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Hark—peals the thunder of the signal-gun !
It told 'twas sunset-and he cursed that sun.
Again-again—that form he madly press’d,
Which mutely clasp’d, imploringly caress'd !
And tottering to the couch his bride he bore,
One moment gazed—as if to gaze no more ;
Felt--that for him earth held but her alone,
Kiss'd her cold forehead-turn'd—is Conrad gone ?
“ And is he gone ?”—on sudden solitude
How oft that fearful question will intrude !
“ 'Twas but an instant past—and here he stood !
And now”—without the portal's porch she rush’d,
And then at length her tears in freedom gush'd ;
Big-bright—and fast, unknown to her they fell ;
But still her lips refused to send—“Farewell !”
For in that word—that fatal word-howe'er
We promise—hope-believe—there breathes despair.
O’er every feature of that still, pale face,
Had sorrow fix'd what time can ne'er erase :
The tender blue of that large loving eye
Grew frozen with its gaze on vacancy,
Till-Oh, how far !—it caught a glimpse of him,
And then it flow'd- and phrensied seem'd to swim
Through those long, dark, and glistening lashes dewd
With drops of sadness oft to be renew'd. “ He's gone !”—against her heart that hand is driven,
Convulsed and quick—then gently raised to heaven;
She look'd and saw the heaving of the main ;
The white sail set—she dared not look again ;
But turn'd with sickening soul within the gate" It is no dream—and I am desolate !"
(CORSAIR, Canto iii. Stanzas 19-21.)
The lights are high on beacon and from bower,
And 'midst them Conrad seeks Medora's tower :
He looks in vain—'tis strange—and all remark,
Amid so many, hers alone is dark.
'Tis strange-of yore its welcome never fail'd,
Nor now, perchance, extinguish'd, only veild.
With the first boat descends he for the shore,
And looks impatient on the lingering oar.
Oh ! for a wing beyond the falcon's flight,
To bear him like an arrow to that height !
With the first pause the resting rowers gave,
He waits not-looks not-leaps into the wave,
Strives through the surge, bestrides the beach, and high
Ascends the path familiar to his eye.
He reach'd his turret door-he paused—no sound
Broke from within ; and all was night around.
He knock'd, and loudly-footstep nor reply
Announced that any heard or deem'd him nigh;
He knock’d--but faintly—for his trembling hand
Refused to aid his heavy heart's demand.
The portal opens—’tis a well-known face-
But not the form he panted to embrace.
Its lips are silent-twice his own essay'd,
And fail'd to frame the question they delay'd ;
He snatch'd the lamp-its light will answer all-
It quits his grasp, expiring in the fall.
He would not wait for that reviving ray-
As soon could he have linger'd there for day;
But, glimmering through the dusky corridor,
Another chequers o'er the shadow'd floor;
His steps the chamber gain-his eyes behold
All that his heart believed not-yet foretold !
He turn'd not-spoke not-sunk not-fix'd his look,
And set the anxious frame that lately shook :
He gazed-how long we gaze despite of pain,
And know, but dare not own, we gaze in vain !
In life itself she was so still and fair,
That death with gentler aspect wither'd there ;
And the cold flowers her colder hand contain'd,
In that last grasp as tenderly were strain'd
As if she scarcely felt, but feign'd a sleep,
And made it almost mockery yet to weep :
The long dark lashes fringed her lids of snow,
And veild—thought shrinks from all that lurk'd below-
Oh! o'er the eye Death most exerts his might,
And hurls the spirit from her throne of light !
Sinks those blue orbs in that long last eclipse,
But spares, as yet, the charm around her lips-
Yet, yet they seem as they forbore to smile,
And wish'd repose—but only for a while ;
But the white shroud, and each extended tress,
Long-fair—but spread in utter lifelessness,
Which, late the sport of every summer wind,
Escaped the baffled wreath that strove to bind;
These—and the pale pure cheek, became the bier-
But she is nothing—wherefore is he here?
He ask'd no question - all were answer'd now
By the first glance on that still-marble brow.
It was enough—she died—what reck'd it how?
(SIEGE OF CORINTH, Stanzas 16-21.)
STILL by the shore Alp mutely mused,
And woo'd the freshness Night diffused.
There shrinks no ebb in that tideless sea,
Which changeless rolls eternally ;
So that wildest of waves, in their angriest mood,
Scarce break on the bounds of the land for a rood ;
And the powerless moon beholds them flow,
Heedless if she come or go :
Calm or high, in main or bay,
On their course she hath no sway.
The rock unworn its base doth bare,
And looks o’er the surf, but it comes not there ;
And the fringe of the foam may be seen below,
On the line that it left long ages ago :
A smooth short space of yellow sand
Between it and the greener land,
He wander'd on, along the beach,
Till within the range of a carbine's reach
Of the leaguer'd wall ; but they saw him not,
Or how could he 'scape from the hostile shot ?
Did traitors lurk in the Christians' hold ?
Were their hands grown stiff, or their hearts wax'd cold?
I know not, in sooth; but from yonder wall
There flash'd no fire, and there hiss'd no ball,
Though he stood beneath the bastion's frown,
That flank'd the sea-ward gate of the town ;
Though he heard the sound, and could almost tell
The sullen words of the sentinel,
As his measured step on the stone below
Clank'd as he paced it to and fro;
And he saw the lean dogs beneath the wall
Hold o'er the dead their carnival,
Gorging and growling o'er carcass and limb;
They were too busy to bark at him !
From a Tartar's skull they had stripp'd the Aesh,
As ye peel the fig when its fruit is fresh;
And their white tusks crunch'd o'er the whiter skull,
As it slipp'd through their jaws, when their edge grew
As they lazily mumbled the bones of the dead,
When they scarce could rise from the spot where they fed;
So well had they broken a lingering fast
With those who had fallen for that night's repast.
And Alp knew, by the turbans that rolld on the sand,
The foremost of these were the best of his band :
Crimson and green were the shawls of their wear,
And each scalp had a single long tuft of hair,
All the rest was shaven and bare.
The scalps were in the wild dog's maw,
The hair was tangled round his jaw.
But close by the shore, on the edge of the gulf,
There sate a vulture flapping a wolf,
Who had stolen from the hills, but kept away,
Scared by the dogs, from the human prey ;
But he seized on his share of a steed that lay,
Pick'd by the birds, on the sands of the bay.
Alp turn'd him from the sickening sight
Never had shaken his nerves in fight;