« AnteriorContinuar »
And lips half-opening with the dread of sound,
If there be Beings of higher class than Man, I deem no nobler province they possess, Than by disposal of apt circumstance To rear up Kingdoms: and the deeds they prompt, Distinguishing from mortal agency, They chuse their human ministers from such states As still the Epic song half fears to name, Repell'd from all the Minstrelstes that strike The Palace-Roof and soothe the Monarch's pride.
And such, perhaps, the Spirit, who (if words Witness'd by answering deeds may claim our Faith) Held commune with that warrior-maid of France who scourged the Invader. From her infant days, With Wisdom, Mother of retired Thoughts, Her soul had dwelt; and she was quick to mark The good and evil thing, in human lore Undisciplined. For lowly was her Birth, And Heaven had doom'd her early years to Toil, That pure from Tyranny's least deed, herself Unfear'd by Fellow-natures, she might wait On the poor Labouring man with kindly looks, And minister refreshment to the tired Way-wanderer, when along the rough-hewn Bench The sweltry man had stretch'd him, and aloft Vacantly watch'd the rudely pictured board Which on the Mulberry-bough with welcome creak Swung to the pleasant breeze. Here, too, the Maid Learnt more than Schools could teach : Man's shifting
His Vices and his Sorrows! And full oft
So twenty seasons past. The Virgin's Form, Active and tall, nor Sloth nor Luxury Had shrunk or paled. Her front sublime and broad, Her flexile eye-brows wildly haird and low, And her full eye, now bright, now unillumed, Spake more than Woman's Thought; and all her face
* They call the Good Spirit Torngarsnck. The other great but malignant spirit is a nameless Female ; she dwells under the sea in a great bouse, where she can detain in captivity all the animals of the ocean by her magic power. When a dearth befalls the Greenlanders, an Angekok or magician must undertake a journey thither. He passes through the kingdom of souls, over an horrible abyss into the Palace of this phantom, and by his enchantments causes the captive creatures to ascend directly to the surface of the ocean. See Caaxt?' Hist. of Greenland, vol. i. 206.
Was moulded to such Features as declared
'T was the cold season, when the Rustic's eye From the drear desolate whiteness of his fields Rolls for relief to watch the skiey tints And clouds slow varying their huge imagery: When now, as she was wont, the healthful Maid Had left her pallet ere one beam of day Slanted the fog-smoke. She went forth alone, Urged by the indwelling angel-guide, that oft, With dim inexplicable sympathies Disquieting the Heart, shapes out Man's course To the predoom'd adventure. Now the ascent She climbs of that steep upland, on whose top The Pilgrim-Man, who long since eve had watch'd The alien shine of unconcerning Stars, Shouts to himself, there first the Abbey-lights Seen in Neufchatel's vale; now slopes adown The winding sheep-track vale-ward : when, behold In the first entrance of the level road An unattended Team . The foremost horse Lay with stretch'd limbs; the others, yet alive, But stiff and cold, stood motionless, their manes Hoar with the frozen night-dews. Dismally The dark-red down now glimmer'd : but its gleams Disclosed no face of man. The Maiden paused, Then hail'd who might be near. No voice replied From the thwart wain at length there reach'd her ear A sound so feeble that it almost seem'd Distant : and feebly, with slow effort push'd, A miserable man crept forth : his limbs The silent frost had eat, scathing like fire. Faint on the shafts he rested. She, mean time. Saw crowded close beneath the coverture A mother and her children—lifeless all, Yet lovelv! not a lineament was marr'd— Death had put on so slumber-like a form' It was a piteous sight; and one, a babe, The crisp milk frozen on its innocent lips, Lay on the woman's arm, its little hand Stretch'd on her bosom.
Mutely questioning, The Maid gazed wildly at the living wretch. He, his head feebly turning, on the group Look'd with a vacant stare, and his eye spoke The drowsy calm that steals on worn-out anguish. She shudder'd : but, each vainer pang subdued, Quick disent angling from the foremost horse The rustic bands, with difficulty and toil The stiff cramp'd team forced homeward. There arrived, Anxiously tends him she with healing herbs, And weeps and prays—but the numb power of Death Spreads o'er his limbs; and ere the noon-tide hour, The hovering spirits of his Wife and Babes Hail him immortal! Yet amid his pangs,
With interruptions long from thastly throes, His voice had falter'd out this simple tale.
The Village, where he dwelt an Husbandman, By sudden inroad had been seized and sired Late on the yester-evening. With his wife And little ones he hurried his escape. They saw the neighbouring Hamlets flame, they heard Uproar and shrieks! and terror-struck drove on Through unfrequented roads, a weary way! But saw nor house nor cottage. All had quench'd Their evening hearth-fire: for the alarm had spread. The air clipt keen, the night was fang'd with frost, And they provisionless! The weeping wife Ill hush'd her children's moans; and still they moan'd, Till Fright and Cold and Hunger drank their life. They closed their eyes in sleep, nor knew 't was Death. He only, lashing his o'er-wearied team, Gain'd a sad respite, till beside the base Of the high hill his foremost horse dropped dead. Then hopeless, strengthless, sick for lack of food, He crept beneath the coverture, entranced, Till waken'd by the maiden.—Such his tale.
Ah! suffering to the height of what was suffer'd, Stung with too keen a sympathy, the Maid Brooded with moving lips, mute, startful, dark And now her flush'd tumultuous features shot Such strange vivacity, as fires the eye Of Inisery Fancy-crazed and now once more Naked, and void, and fix'd, and all within The unquiet silence of confused thought And shapeless feelings. For a mighty hand Was strong upon her, till in the heat of soul To the high hill-top tracing back her steps, Aside the beacon, up whose smoulder'd stones The tender ivy-trails crept thinly, there, Unconscious of the driving element, Yea, swallow'd up in the ominous dream, she sate Chastly as broad-eyed Slumber! a dim anguish Breathed from her look and still, with pant and sob, Inly she toil'd to flee, and still subdued, Felt an inevitable Presence near.
Thus as she toiled in troublous ecstasy, An horror of great darkness wrapt her round, And a voice uttered forth unearthly tones, Calming her soul, - O Thou of the Most High Chosen, whom all the perfected in Heaven Behold expectant——
The following fragments were intended to form part of the Poem when Haished.)
. Maid beloved of Heaven'. To her the tutelary Power exclaimed) • Of Chaos the adventurous progeny Thou seest; foul missionaries of foul sire, Fierce to regain the losses of that hour when love rose glittering, and his gorgeous wings Over the abyss slutter'd with such glad noise, As what time after long and pestful calms, with slimy shapes and miscreated life Poisoning the vast Pacific, the fresh breeze wakens the nerchant-sail uprising. Night A heavy unimaginable moan
Sent forth, when she the Protoplast beheld
From his obscure haunt Shriek'd Fear, of Cruelty the ghastly Dam, Feverish yet freezing, eager-paced yet slow, As she that creeps from forth her swampy reeds, Ague, the biform Hag when early Spring Beams on the marsh-bred vapours.
« Even sow (the exulting Maiden said) « The sainted Heralds of Good Tidings fell, And thus they witnessed God! But now the clouds Treading, and storms beneath their feet, they soar Higher, and higher soar, and soaring sing Loud songs of Triumph! O ye spirits of God, Hover around my mortal agonies!" She spake, and instantly faint melody Melts on her ear, soothing and sad, and slow,Such Measures, as at calmest midnight heard By aged Hermit in his holy dream, Foretell and solace death; and now they rise Louder, as when with harp and mingled voice The white-robed, multitude of slaughter'd saints At Heaven's wide-opened portals gratulant Receive some martyrd Patriot. The harmony Entranced the Maid, till each suspended sense Brief slumber seized, and confused ecstasy.
At length awakening slow, she gazed around: And through a Mist, the relick of that trance Still thinning as she gazed, an Isle appeard, Its high, o'er-hanging, white, broad-breasted cliffs, Glass'd on the subject ocean. A vast plain Stretch'd opposite, where ever and anon
Revel. vi. 9, 11. And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held. And white robes were given unto every one of them, and it was said unto them that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
The Plough-man, following sad his meagre team,
But soon a deep precursive sound moan'd hollow: Black rose the clouds, and now (as in a dream) Their reddening shapes, transformed to Warrior-hosts, Coursed o'er the Sky, and battled in mid-air. Nor did not the large blood-drops fall from Heaven Portentous ! while aloft were seen to sloat, Like hideous features booming on the mist, Wan Stains of ominous Light! Resign'd, yet sad, The fair Form bowed her olive-crowned Brow, Then o'er the plain with oft-reverted eye Fled till a Place of Tombs she reach'd, and there Within a ruined Sepulchre obscure Found Hiding-place.
The delegated Maid Gazed through her tears, then in sad tones exclaim’d, • Thou mild-eyed Form! wherefore, ah! wherefore fled? The Power of Justice, like a name all Light, Shone from thy brow; but all they, who unblamed Dwelt in thy dwellings, call thee Happiness. All' why, uninjured and unprofited, Should multitudes against their brethren rush? Why sow they guilt, still reaping Misery Lenient of care, thy songs, O Peace! are sweet, As after showers the perfumed gale of eve, That slings the cool drops on a feverous cheek: And gay thy grassy altar piled with fruits. But boasts the shrine of Daemon War one charm, Save that with many an orgie strange and foul, Dancing around with interwoven arms, The Maniac Suicide and Giant Murder Exult in their fierce union 2 I am sad, And know not why the simple Peasants crowd Beneath the Chieftains' standard ' . Thus the Maid.
To her the tutelary Spirit replied: “When Luxury and Lust's exhausted stores No more can rouse the appetites of Kings; When the low flattery of their reptile Lords Falls flat and heavy on the accustom'd ear; When Eunuchs sing, and Fools buffoonery make, And Dancers writhe their harlot-limbs in vain; Then War and all its dread vicissitudes Pleasingly agitate their stagnant Hearts; Its hopes, its fears, its victories, its defeats, Insipid Royalty's keen condiment! Therefore uninjured and unprofited
(Victims at once and Executioners),
The Maiden paused, musing what this might mean.
when I have borne in memory what has tamed
appear to mortals. The second Strophe calls on men to suspend their private joys and sorrows, and devote them for a while to the cause of human nature in general. The first Epode speaks of the Empress of Russia, who died of an apoplexy on the 17th of November, 1796; having just concluded a subsidiary treaty with the Kings combined against France. The first and second Antistrophe describe the Image of the Departing Year, etc. as in a vision. The second Epode prophesies, in anguish of spirit, the downfall of this country.
Spinir who sweepest the wild Harp of Time!
Hither, from the recent tomb, From the prison's direr gloom, From Distemper's midnight anguish; And thence, where Poverty doth waste and languish; Or where, his two bright torches blending, Love illumines manhood's maze; Or where, o'er cradled infants bending, Hope has fix'd her wishful gaze, Hither, in perplexed dance, Ye Woes! ye young-eyed Joys! advance!
By Time's wild harp, and by the hand Whose indefatigable sweep Raises its fateful strings from sleep, I bid you haste, a mix'd tumultuous band: From every private bower, And each domestic hearth, Haste for one soleinn hour; And with a loud and yet a louder voice, O'er Nature struggling in portentous birth Weep and rejoice: Still echoes the dread Name that o'er the earth Let slip the storm, and woke the brood of Hell: And now advance in saintly Jubilee Justice and Truth! They too have heard thy spell, They too obey thy name, Divinest Liberty!
I mark'd Ambition in his war-array!
• Thou in stormy blackness throning Love and uncreated Light, By the Earth's unsolaced groaning, Seize thy terrors, Arm of might ! By Peace with proffer'd insult scared, Masked Hate and envying Scorn! By Years of Havoc yet unborn And Hunger's bosom to the frost-winds bared : But chief by Afric's wrongs, Strange, horrible, and foul By what deep guilt belongs To the deaf Synod, ‘full of gifts and lies." By Wealth's insensate taugh! by Torture's howl" Avenger, rise For ever shall the thankless Island scowl, Her quiver full, and with unbroken bow Speak! from thy storm-black Heaven, O speak aloud: And on the darkling foe Open thine eye of fire from some uncertain cloud : O dart the flash ' () rise and deal the blow : The past to thee, to thee the future cries' Ilark; how wide Nature joins her groans below: Rise, God of Nature rise."
wi. The voice had ceased, the vision fled; Yet still I gasp'd and reel'd with dread. And ever, when the dream of night Renews the phantom to my sight, Cold sweat-drops gather on my limbs; My ears throb hot; my eye-balls start; My brain with horrid tumult swims; wild is the tempest of my heart; And my thick and struggling breath Imitates the toil of Death No stranger agony confounds The Soldier on the war-field spread, When all foredone with toil and wounds, Death-like he dozes among heaps of dead! (The strife is o'er, the day-light fled, And the night-wind clamours hoarse' See the starting wretch's head Lies pillow'd on a brother's corse!)
Wii. Not vet enslaved, not wholly vile, O Albion O my mother Isle! Thy valleys, fair as Eden's bowers, Glitter green with sunny showers; Thy grassy uplands gentle swells Echo to the bleat of flocks (Those grassy hills, those glittering dells Proudly ramparted with rocks); And Ocean, 'mid his uproar wild Speaks safety to his is a so-cuild Hence, for many a fearless age Hassocial Quiet loved thy shore : Nor ever proud Invader's rage Or sack'd thy towers, or stain'd thy fields with gore.
Abandon'd of Heaven! mad Avarice thy guide, At cowardly distance, yet kindling with pride—