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“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 sway—
Our flag the sceptre all who meet obey.
Ours the wild life in tumult 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 please—
Oh, who can tell, save he whose heart hath tried,
And danced in triumph o'er the waters wide,
The exulting sense—the pulse's maddening 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 feel—
Feel—to the rising bosom's inmost core,
Its hope awaken and its spirits soar 2
No dread of death—if with us die our foes—
Save 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 enamor'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,
Onrs 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 now.'"
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 ! 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 shoreFor 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 enterprize; 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 2 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 mirth 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!”—they sail. “Do this "
“Now form and follow me!”—the spoil is won
Thus prompt his accents and his actions still,
And all obey and few inquire his will;
To such, brief answer and contemptuous eye
Convey reproof, nor further deign reply.
“A saill—a sail ' '-a promised prize to hope;
Her nation—flag—how speaks the telescope 2
No prize, alas!—but yet a welcome sail:
The blood-red signal glitters in the gale.
Yes—she is ours—a home-returning bark-
Blow 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 foes-
She walks the waters like a thing of life,
And seems to dare the elements to strife.
Who would not brave the battle-fire—the wreck-
To move the monarch of her peopled deck 2
IV. Hoarse o'er her side the rustling cable rings; The sails are furl’d; and anchoring round she swingAnd gathering loiterers on the land discern Her boat descending from the latticed stern. 'Tis mann'd—the oars keep concert to the strand. Till grates her keel upon the shallow sand. Hail to the welcome shout!—the friendly speech . When hand grasps hand uniting on the beach; The smile, the question, and the quick reply, And the heart's promise of festivity
l'he tidim gs spread, and gathering grows the crowd;
The hum of voices, and the laughter loud,
And woman's gentler anxious tone is heard-
Friends'—husbands'—lovers' names in each dear
“Oh! are they safe? we ask not of success—
But shall we see them? will their accents bless 2
From where the battle roars—the bilows chafe-
They doubtless boldly did—but who are safe
Here let them haste to gladden and surprise,
And kiss the doubt from these delighted eyes.”
VI. “Where is our chief? for him we bear report– And doubt that joy—which hails our coming—short; Yet thus sincere—'tis cheering, though so brief; But, Juan instant guide us to our chief: Our greeting paid, we'll feast on our return, And all shall hear what each may wish to learn.” Ascending slowly by the rock-hewn way, To where his watch-tower beetles o'er the bay, By bushy brake, and wild flowers blossoming, And freshness breathing from each silver spring, Whose scatter'd streams from granite basins burst, Leap into life, and sparkling woo your thirst ; From crag to cliff they mount–Near yonder cave, What lonely straggler looks along the wave In pensive posture leaning on the brand, Not oft a resting-staff to that red hand 2 “”Tis he-'tis Conrad—here—as wont—alone; On—Juan —on—and make our purpose known. The bark he views—and tell him we would greet His ear with tidings he must quickly meet: We dare not yet approach—thou know'st his mood, When strange or uninvited steps intrude."
Him Juan sought, and told of their intent—
He spake not—but a sign express'd assent.
These Juan calls—they come—to their salute
He bends him slightly, but his lips are mute.
“These letters, Chief, are from the Greek—the spy
Who still proclaims our spoil or peril nigh:
Whate'er his tidings we can well report,
Much that "–“ Peace, peace "-he cuts their
Wondering they turn, abashed, while each to each
Conjecture whispers in his muttering speech:
They watch his glance with many a stealing look,
To gather how that eye the tidings took ;
But, this as if he guess'd, with head aside,
Perchance from some emotion, doubt, or pride,
He read the scroll-‘‘My tablets, Juan, hark—
Where is Gonsalvo 2"
“In the anchor'd bark.”
This let the Arm, rer with speed dispose;
Last time, it more fatigued my arm than foes
Mark that the signal-gun be duly fired,
To tell us when the hour of stay's expired "
VIII. They make obeisance, and retire in haste, Too soon to seek again the watery waste: Yet they repine not—so that Coprad guides, And who dare question aught that he decides 2 That man of loneliness and mystery, Scarce seen to smile, and seldom heard to sigh; Whose name appals the fiercest of his crew, And tints each swarthy cheek with sallower hue ; Still sways their souls with that commanding art That dazzles, leads, yet chills the vulgar heart. What is that spell, that thus his lawless train Confess and envy, yet oppose in vain : What should it be, that thus their fate can bind 2 The power of Thought—the magic of the Mind: Link'd with success, assumed and kept with skill. That moulds another's weakness to its will ; Wields with their hands, but, still to these unknown Makes even their mightiest deeds appear his own. Such hath it been—shall be-beneath the sun, The many still must labor for the one ! 'Tis Nature's doom—but let the wretch who tolls. Accuse not, hate not him who wears the spoils. Oh! if he knew the weight of splendid chains. How light the balance of his humbler pains !
IX. Unlike the heroes of each ancient race, Demons in act, but Gods at least in face, In Conrad's form seems little to admire, Though his dark eyebrow shades a glance of fire: Robust but not Herculean—to the sight No giant frame sets forth his common height; Yet, in the whole, who paused to look again, Saw more than marks the crowd of vulgar men ; They gaze and marvel how—and still confess That thus it is, but why they cannot guess. Sunburnt his cheek, his forehead high and pale The sable curls in wild profusion veil; And oft perforce his rising lip reveals The haughtier thought it curbs, but scarce conceals Though smooth his voice, and calm his general mien Still seems there something he would not have seen His features' deepening lines and varying hue At times attracted, yet perplex'd the view, As if within that murkiness of mind Work'd feelings fearful, and yet undefined; Such might it be—that none could truly tell— Too close inquiry his stern glance would quell. There breathe but few whose aspect might defy The full encounter of his searching eye: He had the skill, when Cunning's gaze would seek To probe his heart and watch his changing cheek, At once the observer's purpose to espy, And on himself roll back his scrutiny, Lest he to Conrad rather should betray Some secret thought, than drag that chief's to day There was a laughing Devil in his sneer, That raised emotions both of rage and fear; And where his frown of hatred darkly fell, Hope withering fled—and Mercy sigh’d farewell,
Love shows all changes—Hate, Ambition, Guile,
Betray no further than the bitter smile;
The lip's least curl, the lightest paleness thrown
Along the govern'd aspect, speak alone
Of deeper passions; and to judge their mien,
He, who would see, must be himself unseen.
Then—with the hurried tread, the upward eye,
'The clenched hand, the pause of agony,
‘That listens, starting, lest the step too near
Approach intrusive on that mood of fear:
Then—with each feature working from the heart,
With feelings loosed to strengthen—not depart:
That rise—convulse—contend—that freeze, or glow,
Flush in the cheek, or damp upon the brow;
Then—Stranger if thou canst, and tremblest not,
Behold his soul—the rest that soothes his lot!
Mark—how that lone and blighted bosom sears
The scathing thought of execrated years!
Behold—but who hath seen, or e'er shall see,
Man as himself—the secret spirit free ?
Yet was not Conrad thus by Nature sent
To lead the guilty—guilt's worst instrument—
His soul was changed, before his deeds had driven
Him forth to war with man and forfeit heaven.
Warp'd by the world in Disappointment's school,
In words too wise, in conduct there a fool;
Too firm to yield, and far too proud to stoop,
Doom'd by his very virtues for a dupe,
He cursed those virtues as the cause of ill,
And not the traitors who betray'd him still ;
Nor deem'd that gifts bestow'd on better men
Had left him joy, and means to live again.
Fear'd—shunn’d—belied—ere youth had lost her
He hated man too much to feel remorse,
And thought the voice of wrath a sacred call,
To pay the injuries of some on all.
He knew himself a villain—but he deem'd
The rest no better than the thing he seem'd ;
And scorn'd the best as hypocrites who hid
Those deeds the bolder spirit plainly did.
He knew himself detested, but he knew
The hearts that loathed him, crouch'd and dreaded
Lone, wild, and strange, he stood alike exempt
From all affection and from all contempt:
His name could sadden, and his acts surprise;
But they that fear'd him dared not to despise:
Man spurns the worm, but pauses ere he wake
The slumbering venom of the folded snake:
The first may turn—but not avenge the blow;
The last expires—but leaves no living foe;
Fast to the doom'd offender's form it clings,
And he may crush—not conquer—still it stings |
XII. None are all evil—quickening round his heart, One softer feeling would not yet depart; Oft could he sneer at others as beguiled By passions worthy of a fool or child; Yet 'gainst that passion vainly still he strove, And even in him it asks the name of Love! Yes, it was love—unchangeable—unchanged, l'elt but for one from whom he never ranged; Though fairest captives daily met his eye, He shunn'd nor sought, but coldly pass'd them by ;
Though many a beauty droop'd in prison a bower
None ever soothed his most unguarded hour.
Yes—it was Love—if thoughts of tenderness,
Tried in temptation, strengthened by distress,
Unmoved by absence, firm in every clime,
And yet—Oh more than all !—untired by time;
Which nor defeated hope, nor baffled wile,
Could render sullen were she near to smile,
Nor rage could fire, nor sickness fret to vent
On her one murmur of his discontent;
Which still would meet with joy, with calmness part
Lest that his look of grief should reach her heart;
Which nought removed, nor menaced to remove—
If there be love in mortals—this was love!
He was a villain—ay—reproaches shower
On him—but not the passion, nor its power.
Which only proved, all other virtues gone,
Not guilt itself could quench this loveliest one!
He paused a moment—till his hastening men
Pass'd the first winding downward to the glen.
“Strange tidings!—many a peril have I past,
Nor know I why this next appears the last !
Yet so my heart forebodes, but must not fear,
Nor shall my followers find me falter here.
'Tis rash to meet, but surer death to wait
Till here they hunt us to undoubted fate;
And, if my plan but hold, and Fortune smile,
We'll furnish mourners for our funeral-pile.
Ay—let them slumber—peaceful be their drearms!
Morn ne'er awoke them with such brilliant beams
As kindle high to-night (but blow, thou breeze')
To warm these slow avengers of the seas.
Now to Medora—Oh! my sinking heart,
Long may her own be lighter than thou art 1
Yet was I brave—mean boast where all are brave:
Ev’n insects sting for aught they seck to save.
This common courage which with brutes we share
That owes its deadliest efforts to despair,
Small merit claims—but 'twas my nobler hope
To teach my few with numbers still to cope;
Long have I led them—uot to vainly bleed:
No medium now—we perish or succeed 1
So let it be—it irks not me to die;
But thus to urge them whence they cannot fly.
My lot hath long had little of my cert
But chafes my pride thus baffled in the snare.
Is this my skill my craft to set at last
Hope, power, and life upon a single cast :
Oh, Fate!—accuse thy folly, not thy fate—
She may redeem thee still—nor yet too late.”
Thus with himself communion held he, till
He reach'd the summit of his tower-crown'd hill
There at the portal paused—for wild and soft
He heard those accents never heard too oft;
Through the high lattice far yet sweet they rung
And these the notes his bird of beauty sung :
1. “Deep in my soul that tender secret dwells, Lonely and lost to light for evermore, Save when to thine my heart responsive swells, Then trembles into silence as before