« PreviousContinue »
Blest with each gift indulgent Fortune sends,
Birth and its rights, wealth and its train of friends,
Starlike he shone! Now beggared and alone,
Danger he wooed, and claimed her for his own.
O'er him a Vampyre his dark wings displayed.
'Twas Merion's self, covering with dreadful shade.
He came, and, couched on Roldan's ample breast,
Each secret pore of breathing life possessed,
Fanning the sleep that seemed his final rest ;
Then, inly gliding like a subtle flame,
Thrice, with a cry that thrilled the mortal frame,
Called on the Spirit within. Disdaining flight,
Calmly she rose, collecting all her might.*
Dire was the dark encounter! Long unquelled,
Her sacred seat, sovereign and pure, she held.
At length the great Foe binds her for his prize,
And awful, as in death, the body lies !
Not long to slumber! In an evil hour Informed and lifted by the unknown Power, It starts, it speaks! “ We live, we breathe no more! The fatal wind blows on the dreary shore !
-magnum si pectore possit Excussisse deum.
On yonder cliffs, beckoning their fellow-prey,
The spectres stalk, and murmur at delay. *
-Yet if thou canst (not for myself I plead!
Mine but to follow where 'tis thine to lead)
Oh turn and save! To thee, with streaming eyes,
To thee each widow kneels, each orphan cries!
Who now, condemned the lingering hours to tell,
Think and but think of those they loved so well!"
All melt in tears! but what can tears avail?
These climb the mast, and shift the swelling sail.
These snatch the helm; and round me now I hear
Smiting of hands, outcries of grief and fear,f
(That in the aisles at midnight haunt me still,
Turning my lonely thoughts from good to ill)
Were there no graves—none in our land,” they cry, “ That thou hast brought us on the deep to die ?”
Silent with sorrow, long within his cloak
His face he muffled—then the Hero spoke.
Generous and brave! when God himself is here,
Why shake at shadows in your mid career?
He can suspend the laws himself designed,
He walks the waters, and the winged wind;
Euripides in Alcest. v. 255.
† Voci alte e fioche, e suon di man con elle.- DANTE.
Himself your guide! and yours the high behest,
To lift your voice, and bid a world be blest !
And can you shrink? to you, to you consigned
The glorious privilege to serve mankind !
Oh had I perished, when my failing frame
Clung to the shattered oar ʼmid wrecks of flame!
-Was it for this I lingered life away,
The scorn of Folly, and of Fraud the prey;
Bowed down my mind, the gift His bounty gave,
At courts a suitor, and to slaves a slave ?
-Yet in His name whom only we should fear,
('Tis all, all I shall ask, or you shall hear)
Grant but three days”—He spoke not uninspired ;
And each in silence to his watch retired.
At length among us came an unknown Voice! “Go, if
will ; and, if ye can, rejoice. Go, with unbidden guests the banquet share. In his own shape shall Death receive you there.”
Twice in the zenith blazed the orb of light ;
No shade, all sun, insufferably bright!
Then the long line found rest—in coral groves
Silent and dark, where the sca-lion roves :-
And all on deck, kindling to life again,
Sent forth their anxious spirits o'er the main.
Oh whence, as wafted from Elysium, whence
These perfumes, strangers to the raptured sense ?
These boughs of gold, and fruits of heavenly hue,
Tinging with vermeil light the billows blue?
And (thrice, thrice blessed is the eye that spied,
The hand that snatched it sparkling in the tide)
Whose cunning carved this vegetable bowl,*
Symbol of social rites, and intercourse of soul ?”
Such to their grateful ear the gush of springs,
Who course the ostrich, as away she wings ;
* Ex ligno lucido confectum, et arte mirâ laboratum. P. Martyr. dec. i. 5,
Sons of the desert! who delight to dwell
’Mid kneeling camels round the sacred well ;
Who, ere the terrors of his pomp be passed,
Fall to the demon in the redd’ning blast.*
The sails were furled ; with many a melting close, Solemn and slow the evening-anthem rose, Rose to the Virgin. 'Twas the hour of day, When setting suns o'er summer-seas display A path of glory, opening in the west To golden climes, and islands of the blest; And human voices, on the silent air, Went o’er the waves in songs of gladness there!
Chosen of Men! 'Twas thine, at noon of night, First from the prow to hail the glimmering light ; (Emblem of Truth divine, whose secret ray Enters the soul and makes the darkness day!). “ PEDRO! RODRIGO! there, methought, it shone ! There-in the west! and now, alas, 'tis gone!'Twas all a dream! we gaze and gaze in vain! -But mark and speak not, there it comes again!