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LARA;

A TALE.

CANTO I.
I.

A hundred scutcheons deck with gloomy grace,
Tax Serfs are glad through Lara'a wide domain, The Lara's last and longest dwelling-place :
And Slavery half forgets her feudal chain : But one is absent from the mouldering file,
He, their unhoped, but unforgotten lord,

That now were welcome in that Gothic pile.
The long self-exiled chieftain is restored ;
There be bright faces in the busy hall,

IV.
Bowls on the board, and banners on the wall;

He comes at last in sudden loneliness, Far checkering o'er the pictured window, plays

And whence they know not, why they need not guess, The unwonted faggots' hospitable blaze;

They more might marvel, when the greeting's o'er, And gay retainers gather round the hearth,

Not that he came, but came not long before : With tongues all loudness, and with eyes all mirth.

No train is his beyond a single page,

Of foreign aspect, and of tender age.
II.

Years had rollid on, and fast they speed away The chief of Lara is return'd again :

To those that wander as to those that stay; And why had Lara cross'd the bounding main ?

But lack of tidings from another clime Left by his sire, too young such loss to know,

Had lent a flagging wing to weary Time. Lord of himself;-that heritage of wo,

They see, they recognize, yet almost deem
That fearful empire which the human breast

The present dubious, or the past a dream
But holds to rob the heart within of rest!
With none to check, and few to point in time

He lives, nor yet is past his manhood's prime, The thousand paths that slope the way to crime ;

Though sear'd by toil, and something touch'd by Then, when he most required commandment, then

time; Had Lara's daring boyhood govern'd men. Ilis faults, whate'er they were, if scarce forgot, It skills not, boots not step by step to trace

Might be untaught him by his varied lot; His youth through all the mazes of its race;

Nor good nor ill of late were known, his name Short was the course his restlessness had run,

Might yet uphold his patrimonial fame : But long enough to leave him half undone.

His soul in youth was haughty, but his sins

No more than pleasure from the stripling wins, III.

And such, if not yet harden'd in their course, And Lara left in youth his father-land;

Might be redeem'd, nor ask a long remorse.
But from the hour he waved his parting hand
Each trace wax'd fainter of his course, till all
Had nearly ceased his memory to recall.

V.
His sire was dust, his vassals could declare, And they indeed were changed—'tis quickly seen,
'Twas all they knew, that Lara was not there; Whate'er he be, 'twas not what he had been :
Nor sent, nor came he, till conjecture grew That brow in furrow'd lines had fix'd at last,
Cold in the many, anxious in the few.

And spake of passions, but of passion past : His hall scarce echoes with his wonted name, The pride, but not the fire, of early days, His portrait darkens in its fading frame,

Coldness of mien, and carelessness of praise ;
Another chief consoled his destined bride,

A high demeanor, and a glance that took
The young forgot him, and the old had died ; Their thoughts from others by a single look;
* Yet doth he live!” exclaims the impatient heir, And that sarcastic levity of tongue,
And sighs for sables which he must not wear. The stinging of a heart the world hath stung,

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That darts in seeming playfulness around, |And then, his rarely call’d attendants said,
And makes those feel that will not own the wound; Through night's long hours would sound his hurried
Ill these seem'd his, and something more beneath, tread
han glance could well reveal, or accent breathe. O'er the dark gallery, where his fathers frown'd
Ambition, glory, love, the common aim,

In rude but antique portraiture around: shat some can conquer, and that all would claim, They heard, but whisper'd—" that must not be Nithin his breast appear'd no more to strive,

knownseem'd as lately they had been alive;

The sound of words less earthly than his own. Aud some deep feeling it were vain to trace Yes, they who chose might smile, but some had seen At moments lighten'd o'er his livid face.

They scarce knew what, but more than should have

been. VI.

Why gazed he so upon the ghastly head Not much he loved long question of the past,

Which hands profane had gather'd from the dead. Nor told of wondrous wilds, and deserts vast,

That still beside his open'd volume lay,
In those far lands where he had wander'd lone,

As if to startle all save him away?
And-as himself would have it seem-unknown: Why slept he not when others were at rest:
Yet these in vain his eye could scarcely scan,

Why heard no music, and receive no guest ?
Nor glean experience from his fellow man:

All was not well, they deem'd—but where the wrong? But what he had beheld he shunn'd to shon, Some knew perchance-out 'twere a tale too long : As hardly worth a stranger's care to know;

And such besides were too discreetly wise, I still more prying such inquiry grew,

To more than hint their knowledge in sumise ; His brow fell darker, and his words more few.

But if they would--they could "-around the board

Thus Lara's vassals prattled to their Lord.
VII.
Not unrejoiced to see him once again,

It was the night-and Lara's glassy stream
Warm was his welcome to the haunts of men ;
Born of high lineage, link'd in high command,

The stars are studding, each with imaged beam;

So calm, the waters scarcely seem to stray, He mingled with the Magnates of his land,

And yet they glide like happiness away; Join'd the carousals of the great and gay,

Reflecting far and fairy-like from high
And saw them smile or sigh their hours away;

The immortal lights that live along the sky,
But still he only saw, and did not share
The common pleasure or the general care;

Its banks are fringed with many a goodly tree,

Il He did not follow what they all pursued

And flowers the fairest that may feast the bee;

Such in her chaplet infant Dian wove, With hope still baffled still to be renew'd:

And Innocence would offer to her love : Nor shadowy honor, nor substantial gain,

These deck the shore; the waves their channel make Nor beauty's preference, and the rival's pain:

In windings bright and mazy like the snake. Around him some mysterious circle thrown

All was so still, so soft in earth and air, Repell’d approach, and show'd him still alone;

You scarce would start to meet a spirit there; Upon his eye sate something of reproof,

Secure that nought of evil could delight
That kept at least frivolity aloof;

To walk in such a scene, on such a night!
And things more timid that beheld him near,
In silence gazed, or whisper'd mutual fear;

It was a moment only for the good :

S. Lara deem'd, nor longer there he stood, And they the wiser, friendlier few confest

But turn'd in silence to his castle-gate; They deem'd him better than his air exprest.

Such scene his soul no more could contemplate:

Such scene reminded him of other days,
VIII.

of skies more cloudless, moons of purer blaze, 'Twas strange in youth all action and all life,

Of nights more soft and frequent, hearts that now Burning for pleasure, not averse from strife ;

No-no-the storm may beat upon his brow, Woman--the field-the ocean-all that gave

Unfelt-unsparing-but a night like this,
Promise of gladness, peril of a grave,

A night of beauty, mock'd such breast as his
In turn he tried-he ransack'd all below,
And found his recompense in joy or wo,

XI.
No tame, trite medium ; for his feelings sought He turn'd within his solitary hall,
In that intenseness an escape from thought:

And his high shadow shot along the wall ;
The tempest of his heart in scorn had gazed There were the painted forms of other times,
On that the feebler elements hath raised;

'Twas all they left of virtues or of crimes, The rapture of his heart hath look'd on high,

Save vague tradition ; and the gloomy vaults And ask'd if greater dwelt beyond the sky: That hid their dust, their foibles, and their faults. Chain'd to excess, the slave of each extreme, And half a column of the pompous page, How woke he from the wildness of that dream?

That speeds the specious tale from age to age, Alas! he told not-but he did awake

Where history's pen its praise or blame supplies, To curse the wither'd heart that would not break.

And lies like truth, and still most truly lies.

He wandering mused, and as the moonbeam shone IX.

Through the dim lattice o'er the floor of stone, Books, for his volume heretofore was Man, And the high fretted roof, and saints, that there With eye more curious he appear'd to scan,

O'er Gothic windows knelt in pictured prayer, and oft, in sudden mood, for many a day

Reflected in fantastic figures grew, From all communion he would start away;

Like life, but not like mortal life, to view;

His bristling locks of sable, brow of gloom, He to his marvelling vassals show'd it not,
And the wide waving of his shaken plume, Whose shuddering proved their fear was less forgot
Glanc'd like a spectre's attributes, and gave In trembling pairs (alone they dared not) crawl
His aspect all that terror gives the grave.

The astonish'd slaves, and shun the fated hall;

The waving banner, and the clapping door,
XII.

The rustling tapestry, and the echoing floor;
) 'Twas midnight-all was slumber; the lone light The long dim shadows of surrounding trees,
Dimm'd in the lamp, as loth to break the night. The flapping bat, the night song of the breeze,
Hark! there be murmurs heard in Lara's hall- Aught they behold or hear their thought appal,
A sound-a voicema shriek-a fearful call ! As evening saddens o'er the dark gray walls.
A long, loud shriek-and silencedid they hear
That frantic echo burst the sleeping ear?

XVI. They heard and rose, and tremulously brave, Vain thought! that hour of ne'er unravell'd gloom Rush where the sound invoked their aid to save; Came not again, or Lara could assume They come with half-lit tapers in their hands, A seeming of forgetfulness, that made And snatch'd in startled haste unbelted brands. His vassals more amazed nor less afraid

Had memory vanish'd then with sense restowed ? XIII.

Since word, nor look, nor gesture of their lord Cold as the marble where his length was laid, Betray'd feeling that recall’d to these Pale as the beam that o'er his features play'd, That fever'd moment of his mind's disease. Was Lara stretch'd: his half-drawn sabre near, Was it a dream ? was his the voice that spoke Dropp'd as it should seem in more than nature's fear; Those strange wild accents; his the cry that broke Yet he was firm, or had been firma till now, Their slumber? his the oppress'd, o'erlabor'd heart And still defiance knit his gather'd brow;

That ceased to beat, the look that made them start? Though mix'd with terror, senseless as he lay, Could he who thus had suffer'd, so forget, There lived upon his lip the wish to slay ; When such as saw that suffering shudder yet? Some half-form'd threat in utterance there had died, Or did that silence prove his memory fix'd Some imprecation of despairing pride;

Too deep for words, indellible, unmix'd His eye was almost scal’d, but not forsook, In that corroding secrecy which gnaws Even in its trance the gladiator's look,

The heart to show the effect, but not the cause ? That oft awake his aspect could disclose,

Not so in him; his breast had buried both, And now was fixed in horrible repose.

Nor common gazers could discern the growth They raise him-bear him;-hush! he breathes, he Of thoughts that mortal lips must leave half told: speaks,

They choke the feeble words that would unfold The swarthy blush recolers in his cheeks, His lip resumes its red, his eye, though dim,

XVII. Rolls wide and wild, each slowly quivering limb In him inexplicably mix'd appear’d Recalls its function, but his words are strung Much to be loved and hated, sought and fear'd; In terms that seem not of his native tongue; Opinion varying o'er his hidden lot, Distinct but strange, enough they understand In praise or railing ne'cr his name forgot: To deem them accents of another land,

His silence form'd a theme for others' prate And such they were, and meant to meet an ear They guess'd—they gazed—they fain would know That hears him not-alas! that cannot hear!

his fate.

What had he been ? what was he, thus unknown, XIV.

Who walk'd their world, his lineage only known? His page approach'd, and he alone appear'd A hater of his kind? yet some would say, To know the import of the words they heard ; With them he could seem gay amidst the gay; And, by the changes of his cheek and brow, But own'd, that smile if oft observed and near, They were not such as Lara should avow,

Waned in its mirth, and wither'd to a sneer; Nor he interpret, yet with less surprise

That smile might reach his lip, but pass'd not by Than those around their chieftain's state he eyes. None e'er could trace its laughter to his eye: But Lara's prostrate form he bent beside,

Yet there was softness too in his regard, And in that tongue that seem'd his own replied, At times, a heart as not by nature hard, And Lara heeds those tones that gently seem But once perceived, his spirit seemed to chide To soothe away the horrors of his dream; Such weakness, as unworthy of its pride, If dream it were, that thus could overthrow And steel'd itself, as scorning to redeem A breast that needed not ideal wo.

One doubt from others' half withheld esteem

In self-inflicted penance of a breast
XV.

Which tenderness might once have wrung from rest
Whate'er his frenzy dream'd or eye beheld, In vigilance of grief that would compel
If yet remember'd ne'er to be reveal'd,

The soul to hate for having loved too well.
Rests at his heart: the custom'd morning came,
And breathed new vigor in his shaken frame;

XVIII.
And solace sought he none from priest nor leech, There was in him a vital scorn of all :
And soon the same in movement and in speech As if the worst had fall’n which could befall,
As heretofore he fillid the passing hours,

He stood a stranger in this breathing world,
Nor less he smiles, nor more his forehead lowers, An erring spirit from another hurl'd;
Than these were wont; and if the coming night A thing of dark imaginings, that shaped
Appear'd less welcome now to Lara's sight, By choice the perils he by chance escaped ;

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But 'scaped in vain, for in their memory yet Appear a highborn and a welcome guest,
His mind would half exult and half regret: To Otho's hall came Lara with the rest,
With more capacity for love than earth

The long carousal shakes the illumined hall,
Bestows on most of mortal mould and birth, Well speeds alike the banquet and the ball ;
His early dreams of good outstripp'd the truth, And the gay dance of bounding Beauty's train
And troubled manhood follow'd baffled youth ; Links grace and harmony in happiest chain :
With thought of years in phantom chase misspent, Blest are the early hearts and gentle hands
And wasted powers for better purpose lent; That mingle there in well-according bands ;
And fiery passions that had pour'd their wrath It is a sight the careful brow might smooth,
In hurried desolation o'er his path,

And make Age smile, and dream itself to Youth,
And left the better feelings all at strife

And Youth forget such hour was pass'd on earth.
In wild reflection o'er his stormy life;

So springs the exulting bosom to that mirth!
But haughty still, and loth himself to blame,
He callid on Nature's self to share the shame,

XXI.
And charged all faults upon the fleshly form

And Lara gazed on these, sedately glad,
She gave to clog the soul, and feast the worm;

His brow belied him if his soul was sad ;
Till be at last confounded good and ill,

And his glance follow'd fast each fluttering fair
And half mistook for fate the acts of will:

Whose steps of lightness woke no echo there
Too high for common selfishness, he could

He lean'd against the lofty pillar nigh,
At times resign his own for others' good,

With folded arms and long attentive eye,
But not in pity, not because he ought,

Nor mark'd a glance so sternly fix'd on his-
But in some strange perversity of thought,

Ill brook'd high Lara scrutiny like this:
That sway'd him onward with a secret pride

At length he caught it, 'tis a face unknown,
To do what few or none would do beside;

But seems as searching his, and his alone;
And this same impulse would, in tempting time,

Prying and dark, a stranger's by his mien,
Mislead his spirit equally to crime;

Who still till now had gazed on him unscen;
So much he soar'd beyond, or sunk beneath
The men with whom he felt condemn’d to breathe ; or keen inquiry, and of mute amaze ;

At length encountering meets the mutual gaze
And long'd by good or ill to separate

On Lara's glance emotion gathering grew,
Himself from all who shared his mortal state;

As if distrusting that the stranger threw;
His mind abhorring this had fix'd her throne

Along the stranger's aspect fix'd and stern,
Far from the world, in regions of her own :

Flash'd more than thence the vulgar eye could learn.
Thus coldly passing all that pass'd below,
His blood in temperate seeming now would flow :

XXII.
Ah! happier if it ne'er with guilt had glow'd,
But ever in that icy smoothness flowed!

“ 'Tis he!" the stranger cried, and those that heard, 'Tis true, with other men their path he walk'd,

Reechoed fast and far the whisper'd word. And like the rest in seeming did and talk'd,

“ 'Tis he!"_" Tis who?" they question far and

near, Nor outraged Reason's rules by flaw nor start,

Till louder accents rung on Lara's ear;
His madness was not of the head, but heart;
And rarely wander'd in his speech, or drew

So widely spread, few bosoms well could brook
His thoughts so forth as to offend the view.

The general marvel, or that single look ;

But Lara stirr'd not, changed not, the surpriso
XIX.

That sprung at first to his arrested eyes
With all that chilling mystery of mien,

Seem'd now subsided, neither sunk nor raised,
And seeming gladness to remain unseen,

Glanced his eye round, though still the stranger
He had (if 'twere not nature's boon) an art

gazed ; of fixing memory on another's heart :

And drawing nigh, exclaim'd, with haughty sneer, It was not love perchancernor hate-nor aught “ 'Tis he!--how came he thence?-what doth he That words can image to express the thought;

here?”
But they who saw him did not see in vain,

XXIII.
And once beheld, would ask of him again :

It were too much for Lara to pass by
Ar.d those to whom he spake remember'd well,

Such questions, so repeated fierce and high;
And on the words, however light, would dwell:

With look collected, but with accent cold,
None knew, nor how, nor why, but he entwined
Himself perforce around the hearer's mind;

More mildly firm than petulantly bold,
There he was stamp'd, in liking, or in hate,

He turn'd, and met the inquisitorial tone

" My name is Lara !when thine own is known, If greeted once; however brief the date

Doubt not my fitting answer to requite
That friendship, pity, or aversion knew,
Still there within the inmost thought he grew.

The unlook'd for courtesy of such a knight.

| 'Tis Lara!-further wouldst thou mark or ask ?
You could not penetrate his soul, but found,

I shun no question, and I wear no mask."
Despite your wonder, to your own he wound;
His presence haunted still; and from the breast
He forced an all unwilling interest :

“ Thou shunn’st no question! Ponder-is there none Vain was the struggle in that mental net,

Thy heart must answer, though thine ear would

shun? His spirit seem'd to dare you to forget!

And deen'st thou me unknown too? Gaze again
XX.

At least thy memory was not given in vain.
There is a festival, where knights and dames, Oh! never canst thou cancel half her debt
And aught that wealth or lofty lineage claims, Eternity forbids thee to forget."

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With slow and searching glance upon his face Alas ! tno like in confidence are each,
Grew Lara's eyes, but nothing there could trace For man to trust to mortal look or speech;
They knew, or chose to know-with dubious look From deeds, and deeds alone may he discern,
He deign'd no answer, but his head he shook, Truths which it wrings the unpractised heart to learn
And half contemptuous turn'd to pass away;
But the stern stranger motion'd him to stay.

XXV.
“A word !
-I charge thee stay, and answer here

And Lara call’d his page, and went his way, To one, who, wert thou noble, were thy peer,

Well could that stripling word or sign obey : But as thou wast and art-nay, frown not, lord,

His only follower from those climes afar, If false, 'tis ease to disprove the word

Where the soul glows beneath a brighter star; But, as thou wast and art, on thee looks down,

For Lara left the shore from whence he sprung, Distrusts thy smiles, but shakes not at thy frown.

In duty patient, and sedate though young; Art thou not he? whose deeds"

Silent as him he served, his faith appears

Above his station, and beyond his years. “Whate'er I be,

Though not unknown the tongue of Lara's land, Words wild as these, accusers like to thee

In such from him he rarely heard command; I list no further ; those with whom they weigh

But fleet his step, and clear his tones would come, May hear the rest, nor venture to gainsay

When Lara's lip breathed forth the words of home; The wondrous tale no doubt thy tongue can tell, Those accents as his native mountains dear, Which thus begins so courteously and well.

Awake their absent echoes in his ear, Let Otho cherish here his polish'd guest,

Friends’, kindreds’, parents', wonted voice recall,
To him my thanks and thoughts shall be exprest.” Now.lost, abjured, for one-his friend, his all:
And here their wondering host hath interposed For him earth now disclosed no other guide;
" Whate'er there be between you undisclosed,

What marvel then he rarely left his side ?
This is no time nor fitting place to mar
The mirthful meeting with a wordy war.

XXVI.
If thou, Sir Ezzelin, hast aught to show
Which it befits Count Lara's ear to know,

Light was his form, and darkly delicate

That brow whereon his native sun had sate, To-morrow, here, or elsewhere, as may best

But had not marr'd, though in his beams he grew, Beseem your mutual judgment, speak the rest;

The cheek where oft the unbidden blush shone I pledge myself for thee, as not unknown, Though like Count Lara now return'd alone

through ; From other lands, almost a stranger grown;

Yet not sych blush as mounts when health would

show And if from Lara's blood and gentle birth, I augur right of courage and of worth,

All the heart's hue in that delighted glow; He will not that untainted line belie,

But 'twas a hectic tint of secret care

That for a burning moment fever'd there; Nor aught that knighthood may accord, deny."

And the wild sparkle of his eye seem'd caught • To-morrow be it," Ezzelin replied,

From high, and lighten'd with electric thought, "And here our several worth and truth be tried.

Though its black orb those long low lashes' fringe I gage my life, my falchion to attest

Had temper'd with a melancholy tinge;

Yet less of sorrow than of pride was there,
My words, so may I mingle with the blest!"
What answers Lara ? to its centre shrunk

Or if 'twere grief, a grief that none should share; His soul in deep abstraction sudden sunk;

And pleased not him the sports that please his age The words of many, and the eyes or at

The tricks of youth, the frolics of the page; That there were gather'd, seem'd on him to fall;

For hours on Lara he would fix his glance, But his were silent, his appear'd to stray

As all-forgotten in that watchful trance ; In far forgetfulness away-away

And from his chief withdrawn, he wander'd lone, Alas ! that heedlessness of all around

Brief were his answers, and his questions none; Bespoke remembrance only too profound.

His walk the wood, his sport some foreign book ;

His resting place the bank that curbs the brook : XXIV.

He seem'd like him he served, to live apart "To-morrow !-ay, to-morrow!” further word

From all that lures the eye, and fills the heart; Than those repeated none from Lara heard ;

To know no brotherhood, and take from earth Upon his brow no outward passion spoke;

No gift beyond that bitter boon our birth.
From his large eye no flashing anger broke;
Yet there was something fix'd in that low tone,

XXVII.
Which show'd resolve, determined, though unknown. If aught be loved, 'twas Lara; but was shown
He seized his cloak-his head he slightly bow'd, His faith in reverence and in deeds alone ;
And passing Ezzelin, he left the crowd ;

In mute attention; and his care, which guess'd And, as he pass'd him, smiling met the frown Each wish, fulfill'd it ere the tongue express'd. With which that chieftain's brow would bear him/$till there was haughtiness in all he did, down :

A spirit deep that brook'd not to be chid ; It was nor smile of mirth, nor struggling pride His zeal, though more than that of servile hands, Chat curbs to scorn the wrath it cannot hide; In act alone obeys, his air commands; But that of one in his own heart secure

As if 'twas Lara's less than his desire Of all that he would do, or could endure. That thus he served, but surely not for hire. Could this mean peace ? the calmness of the good ? Slight were the tasks enjoin'd him by his lord, Oz guilt grown old in desperate hardihord ? To hold the stirrup, or to bear the sword;

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