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LXXXII.

The city's taken-only part by part

And death is drunk with gore: there's not a street Where fights not to the last some desperate heart For those for whom it soon shall cease to beat. Here War forgot his own destructive art

In more destroying nature; and the heat Of carnage, like the Nile's sun-sodden slime, Engender'd monstrous shapes of every crime. LXXXIII.

A Russian officer, in martial tread

Over a heap of bodies, felt his heel
Seized fast, as if 't were by the Serpent's head,

Whose fangs Eve taught her human seed to feel.
In vain he kick'd, and swore, and writhed, and bled,
And howl'd for help as wolves do for a meal-
The teeth still kept their gratifying hold,
As do the subtle snakes described of old.

LXXXIV.

A dying Moslem, who had felt the foot
Of a foe o'er him, snatch'd at it, and bit
The very tendon which is most acute-

(That which some ancient muse or modern wit
Named after thee, Achilles) and quite through 't
He made the teeth meet; nor relinquish'd it
Even with his life-for (but they lie) 't is said
To the live leg still clung the sever'd head.

LXXXV.

However this may be, 't is pretty sure

The Russian officer for life was lamed,

For the Turk's teeth stuck faster than a skewer, And left him 'midst the invalid and maim'd:

The regimental surgeon could not cure

His patient, and perhaps was to be blamed More than the head of the inveterate foe, Which was cut off, and scarce even then let go. LXXXVI.

But then the fact's a fact-and 't is the part
Of a true poet to escape from fiction
Whene'er he can; for there is little art

In leaving verse more free from the restriction Of truth than prose, unless to suit the mart

For what is sometimes call'd poetic diction,
And that outrageous appetite for lies
Which Satan angles with for souls like flies.

LXXXVII.

The city's taken, but not render'd!-No!
There's not a Moslem that hath yielded sword:
The blood may gush out, as the Danube's flow
Rolls by the city wall; but deed nor word
Acknowledge aught of dread of death or foe:
In vain the yell of victory is roar'd
By the advancing Muscovite-the groan
Of the last foe is echoed by his own.
LXXXVIII.

The bayonet pierces and the sabre cleaves,
And human lives are lavish'd every where,
As the year closing whirls the scarlet leaves
When the stripp'd forest bows to the bleak air,
And groans; and thus the peopled city grieves,
Shorn of its best and loveliest, and left bare;
But still it falls with vast and awful splinters,
As oaks blown down with all their thousand winters.

LXXXIX.

It is an awful topic-but 't is not

My cue for any time to be terrific: For chequer'd as is seen our human lot With good, and bad, and worse, alike prolific Of melancholy merriment, to quote

Too much of one sort would be soporific;Without, or with, offence to friends or foes, I sketch your world exactly as it goes.

XC.

And one good action in the midst of crimes
Is a quite refreshing »-in the affected phrase
Of these ambrosial, Pharisaic times,

With all their pretty milk-and-water ways,—
And may serve therefore to bedew these rhymes,
A little scorch'd at present with the blaze
Of conquest and its consequences, which
Make epic poesy so rare and rich.

XCI.

Upon a taken bastion, where there lay

Thousands of slaughter'd men, a yet warm group Of murder'd women, who had found their way To this vain refuge, made the good heart droop And shudder;-while, as beautiful as May,

A female child of ten years tried to stoop And hide her little palpitating breast Amidst the bodies lull'd in bloody rest.

XCII.

Two villanous Cossacks pursued the child
With flashing eyes and weapons: match'd with them,
The rudest brute that roams Siberia's wild

Has feelings pure and polish'd as a gem,-
The bear is civilized, the wolf is mild;

And whom for this at last must we condemn? Their natures, or their sovereigns, who employ All arts to teach their subjects to destroy?

XCII.

Their sabres glitter'd o'er her little head,

Whence her fair hair rose twining with affright, Her hidden face was plunged amidst the dead : When Juan caught a glimpse of this sad sight, I shall not exactly say what he said,

Because it might not solace «<ears polite;» !ut what he did, was to lay on their backs,The readiest way of reasoning with Cossacks.

XCIV.

One's hip he slash'd, and split the other's shoulder,
And drove them with their brutal yells to seek
If there might be chirurgeons who could solder
The wounds they richly merited, and shriek
Their baffled rage and pain; while waxing colder
As he turn'd o'er each pale and gory cheek,
Don Juan raised his little captive from
The heap a moment more had made her tomb.

XCV.

And she was chill as they, aud on her face

A slender streak of blood announced how near Her fate had been to that of all her race;

For the same blow which laid her mother here Had scarr'd her brow, and left its crimson trace As the last link with all she had held dear; But else unhurt, she open'd her large eyes, And gazed on Juan with a wild surprise.

XCVI.

Just at this instant, while their eyes were fix'd
Upon each other, with dilated glance,
In Juan's look, pain, pleasure, hope, fear, mix'd
With joy to save, and dread of some mischance
Unto his protégée; while hers, trausfix'd

With infant terrors, glared as from a trance,
A pure, transparent, pale, yet radiant face,
Like to a lighted alabaster vase;—

XCVII

Up came John Jobuson-(I will not say «Jack, » For that were vulgar, cold, and common-place

On great occasions, such as an attack

On cities, as hath been the present case) —— Up Johnson came, with hundreds at his back, Exclaiming :—« Juan! Juan! On, boy! brace Your arm, and I'll bet Moscow to a dollar, That you and I will win Saint George's collar.8 XCVIII

The Seraskier is knock'd upon the head, But the stone bastion still remains, wherein The old pacha sits among some hundreds dead, Smoking his pipe quite calmly 'midst the din Of our artillery and his own: 't is said

Our kill'd, already piled up to the chin, Lie round the battery; but still it batters, And grape in volleys, like a vineyard, scatters.

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Done, I'll not quit her till she seems secure
of present life a good deal more than we
-Neither will I quite ensure;
Quoth Johnson -
But at the least you may die gloriously.»
Juan replied-«At least I will endure
Whate'er is to be borne-but not resign
This child, who is parentless, and therefore mine.»
CL

Johnson said-« Juan, we 've no time to lose;
The child's a pretty child-a very pretty-
I never saw such eyes-but hark! now chuse
Between your fame and feelings, pride and pity:
Hark! how the roar inere ises!—no excuse

Will serve when there is plunder in a city :—
Eshould be loth to in arch without you, but,
By God! we ll be too late for the first cut »

CIL

But Juan was immovable; until

Johnson, who really loved him in his way, Pick'd out amongst his followers with some skill Such as he thought the least given up to prey : And swearing if the infant came to ill

That they should all be shot on the next day. But if she were deliver'd safe and sound, They should at least have fifty roubles round,

CIII.

And all allowances besides of plunder

In fair proportion with their comrades;-then Juan consented to march on through thunder, Which thinu'd at every step their ranks of men: And yet the rest rush'd eagerly-no wonder,

For they were heated by the hope of gain,
A thing which happens every where each day-
No hero trusteth wholly to half-pay.

CIV.

And such is victory, and such is man!

At least nine-tenths of what we call so;-God
May have another name for half we scan
As human beings, or his ways are odd.
But to our subject, a brave Tartar Khan,-
Or « sultan,» as the author (to whose nod
In prose I bend my humble verse) doth call
This chieftain-somehow would not yield at all
CV.

But, flank'd by five brave sons (such is polygamy,
That she spawns warriors by the score, where none
Are prosecuted for that false crime bigamy)
He never would believe the city won
While courage clung but to a single twig. -Am I
Describing Priam's, Peleus', or Jove's son?
Neither, but a good, plain, old, temperate man,
Who fought with his five children in the van.

CVI.

To take him was the point. The truly brave,
When they behold the brave oppress'd with odds,
Are touch'd with a desire to shield and save;-
A mixture of wild beasts and demi-gods
Are they-now furious as the sweeping wave,
Now moved with pity: even as sometimes nods
The rugged tree unto the summer wind,
Compassion breathes along the savage mind.

CVII

But he would not be taken, and replied
To all the propositions of surrender
By mowing Christians down on every side,
As obstinate as Swedish Charles at Bender.
His five brave boys no less the foe defied:
Whereon the Russian pathos grew less tender,
As being a virtue, like terrestrial patience,
Apt to wear out on trilling provocations.

CVIII.

And spite of Johnson and of Juan, who

Expended all their eastern phraseology In begging him, for God's sake, just to show So much less fight as might form an apology For them in saving such a desperate foe-

He how'd away, like doctors of theology When they dispute with sceptics; and with curses Struck at his friends, as babies be it their nurses.

CIX.

Nay, he had wounded, though but slightly, both
Juan and Johnson, whereupon they fell-
The first with sighs, the second with an oath-
Upon his angry sultanship, pell-mell,
And all around were grown exceeding wroth
At such a pertinacious infidel,

And pour'd upon him and his sons like rain,
Which they resisted like i sandy plain,-

CX.
That drinks and still is dry. At last they perish'd :-
His second son was levell'd by a shot;

His third was sabred; and the fourth, most cherish'd
Of all the five, on bayonets met his lot;
The fifth, who, by a Christian mother nourish'd,
Had been neglected, ill-used, and what not,
Because deform'd, yet died all game and bottom,
To save a sire who blush'd that he begot him.

CXI.

The eldest was a true and tameless Tartar,
As great a scorner of the Nazarene

As ever Mahomet pick'd out for a martyr,

Who only saw the black-eyed girls in green, Who make the beds of those who won't take quarter On earth, in Paradise; and, when once seen, Those houris, like all other pretty creatures, Do just whate'er they please, by dint of features.

CXII.

And what they pleased to do with the young Khan
In heaven, I know not, nor pretend to guess;
But doubtless they prefer a fine young man

To tough old heroes, and can do no less;
And that's the cause, no doubt, why, if we scan
A field of battle's ghastly wilderness,
For one rough, weather-beaten, veteran body,
You'll find ten thousand handsome coxcombs bloody.
CXIII.

Your houris also have a natural pleasure

In lopping off your lately married men
Before the bridal hours have danced their measure,
And the sad second moon grows dim again,
Or dull Repentance hath had dreary leisure

To wish him back a bachelor now and then.
And thus your houri (it may be) disputes
Of these brief blossoms the immediate fruits.

CXIV.

Thus the young Khan, with houris in his sight, Thought not upon the charms of four young brides, But bravely rush'd on his first heavenly night.

In short, howe'er our better faith derides, These black-eyed virgins make the Moslems fight, As though there were one heaven and none besides,Whereas, if all be true we hear of heaven And hell, there must at least be six or seven.

CXV.

So fully flash'd the phantom on his eyes,
That when the very lance was in his heart,
He shouted « Allah!» and saw Paradise

With all its veil of mystery drawn apart,
And bright eternity without disguise

On his soul, like a ceaseless sunrise, dart,-With prophets, houris, angels, saints, descried In one voluptuous blaze,—and then he died: CXVI.

But, with a heavenly rapture on his face,

The good old Khan-who long had ceased to see Houris, or aught except his florid race,

Who grew like cedars round him gloriouslyWhen he beheld his latest hero grace

The earth, which he became like a fell'd tree, Paused for a moment from the fight, and cast A glance on that slain son, his first and last.

CXVII.

The soldiers, who beheld him drop his point,
Stopp'd as if once more willing to concede
Quarter, in case he bade them not aroint!»
As he before had done. He did not heed
Their pause nor signs: his heart was out of joint,
And shook (till now unshaken) like a reed,
As he look'd down upon his children gone,
And felt-though done with life-he was alone.
CXVIII

But 't was a transient tremor :-with a spring
Upon the Russian steel his breast he flung,
As carelessly as hurls the moth her wing

Against the light wherein she dies: he clung
Closer, that all the deadlier they might wring,

Unto the bayonets which had pierced his young; And, throwing back a dim look on his sons, In one wide wound pour'd forth his soul at once. CXIX. 'Tis strange enough-the rough, tough soldiers, who Spared neither sex nor age in their career Of carnage, when this old man was pierced through, And lay before them with his children near, Touch'd by the heroism of him they slew,

Were melted for a moment; though no tear Flow'd from their blood-shot eyes, all red with strife, They honour'd such determined scorn of life. CXX.

But the stone bastion still kept up its fire,

Where the chief Pacha calmly held his post:
Some twenty times he made the Russ retire,
And baffled the assaults of all their host;
At length he condescended to inquire
If yet the city's rest were won or lost;
And, being told the latter, seut a Bey
To answer Riba's summons to give way.

CXXI.

In the mean time, cross-legg'd, with great sang-froid, Among the scorching ruins he sat smoking Tobacco on a little carpet;-Troy

Saw nothing like the scene around;-yet, looking With martial stoicism, nought seem'd to annoy His stern philosophy: but gently stroking His beard, he puffd his pipe's ambrosial gales, As if he had three lives as well as tails.

CXXII.

The town was taken-whether he might yield
Himself or bastion, little matter'd now;
His stubborn valour was no future shield.
Ismail is no more! The crescent's silver bow
Sunk, and the crimson cross glared o'er the field,
But red with no redeeming gore: the glow
Of burning streets, like moonlight on the water,
Was imaged back in blood, the sea of slaughter.

CXXII

All that the mind would shrink from of excesses;
All that the body perpetrates of bad;
All that we read, hear, dream, of man's distresses;
All that the devil would do if run stark mad;
All that defies the worst which pen expresses;
All by which hell is peopled, or as sad
As hell-mere mortals who their power abuse,-
Was here (as heretofore and since) let loose.

CXXIV.

If here and there some transient trait of pity,
Was shown, and some more noble heart broke through
Its bloody bond, and saved perhaps some pretty
Child, or an aged helpless man or two-
What's this in one annihilated city,

Where thousand loves, and ties, and duties grow?
Cockneys of London! Muscadins of Paris!
Just ponder what a pious pastime war is.
CXXV.

Think how the joys of reading a gazette

Are purchased by all agonies and crimes: Or, if these do not move you, don't forget

Such doom may be your own in after times. Meantime the taxes, Castlereagh, and debt,

Are hints as good as serious, or as rhymes. Read your own hearts and Ireland's present story, Then feed her famine fat with Wellesley's glory. CXXVI.

But still there is unto a patriot nation,

Which loves so well its country and its king, A subject of sublimest exultation

Bear it, ye Muses, on your brightest wing! Howe'er the mighty locust, Desolation,

Strip your green fields, and to your harvests cling, Gaunt Famine never shall approach the throneThough Ireland starve, great George weighs twenty stone.

CXXVII.

But let me put an end unto my theme:

There was an end of Ismail-hapless town! Far flash'd her burning towers o'er Danube's stream, And redly ran his blushing waters down. The horrid war-whoop and the shriller scream

Rose still; but fainter were the thunders grown: Of forty thousand who had mann'd the wall, Some hundreds breathed-the rest were silent all!

CXXVIII.

In one thing ne'ertheless 't is fit to praise
The Russian army upon this occasion,

A virtue much in fashion now-a-days,

And therefore worthy of commemoration: The topic 's tender, so shall be my phrasePerhaps the season's chill, and their long station In winter's depth, or want of rest and victual, Had made them chaste;-they ravish'd very little.

CXXIX.

Much did they slay, more plunder, and no less
Might here and there occur some violatiou
In the other line;-but not to such excess

As when the French, that dissipated nation,
Take towns by storm: no causes can I guess,
Except cold weather and commiseration;
But all the ladies, save some twenty score,
Were almost as much virgins as before.
CXXX.

Some odd mistakes too happen'd in the dark,
Which show'd a want of lanthorns, or of taste-
Indeed the smoke was such they scarce could mark
Their friends from foes,-besides such things from
haste

Occur, though rarely, when there is a spark
Of light to save the venerably chaste:-
But six old damsels, each of seventy years,
Were all deflower'd by different grenadiers.

CXXXI.

But on the whole their continence was great;
So that some disappointment there ensued
To those who had felt the inconvenient state

Of a single blessedness,» and thought it good (Since it was not their fault, but only fate,

To bear these crosses) for each waning prude To make a Roman sort of Sabine wedding, Without the expense and the suspense of bedding. CXXXII.

Some voices of the buxom middle-aged

Were also heard to wonder in the din
(Widows of forty were these birds long caged)
« Wherefore the ravishing did not begin!»
But, while the thirst for gore and plunder raged,
There was small leisure for superfluous sin;
But whether they escaped or no, lies hid
In darkness-I can only hope they did.
CXXXIII.

Suwarrow now was conqueror-a match
For Timor or for Zinghis in his trade,
While mosques and streets, beneath his eyes, like thatch
Blazed, and the cannon's roar was scarce allay'd,
With bloody hands he wrote his first dispatch;
And here exactly follows what he said :-
Glory to God and to the Empress!» (Powers
Eternal! such names mingled!) « Ismail 's ours '» 9
CXXXIV.

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He wrote this polar melody, and set it,

Duly accompanied by shrieks and groans,
Which few will sing, I trust, but none forget it-
For I will teach, if possible, the stones
To rise against earth's tyrants. Never let it

Be said, that we still truckle unto thrones;-
But ye-our children's children! think how we
Show'd what things were before the world was free!
CXXXVI.

That hour is not for us, but 't is for you;

And as, in the great joy of your millennium, You hardly will believe such things were true

As now occur, I thought that I would pen you 'em, But may their very memory perish too!

Yet, if perchance remember'd, still disdain you 'em, More than you scorn the savages of yore, Who painted their bare limbs, but not with

CXXXVIL

And when you hear historians talk of thrones, And those that sate upon them, let it be

gore.

As we now gaze upon the Mammoth's bones,
And wonder what old world such things could see:
Or hieroglyphics on Egyptian stones,

The pleasant riddles of futurity

Guessing at what shall happily be hid
As the real purpose of a pyramid.

CXXXVIII.

Reader! I have kept my word,—at least so far
As the first canto promised. You have now
Had sketches of love, tempest, travel, war-
All very accurate, you must allow,

And epic, if plain truth should prove no bar:
For I have drawn much less with a long bow
Than
my fore-runners. Carelessly I sing,
But Phoebus lends me now and then a string,

CXXXIX.

With which I still can harp, and carp, and fiddle. What further hath befallen or may befal

The hero of this grand poetic riddle,

I by and by may tell you, if at all:

But now I chuse to break off in the middle,

Worn out with battering Ismail's stubborn wall, While Juan is sent off with the dispatch, For which all Petersburgh is on the watch. CXL.

This special honour was conferr'd, because

He had behaved with courage and humanity;-
Which last men like, when they have time to pause
From their ferocities produced by vanity.
His little captive gain'd him some applause,
For saving her amidst the wild insanity

Of carnage, and I think he was more glad in her
Safety, than his new order of St Vladimir.
CXLI.

The Moslem orphan went with her protector,
For she was homeless, houseless, helpless: all
Her friends, like the sad family of Hector,
Had perish'd in the field or by the wall:
Her very place of birth was but a spectre

Of what it had been; there the Muezzin's call
To prayer was heard no more!-and Juan wept,
And made a vow to shield her, which he kept.

CANTO IX.

I.

OB, Wellington! (or « Vilainton>>-for fame
Sounds the heroic syllables both ways;
France could not even conquer your great name,
But punn'd it down to this facetious phrase-
Beating or beaten she will laugh the same)-

You have obtain'd great pensions and much praise;
Glory like yours should any dare gainsay,
Humanity would rise, and thunder « Nay! » 1

II.

I don't think that you used K-n-rd quite well
In Marinet's affair- in fact 't was shabby,
And, like some other things, won't do to tell
Upon your
tomb in Westminster's old abbey.
Upon the rest 't is not worth while to dwell,
Such tales being for the tea hours of some tabby;
But though your years as man tend fast to zero,
In fact your grace is still but a young hero.

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