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Gloom o'er the lovely land he seem’d to pour,
The land, where Phæbus never frown'd before,
But ere he sank below Cithæron's head,
cup woe was quaff’d — the spirit fled ;
The soul of him who scorn'd to fear or fly-
Who liv'd and died, as none can live or die !
But lo! from high Hymettus to the plain,
The queen of night asserts her silent reign.(")
No murky vapour, herald of the storm,
Hides her fair face, nor girds her glowing form;
With cornice glimmering as the moon-beams play,
There the white column greets her grateful ray,
And, bright around with quivering beams beset,
Her emblem sparkles o'er the minaret :
The groves of olive scatter'd dark and wide
Where meek Cephisus pours his scanty tide,
The cypress saddening by the sacred mosque,
The gleaming turret of the gay kiosk,(*)
And, dun and sombre 'mid the holy calm,
Near Theseus' fane yon solitary palm,
All tinged with varied hues arrest the eye.
And dull were his that pass'd them heedless by.
Again the Ægean, heard no more afar,
Lulls his chafed breast from elemental war;
Again his waves in milder tints unfold
Their long array of sapphire and of gold,
Mix'd with the shades of many a distant isle,
That frown where gentler ocean seems to smile.( )
Not now my theme why turn my thoughts to thee?
Oh! who can look along thy native sea,
Nor dwell upon thy name, whate'er the tale,
So much its magic must o'er all prevail ?
Who that beheld that Sun upon thee set,
Fair Athens ! could thine evening face forget?
Not he- whose heart nor time nor distance frees,
Spell-bound within the clustering Cyclades!
(1) The twilight in Greece is much shorter than in our own country: the days in winter are longer, but in summer of shorter duration.
(2) The Kiosk is a Turkish summer-house : the palm is without the present walls of Athens, not far from the temple of Theseus, between which and the tree the wall intervenes.–Cephisus' stream is indeed scanty, and Ilissus has no stream at all.
(3) The opening lines as far as section II. have, perhaps, little business here, and were annexed to an unpublished (though printed) poem; but they were written or the spot in the spring of 1811, and I scarce know why—the reader must excuse their appearance here if he can.
Nor seems this homage foreign to his strain,
His Corsair's isle was once thine own domain-
Would that with freedom it were thine again!
The Sun hath sunk and, darker than the night,
Sinks with its beam upon the beacon height
Medora's heart the third day's come and gone
With it he comes not sends not - faithless one
The wind was fair though light ; and storms were none.
Last eve Anselmo's bark return'd, and yet
His only tidings that they had not met!
Though wild, as now, far different were the tale
Had Conrad waited for that single sail.
The night-breeze freshens - she that day had pass'd
In watching all that Hope proclaim'd a mast;
Sadly she sate - on high — Impatience bore
At last her footsteps to the midnight shore,
And there she wander'd, heedless of the spray
That dash'd her garments oft, and warn’d away :
She saw not - felt not this nor dared depart,
Nor deem'd it cold — her chill was at her heart;
such certainty from that suspense His very Sight had shock'd from life or sense !
It came at last a sad and shatter'd boat,
Whose inmates first beheld whom first they sought;
Some bleeding — all most wretched — these the few
Scarce knew they how escaped — this all they knew.
In silence, darkling, each appear'd to wait
His fellow's mournful guess at Conrad's fate :
Something they would have said; but seem'd to fear
To trust their accents to Medora's ear.
She saw at once, yet sunk not — trembled not
Beneath that grief, that loneliness of lot,
Within that meek fair form, were feelings high,
That deem'd not till they found their energy.
While yet was Hope -- they soften'd -- flutter'd wept -
All lost - that softness died not — but it slept ;
And o'er its slumber rose that Strength which said,
“ With nothing left to love -- there's nought to dread.”
'Tis more than nature's ; like the burning might
Delirium gathers from the fever's height.
“Silent you stand nor would I hear you tell
What - speak not - breathe not for I know it well-
Yet would I ask -- almost my lip denies
The - quick your answer tell me where he lies."
“ Lady! we know not scarce with life we fled ;
But here is one denies that he is dead :
He saw him bound; and bleeding - but alive."
She heard no further 't was in vain to strive -
So throbb’d each vein — each thought —- till then withstood;
Her own dark soul these words at once subdued :
She totters falls and senseless had the wave
Perchance but snatch'd her from another grave ;
But that with hands though rude, yet weeping eyes,
They yield such aid as Pity's haste supplies :
Dash o'er her deathlike cheek the ocean dew,
Raise - fan - sustain
till life returns anew;
Awake her handmaids, with the matrons leave
That fainting form o’er which they gaze and grieve;
Then seek Anselmo's cavern, to report
The tale too tedious - when the triumph short.
In that wild council words wax'd warm and strange
With thoughts of ransom, rescue, and revenge ;
All, save repose or flight : still lingering there
Breathed Conrad's spirit, and forbade despair ;
Whate'er his fate - the breasts he form’d and led
Will save him living, or appease him dead.
Woe to his foes ! there yet survive a few,
Whose deeds are daring, as their hearts are true.
Within the Haram's secret chamber sate
Stern Seyd, still pondering o'er his Captive's fate ;
His thoughts on love and hate alternate dwell,
Now with Gulnare, and now in Conrad's cell;
Here at his feet the lovely slave reclined
Surveys his brow would soothe his gloom of mind :
While many an anxious glance her large dark eye
Sends in its idle search for sympathy,
His only bends in seeming o'er his beads, (')
But inly views his victim as he bleeds.
(1) The comboloio, or Mahometan rosary; the beads are in number ninety
“ Pacha! the day is thine; and on-thy crest
Sits Triumph — Conrad taken - fall’n the rest !
His doom is fix'd — he dies : and weil his fate
Was earn'd — yet much too worthless for thy hate :
Methinks, a short release, for ransorn told
With all his treasure, not unwisely sold;
Report speaks largely of his pirate-hoard
Would that of this my Pacha were the lord !
While baffled, weaken’d by this fatal fray -
Watch'd follow'd - he were then an easier prey;
But once cut off the remnant of his band
Embark their wealth, and seek a safer strand."
“ Gulnare !— if for each drop of blood a gem
Were offer'd rich as Stamboul's diadem ;
If for each hair of his a massy mine
Of virgin ore should supplicating shine ;
If all our Arab tales divulge or dream
Of wealth were here that gold should not redeem!
It had not now redeem'd a single hour;
But that I know him fetter'd, in my power ;
And, thirsting for revenge, I ponder still
pangs that longest rack, and latest kill.”
* Nay, Seyd! - I seek not to restrain thy rage,
Too justly moved for mercy to assuage;
My thoughts were only to secure for thee
His riches thus released, he were not free :
Disabled, shorn of half his might and band,
His capture couid but wait thy first command.”
" His capture could ! and shall I then resign
One day to him - the wretch already mine?
Release my foe! — at whose remonstrance ? thine!
Fair suitor! - to thy virtuous gratitude,
That thus repays this Giaour's relenting mood,
Which thee and thine alone of all could spare,
No doubt — regardless if the prize were fair,
My thanks and praise alike are due-
I have a counsel for thy gentler ear :
I do mistrust thee, woman! and each word
Of thine stamps truth on all Suspicion heard.
Borne in his arms through fire from yon
Say, wert thou lingering there with him to fly?
Thou need'st not answer - thy confession speaks,
Already reddening on thy guilty cheeks ;
Then, lovely dame, bethink thee! and beware:
'T is not his life alone may claim such care
Another word and — nay - I need no more.
Accursed was the moment when he bore
Thee from the flames, which better far — but no
I then had mourn'd thee with a lover's woe
Now 't is thy lord that warns deceitful thing!
Know'st thou that I can clip thy wanton wing ?
In words alone I am not wont to chafe :
Look to thyself — nor deem thy falsehood safe!”
He rose -- and slowly, sternly thence withdrew,
Rage in his eye and threats in his adieu :
Ah! little reck'd that chief of womanhood -
Which frowns ne'er quelld, nor menaces subdued ;
And little deem'd he what thy heart, Gulnare !
When soft could feel, and when incensed could dare.
His doubts appear'd to wrong
nor yet she knew
How deep the root from whence compassion grew
She was a slave from such may captives claim
A fellow-feeling, differing but in name;
Still half unconscious heedless of his wrath,
Again she ventured on the dangerous path,
- until arose
That strife of thought, the source of woman's woes!
-still Rolld day and night
his soul could never tame
This fearful interval of doubt and dread,
every hour might doom him worse than dead,
When every step that echo'd by the gate
Might entering lead where axe and stake await;
When every voice that grated on his ear
Might be the last that he could ever hear ;
Could terror tame that spirit stern and high
Had proved unwilling as unfit to die ;
"T was worn -- perhaps decay'd — yet silent bore
That conflict deadlier far than all before :
The heat of fight, the hurry of the gale,
Leave scarce one thought inert enough to quail ;
But bound and fix'd in fetter'd solitude,
To pine, the prey of every changing mood;
To gaze on thine own heart; and meditate
Irrevocable faults, and coming fate --