« PreviousContinue »
For why should thy humanity be griev'd
my distress? why learn from me to mourn
The lot of mortals, doom'd to pain and woe.
Hear then, O king, and grant my sole request,
To seek his body in the heaps of slain.
Thus to the hero su'd the royal maid,
Resembling Ceres in majestic woe,
When supplicating Jove, from Stygian gloom,
And Pluto's black embraces, to redeem
Her lov'd and lost Proserpina. A while
On Ariana fixing stedfast eyes,
These tender thoughts Leonidas recall'd.
Such are thy sorrows, O for ever dear,
Who now at Lacedæmon dost deplore
My everlasting absence. Then aside
He turn'd and sigh’d. Recov'ring, he address'd
His brother. Most beneficent of men,
Attend, assist this princess. Night retires
Before the purple-winged morn. A band
Is call’d. The well-remember'd spot they find,
Where Teribazus from his dying hand
Dropt in their sight his formidable sword.
Soon from beneath a pile of Asian dead
They draw the hero, by his armour known.
Then, Ariana, what transcending pangs
Were thine! what horrors ! In thy tender breast
Love still was mightiest. On the bosom cold
Of Teribazus, grief-distracted maid,
Thy beauteous limbs were thrown. Thy snowy hue
The clotted gore disfigur'd. On his wounds
Loose flow'd thy hair; and, bubbling from thy eyes, Impetuous sorrow lav'd th' empurpled clay.
Then, with no trembling hand, no change of look,
She drew a poniard, which her garment veil'd;
And instant sheathing in her heart the blade,
On her slain lover silent sunk in death.
The unexpected stroke prevents the care
Of Agis, pierc'd by horror and distress,
Like one, who, standing on a stormy beach,
Beholds a found'ring vessel, by the deep
At once engulf'd; his pity feels and mourns,
Depriv'd of pow'r to save: so Agis view'd
The prostrate pair. He dropp'd a tear, and thus.
Oh! much lamented! Heavy on your heads
Hath evil fall'n, which o'er your pale remains
Commands this sorrow from a stranger's eye.
Illustrious ruins! May the grave impart
peace which life denied! and now receive This pious office from a hand unknown.
He spake, unclasping from his shoulders broad His ample robe. He strew'd the waving folds O'er each wan visage; turning then, address'd The slave, in mute dejection standing near.
Thou, who, attendant on this hapless fair, Hast view'd this dreadful spectacle, return. These bleeding relics bear to Persia's king, Thou with four captives, whom I free from bonds.
Song of the Priestess of the Muses to the chosen Band after their
Return from the Inroad into the Persian Camp, on the Night before the Battle of Thermopylæ.
Back to the pass in gentle march he leads
Th’embattled warriors. They, behind the shrubs,
Where Mędon sent such numbers to the shades,
In ambush lie. The tempest is o'erblown.
Soft breezes only from the Malian wave
O’er each grim face, besmear'd with smoke and gore,
Their cool refreshment breathe. The healing gale,
A crystal rill near Eta's verdant feet,
Dispel the languor from their harass'd nerves,
Fresh brac'd by strength returning. O'er their heads
Lo! in full blaze of majesty appears
Melissa, bearing in her hand divine
Th' eternal guardian of illustrious deeds,
The sweet Phoebean lyre. Her graceful train
Of white-rob'd virgins, seated on a range
Half down the cliff, o'ershadowing the Greeks,
All with concordant strings, and accents clear,
A torrent pour of melody, and swell
A high, triumphal, solemn dirge of praise,
Anticipating fame. Of endless joys
In bless'd Elysium was the song. Go, meet
Lycurgus, Solon, and Zaleucus sage,
Let them salute the children of their laws.
Meet Homer, Orpheus and th' Ascræan bard,
Who with a spirit, by ambrosial food
Refin'd, and more exalted, shall contend
Your splendid fate to warble through the bow'rs
Of amaranth and myrtle ever young,
Like your renown. Your ashes we will cull.
In yonder fane deposited, your urns,
Dear to the Muses, shall our lays inspire.
Whatever off'rings, genius, science, art
Can dedicate to virtue, shall be yours,
The gifts of all the Muses, to transmit
You on th' enliven'd canvas, marble, brass,
In wisdom's volume, in the poet's song,
In ev'ry tongue, through ev'ry age and clime,
You of this earth the brightest flow’rs, not cropt,
Transplanted only to immortal bloom
Of praise with men, of happiness with gods.
As near Porto-Bello lying
On the gently swelling flood,
At midnight with streamers flying,
Our triumphant navy rode;
There while Vernon sat all-glorious
From the Spaniard's late defeat; And his crews, with shouts victorious,
Drank success to England's fleet:
On a sudden shrilly sounding,
Hideous yells and shrieks were heard ;
Then each heart with fear confounding,
A sad troop of ghosts appear'd, All in dreary hammocs shrouded,
Which for winding-sheets they wore, And with looks by sorrow clouded,
Frowning on that hostile shore.
On them gleam'd the moon's wan lustre,
When the shade of Hosier brave
His pale bands was seen to muster,
Rising from their wat’ry grave:
O'er the glimm'ring wave he hy'd him,
Where the Burford rear'd her sail,
With three thousand ghosts beside him,
And in groans did Vernon hail.
“ Heed, O heed, our fatal story,
I am Hosier's injur'd ghost,
You, who now have purchas'd glory
At this place where I was lost;
Though in Porto-Bello's ruin
You now triumph free from fears, When you think on our undoing,
You will mix your joy with tears.
“ See these mournful spectres, sweeping
Ghastly o'er this hated wave, Whose wan cheeks are stain’d with weeping;
These were English captains brave: