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They search — they find — they save : with lusty arms
Each bears a prize of unregarded charms;
Calm their loud fears ; sustain their sinking frames
With all the care defenceless beauty claims :
So well could Conrad tame their fiercest mood,
And check the very hands with gore imbrued.
But who is she? whom Conrad's arms convey
From reeking pile and combat's wreck away
Who but the love of him he dooms to bleed ?
The Haram queen
but still the slave of Seyd !
Brief time had Conrad now to greet Gulnare, (o)
Few words to re-assure the trembling fair ;
For in that pause compassion snatch'd from war,
The foe before retiring, fast and far,
With wonder saw their footsteps unpursued,
First slowlier fled — then rallied - then withstood.
This Seyd perceives, then first perceives how few,
Compared with his, the Corsair's roving crew,
And blushes o’er his error, as he eyes
The ruin wrought by panic and surprise.
Alla il Alla! Vengeance swells the cry —
Shame mounts to rage that must atone or die !
And flame for flame and blood for blood must tell,
The tide of triumph ebbs that flow'd too well
When wrath returns to renovated strife,
And those who fought for conquest strike for life.
Conrad beheld the danger - he beheld
His followers faint by freshening foes repelld :
66 One effort - to break the circling host!”
- unite charge
all is lost!
Within a narrower ring compress’d, beset,
Hopeless, not heartless, strive and struggle yet --
Ah! now they fight in firmest file no more,
Hemm'd in cut off -- cleft down — and trampled o’er ;
But each strikes singly, silently, and home,
And sinks outwearied rather than o’ercome,
His last faint quittance rendering with his breath,
Till the blade glimmers in the grasp of death!
But first, ere came the rallying host to blows,
And rank to rank, and hand to hand oppose, (1) Gulnare, a female name; it means, literally, the flower of the pomegranate.
Gulnare and all her Haram handmaids freed,
Safe in the dome of one who held their creed,
By Conrad's mandate safely were bestow'd,
And dried those tears for life and fame that flow'd :
And when that dark-eyed lady, young Gulnare,
Recall'd those thoughts late wandering in despair,
Much did she marvel o’er the courtesy
That smooth'd his accents ; soften’d in his eye :
'T was strange
that robber thus with
bedew'd, Seem'd gentler then than Seyd in fondest mood, The Pacha woo'd as if he deem'd the slave Must seem delighted with the heart he gave; The Corsair vow'd protection, soothed affright, As if his homage were a woman's right. The wish is wrong
nay, worse for female - vain Yet much I long to view that chief again; If but to thank for, what
fear forgot, The life — my loving lord remember'd not ! ”
And him she saw, where thickest carnage spread,
But gather'd breathing from the happier dead;
Far from his band, and battling with a host
That deem right dearly won the field he lost,
Felld — bleeding baffled of the death he sought,
And snatch'd to expiate all the ills he wrought;
Preserved to linger and to live in vain,
While Vengeance ponder'd o'er new plans of pain,
And stanch'd the blood she saves to shed again
But drop for drop, for Seyd's unglutted eye
Would doom him ever dying ne'er to die!
Can this be he ? triumphant late she saw,
When his red hand's wild gesture waved, a law!
'Tis he indeed disarm’d but undeprest,
His sole regret the life he still possest;
His wounds too slight, though taken with that will,
Which would have kiss'd the hand that then could kill.
Oh were there none, of all the many given,
To send his soul he scarcely ask'd to heaven?
Must he alone of all retain his breath,
Who more than all had striven and struck for death?
He deeply felt -- what mortal hearts must feel,
When thus reversed on faithless fortune's wheel,
For crimes committed, and the victor's threat
Of lingering tortures to repay the debt -
He deeply, darkly felt ; but evil pride
That led to perpetrate
now serves to hide.
Still in his stern and self-collected mien
A conqueror's more than captive's air is seen,
'Though faint with wasting toil and stiffening wound,
But few that saw so calmly gazed around :
Though the far shouting of the distant crowd,
Their tremors o'er, rose insolently loud,
The better warriors who beheld him near,
Insulted not the foe who taught them fear;
And the grim guards that to his durance led,
In silence eyed him with a secret dread.
The Leech was sent — but not in mercy — there,
To note how much the life yet left could bear;
He found enough to load with heaviest chain,
And promise feeling for the wrench of pain :
to-morrow's evening sun
Will sinking see impalement's pangs begun,
And rising with the wonted blush of morn
Behold how well or ill those pangs are borne.
Of torments this the longest and the worst,
Which adds all other agony to thirst,
That day by day death still forbears to slake,
While famish'd vultures flit around the stake.
- Oh! water
water!” smiling Hate denies The victim's prayer
for if he drinks — he dies. This was his doom : the Leech, the guard, were gone, And left proud Conrad fetter'd and alone.
’T were vain to paint to what his feelings grew -
It even were doubtful if their victim knew.
There is a war, a chaos of the mind,
When all its elements convulsed — combined
Lie dark and jarring with perturbed force,
And gnashing with impenitent Remorse ;
That juggling fiend who never spake before
But cries “I warn'd thee!” when the deed is o'er,
Vain voice! the spirit burning but unbent,
May writhe — rebel — the weak alone repent!
Even in that lonely hour when most it feels,
And, to itself, all — all that self reveals,
No single passion, and no ruling thought
That leaves the rest as once unseen, unsought ;
But the wild prospect when the soul reviews -
All rushing through their thousand avenues.
Ambition's dreams expiring, love's regret,
Endanger'd glory, life itself beset;
The joy untasted, the contempt or hate
'Gainst those who fain would triumph in our fate ;
The hopeless past, the hasting future driven
Too quickly on to guess if hell or heaven;
Deeds, thoughts, and words, perhaps remember'd not
So keenly till that hour, but ne'er forgot;
Things light or lovely in their acted time,
But now to stern reflection each a crime;
The withering sense of evil unreveald,
Not cankering less because the more conceald-
All, in a word, from which all eyes must start,
That opening sepulchre — the naked heart
Bares with its buried woes, till Pride awake,
To snatch the mirror from the soul -- and break.
Ay — Pride can veil, and Courage brave it all,
All - all — before — beyond - the deadliest fall.
Each has some fear, and he who least betrays,
The only hypocrite deserving praise:
Not the loud recreant wretch who boasts and flies ;
But he who looks on death and silent dies.
So steeld by pondering o'er his far career,
He half-way meets him should he menace near!
In the high chamber of his highest tower
Sate Conrad, fetter'd in the Pacha's power.
His palace perish'd in the flame - this fort
Contain’d at once his captive and his court.
Not much could Conrad of his sentence blame,
His foe, if vanquish’d, had but shared the same :-
Alone he sate in solitude had scann'd
His guilty bosom, but that breast he mann'd:
One thought alone he could not - dared not meet-
“ Oh, how these tidings will Medora greet?
Then only then — his clanking hands he raised,
And strain’d with rage the chain on which he gazed :
But soon he found or feign'd or dream'd relief,
And smiled in self-derision of his grief,
" And now come torture when it will
More need of rest to nerve me for the day!”
This said, with languor to his mat he crept,
And, whatsoe'er his visions, quickly slept.
'Twas hardly midnight when that fray begun,
For Conrad's plans matured, at once were done ;
And Havoc loathes so much the waste of time,
She scarce had left an uncommitted crime.
One hour beheld him since the tide he stemm'd -
Disguised - discover'd-conquering-ta’en-condemn'd-
A chief on land — an outlaw on the deep
Destroying --saving - prison'd -- and asleep!
He slept in calmest seeming - for his breath
Was hush'd so deep — Ah! happy if in death!
He slept --Who o'er his placid slumber bends?
His foes are gone
and here he hath no friends ;
Is it some seraph sent to grant him grace ?
No, 't is an earthly form with heavenly face!
Its white arm raised a lamp - yet gently hid,
ray flash abruptly on the lid
Of that closed eye, which opens but to pain,
And once unclosed — but once may close again.
That form, with eye so dark, and cheek so fair,
And auburn waves of gemm’d and braided hair ;
With shape of fairy lightness naked foot,
That shines like snow, and falls on earth as mute -
Through guards and dunnest night how came it there?
Ah! rather. ask what will not woman dare ?
Whom youth and pity lead like thee, Gulnare !
She could not sleep -- and while the Pacha’s rest
In muttering dreams yet saw his pirate-guest,
She left his side — his signet-ring she bore,
Which oft in sport adorn'd her hand before-
And with it, scarcely question'd, won her way
Through drowsy guards that must that sign obey.
Worn out with toil, and tired with changing blows,
had envied Conrad his repose;
And chill and nodding at the turret door,
They stretch their listless limbs, and watch no more :
Just raised their heads to hail the signet-ring,
Nor ask or what or who the sign may bring.
She gazed in wonder, “ Can he calmly sleep,
While other eyes his fall or ravage weep?
And mine in restlessness are wandering here
What sudden spell hath made this man so dear?