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O THOU vast Ocean! Ever-sounding Sea!
Thou symbol of a drear immensity!
Thou thing that windest round the solid world,
Like a huge animal, which, downward hurled
From the black clouds, lies weltering and alone,
Lashing and writhing till its strength be gone;
Thy voice is like the thunder, and thy sleep
Is as a giant's slumber, loud and deep.
Thou speakest in the east and in the west
At once, and on thy heavy-laden breast
Fleets come and go, and ships that have no life
Or motion, yet are moved and met in strife.
The earth hath nought of this: no chance nor change
Ruffles its surface, and no spirits dare
Give answer to the tempest-waken air;
But o'er its wastes the weakly tenants range
At will, and wound its bosom as they go:
Ever the same, it hath no ebb, no flow;
But in their stated rounds the seasons come,
And pass like visions to their viewless home,
And come again, and vanish: the young Spring
Looks ever bright with leaves and blossoming;
And Winter always winds his sullen horn,
When the wild Autumn with a look forlorn
Dies in his stormy manhood; and the skies
Weep, and flowers sicken, when the Summer flies.
Thou only, terrible Ocean, hast a power,
A will, a voice, and in thy wrathful hour,
When thou dost lift thy anger to the clouds,
A fearful and magnificent beauty shrouds
Thy broad green forehead. If thy waves be driven
Backwards and forwards by the shifting wind,
How quickly dost thou thy great strength unbind,
And stretch thing arms, and war at once with heaven.
Thou trackless and immeasurable Main!
On thee no record ever lived again,
To meet the hand that writ it: line nor lead
Hath ever fathom'd thy profoundest deeps,
Where haply the huge monster swells and sleeps,
King of his watery limit, who, 't is said,
Can move the mighty ocean into storm-
O! wonderful thou art, great element,
And fearful in thy spleeny humours bent,
And lovely in repose: thy summer form
Is beautiful, and when thy silver waves
Make music in earth's dark and winding caves,
I love to wander on thy pebbled beach,
Marking the sun-light at the evening hour,
And hearken to the thoughts thy waters teach,—
Eternity, Eternity, and Power'
THE BATTLE OF TALAVERA.-Byron.
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 sunk 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 looks upon; Restless it rolls, now fixed, 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.
Three hosts combine to offer sacrifice;
Three tongues prefer strange orisons on high;
Three gaudy standards float 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 vain,
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 honoured 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?
Gesler and Albert.-Knowles
[Gesler with a hunting pole.]
Ges. Alone-alone! and every step, the mist
Thickens around me! On these mountain tracts
To lose one's way, they say, is sometimes death!
What, hoa! Holloa! No tongue replies to me!
What thunder hath the horror of this silence!
'I dare not stop-the day, though not half run,
Is not less sure to end his course; and night,
Dreary when through the social haunts of men
Her solemn darkness walks, in such a place
As this, comes wrapped in most appalling fear.'
I dare not stop-nor dare I yet proceed,
Begirt with hidden danger: if I take
This hand, it carries me still deeper into
The wild and savage solitudes I'd shun,
Where once to faint with hunger is to die:
If this, it leads me to the precipice,
Whose brink with fatal horror rivets him
That treads upon 't, till drunk with fear, he reels
Into the gaping void, and headlong down
Plunges to still more hideous death. Cursed slaves,
To let me wander from them! Hoa-holloa!-
My voice sounds weaker to mine ear; I've not
The strength to call I had, and through my limbs
Cold tremor runs-and sickening faintness seizes
my heart. O Heaven, have mercy! Do not see
The color of the hands I lift to thee!
Look only on the strait wherein I stand,
And pity it! Let me not sink-Uphold!
Support me! Mercy!-Mercy!
[He stands stupified with terror and exhaustion. Albert enters with his hunting pole, not at first seeing Gesler.]
Alb. I'll breathe upon this level, if the wind
Will let me. Ha! a rock to shelter me!
Thanks to 't—a man! and fainting. Courage, friend!
Courage. A stranger that has lost his way-
Take heart---take heart: you 're safe. How feel you now?
You 've lost your way upon the hill?
Ges. I have.
And whither would you go?
Alb. I'll guide you thither.
The way; the track I 've come is harder far
Ges. The track you 've come! what mean you?
have not been still farther in the mountains?
Alb. I've travelled from Mount Faigel.
Alb. No one but HIM.
Alb. He's in the storm.
No one with thee?
Do you not fear these storms?
And there are torrents, too,
That must be crossed?
Ges. You're but a child!
He will be with a child.
Ges. You 're sure you know the way?
He's by the torrent, too.
The side of yonder stream.
But guide me safe,
I'll give thee gold.
I'll guide thee safe without.
Ges. Here's earnest for thee. Here-I'll double that,
Yea, treble it--but let me see the gate
Of Altorf. Why do you refuse the gold?
I do not covet it;—and though I did,
It would be wrong to take it as the price
Of doing one a kindness.
May be; but should you be
An enemy-although I would not tell you
My father's name- -I'd guide you safe to Altorf.
Will you follow me?
Ne'er mind thy father's name.
What would it profit me to know 't? Thy hand;