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In whose black bosom wrath was gathering fast,
To burst at length in one wide wasting blast.
Thou didst not see unmoved th' insidious Turk,
Near, and still nearer, like a Tiger lurk:
Prompt, as that brute, the feast
of blood to share,
Unknown to pity, and untaught to spare ;
Prowling thy farther provinces around,
Ready to spring wherever prey was found,
As some small spring, whose source is scarcely seen,
Hidden by shrubs that clothe the earth in green,
Pours its unceasing waters day and niglit,
That struggle onward till they burst to light;
Till through the plains they work themselves a way,
Widening and deepening in the blaze of day;
Cleaving the mountains as they roar along,
They swell into a river deep and strong ;
That rushing to the sea it seems to brave,
Drives ocean back with many a giant wave,--
So from their mountain homes the Turks arose ;
Too few at first to fear, too mean for foes :
In silent strength secure, they grew and spread,
Till threatened nations found a foe to dread;
Till Asia trembled on her burning seat,
And prostrate cities groaned beneath their feet;
Till like a deluge o'er each conquered soil
They poured, the pride of arts and arms to spoil.
Their thirst for blood no slaughter could assuage,
Destroying learning with a barbarous rage;
A curse unqualified their course hath been,
The ruthless tyrants of earth's fairest scene.
A rude, despotic, devastating race ;
Their course was marked by no redeeming grace:
For all the blessings that they dashed away,
They left no hope to cheer a future day.
Some conquerors who the bolts of war have hurl'd,
Have gilt the chains with which they bound the world;
Have given arts, learning, to the vanquished realm,
And raised, at last, the state they came to whelm;
But these past onward like a blast of fire,
That leaves creation withered in its ire!
Their tread was as the sound of mighty waves-
They cane-they smote-and fields were turned to graves :
They traversed as the rushing of the wind,
And temples-cities-stretched in wreck bebind.
And Europe ! well mayst thou the day deplore, When first the turban'd throng disgrac'd thy shore ! Didst thou not, when the Hellespont they cross'd, Leap from thy seat, as by an earthquake toss'd!
Did not thy rocks to their foundations shake-
Thy forests tremble -and thy cities quake!
Did not thy eastern shores start back dismay’d,
As earth might shrink when man first disobey'd !
For they have been thy visitants of woe ;
Have supk thy learning, arts, religion, low :
Have thrown thee backward in the march of time,
And made thy richest realm, a barbarous clime.
To thee-once glorious Greece they came to thee
The first in arts and arms, the great--the free
Th’ unrivall’d of the world, whose single worth,
Has given an immortality to earth!
They smote thee -godlike-with barbarian hands,
With impious feet defiled thy classic lands;
Threw o'er thy fame an eastern gothic night,
And robb’d the nations of thy mental light.
And, oh! what worst of slavery, hast thou borne !
The taunt, the scourge, the rapine, and the scorn!
How trodden in the dust thy sons have been,
Amidst the glories of their native scene.
Shades of illustrious Greeks! [mmortal men!
Whose equals earth may never boast again!
Have ye beheld the desolating work?
e'er seen the more than ruthless Turk Deface your hallowed shrines--your children doom Το vassalage-your
honours to a tomb ? Thus could you look on all you loved before, Nor mouru the immortality you bore
Ill-fated Greece! by hands like these to fall !
To bear, from age to age, such heartless thrall !
To drop from thy proud pinnacle of fame,
And live-with nothing left thee but a name.
Hadst thou been faithful to thyself, thy pride
Not thus had perish'd, nor thy glories died :
Had thy proud sous united in their aim,
Thy jarring states made friend and foe the same,
The unletter'd hordes who sunk thee to a slave,
Had only reach'd thy fields to find a grave.
Alas! thine iron phalanx discord broke,
Thy jealousies prepar'd for thee the yoke
So the strong herd of Elephants that rove
In friendly bands through India's sultry grove,
United scorn the wary
Who marks the prize, but dares not venture near ;
But when dispers’d, alone they tread the wood,
Each falls a victim, weltering in his blood,
E'en on those waves that round the city flow,
Thy sons in battle sought each other's woe:
Athenian heroes fought with Spartan there;
For ocean's empire, and both reap'd despair
So, while two tigers struggle for a prey,
The mightier lion bears the spoil away.
And thou, imperial City! throned on high;
Who saw'st from thy proud seat with regal eye,
Europe and Asia stretch'd on either side ;
Not thus hadst fallen from thy throne of pride,
But rose resplendent through the stormy hour,
Had patriot virtue, wisdom, nerv'd thy power ;
The hosts of infidels, who brought thee chains,
Had left their bones to wbiten on thy plains ;
And thou, Constantinople, still hadst been
Th' unconquered mistress of earth's brightest scene.
Thy growing enemy had watch'd thee long,-
Still found thee weaker, and himself more strong;
Ånd he had hemm'd thee in, till nought remain'd
But what within thy ramparts were contain'd:
Thy plains around his arms had lopt away;
Thy guarding castles sever'd from thy sway;
Till, like a lion whom the toils enclose,
Thou didst but hold the den of thy repose.
Twice had he drawn his hosts around thy wall,
And mighty in his numbers doom'd thy fall ;
As often call'd away to distant strife,
Unwillingly prolong'd thy destined life.
Oh! what a fall was thine! from such a height,
From fame so lofty, and such fearless might!
Condemn’d within thy sheltering walls to bear
The insults of a foe who braved thee there;
Nor daring e'en to issue forth, to show
thine arm had power to lay him low.
The time had been thy hosts had started out,
And whelm'd such foes in undistinguished rout;
When not a day thy pride had brook'd to see
Thy ramparts threaten'd by an enemy:
Was it for thee, (once so supreme in might!)
To shrink within thy towers, and shun the fight?
Was it for thee, (Byzantium's seat of fame!
Where glory stampt the Greek and Roman name,)
To be insulted by a savage host,
Nor smite them with thy thunders 'midst their boast?
How ill befitting thine imperial pride,
Who once could'st spread thine arms on every
Make distant nations tremble at thy sword,
And rule obedient empires by a word;
When Europe scarcely dared thy wrath to brave,
And Asia almost sank into thy slave:
Thy name was magic thien, and had a charm
To guard thy soil, and shield thy towers from harm.
But thou, like other powers, badst reach'd thy height,
Earth hath no day that doth not end in night ;
Darkness will come to veil the brightest name,
Nor time forbear to sink the highest fame.
And now the clouds were gathering o'er thy crest;
Thy glorious sun was setting in the west ;
Flashing o'er ocean as it sunk away,
The last red glimmer of departing day:
And, dropping down, shed streaks of bloody light,
Before it pass'd for ever from the sight;
While lightnings flash'd along thy twilight shore,
Where tempests seem'd their gathered wrath to pour,
And thunders rolld thy dirge in many an awful roar.
Again-again is heard the battle shout,-
again approach the tumult and the rout;
Countless as locusts when they dim the air,
Thine enemies approach to shed despair ;
very earth seems shaken by their tread,
And past the reach of sight their legions spread ;
Like an interminable stream they pour,
To deluge frighted Europe's eastern shore.
Over the mountain's brow, and through the vale,
The silver crescent sparkles in the gale;
Like an approaching comet, seen afar,
Portentous of the waste and woe of war:
Furious as wolves they come, by want made bold,
Impelld to rush upon the village fold;
Burning to strike the long-intended blow,
And lay the last of Roman glories low.
And who was he who boldly dared to aim To mount the Cæsar's falling throne of fame? 'Twas he-twas Mahomet! who, with impious ire, Sought to o’erwhelm the cross with wrath and fire; Above Constantinople's towers to wave His flag, and sink earth's mistress to his slave! They come,--they close around : ah! who could see, Nor dread the power of such an enemy? In passion furious as the beasts of blood, And countless as the sands that bound the flood ; ; A cloud on earth they seem, an endless host, Hiding the plains, and darkening all the coast; The ground appears to move as they advance, And fields of fire flash from the glittering lance. The patriot from the wall beholds dismay'd Their threatning aspect, and their long parade,
And views them almost with despairing eye
Stretch to the distant hills that meet the sky;
Then looks within, and sees how few are found
To meet that fearful tempest gathering round:
A choice, brave few; but, ah! that coming strife
Will crave a larger waste of human life!
More blood must flow than all their veins afford,
To save that city for its Christian lord :
What tho' their swords should thrice their numbers slay,
The dead, like Hydra's, will but feed the fray:
Till the exhausted slayer yields his breath,
And, tomb'd amidst his victims, sinks in death.
And now night's stealing shadows veil'd the ground, The first that saw the city compass'd round; The gates were clos'd with deep portentous din, Closed like a sepulchre on all within ! For few of all those thousands shelter'd there, Would e'er pass forth to breathe the freer air. No peasant homeward through the portals past, And there the citizen had trod his last; None thence could go to seek a distant friend, The liberty of life was at an end : Shut up for good or evil in that spot, In blood to triumph, or to die forgot ; Where, if they fail'd to conquer, none could save, And home but one more boon could graut-a grave..
How awful is the stillness of that night,
That only harbingers the coming fight;
It knows no slumber, scarcely yields repose, -
"Tis but the waking rest of watchful foes.
Thought is too busy to succumb to sleep;
The soul is fill'd with passions wild and deep:
No dream-born phantoms throng the midnight void,
But sleepless fancy paints e'en life destroy'd.
The never-resting heart, that beats in fear,
Seems fonder of the ties that bind it here ;
And, fetter'd in affection's closest links,
From life's last, fearful separation shrinks:
And the young mind, that still hath joys on earth,
Objects of love and hope, and friends of worth,
Can ill endure the thought of severing all
Life's dearest ties, and e'er its noon to fall :
The thoughts of e'en the bravest heart will turn
To some bright scene, that hope had taught to burn:
Few, without shuddering, can resolve to part
From all that makes life precious to the heart;
To pass from consciousness, e'en though of pain;
To lose what none, once lost, can e'er regain ;