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Her long fair hair lay floating o'er his arms,
In all the wildness of dishevell'd charms;
Scarce beat that bosom where his image dwelt
So full-that feeling seem'd almost unfelt!
Hark-peals the thunder of the signal-gun!
It told 't was sunset- and he cursed that sun.
Again again that form he madly press'd,
Which mutely clasp'd, imploringly caress'd!
And tottering to the couch his bride he bore,
One moment gazed as if to gaze no more;
Felt that for him earth held but her alone,
Kiss'd her cold forehead-turn'd-is Conrad gone?
"And is he gone?"-on sudden solitude
How oft that fearful question will intrude!
"Twas but an instant past—and here he stood!
And now"-without the portal's porch she rush'd,
And then at length her tears in freedom gush'd;
Big-bright and fast, unknown to her they fell;
But still her lips refused to send "Farewell!"
For in that word — that fatal word - howe'er
We promise-hope-believe-there breathes despair.
O'er every feature of that still, pale face,
Had sorrow fix'd what time can ne'er erase :
The tender blue of that large loving eye
Grew frozen with its gaze on vacancy,
Till - Oh, how far!— it caught a glimpse of him,
And then it flow'd—and phrensied seem'd to swim,
Through those long, dark, and glistening lashes dew'd
With drops of sadness oft to be renew'd.
"He's gone!"—against her heart that hand is driven,
Convulsed and quick then gently raised to heaven;
She look'd and saw the heaving of the main;
The white sail set-she dared not look again;
But turn'd with sickening soul within the gate —
"It is no dream- and I am desolate!" 1
From crag to crag descending swiftly sped
Stern Conrad down, nor once he turn'd his head;
But shrunk whene'er the windings of his way
Forced on his eye what he would not survey,
His lone, but lovely dwelling on the steep,
That hail'd him first when homeward from the deep :
And she the dim and melancholy star,
Whose ray of beauty reach'd him from afar,
On her he must not gaze, he must not think,
There he might rest- but on Destruction's brink:
Yet once almost he stopp'd—and nearly gave
His fate to chance, his projects to the wave:
But no it must not be a worthy chief
May melt, but not betray to woman's grief.
He sees his bark, he notes how fair the wind,
And sternly gathers all his might of mind:
Again he hurries on and as he hears
The clang of tumult vibrate on his ears,
The busy sounds, the bustle of the shore,
The shout, the signal, and the dashing oar;
As marks his eye the seaboy on the mast,
The anchors rise, the sails unfurling fast,
The waving kerchiefs of the crowd that urge
That mute adieu to those who stem the surge;
And more than all, his blood-red flag aloft,
He marvell'd how his heart could seem so soft.
[We do not know any thing in poetry more beautiful or touching than this picture of their part'ng.- JEFFREY.]
Fire in his glance, and wildness in his breast,
He feels of all his former self possest;
He bounds he flies until his footsteps reach
The verge where ends the cliff, begins the beach,
There checks his speed; but pauses less to breathe
The breezy freshness of the deep beneath,
Than there his wonted statelier step renew;
Nor rush, disturb'd by haste, to vulgar view:
For well had Conrad learn'd to curb the crowd,
By arts that veil, and oft preserve the proud;
His was the lofty port, the distant mien,
That seems to shun the sight- and awes if seen:
The solemn aspect, and the high-born eye,
That checks low mirth, but lacks not courtesy ;
All these he wielded to command assent;
But where he wished to win, so well unbent,
That kindness cancell'd fear in those who heard,
And others' gifts show'd mean beside his word,
When echo'd to the heart as from his own
His deep yet tender melody of tone:
But such was foreign to his wonted mood,
He cared not what he soften'd, but subdued;
The evil passions of his youth had made
Him value less who loved-than what obey'd.
Around him mustering ranged his ready guard.
Before him Juan stands -" Are all prepared?"
They are-nay more - embark'd: the latest boat Waits but my chief
"My sword, and my capote."
Soon firmly girded on, and lightly slung,
His belt and cloak were o'er his shoulders flung:
"Call Pedro here!" He comes and Conrad bends,
With all the courtesy he deign'd his friends;
"Receive these tablets, and peruse with care,
Words of high trust and truth are graven there;
Double the guard, and when Anselmo's bark
Arrives, let him alike these orders mark:
In three days (serve the breeze) the sun shall shine
On our return- till then all peace be thine!"
This said, his brother Pirate's hand he wrung,
Then to his boat with haughty gesture sprung.
Flash'd the dipt oars, and sparkling with the stroke,
Around the waves' phosphoric 2 brightness broke;
They gain the vessel -on the deck he stands,
Shrieks the shrill whistle- - ply the busy hands-
He marks how well the ship her helm obeys,
How gallant all her crew and deigns to praise.
His eyes of pride to young Gonsalvo turn
Why doth he start, and inly seem to mourn?
Alas! those eyes beheld his rocky tower,
And live a moment o'er the parting hour;
She his Medora- did she mark the prow?
Ah! never loved he half so much as now!
But much must yet be done ere dawn of day -
Again he mans himself and turns away;
Down to the cabin with Gonsalvo bends,
And there unfolds his plan-his means-and ends:
Before them burns the lamp, and spreads the chart,
And all that speaks and aids the naval art;
They to the midnight watch protract debate;
To anxious eyes what hour is ever late?
Meantime, the steady breeze serenely blew,
And fast and falcon-like the vessel flew ;
2 By night, particularly in a warm latitude, every stroke of the oar, every motion of the boat or ship, is followed by a slight flash like sheet lightning from the water.
Pass'd the high headlands of each clustering isle,
To gain their port-long-long ere morning smile:
And soon the night-glass through the narrow bay
Discovers where the Pacha's galleys lay.
Count they each sail and mark how there supine
The lights in vain o'er heedless Moslem shine.
Secure, unnoted, Conrad's prow pass'd by,
And anchor'd where his ambush meant to lie!
Screen'd from espial by the jutting cape,
That rears on high its rude fantastic shape.
Then rose his band to duty — not from sleep -
Equipp'd for deeds alike on land or deep;
While lean'd their leader o'er the fretting flood,
And calmly talk'd — and yet he talk'd of blood!
"Conosceste i dubiosi desiri?"— DAnte.
IN Coron's bay floats many a galley light,
Through Coron's lattices the lamps are bright,
For Seyd, the Pacha, makes a feast to-night:
A feast for promised triumph yet to come,
When he shall drag the fetter'd Rovers home:
This hath he sworn by Alla and his sword,
And faithful to his firman and his word,
His summon'd prows collect along the coast,
And great the gathering crews, and loud the boast;
Already shared the captives and the prize,
Though far the distant foe they thus despise ;
'Tis but to sail - no doubt to-morrow's Sun
Will see the Pirates bound — their haven won!
Meantime the watch may slumber, if they will,
Nor only wake to war, but dreaming kill.
Though all, who can, disperse on shore and seek
To flesh their glowing valour on the Greek;
How well such deed becomes the turban'd brave
To bare the sabre's edge before a slave!
Infest his dwelling- but forbear to slay,
Their arms are strong, yet merciful to-day,
And do not deign to smite because they may !
Unless some gay caprice suggests the blow,
To keep in practice for the coming foe.
Revel and rout the evening hours beguile,
And they who wish to wear a head must smile;
For Moslem mouths produce their choicest cheer,
And hoard their curses, till the coast is clear.
Though to the rest the sober berry's juice, 1
The slaves bear round for rigid Moslems' use;
The long chibouque's 2 dissolving cloud supply,
While dance the Almas to wild minstrelsy.
The rising morn will view the chiefs embark;
But waves are somewhat treacherous in the dark:
And revellers may more securely sleep
On silken couch than o'er the rugged deep;
Feast there who can - nor combat till they must,
And less to conquest than to Korans trust;
And yet the numbers crowded in his host
Might warrant more than even the Pacha's boast.
With cautious reverence from the outer gate,
Slow stalks the slave, whose office there to wait,
Bows his bent head- his hand salutes the floor,
Ere yet his tongue the trusted tidings bore:
"A captive Dervise, from the pirate's nest
Escaped, is here -himself would tell the rest."+
He took the sign from Seyd's assenting eye,
And led the holy man in silence nigh.
His arms were folded on his dark-green vest,
His step was feeble, and his look deprest;
Yet worn he seem'd of hardship more than years,
And pale his cheek with penance, not from fears.
Vow'd to his God - his sable locks he wore,
And these his lofty cap rose proudly o'er :
Around his form his loose long robe was thrown,
And wrapt a breast bestow'd on heaven alone;
Submissive, yet with self-possession mann'd,
He calmly met the curious eyes that scann'd;
And question of his coming fain would seek,
Before the Pacha's will allow'd to speak.
"Thy capture where and when?" "From Scalanovo's port to Scio's isle,
The Saick was bound; but Alla did not smile
Upon our course the Moslem merchant's gains
The Rovers won our limbs have worn their chains.
I had no death to fear, nor wealth to boast,
Beyond the wandering freedom which I lost;
At length a fisher's humble boat by night
Afforded hope, and offer'd chance of flight;
I seized the hour, and find my safety here
With thee-most mighty Pacha! who can fear?
"How speed the outlaws? stand they well prepared,
Their plunder'd wealth, and robber's rock, to guard?
Dream they of this our preparation, doom'd
To view with fire their scorpion nest consumed ?"
"Pacha! the fetter'd captive's mourning eye,
That weeps for flight, but ill can play the spy;
I only heard the reckless waters roar,
Those waves that would not bear me from the shore;
I only mark'd the glorious sun and sky,
Too bright-too blue for my captivity;
own ambassador; and Genseric was afterwards mortified by the discovery, that he had entertained and dismissed the Emperor of the Romans. Such an anecdote may be rejected as an improbable fiction; but it is a fiction which would not have been imagined unless in the life of a hero." See Gibbon's Decline and Fall, vol. vi. p. 180.
And felt that all which Freedom's bosom cheers,
Must break my chain before it dried my tears.
This may'st thou judge, at least, from my escape,
They little deem of aught in peril's shape;
Else vainly had I pray'd or sought the chance
That leads me here - if eyed with vigilance :
The careless guard that did not see me fly,
May watch as idly when thy power is nigh.
Pacha! - my limbs are faint — and nature craves
Food for my hunger, rest from tossing waves:
Permit my absence peace be with thee! Peace
With all around!-now grant repose -release.
"Stay, Dervise! I have more to question — stay,
I do command thee - sit-dost hear?-obey!
More I must ask, and food the slaves shall bring :
Thou shalt not pine where all are banqueting :
The supper done- - prepare thee to reply,
Clearly and full-I love not mystery."
'T were vain to guess what shook the pious man,
Who look'd not lovingly on that Divan;
Nor show'd high relish for the banquet prest,
And less respect for every fellow guest.
'Twas but a moment's peevish hectic past
Along his cheek, and tranquillised as fast:
He sate him down in silence, and his look
Resumed the calmness which before forsook :
The feast was usher'd in- but sumptuous fare
He shunn'd as if some poison mingled there.
For one so long condemn'd to toil and fast,
Methinks he strangely spares the rich repast.
"Salt seasons dainties—and my food is still
The humblest root, my drink the simplest rill;
And my stern vow and order's laws oppose
To break or mingle bread with friends or foes;
It may seem strange if there be aught to dread,
That peril rests upon my single head;
But for thy sway
nay more thy Sultan's throne,
I taste nor bread nor banquet -save alone;
Infringed our order's rule, the Prophet's rage
To Mecca's dome might bar my pilgrimage."
"Well as thou wilt-
ascetic as thou art-
One question answer; then in peace depart.
How many? -
Ha! it cannot sure be day?
What star- - what sun is bursting on the bay?
It shines a lake of fire!-away - away!
Ho! treachery! my guards! my scimitar!
The galleys feed the flames and I afar!
Accursed Dervise! these thy tidings — thou
Some villain spy- seize - cleave him-slay him
Up rose the Dervise with that burst of light, Nor less his change of form appall'd the sight: Up rose that Dervise- not in saintly garb, But like a warrior bounding on his barb,
1 The Dervises are in colleges, and of different orders, as the monks. 2 "Zatanai," Satan.
1 A common and not very novel effect of Mussulman anger.
Dash'd his high cap, and tore his robe away —
Shone his mail'd breast, and flash'd his sabre's ray!
His close but glittering casque, and sable plume,
More glittering eye, and black brow's sabler gloom,
Glared on the Moslems' eyes some Afrit sprite,
Whose demon death-blow left no hope for fight.
The wild confusion, and the swarthy glow
Of flames on high, and torches from below;
The shriek of terror, and the mingling yell-
For swords began to clash, and shouts to swell
Flung o'er that spot of earth the air of hell!
Distracted, to and fro, the flying slaves
Behold but bloody shore and fiery waves;
Nought heeded they the Pacha's angry cry,
They seize that Dervise! seize on Zatanai ! ?
He saw their terror-check'd the first despair
That urged him but to stand and perish there,
Since far too early and too well obey'd,
The flame was kindled ere the signal made;
He saw their terror- from his baldric drew
brief the blast but shrilly blew;
'Tis answer'd-"Well ye speed, my gallant crew!
Why did I doubt their quickness of career?
And deem design had left me single here?"
Sweeps his long arm that sabre's whirling sway
Sheds fast atonement for its first delay;
Completes his fury what their fear begun,
And makes the many basely quail to one.
The cloven turbans o'er the chamber spread,
And scarce an arm dare rise to guard its head:
Even Seyd, convulsed, o'erwhelm'd, with rage, sur-
Retreats before him, though he still defies.
No craven he—and yet he dreads the blow,
So much Confusion magnifies his foe!
His blazing galleys still distract his sight,
He tore his beard, and foaming fled the fight; 3
For now the pirates pass'd the Haram gate,
And burst within- and it were death to wait;
Where wild Amazement shrieking - kneeling -
The sword aside — in vain the blood o'erflows!
The Corsairs pouring, haste to where within,
Invited Conrad's bugle, and the din
Of groaning victims, and wild cries for life,
Proclaim'd how well he did the work of strife.
They shout to find him grim and lonely there,
A glutted tiger mangling in his lair!
But short their greeting-shorter his reply -
""Tis well-but Seyd escapes and he must die
Much hath been done but more remains to do-
Their galleys blaze - why not their city too ?"
Quick at the word—they seized him each a torch,
And fire the dome from minaret to porch.
A stern delight was fix'd in Conrad's eyt,
But sudden sunk for on his ear the cry
Of women struck, and like a deadly knell
Knock'd at that heart unmoved by battle's yell.
"Oh! burst the Haram wrong rot on your lives
One female form remember - we have wives.
On them such outrage Vengeance will repay;
Man is our foe, and such 'tis ours to slay :
But still we spared - must spare the weaker prey.
See Prince Eugene's Memoirs, page 24. "The Seraskier received a wound in the thigh; he plucked up his beard by the roots, because he was obliged to quit the field." H
Oh! I forgot but Heaven will not forgive
If at my word the helpless cease to live:
Follow who will — I go - - we yet have time
Our souls to lighten of at least a crime."
He climbs the crackling stair—he bursts the door,
Nor feels his feet glow scorching with the floor;
His breath choked gasping with the volumed smoke,
But still from room to room his way he broke.
They search—they find - they save: with lusty arms
Each bears a prize of unregarded charms;
Calm their loud fears; sustain their sinking frames
With all the care defenceless beauty claims:
So well could Conrad tame their fiercest mood,
And check the very hands with gore imbrued.
But who is she? whom Conrad's arms convey
From reeking pile and combat's wreck-away—
Who but the love of him he dooms to bleed?
The Haram queen but still the slave of Seyd!
Brief time had Conrad now to greet Gulnare, 1
Few words to re-assure the trembling fair;
For in that pause compassion snatch'd from war,
The foe before retiring, fast and far,
With wonder saw their footsteps unpursued,
First slowlier filed - then rallied then withstood.
This Seyd perceives, then first perceives how few,
Compared with his, the Corsair's roving crew,
And blushes o'er his error, as he eyes
The ruin wrought by panic and surprise.
Alla il Alla! Vengeance swells the cry—
Shame mounts to rage that must atone or die!
And flame for flame and blood for blood must tell,
The tide of triumph ebbs that flow'd too well
When wrath returns to renovated strife,
And those who fought for conquest strike for life.
Conrad beheld the danger -he beheld
His followers faint by freshening foes repell'd:
"One effort - one to break the circling host!"
They form unite - charge waverall is lost!
Within a narrower ring compress'd, beset,
Hopeless, not heartless, strive and struggle yet -
Ah! now they fight in firmest file no more,
Hemm'd in-cut off- cleft down -and trampled
But each strikes singly, silently, and home,
And sinks outwearied rather than o'ercome,
His last faint quittance rendering with his breath,
Till the blade glimmers in the grasp of death!
But first, ere came the rallying host to blows,
And rank to rank, and hand to hand oppose,
Gulnare and all her Haram handmaids freed,
Safe in the dome of one who held their creed,
By Conrad's mandate safely were bestow'd,
And dried those tears for life and fame that flow'd:
And when that dark-eyed lady, young Gulnare,
Recall'd those thoughts late wandering in despair,
Much did she marvel o'er the courtesy
That smooth'd his accents; soften'd in his eye:
"T was strange that robber thus with gore bedew'd,
Seem'd gentler then than Seyd in fondest mood.
The Pacha woo'd as if he deem'd the slave
Must seem delighted with the heart he gave ;
1 Gulnare, a female name; it means, literally, the flower of the pomegranate.
And him she saw, where thickest carnage spread,
But gather'd breathing from the happier dead;
Far from his band, and battling with a host
That deem right dearly won the field he lost,
Fell'd bleeding -- baffled of the death he sought,
And snatch'd to expiate all the ills he wrought;
Preserved to linger and to live in vain,
While Vengeance ponder'd o'er new plans of pain,
And stanch'd the blood she saves to shed again —
But drop for drop, for Seyd's unglutted eye
Would doom him ever dying — ne'er to die!
Can this be he? triumphant late she saw,
When his red hand's wild gesture waved, a law !
'Tis he indeed disarm'd but undeprest,
His sole regret the life he still possest;
His wounds too slight, though taken with that will, Which would have kiss'd the hand that then could
Oh were there none, of all the many given,
To send his soul- he scarcely ask'd to heaven ?
Must he alone of all retain his breath,
Who more than all had striven and struck for death?
He deeply felt - what mortal hearts must feel,
When thus reversed on faithless fortune's wheel,
For crimes committed, and the victor's threat
Of lingering tortures to repay the debt-
He deeply, darkly felt; but evil pride
That led to perpetrate - now serves to hide.
Still in his stern and self-collected mien
A conqueror's more than captive's air is seen,
Though faint with wasting toil and stiffening wound,
But few that saw so calmly gazed around:
Though the far shouting of the distant crowd,
Their tremors o'er, rose insolently loud,
The better warriors who beheld him near,
Insulted not the foe who taught them fear;
And the grim guards that to his durance led,
In silence eyed him with a secret dread.
The Leech was sent - but not in mercy-there,
To note how much the life yet left could bear;
He found enough to load with heaviest chain,
And promise feeling for the wrench of pain:
To-morrow-yea- to-morrow's evening sun
Will sinking see impalement's pangs begun,
And rising with the wonted blush of morn
Behold how well or ill those pangs are borne.
Of torments this the longest and the worst,
Which adds all other agony to thirst,
That day by day death still forbears to slake,
While famish'd vultures flit around the stake.
"Oh! water-water!"— smiling Hate denies
The victim's prayer for if he drinks- he dies.
This was his doom: the Leech, the guard, were
And left proud Conrad fetter'd and alone.
'T were vain to paint to what his feelings grew-
It even were doubtful if their victim knew.
There is a war, a chaos of the mind,
When all its elements convulsed-combined
Lie dark and jarring with perturbed force,
And gnashing with impenitent Remorse;
That juggling fiend - who never spake before
But cries "I warn'd thee!" when the deed is o'er.
Vain voice the spirit burning but unbent,
May writhe - rebel the weak alone repent!
Even in that lonely hour when most it feels,
And, to itself, all-all that self reveals,
No single passion, and no ruling thought
That leaves the rest as once unseen, unsought;
But the wild prospect when the soul reviews -
All rushing through their thousand avenues,
Ambition's dreams expiring, love's regret,
Endanger'd glory, life itself beset;
The joy untasted, the contempt or hate
'Gainst those who fain would triumph in our fate;
The hopeless past, the hasting future driven
Too quickly on to guess if hell or heaven;
Deeds, thoughts, and words, perhaps remember'd not
So keenly till that hour, but ne'er forgot;
Things light or lovely in their acted time,
But now to stern reflection each a crime;
The withering sense of evil unreveal'd,
Not cankering less because the more conceal'd.
All, in a word, from which all eyes must start,
That opening sepulchre - the naked heart
Bares with its buried woes, till Pride awake,
To snatch the mirror from the soul and break.
Ay-Pride can veil, and Courage brave it all,
All-all- before - beyond the deadliest fall.
Each has some fear, and he who least betrays,
The only hypocrite deserving praise :
Not the loud recreant wretch who boasts and flics;
But he who looks on death- and silent dies.
So steel'd by pondering o'er his far career,
He half-way meets him should he menace near !
In the high chamber of his highest tower
Sate Conrad, fetter'd in the Pacha's power.
His palace perish'd in the flame this fort
Contain'd at once his captive and his court.
Not much could Conrad of his sentence blame,
His foe, if vanquish'd, had but shared the same:
Alone be sate-in solitude had scann'd
His guilty bosom, but that breast he mann'd:
One thought alone he could not-dared not meet-
Oh, how these tidings will Medora greet?
Then-only then his clanking hands he raised,
And strain'd with rage the chain on which he gazed :
But soon he found -
- or feign'd-or dream'd relief,
And smiled in self-derision of his grief,
"And now come torture when it will or may
More need of rest to nerve me for the day!"
This said, with languor to his mat he crept,
And, whatsoe'er his visions, quickly slept.
'Twas hardly midnight when that fray begun,
For Conrad's plans matured, at once were done :
And Havoc loathes so much the waste of time,
She scarce had left an uncommitted crime.
One hour beheld him since the tide he stemm'd
Disguised discover'd - conquering — ta'en-con-
Of that closed eye, which opens but to pain,
And once unclosed - but once may close again.
That form, with eye so dark, and cheek so fair,
And auburn waves of gemm'd and braided hair;
With shape of fairy lightness naked foot,
That shines like snow, and falls on earth as mute-
Through guards and dunnest night how came it there?
Ah! rather ask what will not woman dare?
Whom youth and pity lead like thee, Gulnare!
She could not sleep and while the Pacha's rest
In muttering dreams yet saw his pirate-guest,
She left his side his signet-ring she bore,
Which oft in sport adorn'd her hand before
And with it, scarcely question'd, won her way
Through drowsy guards that must that sign obey.
Worn out with toil, and tired with changing blows,
Their eyes had envied Conrad his repose;
And chill and nodding at the turret door,
They stretch their listless limbs, and watch no more:
Just raised their heads to hail the signet-ring,
Nor ask or what or who the sign may bring.