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Where'er we tread 't is haunted, holy ground;
No earth of thine is lost in vulgar mould,
But one vast realm of wonder spreads around,
And all the muse's tales seem truly told.
Till the sense aches with gazing to behold
The scenes our earliest dreams have dwelt upon:
Each hill and dale, each deepening glen and wold
Defies the power which crush'd thy temples gone:
Age shakes Athena's tower, but spares gray Marathon.
sun, the soil, but not the slave, the same;
Unchanged in all except its foreign lord-
Preserves alike its bounds and boundless fame
The battle-field, where Persia's victim horde
First bow'd beneath the brunt of Hellas' sword,
As on the morn to distant glory dear,
When Marathon became a magic word; 39
Which utter'd, to the hearer's eye appear
The camp, the host, the fight, the conqueror's career,
Yet to the remnants of thy splendour past
Shall pilgrims, pensive, but unwearied, throng;
Long shall the voyager, with the Ionian blast,
Hail the bright clime of battle and of song;
Long shall thine annals and immortal tongue
Fill with thy fame the youth of many a shore;
Boast of the aged! lesson of the young!
Which sages venerate and bards adore,
As Pallas and the muse unveil their awful lore.
The parted bosom clings to wonted home,
If aught that's kindred cheer the welcome hearth;
He that is lonely hither let him roam,
And gaze complacent on congenial earth.
Greece is no lightsome land of social mirth;
But he whom sadness sootheth may abide,
And scarce regret the region of his birth,
When wandering slow by Delphi's sacred side,
Or gazing o'er the plains where Greek and Persian died.
Let such approach this consecrated land,
And pass in peace along the magic waste;
But spare its relics-let no busy hand
Deface the scenes, already how defaced!
Not for such purpose were these altars placed :
Revere the remnants nations once revered :
So may our country's name be undisgraced,
So mayst thou prosper where thy youth was rear'd,
By every honest joy of love and life endear'd!
For thee, who thus in too protracted song
Hast soothed thine idlesse with inglorious lays,
Soon shall thy voice be lost amid the throng
Of louder minstrels in these later days:
To such resign the strife for fading bays-
Ill may such contest now the spirit move
Which heeds nor keen reproach nor partial praise;
Since cold each kinder heart that might approve,
And none are left to please when none are left to love.
The flying Mede, his shaftless broken bow;
The fiery Greek, his red pursuing spear;
Mountains above, earth's, ocean's plain below;
Death in the front, destruction in the rear!
Such was the scene-what now remaineth here?
What sacred trophy marks the hallow'd ground,
Recording freedom's smile and Asia's tear?
The rifled urn, the violated mound,
And clings to thoughts now better far removed!
But time shall tear thy shadow from me last.
All thou couldst have of mine, stern Death! thou hast;
The parent, friend, and now the more than friend:
Ne'er yet for one thine arrows flew so fast,
And grief with grief continuing still to blend,
The dust thy courser's hoof,rude stranger! spurns around. Hath snatch'd the little joy that life had yet to lend.
Thou too art gone, thou loved and lovely one!
Whom youth and youth's affection bound to me;
Who did for me what none beside have done,
Nor shrank from one albeit unworthy thee.
What is my being? thou hast ceased to be!
Nor staid to welcome here thy wanderer home,
Who mourns o'er hours which we no more shall sec-
Would they had never been, or were to come! Would he had ne'er return'd to find fresh cause to roam!
Oh! ever loving, lovely, and beloved!
How selfish sorrow ponders on the past,
Then must I plunge again into the crowd,
And follow all that peace disdains to seek?
Where revel calls, and laughter, vainly loud,
False to the heart, distorts the hollow cheek,
To leave the flagging spirit doubly weak:
Still o'er the features, which perforce they cheer,
To feign the pleasure or conceal the pique;
Smiles form the channel of a future tear,
Or raise the writhing lip with ill-dissembled sneer.
What is the worst of woes that wait on age?
What stamps the wrinkle deeper on the brow?
To view each loved one blotted from life's page,
And be alone on earth, as I am now.
Before the Chastener humbly let me bow,
O'er hearts divided and o'er hopes destroy'd :
Roll on, vain days! full reckless may ye flow,
Since time hath reft whate'er my soul enjoy'd,
And with the ills of Eld mine earlier years alloy'd.
But soon he knew himself the most unfit
Of men to herd with man; with whom he held
Little in common; untaught to submit
His thoughts to others, though his soul was quell'd
In youth by his own thoughts; still uncompell'd
He would not yield dominion of his mind
And Harold stands upon this place of skulls,
The grave of France, the deadly Waterloo!
How in an hour the power which gave annuls
Its gifts, transferring fame as fleeting too!--
In « pride of place » here last the eagle flew,
Then tore with bloody talon the rent plain,
Pierced by the shaft of banded nations through;
Ambition's life and labours all were vain;
Ah! then and there was hurrying to and fro,
And gathering tears, and tremblings of distress,
And cheeks all pale, which but an hour ago
Blush'd at the praise of their own loveliness;
And there were sudden partings, such as press
The life from out young hearts, and choking sighs
Which ne'er might be repeated; who could guess
If ever more should meet those mutual eyes,
Since upon nights so sweet such awful morn could rise?
And there was mounting in hot haste: the steed,
The mustering squadron, and the clattering car,
Went pouring forward with impetuous speed,
And swiftly forming in the ranks of war;
And the deep thunder peal on peal afar;
And near, the beat of the alarming drum
Roused up the soldier ere the morning star;
While throng'd the citizens with terror dumb,
Or whispering, with white lips-« The foe! They come!
And Ardennes 6 waves above them her green leaves,
Dewy with nature's tear-drops, as they pass,
Grieving, if aught inanimate e'er grieves,
Over the unreturning brave,-alas!
Ere evening to be trodden like the grass
Which now beneath them, but above shall
In its next verdure, when this fiery mass
And wild and high the « Cameron's gathering » rose!
The war-note of Lochiel, which Albyn's hills
Have heard, and heard too, have her Saxon foes:-
How in the noon of night that pibroch thrills,
Savage and shrill! But with the breath which fills
Their mountain-pipe, so fill the mountaineers
With the fierce native daring which instils
The bars survive the captive they enthral,
The stirring memory of a thousand years,
The day drags through though storms keep out the sun;
And Evan's, Donald's fame rings in each clansman's ears! And thus the heart will break, yet brokenly live on:
There have been tears and breaking hearts for thee,
And mine were nothing, had I such to give;
But when I stood beneath the fresh green tree,
Which living waves where thou didst cease to live,
And saw around me the wide field revive
With fruits and fertile promise, and the spring
Come forth her work of gladness to contrive,
With all her reckless birds upon the wing,
I turn'd from all she brought to those she could not bring.7
Last noon behield them full of lusty life,
Last eve in beauty's circle proudly gay,
The midnight brought the signal-sound of strife,
The morn the marshalling in arms,—the day
Battle's magnificently-stern array!
The thunder-clouds close o'er it, which when rent,
The earth is cover'd thick with other clay,
Which her own clay shall cover, heap'd and pent,
Rider and horse,-friend, foe,-in one red burial blent!
I turn'd to thee, to thousands, of whom each
And one as all a ghastly gap did make
In his own kind and kindred, whom to teach
Forgetfulness were mercy for their sake;
The archangel's trump, not glory's, must awake
Those whom they thirst for; though the sound of fame
May for a moment soothe, it cannot slake
The fever of vain longing, and the name
So honour'd but assumes a stronger, bitterer claim.
Even as a broken mirror, which the glass
In every fragment multiplies; and makes
A thousand images of one that was
The same, and still the more, the more it breaks;
And thus the heart will do which not forsakes,
Living in shatter'd guise, and still, and cold,
And bloodless, with its sleepless sorrow aches,
Yet withers on till all without is old,
Of living valour, rolling on the foe,
And burning with high hope, shall moulder cold and Showing no visible sign, for such things are untold.
Their praise is hymn'd by loftier harps than mine;
Yet one I would select from that proud throng,
Partly because they blend me with his line,
And partly that I did his sire some wrong,
And partly that bright names will hallow song;
And his was of the bravest, and when shower'd
The death-bolts deadliest the thinn'd files along,
Even where the thickest of war's tempest lower'd,
They reach'd no nobler breast than thine, young, gallant
They mourn, but smile at length; and, smiling, mourn.
The tree will wither long before it fall;
The hull drives on, though mast and sail be torn;
The roof-tree siuks, but moulders on the hall
In massy hoariness; the ruin'd wall
Stands when its wind-worn battlements are gone;
There is a very life in our despair,
Vitality of poison,-a quick root
Which feeds these deadly branches; for it were
As nothing did we die; but life will suit
Itself to sorrow's most detested fruit,
Like to the apples on the Dead Sea's shore,
All ashes to the taste; did man compute
Existence by enjoyment, and count o'er
Such hours 'gainst years of life,—say, would he name
The Psalmist number'd out the years of man:
They are enough; and if thy tale be true,
Thou, who didst grudge him even that flecting span,
More than enough, thou fatal Waterloo!
Millions of tongues record thee, and anew
Their children's lips shall echo them, and say-
« Here, where the sword united nations drew,
Our countrymen were warring on that day!»
And this is much, and all which will not pass away.
But quiet to quick bosoms is a hell,
There sunk the greatest, nor the worst of men,
Whose spirit antithetically mixt
One moment of the mightiest, and again
On little objects with like firmness fixt,
Extreme in all things! hadst thou been betwixt,
Thy throne had still been thine, or never been;
For daring made thy rise as fall: thou seek'st
Even now to re-assume the imperial mien,
And there hath been thy bane; there is a fire
And motion of the soul which will not dwell
In its own narrow being, but aspire
Beyond the fitting medium of desire;
And, but once kindled, quenchless evermore,
Preys upon high adventure, nor can tire
Of aught but rest; a fever at the core,
And shake again the world, the thunderer of the scene! Fatal to him who bears, to all who ever bore.
Conqueror and captive of the earth art thou?
She trembles at thee still, and thy wild name
Was ne'er more bruited in men's minds than now
That thou art nothing, save the jest of fame,
Who woo'd thee once, thy vassal, and became
The flatterer of thy fierceness, till thou wert
This makes the madmen who have made men mad
By their contagion; conquerors and kings,
Founders of sects and systems, to whom add
Sophists, bards, statesmen, all unquiet things,
Which stir too strongly the soul's secret springs,
And are themselves the fools to those they fool;
Envied, yet how unenviable! what stings
Are theirs! One breast laid open were a school
A god unto thyself; nor less the same
To the astounded kingdoms all inert,
Who deem'd thee for a time whate'er thou didst assert. Which would unteach mankind the lust to shine or rule.
Oh, more or less than man-in high or low,
Battling with nations, flying from the field;
Now making monarchs' necks thy footstool, now
More than thy meanest soldier taught to yield;
An empire thou couldst crush, command, rebuild,
But govern not thy pettiest passion, nor,
However deeply in men's spirits skill'd,
Look through thine own, nor curb the lust of war,
For learn that tempted fate will leave the loftiest star.
Yet well thy soul hath brook'd the turning tide
With that untaught innate philosophy,
Which, be it wisdom, coldness, or deep pride,
Is gall and wormwood to an enemy.
When the whole host of hatred stood hard by,
To watch and mock thee shrinking, thou hast smiled
With a sedate and all-enduring eye;-
Their breath is agitation, and their life
A-storm whereon they ride, to sink at last,
And yet so nursed and bigoted to strife,
That should their days, surviving perils past,
Melt to calm twilight, they feel overcast
With sorrow and supineness, and so die;
Even as a flame unfed, which runs to waste
With its own flickering, or a sword laid by
Which eats into itself, and rusts ingloriously.
He who ascends to mountain-tops shall find
The loftiest peaks most wrapt in clouds and snow;
He who surpasses or subdues mankind
Must look down on the hate of those below.
Though high above the sun of glory glow,
And far beneath the earth and ocean spread,
Round him are icy rocks, and loudly blow
Contending tempests on his naked head,
And thus reward the toils which to those summits led.
Away with these! true wisdom's world will be
Within its own creation, or in thine,
Maternal nature! for who teems like thee,
Thus on the banks of thy majestic Rhine?
There Harold gazes on a work divine,
A blending of all beauties; streams and dells,
Fruit, foliage, crag, wood, corn-field, mountain, vine,
And chiefless castles, breathing stern farewells
gray but leafy walls, where ruin greenly dwells.
And there they stand, as stands a lofty mind,
Worn, but unstooping to the baser crowd,
All tenantless, save to the crannying wind,
Or holding dark communion with the cloud.
There was a day when they were young and proud,
Banners on high, and battles pass'd below,
But they who fought are in a bloody shroud,
And those which waved are shredless dust ere now,
And the bleak battlements shall bear no future blow.