The Alhambra, by Washington Irving

The Generalife.

HIGH ABOVE the Alhambra, on the breast of the mountain, amidst embowered gardens and stately terraces, rise the lofty towers and white walls of the Generalife; a fairy palace, full of storied recollections. Here is still to be seen the famous cypresses of enormous size which flourished in the time of the Moors, and which tradition has connected with the fabulous story of Boabdil and his sultana.

Here are preserved the portraits of many who figured in the romantic drama of the Conquest. Ferdinand and Isabella, Ponce de Leon, the gallant marquis of Cadiz, and Garcilaso de la Vega, who slew in desperate fight Tarfe the Moor, a champion of Herculean strength. Here too hangs a portrait which has long passed for that of the unfortunate Boabdil, but which is said to be that of Aben Hud, the Moorish king from whom descended the princes of Almeria. From one of these princes, who joined the standard of Ferdinand and Isabella towards the close of the Conquest, and was christianized by the name of Don Pedro de Granada Venegas, was descended the present proprietor of the palace, the marquis of Campotejar. The proprietor, however, dwells in a foreign land, and the palace has no longer a princely inhabitant.

Yet here is every thing to delight a southern voluptuary: fruits, flowers, fragrance, green arbors and myrtle hedges, delicate air and gushing waters. Here I had an opportunity of witnessing those scenes which painters are fond of depicting about southern palaces and gardens. It was the saint’s day of the count’s daughter, and she had brought up several of her youthful companions from Granada, to sport away a long summer’s day among the breezy halls and bowers of the Moorish palaces. A visit to the Generalife was the morning’s entertainment. Here some of the gay company dispersed itself in groups about the green walks, the bright fountains, the flights of Italian steps, the noble terraces and marble balustrades. Others, among whom I was one, took their seats in an open gallery or colonnade commanding a vast prospect, with the Alhambra, the city, and the Vega, far below, and the distant horizon of mountains — a dreamy world, all glimmering to the eye in summer sunshine. While thus seated, the all-pervading tinkling of the guitar and click of the castanets came stealing up from the valley of the Darro, and half way down the mountain we descried a festive party under the trees enjoying themselves in true Andalusian style, some lying on the grass, others dancing to the music.

All these sights and sounds, together with the princely seclusion of the place, the sweet quiet which prevailed around, and the delicious serenity of the weather had a witching effect upon the mind, and drew from some of the company, versed in local story, several of the popular fancies and traditions connected with this old Moorish palace; they were “such stuff as dreams are made of,” but out of them I have shaped the following legend, which I hope may have the good fortune to prove acceptable to the reader.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/i/irving/washington/i72a/part26.html

Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:38