover, "whenever his skill is complete."

The extent of his talents the youth wish'd to find,
As the bird with new lessons be daily carest;
To his skill and obedience this charge he assigned,
To bring him the crescent from Azima's breast.

The bird who himself lov'd the damsel to court,
On her shoulder first perch'd with endearment and joy;
With his beak he then snapt it's strong silken support,
And bore from her bosom the glittering toy.

The nymph half in anger the plunderer chac'd,
But she fail'd to regain or the gem, or the cord;
For gayly he flew; and with rapturous haste,
His plunder consigned to the hand of his lord.

Her woman was charm'd, when the bird he perceiv'd,
And more was he charm'd when the damsel advanc'd,
For the nymph too in haste, half delighted, half griev'd,
Demanded the crescent, on which her eye glanc'd.

'Twas a charm Turkish hands had once fixt on her neck
But a charm that her lover refus'd to replace;
"Thy hand my dear girl, with a gem let me deck,
Of more magical force, of more luminous grace!"

"My bird and my ring, both of wonderous power!
Dear Azima! now as thy treasures receive;
For they both shall be thine, they are virtue's just dower
And thro' life may they never my Azima leave."

"For O! if they leave thee, or lost, or destroy'd,
That bliss, which our union I trust will ensure,
Must vanish, and leave in each heart such a void,
That our permanent anguish no magic can cure."

He spoke, and the bird on her shoulder he plac'd,
Then pressing the hand of his delicate fair;
That hand with a ring of one ruby he grac'd,
With a motto in Arabic, "never despair!"

"Let these words my sweet love be a shield to thy heart,
While I from thy sight am by fortune debarr'd;
For a journey of months I to-morrow depart,
But love will restore me, thy husband! thy guard!"

They kiss'd, and they parted: 'twas fortune's behest,
Who rules over love with a tyrannous sway;
But the nymph kiss'd her ring, and her bird she carest,
When her eye could no longer Hermossan survey.

She said, as she play'd with her vigilant bird,
"Thy name be Anglama, then best of thy kind:"
Anglama to her a significant word,
Express'd all the light of a luminous mind.

The bird seem'd with joy his new title to feel,
At the sound of Anglama his eye was a flame,
That flashed with intelligence, duty, and zeal,
Her behests he obeyed at the sound of his name.

To prove and reward him, was Azima's pride.
As round her he flew, upon liberty's wing;
In her chamber she oft her lov'd ruby would hide.
And exclaim, my Anglama, "go seek for my ring!"

However concealed the quick bird was so keen,
He never once failed to bring back the lost gem;
To his mistress he gave it with gesture serene,
Her sweet-meats repaid him; he lived upon them.

How often the sport of an innocent breast,
Is by Providence favour'd for some gracious end,
And gentle dumb creatures, with kindness carest,
That kindness repay in the shape of a friend!

But little sweet Azima dreamt, as she taught,
Her bird thus to play with a jewel so dear;
That the lesson his love with alacrity caught,
Might soothe her with hope, in a season of fear.

That season approaches, gay Azima grew
Of an old helpless father, the pride and the heir;
Her treasures were coveted not by a few,
And by one, of a heart not inclined to despair.

Hermossan's chief rival, an arrogant youth,
An Armenian his father! his mother a Turk!
That mother, more noted for cunning, than truth,
On Azima's fancy had studied to work.

The crescent, to give her young bosom alarm,
On the child she had fix'd with a soft silken cord;
To persuade the gay nymph, by this magical charm,
That none but a Mussulman must be her lord.

Hermossan a Persian, more noble and true.
As to woman she rose, put those fancies to flight;
But Ayesha, who watch'd with a mischievous view,
Soon the ruby surveyed, and survey'd it with spite.

She saw, 'twas a talisman fashioned by love,
Which she hoped to destroy by a daring device;
And, purloining the ring, as it lay in a glove,
With a diamond replaced it, far richer in price.

With her prize she escaped, from her visit uncheck'd;
Soon a change so unwish'd, was to Azima known,
She detested the diamond, with which she was deckt,
Sent back the new gem, and demanded her own.

See Ayesha's bold son now with arrogance plead,
To obtain for his parent the pardon of love!
The damsel, indignant, abhors the base deed,
Still demanding her ruby, all diamonds above.

The crafty Ayesha her son would persuade,
That Azima's anger in time must decay;
She knew not the truth of that resolute maid,
And she vainly hoped much from an artful delay.

Yet her credulous spirit the talisman pains,
Which she anxiously hides, with intent to destroy;
While she to prepare a rich recompence feigns,
For those, who may find this unfortunate toy.

Fair Azima suffers from sorrow and rage,
But what can her rage or her sorrow achieve;
Hermossan is absent: her father's weak age
Only leaves her in fruitless affliction to grieve.

Her bird in sweet sympathy seems to lament,
And to cheer her, in vain, his kind frolics he tries,
When she says, "O my ring!" on her wishes intent,
To seek it far off, from her window he flies.

In each flight, with new hope, she perceives her heart burn
'Till that hope she so often has cherished in vain,
That she welcomes with tears his unjoyous return,
And her health wastes away with vexation and pain.

All her pain was encreased, when this billet she read,
"Thy Hermossan, my love, will be with thee at noon,
When thy faith shall dispell all his amorous dread,
And thy ruby's true radiance eclipse the false moon!"

In the morn's early season this billet she caught,
In her bosom new hopes and new tenors now spring;
At her window she stood, and in turbulent thought,
"Once more my Anglama (she said) seek my ring!"

See, in tender obedience, Anglama depart
And soon his swift pinions are out of her sight;
But terror and hope are still felt in her heart,
While her fancy pursues so momentous a flight.

Was it chance, or some angel, directed his sense,
On a tree of Ayesha's fair garden to perch?
No, with langour opprest, and in heat most intense,
A delicate water allur'd his research.

At a wonderful depth this cool water reposed,
In a well through a rock, in past centuries sunk;
Ayesha's proud garden this wonder enclos'd,
Whence often the gentle Anglama had drunk.

A stranger to fear, down the circular cave
For soothing refreshment he often had flown;
Now beside it he perched, and in silence, tho' brave,
For a matron he sees, who draws near to the stone.

'Tis Ayesha herself, who induced by a dream,
Came to bury the talisman deep in this well:
Down she cast the lov'd ring: by the morning's bright beam
In the eyes of Anglama it flash'd as it fell.

Alert as affection, more rapid than speech,
He darts unperceived, the dear treasure to seek;
Ere the stone in it's fall the deep water can reach,
He o'ertakes; he has caught the lost gem in his beak!

Beware O Anglama! thy foes are abroad,
Thou yet may'st be cross'd in thy faithful intent;
If once thou art spied by the sharp eyes of fraud,
Both her jewel, and thee, thy fair queen must lament.

As conscious of peril the provident bird
Takes refuge unseen in a cleft of the well;
Deposits his prize, and perceiving he's heard,
Flies back in the shelter of silence to dwell.

There repose, thou best vassal to beauty endear'd!
While my song to thy mistress most anxiously turns,
To recount in thy absence what perils she fear'd;
Now she freezes in dread, now her terror she spurns.

By her own noble soul she resolves to subdue
The worst of all fears, that her fancy had crost;
The life of Hermossan in danger she knew,
Supposing she told how his ruby was lost.

She knew with Ayesha's fierce son he would fight,
Were the story reveal'd of the ring and the glove,
And she firmly exclaim'd, with heroic delight,
"No, his life I will save, if I forfeit his love."

But O while new dangers Anglama detain,
How eager she pants for a sight of his plume;
At each sound she believes him returning again,
But he's destined to lurk in the cavern's deep gloom.

The morning elapses, and noon now is near,
But time can't out-travel the lover's quick pace;
See Hermossan most true to his promise appear!
With transport he flies to his fair one's embrace.

But O how his heart at her aspect recoils
When he sees how the rose has decay'd on her cheek!
"O God! is it thus I'm repaid for my toils,"
Was all, that affection had accents to speak.

Fond Azima trembling, yet brave in her heart,
Now exclaims, "swear to grant me one eager desire,
You must, or I die--nay my love! do not start,
But swear by the sun's incorruptible fire!"

"Our ruby is gone, and my life too must go,
Unless to relieve me you instantly swear;
Not to meditate vengeance, whatever you know,
On the persons who thus have occasion'd my care"

Hermossan confused, with quick pity replied,
(Though Jealousy gave him her tremulous tones)
"Yes, I swear, if you say, but to soothe my fond pride,
That no rival of mine my lost talisman owns."

The maiden, whose soul was the spirit of truth,
Scarcely knew how herself to absolve or condemn;
Since she really surmiz'd a proud amorous youth
Had obtain'd by his mother the magical gem.

The conflict distended her innocent breast,
Half lifeless she sinks on Hermossan's strong arm;
To his heart he in wonder her innocence prest,
Not free, jealous honor! from thy rash alarm.

In a soft rising-breeze, yet she hardly has stirr'd,
But her faint eyes unclose to admit the fresh air,
And they now flash with joy in perceiving her bird;
Who drops on her bosom, with "Never Despair."

Thrice blessed Anglama! what language can speak
The joy not confined to thy patrons alone,
While thy queen thus receives from thy dutiful beak
The lesson engrav'd on the magical stone?

All terror, all sickness, all doubt, all distrust,
Fly away from thy friends in this rapturous hour,
And thee they esteem, to thy services just,
A Phenix inshrin'd in Felicity's bower.

Fair reader! if wishing to fix on thy breast
The magic most sure every grace to endear,
As a gem on thy bosom let innocence rest,
Embellishing beauty, and banishing fear!

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