Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

Egyptian, Arab, Nubian, there, -
The bearers of the bow and spear,
The hoary priest, the Chaldee sage,
The slave, the gemmed and glittering page, -
Helm, turban, and tiara, shone
A dazzling ring round Pharaoh's throne.

II.

· There came a man:— the human tide
Shrank backward from his stately stride:
His cheek with storm and time was tanned;
A shepherd's staff was in his hand ;
A shudder of instinctive fear
Told the dark king what step was near ;
On through the host the stranger came,
It parted round his form like flame.

III.

He stooped not at the footstool stone,
He clasped not sandal, kissed not throne;
Erect he stood amid the ring,
His only words, “ Be just, О king!”
On Pharaoh's cheek the blood flushed high,
A fire was in his sullen eye;
Yět on the chief of Israël
No arrow of his thousands fell;
All mute and moveless as the grave
Stood chilled the satrap and the slave.

[ocr errors]

“Thou 'rt come,” at length the monarch spoko; (Haughty and high the words outbroke ;) “ Is Israël weary of its lair, The forehead peeled, the shoulder bare ? Take back the answer to your band : Go, reap the wind ! go, plow the sand ! Go, vilest of the living vile, To build the never-ending pile, Till, darkest of the nameless dead, The vulture on their flesh is fed !

What better asks the howling slave
Than the base life our bounty gave ?"

v. Shouted in pride the turbaned peers, Upclashed to heaven the golden spears. — “King ! thou and thine are doomed! — Behold!” The prophet spoke, — the thunder rolled ! Along the pathway of the sun Sailed vapory mountains, wild and dun. “ Yět there is time,” the prophet said : He raised his staff, — the storm was stayed : “ King! be the word of freedom given : What art thou, man, to war with Heaven?”

VI. There came no word. — The thunder broke ! - Like a huge city's final smoke, Thick, lurid, stilling, mixed with flame, Through court and hall the vapors came. Loose as the stubble in the field, Wide flew the men of spear and shield; Scattered like foam along the wave, Flew the proud pageant, prince and slave; Or in the chains of terror bound, Lay, corpse-like, on the smouldering ground. “Speak, king! -- the wrath is but begun! Still dumb ? — then, Heaven, thy will be done !"

VII. Echoed from earth a hollow roar Like ocean on the midnight shore ! A sheet of lightning o'er them wheeled, The solid ground beneath them reeled ; In dust sank roof and battlement ; Like webs the giant walls were rent; Red, broad, before his startled gaze The monarch saw his Egypt blaze. Still swelled the plague, — the fame grew pale, Burst from the clouds the charge of hail : With arrowy keenness, iron weight, Down poured the ministers of fate;

Till man and cattle, crushed, congealed,
Covered with death the boundless field.

VIII.
Still swelled the plague, - uprose the blast,
The avenger, fit to be the last :
On ocean, river, forest, vale,
Thundered at once the mighty gale.
Before the whirlwind flew the tree,
Beneath the whirlwind roared the sea;
A thousand ships were on the wave -
Where are they? — ask that foaming grave!
Down go the hope, the pride of years,
Down go the myriad mariners ;
The riches of earth's richest zone,
Gone ! like a flash of lightning, gone !

IX.
And, lo! that first fierce triumph o'er,
Swells ocean on the shrinking shore;
Still onward, onward, dark and wide,
Engulfs the land the furious tide. -
Then bowed thy spirit, stubborn king,
Thou serpent, reft of fang and sting;
Humbled before the prophet's knee,
He groaned, “ Be injured Israël free!”.

To heaven the sage upraised his hand ;
Back rolled the deluge from the land;
Back to its caverns sank the gale;
Fled from the noon the vapors pale;
Broad burned again the joyous sun:
The hour of wrath and death was done. *

* The account of the seventh plague of Egypt, which the poet has paraphrased in these lines, may be found in the ninth chapter of Exodus, between the thirteenth and thirty-third verses.

VIII. – A WET DAY IN AN INN.

WASHINGTON IRVING.

Pronounce BUTT'N, DOZ'N, ENLIV'N, EV'N, AARD'N, $ 10; cow, down, § 27; KIND, § 21; ROOM, S 9; WREATHS, $ 19.

See in Index, COMELY, HOSTLER, LOWERING, MANUFACTURER, MINE, OBLIGE, PURLIEU, QUARRELING or QUARRELLING, TORTOISE, TRAVELER or TRAVELLER, UPPER BENJAMIN, YCLEPED, IRVING.

Delivery. The style of this extract is a lively narrative, approaching the colloquial in parts. It requires the middle pitch, a pure quality of voice, time between moderate and rapid, and generally a delivery level and unemotional, though suggestive of an appreciation of the truthful and playful points in the picture. The scene lies in England.

1. It was a rainy Sunday in the gloomy month of November. I had been detained, in the course of a journey, by a slight indisposition, from which I was recovering, but was still feverish, and obliged to keep within doors all day, in an inn of the small town of Derby. A wet Sunday in a country inn! Whoever has had the luck to experience one can alone judge of my situation. The rain pattered against the casements; the bells tolled for church with a melancholy sound.

2. I went to the windows in quest of something to amuse the eye; but it seemed as if I had been placed completely out of the reach of all amusement. The windows of my bedroom looked out among tiled roofs and stacks of chimneys, while those of my sitting-room commanded a full view of the stable-yard. I know of nothing more calculated to make a man sick of this world than a stable-yard on a rainy day.

3. The place was littered with wet straw that had been kicked about by travelers and stable-boys. In one corner was a stagnant pool of water, surrounding an island of muck; there were several half-drowned fowls crowded together under a cart, among which was a miserable, crest-fallen rooster, drenched out of all lifeand spirit, his drooping feathers matted, as it were, into

a single plume, along which the water trickled from his back.

4. Near the cart was a half-dozing cow, chewing the cud, and standing patiently to be rained on, with wreaths of vapor rising from her reeking hide. A walleyed horse, tired of the loneliness of his stable, was poking his spectral head out of a window, with the rain dripping on it from the eaves. An unhappy cur, chained to a dog-house hard by, uttered something, every now and then, between a bark and a yelp.

5. An uncomely servant-girl tramped backward and forward through the yard in pattens, looking as sulky as the weather itself. Everything, in short, was comfortless and forlorn, excepting a crew of hardened ducks, assembled like boon companions round a puddle and making a riotous noise over their liquor.

6. I was lonely and listless, and wanted amusement. My room soon became insupportable. I abandoned it, and sought what is technically called the travelers'room. This is a public room set apart at most inns for the accommodation of a class of wayfarers called travelers, or riders; a kind of commercial knights-ěrrant, who are incessantly scouring the kingdom in gigs, on horseback, or by coach. They are the only successors that I know of at the present day to the knights-errant of yore.

7. They lead the same kind of roving, adventurous life, only changing the lance for a driving-whip, the buckler for a pattern-card, and the coat of mail for an upper Benjamin. Instead of vindicating the charms of peerless beauty, they rove about, spreading the fame and standing of some substantial tradesman, or manufacturer, and are ready at any time to bargain in his name; it being the fashion now-a-days to trade, instead of fight, with one another.

8. I was in hopes of finding some of these worthies to talk with, but was disappointed. One was just fin

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »