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“Art thou that traitor angel, art thou he,
Who first broke peace in Heaven, and faith, till then
Unbroken, and in proud rebellious arms
Drew after him the third part of Heaven's sons
Conjured against the Highest; for which both thou
And they, outcast from God, are here condemned
To waste eternal days in woe and pain
And reckon'st thou thyself with spirits of Heaven,
Hell-doomed ! and breathest defiance here and scorn,
Where I reign king, and, to enrage thee more
Thy king and lord : Back to thy punishment,
False fugitive! and to thy speed add wings;
Lest with a whip of scorpions I pursue
Thy lingering, or with one stroke of this dart
Strange horror seize thee, and pangs unfelt before.”
So spake the grisly terror; and in shape,
So speaking, and so threatening, grew ten-fold
More dreadful and deform : on the other side,
Incensed with indignation, Satan stood
Unterrified, and like a comet burned,
That fires the length of Ophiuchus huge
In the Arctic sky, and from his horrid hair
Shakes pestilence and war. Each at the head
Levelled his deadly aim; their fatal hands
No second stroke intend; and such a frown
Each cast at the other, as when two black clouds,
With Heaven's artillery fraught, come rattling on
Over the Caspian; then stand front to front
Hovering a space, till winds the signal blow
To join their dark encounter in mid air:
So frowned the mighty combatants, that hell
Grew darker at their frown; so matched they stood;
For never but once more was either like
To meet so great a Foe: and now great deeds
Had been achieved, whereof all hell had rung,
Had not the snaky sorceress that sat
Fast by hell-gate, and kept the fatal key,
Risen, and with hideous outcry rushed between.
Joy holds her court in great Belshazzar's hall,
Where his proud lords attend their monarch's call.
The rarest dainties of the teeming East
Provoke the revel and adorn the feast.
And now the monarch rises.—“Pour,” he cries,
“To the great gods, the Assyrian deities'
Pour forth libations of the rosy wine
To Nebo, Bel, and all the powers divine!
Those golden vessels crown, which erewhile stood
Fast by the oracle of Judah's God,
Till that accurséd race — ”
But why, O king ! Why dost thou start, with livid cheek?—why fling The untasted goblet from thy trembling hand 2 Why shake thy joints, thy feet forget to stand 2 Why roams thine eye, which seems in wild amaze To shun some object, yet returns to gaze, – Then shrinks again appalled, as if the tomb Had sent a spirit from its inmost gloom ?
Awful the horror, when Belshazzar raised
His arm, and pointed where the vision blazed
For see enrobed in flame, a mystic shade,
As of a hand, a red right-hand, displayed
And, slowly moving o'er the wall, appear
Letters of fate, and characters of fear.
In deathlike silence grouped, the revellers all
Fix their glazed eyeballs on the illumined wall.
See now the vision brightens,—now 'tis gone,
Like meteor flash, like Heaven's own lightning flown!
But, though the hand hath vanished, what it writ
Is uneffaced. Who will interpret it?
In vain the sages try their utmost skill;
The mystic letters are unconstrued still.
“Quick, bring the Prophet !—let his tongue proclaim
The mystery of that visionary flame.”
The holy Prophet came, and stood upright,
With brow serene, before Belshazzar's sight.
The monarch pointed trembling to the wall:
“Behold the portents that our heart appall !
Interpret them, O Prophet ! thou shalt know
What gifts Assyria's monarch can bestow.”
Unutterably awful was the eye
Which met the monarch's; and the stern reply
Fell heavy on his soul: “Thy gifts withhold,
Nor tempt the Spirit of the Law, with gold.
Belshazzar, hear what these dread words reveal
That lot on which the Eternal sets his seal.
Thy kingdom numbered, and thy glory flown,
The Mede and Persian revel on thy throne.
Weighed in the balance, thou hast kicked the beam;
See to yon Western sun the lances gleam,
Which, ere his Orient rays adorn the sky,
Thy blood shall sully with a crimson dye.”
In the dire carnage of that night's dread hour,
Crushed mid the ruins of his crumbling power,
Belshazzar fell beneath an unknown blow —
His kingdom wasted, and its pride laid low !
7. BERNARDO DEL CARPIO. — Mrs. Hemans.
The celebrated Spanish champion, Bernardo del Carpio, having made many ineffectual efforts to procure the release of his father, the Count Saldana, who had been imprisoned, by King Alphonso of Asturias, almost from the time of Bernardo's birth, at last took up arms, in despair. The war which he maintained proved so destructive, that the men of the land gathered round the king, and united in demanding Saldana's liberty. Alphonso accordingly offered Bernardo immediate possession of his father's person, in exchange for his castle of Carpio. Bernardo, without hesitation, gave up his strong-hold with all his captives; and, being assured that his father was then on his way from prison, rode forth with the king to meet him. “And when he saw his father approaching, he exclaimed,” says the ancient chronicle, “‘O, God is the Count of Saldana indeed coming ' ' ' Look where he is,' replied the cruel king, ‘and now go and greet him, whom you have so long desired to see.’” The remainder of the story will be found related in the ballad. The chronicles and rolnances leave us nearly in the dark as to Bernardo's history after this event.
THE warrior bowed his crested head, and tamed his heart of fire,
And sued the haughty king to free his long-imprisoned sire;
“I bring thee here my fortress-keys, I bring my captive train,
I pledge thee faith, my liege, my lord — O' break my father's
“Rise, rise! even now thy father comes, a ransomed man, this day!
Mount thy good horse; and thou and I will meet him on his way.”
Then lightly rose that loyal son, and bounded on his steed,
And urged, as if with lance in rest, the charger's foamy speed.
And lo! from far, as on they pressed, there came a glittering band,
With one that 'midst them stately rode, as a leader in the land:
“Now haste, Bernardo, haste! for there, in very truth, is he,
The father whom thy faithful heart hath yearned so long to see.”
His dark eye flashed, his proud breast heaved, his cheek's hue came
and went ;
He reached that gray-haired chieftain's side, and there, dismounting,
A lowly knee to earth he bent, his father's hand he took —
What was there in its touch that all his fiery spirit shook?
That hand was cold, -a frozen thing, — it dropped from his like lead
He looked up to the face above, — the face was of the dead
A plume waved o'er the noble brow, - the brow was fixed and white:
He met, at last, his father's eyes, – but in them was no sight!
Up from the ground he sprang and gazed;—but who could paint that 2
gaze : They hushed their very hearts, that saw its horror and amaze: — They might have chained him, as before that stony form he stood; For the power was stricken from his arm, and from his lip the blood.
“Father: "at length he murmured low, and wept like childhood then: Talk not of grief till thou hast seen the tears of warlike men
He thought on all his glorious hopes, and all his young renown, – He flung his falchion from his side, and in the dust sat down.
Then covering with his steel-gloved hands his darkly mournful brow,
“No more, there is no more,” he said, “to lift the sword for, now;
My king is false, — my hope betrayed My father — O ! the worth,
The glory, and the loveliness, are passed away from earth!
“I thought to stand where banners waved, my sire, beside thee, yet :
I would that there our kindred blood on Spain's free soil had met !
Thou wouldst have known my spirit, then ; — for thee my fields were
And thou hast perished in thy chains, as though thou hadst no son!”
Then, starting from the ground once more, he seized the monarch's
Amidst the pale and wildered looks of all the courtier train;
And, with a fierce, o'ermastering grasp, the rearing war-horse led,
And sternly set them face to face, — the king before the dead: —
“Came I not forth, upon thy pledge, my father's hand to kiss? — Be still, and gaze thou on, false king ! and tell me what is this? The voice, the glance, the heart I sought, — give answer, where are they 2 – If thou wouldst clear thy perjured soul, send life through this cold clay ! “Into these glassy eyes put light; —be still! keep down thine ire!— Bid these white lips a blessing speak, - this earth is not my sire: — Give me back him for whom I strove, for whom my blood was shed : — Thou canst not ?—and a king! — his dust be mountains on thy head ' "
He loosed the steed, - his slack hand fell; — upon the silent face
He cast one long, deep, troubled look, then turned from that sad place:
His hope was crushed, his after fate untold in martial strain:—
His banner led the spears no more, amidst the hills of Spain.
8. CASABIANCA. — Mrs. Hemans.
Young Casabianca, a boy about thirteen years old, son to the Admiral of the Orient, remained at his post (in the battle of the Nile) after the ship had taken fire, and all the guns had been * and perished in the explosion of the vessel, when the flames had reached the pow
THE boy stood on the burning deck, whence all but he had fled;
The flame that lit the battle's wreck shone round him o'er the dead.
Yet beautiful and bright he stood, as born to rule the storm, -
A creature of heroic blood, a proud, though child-like form.
The flames rolled on — he would not go, without his Father's word;
That Father, faint in death below, his voice no longer heard.
He called aloud:—“Say, Father, say, if yet my task is done?”
He knew not that the chieftain lay, unconscious of his son.
“Speak, Father!” once again he cried, “if I may yet be gone :
And " — but the booming shots replied, and fast the flames rolled on.
Upon his brow he felt their breath, and in his waving hair,
And looked from that lone post of death, in still, yet brave despair.
And shouted but once more aloud, “My Father! must I stay?”
While o'er him fast, through sail and shroud, the wreathing fires made
They wrapped the ship in splendor wild, they caught the flag on high,
And streamed above the gallant child, like banners in the sky.
There came a burst of thunder sound, – the boy – 0 , where was he?
Ask of the winds, that far around with fragments strewed the sea,
With mast, and helm, and pennon fair, that well had borne their part!
But o thing which perished there was that young, faithful eart!
9. ROCRS OF MY COUNTRY. — Mrs. Hemans.
Rocks of my country! let the cloud your crested heights array,
And rise ye, like a fortress proud, above the surge and spray!
My spirit greets you as ye stand, breasting the billow's foam :
O! thus forever guard the land, the severed Land of Home!
I have left rich blue skies behind, lighting up classic shrines,
And music in the southern wind, and sunshine on the vines.
The breathings of the myrtle-flowers have floated o'er my way;
The pilgrim's voice, at vesper-hours, hath soothed me with its lay.
The Isles of Greece, the Hills of Spain, the purple Heavens of Rome,
Yes, all are glorious; —yet again I bless thee, Land of Home!
For thine the Sabbath peace, my land and thine the guarded hearth;
And thine the dead, the noble band, that make thee holy earth.
Their voices meet me in thy breeze, their steps are on thy plains;
Their names by old majestic trees are whispered round thy fanes.
Their blood hath mingled with the tide of thine exulting sea;
O ! be it still a joy, a pride, to live and die for thee!
10. The TWO HOMES.–Mrs. Hemans.
SEEST thou my home 2 – ’t is where yon woods are waving,
In their dark richness, to the summer air;
Where yon blue stream, a thousand flower-banks laving,
Leads down the hills, a vein of light, — 'tis there !
"Midst those green wilds how many a fount lies gleaming,
Fringed with the violet, colored with the skies!
My boyhood's haunt, through days of summer dreaming,
Under young leaves that shook with melodies.
My home ! the spirit of its love is breathing
In every wind that plays across my track;