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Where all sweet flowers through all the year were found,
And all fair fruits were through all seasons seen;
A place of Paradise, where each device
Of emulous art with nature strove to vie ;
And nature, on her part,
Call'd forth new powers wherewith to vanquish art.
The Swerga-God himself, with envious eye,
Survey'd those peerless gardens in their prime;
Nor ever did the Lord of Light,
Who circles Earth and Heaven upon his way, Behold from eldest time a goodlier sight Than were the groves which Baly, in his might, Made for his chosen place of solace and delight.
It was a Garden still beyond all price,
Even yet it was a place of Paradise:-
For where the mighty Ocean could not spare,
There had he, with his own creation,
Sought to repair his work of devastation.
And here were coral bowers,
And grots of madrepores,
And banks of spunge, as soft and fair to eye
As e'er was mossy bed
Whereon the Wood-nymphs lay
Their languid limbs in summer's sultry hours.
Here, too, were living flowers
Which, like a bud compacted,
Their purple cups contracted,
And now in open blossom spread,
Stretch'd like green anthers many a seeking head.
And arborets of jointed stone were there,
And plants of fibres fine, as silkworm's thread;
Yea, beautiful as Mermaid's golden hair
Upon the waves dispread:
Others that, like the broad banana growing,
Rais'd their long wrinkled leaves of purple hue,
Like streamers wide out-flowing.
And whatsoe'er the depths of Ocean hide
From human eyes, Ladurlad there espied,
Trees of the deep, and shrubs and fruits and flowers,
As fair as ours,
Wherewith the Sea-nymphs love their locks to braid,
When to their father's hall, at festival
Repairing, they, in emulous array,
Their charms display,
To grace the banquet, and the solemn day.
PELAYO AND HIS CHILDREN. The ascending vale, Long straitened by the narrowing mountains, here Was closed. In front a rock, abrupt and bare, Stood eminent, in height exceeding far All edifice of human power, by king Or caliph, or barbaric sultan reared, Or mightier tyrants of the world of old, Assyrian or Egyptian, in their pride: Yet far above, beyond the reach of sight, Swell after swell, the heathery mountain rose. Here, in two sources, from the living rock The everlasting springs of Deva gushed.
Upon a smooth and grassy plat below,
By Nature there as for an altar drest,
They joined their sister stream, which from the
Welled silently. In such a scene rude man
With pardonable error might have knelt,
Feeling a present Deity, and made
His offering to the fountain Nymph devout.
The arching rock disclosed above the springs
A cave, where hugest son of giant birth,
That e'er of old in forest of romance
'Gainst knights and ladies waged discourteous war,
Erect within the portal might have stood.
The broken stone allowed for hand and foot
No difficult ascent, above the base
In height a tall man's stature, measured thrice.
No holier spot than Covadonga, Spain
Boasts in her wide extent, though all her realms
Be with the noblest blood of martyrdom
In elder or in later days enriched,
And glorified with tales of heavenly aid
By many a miracle made manifest;
Nor in the heroic annals of her fame
Doth she show forth a scene of more renown.
Then, save the hunter, drawn in keen pursuit
Beyond his wonted haunts, or shepherd's boy,
Following the pleasure of his straggling flock,
None knew the place.
Pelayo, when he saw Those glittering sources and their sacred cave, Took from his side the bugle silver-tipt, And with a breath long drawn and slow expired Sent forth that strain, which, echoing from the walls Of Cangas, wont to tell his glad return
When from the chase he came. At the first sound
Favilia started in the cave, and cried,
My father's horn!-A sudden flame suffused
Hermesind's cheek, and she with quickened eye
Looked eager to her mother silently;
But Gaudiosa trembled and grew pale,
Doubting her sense deceived. A second time
The bugle breathed its well-known notes abroad;
And Hermesind around her mother's neck
Threw her white arms, and earnestly exclaimed,
'Tis he! But when a third and broader blast
Rung in the echoing archway, ne'er did wand,
With magic power endued, call up a sight
So strange, as sure in that wild solitude
It seemed, when from the bowels of the rock
The mother and her children hastened forth.
She in the sober charms and dignity
Of womanhood mature, nor verging yet
Upon decay; in gesture like a queen,
Such inborn and habitual majesty
Ennobled all her steps, or priestess, chosen
Because within such faultless work of Heaven
Inspiring Deity might seem to make
Its habitation known-Favilia such
In form and stature as the Sea Nymph's son,
When that wise Centaur from his cave well-pleased
Beheld the boy divine his growing strength
Against some shaggy lionet essay,
And fixing in the half-grown mane his hands,
Roll with him in fierce dalliance intertwined.
But like a creature of some higher sphere
His sister came; she scarcely touched the rock,
So light was Hermesind's aerial speed.
Beauty and grace and innocence in her
In heavenly union shone. One who had held
The faith of elder Greece, would sure have thought She was some glorious nymph of seed divine, Oread or Dryad, of Diana's train
The youngest and the loveliest: yea she seemed Angel, or soul beatified, from realms
Of bliss, on errand of parental love
To earth re-sent,-if tears and trembling limbs
With such celestial natures might consist.
My noble horse! he cried, with flattering hand
Patting his high arched neck! the renegade,
I thank him for't, hath kept thee daintily!
Orelio, thou art in thy beauty still,
Thy pride and strength! Orelio, my good horse,
Once more thou bearest to the field thy Lord,
He who so oft hath fed and cherished thee,
He for whose sake, wherever thou wert seen,
Thou wert by all men honoured. Once again
Thou hast thy proper master! Do thy part
As thou wert wont; and bear him gloriously,
My beautiful Orelio,-to the last-
The happiest of his fields!-Then he drew forth
The scymitar, and waving it aloft,
Rode toward the troops; its unaccustomed shape
Disliked him; Renegade in all things! cried
The Goth, and cast it from him; to the Chiefs
Then said, if I have done ye service here,
Help me, I pray you, to a Spanish sword!
The trustiest blade that e'er in Bilbilis
Was dipt, would not to-day be misbestowed
On this right hand!-Go some one, Gunderick cried,
And bring Count Julian's sword. Whoe'er thou art,
The worth which thou hast shown avenging him
Entitles thee to wear it. But thou goest
For battle unequipped;-haste there and strip
Yon villian of his armour!
Late he spake,
So fast the Moors came on. It matters not,
Replied the Goth; there's many a mountaineer,
Who in no better armour cased this day
Than his wonted leathern gipion, will be found
In the hottest battle, yet bring off untouched
The unguarded life he ventures-Taking then
Count Julian's sword, he fitted round his wrist
The chain, and eyeing the elaborate steel
With stern regard of joy, the African
Under unhappy stars was born, he cried,
Who tastes thy edge !-Make ready for the charge!
They come-they come !-On, brethren, to the field.
The word is Vengeance!
Vengeance was the word; From man to man, and rank to rank it past, By every heart enforced, by every voice
Sent forth in loud defiance of the foe.
The enemy in shriller sounds returned
Their Akbar and the Prophet's trusted name.
The horsemen lowered their spears, the infantry
Deliberately with slow and steady step [hissed,
Advanced; the bow-strings twang'd, and arrows
And javelins hurtled by. Anon the hosts
Met in the shock of battle, horse and man
Conflicting: shield struck shield, and sword and
And curtle-axe on helm and buckler rung;
Armour was riven, and wounds were interchanged,
And many a spirit from its mortal hold
Hurried to bliss or bale. Well did the chiefs
Of Julian's army in that hour support
Their old esteem; and well Count Pedro there
Enhanced his former praise; and by his side,
Rejoicing like a bridegroom in the strife,
Alphonso through the host of infidels
Bore on his bloody lance dismay and death.
But there was worst confusion and uproar,
There widest slaughter and dismay, where, proud
Of his recovered lord, Orelio plunged
Through thickest ranks, trampling beneath his feet
The living and the dead. Where'er he turns
The Moors divide and fly. What man is this,
Appalled they say, who to the front of war
Bareheaded offers thus his naked life?
Replete with power he is, and terrible,
Like some destroying Angel! Sure his lips
Have drank of Kaf's dark fountain, and he comes
Strong in his immortality! Fly! fly!
They said, this is no human foe!-Nor less
Of wonder filled the Spaniards when they saw
How flight and terror went before his way,
And slaughter in his path. Behold, cries one,
With what command and knightly ease he sits
The intrepid steed, and deals from side to side
His dreadful blows! Not Roderick in his power
Bestrode with such command and majesty
That noble war-horse. His loose robe this day
In death's black banner, shaking from its folds
Dismay and ruin. Of no mortal mold
Is he who in that garb of peace affronts
Whole hosts, and sees them scatter where he turns!
Auspicious Heaven beholds us, and some saint
Stranger! whose steps have reach'd this solitude,
Know that this lonely spot was dear to one
Devoted with no unrequited zeal
To Nature. Here, delighted he has heard
The rustling of these woods, that now perchance
Melodious to the gale of summer move;
And underneath their shade on yon smooth rock,
With grey and yellow lichens overgrown,
Often reclined; watching the silent flow
Of this perspicuous rivulet, that steals
Along its verdant course,-till all around
Had fill'd his senses with tranquillity,
And ever sooth'd in spirit he return'd
A happier, better man. Stranger! perchance,
Therefore the stream more lovely to thine eye
Will glide along, and to the summer gale
The woods wave more melodious. Cleanse thou then
The weeds and mosses from this letter'd stone.
FOR A TABLET AT PENSHURST.
Are days of old familiar to thy mind,
O reader? Hast thou let the midnight hour Pass unperceived, whilst thou in fancy lived With high-born beauties and enamour'd chiefs,
Sharing their hopes, and with a breathless joy
Whose expectation touch'd the verge of pain,
Following their dangerous fortunes? If such lore
Hath ever thrill'd thy bosom, thou wilt tread,
As with a pilgrim's reverential thoughts,
The groves of Penshurst. Sidney here was born,
Sidney, than whom no gentler, braver man
His own delightful genius ever feign'd,
Illustrating the vales of Arcady
With courteous courage and with loyal loves.
Upon his natal day the acorn here
Was planted. It grew up a stately oak,
And in the beauty of its strength it stood
And flourish'd, when his perishable part
Had moulder'd dust to dust. That stately oak
Itself hath moulder'd now, but Sidney's fame
Endureth in his own immortal works.
This to a mother's sacred memory
Her son hath hallow'd. Absent many a year
Far over sea, his sweetest dreams were still
Of that dear voice which sooth'd his infancy:
And after many a fight against the Moor
And Malabar, or that fierce cavalry
Which he had seen covering the boundless plain
Even to the utmost limits where the eye
Could pierce the far horizon,-his first thought
In safety was of her, who when she heard
The tale of that day's danger, would retire
And pour her pious gratitude to Heaven
In prayers and tears of joy. The lingering hour
Of his return, long-look'd for, came at length,
And full of hope he reach'd his native shore.
Vain hope that puts its trust in human life!
For ere he came the number of her days
Was full. O reader, what a world were this,
How unendurable its weight, if they
Whom Death hath sunder'd did not meet again!
Old friend! why you seem bent on parish duty, Breaking the highway stones,-and 'tis a task Somewhat too hard methinks for age like yours!
Why yes! for one with such a weight of years
Upon his back-I've lived here, man and boy,
In this same parish, well nigh the full age
Of man, being hard upon threescore and ten.
I can remember sixty years ago
The beautifying of this mansion here,
When my late Lady's father, the old Squire,
Came to the estate.
Why then you have outlasted All his improvements, for you see they're making Great alterations here.
Aye, Master! fine old trees! My grandfather could just remember back When they were planted there. It was my task To keep them trimm'd, and 'twas a pleasure to me; All straight and smooth, and like a great green wall! My poor old Lady many a time would come And tell me where to shear, for she had play'd In childhood under them, and 'twas her pride To keep them in their beauty. Plague, I say, On their new-fangled whimsies! we shall have A modern shrubbery here stuck full of firs And your pert poplar trees;-I could as soon Have plough'd my father's grave as cut them down!
But 'twill be lighter and more cheerful now;
A fine smooth turf, and with a gravel road
Round for the carriage,-now it suits my taste.
I like a shrubbery too, it looks so fresh ;
And then there's some variety about it.
In spring the lilac and the snow-ball flower,
And the laburnum with its golden strings
Waving in the wind: and when the autumn comes
The bright red berries of the mountain-ash,
With pines enough in winter to look green,
And show that something lives. Sure this is better
Than a great hedge of yew that makes it look
All the year round like winter, and for ever
Dropping its poisonous leaves from the under boughs
Wither'd and bare!
Ah! so the new Squire thinks, And pretty work he makes of it! what 'tis To have a stranger come to an old house!
It seems you know him not?
They tell me he's expected daily now;
But in my Lady's time he never came
But once, for they were very distant kin.
If he had play'd about here when a child
In that fore court, and eat the yew-berries,
And sate in the porch threading the jesssamine
Which fell so thick, he had not had the heart
To mar all thus!
nger here. Or you wouldn't ask that question. Were the sick? She had rare cordial waters, and for herbs She could have taught the Doctors. Then at winter When weekly she distributed the bread In the poor old porch, to see her and to hear The blessings on her! and I warrant them They were a blessing to her when her wealth Had been no comfort else. At Christmas, Sir! It would have warm'd your heart if you had seen Her Christmas kitchen,-how the blazing fire Made her fine pewter shine, and holly boughs So cheerful red,-and as for misseltoe,― The finest bough that grew in the country round Was mark'd for Madam. Then her old ale went So bountiful about! a Christmas cask, And 'twas a noble one!-God help me, But I shall never see such days again.
Things may be better yet than you suppose, And you should hope the best.
It don't look well,These alterations, sir! I'm an old man, And love the good old fashions; we don't find Old bounty in new houses. They've destroy'd
All that my lady loved! her favourite walk
Grubb'd up, and they do say that the great row
Of elms behind the house, which meet a-top,
They must fall too. Well! well! I did not think
To live to see all this, and 'tis perhaps
A comfort I sha'n't live to see it long.
But sure all changes are not needs for the worse, My friend?
Mayhap they mayn't, sir;-for all that I like what I've been used to. I remember All this from a child up, and now to lose it, 'Tis losing an old friend. There's nothing left As 'twas;-I go abroad and only meet With men whose fathers I remember boys; The brook that used to run before my door,
That's gone to the great pond; the trees I learnt
To climb are down; and I see nothing now
That tells me of old times,-except the stones
In the church-yard. You are young, sir, and I hope
Have many years in store,-but pray to God
You mayn't be left the last of all your friends.
Well! well! you've one friend more than you're aware of.
If the Squire's taste don't suit with yours, I warrant
That's all you'll quarrel with: walk in and taste
His beer, old friend! and see if your old lady
Ere broach'd a better cask. You did not know me,
But we're acquainted now. "Twould not be easy
To make you like the outside; but within,
That is not changed, my friend! you'll always find
The same old bounty and old welcome there.