« PreviousContinue »
Into the heart it coiled its lulling way;
Wave upon wave the golden river stole ;
Hushed to his feet forgetful Famine crept,
And Woe, reviving, veiled the eyes that wept.
Then stern, and harsh, clashed the ascending strain,
Telling of ills more dismal yet in store;
Rough with the iron of the grinding chain,
Dire with the curse of slavery evermore;
Wild shrieks from lips beloved pale warriors hear,
Her child's last death-groan rends the mother's ear!
Then trembling hands instinctive griped the swords +
And men unquiet sought each other's eyes;
Loud into pomp sonorous swell the chords!
Like linked legions march the melodies!
Till the full rapture swept the Bard along,
And o'er the listeners rushed the storm of song!
And the Dead spoke! From cairns and kingly graves,
The Heroes called; and Saints from earliest shrines.
And the Land spoke! - Mellifluous river-waves ;
Dim forests awful with the roar of pines;
Mysterious caves, from legend-haunted deeps,
And torrents flashing from untrodden steeps;
The Land of Freedom called upon the Free!
All Nature spoke; the clarions of the wind;
The organ swell of the majestic sea;
The choral stars; the Universal Mind
Spoke, like the voice from which the world began,
"No chain for Nature and the Soul of Man!"
As leaps the war-fire on the beacon hills,
Leapt in each heart the lofty flame divine;
As into sunlight flash the molten rills,
Flashed the glad claymores, lightening line on line;
From cloud to cloud as thunder speeds along,
From rank to rank rushed forth the choral song.
Woman and child—all caught the fire of men;
To its own Heaven that Alleluia rang;
Life to the spectres had returned again;
And from the grave an arméd Nation sprang!
83. CARADOC, THE BARD, TO THE CYMRIANS. —Sir E. Bulwer Lytton.
No Cymrian bard, by the primitive law, could bear weapons.
HARK to the measured march! - The Saxons come!
The sound earth quails beneath the hollow tread!
Your fathers rushed upon the swords of Rome,
And climbed her war-ships, when the Cæsar fled '
The Saxons come! why wait within the wall?
They scale the mountain: - let its torrents fall!
have swords, and shields, and armor, YE!
No mail defends the Cymrian Child of Song;
But where the warrior, there the Bard shall be !
All fields of glory to the bard belong!
His realm extends wherever godlike strife
Spurns the base death, and wins immortal life.
Unarmed he goes
- his guard the shield of all,
Where he bounds foremost on the Saxon spear!
Unarmed he goes, that, falling, even his fall
Shall bring no shame, and shall bequeath no fear!
Does the song cease?— avenge it by the deed,
And make the sepulchre a Nation freed!
84. ALFRED THE GREAT TO HIS MEN. —Original Adaptation from Knowles
My friends, our country must be free! The land
Is never lost that has a son to right her,
And here are troops of sons, and loyal ones!
Strong in her children should a mother be:
Shall ours be helpless, that has sons like us?
God save our native land, whoever pays
The ransom that redeems her! Now, what wait we?-
For Alfred's word to move upon the foe?
Upon him, then! Now think ye on the things
You most do love! Husbands and fathers, on
Their wives and children; lovers, on their beloved;
And all, upon their COUNTRY! When you use
Your weapons, think on the beseeching eyes,
To whet them, could have lent you tears for water!
O, now be men, or never! From your hearths
Thrust the unbidden feet, that from their nooks
Drove forth your agéd sires your wives and babes!
The couches, your fair-handed daughters used
To spread, let not the vaunting stranger press,
Weary from spoiling you! Your roofs, that hear
The wanton riot of the intruding guest,
That mocks their masters, clear them for the sake
Of the manhood to which all that's precious clings
Else perishes. The land that bore you - O!
Do honor to her! Let her glory in
Your breeding! Rescue her! Revenge her, or
Ne'er call her mother more! Come on, my friends'
And, where you take your stand upon the field,
However you advance, resolve on this, —
That you will ne'er recede, while from the tongues
Of age, and womanhood, and infancy,
The helplessness, whose safety in you lies,
Invokes you to be strong! Come on! Come on!
I'll bring you to the foe! And when you meet him,
Strike hard! Strike home! Strike while a dying blow
Is in an arm! Strike till you 're free, or fall!
35. RIENZI TO THE ROMANS.- Mary Russell Mitford.
I come not here to talk. Ye know too well
The story of our thraldom. We are slaves!
The bright sun rises to his course, and lights
A race of slaves! He sets, and his last beam
Falls on a slave: not such as, swept along
By the full tide of power, the conqueror leads
To crimson glory and undying fame,-
But pase, ignoble slaves! slaves to a horde
Of petty tyrants, feudal despots; lords,
Rich in some dozen paltry villages;
Strong in some hundred spearmen; only great
In that strange spell — a name! Each hour, dark fraud,
Or open rane, or protected murder,
Cry out against them. But this very day,
An honest man, my neighbor, there he stands,
Was struck struck like a dog, by one who wore
The badge of Ursini! because, forsooth,
He tossed not high his ready cap in air,
Nor lifted up his voice in servile shouts,
At sight of that great ruffian! Be we men,
And suffer such dishonor? Men, and wash not
The stain away in blood? Such shames are common.
I have known deeper wrongs. I, that speak to ye, -
I had a brother once, a gracious boy,
Full of all gentleness, of calmest hope,
Of sweet and quiet joy; there was the look
Of Heaven upon his face, which limners give
To the beloved disciple. How I loved
That gracious boy! Younger by fifteen years,
Brother at once and son ! He left my side,
A summer bloom on his fair cheeks-
Parting his innocent lips. In one short hour,
The pretty, harmless boy was slain! I saw
The corse, the mangled corse, and then I cried
For vengeance! Rouse, ye Romans! Rouse, ye slaves.
Have brave sons?
Look in the next fierce brawl
To see them die' Have ye fair daughters? — Look
To see them live, torn from your arms, distained,
Dishonored; and, if ye dare call for justice,
Be answered by the lash! Yet, this is Rome,
That sate on her seven hills, and from her throne
Of beauty ruled the world! Yet, we are Romans.
Why, in that elder day, to be a Roman
Was greater than a King! And once again
Hear me, ye walls, that echoed to the tread
Of either Brutus ! once again I swear
The Eternal City shall be free!
"MAKE way for liberty!" he cried,—
Made way for liberty, and died!
36. THE PATRIOT'S PASS-WORD.-James Montgomery.
The noble voluntary death of the Switzer, Winkelried, is accurately described in the following verses. In the battle of Shempach, in the fourteenth century, this martyr-patriot, perceiving that there was no other means of breaking the heavy-armed lines of the Austrians than by gathering as many of their spears as he could grasp together, opened, by this means, a passage for his fellow-combatants, who, with hammers and hatchets, hewed down the mailed men-at-arms, and won the victory.
In arms the Austrian phalanx stood,
A living wall, a human wood;
Impregnable their front appears,
All horrent with projected spears.
Opposed to these, a hovering band
Contended for their father-land;
Peasants, whose new-found strength had broke
From manly necks the ignoble yoke;
Marshalled once more at Freedom's call,
They came to conquer or to fall.
And now the work of life and death
Hung on the passing of a breath;
The fire of conflict burned within;
The battle trembled to begin;
Yet, while the Austrians held their ground,
Point for assault was nowhere found;
Where'er the impatient Switzers gazed,
The unbroken line of lances blazed;
That line 't were suicide to meet,
And perish at their tyrants' feet.
How could they rest within their graves,
To leave their homes the haunts of slaves ?
Would they not feel their children tread,
With clanking chains, above their head?
It must not be; this day, this hour,
Annihilates the invader's power!
All Switzerland is in the field,
She will not fly; she cannot yield;
Swift to the breach his comrades fly, -
"Make way for liberty!" they cry,
And through the Austrian phalanx dart,
As rushed the spears through Arnold's heart;
While, instantaneous as his fall,
Rout, ruin, panic, seized them all:
An earthquake could not overthrow
A city with a surer blow.
Thus Switzerland again was free;
Thus Death made way for liberty!
87. RICHARD TO THE PRINCES OF THE CRUSADE.-Sir Walter Scott. B. 1771; d. 1832.
AND is it even so? And are our brethren at such pains to note the infirmities of our natural temper, and the rough precipitance of our zeal, which may have sometimes urged us to issue commands when there was little time to hold council? I could not have thought that offences,