Page images
PDF

The greatest danger here was from a shark,

That carried off his neighbor by the thigh;
As for the other two, they could not swim,
So nobody arrived on shore but him.

CVII.
Nor yet had he arrived but for the oar,

Which, providentially for him, was wash'd
Just as his feeble arms could strike no more,

And the hard wave o'erwhelm'd him as 'twas dash'd Within his grasp : he clung to it, and sore

The waters beat while he thereto was lash'd ; At last, with swimming, wading, scrambling, he Roll'd on the beach, half-senseless, from the sea.

CVIII.
There, breathless, with his digging nails he clung

Fast to the sand, lest the returning wave,
From whose reluctant roar his life he wrung,

Should suck him back to her insatiate grave :
And there he lay full length, where he was flung,

Before the entrance of a cliff-worn cave,
With just enough of life to feel its pain,
And deem that it was saved, perhaps, in vain.

[ocr errors]

With slow and staggering effort he'arose,

But sunk again upon his bleeding knee And quivering hand : and then he look'd for those

Who long had been his mates upon the sea ; But none of them appear'd to share his woes,

Save one, a corpse, from out the famish'd three, Who died two days before, and now had found An unknown barren beach for burial ground,

• cx. And as he gazed, his dizzy brain spun fast,

And down he sunk; and as he sunk, the sand Swam round and round, and all his senses pass'd :

He fell upon his side, and his stretch'd hand Droop'd dripping on the oar (their jury-mast);

And, like a wither'd lily, on the land
His slender frame and pallid aspect lay,
As fair a thing as e'er was form’d of clay.

CXI.
How long in his damp trance young Juan lay

He knew not, for the earth was gone for him,
And Time had nothing more of night nor day

For his congealing blood and senses dim: And how this heavy faintness pass'd away

He knew not, till each painful pulse and limb, And tingling vein, seem'd throbbing back to life, For Death, though vanquish'd, still retired with strife.

* *

DON JUAN : THE ISLES OF GREECE

FROM CANTO III.

LXXXV.
Thus usually when he was ask'd to sing,

He gave the different nations something national; 'Twas all the same to him—“God, save the king,”

*Or Ça ira,” according to the fashion all : His muse made increment of anything,

From the high lyric down to the low rational : If Pindar sang horse-races, what should hinder Himself from being as pliable as Pindar?

LXXXVI.
In France, for instance, he would write a chanson;

In England, a six-canto quarto tale;

In Spain, he'd make a ballad or romance on

The last war-much the same in Portugal; In Germany, the Pegasus he'd prance on

Would be old Goethe's—(see what says De Staël); In Italy, he'd ape the “ Trecentisti”; In Greece he'd sing some sort of hymn like this t'ye:

The isles of Greece! the isles of Greece!

Where burning Sappho loved and sung,
Where grew the arts of war and peace,

Where Delos rose and Phoebus sprung!
Eternal summer gilds them yet,
But all, except their sun, is set.

The Scian and the Teian muse,

The hero's harp, the lover's lute,
Have found the fame your shores refuse;

Their place of birth alone is mute
To sounds which echo further west
Than your sires' “ Islands of the Blest.”

The mountains look on Marathon

And Marathon looks on the sea;
And musing there an hour alone,

I dream'd that Greece might still be free;
For, standing on the Persians' grave,
I could not deem myself a slave.

4.

· A king sate on the rocky brow

Which looks o'er sea-born Salamis;
And ships, by thousands, lay below, .

And men in nations ;- all were his !
He counted them at break of day-
And when the sun set where were they?

5. And where are they? and where art thou,

My country? On thy voiceless shore The heroic lay is tuneless now

The heroic bosom beats no more ! And must thy lyre, so long divine, Degenerate into hands like mine?

6. 'Tis something, in the dearth of fame,

Though link'd among a fetter'd race,
To feel at least a patriot's shame,

Even as I sing, suffuse my face :
For what is left the poet here?
For Greeks a blush-for Greece a tear.

Must we but weep o'er days more blest ?

Must we but blush ?-Our fathers bled. Earth! render back from out thy breast

A remnant of our Spartan dead ! Of the three hundred grant but three, To make a new Thermopylæ !

8. What, silent still ? and silent all ?

Ah, no ;--the voices of the dead Sound like a distant torrent's fall,

And answer, “Let one living head, But one, arise—we come, we come!” 'Tis but the living who are dumb.

9. In vain--in vain : strike other chords.

Fill high the cup with Samian wine! Leave battles to the Turkish hordes,

And shed the blood of Scio's vine! Hark! rising to the ignoble call, How answers each bold Bacchanal !

10. You have the Pyrrhic dance as yet,

Where is the Pyrrhic phalanx gone ? Of two such lessons, why forget

The nobler and the manlier one?
You have the letters Cadmus gave-
Think ye he meant them for a slave ?

II.
Fill high the bowl with Samian wine !

We will not think of themes like these! It made Anacreon's song divine :

He served-but served Polycrates-
A tyrant: but our masters then
Were still, at least, our countrymen.

12. The tyrant of the Chersonese

Was freedom's best and bravest friend ; That tyrant was Miltiades !

Oh, that the present hour would lend Another despot of the kind ! Such chains as his were sure to bind.

13. Fill high the bowl with Samian wine !

On Suli's rock, and Parga's shore, Exists the remnant of a line

Such as the Doric mothers bore : And there, perhaps, some seed is sown, The Heracleidan blood might own.

14. Trust not for freedom to the Franks

They have a king who buys and sells : In native swords and native ranks,

The only hope of courage dwells ; But Turkish force and Latin fraud Would break your shield, however broad.

« PreviousContinue »