« AnteriorContinuar »
A hundred scutcheons deck with gloomy grace,
That now were welcome in that Gothic pile.
He comes at last in sudden loneliness, Far checkering o'er the pictured window, plays
And whence they know not, why they need not guess, The unwonted faggots' hospitable blaze;
They more might marvel, when the greeting's o'er, And gay retainers gather round the hearth,
Not that he came, but came not long before : With tongues all loudness, and with eyes all mirth.
No train is his beyond a single page,
Of foreign aspect, and of tender age.
Years had rollid on, and fast they speed away The chief of Lara is return'd again :
To those that wander as to those that stay; And why had Lara cross'd the bounding main ?
But lack of tidings from another clime Left by his sire, too young such loss to know,
Had lent a flagging wing to weary Time. Lord of himself;-that heritage of wo,
They see, they recognize, yet almost deem
The present dubious, or the past a dream
He lives, nor yet is past his manhood's prime, The thousand paths that slope the way to crime ;
Though sear'd by toil, and something touch'd by Then, when he most required commandment, then
time; Had Lara's daring boyhood govern'd men. Ilis faults, whate'er they were, if scarce forgot, It skills not, boots not step by step to trace
Might be untaught him by his varied lot; His youth through all the mazes of its race;
Nor good nor ill of late were known, his name Short was the course his restlessness had run,
Might yet uphold his patrimonial fame : But long enough to leave him half undone.
His soul in youth was haughty, but his sins
No more than pleasure from the stripling wins, III.
And such, if not yet harden'd in their course, And Lara left in youth his father-land;
Might be redeem'd, nor ask a long remorse.
And spake of passions, but of passion past : His hall scarce echoes with his wonted name, The pride, but not the fire, of early days, His portrait darkens in its fading frame,
Coldness of mien, and carelessness of praise ;
A high demeanor, and a glance that took
That darts in seeming playfulness around, |And then, his rarely call’d attendants said,
In rude but antique portraiture around: shat some can conquer, and that all would claim, They heard, but whisper'd—" that must not be Nithin his breast appear'd no more to strive,
knownseem'd as lately they had been alive;
The sound of words less earthly than his own. Aud some deep feeling it were vain to trace Yes, they who chose might smile, but some had seen At moments lighten'd o'er his livid face.
They scarce knew what, but more than should have
Why gazed he so upon the ghastly head Not much he loved long question of the past,
Which hands profane had gather'd from the dead. Nor told of wondrous wilds, and deserts vast,
That still beside his open'd volume lay,
As if to startle all save him away?
Why heard no music, and receive no guest ?
All was not well, they deem'd—but where the wrong? But what he had beheld he shunn'd to shon, Some knew perchance-out 'twere a tale too long : As hardly worth a stranger's care to know;
And such besides were too discreetly wise, I still more prying such inquiry grew,
To more than hint their knowledge in sumise ; His brow fell darker, and his words more few.
But if they would--they could "-around the board
Thus Lara's vassals prattled to their Lord.
It was the night-and Lara's glassy stream
The stars are studding, each with imaged beam;
So calm, the waters scarcely seem to stray, He mingled with the Magnates of his land,
And yet they glide like happiness away; Join'd the carousals of the great and gay,
Reflecting far and fairy-like from high
The immortal lights that live along the sky,
Its banks are fringed with many a goodly tree,
Il He did not follow what they all pursued
And flowers the fairest that may feast the bee;
Such in her chaplet infant Dian wove, With hope still baffled still to be renew'd:
And Innocence would offer to her love : Nor shadowy honor, nor substantial gain,
These deck the shore; the waves their channel make Nor beauty's preference, and the rival's pain:
In windings bright and mazy like the snake. Around him some mysterious circle thrown
All was so still, so soft in earth and air, Repell’d approach, and show'd him still alone;
You scarce would start to meet a spirit there; Upon his eye sate something of reproof,
Secure that nought of evil could delight
To walk in such a scene, on such a night!
It was a moment only for the good :
S. Lara deem'd, nor longer there he stood, And they the wiser, friendlier few confest
But turn'd in silence to his castle-gate; They deem'd him better than his air exprest.
Such scene his soul no more could contemplate:
Such scene reminded him of other days,
of skies more cloudless, moons of purer blaze, 'Twas strange in youth all action and all life,
Of nights more soft and frequent, hearts that now Burning for pleasure, not averse from strife ;
No-no-the storm may beat upon his brow, Woman--the field-the ocean-all that gave
Unfelt-unsparing-but a night like this,
A night of beauty, mock'd such breast as his
And his high shadow shot along the wall ;
'Twas all they left of virtues or of crimes, The rapture of his heart hath look'd on high,
Save vague tradition ; and the gloomy vaults And ask'd if greater dwelt beyond the sky: That hid their dust, their foibles, and their faults. Chain'd to excess, the slave of each extreme, And half a column of the pompous page, How woke he from the wildness of that dream?
That speeds the specious tale from age to age, Alas! he told not-but he did awake
Where history's pen its praise or blame supplies, To curse the wither'd heart that would not break.
And lies like truth, and still most truly lies.
He wandering mused, and as the moonbeam shone IX.
Through the dim lattice o'er the floor of stone, Books, for his volume heretofore was Man, And the high fretted roof, and saints, that there With eye more curious he appear'd to scan,
O'er Gothic windows knelt in pictured prayer, and oft, in sudden mood, for many a day
Reflected in fantastic figures grew, From all communion he would start away;
Like life, but not like mortal life, to view;
His bristling locks of sable, brow of gloom, He to his marvelling vassals show'd it not,
The astonish'd slaves, and shun the fated hall;
The waving banner, and the clapping door,
The rustling tapestry, and the echoing floor;
XVI. They heard and rose, and tremulously brave, Vain thought! that hour of ne'er unravell'd gloom Rush where the sound invoked their aid to save; Came not again, or Lara could assume They come with half-lit tapers in their hands, A seeming of forgetfulness, that made And snatch'd in startled haste unbelted brands. His vassals more amazed nor less afraid
Had memory vanish'd then with sense restowed ? XIII.
Since word, nor look, nor gesture of their lord Cold as the marble where his length was laid, Betray'd feeling that recall’d to these Pale as the beam that o'er his features play'd, That fever'd moment of his mind's disease. Was Lara stretch'd: his half-drawn sabre near, Was it a dream ? was his the voice that spoke Dropp'd as it should seem in more than nature's fear; Those strange wild accents; his the cry that broke Yet he was firm, or had been firma till now, Their slumber? his the oppress'd, o'erlabor'd heart And still defiance knit his gather'd brow;
That ceased to beat, the look that made them start? Though mix'd with terror, senseless as he lay, Could he who thus had suffer'd, so forget, There lived upon his lip the wish to slay ; When such as saw that suffering shudder yet? Some half-form'd threat in utterance there had died, Or did that silence prove his memory fix'd Some imprecation of despairing pride;
Too deep for words, indellible, unmix'd His eye was almost scal’d, but not forsook, In that corroding secrecy which gnaws Even in its trance the gladiator's look,
The heart to show the effect, but not the cause ? That oft awake his aspect could disclose,
Not so in him; his breast had buried both, And now was fixed in horrible repose.
Nor common gazers could discern the growth They raise him-bear him;-hush! he breathes, he Of thoughts that mortal lips must leave half told: speaks,
They choke the feeble words that would unfold The swarthy blush recolers in his cheeks, His lip resumes its red, his eye, though dim,
XVII. Rolls wide and wild, each slowly quivering limb In him inexplicably mix'd appear’d Recalls its function, but his words are strung Much to be loved and hated, sought and fear'd; In terms that seem not of his native tongue; Opinion varying o'er his hidden lot, Distinct but strange, enough they understand In praise or railing ne'cr his name forgot: To deem them accents of another land,
His silence form'd a theme for others' prate And such they were, and meant to meet an ear They guess'd—they gazed—they fain would know That hears him not-alas! that cannot hear!
What had he been ? what was he, thus unknown, XIV.
Who walk'd their world, his lineage only known? His page approach'd, and he alone appear'd A hater of his kind? yet some would say, To know the import of the words they heard ; With them he could seem gay amidst the gay; And, by the changes of his cheek and brow, But own'd, that smile if oft observed and near, They were not such as Lara should avow,
Waned in its mirth, and wither'd to a sneer; Nor he interpret, yet with less surprise
That smile might reach his lip, but pass'd not by Than those around their chieftain's state he eyes. None e'er could trace its laughter to his eye: But Lara's prostrate form he bent beside,
Yet there was softness too in his regard, And in that tongue that seem'd his own replied, At times, a heart as not by nature hard, And Lara heeds those tones that gently seem But once perceived, his spirit seemed to chide To soothe away the horrors of his dream; Such weakness, as unworthy of its pride, If dream it were, that thus could overthrow And steel'd itself, as scorning to redeem A breast that needed not ideal wo.
One doubt from others' half withheld esteem
In self-inflicted penance of a breast
Which tenderness might once have wrung from rest
The soul to hate for having loved too well.
He stood a stranger in this breathing world,
But 'scaped in vain, for in their memory yet Appear a highborn and a welcome guest,
The long carousal shakes the illumined hall,
And make Age smile, and dream itself to Youth,
And Youth forget such hour was pass'd on earth.
So springs the exulting bosom to that mirth!
And Lara gazed on these, sedately glad,
His brow belied him if his soul was sad ;
And his glance follow'd fast each fluttering fair
Whose steps of lightness woke no echo there
He lean'd against the lofty pillar nigh,
With folded arms and long attentive eye,
Nor mark'd a glance so sternly fix'd on his-
Ill brook'd high Lara scrutiny like this:
At length he caught it, 'tis a face unknown,
But seems as searching his, and his alone;
Prying and dark, a stranger's by his mien,
Who still till now had gazed on him unscen;
At length encountering meets the mutual gaze
On Lara's glance emotion gathering grew,
As if distrusting that the stranger threw;
Along the stranger's aspect fix'd and stern,
Flash'd more than thence the vulgar eye could learn.
“ 'Tis he!" the stranger cried, and those that heard, 'Tis true, with other men their path he walk'd,
Reechoed fast and far the whisper'd word. And like the rest in seeming did and talk'd,
“ 'Tis he!"_" Tis who?" they question far and
near, Nor outraged Reason's rules by flaw nor start,
Till louder accents rung on Lara's ear;
So widely spread, few bosoms well could brook
The general marvel, or that single look ;
But Lara stirr'd not, changed not, the surpriso
That sprung at first to his arrested eyes
Seem'd now subsided, neither sunk nor raised,
Glanced his eye round, though still the stranger
gazed ; of fixing memory on another's heart :
And drawing nigh, exclaim'd, with haughty sneer, It was not love perchancernor hate-nor aught “ 'Tis he!--how came he thence?-what doth he That words can image to express the thought;
It were too much for Lara to pass by
Such questions, so repeated fierce and high;
With look collected, but with accent cold,
More mildly firm than petulantly bold,
He turn'd, and met the inquisitorial tone
" My name is Lara !when thine own is known, If greeted once; however brief the date
Doubt not my fitting answer to requite
The unlook'd for courtesy of such a knight.
| 'Tis Lara!-further wouldst thou mark or ask ?
I shun no question, and I wear no mask."
“ Thou shunn’st no question! Ponder-is there none Vain was the struggle in that mental net,
Thy heart must answer, though thine ear would
shun? His spirit seem'd to dare you to forget!
And deen'st thou me unknown too? Gaze again
At least thy memory was not given in vain.
With slow and searching glance upon his face Alas ! tno like in confidence are each,
And Lara call’d his page, and went his way, To one, who, wert thou noble, were thy peer,
Well could that stripling word or sign obey : But as thou wast and art-nay, frown not, lord,
His only follower from those climes afar, If false, 'tis ease to disprove the word
Where the soul glows beneath a brighter star; But, as thou wast and art, on thee looks down,
For Lara left the shore from whence he sprung, Distrusts thy smiles, but shakes not at thy frown.
In duty patient, and sedate though young; Art thou not he? whose deeds"
Silent as him he served, his faith appears
Above his station, and beyond his years. “Whate'er I be,
Though not unknown the tongue of Lara's land, Words wild as these, accusers like to thee
In such from him he rarely heard command; I list no further ; those with whom they weigh
But fleet his step, and clear his tones would come, May hear the rest, nor venture to gainsay
When Lara's lip breathed forth the words of home; The wondrous tale no doubt thy tongue can tell, Those accents as his native mountains dear, Which thus begins so courteously and well.
Awake their absent echoes in his ear, Let Otho cherish here his polish'd guest,
Friends’, kindreds’, parents', wonted voice recall,
What marvel then he rarely left his side ?
Light was his form, and darkly delicate
That brow whereon his native sun had sate, To-morrow, here, or elsewhere, as may best
But had not marr'd, though in his beams he grew, Beseem your mutual judgment, speak the rest;
The cheek where oft the unbidden blush shone I pledge myself for thee, as not unknown, Though like Count Lara now return'd alone
through ; From other lands, almost a stranger grown;
Yet not sych blush as mounts when health would
show And if from Lara's blood and gentle birth, I augur right of courage and of worth,
All the heart's hue in that delighted glow; He will not that untainted line belie,
But 'twas a hectic tint of secret care
That for a burning moment fever'd there; Nor aught that knighthood may accord, deny."
And the wild sparkle of his eye seem'd caught • To-morrow be it," Ezzelin replied,
From high, and lighten'd with electric thought, "And here our several worth and truth be tried.
Though its black orb those long low lashes' fringe I gage my life, my falchion to attest
Had temper'd with a melancholy tinge;
Yet less of sorrow than of pride was there,
Or if 'twere grief, a grief that none should share; His soul in deep abstraction sudden sunk;
And pleased not him the sports that please his age The words of many, and the eyes or at
The tricks of youth, the frolics of the page; That there were gather'd, seem'd on him to fall;
For hours on Lara he would fix his glance, But his were silent, his appear'd to stray
As all-forgotten in that watchful trance ; In far forgetfulness away-away
And from his chief withdrawn, he wander'd lone, Alas ! that heedlessness of all around
Brief were his answers, and his questions none; Bespoke remembrance only too profound.
His walk the wood, his sport some foreign book ;
His resting place the bank that curbs the brook : XXIV.
He seem'd like him he served, to live apart "To-morrow !-ay, to-morrow!” further word
From all that lures the eye, and fills the heart; Than those repeated none from Lara heard ;
To know no brotherhood, and take from earth Upon his brow no outward passion spoke;
No gift beyond that bitter boon our birth.
In mute attention; and his care, which guess'd And, as he pass'd him, smiling met the frown Each wish, fulfill'd it ere the tongue express'd. With which that chieftain's brow would bear him/$till there was haughtiness in all he did, down :
A spirit deep that brook'd not to be chid ; It was nor smile of mirth, nor struggling pride His zeal, though more than that of servile hands, Chat curbs to scorn the wrath it cannot hide; In act alone obeys, his air commands; But that of one in his own heart secure
As if 'twas Lara's less than his desire Of all that he would do, or could endure. That thus he served, but surely not for hire. Could this mean peace ? the calmness of the good ? Slight were the tasks enjoin'd him by his lord, Oz guilt grown old in desperate hardihord ? To hold the stirrup, or to bear the sword;