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The Works Of Lord Byron, Vol. 3 (of 7)
by Lord Byron
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IV.

He comes at last in sudden loneliness, And whence they know not, why they need not guess; They more might marvel, when the greeting's o'er Not that he came, but came not long before: No train is his beyond a single page, Of foreign aspect, and of tender age. Years had rolled on, and fast they speed away To those that wander as to those that stay; 50 But lack of tidings from another clime Had lent a flagging wing to weary Time. They see, they recognise, yet almost deem The present dubious, or the past a dream.

He lives, nor yet is past his Manhood's prime, Though seared by toil, and something touched by Time; His faults, whate'er they were, if scarce forgot, Might be untaught him by his varied lot; Nor good nor ill of late were known, his name Might yet uphold his patrimonial fame: 60 His soul in youth was haughty, but his sins[269] No more than pleasure from the stripling wins; And such, if not yet hardened in their course, Might be redeemed, nor ask a long remorse.

V.

And they indeed were changed—'tis quickly seen, Whate'er he be, 'twas not what he had been: That brow in furrowed lines had fixed at last, And spake of passions, but of passion past: The pride, but not the fire, of early days, Coldness of mien, and carelessness of praise; 70 A high demeanour, and a glance that took Their thoughts from others by a single look; And that sarcastic levity of tongue, The stinging of a heart the world hath stung, That darts in seeming playfulness around, And makes those feel that will not own the wound; All these seemed his, and something more beneath Than glance could well reveal, or accent breathe. Ambition, Glory, Love, the common aim, That some can conquer, and that all would claim, 80 Within his breast appeared no more to strive, Yet seemed as lately they had been alive; And some deep feeling it were vain to trace At moments lightened o'er his livid face.

VI.

Not much he loved long question of the past, Nor told of wondrous wilds, and deserts vast, In those far lands where he had wandered lone, And—as himself would have it seem—unknown: Yet these in vain his eye could scarcely scan, Nor glean experience from his fellow man; 90 But what he had beheld he shunned to show, As hardly worth a stranger's care to know; If still more prying such inquiry grew, His brow fell darker, and his words more few.

VII.

Not unrejoiced to see him once again, Warm was his welcome to the haunts of men; Born of high lineage, linked in high command, He mingled with the Magnates of his land; Joined the carousals of the great and gay, And saw them smile or sigh their hours away; 100 But still he only saw, and did not share, The common pleasure or the general care; He did not follow what they all pursued With hope still baffled still to be renewed; Nor shadowy Honour, nor substantial Gain, Nor Beauty's preference, and the rival's pain: Around him some mysterious circle thrown Repelled approach, and showed him still alone; Upon his eye sat something of reproof, That kept at least Frivolity aloof; 110 And things more timid that beheld him near In silence gazed, or whispered mutual fear; And they the wiser, friendlier few confessed They deemed him better than his air expressed.

VIII.

Twas strange—in youth all action and all life, Burning for pleasure, not averse from strife; Woman—the Field—the Ocean, all that gave Promise of gladness, peril of a grave, In turn he tried—he ransacked all below, And found his recompense in joy or woe, 120 No tame, trite medium; for his feelings sought In that intenseness an escape from thought:[ji] The Tempest of his Heart in scorn had gazed On that the feebler Elements hath raised; The Rapture of his Heart had looked on high, And asked if greater dwelt beyond the sky: Chained to excess, the slave of each extreme, How woke he from the wildness of that dream! Alas! he told not—but he did awake To curse the withered heart that would not break. 130

IX.

Books, for his volume heretofore was Man, With eye more curious he appeared to scan, And oft in sudden mood, for many a day, From all communion he would start away: And then, his rarely called attendants said, Through night's long hours would sound his hurried tread O'er the dark gallery, where his fathers frowned In rude but antique portraiture around: They heard, but whispered—"that must not be known— The sound of words less earthly than his own.[jj] 140 Yes, they who chose might smile, but some had seen They scarce knew what, but more than should have been. Why gazed he so upon the ghastly head[270] Which hands profane had gathered from the dead, That still beside his opened volume lay, As if to startle all save him away? Why slept he not when others were at rest? Why heard no music, and received no guest? All was not well, they deemed—but where the wrong?[271] Some knew perchance—but 'twere a tale too long; 150 And such besides were too discreetly wise, To more than hint their knowledge in surmise; But if they would—they could"—around the board Thus Lara's vassals prattled of their lord.

X.

It was the night—and Lara's glassy stream The stars are studding, each with imaged beam; So calm, the waters scarcely seem to stray, And yet they glide like Happiness away;[272] Reflecting far and fairy-like from high The immortal lights that live along the sky: 160 Its banks are fringed with many a goodly tree, And flowers the fairest that may feast the bee; Such in her chaplet infant Dian wove, And Innocence would offer to her love. These deck the shore; the waves their channel make In windings bright and mazy like the snake. All was so still, so soft in earth and air, You scarce would start to meet a spirit there; Secure that nought of evil could delight To walk in such a scene, on such a night! 170 It was a moment only for the good: So Lara deemed, nor longer there he stood, But turned in silence to his castle-gate; Such scene his soul no more could contemplate: Such scene reminded him of other days, Of skies more cloudless, moons of purer blaze, Of nights more soft and frequent, hearts that now— No—no—the storm may beat upon his brow, Unfelt, unsparing—but a night like this, A night of Beauty, mocked such breast as his. 180

XI.

He turned within his solitary hall, And his high shadow shot along the wall: There were the painted forms of other times,[273] 'Twas all they left of virtues or of crimes, Save vague tradition; and the gloomy vaults That hid their dust, their foibles, and their faults; And half a column of the pompous page, That speeds the specious tale from age to age; Where History's pen its praise or blame supplies, And lies like Truth, and still most truly lies. 190 He wandering mused, and as the moonbeam shone Through the dim lattice, o'er the floor of stone, And the high fretted roof, and saints, that there O'er Gothic windows knelt in pictured prayer,[jk] Reflected in fantastic figures grew, Like life, but not like mortal life, to view; His bristling locks of sable, brow of gloom, And the wide waving of his shaken plume, Glanced like a spectre's attributes—and gave His aspect all that terror gives the grave.[jl] 200

XII.

'Twas midnight—all was slumber; the lone light Dimmed in the lamp, as both to break the night. Hark! there be murmurs heard in Lara's hall— A sound—a voice—a shriek—a fearful call! A long, loud shriek—and silence—did they hear That frantic echo burst the sleeping ear? They heard and rose, and, tremulously brave, Rush where the sound invoked their aid to save; They come with half-lit tapers in their hands, And snatched in startled haste unbelted brands. 210

XIII.

Cold as the marble where his length was laid, Pale as the beam that o'er his features played, Was Lara stretched; his half-drawn sabre near, Dropped it should seem in more than Nature's fear; Yet he was firm, or had been firm till now, And still Defiance knit his gathered brow; Though mixed with terror, senseless as he lay, There lived upon his lip the wish to slay; Some half formed threat in utterance there had died, Some imprecation of despairing Pride; 220 His eye was almost sealed, but not forsook, Even in its trance, the gladiator's look, That oft awake his aspect could disclose, And now was fixed in horrible repose. They raise him—bear him;—hush! he breathes, he speaks, The swarthy blush recolours in his cheeks, His lip resumes its red, his eye, though dim, Rolls wide and wild, each slowly quivering limb Recalls its function, but his words are strung In terms that seem not of his native tongue; 230 Distinct but strange, enough they understand To deem them accents of another land; And such they were, and meant to meet an ear That hears him not—alas! that cannot hear!

XIV.

His page approached, and he alone appeared To know the import of the words they heard; And, by the changes of his cheek and brow, They were not such as Lara should avow, Nor he interpret,—yet with less surprise Than those around their Chieftain's state he eyes, 240 But Lara's prostrate form he bent beside, And in that tongue which seemed his own replied; And Lara heeds those tones that gently seem To soothe away the horrors of his dream— If dream it were, that thus could overthrow A breast that needed not ideal woe.

XV.

Whate'er his frenzy dreamed or eye beheld,— If yet remembered ne'er to be revealed,— Rests at his heart: the customed morning came, And breathed new vigour in his shaken frame; 250 And solace sought he none from priest nor leech, And soon the same in movement and in speech, As heretofore he filled the passing hours, Nor less he smiles, nor more his forehead lowers, Than these were wont; and if the coming night Appeared less welcome now to Lara's sight, He to his marvelling vassals showed it not, Whose shuddering proved their fear was less forgot. In trembling pairs (alone they dared not) crawl[jm] The astonished slaves, and shun the fated hall; 260 The waving banner, and the clapping door, The rustling tapestry, and the echoing floor; The long dim shadows of surrounding trees, The flapping bat, the night song of the breeze; Aught they behold or hear their thought appals, As evening saddens o'er the dark grey walls.

XVI.

Vain thought! that hour of ne'er unravelled gloom Came not again, or Lara could assume A seeming of forgetfulness, that made His vassals more amazed nor less afraid. 270 Had Memory vanished then with sense restored? Since word, nor look, nor gesture of their lord Betrayed a feeling that recalled to these That fevered moment of his mind's disease. Was it a dream? was his the voice that spoke Those strange wild accents; his the cry that broke Their slumber? his the oppressed, o'erlaboured heart That ceased to beat, the look that made them start? Could he who thus had suffered so forget, When such as saw that suffering shudder yet? 280 Or did that silence prove his memory fixed Too deep for words, indelible, unmixed In that corroding secrecy which gnaws The heart to show the effect, but not the cause? Not so in him; his breast had buried both, Nor common gazers could discern the growth Of thoughts that mortal lips must leave half told; They choke the feeble words that would unfold.

XVII.

In him inexplicably mixed appeared Much to be loved and hated, sought and feared; 290 Opinion varying o'er his hidden lot,[jn] In praise or railing ne'er his name forgot: His silence formed a theme for others' prate— They guessed—they gazed—they fain would know his fate. What had he been? what was he, thus unknown, Who walked their world, his lineage only known? A hater of his kind? yet some would say, With them he could seem gay amidst the gay;[jo] But owned that smile, if oft observed and near, Waned in its mirth, and withered to a sneer; 300 That smile might reach his lip, but passed not by, Nor e'er could trace its laughter to his eye: Yet there was softness too in his regard, At times, a heart as not by nature hard, But once perceived, his Spirit seemed to chide Such weakness, as unworthy of its pride, And steeled itself, as scorning to redeem One doubt from others' half withheld esteem; In self-inflicted penance of a breast Which Tenderness might once have wrung from Rest; 310 In vigilance of Grief that would compel The soul to hate for having loved too well.[274]

XVIII.

There was in him a vital scorn of all:[jp] As if the worst had fallen which could befall, He stood a stranger in this breathing world, An erring Spirit from another hurled; A thing of dark imaginings, that shaped By choice the perils he by chance escaped; But 'scaped in vain, for in their memory yet His mind would half exult and half regret: 320 With more capacity for love than Earth Bestows on most of mortal mould and birth. His early dreams of good outstripped the truth,[275] And troubled Manhood followed baffled Youth; With thought of years in phantom chase misspent, And wasted powers for better purpose lent; And fiery passions that had poured their wrath In hurried desolation o'er his path, And left the better feelings all at strife[jq] In wild reflection o'er his stormy life; 330 But haughty still, and loth himself to blame, He called on Nature's self to share the shame, And charged all faults upon the fleshly form She gave to clog the soul, and feast the worm: Till he at last confounded good and ill, And half mistook for fate the acts of will:[jr][276] Too high for common selfishness, he could At times resign his own for others' good, But not in pity—not because he ought, But in some strange perversity of thought, 340 That swayed him onward with a secret pride To do what few or none would do beside; And this same impulse would, in tempting time, Mislead his spirit equally to crime; So much he soared beyond, or sunk beneath, The men with whom he felt condemned to breathe, And longed by good or ill to separate Himself from all who shared his mortal state; His mind abhorring this had fixed her throne Far from the world, in regions of her own: 350 Thus coldly passing all that passed below, His blood in temperate seeming now would flow: Ah! happier if it ne'er with guilt had glowed, But ever in that icy smoothness flowed! 'Tis true, with other men their path he walked, And like the rest in seeming did and talked, Nor outraged Reason's rules by flaw nor start, His Madness was not of the head, but heart; And rarely wandered in his speech, or drew His thoughts so forth as to offend the view. 360

XIX.

With all that chilling mystery of mien, And seeming gladness to remain unseen, He had (if 'twere not nature's boon) an art Of fixing memory on another's heart: It was not love perchance—nor hate—nor aught That words can image to express the thought; But they who saw him did not see in vain, And once beheld—would ask of him again: And those to whom he spake remembered well, And on the words, however light, would dwell: 370 None knew, nor how, nor why, but he entwined Himself perforce around the hearer's mind;[js] There he was stamped, in liking, or in hate, If greeted once; however brief the date That friendship, pity, or aversion knew,[jt] Still there within the inmost thought he grew. You could not penetrate his soul, but found, Despite your wonder, to your own he wound; His presence haunted still; and from the breast[ju] He forced an all unwilling interest: 380 Vain was the struggle in that mental net— His Spirit seemed to dare you to forget!

XX.

There is a festival, where knights and dames, And aught that wealth or lofty lineage claims, Appear—a high-born and a welcome guest To Otho's hall came Lara with the rest. The long carousal shakes the illumined hall, Well speeds alike the banquet and the ball; And the gay dance of bounding Beauty's train Links grace and harmony in happiest chain: 390 Blest are the early hearts and gentle hands That mingle there in well according bands; It is a sight the careful brow might smooth, And make Age smile, and dream itself to youth, And Youth forget such hour was past on earth, So springs the exulting bosom to that mirth![jv]

XXI.

And Lara gazed on these, sedately glad, His brow belied him if his soul was sad; And his glance followed fast each fluttering fair, Whose steps of lightness woke no echo there: 400 He leaned against the lofty pillar nigh, With folded arms and long attentive eye, Nor marked a glance so sternly fixed on his— Ill brooked high Lara scrutiny like this: At length he caught it—'tis a face unknown, But seems as searching his, and his alone; Prying and dark, a stranger's by his mien, Who still till now had gazed on him unseen: At length encountering meets the mutual gaze Of keen enquiry, and of mute amaze; 410 On Lara's glance emotion gathering grew, As if distrusting that the stranger threw; Along the stranger's aspect, fixed and stern, Flashed more than thence the vulgar eye could learn.

XXII.

"'Tis he!" the stranger cried, and those that heard Re-echoed fast and far the whispered word. "'Tis he!"—"'Tis who?" they question far and near, Till louder accents rung on Lara's ear; So widely spread, few bosoms well could brook The general marvel, or that single look: 420 But Lara stirred not, changed not, the surprise That sprung at first to his arrested eyes Seemed now subsided—neither sunk nor raised Glanced his eye round, though still the stranger gazed; And drawing nigh, exclaimed, with haughty sneer, "'Tis he!—how came he thence?—what doth he here?"

XXIII.

It were too much for Lara to pass by Such questions, so repeated fierce and high;[jw] With look collected, but with accent cold, More mildly firm than petulantly bold, 430 He turned, and met the inquisitorial tone— "My name is Lara—when thine own is known, Doubt not my fitting answer to requite The unlooked for courtesy of such a knight. 'Tis Lara!—further wouldst thou mark or ask? I shun no question, and I wear no mask."

"Thou shunn'st no question! Ponder—is there none Thy heart must answer, though thine ear would shun? And deem'st thou me unknown too? Gaze again! At least thy memory was not given in vain. 440 Oh! never canst thou cancel half her debt— Eternity forbids thee to forget." With slow and searching glance upon his face Grew Lara's eyes, but nothing there could trace They knew, or chose to know—with dubious look He deigned no answer, but his head he shook, And half contemptuous turned to pass away; But the stern stranger motioned him to stay.

"A word!—I charge thee stay, and answer here To one, who, wert thou noble, were thy peer, 450 But as thou wast and art—nay, frown not, Lord, If false, 'tis easy to disprove the word— But as thou wast and art, on thee looks down, Distrusts thy smiles, but shakes not at thy frown. Art thou not he? whose deeds——"[jx] "Whate'er I be, Words wild as these, accusers like to thee, I list no further; those with whom they weigh May hear the rest, nor venture to gainsay The wondrous tale no doubt thy tongue can tell, Which thus begins so courteously and well. 460 Let Otho cherish here his polished guest, To him my thanks and thoughts shall be expressed." And here their wondering host hath interposed— "Whate'er there be between you undisclosed, This is no time nor fitting place to mar The mirthful meeting with a wordy war. If thou, Sir Ezzelin, hast aught to show Which it befits Count Lara's ear to know, To-morrow, here, or elsewhere, as may best Beseem your mutual judgment, speak the rest; 470 I pledge myself for thee, as not unknown, Though, like Count Lara, now returned alone From other lands, almost a stranger grown; And if from Lara's blood and gentle birth I augur right of courage and of worth, He will not that untainted line belie, Nor aught that Knighthood may accord, deny."

"To-morrow be it," Ezzelin replied, "And here our several worth and truth be tried; I gage my life, my falchion to attest 480 My words, so may I mingle with the blest!" What answers Lara? to its centre shrunk His soul, in deep abstraction sudden sunk; The words of many, and the eyes of all That there were gathered, seemed on him to fall; But his were silent, his appeared to stray In far forgetfulness away—away— Alas! that heedlessness of all around Bespoke remembrance only too profound.

XXIV.

"To-morrow!—aye, to-morrow!" further word[jy] 490 Than those repeated none from Lara heard; Upon his brow no outward passion spoke; From his large eye no flashing anger broke; Yet there was something fixed in that low tone, Which showed resolve, determined, though unknown. He seized his cloak—his head he slightly bowed, And passing Ezzelin, he left the crowd; And, as he passed him, smiling met the frown With which that Chieftain's brow would bear him down: It was nor smile of mirth, nor struggling pride 500 That curbs to scorn the wrath it cannot hide; But that of one in his own heart secure Of all that he would do, or could endure. Could this mean peace? the calmness of the good? Or guilt grown old in desperate hardihood? Alas! too like in confidence are each, For man to trust to mortal look or speech; From deeds, and deeds alone, may he discern Truths which it wrings the unpractised heart to learn.

XXV.

And Lara called his page, and went his way— 510 Well could that stripling word or sign obey: His only follower from those climes afar, Where the Soul glows beneath a brighter star: For Lara left the shore from whence he sprung, In duty patient, and sedate though young; Silent as him he served, his faith appears Above his station, and beyond his years. Though not unknown the tongue of Lara's land, In such from him he rarely heard command; But fleet his step, and clear his tones would come, 520 When Lara's lip breathed forth the words of home: Those accents, as his native mountains dear, Awake their absent echoes in his ear,[jz] Friends'—kindred's—parents'—wonted voice recall, Now lost, abjured, for one—his friend, his all: For him earth now disclosed no other guide; What marvel then he rarely left his side?

XXVI.

Light was his form, and darkly delicate That brow whereon his native sun had sate, But had not marred, though in his beams he grew, 530 The cheek where oft the unbidden blush shone through; Yet not such blush as mounts when health would show All the heart's hue in that delighted glow; But 'twas a hectic tint of secret care That for a burning moment fevered there; And the wild sparkle of his eye seemed caught From high, and lightened with electric thought,[ka] Though its black orb those long low lashes' fringe Had tempered with a melancholy tinge; Yet less of sorrow than of pride was there, 540 Or, if 'twere grief, a grief that none should share: And pleased not him the sports that please his age, The tricks of Youth, the frolics of the Page; For hours on Lara he would fix his glance, As all-forgotten in that watchful trance; And from his chief withdrawn, he wandered lone, Brief were his answers, and his questions none; His walk the wood, his sport some foreign book; His resting-place the bank that curbs the brook: He seemed, like him he served, to live apart 550 From all that lures the eye, and fills the heart; To know no brotherhood, and take from earth No gift beyond that bitter boon—our birth.

XXVII.

If aught he loved, 'twas Lara; but was shown His faith in reverence and in deeds alone; In mute attention; and his care, which guessed Each wish, fulfilled it ere the tongue expressed. Still there was haughtiness in all he did, A spirit deep that brooked not to be chid; His zeal, though more than that of servile hands,[kb] 560 In act alone obeys, his air commands; As if 'twas Lara's less than his desire That thus he served, but surely not for hire. Slight were the tasks enjoined him by his Lord, To hold the stirrup, or to bear the sword; To tune his lute, or, if he willed it more,[kc] On tomes of other times and tongues to pore; But ne'er to mingle with the menial train, To whom he showed nor deference nor disdain, But that well-worn reserve which proved he knew 570 No sympathy with that familiar crew: His soul, whate'er his station or his stem, Could bow to Lara, not descend to them. Of higher birth he seemed, and better days, Nor mark of vulgar toil that hand betrays, So femininely white it might bespeak Another sex, when matched with that smooth cheek, But for his garb, and something in his gaze, More wild and high than Woman's eye betrays; A latent fierceness that far more became 580 His fiery climate than his tender frame: True, in his words it broke not from his breast, But from his aspect might be more than guessed.[kd] Kaled his name, though rumour said he bore Another ere he left his mountain-shore; For sometimes he would hear, however nigh, That name repeated loud without reply, As unfamiliar—or, if roused again, Start to the sound, as but remembered then; Unless 'twas Lara's wonted voice that spake, 590 For then—ear—eyes—and heart would all awake.

XXVIII.

He had looked down upon the festive hall, And mark'd that sudden strife so marked of all: And when the crowd around and near him told[ke] Their wonder at the calmness of the bold, Their marvel how the high-born Lara bore Such insult from a stranger, doubly sore, The colour of young Kaled went and came, The lip of ashes, and the cheek of flame; And o'er his brow the dampening heart-drops threw 600 The sickening iciness of that cold dew, That rises as the busy bosom sinks With heavy thoughts from which Reflection shrinks. Yes—there be things which we must dream and dare, And execute ere thought be half aware:[277] Whate'er might Kaled's be, it was enow To seal his lip, but agonise his brow. He gazed on Ezzelin till Lara cast That sidelong smile upon the knight he past; When Kaled saw that smile his visage fell, 610 As if on something recognised right well: His memory read in such a meaning more Than Lara's aspect unto others wore: Forward he sprung—a moment, both were gone, And all within that hall seemed left alone; Each had so fixed his eye on Lara's mien, All had so mixed their feelings with that scene, That when his long dark shadow through the porch No more relieves the glare of yon high torch, Each pulse beats quicker, and all bosoms seem 620 To bound as doubting from too black a dream, Such as we know is false, yet dread in sooth, Because the worst is ever nearest truth. And they are gone—but Ezzelin is there, With thoughtful visage and imperious air; But long remained not; ere an hour expired He waved his hand to Otho, and retired.

XXIX.

The crowd are gone, the revellers at rest; The courteous host, and all-approving guest, Again to that accustomed couch must creep 630 Where Joy subsides, and Sorrow sighs to sleep, And Man, o'erlaboured with his Being's strife, Shrinks to that sweet forgetfulness of life: There lie Love's feverish hope, and Cunning's guile,[kf] Hate's working brain, and lulled Ambition's wile; O'er each vain eye Oblivion's pinions wave, And quenched Existence crouches in a grave.[kg] What better name may Slumber's bed become? Night's sepulchre, the universal home, Where Weakness—Strength—Vice—Virtue—sunk supine, 640 Alike in naked helplessness recline; Glad for a while to heave unconscious breath, Yet wake to wrestle with the dread of Death, And shun—though Day but dawn on ills increased— That sleep,—the loveliest, since it dreams the least.



CANTO THE SECOND.

I.

Night wanes—the vapours round the mountains curled[278] Melt into morn, and Light awakes the world, Man has another day to swell the past, And lead him near to little, but his last; But mighty Nature bounds as from her birth, 650 The Sun is in the heavens, and Life on earth;[279] Flowers in the valley, splendour in the beam, Health on the gale, and freshness in the stream. Immortal Man! behold her glories shine, And cry, exulting inly, "They are thine!" Gaze on, while yet thy gladdened eye may see: A morrow comes when they are not for thee: And grieve what may above thy senseless bier, Nor earth nor sky will yield a single tear; Nor cloud shall gather more, nor leaf shall fall, 660 Nor gale breathe forth one sigh for thee, for all;[280] But creeping things shall revel in their spoil, And fit thy clay to fertilise the soil.

II.

'Tis morn—'tis noon—assembled in the hall, The gathered Chieftains come to Otho's call; 'Tis now the promised hour, that must proclaim The life or death of Lara's future fame; And Ezzelin his charge may here unfold,[kh] And whatsoe'er the tale, it must be told. His faith was pledged, and Lara's promise given, 670 To meet it in the eye of Man and Heaven. Why comes he not? Such truths to be divulged, Methinks the accuser's rest is long indulged.

III.

The hour is past, and Lara too is there, With self-confiding, coldly patient air; Why comes not Ezzelin? The hour is past, And murmurs rise, and Otho's brow's o'ercast. "I know my friend! his faith I cannot fear, If yet he be on earth, expect him here; The roof that held him in the valley stands 680 Between my own and noble Lara's lands; My halls from such a guest had honour gained, Nor had Sir Ezzelin his host disdained, But that some previous proof forbade his stay, And urged him to prepare against to-day; The word I pledged for his I pledge again, Or will myself redeem his knighthood's stain." He ceased—and Lara answered, "I am here To lend at thy demand a listening ear To tales of evil from a stranger's tongue, 690 Whose words already might my heart have wrung, But that I deemed him scarcely less than mad, Or, at the worst, a foe ignobly bad. I know him not—but me it seems he knew In lands where—but I must not trifle too: Produce this babbler—or redeem the pledge; Here in thy hold, and with thy falchion's edge."[ki]

Proud Otho on the instant, reddening, threw His glove on earth, and forth his sabre flew. "The last alternative befits me best, 700 And thus I answer for mine absent guest."

With cheek unchanging from its sallow gloom, However near his own or other's tomb; With hand, whose almost careless coolness spoke Its grasp well-used to deal the sabre-stroke; With eye, though calm, determined not to spare, Did Lara too his willing weapon bare. In vain the circling Chieftains round them closed, For Otho's frenzy would not be opposed; And from his lip those words of insult fell— 710 His sword is good who can maintain them well.

IV.

Short was the conflict; furious, blindly rash, Vain Otho gave his bosom to the gash: He bled, and fell; but not with deadly wound, Stretched by a dextrous sleight along the ground. "Demand thy life!" He answered not: and then From that red floor he ne'er had risen again, For Lara's brow upon the moment grew Almost to blackness in its demon hue;[281] And fiercer shook his angry falchion now 720 Than when his foe's was levelled at his brow; Then all was stern collectedness and art, Now rose the unleavened hatred of his heart; So little sparing to the foe he felled,[kj] That when the approaching crowd his arm withheld, He almost turned the thirsty point on those Who thus for mercy dared to interpose; But to a moment's thought that purpose bent; Yet looked he on him still with eye intent, As if he loathed the ineffectual strife 730 That left a foe, howe'er o'erthrown, with life; As if to search how far the wound he gave Had sent its victim onward to his grave.

V.

They raised the bleeding Otho, and the Leech Forbade all present question, sign, and speech; The others met within a neighbouring hall, And he, incensed, and heedless of them all,[kk] The cause and conqueror in this sudden fray, In haughty silence slowly strode away; He backed his steed, his homeward path he took, 740 Nor cast on Otho's towers a single look.

VI.

But where was he? that meteor of a night, Who menaced but to disappear with light. Where was this Ezzelin? who came and went, To leave no other trace of his intent. He left the dome of Otho long ere morn, In darkness, yet so well the path was worn He could not miss it: near his dwelling lay; But there he was not, and with coming day Came fast inquiry, which unfolded nought, 750 Except the absence of the Chief it sought. A chamber tenantless, a steed at rest, His host alarmed, his murmuring squires distressed: Their search extends along, around the path, In dread to meet the marks of prowlers' wrath: But none are there, and not a brake hath borne Nor gout of blood, nor shred of mantle torn; Nor fall nor struggle hath defaced the grass, Which still retains a mark where Murder was; Nor dabbling fingers left to tell the tale, 760 The bitter print of each convulsive nail, When agonised hands that cease to guard, Wound in that pang the smoothness of the sward. Some such had been, if here a life was reft, But these were not; and doubting Hope is left; And strange Suspicion, whispering Lara's name, Now daily mutters o'er his blackened fame; Then sudden silent when his form appeared, Awaits the absence of the thing it feared Again its wonted wondering to renew, 770 And dye conjecture with a darker hue.

VII.

Days roll along, and Otho's wounds are healed, But not his pride; and hate no more concealed: He was a man of power, and Lara's foe, The friend of all who sought to work him woe, And from his country's justice now demands Account of Ezzelin at Lara's hands. Who else than Lara could have cause to fear His presence? who had made him disappear, If not the man on whom his menaced charge 780 Had sate too deeply were he left at large? The general rumour ignorantly loud, The mystery dearest to the curious crowd; The seeming friendliness of him who strove To win no confidence, and wake no love; The sweeping fierceness which his soul betrayed, The skill with which he wielded his keen blade; Where had his arm unwarlike caught that art? Where had that fierceness grown upon his heart? For it was not the blind capricious rage[kl] 790 A word can kindle and a word assuage; But the deep working of a soul unmixed With aught of pity where its wrath had fixed; Such as long power and overgorged success Concentrates into all that's merciless: These, linked with that desire which ever sways Mankind, the rather to condemn than praise, 'Gainst Lara gathering raised at length a storm, Such as himself might fear, and foes would form, And he must answer for the absent head 800 Of one that haunts him still, alive or dead.

VIII.

Within that land was many a malcontent, Who cursed the tyranny to which he bent; That soil full many a wringing despot saw, Who worked his wantonness in form of law; Long war without and frequent broil within Had made a path for blood and giant sin, That waited but a signal to begin New havoc, such as civil discord blends, Which knows no neuter, owns but foes or friends; 810 Fixed in his feudal fortress each was lord, In word and deed obeyed, in soul abhorred. Thus Lara had inherited his lands, And with them pining hearts and sluggish hands; But that long absence from his native clime Had left him stainless of Oppression's crime, And now, diverted by his milder sway,[km] All dread by slow degrees had worn away. The menials felt their usual awe alone, But more for him than them that fear was grown; 820 They deemed him now unhappy, though at first Their evil judgment augured of the worst, And each long restless night, and silent mood, Was traced to sickness, fed by solitude: And though his lonely habits threw of late Gloom o'er his chamber, cheerful was his gate;[kn] For thence the wretched ne'er unsoothed withdrew, For them, at least, his soul compassion knew. Cold to the great, contemptuous to the high, The humble passed not his unheeding eye; 830 Much he would speak not, but beneath his roof They found asylum oft, and ne'er reproof. And they who watched might mark that, day by day, Some new retainers gathered to his sway; But most of late, since Ezzelin was lost, He played the courteous lord and bounteous host: Perchance his strife with Otho made him dread Some snare prepared for his obnoxious head; Whate'er his view, his favour more obtains With these, the people, than his fellow thanes. 840 If this were policy, so far 'twas sound, The million judged but of him as they found; From him by sterner chiefs to exile driven They but required a shelter, and 'twas given. By him no peasant mourned his rifled cot, And scarce the Serf could murmur o'er his lot; With him old Avarice found its hoard secure, With him contempt forbore to mock the poor; Youth present cheer and promised recompense Detained, till all too late to part from thence: 850 To Hate he offered, with the coming change, The deep reversion of delayed revenge; To Love, long baffled by the unequal match, The well-won charms success was sure to snatch.[ko] All now was ripe, he waits but to proclaim That slavery nothing which was still a name. The moment came, the hour when Otho thought Secure at last the vengeance which he sought: His summons found the destined criminal Begirt by thousands in his swarming hall; 860 Fresh from their feudal fetters newly riven, Defying earth, and confident of heaven. That morning he had freed the soil-bound slaves, Who dig no land for tyrants but their graves! Such is their cry—some watchword for the fight Must vindicate the wrong, and warp the right; Religion—Freedom—Vengeance—what you will, A word's enough to raise Mankind to kill;[kp] Some factious phrase by cunning caught and spread, That Guilt may reign-and wolves and worms be fed! 870

IX.

Throughout that clime the feudal Chiefs had gained Such sway, their infant monarch hardly reigned; Now was the hour for Faction's rebel growth, The Serfs contemned the one, and hated both: They waited but a leader, and they found One to their cause inseparably bound; By circumstance compelled to plunge again, In self-defence, amidst the strife of men. Cut off by some mysterious fate from those Whom Birth and Nature meant not for his foes, 880 Had Lara from that night, to him accurst, Prepared to meet, but not alone, the worst: Some reason urged, whate'er it was, to shun Inquiry into deeds at distance done; By mingling with his own the cause of all, E'en if he failed, he still delayed his fall. The sullen calm that long his bosom kept, The storm that once had spent itself and slept, Roused by events that seemed foredoomed to urge His gloomy fortunes to their utmost verge, 890 Burst forth, and made him all he once had been, And is again; he only changed the scene. Light care had he for life, and less for fame, But not less fitted for the desperate game: He deemed himself marked out for others' hate, And mocked at Ruin so they shared his fate. And cared he for the freedom of the crowd? He raised the humble but to bend the proud. He had hoped quiet in his sullen lair, But Man and Destiny beset him there: 900 Inured to hunters, he was found at bay; And they must kill, they cannot snare the prey. Stern, unambitious, silent, he had been Henceforth a calm spectator of Life's scene; But dragged again upon the arena, stood A leader not unequal to the feud; In voice—mien—gesture—savage nature spoke, And from his eye the gladiator broke.

X.

What boots the oft-repeated tale of strife, The feast of vultures, and the waste of life? 910 The varying fortune of each separate field, The fierce that vanquish, and the faint that yield? The smoking ruin, and the crumbled wall? In this the struggle was the same with all; Save that distempered passions lent their force In bitterness that banished all remorse. None sued, for Mercy knew her cry was vain, The captive died upon the battle-plain:[kq] In either cause, one rage alone possessed The empire of the alternate victor's breast; 920 And they that smote for freedom or for sway, Deemed few were slain, while more remained to slay. It was too late to check the wasting brand, And Desolation reaped the famished land; The torch was lighted, and the flame was spread, And Carnage smiled upon her daily dead.

XI.

Fresh with the nerve the new-born impulse strung, The first success to Lara's numbers clung: But that vain victory hath ruined all; They form no longer to their leader's call: 930 In blind confusion on the foe they press, And think to snatch is to secure success. The lust of booty, and the thirst of hate, Lure on the broken brigands to their fate: In vain he doth whate'er a chief may do, To check the headlong fury of that crew; In vain their stubborn ardour he would tame, The hand that kindles cannot quench the flame; The wary foe alone hath turned their mood, And shown their rashness to that erring brood: 940 The feigned retreat, the nightly ambuscade, The daily harass, and the fight delayed, The long privation of the hoped supply, The tentless rest beneath the humid sky, The stubborn wall that mocks the leaguer's art, And palls the patience of his baffled art, Of these they had not deemed: the battle-day They could encounter as a veteran may; But more preferred the fury of the strife,[kr] And present death, to hourly suffering life: 950 And Famine wrings, and Fever sweeps away His numbers melting fast from their array; Intemperate triumph fades to discontent, And Lara's soul alone seems still unbent; But few remain to aid his voice and hand, And thousands dwindled to a scanty band: Desperate, though few, the last and best remained To mourn the discipline they late disdained. One hope survives, the frontier is not far, And thence they may escape from native war: 960 And bear within them to the neighbouring state An exile's sorrows, or an outlaw's hate: Hard is the task their father-land to quit, But harder still to perish or submit.

XII.

It is resolved—they march—consenting Night Guides with her star their dim and torchless flight; Already they perceive its tranquil beam Sleep on the surface of the barrier stream; Already they descry—Is yon the bank? Away! 'tis lined with many a hostile rank. 970 Return or fly!—What glitters in the rear? 'Tis Otho's banner—the pursuer's spear! Are those the shepherds' fires upon the height? Alas! they blaze too widely for the flight: Cut off from hope, and compassed in the toil, Less blood perchance hath bought a richer spoil!

XIII.

A moment's pause—'tis but to breathe their band, Or shall they onward press, or here withstand? It matters little—if they charge the foes Who by their border-stream their march oppose, 980 Some few, perchance, may break and pass the line, However linked to baffle such design. "The charge be ours! to wait for their assault Were fate well worthy of a coward's halt." Forth flies each sabre, reined is every steed, And the next word shall scarce outstrip the deed: In the next tone of Lara's gathering breath How many shall but hear the voice of Death!

XIV.

His blade is bared,—in him there is an air As deep, but far too tranquil for despair; 990 A something of indifference more than then Becomes the bravest, if they feel for men— He turned his eye on Kaled, ever near, And still too faithful to betray one fear; Perchance 'twas but the moon's dim twilight threw Along his aspect an unwonted hue Of mournful paleness, whose deep tint expressed The truth, and not the terror of his breast. This Lara marked, and laid his hand on his: It trembled not in such an hour as this; 1000 His lip was silent, scarcely beat his heart, His eye alone proclaimed, "We will not part! Thy band may perish, or thy friends may flee, Farewell to Life—but not Adieu to thee!"

The word hath passed his lips, and onward driven, Pours the linked band through ranks asunder riven: Well has each steed obeyed the armed heel, And flash the scimitars, and rings the steel; Outnumbered, not outbraved, they still oppose Despair to daring, and a front to foes; 1010 And blood is mingled with the dashing stream, Which runs all redly till the morning beam.[ks]

XV.[282]

Commanding—aiding—animating all,[283] Where foe appeared to press, or friend to fall, Cheers Lara's voice, and waves or strikes his steel, Inspiring hope, himself had ceased to feel. None fled, for well they knew that flight were vain; But those that waver turn to smite again, While yet they find the firmest of the foe Recoil before their leader's look and blow: 1020 Now girt with numbers, now almost alone, He foils their ranks, or re-unites his own; Himself he spared not—once they seemed to fly— Now was the time, he waved his hand on high, And shook—Why sudden droops that plumed crest? The shaft is sped—the arrow's in his breast! That fatal gesture left the unguarded side, And Death has stricken down yon arm of pride. The word of triumph fainted from his tongue; That hand, so raised, how droopingly it hung! 1030 But yet the sword instinctively retains, Though from its fellow shrink the falling reins; These Kaled snatches: dizzy with the blow, And senseless bending o'er his saddle-bow, Perceives not Lara that his anxious page Beguiles his charger from the combat's rage: Meantime his followers charge, and charge again; Too mixed the slayers now to heed the slain!

XVI.

Day glimmers on the dying and the dead, The cloven cuirass, and the helmless head; 1040 The war-horse masterless is on the earth,[kt][284] And that last gasp hath burst his bloody girth; And near, yet quivering with what life remained, The heel that urged him and the hand that reined; And some too near that rolling torrent lie,[ku] Whose waters mock the lip of those that die; That panting thirst which scorches in the breath Of those that die the soldier's fiery death, In vain impels the burning mouth to crave One drop—the last—to cool it for the grave; 1050 With feeble and convulsive effort swept, Their limbs along the crimsoned turf have crept; The faint remains of life such struggles waste, But yet they reach the stream, and bend to taste: They feel its freshness, and almost partake— Why pause? No further thirst have they to slake— It is unquenched, and yet they feel it not; It was an agony—but now forgot!

XVII.

Beneath a lime, remoter from the scene, Where but for him that strife had never been, 1060 A breathing but devoted warrior lay: 'Twas Lara bleeding fast from life away. His follower once, and now his only guide, Kneels Kaled watchful o'er his welling side, And with his scarf would staunch the tides that rush, With each convulsion, in a blacker gush; And then, as his faint breathing waxes low, In feebler, not less fatal tricklings flow: He scarce can speak, but motions him 'tis vain, And merely adds another throb to pain. 1070 He clasps the hand that pang which would assuage, And sadly smiles his thanks to that dark page, Who nothing fears—nor feels—nor heeds—nor sees— Save that damp brow which rests upon his knees; Save that pale aspect, where the eye, though dim, Held all the light that shone on earth for him.

XVIII.

The foe arrives, who long had searched the field, Their triumph nought till Lara too should yield: They would remove him, but they see 'twere vain, And he regards them with a calm disdain, 1080 That rose to reconcile him with his fate, And that escape to death from living hate: And Otho comes, and leaping from his steed, Looks on the bleeding foe that made him bleed, And questions of his state; he answers not, Scarce glances on him as on one forgot, And turns to Kaled:—each remaining word They understood not, if distinctly heard; His dying tones are in that other tongue, To which some strange remembrance wildly clung. 1090 They spake of other scenes, but what—is known To Kaled, whom their meaning reached alone; And he replied, though faintly, to their sound, While gazed the rest in dumb amazement round: They seemed even then—that twain—unto the last To half forget the present in the past; To share between themselves some separate fate, Whose darkness none beside should penetrate.

XIX.[285]

Their words though faint were many—from the tone Their import those who heard could judge alone; 1100 From this, you might have deemed young Kaled's death More near than Lara's by his voice and breath, So sad—so deep—and hesitating broke The accents his scarce-moving pale lips spoke;[kv] But Lara's voice, though low, at first was clear And calm, till murmuring Death gasped hoarsely near; But from his visage little could we guess, So unrepentant—dark—and passionless,[kw] Save that when struggling nearer to his last, Upon that page his eye was kindly cast; 1110 And once, as Kaled's answering accents ceased, Rose Lara's hand, and pointed to the East: Whether (as then the breaking Sun from high Rolled back the clouds) the morrow caught his eye, Or that 'twas chance—or some remembered scene, That raised his arm to point where such had been, Scarce Kaled seemed to know, but turned away, As if his heart abhorred that coming day, And shrunk his glance before that morning light, To look on Lara's brow—where all grew night. 1120 Yet sense seemed left, though better were its loss; For when one near displayed the absolving Cross, And proffered to his touch the holy bead, Of which his parting soul might own the need, He looked upon it with an eye profane, And smiled—Heaven pardon! if 'twere with disdain: And Kaled, though he spoke not, nor withdrew From Lara's face his fixed despairing view, With brow repulsive, and with gesture swift, Flung back the hand which held the sacred gift, 1130 As if such but disturbed the expiring man, Nor seemed to know his life but then began— That Life of Immortality, secure[kx] To none, save them whose faith in Christ is sure.

XX.

But gasping heaved the breath that Lara drew,[ky] And dull the film along his dim eye grew; His limbs stretched fluttering, and his head drooped o'er The weak yet still untiring knee that bore; He pressed the hand he held upon his heart— It beats no more, but Kaled will not part 1140 With the cold grasp, but feels, and feels in vain, For that faint throb which answers not again. "It beats!"—Away, thou dreamer! he is gone— It once was Lara which thou look'st upon.

XXI.

He gazed, as if not yet had passed away[kz] The haughty spirit of that humbled clay; And those around have roused him from his trance, But cannot tear from thence his fixed glance; And when, in raising him from where he bore Within his arms the form that felt no more, 1150 He saw the head his breast would still sustain, Roll down like earth to earth upon the plain; He did not dash himself thereby, nor tear The glossy tendrils of his raven hair, But strove to stand and gaze, but reeled and fell, Scarce breathing more than that he loved so well. Than that he loved! Oh! never yet beneath The breast of man such trusty love may breathe! That trying moment hath at once revealed The secret long and yet but half concealed; 1160 In baring to revive that lifeless breast, Its grief seemed ended, but the sex confessed; And life returned, and Kaled felt no shame— What now to her was Womanhood or Fame?

XXII.

And Lara sleeps not where his fathers sleep, But where he died his grave was dug as deep; Nor is his mortal slumber less profound, Though priest nor blessed nor marble decked the mound, And he was mourned by one whose quiet grief, Less loud, outlasts a people's for their Chief. 1170 Vain was all question asked her of the past, And vain e'en menace—silent to the last; She told nor whence, nor why she left behind Her all for one who seemed but little kind. Why did she love him? Curious fool!—be still— Is human love the growth of human will? To her he might be gentleness; the stern Have deeper thoughts than your dull eyes discern, And when they love, your smilers guess not how Beats the strong heart, though less the lips avow. 1180 They were not common links, that formed the chain That bound to Lara Kaled's heart and brain; But that wild tale she brooked not to unfold, And sealed is now each lip that could have told.

XXIII.

They laid him in the earth, and on his breast, Besides the wound that sent his soul to rest, They found the scattered dints of many a scar, Which were not planted there in recent war; Where'er had passed his summer years of life, It seems they vanished in a land of strife; 1190 But all unknown his Glory or his Guilt,[la] These only told that somewhere blood was spilt, And Ezzelin, who might have spoke the past, Returned no more—that night appeared his last.

XXIV.

Upon that night (a peasant's is the tale) A Serf that crossed the intervening vale,[286] When Cynthia's light almost gave way to morn, And nearly veiled in mist her waning horn; A Serf, that rose betimes to thread the wood, And hew the bough that bought his children's food, 1200 Passed by the river that divides the plain Of Otho's lands and Lara's broad domain: He heard a tramp—a horse and horseman broke From out the wood—before him was a cloak Wrapt round some burthen at his saddle-bow, Bent was his head, and hidden was his brow. Roused by the sudden sight at such a time, And some foreboding that it might be crime, Himself unheeded watched the stranger's course, Who reached the river, bounded from his horse, 1210 And lifting thence the burthen which he bore, Heaved up the bank, and dashed it from the shore, Then paused—and looked—and turned—and seemed to watch, And still another hurried glance would snatch, And follow with his step the stream that flowed, As if even yet too much its surface showed; At once he started—stooped—around him strown The winter floods had scattered heaps of stone: Of these the heaviest thence he gathered there, And slung them with a more than common care. 1220 Meantime the Serf had crept to where unseen Himself might safely mark what this might mean; He caught a glimpse, as of a floating breast, And something glittered starlike on the vest; But ere he well could mark the buoyant trunk, A massy fragment smote it, and it sunk:[lb] It rose again, but indistinct to view, And left the waters of a purple hue, Then deeply disappeared: the horseman gazed Till ebbed the latest eddy it had raised; 1230 Then turning, vaulted on his pawing steed, And instant spurred him into panting speed. His face was masked—the features of the dead, If dead it were, escaped the observer's dread; But if in sooth a Star its bosom bore, Such is the badge that Knighthood ever wore, And such 'tis known Sir Ezzelin had worn Upon the night that led to such a morn. If thus he perished, Heaven receive his soul! His undiscovered limbs to ocean roll; 1240 And charity upon the hope would dwell It was not Lara's hand by which he fell.[lc]

XXV.

And Kaled—Lara—Ezzelin, are gone, Alike without their monumental stone! The first, all efforts vainly strove to wean From lingering where her Chieftain's blood had been: Grief had so tamed a spirit once too proud, Her tears were few, her wailing never loud; But furious would you tear her from the spot Where yet she scarce believed that he was not, 1250 Her eye shot forth with all the living fire That haunts the tigress in her whelpless ire; But left to waste her weary moments there, She talked all idly unto shapes of air, Such as the busy brain of Sorrow paints, And woos to listen to her fond complaints: And she would sit beneath the very tree Where lay his drooping head upon her knee; And in that posture where she saw him fall, His words, his looks, his dying grasp recall; 1260 And she had shorn, but saved her raven hair, And oft would snatch it from her bosom there, And fold, and press it gently to the ground, As if she staunched anew some phantom's wound.[ld] Herself would question, and for him reply; Then rising, start, and beckon him to fly From some imagined Spectre in pursuit; Then seat her down upon some linden's root, And hide her visage with her meagre hand, Or trace strange characters along the sand— 1270 This could not last—she lies by him she loved; Her tale untold—her truth too dearly proved.



FOOTNOTES:

[jb] {323} Lara the sequel of "the Corsair."—[MS. erased.]

[265] [A revised version of the following "Advertisement" was prefixed to the First Edition (Printed for J. Murray, Albemarle Street, By T. Davison, Whitefriars, 1814), which was accompanied by Jacqueline:

"The Reader—if the tale of Lara has the fortune to meet with one—may probably regard it as a sequel to the Corsair;—the colouring is of a similar cast, and although the situations of the characters are changed, the stories are in some measure connected. The countenance is nearly the same—but with a different expression. To the readers' conjecture are left the name of the writer and the failure or success of his attempt—the latter are the only points upon which the author or his judges can feel interested.

"The Poem of Jaqueline is the production of a different author and is added at the request of the writer of the former tale, whose wish and entreaty it was that it should occupy the first pages of the following volume, and he regrets that the tenacious courtesy of his friend would not permit him to place it where the judgement of the reader concurring with his own will suggest its more appropriate station."]

[266] The reader is apprised, that the name of Lara being Spanish, and no circumstance of local and natural description fixing the scene or hero of the poem to any country or age, the word "Serf," which could not be correctly applied to the lower classes in Spain, who were never vassals of the soil, has nevertheless been employed to designate the followers of our fictitious chieftain.

[Byron, writing to Murray, July 14, 1814, says, "The name only is Spanish; the country is not Spain, but the Moon" (not "Morea," as hitherto printed).—Letters, 1899, iii. 110. The MS. is dated May 15, 1814.]

[267] {324} [For the opening lines to Lara, see Murray's Magazine, January, 1887, vol. i. p. 3.]

[268] [Compare Childish Recollections, lines 221-224—

"Can Rank, or e'en a Guardian's name supply The love, which glistens in a Father's eye? For this, can Wealth, or Title's sound atone, Made, by a Parent's early loss, my own?"

Compare, too, English Bards, etc., lines 689-694, Poetical Works, 1898, i. 95, 352.]

[jc] First in each folly—nor the last in vice.—[MS. erased]

[jd] {325} Short was the course the beardless wanderer run.—[MS.]

[je] Another chief had won——.—[MS. erased.]

[jf] His friends forgot him—and his dog had died.—[MS.]

[jg] Without one rumour to relieve his care.—[MS. erased.]

[jh] That most might decorate that gloomy pile.—[MS. erased.]

[269] {326} [The construction is harsh and obscure, but the meaning is, perhaps, that, though Lara's soul was haughty, his sins were due to nothing worse than pleasure, that they were the natural sins of youth.]

[ji] {328} Their refuge in intensity of thought.—[MS.]

[jj] {329} The sound of other voices than his own.—[MS.]

[270] ["The circumstance of his having at this time [1808-9] among the ornaments of his study, a number of skulls highly polished, and placed on light stands round the room, would seem to indicate that he rather courted than shunned such gloomy associations."—Life, p. 87.]

[271] [Compare—

"His train but deemed the favourite page Was left behind to spare his age, Or other if they deemed, none dared To mutter what he thought or heard." Marmion, Canto III. stanza xv. lines 19-22.]

[272] [Compare—

"Sweetly shining on the eye, A rivulet gliding smoothly by; Which shows with what an easy tide The moments of the happy glide."

Dyer's Country Walk (Poetical Works of Armstrong, Dyer, and Green, 1858, p. 221).]

[273] {331} ["He used, at first, though offered a bed at Annesley, to return every night to Newstead, to sleep; alleging as a reason that he was afraid of the family pictures of the Chaworths."—Life, p. 27.]

[jk] ——knelt in painted prayer.—[MS.]

[jl] His aspect all that best becomes the grave.—[MS.]

[jm] {333} ——along the gallery crawl.—[MS.]

[jn] {334} Opinion various as his varying eye In praise or railing—never passed him by.—[MS.]

[jo] {335} ——gayest of the gay.—[MS.]

[274] [The MS. omits lines 313-382. Stanza xviii. is written on a loose sheet belonging to the Murray MSS.; stanza xix. on a sheet inserted in the MS. Both stanzas must have been composed after the first draft of the poem was completed.]

[jp] ——an inward scorn of all.—[MS.]

[275] {336} [Compare Coleridge's Lines to a Gentleman [William Wordsworth] (written in 1807, but not published till 1817), lines 69, 70—

"Sense of past youth, and manhood come in vain, And genius given, and knowledge won in vain."]

[jq] And left Reflection: loth himself to blame, He called on Nature's self to share the shame.—[MS.]

[jr] And half mistook for fate his wayward will.—[MS.]

[276] [For Byron's belief or half-persuasion that he was predestined to evil, compare Childe Harold, Canto I. stanza lxxxiii. lines 8, 9, and note. Compare, too, Canto III. stanza lxx. lines 8 and 9; and Canto IV. stanza xxxiv. line 6: Poetical Works, 1899, ii, 74, 260, 354.]

[js] {337} ——around another's mind; There he was fixed——.—[MS.]

[jt] {338} That friendship, interest, aversion knew But there within your inmost——.—[MS.]

[ju] Yes you might hate abhor, but from the breast He wrung an all unwilling interestVain was the struggle, in that sightless net.—[MS.]

[jv] So springs the exulting spirit—.—[MS.]

[jw] {339} That question thus repeated—Thrice and high.—[MS.]

[jx] {340} Art thou not he who——" "Whatso'eer I be.—[MS.]

[jy] {342} "Tomorrow!—aye—tomorrow" these were all The words from Lara's answering lip that fall.—[MS.]

[jz] {343} That brought their native echoes to his ear.—[MS.]

[ka] From high and quickened into life and thought.—[MS.]

[kb] {344} Though no reluctance checked his willing hand, He still obeyed as others would command.—[MS.]

[kc] To tune his lute and, if none else were there, To fill the cup in which himself might share.—[MS.]

[kd] {345} Yet still existed there though still supprest.—[ms]

[ke] And when the slaves and pages round him told.—[ms]

[277] {346} [Compare—

"Strange things I have in head, that will to hand, Which must be acted, ere they may be scanned." Macbeth, act iii. sc. 4, lines 139, 140.]

[kf] {347} There lie the lover's hope—the watcher's toil.—[MS.]

[kg] And half-Existence melts within a grave.—[MS.]

[278] {348} [Compare—

"Now slowly melting into day, Vapour and mist dissolved away."

Sotheby's Constance de Castile, Canto III. stanza v. lines 17, 18.]

[279] [Compare the last lines of Pippa's song in Browning's Pippa Passes—"God's in His Heaven, all's right with the world!"]

[280] [Mr. Alexander Dyce points out the resemblance between these lines and a passage in one of Pope's letters to Steele (July 15, 1712, Works, 1754, viii. 226): "The morning after my exit the sun will rise as bright as ever, the flowers smell as sweet, the plants spring as green."]

[kh] {349} When Ezzelin——.—[Ed. 1831.]

[ki] Here in thy hall——.—[MS.]

[281] {351} [Compare Mysteries of Udolpho, by Mrs. Ann Radcliffe, 1794, ii. 279: "The Count then fell back into the arms of his servants, while Montoni held his sword over him and bade him ask his life ... his complexion changed almost to blackness as he looked upon his fallen adversary."]

[kj] And turned to smite a foe already felled.—[MS.]

[kk] And he less calm—yet calmer than them all.—[MS.]

[kl] {353} ——the blind and headlong rage.—[MS.]

[km] {354} The first impressions with his milder sway Of dread——.—[MS.]

[kn] Mysterious gloom around his hall and state.—[MS.]

[ko] {355} The Beauty—which the first success would snatch.—[MS.]

[kp] {356} A word's enough to rouse mankind to kill Some factions phrase by cunning raised and spread.—[MS.]

[kq] {357} ——upon the battle slain.—[Ed. 1831.]

[kr] {358} But not endure the long protracted strife.—[MS. erased.]

[ks] {360} And raged the combat till——.—[MS.]

[282] {361} [Stanza XV. was added after the completion of the first draft of the poem.]

[283] [Compare— "Il s'excite, il s'empresse, il inspire aux soldats Cet espoir genereux que lui-meme il n'a pas." Voltaire, Henriade, Chant. viii. lines 127, 128, Oeuvres Completes, Paris, 1837, ii. 325.]

[kt] {362} The stiffening steed is on the dinted earth.—[MS.]

[284] [Compare— "There lay a horse, another through the field Ran masterless." Tasso's Jerusalem (translated by Edward Fairfax), Bk. VII. stanza cvi. lines 3, 4.]

[ku] ——that glassy river lie.—[MS.]

[285] {364} [Stanza xix. was added after the completion of the poem. The MS. is extant.]

[kv] ——white lips spoke.—[MS.]

[kw] ——pale—and passionless.—[MS.]

[kx] {365} That Life—immortal—infinite secure To All for whom that Cross hath made it sure.— [MS. First ed. 1814.] or, That life immortal, infinite and sure To all whose faith the eternal boon secure.—[MS.]

[ky] But faint the dying Lara's accents grew.—[MS.]

[kz] He gazed as doubtful that the thing he saw Had something more to ask from Lone or awe.—[MS.]

[la] {367} But all unknown the blood he lost or spilt These only told his Glory or his Guilt.—[MS.]

[286] The event in this section was suggested by the description of the death or rather burial of the Duke of Gandia. "The most interesting and particular account of it is given by Burchard, and is in substance as follows:—'On the eighth day of June, the Cardinal of Valenza and the Duke of Gandia, sons of the pope, supped with their mother, Vanozza, near the church of S. Pietro ad vincula: several other persons being present at the entertainment. A late hour approaching, and the cardinal having reminded his brother that it was time to return to the apostolic palace, they mounted their horses or mules, with only a few attendants, and proceeded together as far as the palace of Cardinal Ascanio Sforza, when the duke informed the cardinal that, before he returned home, he had to pay a visit of pleasure. Dismissing therefore all his attendants, excepting his staffiero, or footman, and a person in a mask, who had paid him a visit whilst at supper, and who, during the space of a month or thereabouts, previous to this time, had called upon him almost daily at the apostolic palace, he took this person behind him on his mule, and proceeded to the street of the Jews, where he quitted his servant, directing him to remain there until a certain hour; when, if he did not return, he might repair to the palace. The duke then seated the person in the mask behind him, and rode I know not whither; but in that night he was assassinated, and thrown into the river. The servant, after having been dismissed, was also assaulted and mortally wounded; and although he was attended with great care, yet such was his situation, that he could give no intelligible account of what had befallen his master. In the morning, the duke not having returned to the palace, his servants began to be alarmed; and one of them informed the pontiff of the evening excursion of his sons, and that the duke had not yet made his appearance. This gave the pope no small anxiety; but he conjectured that the duke had been attracted by some courtesan to pass the night with her, and, not choosing to quit the house in open day, had waited till the following evening to return home. When, however, the evening arrived, and he found himself disappointed in his expectations, he became deeply afflicted, and began to make inquiries from different persons, whom he ordered to attend him for that purpose. Amongst these was a man named Giorgio Schiavoni, who, having discharged some timber from a bark in the river, had remained on board the vessel to watch it; and being interrogated whether he had seen any one thrown into the river on the night preceding, he replied, that he saw two men on foot, who came down the street, and looked diligently about to observe whether any person was passing. That seeing no one, they returned, and a short time afterwards two others came, and looked around in the same manner as the former: no person still appearing, they gave a sign to their companions, when a man came, mounted on a white horse, having behind him a dead body, the head and arms of which hung on one side, and the feet on the other side of the horse; the two persons on foot supporting the body, to prevent its falling. They thus proceeded towards that part where the filth of the city is usually discharged into the river, and turning the horse, with his tail towards the water, the two persons took the dead body by the arms and feet, and with all their strength flung it into the river. The person on horseback then asked if they had thrown it in; to which they replied, Signor, si (yes, Sir). He then looked towards the river, and seeing a mantle floating on the stream, he enquired what it was that appeared black, to which they answered, it was a mantle; and one of them threw stones upon it, in consequence of which it sunk. The attendants of the pontiff then enquired from Giorgio, why he had not revealed this to the governor of the city; to which he replied, that he had seen in his time a hundred dead bodies thrown into the river at the same place, without any inquiry being made respecting them; and that he had not, therefore, considered it as a matter of any importance. The fishermen and seamen were then collected, and ordered to search the river, where, on the following evening, they found the body of the duke, with his habit entire, and thirty ducats in his purse. He was pierced with nine wounds, one of which was in his throat, the others in his head, body, and limbs. No sooner was the pontiff informed of the death of his son, and that he had been thrown, like filth, into the river, than, giving way to his grief, he shut himself up in a chamber, and wept bitterly. The Cardinal of Segovia, and other attendants on the pope, went to the door, and after many hours spent in persuasions and exhortations, prevailed upon him to admit them. From the evening of Wednesday till the following Saturday the pope took no food; nor did he sleep from Thursday morning till the same hour on the ensuing day. At length, however, giving way to the entreaties of his attendants, he began to restrain his sorrow, and to consider the injury which his own health might sustain by the further indulgence of his grief.'"—Roscoe's Life and Pontificate of Leo Tenth, 1805, i. 265. [See, too, for the original in Burchard Diar, in Gordon's Life of Alex. VI., Append., "De Caede Ducis Gandiae," Append. No. xlviii., ib., pp. 90, 91.]

[lb] {370} A mighty pebble——.—[MS.]

[lc] That not unarmed in combat fair he fell.—[MS. erased.]

[ld] {371} ——some phantom wound.—[MS.]



HEBREW MELODIES



INTRODUCTION TO HEBREW MELODIES

According to the "Advertisement" prefixed to Murray's First Edition of the Hebrew Melodies, London, 1815 (the date, January, 1815, was appended in 1832), the "poems were written at the request of the author's friend, the Hon. D. Kinnaird, for a selection of Hebrew Melodies, and have been published, with the music, arranged by Mr. Braham and Mr. Nathan."

Byron's engagement to Miss Milbanke took place in September, 1814, and the remainder of the year was passed in London, at his chambers in the Albany. The so-called Hebrew Melodies were, probably, begun in the late autumn of that year, and were certainly finished at Seaham, after his marriage had taken place, in January-February, 1815. It is a natural and pardonable conjecture that Byron took to writing sacred or, at any rate, scriptural verses by way of giving pleasure and doing honour to his future wife, "the girl who gave to song What gold could never buy." They were, so to speak, the first-fruits of a seemlier muse.

It is probable that the greater number of these poems were in MS. before it occurred to Byron's friend and banker, the Honble. Douglas James William Kinnaird (1788-1830), to make him known to Isaac Nathan (1792-1864), a youthful composer of "musical farces and operatic works," who had been destined by his parents for the Hebrew priesthood, but had broken away, and, after some struggles, succeeded in qualifying himself as a musician.

Byron took a fancy to Nathan, and presented him with the copyright of his "poetical effusions," on the understanding that they were to be set to music and sung in public by John Braham. "Professional occupations" prevented Braham from fulfilling his part of the engagement, but a guinea folio (Part. I.) ("Selections of Hebrew Melodies, Ancient and Modern, with appropriate symphonies and accompaniments, by I. Braham and I. Nathan, the poetry written expressly for the work by the Right Honourable Lord Byron")—with an ornamental title-page designed by the architect Edward Blore (1789-1879), and dedicated to the Princess Charlotte of Wales—was published in April, 1815. A second part was issued in 1816.

The preface, part of which was reprinted (p. vi.) by Nathan, in his Fugitive Pieces and Reminiscences of Lord Byron, London, 1829, is not without interest—

"The Hebrew Melodies are a selection from the favourite airs which are still sung in the religious ceremonies of the Jews. Some of these have, in common with all their Sacred airs, been preserved by memory and tradition alone, without the assistance of written characters. Their age and originality, therefore, must be left to conjecture. But the latitude given to the taste and genius of their performers has been the means of engrafting on the original Melodies a certain wildness and pathos, which have at length become the chief characteristics of the sacred songs of the Jews....

"Of the poetry it is necessary to speak, in order thus publicly to acknowledge the kindness with which Lord Byron has condescended to furnish the most valuable part of the work. It has been our endeavour to select such melodies as would best suit the style and sentiment of the poetry."

Moore, for whose benefit the Melodies had been rehearsed, was by no means impressed by their "wildness and pathos," and seems to have twitted Byron on the subject, or, as he puts it (Life, p. 276), to have taken the liberty of "laughing a little at the manner in which some of the Hebrew Melodies had been set to music." The author of Sacred Songs (1814) set to airs by Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, etc., was a critic not to be gainsaid, but from the half-comical petulance with which he "curses" and "sun-burns" (Letters to Moore, February 22, March 8, 1815, Letters, 1899, iii. 179, 183) Nathan, and his "vile Ebrew nasalities," it is evident that Byron winced under Moore's "chaff."

Apart from the merits or demerits of the setting, the title Hebrew Melodies is somewhat misleading. Three love-songs, "She walks in Beauty like the Night," "Oh! snatched away in Beauty's Bloom," and "I saw thee weep," still form part of the collection; and, in Nathan's folio (which does not contain "A spirit passed before me"), two fragments, "It is the hour when from the boughs" and "Francesca walks in the shadow of night," which were afterwards incorporated in Parisina, were included. The Fugitive Pieces, 1829, retain the fragments from Parisina, and add the following hitherto unpublished poems: "I speak not, I trace not," etc., "They say that Hope is Happiness," and the genuine but rejected Hebrew Melody "In the valley of waters we wept on the day."

It is uncertain when Murray's first edition appeared. Byron wrote to Nathan with regard to the copyright in January, 1815 (Letters, 1899, iii. 167), but it is unlikely that the volume was put on the market before Nathan's folio, which was advertised for the first time in the Morning Chronicle, April 6, 1815; and it is possible that the first public announcement of the Hebrew Melodies, as a separate issue, was made in the Courier, June 22, 1815.

The Hebrew Melodies were reviewed in the Christian Observer, August, 1815, vol. xiv. p. 542; in the Analectic Magazine, October, 1815, vol. vi. p. 292; and were noticed by Jeffrey [The Hebrew Melodies, though "obviously inferior" to Lord Byron's other works, "display a skill in versification and a mastery in diction which would have raised an inferior artist to the very summit of distinction"] in the Edinburgh Review, December, 1816, vol. xxvii. p. 291.



ADVERTISEMENT

The subsequent poems were written at the request of my friend, the Hon. Douglas Kinnaird, for a Selection of Hebrew Melodies, and have been published, with the music, arranged by Mr. Braham and Mr. Nathan.

January, 1815.



HEBREW MELODIES



SHE WALKS IN BEAUTY.[287]

I.

She walks in Beauty, like the night Of cloudless climes and starry skies; And all that's best of dark and bright Meet in her aspect and her eyes: Thus mellowed to that tender light Which Heaven to gaudy day denies.

II.

One shade the more, one ray the less, Had half impaired the nameless grace Which waves in every raven tress, Or softly lightens o'er her face; Where thoughts serenely sweet express, How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

III.

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow, So soft, so calm, yet eloquent, The smiles that win, the tints that glow, But tell of days in goodness spent, A mind at peace with all below, A heart whose love is innocent!

June 12, 1814.



THE HARP THE MONARCH MINSTREL SWEPT.

I.

The Harp the Monarch Minstrel swept,[le] The King of men, the loved of Heaven! Which Music hallowed while she wept O'er tones her heart of hearts had given— Redoubled be her tears, its chords are riven! It softened men of iron mould, It gave them virtues not their own; No ear so dull, no soul so cold, That felt not—fired not to the tone, Till David's Lyre grew mightier than his Throne!

II.

It told the triumphs of our King,[lf] It wafted glory to our God; It made our gladdened valleys ring, The cedars bow, the mountains nod; Its sound aspired to Heaven and there abode![288] Since then, though heard on earth no more,[lg] Devotion and her daughter Love Still bid the bursting spirit soar To sounds that seem as from above, In dreams that day's broad light can not remove.



IF THAT HIGH WORLD.

I.

If that high world,[289] which lies beyond Our own, surviving Love endears; If there the cherished heart be fond, The eye the same, except in tears— How welcome those untrodden spheres! How sweet this very hour to die! To soar from earth and find all fears Lost in thy light—Eternity!

II.

It must be so: 'tis not for self That we so tremble on the brink; And striving to o'erleap the gulf, Yet cling to Being's severing link.[lh] Oh! in that future let us think To hold each heart the heart that shares, With them the immortal waters drink, And soul in soul grow deathless theirs!



THE WILD GAZELLE.

I.

The wild gazelle on Judah's hills Exulting yet may bound, And drink from all the living rills That gush on holy ground; Its airy step and glorious eye[290] May glance in tameless transport by:—

II.

A step as fleet, an eye more bright, Hath Judah witnessed there; And o'er her scenes of lost delight Inhabitants more fair. The cedars wave on Lebanon, But Judah's statelier maids are gone!

III.

Than Israel's scattered race; For, taking root, it there remains In solitary grace: It cannot quit its place of birth, It will not live in other earth.

IV.

But we must wander witheringly, In other lands to die; And where our fathers' ashes be, Our own may never lie: Our temple hath not left a stone, And Mockery sits on Salem's throne.



OH! WEEP FOR THOSE.

I.

Oh! weep for those that wept by Babel's stream, Whose shrines are desolate, whose land a dream; Weep for the harp of Judah's broken shell; Mourn—where their God hath dwelt the godless dwell!

II.

And where shall Israel lave her bleeding feet? And when shall Zion's songs again seem sweet? And Judah's melody once more rejoice The hearts that leaped before its heavenly voice?

III.

Tribes of the wandering foot and weary breast, How shall ye flee away and be at rest! The wild-dove hath her nest, the fox his cave, Mankind their country—Israel but the grave!



ON JORDAN'S BANKS.

I.

On Jordan's banks the Arab's camels stray, On Sion's hill the False One's votaries pray, The Baal-adorer bows on Sinai's steep— Yet there—even there—Oh God! thy thunders sleep:

II.

There—where thy finger scorched the tablet stone! There—where thy shadow to thy people shone! Thy glory shrouded in its garb of fire: Thyself—none living see and not expire!

III.

Oh! in the lightning let thy glance appear; Sweep from his shivered hand the oppressor's spear! How long by tyrants shall thy land be trod? How long thy temple worshipless, Oh God?



JEPHTHA'S DAUGHTER.[291]

I.

Since our Country, our God—Oh, my Sire! Demand that thy Daughter expire; Since thy triumph was bought by thy vow— Strike the bosom that's bared for thee now!

II.

And the voice of my mourning is o'er, And the mountains behold me no more: If the hand that I love lay me low, There cannot be pain in the blow!

III.

And of this, oh, my Father! be sure— That the blood of thy child is as pure As the blessing I beg ere it flow, And the last thought that soothes me below.

IV.

Though the virgins of Salem lament, Be the judge and the hero unbent! I have won the great battle for thee, And my Father and Country are free!

V.

When this blood of thy giving hath gushed, When the voice that thou lovest is hushed, Let my memory still be thy pride, And forget not I smiled as I died!



OH! SNATCHED AWAY IN BEAUTY'S BLOOM.[292]

I.

Oh! snatched away in beauty's bloom, On thee shall press no ponderous tomb; But on thy turf shall roses rear Their leaves, the earliest of the year; And the wild cypress wave in tender gloom:[li]

II.

And oft by yon blue gushing stream Shall Sorrow lean her drooping head,[lj] And feed deep thought with many a dream, And lingering pause and lightly tread; Fond wretch! as if her step disturbed the dead!

III.

Away! we know that tears are vain, That Death nor heeds nor hears distress: Will this unteach us to complain? Or make one mourner weep the less? And thou—who tell'st me to forget,[lk] Thy looks are wan, thine eyes are wet.[ll][293]

[Published in the Examiner, April 23, 1815.]



MY SOUL IS DARK.

I.

My soul is dark—Oh! quickly string[294] The harp I yet can brook to hear; And let thy gentle fingers fling Its melting murmurs o'er mine ear. If in this heart a hope be dear, That sound shall charm it forth again: If in these eyes there lurk a tear, 'Twill flow, and cease to burn my brain.

II.

But bid the strain be wild and deep, Nor let thy notes of joy be first: I tell thee, minstrel, I must weep, Or else this heavy heart will burst; For it hath been by sorrow nursed, And ached in sleepless silence long; And now 'tis doomed to know the worst, And break at once—or yield to song.[295]



I SAW THEE WEEP.

I.

I saw thee weep—the big bright tear Came o'er that eye of blue;[296] And then methought it did appear A violet dropping dew: I saw thee smile—the sapphire's blaze Beside thee ceased to shine; It could not match the living rays That filled that glance of thine.

II.

As clouds from yonder sun receive A deep and mellow dye, Which scarce the shade of coming eve Can banish from the sky, Those smiles unto the moodiest mind Their own pure joy impart; Their sunshine leaves a glow behind That lightens o'er the heart.



THY DAYS ARE DONE.

I.

Thy days are done, thy fame begun; Thy country's strains record The triumphs of her chosen Son, The slaughters of his sword! The deeds he did, the fields he won, The freedom he restored!

II.

Though thou art fall'n, while we are free Thou shall not taste of death! The generous blood that flowed from thee Disdained to sink beneath: Within our veins its currents be, Thy spirit on our breath!

III.

Thy name, our charging hosts along, Shall be the battle-word! Thy fall, the theme of choral song From virgin voices poured! To weep would do thy glory wrong: Thou shalt not be deplored.



SAUL.

I.

Thou whose spell can raise the dead, Bid the Prophet's form appear. "Samuel, raise thy buried head! King, behold the phantom Seer!" Earth yawned; he stood the centre of a cloud: Light changed its hue, retiring from his shroud.[lm] Death stood all glassy in his fixed eye; His hand was withered, and his veins were dry; His foot, in bony whiteness, glittered there, Shrunken and sinewless, and ghastly bare; From lips that moved not and unbreathing frame, Like caverned winds, the hollow accents came. Saul saw, and fell to earth, as falls the oak, At once, and blasted by the thunder-stroke.[ln]

II.

"Why is my sleep disquieted? Who is he that calls the dead? Is it thou, O King? Behold, Bloodless are these limbs, and cold:[lo] Such are mine; and such shall be Thine to-morrow, when with me: Ere the coming day is done, Such shalt thou be—such thy Son. Fare thee well, but for a day, Then we mix our mouldering clay. Thou—thy race, lie pale and low, Pierced by shafts of many a bow; And the falchion by thy side To thy heart thy hand shall guide: Crownless—breathless—headless fall, Son and Sire—the house of Saul!"[297]

Seaham, Feb., 1815.



SONG OF SAUL BEFORE HIS LAST BATTLE.

I.

Warriors and chiefs! should the shaft or the sword Pierce me in leading the host of the Lord, Heed not the corse, though a King's, in your path:[lp] Bury your steel in the bosoms of Gath!

II.

Thou who art bearing my buckler and bow,[lq] Should the soldiers of Saul look away from the foe, Stretch me that moment in blood at thy feet! Mine be the doom which they dared not to meet.

III.

Farewell to others, but never we part, Heir to my Royalty—Son of my heart![lr] Bright is the diadem, boundless the sway, Or kingly the death, which awaits us to-day!

Seaham, 1815.



"ALL IS VANITY, SAITH THE PREACHER"

I.

Fame, Wisdom, Love, and Power were mine, And Health and Youth possessed me; My goblets blushed from every vine, And lovely forms caressed me; I sunned my heart in Beauty's eyes, And felt my soul grow tender; All Earth can give, or mortal prize, Was mine of regal splendour.

II.

I strive to number o'er what days[ls] Remembrance can discover, Which all that Life or Earth displays Would lure me to live over. There rose no day, there rolled no hour Of pleasure unembittered;[298] And not a trapping decked my Power That galled not while it glittered.

III.[lt]

The serpent of the field, by art And spells, is won from harming; But that which coils around the heart, Oh! who hath power of charming? It will not list to Wisdom's lore, Nor Music's voice can lure it; But there it stings for evermore The soul that must endure it.

Seaham, 1815.



WHEN COLDNESS WRAPS THIS SUFFERING CLAY.

I.

When coldness wraps this suffering clay,[lu] Ah! whither strays the immortal mind? It cannot die, it cannot stay, But leaves its darkened dust behind. Then, unembodied, doth it trace By steps each planet's heavenly way?[lv] Or fill at once the realms of space, A thing of eyes, that all survey?

II.

Eternal—boundless,—undecayed, A thought unseen, but seeing all, All, all in earth, or skies displayed,[lw] Shall it survey, shall it recall: Each fainter trace that Memory holds So darkly of departed years, In one broad glance the Soul beholds, And all, that was, at once appears.

III.

Before Creation peopled earth, Its eye shall roll through chaos back; And where the farthest heaven had birth, The Spirit trace its rising track. And where the future mars or makes, Its glance dilate o'er all to be, While Sun is quenched—or System breaks, Fixed in its own Eternity.

IV.

Above or Love—Hope—Hate—or Fear, It lives all passionless and pure: An age shall fleet like earthly year; Its years as moments shall endure. Away—away—without a wing, O'er all—through all—its thought shall fly, A nameless and eternal thing, Forgetting what it was to die.

Seaham, 1815.



VISION OF BELSHAZZAR.[299]

I.

The King was on his throne, The Satraps thronged the hall:[lx] A thousand bright lamps shone O'er that high festival. A thousand cups of gold, In Judah deemed divine—[ly] Jehovah's vessels hold The godless Heathen's wine!

II.

In that same hour and hall, The fingers of a hand Came forth against the wall, And wrote as if on sand: The fingers of a man;— A solitary hand Along the letters ran, And traced them like a wand.

III.

The monarch saw, and shook, And bade no more rejoice; All bloodless waxed his look, And tremulous his voice. "Let the men of lore appear, The wisest of the earth, And expound the words of fear, Which mar our royal mirth."

IV.

Chaldea's seers are good, But here they have no skill; And the unknown letters stood Untold and awful still. And Babel's men of age Are wise and deep in lore; But now they were not sage, They saw—but knew no more.

V.

A captive in the land, A stranger and a youth,[300] He heard the King's command, He saw that writing's truth. The lamps around were bright, The prophecy in view; He read it on that night,— The morrow proved it true.

VI.

"Belshazzar's grave is made,[lz] His kingdom passed away. He, in the balance weighed, Is light and worthless clay; The shroud, his robe of state, His canopy the stone; The Mede is at his gate! The Persian on his throne!"



SUN OF THE SLEEPLESS!

Sun of the sleepless! melancholy star! Whose tearful beam glows tremulously far, That show'st the darkness thou canst not dispel, How like art thou to Joy remembered well! So gleams the past, the light of other days, Which shines, but warms not with its powerless rays: A night-beam Sorrow watcheth to behold, Distinct, but distant—clear—but, oh how cold!



WERE MY BOSOM AS FALSE AS THOU DEEM'ST IT TO BE.

I.

Were my bosom as false as thou deem'st it to be, I need not have wandered from far Galilee; It was but abjuring my creed to efface The curse which, thou say'st, is the crime of my race.

II.

If the bad never triumph, then God is with thee! If the slave only sin—thou art spotless and free! If the Exile on earth is an Outcast on high, Live on in thy faith—but in mine I will die.

III.

I have lost for that faith more than thou canst bestow, As the God who permits thee to prosper doth know; In his hand is my heart and my hope—and in thine The land and the life which for him I resign.

Seaham, 1815.



HEROD'S LAMENT FOR MARIAMNE.[301]

I.

Oh, Mariamne! now for thee The heart for which thou bled'st is bleeding; Revenge is lost in Agony[ma] And wild Remorse to rage succeeding.[mb] Oh, Mariamne! where art thou? Thou canst not hear my bitter pleading:[mc] Ah! could'st thou—thou would'st pardon now, Though Heaven were to my prayer unheeding.

II.

And is she dead?—and did they dare Obey my Frenzy's jealous raving?[md] My Wrath but doomed my own despair: The sword that smote her 's o'er me waving.— But thou art cold, my murdered Love! And this dark heart is vainly craving[me] For he who soars alone above, And leaves my soul unworthy saving.

III.

She's gone, who shared my diadem; She sunk, with her my joys entombing; I swept that flower from Judah's stem, Whose leaves for me alone were blooming; And mine's the guilt, and mine the hell, This bosom's desolation dooming; And I have earned those tortures well,[mf] Which unconsumed are still consuming!

Jan. 15, 1815.



ON THE DAY OF THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM BY TITUS.

I.

From the last hill that looks on thy once holy dome,[mg] I beheld thee, oh Sion! when rendered to Rome:[mh] 'Twas thy last sun went down, and the flames of thy fall Flashed back on the last glance I gave to thy wall.

II.

I looked for thy temple—I looked for my home, And forgot for a moment my bondage to come;[mi] I beheld but the death-fire that fed on thy fane, And the fast-fettered hands that made vengeance in vain.

III.

On many an eve, the high spot whence I gazed Had reflected the last beam of day as it blazed; While I stood on the height, and beheld the decline Of the rays from the mountain that shone on thy shrine.

IV.

And now on that mountain I stood on that day, But I marked not the twilight beam melting away; Oh! would that the lightning had glared in its stead, And the thunderbolt burst on the Conqueror's head![mj]

V.

But the Gods of the Pagan shall never profane The shrine where Jehovah disdained not to reign; And scattered and scorned as thy people may be, Our worship, oh Father! is only for thee.

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