« PreviousContinue »
More hollow and more wails the deep on the earMore dread and more dread grows suspense in its fear.
If thou shouldst in those waters thy diadem fling,
cry, “Who may find it shall win it and wear ;" God wot, though the prize were the crown of a king
A crown at such hazard were valued too dear.
Oh, many a bark, to that breast grappled fast,
down to the fearful and fathomless grave; Again, crashed together the keel and the mast,
To be seen tossed aloft in the glee of the wave! Like the growth of a storm ever louder and clearer, Grows the roar of the gulf rising nearer and nearer.
And it bubbles and seethes, and it hisses and roars,
As when fire is with water commixed and contending ; And the spray of its wrath to the welkin up-soars,
And flood upon flood hurries on, never ending, And as with the swell of the far thunder-boom, Rushes roaringly forth from the heart of the gloom.
And, lo! from the heart of that far-floating gloom,
Like the wing of the cygnet-what gleams on the sca ? Lo! an arm and a neck glancing up from the tomb !
Steering stalwart and shoreward. O joy, it is he !
And he breathëd deep, and he breathëd long,
And he greeted the heavenly delight of the day. They gaze on each other—they shout as they throng
“He lives—lo, the ocean has rendered its prey ! And safe from the whirlpool and free from the grave, Comes back to the daylight the soul of the brave !"
And he comes, with the crowd in their clamour and glee ;
And the goblet his daring has won from the water, He lifts to the king as he sinks on his knee
And the king from hermaidens has beckoned his daughter. She pours to the boy the bright wine which they bring, And thus spoke the Diver—“Long life to the King ! "Happy they whom the rose-hues of daylight rejoice,
The air and the sky that to mortals are given ! May the horror below nevermore find a voice
Nor man stretch too far the wide mercy of Heaven ! Nevermore, nevermore may he lift from the sight The veil which is woven with terror and night ! “Quick brightening like lightning, the ocean rushed o'er me,
Wild floating, borne down fathom-deep from the day; Till a torrent rushed out on the torrents that bore me,
And doubled the tempest that whirled me away. Vain, vain was my struggle—the circle had won me, Round and round in its dance the mad element spun me. “ From the deep, then I called upon God, and He heard me;
In the dread of my need, He vouchsafed to mine eye A rock jutting out from the grave that interred me;
I sprung there, I clung there, and death passed me by. And, lo ! where the goblet gleamed through the abyss, By a coral reef saved from the far Fathomless. “ Below, at the foot of that precipice drear,
Spread the gloomy, and purple, and pathless Obscure ! A silence of horror that slept on the ear,
That the eye more appalled might the horror endure ! Salamander, snake, dragon-vast reptiles that dwell In the deep-coiled about the grim jaws of their hell. “ Dark crawled, glided dark the unspeakable swarms,
Clumped together in masses, misshapen and vast; Here clung and here bristled the fashionless forms ;
Here the dark moving bulk of the hammer-fish passed ; And, with teeth grinning white, and a menacing motion, Went the terrible shark—the hyena of ocean.
“ There I hung, and the awe gathered icily o'er me,
So far from the earth, where man's help there was none ! The one human thing, with the goblins before me
Alone-in a loneness so ghastly - ALONE !
Methought, as I gazed through the darkness, that now
It saw-a dread hundred-limbed creature-its prey ! And darted, devouring; I sprang from the bough
Of the coral, and swept on the horrible way; And the whirl of the mighty wave seized me once more, It seized me to save me, and dash to the shore.”
On the youth gazed the monarch, and marvelled: quoth he,
“ Bold diver, the goblet I promised is thine ; And this ring I will give, a fresh guerdon to thee
Never jewels inore precious shone up from the mineIf thou'lt bring me fresh tidings, and venture again, To say what lies hid in the innermost main !"
Then out spake the daughter in tender emotion
“Ah! father, my father, what more can there rest ? Enough of this sport with the pitiless ocean
He has served thee as none would, thyself hast confest. If nothing can slake thy wild thirst of desire, Let thy knights put to shame the exploit of the squire !"
The king seized the goblet, he swung it on high,
And whirling, it fell in the roar of the tide : “ But bring back that goblet again to my eye,
And I'll hold thee the dearest that rides by my sido; And thine arms shall embrace as thy bride, I decree, The maiden whose pity now pleadeth for thee."
And heaven, as he listened, spoke out from the space,
And the hope that makes heroes shot flame from his eyes; He gazed on the blush in that beautiful face
It pales—at the feet of her father she lies !
They hear the loud surges sweep back in their swell,
Their coming the thunder-sound heralds along !
They come, the wild waters, in tumult and throng,
THE SOLDIER'S WIDOW.
WoE for my vine-clad home !
That I should ever come,
Lead on, my orphan boy !
May bring to thee a joy ;
Lead on! for thou art now
And I have seen his brow-
He will not meet thee there
He will not call to prayer.
Ay, my own boy! thy sire
With his high glance of fire.
Why-bear them proudly, boy!
And shall we have no joy?
THE LEGEND OF HORATIUS COCLES.
Our spake the Consul' roundly :
“ The bridge must straight go down ; For, since Janiculumis lost,
Nought else can save the town.”
i Valerius Publicola,
One of the hills of Rome, from which it was separated by the Tiber. Porsena took the fort of Janiculum, and compelled the Romans to retreat over the bridge into the city.