Слике страница
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Fierce smiled the pride of Offa; he held up

Once her rash lips approach'd: so pass'd the hours To those wan lips the sparkling shell of mead: From earliest morning till the setting sun. “ Drink, thou hast kept thy oath, drink, soft-lipp'd Then that wild spirit and playfulness of grief boy!"

Sadden'd to drear sobriety, gave place

Sweet-dreaming twilight to the bright clear day.
O'er all the camp spread loud and wide and far Then first she thought of beasts and fowls obscene
The name of Abisa; Myfanwy heard

Battening on his fair limbs, no hand to heap
Where lay she dreaming half, and fabling half The scanty pity of a little earth
Of garlands and of gay triumphal pomp.

Upon the brave, the princely, and the fair:
How nimble are the feet that bear light hearts ! Envious of partner in her sacred toil,
She is gone forth, and all for joy forgot

Bearing her cold wan burthen in her arms,
The veil e'er wont to dim her dazzling cheek, Alone upon the pious quest she speeds.
Forgot the braiding of her hair, the maid

She fears not, ah too wretched now to fear!
So soft, so timorous, at the wanton breeze

Darkness is on her steps, but what to her
She oft haih trembled, 'neath day's eye retired Though nature's rich varieties are blank?
Even from the fondness of her own loved youth. Her guide the unblinded sympathies within ;
Through files of warriors, who uncasque their brows The love that link'd her to his living soul
To fill their curious gaze, she hurries on,

Will light her to him lifeless; yon wan stars,
She knows not what she sees, and only knows That struggle with the haze, are bright enough
She sees not what she seeks, that cheek, that eye To beam upon the dead. But now more fast
Which fed on her with such excess of love

Their golden cressets multiply, more clear,
As if 't were worse than blindness to lose sight And lo fierce Offa in her path: his eye
Of its sole idol; only she is blithe,

Fix'd on her with a rude imperious lust,
She only smiling 'mid those many sad.

As the pollution of his bad desires She meets even all she longs for ; up from earth Did honour to their victim. But the maid, (For now from that sad eminence of scorn

Unbelieving, unsuspecting aught impure, Had friendly hand removed it, now had cleansed With sweet beseeching, almost with caress, Its damp defilement) that dear face on her

Would win her onward passage; when her soul Settled its fix'd and inexpressive gaze.

Was startled into fear, she would not think Her mien was strangely rational, her look

Such savage nature dwelt in human hearts. Like one that calmly ponder'd what it saw,

She wept, she sued, she drew the veil away, Her voice articulate and passionless.

Upheld that lovely lifeless thing—in vain :
“Who hath done this ?"" The Avenger, the un- The snowy dove is in the rude kite's grasp,

Pale, fluttering, fainting; upon Heaven she call'd,
Spake many voices.—" Oh, my hands are weak; Cruelly calm look'd on her the cool skies;
Ye see them soft and delicate and white,

She call'd on A bisa, but only felt
But thou, and thou, and thou, art bold and strong, More deeply that cold glassiness of face,
And bear'st bright armour, ye will sure requite That dull, indifferent witness of her shame;
The slaughter on the slaughterer's head."-Ensued But in the stress and hurry of despair
Brief moments of a stagnant grief, life paused, Strange energies were hers, with frantic voice
As 't would prolong unconsciousness; delay She call'd on the Avenger-Lo, he comes,
Yet, yet that state that wakes with waking sense. Terrible in the silence of his arms,
Then kindled up her eye, but not with joy,

And earth is dank with Offa's lustful blood.
Then flush'd her cheek a light and sanguine red, But ber first motion was a frantic kiss
That its fair marble fitted o'er, but left

On Abisa's cold lips, as though for him
Nor tinge nor warmth ; she snatch'd up to her heart Proud of the untainted treasure of her love;
That lifeless thing and fled; as some fond bird Then turn d to her preserver, but with looks
With spread wings hovering o'er her nest, looks round of loathing more than thankfulness; he stood
At some black shape of fear, then turns to see In gentle majesty serene, yet proud
If yet her callow brood are slumbering safe : Of that light victory, of prevented crime
So wandering her dim eye on all around,

Severely joyful; bitter strife of heart
Anon with full intensity of love,

Spake in her language_" Had it been but death, Settled on her cold care. She reach'd the tent, I yet had cursed thee! oh, look here, look here! There miserly her treasure she o'erbroods;

(And she withdrew the clust'ring curls that veil'd She lays it on her lap, and sings to it,

The rigid deathfulness of that fair brow) Now gazes as she thought even yet those eyes Oh, one sole feeling to this dead heart secm'd Might open, those wan lips, their wonted sounds A duty and delight, the hate of thee. Murmur, now almost sees a forming smile:

Cruel, even that thou enviest me, even that.” Now gaily carols on her broken songs,

“That, British maiden! is a Saxon's face, Ever his favourite, most familiar tones,

Yet mourns thy amorous heart in guilty tears?" And now breaks off, as fearful to disturb

“ Is there not beauty in a Saxon's cheek, His quiet slumbers, only speaks in smiles,

Is there not music on a Saxon's tongue, Language by him e'er understood, and once, Is there not tenderness in Saxon hearts?

[ocr errors][merged small]

Oh, he is kind and true, his love to me

We blame with tears, enamour'd while we blame. Almost as deep and fond, as mine to him:

Even thus her fervent constancy of love Wild that I am, he was—that fatal was

Brighten'd that guilty maiden.—"God will weigh Makes agony my sacred thought of him."

With righteous hand thy sorrows and thy sins, "Maiden, by Wye's transparent stream abode Damsel ; I nor absolve thee, nor condemn. An aged pair, and their declining day

Come thou with me, and we will reunite One beauteous child enlighten'd, and dispensed That beauteous boy's remains: oh thou, even thou, Soft moonlight o'er their darkening eve; they thought Knew'st thou the studious cruelties, cold crimes The only pang of death from her to part.

By these barbarians wrought on this sad land, But heavy was their sinking to the grave,

Wouldst pardon this dishonour to the corpse For that fair beam in unchaste darkness quench'd Of that brave youth."—She leap'd up to his neck, Its virgin lustre, and its light withdrew,

· And who art thou, that doest such savage deeds, Of their old limbs the life: alone they dwelt, Yet forcest us to lore thee?"-On they past, In discontent and cold distaste of all,

They reach'd the place of death, he dug away As her ingratitude had made them sick

The earth that fenced from wandering kite and wolf of the world's hollowness, and if she fail'd

Young Abisa's fair limbs ; he soothed her woes
All earthly things must needs be false and frail. By soft participation, her consoled
They ne'er reproach'd her, for so near the grave By suffering, and the Christian's voice rose up
They could not hate; but for her sake they loathed

In prayers for mercy on a Saxon's soul.
Each old familiar face, that once they loved.
Where she was wont to wander, wander'd they ;
The garden flowers she lended, they bound up
With woeful care ; their chill and shaking hands

Made tremulous music with her lute : I shrunk
In hoary age to see such childish joys.
They felt one after-pleasure; the same hour

How measureless to erring human sight
They glided from their woes, their parting breath,

Is glory! Glorious thy majestic state, Blended in languid blessings on her head,

Hengist! with captive cities for thy thrones, For her went suppliant to the throne of God,

And captive nations thy pale satellites, Their lost Myfanwy."— Trembling stood she there,

Britain, with all her beauty, power, and wealth, Like one that strives to weep, but the hard tears

Thy palace of dominion. Glorious thou, Are frozen in their source. “Oh thou and I,

Caswallon, in Caer Ebranc's stately courts, Sweet A bisa (to that cold head she spake),

By the slow waters of the wandering Ouse, We will go weep upon their graves, and win

Bright-sceptred Renegade! Even in your crimes Their spirits to forgiveness; when they hear

Glitters a dazzling and meteorous pomp; How fervent and how fatal were our loves,

Though your wild voyage hath lain through waves Heaven will lend airs to waft their merry down."

of blood, * Fond Maid, beware! repentance must be chaste

Ye ride triumphant in your royal port. And spotless as the unsunn'd snow; wilt thou

But he, sad Pilgrim, outcast and forlorn, Yet wanton with the memory of thy sin,

How doth the midnight of his honour shame

Your broad meridjan, his wild freedom pass
Bad thoughts at revel in thy heart, with vows
Lightly made up of guilty breath impure,

Your plenitude of sway, his nakedness
Pollute and sicken the clear air that dwells

Transcend your sweeping purples, ray'd with gold ! About the holy dwellings of the dead;

Nor wanteth to his state its gorgeous pride, Waver from God to Pagan paramour

And high peculiar majesty; the pomp With wandering loose affections ?" " Hard and cold

of the conspiring elements sheds on him Be thou content lo have robb’d this widow'd heart

Tumultuous grandeurs; o'er his midnight couch, Of that most lovely breathing thing earth bore,

Amid the scathed oaks of the mountain moor, But spare, oh spare, the sinless, senseless dead!

On its broad wings of gloom the tempest stoops. Cruel, by yon bright stars I oft have sworn

Around his head in crystal coronets Ne'er to forego him; shall I crown my sins

The lightning falls, as though thy fiery hand, With perjury? I will weep, and fast, and pray,

Almighty! throngh the rolling clouds put forth, And wear the rough stones with my tender knees,

Did honour to the Freeman. Mighty winds So thou wilt leave me my sad thoughts of him.

And the careering thunders spread around Oh, God hath grace for all; my earliest prayer

Turbulent music; darkness rivals day, Shall be for mercy on his perish'd soul,

And day with darkness vies in stateliest pride The next for those who dying pray'd for me,

The Avenger's lofty miseries to array. And for my sad and sinful self the last."

When from the East forth leaps the warrior Sun

In panoply of golden light, dark cowers Most exquisite sorcery of womankind !

His own proud eagle, marvelling what strong form, Even to the fallin some cherish'd loveliness Uprising to usurp his haughty right, Yet clings, with innocent hypocrisy

Drinks in the intense magnificence with brow Tricking their failures in such tender hues,

Undazzled and unshrinking; nor to him

Fails homage from the living shapes of earth : Her throngs of rash beholders, glided down
On him the savage, fierce and monstrous, fawn To welcome to his soft imprisonment
Tame adoration; from his rugged sleep

The Lord of half the world, so wondrous fair
The wild boar, sleek his bristling wrath, aloof Under an awning cool of fluttering silk
Shrinks, the grim wolf no more his rest disturbs, The Lady of that graceful galley sate.
Than the calm motion of the moon she bays. But not in her instinct the melting form

With passion, the smooth limbs in dazzling glow Now, by her native sylvan Wye, that Maid Translucent through the thin lascivious seil, Left to cold penitence and prayer, again

Skilful with careless blandishments to fire Sets forth the high Avenger: now his path

The loose imaginations, she herein Through Towey's vale winds velvet sott and green. Least like that Oriental harlot Queen. The year is in its waning autumn glow,

or all her shape, of all her soul was pride But the warm Sun, with all his summer love, The sustenance, the luxury, the life. Hangs o'er this gentle valley, loath to part

The innate scorn of her full eye repaid From the blue stream that to his amorous beams With lofty thanklessness the homage fawn'd Now her cool bosom spreads, now coyer slides By her fair handmaids, and her oarmen gay, Under her alder shade, whose umbrage green, Who seem'd to wanton in their servile toil. bannring and breaking the fantastic rays,

Around she gazed, as in her haughtiness The deep dark mirror frets with muzy light. She thought that God had forin'd this living pomp A day that seems in its rich noon to blend

Of woodland, stream, and rock, her height of soul All seasons' choice deliciousness, high hung

To pamper, that to welcome her the earth On Dinevaur and Carreg Cennon rude,

Attired its breathing brightness, and the sun And on bold Drusslyn gleam'd the woods their hues, Only on her look'd from his azure sphere. Changeful and brilliant, as their leaves had drunk The sun's empyreal fountains; not more bright Knows Samor that bright Lady? Who knows not The groves of those Atlantic Isles, where rove Amid her twinkling retinue of stars (Dream'd elder Poesy such fancies sweet)

The queenly summer moon? Ye 100 he knows, The spirits of the brave, stern Peleus' son,

The minion rowers of her royal state,
And Diomede, through bowers that the blue air Entitled once by courteous falsehoods bland
Arch'd with immortal spring of fragrant gold. Nobles of Britain, from the general wreck
The merry birds, as though they had o'erdream'd Most despicably saved by Saxon scorn,
The churlish winter, spring-tide virelays

Meet vassalage for Vortigern, now shrunk
Carolling, pruned their all-forgotten plumes.

And dwindled from proud Britain's sov'reign lord Upon the sunny shallow, lay the trout

To petty Prince of Dyfed.* Ye yet cling Kindling the soft gems of its skin; the snake Even to the hollow semblance of a crown, As fresh and wanton in its green attire

Ye gauzy summer motes, that float and bask Wound its gay rings along the flowery sward. In the warm noontide of a court, light things

Of noise and glittering, that to royal ears That overpowering beauty in mild bonds

Tinkle your poisonous flatteries, then most proud Of sweet amazement and infatuate bliss,

When most obtrusive your gay nothingness. Took prisoner Samor's spirit. On a rock, 'Neath a white canopy of glistening birch,

Under a rock where Samor lay unseen He lay sạrrender'd. The thin whispering leaves, Beneath the sparkling birchen shade, the bark The welling waters flow, the lingering, long, Glided so near, the silver-twinkling leaves Love-dwelling descant of the joyous birds

Play'd like a wavering veil o'er the bright face Came mingling with the languor of his sense, And marble neck of that reclining Queen. Most soothing each in turn, must slumb'ring soft.

Now, Samor, now 't is at thy thirsty lips 'Tis no harsh breaking in that train of sound The cup of vengeance. now quoff

' deep. quaff deep! Delicious, but a low and measured dash

Now, by the bones that bleach on Ambri plain, That blends and deepens all the mingling tones ; By thy lost Emeric's silent chamber bowers, "T is nought to cloud or dim that slow intrudes By that soft cheek o'er which the primrose bloors, On the universal brilliance; crowning all

Now lanch the merring javelin! 10, she tempts, Moves the gay apparition, and fires up

The-Saxon's daughter, and the false King's bride, The restless glittering to intenser blaze.

The tame and baffled lingering of revenge. Slow up the tide the gaudy bark comes on,

And up the Avenger stood; a ray of light Her oars scarce startling the unruffled air;

Quiver'd the brandish'd javelin; creeping awe The waters to her swan-like prow give place, Froze up the rowers' hearts; down fell the oars, Along the oar-blades leap up to the sun

And to the shore round swung the ungovern'd bark In lucid flakes, and dance, as 't were their sport To waft that beauteous freight. And exquisite

But 'mid those feminine and timorous men As that voluptuous Memphian on the stream

Intrepid that soft lady her fair front of Cydnus, leading with bliss-breathing smiles

* Or, Dimetia, i. e. South Wales.

Advanced, and,“ Who art thou, whose impious arm “ Harsh and Implacable! yet be not thou 'Gainst royalty's anointed head dore sway

Discourteous: wilt thou to Caer Merddhyn come, Irreverent menace?"_“One whom grinding wrong, An honour'd guest, in freedom to depart And injuries savage, black, and manifold

When, where ihou wilt, thy pledge my royal faith ?" Have almost madden'd to the deep base shame Of soiling his bright arms with woman's blood."

“ A Saxon's faith!" burst bitter from his lips, (He cast the javelin from him, and went on)

He check d the upbraiding tone. "If fraud and sin But tell thy sire, Rowe tell thy lord,

In such a lovely temple hold their shrine, Britons have yet to learn their codes of war,

It were not strange did fiends of darkness dwell That yet fastidious vengeance will not slake

Within yon beauteous sun!" But she with smile But on a worthy vicum its deep thirst."

Mild as May morning on a violet bank,

" Why stay'st thou? can the Unconquerable fear-?" Then was the mingling of their looks elate, “ Fear, Lady! fear and I are strangers now." As when two falcons, far from this low earth, “What wondrous spell," pursued her playful mirth, Meet in the sun's broad blaze, they, glad and proud

“So steels thee?"_"One most simple and most strong, Each of their kindred, flap their radiant wings. A calm proud conscience, and a faith in God." “I know thee now, majestic Rebel! thee

Then sate he by the Lady's side ; set forth The untraceable, untameable! I know

Upon its dancing voyage down the tide The chosen Man of Fate! of all our race

The bark obeisant to its dashing oars. The designated danger; merciful

But those gay rowers veering with the wind Saxon ne'er coupled with thy name till now. Of soft court favour, 'gan with subtle joy Yet think not thou from rivalry aloof

And cold factitious transport hail again In proud and lonely excellence to stand,

Their gentle peer, their old and honour'd friend. For with requital royal and profuse

But with a glance the imperial lady froze I will outsoar thee; this white woman's hand To silence their smooth-lying lips, nor brook'd Shall cast thee Hengist's pardon for thy deeds Idle intrusion on her rapturous feast. Of guilty fame; this smooth and purple cheek Deep drank she in the majesty and pomp, Smile thee fair honours in Caer Merdd hyn's court.” Wherewith instinct the Avenger moved and spake,

And what high beauty from heroic soul “Pardon, and honour, Lady! one alone

Emanales on the outward shape, nor pallid Jealous prerogative of pardon holds

On her insatiate appetite the joy ;
O'er Samor's soul, the universal God!

Till that commercing deep of stately thoughts,
Caer Merddhyn's honours! to fall’n Vortigern Proud admiration, and intense delight
To be install d prime flatterer, meekly laud

In what is heart-subliming, towering, grand,
The bounteous-hearted monarch, who cast off Regenerate from the trance that bathed her sense,
His throne, his people, and his fame, and thought Sprang up a fiery passion, o'er her flow'd
For bride so fair the dowry all too poor."

Secret the intoxicating ecstasy,

Love, dangerous, deep, intolerable love.
No wrath, but brighter joy the Lady's cheek
Emblazon'd; “Why should slight and tinsel ties What beauteous seeming and magnificent,
Of blood and birthplace hold asunder hearts

Weareth that brilliant sın? now not o'er her
Kindred in grandeur? thou art brave and free, Came it in melting languor, soft and bland,
And brave and free is Hengist; why disdains But like her own high nature, eminent,
Valour to mate with valour, might with might?" Disdainful, and elate, allied to all
* Valour beneath the sun goes proudly forth; That beautified, that glorified, and seemid
And in the cloudy battle's van affronts

Mysterious union of upscaring spirits,
His hauberk'd foe, but folds not secret steel

Wedding of lofty thoughts with lofty thoughts, Under the mild and festal robe of peace,

And the fine joy of being to this earth Nor creeps with midnight stealth on the weak sleep A thing of wonder: and as floats the air Of women and soft infants.”—Then appear'd Clear, white, and stainless in the highest heavens, Tears in her haughty eyes, tears beautiful,

Seem'd from its exaltation fresh and pure, For drops of shame they were for those black crimes Above all taint her amorous madness rose. That fleckd and dimm'd her father's blaze of fame. Had it seem'd love, her very pride had quell'd Still paused not the Avenger.—“Did my God, The unplumed fantasy, her inbred scorn Did Britain claim the offering, I dare hope

Warr'd on the young infirmity, but now Yet I could rend from this worn heart away

Upon her soul's bold crest it planted high
Its pleasant lust of vengeance: private wrongs Its banner of dominion, and she haild
Are but thin drops in my full tide of hate;

Its coming as a guest of pomp and power.
But all my country's injuries, all my God's
Concentrate in the mighty passion flood,

But, though o'er all her features mantling speud My life, my soul, my being; we must be,

A vivid restlessness, a lustrous glow, I and thy father, through all space of time,

A deepening purple, though her eye indulged Even to the end, Destroyer or Destroy'd.”

Richer delirium, though her languid breath

[ocr errors]

Came with a throb and struggled from her heart, For minds of poets from their own high sphere Yet in that noble kindness that disdains

Look down on earth's distinctions, high and low, With greedy and suspicious gaze to search

Sunken or soaring, as the equal sun The sin that may be, rather chastening all

Sheds light along the vale and mountain's brow. With his own native purity, serene

He in the hall of feasting who fast seal'd The Warrior sate. The placid gliding bark The treasures of his harmony, now pours With motion like to stillness, flowing on,

Into the wounded heart bis syrups sweet, Where with green diadem of wonds above,

And laps it in the silken folds of sound. Beneath the white breadth of the expanding stream, But even along his strings the infectious grief Caer Merddhyn in the liquid noontide rose..

Hath crept,

and wither'd up the wantonness

And lost in wayward wanderings of despair Fair rose Caer Merddhyn, rose her towery height Stray the vague tones; anon bursts full and free The air enriching, nor mis-seem'd a King

A start, a swell of pride, then sinks away
Such stately dwelling; populous her streets, Involuntary to such dolesul fall,
And throng'd with human faces, but o'er all Misery so musical, its languid breath
A lassitude and heavy sadness hung,

Feeds, while it sofiens the deep-rooted woe.
Blankness of looks and weariness of hearts,

Such melodies at tragic midnight heard And listlessness of motion faltering on.

'Mid a deserted city, gliding o'er With all the pomps, the luxuries of life,

The deep green moss of tower and fane o'erthrown, It seem'd a city of the dead. The shapes,

Had seem'd immortal sorrows in the air, The steps of men were there, but soul and spirit, O'er man's inconstant grandeurs. Sad such wreck, And stirring energy, and vivid mind,

More sad, more worthy Angels woe the waste Passion and earnestness in torpor slept,

And desolation of a noble mind,
The cold blood stagnates in the drowsy veins. High fertile faculties run wild and rank,
Alike all feelings lazy languor seal'd;

Bright fiery qualities in darkness sluked.
To still them, not delight, the mothers held

That liquid intercourse of grief broke off, Their infants, as the radiant Queen past on;

Thus spake the King—“Who thus unbidden bursts But even in them the laughing spring of joy On kingly solitude? why ask I thee? Was dead, and dry, and frozen.—“Oh, high God! No brow between the Scot and Southern sea (So spake the Wanderer in his secret soul)

Beareth such gallant insolence abroad, Hath tyranny such bleak and withering power But Samor, the wild Wanderer, the denounced, Man's heavenly essence to embrute, and thou, The desperate! Art thou here to siuv mine ears Once princely Vortigern, the tyrant thou!"

With “ Vortigern is abject, lost, disgraced ?" Worse sight! worse shame! they reach the broad Tis well that with thee comes my bright excuse, hill's brow,

My poverty's rich treasure, my night's star,

Beauteous Rowena."—Joy seem'd his, but yet Where in its royalty the palace look'd

Was effort and was struggle in that joy,
Awe on its vassal city; there, even there,
On that high threshold, armed Saxon files

The clinging of a desperate soul to what

It would delight in, but did not delight,
From the weak people fenced the weaker King.
But through that legion hateful and accursi

The striving of a barren heart to force

The perish'd bloom of pleasure.—“ King, I come Onward the Avenger that bright Lady's hand

To put a spell upon thee, conjure up Led, as the Sibyl sage the Love-queen's son

Thy valour from its tomb within thy breast, Calm through the doleful regions of the dead.

To rond the adamant that trammels fast Within the hall with royal banners hung,

Thy strength of soul. By yon bright glaive that smote And shields of royal blazon, royal arms,

By Eskis wild bank, beneath his father's shield, Loast royal he, sate Vortigern; deep thought The royal Caledonian's Son; yon flag, And miserable on his faded brow

That, when by fnted Arles rash Britain lost Traced its bleak lines; before him glittering lay Her wild bright hazard for imperial state, The crown of Britain, which his eye perused Clouding the car of adverse victory shook With a sick sadness, as each gem were full

Untarnish'd in the sun its blazon broad, Of woeful ruminations, blank remorse ;

Nor stoop'd though all was fallen; by yon rich crowd And as bad Angels loathe, yet upward watch, Whereon when flow'd the holy oil, this isle Heaven's Sun, bright type of their once radiant state, From all her seas her gratulant acclaim Even so in bitterness that fallen King,

and overcast heaven's vault with joy; Painfully banqueting on self-reproach,

By Vortigern, the great, the brave, the wise !"A droar remembrance of lost grandeurs drew • Brave! wise! ay, that it is. The veriest wretch From that fair ring, and cursed its blaze that flash'd That from base birth-place to his baser grave, Past splendours o'er the darkness of his sonl, Creeps with his fellow reptiles, that ne'er knew And memory from what height to what depth sunk, What luxury 'ı is, what loftiness to soar, He welters in the abyss of shame profound. And with one soul to wield a host of souls Beside him o'er his harp Aneurin bow'd,

In free subjection, oh that fireless dust, The white-hair'd Bard, sole faithful he, sole friend; Clay uninform'd that only lives to die,

Sent up,


« ПретходнаНастави »