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Hark! to the hurried question of Despair:
And yet so sweet the tears they shed,
They scarce can bear the morn to break
That melancholy spell,
And longer yet would weep and wake,
He sings so wild and well!
But when the day-blush bursts from high,
Expires that magic melody.
And some have been who could believe,
(So fondly youthful dreams deceive,
Yet harsh be they that blame),
That note so piercing and profound
Will shape and syllable its sound
Into Zuleika's name.*
'Tis from her cypress' summit heard,
That melts in air the liquid word;
'Tis from her lowly virgin earth
That white rose takes its tender birth.
There late was laid a marble stone;
Eve saw it placed—the Morrow gone!
It was no mortal arm that bore
That deep-fixed pillar to the shore;
For there, as Helle's legends tell,
Next morn 'twas found where Selim fell,
Lash d by the tunıbling tide, whose wave
Denied his bones a holier grave;
And there by night, reclined, 'tis said,
And hence extended by the billow,
'Tis named the Pirate-phantom s pillow !' A bird unseen-but not remote:
Where first it lay, that inourning flower Invisible his airy wings,
Hath flourish'd, flourisheth this hour,
Alone and dewy, coldly pure and pale;
As weeping Beauty's cheek at Sorrow's tale.
Though inournful, pours not such a strain: And airy tongues that syllable men's names. For they who listen cannot leave
MILTON. For a belief that the souls of the dead in
habit the form of birds, we need not travel to the The spot, but linger there and grieve,
East. Lord Lyttelton's ghost story, the belief of the As if they loved in vain!
Duchess of Kendal that George I. flew into her win
dow in the shape of a raven (see Orford's Reminis. . 'I came to the place of my birth, and cried,
cences), and many other instances, bring this super"The friends of my youth, where are they?" and an
stition nearer home. The most singular was the Echo answered. "Where are they?"
whim of a Worcester lady, who, believing her
From an daughter to exist in the shape of a singing bird, Arabic MS.
literally furnished her pew in the cathedral with cages The above quotation (from which the idea in the
full of the kind; and as she was rich, and a benetext is taken) must be already familiar to every reader -it is given in the first annotation, p. 67, of The
factress in beautifying the charch, no objection was
made to her harmless folly. For this anecdote, see Pleasures of Memory: a poem so well known as to 10
yia poem so well known as to Orford's Letters. render a reference almost superfluous, but to whose pages all will be delighted to recur,
TO THOMAS MOORE, ESQ.
MY DEAR MOORE,- I dedicate to you the last production with which I shall trespass on public patience, and your indulgence, for some years; and I own that I feel anxious to avail myself of this latest and only opportunity of adorning my pages with a name consecrated by unshaken public principle, and the most undoubted and various talents. While Ireland ranks you among the firmest of her patriots; while you stand alone the first of her bards in her estimation, and Britain repeats and ratifies the decree, permit one whose only regret, since our first acquaintance, has been the years he had lost before it commenced, to add the humble but sincere suffrage of friendship to the voice of more than one nation. It will at least prove to you that I have neither forgotten the gratification derived from your society, nor abandoned the prospect of its renewal, whenever your leisure or inclination allows you to atone to your friends for too long an absence. It is said among those friends, I trust truly, that you are engaged in the composition of a poem whose scene will be laid in the East; none can do those scenes so much justice. The wrongs of your own country, the magnificent and fiery spirit of her sons, the beauty and feeling of her daughters, may there be found; and Collins, when he denominated his Oriental his Irish Eclogues, was not aware how true, at least, was a part of his parallel. Your imagination will create a warmer sun, and less clouded sky; but wildness, tenderness, and originality are part of your national claim of Oriental descent, to which you have already thus far proved your title more clearly than the most zealous of your country's antiquarians.
May I add a few words on a subject on which all men are supposed to be fluent, and none agreeable ! Self. I have written much, and published more than enough to demand a longer silence than I now meditate; but, for some years to come, it is my intention to tempt no further the award of 'gods, men, nor columns.' In the present composition I have attempted not the most difficult, but perhaps the best adapted measure to our language, the good old and now neglected heroic couplet. The stanza of Spenser is perhaps too slow and dignified for narrative; though, I confess, it is the measure most after my own heart. Scott alone, of the present generation, has hitherto completely triumphed over the fatal facility of the octo-syllabic verse; and this is not the least victory of his fertile and mighty genius. In blank verse. Milton, Thomson, and our dramatists, are the beacons that shine along the deep, but warn us from the rough and barren rock on which they are kindled. The heroic couplet is not the most popular measure, certainly; but as I did not deviate into the other from a wish to flatter what is called public opinion, I shall quit it without further apology, and take my chance once more with that versification in which I have hitherto published nothing but compositions whose foriner circulation is part of my present, and will be of my future regret.
With regard to my story, and stories in general, I should have been glad to liave rendered iny personages more perfect and amiable, if possible, inasmuch as I have been sometimes criticised, and considered no less responsible for their deeds and qualities than if all had been personal. Be it so. If I have deviated into the gloomy vanity of drawing from self,' the pictures are probably like, since they are unfavourable; and if not, those who know me are undeceived, and those who do not, I have little interest in undeceiving. I have no particular desire that any but my acquaintance should think the author better than the beings of his imagining; but I cannot help a little surprise, and perhaps amusement, at some odd critical exceptions in the present instance, when I see several bards (far more deserving, I allow), in very reputable plight, and quite exempted from all participation in the faults of those heroes, who, nevertheless, might be found with little more inorality than 'The Giaour,' and perhaps--but no-I must admit Childe Harold to be a very repulsive personage ; and as to his identity, those who like it must give him whatever alias they please.
If, however, it were worth while to remove the impression, it might be of some service to me, that the man who is alike the delight of his readers and his friends, the poet of all circles, and the idol of his own, permits me here and elsewhere to subscribe myself, most truly and affectionately, his obedient servant,
Fanuary 2, 1814
CANTO THE FIRST.
nessun maggior dolore, Che ricordarsi del teinpo felice Nella miseria,
O'ER the glad waters of the dark-blue sea, Our thoughts as boundless, and our souls as free, Far as the breeze can bear, the billows foam, Survey our empire, and behold our home! These are our realms, no limits to their swayOur flag the sceptre all who meet obey. Ours the wild life in tumuit still to range From toil to rest, and joy in every change. Oh, who can tell ? not thou, luxurious slave! Whose soul would sicken o'er the heaving wave; Not thou, vain lord of wantonness and ease! Whom slumber soothes not-pleasure cannot
pleaseOh, who can tell, save he whose heart hath tried, And danced in triurnph o'er the waters wide, The exulting sense-the pulse's inaddening play, That thrills the wanderer of that trackless way? That for itself can woo the approaching fight, And turn what some deem danger to delight; That seeks what cravens shun with more than zeal, And where the feebler faint-can only seelFeel-to the rising bosom's inmost core, Its hope awaken and its spirit soar? No dread of death-if with us die our foesSave that it seems even duller than repose : Come when it will-we snatch the life of life When lost-what recks it-by disease or strife? Let him who crawls enamour'd of decay, Cling to his couch, and sicken years away ; Heave his thick breath, and shake his palsied
head; Ours-the fresh turf, and not the feverish bed. While gasp by gasp he falters forth his soul, Ours with one pang-one bound-escapes control. His corse may boast its urn and narrow cave, And they who loathed his life may gild his grave; Ours are the tears, though few, sincerely shed, When Ocean shrouds and sepulchres our dead. For us, even banquets fond regret supply In the red cup that crowns our memory And the brief epitaph in danger's day, When those who win at length divide the prey, And cry, Remembrance saddening o'er each brow, How had the brave who fell exulted 110w !
In scatter'd groups upon the golden sand, They game-carouse-converse-or whet the brand; Select the arms-to each his blade assign, And careless eye the blood that dims its shine ; Repair the boat, replace the helm or oar, While others straggling muse along the shore ; For the wild bird the busy springes set, Or spread beneath the sun the dripping net ; Gaze where some distant sail a speck supplies, With all the thirsting eye of Enterprise ; Tell o'er the tales of many a night of toil, And marvel where they next shall seize a spoil: No matter where--their chief's allotment this; Theirs, to believe no prey nor plan amiss. But who that CHIEF? his name on every shore Is famed and fear'd--they ask and know no more: With these he mingles not but to command; Few are his words, but keen his eye and hand. Ne'er seasons he with unirth their jovial mess, But they forgive his silence for success. Ne'er for his lip the purpling cup they fill, That goblet passes him untasted still-And for his fare-the rudest of his crew Would that, in turn, have pass'd untasted too; Earth's coarsest bread, the garden's homeliest
roots, And scarce the summer luxury of fruits, His short repast in humbleness supply With all a hermit's board would scarce deny. But while he shuns the grosser joys of sense, His mind seems nourish'd by that abstinence. • Steer to that shore t'--they sail. Do this I—'tis
II. Such were the notes that from the Pirate's isle, Around the kindling watch-fire rang the while; Such were the sounds that thrill'd the rocks along, And unto ears as rugged seem'd a song!
III. A sail --a sail!'--a promised prize to Hope! Her nation-flag-how speaks the telescope ? No prize, alas ! but yet a welcome sail : The blood-red signal glitters in the gale. Yes-she is ours-a home returning barkBlow fair, thou breeze !-she anchors ere the dark. Already doubled is the cape-our bay Receives that prow which proudly spurns the spray. How gloriously her gallant course she goes ! Her white wings flying-never from her foesShe walks the waters like a thing of life, And seems to dare the elements to strife. Who would not brave the battle-fire-the wreckTo move the monarch of her peopled deck?
• The time in this poem may seem too short for the occurrences, but the whole of the Ægean isles are within a few hours' sail of the continent, and the reader must be kind enough to take the wind as I have often found it.
Hoarse o'er her side the rustling calle rings;
And gathering loiterers on the land discern
He read the scroll-- My tablets, Juan, harkHer boat descending from the latticed stern. Where is Gonsalvo ?" 'Tis mann'd-the oars keep concert to the strand,
In the anchor'd bark.' Till grates her keel upon the shallow sand.
.There let him stay-to him this order bear. Hail to the welcome shout -the friendly speech! Back to your duty-for my course prepare: When hand grasps hand uniting on the beach; Myself this enterprise to-night will share.' The smile, the question, and the quick reply, And the heart's promise of festivity!
"To-night, Lord Conrad P
'Ay I at set of sun: v.
The breeze will freshen when the day is done. The tidings spread, and gathering grows the
My corslet-cloak--one hour and we are gonc. crowd:
Sling on thy bugle--see that free from rust The hum of voices, and the laughter loud,
My carbine-lock springs worthy of my trust; And woman's gentler anxious tone is heard
Be the edge sharpen'd of my boarding-brand, Friends -husbands-lovers' names in each dear And give its guard more room to fit my hand. word :
This let the armourer with speed dispose; "Oh! are they safe! we ask not of success;
Last time, it more fatigued my arın than foes; But shall we see them will their accents bless Mark that the signal-gun be duly fired, From where the battle roars, the billows chafe, To tell us when the hour of stay's expired.' They doubtless boldly did--but who are safe? Here let them haste to gladden and surprise,
They make obeisance, and retire in haste,
Too soon to seek again the watery waste :
Yet they repine not-so that Conrad guides; And doubt that joy-which hails our coming And who dare question aught that he decides! short;
That man of loneliness and mystery, Yet thus sincere 'tis cheering, though so brief; Scarce seen to smile, and seldom heard to sigh; But, Juan ! instant guide us to our chief :
Whose name appals the fiercest of his crew, Our greeting paid, we'll feast on our return,
And tints each swarthy cheek with sallower hue; And all shall hear what each may wish to learn.' Still sways their souls with that comunanding art Ascending slowly by the rock-hewn way,
That dazzles, leads, yet chills the vulgar heart. To where his watch-tower beetles o'er the bay, What is that spell, that thus his lawless train By bushy brake, and wild flowers blossoming, Confess and envy, yet oppose in vain And freshness breathing from each silver spring,
What should it be, that thus their faith can bind Whose scatter'd streams from granite basins burst,
The power of Thought-the magic of the Mind ! Leap into life, and sparkling woo your thirst; Link'd with success, assumed and kept with skill, From crag to cliff they mount.-Near yonder cave,
That moulds another's weakness to its will; What lonely straggler looks along the wave ?
Wields with their hands, but, still to these unIn pensive posture leaning on the brand,
known, Not oft a resting-staff to that red hand ?
Makes even their mightiest deeds appear his own, ''Tis he---'tis Conrad-here, as wont-alone;
Such liath it been-shall be: beneath the sun On-Juan!-on-and niake our purpose known. The many still must labour for the one! The bark he views and tell him we would greet 'Tis nature's doom--but let the wretch who toils, His ear with tidings he must quickly meet :
Accuse not, hate not him who wears the spoils. We dare not yet approach-thou know'st his Oh ! if he knew the weight of splendid chains, mood,
How light the balance of his humbler pains !
Unlike the heroes of each ancient race, He spake not, but a sign express'd assent.
Demons in act, but gods at least in face, These Juan calis--they coine-to their salute
In Conrad's form seems little to admire. He bends him slightly, but his lips are mute.
Though his dark eyebrow shades a glance of fire : • These letters, Chief, are from the Greek-the spy, Robust but not Herculean--to the sight Who still proclaims our spoil or peril nigh:
No giant frame sets forth his common height; Whate'er his tidings, we can well report
Yet, in the whole, who paused to look again, Much that'-Peace, peace!-he cuts their prat. Saw more than marks the crowd of vulgar men; ing short.
They gaze and marvel how-and still confess Wondering they turn, abash'd, while each to each That thus it is, but why they cannot guess. Conjecture whispers in his inuttering speech : Sun-burnt his cheek, his forehead high and pale They watch his glance with many a stealing look, The sable curls in wild profusion veil; To gather how that eye the tidings took ;
And oft perforce his rising lip reveals But, this as if he guess'd, with head aside,
The haughtier thought it curbs, but scarce coo. Perchance from some enotion, doubt, or pride,
Though smooth his voice, and calm his general He knew himself a villain, but he deemd mien,
The rest no better than the thing he seem'd; Still seems there something he would not have
And scornd the best as hypocrites who hid seen;
Those deeds the bolder spirit plainly did. His features' deepening lines and varying hue
He knew himself detested, but he kuew At times attracted, yet perplex'd the view,
The hearts that loathed him,crouch'd and dreaded As if within that murkiness of mind
too. Work'd feelings fearful, and yet undefined;
Lone, wild, and strange, he stood alike exempt Such might it be-that none could truly tell
From all affection and from all contempt : Too close inquiry his stern glance would quell. His name could sadden, and his acts surprise; There breathe but few whose aspect might defy But they that feared him dared not to despise, The full encounter of his searching eye:
Man spurns the worm, but pauses ere he wake He had the skill, when Cunning's gaze would seek
The slumbering venom of the folded snake: To probe his heart and watch his changing cheek,
The first may turn, but not avenge the blow; At once the observer's purpose to espy,
The last expires, but leaves no living foe; And on himself roll back his scrutiny,
Fast to the doom'd offender's form it clings, Lest he to Conrad rather should betray
And he may crush-not conquer-still it stings! Some secret thought, than drag that chief's to
XII. day There was a laughing devil in his sneer,
None are all evil; quickening round his heart, That raised emotions both of rage and fear;
One softer feeling would not yet depart : And where his frown of hatred darkly fell,
Oft could he sneer at others, as beguiled
By passions worthy of a fool or child;
And even in him it asks the name of Love!
Yes, it was love-unchangeable--unchanged, Within-within-'twas there the spirit wrought! Felt but for one from whom he never ranged; Love shows all changes; Hate, Ambition, Guile, Though fairest captives daily met his eye, Betray no further than the bitter smile:
He shunn'd, nor sought, but cold!y pass'd them by: The lip's least curl, the lightest paleness thrown Though many a beauty droop'd in prison'd bower, Along the govern'd aspect, speak alone
None ever soothed his most unguarded hour. Of deeper passions, and to judge their mien,
Yes-it was Love-if thoughts of tenderness, He who would see, must be himself unseen.
Tried in temptation, strengthen'd by distress, Then-with the hurried tread, the upward eye,
Unmoved by absence, firm in every clime, The clenched hand, the pause of agony,
And yet-oh, more than alli-untired by time; That listens, starting, lest the step too near
Which nor defeated hope, nor baffled wile, Approach intrusive on that mood of fear:
Could render sullen were she near to smile, Then-with each feature working from the heart, Nor rage could fire, nor sickness fret to vent With feelings loosed to strengthen-not depart: On her one murmur of his discontent; That rise, convulse, contend-that freeze, or glow, Which still would meet with joy, with calmness part, Flush in the cheek, or damp upon the brow;
Lest that his look of grief should reach her heart; Then, Stranger, if thou canst, and tremblest not, Which naught removed, nor menaced to removeBehold his soul--the rest that soothes his lot!
If there be love in mortals--this was love! Mark how that lone and blighted bosom sears He was a villain-ay, reproaches shower The scathing thought of execrated years!
On him-but not the passion, nor its power, Behold--but who hath seen, or e'er shall see, Which only proved, all other virtues gone, Man as himself-the secret spirit free?
Nor guilt itself could quench this loveliest one! xi.
XIII. Yet was not Conrad thus by Nature sent
He paused a moment-till his hastening men To lead the guilty-guilt's worst instrument:
Pass'd the first winding downward to the glen. His soul was changed, before his deeds had driven 'Strange tidings l-many a peril have I past, Him forth to war with man and forfeit heaven. Nor know I why this next appears the last ! Warp'd by the world in Disappointment's school, Yet so my heart forebodes, but must not fear, In words too wise, in conduct there a fool;
Nor shall my followers find me falter here. Too firm to yield, and far too proud to stoop,
"Tis rash to meet, but surer death to wait Doom'd by his very virtues for a dupe,
Till here they hunt us to undoubted fate; He cursed those virtues as the cause of ill,
And if my plan but hold, and Fortune smile, And not the traitors who betray'd him still;
We'll furnish mourners for our funeral pile. Nor deeind that gifts bestow'd on better men
Ay, let them slumber-peaceful be their dreams! Had left him joy and means to give again.
Morn ne'er awoke them with such brilliant beams Fear'd, shunn'd, belied, ereoyouth had lost her force, As kindle high to-night (but blow, thou breeze !). He hated man too much to feel remorse,
To warm these slow avengers of the seas. And thought the voice of wrath a sacred call, Now to Medora-Oh! my sinking heart, To pay the injuries of some on all.
1 Long may her own be lighter than thou art :