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But soon he knew himself the most unfit
Of men to herd with man, with whom he held
His thoughts to others, though his soul was quell'd
Where rose the mountains, there to him were friends;
Where roll'd the ocean, thereon was his home;
Of his land's tongue, which he would oft forsake
Like the Chaldean, he could watch the stars,
As their own beams; and earth, and earth-born jars,
To which it mounts, as if to break the link
That keeps us from yon heaven which woos us to its brink.
But in man's dwellings he became a thing
Self-exiled Harold wanders forth again,
With nought of hope left, but with less of gloom;
That all was over on this side the tomb,
Had made despair a smilingness assume,
Which, though 't were wild,—as on the plunder'd wreck When mariners would madly meet their doom With draughts intemperate on the sinking deck— Did yet inspire a cheer, which he forbore to check.
Stop!-for thy tread is on an empire's dust!
And Harold stands upon this place of skulls,
He wears the shatter'd links of the world's broken chain.
Fit retribution! Gaul may champ the bit
And foam in fetters ;-but is earth more free?
And servile knees to thrones? No; Prove before ye praise!
If not, o'er one fallen despot boast no more!
There was a sound of revelry by night,
The lamps shone o'er fair women and brave men;
Music arose with its voluptuous swell,
Soft eyes look'd love to eyes which spake again,
And all went merry as a marriage-bell ; '
But hush! hark! a deep sound strikes like a rising knell.
Did ye not hear it?-No; 't was but the wind,
And nearer, clearer, deadlier than before!
Within a window'd niche of that high hall Sate Brunswick's fated chieftain; he did hear That sound the first amidst the festival, And caught its tone with death's prophetic ear; And when they smiled because he deem'd it near, His heart more truly knew that peal too well Which stretch'd his father on a bloody bier, And roused the vengeance blood alone could quell: He rush'd into the field, and, foremost fighting, fell.
Ah! then and there was hurrying to and fro,
And there was mounting in hot haste: the steed,
Or whispering, with white lips-The foe! They come ! they come!"
And wild and high the "Camerons' gathering" rose!
The war-note of Lochiel, which Albyn's hills
Have heard, and heard too have her Saxon foes :
How in the noon of night that pibroch thrills,
Savage and shrill! But with the breath which fills
Their mountain-pipe, so fill the mountaineers
With the fierce native daring which instils
The stirring memory of a thousand years,
And Evan's, Donald's 5 fame rings in each clansman's ears!
And Ardennes 6 waves above them her green leaves
Dewy with nature's tear-drops, as they pass,
Over the unreturning brave,―alas!
Ere evening to be trodden like the grass
Which now beneath them, but above shall grow
In its next verdure, when this fiery mass
Of living valour, rolling on the foe,
And burning with high hope, shall moulder cold and low.
Last noon beheld them full of lusty life,
The midnight brought the signal-sound of strife,
The thunder-clouds close o'er it, which when rent,
Which her own clay shall cover, heap'd and pent,
Rider and horse,-friend, foe,-in one red burial blent!
Their praise is hymn'd by loftier harps than mine:
They reach'd no nobler breast than thine, young, gallant Howard!
There have been tears and breaking hearts for thee,
And mine were nothing, had I such to give;
But when I stood beneath the fresh green tree,
Which living waves where thou didst cease to live,
With fruits and fertile promise, and the spring
I turn'd from all she brought to those she could not bring."
I turn'd to thee, to thousands, of whom each
In his own kind and kindred, whom to teach
Forgetfulness were mercy for their sake;
The archangel's trump, not glory's, must awake
Those whom they thirst for; though the sound of fame
May for a moment soothe, it cannot slake
The fever of vain longing, and the name
So honour'd but assumes a stronger, bitterer claim.