Page images

As he spoke, on his lip there gathered the foam,
And his voice, from a breath, to its height had clombe,
And the blood swelled forth in each corded vein,
And the drops of his agony fell like rain.

But still as a calm on a lowering sea,
When the quiet is cradled appallingly,
The Twins knelt down in the midmost space,
And clung to each other in close embrace.
And the eyes of the one on the ground were bent,
And his breath but in gaspings came and went;
But the high-wrought nerve of the sterner raised
His brow; on the Magian he fix’dly gazed,
And the strength of desire sustained his dread,

- But the swarthy blood from his cheek had fled.
While he knelt and gazed ;- with a slimy crawl,
And a hissing breath round the fiery wall,
Came the loathly things of the serpent race,
With a glassy eye on his haunted face.
And wherever he turned they came they came“
With their crests erect o'er the barrier-flame!
Some of the dwarfed and deadliest tribe,
Whence the poison the shafts of a chief imbibe ;
And others that wreathed in their volumed length,
Lapped the fate of their prey in their crushing strength.
But beyond, where the fire had failed to break
The shadows-he heard the vulture shriek ;

And at length on its lead wing heavily
It flapped to a grey stone mouldering nigh,
And gloamed on the boy with its charnel eye.
But he would not stir, and he held his breath,
For he thought on the Magian's menaced death;
And the full of the fit, or the fiend's, controul,
Seemed now to have rush'd on the Sorcerer's soul :
His mien was all changed from its human wont,
And the phrenzy was stamped on his knotted front.

“ Ye have come with your golden wings,

Ye have come with your starry eyes, “ And I feel the Cloud of the dawning Things,

“ Like the mists from an ocean rise! “ Mortals! who from the Magian's skill, “ Demand what Fate may yet fulfil. “ List-heed—and mark—for wrapt in gloom,

“ The dim unbodied Shapes that wait “ In the vast Future's mighty Womb,

“ The appointed hour of Fate.

“ The Stream and the Bark shall glide “ With a happy Sun, and a quiet Tide; “But the Stream at length shall chafe at the Sail,

And its wave shall rise to an angered gale, “ And the Stream on the guiltless Bark shall war, “ And the Stream shall look up to a single Star,

66 And the Bark shall know dread on the fitful wave;

“ And the Star shall endanger the Bark, but-save. " And the Bark in a quiet Port shall rest, “ But the Stream shall roll on with a lonely breast. “ Lo! lo! where it enters the earth, and its way “ Is snatched like a dream from the face of the day. “ Not a glimpse from its course—not a voice from its

waves “ Lo! it sinks from my sight-in the depths of the


As he ceaseth, the fiery bound

Duller and dimmer fades,
And the Serpent shapes that hiss around,

Grow huge in the deepening shades.
And failing and faint-those limbs but now

Scarce mortal in their power,
Like the bodies the laws of the Apé* allow

But life for a stated hour.

As a corpse when the spirit is fled,

As a spear from a hand when the life is o'er, The Sorcerer drooped his head,

And dropped on the darkening floor. Ther, by the last blue ray

Of the flame, while the Serpents creep

* The Condemned.

With a fainter hiss to the wall—away,

And curl to their broken sleep, — Each brother beheld the other's face,

And shudderingly scanned it o'er; Such change had been wrought in that fearful place, That he scarcely could note a single trace

Of the features he knew before!


« PreviousContinue »