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Each motion's gentle; all is kindly doneCome listen how from crime this isle was won.
CCCXI. LORD BYRON, 1783-1824
1. THE PRISONER.
There are seven pillars of Gothic mould
In Chillon's dungeons deep and old,
There are seven columns, massy and
Dim with a dull imprison'd ray,
A sunbeam which hath lost its way,
And through the crevice and the cleft
Of the thick wall is fallen and left;
Creeping o'er the floor so damp,
Like a marsh's meteor lamp:
And in each -pillar there is a ring,
And in each ring there is a chain;
That iron is a cankering thing,
For in these limbs its teeth remain,
With marks that will not wear away,
Till I have done with this new day,
Which now is painful to these eyes,
Which have not seen the sun to rise
For years—I cannot count them o'er,
I lost their long and heavy score
When my last brother droop'd and died,
And I lay living by his side.
They chain'd us each to a column stone,
And we were three--yet, each alone :
We could not move a single pace,
We could not see each other's face
But with that pale and livid light
That made us strangers in our sight;
And thus together--yet apart,
Fetter'd in hand, but pined in heart ;
'Twas still some solace, in the dearth
Of the pure elements of earth,
To nearken to each other's speech,
And each turn comforter to each
With some new hope, or legend old,
Or song heroically bold;
But even these at length grew cold.
Our voices took a dreary tone,
An echo of the dungeon stone,
A grating sound--not full and free
As they of yore were wont to be:
It might be fancy—but to me
They never sounded like our own.
It might be months, or years, or days,
I kept no count-I took no note,
I had no hope my eyes to raise,
And clear them of their dreary mote; At last men came to set me free,
I ask'd not why, and reck'd not where, was at length the same to me, Fetter'd or fetterless to be,
I learn’d to love despair.
And thus when they appear'd at last,
And all my bonds aside were cast,
These heavy walls to me had grown
A hermitage--and all my own!
And half I felt as they were come
To tear me from a second home.
With spiders I had friendship made,
And watch'd them in their sullen trade,
Had seen the mice by moonlight play,
And why should I feel less than they ?
We were all inmates of one place,
And I, the monarch of each race,
Had power to kill-yet, strange to teil!
In quiet we had learn'd to dwell-
My very chains and I grew friends,
So much a long communion tends
To make us what we are :-e'en I
Regain’d my freedom with a sigh.
2. BATTLE OF PULTOWA. 'Twas after dread Pultowa's day,
When fortune left the royal Swede, Around a slaughter'd army lay,
No more to combat and to bleed.
and glory of the war, Faithless as their vain votaries, man, Had pass'd to the triumphant czar,
And Moscow's walls were safe again, Until a day inore dark and drear, And a more memorable year, Should give to slaughter and to shame A mightier host and haughtier name; A greater wreck, a deeper fall, A shock to one-a thunderbolt to all. Such was the hazard of the die; The wounded Charles was taught to fly By day and night through field and flood, Stain'd with his own and subjects' blood; For thousands fell that flight to aid : And not a voice was heard t' upbraid Ambition in his humbled hour, When truth had nought to dread from power. His horse was slain, and Gieta gave His own-and died the Russians' slave. This too sinks after many a league Of well sustain’d, but vain fatigue; And in the depth of forests, darkling The watch-fires in the distance sparklingThe beacons of surrounding foes
A king must lay his limbs at length. Are these the laurels and repose
For which the nations strain their strength ? They laid him by a savage tree, In outworn nature's agony ; His wounds were stiff-his limbs were stark The heavy hour was chill and dark ; The fever in his blood forbade A transient slumber's fitful aid : And thus it was; and yet through all Kinglike the monarch bore his fall, And made, in this extreme of ill, His pangs the vassals of his will All silent and subdued were they, As once the nations round him lay.
3. BATTLE OF TALAVERA. Hark!-heard
not those hoofs of dreadiul note ? Sounds not the clang of conflict on the heath ? Saw ye not whom the reeking sabre smote ; Nor saved your brethren ere they sank beneath Tyrants and tyrants' slaves ?—the fires of death, The bale-fires flash on high :—from rock to rock Each volley tells that thousands cease to breathe;
Death rides upon the sulphury Siroc,
Red Battle stamps his foot, and nations feel the shock.
Lo! where the giant on the mountain stands,
His blood-red tresses deep’ning in the sun,
With death-shot glowing in his fiery hands,
that scorcheth all it glares upon;
Restless it rolls, now fix'd, and now anon
Flashing afar,--and at his iron feet
Destruction cowers to mark what deeds are done,
For on this morn three potent nations meet,
To shed before his shrine the blood he deeins most sweet.
By Heaven! it is a splendid sight to see
(For one who hath no friend, no brother there)
Their rival scarfs of mix'd embroidery,
Their various arms that glitter in the air !
What gallant war-hounds rouse them from their lair,
And gnash their fangs, loud yelling for the prey :
: All join the chase, but few the triumph share;
The grave shall bear the chiefest prize away,
And Havoc scarce for joy can number their array.
Three hosts combine to offer sacrifice;
Three tongues prefer strange orisons on high ;
Three gaudy standards flout the pale blue skies
The shouts are France, Spain, Albion, Victory !
The foe, the victim, and the fond ally
That fights for all, but ever fights in vain,
Are met—as if at home they could not die-
To feed the crow on Talavera's plain,
And fertilize the field that each pretends to gain.
4. BATTLE OF WATERLOO. There was a sound of revelry by night, And Belgium's capital had gather'd then
Her beauty and her chivalry, and bright
The lamps shone o'er fair women and brave men;
A thousand hearts beat happily ; and when
Music arose with its voluptuous swell,
Soft eyes look'd love to eyes which spake again,
And all went merry as a marriage bell ;
But hush ! hark! a deep sound strikes like a rising knell !
Did ye not hear it ?-No ; 'twas but the wind,
Or tho car rattling o'er the stony street :
On with the dance! let joy be unconfined :
No sleep till morn, when Youth and Pleasure meet
To chase the glowing hours with flying feet-
But, hark !—that heavy sound breaks in once more,
As if the clouds its echo would repeat;
And nearer, clearer, deadlier than before !
Arm! arm ! it is—it is—the cannon's opening roar!
Within a window'd niche of that high hall
Sate Brunswick' fated chieftain ; he did hear
That sound the first amidst the festival,
And caught its tone with Death's prophetic ear;
And when they smiled because he deem'd it near,
His heart more truly knew that peal too well
Which stretch'd his father on a bloody bier,
And roused the vengeance blood alone can quell:
He rush'd into the field, and, foremost fighting, fell.
Ah! then and there was hurrying to and fro,
And gathering tears, and tremblings of distress,
And cheeks all pale, which but an hour ago
Blush'd at the praise of their own loveliness;
And there were sudden partings, such as press
The life from out young hearts, and choking sighs
Which ne'er might be repeated ; who could guess
If ever more should meet those mutual eyes,
Since upon night so sweet such awful morn could rise !
And there was mounting in hot haste : the steed,
The mustering squadron, and the clattering car,
Went pouring forward with impetuous speed,
And swiftly forming in the ranks of war;
And the deep thunder peal on peal afar;