« PreviousContinue »
Lxxxv. Sylla was first of victors; but our own The sagest of usurpers, Cromwell; he Too swept off senates while he hew'd the throne Down to a block - inmortal rebel! See What crimes it costs to be a monient free And famous through all ages! but beneath His fate the moral lurks of destiny;
His day of double victory and death Beheld him win two realms, and, happier, yield his breath.
LXXXVI. The third of the same moon whose former course Had all but crown'd him, on the selfsame day Deposed him gently from his throne of force, And laid him with the earth's preceding clay. 44) And show'd not Fortune thus how fame and sway And all we deem delightful, and consume Our souls to compass through each arduous way, Are in her eyes less happy than the tomb? Were they but so in man's, how different were his doom !
LXXXVII. And thou, dread statute! yet existent in 45) The austerest form of naked majesty, Thou who beheldest, ’niid the assassins' din, At thy bathed base the bloody Caesar lie, Folding his robe in dying dignity, An offering to thine altar from the queen Of goods and men, great Nemesis! did he die And thou, too, perish, Pompey? have ye been Victors of countless kings, or puppets of a scene?
LXXXVIII. And thou, the thunder-striken nurse of Rome! 46) She-wolf! whose brazen imaged dugs impart The milk of conquest yet within the dome Where, as a monument of antique art, Thou standest:- Mother of the mighty heart, Which the great founder suck'd from thy wild teat, Scorch'd by the Roman Jove's etherial dart,
And thy limbs black with lightning-dost thou yet Guard thine immortal cubs, nor thy fond charge
LXXXIX. Thou dost;- but all thy foster-babes are deadThe men of iron; and the world hath rear'd Cities from out their sepulchres: men bled In imitation of the things they fear’d, And fought and conquer'd, and the same course
steer'd, At apish distance; but as yet none have, Nor could, the same supremacy have near’d,
Save one vain man, who is not in the grave, But, vanquish'd by himself, to his own slaves a slave
XC. The fool of false dominion--and a kind Of bastard Caesar, following him of old With steps nnequal; for the Romau's mind Was modellid in a less terrestrial mould, 47) With passions fiercer, yet a judgment cold, And an immortal instinct which redeen'd The frailties of a heart so soft, yet bold,
Alcides with the distaff now he seem'd At Cleopatra's feet, - and now himself he beam'd,
xc. And came-and saw-and conquer'd! But ihe man Who would have tamed bis eagles down to flee. Like a train'd falcon, in the Gallic van, Which he, in sooth, long led to victory, With a deaf heart which never seem'd to be A listener to itself, was strangely framed; With but one weakest weakness - - vanity,
Coquettish in ambition- still he aim'dAt what? can he avouch - or answer what he claim'd?
XCII. And would be all or nothing- nor could wait For the sure grave to level him; few years Had fix'd him with the Caesars in his fate, On whom we tread: For this the conqueror rears The arch of triumph! and for this the tears And blood of earth flow on as they have flow'd, An universal deluge, which appears
Without an ark for wretched man's abode, And ebbs but to reflow!- Renew thy rainbow, God!
XCIII. What from this barren being do we reap ? Our senses narrow, and our reason frail, 48) Life short, and truth a gem which loves the deep, And all things weigh'd in custom's falsest scale; Opinion an omnipotence, - whose veil Mantles the earth with darkness, nntil right And wrong are accidents, and men grow pale Lest their own judgments should become too bright, And their free thoughts be crimes, and earth have too much light.
xCIV. And thus they plod in sluggish misery, Rotting from sire to son, and age to age, Proud of their trampled nature, and so die, Bequeathing their hereditary rage To the new race of inborn slaves, who wage War for their chains, and rather than be free, Bleed gladiator- like, and still engage
Within the same arena where they see Their fellows fall before, like leaves of the same tree.
xcv. I speak not of men's creeds - they rest between Man and his Maker - but of things allow'd, Averr'd, and known, - and daily, hourly seen The yoke that is upon us doubly bow'd, And the intent of tyranny avow'd, The edict of Earth's rulers, who are grown The apes of him who humbled once the proud,
And shook them from their slumbers on the throne; Too glorious, were this all his mighty arm had done.
XCVI. Can tyrants but by tyrants conquer'd be, And Freedom find no champion and no child Such as Columbia saw arise when she Sprung forth a Pallas, arm’d and undefiled ? Or must such minds be nourish'd in the wild, Deep in the unpruned forest, ’midst the roar Of cataracts, where nursing Nature smiled
On infant Washington? Has Earth no more Such seeds within her breast, or Europe no such shore?
XCVII. But France got drunk with blood to vomit crime, And fatal have her Saturnalia been To Freedom's cause, in every age and clime; Because the deadly days which we have seen, And vile Ambition, that built up between Man and his hopes an adamantine wall, And the base pageant last upon the scene, Are grown the pretext for the eternal thrall Which nips life's tree, and dooms man's worsthis second fall.
XCVIII. Yet, Freedom! yet thy banner, torn, but flying, Streams like the thunder-storm against the wind; Thy trumpet voice, though broken now and dying, The loudest still the tempest leaves behind; Thy tree hath lost its blossoms, and the rind, Chopp’d by the axe, looks rough and little worth, But the sap lasts, -- and still the seed we find
Sown deep, even in the bosom of the North; So shall a better spring less bitter fruit bring forth.
XCIX. There is a stern round tower of other days, 49) Firm as a fortress, with its fence of stone, Such as an army's baffled strength delays, Standing with half its battlements alone, And with two thousand years of ivy grown, The garland of eternity, where wave The green leaves over all by time o'erthrown;
What was this tower of strength? within its cart What treasure lay so lock'd, so hid? – A womany grave.
c. But who was she, the lady of the dead, Tomb'd in a palace? Was she chaste and fair! Worthy a king's — or more -a Roman's bed? What race of chiefs and heroes did she bear? What daughter of her beauties was the heir? How lived - how loved - how died she? Was
she not So honour'd — and conspicuously there,
Where meaner relics must not dare to rot, Placed to commemorate a mo than mortal lot?
CI. Was she as those who love their lords, or they Who love the lords of others? such have been Even in the olden time Rome's annals say. Was she a matron of Cornelia's mien, Or the light air of Egypt's graceful queen, Profuse of joy- or 'gainst it did she war, Inveterate in virtue? Did she lean
To the soft side of the heart, or wisely bar Love from amongst her griefs? — for such the af. fections are.
CII. Perchance she died in youth : it may be, bow'd With woes far heavier than the ponderous tomb That weigh’d upon her gentle dust, a cloud Might gather o'er her beauty, and a gloom In her dark eye, prophetic of the dooni Heaven gives its favourites early death; yet
shed 50) A sunset charm around her, and illume
With hectic light, the Hesperus of the dead, Other consuming cheek the autumnal leaf-like red.
CIII. Perchance she died in age - surviving all, Charms, kindred, children - with the silver gray On her long tresses, which might yet recal, It may be, still a something of the day When they were braided, and her proud array And lovely form were envied, praised, and eyed By Rome – But whither would Conjecture stray?
Thus much alone we know - Metella died, The wealthiest Roman's wife; Behold his love or
pride! I know not why, but standing thus by thee It seems as if I had thine inmate known, Thou tomb! and other days come back on me With recollected music, though the tone Is changed and solemn, like the cloudy groan Of dying thunder on the distant wind; Yet could I seat me by this ivied stone
Till I had bodied forth the heated mind Forms from the floating wreck which Ruin leaves