Page images
PDF
EPUB

He, meanwhile, downward, with a sullen fall, Dropp'd on the echoing ice. Instant the sound

Of their broad vans was hush’d, and o'er the hall, Vast and obscure, the gloomy cohorts bound, Till, wedged in ranks, the seat of Satan they surround. High on a solium of the solid wave,

Prank'd with rude shapes by the fantastic frost, He stood in silence ;-now keen thoughts engrave

Dark figures on his front; and, tempest-toss'd,

He fears to say that every hope is lost. Meanwhile the multitude as death are mute :

So, ere the tempest on Malacca's coast, Sweet Quiet, gently touching her soft lute, Sings to the whispering waves the prelude to dispute. At length collected, o'er the dark divan

The arch-fiend glanced, as by the Boreal blaze Their downcast brows were seen, and thus began

His fierce harangue :-Spirits ! our better days

Are now elasped; Moloch and Belial's praise
Shall sound no more in groves by myriads trod.

Lo! the light breaks !—The astonished nations

gaze!

For us is lifted high the avenging rod!
For, spirits, this is He,—this is the Son of God!'
What then !--shall Satan's spirit crouch to fear ?

Shall he who shook the pillars of God's reign
Drop from his unnerved arm the hostile spear?

Madness! The very thought would make me fain

To tear the spanglets from yon gaudy plain,
And hurl them at their Maker! Fix'd as fate

I am his foe!-Yea, though his pride should deign
To soothe mine ire with half his regal state,
Still would I burn with fix'd, unalterable hate.

Now hear the issue of my curs'd emprise,

When from our last sad synod I took flight, Buoy'd with false hopes, in some deep-laid disguise,

To tempt this vaunted Holy One to write

His own self-condemnation ; in the plight Of aged man in the lone wilderness,

Gathering a few stray sticks, I met his sight, And leaning on my staff, seem'd much to guess What cause could mortal bring to that forlorn recess. Then thus in homely guise I featly framed

My lowly speech:— Good Sir, what leads this way Your wandering steps? must hapless chance be

blamed
That you so far from haunt of mortals stray?

Here have I dwelt for many a lingering day,
Nor trace of man have seen. But how ! methought

Thou wert the youth on whom God's holy ray I saw descend in Jordan, when John taught That he to fallen man the saving promise brought?

• I am that man,' said Jesus; ') am He!

But truce to questions-Canst thou point my feet To some low hut, if haply such there be

In this wild labyrinth, where I may meet

With homely greeting, and may sit and eat?
For forty days I have tarried fasting here,

Hid in the dark glens of this lone retreat,
And now I hunger; and my fainting ear [near.'
Longs much to greet the sound of fountains gushing
Then thus I answer'd wily :-' If, indeed,

Son of our God thou be'st, what need to seek
For food from men ?-Lo! on these fint stones feed,

Bid them be bread! Open thy lips and speak,

And living rills from yon parch'd rock will break.' Instant as I had spoke, his piercing eye Fix'd on my face ;—the blood forsook

my cheek, I could not bear his gaze ;—my mask slipp'd by ; I would have shunn’d his look, but had not power to fly. Then he rebuked me with the holy word

Accursed sounds ! But now my native pride Return'd, and by no foolish qualm deterr'd,

I bore him from the mountain's woody side,

Up to the summit, where extending wide Kingdoms and cities, palaces and fanes,

Bright sparkling in the sunbeams, were descried, And in gay dance, amid luxuriant plains, Tripp'd to the jocund reed the emasculated swains. • Behold,' I cried,' these glories ! scenes divine !

Thou whose sad prime in pining want decays; And these, O rapture! these shall all be thine,

If thou wilt give to me, not God, the praise.

Hath he not given to indigence thy days? Is not thy portion peril here and pain?

Oh ! leave his temples, shun his wounding ways, Seize the tiara! these mean weeds disdain ; Kneel, kneel, thou man of woe, and peace and splen

dour gain.' • Is it not written,' sternly he replied,

• Tempt not the Lord thy God! Frowning he And instant sounds, as of the ocean tide, [spake,

Rose, and the whirlwind from its prison brake,

And caught me up aloft, till in one flake,
The sidelong volley met my swift career, [quake

And smote me earthward.--Jove himself might At such a fall; my sinews crack'd, and near, Obscure and dizzy sounds seem'd ringing in mine ear.

Senseless and stunn'd I lay; till, casting round

My half unconscious gaze, I saw the foe Borne on a car of roses to the ground,

By volant angels ; and as sailing slow

He sunk the hoary battlement below,
While on the tall spire slept the slant sunbeam,

Sweet on the enamour'd zephyr was the flow
Of heavenly instruments. Such strains oft seem,
On star-light hill, to soothe the Syrian shepherd's

dream.

I saw blaspheming. Hate renew'd my strength;

I smote the ether with my iron wing,
And left the accursed scene.- -Arrived at length

In these drear halls, to ye, my peers! I bring

The tidings of defeat. Hell's haughty king Thrice vanquish’d, baffled, smitten, and dismay’d!

O shame! Is this the hero who could fling Defiance at his Maker, while array’d, High o'er the walls of light rebellion's banners play'd ! Yet shall not Heaven's bland minions triumph long;

Hell yet shall have revenge.- glorious sight, Prophetic visions on my fancy throng,

I see wild Agony's lean finger write

Sad figures on his forehead !-Keenly bright
Revenge's flambeau burns ! Now in his eyes

Stand the hot tears,-immantled in the night,
Lo! he retires to mourn!—I hear his cries !
He faints—he falls-and lo!-'tis true, ye powers, he

dies.

Thus spake the chieftain,-and, as if he view'd

The scene he pictured, with his foot advanced
And chest inflated, motionless he stood,

While under his uplifted shield he glanced,

With straining eye-ball fix'd, like one entranced, On viewless air ;-thither the dark platoon (danced

Gazed wondering, nothing seen, save when there The northern flash, or fiend late fled from noon, Darken’d the disk of the descending moon, Silence crept stilly through the ranks—The breeze

Spake most distinctly. As the sailor stands, When all the midnight gasping from the seas

Break boding sobs, and to his sight expands

High on the shrouds the spirit that commands The ocean-farer's life; so stiff-so sear Stood each dark power ;-while through their nu

merous bands Beat not one heart, and mingling hope and fear Now told them all was lost, now bade revenge appear. One there was there, whose loud defying tongue

Nor hope nor fear had silenced, but the swell Of over-boiling malice. Utterance long

His passion mock'd, and long he strove to tell

His labouring ire; still syllable none fell
From his pale quivering lip, but died away
For very fury; from each hollow cell

his
eyes,

that cast a flamy ray, And *This comes,' at length burst from the furious chief,

"This comes of distant counsels! Here behold The fruits of wily cunning! the relief

Which coward policy would fain unfold,

To soothe the powers that warr’d with Heaven of O wise! O potent! O sagacious snare!

[old! And lo! our prince--the mighty and the bold, There stands he, spell-struck, gaping at the air, While Heaven subverts his reign, and plants her

standard there.'

Half sprang

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »