Page images

Of involuted periods; ye who love

Majestic Nature, and delight to trace

Her solitary steps amidst the wilds

Of rude magnificence, attend my song,

And I will lead you by a varied way 60

O'er riven rocks, that lean upon the breast

Of the dark billow, by the yawning gulph

Of hideous caverns, thro'the shade of woods,

And scenes immortalis'd in Grecian strains.

How bleak and vast these mountains overhang 6 5
The vale of death, the portal of the tomb!
The mind, oppress'd and chill'd with sudden fear,
Drinks deep the gloomy sorrows of the scene.
High o'er our heads the nodding steeps impend,
And crags, in massy fragments hurl'd around, 70
Blacken the path beneath. Cocytus' roar
Is heard with lamentation fraught and woe,
Distant, and mingling with the rush of winds.
Yonder rolls Acheron his dismal stream,
Sunk in a narrow bed; cypress and fir 7 5

Wave their dun foliage on his rugged banks,
And underneath their boughs the parched ground,5

Strew'd o'er with juniper, and wither'd leaves,

Seems blasted by no mortal tread. The clouds,

Ting'd by the ruddy glare of ev'ning, cast

Their dusky shadows far into the vale,

Or from the purple peak of mountain cliff,

Rolling in floods of vapour, wave o'er wave

Fall heavily; beneath their lurid shroud

The lake of Acherusia slumbers, veil'd

With stern incumbent horrors, melting now

Into impervious shade, and now illum'd

By a broad gleam of liquid radiance

Shot from the op'ning skies. This is the place

Sung by the ancient masters of the lyre,

Where disembodied spirits, ere they left

Their earthly mansions, linger'd for a time

Upon the confines of eternal night,

Mourning their doom; and oft th' astonish'd hind,

As home he journey'd at the fall of eve,

View'd unknown forms flitting across his path,

And in the breeze that wav'd the sighing boughs,

Heard shrieks of woe; the Spirit that delights

To rack the heart with terror's fiercest pangs

E'en yet survives, and with the satellites 100

Of Tyranny encircled, jays to hear

The cries of grief deep-sounding o'er the lake.

Hark! from yon bastion'd tow rs, whose shadows lie On the smooth water, shrill discordant notes From trumpet and from attahal proclaim 105 The hour of audience. The Seraglio's court, Late silent, lest the busy tread might break The Tyrant's slumbers, echoes now with hum Of moving vassals; e'en the drowsy guard, Who at the gateway, stretch'd upon his mat, 110 Nods o'er his long chibouque,1 awak'ning starts, And rolls his heavy eyes, then sleeps again. In strange and motley garb the varied groupes Mingle together; to the loud guitar The Arnaut2 sings his mountain tale, and charms 11 5 His long-hair'd comrades with the martial notes. Beneath yon palm the white-rob'd Dervisch tells His beads of amber, tranquil, undisturb'd, Though close beside him a vocif'rous Greek, With shrug and leer, and hands to Heav'n uprais'd, 120 1 (Chibouque.) Long Turkish pipe. * (Arnaut.) Albanian soldier.

Clamours aloud. The grave and solemn Turk

Seems not to view the passing scene, intent

Upon the nice adjustment of his beard,

Or breathing forth from nostril, ear, and mouth

The fragrant cloud, in silent ecstasy. 125

Loud clattering hoofs ring in the portal's arch——

A Tatar3 comes—dusty and faint, he spurs

Once more his jaded steed, then springs to earth,

And plucks the fatal firman from his breast,

Mandate of death; th' appalled multitude ISO

Read its dire purport in his gloomy brow

And harden'd visage. Wild and uncouth forms

Crowd round yon door; Bostandjis,* Thocadars,6

Spahis,6 and fur-capp'd Greeks, expecting wait

Until the Tcaouch7 with his silver wand 13 5

3 (Tatar.) The couriers of the Porte, and of the different Pachas. They are distinguished by a high black cap, surmounted by a yellow pad.

4 (Bostandjis.) Literally gardeners. They are a kind of body guard to the Grand Seignor, and are I believe sent on messages of trust to the provinces. I met a party of them near Larissa.

5 (Thocadars.) Attendants who walk on foot by the side of the Grand Seignor's or Vizir's horse.

6 (Spahis.) Turkish cavalry.

r (Tcaouch.) The officer who introduces to an audience. He carries in his hand a short wand, adorned at the top with silver chains and bells.

Waves the red curtain,8 and admits the crowd.

The trembling slaves, with heads low bending down,

And hands across their bosoms laid, approach

The low divan, where, underneath his sword,

Ali reposes: white upon his vest, 140

Spangled with gems, his beard descends, and smiles

Play on those lips which breathe but to destroy.

Despot of Greece! who here hast fix'd thy throne,
Remorseless Ali! shall the Muse approach
Thy footstool, and low crouching at thy nod, 14 5

Raise tributary songs of servile praise
To swell thy triumph? Shall she hail the chief
Who treads exulting on the prostrate neck
Of Liberty, and rolls his savage eye

To blast the germs of science and of art? 150

No—she shall ne'er degrade her sacred trust;

But from the view of thy barbaric pomp,

Thy baths, thy harems, and thy palaces,

Thy painted kiosks, and thy orange groves,

She turns indignant to the bleeding form 155

8 In Turkey a curtain, generally of red cloth, is suspended over the door of the chamber.

« PreviousContinue »