Imágenes de página

Until at length they come unto a room,

Where sat the king upon a golden throne;
Around him reigned a strange and mellow gloom ;
A sweet, soft ray o'er all his visage shone;

While through the lattice streamed a mellow ray
That softened all the sunny glare of day.

Upon his head was set a priceless crown,

with emeralds of matchless hue; While folds of regal vesture streamed adown, Veiling his shoulders in aethereal blue.

His fingers grasped a sceptre wrought of gold,
Studded with pearls, right kingly to behold.

Then each in turn they knelt before his feet,

And told their story to his royal ear.
Unmoved he sat upon his high-throned seat,
Th' attentive crowd around him circling near.

No murmur brake the silence of the ring;
No voice was heard, save only of the king.

They told of laurels gained in bloody war;

Of booty captured from the flying foe;
Bringing the tale of victory from afar,
How sword met sword, how blow was paid for blow:

How the world rang with Samos' battle cry,
"Glory to Samos: death or victory.'

[ocr errors]


And last of all a stranger, fair to see,

Passed through the crowd that still was circling round,
And gat him to the throne right reverently,
And lowly bowing, knelt upon the ground;

Then rose, and standing forth, in accents clear
He spake his message to the royal ear.

"The great Amasis,* he who rules the land,
Where the Nile's waters fructify the plain;
Who holds a countless people 'neath his hand,
Countless as sand beside the rolling main;
Bids thee now listen to his warning voice,
And timely choose, ere fruitless be the choice.

"All nations awestruck listen to thy word,
And trembling learn the story of thy fame,
And quake beneath the gleaming of thy sword,
And by submission magnify thy name;

And see thy crimson banner's pride unfurl'd;
Thy legions marching, conquerors through the world.

"No dark sedition's plots distract thine isle,
But peace and harmony are lords supreme.
Gone are the plague-spots of corruption's guile,
And all is happiness, as in a dream.

No murderer's fury thirsteth for thy life;
And peace stamps out the dying spark of strife.

"Thy palace gleams with treasures from the East,
Borne by swift ships wind-tossed across the sea;
And gems on which the daintiest eye might feast,
Till dimmed by their resplendent brilliancy;

And statues chiselled by a sculptor's art,
Where all is human save the unbeating heart.

"Beware-no rivalry the gods can brook,

Nor bear that man should stand 'twixt god and man.
Beware the gods can blast thee with a look,
And send thee forth a spectre, pale and wan;

Or hurl thee headlong from thy royal state,
Poor as the beggar crouching at thy gate.

*Lucan ix 155.

“Jaste then, and pour thy treasures at their shrine,

And stay their jealousy, nor scorning mock.
The faintest, smallest spark will spring the mine,
And a world's effort fail to turn the shock.

Offer the treasure that thou prizest most,
And save thyself, though a crown's wealth be lost."

Scarce had he ended speaking, ere the king

Rose from his throne, and passed from out the room,
In marvel at this strange and wondrous thing,
Which seemed so surely to foretell his doom :

Swiftly he strode, and ne'er a word he spake :
Nor faintest sound the solemn silence brake.

Into a treasury's depths he passed alone,

And unlocked coffers stored with yellow gold,
Whence shone the light of many a jewelled stone,
And gleam of silver wondrous to behold :

And forth he drew a brightly twinkling gem,
Blue sapphire, like the sea king's diadem.

Then passed along the quaintly marbled hall,

And through the loudly-clanging palace gate.
Nought recked he of the wondering looks of all,
To see him thus bereft of royal state :

Nor stayed his steps, until he reached the shore,
And stood beside the billow's thundering roar.

A thousand boats were dancing on the tide,

Their sails a glimmer in the morning sun ;
Awhile the waves lapped softly up their side,
Telling of calm's delights, of dangers done.

While sea-birds screaming from their rocky home,
Skimmed with their white wings o'er the white seafoam.

And fishermen lay stretched upon the sands;

Now gazing dreamily upon the sea;
Now mending broken nets with busy hands;
Now talking with each other pleasantly;

Now singing snatches of some quaint old song,
By whispering breezes softly borne along.

Nought recked the king of such delights as these

Nought recked he of the fisher-boy at play;
Nought of the half-hushed murmur of the breeze,
That filled the white sails gliding through the bay;

But lifting outstretched hands toward the sky,
He thus addressed the powers that rule on high.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors]

“Ye gods who hold immeasurable sway,

O’er all that dwell in earth, or sky, or sea :
To whom a thousand years are as one day,
And one short day as all eternity.

List to the voice of him ye made a king;
On whom ye showered every choicest thing.


“If ye behold my wealth with envy's gaze,

Take from me all that erst I called mine own:
If ye begrudge me a proud nation's praise,
Rob mo of power, and fling me from my throne ;

Grant only that in freedom from fell strife
I may eke out my Little


of life.

"All that I have is yours to take away ;

Ye gods that made the world can unmake me,
Who am but a weak creature formed of clay,
Moulded in impress of divinity.

This gift I send, to stay your godlike hate,
In hopes e’en now it be not all too late."

[ocr errors]

As when the tempest hisses through the night,

The lightning flashes through some murky cloud, Streaking the sky with a strange lurid light, Illuminating darkness' gloomy shroud :

As when each planet opes its golden eye,
The comet's brightness falls adown the sky.

So flashed the jewel from his royal hand,

And woo'd the myriad laughter of the sea.
A thousand nymphs from ocean's glistering sand
Seemed to stretch out fair arms in joyful glee;

Awhile the king turned sorrowful away,
And shunned the mocking laughter of the day.

[blocks in formation]

Down sank the sun into the purple west,

And bathed his glory in the crimsoned main ;
And darkness fell, and all the land had rest;
And weariness hàd respite from its pain:

But all night long the king tossed on his bed,
Nor sleep shed poppies o'er his pillowed head.

At length the morning tinged the sky with gray,

And from her haven peeped the glowing dawn.
Awhile the birds, the messengers of day,
Saluted with their songs the coming morn;

And once again arose the hum of life;
And once again began man's daily strife.

The king sat on his throne with downcast eyes,

Awhile his subjects through the palace poured :
Foremost a stranger, in his hands a prize,
A fish, a present to his royal lord,

Of matchless size, sparkling with gilded hue,
Fresh-dripping with the sea-wave's pearly dew.

« AnteriorContinuar »