« AnteriorContinuar »
white tents, like a night vision, cover them, and the cry of the mighty and the voice of the trumpet, hush the murmur of the waves: when their king, "the terrible and the chosen one, that cut in sunder the gates of brass and bars of iron, and loosed the loins of princes," was here stricken, while the myriads of the Persians were drawing nigh; his strength lost in the Cydnus, like one of its own "bruised reeds," his voice feeble as an infant's, all lost but the unconquerable soul . Again the shores rang and trembled with his army's joy, when he passed before them, his white plume shading his pallid face, as one risen from the dead, "to go forth with great fury to destroy."
Two thousand years are passed since this beautiful pageant was here: and the Cydnus rolls on, cold and clear as then: yet Time, even this great interval, seems to lose its vastness, its awfulness, in such a night, in such an hour as this. They come again, the spectre-glories: the dead men rise from the dust of the earth: there is no sound on the night but the fall of waters, and the white foam is like the waving of garments in the gloom: the peaks of Taurus rise into the air, pure and shadowy as if they belonged not to this world: the cry of the Turcoman, afar off, is like a spirit's cry. What dim procession advances up the stream? the faint flash of oars, on whose silver shafts is the moon's rich beam? the harp and viol wailing, the pavilion of gold faintly shrouding the mightiness of death: each one was beautiful, each girl of Egypt and
Persia but on the face of their queen was unutterable beauty, and unutterable
sorrow: they wept around her, remembering her past glory; but she, too proud to weep, smiled on the shores in mockery, the same smile with which she met Caesar and Antony, and lastly Death; her face had the wan and dream-like hue as after the aspic stung her.
The night is passing away, the moonlight is paler on the snows of Taurus, and the breeze more cold at the first approach of morn: it is time to depart from the memorable stream, whose image will often follow the traveller during his pilgrimage, when he longs for water, and there is none.
The extreme coldness of this river, that proved so nearly fatal to Alexander, and afterwards occasioned the death of Frederic Barbarossa, has been rather exaggerated: several travellers have bathed in it of late years, without experiencing any ill effects. The water is undoubtedly cold, but not more so than that of the other rivers which carry down the melted snow of Mount Taurus. A portion of its ancient beauty, as well as clearness, and tufted trees on its banks, still remain. The celebrated pass leading from Cilicia into Syria, through which Alexander marched, when he left Tarsus to fight the battle of Issus, is about twenty miles to the north of that town: it is a remarkable defile through a chain of inaccessible mountains, and admits of only eight horses abreast, and seems to have been cut through the rock to the depth of about forty feet Cyrus and the Roman emperor Severus also entered Cilicia by the same pass. According to Xenophon, it was only wide enough to admit a single chariot, yet it was abandoned to the two former conquerors without resistance.