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XLVIII. Beneath these battlements, within those walls, Power dwelt amidst her passions ; in proud state Each robber chief upheld his armed halls Doing his evil will, nor less elate Than mightier heroes of a longer date. What want these outlaws (10) conquerors should have ? But History's purchased page to call them great ?
A wider space, an ornamental grave ? Their hopes were not less warm, their souls were full as XLIX.
[brave. In their baronial feuds and single fields, What deeds of prowess unrecorded died ! And Love, which lent a blazon to their shields, With emblems well devised by amorous pride, Through all the mail of iron hearts would glide; But still their flame was fierceness, and drew on Keen contest and destruction near allied,
And many a tower for some fair mischief won,
Saw the discoloured Rhine beneath its ruin run.
But Thou, exulting and abounding river !
Making thy waves a blessing as they flow
Through banks whose beauty would endure for ever,
Could man but leave thy bright creation so,
Nor its fair promise from the surface mow
With the sharp scythe of conflict,—then to see
Thy valley of sweet waters, were to know
Earth paved like Heaven; and to seem such to me
Even now what wants thy stream ?--that it should Lethe be.
A thousand battles have assailed thy banks,
But these and half their fame have passed away,
And Slaughter heaped on high his weltering ranks ;
Their very graves are gone, and what are they?
Thy tide washed down the blood of yesterday,
And all was stainless, and on thy clear stream
Glassed with its dancing light the sunny ray;
But o'er the blackened memory's blighting dream
Thy waves would vainly roll, all sweeping as they seem.
Thus Harold inly said, and passed along,
Yet not insensibly to all which here
Awoke the jocund birds to early song
In glens which might have made even exile dear :
Though on his brow were graven lines austere,
And tranquil sternness which had ta’en the place
Of feelings fierier far but less severe,
Joy was not always absent from his face,
But o'er it in such scenes would steal with transient trace.
Nor was all love shut from him, though his days
Of passion had consumed themselves to dust.
It is in vain that we would coldly gaze
On such as smile upon us; the heart must
Leap kindly back to kindness, though disgust
Hath weaned it from all worldlings : thus he felt
For there was soft remembrance, and sweet trusi
In one fond breast, to which his own would melt.
And in its tenderer hour on that his bosom dwelt.
And he had learned to love, I know not why,
For this in such as him seems strange of mood,
The helpless looks of blooming infancy,
Even in its earliest nurture; what subdued
To change like this, a mind so far imbued
With scorn of man, it little boots to know,
But thus it was ; and though in solitude
Small power the nipped affections have to grow,
In him this glowed when all beside had ceased to glow.
And there was one soft breast, as hath been said,
Which unto his was bound by stronger ties
Than the church links withal; and, though unwed,
That love was pure, and, far above disguise
Had stood the test of mortal enmities
Still undivided, and cemented more
By peril, dreaded most in female eyes;
But this was firm, and from a foreign shore.
Well to that heart might his these absent greetings pour
The castled crag of Drachenfels (11)
Frowns o'er the wide and winding Rhine,
Whose breast of waters broadly swells
Between the banks which bear the vine,
And hills all rich with blossomed trees,
And fields which promise corn and wine,
And scattered cities crowning these,
Whose far white walls along them shine,
Have strewed a scene, which I should see
With double joy wert thou, with me!
And peasant girls, with deep blue eyes,
And hands which offer early flowers,
Walk smiling o'er this paradise ;
Above, the frequent feudal towers
Through green leaves lift their walls of gray,
And many a rock which steeply lours,
And noble arch in proud decay,
Look o'er this vale of vintage-bowers;
But one thing want these banks of Rhine,
Thy gentle hand to clasp in mine!
I send the lilies given to me;
Though long before thy hand they touch,
I know that they must withered be,
But yet reject them not as such;
For I have cherished them as dear,
Because they yet may meet thine eye,
And guide thy soul to mine even here,
When thou behold'st them drooping nigh,
And know'st them gathered by the Rhine,
And offered from my heart to thine!
The river nobly foams and flows,
The charm of this enchanted ground,
And all its thousand turns disclose
Some fresher beauty varying round;
The haughtiest breast its wish might bound
Through life to dwell delighted here;
Nor could on earth a spot be found
To nature and to me so dear,
Could thy dear eyes in following mine
Still sweeten more these banks of Rhine!
By Coblentz, on a rise of gentle ground,
There is a small and simple pyramid,
Crowning the summit of the verdant mound;
Beneath its base are heroes' ashes hid,
Our enemy's,-but let not that forbid
Honour to Marceau o'er whose early tomb
Tears, big tears, gushed from the rough soldier's lid,
Lamenting and yet envying such a doom,
Falling for France, whose rights he battled to resume,
Brief, brave, and glorious was his young career,-
His mourners were two hosts, his friends and foes ;
And fitly may the stranger lingering here
Pray for his gallant spirit's bright repose;
For he was Freedom's champion, one of those,
T'he few in number, who had not o'erstept
The charter to chastise, which she bestows
On such as wield her weapons; he had kept
The whiteness of his soul, and thus men o'er him wept. (12)
Here Ehrenbreitstein, (13) with her shattered wall
Black with the miner's blast, upon her height
Yet shows of what she was, when shell and ball
Rebounding idly on her strength did light;
A tower of victory! from whence the flight
Of baffled foes was watched along the plain :
But Peace destroyed what War could never blight,
And laid those proud roofs bare to Summer's rain
On which the iron shower for years had poured in vain.
Adieu to thee, fair Rhine How long delighted
The stranger fain would linger on his way!
Thine is a scene alike where souls united
Or lonely Contemplation thus might stray;
And could the ceaseless vultures cease to prey
On self condemning bosoms, it were here,
Where Nature, nor too sombre nor too gay,
Wild but not rude, awful yet not austere,
Is to the mellow Earth as Autumn to the year.
Adieu to thee again! a vain adieu !
There can be no farewell to scene like thine ;
The mind is coloured by thy every hue;
And if reluctantly the eyes resign
Their cherished gaze upon thee, lovely Rhine!
'Tis with the thankful glance of parting praise;
More mighty spots may rise-more glaring shine,
But none unite in one attaching maze
The brilliant, fair, and soft,—the glories of old days,
The negligently grand, the fruitful bloom
Of coming ripeness, the white city's sheen,
The rolling stream, the precipice's gloom,
The forest's growth, and Gothic walls between,
The wild rocks shaped as they had turrets been
In mockery of man’s art; and these withal
A race of faces happy as the scene,
Whose fertile bounties here extend to all,
Still springing o'er thy banks, though Empires near them fall.
But these recede. Above me are the Alps,
The palaces of Nature, whose vast walls
Have pinnacled in clouds their snowy scalps,
And throned Eternity in icy halls
Of cold sublimity, where forms and falls
The avalanche-the thunderbolt of snow!
All that expands the spirit, yet appals,
Gather around these summits, as to show
How Earth may pierce to Heaven, yet leave vain Man below.
But ere these matchless heights I dare to scan,
There is a spot should not be passed in vain,-
Morat! the proud, the patriot field! where man
May gaze on ghastly trophies of the slain,
Nor blush for those who conquered on that plain ;
Here Burgundy bequeathed his tombless host,
A bony heap, through ages to remain,
Themselves their monument;The Stygian coast
Unsepulchred they roamed, and shrieked each wandering