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He winds around; he hurries by:
The rock relieves him from mine eye;
For well I ween unwelcome he
Whose glance is fixed on those that flee;
And not a star but shines too bright
On him who takes such timeless flight.
He wound along; but ere he passed
One glance he snatched, as if his last,
A moment checked his wheeling steed,
A moment breathed him from his speed,
A moment on his stirrup stood -
Why looks he o'er the olive wood ?
He stood - some dread was on his face, Soon Hatred settled in its place: It rose not with the reddening flush Of transient Anger's hasty blush, But pale as marble o'er the tomb, Whose ghastly whiteness aids its gloom. His brow was bent, his eye was glazed; He raised his arm, and fiercely raised, And sternly shook his hand on high, As doubting to return or fly; Impatient of his flight delayed, Here loud his raven charger neighed Down glanced that hand, and grasped his blade; That sound had burst his waking dream, As Slumber starts at owlet's scream. The spur hath lanced his courser's sides; Away, away, for life he rides. 'Twas but an instant he restrained That fiery barb so sternly reined; 'Twas but a moment that he stood, Then sped as if by death pursued; But in that instant o'er his soul Winters of Memory seemed to roll, And gather in that drop of time A life of pain, an age of crime. O’er him who loves, or hates, or fears, Such moment pours the grief of years : What felt he then, at once opprest By all that most distracts the breast? That pause, which pondered o'er his fate, O, who its dreary length shall date ! Though in Time's record nearly nought, It was Eternity to Thought!
FROM "THE BRIDE OF ABYDOS."
270. The CRIME OF THE EAST.
Know ye the land where the cypress and myrtle
Are emblems of deeds that are done in their clime? Where the rage of the vulture, the love of the turtle,
Now melt into sorrow, now madden to crime! Know ye the land of the cedar and vine, Where the flowers ever blossom, the beams ever shine; Where the light wings of Zephyr, oppressed with perfume, Wax faint o'er the gardens of Gúl' in her bloom; Where the citron and olive are fairest of fruit, And the voice of the nightingale never is mute: Where the tints of the earth, and the hues of the sky, In color though varied, in beauty may vie, And the purple of ocean is deepest in dye; Where the virgins are soft as the roses they twine, And all, save the spirit of man, is divine? 'Tis the clime of the East; 'tis the land of the Sun Can he smile on such deeds as his children have done? O! wild as the accents of lovers' farewell Are the hearts which they bear, and the tales, which they tell.
FROM "THE CORSAIR.”
271. A SHIP IN FULL SAIL.
How gloriously her gallant course she goes !
Her white wings flying — never from her foes -
She walks the waters like a thing of life,
And seems to dare the elements to strife.
Who would not brave the battle-fire, the wreck,
To move the monarch of her peopled deck?
There is a war, a chaos of the mind,
When all its elements convulsed – combined
Lie dark and jarring with perturbéd force,
And gnashing with impenitent Remorse;
That juggling fiend — who never spake before –
But cries, “I warned thee!” when the deed is o'er.
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,
Endangered 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 remembered 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 unrevealed,
Not cankering less because the more concealed
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.
23. From - The Prisoner of CHILLON.”
Lake Leman lies by Chillon's walls:
A thousand feet in depth below
Its massy waters meet and flow;
Thus much the fathom-line was sent
From Chillon's snow-white battlement,
Which round about the wave inthralls :
A double dungeon wall and wave
Have made — and like a living grave.
Below the surface of the lake
The dark vault lies wherein we lay,
We heard it ripple night and day;
Sounding o'er our heads it knocked;
And I have felt the winter's spray
Wash through the bars when winds were high
And wanton in the happy sky;
And then the very rock hath rocked,
And I have felt it shake, unshocked,
Because I could have smiled to see
The death that would have set me free.
FROM "MANFRED." 24. MANFRED's SOLILOQUY ON THE JUNGFRAU.
My mother Earth! And thou, fresh breaking Day, and you, ye Mountains, Why are ye beautiful? I cannot love ye.
And thou, the bright eye of the universe,
That open’st over all, and unto all
Art a delight - thou shin'st not on my heart.
And you, ye crags, upon whose extreme edge
I stand, and on the torrent's brink beneath
Behold the tall pines dwindled as to shrubs
In dizziness of distance; when a leap,
A stir, a motion, even a breath, would bring
My breast upon its rocky bosom's bed
To rest forever wherefore do I pause?
I feel the impulse — yet I do not plunge;
I see the peril — yet do not recede;
And my brain reels - and yet my foot is firm:
There is a power upon me which withholds,
And makes it my fatality to live;
If it be life to wear within myself
This barrenness of spirit, and to be
My own soul's sepulchre, for I have ceased
To justify my deeds unto myself -
The last infirmity of evil. Ay,
Thou wingéd and cloud-cleaving minister,
[An eagle passes.
Whose happy flight is highest into heaven,
Well mayst thou swoop so near me — I should be
Thy prey, and gorge thine eaglets; thou art gone
Where the eye cannot follow thee; but thine
Yet pierces downward, onward, or above,
With a pervading vision. — Beautiful!
How beautiful is all this visible world!
How glorious in its action and itself!
But we, who name ourselves its sovereigns, we,
Half dust, half deity, alike unfit
To sink or soar, with our mixed essence make
A conflict of its elements, and breathe
The breath of degradation and of pride,
Contending with low wants and lofty will,
Till our mortality predominates,
And men are - what they name not to themselves,
And trust not to each other. Hark! the note,
[The Shepherd's pipe in the distance is heard. The natural music of the mountain reed For here the patriarchal days are not A pastoral fable - pipes in the liberal air, Mixed with the sweet bells of the sauntering herd; My soul would drink those echoes. -O that I were The viewless spirit of a lovely sound, A living voice, a breathing harmony, A bodiless enjoyment — born and dying With the blest tone which made me!
The stars are forth, the moon above the tops
Of the snow-shining mountains. - Beautiful!
I linger yet with Nature, for the Night
Hath been to me a more familiar face
Than that of man; and in her starry shade
Of dim and solitary loveliness,
I learned the language of another world.
I do remember me, that in my youth,
When I was wandering - upon such a night
I stood within the Coliseum's wall,
'Midst the chief relics of almighty Rome;
The trees which grew along the broken arches
Waved dark in the blue midnight, and the stars
Shone through the rents of ruin; from afar
The watch-dog bayed beyond the Tiber; and
More near from out the Cæsars' palace came
The owl's long cry, and, interruptedly,
Of distant sentinels the fitful song
Begun and died upon the gentle wind.
Some cypresses beyond the time-worn breach
Appeared to skirt th’horizon, yet they stood
Within a bowshot. Where the Cæsars dwelt,
And dwell the tuneless birds of night, amidst
A grove which springs through levelled battlements,
And twines its roots with the imperial hearths,
Ivy usurps the laurel's place of growth;
But the gladiators' bloody Circus stands,
A noble wreck in ruinous perfection,
While Cæsar's chambers, and the Augustan halls,
Grovel on earth in indistinct decay.
And thou didst shine, thou rolling moon, upon
All this, and cast a wide and tender light,
Which softened down the hoar austerity
Of rugged desolation, and filled up,
As 'twere anew, the gaps of centuries;
Leaving that beautiful which still was so,
And making that which was not, till the place
Became religion, and the heart ran o'er
With silent worship of the great of old,
The dead, but sceptred sovereigns, who still rule
Our spirits from their urns.