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(THE CORSAIR, Canto iii.)
Slow sinks, more lovely ere his race be run,
Along Morea's hills the setting sun ;
Not, as in northern climes, obscurely bright,
But one unclouded blaze of living light ;
O’er the hush'd deep the yellow beam he throws,
Gilds the green wave that trembles as it glows;
On old Ægina's rock and Hydra's isle
The god of gladness sheds his parting smile ;
O'er his own regions lingering loves to shine,
Though there his altars are no more divine.
Descending fast, the mountain-shadows kiss
Thy glorious gulf, unconquer'd Salamis !
Their azure arches through the long expanse,
More deeply purpled, meet his mellowing glance,
And tenderest tints, along their summits driven,
Mark his gay course, and own the hues of heaven;
Till, darkly shaded from the land and deep,
Behind his Delphian rock he sinks to sleep.
On such an eve his palest beam he cast
When, Athens ! here thy wisest look'd his last.
How watch'd thy better sons his farewell ray,
That closed their murder'd sage's latest day!
Not yet—not yet—Sol pauses on the hill,
The precious hour of parting lingers still ;
But sad his light to agonising eyes,
And dark the mountain's once delightful dyes;
Gloom o'er the lovely land he seem'd to pour,
The land where Phoebus never frown'd before ;
But e'er he sunk below Citheron's head,
The cup of woe was quaff’d—the spirit filed ;
The soul of him that scorn’d to fear or fly,
Who lived and died as none can live or die.
But, lo ! from high Hymettus to the plain The queen of night asserts her silent reign ; No murky vapour, herald of the storm, Hides her fair face, or girds her glowing form. With cornice glimmering as the moonbeams play, There the white column greets her grateful ray, And bright around, with quivering beams beset, Her emblem sparkles o'er the minaret ; The groves of olive scatter'd dark and wide, Wherę meek Cephisus sheds his scanty tide, The cypress saddening by the sacred mosque, The gleaming turret of the gay kiosk, And sad and sombre mid the holy calm, Near Theseus' fane, yon solitary palm ; All, tinged with varied hues, arrest the eye ; And dull were his that pass'd them heedless by.
Again the Ægean, heard no more afar, Lulls his chafed breast from elemental war; Again his waves in milder tints unfold Their long expanse of sapphire and of gold, Mix'd with the shades of many a distant isle, That frown, where gentler ocean deigns to smile.
(From THE GIAOUR.) FAIR clime! where every season smiles Benignant o'er those blessed isles, Which, seen from far Colonna's height, Make glad the heart that hails the sight, And lend to loneliness delight. There mildly dimpling, Ocean's cheek Reflects the tints of many a peak Caught by the laughing tides that lave These Edens of the eastern wave : And if at times a transient breeze Break the blue crystal of the seas, Or sweep one blossom from the trees, How welcome is each gentle air That wakes and wafts the odours there! For there—the Rose o'er crag or vale, Sultana of the Nightingale,
The maid for whom his melody,
His thousand songs are heard on high, Blooms blushing to her lover's tale : His queen, the garden queen, his Rose, Unbent by winds, unchilld by snows, Far from the winters of the west, By every breeze and season blest, Returns the sweets by nature given In softest incense back to heaven ; And grateful yields that smiling sky Her fairest hue and fragrant sigh. And many a summer flower is there, And many a shade that love might share, And many a grotto, meant for rest, That holds the pirate for a guest ;
Whose bark in sheltering cove below
Lurks for the passing peaceful prow,
Till the gay mariner's guitar
Is heard, and seen the evening star ;
Then stealing with the muffled oar
Far shaded by the rocky shore,
Rush the night-prowlers on the prey,
And turn to groans his roundelay.
Strange—that where Nature loved to trace,
As if for Gods, a dwelling place,
And every charm and grace hath mix'd
Within the paradise she fix’d,
There man, enamour'd of distress,
Should mar it into wilderness,
And trample, brute-like, o'er each flower
That tasks not one laborious hour;
Nor claims the culture of his hand
To bloom along the fairy land,
But springs as to preclude his care,
And sweetly woos him—but to spare !
Strange—that where all is peace beside,
There passion riots in her pride,
And lust and rapine wildly reign
To darken o'er the fair domain.
It is as though the fiends prevail'd
Against the seraphs they assail'd,
And, fix'd on heavenly thrones, should dwell
The freed inheritors of hell ;
So soft the scene, so form’d for joy,
So curst the tyrants that destroy !
He who hath bent him o'er the dead
Ere the first day of death is fled,
The first dark day of nothingness,
The last of danger and distress
(Before Decay's effacing fingers
Have swept the lines where beauty lingers)
And mark'd the mild angelic air,
The rapture of repose that's there,
The fix'd yet tender traits that streak
The languor of the placid cheek,
And—but for that sad shrouded eye,
That fires not, wins not, weeps not, now,
And but for that chill, changeless brow,
Where cold Obstruction's apathy
Appals the gazing mourner's heart,
As if to him it could impart
The doom he dreads, yet dwells upon;
Yes, but for these and these alone,
Some moments, ay, one treacherous hour,
He still might doubt the tyrant's power ;
So fair, so calm, so softly seald,
The first, last look by death reveal'd !
Such is the aspect of this shore ;
'Tis Greece, but living Greece no more !
So coldly sweet, so deadly fair,
We start, for soul is wanting there.
Hers is the loveliness in death,
That parts not quite with parting breath ;
But beauty with that fearful bloom,
That hue which haunts it to the tomb,
Expression's last receding ray,
A gilded halo hovering round decay,
The farewell beam of Feeling past away!
Spark of that flame, perchance of heavenly birth,
Which gleams, but warms no more its cherish'd earth
Clime of the unforgotten brave ! Whose land from plain to mountain-cave Was Freedom's home or Glory's grave ! Shrine of the mighty! can it be,