Page images
PDF
EPUB

Stir not-lest even to thee perchance
Some erring blade or ball should glance.
Fear'st thou for him ?-may I expire
If in this strife I seek thy sire !
No—though by him that poison pourd :
No_though again he call me coward !
But tamely shall I meet their steel ?
No—as each crest save his may feel !”

One bound he made, and gain'd the sand :

Already at his feet hath sunk
The foremost of the prying band,

A gasping head, a quivering trunk :
Another falls—but round him close
A swarming circle of his foes ;
From right to left his path he cleft,

And almost met the meeting wave :

His boat appears—not five oars' lengthHis comrades strain with desperate strength

Oh! are they yet in time to save ?

His feet the foremost breakers lave ;
His band are plunging in the bay,
Their sabres glitter through the spray ;
Wet-wild-unwearied to the strand
They struggle—now they touch the land !
They come—'tis but to add to slaughter--
His heart's best blood is on the water.

Escaped from shot, unharm'd by steel,
Or scarcely grazed its force to feel,
Had Selim won, betray'd, beset,
To where the strand and billows met ;
There as his last step left the land,
And the last death-blow dealt his hand-

Ah ! wherefore did he turn to look

For her his eye but sought in vain ? That pause, that fatal gaze he took,

Hath doom'd his death, or fix'd his chain. Sad proof, in peril and in pain, How late will Lover's hope remain ! His back was to the dashing spray ; Behind, but close, his comrades lay,

When at the instant, hiss'd the ball — “ So may the foes of Giaffir fall !”

Whose voice is heard ? whose carbine rang?
Whose bullet through the night-air sang,
Too nearly, deadly aim'd to err?
'Tis thine-Abdallah's Murderer!
The father slowly rued thy hate,
The son hath found a quicker fate :
Fast from his breast the blood is bubbling,
The whiteness of the sea-foam troubling-
If aught his lips essay'd to groan,
The rushing billows choked the tone !

Morn slowly rolls the clouds away ;

Few trophies of the fight are there :
The shouts that shook the midnight-bay
Are silent; but some signs of fray

That strand of strife may bear,
And fragments of each shiver'd brand ;
Steps stamp'd ; and dash'd into the sand
The print of many a struggling hand

May there be mark’d; nor far remote

A broken torch, an oarless boat ; And, tangled on the weeds that heap The beach where shelving to the deep,

There lies a white capote !

'Tis rent in twain-one dark-red stain
The wave yet ripples o'er in vain :

But where is he who wore ?
Ye! who would o'er his relics weep,
Go, seek them where the surges sweep
Their burthen round Sigæum's steep

And cast on Lemnos' shore :
The sea-birds shriek above the prey,
O'er which their hungry beaks delay,
As shaken on his restless pillow,
His head heaves with the heaving billow ;
That hand, whose motion is not life,
Yet feebly seems to menace strife,
Flung by the tossing tide on high,

Then levell’d with the wave-
What recks it, though that corse shall lie

Within a living grave ?
The bird that tears that prostrate form
Hath only robb’d the meaner worm ;
The only heart, the only eye
Had bled or wept to see him die,
Had seen those scatter'd limbs composed,

And mourn'd above his turban-stone,
That heart hath burst—that eye was closed-

Yea-closed before his own !

CORSAIR LIFE.

(CORSAIR, Canto i. Stanza 1.)

O’er the glad waters of the dark blue sea,
Our thoughts are boundless, and our souls as free,
Far as the breeze can bear, the billows foam,
Survey our empire, and behold our home!
These are our realms, no limits to their sway-
Our flag the sceptre all who meet obey.
Ours the wild life in tumult still to range
From toil to rest, and joy in every change.
Oh, who can tell ? not thou, luxurious slave!
Whose soul would sicken o'er the heaving wave ;
Not thou, vain lord of wantonness and ease !
Whom slumber soothes not-pleasure cannot please—
Oh, who can tell, save he whose heart hath tried,
And danced in triumph o'er the waters wide,
The exulting sense—the pulse's maddening play,
That thrills the wanderer of that trackless way?
That for itself can woo the approaching fight,
And turn what some deem danger to delight ;
That seeks what cravens shun with more than zeal,
And where the feebler faint-can only feel —
Feel—to the rising bosom's inmost core,
Its hope awaken and its spirit soar ?
No dread of death—if with us die our foes-
Save that it seems even duller than repose :

Come when it will—we snatch the life of life-
When lost—what recks it-by disease or strife ?
Let him who crawls enamour'd of decay
Cling to his couch, and sicken years away ;
Heave his thick breath, and shake his palsied head ;
Ours—the fresh turf, and not the feverish bed.
While gasp by gasp he falters forth his soul,
Ours with one pang—one bound-escapes control.
His corse may boast its urn and narrow cave,
And they who loath'd his life may gild his grave :
Ours are the tears, though few, sincerely shed,
When Ocean shrouds and sepulchres our dead.
For us, even banquets fond regret supply
In the red cup that crowns our memory ;
And the brief epitaph in danger's day,
When those who win at length divide the prey,
And cry, remembrance saddening o'er each brow,
How had the brave who fell exulted now !

PARTING OF CONRAD AND MEDORA.

(CORSAIR, Canto i. Stanzas 14, 15.)

SHE rose- -she sprung—she clung to his embrace,
Till his heart heaved beneath her hidden face.
He dared not raise to his that deep-blue eye,
Which downcast droop'd in tearless agony.
Her long fair hair lay floating o'er his arms,
In all the wildness of dishevell'd charms;
Scarce beat that bosom where his image dwelt
So full--that feeling seem'd almost unfelt !

« PreviousContinue »