Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

The far-distant hills, and the groves of my

childhood, Now stream in the light of the sun's setting

ray: And the tall-waving palms of my own native

wild wood In the blue haze of distance are melting away. I see thee, Bassorah ! in splendour retiring, Where thy waves and thy walls in their ma.

jesty meet; I see the bright glory thy pinnacles firing, And the broad vassal river that rolls at thy

feet.

Old Sword! whose fingers clasp'd thee

Around thy carved hilt ? And with that hand which grasp'd thee What heroes' blood was spilt; When fearlessly, with open hearts,

And lance to lance oppos'd, Beneath the shade of barbed darts

The dark-ey'd warriors clos d ? Old Sword! I would not burnish

Thy venerable rust,
Nor sweep away the tarnish
Of darkness and of dust!
Lie there, in slow and still decay,

Unfam'd in olden rhyme,
The relic of a former day,

A wreck of ancient time!

[blocks in formation]

“WE MEET NO MORE!

The present Lord Tennyson agrees with me that this is incorrectly assigned to Alfred. WE meet no more

the die is cast, The chain is broke that tied us,

Farewell to my harp, which I hung in my Farewell to the days which so smoothly have

anguish On the lonely palmetto that nods to the gale; For its sweet-breathing tones in forgetfulness

languish, And around it the ivy shall weave a green

veil.

glided With the maiden whose look was like Cama's

young glance, And the sheen of whose eyes was the load-star

which guided My course on this earth thro' the storms of

mischance !

How darkly did their keen eyes flash!
How fearlessly each arm was rais'd !
How dazzlingly each broad-sword blaz'd !
Though now the dreary night-breeze moans
Above them in this Vale of Bones.

What lapse of time shall sweep away
The memory of that gallant day,
When on to battle proudly going,
Your plumage to the wild winds blowing,
Your tartans far behind ye flowing,
Your pennons rais'd, your clarions sounding,
Fiercely your steeds beneath ye bounding,
Ye mix'd the strife of warring foes
In fiery shock and deadly close ?
What stampings in the madd’ning strife,
What thrusts, what stabs, with brand and knife,
What desp'rate strokes for death or life,
Were there! What cries, what thrilling groans,
Re-echo'd thro' the Vale of Bones !

[blocks in formation]

Dark Valley! still the same art thou,
Unchang'd tliy mountain's cloudy brow;
Still from yon cliffs, that part asunder,
Falls down the torrent's echoing thunder;
Still from this mound of reeds and rushes
With bubbling sound the fountain gushes;
Thence, winding thro' the whisp'ring ranks
Of sedges on the willowy banks,
Still brawling, chafes the rugged stones
That strew this dismal Vale of Bones.

Unchang'd art thon ! no storm hath rent
Thy rude and rocky battlement;
Thy rioting mountains sternly pil'd,
The screen of nature, wide and wild:
But who were they, whose bones bestrew
The heather, cold with midnight dew,
Upon whose slowly-rotting clay
The raven long hath ceas'd to prey,
But, mould'ring in the moon-light air,
Their wan, white skulls show bleak and bare ?
And, aye, the dreary night breeze moans
Above them in this Vale of Bones!

Thou peaceful Vale, whose mountains lonely,
Sound to the torrent's chiding only,
Or wild-goat's cry from rocky ledge,
Or bull-frog from the rustling sedge,
Or eagle from her airy cairn,
Or screaming of the startled 'hern –
How did thy million echoes waken
Amid thy caverns deeply shaken!
How with the red dew o'er thee rain'd
Thine emerald turf was darkly stain'd!
How did each innocent flower, that sprung
Thy greenly-tang?'d glades among,
Blush with the big and purple drops
That dribbled from the leafy copse !
I pac'd the valley, when the yell
Of triumph's voice had ceas'd to swell:
When battle's brazen throat no more
Rais'd its annihilating roar.
There lay ye on each other pilld,
Your brows with noble dust defil'd;1
There, by the loudly-gushing water,
Lay man and horse in mingled slaughter.
Then wept I not, thrice gallant band;
For though no more each dauntless hand
The thunder of the combat hurl'd,
Yet still with pride your lips were curl'd;
And e'en in death's o'erwhelming shade
Your fingers linger'd round the blade!
I deemd, when gazing proudly there
Upon the fix'd and haughty air
That mark'd each warrior's bloodless face,
Ye would not change the narrow space
Which each cold form of breathless clay
Then cover'd, as on earth ye lay,
For realms, for sceptres, or for thrones
I dream'd not on this Vale of Bones !

But years have thrown their veil between
And alter'd is that lonely scene;
And dreadful emblems of thy might,
Stern Dissolution ! meet my sight:
The eyeless socket, dark and dull,
The hideous grinning of the skull,
Are sights which Memory disowns,
Thou melancholy Vale of Bones!

1. Non indecoro pulvere sordidos.' – HOR.

I knew them all - a gallant band, The glory of their native land, And on each lordly brow elate Sate valour and contempt of fate, Fierceness of youth, and scorn of foe, And pride to render blow for blow. In the strong war's tumultuous crash,

*DID NOT THY ROSEATE LIPS

OUTVIE'

Alas! I feel thy deep control,

E'en now when I would break thy chain: But while I seek to gain thy soul,

Ah! say — hast thou a soul to gain ?

In this poem, as in “ Persia,' ' Midnight,' and others, the long sentences are to be noted. One finds very few of these in Charles's poems.

PERSIA

One of the most notable of these juvenile poems. The fanıiliarity with Persian history and geography is remarkable in one so young; and proper names are managed with much skill.

• The flower and choice
Of many provinces from bound to bound.'

MILTON.

Ulla si juris tibi pejerati
Pæna, Barine, nocuisset unquam;
Dente si nigro fieres, vel uno

Turpior ungui
Crederem.'

HORACE.
Did not thy roseate lips outvie

The gay Anana's spicy bloom; 1 Had not thy breath the luxury,

The richness of its deep perfume – Were not the pearls it fans more clear

Than those which grace the valved sbell; Thy foot more airy than the deer,

When startled from his lonely dell Were not thy bosom's stainless whiteness,

Where angel loves their vigils keep, More heavenly than the dazzling brightness

Of the cold crescent on the deep Were not thine eye a star might grace

Yon sapphire concave beaming clear, Or fill the vanish'd Pleiad's place,

And shine for aye as brightly there – Had not thy locks the golden glow

That robes the gay and early east,
Thus falling in luxuriant flow

Around thy fair but faithless breast:
I might have deem'd that thou wert she

Of the Cumæan cave, who wrote
Each fate-involving mystery,

Upon the feathery leaves that float, Borne thro' the boundless waste of air,

Wherever chance might drive along. But she was wrinkled - thou art fair:

And she was old – but thou art young. Her years were as the sands that strew

The fretted ocean-beach; but thou Triumphant in that eye of blue,

Beneath thy smoothly-marble brow; Exulting in thy form thus moulded,

By nature's tenderest touch design'd; Proud of the fetters thou hast folded

Around this fond deluded mind Deceivest still with practis'd look,

With fickle vow, and well-feign'd sigh. I tell thee, that I will not brook

Reiterated perjury !

LAND of bright eye and lofty brow!
Whose every gale is balmy breath

Of incense from some sunny flower,
Which on tall hill or valley low,
In clustering maze or circling wreath,

Sheds perfume; or in blooming bower
Of Schiraz or of Ispahan,
In bower untrod by foot of man,
Clasps round the green and fragrant stem

Of lotos, fair and fresh and blue,
And crowns it with a diadem
Of blossoms, ever young and new;
Oh ! lives there yet within thy soul

Ought of the fire of him who led
Thy troops, and bade thy thunder roll

O'er lone Assyria's crownless head ?
I tell thee, had that conqueror red

From Thymbria's plain beheld thy fall,
When stormy Macedonia swept

Thine honours from thee one and all, He would have wail'd, he would have wept, That thy proud spirit should have bow'd To Alexander, doubly proud. Oh! Iran ! Iran ! had he known The downfall of his mighty throne, Or had he seen that fatal night, When the young king of Macedon

In madness led his veterans on, And Thais held the funeral light, Around that noble pile which rose

Irradiant with the pomp of gold, In high Persepolis of old. Encompass'd with its frenzied foes; He would have groan'd, he would have spread The dust upon his laurell'd head, To view the setting of that star, Which beam'd so gorgeously and far O'er Anatolia, and the fane Of Belus, and Caïster's plain,

And Sardis, and the glittering sands Of bright Pactolus, and the lands Where Cresus held his rich domain: On fair Diarbeck's land of spice, 2 Adiabene's plains of rice, Where down th’ Euphrates, swift and strong,

1 Ulloa says, that the blossom of the West-Indian Anana is of so elegant a crimson as even to dazzle the oye, and that the fragrancy of the fruit discovers the

plant though concealed from sight. See Ulloa's Voy ages, vol. i. p. 72.

2 Xenophon says, that every shrub in these wilds had an aromatic odour.

Pauses, and scans them with astonish'd eye,

As unfamiliar with their aged pile.

Awful, august, magnificent, they tower

Amid the waste of shifting sands around;
The lapse of year and month and day and hour,

Alike unfelt, perform th' unwearied round. How often hath yon day-god's burning light, From the clear sapphire of his stainless hea

ven, Bath'd their high peaks in noontide brilliance

bright, Gilded at morn, and purpled them at even ! *

The shield-like kuphars bound along; 1
And sad Cunaxa's field, where, mixing

With host to adverse host oppos’d,
'Mid clashing shield and spear transfixing,

The rival brothers sternly clos'd. And further east, where, broadly roll’d, Old Indus pours his stream of gold; And there, where tumbling deep and hoarse, Blue Ganga leaves her vaccine source; 2 Loveliest of all the lovely streams That meet immortal Titan's beams, And smile upon their fruitful way Beneath his golden orient ray: And southward to Cilicia's shore, Where Cydnus meets the billows' roar, And where the Syrian gates divide The meeting realms on either side; 3 E'en to the land of Nile, whose crops

Bloom rich beneath his bounteous swell,
To hot Syene's wondrous well,
Nigh to the long-liv'd Æthiops.
And northward far to Trebizonde,

Renown'd for kings of chivalry,
Near where old Hyssus, from the strand,

Disgorges in the Euxine sea -
The Euxine, falsely nam’d, which whelms

The mariner in the heaving tide,
To high Sinope's distant realms,
Whence cynics rail'd at human pride.

3

THE DRUID'S PROPHECIES 5

EGYPT

* Egypt's palmy groves, Her grots, and sepulchres of kings.'

MOORE's Lalla Rookh.

The sombre pencil of the dim-grey dawn

Draws a faint sketch of Egypt to mine eye, As yet uncolour'd by the brilliant morn,

And her gay orb careering up the sky.
And see! at last he comes in radiant pride,

Life in his eye, and glory in his ray;
No veiling mists his growing splendour hide,

And hang their gloom around his golden way. The flowery region brightens in his smile,

Her lap of blossoms freights the passing gale, That robs the odours of each balmy isle,

Each fragrant field and aromatic vale. But the first glitter of his rising beam

Falls on the broad-bas'd pyramids sublime, As proud to show us with his earliest gleam,

Those vast and hoary enemies of time. E'en History's self, whose certain scrutiny

Few eras in the list of Time beguile, 1 Rennel on Herodotus.

Perhaps suggested by Cowper'e ' Boadicea,' but longer and more elaborate, and here and there hardly inferior to that poem. Mona ! with flame thine oaks are streaming,

Those sacred oaks we rear'd on high: Lo! Mona, Lo! the swords are gleaming

Adown thine hills confusedly.
Hark! Mona, Hark! the chargers' neighing !

The clang of arms and helmets bright!
The crash of steel, the dreadful braying

Of trumpets thro' the madd'ning fight!
Exalt your torches, raise your voices;
Your thread is spun

your day is brief; Yea! Howl for sorrow! Rome rejoices,

But Mona — Mona bends in grief !
But woe to Rome, though now she raises

Yon eagles of her haughty power;
Though now her sun of conquest blazes,

Yet soon shall come her darkening hour! Woe, woe to him who sits in glory,

Enthroned on thine hills of pride! Can he not see the poignard gory,

With his best heart's-blood deeply dyed ? Ab! what avails his gilded palace,

Whose wings the seven-hill'd town enfold ? 8 The costly bath, the chrystal chalice ?

The pomp of gems the glare of gold ? See where, by heartless anguish driven,

Crownless he creeps 'mid circling thorns; 7 Around him flash the bolts of heaven,

2 The cavern in the ridge of Himmalah, whence the Ganges seems to derive its original springs, has been moulded, by the mind of Hindoo superstition, into the head of a cow.

8 See Xenophon's Erpeditio Cyri. • See Savary's Letters.

5.Stabat pro littore diverfa acies, de armis vi que, intercursantibus feminis in modum Furiarum, quæ

And angry earth before him yawns.8 veste ferali, crinibus dejectis, faces præferebant. Druid. æque circum, preces dires, sublatis ad cælum manibus, fundentes,' etc. - Tacit. Annal. xiv. c, 30.

6 Pliny says, that the golden palace of Nero extended all round the city.

7. Ut ad diverticulum ventum est, dimissis equis inter fruticeta ac vepres, per arundineti semitam ægre, nec nisi strata sub pedibus veste, ad adversum villäe parietem evasit.' - SUETON, l'it. Caesar.

& Statimque tremore terrie, et ulgure adverso parefactus, audiit ex proxiinis castris clamorein,' etc. - Toid. gold; 13

Then, from his pinnacle of splendour,

The feeble king, with locks of grey, Shall fall, and sovereign Rome shall render

Her sceptre to the usurper's 2 sway.
Who comes with sounds of mirth and gladness,

Triumphing o'er the prostrate dead? 3
Ay, me! thy mirth shall change to sadness,

When Vengeance strikes thy guilty head.
Above thy noon-day feast suspended,

High hangs in air a naked sword: Thy days are gone, thy joys are ended,

The cup, the song, the festal board. Then shall the eagle's shadowy pinion

Be spread beneath the eastern skies; 4 And dazzling far with wide dominion,

Five brilliant stars shall brightly rise. Then, coward king ! 6 the helpless aged

Shall bow beneath thy dastard blow; But reckless hands and hearts, enraged,

By double fate shall lay thee low. And two,8 with death-wounds deeply mangled,

Low on their parent-earth shall lie;
Fond wretches ! ah ! too soon entangled

Within the snares of royalty.
Then comes that mighty one victorious

In triumph o'er this earthly ball, 9
Exulting in his conquests glorious

Ah! glorious to his country's fall !

They come ! they leave their frozen regions,

Where Scandinavia's wilds extend; And Rome, though girt with dazzling legions,

Beneath their blasting power shall bend. Woe, woe to Rome! though tall and ample

She rears her domes of high renown; Yet fiery Goths shall fiercely trample

The grandeur of her temples down! She sinks to dust; and who shall pity

Her dark despair and hopeless groans ? There is a wailing in her city

Her babes are dash'd against the stones! Then, Mona! then, though wan and blighted

Thy hopes be now by Sorrow's dearth, Then all thy wrongs shall be requited

The Queen of Nations bows to earth!

9

THE EXPEDITION OF NADIR SHAH

INTO HINDOSTAN Quoi! vous allez combattre un roi, dont la puissance Semble forcer le ciel de prendre sa defense, Sous qui toute l'Asie a vu tomber ses rois Et qui tient la fortune attachée à ses lois !!

RACINE'S Alerandre. Squallent populatibus agri.' - CLAUDIAN. As the host of the locusts in numbers, in might As the flames of the forest that redden the

night, They approach: but the eye may not dwell on

the glare Of standard and sabre that sparkle in air. Like the fiends of destruction they rush on their

way, The vulture behind them is wild for his prey; And the spirits of death, and the demons of

wrath, Wave the gloom of their wings o'er their deso

late path.

But thou shalt see the Romans flying,

O Albyn! with yon dauntless ranks; 10 And thou shalt view the Romans dying,

Blue Carun! on thy mossy banks. But lo! what dreadful visions o'er me

Are bursting on this aged eye! What length of bloody train before me,

In slow succession passes by ! 11

Thy hapless monarchs fall together,

Like leaves in winter's stormy ire; Some by the sword, and some shall wither

By light’ning's flame and fever's fire.12 1 Galba.

Earth trembles beneath them, the dauntless,

2 Otho. 3. Utque campos, in quibus pugnatum est, adiit (i.e. Vitellius) plurimum meri propalam hausit,' etc.- SUET.

4 At the siege of Jerusalem.

6 The five good Emperors: Nerva, Trajan, Adrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius, or Antoninus the Philosopher. Perhaps the best commentary on the life and virtues of the last, is his own volume of Meditations.

6. Debiles pedibus, et eos, qui ambulare non possent, in gigantum modum, ita ut a genibus de pannis et linteis quasi dracones digererentur; eosdemque sagittis confecit.' -- ÆL. LAMPRID, in Vita Comm. - Such were the laudable amusements of Commodus!

? He was first poisoned; but the operation not fully answering the wishes of his beloved, he was afterwards strangled by a robust wrestler.

Pertinax and Didius Julian.

Severus, who was equally victorious in the Eastern and Western World: but those conquests, however glo

the bold. Oh! weep for thy children, thou region of For thy thousands are bow'd to the dust of the

plain, And all Delhi runs red with the blood of her

slain. rious, were conducive to the ruin of the Roman Empire. - See GIBBON, vol. vi. chap. v. p. 203.

10 In allusion to the real or feigned victory obtained by Fingal over Caracul or Caracalla. – See Ossian.

11 Very few of the Emperors after Severus escaped assassination.

19 Macrinus, Heliogabalus, Alexander, Maximin Pupienus, Balbinus, Gordian, Philip, etc., were assassi. nated; Claudius died of a pestilential fever; and Carus was struck dead by lightning in his tent.

13 This in vader required as a ransom for Mohammed Shah no less than thirty millions, and amassed in the rich ity of Delhi the enormous sum of two hundred and thirty-one millions sterling. Others, however, dif ser considerably in their account of this treasure.

« PreviousContinue »