« PreviousContinue »
“AH, why look back, though all is left behind ?
No sounds of life are stirring in the wind.-
And you, ye birds, winging your passage home,
- 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. Still self-possessed, 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; Though, 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 ; 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 seaman, mounting, clamored 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!3
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, through the echoing crowd
Traced by their mirth-from EBRO's classic shore,
From golden TAJO, to return no more!
YET who but he undaunted could explore1
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 't were 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, 't was sadder than the night!
Look where he would, forever 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.
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; Though that brave youth-he, whom his courser bore Right through the midst, when, fetlock-deep in gore, The great GONSALVO 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),— Though ROLDAN, sleep and death to him alike, Grasped his good sword and half unsheathed to strike "O, born to wander with your flocks," he cried, "And bask and dream along the mountain-side;
To urge your mules, tinkling from hill to hill;
Or at the vintage feast to drink your fill,
And strike your castanets, with gypsy-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!
O, 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.
The Flight of an Angel of Darkness.
War and the Great in War let others sing,
Havoc and spoil, and tears and triumphing;
The morning-march that flashes to the sun,
The feast of vultures when the day is done ;
And the strange tale of many slain for one !
I sing a Man, amid his sufferings here,
Who watched and served in humbleness and fear;
Gentle to others, to himself severe.
Still unsubdued by Danger's varying form,
Still, as unconscious of the coming storm,
He looked elate ; and, with his wonted smile,
On the great Ordinance leaning, would beguile
The hour with talk. His beard, his mien sublime,
Shadowed by Age - by Age before the time,
From many a sorrow borne in many a clime,
Moved every heart. And now in opener skies
Stars yet unnamed of purer radiance rise !
Stars, milder suns, that love a shade to cast,
And on the bright wave fling the trembling mast!
Another firmament! the orbs that roll,
Singly or clustering, round the Southern pole!
Not yet the four that glorify the Night
Ah ! how forget when to my ravished sight
The Cross shone forth in everlasting light ! 3
'T was the mid hour, when He, whose accents dread
Still wandered through the regions of the dead
(MERION, commissioned with his host to sweep
From age to age the melancholy deep),
To elude the seraph-guard that watched for man,
And mar, as erst, the Eternal's perfect plan,
Rose like the condor, and, at towering height,
In pomp of plumage sailed, deepening the shades of night.
Roc of the West ! to him all empire given !
Who bears Axalhua's dragon folds to heaven;"
His flight a whirlwind, and, when heard afar,
Like thunder, or the distant din of war!
Mountains and seas fled backward as he passed
O'er the great globe, by not a cloud o'ercast
From the ANTARCTIC, from the Land of Fire 6
To where ALASKA's wintry wilds retire;?
From mines of gold, and giant-sons of earth,
To grots of ice, and tribes of pigmy birth