« AnteriorContinuar »
And for his fare—the rudest of his crew
Would that, in turn, have pass'd untasted too; 70
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, 75
His mind seems nourish'd by that abstinence. [done :
“Steer to that shore!"—they sail. “Do this !"_'tis
6 Now form and follow me!"—the spoil is won.
Thus prompt his accents and his actions still,
And all obey and few enquire his will;
80 To such, brief answer and contemptuous eye Convey reproof, nor further deign reply.
“A sail!-a sail !”—a promised prize to Hope! Her nation-flag-how speaks the telescope? No prize, alas !--but yet a welcome sail:
85 The blood-red signal glitters in the gale. Yes--she is ours~a home returning barkBlow fair, thou breeze !-she anchors ere the dark. Already doubled is the cape—our bay Receives that prow which proudly spurns the spray.90 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_95 To move the monarch of her peopled deck ?
Hoarse o'er her side the rustling cable rings ;
The sails are furld; and anchoring round she swings :
And gathering loiterers on the land discern
Her boat descending from the latticed stern. 100
'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, 105
And the heart's promise of festivity!
The tidings spread, and gathering grows the crowd: The hum of voices, and the laughter loud, And woman's gentler anxious tone is heard 109 Friends'--husbands'--lovers' names in each dear word: “Oh! are they safe? we ask not of success“But shall we see them ? will their accents bless? “ From where the battle roars--the billows chafe“They doubtless boldly didbut who are safe ? “ Here let them haste to gladden and surprise, 115 “ And kiss the doubt from these delighted eyes!"
“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: 120
“ 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, 125
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? 130
In pensive posture leaning on the brand,
Not oft a resting-staff to that red hand ?
“ '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 135
“ 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. 140
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, 145 “ Much that”—“Peace, peace!"-he cuts their prating
short. Wondering they turn, abash'd, 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; 150 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 ?”
" In the anchor'd bark.” 155 “ There let him stay-to him this order bear. “ Back to your duty-for my course prepare:
Myself this enterprise to-night will share."
“ To-night, Lord Conrad ?"
“ Ay! at set of sun: 160 “ The breeze will freshen when the day is done.
My corslet-cloak—one hour--and we are gone. “ Sling on thy bugle-see that free from rust, 6. My carbine-lock springs worthy of my trust; “ Be the edge sharpen'd of my boarding-brand, 165 “ And give its guard more room to fit my hand. “ This let the Armourer 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." 170
They make obeisance, and retire in haste,
Too soon to seek again the watery waste :
Yet they repine not-so that Conrad guides,
And who dare question aught that he decides ?
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. 180
What is that spell, that thus his lawless train
Confess and envy, yet oppose in vain ?
What should it be? that thus their faith can bind?
The power of Thought—the magic of the Mind !
Link'd with success, assumed and kept with skill, 185
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 labour for the one!
'Tis Nature's doom-but let the wretch who toils,
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 !
Unlike the heroes of each ancient race,
mons in act, but God s at least in face,