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Is that a task
For King Sebastian's friend?
That name hath lost its meaning. Will the dead
Rise from their silent dwellings, to upbraid
The living for their mirth. The grave sets bounds
Unto all human friendship.
On the plain
Of Alcazar full many a stately flower,
The pride and crown of some high house, was laid
Low in the dust of Afric; but of these
Sebastian was not one.
I am not skill'd
To deal with men of mystery. Take, then, off
The strange dark scrutiny of thine eye from mine.
What mean'st thou ?-Speak!
Sebastian died not there.
I read no joy in that cold doubting mien,
Is not thy name Sylveira ?
Be glad! I tell thee that Sebastian lives!
Think thou on this he lives! Should he return
-For he may yet return-and find the friend
In whom he trusted with such perfect trust
As should be heaven's alone-mark'st thou my words?
- Should he then find this man, not girt and arm'd,
And watching o'er the heritage of his lord,
But, reckless of high fame and loyal faith,
Holding luxurious revels with his foes,
How wouldst thou meet his glance?
As I do thine,
Keen though it be, and proud.
Why, thou dost quail
Before it, even as if the burning eye
Of the broad sun pursued thy shrinking soul
Through all its depths.
Away! he died not there!
He should have died there, with the chivalry
And strength and honor of his kingdom, lost
By his impetuous rashness.
This from thee?
Who hath given power to falsehood, that one gaze
At its unmask'd and withering mien, should blight
High souls at once? I wake. And this from thee?
whose eyes discern the secret springs
Which lie beneath the desert, and the gold
And gems within earth's caverns, far below
The everlasting hills: but who hath dared
To dream that
heaven's most awful attribute
Invested his mortality, and to boast
That through its inmost folds his glance could read
One heart, one human heart? Why, then, to love
And trust is but to lend a traitor arms
Of keenest temper and unerring aim,
Wherewith to pierce our souls. But thou, beware!
If it be so, and thou
Art of his followers still, then bid him seek
Far in the wilds, which gave one sepulchre
To his proud hosts, a kingdom and a home,
For none is left him here.
This is to live
An age of wisdom in an hour! The man
Whose empire, as in scorn, o'erpass'd the bounds
E'en of the infinite deep; whose orient realnis
Lay bright beneath the morning, while the clouds
Were brooding in their sunset mantle still,
O'er his majestic regions of the west;
This heir of far dominion shall return,
And, in the very city of his birth,
Shall find no home! Ay, I will tell him this,
And he will answer that the tale is false,
False as a traitor's hollow words of love;
And that the stately dwelling, in whose halls
We commune now-a friend's, a monarch's gift,
Unto the chosen of his heart, Sylveira,
Should yield him still a welcome.
Fare thee well!
I may not pause to hear thee, for thy words
Are full of danger, and of snares, perchance
Laid by some treacherous foe. But all in vain.
I mock thy wiles to scorn.
Ha! ha! The snake
Doth pride himself in his distorted cunning,
Deeming it wisdom. Nay, thou go'st not thus.
My heart is bursting, and I will be heard.
What! know'st thou not my spirit was born to hold
Dominion over thine ? Thou shalt not cast
Those bonds thus lightly from thee. Stand thou there,
And tremble in the presence of thy lord !
Sylv. This is all madness.
Madness! no-I say
'Tis Reason starting from her sleep, to feel,
And see, and know, in all their cold distinctness,
Things which come o'er her, as a sense of pain
Oth' sudden wakes the dreamer. Stay thee yet:
Be still. Thou’rt used to smile and to obey ;
Ay, and to weep. I have seen thy tears flow fast,
As from the fulness of a heart o'ercharged
With loyal love. Oh! never, never more
Let tears or smiles be trusted! When thy king
Went forth on his disastrous enterprise
Upon thy bed of sickness thou wast laid,
And he stood o'er thee with the look of one
Who leaves a dying brother, and his eyes
Were fill'd with tears like thine. No! not like thine:
His bosom knew no falsehood, and he deem'd
Thine clear and stainless as a warrior's shield,
Wherein high deeds and noble forms alone
Are brightly imaged forth.
What now avail
These recollections ?
What? I have seen thee shrink,
As the murd'rer from the eye of light, before me :
I have earn'd (how dearly and how bitterly
It matters not, but I have earn'd at last)
Deep knowledge, fearful wisdom. Now, begone!
Hence to thy guests, and fear not, though arraign'd
E'en of Sebastian's friendship. Make his scorn
(For he will scorn thee, as a crouching slave
By all high hearts is scorn'd) thy right, thy charter
Unto vile safety. Let the secret voice,
Whose low upbraidings will not sleep within thee,
Be as a sign, a token of thy claim
To all such guerdons as are showerd on traitors,
When noble men are crush’d. And fear thou not:-
'Tis but the kingly cedar which the storm
Hurls from his mountain throne:-th'ignoble shrub,
Groveling beneath, may live.
It is thy part
To tremble for thy life.
They that have look'd
Upon a heart like thine, should know too well
The worth of life to tremble. Such things make
Brave men, and reckless. Ay, and they whom fate
Would trample should be thus. It is enough-
Thou may’st depart.
And thou, if thou dost prize
Thy safety, speed thee hence.
[Exit SILVEIRA Seb. (alone.)
And this is he
Who was as mine own soul: whose image rose,
Shadowing my dreams of glory with the thought
That on the sick man's weary couch he lay,
Pining to share my battles !
Ye winds that sweep
The conquer'd billows of the western deep,
Or wander where the morn
Midst the resplendent Indian heavens is born,
Waft o'er bright isles, and glorious worlds the famo
Of the crown'd Spaniard's name:
Till in each glowing zone
Its might the nations own,
And bow to him the vassal knee
Whose sceptre shadows realms from sea to sea.
Seb. Away-away! this is no place for him
Whose name hath thus resounded, but is now
A word of desolation.
ODE ON THE DEFEAT OF KING SEBASTIAN OF PORTU
GAL AND HIS ARMY, IN AFRICA.
TRANSLATED FROM THE SPANISH OF HERRERA
FERDINAND DE HERRERA, surnamed the Divine, was a Spanish poet, who lived in the reign of Charles V., and is still considered by the Castilians as one of their classic writers. He aimed at the introduction of a new style into Spanish poetry, and his lyrics are distinguished by the sustained majesty of their language, the frequent recurrence of expressions and images, derived apparently from a fervent study of the prophetic books of Scripture, and the lofty tone of national pride maintained throughout, and justified indeed by the nature of the subjects to which some of these productions are devoted. This last characteristic is blended with a deep and enthusiastic feeling of religion, which rather exalts than tempers the haughty confidence of the poet in the high destinies of his country. Spain is to him what Judea was to the bards who sung beneath the shadow of her palm-trees—the chosen and favored land, whose people, severed from all others by the purity and devotedness of their faith, are peculiarly called to wreak the vengeance of Heaven upon the infidel. This triumphant conviction is powerfully expressed in his magnificent Ode on the Battle of Lepanto.
The impression of deep solemnity left upon the mind of the Spanish reader, by another of Herrera's lyric compositions, will, it is feared, be very inadequately conveyed through the mediuni of the follow ing translation.
« Voz de dolor, y canto de gemido," &c.
A voice of woe, a murmur of lament,
A spirit of deep fear and mingled ire;
Let such record the day, the day of wail
For Lusitania's bitter chastening sent!
She who hath seen her power, her fame expire,
And mourns them in the dust, discrown'd and pale!
And let the awful tale
With grief and horror every realm o'ershade,
From Afric's burning main
To the far sea, in other hues array'd,
And the red limits of the Orient's reign,
Whose nations, haughty though subdued, behold
Christ's glorious banner to the winds unfold.
Alas! for those that in embattled power,
And vain array of chariots and of horse,
O desert Libya! sought thy fatal coast!
And trusting not in Him, the eternal source
Of might and glory, but in earthly force,
Making the strength of multitades their boast,
A Hush'd and crested host,
Elate in lofty dreams of victory, trode
Their path of pride, as o'er a conquer'd land
Given for the spoil ; nor raised their eyes to God :
And Israel's Holy One withdrew his hand,
Their sole support ;-and heavily and prone
They fell—the car, the steed, the rider, all o’erthrown!
It came, the hour of wrath, the hour of woe,
Which to deep solitude and tears consign’d
The peopled realm, the realm of joy and mirth;
A gloom was on the heavens, no mantling glow
Announced the morn-it seem'd as nature pined,
And boding clouds obscured the sunbeam's birth;
While, startling the pale earth,
Bursting upon the mighty and the proud
With visitation dread,
Their crests the Eternal, in his anger, bow'd,
And raised barbarian nations o'er their head,
The inflexible, the fierce, who seek not gold,
But vengeance on their foes, relentless, uncontrollid.
Then was the sword let loose, the flaming sword
Of the strong infidel's ignoble hand,
Amidst that host, the pride, the flower, the crown
Of thy fair knighthood; and the insatiate horde,
Not with thy life content, О ruin’d land!
Sad Lusitania! even thy bright renown
Defaced and trampled down;
And scatter'd, rushing as a torrent flood,
Thy pomp of arms and banners ;-till the sands
Became a laké of blood-thy noblest blood !-
The plain a mountain of thy slaughter'd bands.
Strength on thy foes, resistless might was shed;
On thy devoted sons-amaze, and shame, and dread.
Are these the conquerors, these the lords of fight,
The warrior men, the invincible, the famed,
Who shook the earth with terror and dismay,
Whose spoils were empires ?—They that in their might
The haughty strength of savage nations tamed,
And gave the spacious orient realms of day
To desolation's sway,
Making the cities of imperial name
E'en as the desert place?