Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

Thus uttered Coumourgi, the dauntless vizier;
The reply was the brandish of sabre and spear,
And the shout of fierce thousands in joyous ire :
Silence-hark to the signal--fire!

XXIII.
As the wolves, that headlong go
On the stately buffalo,
Though with fiery eyes, and angry roar,
And hoofs that stamp, and horns that gore,
He tramples on earth, or tosses on high
The foremost, who rush on his strength but to die :
Thus against the wall they went,
Thus the first were backward bent;
Many a bosom, sheathed in brass,
Strewed the earth like broken glass,
Shivered by the shot, that tore
The ground whereon they moved no more :
Even as they fell, in files they lay,
Like the mower's grass at the close of day,
When his work is done on the levelled plain;
Such was the fall of the foremost slain.

XXIV.
As the spring-tides, with heavy plash,
From the cliffs invading dash
Huge fragments, sapped by the ceaseless flow,
Till white and thundering down they go,
Like the avalanche's snow
On the Alpine vales below;
Thus at length, outbreathed and worn,
Corinth's sons were downward borne
By the long and oft renewed
Charge of the Moslem multitude:

In firmness they stood, and in masses they fell,
Heaped, by the host of the Infidel,
Hand to hand, and foot to foot :
Nothing there, save Death, was mute;
Stroke, and thrust, and flash, and cry
For quarter, or for victory,
Mingle there with the volleying thunder,
Which makes the distant cities wonder
How the sounding battle goes,
If with them, or for their foes ;
If they must mourn, or may rejoice
In that annihilating voice,
Which pierces the deep hills through and through
With an echo dread and new :
You might have heard it, on that day,
O'er Salamis and Megara;
(We have heard the hearers say,)
Even unto Piræus bay.

XXV.
From the point of encountering blades to the hilt,
Sabres and swords with blood were gilt.
But the rampart is won, and the spoil begun,
And all but the after carnage done.
Shriller shrieks now mingling come
From within the plundered dome :
Hark to the laste of flying feet,
That splash in the blood of the slippery street ;
But here and there, where 'vantage ground
Against The foe may still be found,
Desperate groups, of twelve or ten,
Make a pause, and turn again-
With banded backs against the wall,
Fiercely stand, or fighting fall.

There stood an old man-his hairs were white,
But his veteran arm was full of might :
So gallanıly bore he the brunt of the fray,
The dead before him, on that day,
In a semicircle lay;
Still he combated unwounded,
Though retreating, unsurrounded.
Many a scar of former fight
Lurked beneath his corslet bright;
But of every wound his body bore
Each and all had been ta’en before :
Though aged he was, so irou of limb,
Few of our youth could cope with him;
And the foes, whom he singly kept at bay,
Outnumbered his thin hairs of silver gray.
From right to left his sabre swept:
Many an Othman mother wept
Sons that were unborn, when dipped
His weapon first in Moslem“gore,
Ere his years could count a score.
Of all he might have been the sire
Who fell that day beneath his ire :
For, sonless left long years ago,
His wrath made many a childless foe;
And since the day, when in the strait 9
His only boy had met his fate,
His parent's iron hand did doom
More than a human hecatomb.
If shades by carnage be appeased,
Patroclus' spirit less was pleased
Than his Minotti's son, who died
Where Asia's bounds and ours divide.
Buried he lay, where thousands before
For thousands of years were inhumed on the shore :
What of them is left, to tell
Where they lie, and how they fell ?
Not a stone on their turf, nor a bone in their graves;
But they live in the verse that immortally safes.

XXVI.
Hark to the Allah shout! a band
Of the Mussulman bravest and best is at hand :
Their leader's nervous arm is bare,
Swifter to smite, and never to spare-
Unclothed to the shoulder it waves them on
Thus in the fight is he ever kuown :
Others a gaudier garb may show,
To tempt the spoil of the greedy foe;
Many a hand's on a richer hilt,
But none on a steel more ruddily gilt;
Many a loftier turban may wear,-
Alp is but known by the white arm bare ;
Look through the thick of the fight, 'tis there!
There is not a standard on that shore
So well advanced the ranks before ;
There is not a banner in Moslem war
Will lure the Delhis half so far;
It glances like a falling star!
Where'er that mighty arm is seen,
The bravest be, or late have been ;
There the craven cries for quarter
Vainly to the vengeful Tartar;
Or the hero, silent lying,
Scorns to yield a groan in dying;
Mustering his last feeble blow
'Gainst the nearest levelled foe,
Though faint beneath the mutual wound,
Grappling on the gory ground.

XXVII. Sull the old man stood erect, And Alp's career a moment checked. « Yield thee, Minotti; quarter take, « For thine own, thy daughter's sake. » « Never, renegado, never! « Though the life of thy gift would last for ever. » « Francesca!-0 my promised bride ! « Must she too perish by thy pride?. » « She is safe. »-« Where? where? »-«« In heaven; « From whence thy traitor soul is driven # Far from thee, and undefiled. » Grimly then Minotti smiled; As he saw Alp staggering bow Before his words, as with a blow. « Oh God! when died she ? »---« Yesternight « Nor weep I for her spirit's flight : « None of my pure race shall be ve Slaves to Mahomet and thee.com « Come on! »--That challenge is in vain. Alp's already with the slain! While Minotti's words were wreaking More revenge in bitter speaking Than his falchion's point had found, Had the time allowed to wound, From within the neighbouring porch Of a long defended church, Where the last and desperate few Would the failing fight renew, The sharp shot dashed Alp to the ground; Ere an eye could view the wound

« AnteriorContinuar »