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But I was curious to ascend
I saw them and they were the same,
The only one in view;
A small green isle, it seem'd no more,
The fish swam by the castle wall,
It might be months, or years, or days —
And clear them of their dreary mote. At last men came to set me free,
I ask'd not why, and reck'd not where,
I learn'd to love despair.
And half I felt as they were come
In quiet we had learn'd to dwell
Celui qui remplissait alors cette place était un gentilhomme Polonais, nommé Mazeppa, né dans le palatinat de Podolie: il avait été élevé page de Jean Casimir, et avait pris à sa cour quelque teinture des belles-lettres. Une intrigue qu'il eut dans sa jeunesse avec la femme d'un gentilhomme Polonais ayant été découverte, le mari le fit lier tout nu sur un cheval farouche, et le laissa aller en cet état. Le cheval, qui était du pays de l'Ukraine, y retourna, et y porta Mazeppa, demi-mort de fatigue et de faim. Quelques paysans le secoururent il resta longtems parmi eux, et se signala dans plusieurs courses contre les Tartares. La supériorité de ses lumières lui donna une grande considération parmi les Cosaques : sa réputation s'augmentant de jour en jour, obligea le Czar à le faire Prince de l'Ukraine. VOLTAIRE, Hist. de Charles XII., p. 196.
Le roi fuyant, et poursuivi, eut son cheval tué sous lui; le Colonel Gieta, blessé, et perdant tout son sang, lui donna le sien. Ainsi on remit deux fois à cheval, dans la fuite, ce conquérant qui n'avait pu y monter pendant la bataille. p. 216.
Le roi alla par un autre chemin avec quelques cavaliers. Le carrosse où il était rompit dans la marche; on le remit à cheval. Pour comble de disgrace, il s'égara pendant la nuit dans un bois; là, son courage ne pouvant plus suppléer à ses forces épuisées, les douleurs de sa blessure devenues plus insupportables par la fatigue, son cheval étant tombé de lassitude, il se coucha quelques heures au pied d'un arbre, en danger d'être surpris à tout moment par les vainqueurs, qui le cherchaient de tous côtés. - p. 218.
'T was after dread Pultowa's day, When fortune left the royal Swede, Around a slaughter'd army lay,
No more to combat and to bleed. The power and glory of the war,
Faithless as their vain votaries, men, Had pass'd to the triumphant Czar,
And Moscow's walls were safe again, Until a day more dark and drear, And a more memorable year, Should give to slaughter and to shame A mightier host and haughtier name; A greater wreck, a deeper fall, A shock to one -a thunderbolt to all.
Such was the hazard of the die;
The wounded Charles was taught to fly
The heavy hour was chill and dark; The fever in his blood forbade
A transient slumber's fitful aid.
His horse was slain, and Gieta gave
A king must lay his limbs at length.
In outworn nature's agony;
His wounds were stiff, his limbs were
A band of chiefs!-alas! how few,
Each sate him down, all sad and mute,
And all are fellows in their need.
And smooth'd his fetlocks and his mane,
Without a star, pursued her flight,
Of this your troop.' 'But I request,'
'Well, sire, with such a hope, I'll track My seventy years of memory I think 't was in my twentieth spring, back. Ay, 't was, when Casimir was kingJohn Casimir, I was his page Six summers, in my earlier age, A learned monarch, faith! was he, And most unlike your majesty: He made no wars, and did not gain New realms to lose them back again; And (save debates in Warsaw's diet) He reign'd in most unseemly quiet. Not that he had no cares to vex, He loved the muses and the sex; And sometimes these so froward are, They made him wish himself at war; But soon his wrath being o'er, he took Another mistress, or new book. And then he gave prodigious fêtes All Warsaw gather'd round his gates To gaze upon his splendid court, And dames, and chiefs, of princely port. He was the Polish Solomon, So sung his poets, all but one, Who, being unpension'd, made a satire, And boasted that he could not flatter. It was a court of jousts and mimes, Where every courtier tried at rhymes; Even I for once produced some verses, And sign'd my odes "Despairing Thyrsis."
There was a certain Palatine,
A count of far and high descent,
As if from heaven he had been sent. He had such wealth in blood and ore
As few could match beneath the throne; And he would gaze upon his store, And o'er his pedigree would pore, Until by some confusion led, Which almost look'd like want of head, He thought their merits were his own. His wife was not of his opinion
His junior she by thirty years Grew daily tired of his dominion; And, after wishes, hopes, and fears, To virtue a few farewell tears, A restless dream or two, some glances At Warsaw's youth, some songs, and dances, Awaited but the usual chances (Those happy accidents which render The coldest dames so very tender), To deck her Count with titles given, 'T is said, as passports into heaven; But, strange to say, they rarely boast Of these, who have deserved them most.
'I was a goodly stripling then;
For time, and care, and war, have
My very soul from out my brow;
Had ta'en my features for his page:
And form a strange intelligence
Which link the burning chain that binds, 240
I long'd, and was resolved to speak;
The accents tremulous and weak,
I reck'd not if I won or lost,
It was enough for me to be
So near to hear, and oh! to see The being whom I loved the most. I watch'd her as a sentinel
(May ours this dark night watch as well!),
Until I saw, and thus it was, That she was pensive, nor perceived Her occupation, nor was grieved Nor glad to lose or gain; but still Play'd on for hours, as if her will Yet bound her to the place, though not That hers might be the winning lot. Then through my brain the thought did pass Even as a flash of lightning there, That there was something in her air Which would not doom me to despair; And on the thought my words broke forth,
All incoherent as they were —
Their eloquence was little worth, But yet she listen'd 't is enough, Who listens once will listen twice; Her heart, be sure, is not of ice, And one refusal no rebuff.
I loved, and was beloved again; In sooth, it is a happy doom,
But yet where happiest ends in pain. We met in secret, and the hour Which led me to that lady's bower Was fiery Expectation's dower. My days and nights were nothing, all Except that hour which doth recall In the long lapse from youth to age
No other like itself - I'd give The Ukraine back again to live It o'er once more; and be a page,
The happy page, who was the lord
For I did oft and long repine That we could only meet by stealth.
For lovers there are many eyes, And such there were on us; the devil On such occasions should be civil; The devil! - I'm loth to do him wrong, It might be some untoward saint, Who would not be at rest too long
But to his pious bile gave vent
I was unarm'd; but if in steel,
From city or from succour near,
My moments seem'd reduced to few;
Theresa's doom I never knew,
But he was most enraged lest such
Because unto himself he seem'd The first of men, nor less he deem'd In others' eyes, and most in mine. 'Sdeath! with a page perchance a
king Had reconciled him to the thing; But with a stripling of a page! I felt but cannot paint his rage.
'T was but a day he had been caught. And snorting, with erected mane, And struggling fiercely, but in vain, In the full foam of wrath and dread To me the desert-born was led. They bound me on, that menial throng, 370 Upon his back with many a thong; Then loosed him with a sudden lash: Away!-away!—and on we dash !Torrents less rapid and less rash.
Away!-away!- My breath was gone I saw not where he hurried on: 'T was scarcely yet the break of day, And on he foam'd-away! The last of human sounds which rose, - away! As I was darted from my foes, Was the wild shout of savage laughter, Which on the wind came roaring after A moment from that rabble rout. With sudden wrath I wrench'd my head,
And snapp'd the cord, which to the mane Had bound my neck in lieu of rein, And, writhing half my form about, Howl'd back my curse; but 'midst the
The thunder of my courser's speed,
Save what grows on a ridge of wall, Where stood the hearth-stone of the
And many a time ye there might pass,
And the hot lead pour down like rain