« PreviousContinue »
Her long fair hair lay floating o'er his arms,
XV. " And is he gone ?"-on sudden solitude How oft that fearful question will intrude ! " 'Twas but an instant past and here he stood ! And now" — without the portal's porch she rush'd, And then at length her tears in freedom gush'd ; Big — bright - and fast, unknown to her they fell; But still her lips refused to send — “ Farewell!" For in that word — that fatal word — howe'er We promise - hope — believe – there breathes despair. O'er every feature of that still, pale face, Had sorrow fix'd wbat time can ne'er crase : The tender blue of that large loving eye Grew frozen with its gaze on vacancy, Till — Oh, how far! - it caught a glimpse of him, And then it flowd - and phrensied seem'd to swim, Through those long, dark, and glistening lashes dew'd With drops of sadness oft to be renew'd. * He's gone!" - against her heart that hand is driven, Convulsed and quick — then gently raised to heaven; She look'd and saw the heaving of the main; The white sail set she dared not look again ; But turn'd with sickening soul within the gate – " It is no dream and I am desolate !" 1
Firc in his glance, and wildness in his breast,
“ My sword, and my capote." Soon firmly girded on, and lightly slung, His belt and cloak were o'er his shoulders flung: “ Call Pedro here !” He comes — and Conrad bends, With all the courtesy he deign'd his friends; “ Receive these tablets, and peruse with care, Words of high trust and truth are graven there ; Double the guard, and when Anselmo's bark Arrives, let him alike these orders mark : In three days (serve the breeze) the sun shall shine On our return - till then all peace be thine ! ” This said, his brother Pirate's hand he wrung, Then to his boat with haughty gesture sprung. Flash'd the dipt oars, and sparkling with the stroke, Around the waves' phosphoric 2 brightness broke; They gain the vessel — on the deck he stands, Shrieks the shrill whistle – ply the busy hands He marks how well the ship her helm obeys, How gallant all her crew - and deigns to praise. His eyes of pride to young Gonsalvo turn — Why doth he start, and inly seem to mourn ? Alas! those eyes beheld his rocky tower, And live a moment o'er the parting hour; She
his Medora --did she mark the prow? Ah! never loved he half so much as now ! But much must yet be done ere dawn of day Again he mans himself and turns away ; Down to the cabin with Gonsalvo bends, And there unfolds his plan — his means - and ends: Before them burns the lamp, and spreads the chart, And all that speaks and aids the naval art ; They to the midnight watch protract debate; To anxious eyes what hour is ever late ? Meantime, the steady breeze serenely blew, And fast and falcon-like the vessel flew;
May melt, but not betray to woman's grief.
"We do ant know any thing in poetry more beautiful or touching than this picture of their part'ng. – JEFFREY.)
2 By night, particularly in a warm latitude, erery stroke of the oar, every motion of the boat or ship, is followed by a slight flash like sheet lightning from the water.
Pass'd the high headlands of each clustering isle,
Though to the rest the sober berry's juice, 1
CANTO TIE SECOND.
III. With cautious reverence from the outer gate, Slow stalks the slave, whose office there to wait, Bows his bent head - his hand salutes the floor, Ere yet his tongue the trusted tidings bore : “ A captive Dervise, from the pirate's nest Escaped, is here - himself would tell the rest." + He took the sign from Seyd's assenting cye, And led the holy man in silence nigh. His arms were folded on his dark-green vest, His step was feeble, and his look deprest; Yet worn he seem'd of hardship more than years, And pale his cheek with penance, not from fears. Vow'd to his God — his sable locks he wore, And these his lofty cap rose proudly o'er : Around his form his loose long robe was thrown, And wrapt a breast bestow'd on heaven alone; Submissive, yet with self-possession mann'd, He calmly met the curious eyes that scann'd; And question of his coming fain would seek, Before the Pacha's will allow'd to speak.
“ Conosceste i dubiosi dcsiri?"-Dante.
I. Ix Coron's bay floats many a galley light, Through Coron's lattices the lamps are bright, For Seyd, the Pacha, makes a feast to-night: A feast for promised triumph yet to come, When he shall drag the fetter'd Rovers home : This hath he sworn by Alla and his sword, And faithful to his firman and his word, His summon'd prows collect along the coast, And great the gathering crews, and loud the boast; Already shared the captives and the prize, Though far the distant foe they thus despise ; 'Tis but to sail — no doubt to-morrow's Sun Will see the Pirates bound - their haven won ! Meantime the watch may slumber, if they will, Nor only wake to war, but dreaming kill. Though all, who can, disperse on shore and seek To flesh their glowing valour on the Greek; How well such deed becomes the turban'd brave To bare the sabre's edge before a slave ! Infest his dwelling — but forbear to slay, Their arms are strong, yet merciful to-day, And do not deign to smite because they may ! Unless some gay caprice suggests the blow, To keep in practice for the coming foe. Revel and rout the evening hours beguile, And they who wish to wear a head must smile ; For Moslem mouths produce their choicest cheer, And hoard their curses, till the coast is clear.
IV. “ Whence com'st thou, Dervise ? "
“ From the outlaw's den, A fugitive —"
“ Thy capture where and when ? ” “ From Scalanovo's port to Scio's isle, Tbe Saick was bound; but Alla did not smile Upon our course — the Moslem merchant's gains The Rovers won : our limbs have worn their chains. I had no death to fear, nor wealth to boast, Beyond the wandering freedom which I lost; At length a fisher's humble boat by night Afforded hope, and offer'd chance of flight; I seized the hour, and find my safety here With thee — most mighty Pacha! who can fear ? "
“ How speed the outlaws ? stand they well prepared,
II. High in his hall reclines the turband Seyd; Around - the bearded chiefs he came to lead. Removed the banquet, and the last pilaff — Forbidden draughts, 't is said, he dared to quaff,
“ Pacha! the fetter'd captive's mourning eye,
I Coffee. 2 " Chibouque," pipe. 3 Dancing girls.
* It has been observed, that Conrad's entering disguised as a spy is out of nature. Perhaps so. I find something not unlike it in history :-" Anxious to explore with his own eyes the state of the Vandals, Majorian ventured, after disguising the colour of his hair, to visit Carthage in the character of his
own ambassador; and Genseric was afterwards mortified by the discovery, that he had entertained ansi dismissed the Emperor of the Romans. Such an anecdote may be rejected as an improbable fiction ; but it is a fiction which would not have been imagined unless in the life of a hero." - See Gibbon's Decline and Fall, vol vi. p. 180.
And felt that all which Freedom's bosom cheers,
“ Stay, Dervise. ! I have more to question - stay,
'T were vain to guess what shook the pious man,
Dash'd his bigh cap, and tore his robe away
V. Quick at the word — they seized him each a torch, And fire the dome from minaret to porch. A stern delight was fix'd in Conrad's eye, But sudden sunk – for on his ear the cry Of women struck, and like a deadly knell Knock'd at that heart unmoved by battle's yell. .“ Oh! burst the Haram wrong rot on your lives One female form - remember - we have wives. On them such outrage Vengeance will repay ; Man is our foe, and such 't is ours to slay : But still we spared - must spare the weaker prey.
1 The Dervises are in collcges, and of different orders, as the monks.
2 " Zatanai," Satan. • A cornmon and not very novel effect of Mussulman anger.
Sce Prince Eugene's Memoirs, page 21. " The Seraskier received a wound in the thigh; he plucked up his beard by the roots, because he was obliged to quit the field."
The Corsair vow'd protection, soothed affright,
nay, worse for female - - vain :
Oh ! I forgot but Heaven will not forgive
- we yet have time
VI. Brief time had Conrad now to greet Gulnare, ? Few words to re-assure the trembling fair ; For in that pause compassion snatch'd from war, The foe before retiring, fast and far, With wonder saw their footsteps unpursued, First slowlier fled — then rallied - then withstood. This Seyd perceives, then first perceives how few, Compared with his, the Corsair's roving crew, And blushes o'er his error, as he eyes The ruin wrought by panic and surprise. Alla il Alla! Vengeance swells the cry — Shame mounts to rage that must atone or die ! And flame for flame and blood for blood must tell, The tide of triumph ebbs that fow'd too well When wrath returns to renovated strife, And those who fought for conquest strike for life. Conrad beheld the danger – he beheld His followers faint by freshening foes repellid : “ One effort – one - to break the circling host !” They form — unite — charge — waver – all is lost ! Within a narrower ring compress'd, beset, Hopeless, not heartless, strive and struggle yet Ah! now they fight in firmest file no more, Hemm'd in — cut off — cleft down — and trampled
o'er; But each strikes singly, silently, and home, And sinks outwearied rather than o'ercome, His last faint quittance rendering with his breath, Till the blade glimmers in the grasp of death!
VIII. And him she saw, where thickest carnage spread, But gather'd breathing from the happier dead; Far from his band, and battling with a host That deem right dearly won the field he lost, Fellid – bleeding -- battled of the death he sought, And snatch'd to expiate all the ills he wrought; Preserved to linger and to live in vain, While Vengeance ponder'd o'er new plans of pain, And stanch'd the blood she saves to shed again But drop for drop, for Seyd's unglutted eye Would doom him ever dying — ne'er to die ! Can this be he ? triumphant late she saw, When his red hand's wild gesture waved, a law ! 'Tis he indeed — disarm'd but undeprest, His sole regret the life he still possest; His wounds too slight, though taken with that will, Which would have kiss'd the hand that then could
kill. Oh were there none, of all the many given, To send his soul — he scarcely ask'd to heaven ? Must he alone of all retain his breath, Who more than all had striven and struck for death ? He deeply felt - what mortal hearts must feel, When thus reversed on faithless fortune's wheel, For crimes committed, and the victor's threat Of lingering tortures to repay the debt He deeply, darkly felt; but evil pride That led to perpetrate
- now serves to hide. Still in his stern and self-collected mien A conqueror's more than captive's air is seen, Though faint with wasting toil and stiffening wound, But few that saw — so calmly gazed around : Though the far shouting of the distant crowd, Their tremors o'er, rose insolently loud, The better warriors who beheld him near, Insulted not the foe who taught them fear; And the grim guards that to his durance led,
silence eyed him with a secret dread.
VII. But first, ere came the rallying host to blows, And rank to rank, and hand to hand oppose, Gulnare and all her Haram handmaids freed, Safe in the dome of one who held their creed, By Conrad's mandate safely were bestow'd, And dried those tears for life and fame that flow'd : And when that dark-eyed lady, young Gulnare, Recall'd those thoughts late wandering in despair, Much did she marvel o'er the courtesy That smooth'd his accents; soften'd in his eye: "T was strange - that robber thus with gore bedew'd, Seemd gentler then than Seyd in fondest mood. The Pacha wood as if he deem'd the slave Must seem delighted with the heart he gave;
IX. The Leech was sent - but not in mercy - there, To note how much the life yet left could bear; He found enough to load with heaviest chain, And promise feeling for the wrench of pain : To-morrow — yea — to-morrow's evening sun Will sinking see impalement's pangs begun, And rising with the wonted blush of morn Behold how well or ill those pangs are borne. Of torments this the longest and the worst, Which adds all other agony to thirst, That day by day death still forbears to slake, While famish'd vultures flit around the stake. “ Oh! water water !” – smiling Hate denies The victim's prayer - for if he drinks - he dies. This was his doom :- the Leech, the guard, were
gone, And left proud Conrad fetter'd and alone.
| Gulnare, a female name; it means, literally, the flower of the pomegranate.
A chief on land - an outlaw on the deep Destroying — saving - prison'd - and asleep!
XII. He slept in calmest seeming - for his breath Was hush'd so deep — Ah! happy if in death ! He slept - Who o'er his placid slumber bends ? His foes are gone -- and here he hath no friends : Is it some seraph sent to grant him grace ? No, 't is an earthly form with heavenly face ! Its white arm raised a lamp - yet gently hid, Lest the ray flash abruptly on the lid Of that closed eye, which opens but to pain, And once unclosed but once may close again. That form, with eye so dark, and cheek so fair, And auburn waves of gemm'd and braided hair; With shape of fairy lightness — naked foot, That shines like snow, and falls on earth as mute Through guards and dunnest night how came it there? Ah ! rather ask what will not woman dare ? Whom youth and pity lead like thee, Gulnare ! She could not sleep — and while the Pacha's rest In muttering dreams yet saw his pirate-guest, She left his side — his signet-ring she bore, Which oft in sport adorn'd her hand before — And with it, scarcely question'd, won her way Through drowsy guards that must that sign obey. Worn out with toil, and tired with changing blows, Their eyes had envied Conrad his repose ; And chill and nodding at the turret door, They stretch their listless limbs, and watch no more: Just raised their heads to hail the signet-ring, Nor ask or what or who the sign may bring.
X. 'T were vain to paint to what his feelings grew It even were doubtful if their victim knew. There is a war, a chaos of the mind, When all its elements convulsed - combined Lie dark and jarring with perturbed force, And gnashing with impenitent Remorse ; That juggling fiend – who never spake before — But cries “ I warn'd thee!" when the deed is o'er. Vain voice! the spirit burning but unbent, May writhe – rebel — the weak alone repent ! Even in that lonely hour when most it feels, And, to itself, all — all that self reveals, No single passion, and no ruling thought That leaves the rest as once unseen, unsought ; But the wild prospect when the soul reviews All nishing through their thousand avenues, Ambition's dreams expiring, love's regret, Endanger'd glory, life itself beset; The joy untasted, the contempt or hate 'Gainst those who fain would triumph in our fate; The hopeless past, the hasting future driven Too quickly on to guess if hell or heaven; Deeds, thoughts, and words, perhaps remember'd not So keenly till that hour, but ne'er forgot; Things light or lovely in their acted time, But now to stern reflection each a crime; The withering sense of evil unreveal'd, Not cankering less because the more conceal'dAll, in a word, from which all eyes must start, That opening sepulchre — the naked heart Bares with its buried woes, till Pride awake, To snatch the mirror from the soul — and break. Ay — Pride can veil, and Courage brave it all, All — all — before — beyond - the deadliest fall. Each has some fear, and he who least betrays, The only hypocrite deserving praise : Not the loud recreant wretch who boasts and Alics; But he who looks on death - - and silent dies. So steeld by pondering o'er his far career, He half-way meets him should he menace near !
XI. In the high chamber of his highest tower Sate Conrad, fetter'd in the Pacha's power. His palace perish'd in the flame — this fort Coatain's at once his captive and his court. Not much could Conrad of his sentence blame, His foe, if vanquish'd, had but shared the same : Alone be sate — in solitude had scann'd His guilty bosom, but that breast he mann'd: One thought alone he could not - dared not meet" Oh, how these tidings will Medora greet ? Then - only then - his clanking hands he raised, And strain'd with rage the chain on which he gazed : But soon be found - or feign'da
-- or dream'd relief, And smiled in self-derision of bis grief, * And now come torture when it will - or may More need of rest to nerve me for the day!” This said, with languor to his mat he crept, And, whatsoe'er his visions, quickly slept. 'T vas hardly midnight when that fray begun, For Conrad's plans matured, at once were done : And Havoc loathes so much the waste of time, Sbe scarce had left an uncommitted crime. One hour bcheld him since the tide he stemm'd Disguised - discover'd - conquering - ta’en
He raised his head — and dazzled with the light,
« Pirate! thou know'st me not - but I am one,
“ If so, kind lady! thine the only eye
Strange though it seem — yet with extremest grief