Imagens das páginas

62. • Enough! enough! they cried.-Straight,

from the crowd, The better sort on wings of transport fly: As when amid the lifefess summits proud Of Alpine cliffs, where to the gelid sky Snows pil'd on snows in wintry torpor lie, The rays divine of vernal Phoebus play ; Th’awaken'd heaps, in streamlets from on high, Rous'd into action, lively leap away, Glad-warbling thro’ the vales, in their new being gay.

63. Not less the life, the vivid joy serene, That lighted up those new-created men, Than that which wings th' exulting spirit clean, When, just deliver d from this fleshy den, It soaring seeks its native skies again ; How light its essence ! how unclogg d its pow rs, Beyond the blazon of my mortal pen ? Ev’n so we glad forsook these sinful bowers ; Ev'n such enraptur'd life-such energy was ours.

64. But far the greater part, with rage inflam'd, Dire-mutter'd curses, and blasphem'd high Jove, « Ye sons of Hate !' they bitterly exclaim’d, • What brought you to this seat of peace and love ! While with kind Nature, here amid the grove, We pass’d the harmless sabbath of our time, What to disturb it could, fell men, emove Your barbarous hearts ? is happiness a crime ? Then do the fiends of hell rule in yon heav'n sub

lime.' 65. “ Ye impious wretches ! quoth the Knight in

wrath, Your happiness behold !—Then straight a wand He wav'd, an anti-magic power that hath, Truth from illusive falsehood to command.

Sudden the landscape sinks on every hand ;
The pure quick streams are marshy puddles found
On baleful heaths the groves all blacken'd stand ;
And o'er the weedy, foul, abhorred grourd,
Snakes, adders, toads, each loathsome creature

crawls around. 66. And here and there, on trees by lightning

scath'd, Unhappy wights who loathed life yhung, Or in fresh gore and recent murder bath’d, They weltering lay; or else, infuriate flung Into the gloomy wood, while ravens sung The funeral dirge, they down the torrent rollid : These, by distemper'd blood to madness stung, Had doom'd themselves ; whence oft, when night

controll’d The world, returning hither their sad spirits howl'd.

67. Meantime a moving scene was open laid ; That lazar-house I whilom in my lay Depainted have. its horrors deep display'd, And gave nnnumber'd wretches to the day, Who tossing there in squalid misery lay. Soon as of sacred light th’ unwonted smile Pour'd on these living catacombs its ray, Through the drear caverns stretching many a mile, The sick uprais d their heads, and dropp'd their

woes a while. 68.' 0 Heav'n ? they cried, and do we once more


Yon blessed sun, and this green earth so fair ?
Are we from noisome damps of pest house free ?
And drink our souls the sweet ethereal air ?
O thou! or Knight or God! who holdest there

That fiend, oh! keep him in eternal chains !
But what for us, the children of Despair,
Brought to the brink of hell, what hope remains ?
Repentance does itself but agravate our pains.'

69. The gentle Knight, who saw their rueful case,
Let fall adown his silvery beard some tears :
. Certes (quoth he) it is not ev’n in grace
T' undo the past, and eke your broken years.
Nathless, to nobler worlds Repentance rears,
With humble hope, her eye ; to her is given
A power the truly contrite heart that cheers ;
She quells the brand by which the rocks are riven ;
She more than merely softens-she rejoices Heaven.

70. ^ Then patient bear the sufferings you have And by these sufferings purify the mind : [earn'd Let wisdom be by past misconduct learn’d, Or pious die, with penitence resign’d And to a life more happy and refin'd, Doubt not you shall, new creatures, yet arise. Till then, you may expect in me to find One who will wipe your sorrow from your eyes, One who will sooth your pangs, and win you to the

skies.' 71. They silent heard, and pour'd their thanks in

tears. For you (resum'd the Knight with sterner tone) Whose hard dry hearts th’ obdurate demon sears, That villain's gifts will cost you many a groan ; In dolorous mansion long you must bernoan His fatal charms, and weep your stains away ; Till, soft and pure as infant goodness grown, You feel a perfect change ; then who can say What grace may yet shine forth in Heaven's eternal

day ?

72. This said, his powerful wand he wav'd anew ; Instant a glorious angel train descends, The Charities, to wit, of rosy hue. Sweet Love their looks a gentle radiance lends, And with seraphic flame compassion blends. At once, delighted, to their charge they fly ; When lo ! a goodly hospital ascends, In which they bade each lenient aid be nigh, That could the sick-bed smooth of that sad company.

73. It was a worthy edifying sight, And gives to human kind peculiar grace, To see kind hands attending day and night, With tender ministry, from place to place : Some prop the head ; some, from the pallid face Wipe off the faint cold dews weak nature sheds ; Somereach the healing draught ; the whilst, to chase The fear supreme, around their soften'd beds Some holy man by prayer all opening heaven dis

preads. 74. Attended by a glad acclaiming train, Of those he rescue'd had from gaping hell, Then turn d the Knight, and to his hall again Soft-pacing, sought of Peace the mossy cell ; Yet down his cheeks the gems of pity fell, To see the helpless wretches that remain’d, There left through dells and deserts dire to yell; Amaz'd their looks with pale dismay were stain'd, And spreading wide their hands they meek repent

ance feign’d. 75. But ah ! their scorned day of grace was past ; For (horrible to tell !) a desert wild Before them stretch'd, bare, comfortless, and vast, With gibbets, bones, and carcasses defil'd.


There nor trim field nor lively culture smild :
Nor waving shade was seen, nor fountain fair :
But sands abrupt on sands lay loosely pild, [care.
Thro' which they floundering toil'd with painful
Whilst Phæbus smote them sore, and fire'd the

cloudless air. 76. Then, varying to a joyless land of bogs, The sadden'd country a gray waste appear d, Where nought but putrid streams and noisome fogs For ever hung on drizzly Auster's beard ;

Or else the ground by piercing Caurus sear’d • Was jagg’d with frost, or heap'd with glazed snow;

Thro' these extremes a ceaseless round they steerd, By cruel fiends still hurry'd to and fro, [moe. Gaunt Beggary, and Scorn, with many hell-hounds

77. The first was with base dunghill rags yclad, Tainting the gale, in which they ffutter d light; Of morbid hue his features sunk, and sad : His hollow eyne shook forth a sickly light : And o'er his lank jaw-bone, in a piteous plight, His black rough beard was matted rank and vile ; Direful to see ! a heart-appaling sight ! Meantime foul scurf and blotches him defile, And dogs, where'er he went, still barked all the while

78. The other was a fell despiteful fiend ; Hell holds none worse in baleful bower below; By pride, and wit, and rage, and rancour keen'd; Of man alike, if good or bad, the foe : With nose upturn'd, he always made a show As if he smelt some nauseous scent ; his eye Was cold, and keen, like blast from Boreal snow, And taunts he castern forth most bitterly. Such were the twain that off drove these ungodly frp

« AnteriorContinuar »