Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

Round and round the jungle-serpent

Near and nearer circles swept.
Pray for rescue, wives and mothers,
Pray to-day!’ the soldier said ;
'To-morrow, death's between us
And the wrong and shame we dread.'
O, they listened, looked and waited,

Till their hope became despair;
And the sobs of low bewailing

Filled the pauses of their prayer. Then up spake a Scottish maiden,

With her ear ynto the ground : • Dinna ye hear it ?--dinna ye hear it?

The pipes o' Havelock sound !' Hushed the wounded man his groaning;

Hushed the wife her little ones ;
Alone they heard the drum-roll

And the roar of Sepoy guns.
But to sounds of home and childhood

The Highland ear was true ;-
As her mother's cradle-crooning

The mountain pipes she knew. Like the march of soundless music

Through the vision of the seer, More of feeling than of hearing,

Of the heart than of the ear, She knew the droning pibroch,

She knew the Campbell's call :
‘Hark! hear ye no' MacGregor's,—

The grandest o'them all!'
O, they listened, dumb and breathless,

And they caught the sound at last;
Faint and far beyond the Goomtee

Rose and fell the piper's blast! Then a burst of wild thanksgiving

Mingled woman's voice and man's ; God be praised !--the march of Havelock !

The piping of the clans!'

[ocr errors]

Louder, nearer, fierce as vengeance,

Sharp and shrill as swords at strife,
Came the wild MacGregor clan-call,

Stinging all the air to life.
But when the far-off dust-cloud

To plaided legions grew,
Full tenderly and blithesomely

The pipes of rescue blew!
Round the silver domes of Lucknow,

Moslem mosque and pagan shrine,
Breathed the air to Britons dearest,

The air of Auld Lang Syne.
O'er the cruel roll of war-drums

Rose that sweet and homelike strain ;
And the tartan clove the turban,

As the Goomtee cleaves the plain.
Dear to the corn-land reaper

And plaided mountaineer,-
To the cottage and the castle

The piper's song is dear.
Sweet sounds the Gaelic pibroch

O’er mountain, glen, and glade ;
But the sweetest of all music

The Pipes at Lucknow played !

HOW THEY BROUGHT THE GOOD NEWS

FROM GHENT TO AIX.—Browning. I SPRANG to the stirrup, and Joris, and he ; I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three; Good speed !' cried the watch, as the gate-bolts un

drew; 'Speed !' echoed the wall to us galloping through ; Behind shut the postern, the lights sank to rest, And into the midnight we galloped abreast. Not a word to each other ; we kept the great pace Neck by neck, stride by stride, never changing our place; I turned in my saddle and made its girths tight, Then shortened each stirrup, and set the pique right,

Rebuckled the cheek-strap, chained slacker the bit,
Nor galloped less steadily Roland a whit.
'Twas moonset at starting ; but, while we drew near
Lokeren, the cocks crew, and twilight dawned clear;
At Boom, a great yellow star came out to see ;
At Düffeld, 'twas morning as plain as could be ;
And from Mecheln church-steeple we heard the half-

chime,
So Joris broke silence with : 'Yet there is time!'
At Aerschot, up leaped of a sudden the sun,
And against him the cattle stood black every one,
To stare thro' the mist at us galloping past,
And I saw my stout galloper, Roland, at last,
With resolute shoulders, each butting away
The haze, as some bluff river headland its spray ;
And his low head and crest, just one sharp ear bent back
For my voice, and the other pricked out on his track;
And one eye's black intelligence-ever that glance
O’er its white edge at me, his own master, askance !
And the thick, heavy spume-flakes which aye and anon
His fierce lips shook upwards in galloping on.
By Hasselt, Dirck groaned ; and cried Joris : 'Stay

spur! Your Roos galloped bravely, the fault's not in her, We'll remember at Aix'—for one heard the quick wheeze Of her chest, saw the stretched neck, and staggering

knees, And sunk tail, and horrible heave of the flank, As down on her haunches she shuddered and sank. So we were left galloping, Joris and I Past Looz and past Tongres, no cloud in the sky; The broad sun above laughed a pitiless laugh, ’Neath our foot broke the brittle bright stubble like chaff; Till over by Dalhem a dome-spire sprang white, And ‘Gallop,' cried Joris, 'for Aix is in sight!'

How they'll greet us !'-and all in a moment his roan Rolled neck and crop over, lay dead as a stone; And there was my Roland to bear the whole weight

Of the news which alone could save Aix from her fate,
With his nostrils like pits full of blood to the brim,
And with circles of red for his eye-sockets' rim.
Then I cast loose my buff-coat, each holster let fall,
Shook off both my jack-boots, let go belt and all,
Stood up in the stirrup, leaned, patted his ear,
Called my Roland his pet-name, my horse without peer ;
Clapped my hands, laughed and sang, any noise, bad or

good,
Till at length into Aix Roland galloped and stood.
And all I remember is friends flocking round
As I sate with his head 'twixt my knees on the ground;
And no voice but was praising this Roland of mine,
As I poured down his throat our last measure of wine,
Which (the burgesses voted by common consent)
Was no more than his due who brought good news from

Ghent.

THE FUGITIVES.-Shelley.
THE waters are flashing,
The white hail is dashing,
The lightnings are glancing,
The hoar-spray is dancing

Away!
The whirlwind is rolling,
The thunder is tolling,
The forest is swinging,
The minster bells ringing-

Come away!
The earth

like ocean,
Wreck-strewn and in motion :
Bird, beast, man, and worm,
Have crept out of the storm-

Come away!
Our boat has one sail,
And the helmsman is pale ;-
A bold pilot I trow,
Who should follow us now,"

Shouted He

And She cried : ‘Ply the oar,
Put off gaily from shore!'
As she spoke, bolts of death,
Mixed with hail, specked their path

O'er the sea.
And from isle, tower, and rock,
The blue-beacon cloud broke,
Though dumb in the blast,
The red cannon flashed fast

From the lee.
And fear'st thou, and fear'st thou ?
And see'st thou, and hear'st thou ?
And drive we not free
O’er the terrible sea,

I and thou?'
One boat-cloak did cover
The loved and the lover-
Their blood beats one measure,
They murmur proud pleasure

Soft and low ;-
While around the lashed ocean,
Like mountains in motion,
Is withdrawn and uplifted,
Sunk, shattered, and shifted,

To and fro.
In the court of the fortress,
Beside the pale portress,
Like a bloodhound well beaten
The bridegroom stands, eaten

By shame :
On the topmost watch turret,
As a death-boding spirit,
Stands the gray tyrant father,
To his voice the mad weather

Seems tame;
And with curses as wild
As e'er clung to child,
He devotes to the blast
The best, loveliest, and last

Of his name!

« AnteriorContinuar »