Page images


Oh, thou eternal Homer! who couldst charm

All ears, though long; all ages, though so short, By merely wielding with poetic arm

Arms to which men will never more resort, Unless gunpowder should be found to harm

Much less than is the hope of every court, Which now is leagued young Freedom to annoy; But they will not find Liberty a Troy:


Oh, thou eternal Homer! I have now

To paint a siege, wherein more men were slain, With deadlier engines and a speedier blow,

Than in thy Greek gazette of that campaign; And yet,

like all men else, I must allow, To vie with thee would be about as vain As for a brook to cope with ocean's flood; But still we moderns equal you in blood;


If not in poetry, at least in fact ;

And fact is truth, the grand desideratum !
Of which, howe'er the Muse describes each act,

There should be ne'ertheless a slight substratum. But now the town is going to be attack’d;

Great deeds are doing—how shall I relate 'em ? Souls of immortal generals! Phæbus watches To colour up his rays from your despatches.



Oh, ye great bulletins of Bonaparte !

Oh, ye less grand long lists of kill'd and wounded ! Shade of Leonidas, who fought so hearty, When my poor Greece was once, as now,

Oh, Cæsar's Commentaries! now impart, ye

Shadows of glory! (lest I be confounded)
A portion of your fading twilight hues,
So beautiful, so fleeting, to the Muse.


When I call “ fading" martial immortality,
I mean,

every age

and every year, And almost every day, in sad reality,

Some sucking hero is compellid to rear, Who, when we come to sum up the totality

Of deeds to human happiness most dear, Turns out to be a butcher in great business, Afflicting young folks with a sort of dizziness.


Medals, rank, ribands, lace, embroidery, scarlet,

Are things immortal to immortal man,
As purple to the Babylonian harlot:

An uniform to boys is like a fan
To women; there is scarce a crimson varlet

But deems himself the first in Glory's van.
But Glory's glory; and if you would find
What that is—ask the pig who sees the wind!


he sees,

At least he feels it, and some say

Because he runs before it like a pig;
Or, if that simple sentence should displease,

Say, that he scuds before it like a brig,
A schooner, or- but it is time to ease

This Canto, ere my Muse perceives fatigue. The next shall ring a peal to shake all people, Like a bob-major from a village steeple.


Hark! through the silence of the cold, dull night,

The hum of armies gathering rank on rank ! Lo! dusky masses steal in dubious sight

Along the leaguer'd wall and bristling bank Of the arm'd river, while with straggling light

The stars peep through the vapours dim and dank, Which curl in curious wreaths:-how soon the smoke Of Hell shall pall them in a deeper cloak!


Here pause we for the present

as even then That awful pause, dividing life from death, Struck for an instant on the hearts of men,

Thousands of whom were drawing their last breath! A moment- and all will be life again !

The march ! the charge! the shouts of either faith: Hurra! and Allah ! and one moment moreThe death-cry drowning in the battle's roar.

[blocks in formation]



(1) [This Canto is almost entirely filled with the taking of Ismail by storm. It would be absurd to attempt, in prose, even a feeble outline of the varied horrors which marked that celebrated scene of ruthless and indiscriminate carnage; the noble writer has depicted them with all that vivid and appalling fidelity, which, on such a theme, might be expected from his powerful muse; and, if any thing can add to the shuddering sensation we experience in reading these terrific details, it is the consideration, that poetry, in this instance, instead of dealing in fiction, must necessarily relate & tale that falls short of the truth. - CAMPBELL.]

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »