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The turban on his hot brow press'd,
The mail weigh'd lead-like on his breast,
Though oft and long beneath its weight
had slumber sate, Without or couch or canopy, Except a rougher field and sky Than now might yield a warrior's bed, Than now along the heaven was spread. He could not rest, he could not stay Within his tent to wait for day, But walk'd him forth along the sand, Where thousand sleepers strew'd the strand. What pillow'd them ? and why should he More wakeful than the humblest be? Since more their peril, worse their toil, And yet they fearless dream of spoil ; While he alone, where thousands pass'd A night of sleep, perchance their last, In sickly vigil wander'd on, And envied
all he gazed upon.
He felt his soul become more light
Beneath the freshness of the night,
Cool was the silent sky, though calm,
And bathed his brow with airy balm :
Behind, the camp-before him lay,
In many a winding creek and bay,
Lepanto's gulf; and, on the brow
Of Delphi's hill, unshaken snow,
High and eternal, such as shone
Through thousand summers brightly gone,
Along the gulf, the mount, the clime :
It will not melt, like man, to time.
Tyrant and slave are swept away,
Less form'd to wear before the ray;
But that white veil, the lightest, frailest,
Which on the mighty mount thou hailest,
While tower and tree are torn and rent,
Shines o'er its
In form a peak, in height a cloud,
In texture like a hovering shroud,
Thus high by parting Freedom spread,
As from her fond abode she fled,
And linger'd on the spot, where long
Her prophet spirit spake in song.
Oh, still her step at moments falters
O'er wither'd fields and ruin'd altars,
And fain would wake, in souls too broken,
By pointing to each glorious token,
But vain her voice, till better days
Dawn in those yet remember'd rays
the Persian flying, And saw the Spartan smile in dying.
Not mindless of these mighty times Was Alp, despite his flight and crimes ; And through this night, as on he wander'd, And o'er the past and present ponder'd, And thought upon the glorious dead Who there in better cause had bled, He felt how faint and feebly dim The fame that could accrue to him, Who cheer'd the band and waved the sword, A traitor in a turban'd horde ; And led them to the lawless siege, Whose best success were sacrilege. Not so had those his fancy number'd, The chiefs whose dust around him slumber'd; Their phalanx marshallid on the plain, Whose bulwarks were not then in vain. They fell devoted, but undying ; The very gale their names seem'd sighing ; The waters murmur'd of their name; The woods were peopled with their fame; The silent pillar, lone and gray, Claim'd kindred with their sacred clay; Their spirits wrapt the dusky mountain ; Their memory sparkled o'er the fountain ; The meanest rill, the mightiest river Roll'd mingling with their fame for ever. Despite of every yoke she bears, That land is glory's still, and theirs ! 'T is still a watch-word to the earth. When man would do a deed of worth, He points to Greece, and turns to tread, So sanction’d, on the tyrant's head; He looks to her, and rushes on Where life is lost, or freedom won.
Still by the shore Alp mutely mused,
And woo'd the freshness night diffused.
There shrinks no ebb in that tideless sea,
Which changeless rolls eternally;
So that wildest of waves, in their angriest mood,
Scarce break on the bounds of the land for a rood;
And the powerless moon beholds them flow,
Heedless if she come or go :
Calm or high, in main or bay,
On their course she hath no sway.
The rock unworn its base doth bare,
And looks o'er the surf, but it comes not there;
And the fringe of the foam may be seen below,
On the line that it left long ages ago :
A smooth short space of yellow sand
Between it and the
He wander'd on, along the beach,
Till within the range of a carbine's reach
Of the leaguer'd wall; but they saw him not,
Or how could he 'scape from the hostile shot?
Did traitors lurk in the Christians' hold?
Were their hands grown stiff, or their hearts wax'd cold?
I know not, in sooth; but from yonder wall
There flash'd no fire, and there hiss'd no ball,
Though he stood beneath the bastion's frown
That flank'd the sea-ward gate of the town,
Though he heard the sound, and could almost tell
The sullen words of the sentinel,
And his measured step on the stone below,
Clank'd, as he paced it to and fro:
And he saw the lean dogs beneath the wall
Hold o'er the dead their carnival,
Gorging and growling o'er carcase and limb;
They were too busy to bark at him!
From a Tartar's skull they had stripp'd the flesh,
ye peel the fig when its fruit is fresh;
And their white tusks crunch'd o'er the whiter skull, 4
As it slipp'd through their jaws when their edge grew dull,
As they lazily mumbled the bones of the dead,
When they scarce could rise from the spot where they fed;
So well had they broken a lingering fast
With those who had fallen for that night's repast;
And Alp knew, by the turbans that rolld on the sand,
The foremost of these were the best of his band :
Crimson and green were the shawls of their wear,
And each scalp had a single long tuft of hair, 5
All the rest was shaven and bare.
The scalps were in the wild dog's maw,
The hair was tangled round his jaw.
But close by the shore on the edge of the gulf,
There sat a vulture flapping a wolf,
Who had stolen from the hills, but kept away,
Scared by the dogs, from the human prey ;
But he seized on his share of a steed that lay,
Pick'd by the birds, on the sands of the bay.
Alp turn'd him from the sickening sight:
Never had shaken his nerves in fight;
But he better could brook to behold the dying
Deep in the tide of their warm blood lying,
Scorch'd with the death-thirst, and writhing in vain,
Than the perishing dead who are past all pain.
There is something of pride in the perilous hour,
Whate'er be the shape in which death
For Fame is there to say who bleeds,
And Honour's eye on daring deeds ;
But when all is past, it is humbling to tread
O'er the weltering field of the tombless dead,
And see worms of the earth, and fowls of the air,
Beasts of the forest, all gathering there ;
All regarding man as their prey,
All rejoicing in his decay.
There is a temple in ruin stands,
Fashion'd by long-forgotten hands;
Two or three columns, and many a stone,
Marble and granite, with grass o'ergrown!
time! it will leave no more
Of the things to come than the things before !
time! who for ever will leave But enough of the past for the future to griere O'er that which hath been, and o'er that which must be. What we have seen, our sons shall see; Remnants of things that have pass'd away, Fragments of stone, rear'd by creatures of clay!
He sate him down at a pillar's base,
And pass’d his hand athwart his face;
Like one in dreary musing mood,
Declining was his attitude;
His head was dropping on his breast,
Fever'd, throbbing, and opprest;
And o'er his brow, so downward bent,
Oft his beating fingers went,
Hurriedly, as you may see
Your own run over the ivory key,
Ere the measured tone is taken
By the chords you would awaken.
There he sate all heavily,
As he heard the night-wind sigh.
Was it the wind, through some hollow stone,
Sent that soft and tender moan?
He lifted his head, and he look'd on the sea,
But it was unrippled as glass may be ;
He look'd on the long grass it waved not a blade ;
How was that gentle sound convey'd ?
He look'd to the banners—each flag lay still,
So did the leaves on Cithæron's hill,
And he felt not a breath come over his cheek.
What did that sudden sound bespeak?
He turn'd to the left—is he sure of sight?
There sate a lady, youthful and bright!
He started up with more of fear
Than if an armed foe were near.
“ God of my fathers ! what is here?
Who art thou, and wherefore sent
So near a hostile armament?”
His trembling hands refused to sign
The cross he deem'd no more divine :
He had resumed it in that hour,
But conscience wrung away
He gazed, he saw : he knew the face
Of beauty, and the form of grace ;
It was Francesca by his side,
The maid who might have been his bride!
The rose was yet upon her cheek,
But mellow'd with a tenderer streak:
Where was the play of her soft lips fled ?
Gone was the smile that enliven’d their red.
The ocean's calm within their view,
had less of blue;
But like that cold wave it stood still,
And its glance, though clear, was chill.
Around her form a thin robe twining,
Nought conceal'd her bosom shining;
Through the parting of her hair,
Floating darkly downward there,
Her rounded arm show'd white and bare :
And ere yet she made reply,
Once she raised her hand on high;
It was so wan, and transparent of hue,
You might have seen the moon shine through.