Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

To tune his lute, or if he will'd it more,

Again to that acenstom'd couch must creep
On tomes of other times and tongues to pore; Where joy subsides, and sorrow sighs to steer,
But ne'er to mingle with the menial train, And man, o'erlabor'd with his being's strife,
To whom he show'd nor deference nor disdain, Shrinks to that sweet forgetfulness of life:
But that well-worn reserve which proved he knew There lie love's feverish hope, and cunning's guile,
No sympathy with that familiar crew :

Hate's working brain, and lull’d ambition's wile;
His soul, whate'er his station or his stem, O’er each vain eye oblivion's pinions ware,
Could bow to Lara, not descend to them.

And quench'd existence crouches in a grave.
of higher birth he seem'd, and better days, What better name may slumber's bed become?
Nor mark of vulgar toil that hand betrays, Night's sepulchre, the universal home,
So femininely white it might bespeak

Where weakness, strength, vice, virtue, sunk supine,
Another sex, when match'd with that smooth cheek, Alike in naked helplessness recline;
Buy for his garb, and something in his gaze, Glad for a while to heave unconscious breath,
Mote wild and high than woman's eye betrays; Yet wake to wrestle with the dread of death,
A latent fierceness that far more became

And shun, though day but dawn on ills increast, His fiery climate than his tender frame:

That sleep, the loveliest, since it dreams the least.
True, in his words it broke not from his breast,
But from his aspect might be more than guess'd.
Kaled his name, though rumor said he bore
Another ere he left his mountain-shore;
For sometimes he would hear, however nigh,
That name repeated loud without reply,

CANTO II.
As unfamiliar, or, if roused again,
Start to the sound as but remember'd then;

I.
Unless 'twas Lara's wonted voice that spake,

NIG ft wanes--the vapors round the mountains
For then, ear, eyes, and heart would all awake.

curl'd

Melt into morn, and Light awakes the world.
XXVIII.

Man has another day to swell the past,
He had look'd down upon the festive hall,

And lead him near tertiitle, but his last;
And mark'd that sudden strife so mark'd of all;

But mighty Nature bounds as from her birth,
And when the crowd around and near him told

The sun is in the heavens, and life on earth;
Their wonder at the calmness of the bold,

Flowers in the valley, splendor in the beam,
Their marvel how the high-born Lara bore

Health on the gale, and freshness in the stream. Buch insult from a stranger, doubly sore,

Immortal man! behold her glories shine,
The color of young Kaled went and came,

And cry, exulting inly, “they are thine!”
The lip of ashes, and the cheek of flame;

Gaze on, while yet thy gladden'd eye may see; And o'er his brow the dampening heart-drops threw A morrow comes when they are not for thee; The sickening iciness of that cold dew,

And grieve what may above thy senseless bier,
That rises as the busy bosom sinks

Nor earth nor sky will yield a single tear;
With heavy thoughts from which reflection shrinks. Nor cloud shall gather more, nor leaf shall fall,
Yes-there be things which we must dream and dare, Nor gale breathe forth one sigh for thee, for all ;
And execute ere thought be half aware:

But creeping things shall revel in their spoil,
Whate'er might Kaled's be, it was enow

And fit thy clay to fertilize the soil.
To seal his lip, but agonize his brow.

II.
He gazed on Ezzelin, till Lara cast

"Tis morn—'tis noonwassembled in the hall,
That sidelong smile upon the knight he past;
When Kaled saw that smile his visage fell,

The gather'd chieftains come to Otho's call;

"Tis now the promised hour, that must proclaim As if from something recognized right well ;

The life or death of Lara's future fame;
His memory read in such a meaning more

When Ezzelin his charge may here unfold,
Than Lara's aspect unto others wore :

And whatsoe'er the tale, it must be told.
Forward he sprung-a moment, both were gone,

His faith was pledged, and Lara's promise given,
And all within that hall seem'd left alone;
Each had so fix'd his eye on Lara's mien,

To meet it in the eye of man and heaven.
All had so mix'd their feelings with that scene,

Why comes he not? Such truths to be divulged,

Methinks the accuser's rest is long indulged.
That when his long dark shadow through the porch
No more relieves the glare of yon high torch,

III.
Each pulse beats quicker, and all bosoms seem
To bound as doubting from too black a dream,

The hour is past, and Lara too is there
Such as we know is false, yet dread in sooth,

With self-confiding coldly patient air :
Because the worst is ever nearest truth.

Why comes not Ezzelin? The hour is past,
And they are gone but Ezzelin is there,

And murmurs rise, and Otho's brow o'ercast.

"I know my friend ! his faith I cannot fear,
With thoughtful visage and imperious air ;

If yet he be on earth, expect him here;
But long remain'd not; ere an hour expired

The roof that held him in the valley stands
He waved his hand to Otho, and retired.

Between my own and noble Lara's lands;

My halls from such a guest had honor gain'd,
XXIX.

Nor had Sir Ezzelin his host disdain'd,
The crowd are gone, the revellers at rest; But that some previous proof forbade his stay,
The courteous host, and all-approving guest; And urged him to prepare against to-day;

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The word I pledged for his I pledge again,

He left the dome of Otho long ere morn, Or will myself redeem his knighthood's stain.” In darkness, yet so well the path was worn

He could not miss it: near his dwelling lay; He ceased--and Lara answer'd “I am here But there he was not, and with coming day To lend at thy demand a listening ear

Came fast inquiry, which unfolded nought To tales of evil from a stranger's tongue,

Except the absence of the chief it sought. Whose words already might my heart have wrung, A chamber tenantless, a steed at rest, But that I deem'd him scarcely less than mad, His host alarm’d, his murmuring squires distrest Or, at the worst, a foe ignobly bad.

Their search extends along, around the path, I know him not-but me it seems he knew In dread to meet the marks of prowlers' wrath; In lands where--but I must not trifle too:

But none are there, and not a brake hath borne, Produce this babbler-or redeem the pledge; Nor gout of blood, nor shred of mantle torn; Here in thy hold, and with thy falchion's edge." Nor fall nor struggle hath defaced the grass,

Which still retains a mark where murder was ; Proud Otho on the instant, reddening, threw Nor dabbling fingers left to tell the tale, His glove on earth, and forth his sabre fiew : The bitter print of each convulsive nail, " The last alternative befits me best,

When agonized hands, that cease to guard, And thus I answer for mine absent guest." Wound in that pang the smoothness of the sward

Some such had been, if here a life was reft, With cheek unchanging from its sallow gloom, But these were not; and doubting hope is left; However near his own or other's tomb;

And strange suspicion, whispering Lara's name,
With hand, whose almost careless coolness spoke Now daily mutters o'er his blacken'd fame;
Its grasp well used to deal the sabre-stroke: Then sudden silent when his form appear'd,
With eye, though calm, determined not to spare, Awaits the absence of the thing it fear's,
Did Lara too his willing weapon bare.

Again its wonted wondering to renew,
In vain the circling chieftains round them closed, And dye conjecture with a darker hue.
For Otho's frenzy would not be opposed;
And from his lips those words of insult fell-

VII.
His sword is good who can maintain them well. Days roll along, and Otho's wounds are heal’d,

But not his pride; and hate no more conceal'd: IV.

He was a man of power, and Lara's foe, Short was the conflict; furious, blindly rash,

The friend of all who sought to work him wo, Vain Otho gave his bosom to the gash:

And from his country's justice now demands He bled, and fell ; but not with deadly wound, Account of Ezzelin at Lara's hands. Stretched by a dextrous sleight along the ground. Who else than Lara could have cause to fear “ Demand thy life!” He answcr'd not: and then His presence? who had made him disappear,

From that red floor he ne'cr had risen again, If not the man on whom his menaced charge • For Lara's brow upon the moment grew

Had sate too deeply were he left at large? Almost to blackness in its demon hue;

The general rumor ignorantly loud, And fiercer shook his angry falchion now

The mystery dearest to the curious crowd; Than when his foe's was levellid at his brow; The seeming friendlessness of him who strove Then all was stern collectedness and art,

To win no confidence, and wake no love; Now rose the unleaven'd hatred of his heart; The sweeping fierceness which his soul betray'd, So little sparing to the foe he fell’d,

The skill with which he wielded his keen blade; That when the approaching crowd his arm withheld, Where had his arm unwarlike caught that art? He almost turn'd the thirsty point on those, Where had that fierceness grown upon his heart? Who thus for mercy dared to interpose;

For it was not the blind capricious rage But to a moment's thought that purpose bent;

A word can kindle and a word assuage; Yet look'd he on him still with cye intent, But the deep working of a soul unmix'd As if he loathed the incffcctual strife

With aught of pity where its wrath had ik' ; That left a foe, howe'er o'erthrown, with life; Such as long power and overgorged success As if to search how far the wound he gave Concentrates into all that's merciless : Had sent his victim onward to his grave.

These, link'd with that desire which ever sways

Mankind, the rather to condemn than praise, V.

'Gainst Lara gathering raised at length a storm, They raised the bleeding Otho, and the Leech Such as himself might fear, and foes would form, Forbade all present question, sign, and speech; And he must answer for the absent head The others met within a neighboring hall, Of one who haunts him still, alive or dead. And he, incensed and heedless of them all, The cause and conqueror in this sudden fray,

VIII. In haughty silence slowly strode away ;

Within that land was many a malcontent, He back'd his steed, his homeward path he took, Who cursed the tyranny to which he bent; Nor cast on Otho's towers a single look.

That soil full many a wringing despot saw,

Who work'd his wantonness in form of law;
VI.

Long war without and frequent broil within
But where was he? that meteor of a night, Had made a path for blood and giant sin,
Who menaced but to disappear with light? That waited but a signal to begin
Where was this Ezzelin ? who came and went New havoc, such as civil discord blends,
To leave no other trace of his intent.

Which knows no neuter, owns but foes or friends;

[ocr errors]

fid in his feudal fortress each was lord, |By circumstance compell’d to plunge again, In word and deed obey'd, in soul abhorr'd. In self-defence, amidst the strife of men. Thas Lara had inherited his lands,

Cut off by some mysterious fate from those
And with them pining hearts and sluggish hands; Whom birth and nature meant not for his foes,
But that long absence from his native clime Had Lara from that night, to him accurst,
Had left him stainless of oppression's crime, Prepared to meet, but not alone, the worst:
And now diverted by his milder sway,

Some reason urged, whate'er it was, to shun
All dread by slow degrees had worn away. Inquiry into deeds at distance done;
The menials felt their usual awe alone,

By mingling with his own the cause of all,
But more for him than them that fear was grown; E'en if he fail'd, he still delay'd his fall.
They deem'd him now unhappy, though at first The sullen calm that long his bosom kept,
Their evil judgment augur'd of the worst, The storm that once had spent itself and sleft,
And each long restless night, and silent mood, Roused by events that seem'd foredoom'd to urge
Was traced to sickness, fed by solitude:

His gloomy fortunes to their utmost verge, And though his lonely habits threw of late Burst forth, and made him all he once had been, Gloom o'er his chamber, cheerful was his gate; And is again; he only changed the scene. For thence the wretched ne'er unsoothed withdrew, Light care had he for life, and less for fame, For them, at least, his soul compassion knew. But not less fitted for the desperate game: Cold to the great, contemptuous to the high, He deem'd himself mark'd out for others' hate The humble pass'd not his unheeding eye; And mock'd at ruin so they shared his fate. Much he would speak not, but beneath his roof, What cared he for the freedom of the crowd ? They found asylum oft, and ne'er reproof. He raised the humble but to bend the proud. And they who watch'd might mark that day by day He had hoped quiet in his sullen lair, Some new retainers gather'd to his sway; But man and destiny beset him there: But most of late, since Ezzelin was lost,

Inured to hunters, he was found at bay;
He play'd the courteous lord and bounteous host And they must kill, they cannot snare the prer
Perchance his strife with Otho made him dread Stern, unambitious, silent, he had been
Some snare prepared for his obnoxious head; Henceforth a calm spectator of life's scene;
Whate'er his view, his favor more obtains

But, dragg'd again upon the arena, stood
With these, the people, than his fellow thanes. A leader not unequal to the feud;
If this fere policy, so far 'twas sound,

In voice--mien-gesture-savage nature spoke,
The million judged but of him as they found; And from his eye the gladiator broke.
From him by sterner chiefs to exile driven
They but required a shelter, and 'twas given.
By him no peasant mourn'd his rifled cot,

What boots the oft-repeated tale of strife, And scarce the Serf could murmur o'er his lot;

The feast of vultures, and the waste of life? With him old avarice found its hoard secure,

The varying fortune of each separate field, With him contempt forbore to mock the poor ;

The fierce that vanquish, and the faint that yield ? Youth, present cheer, and promised recompense

The smoking ruin, and the crumbled wall?
Detain'd, till all too late to part from thence:

In this the struggle was the same with all;
To hate he offer'd, with the coming change,
The deep reversion of delay'd revenge;

Save that distemper'd passions lent their force

In bitterness that banish'd all remorse. To love, long baffled by the unequal match,

None sued, for Mercy knew her cry was vain, The well-won charms success was sure to snatch.

The captive died upon the battle-plain : AN now was ripe, he waits but to proclaim

In either cause, one rage alone possest That slavery nothing which was still a name. l'he moment came, the hour when Otho thought

The empire of the alternate victor's breast;

And they that smote for freedom or for sway,
Secure at last the vengeance which he sought:
His summons found the destined criminal

Deem'd few were slain, while more remain'd to slay. Begirt by thousands in his swarming hall,

It was too late to check the wasting brand, 1

And Desolation reap'd the famish'd land; Fresh from their feudal fetters newly riven,

The torch was lighted, and the flame was spreads Defying earth, and confident of heaven.

And Carnage smiled upca her daily dead.
That morning he had freed the soil-bound slaves
Who dig no land for tyrants but their graves !

XI.
Such is their cry—some watchword for the fight
Must vindicate the wrong, and warp the right:

Fresh with the nerve the new-born impulse strung, Religion-freedom-vengeance-what you will, The first success to Lara's numbers clung:

1 A word's enough raise mankind to kill; But that vain victory hath ruin'd all, Some factious phrase by cunning caught and spread, They form no longer to their leader's call; That guilt may reign, and wolves and worms be fed ! 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,
IX.

Lure on the broken brigands to their fate:
Throughout that clime the feudal chiefs had gain'd In vain he doth whate'er a chief may do,
Such sway, their infant monarch hardly reign'd; To check the headlong fury of that crew;
Now was the hour for faction's rebel growth, In vain their stubborn ardor he would tame,
The Serfs contemn'd the one, and hated both: The hand that kindles cannot quench the flame;
They waited but a leader, and they found

The wary foe alone hath turn'd their mood, One to their cause inseparably bound;

And shown their rashness to that erring brood:

X.

[ocr errors]

The feign'd retreat, the nightly ambuscade, Thy band may perish, or thy friends may flee,
The daily harass, and the fight delay'd,

Farewell to life, but not adieu to thee!"
The long privation, and the hoped supply, The word hath pass'd his lips, and onward driven,
The tentless rest beneath the humid sky,

Pours the link'd band through ranks asunder riven, The stubborn wall that marks the leaguer's art, Well has each steed obey'd the armed heel, And palls the patience of his baffled heart, And flash the scimitars, and rings the steel; Of these they had not deem'd: the battle-day Outnumber'd, not outbraved, they still oppose They could encounter as a veteran may;

Despair to daring, and a front to foes; But more preferr'd the fury of the strife,

And blood is mingled with the dashing stream, And present death, to hourly suffering life: Which runs all redly till the morning beam. And famine wrings, and fever sweeps away

XV.
His numbers melting fast from their array;
Intemperate triumph fades to diseontent,

Commanding, aiding, animating all,
And Lara's soul alone seems still unbent:

Where foe appear'd to press, or friend to fall, But few remain to aid his voice and hand;

Cheers Lara's voice, and waves or strikes his steel, And thousands dwindled to a scanty band

Inspiring hope himself had ceased to feel. Desperate, though few, the last and best remain'd

None fied, for well they knew that flight were Tur; To mourn the discipline they late disdain'd.

But those that waver turn to smite again, Que hope survives, the frontier is not far,

While yet they find the firmest of the foe

Recoil before their leader's look and blow:
And thence they may escape from native war;
And bear within them to the neighboring state

Now girt with numbers, now almost alone,
An exile's sorrows, or an outlaw's hate:

He foils their ranks, or reunites his own; Hard is the task their father-land to quit,

Himself he spared not-once they seem'd to fly But harder still to perish or submit.

Now was the time, he waved his hand on high,
And shook-Why sudden droops that plumed crest?

The shaft is sped—the arrow's in his breast!
XII.

That fatal gesture left the unguarded side,
It is resolved--they march-consenting Night And Death hath stricken down yon arm of pride
Guides with her star their dim and torchless flight. The word of triumph fainted from his tongue;
Already they perceive its tranquil beam

That hand, so raised, how droopingly it hung! Sleep on the surface of the barrier stream;

But yet the sword instinctively retains, Already they descry—Is yon the bank ?

Though from its fellow shrink the falling reins; Away! 'tis lined with many a hostile rank. These Kaled snatches: dizzy with the blow, Return or fly!-What glitters in the rear?

And senseless bending o'er his saddle-bow, "Tis Otho's banner-the pursuer's spear!

Perceives not Lara that his anxious page Are those the shepherds' fires upon the height? Beguiles his charger from the combat's rage: Alas! they blaze too widely for the flight: Meantime his followers charge, and charge again Cut off from hope, and compass'd in the toil,

Too mix'd the slayers now to heed the slain! Less blood perchance hath bought a richer spoil !

XVI.
XIII.

Day glimmers on the dying and the dead,
A moment's pause, 'tis but to breathe their band,

The cloven cuirass, and the helmless head; Or shall they onward press, or here withstand ?

The war-horse masterless is on the earth, It matters little if they charge the foes

And that last gasp hath burst his bloody girth ; Who by the border-stream their march oppose,

And near, yet quivering with what life remain'd, Some few, perchance, may break and pass the line, The heel that urged him and the hand that rein'd; However link'd to baffle such design.

And some too near that rolling torrent lie, “ The charge be ours ! to wait for their assault

Whose waters mock the lip of those that die; Were fate well worthy of a coward's halt."

That panting thirst which scorches in the breath Forth flies each sabre, rein'd is every steed,

Of those that die the soldier's fiery death, And the next word shall scarce outstrip the deed;

In vain impels the burning mouth to crave In the next tone of Lara's gathering breath

One drop-the last to cool it for the grave;
How many shall but hear the voice of death.

With feeble and convulsive effort swept,
Their limbs along the crimson'd turf have crept;

The faint remains of life such struggles waste,
XIV.

But yet they reach the stream and bend to taste : His blade is bared, in him there is an air

They feel its freshness, and almost partake As deep, but for ton tranquil for despair;

Why pause? No further thirst have they to slakeA something of indifference more than then

It is unquench'd, and yet they feel it not;
Becomes the bravest, if they feel for men-
He turn'd his eye on Kaled, ever near,

It was an agony—but now forgot!
And still too faithful to betray one fear;

XVII.
Perchance 'twas but the moon's dim twilight threw Beneath a lime, remoter from the scene,
Along his aspect an unwonted hue

Where but for him that strife had never been,
Of mournful paleness, whose deep tint exprest A breathing but devoted warrior lay.
The truth, and not the terror of his breast. 'Twas Lara bleeding fast from life away:
This Lara mark'd and laid his hand on his; His follower once, and now his only guide,
It trembled not in such an hour as this;

Kneels Kaled watchful o'er his welling side, His lip was silent, scarcely beat his heart,

And with his scarf would staunch the tides that rush, His eye alone proclaim’d, “We will not part! With each convulsion, in a blacker gush;

[ocr errors]

And then, as his faint breathing waxes low, As if such but disturb’d the expiring man,
In feebler, not less fatàl tricklings flow;

Nor seem'd to know his life but then began,
He scarce can speak, but motions him 'tis vain, That life of Immortality, secure
And merely adds another throb to pain.

To none, save them whose faith in Christ is sure.
And clasps the hand that pang which would assuage,
And sadly smiles his thanks to that dark page,

XX. Who nothing fears, nor feels, nor heeds, nor sees, But gasping heaved the breath that Lara drew, Sare that damp brow which rests upon his knees; And dull the film along his dim eye grew; Save that pale aspect, where the eye, though dim, His limbs stretch'd fluttering, and his head droop'd Held all the light that shone on earth for him.

o'er

The weak yet still untiring knee that bore ;
XVIII.

He press'd the hand he held upon his heart-
The foe arrives, who long had search'd the field, It beats no more, but Kaled will not part
Their triumph nought till Lara too should yield; With the cold grasp, but feels, and feels in vain,
They would remove him, but they see 'twere rain, For that faint throb which answers not again.
And he regards them with a calm disdain,

** It beats !”-away, thou dreamer! he is gone That rose to reconcile him with his fate,

It once was Lara which thou look'st upon.
And that escape to death from living hate :
And Otho comes, and leaping from his steed,

XXI.
Looks on the bleeding foe that made him bleed,

He gazed, as if not yet had pass'd away And questions of his state; he answers not,

The haughty spirit of that humble clay; Searce glances on him as on one forgot,

And those around have roused him from his trance, And turns to Kaled ;-each remaining word,

But cannot tear from thence his fixed glance; They understood not, if distinctly heard;

And when in raising him from where he bore, His dying tones are in that other tongue,

Within his arms the form that felt no more, To which some strange remembrance wildly clung. He saw the head his breast would still sustain, They speak of other scenes, but what-is known

Roll down like earth to earth upon the plain ; To Kaled, whom their meaning reach'd alone:

He did not dash himself thereby, nor tear And he replied, though faintly, to their sound,

The glossy tendrils of his raven hair, While gazed the rest in dumb amazement round:

But strove to stand and gaze, but reel'd and fell, They seem'd even then-that twain-unto the last Scarce breathing more than that he loved so well, To half forget the present in the past;

Than that he loved! Oh! never yet beneath To share between themselves some separate fate,

The breast of man such trusty love may breathe. Whose darkness none beside should penetrate.

That trying moment hath at once reveal'd
XIX.

The secret long and yet but half-conceal'd;
Their words though faint were many-from the tone Its grief seem'd ended, but the sex confest;

In baring to revive that lifeless breast, Their import those who heard could judge alone;

And life return'd, and Kaled felt no shame From this, you might have deem'd young Kaled's What now to her was Womanhood or Fame?

death
More near than Lara's by his voice and breath,

XXII.
So sad, so deep, and hesitating broke
The accents his scarce-moving pale lips spoke;

And Lara sleeps not where his fathers sleep,
But Lara's voice, though low, at first was clear

But where he died his grave was dug as deep,
And calm, till murmuring death gasp'd hoarsely near, Nor is his mortal slumber less profound,
But from his visage little could we guess,

Though priest nor bless'd nor marble deck'd the So unrepentant, dark and passionless,

mound, Save that when struggling nearer to his last,

And he was mourn'd by one whose quiet grief, Upon that page his eye was kindly cast;

Less loud, outlasts a people's for their chief. And once as Kaled's answering accents ceast,

Vain was all question ask'd her of the past, Rose Lara's hand, and pointed to the East:

And vain e'en menace-silent to the last;
Where (as then the breaking sun from high

She told nor whence, for why she left behind
Roll'd back the clouds) the morrow caught his eye, Her all for one who seem'd but little kind.
Or that 'twas chance, or some remember'd scene,

Why did she love him? Curious fool !-be still-
That raised his arm to point where such had been, Is human love the growth of human will ?
Searce Kaled seem'd to know, but turn'd away,

To her he might be gentleness; the stern As if his heart abhorr'd that coming day,

Have deeper thoughts than your dull eyes discern, And shrunk his glance before that morning light,

And when they love, your smilers guess not how To look on Lara's brow-where all grew night.

Beats the strong heart, though less the lips avow. Yet sense seem'd left, though better were its loss; They were not common links, that form’d the chain For when one near display'd the absolving cross,

That bound to Lara Kaled's heart and brain, And proffer'd to his touch the holy bead,

But that wild tale she brook'd not to unfold, Of which his parting soul might own the need,

And seal'd is now each lip that could have told. He look'd upon it with an eye profane, And smiled-Heaven pardon! if 'twere with disdain;

XXIII. And Kaled, though he spoke not, nor withdrew They laid him in the earth, and on his breast, Prom Lara's face his fix'd despairing view,

Besides the wound that sent his soul to rest, With brow repulsive, and with gesture swift, They found the scatter'd dints of many a scar, Flung back the hand which held the sacred gift, Which were not planted there in recent war ;

« AnteriorContinuar »