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And merely like a spur became :
Increased his fury and affright :
We near’d the wild wood—'twas so wide,
But far apart—and well it were,
Or else a different lot were mine
The boughs gave way, and did not tear My limbs ; and I found strength to bear My wounds, already scarr'd with coldMy bonds forbade to loose my hold. We rustled through the leaves like wind, Left shrubs, and trees, and wolves behind ; By night I heard them on the track, Their troop came hard upon our back, With their long gallop, which can tire The hound's deep hate, and hunter's fire : Where'er we flew they follow'd on, Nor left us with the morning sun; Behind I saw them, scarce a rood, At day-break winding through the wood, And through the night had heard their feet Their stealing, rustling step repeat. Oh ! how I wish'd for spear or sword, At least to die amidst the horde, And perish—if it must be soAt bay, destroying many a foe. When first my courser's race begun, I wish'd the goal already won ; But now I doubted strength and speed. Vain doubt! his swift and savage breed Had nerved him like the mountain-roe; Nor faster falls the blinding snow Which whelms the peasant near the door Whose threshold he shall cross no more, Bewilder'd with the dazzling blast, Than through the forest-paths he pastUntired, untamed, and worse than wild ; All furious as a favour'd child Balk'd of its wish ; or fiercer stillA woman piqued—who has her will.
The wood was past ; 'twas more than noon, But chill the air, although in June ; Or it might be my veins ran coldProlong'd endurance tames the bold; And I was then not what I seem, But headlong as a wintry stream, And wore my feelings out before I well could count their causes o'er : And what with fury, fear, and wrath, The tortures which beset my path, Cold, hunger, sorrow, shame, distress, Thus bound in nature's nakedness ; Sprung from a race whose rising blood When stirr'd beyond its calmer mood, And trodden hard upon, is like The rattle-snake's in act to strike, What marvel if this worn-out trunk Beneath its woes a moment sunk? The earth gave way, the skies roll'd round, I seem'd to sink upon the ground; But err'd, for I was fastly bound. My heart turn'd sick, my brain grew sore, And throbb'd awhile, then beat no more ; The skies spun like a mighty wheel ; I saw the trees like drunkards reel, And a slight flash sprang o'er my eyes, Which saw no farther : he who dies Can die no more than then I died. O’ertortured by that ghastly ride, I felt the blackness come and go, And strove to wake; but could not make My senses climb up from below : I felt as on a plank at sea, When all the waves that dash o'er thee, At the same time upheave and whelm,
And hurl thee towards a desert realm.
But a confusion worse than such :
I own that I should deem it much,
My blood reflow'd, though thick and chill ;
My heart began once more to thrill;
My stiffen'd limbs were rebaptized.
A haven I but little prized,
In those suspended pangs I lay,
With glossy skin, and dripping mane,
And reeling limbs; and reeking flank,
Up the repelling bank.
And onward, onward, onward, seems,
Like precipices in our dreams,
Or scatter'd spot of dusky green,
But nought distinctly seen
That very cheat had cheer'd me then !
Of the abodes of men,
Onward we went—but slack and slow;
His savage force at length o'erspent,
All feebly foaming went.