« PreviousContinue »
The Voyage continued.
“ Ah, why look back, tho' all is left behind ?
No sounds of life are stirring in the wind.
And you, ye birds, winging your passage home,
How blest ye are !—We know not where we roam.
We go,” they cried, “ go to return no more;
Nor ours, alas, the transport to explore
A human footstep on a desert shore !"
-Still, as beyond this mortal life impelled
By some mysterious energy, He held
His everlasting course.
High on the deck He stood, disdaining rest;
(His amber chain the only badge he bore,
His mantle blue such as his fathers wore)
Fathomed, with searching hand, the dark profound,
And scattered hope and glad assurance round;
Tho', like some strange portentous dream, the Past
Still hovered, and the cloudless sky o'ercast.
At day-break might the Caravels * be seen, Chasing their shadows o'er the deep serene;
* Light vessels, formerly used by the Spaniards and Portuguese.
Their burnished prows lashed by the sparkling tide,
Their green-cross standards waving far and wide.
And now once more to better thoughts inclined,
The sea-man, mounting, clamoured in the wind.
The soldier told his tales of love and war;
The courtier sung—sung to his gay guitar.
Round, at Primero, sate a whiskered band;
So Fortune smiled, careless of sea or land!
Leon, MONTALVAN, (serving side by side ;
Two with one soul-and, as they lived, they died)
Vasco the brave, thrice found among the slain,
Thrice, and how soon, up and in arms again,
As soon to wish he had been sought in vain,
Chained down in Fez, beneath the bitter thong,
To the hard bench and heavy oar so long !
ALBERT of FLORENCE, who, at twilight-time,
In my rapt ear poured Dante's tragic rhyme,
Screened by the sail as near the mast we lay,
Our nights illumined by the ocean-spray;
And MANFRED, who espoused with jewelled ring
Young ISABEL, then left her sorrowing:
LERMA ' the generous,' Avila the proud;'
VELASQUEZ, Garcia, thro' the echoing crowd
Traced by their mirth—from EBRO's classic shore,
From golden Tavo, to return no more!
Yet who but He undaunted could explore
A world of waves, a sea without a shore,
Trackless and vast and wild as that revealed
When round the Ark the birds of tempest wheeled;
When all was still in the destroying hour-
No sign of man! no vestige of his power!
One at the stern before the hour-glass stood,
As 'twere to count the sands; one o'er the flood
Gazed for St. Elmo;* while another cried
“Once more good morrow!” and sate down and sighed.
Day, when it came, came only with its light.
Though long invoked, 'twas sadder than the night!
Look where He would, for ever as He turned,
He met the eye of one that inly mourned.
Then sunk his generous spirit, and He wept.
The friend, the father rose; the hero slept.
* A luminous appearance of good omen.
Palos, thy port, with many a pang resigned,
Filled with its busy scenes his lonely mind;
The solemn march, the vows in concert given,*
The bended knees and lifted hands to heaven,
The incensed rites, and choral harmonies,
The Guardian's blessings mingling with his sighs;
While his dear boys—ah, on his neck they hung,
And long at parting to his garments clung.
Oft in the silent night-watch doubt and fear
Broke in uncertain murmurs on his ear.
Oft the stern Catalan, at noon of day,
Muttered dark threats, and lingered to obey;
Tho' that brave Youth-he, whom his courser bore
Right thro' the midst, when, fetlock-deep in gore,
The great Gonzalo battled with the Moor,
(What time the ALHAMBRA shook-soon to unfold
Its sacred courts, and fountains yet untold,
Its holy texts and arabesques of gold)
Tho' ROLDAN, sleep and death to him alike,
Grasped his good sword and half unsheathed to strike.
“ Oh born to wander with your flocks,” he cried,
“ And bask and dream along the mountain-side ;
. His public procession to the convent of La Rabida on the day before he set sail. It was there that his sons had received their education; and he himself appears to have passed some time there, the venerable Guardian, Juan Perez de Marchena, being his zealous and affectionate friend.— The ceremonies of his departure and return are represented in many of the fresco-paintings in the palaces of Genoa.
To urge your mules, tinkling from hill to hill;
Or at the vintage-feast to drink your fill,
And strike your castanets, with gipsy-maid
Dancing Fandangos in the chestnut shade-
Come on," he cried, and threw his glove in scorn,
“ Not this your wonted pledge, the brimming horn.
Valiant in peace! Adventurous at home!
Oh, had ye vowed with pilgrim-staff to roam;
Or with banditti sought the sheltering wood,
Where mouldering crosses mark the scene of blood !"
He said, he drew; then, at his Master's frown,
Sullenly sheathed, plunging the weapon down.