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To tune his lute, or if he will'd it more,
Again to that acenstom'd couch must creep
Hate's working brain, and lull’d ambition's wile;
And quench'd existence crouches in a grave.
Where weakness, strength, vice, virtue, sunk supine,
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.
NIG ft wanes--the vapors round the mountains
Melt into morn, and Light awakes the world.
Man has another day to swell the past,
And lead him near tertiitle, but his last;
But mighty Nature bounds as from her birth,
The sun is in the heavens, and life on earth;
Flowers in the valley, splendor in the beam,
Health on the gale, and freshness in the stream. Buch insult from a stranger, doubly sore,
Immortal man! behold her glories shine,
And cry, exulting inly, “they are thine!”
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,
Nor earth nor sky will yield a single tear;
But creeping things shall revel in their spoil,
And fit thy clay to fertilize the soil.
"Tis morn—'tis noonwassembled in the hall,
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;
When Ezzelin his charge may here unfold,
And whatsoe'er the tale, it must be told.
His faith was pledged, and Lara's promise given,
To meet it in the eye of man and heaven.
Why comes he not? Such truths to be divulged,
Methinks the accuser's rest is long indulged.
The hour is past, and Lara too is there
With self-confiding coldly patient air :
Why comes not Ezzelin? The hour is past,
And murmurs rise, and Otho's brow o'ercast.
"I know my friend ! his faith I cannot fear,
If yet he be on earth, expect him here;
The roof that held him in the valley stands
Between my own and noble Lara's lands;
My halls from such a guest had honor gain'd,
Nor had Sir Ezzelin his host disdain'd,
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,
Again its wonted wondering to renew,
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;
Long war without and frequent broil within
Which knows no neuter, owns but foes or friends;
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
Some reason urged, whate'er it was, to shun
By mingling with his own the cause of all,
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;
But, dragg'd again upon the arena, stood
In voice--mien-gesture-savage nature spoke,
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?
In this the struggle was the same with all;
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,
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.
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,
Lure on the broken brigands to their fate:
The wary foe alone hath turn'd their mood, One to their cause inseparably bound;
And shown their rashness to that erring brood:
The feign'd retreat, the nightly ambuscade, Thy band may perish, or thy friends may flee,
Farewell to life, but not adieu to thee!"
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
Commanding, aiding, animating all,
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:
Now girt with numbers, now almost alone,
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,
The shaft is sped—the arrow's in his breast!
That fatal gesture left the unguarded side,
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 !
Day glimmers on the dying and the dead,
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;
With feeble and convulsive effort swept,
The faint remains of life such struggles waste,
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;
It was an agony—but now forgot!
Where but for him that strife had never been,
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;
And then, as his faint breathing waxes low, As if such but disturb’d the expiring man,
Nor seem'd to know his life but then began,
To none, save them whose faith in Christ is sure.
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.
The weak yet still untiring knee that bore ;
He press'd the hand he held upon his heart-
** 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.
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
The secret long and yet but half-conceal'd;
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?
And Lara sleeps not where his fathers sleep,
But where he died his grave was dug as deep,
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;
She told nor whence, for why she left behind
Why did she love him? Curious fool !-be still-
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 ;