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'Twas now the earliest morning; soon the Sun,
Rising above Albardos, pour'd his light
Amid the forest, and with ray aslant
Entering its depth, illumed the branchless pines,
Brightend their bark, tinged with a redder hue
Its rusty stains, and cast along the floor
Long lines of shadow, where they rose erect
Like pillars of the temple. With slow foot
Roderick pursued his way; for penitence,
Remorse which gave no respite, and the long
And painful conflict of his troubled soul,
Had worn him down.
From morn till eve
He journey'd, and drew near Leyria's walls.
'Twas even-song time, but not a bell was heard :
Instead thereof, on her polluted towers,
Bidding the Moors to their unhallow'd prayer,
The cryer stood, and with his sonorous voice
Fill'd the delicious vale where Lena winds
Thro'groves and pastoral meads. The sound, the sight
Of turban, girdle, robe, and scymitar,
And tawny skins, awoke contending thoughts
Of anger, shame, and anguish in the Goth;
The face of human-kind so long unseen
Confused him now, and through the streets he went
With haggëd mien, and countenance like one
Crazed or bewilder'd. All who met him turn'd,
And wonder'd as he pass’d. One stopt him short,
Put alms into his hand, and then desired,
In broken Gothic speech, the moen-struck man
To bless him. With a look of vacancy
Roderick received the alms; his wandering eye
Fell on the money, and the fallen King,
Seeing his own royal impress on the piece,
Broke out into a quick convulsive voice,
That seem'd like laughter first, but ended soon
In hollow groans supprest : the Musselman
Shrunk at the ghastly sound, and magnified
The name of Allah as he hasten'd on.
A Christian woman spinning at her door
Beheld him, and, with sudden pity touch'd,
She laid her spindle by, and running in
Took bread, and following after calld him back,
And placing in his passive hands the loaf,
She said, Christ Jesus for his mother's sake
Have mercy on thee! With a look that seem'd
Like idiotcy he heard her, and stood still,
Staring awhile; then bursting into tears
Wept like a child, and thus relieved his heart,
Full even to bursting else with swelling thoughts.
So through the streets, and through the northern gate
Did Roderick, reckless of a resting-place,
With feeble yet with hurried step, pursue
His agitated way: and when he reached
The open fields, and found himself alone
Beneath the starry canopy of Heaven,
The sense of solitude, so dreadful late,
Was then repose and comfort. There he stopt
Beside a little rill, and brake the loaf;
And shedding o'er that long untasted food
Painful but quiet tears, with grateful soul
He breathed thanksgiving forth, then made his bed
On heath and myrtle.
Beholding Roderick with fix'd eyes intent,
Yet unregardant of the countenance
Whereon they dwelt; in other thoughts absorb’d,
Collecting fortitude for what she yearn’d,
Yet trembled to perform. Her steady look
Disturb’d the Goth, albeit he little ween'd
What agony awaited him that hour.
Her face, well nigh as changed as his, was now
Half-hidden, and the lustre of her eye
Extinct; nor did her voice awaken in him
One startling recollection when she spake,
So altered were its tones.
Father, she said,
All thankful as I am to leave behind
The unhappy walls of Cordoba, not less
Of consolation doth my heart receive
At sight of one to whom I may disclose
The sins which trouble me, and at his feet
Lay down repentantly, in Jesu's name,
The burthen of my spirit. In his name
Hear me, and pour into a wounded soul
The balm of pious counsel.
Here thou seest
One who is known too fatally for all,
The daughter of Count Julian.--Well it was
For Roderick that no eye beheld him now :
From head to foot a sharper pang than death
Thrill'd him; his heart, as at a mortal stroke,
Ceased from its functions: his breath fail'd, and when
The power of life recovering set its springs
Again in action, cold and clammy sweat
Starting at every pore suffused his frame.
Their presence help'd him to subdue himself;
For else, had none been nigh, he would have fallen
Before Florinda prostrate on the earth,
And in that mutual agony belike
Both souls had taken flight. She mark'd him not:
For having told her name, she bow'd her head;
Breathing a short and silent prayer to Heaven,
While, as the penitent, she wrought herself
To open to his eye her hidden wounds.
Father, at length she said, all tongues amid
This general ruin shed their bitterness
On Roderick, load his memory with reproach,
And with their curses persecute his soul.-
Why shouldst thou tell me this ? exclaim'd the Goth,
From his cold forehead wiping as he spake
The death-like moisture :—Why of Roderick's guilt
Tell me? Or thinkëst thou I know it not ?
Alas! who hath not heard the hideous tale
Of Roderick's shame! Babes learn it from their nurses,
And children, by their mothers unreproved,
Link their first execrations to his name.
Oh, it hath caught a taint of infamy,
That, like Iscariot's, through all time shall last,
Reeking and fresh for ever!
Thou too, quoth she, dost join the general curse,
Like one who when he sees a felon's grave,
Casting a stone there as he passes by,
Adds to the heap of shame. Oh what are we,
Frail creatures as we are, that we should sit
In judgment man on man!
I loved the King,-
Tenderly, passionately, madly loved him.
Sinful it was to love a child of earth
With such entire devotion as I loved
Roderick, the heroic Prince, the glorious Goth !
And yet methought this was its only crime,
The imaginative passion seem'd so pure:
Quiet and calm like duty, hope nor fear
Disturb’d the deep contentment of that love :
He was the sunshine of my soul, and like
A flower, I lived and flourish'd in his light.
Oh bear not with me thus impatiently!
No tale of weakness this, that in the act
Of penitence, indulgent to itself,
With garrulous palliation half repeats
The sin it ill repents. I will be brief,
And shrink not from confessing how the love
Which thus began in innocence, betray'd
My unsuspecting heart; nor me alone,
But him, before whom, shining as he shone
With whatsoe'er is noble, whatsoe'er
Is lovely, whatsoever good and great,
I was as dust and ashes.
By counsels of cold statesmen ill-advised,
To an unworthy mate had bound himself
In politic wedlock. Wherefore should I tell
How Nature upon Egilona's form,
Profuse of beauty, lavishing her gifts,
Left, like a statue from the graver's hands,
Deformity and hollowness beneath
The rich external ? For the love of pomp
And emptiest vanity, hath she not incurr'd