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Here didst thou dwell, here schemes of pleasure plan,
Beneath yon mountain's ever-beauteous brow:
But now, as if a thing unblest by man,
Thy fairy dwelling is as lone as thou!
Here giant weeds a passage scarce allow
To halls deserted, portals gaping wide:
Fresh lessons to the thinking bosom, how
Vain are the pleasaunces on earth supplied;
Swept into wrecks anon by time's ungentle tide!
Behold the hall where chiefs were late convened! 4
Oh! dome displeasing unto British eye!
With diadem hight foolscap, lo! a fiend,
A little fiend that scoffs incessantly,
There sits in parchment robe array'd, and by
His side is hung a seal and sable scroll,
Where blazon'd glare names known to chivalry,
And sundry signatures adorn the roll,
Whereat the urchin points, and laughs with all his soul.
Convention is the dwarfish demon styled
That foil'd the knights in Marialva's dome :
Of brains (if brains they had) he them beguiled,
And turned a nation's shallow joy to gloom.
Here folly dash'd to earth the victor's plume,
And policy regain'd what arms had lost :
For chiefs like ours in vain may laurels bloom!
Woe to the conqu'ring, not the conquer'd host,
Since baffled triumph droops on Lusitania's coast!
And ever since that martial synod met,
Britannia sickens, Cintra! at thy name;
And folks in office at the mention fret,
And fain would blush, if blush they could, for shame.
How will posterity the deed proclaim!
Will not our own and fellow-nations sneer,
To view these champions cheated of their fame,
By foes in fight o'erthrown, yet victors here,
Where scorn her finger points through many a coming year?
So deem'd the Childe, as o'er the mountains he
Did take his way in solitary guise :
Sweet was the scene, yet soon he thought to flee,
More restless than the swallow in the skies:
Though here awhile he learn'd to moralise,
For meditation fix'd at times on him;
And conscious reason whisper'd to despise
His early youth, mispent in maddest whim;
But as he gazed on truth his aching eyes grew dim.
To horse! to horse! he quits, for ever quits
A scene of peace, though soothing to his soul:
Again he rouses from his moping fits,
But seeks not now the harlot and the bowl.
Onward he flies, nor fix'd as yet the goal
Where he shall rest him on his pilgrimage;
And o'er him many changing scenes must roll
Ere toil his thirst for travel can assuage,
Or he shall calm his breast, or learn experience sage.
Yet Mafra shall one moment claim delay," Where dwelt of yore the Lusian's luckless queen; And church and court did mingle their array, And mass and revel were alternate seen; Lordlings and freres-ill-sorted fry I ween! But here the Babylonian whore hath built A dome, where flaunts she in such glorious sheen, That men forget the blood which she hath spilt, And bow the knee to pomp that loves to varnish guilt.
O'er vales that teem with fruits, romantic hills,
(Oh, that such hills upheld a freeborn race!)
Whereon to gaze the eye with joyaunce fills,
Childe Harold wends through many a pleasant place.
Though sluggards deem it but a foolish chase,
And marvel men should quit their easy chair,
The toilsome way, and long, long league to trace,
Oh! there is sweetness in the mountain air,
And life, that bloated ease can never hope to share.
More bleak to view the hills at length recede,
And, less luxuriant, smoother vales extend:
Immense horizon-bounded plains succeed!
Far as the eye discerns, withouten end,
Spain's realms appear, whereon her shepherds tend
Flocks, whose rich fleece right well the trader knows-
Now must the pastor's arm his lamb defend :
For Spain is compass'd by unyielding foes,
And all must shield their all, or share subjection's woes.
Where Lusitania and her sister meet,
Deem ye what bounds the rival realms divide?
Or ere the jealous queens of nations greet,
Doth Tayo interpose his mighty tide?
Or dark Sierras rise in craggy pride?
Or fence of art, like China's vasty wall?—
Ne barrier wall, ne river deep and wide,
Ne horrid crags, nor mountains dark and tall,
Rise like the rocks that part Hispania's land from Gaul:
But these between a silver streamlet glides,
And scarce a name distinguisheth the brook,
Though rival kingdoms press its verdant sides.
Here leans the idle shepherd on his crook,
And vacant on the rippling waves doth look,
That peaceful still 'twixt bitterest foemen flow;
For proud each peasant as the noblest duke:
Well doth the Spanish hind the difference know
'Twixt him and Lusian slave, the lowest of the low."
But, ere the mingling bounds have far been pass'd,
Dark Guadiana rolls his power along
In sullen billows, murmuring and vast,
So noted ancient roundelays among.
Whilome upon his banks did legions throng
Of Moor and knight, in mailed splendour drest :
Here ceased the swift their race, here sunk the strong:
The Paynim turban and the Christian crest
Mix'd on the bleeding stream, by floating hosts oppress'd.
Oh, lovely Spain! renown'd, romantic land!
Where is that standard which Pelagio bore,
When Cava's traitor-sire first called the band
That dyed thy mountain streams with Gothic gore??
Where are those bloody banners which of yore
Waved o'er thy sons, victorious to the gale,
And drove at last the spoilers to their shore?
Red gleam'd the cross, and waned the crescent pale, While Afric's echoes thrill'd with Moorish matron's wail.
Teems not each ditty with the glorious tale?
Ah! such, alas! the hero's amplest fate!
When granite moulders and when records fail,
A peasant's plaint prolongs his dubious date.
Pride! bend thine eye from heaven to thine estate,
See how the mighty shrink into a song!
Can volume, pillar, pile preserve thee great ?
Or must thou trust tradition's simple tongue,
When flattery sleeps with thee, and history does thee wrong?
Awake, ye sons of Spain! awake! advance!
Lo! Chivalry, your ancient goddess, cries,
But wields not, as of old, her thirsty lance,
Nor shakes her crimson plumage in the skies:
Now on the smoke of blazing bolts she flies,
And speaks in thunder through yon engine's roar :
In every peal she calls-" Awake! arise!"
Say, is her voice more feeble than of yore,
When her war-song was heard on Andalusia's shore!
Hark! heard you not those hoofs of dreadful note?
Sounds not the clang of conflict on the heath?
Saw ye not whom the reeking sabre smote;
Nor saved your brethren ere they sank beneath
Tyrants and tyrants' slaves?-the fires of death,
The bale-fires flash on high:-from rock to rock
Each volley tells that thousands cease to breathe;
Death rides upon the sulphury siroc,
Red battle stamps his foot, and nations feel the shock.
Lo! where the giant on the mountain stands,
His blood-red tresses deep'ning in the sun,
With death-shot glowing in his fiery hands,
And eye that scorcheth all it glares upon;
Restless it rolls, now fix'd, and now anon
Flashing afar,—and at his iron feet
Destruction cowers to mark what deeds are done;
For on this morn three potent nations meet,
To shed before his shrine the blood he deems most sweet.
By heaven! it is a splendid sight to see
(For one who hath no friend, no brother there) Their rival scarfs of mix'd embroidery,
Their various arms that glitter in the air!
What gallant war-hounds rouse them from their lair,
And gnash their fangs, loud yelling for the prey!
All join the chase, but few the triumph share;
The grave shall bear the chiefest prize away,
And havock scarce for joy can number their array.
Three hosts combine to offer sacrifice;
Three tongues prefer strange orisons on high;
Three gaudy standards flout the pale blue skies;
The shouts are France, Spain, Albion, Victory!
The foe, the victim, and the fond ally
That fights for all, but ever fights in vaîn,
Are met as if at home they could not die—
To feed the crow on Talavera's plain,
And fertilize the field that each pretends to gain.
There shall they rot-ambition's honour'd fools!
Yes, honour decks the turf that wraps their clay!
Vain sophistry! in these behold the tools,
The broken tools, that tyrants cast away
By myriads, when they dare to pave their way
With human hearts-to what?- -a dream alone.
Can despots compass aught that hails their sway?
Or call with truth one span of earth their own,
Save that wherein at last they crumble bone by bone?