ePub 版



With all that chilling mystery of mien, Of keen inquiry, and of mute amaze; And seeming gladness to remain unseen ; On Lara's glance emotion gathering grew, He had (if 'twere not nature's boon) an art As if distrusting that the stranger threw; Of fixing ieniory on another's heart:

Along the stranger's aspect fix'd and stern, It was not love perchance -- nor hate—nor Flash'd more than thence the vulgar eye aught

could learn. That words can image to express the thought; But they who saw him did not see in vain,

“ 'Tis he!” the stranger cried, and those And once beheld, would ask of him again:

that heard, And those to whom he spake remember'd Re-echoed fast and far the whisper'd word.

6. 'Tis he!” “ Tis who?” they question And on the words, however light, would

far and near, dwell :

Till louder accents rung on Lara's ear; None knew, nor how, nor why, but he So widely spread, few bosoms well could entwined

brook Himself perforce around the hearer's mind; The general marvel, or that single look; There he was stamp'd in liking, or in hate, But Lara stirr'd not changed not, the surprise If greeted once; however brief the date

That sprung at first to his arrested eyes That friendship, pity, or aversion knew,

Seem'd now subsided, neither sunk nor raised Still there within the inmost thought he Glanced his eye round, though still the grew.

stranger gazed, You could not penetrate his soul, but found, And drawing nigh, exclaim'd, with haughty Despite your wonder, to your own he wound; His presence haunted still; and from the

Tis he! - how came he thence ? - what breast

doth he here?" He forced an all-unwilling interest. Vain was the struggle in that mental net, His spirit seem'd to dare you to forget!

It were too much for Lara to pass by Such question, so repeated fierce and high;

With look collected, but with accent cold, There is a festival, where knights and More mildly firm than petulantly bold,


He turn'd, and met the inquisitorial toneAnd aught that wealth or lofty lineage " My name is Lara !- when thine own is claims

known, Appear-a highborn and a welcome guest Doubt not my fitting answer to requite To Otho's hall came Lara with the rest. The unlook'd for courtesy of such a knight. The long carousal shakes the illumined hall, 'Tis Lara! – further wouldst thou mark or Well speeds alike the banquet and the ball;

ask? And the gay dance of bounding Beauty's I shun no question and I wear no mask. "

train Links grace and harmony in happiest chain:

“ Thou shun'st no question ! Ponder-is Blest are the early hearts and gentle hands

there none That mingle there in well according hands ; Thy heart must answer, though thine ear It is a sight the careful brow might smoothe,

would shun ? And make Age smile, and dream itself to And deem'st thou me unknown too? Gaze

youth, And Youth forget such hour was past on At least thy memory was not given in vain.


Oh! never canst thon cancel half her debt, So springs the exulting bosom to that mirth!

Eternity forbids thee to forget

With slow and searching glance upon his And Lara gazed on these, sedately glad,

face His brow belied him if his soul was sad ; Grew Lara's eyes, but nothing there could And his glance follow'd fast each fluttering

trace fair,

They knew, or chose to know—with dubious Whose steps of lightness woke no echo there:

look He lean’d against the lofty pillar nigh, He deign'd no answer, but his head he shook, With folded arms and long attentive eye, And half contemptuous turn'd to pass away; Nor mark'd a glance so sternly fix'd on his, But the stern stranger motion'd him to stay. Ill brook'd high Lara scrutiny like this: “ A word !-1 charge thee stay, and answer At length he caught it, 'tis a face unknown,

here But seems as searching his, and his alone; To one, who, wert thou noble, were thy Prying and dark, a stranger's by his mien,

peer, Who still till now had gazed on him unseen; But as thou wast and art - nay, frown not, At length encountering meets the mutual

If false, 'tis easy to disprove the word




[ocr errors]

But, as thou wast and art, on thee looks With which that chieftain's brow would down,

bear him down : Distrusts thy smiles, but shakes not at thy It was nor smile of mirth, nor struggling frown.

pride Art thou not he? whose deeds -

That curbs to scorn the wrath it cannot hide :

" Whate'er I be, But that of one in his own heart secure Words wild as these, accusers like to thee of all that he would do, or could endure. I list no farther; those with whom they could this mean peace? the calmness of weigh

the good? May hear the rest, nor venture to gainsay Or guilt grown old in desperate hardihood? The wondrous tale no doubt thy tongue can Alas! too like in confidence are each,


For man to trust to mortal look or speech; Which thus begins so courteously and well. From deeds, and deeds alone, may he discern Let Otho cherish here his polish'd guest, Truths which it wrings the unpractised To him my thanks and thoughts shall be

heart to learn. exprest." And here their wondering host hath inter- And Lara call'd his page, and went his posed

way “Whate'er there be between you undis- Well could that stripling word or sign obey :


His only follower from those climes afar, This is no time nor fitting place to mar Where the soul glows beneath a brighter The mirthful meeting with a wordy war.

star; If thou, Sir Ezzelin, hast ought to show For Lara left the shore from whence he Which it befits Count Lara's ear' to know,

sprung, To-morrow, here, or elsewhere, as may best In duty patient, and sedate though young; Beseem your mutual judgment, speak the Silent as him he served, his faith appears


Above his station, and beyond his years. I pledge myself for thee, as not unknown, Though not unknown the tongue of Lara's Though like Count Lara now return'd alone

land, From other lands, almost a stranger grown; In such from him he rarely heard command, And if from Lara's blood and gentle birth

But fleet his step, and clear his tones would I augur right of courage and of worth,

come, He will not that untainted line belie,

When Lara's lip breathed forth the words Nor aught, that knighthood may accord,

of home: deny."

Those accents as his native mountains dear,

Awake their absent echoes in his ear, “ To-morrow be it,” Ezzelin replied, Friends', kindreds', parents', wonted voice And here our several worth and truth be

recal, tried ;

Now lost, abjured, for one-his friend, his I gage my life, my falchion to attest

all: My words, so may I mingle with the blest!” For him earth now disclosed no other guide; What answers Lara ? to its centre shrunk What marvel then he rarely left his side ? His soul, in deep abstraction sudden sunk; The words of many and the eyes of all, That there were gather'd, seem'd on him Light was his form, and darkly delicate

to fall;

That brow whereon his native sun had sate, But his were silent, his appear'd to stray

But had not marr’d, though in his beams In far forgetfulness away-awayAlas! that heedlessness of all around

The cheek where oft the unbidden blush Bespoke remembrance only too profound.

shone through; Yet not such blush as mounts when health

would show “ To-morrow!-ay, to-morrow!” further All the heart's hue in that delighted glow;


But 'twas a hectic tint of secret care Than those repeated none from Lara heard; That for a burning moment fever'd there ; Upon his brow no outward passion spoke, And the wild sparkle of his eye seem'd From his large eye no flashing anger broke;

caught Yet there was something fix'd in that low From high, and lightend with electric tone,

thought, Which show'd resolve, determined, though Though its black orb those long low lashes unknown.

fringe, He seized his cloak - his head he slightly Had temper'd with a melancholy tinge ;


Yet less of sorrow than of pride was there, And passing Ezzelin he left the crowd; Or if 'twere grief, a grief that none should And, as he pass'd him, smiling inet the frown


[ocr errors]

he grew,

[ocr errors]

his age,


[ocr errors]

And pleased not him the sports that please That namc repeated loud without reply,

As unfamiliar, or, if roused again, The tricks of youth, the frolics of the page; Start to the sound, as but remember'd then; For hours on Lara he would fix his glance, Unless 'twas Lara's wonted voice that spake, As all-forgotten in that watchful trance; For then, ear, eyes, and heart would all And from his chief withdrawn, he wander'd

awake. lone, Brief were his answers, and his questions

He had look'd down upon the festive hall, none;

And mark'd that sudden strife so mark'd His walk the wood, his sport some foreign

of all;

And when the crowd around and near him His resting-place the bank that curbs the

told brook :

Their wonder at the calmness of the bold, He seem'd, like him he served, to live apart Their marvel how the high-born Lara bore From all that lures the eye, and fills the Such insult from a stranger, doubly sore,


The colour of young Kaled went and came, To know no brotherhood, and take from The lip of ashes, and the cheek of flame;


And o'er his brow the dampening heartNo gift beyond that bitter boon_our birth.

drops threw The sickening iciness of that cold dew,

That rises as the busy bosom sinko If aught he loved, 'twas Lara ; but was with heavy thoughts from which reflection shown

shrinks. His faith in reverence and in deeds alone; Yes—there be things that we must dream In mute attention; and his care, which

and dare, guess'd

And execute ere thought be half aware: Each wish, fulfill'd it ere the tongue Whate'er might Kaled's be, it was enow


To scal his lip, but agonise his brow. Still there was haughtiness in all he did,

He gazed on Ezzelin till Lara cast A spirit deep that brook'd not to be chid;

That sidelong smile upon the knight he past; His zeal, though more than that of servile When Kaled saw that smile his visage fell,


As if on something recognized right well, In act alone obeys, his air commands;

His memory read in such a meaning more As if 'twas Lara's less than his desire

Than Lara's aspeet unto others wore; That thus he served, but surely not for hire. Forward he sprung—a moment, both were Slight were the tasks enjoin'd him by his

gone, lord,

And all within that hall secm'd left alone; To hold the stirrup, or to bear the sword; Each had so fix'd his eye on Lara's mien, To tune his lute, or if he will'd it more,

All had so mix'd their feelings with that On tomes of other times and tongues to pore;

scene, But ne'er to mingle with the menial train, That when his long dark shadow through To whom he show'd nor deference nor

the porch disdain,

No more relicves the glare of yon high But that well-worn reserve which proved

torch, he knew

Each pulse beats quicker, and all bosoma No sympathy with that familiar crew : His soul, whate'er his station or his stem, To bound as doubting from too black a Could bow to Lara, not descend to them.

dream, Of higher birth he seem'd, and better days, such as we know is falsc, yet dread in Nor mark of vulgar toil that hand betrays,

sooth, So femininely white it might bespeak Because the worst is over nearest truth. Another sex, when match'd with that And they are gone—but Ezzelin is there,

smooth check, With thoughtful visage and imperious air; But for his garb, and something in his gaze, But long remain'd not; ere an hour expired More wild and high than woman's eye He waved his hand to Oųho, and retired.

betrays; A latent fierceness that far more became His fiery climate than his tender frame: The crowd are gone, the revellers at rest; True, in his words it broke not from his The courteous host, and all-approving guest,


Again to that accustom'd conch must creep But from his aspect might be more than Where joy subsides, and sorrow sighs, to guess'd.

sleep, Kaled his name, though rumour said he bore and man, o'er-labour'd with his being's Another ere he left his mountain-shore;

strife, For sometimes he would hear, however nigh, Shrinks to that sweet forgetfulness of life:


[ocr errors]

There lie love's feverlsh hope and cunning's | Why comes he not? Such truths to be guile,

divulged, Hate's working brain, and lull’d ambition's Methinks the accuser's rest is long indulged.

wile; O’er each vain eye oblivion's pinions wave, And quench'd existence crouches in a grave.

The hour is past, and Lara too is there, What better name may slumber's bed With self-confiding, coldly patient air


Why comes not Ezzelin? The hour is past, Night's sepulchre, the universal home,

And murmurs rise, and Otho's brow's Where weakness, strength, rice, virtue,

o'ercast. sunk supine,

“I know my friend ! his faith I cannot fear, Alike in naked helplessness recline; If yet he be on earth, expect him here; Glad for awhile to heave unconscious breath, The roof that held him in the valley stands Yet wake to wrestle with the dread of death, Between my own and noble Lara's lands; And shun, though day but dawn on ills My halls from such a guest had honour increast,

gaind, That sleep, the loveliest, since it dreams Nor had Sir Ezzelin his host disdain'd,

the least.
But that some previous proof forbade his

And urged him to prepare against to-day;
The word I pledged for his I pledge again,
Or will' myself redeem his knighthood's


He ceased—and Lara answer'd, “I am here CANTO II.

To lend at thy demand a listening earr

To tales of evil from a stranger's tongue, Night wanes—the vapours round the Whose words already might my heart have mountains corld

wrung, Melt into morn, and Light awakes the world. But that I deem'd him scarcely less than Man has another day to swell the past, it

jad, And lead him near to little, but his last;

Or, at the worst, a foe ignobly bad. But mighty Nature bounds as from her birth, I know him not--but me it seems he knew The sun is in the heavens, and life on earth In lands where—but I must not trifle too; Flowers in the valley, splendour in the Produce this babbler-orredecm the pledge;


llere in thy hold, and with thy falchion's Health on the gale, and freshness in the


Proud Otho on the instant, reddening, threw Immortal man! behold her glories shine,

His glove on earth, and forth his sabre flew. And cry, exulting inly, “they are thine!" "The last alternative befits me best, Gaze on, while yet thy gladden'd eye may With cheek unchanging from its sallow

And thus I answer for mine absent guest."

see; A morrow comes when they are not for thee:

gloom, And grieve what may above thy senseless However near his own or other's tomb;


With hand, whose almost careless coolness Nor earth nor sky will yield a single tear;

spoke, Nor cloud shall gather more, nor leaf shall Its grasp well-used to deal the sabre-stroke;


With eye, though calm, determined not to Nor gale breathe forth one sigh for thee,

1 spare,
for all;
Did Lara too his willing weapon

bare. But creeping things shall revel in their In vain the circling chieftains round them spoil,

closed, And fit thy clay to fertilize the soil.

For Otho's phrenzy would not be opposed;
And from his lip those words of insult fell-

His sword is good who can maintain them Tis morn—'tis noon-assembled in the

well. hall, The gather'd chieftains come to Otho's call; Short was the conflict; furious, blindly 'Tis now the promised hour, that must

rash, proclaim

Vain Otho gave his bosom to the gash: The life or death of Lara's future fame; He bled, and fell, but not with deadly When Ezzelin his charge may here unfold,

wound, And whatsoe'er the tale, it must be told. Stretch'd by a dextrous sleight along the His faith was pledged, and Lara's promise

ground. given,

"Demand thy life!” He answer'd not: and To meet it in the eye of man and heaven.




[ocr errors]


him woe,

From that red floor he ne'er had risen Wound in that pang the smoothness of the again,

sward. For Lara's brow upon the moment grew

Some such had been, if here a life was reft, Almost to blackness in its demon-hue; But these were not; and doubting hope And fiercer shook his angry falchion now

is left; Than when his foe's was levell’d at his And strange suspicion, whispering Lara's brow;

name, Then all was stern collectedness and art, Now daily mutters o'er his blacken'd fame; Now rose the unleaven'd hatred of his heart; Then sudden silent when his form appear'd, So little sparing to the foe he fell’d, Awaits the absence of the thing it fear'd That when the approaching crowd his arm Again its wonted wondering to renew,

withheld, And dye conjecture with a darker hue. He almost turn'd the thirsty point on those Who thus for mercy dared to interpose; But to a moment's thought that purpose

Days roll along, and Otho's wounds are

heal'd, bent: Yet look'd he on him still with eye intent, But not his pride ; and hate no more

conceald: As if he loathed the ineffectual strife That left a foe, howe'er o'erthrown, with The friend of all who sought to work

He was a man of power, and Lara's foe, As if to search how far the wound he gave And from his country's justice now demands Had sent its victim onward to his grave.

Account of Ezzelin at Lara's hands.

Who else than Lara could have cause to fear They raised the bleeding Otho, and the His presence? who had made him disappear,


If not the man on whom his menaced charge Forbade all present question, sign, and Had sate too deeply were he left at large!


The general rumour ignorantly loud, The others met within a neighbouring hall, The mystery dearest to the curious crowd; And he, incensed and heedless of them all, The seeming friendlessness of him who The cause and conqueror in this sudden

strove fray,

To win no confidence, and wake no love; In haughty silence slowly strode away; The sweeping fierceness which his soul He back'd his steed, his homeward path

betray'd, he took,

The skill with which he wielded his keen Nor cast on Otho's towers a single look.


Where had his arm unwarlike caught that But where was he? that meteor of a

art? Where had that fierceness grown upon his night,

heart? Who menaced but to disappear with light? Where was this Ezzelin who came and For it was not the blind capricious rage

A word can kindle and a word assuage ;

went To leave no other trace of his intent.

But the deep working of a soul anmix'd He left the dome of Otho long ere morn, With aught of pity where its wrath had In darkness, yet so well the path was worn. Such as long power and overgorged success

fix'd ; He could not miss it: near his dwelling lay: Concentrates into all that's merciless : But there he was not, and with coming day. These, link'd with that desire which ever Came fast inquiry, which unfolded nought Except the absence of the chief it sought. Mankind, the rather to condemn than praise,

sways A chamber tenantless, a steed at rest, His host alarm’d, his murmuring squires "Gainst Lara gathering raised at length a

storm, distrest: Their search extends along, around the path, Such as himself might fear, and foes would In dread to meet the marks of prowlers' And he must answer for the absent head

form, wrath : But none are there, and not a brake hath Of one that haunts him still, alive or dead.

borne Nor gout of blood, nor shred of mantle Within that land was many a malcontent,

torn ;

Who cursed the tyranny to which he bent; Nor fall nor struggle hath defaced the grass, That soil full many a wringing despot saw, Which still retains a mark where murder Who work'd his wantonness in form of law;

Long war without and frequent broil within Nor dabbling fingers left to tell the tale, Had made a path for blood and giant-sin, Thc bitter print of each convulsive nail, That waited but a signal to begin When agonized hands that cease to guard, New havock, such as civil discord blends,

was ;

[ocr errors]
« 上一頁繼續 »