« PreviousContinue »
Like the Chaldean, he conld watch the stars, Till he had peopled them with beings bright As their own beams; and earth, and earth-born
jars, And human frailties, were forgotten quite : Could he have kept his spirit to that flight He had been happy; but this clay will sink Its spark immortal, envying it the light To which it mounts, as if to break the link That keeps us from yon heaven which woos us
to its brink.
XV. But in Man's dwellings he became a thing Restless and worn, and stern and wearisome, Droop'd as a wild-born falcon with clipt wing, To whom the boundless air alone were home : Then canie his fit again, which to o’eccome, As eagerly the barr'd-up bird will beat His breast and beak against his wiry dome Till the blood tinge his plumage, so the heat Of his impeded soul would through his bosom eat.
XVI. Self-exiled Harold wanders forth again, With nought of hope left, but with less of gloom; The very knowledge that he lived in vain, That all was over on this side the tomb, Had made Despair a smilingness assume, Which, though 'twere wild, – as on the plun
der'd wreck When mariners would madly meet their doom
With draughts intemperate on the sinking deck,Did yet inspire a cheer, which he forbore to check.
XVII. Stop!- for thy tread is on an Empire's dust! An Earthquake's spoil is sepulchred below! Is the spot mark'd with no colossal bust? Nor column trophied for triumphal show ? None; but the moral's truth tells simpler so, As the ground was before, thus let it be;
How that red rain hath made the harvest grow!
And is this all the world has gain'd by thee, Thou first and last of fields! king-making Victory?
XVIII. And Harold stands upon this place of skulls, The grave of France, the deadly Waterloo; How in an hour the power which gave annuls Its gifts, transferring fame as fleeting too! In “pride of place » 1) here last the eagle flew, Then tore with bloody talon the rent plain,
rc by the shaft of banded nations through; Ambition's life and labours all were vain; He wears the shatter'd links of the world's broken
Fit retribution! Gaul may champ the bit
Pay the Wolf homage ? proffering lowly gaze And servile knees to thrones ? No; prove before ye praise !
XX. If not, o'er one fallen despot boast no more! In vain fair cheeks were furrow'd with hot tears For Europe's flowers long rooted up before The trampler of her vineyards; in vain years Of death, depopulation, bondage, fears, Have all been borne, and broken by the accord Of roused-up millions : all that most endears
Glory, is when the myrtle wreathes a sword Such as Harmodius ?) drew on Athens' tyrant lord.
There was a sound of revelry by night,
And all went merry as a marriage - bell; 5).
XXII. Did ye not hear it? – No; 'twas but the wind, Or the car rattling o'er the stony street; On with the dance! let joy be unconfined; No sleep till morn, when Youth and Pleasure
meet To chase the glowing Hours with flying feet But, hark! – that heavy sound breaks in once
more, As if the clouds its echo would repeat;
And nearer, clearer, deadlier than before ! Arm! Arm! it is—it is—the cannon's opening roar!
XXIII. Within a window'd niche of that high hall Sate Brunswick's fated chieftain; he did hear That sound the first amidst the festival, And caught its tone with Death's prophetic ear; And when they smiled because he deem'd it near, His heart more truly knew that peal too well Which stretch'd his father on a bloody bier, And roused the vengeance blood alone could
quell : He rushd into the field, and, foremost fighting, fell.
Ah! then and there was hurrying to and fro, And gathering tears, and tremblings of distress, And cheeks all pale, which but an hour ago Blush'd at the praise of their own loveliness; And there were sudden partings, such as press The life from out young hearts, and choking
sighs Which ne'er might be repeated; who could guess
If ever more should meet those mutual eyes, Since upon night so sweet such awful morn could
XXV. And there was mounting in hot haste: the steed, The mustering squadron, and the clattering car, Went pouring forward with impetuous speed, And swiftly forming in the ranks of war; And the deep thunder peal on peal afar; And near, the beat of the alarming drum Roused up the soldier ere the morning star;
While throng'd the citizens with terror dumb, Or whispering, with white lips — «The foe! They come! they come!»
XXVI. And wild and high the « Cameron's gathering »
rose! The war-note of Lochiel, which Albyn's hills Have heard, and heard, too, have her Saxon
foes :How in the noon of night that pibroch thrills, Savage and shrill! But with the breath which fills Their mountain.pipe, so fill the mountaineers With the fierce native daring which instils
The stirring memory of a thousand years, And 4) Evan's, 5) Donald's fame rings in each clans
And Ardennes ) waves above them her green
leaves, Dewy with nature's tear-drops, as they pass, Grieving, if aught inanimate e'er grieves, Over the unreturning brave, - alas! Ere evening to be trodden like the grass Which now beneath them, but above shall grow In its next verdure, when this fiery mass
Of living valour, rolling on the foe And burning with high hope, shall moulder cold
XXVIII. Last noon beheld them full of lusty life, Last eve in Beauty's circle proudly gay, The midnight brought the signal-sound of strife,
The morn the marshalling in arms, – the day
Which her own clay shall cover, heap'd and pent, Rider and horse, - friend, foe,- in one red burial
XXIX. Their praise is hymn'd by loftier harps than mine; Yet one I would select from that proud throng, Partly because they blend me with his line, And partly that I did his sire some wrong, And partly that bright names will hallow song; And his was of the bravest, and when shower'd The death-bolts deadliest the thinn'd files along,
Even where the thickest of war's tempest lower'd, They reach'd no nobler breast than thine, young, gallant Howard!
XXX. There have been tears and breaking hearts for
thee, And mine were nothing, had I such to give; But when I stood beneath the fresh green tree, Which living waves where thou didst cease to live, And saw around me the wide field revive With fruits and fertile promise, and the Spring Come forth her work of gladness to contrive,
With all her reckless birds upon the wing, I turo'd from all she brought to those she could not bring. 7)
XXXI. I turn'd to thee, to thousands, of whom each And one as all a ghastly gap did make In his own kind and kindred, whom to teach Forgetfulness were mercy for their sake; The Archangel's trump, not Glory's, must awake Those whom they thirst for; though the sound
of Fame May for a moment soothe, it cannot slake
The fever of vain longing, and the name So honour'd
assumes a stronger, bitterer claim.