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And here, assembled cross-legg'd round their trays,
Small social parties just begun to dine ; Pilaus and meats of all sorts met the gaze,
And flasks of Samian and of Chian wine, And sherbet cooling in the porous vase ;
Above them their dessert grew on its vine, The orange and pomegranate nodding o’er, Dropp'd in their laps, scarce pluck'd, their mellow store.
A band of children, round a snow-white ram,
There wreathe his venerable horns with flowers ; While peaceful, as if still an unwean'd lamb,
The patriarch of the Rock all gently cowers
Or eats from out the palm, or playful lowers
Their classic profiles, and glittering dresses,
Their large black eyes, and soft seraphic cheeks, Crimson as cleft pomegranates, their long tresses,
The gesture which enchants, the eye that speaks, The innocence which happy childhood blesses,
Made quite a picture of these little Greeks ; So that the philosophical beholder Sigh’d, for their sakes—that they should e'er grow older.
Afar, a dwarf buffoon stood telling tales
To a sedate grey circle of old smokers
Of wonderful replies from Arab jokers,
Of rocks bewitch'd that open to the knockers,
Here was no lack of innocent diversion
For the imagination or the senses, Song, dance, wine, music, stories from the Persian,
All pretty pastimes in which no offence is ; But Lambro saw all these things with aversion,
Perceiving in his absence such expenses, Dreading that climax of all human ills, The inflammation of his weekly bills.
Ah! what is man? what perils still environ
The happiest mortals even after dinnerA day of gold from out an age of iron
Is all that life allows the luckiest sinner;
That lures, to flay alive, the young beginner ;
He—being a man who seldom used a word
Too much, and wishing gladly to surprise (In general he surprised men with the sword)
His daughter-had not sent before to advise Of his arrival, so that no one stirr'd ;
And long he paused to re-assure his eyes, In fact much more astonish'd than delighted, To find so much good company invited.
He did not know (alas ! how men will lie)
That a report (especially the Greeks) Avouch'd his death (such people never die),
And put his house in mourning several weeks,But now their eyes and also lips were dry ;
The bloom, too, had return'd to Haidée's cheeks, Her tears, too, being return'd into their fount, She now kept house upon her own account.
Hence all this rice, meat, dancing, wine, and fiddling,
Which turn'd the isle into a place of pleasure ; The servants all were getting drunk or idling,
A life which made them happy beyond measure. Her father's hospitality seem'd middling,
Compared with what Haidée did with his treasure ; 'Twas wonderful how things went on improving, While she had not one hour to spare from loving.
Perhaps you think in stumbling on this feast
He flew into a passion, and in fact
Perhaps you prophesy some sudden act,
To teach his people to be more exact, And that, proceeding at a very high rate, He show'd the royal penchants of a pirate.
You're wrong.–He was the mildest manner'd man
That ever scuttled ship or cut a throat; With such true breeding of a gentleman,
You never could divine his real thought ; No courtier could, and scarcely woman can
Gird more deceit within a petticoat; Pity he loved adventurous life's variety, He was so great a loss to good society.
A STORMED CITY.
(DON JUAN, Canto viii. Stanzas 123-127.)
ALL that the mind would shrink from of excesses ;
All that the body perpetrates of bad ;
All that the devil would do if run stark mad;
All by which hell is peopled, or as sad
If here and there some transient trait of pity
Was shown, and some more noble heart broke through Its bloody bond, and saved, perhaps, some pretty
Child, or an aged, helpless man or two-
Where thousand loves, and ties, and duties grow?
Think how the joys of reading a Gazette
Are purchased by all agonies and crimes : Or if these do not move you, don't forget
Such doom may be your own in after-times. Meantime the Taxes, Castlereagh, and Debt,
Are hints as good as sermons, or as rhymes. Read your own hearts and Ireland's present story, Then feed her famine fat with Wellesley's glory.
But still there is unto a patriot nation,
Which loves so well its country and its king, A subject of sublimest exultation
Bear it, ye Muses, on your brightest wing ! Howe'er the mighty locust, Desolation,
Strip your green fields, and to your harvests cling, Gaunt famine never shall approach the throneThough Ireland starve, great George weighs twenty stone.
But let me put an end unto my theme :
There was an end of Ismail-hapless town!
And redly ran his blushing waters down.
Rose still ; but fainter were the thunders grown :