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There, in its centre, a sepulchral lamp Burns the slow flame, eternal-but unseen; Which not the darkness of despair can damp, Though vain its ray as it had never been.
"Remember me-Oh! pass not thou my grave
Without one thought whose relics there recline:
The only pang my bosom dare not brave
Must be to find forgetfulness in thine.
"My fondest-faintest-latest accents hear→ Grief for the dead not Virtue can reprove; Then give me all I ever ask'd-a tear,
The first-last-sole reward of so much love!"
He pass'd the portal-cross'd the corridore, And reach'd the chamber as the strain gave o'er ; "My own Medora! sure thy song is sad-"
'In Conrad's absence wouldst thou have it glad?
Without thine ear to listen to my lay,
Still must my song my thoughts, my soul betray:
Still must each accent to my bosom suit,
My heart unhush'd--although my lips were mute!
Oh! many a night on this lone couch reclined,
My dreaming fear with storms hath wing'd the wind,
And deem'd the breath that faintly fann'd thy sail
The murmuring prelude of the ruder gale;
Though soft, it seem'd the low prophetic dirge,
That mourn'd thee floating on the savage surge;
Still would I rise to rouse the beacon fire,
Lest spies less true should let the blaze expire;
And many a restless hour outwatch'd each star,
And morning came-and still thou wert afar.
Oh! how the chill blast on my bosom blew,
And day broke dreary on my troubled view,
And still I gazed and gazed-and not a prow
Was granted to my tears-my truth-my vow!
At length-'twas noon-I hail'd and bless the mast
That met my sight-it near'd-Alas! it past!
Another came-Oh God! 'twas thine at last!
Would that those days were over! wilt thou ne'er,
My Conrad! learn the joys of peace to share?
Sure thou hast more than wealth, and many a home
As bright as this invites us not to roam;
Thou know'st it is not peril that I fear,
I only tremble when thou art not here;
Then not for mine, but that far dearer life,
Which flies from love and languishes for strife-
How strange that heart, to me so tender still,
Should war with nature and its better will!"
Yea, strange indeed-that heart hath long been changed;
Worm-like 'twas trampled-adder-like avenged,
Without one hope on earth beyond thy love,
And scarce a glimpse of mercy from above.
Yet the same feeling which thou dost condemn,
My very love to thee is hate to them,
So closely mingling here, that disentwined,
I cease to love thee when I love mankind:
Yet dread not this-the proof of all the past
Assures the future that my love will last;
But-Oh, Medora! nerve thy gentle heart,
This hour again-but not for long-we part."
"This hour we part!-my heart foreboded this;
Thus ever fade my fairy dreams of bliss.
This hour-it cannot be-this hour away!
Yon bark hath hardly anchor'd in the bay:
Her consort still is absent, and her crew
Have need of rest before they toil anew:
My love! thou mock'st my weakness; and wouldst
My breast before the time when it must feel;
But trifle now no more with my distress,
Such mirth hath less of play than bitterness
Be silent, Conrad!-dearest! come and share
The feast these hands delighted to prepare,
Light toil! to cull and dress thy frugal fare!
See, I have pluck'd the fruit that promised best,
And where note, perplexed, but pleas'd, I guess'd
At such as seem the fairest: thrice the hill
My steps have wound to try the coolest rill;
Yes! thy sherbet to-night will sweetly flow,
See how it sparkles in its vase of snow!
The grapes' gay juice thy bosom never cheers;
Thou more than Moslem when the cup appears:
Think not I mean to chide-for I rejoice
What others deem a penance is thy choice.
But come, the board is spread; our silver lamp
Is trimm'd, and heeds not the Sirocco's damp:
Then shall my handmaids while the time along,
And join with me the dance, or wake the song;
Or my guitar, which still thou lov'st to hear,
Shall sooth or lull-or, should it vex thine ear,
We'll turn the tale, by Ariosto told,
Of fair Olympia loved and left of old.1
Why-thou wert worse than he who broke his vow
To that lost damsel, shouldst thou leave me now;
Or even that traitor chief-I've seen thee smile,
When the clear sky show'd Ariadne's Isle,
Which I have pointed from these cliffs the while :
And thus half sportive, half in fear, I said,
Lest Time should raise that doubt to more than
Thus Conrad, too, will quit me for the main: And he deceived me-for-he came again!"
"Again-again-and oft again-my love!
He will return-but now, the moments bring
If there be life below, and hope above,
The why-the where-what boots it now to tell?
The time of parting with redoubled wing:
Since all must end in that wild word-farewell!
Yet would I fain-did time allow-disclose-
Fear not-these are no formidable foes;
And here shall watch a more than wonted guard,
For sudden siege and long defence prepared:
Nor be thou lonely-though thy lord's away,
Our matrons and thy handmaids with thee stay;
And this thy comfort-that, when next we meet,
Security shall make repose more sweet.
List!-'tis the bugle-Juan shrilly blew-
One kiss-one more-another-Oh! Adieu!"
She rose-she sprung-she clung to his embrace,
Till his heart heaved beneath her hidden face..
He dared not raise to his that deep-blue eye,
Which downcast droop'd in tearless agony.
Her long fair hair lay floating o'er his arms,
In all the wildness of dishevell'd charms;
Scarce beat that bosom where his image dwelt
So full-that feeling seem'd almost unfelt!
Hark-peals the thunder of the signal-gun !
It told 'twas sunset-and he cursed that sun.
Again-again-that form he madly press'd,
Which mutually clasp'd, imploringly caress'd!
And tottering to the couch his bride he bore,
One moment gazed-as if to gaze no more;
Felt-that for him earth held but her alone,
Kiss'd her cold forehead-turn'd—is Conrad gone?
"And is he gone?"-on sudden solitude
How oft that fearful question will intrude!
""Twas but an instant past-and here he stood !
And now"-without the portal's porch she rush'd,
And then at length her tears in freedom gush'd;
Big-bright-and fast,unknown to her they fell;
But still her lips refused to send-Farewell!"
For in that word-that fatal word-howe'er
We promise-hope-believe-there breathes despair.
O'er every feature of that still, pale face,
Had sorrow fix'd what time can ne'er erase:
The tender blue of that large loving eye
Grew frozen with its gaze on vacancy,
Till-Oh, how far!-it caught a glimpse of him,
And then it flow'd-and frenzied seem'd to swim
Through those long, dark, and glistening lashes
Than there his wonted statelier step renew;
Nor rush, disturb'd by haste, to vulgar view:
For well had Conrad learn'd to curb the crowd,
By arts that veil, and oft preserve the proud;
His was the lofty port, the distant mien,
That seems to shun the sight-and awes if seen
The solemn aspect, and the high-born eye,
That checks low mirth, but lacks not courtesy;
All these he wielded to command assent:
But where he wish'd to win, so well unbent,
That kindness cancell'd fear in those who heard,
And others' gifts show'd mean beside his word,
When echo'd to the heart as from his own
His deep yet tender melody of tone:
But such was foreign to his wonted mood,
He cared not what he soften'd, but subdued;
The evil passions of his youth had made
Him value less who loved-than what obey'd.
Around him mustering ranged his ready guard,
Before him Juan stands-" Are all prepared?"
'My sword, and my capote." Soon firmly girded on, and lightly slung,
"They are-nay more-embark'd: the latest boat Waits but my chief
Screen'd from espial by the jutting cape,
That rears on high its rude fantastic shape.
Then rose his band to duty-not from sleep-
Equipp'd for deeds alike on land or deep;
While lean'd their leader o'er the fretting flood,
And calmly talked-and yet he talk'd of blood!
"Conosceste i Juliosi desiri?"
IN Coron's bay floats many a galley light,
Through Coron's lattices the lamps are bright,
For Seyd, the Pacha, makes a feast to-night.
A feast for promised triumph yet to come,
When he shall drag the fetter'd Rovers home;
This hath he sworn by Alla and his sword,
And faithful to his firman and his word,
His summon'd prows collect along the coast,
And great the gathering crews, and loud the boast;
Already shared the captives and the prize,
Though far the distant foe they thus despise;
"Tis but to sail-no doubt to-morrow's Sun
Will see the Pirates bound-their haven won!
Meantime the watch may slumber, if they will,
Nor only wake to war, but dreaming kill.
Though all, who can, disperse on shore and seek
To flesh their glowing valor on the Greek;
How well such deed becomes the turban'd brave-
To bare the sabre's edge before a slave!
Infest his dwelling-but forbear to slay,
Their arms are strong, yet merciful to-day,
And do not deign to smite because they may !
Unless some gay caprice suggests the blow,
To keep in practice for the coming foe.
Revel and rout the evening hours beguile,
And they who wish to wear a head must smile;
For Moslem mouths produce their choicest cheer,
And hoard their curses, till the coast is clear.
High in his hall reclines the turban'd Seyd;
Around-the bearded chiefs he came to lead.
Removed the banquet, and the last pilaff-
Forbidden draughts, 'tis said, he dared to quaff,
Though to the rest the sober berry's juice 3
The slaves bear round for rigid Moslems' use;
The long Chibouque's dissolving cloud supply,
While dance the Almas to wild minstrelsy.
The rising morn will view the chiefs embark;
But waves are somewhat treacherous in the dark:
And revellers may more securely sleep
On silken couch than o'er the rugged deep;
Feast there who can-nor combat till they must,
And less to conquest than to Korans trust;
And yet the numbers crowded in his host
Might warrant more than even the Pacha's boast.
With cautious reverence from the outer gate, Slow stalks the slave, whose office there to wait,
The cloven turbans o'er the chamber spread,
And scarce an arm dare raise to guard its head:
Even Seyd, convulsed, o'erwhelm'd, with rage, su
Retreats before him, though he still defies.
No craven he-and yet he dreads the blow,
So much Confusion magnifies his foe!
His blazing galleys still distract his sight,
He tore his beard, and foaming fled the fight;
For now the pirates pass'd the Haram gate,
And burst within-and it were death to wait;
Where wild Amazement shrieking-kneeling throws
The sword aside-in vain-the blood o'erflows!
The Corsairs pouring, haste to where within,
Invited Conrad's bugle, and the din
Of groaning victims, and wild cries for life,
Proclaim'd how well he did the work of strife
They shout to find him grim and lonely there,
A glutted tiger mangling in his lair!
But short their greeting-shorter his reply-
""Tis well-but Seyd escapes-and he must die
Much hath been done-but more remains to do-
Their galleys blaze-why not their city too?"
Quick at the word-they seized him each a torch,
And fire the dome from minaret to porch.
A stern delight was fix'd in Conrad's eye,
But sudden sunk-for on his ear the cry
Of women struck, and like a deadly knell
Knock'd at that heart unmoved by battle's yell.
"Oh! burst the Haram-wrong not on your lives
One female form-remember-we have wives.
On them such outrage Vengeance will repay;
Man is our foe, and such 'tis ours to slay :
But still we spared-must spare the weaker prey.
Oh! I forgot-but Heaven will not forgive
If at my word the helpless cease to live:
Follow who will-I go-we yet have time
Our souls to lighten of at least a crime."
He climbs the crackling stair-he bursts the door,
Nor feels his feet glow scorching with the floor;
His breath choked gasping with the volumed smoke,
But still from room to room his way he broke.
They search-they find-they save: with lusty arms,
Each bears a prize of unregarded charms;
Calm their loud fears; sustain their sinking frames
With all the care defenceless beauty claims:
So well could Conrad tame their fiercest mood,
And check the very hands with gore imbrued.
But who is she? whom Conrad's arms convey
From reeking pile and combat's wreck-away-
Who but the love of him he dooms to bleed
The Haram queen-but still the slave of Seyd!
Brief time had Conrad now to greet Gulnare, o
Few words to reassure the trembling fair;
For in that pause compassion snatch'd from war,
The foe before retiring, fast and far,
With wonder saw their footsteps unpursued,
First slowlier fled-then rallied-then withstood.
This Seyd perceives, then first perceives how few
Compared with his the Corsair's roving crew,
And blushes o'er his error, as he eyes
The ruin wrought by panic and surprise.
Alla Alla! Vengeance swells the cry-
Shame mounts to rage that must atone or die!
And flame for flame and blood for blood must tell,
The tide of triumphs ebbs that flow'd too well-
When wrath returns to renovated strife,
And those who fought for conquest strike for life.
Conrad beheld the danger-he beheld
His followers faint by freshening foes repell'd:
"One effort-one-to break the circling host!"
They form-unite-charge-waver-all is lost!
Within a narrower ring compress'd, beset,
Hopeless, not heartless, strive and struggle yet-
Ah! now they fight in firmest file no more,
Hemm'd in-cut off-cleft down-and trampled o'er ;
But each strikes singly, silently, and home,
And sinks outwearied rather than o'ercome,
His last faint quittance rendering with his breath,
Till the blade glimmers in the grasp of death!
But first, ere came the rallying host to blows,
And rank to rank, and hand to hand oppose,
Gulnare and all her Haram handmaids freed,
Safe in the dome of one who held their creed,
By Conrad's mandate safely were bestow'd,
And dried those tears for life and fame that flow'd:
And when that dark-eyed lady, young Gulnare,
Recall'd those thoughts late wandering in despair,
Much did she marvel o'er the courtesy
That smooth'd his accents; soften'd in his eye:
'Twas strange-that robber thus with gore bedew'd,
Seem'd gentler then than Seyd in fondest mood,
The Pacha woo'd as if he deem'd the slave
Must seem delighted with the heart he gave;
The Corsair vow'd protection, soothed affright,
As if his homage were a woman's right.
"The wish is wrong-nay, worse for female-vain:
Yet much I long to view that chief again;
If but to thank for, what my fear forgot,
The life-my loving lord remember'd not!"
And him she saw, where thickest carnage spread,
But gather'd breathing from the happier dead;
Far from his band, and battling with a host
That deem right dearly won the field he lost,
Fell'd-bleeding-baffled of the death he sought,
And snatch'd to expiate all the ills he wrought;
Preserved to linger and to live in vain,
While Vengeance ponder'd o'er new plans of pain,
And stanch'd the blood she saves to shed again-
But drop by drop, for Seyd's unglutted eye
Would doom him ever dying-ne'er to die!
Can this be he? triumphant late she saw,
When his red hand's wild gesture waved, a law!
"Tis he indeed-disarm'd but undepress'd,
His sole regret the life he still possess'd;
His wounds too slight, though taken with that will,
Which would have kiss'd the hand that then could
Oh were there none, of all the many given,
To send his soul-he scarcely ask'd to heaven?
Must he alone of all retain his breath,
Who more than all had striven and struck for death?
He deeply felt-what mortal hearts must feel,
When thus reversed on faithless fortune's wheel,
For crimes committed, and the victor's threat
Of lingering tortures to repay the debt-
He deeply, darkly felt; but evil pride
That led to perpetrate-now serves to hide.
Still in his stern and self-collected mien
A conqueror's more than captive's air is seen,
Though faint with wasting toil and stiffening wound,
But few that saw-so calmly gazed around:
Though the far shouting of the distant crowd,
Their tremors o'er, rose insolently loud,
The better warriors who beheld him near,
Insulted not the foe who taught them fear;
And the grim guards that to his durance led,
In silence eyed him with a secret dread.
The Leech was sent-but not in mercy-there,
To note how much the life yet left could bear;
He found enough to load with heaviest chain,
And promise feeling for the wrench of pain:
To-morrow-yea-to-morrow's evening sun
Will sinking see impalement's pangs begun,
And rising with the wonted Llush of morn
Behold how well or ill those pangs are borne.
Of torments this the longest and the worst,
Which adds all other agony to thirst,
That day by day death still forbears to slake,
While famished vultures flit around the stake.
Oh! water-water!"-smiling Hate denies
This was his doom:-the Leech, the guard, were
The victim's prayer-for if he drinks-he dies.