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He counted them at break of day—
And when the sun set, where were they !
And where are they !—and where art thou,
My country On thy voiceless shore
The heroic lay is tuneless now—
The heroic bosom beats no more
And must thy lyre, so long divine,
Degenerate into hands like mine !
'Tis something, in the dearth of fame,
Though link'd among a fetter'd race,
To feel at least a patriot's shame,
Even as I sing, suffuse my face;
For what is left the poet here !
For Greeks a blush—for Greece a tear.
Must we but weep o'er days more bless'd 1
Must we but blush 1–0 ur fathers bled.
Earth ! render back from out thy breast
A remnant of our Spartan dead!
Of the three hundred grant but three,
To make a new Thermopylae.
What, silent still 1 and silent all !
Ah! no ;-the voices of the dead
Sound like a distant torrent’s fall,
And answer, “Let one living head,
But one arise,_we come, we come 1”
"Tis but the living who are dumb.
In vain—in vain: strike other chords;
Fill high the cup with Samian wine!
Leave battles to the Turkish hordes,
And shed the blood of Scio's vine !
Hark! rising to the ignoble call—
How answers each bold bacchanal'
You have the Pyrrhic dance as yet,
Where is the Pyrrhic phalanx gone?
Of two such lessons, why forget
The nobler and the manlier one
You have the letters Cadmus gave—
Think ye he meant them for a slave?
Fill high the bowl with Samian wine!
We will not think of themes like these.
It made Anacreon's song divine;
He served—but served Polycrates—
A tyrant; but our masters then
Were still, at least, our countrymen.
The tyrant or the Chersonese
Was freedom's best and bravest friend,
That tyrant was Miltiades :
Oh! that the present hour would lend
Another despot of the kind'
Such chains as his were sure to bind.
Fill high the bowl with Samian wine !
On Suli's rock and Parga's shore
Exists the remnant of a line
Such as the Doric mothers bore;
And there, perhaps, some seed is sown,
The Heracleidan blood might own.
Trust not for freedom to the Franks—
They have a king who buys and sells.
In native swords, and native ranks,
The only hope of courage dwells;
But Turkish force and Latin fraud Would break your shield, however broad.
Fill high the bowl with Samian wine !
Our virgins dance beneath the shade—
I see their glorious black eyes shine;
But, gazing on each glowing maid,
My own the burning tear-drop laves,
To think such breasts must suckle slaves.
Place me on Sunium's marbled steep— Where nothing, save the waves and I, May hear our mutual murmurs sweep; There, swan-like, let me sing and die: A land of slaves shall ne'er be mine— Dash down yon cup of Sainian wine!
The stars are forth, the moon above the tops
Of the snow-shining mountains.—Beautiful!
I linger yet with Nature, for the night
Hath been to me a more familiar face
Than that of man; and in her starry shade
Of dim and solitary loveliness,
I learn'd the language of another world.
I do remember me, that in my youth,
When I was wandering.—upon such a night
I stood within the Coliseum's wall,
Midst the chief relics of almighty Rome;
The trees which grew along the broken arches
Waved dark in the blue midnight, and the star
Shone through the rents of ruin; from afar
The watch-dog bay’d beyond the Tiber; and
More near from out the Caesars' palace came
The owl's long cry, and interruptedly,
Of distant sentinels the fitful song
Begun and died upon the gentle wind.
Some cypresses beyond the time-worn breach
Appear'd to skirt the horizon, yet they stood
Within a bowshot—Where the Caesars dwelt,
And dwell the tuneless birds of night, amidst
A grove which springs through levell'd battlements,
And twines its roots with the imperial hearths,
Ivy usurps the laurel's place of growth;-
But the gladiators' bloody Circus stands,
A noble wreck in ruinous perfection :
While Casars' chambers and the Augustan halls
Grovel on earth in indistinct decay.—
And thou didst shine, thou rolling moon, upon
All this, and cast a wide and tender light,
Which soften’d down the hoar austerity
Of rugged desolation, and fill'd up,
As 't were anew, the gaps of centuries,
Leaving that beautiful which still was so,
And making that which was not, till the place
Became religion, and the heart ran o'er
With silent worship of the great of old !—
The dead, but sceptred sovereigns, who still rule
Our spirits from their urns.—
Without a stone to mark the spot,
And say, what truth might well have said
By all, save one, perchance forgot,
Ah, wherefore art thou lowly laid :
By many a shore and many a sea
Divided, yet beloved in vain;
The past, the future fled to thee
To bid us meet—no—ne'er again
Could this have been—a word, a look
That softly said, “We part in peace,”
Had taught my bosom how to brook,
With fainter sighs, thy soul's release.
And didst thou not, since Death for thee
Prepared a light and pangless dart,
Once long for him thou ne'er shall see,
Who held, and holds thee in his heart 1
Oh! who like him had watch'd thee here !
Or sadly mark'd thy glazing eye
In that dread hour ere death appear,
When silent sorrow fears to sigh,
Till all was past! But when no more
"T was thine to reck of human wo,
Affection's heart-drops, gushing o'er,
Had flow'd as fast—as now they flow.
Shall they not flow, when many a day
In these, to me, deserted towers,
Ere call'd but for a time away,
Affection's mingling tears were ours?
Ours too the glance none saw beside;
The smile none else might understand;
The whisper'd thought of hearts allied,
The pressure of the thrilling hand;
The kiss, so guiltless and refined,
That love each warmer wish forbore ;
Those eyes proclaim'd so pure a mind,
Even passion blush'd to plead for more.
The tone, that taught me to rejoice,
When prone, unlike thee to repine;
The song, celestial from thy voice,
But sweet to me from none but thine,
The pledge we wore—I wear it still,
But where is thine !—ah, where art thou?
Oft have I borne the weight of ill,
But never bent beneath till now !
Well hast thou left in life's best bloom
The cup of wo for me to drain;
If rest alone be in the tomb,
I would not wish thee here again:
But if in worlds more blest than this
Thy virtues seek a fitter sphere,
Impart some portion of thy bliss,
To wean me from mine anguish here.
Teach me—too early taught by thee!
To bear, forgiving and forgiven :
On earth thy love was such to me;
It fain would form my hope in heaven
The voice that made those sounds more sweet
Is hush'd, and all their charms are fled;
And now their softest notes repeat
A dirge, an anthem o'er the dead!
Yes, Thyrza! yes, they breathe of thee,
Beloved dust! since dust thou art;
And all that once was harmony
Is worse than discord to my heart!
'Tis silent all !—but on my car
The well-remember'd echoes thrill;
I hear a voice I would not hear,
A voice that now might well be still:
Yet oft my doubting soul 'twill shake;
Even slumber owns its gentle tone,
Till consciousness will vainly wake
To listen, though the dream be flown.
Sweet Thyrza waking as in sleep,
Thou art but now a lovely dream;
A star that trembled o'er the deep,
Then turn’d from earth its tender beam.
But he, who through life's dreary way
Must pass, when heaven is veil'd in wrath,
Will long lament the vanish’d ray
That scatter'd gladness o'er his path.
The convent bells are ringing,
But mournfully and slow;
In the gray square turrent swinging,
With a deep sound, to and fro.
Heavily to the heart they go!
Hark! the hymn is singing—
The song for the dead below,
Or the living who shortly shall be so!
For a departing being's soul [knoll:
The death-hymn peals and the hollow bells
He is near his mortal goal;
Kneeling at the friar's knee;
Sad to hear—and piteous to see—
Kneeling on the bare cold ground,
With the block before and the guards around—
And the headman with his bare arm ready,
That the blow may be both swift and steady,
Feels if the axe be sharp and true—
Since he set its edge anew :
While the crowd in a speechless circle gather
To see the son fall by the doom of the father'
It is a lovely hour as yet
Before the summer sun shall set,
Which rose upon that heavy day,
And mock'd it with his steadiest ray;
And his evening beams are shed
Full on Hugo's fated head,
As his last confession pouring
To the monk, his doom deploring
In penitential holiness,
He bends to hear his accents bless
With absolution such as may
Wipe our mortal stains away.
That high sun on his head did glisten,
As he there did bow and listen—
And the rings of chesnut hair
Curl’d half down his neck so bare;
But brighter still the beam was thrown
Upon the axe which near him shone
With a clear and ghastly glitter—
Oh! that parting hour was bitter :
Even the stern stood chill'd with awe;
Dark the crime, and just the law—
Yet they shudder'd as they saw.
The parting prayers are said and over
Of that false son—and daring lover !
His beads and sins are all recounted,
His hours to their last minute mounted—
His mantling cloak before was stripp'd,
His bright brown locks must now be clipp'd;
'Tis done—all closely are they shorn—
The vest which till this moment worn—
The scarf which Parisina gave—
Must not adorn him to the grave,
Even that must now be thrown aside,
And o'er his eyes the kerchief tied;
But no—that last indignity .
Shall ne'er approach his haughty eye.
All feelings seemingly subdued, -
In deep disdain were half-renew'd,
When headman's hands prepared to bind
Those eyes which would not brook such blind,
As if they dared not look on death.
“No-yours my forfeit blood and breath—
These hands are chain’d—but let me die
At least with an unshackled eye—
Strike:"—and as the word he said,
Upon the block he bow’d his head;
These the last accents Hugo spoke
“Strike"—and flashing fell the stroke. -
Roll'd the head—and, gushing, sunk
Back the stain’d and heaving trunk
In the dust, which each deep vein
Slaked with its ensanguined rain;
His eyes and lips a moment quiver,
Convulsed and quick—then fix'd for ever.
He died as erring man should die,
Without display, without parade;
Meekly had he bow'd and pray'd,
As not disdaining priestly aid,
Nor desperate of all hope on high.
And while before the prior kneeling,
His heart was wean'd from earthly feeling;
His wrathful sire—his paramour—
What were they in such an hour?
No more reproach—no more despair;
No thought but heaven—no word but prayer—
Save the few which from him broke,
When, bared to meet the headman's stroke,
He claim'd to die with eyes unbound,
His sole adieu to those around.
Still as the lips that closed in death,
Each gazer's bosom held his breath;
But yet, afar, from man to man,
A cold electric shiver ran,
As down the deadly blow descended
On him whose life and love thus ended;
And with a hushing sound compress'd,
A sigh shrunk back on every breast;