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The dance of sacrifice! the funeral song!
And next the victim slaves in long array,
Richly bedight to grace the fatal day,
Move onward to their death.
The clarion's stirring breath
Lifts their thin robes in every flowing fold,
And swells the woven gold,
That on the agitated air
Trembles, and glitters to the torches' glare.
A man and maid of aspect wan and wild,
Then, side by side, by bowmen guarded, came.
O wretched father! O unhappy child!
Then were all eyes of all the throng deploring-
Is this the daring man
Who raised his fatal hand at Arvalan?
Is this the wretch condemned to feel
Kehama's dreadful wrath?
Then were all hearts of all the throng deploring,
For not in that innumerable throng
Was one who loved the dead; for who could know What aggravated wrong
Provoked the desperate blow!
Far, far behind, beyond all reach of sight,
In ordered files the torches flow along,
One ever lengthening line of gliding light:
Far, far behind,
Rolls on the undistinguishable clamor,
Of horn, and trump, and tambour;
Incessant as the roar
Of streams which down the wintry mountain pour,
And louder than the dread commotion,
Of stormy billows on a rocky shore,
When the winds rage over the waves,
And Ocean to the Tempest raves.
And now toward the bank they go,
Where, winding on their way below,
Deep and strong the waters flow,
Here doth the funeral pile appear,
With myrrh and ambergris bestrewed,
And built of precious sandal wood.
They cease their music, and their outcry here;
Gently they rest the bier :
They wet the face of Arvalan,
No sign of life the sprinkled drops excite;
They feel his breast,-no motion there:
They feel his lips,—no breath,
For not with feeble, nor with erring hand,
The stern avenger dealt the blow of death.
Then with a doubting peal and deeper blast,
The tambours and the trumpets sound on high,
And with a last and loudest cry
They call on Arvalan.
Woe! woe! for Azla takes her seat
Upon the funeral pile !
Calmly she took her seat,
Calmly the whole terrific pomp surveyed
As on her lap the while
The lifeless head of Arvalan was laid.
The young Nealling!
Woe! woe! Nealling,
They strip her ornaments away,
Bracelet and anklet, ring, and chain, and zone §
Around her neck they leave
The marriage knot alone,-
That marriage band, which when
Yon waning moon was young,
Around her virgin neck
With bridal joy was hung.
Then with white flowers, the coronal of death,
Her jetty locks they crown.
O sight of misery!
You cannot hear her cries,-all other sound
In that wild dissonance is drowned-
But in her face you see
The supplication and the agony,-
See in her swelling throat the desperate strength That with vain effort struggles yet for life; Her arms contracted now in fruitless strife, Now wildly at full length
Towards the crowd in vain for pity spread,-
They force her on, they bind her to the dead.
Then all around retire:
Circling the Pile, the ministering Bramins stand,
Each lifting in his hand a torch on fire.
Alone the father of the dead advanced
And lit the funeral pyre.
At once on every side,
The circling torches drop;
At once on every side,
The fragrant oil is poured;
At once on every side,
The rapid flames rush up,
Then hand in hand the victim band
Roll in the dance around the funeral pyre;
Their garments' flying folds
Float inward to the fire.
In drunken whirl they wheel around,
One drops, another plunges in?
And still with overwhelming din
The tambours and the trumpets sound;
And clap of hand, and shouts, and cries,
From all the multitude arise:
While round and round, in giddy wheel,
Intoxicate, they roll and reel,
Till one by one whirl'd in, they fall,
And the devouring flames have swallowed all.
Then all was still, the drums and clarions ceased;
The multitude were hushed in silent awe;
Only the roaring of the flames was heard,
[Young Casabianca, a boy about thirteen years old, son to the Admiral of the Orient, remained at his post (in the battle of the Nile) after the ship had taken fire, and all the guns had been abandoned, and perished in the explosion of the vessel, when the flames had reached tho powder.]
The boy stood on the burning deck
Whence all but him had fled;
The flame that lit the battle's wreck,
Shone round him o'er the dead.
Yet beautiful and bright he stood,
As born to rule the storm;
A creature of heroic blood,
A proud, though child-like form.
The flames roll'd on-he would not go,
Without his Father's word;
That Father, faint in death below,
His voice no longer heard.
He called aloud :-" Say, Father, say
If yet my task is done?"
He knew not that the chieftain lay
Unconscious of his son.
"Speak, Father!"-once again he cried,
"If I may yet be gone!
And"—but the booming shots replied,
And fast the flames rolled on.
Upon his brow he felt their breath,
And in his waving hair,
And looked from that lone post of death,
In still, yet brave despair.
And shouted but once more aloud,
"My Father! must I stay?"
While o'er him fast, through sail and shroud,
The wreathing fires made way.
They wrapt the ship in splendor wild,
They caught the flag on high,
And streamed above the gallant child,
Like banners in the sky.
There came a burst of thunder sound-
The boy-oh! where was he?
Ask of the winds that far around
With fragments strewed the sea.
With mast, and helm, and pennon fair,
That well had borne their part-
But the noblest thing which perished there
Was that young faithful heart!
MARCO BOZZARIS, THE EPAMINONDAS OF MODERN
[He fell in an attack upon the Turkish Camp at Laspi, the site of the ancient Platæa, August 20, 1823, and expired in the moment of victory. His last words were-"To die for liberty is a pleasure and not a pain."]
At midnight in his guarded tent,
The Turk was dreaming of the hour,
When Greece, her knee in suppliance bent,
Should tremble in his power;
In dreams, through camp and court, he bore
The trophies of a conqueror;
In dreams his song of triumph heard;
Then wore his monarch's signet ring,
Then pressed that monarch's throne--a king;
As wild his thoughts, and gay of wing,
As Eden's garden bird.
At midnight in the forest shades,
Bozzaris ranged his Suliote band,
True as the steel of their tried blades,
Heroes in heart and hand.
There had the Persian's thousands stood,