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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 splendor 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.
O'er vales that teem with fruits, romantic hills, (Oh, that such hills upheld a free-born race!) Whereon to gaze the eye with joyaunce fills, Childe Harold wends through many a pleasant place. Though sluggards deem it but a foolish chase, 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 trader 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 e'er 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,
But ere the mingling bounds have far been pass'd Dark Guadiana rolls his power along In sullen billows, murmuring and vast, So noted ancient roundelays among. Whilome upon his banks did legions throng Of Moor and Knight, in mailed splendor 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 called the band That dyed thy mountain-streams with Gothic gore? Where are those bloody banners which of yore Waved o'er thy sons, victorious to the gale, And drove at last the spoilers to their shore? Red gleam'd the cross, and waned the crescent pale, While Afric's echoes thrill'd with Moorish matrons' 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 heaven 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, When Flattery sleeps with thee, and History does thee wrong?
Awake, ye sons of Spain! awake! advance!
Hark! heard you not those hoofs of dreadful 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 deepening in the sun, With death-shot glowing in his fiery hands, And eye 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 deems 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;
There shall they rot—Ambition's honour'd fools! Yes, Honour decks the turf that wraps their clay! Vain Sophistry! in these behold the tools, The broken tools, that tyrants cast away By myriads, when they dare to pave their way With human hearts—to what ?—a dream alone. Can despots compass aught that hails their sway? Or call with truth one span of earth their own, Save that wherein at last they crumble bone by bone?
O Albuera, glorious field of grief! As o'er thy plain the Pilgrim prick'd his steed, Who could foresee thee, in a space so brief, A scene where mingling foes should boast and bleed? Peace to the perish'd! may the warrior's meed And tears of triumph their reward prolong! Till others fall where other chieftains lead, Thy name shall circle round the gaping throng, And shine in worthless lays, the theme of transient song.