To The Baron De Humboldt,
ON HIS BRINGING ME SOME FLOWERS IN MARCH.
SOOTH'D I receive the flowers you bring,
Whose charm anticipates the Spring;
Whose tints in vernal freshness vie
With plants beneath an austral sky,--
Those glowing plants that, long unknown,
Your travell'd science made our own:--
Bright gift! in lavish grace array'd,
Thy flowers have only bloom'd to fade,--
Their transient being soon forgot:
How far unlike the giver's lot!
Sonnet To The Strawberry
THE Strawberry blooms upon its lowly bed,
Plant of my native soil!--the Lime may fling
More potent fragrance on the zephyr's wing,
The milky Cocoa richer juices shed,
The white Guava lovelier blossoms spread--
But not, like thee, to fond remembrance bring
The vanished hours of life's enchanting spring;
Short calendar of joys for ever fled!
Thou bid'st the scenes of childhood rise to view,
The wild wood-path which fancy loves to trace;
Where, veil'd in leaves, thy fruit of rosy hue
Lurk'd on its pliant stem with modest grace.
But ah! when thought would later years renew,
Alas, successive sorrows crowd the space!
Elegy On A Young Thrush
WHICH ESCAPED FROM THE WRITER'S HAND, AND FAL-
LING DOWN THE AREA OF A HOUSE, COULD NOT
MISTAKEN Bird, ah whither hast thou stray'd?
My friendly grasp why eager to elude?
This hand was on thy pinion lightly laid,
And fear'd to hurt thee by a touch too rude.
Is there no foresight in a Thrush's breast,
That thou down yonder gulph from me wouldst go?
That gloomy area lurking cats infest,
And there the dog may rove, alike thy foe.
I would with lavish crumbs my bird have fed,
And brought a crystal cup to wet thy bill;
I would have made of down and moss thy bed,
Soft, though not fashion'd with a Thrush's skill.
Soon as thy strengthen'd wing could mount the sky,
My willing hand had set my captive free;
Ah, not for her who loves the Muse, to buy
A selfish pleasure, bought with pain to thee!
The vital air, and liberty, and light
Had all been thine; and love, and rapt'rous song,
And sweet parental joys, in rapid flight,
Had led the circle of thy life along.
Securely to my window hadst thou flown,
And ever thy accustom'd morsel found;
Nor should thy trusting breast the wants have known
Which other Thrushes knew when winter frown'd.
Fram'd with the wisdom nature lent to thee,
Thy house of straw had brav'd the tempest's rage,
And thou through many a Spring hadst liv'd to see
The utmost limit of a Thrush's age.
Ill-fated bird!-and does the Thrush's race,
Like Man's, mistake the path that leads to bliss?
Or, when his eye that tranquil path can trace,
The good he well discerns through folly miss?
Peruvian Tales: Alzira, Tale I
Description of Peru, and of its Productions--Virtues of the People;
and of their Monarch, ATALIBA --His love for ALZIRA --Their Nup-
tials celebrated--Character of ZORAI , her Father--Descent of the
Genius of Peru--Prediction of the Fall of that Empire.
Where the Pacific deep in silence laves
The western shore, with slow, and languid waves,
There, lost PERUVlA ! bloom'd thy cultur'd bowers,
Thy vallies fragrant with perennial flowers;
There, far above, the Pine unbending rose,
Along the pathway of thy mountain snows;
The Palms fling high in air their feather'd heads,
While each broad leaf an ample shadow spreads;
The Orange, and the rich Ananas bloom,
And humid Balsams ever shed perfume;
The Bark, reviving shrub! Ah, not in vain
Thy rosy blossoms tinge PERUVIA'S plain;
Ye fost'ring gales around those blossoms blow,
Ye balmy dew-drops o'er the tendrils flow!
Lo, as the health-diffusing plant aspires,
Disease relents, and hov'ring death retires;
Affection sees new lustre light the eye,
And feels her vanish'd peace again is nigh.
The Pacas,* and Vicunnas+ sport around,
And the meek Lamas+ , burden'd, press the ground.
The Mocking-bird his varying note essays,
And charms the grove with imitative lays;
The plaintive Humming-bird unfolds his wing
Of vivid plumage to the ray of spring;
Then sinks, soft burthen, on the humid flower,
His food, the dewdrops of the morning hour.
Nor less, PERUVIA , for thy favour'd clime,
The Virtues rose unsullied and sublime;
There melting Charity, with ardour warm,
Spreads her wide mantle o'er the shiv'ring form;
Cheer'd with the festal song her rural toils,
While in the lap of age she pour'd the spoils;*
There the mild Inca, ATALIBA sway'd,
His high behest the willing heart obey'd;
Descendant of a scepter'd, sacred race,
Whose origin from glowing suns they trace.
Love's soft emotions now his soul possest,
And fix'd ALZIRA'S image in his breast.
In that blest clime affection never knew
A selfish purpose, or a thought untrue;
Not as on Europe's shore, where wealth and pride,
From mourning love the venal breast divide;
Yet Love, if there from sordid shackles free,
One faithful bosom yet belongs to thee;
On that fond heart the purest bliss bestow,
Or give, for thou canst give, a charm to woe;
Ah, never may that heart in vain deplore
The pang that tortures when belov'd no more.
And from that agony the spirit save,
When unrelenting yawns th' untimely grave;
When death dissolves the ties for ever dear,
When frantic passion pours her parting tear;
With all the wasting pains she only feels,
Hangs on the quiv'ring lip that silence seals;
Views fondness struggling in the closing eye,
And marks it mingling in the falt'ring sigh;
As the lov'd form, while folded to her breast,
Breathes the last moan that gives its struggles rest;
Leaves her to pine in grief that none can share,
And find the world a desert to despair.
Bright was the lustre of the orient ray
That joyful wak'd ALZIRA'S nuptial day;
Her auburn hair spread loosely on the wind,
The virgin train with rosy chaplets bind;
While the fresh flowers that form her bridal wreathe
Seem deeper hues and richer scents to breathe.
The gentle tribe now sought the hallow'd fane,
Where warbling vestals pour'd the choral strain;
There aged ZORAI his ALZIRA prest,
With love parental, to his anxious breast;
Priest of the Sun! within the sacred shrine
His fervent spirit breath'd the strain divine;
With careful hand the guiltless off'ring spread,
With pious zeal the clear libation shed.
Nor vain the incense of erroneous praise
When meek devotion's soul the tribute pays;
On wings of purity behold it rise,
While bending mercy wafts it to the skies!
PERUVIA ! O delightful land in vain
The virtues flourish'd on thy beauteous plain;
For soon shall burst the unrelenting storm
O'er thy mild head, and crush thy prostrate form!
Recording Fame shall mark thy desp'rate fate,
And distant ages weep for ills so great!
Now o'er the deep dull Night her mantle flung,
Dim on the wave the moon's faint crescent hung;
PERUVIA'S Genius sought the liquid plain,
Sooth'd by the languid murmurs of the main;
When sudden clamour the illusion broke,
Wild on the surface of the deep it spoke;
A rising breeze expands her flowing veil,
Aghast with fear, she spies a flying sail--
The lofty mast impends, the banner waves,
The ruffled surge th' incumbent vessel laves;
With eager eye she views her destin'd foe
Lead to her peaceful shores th' advent'rous prow;
Trembling she knelt, with wild, disorder'd air,
And pour'd with frantic energy her prayer:
"O, ye avenging spirits of the deep!
Mount the blue lightning's wing, o'er ocean sweep;
Loud from your central caves the shell resound,
That summons death to your abyss profound;
Call the pale spectre from his dark abode,
To print the billow, swell the black'ning flood,
Rush o'er the waves, the rough'ning deep deform,
Howl in the blast, and animate the storm--
Relentless powers! for not one quiv'ring breeze
Has ruffled yet the surface of the seas--
Swift from your rocky steeps ye Condors* stray,
Wave your black plumes, and cleave th' aerial way;
Proud in terrific force your wings expand,
Press the firm earth, and darken all the strand;
Bid the stern foe retire with wild affright,
And shun the region veil'd in partial night.
Vain hope, devoted land! I read thy doom,
My sad prophetic soul can pierce the gloom;
I see, I see my lov'd, my favour'd clime
Consum'd, and wasted in its early prime.
But not in vain this beauteous land shall bleed,
Too late shall Europe's race deplore the deed.
Region abhorr'd! be gold the tempting bane,
The curse that desolates thy hostile plain;
May pleasure tinge with venom'd drops the bowl,
And luxury unnerve the sick'ning soul."
Ah, not in vain she pour'd th' impassion'd tear;
Ah, not in vain she call'd the powers to hear!
When borne from lost PERUVIA'S bleeding land,
The guilty treasures beam'd on Europe's strand;
Each sweet affection fled the tainted shore,
And virtue wander'd, to return no more.
FAIR OTAHEITE , fondly blest
By him who long was doom'd to brave
The fury of the Polar wave,
That fiercely mounts the frozen rock
Where the harsh sea-bird rears her nest,
And learns the raging surge to mock--
There Night, that loves eternal storm,
Deep and lengthened darkness throws,
And untried danger's doubtful form
Its half-seen horror shews!
While Nature, with a look so wild,
Leans on the cliffs, in chaos pil'd,
That here the aw'd, astonish'd mind
Forgets, in that o'erwhelming hour,
When her rude hands the storms unbind
In all the madness of her power,
That she who spreads the savage gloom,
That she can dress in melting grace,
In sportive Summer's lavish bloom,
The awful terrors of her face;
And wear the sweet perennial smile
That charms in OTAHEITE'S isle.
Yet, amid her fragrant bowers,
Where Spring, whose dewy fingers strew
O'er other lands some fleeting flowers,
Lives, in blossoms ever new;
Whence arose that shriek of pain?
Whence the tear that flows in vain?
Death! thy unrelenting hand
Bursts some transient, human band.
What art thou, Death?--terrific shade,
In unpierc'd gloom array'd!--
Oft will daring Fancy stray
Far in the central wastes, where night
Divides no cheering hour with day,
And unnam'd horrors meet her sight;
There thy form she dimly sees,
And round the shape unfinish'd throws
All her frantic vision shews,
When numbing fears her spirit freeze.
But can mortal voice declare,
If Fancy paints thee as thou art?--
Thy aspect may a terror wear
Her pencil never shall impart;
The eye that once on thee shall gaze
No more its stiffen'd orb can raise;
The lips that could thy power reveal,
Shall lasting silence instant seal.
In vain the icy hand we fold,
In vain the breast with tears we steep,
The heart that shar'd each pang is cold,
The vacant eye no more can weep.
Yet from the shore where Ganges rolls
His waves beneath the torrid ray,
To earth's chill verge, where o'er the poles
Falls the last beam of ling'ring day,
For ever sacred are the dead!
Sweet Fancy comes in sorrow's aid,
And bids the mourner lightly tread
Where th' insensate clay is laid;
Bids partial gloom the sod invest
By the mould'ring relics prest;
There lavish strews with sad delight,
Whate'er her consecrating power
Reveres, of herb or fruit, or flower,
And fondly weaves the various rite.
See! o'er OTAHEITE'S plain
Moves the long funereal train;
Slow the pallid corse they bear,
Oft they breathe the solemn prayer.
Where the Ocean bathes the land,
Thrice and thrice, with pious hand,
The priest, where high the billow springs,
From the wave unsullied, flings
Waters pure, that sprinkled near,
Sanctify the hallow'd bier;
But never may one drop profane
The relics with forbidden stain!
Now around the fun'ral shrine,
Led in mystic mazes, twine
Garlands, where the plantain weaves
With the palm's luxuriant leaves,
And o'er each sacred knot is spread
The plant devoted to the dead.
Five pale moons with trembling light
Shall gaze upon the lengthen'd rite;
Shall see distracted beauty tear
The tresses of her flowing hair;
Those graceful locks, no longer dear,
She wildly scatters o'er the bier,
And frantic gives the frequent wound
That purples with her blood the ground!
Where along the western sky
Day's reflected colours die,
And twilight rules the doubtful hour
Ere slow-pac'd night resumes her power,
Mark the cloud that lingers still
Darkly on the hanging hill:
There the disembodied mind
Hears, upon the hollow wind,
Low, in mournful cadence thrown,
Sorrow's oft repeated moan--
Still some human passions sway
The spirit, late immers'd in clay;
Still the hopeless sigh is dear,
Still belov'd the fruitless tear!
Five waning moons with wand'ring light
Have past the shadowy bound of night,
And mingled their departing ray
With the soft fires of early day;
Let the last sad rites be paid,
Grateful to the conscious shade.
Let the priest with pious care
Now the wasted relics bear,
Where the MORAI'S awful gloom
Shrouds the consecrated tomb.
Let the plantain lift its head;
Cherish'd emblem of the dead;
Slow, and solemn, o'er the grave
Let the twisted plumage wave,
Symbol hallow'd and divine
Of the god who guards the shrine.
Hark!--that shriek of strange despair
Never shall disturb the air;
Never, never shall it rise,
But for Nature's broken ties!--
Bright Crescent! that with lucid smile
Gild'st the MORAI'S lofty pile;
Whose broad lines of shadow throw
A gloomy horror far below,
Witness, O recording moon,
All the rites are duly done;
Be the faithful tribute o'er,
The hov'ring spirit asks no more!
Mortals, cease the pile to tread,
Leave to silence, leave the dead.
But where may she who loves to stray
'Mid shadows of funereal gloom,
And courts the sadness of the tomb,
Where may she seek that proud MORAI ,
Whose dear memorial points the place
Where fell the friend of human race?
Ye lonely Isles, on Ocean's bound,
Ye bloom'd thro' Time's long flight unknown,
Till Cook the untrack'd billow past!
Till he along the surges cast
Philanthropy's connecting zone,
And spread her loveliest blessings round!--
Not like that murd'rous band he came,
Who stain'd with blood the new-found West;
Nor as, with unrelenting breast,
From BRITAIN'S free, enlightened land,
Her sons now seek ANGOLA'S strand,*
The ties most sacred to unbind,--
To load with chains a brother's frame,
And plunge a dagger in the mind;
Mock the sharp anguish bleeding there
Of nature in her last despair!
Great COOK ! Ambition's lofty flame,
So oft directed to destroy,
Led thee to circle with thy name
The smile of love, and hope, and joy!
Those fires that lend the dang'rous blaze
The devious comet trails afar,
Might form the pure, benignant rays
That gild the morning's gentle star.
Sure, where the hero's ashes rest,
The nations late emerg'd from night
Still haste--with love's unwearied care,
That spot in lavish flowers is drest,
And fancy's dear, inventive rite
Still paid with fond observance there?--
Ah, no! around his fatal grave
No lavish flowers were ever strew'd,
No votive gift was ever laid--
His blood a savage shore bedew'd!
His mangled limbs, one hasty prayer,
One pious tear by friendship paid,
Were cast upon the raging wave!
Deep in the wild abyss he lies,
Far from the cherish'd scene of home;
Far, far from her whose faithful sighs
A husband's trackless course pursue;
Whose tender fancy loves to roam
With him o'er lands and oceans new;
And gilds with hope's deluding form
The gloomy pathway of the storm!
Yet, Cook! immortal wreathes are thine!
While Albion's grateful toil shall raise
The marble tomb, the trophied bust,
For ages faithful to its trust;
While, eager to record thy praise,
She bids the muse of history twine
The chaplet of undying fame,
And tell each polish'd land thy worth,
The ruder natives of the earth
Shall oft repeat thy honour'd name,
While infants catch the frequent sound,
And learn to lisp the oral tale,
Whose fond remembrance shall prevail
Till Time has reach'd her destin'd bound!
Paraphrases From Scripture
The day is thine, the night also is thine; thou hast prepared the
light and the sun.
Thou hast set all the borders of the earth; thou hast made summer and
PSALM lxxiv. 16, 17.
My God! all nature owns thy sway,
Thou giv'st the night, and thou the day!
When all thy lov'd creation wakes,
When morning, rich in lustre breaks,
And bathes in dew the op'ning flower,
To thee we owe her fragrant hour;
And when she pours her choral song,
Her melodies to thee belong!
Or when, in paler tints array'd,
The evening slowly spreads her shade;
That soothing shade, that grateful gloom,
Can more than day's enliv'ning bloom
Still every fond, and vain desire,
And calmer, purer, thoughts inspire;
From earth the pensive spirit free,
And lead the soften'd heart to Thee.
In every scene thy hands have drest,
In every form by thee imprest,
Upon the mountain's awful head,
Or where the shelt'ring woods are spread;
In every note that swells the gale,
Or tuneful stream that cheers the vale,
The cavern's depth, or echoing grove,
A voice is heard of praise, and love.
As o'er thy work the seasons roll,
And sooth with change of bliss, the soul,
Oh never may their smiling train
Pass o'er the human scene in vain!
But oft as on the charm we gaze,
Attune the wond'ring soul to praise;
And be the joys that most we prize,
The joys that from thy favour rise!
Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should
not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea,
they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.
ISAIAH xlix. 15.
Heaven speaks! Oh Nature listen and rejoice!
Oh spread from pole to pole this gracious voice!
'Say every breast of human frame, that proves
'The boundless force with which a parent loves;
'Say, can a mother from her yearning heart
'Bid the soft image of her child depart?
'She! whom strong instinct arms with strength to bear
'All forms of ill, to shield that dearest care;
'She! who with anguish stung, with madness wild,
'Will rush on death to save her threaten'd child;
'All selfish feelings banish'd from her breast,
'Her life one aim to make another's blest.
'When her vex'd infant to her bosom clings,
'When round her neck his eager arms he flings;
'Breathes to her list'ning soul his melting sigh,
'And lifts suffus'd with tears his asking eye!
'Will she for all ambition can attain,
'The charms of pleasure, or the lures of gain,
'Betray strong Nature's feelings, will she prove
'Cold to the claims of duty, and of love?
'But should the mother from her yearning heart
'Bid the soft image of her child depart;
'When the vex'd infant to her bosom clings
'When round her neck his eager arms he flings;
'Should she unpitying hear his melting sigh,
'And view unmov'd the tear that fills his eye;
'Should she for all ambition can attain,
'The charms of pleasure, or the lures of gain,
'Betray strong Nature's feelings—should she prove
'Cold to the claims of duty, and of love!
'Yet never will the God, whose word gave birth
'To yon illumin'd orbs, and this fair earth;
'Who thro' the boundless depths of trackless space
'Bade new-wak'd beauty spread each perfect grace;
'Yet when he form'd the vast stupendous whole,
'Shed his best bounties on the human soul;
'Which reason's light illumes, which friendship warms,
'Which pity softens, and which virtue charms;
'Which feels the pure affections gen'rous glow,
'Shares others joy, and bleeds for others woe—
'Oh never will the gen'ral Father prove
'Of man forgetful, man the child of love!'
When all those planets in their ample spheres
Have wing'd their course, and roll'd their destin'd years;
When the vast sun shall veil his golden light
Deep in the gloom of everlasting night;
When wild, destructive flames shall wrap the skies,
When Chaos triumphs, and when Nature dies;
Man shall alone the wreck of worlds survive,
Midst falling spheres, immortal man shall live!
The voice which bade the last dread thunders roll,
Shall whisper to the good, and cheer their soul.
God shall himself his favour'd creature guide
Where living waters pour their blissful tide,
Where the enlarg'd, exulting, wond'ring mind
Shall soar, from weakness and from guilt refin'd;
Where perfect knowledge, bright with cloudless rays,
Shall gild eternity's unmeasur'd days;
Where friendship, unembitter'd by distrust,
Shall in immortal bands unite the just;
Devotion rais'd to rapture breathe her strain,
And love in his eternal triumph reign!
Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.
MATT. vii. 12.
Precept divine! to earth in mercy given,
O sacred rule of action, worthy heaven!
Whose pitying love ordain'd the bless'd command
To bind our nature in a firmer band;
Enforce each human suff'rer's strong appeal,
And teach the selfish breast what others feel;
Wert thou the guide of life, mankind might know
A soft exemption from the worst of woe;
No more the powerful would the weak oppress,
But tyrants learn the luxury to bless;
No more would slav'ry bind a hopeless train,
Of human victims, in her galling chain;
Mercy the hard, the cruel heart would move
To soften mis'ry by the deeds of Jove;
And av'rice from his hoarded treasures give
Unask'd, the liberal boon, that want might live!
The impious tongue of falshood then would cease
To blast, with dark suggestions, virtue's peace;
No more would spleen, or passion banish rest
And plant a pang in fond affection's breast;
By one harsh word, one alter'd look, destroy
Her peace, and wither every op'ning joy;
Scarce can her tongue the captious wrong explain,
The slight offence which gives so deep a pain!
Th' affected ease that slights her starting tear,
The words whose coldness kills from lips so dear;
The hand she loves, alone can point the dart,
Whose hidden sting could wound no other heart—
These, of all pains the sharpest we endure,
The breast which now inflicts, would spring to cure.—
No more deserted genius then, would fly
To breathe in solitude his hopeless sigh;
No more would Fortune's partial smile debase
The spirit, rich in intellectual grace;
Who views unmov'd from scenes where pleasures bloom,
The flame of genius sunk in mis'ry's gloom;
The soul heav'n form'd to soar, by want deprest,
Nor heeds the wrongs that pierce a kindred breast.—
Thou righteous Law! whose clear and useful light
Sheds on the mind a ray divinely bright;
Condensing in one rule whate'er the sage
Has proudly taught, in many a labour'd page;
Bid every heart thy hallow'd voice revere,
To justice sacred, and to nature dear!
That thine alms may be in secret,
and thy Father which seeth in secret, himself shall reward thee openly.
Matt. VI. 4.
HEAR heav'n's pure dictates, ye presumptuous crowd,
Be kind ye selfish, and abash'd ye proud!
Nor think the ostentatious act, which draws
The incense of ill judging man's applause,
The boon obtruded on the gazer's sight,
Outweighs in virtue's scale, the widow's mite;
Claim not in His divine rewards, a part,
Who knows the motive, and who views the heart;
Be yours to hear the empty accents roll
Of praise, rejected by the conscious soul.
But ye, who when to succour want ye fly,
Have never paus'd to wish a witness nigh,
Have mingled with your alms, the unseen tear,
The secret sigh which heav'n alone could hear;
Be yours, when life shall reach the closing scene,
To read its record with a hope serene;
And yours to listen, while a voice of love
Proclaims your bright inheritance above.
An Epistle To Dr. Moore
Whether dispensing hope, and ease
To the pale victim of disease,
Or in the social crowd you sit,
And charm the group with sense and wit,
Moore's partial ear will not disdain
Attention to my artless strain.
An Epistle To Dr. Moore, Author Of A View Of Society And Manners In France, Switzerland And Germany
I mean no giddy heights to climb,
And vainly toil to be sublime;
While every line with labour wrought,
Is swell'd with tropes for want of thought:
Nor shall I call the Muse to shed
Castalian drops upon my head;
Or send me from Parnassian bowers
A chaplet wove of fancy's flowers.
At present all such aid I slight—
My heart instructs me how to write.
That softer glide my hours along,
That still my griefs are sooth'd by song,
That still my careless numbers flow
To your successful skill I owe;
You, who when sickness o'er me hung,
And languor had my lyre unstrung,
With treasures of the healing art,
With friendship's ardor at your heart,
From sickness snatch'd her early prey
And bade fair health—the goddess gay,
With sprightly air, and winning grace,
With laughing eye, and rosy face,
Accustom'd when you call to hear,
On her light pinion hasten near,
And swift restore with influence kind,
My weaken'd frame, my drooping mind.
With like benignity, and zeal,
The mental malady to heal,
To stop the fruitless, hopeless tear,
The life you lengthen'd, render dear,
To charm by fancy's powerful vein,
'The written troubles of the brain,'
From gayer scenes, compassion led
Your frequent footsteps to my shed:
And knowing that the Muses' art
Has power to ease an aching heart,
You sooth'd that heart with partial praise,
And I before too fond of lays,
While others pant for solid gain,
Grasp at a laurel sprig—in vain—
You could not chill with frown severe
The madness to my soul so dear;
For when Apollo came to store
Your mind with salutary lore,
The god I ween, was pleas'd to dart
A ray from Pindus on your heart;
Your willing bosom caught the fire,
And still is partial to the lyre.
But now from you at distance plac'd
Where Epping spreads a woody waste;
Tho' unrestrain'd my fancy flies,
And views in air her fabrics rise,
And paints with brighter bloom the flowers,
Bids Dryads people all the bowers,
And Echoes speak from every hill,
And Naiads pour each little rill,
And bands of Sylphs with pride unfold
Their azure plumage mix'd with gold,
My heart remembers with a sigh
That you are now no longer nigh.
The magic scenes no more engage,
I quit them for your various page;
Where, with delight I traverse o'er
The foreign paths you trod before:
Ah not in vain those paths you trac'd,
With heart to feel, with powers to taste!
Amid the ever-jocund train
Who sport upon the banks of Seine,
In your light Frenchman pleas'd I see
His nation's gay epitome;
Whose careless hours glide smooth along,
Who charms MISFORTUNE with a song.
She comes not as on Albion's plain,
With death, and madness in her train;
For here, her keenest sharpest dart
May raze, but cannot pierce the heart.
Yet he whose spirit light as air
Calls life a jest, and laughs at care,
Feels the strong force of pity's voice,
And bids afflicted love rejoice;
Love, such as fills the poet's page
Love, such as form'd the golden age—
FANCHON, thy grateful look I see—
I share thy joys—I weep with thee—
What eye has read without a tear
A tale to nature's heart so dear!
There, dress'd in each sublimer grace
Geneva's happy scene I trace;
Her lake, from whose broad bosom thrown
Rushes the loud impetuous Rhone,
And bears his waves with mazy sweep
In rapid torrents to the deep—
Oh for a Muse less weak of wing,
High on yon Alpine steeps to spring,
And tell in verse what they disclose
As well as you have told in prose;
How wrapt in snows and icy showers,
Eternal winter, horrid lowers
Upon the mountain's awful brow,
While purple summer blooms below;
How icy structures rear their forms
Pale products of ten thousand storms;
Where the full sun-beam powerless falls
On crystal arches, columns, walls,
Yet paints the proud fantastic height
With all the various hues of light.
Why is no poet call'd to birth
In such a favour'd spot of earth?
How high his vent'rous Muse might rise,
And proudly scorn to ask supplies
From the Parnassian hill, the fire
Of verse, Mont Blanc might well inspire.
O SWITZERLAND! how oft these eyes
Desire to view thy mountains rise;
How fancy loves thy steeps to climb,
So wild, so solemn, so sublime;
And o'er thy happy vales to roam,
Where freedom rears her humble home.
Ah, how unlike each social grace
Which binds in love thy manly race,
The HOLLANDERS phlegmatic ease
Too cold to love, too dull to please;
Who feel no sympathetic woe,
Nor sympathetic joy bestow,
But fancy words are only made
To serve the purposes of trade,
And when they neither buy, nor sell,
Think silence answers quite as well.
Now in his happiest light is seen
VOLTAIRE, when evening chas'd his spleen,
And plac'd at supper with his friends,
The playful flash of wit descends—
Of names renown'd you clearly shew
The finer traits we wish to know—
To Prussia's martial clime I stray
And see how FREDERIC spends the day;
Behold him rise at dawning light
To form his troops for future fight;
Thro' the firm ranks his glances pierce,
Where discipline, with aspect fierce,
And unrelenting breast, is seen
Degrading man to a machine;
My female heart delights to turn
Where GREATNESS seems not quite so stern:
Mild on th' IMPERIAL BROW she glows,
And lives to soften human woes.
But lo! on ocean's stormy breast
I see majestic VENICE rest;
While round her spires the billows rave,
Inverted splendours gild the wave.
Fair liberty has rear'd with toil,
Her fabric on this marshy soil.
She fled those banks with scornful pride,
Where classic Po devolves her tide:
Yet here her unrelenting laws
Are deaf to nature's, freedom's cause.
Unjust! they seal'd FOSCARI'S doom,
An exile in his early bloom.
And he, who bore the rack unmov'd,
Divided far from those he lov'd,
From all the social hour can give,
From all that make it bliss to live,
These worst of ills refus'd to bear,
And died, the victim of despair.
An eye of wonder let me raise,
While on imperial ROME I gaze.
But oh! no more in glory bright
She fills with awe th' astonish'd sight:
Her mould'ring fanes in ruin trac'd,
Lie scatter'd on Campania's waste.
Nor only these—alas! we find
The wreck involves the human mind:
The lords of earth now drag a chain
Beneath a pontiff's feeble reign;
The soil that gave a Cato birth
No longer yields heroic worth,
Whose image lives but on the bust,
Or consecrates the medal's rust:
Yet if no heart of modern frame
Glows with the antient hero's flame,
The dire Arena's horrid stage
Is banish'd from this milder age;
Those savage virtues too are fled
At which the human feelings bled.
While now at Virgil's tomb you bend,
O let me on your steps attend!
Kneel on the turf that blossoms round,
And kiss, with lips devout, the ground.
I feel how oft his magic powers
Shed pleasure on my lonely hours.
Tho' hid from me the classic tongue,
In which his heav'nly strain was sung,
In Dryden's tuneful lines, I pierce
The shaded beauties of his verse.
Bright be the rip'ning beam, that shines
Fair FLORENCE, on thy purple vines!
And ever pure the fanning gale
That pants in Arno's myrtle vale!
Here, when the barb'rous northern race,
Dire foes to every muse, and grace,
Had doom'd the banish'd arts to roam
The lovely wand'rers found a home;
And shed round Leo's triple crown
Unfading rays of bright renown.
Who e'er has felt his bosom glow
With knowledge, or the wish to know;
Has e'er from books with transport caught
The rich accession of a thought;
Perceiv'd with conscious pride, he feels
The sentiment which taste reveals;
Let all who joys like these possess,
Thy vale, enchanting FLORENCE bless—
O had the arts benignant light
No more reviv'd from Gothic night,
Earth had been one vast scene of strife,
Or one drear void had sadden'd life;
Lost had been all the sage has taught,
The painter's sketch, the poet's thought,
The force of sense, the charm of wit,
Nor ever had your page been writ;
That soothing page, which care beguiles,
And dresses truth in fancy's smiles:
For not with hostile step you prest
Each foreign soil, a thankless guest!
While travellers who want the skill
To mark the shapes of good and ill,
With vacant stare thro' Europe range,
And deem all bad, because 'tis strange;
Thro' varying modes of life, you trace
The finer trait, the latent grace,
And where thro' every vain disguise
You view the human follies rise,
The stroke of irony you dart
With force to mend, not wound the heart.
While intellectual objects share
Your mind's extensive view, you bear,
Quite free from spleen's incumb'ring load,
The little evils on the road—
So, while the path of life I tread,
A path to me with briers spread;
Let me its tangled mazes spy
Like you, with gay, good-humour'd eye;
Nor at those thorny tracts repine,
The treasure of your friendship, mine.
On The Bill Which Was Passed In England For Regulating The Slave-Trade
The hollow winds of night no more
In wild, unequal cadence pour,
On musing fancy's wakeful ear,
The groan of agony severe
From yon dark vessel, which contains
The wretch new bound in hopeless chains!
Whose soul with keener anguish bleeds,
As AFRIC'S less'ning shore recedes--
No more where Ocean's unseen bound
Leaves a drear world of waters round,
Between the howling gust, shall rise
The stifled captive's latest sighs!--
No more shall suffocating death
Seize the pent victim's sinking breath;
The pang of that convulsive hour,
Reproaching man's insatiate power;
Man! who to AFRIC'S shore has past,
Relentless, as the annual blast
That sweeps the Western Isles, and flings
Destruction from its furious wings!--
And woman, she, too weak to bear
The galling chain, the tainted air,--
Of mind too feeble to sustain
The vast, accumulated pain,--
No more, in desperation wild,
Shall madly strain her gasping child;
With all the mother at her soul,
With eyes where tears have ceas'd to roll,
Shall catch the livid infant's breath,
Then sink in agonizing death!
BRITAIN! the noble, blest decree
That soothes despair, is fram'd by thee!
Thy powerful arm has interpos'd,
And one dire scene for ever clos'd;
Its horror shall no more belong
To that foul drama, deep with wrong.
O, first of EUROPE'S polish'd lands
To ease the captive's iron bands;
Long, as thy glorious annals shine,
This proud distinction shall be thine!
Not first alone when valour leads
To rush on danger's noblest deeds;
When mercy calls thee to explore
A gloomy path, untrod before,
Thy ardent spirit springs to heal,
And, greatly gen'rous, dares to feel!--
Valour is like the meteor's light,
Whose partial flash leaves deeper night;
While Mercy, like the lunar ray,
Gilds the thick shade with softer day.
Blest deed! that met consenting minds
In all but those whom av'rice binds,--
Who creep in interest's crooked ways,
Nor ever pass her narrow maze;
Or those whom hard indiff'rence steels
To every pang another feels.
For them has fortune round their bowers
Twin'd, partial nymph! her lavish flowers;
For them , from unsunn'd caves, she brings
Her summer ice; for them she springs
To climes where hotter suns produce
The richer fruit's delicious juice;
While they , whom wasted blessings tire,
Nor leave one want to feed desire,
With cool, insulting ease demand
Why, for yon hopeless, captive band,
Is ask'd, to mitigate despair,
The mercy of the common air?
The boon of larger space to breathe,
While coop'd that hollow deck beneath?
A lengthen'd plank, on which to throw
Their shackled limbs, while fiercely glow
The beams direct, that on each head
The fury of contagion shed?--
And dare presumptuous, guilty man,
Load with offence his fleeting span?
Deform creation with the gloom
Of crimes that blot its cheerful bloom?
Darken a work so perfect made,
And cast the universe in shade?--
Alas! to AFRIC'S fetter'd race
Creation wears no form of grace!
To them earth's pleasant vales are found
A blasted waste, a sterile bound;
Where the poor wand'rer must sustain
The load of unremitted pain;
A region in whose ample scope
His eye discerns no gleam of hope;
Where thought no kind asylum knows
On which its anguish may repose;
But death, that to the ravag'd breast
Comes not in shapes of terror drest;
Points to green hills where freedom roves,
And minds renew their former loves;
Or, hov'ring in the troubled air,
Hangs the fierce spectre of Despair;
Whose soul abhors the gift of life,
Who stedfast grasps the reeking knife,
Bids the charg'd heart in torrents bleed,
And smiles in frenzy at the deed!
Ye noble minds! who o'er a sky
Where clouds are roll'd, and tempests fly,
Have bid the lambent lustre play
Of one pure, lovely, azure ray;
O, far diffuse its op'ning bloom,
And the wide Hemisphere illume!
Ye, who one bitter drop have drain'd
From slav'ry's cup, with horror stain'd,
O, let no fatal dregs be found,
But dash her chalice on the ground,
While still she links her impious chain,
And calculates the price of pain;
Weighs agony in sordid scales,
And marks if death or life prevails;
Decides how near the mangling scourge
May to the grave its victim urge,--
Yet for awhile, with prudent care,
The half-worn wretch, if useful, spare;
And speculates, with skill refin'd,
How deep a wound will stab the mind;
How far the spirit can endure
Calamity, that hopes no cure!--
Ye! who can selfish cares forego,
To pity those which others know,--
As light that from its centre strays
To glad all nature with its rays,--
O, ease the pangs ye stoop to share,
And rescue millions from despair!--
For you, while morn in graces gay
Wakes the fresh bloom of op'ning day,
Gilds with her purple light your dome,
Renewing all the joys of home,--
Of that dear shed which first ye knew,
Where first the sweet affections grew;
Whose charm alike the heart can draw,
If form'd of marble or of straw;
Whether the voice of pleasure calls,
And gladness echoes through its walls,
Or to its hallow'd roof we fly
With those we love to pour the sigh;
The load of mingled pain to bear,
And soften every pang we share!--
Ah, think how desolate his state,
How he the cheerful light must hate,
Whom, sever'd from his native soil,
The morning wakes to fruitless toil
To labours hope shall never cheer,
Or fond domestic joy endear!
Poor wretch! on whose despairing eyes
His cherish'd home shall never rise!
Condemn'd, severe extreme, to live
When all is fled that life can give:--
And ah, the blessings valued most
By human minds, are blessings lost!
Unlike the objects of the eye,
Enlarging as we bring them nigh;
Our joys at distance strike the breast,
And seem diminish'd when possest.
Who from his far-divided shore
The half-expiring captive bore?
Those whom the traffic of their race
Has robb'd of every human grace;
Whose harden'd souls no more retain
Impressions nature stamp'd in vain:
As streams that once the landscape gave
Reflected on the trembling wave,
Their substance change when lock'd in frost,
And rest in dead contraction lost;
Who view, unmoved, the look that tells
The pang that in the bosom dwells;
Heed not the nerves that terror shakes,
The heart convulsive anguish breaks;
The shriek that would their crimes upbraid,
But deem despair a part of trade.
Such only for detested gain
The barb'rous commerce would maintain;
The gen'rous sailor, he who dares
All forms of danger, while he bears
The British flag o'er sultry seas,
And spreads it on the Polar breeze;
He to whose guardian arm we owe
Each blessing that the happy know;
Whatever charms the soften'd heart,
Each cultur'd grace, each finer art,
E'en thine, most lovely of the train!
Sweet Poetry, thy heav'n-taught strain,
His breast, where nobler passions burn,
In honest poverty, would spurn
The wealth oppression can bestow,
And scorn to wound a fetter'd foe!
True courage in the unconquered soul
Yields to Compassion's mild control;
As, the resisting frame of steel
The magnet's secret force can feel.
When borne at length to Western lands,
Chain'd on the beach the captive stands,
Where Man, dire merchandize! is sold,
And barter'd life is paid for gold!
In mute affliction, see him try
To read his new possessor's eye;
If one blest glance of mercy there,
One half-form'd tear may check despair!
Ah, if that eye with sorrow sees
His languid look, his quiv'ring knees,
Those limbs which scarce their load sustain,
That form consum'd in wasting pain,
Such sorrow fills his ruthless eye
Who sees the lamb he doom'd to die;
In pining sickness yield his life,
And thus elude the sharpen'd knife.
Or if where savage habit steels
The vulgar mind, one bosom feels
The sacred claim of helpless woe--
If pity in that soil can grow!
Yet why on one poor chance must rest
The int'rest of a kindred breast?
Why yield to passion's wayward laws
Humanity's devoted cause?--
Ah ye, who one fix'd purpose own,
Whose untir'd aim is self alone;
Who think in gold the essence lies
From which extracted bliss shall rise;
Does fleeting life proportion bear
To all the wealth ye heap with care?
When soon your days in rapid flight
Shall sink in death's terrific night,
Then seize the moments in your power,
To Mercy consecrate the hour!
Risk something in her cause at last,
And thus atone for all the past.
Does avarice, your god, delight
With agony to feast his sight?
Does he require that victims slain,
And human blood his altars stain?--
Ah, not alone of power possest
To check each virtue of the breast:
As when the numbing frosts arise
The charm of vegetation dies;
His sway the harden'd bosom leads
To cruelty's remorseless deeds;
Like the blue lightning, when it springs
With fury on its livid wings,
Darts to its goal with baleful force,
Nor heeds that ruin marks its course!
O, Eloquence! prevailing art!
Whose force can chain the list'ning heart;
The throb of sympathy inspire,
And kindle every great desire;
With magic energy control,
And reign the sov'reign of the soul!
That dreams, while all its passions swell,
It shares the power it feels so well:
As visual objects seem possest
Of those clear hues by light imprest.
O, skill'd in every grace to charm,
To soften, to appal, to warm,--
Fill with thy noblest rage the breast,
Bid on those lips thy spirit rest,
That shall, in Britain's Senate, trace
The wrongs of AFRIC'S captive race!--
But Fancy o'er the tale of woe
In vain one heighten'd tint would throw;
For ah, the truth is all we guess
Of anguish in its last excess!
Fancy may dress in deeper shade
The storm that hangs along the glade;
Spreads o'er the ruffled stream its wing,
And chills awhile the flowers of spring;
But where the wint'ry tempests sweep
In madness o'er the darken'd deep,--
Where the wild surge, the raging wave,
Point to the hopeless wretch a grave;
And death surrounds the threat'ning shore--
Can fancy add one horror more?--
Lov'd BRITAIN ! whose protecting hand,
Stretch'd o'er the globe, on AFRIC'S strand
The honour'd base of freedom lays,
Soon, soon the finish'd fabric raise!
And when surrounding realms would frame,
Touch'd with a spark of gen'rous flame,
Some pure, ennobling, great design,
Some lofty act, almost divine,
Which earth may hail with rapture high,
And heav'n may view with fav'ring eye,--
Teach them to make all nature free,
And shine by emulating thee!
Peruvian Tales: Aciloe, Tale V
Character of ZAMOR , a bard--His passion for ACILOE , daughter of the Cazique who rules the valley--The Peruvian tribe prepare to defend themselves--A battle--The PERUVIANS are vanquished--ACILOE'S father is made a prisoner, and ZAMOR is supposed to have fallen in the engagement--ALPHONSO becomes enamoured of ACILOE --Offers to marry her--She rejects him--In revenge he puts her father to the torture--She appears to consent, in order to save him--Meets ZAMOR in a wood--LAS CASAS joins them--Leads the two lovers to ALPHONSO , and obtains their freedom--ZAMOR conducts ACILOE and her father to Chili--A reflection on the influence of Poetry over the human mind.
In this sweet scene, to all the virtues kind,
Mild ZAMOR own'd the richest gifts of mind;
For o'er his tuneful breast the heav'nly muse
Shed from her sacred spring inspiring dews;
She loves to breathe her hallow'd strain where art
Has never veil'd the soul, or warp'd the heart;
Where fancy glows with all her native fire,
And passion lives on the exulting lyre.
Nature, in terror rob'd or beauty dreast,
Could thrill with dear enchantment ZAMOR'S breast;
He lov'd the languid sigh the zephyr pours,
He lov'd the placid rill that feeds the flowers--
But more the hollow sound the wild winds form,
When black upon the billow hangs the storm;
The torrent rolling from the mountain steep,
Its white foam trembling on the darken'd deep--
And oft on Andes' heights with earnest gaze
He view'd the sinking sun's reflected rays
Glow like unnumber'd stars, that seem to rest
Sublime upon his ice-encircled breast.
Oft his wild warblings charm'd the festal hour,
Rose in the vale, and languish'd in the bower;
The heart's reponsive tones he well could move,
Whose song was nature, and whose theme was love.
ACILOE'S beauties his fond soul confest,
Yet more ACILOE'S virtues warm'd his breast.
Ah stay, ye tender hours of young delight,
Suspend, ye moments, your impatient flight;
Prolong the charm when passion's pure controul
Unfolds the first affections of the soul!
This gentle tribe ACILOE'S sire obey'd,
Who still in wisdom and in mercy sway'd.
From him the dear illusions long had fled
That o'er the morn of life enchantment shed;
But virtue's calm remembrance cheer'd his breast,
And life was joy serene, and death was rest:
Bright is the blushing Summer's glowing ray,
Yet not unlovely Autumn's temper'd day.
Now stern IBERIA'S ruthless sons advance,
Roll the fierce eye, and shake the pointed lance.
PERUVIA'S tribe behold the hostile throng
With desolating fury pour along;
The hoary chief to the dire conflict leads
His death-devoted train--the battle bleeds.
ACILOE'S searching eye can now no more
The form of ZAMOR or her sire explore;
While destin'd all the bitterness to prove
Of anxious duty and of mourning love,
Each name that's dearest wakes her bursting sigh,
Throbs at her soul, and trembles in her eye.
Now pierc'd by wounds, and breathless from the fight,
Her friend, the valiant OMAR , struck her sight:--
"OMAR ," she cried, "you bleed, unhappy youth!
And sure that look unfolds some fatal truth;
Speak, pitying speak, my frantic fears forgive,
Say, does my father, does my ZAMOR live?"--
"All, all is lost!" the dying OMAR said,
"And endless griefs are thine, dear, wretched maid;
I saw thy aged sire a captive bound,
I saw thy ZAMOR press the crimson ground!"--
He could no more, he yields his fleeting breath,
While all in vain she seeks repose in death.
But O, how far each other pang above
Throbs the wild agony of hopeless love!
That woe, for which in vain would comfort shed
Her healing balm, or time in pity spread
The veil that throws a shade o'er other care,
For here, and here alone, profound despair
Casts o'er the suff'ring soul a lasting gloom,
And slowly leads her victim to the tomb.
Now rude tumultuous sounds assail her ear,
And soon ALPHONSO'S victor train appear;
Then, as with ling'ring step he mov'd along,
She saw her father 'mid the captive throng;
She saw with dire dismay, she wildly flew,
Her snowy arms around his form she threw;--
"He bleeds!" she cries; "I hear his moan of pain!
My father will not bear the galling chain!
Cruel ALPHONSO , let not helpless age
Feel thy hard yoke, and meet thy barb'rous rage;
Or, O, if ever mercy mov'd thy soul,
If ever thou hast felt her blest controul,
Grant my sad heart's desire, and let me share
The fetters which a father ill can bear."
While the young warrior, as she falt'ring spoke,
With fix'd attention and with ardent look
Hung on her tender glance, that love inspires,
The rage of conquest yields to milder fires.
Yet as he gaz'd enraptur'd on her form,
Her virtues awe the heart her beauties warm;
And while impassion'd tones his love reveal,
He asks with holy rites his vows to seal.
"Hops't thou," she cried, "those sacred ties shall join
This bleeding heart, this trembling hand to thine?
To thine, whose ruthless heart has caus'd my pains,
Whose barb'rous hand the blood of ZAMOR stains!
Canst thou, the murd'rer of my peace, controul
The grief that swells, the pang that rends my soul?--
That pang shall death, shall death alone remove,
And cure the anguish of despairing love."
At length, to madness stung by fixed disdain,
ALPHONSO now to fury gives the rein;
And with relentless mandate dooms her sire,
Stretch'd on the bed of torture to expire;
But O, what form of language can impart
The frantic grief that wrung ACILOE'S heart!
When to the height of hopeless sorrow wrought,
The fainting spirit feels a pang of thought,
Which, never painted in the hues of speech,
Lives at the soul, and mocks expression's reach!
At length she falt'ring cried, "the conflict's o'er,
My heart, my breaking heart can bear no more!
Yet spare his feeble age--my vows receive,
And O, in mercy bid my father live!"
"Wilt thou be mine?" th' enamour'd chief replies--
"Yes, cruel!--see, he dies! my father dies!--
Save, save my father!"--"Dear, unhappy maid,"
The charm'd ALPHONSO cried, "be swift obey'd--
Unbind his chains--Ah, calm each anxious pain,
ACILOE'S voice no more shall plead in vain;
Plac'd near his child, thy aged sire shall share
Our joys, still cherished by thy tender care."--
"No more," she cried, "will fate that bliss allow;
Before my lips shall breathe the impartial vow,
Some faithful guide shall lead his aged feet
To distant scenes that yield a safe retreat;
Where some soft heart, some gentle hand will shed
The drops of comfort on his hoary head.
My ZAMOR , if thy spirit hovers near,
Forgive!"--she ceas'd, and shed no more a tear.
Now night descends, and steeps each weary breast,
Save sad ACILOE'S , in the balm of rest.
Her aged father's beauteous dwelling stood
Near the cool shelter of a waving wood;
But now the gales that bend its foliage die,
Soft on the silver turf its shadows lie;
While slowly wand'ring o'er the vale below,
The gazing moon look'd pale as silent woe.
The sacred shade, amid whose fragrant bowers
ZAMOR oft sooth'd with song the evening hours,
Pour'd to the lunar orb his magic lay,
More mild, more pensive than her musing ray,
That shade with trembling step the mourner sought,
And thus she breath'd her tender, plaintive thought:--
"Ah where, dear object of these piercing pains,
Where rests thy murder'd form, thy Lov'd remains?
On what sad spot, my ZAMOR , flow'd the wound
That purpled with thy streaming blood the ground?
O, had ACILOE in that hour been nigh,
Hadst thou but fix'd on me thy closing eye,--
Told with faint voice, 'twas death's worst pang to part,
And dropp'd thy last cold tear upon my heart!
A pang less bitter then would waste this breast,
That in the grave alone shall seek its rest.
Soon as some friendly hand in mercy leads
My aged father safe to Chili's meads,
Death shall for ever seal the nuptial tie,
The heart belov'd by thee is fix'd to die."--
She ceas'd, when dimly thro' her flowing tears
She sees her ZAMOR'S form, his voice she hears.
" 'Tis he!" she cries, "he moves upon the gale!
My ZAMOR'S sigh is deep---his look is pale--
I faint--" his arms receive her sinking frame,--
He calls his love by every tender name;
He stays her fleeting spirit--life anew
Warms her cold cheek--his tears her cheek bedew.
"Thy ZAMOR lives," he cried: "as on the ground
I senseless lay, some child of pity bound
My bleeding wounds, and bore me from the plain,--
But thou art lost, and I have liv'd in vain!"
"Forgive," she cried, in accents of despair,
ZAMOR , forgive thy wrongs, and O forbear,
The mild reproach that fills thy mournful eye,
The tear that wets thy cheek--I mean to die.
Could I behold my aged sire endure
The pains his wretched child had power to cure?
Still, still my father, stretch'd in death, I see,
His grey locks trembling while he gaz'd on me;
My ZAMOR , soft, breathe not so loud a sigh,
Some list'ning foe may pityless deny
This parting hour--hark, sure some step I hear,
ZAMOR again is lost--for now 'tis near."--
She paus'd, when sudden from the shelt'ring wood
A venerable form before them stood:
"Fear not, soft maid," he cried, "nor think I come
To seal with deeper miseries thy doom;
To bruise the broken heart that sorrow rends,
Ah, not for this LAS CASAS hither bends--
He comes to bid those rising sorrows cease,
To pour upon thy wounds the balm of peace.
I rov'd with dire ALMAGRO'S ruthless train,
Through scenes of death, to Chili's verdant plain;
Their wish to bathe that verdant plain in gore,
Then from its bosom drag the golden ore:
But mine to check the stream of human blood,
Or mingle drops of pity with the flood;
When from those fair, unconquered vales they fled
This languid frame was stretch'd upon the bed
Of pale disease; when, helpless and alone,
The Chilese 'spied their friend, the murd'rers gone,
With eager fondness round my couch they drew,
And my cold hand with gushing tears bedew;
By day they soothe my pains with sweet delight,
And give to watchings the dull hours of night;
For me their gen'rous bosoms joy to prove
The cares of pity, and the toils of love--
At length for me the pathless wild they trac'd,
And softly bore me o'er its dreary waste;
Then parting, at my feet they bend, and clasp
These aged knees--my soul yet feels their grasp!
Now o'er the vale with painful step I stray'd,
And reach this shelt'ring grove; here, hapless maid,
My list'ning ear has caught thy piercing wail,
My heart has trembled to thy moving tale."--
"And art thou he?" the mournful pair exclaim,
'"How dear to mis'ry's soul LAS CASAS ' name!
Spirit benign, who every grief can share,
Whose pity stoops to make the wretch its care,
Weep not for us--in vain thy tears shall flow
For cureless evils, and for hopeless woe!"--
"Come," he replied, "mild suff'rers, to the fane
Where rests ALPHONSO with his martial train;
My voice shall urge his soul to gen'rous deeds,
And bid him hear when truth and nature pleads."
While in meek tones LAS CASAS thus exprest
His pious purpose, o'er ACILOE'S breast
A dawning ray of cheering comfort streams,
But faint the hope that on her spirit beams;
Faint as when ebbing life must soon depart,
The pulse that trembles while it warms the heart.
Before ALPHONSO now the lovers stand,
The aged suff'rer joined the mournful band;
While, with the look that guardian seraphs wear,
When sent to calm the throbs of mortal care,
The story of their woes LAS CASAS told,
Then cried, "the wretched ZAMOR here behold--
Hop'st thou, fond man, a passion to controul
Fix'd in the breast, and woven in the soul?
Ah, know, mistaken youth, thy power in vain
Would bind thy victim in the nuptial chain;
That faithful heart will rend the galling tie,
That heart will break, that tender frame will die!
Then, by each sacred name to nature dear,
By faithful passion's agonizing tear,
By all the wasting pangs that tear her breast,
By the deep groan that gives the suff'rer rest,
Let mercy's pleading voice thy bosom move,
And fear to burst the bonds of plighted love!"
He paus'd--now ZAMOR'S moan ALPHONSO hears;
Now sees the cheek of age bedew'd with tears.
Pallid and motionless ACILOE stands,
Fix'd was her lifted eye, and clasp'd her hands;
Her heart was chill'd--her fainting heart--for there
Hope slowly sinks in cold and dark despair.
ALPHONSO'S soul was mov'd--"No more," he cried,
"My hapless flame shall hearts like yours divide.
Live, tender spirit, soft ACILOE live,
And all the wrongs of madd'ning rage forgive!
Go from this desolated region far,
These plains, where av'rice spreads the waste of war;
Go where pure pleasures gild the peaceful scene,
Go where mild virtue sheds her ray serene!"
In vain th' enraptur'd lovers would impart
The rising joy that swells, that pains the heart;
LAS CASAS ' feet in tears ACILOE steeps,
Looks on her sire and smiles, then turns and weeps;
Then smiles again, while her flush'd cheek reveals
The mingled tumult of delight she feels;--
So fall the crystal showers of fragrant Spring,
And o'er the pure, clear sky, soft-shadows fling;
Then paint the drooping clouds from which they flow
With the warm colours of the lucid bow.
Now o'er the barren desert ZAMOR leads
ACILOE and her sire to Chili's meads;
There many a wand'ring wretch, condemn'd to roam
By hard oppression, found a shelt'ring home:
ZAMOR to pity tun'd the vocal shell,
Bright'ning the tear of anguish as it fell.
Did e'er the human bosom throb with pain
The heav'nly muse has sought to soothe in vain?
She, who can still with harmony its sighs,
And wake the sound at which affection dies!