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'Twas Jove's-'tis Mahomet's-and other creeds Will rise with other years, till man shall learn Vainly his incense soars, his victim bleeds; Foor child of Doubt and Death, whose hope is built on reeds.
Bound to the earth, he lifts his eye to heaven-
Is't not enough, unhappy thing-to know
Thou art? Is this a boon so kindly given,
That being, thou wouldst be again, and go,
Thou knowest not, reckest not to what region, so
On earth no more, but mingled with the skies?
Still wilt thou dream on future joy and wo?
Regard and weigh yon dust before it flies;
That little urn saith more than thousand homilies.
Or burst the vanished Hero's lofty mound;
Far on the solitary shore he sleeps:
He fell, and falling nations mourned around;
But now not one of saddening thousands weeps,
Nor warlike worshipper his vigil keeps
Where demi-gods appeared, as records tell.
Remove yon skull from out the scattered heaps-
Is that a temple where a god may dwell?
Why, even the worm at last disdains her shattered cell!
Look on its broken arch, its ruined wall,
Its chambers desolate, and portals foul:
Yes, this was once Ambition's airy hall,
The dome of Thought, the palace of the Soul!
Behold through each lack-lustre, eyeless hole,
The gay recess of Wisdom and of Wit,
And Passion's host, that never brooked control:
Can all, saint, sage, or sophist ever writ,
People this lonely tower, this tenement refit?
Well didst thou speak, Athena's wisest son!
"All that we know is, nothing can be known."
Why should we shrink from what we cannot shun?
Each has his pang, but feeble sufferers groan
With brain-born dreams of evil all their own.
Pursue what Chance or Fate proclaimeth best ;
Peace waits us on the shores of Acheron :
There no forced banquet claims the sated guest,
But Silence spreads the couch of ever-welcome rest.
Yet if, as holiest men have deemed, there be
A land of souls beyond that sable shore,
To shame the doctrine of the Sadducee
And Sophists, madly vain of dubious lore;
How sweet it were in concert to adore
With those who made our mortal labours light!
To hear each voice we feared to hear no more!
Behold each mighty shade revealed to sight,
The Bactrian, Samian sage, and all who taught the right.
48. THE LYRE.
WHERE the roving rill meandered
Down the green, retiring vale,
Poor, forlorn Alcæus wandered,
Pale with thought, serenely pale:
Timeless Sorrow o'er his face
Breathed a melancholy grace,
And fixed on every feature there
The mournful resignation of despair.
O'er his arm, his Lyre neglected,
Once his dear companion, hung,
And, in spirit deep dejected,
Thus the pensive poet sung;
While, at midnight's solemn noon,
Sweetly shone the cloudless moon,
And all the stars, around his head,
Benignly bright, their mildest influence shed.
"Lyre! O Lyre! my chosen treasure,
"Solace of my bleeding heart!
"Lyre! O Lyre! my only pleasure,
"We must ever, ever part:
"For in vain thy poet sings,
"Woos in vain thy heavenly strings;
"The Muses' wretched sons are born
"To cold neglect, and penury, and scorn.
"That which ALEXANDER sighed for,
"That which CÆSAR's soul possessed,
"That which heroes, kings have died for,
66 Glory! animates my breast. "Hark! the charging trumpets' throats "Pour their death-defying notes: "To arms!' they call: to arms I fly, "Like WOLFE to conquer, and like WOLFE to die!
"Soft! the blood of murdered legions "Summons vengeance from the skies; "Flaming towns, and ravaged regions, "All in awful judgment rise! "O then, innocently brave, "I will wrestle with the wave; "Lo! Commerce spreads the daring sail, "And yokes her naval chariots to the gale. "Blow, ye breezes !-gently blowing, "Waft me to that happy shore, "Where, from fountains ever flowing, "Indian realms their treasures pour ; "Thence returning, poor in health, "Rich in honesty and wealth, "O'er thee, my dear paternal soil, "I'll strew the golden harvest of my toil. “Then shall Misery's sons and daughters "In their lonely dwellings sing: "Bounteous as the Nile's dark waters, "Undiscovered as their spring, "I will scatter o'er the land, "Blessings with a sacred hand: "For such angelic tasks designed,
I give the Lyre and sorrow to the wind.”
On an oak, whose branches hoary,
Sighed to every passing breeze,
Sighed, and told the simple story
Of the patriarch of trees; High in air his harp he hung,
Now no more to rapture strung;
Then warm in hope, no longer pale,
He blushed adieu, and rambled down the dale.
Lightly touched by fairy fingers,
Hark! the Lyre enchants the wind; Fond Alcæus listens, lingers,
Lingering, listening, looks behind. Now the music mounts on high, Sweetly swelling through the sky ; To every tune, with tender heat, His heart-strings vibrate, and his pulses beat. Now the strains to silence stealing, Soft in ecstasies expire; Oh! with what romantic feeling Poor Alceus grasps the Lyre!
Lo! his furious hand he flings
In a tempest o'er the strings;
He strikes the chords so quick, so loud,
'Tis Jove that scatters lightning from a cloud!
66 What, though all the world neglect me,
"Shall my haughty soul repine?
"And shall poverty deject me,
"While this hallowed Lyre is mine?
"Heaven-that o'er my helpless head
Many a wrathful vial shed,-
"Heaven gave this Lyre !—and thus decreed,
"Be thou a bruised, but not a broken reed!"
49.A SKETCH OF THE FIELD OF BATTLE AFTER THE VICTORY AT VITTORIA.
BUT who shall paint the various grief,
Where none was near to yield relief;
The cutting thoughts that crowd the mind,
(For wives and children left behind),
Of those whom Hope had left a prey
To dark Suspense and pale Dismay ?-
Who, fighting for their country's weal,
Had fallen beneath a despot's steel?-
Who, conscious of their fate, discerned
Their worldly prospects all o'erturned-
Their children crushed beneath the storm
That clouds their azure sky;
And, weltering in the carnage warm,
Unheard, unpitied, die!
Say, who shall paint that various scene-
The horrors of Vittoria's green ?
Who tell the woes where many fought,
And glory with their life-blood bought;
The wreath, adorned with every charm,
That nerves the warrior's potent arm?
Who shall describe the falling gloom,
Suspended o'er the warrior's tomb,
When, sword to sword, the champions met,
And sabre clashed with bayonet?
When, round the field, the cymbal-clang,
In wild and wilder echoes rang-
The moans, the cries, the fires that swept
The shattered forms of those who slept-
The sleep that never ends ;-
Where Courage long and loudly wept,
And still her awful vigil kept,
Amidst her slaughtered friends?
He who hath bent him o'er the dead,
Ere the first day of death is fled;
The first dark day of nothingness,
The last of danger and distress;
(Before Decay's effacing fingers
Have swept the lines where Beauty lingers),
And marked the mild angelic air—
The rapture of repose that's there—
The fixed yet tender traits that streak
The languor of the placid cheek,
And-but for that sad shrouded eye,
50.-THE BEAUTIFUL, BUT STILL AND MELANCHOLY
ASPECT OF THE ONCE BUSY AND GLORIOUS SHORES OF GREECE.
That fires not-wins not-weeps not-now-
And but for that chill changeless brow,
Whose touch thrills with mortality,
And curdles to the gazer's heart,
As if to him it could impart
The doom he dreads, yet dwells upon-
Yes-but for these and these alone,
Some moments-ay-one treacherous hour,
He still might doubt the tyrant's power,
So fair-so calm-so softly sealed
The first-last look-by death revealed!
Such is the aspect of this shore-
Tis Greece-but living Greece no more!