« PreviousContinue »
Yer 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 Rábida 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.
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, amidst 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!
'Twas the mid hour, when He, whose accents dread
Still wandered thro' 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
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!