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XVIII. Poor, paltry slaves ! yet born 'midst noblest scenesWhy, Nature, waste thy wonders on such men ? Lo! Cintra's glorious Eden intervenes In variegated maze of mount and glen. Ah, me! what hand can pencil guide, or pen, To follow half on which the eye dilates Through views more dazzling unto mortal ken
Than those whereof such things the bard relates, Who to the awe-struck world unlock'd Elysium's gates ?
The horrid crags, by toppling convent crown'd;
The cork trees hoar that cloathe the shaggy steep,
The mountain moss by scorching skies imbrown'd,
The sunken glen, whose sunless shrubs must weep,
The tender azure of the unruffled deep,
The orange tints that gild the greenest bough,
The torrents that from cliff to valley leap,
The vine on high, the willow branch below,
Mixed in one mighty scene, with varied beauty glow.
Then slowly climb the many winding way.
And frequent turn to linger as you go,
From loftier rocks new loveliness survey,
And rest ye at our “ Lady's house of woe;"(2)
Where frugal monks their little relics show,
And sundry legends to the stranger tell:
Here impious men have punish'd been, and lo!
Deep in yon cave Honorius long did dwell,
In hope to merit Heav'n by making earth a Hell.
And here and there, as up the crags you spring,
Mark many rude carv'd crosses near the path :
Yet deem not these devotion's offering
These are memorials frail of murderous wrath :
For wheresoe'er the shrieking victim hath
Pour'd forth his blood beneath the assassin's knife
Some hand erects a cross of mouldering lath ;
And grove and glen with thousand such are rife (3) Throughout this purple land, where law secures not life.
On sloping mounds, or in the vale beneath,
Are domes where whilome kings did make repair ;
But now the wild flowers round them only breathe ;
Yet ruin'd splendour still is lingering there.
And yonder towers the Prince's palace fair:
There thou too, Vathek ! England's wealthiest son,
Once form'd thy Paradise, as not aware
When wanton Wealth her mightiest deeds hath done,
Meek Peace voluptuous lures was ever wont to shun.
Here didst thou dwell, here schemes of pleasure plan,
Beneath yon mountain's ever beauteous brow;
But now as if a thing unblest by Man,
Thy fairy dwelling is as lone as thou !
Here giant weeds a passage scarce allow
To halls deserted, portals gaping wide :
Fresh lessons to the thinking bosom, how
Vain are the pleasaunces on earth supplied ;
Swept into rocks anon by Time's ungentle tide!
Behold the hall where chiefs were late conven'd! (4)
Oh ! dome displeasing unto British eye!
With diadem hight foolscap, lo! a fiend,
A little fiend that scoffs incessantly,
There sits in parchment robe array'd, and by
His side is hung a seal and sable scroll,
Where blazon'd glare names known to chivalry,
And sundry signatures adorn the roll,
Whereat the Urchin points and laughs with all his soul,
Convention is the dwarfish demon styl'd
That foil'd the knights in Marialva's dome:
Of brains (if brains they had) he them beguil'd,
And turn'd a nation's shallow joy to gloom.
Here folly dash'd to earth the victor's plume,
And Policy regain'd what arms had lost;
For chiefs like ours in vain may laurels bloom!
Woe to the conqu’ring, not the conquer'd host,
Since baffled Triumpla droops on Lusitania's Coast !
And ever since that martial synod met,
Britannia sickens, Cintra, at thy name;
And folks in office at the mention fret,
And fain would blush, if blush they could, for shame.
How will posterity the deed proclaim !
Will not our own and fellow-nations sneer,
To view these champions cheated of their fame,
By foes in fight o'erthrown, yet victors here, [year?
Where Scorn her finger points through many a coming
So deem'd the Childe, as o'er the mountain he
Did take his way in solitary guise :
Sweet was the scene, yet soon he thought to fee,
More restless than the swallow in the skies;
Though here a while he learn'd to moralize,
For Meditation fix'd at times on him;
And conscious Reason whisper'd to despise
His early youth, mispent in maddest whim
But as he gaz'd on truth his aching eyes grew dim.
To horse ! to horse ! he quits, for ever quits
A scene of peace, though soothing to his soul;
Again he rouses from his moping fits,
But seeks not now the harlot and the bowl.
Onward he flies, nor fix'd as yet the goal
Where he sball rest him on bis pilgrimage?
And o'er bim many changing scenes must roll
Ere toil his thirst for travel can assuage,
Or he shall calm his breast, or learn experience sage.
Yet Mafra shall one moment claim delay,(5)
Where dwelt of yore the Lusian's luckless queen ?
And church and court did mingle their array,
And mass and revel were alternate seen;
Jordlings and freres will sorted fry I ween!
But here the Babylonian whore hath built
A dome, where flaunts she in such glorious sheep,
That men forget the blood which she hath spilt,
And bow the kuce to Pomp that loves to varnish guilt.
O'er vales that team with fruits, romantic hills,
(Oh, that such hills upheld a freeborn race!)
Whereon to gaze the eye with joyauncefills,
Childe Harold wends through many a pleasant place.
Though sluggards deem it but a foolish chace,
And marvel men should quit their easy chair,
The toilsome way, and long, long league to trace,
Oh there is sweetness in the mountain air,
And life, that bloated Ease can never hope to share.
More bleak to view the hills at length recede,
And, less luxuriant smoother vales extend ;
Immense horizon-bounded plains succeed !
Far as the eye discerns, withouten end,
Spain's realms appear whereon her shepherds tend
Flocks whose rich fleece right well the reader knows,
Now must the pastor's arm his lambs defend ;
For Spain is compass'd by unyielding foes,
And all must shield their all, or share Subjection's woes.
Where Lusitania and her sister meet,
Deem ye what bounds the rival realms divide ?
Or ere the jealous queens of nations greet,
Doth Tayo interpose his mighty tide ?
Or dark Sierras rise in craggy pride ?
Or fence of art, like China's vasty wall ?
Ne barrier wall, ne river deep and wide,
Ne horrid crags, nor mountains dark and tall,
Rise like the rocks that part Hispania's land from Gaul.
But these between a silver streamlet glides,
And scarce a name distinguisheth the brook,
Though rival kingdoms press its verdant sides.
Here leans the idle shepherd on his crook,
And vacant on the rippling waves doth look,
That peaceful still 'twixt bitterest foemen flow;
For proud each peasant as the noblest duke;
Well doth the Spanish hind the difference know "Twixt him and Lusian slave, the lowest of the low.
But e'er the mingling bounds have far been pass'd
Dark Guadiana rolls his power along
In sullen billow, murmuring and vast,
So noted ancient roundelays among.
Whilome upon his banks did legions throng
Of Moor and knight, in mailed splendour drest ;
Here ceas'd the swift their race, here sunk the strong;
The Paynim turban and the Christian crest
Mix'd on the bleeding stream, by floating hosts oppress’d.
Oh, lovely Spain ! renown'd, romantic land !
Where is that standard which Pelagio bore,
When Cava's traitor-sire first call'd the band
That dy'd thy mountain streams with Gothic gore ?(7)
Where are those bloody banners which of yore
Wav'd n'er thy sons, victorious to the gale,
And drove at last the spoilers to their shore ?
Red gleam'd the cross, and wan’d the crescent pale,
While Afric's echoes thrill'd with Moorish matroa's wail.
Teems not each ditty with the glorious tale?
Ah ! such alas! the hero's amplest fate!
When granite moulders and when records fail,
A peasant's plaint prolongs his dubious date.
Pride, bend thine eye from heav'n to thine estate !
See how the Mighty shrink into a song !
Can Volume, Pillar, Pile preserve thee great ?
Or must thou trust Tradition's simple tongue, (wrong ?
When Flattery sleeps with thee, and History does thee
Awake, ye sons of Spain ! awake ! advance!
Lo! Chivalry, your ancient goddess, cries,
But wields cot, as of old, her thirsty lance,
Nor shakes her crimson plumage in the skies :
Now on the smoke of blazing bolts she flies,
And speaks in thunder through yon engine's roar,
In every peal shefcalls "Awake! arise!"
Say, is her voice more feeble than of yore,
When her war-song was heard on Andalusia's shore.