Изображения страниц

With mad disquietude on the dull sky,

The pall of a past world; and then again

And they were enemies: they met beside
The dying embers of an altar-place,

Where had been heap'd a mass of holy things

With curses cast them down upon the dust,

And gnash'd their teeth and howl'd: the wild birds


And, terrified, did flutter on the ground,
And flap their useless wings; the wildest brutes
Came tame and tremulous; and vipers crawl'd
And twined themselves among the multitude,
Hissing, but stingless-they were slain for food:
And War, which for a moment was no more,
Did glut himself again :—a meal was bought
With blood, and each sate sullenly apart
Gorging himself in gloom: no love was left;
All earth was but one thought—and that was death
Immediate and inglorious; and the pang

Of famine fed upon all entrails—men

Died, and their bones were tombless as their flesh;
The meagre by the meagre were devour'd,
Even dogs assail'd their masters, all save one,
And he was faithful to a corse, and kept
The birds and beasts and famish'd men at bay,
Till hunger clung them, or the dropping dead
Lured their lank jaws; himself sought out no food,
But with a piteous and perpetual moan,
And a quick desolate cry, licking the hand
Which answer'd not with a caress-he died.
The crowd was famish'd by degrees; but two
Of an enormous city did survive,

For an unholy usage; they raked up,

And shivering scraped with their cold skeleton hands

The feeble ashes, and their feeble breath

Blew for a little life, and made a flame
Which was a mockery; then they lifted up





Their eyes as it grew lighter, and beheld

Each other's aspects-saw, and shriek'd, and died—
Ev'n of their mutual hideousness they died,
Unknowing who he was upon whose brow
Famine had written Fiend. The world was void,
The populous, and the powerful was a lump,
Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless,
A lump of death—a chaos of hard clay.
The rivers, lakes, and ocean all stood still,

And nothing stirr'd within their silent depths;
Ships sailorless lay rotting on the sea,
And their masts fell down piecemeal; as they dropp'd,
They slept on the abyss without a surge—

The waves were dead; the tides were in their grave,
The Moon, their mistress, had expired before;
The winds were wither'd in the stagnant air,

And the clouds perish'd; Darkness had no need
Of aid from them-She was the Universe!






'BRING forth the horse!' The horse was brought;

In truth he was a noble steed,

A Tartar of the Ukraine breed,

Who look'd as though the speed of thought
Were in his limbs; but he was wild,



Wild as the wild deer, and untaught,
With spur and bridle undefiled-

'Twas but a day he had been caught;
And snorting, with erected mane,
And struggling fiercely, but in vain,
In the full foam of wrath and dread
To me the desert-born was led ;
They bound me on, that menial throng,
Upon his back with many a thong ;
Then loosed him with a sudden lash-
Away!-away !-and on we dash!-
Torrents less rapid and less rash.


Away!-away!—my breath was gone

I saw not where he hurried on:
'Twas scarcely yet the break of day,
And on he foam'd-away!-away!—
The last of human sounds which rose,

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

As I was darted from my foes,

Was the wild shout of savage laughter,
Which on the wind came roaring after
A moment from that rabble rout:
With sudden wrath I wrench'd my head,

And snapp'd the cord which to the mane
Had bound my neck in lieu of rein,
And writhing half my form about,
Howl'd back my curse; but 'midst the tread,
The thunder of my courser's speed,
Perchance they did not hear nor heed;
It vexes me--for I would fain

Have paid their insult back again.
I paid it well in after days :
There is not of that castle-gate,
Its drawbridge and portcullis weight,
Stone, bar, moat, bridge, or barrier left;
Nor of its fields a blade of grass,

Save what grows on a ridge of wall,
Where stood the hearthstone of the hall;
And many a time ye there might pass,
Nor dream that e'er that fortress was:
I saw its turrets in a blaze,

Their crackling battlements all cleft,

And the hot lead pour down like rain From off the scorch'd and blackening roof, Whose thickness was not vengeance-proof. They little thought that day of pain, When launch'd, as on the lightning's flash, They bade me to destruction dash,

That one day I should come again,
With twice five thousand horse, to thank
The Count for his uncourteous ride.
They play'd me then a bitter prank,

When, with the wild horse for my guide,
They bound me to his foaming flank;
At length I play'd them one as frank—








For time at last sets all things even-
And if we do but watch the hour,
There never yet was human power
Which could evade, if unforgiven,
The patient search and vigil long
Of him who treasures up a wrong.


Away, away, my steed and I

Upon the pinions of the wind,
All human dwellings left behind:
We sped like meteors through the sky,
When with its crackling sound the night
Is chequer'd with the northern light;
Town-village-none were on our track,
But a wild plain of far extent,
And bounded by a forest black;

And, save the scarce seen battlement
On distant heights of some strong hold,
Against the Tartars built of old,
No trace of man. The year before
A Turkish army had march'd o'er;
And where the Spahi's hoof hath trod,
The verdure flies the bloody sod ;-
The sky was dull, and dim, and gray,
And a low breeze crept moaning by-
I could have answer'd with a sigh-
But fast we fled, away, away,—
And I could neither sigh nor pray;
And my cold sweat-drops fell like rain
Upon the courser's bristling mane;
But, snorting still with rage and fear,
He flew upon his far career;
At times I almost thought, indeed,
He must have slacken'd in his speed;
But no-my bound and slender frame








« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »