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LARA.

CANTO II.

I.

Night wanes—the vapours round the mountains

curled

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;

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;

But creeping things shall revel in their spoil,

And fit thy clay to fertilize the soil.

U.

'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;

When Ezzelin his charge may here unfold,

And whatsoe'er the tale, it must be told.

His faith was pledged, and Lara's promise given,
To meet it in the eye of man and heaven. 671
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
“ Between my own and noble Lara's lands;

680

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.”

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 phrenzy would not be opposed;
And from his lip those words of insult fell 710
His sword is good who can maintain them well.

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