Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

They hear the crackling grass and sedge,

The flames as they whir and rave,
On, on! they are close to the water's edge,-

They are breast-deep in the wave; And lifting their little one high o'er the tide, “We are saved, thank God, we are saved !" they cried.

XXXIII.-THE DYING CHIEF.

MRS. MACLEAN.
THE stars looked down on the battle-plain,

Where night-winds were deeply sighing ;
And with shattered lance near his war-steed slain,

Lay a youthful Chieftain-dying !

[blocks in formation]

There were hands which came to bind his wound,

There were eyes o'er the warrior weeping ;
But he raised his head from the dewy ground,

Where the land's high hearts were sleeping!

And “Away !”' he cried ;— your aid is vain,

My soul may not brook recalling,
I have seen the stately flower of Spain

Like the autumn vine-leaves falling !

“I have seen the Moorish banners wave

O'er the halls where my youth was cherished; I have drawn a sword that could not save ;

I have stood where my king hath perished !

“Leave me to die with the free and brave,

On the banks of my own bright river !
Ye can give me nought but a warrior's grave,

By the chainless Guadalquiver !”

XXXIV.-HORATIUS AT THE BRIDGE.

T, B, MACAULAY,

TH

, ,

HE Consul's brow was sad, and the Consul's speech was low,

And darkly looked he at the wall, and darkly at the foe. “ Their van will be upon us before the bridge goes down ; And if they once may win the bridge, what hope to save the town?"

Then out spoke brave Horatius, the captain of the gate ;
“ To every man upon this earth death shall cometh, soon or late,
Hew down the dridge, Sir Consul, with all the speed ye may;
I, with two more to help me, will hold the foe in play.

In yon straight path a thousand may well be stopped by three. Now who will stand on either hand, and keep the bridge with me?!

Then out spake Spurius Lartius—a Ramnian proud was he-
“Low, I will stand at thy right hand, and keep the bridge with thee."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

And out spake strong Herminius—of Titian blood was he—
“ I will abide on thy left side, and keep the bridge with thee?''

Horatius,' quoth the Consul, “as thou sayest, so let it be,'
And straight against that great array, forth went the dauntless Three.

*
*
*
*

*
Soon all Etruria's noblest felt their hearts sink to see
On the earth the bloody corpses, in the path the dauntless Three.
And from the ghastly entrance, where those bold Romans stood,
The bravest shrank like boys who rouse an old bear in the wood.

*

*

*

But meanwhile axe and lever have manfully been plied,
And now the bridge hangs tottering above the boiling tide.
“ Come back, come back, Horatius! loud cries the Fathers all :

Back, Lartius ! back Herminius ! back, ere the ruin fall !”

Back darted Spurius Lartius; Herminius darted back;
And, as they passed, beneath their feet they felt the timbers crack;
But when they turned their faces, and on the farther shore
Saw brave Horatius stand alone, they would have crossed once more.

But, with a crash like thunder, fell every loosened beam,
And, like a dam, the mighty wreck lay right athwart the stream ;
And a long shout of triumph rose from the walls of Rome,
As to the highest turret-tops was splashed the yellow foam.

And, like a horse unbroken when first he feels the rein,
The furious river struggled hard, and tossed his tawny mane,
And burst the curb, and bounded, rejoicing to be free,
And battlement, and plank, and pier, whirled headlong to the sea.

Alone stood brave Horatius, but constant still in mind ;
Thrice thirty thousand foes before, and the broad flood behind.
“ Down with him! cried false Sextus, with a smile on his pale face.
“ Now yield thee,” cried Lars Porsena, “ now yield thee to our grace.”'

Round turned he, as not deigning those craven ranks to see ;
Naught spake he to Lars Porsena, to Sextus naught spake he;
But he saw on Palatinus the white porch of his home,
And he spake to the noble river that rolls by the towers of Rome.

“O, Tiber! father Tiber! to whom the Romans pray,
A Roman's life, a Roman's arms, take thou in charge this day!”
So he spake, and speaking, sheathed the good sword by his side,
And, with his harness on his back, plunged headlong in the tide.

No sound of joy or sorrow was heard from either bank ;
But friends and foes, in dumb surprise, stood gazing where he sank.
And when above the surges they saw his crest appear,
Rome shouted, and e’en Tuscany could scarce forbear to cheer.

But fiercely ran the current, swollen high by months of rain ;
And fast his blood was flowing; and he was sore with pain,
And heavy with his armor, and spent with changing blows
And oft they thought him sinking—but still again he rose.

Never, I ween, did swimmer, in such an evil case,
Struggle through such a raging flood safe to the landing place;
But his limbs were borne up bravely by the brave heart within,
And our good father Tiber bare bravely up his chin.

“ Curse on him !” quoth false Sextus; will not the villian drown? But for this stay, ere close of day we should have sacked the town! “ Heaven help him !" quoth Lars Porsena, “and bring him safe to shore; For such a gallant feat of arms was never seen before.”'

And now he feels the bottom ;—now on dry earth he stands ;
Now round him throng the Fathers to press his gory hands,
And, now with shouts and clapping, and noise of weeping loud,
He enters through the River Gate, borne by the joyous crowd.

XXXV.-GERTRUDE VON DER WART.

MRS. HEMANS.

He

ER hands were clasped, her dark eyes raised, the breeze threw

back her hair;
Up to the fearful wheel she gazed ;—all that she loved was there !
The night was round her clear and cold, the holy heaven above;
Its pale stars watching to behold the might of earthly love.

“And bid me not depart,” she cried, “my Rudolph, say not so
This is no time to quit thy side; peace—peace! I cannot go.
Hath the world aught for me to fear, when death is on thy brow?
The world—what means it?—mine is here; I will not leave thee now.

“ I have been with thee in thine hour of glory and of bliss;
Doubt not its memory's living power, to strengthen me through this;
And thou, mine honoured lord and true, bear on, bear nobly on !
We have the blessed heaven in view whose rest shall soon be won."

And were not these high words to flow from woman's breaking heart?
Through all that night of bitterest woe, she bore her lofty part;
But oh! with such a glazing eye, with such a curdling cheek,
Love, love,,of mortal agony, thou, only thou shouldst speak !

The wind rose high, but with it rose her voice that he might hear :
Perchance that dark hour brought repose to happy bosoms near ;
While she sat pining with despair, beside his tortured form,
And pouring her deep soul in prayer, forth on the rushing storm,

Oh ! lovely are ye, Love and Faith, enduring to the last !
She had her meed! one smile in death—and his worn spirit passed !
While, even as o'er a martyr's grave, she knelt on that sad spot ;
And, weeping, blessed the God who gave strength to forsake it not !

XXXVI.--SAUL'S ADDRESS.

BYRON
WARRIORS and chiefs ! should the shaft and sword

Pierce me when leading the hosts of the Lord,
Heed not the corse, though a king's, in your path,
Bury your steel in the bosoms of Gath !

Thou who art bearing my buckler and bow,
Should the soldiers of Saul look away from the foe,
Stretch me that moment, in blood, at thy feet ,
Mine be the doom which they dared not to meet !

Farewell to others; but never we part,
Heir to my royalty, son of heart !
Bright is the diadem, boundless the sway,
Or kingly the death that awaits us to-day.

XXXVII.---THE LEGAND BEAUTIFUL.

H. W. LONGFELLOW.

Had

ADST thou stayed, I must have fled !” that is what the Vision said.—In his

chamber, all alone, kneeling on the floor of stone, prayed the Monkin deep contrition for his sins of indecision; prayed for greater self-denial in temptation and in trial :--it was noonday by the dial, and the Monk was all alone. Suddenly, as if it lightened, an unwonted splendor brightened all within him and without him, in that rarrow cell of stone ; and he saw the Blessed Vision of our Lord,—with light Elysian like a vesture wrapped about him, like a garment round him thrown ! Not as crucified and slain, not agonies of pain, not with bleeding hands and feet, did the Monk his Master see; but as—in the village-street, in the house or harvest-field, --halt and lame and blind he healed, when he walked in Galilee.

In an attitude imploring, hands upon his bosom crossed, wondering, worshipping, adoring, knelt the Monk in rapture lost. “ Lord,” he thought, “in heaven that reignest, who am I, that thus Thou deignest to reveal Thyself to me? Who am I, that, from the centre of Thy glory, Thou shoudst enter this poor cell, my guest to be?" Then, amid his exaltation, loud the Convent-bell, appalling, from its belfry calling, calling, rang through the court and corridor, with persistent iteration he had never heard before.

It was now the appointed hour, when,-alike in shine or shower, winter's cold or summer's heat,--to the Convent-portals came all the blind and halt and lame, all the beggars of the street, for their daly dole of food dealt them by the Brotherhood; and their Almoner was he who, upon his bended knee, rapt in silent ecstasy of divinist self-surrender, saw the Vision and the Splendor. Deep distress and hesitation mingled with his adoration : should he go, or should he stay? Should he leave the poor to wait hungry at the Convent-gate, till the Vision passed away? Should he slight his radiant Guest-slight his Visitant Celestial, for a crowd of ragged, bestial beggars at the Convent-gate? Would the Vision there remain ? Would the Vision come again ? ... Then a voice within his breast whispered, audible and clear, as if to the outward ear, Do thy duty; that is best : leave unto thy Lord the rest ?”

Straightway to his feet he started, and, with longing look intent, on the Blessed Vision bent, slowly from his cell departed-slowly on his errand went. At the

« PoprzedniaDalej »