ePub 版


I was the eldest of the three,
And to uphold and cheer the rest
I ought to do - and did
my best,
And each did well in his degree.

The youngest, whom my father loved,
Because our mother's brow was given
To him with eyes as blue as heaven,
For him my soul was sorely moved:
And truly might it be distress'd

To see such bird in such a nest;
For he was beautiful as day

(When day was beautiful to me
As to young eagles, being free)
A polar day, which will not see
A sunset till its summer's gone,


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Its sleepless summer of long light,
The snow-clad offspring of the sun!

And thus he was as pure and bright,
And in his natural spirit gay,
With tears for nought but others' ills,
And then they flow'd like mountain rills,
Unless he could assuage the woe

Which he abhorr'd to view below.

The other was as pure of mind,
But form'd to combat with his kind;
Strong in his frame, and of a mood
Which 'gainst the world in war had stood,
And perish'd in the foremost rank

With joy : — but not in chains to pine:
His spirit wither'd with their clank,
I saw it silently decline-

And so perchance in sooth did mine:
But yet I forced it on to cheer
Those relics of a home so dear.
He was a hunter of the hills,

Had follow'd there the deer and wolf;

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Wash through the bars when winds were high
And wanton in the happy sky;

And then the very rock hath rock'd,
And I have felt it shake, unshock'd,

Because I could have smiled to see
The death that would have set me free.


I said my nearer brother pined,

I said his mighty heart declined,
He loathed and put away his food;
It was not that 'twas coarse and rude,
For we were used to hunter's fare,
And for the like had little care:
The milk drawn from the mountain goat
Was changed for water from the moat,
Our bread was such as captives' tears
Have moisten'd many a thousand years,
Since man first pent his fellow-men
Like brutes within an iron den;
But what were these to us or him?
These wasted not his heart or limb;
My brother's soul was of that mould





Which in a palace had grown cold,
Had his free breathing been denied
The range of the steep mountain's side;
But why delay the truth? he died.
I saw, and could not hold his head,
Nor reach his dying hand
nor dead
Though hard I strove, but strove in vain,
To rend and gnash my bonds in twain.
He died and they unlock'd his chain,
And scoop'd for him a shallow grave
Even from the cold earth of our cave.
I begg'd them, as a boon, to lay
His corse in dust whereon the day
Might shine it was a foolish thought,
But then within my brain it wrought,
That even in death his freeborn breast

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In such a dungeon could not rest.

I might have spared my idle prayer —
They coldly laugh'd — and laid him there:
The flat and turfless earth above

The being we so much did love;
His empty chain above it leant,
Such murder's fitting monument!


But he, the favourite and the flower,
Most cherish'd since his natal hour,
His mother's image in fair face,
The infant love of all his race,
His martyr'd father's dearest thought,
My latest care, for whom I sought
To hoard my life, that his might be
Less wretched now, and one day free;
He, too, who yet had held untired
A spirit natural or inspired -
He, too, was struck, and day by day
Was wither'd as the stalk away.
Oh, God! it is a fearful thing
To see the human soul take wing
In any shape, in any mood:





I've seen it rushing forth in blood,
I've seen it on the breaking ocean
Strive with a swoln convulsive motion,
I've seen the sick and ghastly bed
Of sin delirious with its dread:

But these were horrors - this was woe
Unmix'd with such - but sure and slow:
He faded, and so calm and meek,

So softly worn, so sweetly weak,

So tearless, yet so tender— kind,
And grieved for those he left behind;
With all the while a cheek whose bloom
Was as a mockery of the tomb,
Whose tints as gently sunk away
As a departing rainbow's ray-
An eye of most transparent light,
That almost made the dungeon bright,
And not a word of murmur not
A groan o'er his untimely lot,
A little talk of better days,

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I call'd, for I was wild with fear;

I knew 'twas hopeless, but my dread
Would not be thus admonished;
I call'd and thought I heard a sound —
I burst my chain with one strong bound,
And rush'd to him:- - I found him not,
I only stirred in this black spot,
I only lived - I only drew
The accursed breath of dungeon-dew;
The last the sole — the dearest link
Between me and the eternal brink,
Which bound me to my failing race,
Was broken in this fatal place.





One on the earth, and one beneath -
My brothers- both had ceased to breathe:
I took that hand which lay so still,
Alas! my own was full as chill;
I had not strength to stir, or strive,
But felt that I was still alive-
A frantic feeling, when we know
That what we love shall ne'er be so.
I know not why

I could not die,

I had no earthly hope—but faith,
And that forbade a selfish death.


What next befell me then and there
I know not well- I never knew—
First came the loss of light, and air,


And then of darkness too :
I had no thought, no feeling - none-
Among the stones I stood a stone,
And was, scarce conscious what I wist,
As shrubless crags within the mist;
For all was blank, and bleak, and gray;
It was not night - it was not day;
was not even the dungeon-light,
So hateful to my heavy sight,
But vacancy absorbing space,
And fixedness—without a place :

There were no stars

no earth — no time—

No check- no change — no good—no crime
But silence, and a stirless breath

Which neither was of life nor death;

A sea of stagnant idleness,

Blind, boundless, mute, and motionless!


A light broke in upon my brain,
It was the carol of a bird;

It ceased, and then it came again,
The sweetest song ear ever heard,





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