[Transcription note: One poem uses an a with a macron over it, this has been rendered as ae, which is not used in this text for any other purpose.]
BY VICTOR HUGO
Memoir of Victor Marie Hugo
Moses on the Nile—Dublin University Magazine Envy and Avarice—American Keepsake
King Louis XVII—Dublin University Magazine The Feast of Freedom—"Father Prout" (F.S. Mahony) Genius—Mrs. Torre Hulme The Girl of Otaheite—Clement Scott Nero's Incendiary Song—H.J. Williams Regret—Fraser's Magazine The Morning of Life Beloved Name—Caroline Bowles (Mrs. Southey) The Portrait of a Child—Dublin University Magazine
The Grandmother—"Father Prout" (F.S. Mahony) The Giant in Glee—Foreign Quart. Rev. (adapted) The Cymbaleer's Bride—"Father Prout" (F.S. Mahony) Battle of the Norsemen and the Gaels Madelaine The Fay and the Peri—Asiatic Journal
The Scourge of Heaven—I.N. Fazakerley Pirates' Song The Turkish Captive—W.D., Tait's Edisiburgh Mag. Moonlight on the Bosphorus—John L. O'Sullivan The Veil—"Father Prout" (F.S. Mahony) The Favorite Sultana The Pasha and the Dervish The Lost Battle—W.D., Bentley's Miscel., 1839 The Greek Boy Zara, the Bather—John L. O'Sullivan Expectation—John L. O'Sullivan The Lover's Wish—V., Eton Observer The Sacking of the City—John L. O'Sullivan Noormahal the Fair The Djinns—John L. O'Sullivan The Obdurate Beauty—John L. O'Sullivan Don Rodrigo Cornflowers—H.L. Williams Mazeppa—H.L. Williams The Danube in Wrath—Fraser's Magazine Old Ocean—R.C. Ellwood My Napoleon—H.L. Williams
LES FEUILLES D'AUTOMNE.—1831.
The Patience of the People—G.W.M. Reynolds Dictated before the Rhone Glacier—Author of "Critical Essays" The Poet's Love for Liveliness—Fraser's Magazine Infantile Influence—Henry Highton, M.A. The Watching Angel—Foreign Quarterly Review Sunset—Toru Dutt The Universal Prayer—Henry Highton, M.A. The Universal Prayer—C., Tait's Magazine
LES CHANTS DU CREPUSCULE.—1849.
Prelude to "The Songs of Twilight"—G.W.M. Reynolds The Land of Fable—G.W.M. Rrynolds The Three Glorious Days—Elizabeth Collins Tribute to the Vanquished—Fraser's Magazine Angel or Demon—Fraser's Magazine The Eruption of Vesuvius—Fraser's Magazine Marriage and Feasts—G.W.M. Reynolds The Morrow of Grandeur—Fraser's Magazine The Eaglet Mourned—Fraser's Magazine Invocation—G.W.M. Reynolds Outside the Ball-room—G.W.M. Reynolds Prayer for France—J.S. Macrae To Canaris, the Greek Patriot—G.W.M. Reynolds Poland—G.W.M. Reynolds Insult not the Fallen—W.C.K. Wilde Morning—W.M. Hardinge Song of Love—Toru Dutt Sweet Charmer—H.B. Farnie More Strong than Time—A. Lang Roses and Butterflies—W.C. Westbrook A Simile—Fanny Kemble-Butler The Poet to his Wife
LES VOIX INTERIEURES.—1840.
The Blinded Bourbons—Fraser's Magazine To Albert Duerer—Mrs. Newton Crosland To his Muse—Fraser's Magazine The Cow—Toru Dutt Mothers—Dublin University Magazine To some Birds Flown away—Mrs. Newton Crosland My Thoughts of Ye—Dublin University Magazine The Beacon in the Storm Love's Treacherous Pool The Rose and the Grave—A. Lang
LES RAYONS ET LES OMBRES.—1840.
Holyrood Palace—Fraser's Magazine The Humble Home—Author of "Critical Essays" The Eighteenth Century—Author of "Critical Essays" Still be a Child—Dublin University Magazine The Pool and the Soul—R.F. Hodgson Ye Mariners who Spread your Sails—Author of "Critical Essays" On a Flemish Window-Pane—Fraser's Magazine The Preceptor—E.E. Frewer Gastibelza—H.L. Williams Guitar Song—Evelyn Jerrold Come when I Sleep—Wm. W. Tomlinson Early Love Revisited—Author of "Critical Essays" Sweet Memory of Love—Author of "Critical Essays" The Marble Faun—William Young A Love for Winged Things Baby's Seaside Grave
Indignation! Imperial Revels—H.L.W. Poor Little Children Apostrophe to Nature Napoleon "The Little" Fact or Fable—H.L.W. A Lament—Edwin Arnold, C.S.I. No Assassination The Despatch of the Doom The Seaman's Song The Retreat from Moscow—Toru Dutt The Ocean's Song—Toru Dutt The Trumpets of the Mind—Toru Dutt After the Coup d'Etat—Toru Dutt Patria The Universal Republic
The Vale to You, to Me the Heights—H.L.W Childhood—Nelson R. Tyerman Satire on the Earth How Butterflies are Born—A. Lang Have You Nothing to Say for Yourself?—C.H. Kenny Inscription for a Crucifix Death, in Life The Dying Child to its Mother—Bp. Alexander Epitaph—Nelson R. Tyerman St. John—Nelson R. Tyerman The Poet's Simple Faith—Prof. E. Dowden I am Content
LA LEGENDE DES SIECLES.
Cain—Dublin University Magazine Boaz Asleep—Bp. Alexander Song of the German Lanzknecht—H.L.W. King Canute—R. Garnett King Canute—Dublin University Magazine The Boy-King's Prayer—Dublin University Magazine Eviradnus—Mrs. Newton Crosland The Soudan, the Sphinxes, the Cup, the Lamp—Bp. Alexander A Queen Five Summers Old—Bp. Alexander Sea Adventurers' Song The Swiss Mercenaries—Bp. Alexander The Cup on the Battle-Field—Toru Dutt How Good are the Poor—Bp. Alexander
LA VOIX DE GUERNESEY.
Mentana—Edwin Arnold, C.S.I.
LES CHANSONS DES RUES ET DES BOIS.
Love of the Woodland Shooting Stars
To Little Jeanne—Marwaod Tucker To a Sick Child during the Siege of Paris—Lucy H. Hooper The Carrier Pigeon Toys and Tragedy Mourning—Marwood Tucker The Lesson of the Patriot Dead—H.L.W. The Boy on the Barricade—H.L.W. To His Orphan Grandchildren—Marwood Tucker To the Cannon "Victor Hugo"
L'ART D'ETRE GRANDPERE.
The Children of the Poor—Dublin University Magazine The Epic of the Lion—Edwin Arnold, C.S.I.
LES QUATRE VENTS DE L'ESPRIT.
On Hearing the Princess Royal Sing—Nelson R. Tyerman My Happiest Dream An Old-Time Lay Jersey Then, most, I Smile The Exile's Desire The Refugee's Haven
To the Napoleon Column—Author of "Critical Essays" Charity—Dublin University Magazine Sweet Sister—Mrs. B. Somers The Pity of the Angels The Sower—Toru Dutt Oh, Why not be Happy?—Leopold Wray Freedom and the World Serenade—Henry F. Chorley An Autumnal Simile To Cruel Ocean Esmeralda in Prison Lover's Song—Ernest Oswald Coe A Fleeting Glimpse of a Village—Fraser's Magazine Lord Rochester's Song The Beggar's Quatrain—H.L.C., London Society The Quiet Rural Church A Storm Simile
The Father's Curse—Fredk. L. Slous Paternal Love—Fanny Kemble-Butler The Degenerate Gallants—Lord F. Leveson Gower The Old and the Young Bridegroom—Charles Sherry The Spanish Lady's Love—C. Moir The Lover's Sacrifice—Lord F. Leveson Gower The Old Man's Love—C. Moir The Roll of the De Silva Race—Lord F. Leveson Gower The Lover's Colloquy—Lord F. Leveson Gower Cromwell and the Crown—Leitch Ritchie Milton's Appeal to Cromwell First Love—Fanny Kemble-Butler The First Black Flag—Democratic Review The Son in Old Age—Foreign Quarterly Review The Emperor's Return—Athenaum
Victor in Poesy, Victor in Romance, Cloud-weaver of phantasmal hopes and fears, French of the French, and Lord of human tears; Child-lover; Bard whose fame-lit laurels glance Darkening the wreaths of all that would advance, Beyond our strait, their claim to be thy peers; Weird Titan by thy winter weight of years As yet unbroken, Stormy voice of France!
VICTOR MARIE HUGO.
Towards the close of the First French Revolution, Joseph Leopold Sigisbert Hugo, son of a joiner at Nancy, and an officer risen from the ranks in the Republican army, married Sophie Trebuchet, daughter of a Nantes fitter-out of privateers, a Vendean royalist and devotee.
Victor Marie Hugo, their second son, was born on the 26th of February, 1802, at Besancon, France. Though a weakling, he was carried, with his boy-brothers, in the train of their father through the south of France, in pursuit of Fra Diavolo, the Italian brigand, and finally into Spain.
Colonel Hugo had become General, and there, besides being governor over three provinces, was Lord High Steward at King Joseph's court, where his eldest son Abel was installed as page. The other two were educated for similar posts among hostile young Spaniards under stern priestly tutors in the Nobles' College at Madrid, a palace become a monastery. Upon the English advance to free Spain of the invaders, the general and Abel remained at bay, whilst the mother and children hastened to Paris.
Again, in a house once a convent, Victor and his brother Eugene were taught by priests until, by the accident of their roof sheltering a comrade of their father's, a change of tutor was afforded them. This was General Lahorie, a man of superior education, main supporter of Malet in his daring plot to take the government into the Republicans' hands during the absence of Napoleon I. in Russia. Lahorie read old French and Latin with Victor till the police scented him out and led him to execution, October, 1812.
School claimed the young Hugos after this tragical episode, where they were oddities among the humdrum tradesmen's sons. Victor, thoughtful and taciturn, rhymed profusely in tragedies, "printing" in his books, "Chateaubriand or nothing!" and engaging his more animated brother to flourish the Cid's sword and roar the tyrant's speeches.
In 1814, both suffered a sympathetic anxiety as their father held out at Thionville against the Allies, finally repulsing them by a sortie. This was pure loyalty to the fallen Bonaparte, for Hugo had lost his all in Spain, his very savings having been sunk in real estate, through King Joseph's insistence on his adherents investing to prove they had "come to stay."
The Bourbons enthroned anew, General Hugo received, less for his neutrality than thanks to his wife's piety and loyalty, confirmation of his title and rank, and, moreover, a fieldmarshalship. Abel was accepted as a page, too, but there was no money awarded the ex-Bonapartist—money being what the Eaglet at Reichstadt most required for an attempt at his father's throne—and the poor officer was left in seclusion to write consolingly about his campaigns and "Defences of Fortified Towns."
Decidedly the pen had superseded the sword, for Victor and Eugene were scribbling away in ephemeral political sheets as apprenticeship to founding a periodical of their own.
Victor's poetry became remarkable in La Muse Francaise and Le Conservateur Litteraire, the odes being permeated with Legitimist and anti-revolutionary sentiments delightful to the taste of Madam Hugo, member as she was of the courtly Order of the Royal Lily.
In 1817, the French Academy honorably mentioned Victor's "Odes on the Advantages of Study," with a misgiving that some elder hand was masked under the line ascribing "scant fifteen years" to the author. At the Toulouse Floral Games he won prizes two years successively. His critical judgment was sound as well, for he had divined the powers of Lamartine.
His "Odes," collected in a volume, gave his ever-active mother her opportunity at Court. Louis XVIII. granted the boy-poet a pension of 1,500 francs.
It was the windfall for which the youth had been waiting to enable him to gratify his first love. In his childhood, his father and one M. Foucher, head of a War Office Department, had jokingly betrothed a son of the one to a daughter of the other. Abel had loftier views than alliance with a civil servant's child; Eugene was in love elsewhere; but Victor had fallen enamored with Adele Foucher. It is true, when poverty beclouded the Hugos, the Fouchers had shrunk into their mantle of dignity, and the girl had been strictly forbidden to correspond with her child-sweetheart.
He, finding letters barred out, wrote a love story ("Hans of Iceland") in two weeks, where were recited his hopes, fears, and constancy, and this book she could read.
It pleased the public no less, and its sale, together with that of the "Odes" and a West Indian romance, "Buck Jargal," together with a royal pension, emboldened the poet to renew his love-suit. To refuse the recipient of court funds was not possible to a public functionary. M. Foucher consented to the betrothal in the summer of 1821.
So encloistered had Mdlle. Adele been, her reading "Hans" the exceptional intrusion, that she only learnt on meeting her affianced that he was mourning his mother. In October, 1822, they were wed, the bride nineteen, the bridegroom but one year the elder. The dinner was marred by the sinister disaster of Eugene Hugo going mad. (He died in an asylum five years later.) The author terminated his wedding year with the "Ode to Louis XVIII.," read to a society after the President of the Academy had introduced him as "the most promising of our young lyrists."
In spite of new poems revealing a Napoleonic bias, Victor was invited to see Charles X. consecrated at Rheims, 29th of May, 1825, and was entered on the roll of the Legion of Honor repaying the favors with the verses expected. But though a son was born to him he was not restored to Conservatism; with his mother's death all that had vanished. His tragedy of "Cromwell" broke lances upon Royalists and upholders of the still reigning style of tragedy. The second collection of "Odes" preluding it, showed the spirit of the son of Napoleon's general, rather than of the Bourbonist field-marshal. On the occasion, too, of the Duke of Tarento being announced at the Austrian Ambassador's ball, February, 1827, as plain "Marshal Macdonald," Victor became the mouthpiece of indignant Bonapartists in his "Ode to the Napoleon Column" in the Place Vendome.
His "Orientales," though written in a Parisian suburb by one who had not travelled, appealed for Grecian liberty, and depicted sultans and pashas as tyrants, many a line being deemed applicable to personages nearer the Seine than Stamboul.
"Cromwell" was not actable, and "Amy Robsart," in collaboration with his brother-in-law, Foucher, miserably failed, notwithstanding a finale "superior to Scott's 'Kenilworth.'" In one twelvemonth, there was this failure to record, the death of his father from apoplexy at his eldest son's marriage, and the birth of a second son to Victor towards the close.
Still imprudent, the young father again irritated the court with satire in "Marion Delorme" and "Hernani," two plays immediately suppressed by the Censure, all the more active as the Revolution of July, 1830, was surely seething up to the edge of the crater.
(At this juncture, the poet Chateaubriand, fading star to our rising sun, yielded up to him formally "his place at the poets' table.")
In the summer of 1831, a civil ceremony was performed over the insurgents killed in the previous year, and Hugo was constituted poet-laureate of the Revolution by having his hymn sung in the Pantheon over the biers.
Under Louis Philippe, "Marion Delorme" could be played, but livelier attention was turned to "Notre Dame de Paris," the historical romance in which Hugo vied with Sir Walter. It was to have been followed by others, but the publisher unfortunately secured a contract to monopolize all the new novelist's prose fictions for a term of years, and the author revenged himself by publishing poems and plays alone. Hence "Notre Dame" long stood unique: it was translated in all languages, and plays and operas were founded on it. Heine professed to see in the prominence of the hunchback a personal appeal of the author, who was slightly deformed by one shoulder being a trifle higher than the other; this malicious suggestion reposed also on the fact that the quasi-hero of "Le Roi s'Amuse" (1832, a tragedy suppressed after one representation, for its reflections on royalty), was also a contorted piece of humanity. This play was followed by "Lucrezia Borgia," "Marie Tudor," and "Angelo," written in a singular poetic prose. Spite of bald translations, their action was sufficiently dramatic to make them successes, and even still enduring on our stage. They have all been arranged as operas, whilst Hugo himself, to oblige the father of Louise Bertin, a magazine publisher of note, wrote "Esmeralda" for her music in 1835.
Thus, at 1837, when he was promoted to an officership in the Legion of Honor, it was acknowledged his due as a laborious worker in all fields of literature, however contestable the merits and tendencies of his essays.
In 1839, the Academy, having rejected him several times, elected him among the Forty Immortals. In the previous year had been successfully acted "Ruy Blas," for which play he had gone to Spanish sources; with and after the then imperative Rhine tour, came an unendurable "trilogy," the "Burgraves," played one long, long night in 1843. A real tragedy was to mark that year: his daughter Leopoldine being drowned in the Seine with her husband, who would not save himself when he found that her death-grasp on the sinking boat was not to be loosed.
For distraction, Hugo plunged into politics. A peer in 1845, he sat between Marshal Soult and Pontecoulant, the regicide-judge of Louis XVI. His maiden speech bore upon artistic copyright; but he rapidly became a power in much graver matters.
As fate would have it, his speech on the Bonapartes induced King Louis Philippe to allow Prince Louis Napoleon Bonaparte to return, and, there being no gratitude in politics, the emancipated outlaw rose as a rival candidate for the Presidency, for which Hugo had nominated himself in his newspaper the Evenement. The story of the Coup d'Etat is well known; for the Republican's side, read Hugo's own "History of a Crime." Hugo, proscribed, betook himself to Brussels, London, and the Channel Islands, waiting to "return with right when the usurper should be expelled."
Meanwhile, he satirized the Third Napoleon and his congeners with ceaseless shafts, the principal being the famous "Napoleon the Little," based on the analogical reasoning that as the earth has moons, the lion the jackal, man himself his simian double, a minor Napoleon was inevitable as a standard of estimation, the grain by which a pyramid is measured. These flings were collected in "Les Chatiments," a volume preceded by "Les Contemplations" (mostly written in the '40's), and followed by "Les Chansons des Rues et des Bois."
The baffled publisher's close-time having expired, or, at least, his heirs being satisfied, three novels appeared, long heralded: in 1862, "Les Miserables" (Ye Wretched), wherein the author figures as Marius and his father as the Bonapartist officer: in 1866, "Les Travailleurs de la Mer" (Toilers of the Sea), its scene among the Channel Islands; and, in 1868, "L'Homme Qui Rit" (The Man who Grins), unfortunately laid in a fanciful England evolved from recondite reading through foreign spectacles. Whilst writing the final chapters, Hugo's wife died; and, as he had refused the Amnesty, he could only escort her remains to the Belgian frontier, August, 1868. All this while, in his Paris daily newspaper, Le Rappei (adorned with cuts of a Revolutionary drummer beating "to arms!"), he and his sons and son-in-law's family were reiterating blows at the throne. When it came down in 1870, and the Republic was proclaimed, Hugo hastened to Paris.
His poems, written during the War and Siege, collected under the title of "L'Annee Terrible" (The Terrible Year, 1870-71), betray the long-tried exile, "almost alone in his gloom," after the death of his son Charles and his child. Fleeing to Brussels after the Commune, he nevertheless was so aggressive in sheltering and aiding its fugitives, that he was banished the kingdom, lest there should be a renewal of an assault on his house by the mob, supposed by his adherents to be, not "the honest Belgians," but the refugee Bonapartists and Royalists, who had not cared to fight for France in France endangered. Resting in Luxemburg, he prepared "L'Annee Terrible" for the press, and thence returned to Paris, vainly to plead with President Thiers for the captured Communists' lives, and vainly, too, proposing himself for election to the new House.
In 1872, his novel of "'93" pleased the general public here, mainly by the adventures of three charming little children during the prevalence of an internecine war. These phases of a bounteously paternal mood reappeared in "L'Art d'etre Grandpere," published in 1877, when he had become a life-senator.
"Hernani" was in the regular "stock" of the Theatre Francais, "Rigoletto" (Le Roi s'Amuse) always at the Italian opera-house, while the same subject, under the title of "The Fool's Revenge," held, as it still holds, a high position on the Anglo-American stage. Finally, the poetic romance of "Torquemada," for over thirty years promised, came forth in 1882, to prove that the wizard-wand had not lost its cunning.
After dolor, fetes were come: on one birthday they crown his bust in the chief theatre; on another, all notable Paris parades under his window, where he sits with his grandchildren at his knee, in the shadow of the Triumphal Arch of Napoleon's Star. It is given to few men thus to see their own apotheosis.
Whilst he was dying, in May, 1885, Paris was but the first mourner for all France; and the magnificent funeral pageant which conducted the pauper's coffin, antithetically enshrining the remains considered worthy of the highest possible reverence and honors, from the Champs Elysees to the Pantheon, was the more memorable from all that was foremost in French art and letters having marched in the train, and laid a leaf or flower in the tomb of the protege of Chateaubriand, the brother-in-arms of Dumas, the inspirer of Mars, Dorval, Le-maitre, Rachel, and Bernhardt, and, above all, the Nemesis of the Third Empire.
MOSES ON THE NILE.
("Mes soeurs, l'onde est plus fraiche.")
[TO THE FLORAL GAMES, Toulouse, Feb. 10, 1820.]
"Sisters! the wave is freshest in the ray Of the young morning; the reapers are asleep; The river bank is lonely: come away! The early murmurs of old Memphis creep Faint on my ear; and here unseen we stray,— Deep in the covert of the grove withdrawn, Save by the dewy eye-glance of the dawn.
"Within my father's palace, fair to see, Shine all the Arts, but oh! this river side, Pranked with gay flowers, is dearer far to me Than gold and porphyry vases bright and wide; How glad in heaven the song-bird carols free! Sweeter these zephyrs float than all the showers Of costly odors in our royal bowers.
"The sky is pure, the sparkling stream is clear: Unloose your zones, my maidens! and fling down To float awhile upon these bushes near Your blue transparent robes: take off my crown, And take away my jealous veil; for here To-day we shall be joyous while we lave Our limbs amid the murmur of the wave.
"Hasten; but through the fleecy mists of morn, What do I see? Look ye along the stream! Nay, timid maidens—we must not return! Coursing along the current, it would seem An ancient palm-tree to the deep sea borne, That from the distant wilderness proceeds, Downwards, to view our wondrous Pyramids.
"But stay! if I may surely trust mine eye,— It is the bark of Hermes, or the shell Of Iris, wafted gently to the sighs Of the light breeze along the rippling swell; But no: it is a skiff where sweetly lies An infant slumbering, and his peaceful rest Looks as if pillowed on his mother's breast.
"He sleeps—oh, see! his little floating bed Swims on the mighty river's fickle flow, A white dove's nest; and there at hazard led By the faint winds, and wandering to and fro, The cot comes down; beneath his quiet head The gulfs are moving, and each threatening wave Appears to rock the child upon a grave.
"He wakes—ah, maids of Memphis! haste, oh, haste! He cries! alas!—What mother could confide Her offspring to the wild and watery waste? He stretches out his arms, the rippling tide Murmurs around him, where all rudely placed, He rests but with a few frail reeds beneath, Between such helpless innocence and death.
"Oh! take him up! Perchance he is of those Dark sons of Israel whom my sire proscribes; Ah! cruel was the mandate that arose Against most guiltless of the stranger tribes! Poor child! my heart is yearning for his woes, I would I were his mother; but I'll give If not his birth, at least the claim to live."
Thus Iphis spoke; the royal hope and pride Of a great monarch; while her damsels nigh, Wandered along the Nile's meandering side; And these diminished beauties, standing by The trembling mother; watching with eyes wide Their graceful mistress, admired her as stood, More lovely than the genius of the flood!
The waters broken by her delicate feet Receive the eager wader, as alone By gentlest pity led, she strives to meet The wakened babe; and, see, the prize is won! She holds the weeping burden with a sweet And virgin glow of pride upon her brow, That knew no flush save modesty's till now.
Opening with cautious hands the reedy couch, She brought the rescued infant slowly out Beyond the humid sands; at her approach Her curious maidens hurried round about To kiss the new-born brow with gentlest touch; Greeting the child with smiles, and bending nigh Their faces o'er his large, astonished eye!
Haste thou who, from afar, in doubt and fear, Dost watch, with straining eyes, the fated boy— The loved of heaven! come like a stranger near, And clasp young Moses with maternal joy; Nor fear the speechless transport and the tear Will e'er betray thy fond and hidden claim, For Iphis knows not yet a mother's name!
With a glad heart, and a triumphal face, The princess to the haughty Pharaoh led The humble infant of a hated race, Bathed with the bitter tears a parent shed; While loudly pealing round the holy place Of Heaven's white Throne, the voice of angel choirs Intoned the theme of their undying lyres!
"No longer mourn thy pilgrimage below— O Jacob! let thy tears no longer swell The torrent of the Egyptian river: Lo! Soon on the Jordan's banks thy tents shall dwell; And Goshen shall behold thy people go Despite the power of Egypt's law and brand, From their sad thrall to Canaan's promised land.
"The King of Plagues, the Chosen of Sinai, Is he that, o'er the rushing waters driven, A vigorous hand hath rescued for the sky; Ye whose proud hearts disown the ways of heaven! Attend, be humble! for its power is nigh Israel! a cradle shall redeem thy worth— A Cradle yet shall save the widespread earth!"
Dublin University Magazine, 1839
ENVY AND AVARICE.
("L'Avarice et l'Envie.")
[LE CONSERVATEUR LIITERAIRE, 1820.]
Envy and Avarice, one summer day, Sauntering abroad In quest of the abode Of some poor wretch or fool who lived that way— You—or myself, perhaps—I cannot say— Along the road, scarce heeding where it tended, Their way in sullen, sulky silence wended;
For, though twin sisters, these two charming creatures, Rivals in hideousness of form and features, Wasted no love between them as they went. Pale Avarice, With gloating eyes, And back and shoulders almost double bent, Was hugging close that fatal box For which she's ever on the watch Some glance to catch Suspiciously directed to its locks; And Envy, too, no doubt with silent winking At her green, greedy orbs, no single minute Withdrawn from it, was hard a-thinking Of all the shining dollars in it.
The only words that Avarice could utter, Her constant doom, in a low, frightened mutter, "There's not enough, enough, yet in my store!" While Envy, as she scanned the glittering sight, Groaned as she gnashed her yellow teeth with spite, "She's more than me, more, still forever more!"
Thus, each in her own fashion, as they wandered, Upon the coffer's precious contents pondered, When suddenly, to their surprise, The God Desire stood before their eyes. Desire, that courteous deity who grants All wishes, prayers, and wants; Said he to the two sisters: "Beauteous ladies, As I'm a gentleman, my task and trade is To be the slave of your behest— Choose therefore at your own sweet will and pleasure, Honors or treasure! Or in one word, whatever you'd like best. But, let us understand each other—she Who speaks the first, her prayer shall certainly Receive—the other, the same boon redoubled!"
Imagine how our amiable pair, At this proposal, all so frank and fair, Were mutually troubled! Misers and enviers, of our human race, Say, what would you have done in such a case? Each of the sisters murmured, sad and low "What boots it, oh, Desire, to me to have Crowns, treasures, all the goods that heart can crave, Or power divine bestow, Since still another must have always more?"
So each, lest she should speak before The other, hesitating slow and long Till the god lost all patience, held her tongue. He was enraged, in such a way, To be kept waiting there all day, With two such beauties in the public road; Scarce able to be civil even, He wished them both—well, not in heaven.
Envy at last the silence broke, And smiling, with malignant sneer, Upon her sister dear, Who stood in expectation by, Ever implacable and cruel, spoke "I would be blinded of one eye!"
KING LOUIS XVII.
("En ce temps-la du ciel les portes.")
[Bk. I. v., December, 1822.]
The golden gates were opened wide that day, All through the unveiled heaven there seemed to play Out of the Holiest of Holy, light; And the elect beheld, crowd immortal, A young soul, led up by young angels bright, Stand in the starry portal.
A fair child fleeing from the world's fierce hate, In his blue eye the shade of sorrow sate, His golden hair hung all dishevelled down, On wasted cheeks that told a mournful story, And angels twined him with the innocent's crown, The martyr's palm of glory.
The virgin souls that to the Lamb are near, Called through the clouds with voices heavenly clear, God hath prepared a glory for thy brow, Rest in his arms, and all ye hosts that sing His praises ever on untired string, Chant, for a mortal comes among ye now; Do homage—"'Tis a king."
And the pale shadow saith to God in heaven: "I am an orphan and no king at all; I was a weary prisoner yestereven, My father's murderers fed my soul with gall. Not me, O Lord, the regal name beseems. Last night I fell asleep in dungeon drear, But then I saw my mother in my dreams, Say, shall I find her here?"
The angels said: "Thy Saviour bids thee come, Out of an impure world He calls thee home, From the mad earth, where horrid murder waves Over the broken cross her impure wings, And regicides go down among the graves, Scenting the blood of kings."
He cries: "Then have I finished my long life? Are all its evils over, all its strife, And will no cruel jailer evermore Wake me to pain, this blissful vision o'er? Is it no dream that nothing else remains Of all my torments but this answered cry, And have I had, O God, amid my chains, The happiness to die?
"For none can tell what cause I had to pine, What pangs, what miseries, each day were mine; And when I wept there was no mother near To soothe my cries, and smile away my tear. Poor victim of a punishment unending, Torn like a sapling from its mother earth, So young, I could not tell what crime impending Had stained me from my birth.
"Yet far off in dim memory it seems, With all its horror mingled happy dreams, Strange cries of glory rocked my sleeping head, And a glad people watched beside my bed. One day into mysterious darkness thrown, I saw the promise of my future close; I was a little child, left all alone, Alas! and I had foes.
"They cast me living in a dreary tomb, Never mine eyes saw sunlight pierce the gloom, Only ye, brother angels, used to sweep Down from your heaven, and visit me in sleep. 'Neath blood-red hands my young life withered there. Dear Lord, the bad are miserable all, Be not Thou deaf, like them, unto my prayer, It is for them I call."
The angels sang: "See heaven's high arch unfold, Come, we will crown thee with the stars above, Will give thee cherub-wings of blue and gold, And thou shalt learn our ministry of love, Shalt rock the cradle where some mother's tears Are dropping o'er her restless little one, Or, with thy luminous breath, in distant spheres, Shalt kindle some cold sun."
Ceased the full choir, all heaven was hushed to hear, Bowed the fair face, still wet with many a tear, In depths of space, the rolling worlds were stayed, Whilst the Eternal in the infinite said:
"O king, I kept thee far from human state, Who hadst a dungeon only for thy throne, O son, rejoice, and bless thy bitter fate, The slavery of kings thou hast not known, What if thy wasted arms are bleeding yet, And wounded with the fetter's cruel trace, No earthly diadem has ever set A stain upon thy face.
"Child, life and hope were with thee at thy birth, But life soon bowed thy tender form to earth, And hope forsook thee in thy hour of need. Come, for thy Saviour had His pains divine; Come, for His brow was crowned with thorns like thine, His sceptre was a reed."
Dublin University Magazine.
THE FEAST OF FREEDOM.
("Lorsqu'a l'antique Olympe immolant l'evangile.")
[Bk. II. v., 1823.]
[There was in Rome one antique usage as follows: On the eve of the execution day, the sufferers were given a public banquet—at the prison gate—known as the "Free Festival."—CHATEAUBRIAND'S "Martyrs."]
TO YE KINGS.
When the Christians were doomed to the lions of old By the priest and the praetor, combined to uphold An idolatrous cause, Forth they came while the vast Colosseum throughout Gathered thousands looked on, and they fell 'mid the shout Of "the People's" applause.
On the eve of that day of their evenings the last! At the gates of their dungeon a gorgeous repast, Rich, unstinted, unpriced, That the doomed might (forsooth) gather strength ere they bled, With an ignorant pity the jailers would spread For the martyrs of Christ.
Oh, 'twas strange for a pupil of Paul to recline On voluptuous couch, while Falernian wine Fill'd his cup to the brim! Dulcet music of Greece, Asiatic repose, Spicy fragrance of Araby, Italian rose, All united for him!
Every luxury known through the earth's wide expanse, In profusion procured was put forth to enhance The repast that they gave; And no Sybarite, nursed in the lap of delight, Such a banquet ere tasted as welcomed that night The elect of the grave.
And the lion, meantime, shook his ponderous chain, Loud and fierce howled the tiger, impatient to stain The bloodthirsty arena; Whilst the women of Rome, who applauded those deeds And who hailed the forthcoming enjoyment, must needs Shame the restless hyena.
They who figured as guests on that ultimate eve, In their turn on the morrow were destined to give To the lions their food; For, behold, in the guise of a slave at that board, Where his victims enjoyed all that life can afford, Death administering stood.
Such, O monarchs of earth! was your banquet of power, But the tocsin has burst on your festival hour— 'Tis your knell that it rings! To the popular tiger a prey is decreed, And the maw of Republican hunger will feed On a banquet of Kings!
"FATHER PROUT" (FRANK MAHONY)
(DEDICATED TO CHATEAUBRIAND.)
[Bk. IV. vi., July, 1822.]
Woe unto him! the child of this sad earth, Who, in a troubled world, unjust and blind, Bears Genius—treasure of celestial birth, Within his solitary soul enshrined. Woe unto him! for Envy's pangs impure, Like the undying vultures', will be driven Into his noble heart, that must endure Pangs for each triumph; and, still unforgiven, Suffer Prometheus' doom, who ravished fire from Heaven.
Still though his destiny on earth may be Grief and injustice; who would not endure With joyful calm, each proffered agony; Could he the prize of Genius thus ensure? What mortal feeling kindled in his soul That clear celestial flame, so pure and high, O'er which nor time nor death can have control, Would in inglorious pleasures basely fly From sufferings whose reward is Immortality? No! though the clamors of the envious crowd Pursue the son of Genius, he will rise
From the dull clod, borne by an effort proud Beyond the reach of vulgar enmities. 'Tis thus the eagle, with his pinions spread, Reposing o'er the tempest, from that height Sees the clouds reel and roll above our head, While he, rejoicing in his tranquil flight, More upward soars sublime in heaven's eternal light.
MRS. TORRE HULME
THE GIRL OF OTAHEITE.
("O! dis-moi, tu veux fuir?")
[Bk. IV, vii., Jan. 31, 1821.]
Forget? Can I forget the scented breath Of breezes, sighing of thee, in mine ear; The strange awaking from a dream of death, The sudden thrill to find thee coming near? Our huts were desolate, and far away I heard thee calling me throughout the day, No one had seen thee pass, Trembling I came. Alas! Can I forget?
Once I was beautiful; my maiden charms Died with the grief that from my bosom fell. Ah! weary traveller! rest in my loving arms! Let there be no regrets and no farewell! Here of thy mother sweet, where waters flow, Here of thy fatherland we whispered low; Here, music, praise, and prayer Filled the glad summer air. Can I forget?
Forget? My dear old home must I forget? And wander forth and hear my people weep, Far from the woods where, when the sun has set, Fearless but weary to thy arms I creep; Far from lush flow'rets and the palm-tree's moan I could not live. Here let me rest alone! Go! I must follow nigh, With thee I'm doomed to die, Never forget!
NERO'S INCENDIARY SONG.
("Amis! ennui nous tue.")
[Bk. IV. xv., March, 1825.]
Aweary unto death, my friends, a mood by wise abhorred, Come to the novel feast I spread, thrice-consul, Nero, lord, The Caesar, master of the world, and eke of harmony, Who plays the harp of many strings, a chief of minstrelsy.
My joyful call should instantly bring all who love me most,— For ne'er were seen such arch delights from Greek or Roman host; Nor at the free, control-less jousts, where, spite of cynic vaunts, Austere but lenient Seneca no "Ercles" bumper daunts;
Nor where upon the Tiber floats Aglae in galley gay, 'Neath Asian tent of brilliant stripes, in gorgeous array; Nor when to lutes and tambourines the wealthy prefect flings A score of slaves, their fetters wreathed, to feed grim, greedy things.
I vow to show ye Rome aflame, the whole town in a mass; Upon this tower we'll take our stand to watch the 'wildered pass; How paltry fights of men and beasts! here be my combatants,— The Seven Hills my circus form, and fiends shall lead the dance.
This is more meet for him who rules to drive away his stress— He, being god, should lightnings hurl and make a wilderness— But, haste! for night is darkling—soon, the festival it brings; Already see the hydra show its tongues and sombre wings,
And mark upon a shrinking prey the rush of kindling breaths; They tap and sap the threatened walls, and bear uncounted deaths; And 'neath caresses scorching hot the palaces decay— Oh, that I, too, could thus caress, and burn, and blight, and slay!
Hark to the hubbub! scent the fumes! Are those real men or ghosts? The stillness spreads of Death abroad—down come the temple posts, Their molten bronze is coursing fast and joins with silver waves To leap with hiss of thousand snakes where Tiber writhes and raves.
All's lost! in jasper, marble, gold, the statues totter—crash! Spite of the names divine engraved, they are but dust and ash. The victor-scourge sweeps swollen on, whilst north winds sound the horn To goad the flies of fire yet beyond the flight forlorn.
Proud capital! farewell for e'er! these flames nought can subdue— The Aqueduct of Sylla gleams, a bridge o'er hellish brew. 'Tis Nero's whim! how good to see Rome brought the lowest down; Yet, Queen of all the earth, give thanks for such a splendrous crown!
When I was young, the Sybils pledged eternal rule to thee; That Time himself would lay his bones before thy unbent knee. Ha! ha! how brief indeed the space ere this "immortal star" Shall be consumed in its own glow, and vanished—oh, how far!
How lovely conflagrations look when night is utter dark! The youth who fired Ephesus' fane falls low beneath my mark. The pangs of people—when I sport, what matters?—See them whirl About, as salamanders frisk and in the brazier curl.
Take from my brow this poor rose-crown—the flames have made it pine; If blood rains on your festive gowns, wash off with Cretan wine! I like not overmuch that red—good taste says "gild a crime?" "To stifle shrieks by drinking-songs" is—thanks! a hint sublime!
I punish Rome, I am avenged; did she not offer prayers Erst unto Jove, late unto Christ?—to e'en a Jew, she dares! Now, in thy terror, own my right to rule above them all; Alone I rest—except this pile, I leave no single hall.
Yet I destroy to build anew, and Rome shall fairer shine— But out, my guards, and slay the dolts who thought me not divine. The stiffnecks, haste! annihilate! make ruin all complete— And, slaves, bring in fresh roses—what odor is more sweet?
("Oui, le bonheur bien vite a passe.")
[Bk. V. ii., February, 1821.]
Yes, Happiness hath left me soon behind! Alas! we all pursue its steps! and when We've sunk to rest within its arms entwined, Like the Phoenician virgin, wake, and find Ourselves alone again.
Then, through the distant future's boundless space, We seek the lost companion of our days: "Return, return!" we cry, and lo, apace Pleasure appears! but not to fill the place Of that we mourn always.
I, should unhallowed Pleasure woo me now, Will to the wanton sorc'ress say, "Begone! Respect the cypress on my mournful brow, Lost Happiness hath left regret—but thou Leavest remorse, alone."
Yet, haply lest I check the mounting fire, O friends, that in your revelry appears! With you I'll breathe the air which ye respire, And, smiling, hide my melancholy lyre When it is wet with tears.
Each in his secret heart perchance doth own Some fond regret 'neath passing smiles concealed;— Sufferers alike together and alone Are we; with many a grief to others known, How many unrevealed!
Alas! for natural tears and simple pains, For tender recollections, cherished long, For guileless griefs, which no compunction stains, We blush; as if we wore these earthly chains Only for sport and song!
Yes, my blest hours have fled without a trace: In vain I strove their parting to delay; Brightly they beamed, then left a cheerless space, Like an o'erclouded smile, that in the face Lightens, and fades away.
THE MORNING OF LIFE.
("Le voile du matin.")
[Bk. V. viii., April, 1822.]
The mist of the morning is torn by the peaks, Old towers gleam white in the ray, And already the glory so joyously seeks The lark that's saluting the day.
Then smile away, man, at the heavens so fair, Though, were you swept hence in the night, From your dark, lonely tomb the owlets would stare At the sun rising newly as bright.
But out of earth's trammels your soul would have flown Where glitters Eternity's stream, And you shall have waked 'midst pure glories unknown, As sunshine disperses a dream.
("Le parfum d'un lis.")
[Bk. V. xiii.]
The lily's perfume pure, fame's crown of light, The latest murmur of departing day, Fond friendship's plaint, that melts at piteous sight, The mystic farewell of each hour at flight, The kiss which beauty grants with coy delay,—
The sevenfold scarf that parting storms bestow As trophy to the proud, triumphant sun; The thrilling accent of a voice we know, The love-enthralled maiden's secret vow, An infant's dream, ere life's first sands be run,—
The chant of distant choirs, the morning's sigh, Which erst inspired the fabled Memnon's frame,— The melodies that, hummed, so trembling die,— The sweetest gems that 'mid thought's treasures lie, Have naught of sweetness that can match HER NAME!
Low be its utterance, like a prayer divine, Yet in each warbled song be heard the sound; Be it the light in darksome fanes to shine, The sacred word which at some hidden shrine, The selfsame voice forever makes resound!
O friends! ere yet, in living strains of flame, My muse, bewildered in her circlings wide, With names the vaunting lips of pride proclaim, Shall dare to blend the one, the purer name, Which love a treasure in my breast doth hide,—
Must the wild lay my faithful harp can sing, Be like the hymns which mortals, kneeling, hear; To solemn harmonies attuned the string, As, music show'ring from his viewless wing, On heavenly airs some angel hovered near.
CAROLINE BOWLES (MRS. SOUTHEY)
THE PORTRAIT OF A CHILD.
("Oui, ce front, ce sourire.")
[Bk. V. xxii., November, 1825.]
That brow, that smile, that cheek so fair, Beseem my child, who weeps and plays: A heavenly spirit guards her ways, From whom she stole that mixture rare. Through all her features shining mild, The poet sees an angel there, The father sees a child.
And by their flame so pure and bright, We see how lately those sweet eyes Have wandered down from Paradise, And still are lingering in its light.
All earthly things are but a shade Through which she looks at things above, And sees the holy Mother-maid, Athwart her mother's glance of love.
She seems celestial songs to hear, And virgin souls are whispering near. Till by her radiant smile deceived, I say, "Young angel, lately given, When was thy martyrdom achieved? And what name lost thou bear in heaven?"
Dublin University Magazine.
("Dors-tu? mere de notre mere.")
"To die—to sleep."—SHAKESPEARE.
Still asleep! We have been since the noon thus alone. Oh, the hours we have ceased to number! Wake, grandmother!—speechless say why thou art grown. Then, thy lips are so cold!—the Madonna of stone Is like thee in thy holy slumber. We have watched thee in sleep, we have watched thee at prayer, But what can now betide thee? Like thy hours of repose all thy orisons were, And thy lips would still murmur a blessing whene'er Thy children stood beside thee.
Now thine eye is unclosed, and thy forehead is bent O'er the hearth, where ashes smoulder; And behold, the watch-lamp will be speedily spent. Art thou vexed? have we done aught amiss? Oh, relent! But—parent, thy hands grow colder! Say, with ours wilt thou let us rekindle in thine The glow that has departed? Wilt thou sing us some song of the days of lang syne? Wilt thou tell us some tale, from those volumes divine, Of the brave and noble-hearted?
Of the dragon who, crouching in forest green glen, Lies in wait for the unwary— Of the maid who was freed by her knight from the den Of the ogre, whose club was uplifted, but then Turned aside by the wand of a fairy? Wilt thou teach us spell-words that protect from all harm, And thoughts of evil banish? What goblins the sign of the cross may disarm? What saint it is good to invoke? and what charm Can make the demon vanish?
Or unfold to our gaze thy most wonderful book, So feared by hell and Satan; At its hermits and martyrs in gold let us look, At the virgins, and bishops with pastoral crook, And the hymns and the prayers in Latin. Oft with legends of angels, who watch o'er the young, Thy voice was wont to gladden; Have thy lips yet no language—no wisdom thy tongue? Oh, see! the light wavers, and sinking, bath flung On the wall forms that sadden.
Wake! awake! evil spirits perhaps may presume To haunt thy holy dwelling; Pale ghosts are, perhaps, stealing into the room— Oh, would that the lamp were relit! with the gloom These fearful thoughts dispelling. Thou hast told us our parents lie sleeping beneath The grass, in a churchyard lonely: Now, thine eyes have no motion, thy mouth has no breath, And thy limbs are all rigid! Oh, say, Is this death, Or thy prayer or thy slumber only?
Sad vigil they kept by that grandmother's chair, Kind angels hovered o'er them— And the dead-bell was tolled in the hamlet—and there, On the following eve, knelt that innocent pair, With the missal-book before them.
"FATHER PROUT" (FRANK S. MAHONY).
THE GIANT IN GLEE.
("Ho, guerriers! je suis ne dans le pays des Gaules.")
[V., March 11, 1825.]
Ho, warriors! I was reared in the land of the Gauls; O'er the Rhine my ancestors came bounding like balls Of the snow at the Pole, where, a babe, I was bathed Ere in bear and in walrus-skin I was enswathed.
Then my father was strong, whom the years lowly bow,— A bison could wallow in the grooves of his brow. He is weak, very old—he can scarcely uptear A young pine-tree for staff since his legs cease to bear;
But here's to replace him!—I can toy with his axe; As I sit on the hill my feet swing in the flax, And my knee caps the boulders and troubles the trees. How they shiver, yea, quake if I happen to sneeze!
I was still but a springald when, cleaving the Alps, I brushed snowy periwigs off granitic scalps, And my head, o'er the pinnacles, stopped the fleet clouds, Where I captured the eagles and caged them by crowds.
There were tempests! I blew them back into their source! And put out their lightnings! More than once in a course, Through the ocean I went wading after the whale, And stirred up the bottom as did never a gale.
Fond of rambling, I hunted the shark 'long the beach, And no osprey in ether soared out of my reach; And the bear that I pinched 'twixt my finger and thumb, Like the lynx and the wolf, perished harmless and dumb.
But these pleasures of childhood have lost all their zest; It is warfare and carnage that now I love best: The sounds that I wish to awaken and hear Are the cheers raised by courage, the shrieks due to fear;
When the riot of flames, ruin, smoke, steel and blood, Announces an army rolls along as a flood, Which I follow, to harry the clamorous ranks, Sharp-goading the laggards and pressing the flanks, Till, a thresher 'mid ripest of corn, up I stand With an oak for a flail in my unflagging hand.
Rise the groans! rise the screams! on my feet fall vain tears As the roar of my laughter redoubles their fears. I am naked. At armor of steel I should joke— True, I'm helmed—a brass pot you could draw with ten yoke.
I look for no ladder to invade the king's hall— I stride o'er the ramparts, and down the walls fall, Till choked are the ditches with the stones, dead and quick, Whilst the flagstaff I use 'midst my teeth as a pick.
Oh, when cometh my turn to succumb like my prey, May brave men my body snatch away from th' array Of the crows—may they heap on the rocks till they loom Like a mountain, befitting a colossus' tomb!
Foreign Quarterly Review (adapted)
THE CYMBALEER'S BRIDE.
("Monseigneur le Duc de Bretagne.")
[VI., October, 1825.]
My lord the Duke of Brittany Has summoned his barons bold— Their names make a fearful litany! Among them you will not meet any But men of giant mould.
Proud earls, who dwell in donjon keep, And steel-clad knight and peer, Whose forts are girt with a moat cut deep— But none excel in soldiership My own loved cymbaleer.
Clashing his cymbals, forth he went, With a bold and gallant bearing; Sure for a captain he was meant, To judge his pride with courage blent, And the cloth of gold he's wearing.
But in my soul since then I feel A fear in secret creeping; And to my patron saint I kneel, That she may recommend his weal To his guardian-angel's keeping.
I've begged our abbot Bernardine His prayers not to relax; And to procure him aid divine I've burnt upon Saint Gilda's shrine Three pounds of virgin wax.
Our Lady of Loretto knows The pilgrimage I've vowed: "To wear the scallop I propose, If health and safety from the foes My lover be allowed."
No letter (fond affection's gage!) From him could I require, The pain of absence to assuage— A vassal-maid can have no page, A liegeman has no squire.
This day will witness, with the duke's, My cymbaleer's return: Gladness and pride beam in my looks, Delay my heart impatient brooks, All meaner thoughts I spurn.
Back from the battlefield elate His banner brings each peer; Come, let us see, at the ancient gate, The martial triumph pass in state— With the princes my cymbaleer.
We'll have from the rampart walls a glance Of the air his steed assumes; His proud neck swells, his glad hoofs prance, And on his head unceasing dance, In a gorgeous tuft, red plumes!
Be quick, my sisters! dress in haste! Come, see him bear the bell, With laurels decked, with true love graced, While in his bold hands, fitly placed, The bounding cymbals swell!
Mark well the mantle that he'll wear, Embroidered by his bride! Admire his burnished helmet's glare, O'ershadowed by the dark horsehair That waves in jet folds wide!
The gypsy (spiteful wench!) foretold, With a voice like a viper hissing. (Though I had crossed her palm with gold), That from the ranks a spirit bold Would be to-day found missing.
But I have prayed so much, I trust Her words may prove untrue; Though in a tomb the hag accurst Muttered: "Prepare thee for the worst!" Whilst the lamp burnt ghastly blue.
My joy her spells shall not prevent. Hark! I can hear the drums! And ladies fair from silken tent Peep forth, and every eye is bent On the cavalcade that comes!
Pikemen, dividing on both flanks, Open the pageantry; Loud, as they tread, their armor clanks, And silk-robed barons lead the ranks— The pink of gallantry!
In scarfs of gold the priests admire; The heralds on white steeds; Armorial pride decks their attire, Worn in remembrance of some sire Famed for heroic deeds.
Feared by the Paynim's dark divan, The Templars next advance; Then the tall halberds of Lausanne, Foremost to stand in battle van Against the foes of France.
Now hail the duke, with radiant brow, Girt with his cavaliers; Round his triumphant banner bow Those of his foe. Look, sisters, now! Here come the cymbaleers!
She spoke—with searching eye surveyed Their ranks—then, pale, aghast, Sunk in the crowd! Death came in aid— 'Twas mercy to that loving maid— The cymbaleers had passed!
"FATHER PROUT" (FRANK S. MAHONY)
BATTLE OF THE NORSEMEN AND THE GAELS.
("Accourez tous, oiseaux de proie!")
[VII., September, 1825.]
Ho! hither flock, ye fowls of prey! Ye wolves of war, make no delay! For foemen 'neath our blades shall fall Ere night may veil with purple pall. The evening psalms are nearly o'er, And priests who follow in our train Have promised us the final gain, And filled with faith our valiant corps.
Let orphans weep, and widows brood! To-morrow we shall wash the blood Off saw-gapped sword and lances bent, So, close the ranks and fire the tent! And chill yon coward cavalcade With brazen bugles blaring loud, E'en though our chargers' neighing proud Already has the host dismayed.
Spur, horsemen, spur! the charge resounds! On Gaelic spear the Northman bounds! Through helmet plumes the arrows flit, And plated breasts the pikeheads split. The double-axe fells human oaks, And like the thistles in the field See bristling up (where none must yield!) The points hewn off by sweeping strokes!
We, heroes all, our wounds disdain; Dismounted now, our horses slain, Yet we advance—more courage show, Though stricken, seek to overthrow The victor-knights who tread in mud The writhing slaves who bite the heel, While on caparisons of steel The maces thunder—cudgels thud!
Should daggers fail hide-coats to shred, Seize each your man and hug him dead! Who falls unslain will only make A mouthful to the wolves who slake Their month-whet thirst. No captives, none! We die or win! but should we die, The lopped-off hand will wave on high The broken brand to hail the sun!
[IX., September, 1825.]
List to me, O Madelaine! Now the snows have left the plain, Which they warmly cloaked. Come into the forest groves, Where the notes that Echo loves Are from horns evoked.
Come! where Springtide, Madelaine, Brings a sultry breath from Spain, Giving buds their hue; And, last night, to glad your eye, Laid the floral marquetry, Red and gold and blue.
Would I were, O Madelaine, As the lamb whose wool you train Through your tender hands. Would I were the bird that whirls Round, and comes to peck your curls, Happy in such bands.
Were I e'en, O Madelaine, Hermit whom the herd disdain In his pious cell, When your purest lips unfold Sins which might to all be told, As to him you tell.
Would I were, O Madelaine, Moth that murmurs 'gainst your pane, Peering at your rest, As, so like its woolly wing, Ceasing scarce its fluttering, Heaves and sinks your breast.
If you seek it, Madelaine, You may wish, and not in vain, For a serving host, And your splendid hall of state Shall be envied by the great, O'er the Jew-King's boast.
If you name it, Madelaine, Round your head no more you'll train Simple marguerites, No! the coronet of peers, Whom the queen herself oft fears, And the monarch greets.
If you wish, O Madelaine! Where you gaze you long shall reign— For I'm ruler here! I'm the lord who asks your hand If you do not bid me stand Loving shepherd here!
THE FAY AND THE PERI.
("Ou vas-tu donc, jeune ame.")
Beautiful spirit, come with me Over the blue enchanted sea: Morn and evening thou canst play In my garden, where the breeze Warbles through the fruity trees; No shadow falls upon the day: There thy mother's arms await Her cherished infant at the gate. Of Peris I the loveliest far— My sisters, near the morning star, In ever youthful bloom abide; But pale their lustre by my side— A silken turban wreathes my head, Rubies on my arms are spread, While sailing slowly through the sky, By the uplooker's dazzled eye Are seen my wings of purple hue, Glittering with Elysian dew. Whiter than a far-off sail My form of beauty glows, Fair as on a summer night Dawns the sleep star's gentle light; And fragrant as the early rose That scents the green Arabian vale, Soothing the pilgrim as he goes.
Beautiful infant (said the Fay), In the region of the sun I dwell, where in a rich array The clouds encircle the king of day, His radiant journey done. My wings, pure golden, of radiant sheen (Painted as amorous poet's strain), Glimmer at night, when meadows green Sparkle with the perfumed rain While the sun's gone to come again. And clear my hand, as stream that flows; And sweet my breath as air of May; And o'er my ivory shoulders stray Locks of sunshine;—tunes still play From my odorous lips of rose.
Follow, follow! I have caves Of pearl beneath the azure waves, And tents all woven pleasantly In verdant glades of Faery. Come, beloved child, with me, And I will bear thee to the bowers Where clouds are painted o'er like flowers, And pour into thy charmed ear Songs a mortal may not hear; Harmonies so sweet and ripe As no inspired shepherd's pipe E'er breathed into Arcadian glen, Far from the busy haunts of men.
My home is afar in the bright Orient, Where the sun, like a king, in his orange tent, Reigneth for ever in gorgeous pride— And wafting thee, princess of rich countree, To the soft flute's lush melody, My golden vessel will gently glide, Kindling the water 'long the side.
Vast cities are mine of power and delight, Lahore laid in lilies, Golconda, Cashmere; And Ispahan, dear to the pilgrim's sight, And Bagdad, whose towers to heaven uprear; Alep, that pours on the startled ear, From its restless masts the gathering roar, As of ocean hamm'ring at night on the shore.
Mysore is a queen on her stately throne, Thy white domes, Medina, gleam on the eye,— Thy radiant kiosques with their arrowy spires, Shooting afar their golden fires Into the flashing sky,— Like a forest of spears that startle the gaze Of the enemy with the vivid blaze.
Come there, beautiful child, with me, Come to the arcades of Araby, To the land of the date and the purple vine, Where pleasure her rosy wreaths doth twine, And gladness shall be alway thine; Singing at sunset next thy bed, Strewing flowers under thy head. Beneath a verdant roof of leaves, Arching a flow'ry carpet o'er, Thou mayst list to lutes on summer eves Their lays of rustic freshness pour, While upon the grassy floor Light footsteps, in the hour of calm, Ruffle the shadow of the palm.
Come to the radiant homes of the blest, Where meadows like fountain in light are drest, And the grottoes of verdure never decay, And the glow of the August dies not away. Come where the autumn winds never can sweep, And the streams of the woodland steep thee in sleep, Like a fond sister charming the eyes of a brother, Or a little lass lulled on the breast of her mother. Beautiful! beautiful! hasten to me! Colored with crimson thy wings shall be; Flowers that fade not thy forehead shall twine, Over thee sunlight that sets not shall shine.
The infant listened to the strain, Now here, now there, its thoughts were driven— But the Fay and the Peri waited in vain, The soul soared above such a sensual gain— The child rose to Heaven.
THE SCOURGE OF HEAVEN.
("La, voyez-vous passer, la nuee.")
[I., November, 1828.]
Hast seen it pass, that cloud of darkest rim? Now red and glorious, and now gray and dim, Now sad as summer, barren in its heat? One seems to see at once rush through the night The smoke and turmoil from a burning site Of some great town in fiery grasp complete.
Whence comes it? From the sea, the hills, the sky? Is it the flaming chariot from on high Which demons to some planet seem to bring? Oh, horror! from its wondrous centre, lo! A furious stream of lightning seems to flow Like a long snake uncoiling its fell ring.
The sea! naught but the sea! waves on all sides! Vainly the sea-bird would outstrip these tides! Naught but an endless ebb and flow! Wave upon wave advancing, then controlled Beneath the depths a stream the eyes behold Rolling in the involved abyss below!
Whilst here and there great fishes in the spray Their silvery fins beneath the sun display, Or their blue tails lash up from out the surge, Like to a flock the sea its fleece doth fling; The horizon's edge bound by a brazen ring; Waters and sky in mutual azure merge.
"Am I to dry these seas?" exclaimed the cloud. "No!" It went onward 'neath the breath of God.
Green hills, which round a limpid bay Reflected, bask in the clear wave! The javelin and its buffalo prey, The laughter and the joyous stave! The tent, the manger! these describe A hunting and a fishing tribe Free as the air—their arrows fly Swifter than lightning through the sky! By them is breathed the purest air, Where'er their wanderings may chance! Children and maidens young and fair, And warriors circling in the dance! Upon the beach, around the fire, Now quenched by wind, now burning higher, Like spirits which our dreams inspire To hover o'er our trance.
Virgins, with skins of ebony, Beauteous as evening skies, Laughed as their forms they dimly see In metal mirrors rise; Others, as joyously as they, Were drawing for their food by day, With jet-black hands, white camels' whey, Camels with docile eyes.
Both men and women, bare, Plunged in the briny bay. Who knows them? Whence they were? Where passed they yesterday? Shrill sounds were hovering o'er, Mixed with the ocean's roar, Of cymbals from the shore, And whinnying courser's neigh.
"Is't there?" one moment asked the cloudy mass; "Is't there?" An unknown utterance answered: "Pass!"
Whitened with grain see Egypt's lengthened plains, Far as the eyesight farthest space contains, Like a rich carpet spread their varied hues. The cold sea north, southwards the burying sand Dispute o'er Egypt—while the smiling land Still mockingly their empire does refuse.
Three marble triangles seem to pierce the sky, And hide their basements from the curious eye. Mountains—with waves of ashes covered o'er! In graduated blocks of six feet square From golden base to top, from earth to air Their ever heightening monstrous steps they bore.
No scorching blast could daunt the sleepless ken Of roseate Sphinx, and god of marble green, Which stood as guardians o'er the sacred ground. For a great port steered vessels huge and fleet, A giant city bathed her marble feet In the bright waters round.
One heard the dread simoom in distance roar, Whilst the crushed shell upon the pebbly shore Crackled beneath the crocodile's huge coil. Westwards, like tiger's skin, each separate isle Spotted the surface of the yellow Nile; Gray obelisks shot upwards from the soil.
The star-king set. The sea, it seemed to hold In the calm mirror this live globe of gold, This world, the soul and torchbearer of our own. In the red sky, and in the purple streak, Like friendly kings who would each other seek, Two meeting suns were shown.
"Shall I not stop?" exclaimed the impatient cloud. "Seek!" trembling Tabor heard the voice of God.
Sand, sand, and still more sand! The desert! Fearful land! Teeming with monsters dread And plagues on every hand! Here in an endless flow, Sandhills of golden glow, Where'er the tempests blow, Like a great flood are spread. Sometimes the sacred spot Hears human sounds profane, when As from Ophir or from Memphre Stretches the caravan. From far the eyes, its trail Along the burning shale Bending its wavering tail, Like a mottled serpent scan. These deserts are of God! His are the bounds alone, Here, where no feet have trod, To Him its centre known! And from this smoking sea Veiled in obscurity, The foam one seems to see In fiery ashes thrown.
"Shall desert change to lake?" cried out the cloud. "Still further!" from heaven's depths sounded that Voice aloud.
Like tumbled waves, which a huge rock surround; Like heaps of ruined towers which strew the ground, See Babel now deserted and dismayed! Huge witness to the folly of mankind; Four distant mountains when the moonlight shined Seem covered with its shade.
O'er miles and miles the shattered ruins spread Beneath its base, from captive tempests bred, The air seemed filled with harmony strange and dire; While swarmed around the entire human race A future Babel, on the world's whole space Fixed its eternal spire.
Up to the zenith rose its lengthening stair, While each great granite mountain lent a share To form a stepping base; Height upon height repeated seemed to rise, For pyramid on pyramid the strained eyes Saw take their ceaseless place.
Through yawning walls huge elephants stalked by; Under dark pillars rose a forestry, Pillars by madness multiplied; As round some giant hive, all day and night, Huge vultures, and red eagles' wheeling flight Was through each porch descried.
"Must I complete it?" said the angered cloud. "On still!" "Lord, whither?" groaned it, deep not loud.
Two cities, strange, unknown in history's page, Up to the clouds seemed scaling, stage by stage, Noiseless their streets; their sleeping inmates lie, Their gods, their chariots, in obscurity! Like sisters sleeping 'neath the same moonlight, O'er their twin towers crept the shades of night, Whilst scarce distinguished in the black profound, Stairs, aqueducts, great pillars, gleamed around, And ruined capitals: then was seen a group Of granite elephants 'neath a dome to stoop, Shapeless, giant forms to view arise, Monsters around, the spawn of hideous ties! Then hanging gardens, with flowers and galleries: O'er vast fountains bending grew ebon-trees; Temples, where seated on their rich tiled thrones, Bull-headed idols shone in jasper stones; Vast halls, spanned by one block, where watch and stare Each upon each, with straight and moveless glare, Colossal heads in circles; the eye sees Great gods of bronze, their hands upon their knees. Sight seemed confounded, and to have lost its powers, 'Midst bridges, aqueducts, arches, and round towers, Whilst unknown shapes fill up the devious views Formed by these palaces and avenues. Like capes, the lengthening shadows seem to rise Of these dark buildings, pointed to the skies, Immense entanglement in shroud of gloom! The stars which gleamed in the empyrean dome, Under the thousand arches in heaven's space Shone as through meshes of the blackest lace. Cities of hell, with foul desires demented, And monstrous pleasures, hour by hour invented! Each roof and home some monstrous mystery bore! Which through the world spread like a twofold sore! Yet all things slept, and scarce some pale late light Flitted along the streets through the still night, Lamps of debauch, forgotten and alone, The feast's lost fires left there to flicker on; The walls' large angles clove the light-lengthening shades 'Neath the white moon, or on some pool's face played. Perchance one heard, faint in the plain beneath, The kiss suppressed, the mingling of the breath; And the two sister cities, tired of heat, In love's embrace lay down in murmurs sweet! Whilst sighing winds the scent of sycamore From Sodom to Gomorrah softly bore! Then over all spread out the blackened cloud, "'Tis here!" the Voice on high exclaimed aloud.
From a cavern wide In the rent cloud's side, In sulphurous showers The red flame pours. The palaces fall In the lurid light, Which casts a red pall O'er their facades white!
Oh, Sodom! Gomorrah! What a dome of horror Rests now on your walls! On you the cloud falls, Nation perverse! On your fated heads, From its fell jaws, a curse Its lightning fierce spreads!
The people awaken Which godlessly slept; Their palaces shaken, Their offences unwept! Their rolling cars all Meet and crash in the street; And the crowds, for a pall, Find flames round their feet!
Numberless dead, Round these high towers spread, Still sleep in the shade By their rugged heights made; Colossi of rocks In ill-steadied blocks! So hang on a wall Black ants, like a pall!
To escape is in vain From this horrible rain! Alas! all things die; In the lightning's red flash The bridges all crash; 'Neath the tiles the flame creeps; From the fire-struck steeps Falls on the pavements below, All lurid in glow, Rolling down from on high!
Beneath every spark, The red, tyrannous fire Mounts up in the dark Ever redder and higher; More swiftly than steed Uncontrolled, see it pass! Horrid idols all twist, By the crumbling flame kissed In their infamous dread, Shrivelled members of brass!
It grows angry, flows on, Silver towers fall down Unforeseen, like a dream In its green and red stream, Which lights up the walls Ere one crashes and falls, Like the changeable scale Of a lizard's bright mail. Agate, porphyry, cracks And is melted to wax! Bend low to their doom These stones of the tomb! E'en the great marble giant Called Nabo, sways pliant Like a tree; whilst the flare Seemed each column to scorch As it blazed like a torch Round and round in the air.
The magi, in vain, From the heights to the plain Their gods' images carry In white tunic: they quake— No idol can make The blue sulphur tarry; The temple e'en where they meet, Swept under their feet In the folds of its sheet! Turns a palace to coal! Whence the straitened cries roll From its terrified flock; With incendiary grips It loosens a block, Which smokes and then slips From its place by the shock; To the surface first sheers, Then melts, disappears, Like the glacier, the rock! The high priest, full of years, On the burnt site appears, Whence the others have fled. Lo! his tiara's caught fire As the furnace burns higher, And pale, full of dread, See, the hand he would raise To tear his crown from the blaze Is flaming instead!
Men, women, in crowds Hurry on—the fire shrouds And blinds all their eyes As, besieging each gate Of these cities of fate To the conscience-struck crowd, In each fiery cloud, Hell appears in the skies!
Men say that then, to see his foe's sad fall As some old prisoner clings to his prison wall, Babel, accomplice of their guilt, was seen O'er the far hills to gaze with vision keen! And as was worked this dispensation strange, A wondrous noise filled the world's startled range; Reached the dull hearing that deep, direful sound Of their sad tribe who live below the ground.
'Gainst this pitiless flame who condemned could prevail? Who these walls, burnt and calcined, could venture to scale? Yet their vile hands they sought to uplift, Yet they cared still to ask from what God, by what law? In their last sad embrace, 'midst their honor and awe, Of this mighty volcano the drift. 'Neath great slabs of marble they hid them in vain, 'Gainst this everliving fire, God's own flaming rain! 'Tis the rash whom God seeks out the first; They call on their gods, who were deaf to their cries, For the punishing flame caused their cold granite eyes In tears of hot lava to burst! Thus away in the whirlwind did everything pass, The man and the city, the soil and its grass! God burnt this sad, sterile champaign; Naught living was left of this people destroyed, And the unknown wind which blew over the void, Each mountain changed into a plain.
The palm-tree that grows on the rock to this day, Feels its leaf growing yellow, its slight stem decay, In the blasting and ponderous air; These towns are no more! but to mirror their past, O'er their embers a cold lake spread far and spread fast, With smoke like a furnace, lies there!
("Nous emmenions en esclavage.")
[VIII., March, 1828.]
We're bearing fivescore Christian dogs To serve the cruel drivers: Some are fair beauties gently born, And some rough coral-divers. We hardy skimmers of the sea Are lucky in each sally, And, eighty strong, we send along The dreaded Pirate Galley.
A nunnery was spied ashore, We lowered away the cutter, And, landing, seized the youngest nun Ere she a cry could utter; Beside the creek, deaf to our oars, She slumbered in green alley, As, eighty strong, we sent along The dreaded Pirate Galley.
"Be silent, darling, you must come— The wind is off shore blowing; You only change your prison dull For one that's splendid, glowing! His Highness doats on milky cheeks, So do not make us dally"— We, eighty strong, who send along The dreaded Pirate Galley.
She sought to flee back to her cell, And called us each a devil! We dare do aught becomes Old Scratch, But like a treatment civil, So, spite of buffet, prayers, and calls— Too late her friends to rally— We, eighty strong, bore her along Unto the Pirate Galley.
The fairer for her tears profuse, As dews refresh the flower, She is well worth three purses full, And will adorn the bower— For vain her vow to pine and die Thus torn from her dear valley: She reigns, and we still row along The dreaded Pirate Galley.
THE TURKISH CAPTIVE.
("Si je n'etait captive.")
[IX., July, 1828.]
Oh! were I not a captive, I should love this fair countree; Those fields with maize abounding, This ever-plaintive sea: I'd love those stars unnumbered, If, passing in the shade, Beneath our walls I saw not The spahi's sparkling blade.
I am no Tartar maiden That a blackamoor of price Should tune my lute and hold to me My glass of sherbet-ice. Far from these haunts of vices, In my dear countree, we With sweethearts in the even May chat and wander free.
But still I love this climate, Where never wintry breeze Invades, with chilly murmur, These open lattices; Where rain is warm in summer, And the insect glossy green, Most like a living emerald, Shines 'mid the leafy screen.
With her chapelles fair Smyrna— A gay princess is she! Still, at her summons, round her Unfading spring ye see. And, as in beauteous vases, Bright groups of flowers repose, So, in her gulfs are lying Her archipelagoes.
I love these tall red turrets; These standards brave unrolled; And, like an infant's playthings, These houses decked with gold. I love forsooth these reveries, Though sandstorms make me pant, Voluptuously swaying Upon an elephant.
Here in this fairy palace, Full of such melodies, Methinks I hear deep murmurs That in the deserts rise; Soft mingling with the music The Genii's voices pour, Amid the air, unceasing, Around us evermore.
I love the burning odors This glowing region gives; And, round each gilded lattice, The trembling, wreathing leaves; And, 'neath the bending palm-tree, The gayly gushing spring; And on the snow-white minaret, The stork with snowier wing.
I love on mossy couch to sing A Spanish roundelay, And see my sweet companions Around commingling gay,— A roving band, light-hearted, In frolicsome array,— Who 'neath the screening parasols Dance down the merry day. But more than all enchanting At night, it is to me, To sit, where winds are sighing, Lone, musing by the sea; And, on its surface gazing, To mark the moon so fair, Her silver fan outspreading, In trembling radiance there.
W.D., Tait's Edin. Magazine
MOONLIGHT ON THE BOSPHORUS.
("La lune etait sereine.")
[X., September, 1828.]
Bright shone the merry moonbeams dancing o'er the wave; At the cool casement, to the evening breeze flung wide, Leans the Sultana, and delights to watch the tide, With surge of silvery sheen, yon sleeping islets lave.
From her hand, as it falls, vibrates the light guitar. She listens—hark! that sound that echoes dull and low. Is it the beat upon the Archipelago Of some long galley's oar, from Scio bound afar?
Is it the cormorants, whose black wings, one by one, Cut the blue wave that o'er them breaks in liquid pearls? Is it some hovering sprite with whistling scream that hurls Down to the deep from yon old tower a loosened stone?
Who thus disturbs the tide near the seraglio? 'Tis no dark cormorants that on the ripple float, 'Tis no dull plume of stone—no oars of Turkish boat, With measured beat along the water creeping slow.
'Tis heavy sacks, borne each by voiceless dusky slaves; And could you dare to sound the depths of yon dark tide, Something like human form would stir within its side. Bright shone the merry moonbeams dancing o'er the wave.
JOHN L. O'SULLIVAN.
("Qu'avez-vous, mes freres?")
[XI., September, 18288.]
"Have you prayed tonight, Desdemona?"
What has happened, my brothers? Your spirit to-day Some secret sorrow damps There's a cloud on your brow. What has happened? Oh, say, For your eyeballs glare out with a sinister ray Like the light of funeral lamps. And the blades of your poniards are half unsheathed In your belt—and ye frown on me! There's a woe untold, there's a pang unbreathed In your bosom, my brothers three!
Gulnara, make answer! Hast thou, since the dawn, To the eye of a stranger thy veil withdrawn?
As I came, oh, my brother! at noon—from the bath— As I came—it was noon, my lords— And your sister had then, as she constantly hath, Drawn her veil close around her, aware that the path Is beset by these foreign hordes. But the weight of the noonday's sultry hour Near the mosque was so oppressive That—forgetting a moment the eye of the Giaour— I yielded to th' heat excessive.
Gulnara, make answer! Whom, then, hast thou seen, In a turban of white and a caftan of green?
Nay, he might have been there; but I muflled me so, He could scarcely have seen my figure.— But why to your sister thus dark do you grow? What words to yourselves do you mutter thus low, Of "blood" and "an intriguer"? Oh! ye cannot of murder bring down the red guilt On your souls, my brothers, surely! Though I fear—from the hands that are chafing the hilt, And the hints you give obscurely.
Gulnara, this evening when sank the red sun, Didst thou mark how like blood in descending it shone?
Mercy! Allah! have pity! oh, spare! See! I cling to your knees repenting! Kind brothers, forgive me! for mercy, forbear! Be appeased at the cry of a sister's despair, For our mother's sake relenting. O God! must I die? They are deaf to my cries! Their sister's life-blood shedding; They have stabbed me each one—I faint—o'er my eyes A veil of Death is spreading!
Gulnara, farewell! take that veil; 'tis the gift Of thy brothers—a veil thou wilt never lift!
"FATHER PROUT" (FRANK S. MAHONY).
THE FAVORITE SULTANA.
("N'ai-je pas pour toi, belle juive.")
[XII., Oct. 27, 1828.]
To please you, Jewess, jewel! I have thinned my harem out! Must every flirting of your fan Presage a dying shout?
Grace for the damsels tender Who have fear to hear your laugh, For seldom gladness gilds your lips But blood you mean to quaff.
In jealousy so zealous, Never was there woman worse; You'd have no roses but those grown Above some buried corse.
Am I not pinioned firmly? Why be angered if the door Repulses fifty suing maids Who vainly there implore?
Let them live on—to envy My own empress of the world, To whom all Stamboul like a dog Lies at the slippers curled.
To you my heroes lower Those scarred ensigns none have cowed; To you their turbans are depressed That elsewhere march so proud.
To you Bassora offers Her respect, and Trebizonde Her carpets richly wrought, and spice And gems, of which you're fond.
To you the Cyprus temples Dare not bar or close the doors; For you the mighty Danube sends The choicest of its stores.
Fear you the Grecian maidens, Pallid lilies of the isles? Or the scorching-eyed sand-rover From Baalbec's massy piles?
Compared with yours, oh, daughter Of King Solomon the grand, What are round ebon bosoms, High brows from Hellas' strand?
You're neither blanched nor blackened, For your tint of olive's clear; Yours are lips of ripest cherry, You are straight as Arab spear.
Hence, launch no longer lightning On these paltry slaves of ours. Why should your flow of tears be matched By their mean life-blood showers?
Think only of our banquets Brought and served by charming girls, For beauties sultans must adorn As dagger-hilts the pearls.
THE PASHA AND THE DERVISH.
("Un jour Ali passait.")
[XIII, Nov. 8, 1828.]
Ali came riding by—the highest head Bent to the dust, o'ercharged with dread, Whilst "God be praised!" all cried; But through the throng one dervish pressed, Aged and bent, who dared arrest The pasha in his pride.
"Ali Tepelini, light of all light, Who hold'st the Divan's upper seat by right, Whose fame Fame's trump hath burst— Thou art the master of unnumbered hosts, Shade of the Sultan—yet he only boasts In thee a dog accurst!
"An unseen tomb-torch flickers on thy path, Whilst, as from vial full, thy spare-naught wrath Splashes this trembling race: These are thy grass as thou their trenchant scythes Cleaving their neck as 'twere a willow withe— Their blood none can efface.
"But ends thy tether! for Janina makes A grave for thee where every turret quakes, And thou shalt drop below To where the spirits, to a tree enchained, Will clutch thee, there to be 'mid them retained For all to-come in woe!
"Or if, by happy chance, thy soul might flee Thy victims, after, thou shouldst surely see And hear thy crimes relate; Streaked with the guileless gore drained from their veins, Greater in number than the reigns on reigns Thou hopedst for thy state.
"This so will be! and neither fleet nor fort Can stay or aid thee as the deathly port Receives thy harried frame! Though, like the cunning Hebrew knave of old, To cheat the angel black, thou didst enfold In altered guise thy name."
Ali deemed anchorite or saint a pawn— The crater of his blunderbuss did yawn, Sword, dagger hung at ease: But he had let the holy man revile, Though clouds o'erswept his brow; then, with a smile, He tossed him his pelisse.
THE LOST BATTLE.
("Allah! qui me rendra-")
[XVL, May, 1828.]
Oh, Allah! who will give me back my terrible array? My emirs and my cavalry that shook the earth to-day; My tent, my wide-extending camp, all dazzling to the sight, Whose watchfires, kindled numberless beneath the brow of night, Seemed oft unto the sentinel that watched the midnight hours, As heaven along the sombre hill had rained its stars in showers? Where are my beys so gorgeous, in their light pelisses gay, And where my fierce Timariot bands, so fearless in the fray; My dauntless khans, my spahis brave, swift thunderbolts of war; My sunburnt Bedouins, trooping from the Pyramids afar, Who laughed to see the laboring hind stand terrified at gaze, And urged their desert horses on amid the ripening maize? These horses with their fiery eyes, their slight untiring feet, That flew along the fields of corn like grasshoppers so fleet— What! to behold again no more, loud charging o'er the plain, Their squadrons, in the hostile shot diminished all in vain, Burst grandly on the heavy squares, like clouds that bear the storms, Enveloping in lightning fires the dark resisting swarms! Oh! they are dead! their housings bright are trailed amid their gore; Dark blood is on their manes and sides, all deeply clotted o'er; All vainly now the spur would strike these cold and rounded flanks, To wake them to their wonted speed amid the rapid ranks: Here the bold riders red and stark upon the sands lie down, Who in their friendly shadows slept throughout the halt at noon. Oh, Allah! who will give me back my terrible array? See where it straggles 'long the fields for leagues on leagues away, Like riches from a spendthrift's hand flung prodigal to earth. Lo! steed and rider;—Tartar chiefs or of Arabian birth, Their turbans and their cruel course, their banners and their cries, Seem now as if a troubled dream had passed before mine eyes— My valiant warriors and their steeds, thus doomed to fall and bleed! Their voices rouse no echo now, their footsteps have no speed; They sleep, and have forgot at last the sabre and the bit— Yon vale, with all the corpses heaped, seems one wide charnel-pit. Long shall the evil omen rest upon this plain of dread— To-night, the taint of solemn blood; to-morrow, of the dead. Alas! 'tis but a shadow now, that noble armament! How terribly they strove, and struck from morn to eve unspent, Amid the fatal fiery ring, enamoured of the fight! Now o'er the dim horizon sinks the peaceful pall of night: The brave have nobly done their work, and calmly sleep at last. The crows begin, and o'er the dead are gathering dark and fast; Already through their feathers black they pass their eager beaks. Forth from the forest's distant depth, from bald and barren peaks, They congregate in hungry flocks and rend their gory prey. Woe to that flaunting army's pride, so vaunting yesterday! That formidable host, alas! is coldly nerveless now To drive the vulture from his gorge, or scare the carrion crow. Were now that host again mine own, with banner broad unfurled, With it I would advance and win the empire of the world. Monarchs to it should yield their realms and veil their haughty brows; My sister it should ever be, my lady and my spouse. Oh! what will unrestoring Death, that jealous tyrant lord, Do with the brave departed souls that cannot swing a sword? Why turned the balls aside from me? Why struck no hostile hand My head within its turban green upon the ruddy sand? I stood all potent yesterday; my bravest captains three, All stirless in their tigered selle, magnificent to see, Hailed as before my gilded tent rose flowing to the gales, Shorn from the tameless desert steeds, three dark and tossing tails. But yesterday a hundred drums were heard when I went by; Full forty agas turned their looks respectful on mine eye, And trembled with contracted brows within their hall of state. Instead of heavy catapults, of slow unwieldy weight, I had bright cannons rolling on oak wheels in threatening tiers, And calm and steady by their sides marched English cannoniers. But yesterday, and I had towns, and castles strong and high, And Greeks in thousands, for the base and merciless to buy. But yesterday, and arsenals and harems were my own; While now, defeated and proscribed, deserted and alone, I flee away, a fugitive, and of my former power, Allah! I have not now at least one battlemented tower. And must he fly—the grand vizier! the pasha of three tails! O'er the horizon's bounding hills, where distant vision fails, All stealthily, with eyes on earth, and shrinking from the sight, As a nocturnal robber holds his dark and breathless flight, And thinks he sees the gibbet spread its arms in solemn wrath, In every tree that dimly throws its shadow on his path!
Thus, after his defeat, pale Reschid speaks. Among the dead we mourned a thousand Greeks. Lone from the field the Pasha fled afar, And, musing, wiped his reeking scimitar; His two dead steeds upon the sands were flung, And on their sides their empty stirrups hung.
W.D., Bentley's Miscellany, 1839.
THE GREEK BOY.
("Les Turcs ont passes la.")
[XVIII., June 10, 1828.]
All is a ruin where rage knew no bounds: Chio is levelled, and loathed by the hounds, For shivered yest'reen was her lance; Sulphurous vapors envenom the place Where her true beauties of Beauty's true race Were lately linked close in the dance.
Dark is the desert, with one single soul; Cerulean eyes! whence the burning tears roll In anguish of uttermost shame, Under the shadow of one shrub of May, Splashed still with ruddy drops, bent in decay Where fiercely the hand of Lust came.
"Soft and sweet urchin, still red with the lash Of rein and of scabbard of wild Kuzzilbash, What lack you for changing your sob— If not unto laughter beseeming a child— To utterance milder, though they have defiled The graves which they shrank not to rob?
"Would'st thou a trinket, a flower, or scarf, Would'st thou have silver? I'm ready with half These sequins a-shine in the sun! Still more have I money—if you'll but speak!" He spoke: and furious the cry of the Greek, "Oh, give me your dagger and gun!"
ZARA, THE BATHER
("Sara, belle d'indolence.")
[XIX., August, 1828.]
In a swinging hammock lying, Lightly flying, Zara, lovely indolent, O'er a fountain's crystal wave There to lave Her young beauty—see her bent.
As she leans, so sweet and soft, Flitting oft, O'er the mirror to and fro, Seems that airy floating bat, Like a feather From some sea-gull's wing of snow.
Every time the frail boat laden With the maiden Skims the water in its flight, Starting from its trembling sheen, Swift are seen A white foot and neck so white.
As that lithe foot's timid tips Quick she dips, Passing, in the rippling pool, (Blush, oh! snowiest ivory!) Frolic, she Laughs to feel the pleasant cool.
Here displayed, but half concealed— Half revealed, Each bright charm shall you behold, In her innocence emerging, As a-verging On the wave her hands grow cold.
For no star howe'er divine Has the shine Of a maid's pure loveliness, Frightened if a leaf but quivers As she shivers, Veiled with naught but dripping trees.
By the happy breezes fanned See her stand,— Blushing like a living rose, On her bosom swelling high If a fly Dare to seek a sweet repose.
In those eyes which maiden pride Fain would hide, Mark how passion's lightnings sleep! And their glance is brighter far Than the star Brightest in heaven's bluest deep.
O'er her limbs the glittering current In soft torrent Rains adown the gentle girl, As if, drop by drop, should fall, One and all From her necklace every pearl.
Lengthening still the reckless pleasure At her leisure, Care-free Zara ever slow As the hammock floats and swings Smiles and sings, To herself, so sweet and low.
"Oh, were I a capitana, Or sultana, Amber should be always mixt In my bath of jewelled stone, Near my throne, Griffins twain of gold betwixt.
"Then my hammock should be silk, White as milk; And, more soft than down of dove, Velvet cushions where I sit Should emit Perfumes that inspire love.
"Then should I, no danger near, Free from fear, Revel in my garden's stream; Nor amid the shadows deep Dread the peep, Of two dark eyes' kindling gleam.
"He who thus would play the spy, On the die For such sight his head must throw; In his blood the sabre naked Would be slaked, Of my slaves of ebon brow.
"Then my rich robes trailing show As I go, None to chide should be so bold; And upon my sandals fine How should shine Rubies worked in cloth-of-gold!"
Fancying herself a queen, All unseen, Thus vibrating in delight; In her indolent coquetting Quite forgetting How the hours wing their flight.
As she lists the showery tinkling Of the sprinkling By her wanton curvets made; Never pauses she to think Of the brink Where her wrapper white is laid.
To the harvest-fields the while, In long file, Speed her sisters' lively band, Like a flock of birds in flight Streaming light, Dancing onward hand in hand.
And they're singing, every one, As they run This the burden of their lay: "Fie upon such idleness! Not to dress Earlier on harvest-day!"
JOHN L. O'SULLIVAN.
Squirrel, mount yon oak so high, To its twig that next the sky Bends and trembles as a flower! Strain, O stork, thy pinion well,— From thy nest 'neath old church-bell, Mount to yon tall citadel, And its tallest donjon tower! To your mountain, eagle old, Mount, whose brow so white and cold, Kisses the last ray of even! And, O thou that lov'st to mark Morn's first sunbeam pierce the dark, Mount, O mount, thou joyous lark— Joyous lark, O mount to heaven! And now say, from topmost bough, Towering shaft, and peak of snow, And heaven's arch—O, can you see One white plume that like a star, Streams along the plain afar, And a steed that from the war Bears my lover back to me?
JOHN L. O'SULLIVAN.
THE LOVER'S WISH.
("Si j'etais la feuille.")
[XXII., September, 1828.]
Oh! were I the leaf that the wind of the West, His course through the forest uncaring; To sleep on the gale or the wave's placid breast In a pendulous cradle is bearing.
All fresh with the morn's balmy kiss would I haste, As the dewdrops upon me were glancing; When Aurora sets out on the roseate waste, And round her the breezes are dancing.
On the pinions of air I would fly, I would rush Thro' the glens and the valleys to quiver; Past the mountain ravine, past the grove's dreamy hush, And the murmuring fall of the river.
By the darkening hollow and bramble-bush lane, To catch the sweet breath of the roses; Past the land would I speed, where the sand-driven plain 'Neath the heat of the noonday reposes.
Past the rocks that uprear their tall forms to the sky, Whence the storm-fiend his anger is pouring; Past lakes that lie dead, tho' the tempest roll nigh, And the turbulent whirlwind be roaring.
On, on would I fly, till a charm stopped my way, A charm that would lead to the bower; Where the daughter of Araby sings to the day, At the dawn and the vesper hour.
Then hovering down on her brow would I light, 'Midst her golden tresses entwining; That gleam like the corn when the fields are bright, And the sunbeams upon it shining.
A single frail gem on her beautiful head, I should sit in the golden glory; And prouder I'd be than the diadem spread Round the brow of kings famous in story.
V., Eton Observer.
THE SACKING OF THE CITY.
("La flamme par ton ordre, O roi!")
[XXIII., November, 1825.]
Thy will, O King, is done! Lighting but to consume, The roar of the fierce flames drowned even the shouts and shrieks; Reddening each roof, like some day-dawn of bloody doom, Seemed they in joyous flight to dance about their wrecks.
Slaughter his thousand giant arms hath tossed on high, Fell fathers, husbands, wives, beneath his streaming steel; Prostrate, the palaces, huge tombs of fire, lie, While gathering overhead the vultures scream and wheel!
Died the pale mothers, and the virgins, from their arms, O Caliph, fiercely torn, bewailed their young years' blight; With stabs and kisses fouled, all their yet quivering charms, At our fleet coursers' heels were dragged in mocking flight.
Lo! where the city lies mantled in pall of death; Lo! where thy mighty hand hath passed, all things must bend! Priests prayed, the sword estopped blaspheming breath, Vainly their cheating book for shield did they extend.
Some infants yet survived, and the unsated steel Still drinks the life-blood of each whelp of Christian-kind, To kiss thy sandall'd foot, O King, thy people kneel, And golden circlets to thy victor-ankle bind.
JOHN L. O'SULLIVAN.
NOORMAHAL THE FAIR.
("Entre deux rocs d'un noir d'ebene.")
[XXVII., November, 1828.]
Between two ebon rocks Behold yon sombre den, Where brambles bristle like the locks Of wool between the horns of scapegoat banned by men!