Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

The gourd with recent water from the rill,
The ripe banaua from the mellow bill;
A pine-torch pile to keep undying light,
And she herself, as beautiful as Night,
To fling her sbadowy spirit o'er the scene,
And make their subterranean world serene.
She bad foreseen, since first the stranger's sail
Drew to their isle, that force or flight might fail,
And formed a refuge of the rocky den
For Torquil's safety from his countrymen.
Each Dawo bad wafted there her light canoe,
Laden with all the golden fruits that grew;
Each Eve bad seen her gliding through the hour
With all could cheer or deck their sparry bower;
And now sbe spread her little store with smiles,
The happiest daughter of the loving isles.

IX.
She, as she gazed with grateful wonder, pressed
Her sheltered love to ber impassioned breast:
And suited to her soft caresses, told
An elden tale of love,-for Love is old,
Old as Eternity, but not outworn,
With each new being born or to be born:
How a young Chief, a thousand moons ago,
Diving for turtle in the depths below,
Had risen, in tracking fast his ocean prey,
Into the cave which round and o'er tbem lay;
How, in some desperate feud of after time
He sheltered there a daughter of the clime,

* The reader will recollect the epigram of the Greek Anthology, or its translation into most of the modern languages :

“ Whoe'er thou art, thy master see
He was, or is, or is to be."

- A foe beloved, an offspring of a foe,
Saved by his tribe but for a captive's wo;
How, when the storm of war was stilled, be led
His island clan to where the waters spread
Their deep green shadow o'er the rocky door,
Then dived-it seemed as if to rise no more:
His wondering mates, amazed within their bark,
Or deemed him mad, or prey to the blue shark;
Rowed round in sorrow the sea-girded rock,
Theo paused upon their paddles from the shock,
Wheo, fresh and springing from the deep, they saw
A Goddess rise-so deemed they in their awe;
And their companion, glorious by her side,
Proud and exulting in his Mermaid bride;
And how, when undeceived, the pair they bore
With sounding conch and joyous hearts to shore ;
How they had gladly lived and calmly died,
And why not also Torquil and his bride?
Not mine to tell the rapturous caress
Wbich followed wildly in that wild recess
This tale; enough that all within that cave
Was Love, though buried strong as in the grave
Where Abelard, through twenty years of death,
When Eloisa's form was lowered beneath
Their nuptial vault, his arm outstretched, and prest
The kindling ashes to his kindled breast.*
The waves without sang round their couch, their roar
As much unheeded as if life were o'er;
Withia, their hearts made all their harmony,
Love's broken murmur and more broken sigh.

* The tradition is attached to the story of Eliosa, that when her body was lowered into the grave of Abelard (who had been buried twenty years) he opened his arms and received her.

VOL, VI.-I

X. And they, the cause and sharers of the shock Which left them exiles of the hollow rock, Where were they? O'er the sea for life they plied, To seek from heaven the shelter inep denied. Another course had been their choice,-but where? The wave which bore them still, their foes would bear, Who, disappointed of their former chase, In search of Christian now renewed their race. Eager with anger, their stroog arms made way, Like vultures baffled of their previous prey. They gained upon them, all whose safety lay In some bleak crag or deeply hidden bay: No further chance or choice remained; and rigbt For the first further rock which met their sight They steered, to take their latest view of land, Apd yield as victions, or die sword in hand; Dismissed the natives and their shallop, who Would still have battled for that scanty crew; But Christiau bade thein seek their shore again, Nor add a sacrifice which were in vain; For what were simple bow and savage spear Against the arms which must be wielded here:

XI.
They landed on a wild but narrow scene,
Where few but Nature's footsteps yet had been;
Prepared their arms, and with that gloomy eye,
Ştern and sustained, of man's extremity, .
When Hupe is gone, nor Glory's self remains
To cheer resistance against death or chains,-
They stood; the three, as the three hundred stood
Who dyed Thermopylæ with boly blood.
But, ah! how different! 'tis the cause makes all,
Degrades or hallows courge in its fall.

O'er them no fame, eternal and intense,
Blazed through the clouds of death and beckoned hence;
No grateful country, smiliog through her tears,
Begun the praises of a thousand years;
No nation's eyes would on their tomb be bept,
No heroes envy them their monument;
However boldly their warm blood was spilt,
Their life was shame, their epitaph was guilt.
And this they knew and felt, at least the one,
The leader of the band he had undone;
Who, born perchance for better things, had set
His life upon a cast which lingeręd yet:
But now the die was to be thrown, and all
The chances were in favor of his fall:
And such a fall! But still he faced the shock,
Obdurate as a portion of the rock
Whereon be stood, and fixed his levelled gun,
Dark as a sullen cloud before the sun.

XII. The boat drew nigh, well armed, and firm the crew To act whatever duty bade them do; Careless of danger, as the onward Wind Is of the leaves it strews, nor looks bebind; And yet perhaps they rather wished to go Agaiost a nation's than a native foe, And felt that this poor victim of self-will, Briton no more, bad once been Britain's still. They hailed him to surrender-no reply; Their arms they poised, and glittered in the sky. They hailed again-Do answer; yet once more They offered quarter louder than before. The echoes only, from the rock’s rebound, Took their last farewell of the dying sound.

Then flashed the flint, and blazed the volleying tlame,
And the smoke rose between them and their aim,
While the rock rattled with the bullets' knell,
Which pealed in vain, and flattened as they fell;
Then flew the only answer to be given
By those who had lost all hope in earth or heaven.
After the first fierce peal, as they pulled nigher,
They heard the voice of Christian shout, “ Now fire!"
And ere the word upon the echo died,
Two fell; the rest assailed the rock's rough side,
And, furious at the madness of their foes,
Disdained all further efforts, save to close.
But steep the crag, and all without a path,
Each step opposed a bastion to their wrath;
While, placed midst clefts the least accessible,
Which Christian's eye was trained to mark full well,
The three maintained a strife which must not yield,
In spots where eagles might have chosen to build.
Their every shot told; while the assailant fell,
Dashed on the shingles like the limpet shell;
But still enough survived, and mounted still,
Scattering their numbers here and there, until
Surrounded and commanded, though not nigh
Enough for seizure, near enough to die,
The desperate trio held aloof their fate
But by a thread, like sharks who have gorged the bait;
Yet to the very last they battled well,
And not a groan informed their foes who fell.
Christian died last-twice.wounded; and once more
Mercy was offered when they saw his gore;
Too late for life, but not too late to die,
With though a hostile band to close his eye.
A limb was broken and he drooped along
The crag, as doth a falcon reft of young.

« ForrigeFortsæt »