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Arms every hand against thy life,
Bans all who aid thee in the strife,
Nay, each whose succour, cold and scant,
With meanest alms relieves thy want;
Haunts thee while living, and, when dead,
Dwells on thy yet devoted head;
Rends Honour's scutcheon from thy hearse,
Stills o'er thy bier the holy verse,
And spurns thy corpse from hallowed ground,
Flung like vile carrion to the hound!
Such is the dire and desperate doom
For sacrilege, decreed by Rome;
And such the well-deserved meed
Of thine unhallowed, ruthless deed.” -
"Abbot !" The Bruce replied, "thy charge
It boots not to dispute at large.
This much, howe'er, I bid thee know,
No selfish vengeance dealt the blow,
For Comyn died his country's foe.
Nor blame I friends whose ill-timed speed
Fulfilled my soon-repented deed;
Nor censure those from whose stern tongue
The dire anathema has rung.
I only blame mine own wild ire,
By Scotland's wrongs incensed to fire.
Heaven knows my purpose to atone,
Far as I may, the evil done,
And hears a penitent's appeal
From papal curse and prelate's zeal.
My first and dearest task achieved,
Fair Scotland from her thrall relieved,
Shall many a priest in cope and stole
Say requiem for Red Comyn's soul;
While I the blessed Cross advance,
And expiate this unhappy chance
In Palestine, with sword and lance.
But while content the Church should know
My conscience owns the debt I owe,
Unto De Argentine and Lorn
The name of traitor I return.
Bid them defiance stern and high,
And give them in their throats the lie!
These brief words spoke, I speak no more.
Do what thou wilt ; my shrift is o'er.”
Like man by prodigy amazed,
Upon the King the Abbot gazed;
Then o'er his pallid features glance
Convulsions of ecstatic trance.
His breathing came more thick and fast,
And from his pale blue eyes were cast
Strange rays of wild and wandering light;
Uprise his locks of silver white,
Flushed is his brow, through every vein
In azure tide the currents strain,
And undistinguished accents broke
The awful silence ere he spoke.
“De Bruce ! I rose with purpose dread,
To speak my curse upon thy head,
And give thee as an outcast o'er
To him who burns to shed thy gore;-
But, like the Midianite of old,
Who stood on Zophim, heaven-controlled,
I feel within mine aged breast
A power that will not be repressed:
It prompts my voice, it swells my veins,
It burns, it maddens, it constrains ! -
De Bruce, thy sacrilegious blow
Hath at God's altar slain thy foe
O’ermastered yet by high behest,
I bless thee, and thou shalt be blessed !”
He spoke, and o'er the astonished throng
Was silence, awful, deep, and long.
Again that light has fired his eye,
Again his form swells bold and high,
The broken voice of age is gone,
'Tis vigorous manhood's lofty tone:-
“Thrice vanquished on the battle-plain,
Thy followers slaughtered, fled, or ta'en,
A hunted wanderer on the wild,
On foreign shores a man exiled,
Disowned, deserted, and distressed,
I bless thee, and thou shalt be blessed!
Blessed in the hall and in the field,
Under the mantle as the shield!
Avenger of thy country's shame,
Restorer of her injured fame,
Blessed in thy sceptre and thy sword,
De Bruce, fair Scotland's rightful lord,
Blessed in thy deeds and in thy fame,
What lengthened honours wait thy name!
In distant ages, sire to son
Shall tell thy tale of freedom won,
And teach his infants, in the use
Of earliest speech, to falter Bruce.
Go, then, triumphant! sweep along
Thy course, the theme of many a song !
The Power, whose dictates swell my breast,
Hath blessed thee, and thou shalt be blessed !"
George Lord Byron was born in London in 1788. His father was Captain John
Byron of the Guards; and his mother, Miss Gordon of Gight, in Aberdeenshire He succeeded his grand-uncle, William Lord Byron, in the title and estates, when eleven years of age. He died at Missolonghi, in Greece, in 1824.
CLIME of the unforgotten brave !
Whose land from plain to mountain cave
Was freedom's home, or glory’s grave!
Shrine of the mighty ! can it be,
That this is all remains of thee ?
Approach, thou craven crouching slave :
Say, is not this Thermopylæ ?
These waters blue that round you lave,
O servile offspring of the free-
Pronounce what sea, what shore is this?
The gulf, the rock of Salamis !
These scenes, their story not unknown,
Arise and make again your own ;
Snatch from the ashes of your sires
The embers of their former fires ;
And he who in the strife expires,
Will add to theirs a name of fear,
That tyranny shall quake to hear,
And leave his sons a hope, a fame,
They too will rather die than shame :
For freedom's battle once begun,
Bequeathed by bleeding sire to son,
Though baffled oft, is ever won.
Bear witness, Greece, thy living page,
Attest it many a deathless age !
While kinys, in dusty darkness hid,
Have left a nameless pyramid ;
Thy heroes, though the general doom
Hath swept the column from their tonub,
A mightier monument command-
The mountains of their native land !
There points thy muse to stranger's eye
The graves of those that cannot die.
'Twere long to tell, and sad to trace,
Each step from splendour to disgrace;
Enough-no foreign foe could quell
Thy soul, till from itself it fell;
Yes ! self-abasement paved the way
To villain-bonds and despot sway.
V.-PRESENT STATE OF GREECE.
He who hath bent him o'er the dead,
Ere the first day of death is fled-
The first dark day of nothingness,
The last of danger and distress-
Before Decay's effacing fingers
Have swept the lines where beauty lingers,
And marked the mild, angelic air,
The rapture of repose that's there--
The fixed, yet tender traits, that streak
The languor of the placid cheek;
And—but for that sad, shrouded eye,
That fires not, wins not, weeps not now;
And but for that chill, changeless brow,
Whose touch thrills with mortality,
And curdles to the gazer's heart,
As if to him it could impart
The doom he dreads, yet dwells upon;-
Yes, but for these, and these alone-
Some moments, ay, one treacherous hour,
He still might doubt the tyrant's power,
So fair, so calm, so softly sealed
The first, last look, by death revealed !
Such is the aspect of this shore.
'Tis Greece—but living Greece no more !
So coldly sweet, so deadly fair,
We start, for soul is wanting there.
Hers is the loveliness in death
That parts not quite with parting breath ;
But beauty with that fearful bloom,
That hue which haunts it to the tomb--
Expression's last receding ray,
A gilded halo hovering round decay, -
The farewell beam of feeling passed away!
Spark of that flame, perchance of heavenly birth,
Which gleams, but warms no more its cherished earth.