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And while my youthful peers before my eyes
(Each hero following his peculiar bent)
Prepared themselves for glorious enterprise
By martial sports,- or, seated in the tent,
Chieftains and kings in council were detain'd;
What time the fleet at Aulis lay enchain'd.
The wish'd-for wind was given: I then revolved
The oracle, upon the silent sea;
And, if no worthier led the way, resolved
That, of a thousand vessels, mine should be
The foremost prow in pressing to the strand,
Mine the first blood that tinged the Trojan sand.
Yet bitter, oft-times bitter, was the pang
When of thy loss I thought, beloved Wife!
On thee too fondly did my memory hang,
And on the joys we shared in mortal life,
The paths which we had trod,- these fountains, flowers;
My new-plann'd cities, and unfinish'd towers.
But should suspense permit the Foe to cry,
· Behold they tremble! — haughty their array,
Yet of their number no one dares to die??
In soul I swept th' indignity away:
Old frailties then recurr'd: but lofty thought,
In act embodied, my deliverance wrought.
And Thou, though strong in love, art all too weak
In reason, in self-government too slow:
I counsel thee by fortitude to seek
Our blest re-union in the shades below.
Th’invisible world with thee hath sympathised;
Be thy affections raised and solemnised.
Learn, by a mortal yearning, to ascend,
Seeking a higher object. Love was given,
Encouraged, sanction'd, chiefly for that end;
For this the passion to excess was driven,
That self might be annull’d; her bondage prove
The fetters of a dream, opposed to love."
Aloud she shriek'd; for Hermes re-appears:
Round the dear Shade she would have clung,—’tis vain:
The hours are past,—too brief had they been years;
And him no mortal effort can detain:
Swift, toward the realms that know not earthly day,
He through the portal takes his silent way,
And on the palace-floor a lifeless corse She lay.
Thus, all in vain exhorted and reproved,
She perish'd; and, as for a wilful crime,
By the just Gods whom no weak pity moved,
Was doom'd to wear out her appointed time,
Apart from happy Ghosts, that gather flowers
of blissful quiet 'mid unfading bowers.
Yet tears to human suffering are due;
And mortal hopes defeated and o’erthrown
Are mouru'd by man, and not by man alone,
As fondly he believes.— Upon the side
Of Hellespont (such faith was entertain'd)
A knot of spiry trees for ages grew
From out the tomb of him for whom she died;
And ever, when such stature they had gain'à
That Ilium's walls were subject to their view,
The trees' tall summits wither'd at the sight;
A constant interchange of growth and blight! (1814.
Fair is the Swan, whose majesty, prevailing
O’er breezeless water, on Locarno's lake,
Bears him on while, proudly sailing,
He leaves behind a moon-illumined wake:
Behold! the mantling spirit of reserve
Fashions his neck into a goodly curve;
An arch thrown back between luxuriant wings
Of whitest garniture, like fir-tree boughs
To which, on some unruffled morning, clings
A flaky weight of Winter's purest snows.
Behold! - as with a gushing impulse heaves
That downy prow, and softly cleaves
The mirror of the crystal flood,
Vanish inverted hill, and shadowy wood,
And pendent rocks, where'er, in gliding state,
Winds the mute Creature without visible Mate
Or Rival, save the Queen of night
Showering down a silver light
From heaven upon her chosen Favourite!
So pure, serene, and fitted to embrace,
Where'er he turn’d, a swan-like grace
Of haughtiness without pretence,
And to unfold a still magnificence,
Was princely Dion, in the power
And beauty of his happier hour.
And what pure homage then did wait
On Dion's virtues, while the lunar beam
Of Plato's genius, from its lofty sphere,
Fell round him in the grove of Academe,
Softening their inbred dignity austere;
That he, not too elate
With self-sufficing solitude,
But with majestic lowliness endued,
Might in the universal bosom reign,
And from affectionate observance gain Help, under every change of adverse fate.
III. Five thousand warriors,- O the rapturous day! Each crown'd with flowers, and arm'd with spear and shield, Or ruder weapon which their course might yield, To Syracuse advance in bright array. Who leads them on? — The anxious people see Long-exiled Dion marching at their head, He also crown'd with flowers of Sicily, And in a white, far-beaming corselet clad! Pure transport undisturb'd by doubt or fear The gazers feel; and, rushing to the plain, Salute those strangers as a holy train Or blest procession (to th' Immortals dear) That brought their precious liberty again. Lo! when the gates are enter'd, on each hand, Down the long street, rich goblets fill’d with wine
In seemly order stand,
And, as the great Deliverer marches by,
He looks on festal ground with fruits bestrown;
And flowers are on his person thrown
In boundless prodigality;
Nor doth the general voice abstain from prayer,
Invoking Dion's tutelary care,
As if a very Deity he were!
Mourn, hills and groves of Attica! and mourn,
Ilissus, bending o'er thy classic urn!
Mourn, and lament for him whose spirit dreads
Your once sweet memory, studious walks and shades!
For him who to divinity aspired,
Not on the breath of popular applause,
But through dependence on the sacred laws
Framed in the school where Wisdom dwelt retired,
Intent to trace th’ideal path of right
(More fair than heaven's broad causeway paved with stars)
Which Dion learn'd to measure with sublime delight:
But he hath overleap'd th'eternal bars;
And, following guides whose craft holds no consent
With aught that breathes th' ethereal element,
Hath stain’d the robes of civil power with blood,
Unjustly shed, though for the public good.
Whence doubts that came too late, and wishes vain,
Hollow excuses, and triumphant pain;
And oft his cogitations sink as low
As, through th' abysses of a joyless heart,
The heaviest plummet of despair can go:-
But whence that sudden check? that fearful start?
He hears an uncouth sound,
Anon his lifted eyes
Saw, at a long-drawn gallery's dusky bound,
A Shape of more than mortal size
And hideous aspect, stalking round and round!
A woman's garb the Phantom wore,
And fiercely swept the marble floor,-
Like Auster whirling to and fro,
His force on Caspian foam to try;
Or Boreas when he scours the snow
That skins the plains of Thessaly,
Or when aloft on Mænalus he stops
His flight, 'mid eddying pine-tree tops!
So, but from toil less sign of profit reaping,
The sullen Spectre to her purpose bow'd,
Sweeping - vehemently sweeping,
No pause admitted, no design avow'd.
“Avaunt, inexplicable Guest!-- avaunt!”
Exclaim'd the Chieftain ; -“let me rather see
The coronal that coiling vipers make;
The torch that flames with many a lurid flake,
And the long train of doleful pageantry
Which they behold, whom vengeful furies haunt;
Who, while they struggle from the scourge to flee,
Move where the blasted soil is not unworn,
And, in their anguish, bear what other minds have borne!”
But Shapes that come not at an earthly call,
Will not depart when mortal voices bid;
Lords of the visionary eye whose lid,
Once raised, remains aghast, and will not fall!
Ye Gods, thought He, that servile Implement
Obeys a mystical intent!
Your Minister would brush away
The spots that to my soul adhere;
But, should she labour night and day,
They will not, cannot disappear;
Whence angry perturbations, and that look
Which no Philosophy can brook!
Ill-fated Chief! there are whose hopes are built
Upon the ruins of thy glorious name;
Who, through the portal of one moment's guilt,
Pursue thee with their deadly aim.
O matchless perfidy! portentous lust Of monstrous crime!
— that horror-striking blade, Drawn in defiance of the Gods, hath laid
The noble Syracusan low in dust! Shudder'd the walls, the marble city wept,
And sylvan places heaved a pensive sigh; But in calm peace th' appointed Victim slept,
As he had fallen in magnanimity;
Of spirit too capacious to require
That Destiny her course should change; too just
To bis own native greatness to desire