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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
Whose fangs Eve taught her human seed to feel.
A dying Moslem, who had felt the foot
(That which some ancient muse or modern wit
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
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,
The city's taken, but not render'd!-No!
The bayonet pierces and the sabre cleaves,
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.
And one good action in the midst of crimes
With all their pretty milk-and-water ways,—
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.
Two villanous Cossacks pursued the child
Has feelings pure and polish'd as a gem,-
And whom for this at last must we condemn? Their natures, or their sovereigns, who employ All arts to teach their subjects to destroy?
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.
One's hip he slash'd, and split the other's shoulder,
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.
Just at this instant, while their eyes were fix'd
With infant terrors, glared as from a trance,
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.
Done, I'll not quit her till she seems secure
Johnson said-« Juan, we 've no time to lose;
Will serve when there is plunder in a city :—
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,
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,
And such is victory, and such is man!
At least nine-tenths of what we call so;-God
But, flank'd by five brave sons (such is polygamy,
To take him was the point. The truly brave,
But he would not be taken, and replied
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.
Nay, he had wounded, though but slightly, both
And pour'd upon him and his sons like rain,
His third was sabred; and the fourth, most cherish'd
The eldest was a true and tameless Tartar,
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.
And what they pleased to do with the young Khan
To tough old heroes, and can do no less;
Your houris also have a natural pleasure
In lopping off your lately married men
To wish him back a bachelor now and then.
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.
So fully flash'd the phantom on his eyes,
With all its veil of mystery drawn apart,
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.
The soldiers, who beheld him drop his point,
But 't was a transient tremor :-with a spring
Against the light wherein she dies: he clung
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:
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.
The town was taken-whether he might yield
All that the mind would shrink from of excesses;
If here and there some transient trait of pity,
Where thousand loves, and ties, and duties grow?
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.
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!
In one thing ne'ertheless 't is fit to praise
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.
Much did they slay, more plunder, and no less
As when the French, that dissipated nation,
Some odd mistakes too happen'd in the dark,
Occur, though rarely, when there is a spark
But on the whole their continence was great;
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
Suwarrow now was conqueror-a match
He wrote this polar melody, and set it,
Duly accompanied by shrieks and groans,
Be said, that we still truckle unto thrones;-
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
And when you hear historians talk of thrones, And those that sate upon them, let it be
As we now gaze upon the Mammoth's bones,
The pleasant riddles of futurity
Guessing at what shall happily be hid
Reader! I have kept my word,—at least so far
And epic, if plain truth should prove no bar:
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;-
Of carnage, and I think he was more glad in her
The Moslem orphan went with her protector,
Of what it had been; there the Muezzin's call
OB, Wellington! (or « Vilainton>>-for fame
You have obtain'd great pensions and much praise;
I don't think that you used K-n-rd quite well