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On, on the vessel flies, the land is gone,
And winds are rude in Biscay's sleepless bay.
Four days are sped, but with the fifth, anon,
New shores descried make every bosom gay;
And Cintra's mountain greets them on their way,
And Tagus dashing onward to the deep,
His fabled golden tribute bent to pay;
And soon on board the Lusian pilots leap,
Then slowly climb the many-winding way,
And frequent turn to linger as you go,
From loftier rocks new loveliness survey,
And rest ye at «our Lady's house of woe;»
Where frugal monks their little relics show,
And sundry legends to the stranger tell :
Here impious men have punished been, and lo!
Deep in yon cave Honorius long did dwell,
And steer 'twixt fertile shores where yet few rustics reap. In hope to merit heaven by making earth a hell.
Oh! Christ! it is a goodly sight to see
What Heaven hath done for this delicious land!
What fruits of fragrance blush on every tree!
What goodly prospects o'er the hills expand!
But man would mar them with an impious hand:
And when the Almighty lifts his fiercest scourge
'Gainst those who most transgress his high command,
With treble vengeance will his hot shafts urge
Gaul's locust host, and earth from fellest foemen purge.
What beauties doth Lisboa first unfold! Her image floating on that noble tide, Which poets vainly pave with sands of gold, But now whereon a thousand keels did ride Of mighty strength, since Albion was allied, And to the Lusians did her aid afford: A nation swoln with ignorance and pride, Who lick yet loathe the hand that waves the sword To save them from the wrath of Gaul's unsparing lord.
But whoso entereth within this town, That, sheening far, celestial seems to be, Disconsolate will wander up and down, 'Mid many things unsightly to strange ee; For hut and palace show like filthily, The dingy denizens are reared in dirt; Ne personage of high or mean degree Doth care for cleanness of surtout or shirt, Though shent with Egypt's plague, unkempt, unwash'd, unhurt.
Poor, paltry slaves! yet born 'midst noblest scenes—
Why, Nature, waste thy wonders on such men?
Lo! Cintra's glorious Eden intervenes
In variegated maze of mount and glen.
Ah, me! what hand can pencil guide, or pen, To follow half on which the eye dilates, Through views more dazzling unto mortal ken Than those whereof such things the bard relates, Who to the awe-struck world unlock'd Elysium's gates?
The horrid crags, by toppling convent crown'd, The cork-trees hoar that clothe the shaggy steep, The mountain-moss by scorching skies imbrown'd, The sunken glen, whose sunless shrubs must weep, The tender azure of the unruffled deep, The orange tints that gild the greenest bough, The torrents that from cliff to valley leap, The vine on high, the willow branch below, Mix'd in one mighty scene, with varied beauty glow.
And here and there, as up the crags you spring, Mark many rude-carved crosses near the path: Yet deem not these devotion's offeringThese are memorials frail of murderous wrath: For wheresoe'er the shrieking victim hath Pour'd forth his blood beneath the assassin's knife, Some hand erects a cross of mouldering lath; And grove and glen with thousand such are rife Throughout this purple land, where law secures not life.3 XXII.
On sloping mounds, or in the vale beneath, Are domes where whilome kings did make repair; But now the wild flowers round them only breathe; Yet ruin'd splendour still is lingering there. And yonder towers the prince's palace fair : There thou too, Vathek! England's wealthiest son, Once form'd thy paradise, as not aware When wanton wealth her mightiest deeds hath done, Meek peace voluptuous lures was ever wont to shun.
Here didst thou dwell, here schemes of pleasure plan,
Beneath yon mountain's ever-beauteous brow:
But now, as if a thing unblest by man,
Thy fairy dwelling is as lone as thou!
Here giant weeds a passage scarce allow
To halls deserted, portals gaping wide:
Fresh lessons to the thinking bosom, how
Vain are the pleasa unces on earth supplied;
Swept into wrecks anon by time's ungentle tide!
Behold the hall where chiefs were late convened! 4
Oh! dome displeasing unto British eye!
With diadem hight foolscap, lo! a fiend,
A little fiend that scoffs incessantly,
There sits in parchment robe array'd, and by
His side is hung a seal and sable scroll,
Where blazon'd glare names known to chivalry,
And sundry signatures adorn the roll,
Whereat the urchin points and laughs with all his soul.
Convention is the dwarfish demon styled
That foil'd the knights in Marialva's dome:
Of brains (if brains they had) he them beguiled,
And turned a nation's shallow joy to gloom.
Here folly dash'd to earth the victor's plume,
And policy regain'd what arms had lost :
For chiefs like ours in vain may laurels bloom! Woe to the conqu'ring, not the conquer'd host, Since baffled triumph droops on Lusitania's coast!
Teems not each ditty with the glorious tale?
Ah! such, alas! the hero's amplest fate!
When granite moulders and when records fail,
A peasant's plaint prolongs his dubious date.
Pride! bend thine eye from heaven to thine estate,
See how the mighty shrink into a song!
Can volume, pillar, pile preserve the great?
Or must thou trust tradition's simple tongue,
When flattery sleeps with thee, and history does thee
More bleak to view the hills at length recede,
And, less luxuriant, smoother vales extend:
Immense horizon-bounded plains succeed!
Far as the eye discerns, withouten end,
Spain's realms appear whereon her shepherds tend
Flocks, whose rich fleece right well the trader knows-
Now must the pastor's arm his lambs defend :
For Spain is compass'd by unyielding foes,
Awake! ye sons of Spain! awake! advance!
Lo! Chivalry, your ancient goddess, cries,
But wields not, as of old, her thirsty lance,
Nor shakes her crimson plumage in the skies:
Now on the smoke of blazing bolts she flies,
And speaks in thunder through yon engine's roar :
In every peal she calls-« Awake! arise!»>
Say, is her voice more feeble than of yore,
And all must shield their all, or share subjection's woes. When her war-song was heard on Andalusia's shore?
Hark! heard you not those hoofs of dreadful note!
Sounds not the clang of conflict on the heath?
Saw ye not whom the reeking sabre smote;
Nor saved your brethren ere they sank beneath
Tyrants and tyrants' slaves?—the fires of death,
The bale-fires flash on high :-from rock to rock
Each volley tells that thousands cease to breathe;
Death rides upon the sulphury Siroc,
Enough of battle's minions! let them play
Their game of lives, and barter breath for fame:
Fame that will scarce reanimate their clay,
Though thousands fall to deck some single name.
In sooth, 't were sad to thwart their noble aim
Who strike, blest hirelings! for their country's good,
And die, that living might have proved her shame;
Perish'd, perchance, in some domestic feud,
Red Battle stamps his foot, and nations feel the shock. Or in a narrower sphere wild rapine's path pursued.
Lo! where the giant on the mountain stands,
His blood-red tresses deep'ning in the sun
With death-shot glowing in his fiery hands,
And eye that scorcheth all it glares upon;
Restless it rolls, now fix'd, and now anon
Flashing afar,-and at his iron feet
Destruction cowers to mark what deeds are done;
For on this morn three potent nations meet,
To shed before his shrine the blood he deems most sweet.
By Heaven! it is a splendid sight to see
(For one who hath no friend, no brother there)
Their rival scarfs of mix'd embroidery,
Their various arms that glitter in the air!
What gallant war-hounds rouse them from their lair,
And gnash their fangs, loud yelling for the prey!
All join the chase, but few the triumph share;
The grave shall bear the chiefest prize away,
And havoc scarce for joy can number their array.
Three hosts combine to offer sacrifice;
Three tongues prefer strange orisons on high;
Three gaudy standards flout the pale blue skies;
The shouts are France, Spain, Albion, Victory!
The foe, the victim, and the fond ally
That fights for all, but ever fights in vain,
Are met—as if at home they could not die-
To feed the crow on Talavera's plain,
And fertilize the field that each pretends to gain.
There shall they rot-ambition's honour'd fools! Yes, honour decks the turf that wraps their clay! Vain sophistry! in these behold the tools, The broken tools, that tyrants cast away By myriads, when they dare to pave their way With human hearts-to what?-a dream alone. Can despots compass aught that hails their sway? Or call with truth one span of earth their own, Save that wherein at last they crumble bone by bone?
Oh, Albuera! glorious field of grief! As o'er thy plain the pilgrim prick'd his steed, Who could foresee thee, in a space so brief, A scene where mingling foes should boast and bleed! Peace to the perish'd! may the warrior's meed And tears of triumph their reward prolong! Till others fall where other chieftains lead, Thy name shall circle round the gaping throng, And shine in worthless lays, the theme of transient song!
Full swiftly Harold wends his lonely way
Where proud Sevilla triumphs unsubdued :
Yet is she free-the spoiler's wish'd-for prey!
Soon, soon shall conquest's fiery foot intrude,
Blackening her lovely domes with traces rude.
Inevitable hour! 'gainst fate to strive
Where desolation plants her famished brood
Is vain, or Ilion, Tyre might yet survive,
And virtue vanquish all, and murder cease to thrive.
But all unconscious of the coming doom,
The feast, the song, the revel here abounds;
Strange modes of merriment the hours consume,
Nor bleed these patriots with their country's wounds:
Not here war's clarion, but love's rebeck sounds;
Here folly still his votaries enthralls :
And young-eyed lewdness walks her midnight rounds:
Girt with the silent crimes of capitals,
Still to the last kind vice clings to the tott'ring walls.
Not so the rustic-with his trembling mate
He lurks, nor casts his heavy eye afar,
Lest he should view his vineyard desolate,
Blasted below the dun hot breath of war.
No more beneath soft eve's consenting star
Fandango twirls his jocund castanet:
Ah! monarchs! could ye taste the mirth ye mar,
Not in the toils of glory would ye fret;
The hoarse dull drum would sleep, and man be happy yet.
How carols now the lusty muleteer?
Of love, romance, devotion, is his lay,
As whilome he was wont the leagues to cheer,
His quick bells wildly jingling on the way?
No! as he speeds, he chaunts :-« Vivâ el Rey!» 8
And checks his song to execrate Godoy,
The royal wittol Charles, and curse the day,
When first Spain's queen beheld the black-eyed boy,
And gore-faced treason sprung from her adulterate joy.
On yon long, level plain, at distance crown'd
With crags, whereon those Moorish turrets rest,
Wide-scatter'd hoof-marks dint the wounded ground;
And, scathed by fire, the green sward's darken'd vest
Tells that the foe was Andalusia's guest:
Here was the camp, the watch-flame, and the host,
Here the bold peasant storm'd the dragon's nest;
Still does he mark it with triumphant boast,
And points to yonder cliffs, which oft were won and lost.
Ye who shall marvel when you hear her tale,
Oh had you known her in her softer hour,
Mark'd her black eye that mocks her coal-black veil,
Beard her light lively tones in lady's bower,
Seen her long locks that foil the painter's power,
Her fairy form, with more than female grace,
Scarce would you deem that Saragoza's tower
Beheld her smile in danger's Gorgon face,
Thin the closed ranks, and lead in glory's fearful chase.
Yet are Spain's maids no race of Amazons,
But form'd for all the witching arts of love:
Though thus in arms they emulate her sons,
And in the horrid phalanx dare to move,
"T is but the tender fierceness of the dove,
Pecking the hand that hovers o'er her mate:
In softness, as in firmness, far above
Remoter females, famed for sickening prate;
Her mind is nobler sure, her charms perchance as great.
The seal love's dimpling finger hath impress'd
Denotes how soft that chin which bears his touch:12
Her lips, whose kisses pout to leave their nest,
Bid man be valiant ere he merit such:
Her glance how wildly beautiful! how much
Hath Phoebus woo'd in vain to spoil her cheek,
Which glows yet smoother from his amorous clutch!
Who round the north for paler dames would seek?
How poor their forms appear! how languid, wan, and
And must they fall? the young, the proud, the brave,
To swell one bloated chief's unwholesome reigu?
No step between submission and a grave?
The rise of rapine and the fall of Spain?
And doth the Power that man adores ordain
Their doom, nor heed the suppliant's appeal?
Is all that desperate valour acts in vain?
Match me, ye climes! which poets love to laud;
Match me, ye harams of the land! where now
I strike my strain, far distant, to applaud
Beauties that ev'n a cynic must avow;
Match me those houries, whom ye scarce allow
To taste the gale lest love should ride the wind,
With Spain's dark-glancing daughters-deign to know
There your wise prophet's paradise we find,
And counsel sage, and patriotic zeal,
The veteran's skill, youth's fire, and manhood's heart His black-eyed maids of heaven, angelically kind.
Oh, thou Parnassus!13 whom I now survey,
Not in the frenzy of a dreamer's eye,
Not in the fabled landscape of a lay,
Is it for this the Spanish maid, aroused,
Hangs on the willow her unstrung guitar,
And, all unsex'd, the anlace hath espoused,
Sung the loud song, and dared the deed of war?
And she whom once the semblance of a scar
Appall'd, and owlet's larum chill'd with dread,
Now views the column-scattering bay'net jar,
The falchion flash, and o'er the yet warm dead
Stalks with Minerva's step where Mars might quake to Though from thy heights no more one muse will wave
But soaring snow-clad through thy native sky,
In the wild pomp of mountain majesty!
What marvel if I thus essay to sing!
The humblest of thy pilgrims passing by
Would gladly woo thine echoes with his string,
Oft have I dream'd of thee! whose glorious name
Who knows not, knows not man's divinest lore:
And now I view thee, 't is, alas! with shame
That I in feeblest accents must adore.
When I recount thy worshippers of yore
I tremble, and can only bend the knee;
Nor raise my voice, nor vainly dare to soar,
But gaze beneath thy cloudy canopy
In silent joy to think at last I look on thee!