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Such is their cry—some watchword for the fight
Must vindicate the wrong, and warp the right:
Region-freedom-vengeance--what you will,
A word's enough to raise mankind to kill; 868
Some factious phrase by cunning caught and spread,
That guilt may reign, and wolves and worms be fed!
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
Enquiry 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 other's hate,
And mocked at ruin so they shared his fate.
What 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 :
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.
What boots the oft-repeated tale of strife,
The feast of vultures, and the waste of life?
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-slain :
In either cause, one rage alone possest
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.
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;
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;