Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

THE COLUBRIAD.

201

with murmuring tone, and o'er the bay in streaming locks flamed the red tresses of the sun.

Along the west the golden bars still to a deeper glory grew; above our heads the faint, few stars looked out from the unfathomed blue; and the fair city's clamorous jars seemed melted in that evening hue.

Upon those rocks the waves shall beat with the same low and murmuring strain; across those waves with glancing feet, the sunset rays shall seek the main; but when together shall we meet upon that far-off shore again? GLAZIER,

THE COLUBRIAD.*

99

CLOSE by the threshold of a door nailed fast, three kittens sat; each kitten looked aghast. I, passing swift and inattentive by, at the three kittens cast a careless eye; not much concerned to know what they did there, not deeming kittens worth a poet's care. But presently a loud and furious hiss caused me to stop, and to exclaim, "What's this?" When lo! upon the threshold met my view, with head erect, and eyes of fiery hue, a viper, long as Count de Grasse's queue. Forth from his head his forked tongue he throws, darting it full against a kitten's nose; who having never seen, in field or house, the like, sat still and silent as a mouse: only projecting with attention due, her whiskered face, she asked him, "Who are you? On to the hall went I, with pace not slow, but swift as lightning, for a long Dutch hoe; with which well armed I hastened to the spot to find the viper, but I found him not. And, turning up the leaves and shrubs around, found only that he was not to be found. But still the kitten sitting as before, sat watching close the bottom of the door. "I think," said I, "the villain I would kill has slipped between the door and the door-sill; and, if I make despatch and follow hard, no doubt but I shall find him in the yard;" for long ere now it should have been rehearsed, 'twas in the garden that I found him first. Even there I found him—there the full-grown cat his head, with velvet paw, did gently pat; as curious as the kittens each had been to learn what this phenomenon might mean. Filled with heroic ardour at the sight, and fearing every moment he would bite, and rob our household of the only cat that was of age to combat with a rat, with outstretched hoe I slew him at the door, and taught him NEVER TO COME THERE NO MORE.† COWPER.

*That is, the Story of the Snake; just as the Iliad is the Story of Ilion, or Troy

+ Cowper here heaps up negatives in an ungrammatical but ludicrous manner.

A MORNING AFTER RAIN.

THERE was a roaring in the wind all night-the rain came heavily and fell in floods; but now the sun is rising calm and brightthe birds are singing in the distant woods; over his own sweet voice the stock-dove broods; the jay makes answer as the magpie chatters; and all the air is filled with pleasant noise of waters.

All things that love the sun are out of doors; the sky rejoices in the morning's birth; the grass is bright with raindrops; on the moors the hare is running races in her mirth, and with her feet she from the plashy earth raises a mist that, glittering in the sun, runs with her all the way, wherever she doth run. WORDSWORTH.

[ocr errors]

CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE.

HALF a league, half a league, half a league onward,-all in the valley of death rode the six hundred !* "Forward, the Light Brigade! Charge for the guns!" he said. Into the valley of death rode the

six hundred.

Forward the Light Brigade! Was there a man dismayed? Not though the soldiers knew some one had blundered! Theirs not to reason why, theirs not to make reply, theirs but to do and die;into the valley of death rode the six hundred!

Cannon to right of them, cannon to left of them, cannon in front of them, volleyed and thundered: stormed at with shot and shell, boldly they rode and well;-into the jaws of death,-into the mouth of hell,-rode the six hundred!

Flashed all their sabres bare, flashed all at once in air, sabr'ing the gunners there, charging an army,-while all the world wondered: plunged in the battery smoke, fiercely the line they broke; Cossack and Russian reeled from the sabre stroke, shaken and sundered. Then they rode back, but not,-not the six hundred !

Cannon to right of them, cannon to left of them, cannon behind them, volleyed and thundered: stormed at with shot and shell, while horse and hero fell, they that had fought so well, came from the jaws of death, back from the mouth of hell, all that was left of them,-left of six hundred!

When can their glory fade! oh, the wild charge they made! All the world wondered! Honour the brave and bold! long shall the tale be told-yea, when our babes are old--how they rode onward! TENNYSON.

*It is necessary, for the sake of the rhyme, that the word hundred should be pronounced in the old-fashioned English way, hunderd. This is still in use in some parts of England; and it is universal in Germany, where the word is written and pronounced hundert,

[blocks in formation]

THE TRAGEDY OF YARROW.

"WHY runs thy stream, O Yarrow, Yarrow, red? Why on thy braes is heard the voice of sorrow? and why yon melancholious weeds hung on the bonny birks of Yarrow?

"What yonder floats on the rueful, rueful flood? what yonder floats ?-Oh dule and sorrow! "Tis he, the comely swain I slew upon the dulefu' braes of Yarrow.

"Wash, oh wash his wounds, his wounds in tears, his wounds in tears o' dule and sorrow; and wrap his limbs in mourning weeds, and lay him on the banks of Yarrow.

“Then build, then build, ye sisters, sisters sad, ye sisters sad, his tomb wi' sorrow; and weep around in woeful wise, his hapless fate on the braes of Yarrow!

"Curse ye, curse ye, his useless, useless shield, the arm that wrought the deed of sorrow, the fatal spear that pierced his breast, his comely breast, on the braes of Yarrow!

"Did I not warn thee not to, not to love, and warn from fight? But, to my sorrow, too rashly bold, a stronger arm thou mett'st, thou mett'st, and fell on the braes of Yarrow.

"Sweet smells the birk; green grows, green grows the grass; yellow on Yarrow's braes the gowan; fair hangs the apple frae the rock; sweet the wave of Yarrow flowing!

“Flows Yarrow sweet? As sweet, as sweet flows Tweed, as green its grass; its gowan as yellow; as sweet smells on its braes the birk; the apple from its rocks as mellow.

"Return, return, O mournful, mournful bride! return and dry thy useless sorrow! Thy lover heeds nought of thy sighs; he lies a corpse on the braes of Yarrow." HAMILTON.

HEALTH.

AH! what avail the largest gifts of heaven, when drooping health and spirits go amiss? How tasteless then whatever can be given? health is the vital principle of bliss, and exercise of health. In proof of this, behold the wretch, who slugs his life away, soon swallowed in disease's sad abyss; while he whom toil has braced, or manly play, has light as air each limb, each thought as clear as day. Oh who can speak the vigorous joys of health; unclogged the body, unobscured the mind: the morning rises gay, with pleasing stealth, the temperate evening falls serene and kind. In health the wiser brutes true gladness find. See! how the youngling frisk along the meads, as May comes on, and wakes the balmy wind; rampant with life, their joy all joy exceeds; yet what but high-strung health this dancing pleasaunce breeds! THOMSON.

THE BATTLE OF MARSTON MOOR.

OH! wherefore come ye forth in triumph from the north, with your hands, and your feet, and your raiment all red? and wherefore doth your rout send forth a joyous shout? and whence be the grapes of the wine-press that ye tread ?

Oh! evil was the root, and bitter was the fruit, and crimson was the juice of the vintage that we trod; for we trampled on the throng of the haughty and the strong, who sate in the high places and slew the saints of God.

It was about the noon of a glorious day of June, that we saw their banners dance and their cuirasses shine, and the man of blood was there, with his long essenced hair, and Astley, and Sir Marmaduke, and Rupert of the Rhine.

Like a servant of the Lord, with his Bible and his sword, the general rode along us to form us for the fight; when a murmuring sound broke out, and swelled into a shout, among the godless horsemen upon the tyrant's right.

And hark! like the roar of the billows on the shore, the cry of battle rises along their charging line: for God! for the cause! for the Church! for the laws! for Charles, king of England, and Rupert of the Rhine!

The furious German comes, with his clarions and his drums, his bravoes of Alsatia and pages of Whitehall. They are bursting on our flanks! Grasp your pikes! Close your ranks! for Rupert never comes, but to conquer, or to fall.

They are here-they rush on-we are broken-we are gone-our left is borne before them like stubble on the blast. O Lord, put forth thy might! O Lord, defend the right! Stand back to back, in God's name! and fight it to the last !

Stout Skippen hath a wound-the centre hath given ground. Hark! hark! what means the trampling of horsemen on our rear? Whose banner do I see, boys? "Tis he! thank God! 'tis he, boys! Bear up another minute! Brave Oliver is here!

Their heads all stooping low, their points all in a row: like a whirlwind on the trees, like a deluge on the dikes, our cuirassiers have burst on the ranks of the accurst, and at a shock have scattered the forest of his pikes.

Fast, fast, the gallants ride, in some safe nook to hide their coward heads, predestined to rot on Temple Bar; and he-he turns! he flies! Shame on those cruel eyes that bore to look on torture, and dare not look on war!

Ho, comrades! scour the plain; and ere ye strip the slain, first give another stab to make your search secure; then shake from sleeves and pockets their broadpieces and lockets, the tokens of the courtier, the plunder of the poor.

Fools! your doublets shone with gold, and your hearts were gay

205

and bold, when you kissed your lily hands to your lady-loves today and to-morrow shall the fox from her chambers in the rocks lead forth her tawny cubs to howl above the prey.

Where be your tongues, that late mocked at heaven and hell and fate? and the fingers that were once so busy with your blades? your perfumed satin clothes, your catches and your oaths? your stage-plays and your sonnets, your diamonds and your spades?

Down! down! for ever down, with the mitre and the crown! with the Belial of the court, and the mammon of the Pope! There is woe in Oxford halls; there is wail in Durham's stalls; the Jesuit smites his bosom, the bishop rends his cope.

And she of the seven hills shall mourn her children's ills, and tremble when she thinks on the edge of England's sword; and the kings of the earth in fear shall shudder when they hear what the hand of God hath wrought for the Houses and the Word!

MACAULAY.

THE BATTLE OF FLODDEN FIELD.

THE BATTLE OF FLODDEN FIELD.

BUT, as they left the darkening heath, more desperate grew the strife of death. The English shafts in volleys hailed, in headlong charge their horse assailed: front, flank, and rear, the squadrons sweep, to break the Scottish circle deep, that fought around their king. But yet, though thick the shafts as snow, though charging knights like whirlwinds go, though bill-men ply the ghastly blow, unbroken was the ring; the stubborn spearmen still made good their dark' impenetrable wood, each stepping where his comrade stood, the instant that he fell. No thought was there of dastard flight; linked in the serried phalanx tight, groom fought like noble, squire like knight, as fearlessly and well; till utter darkness closed her wing o'er their thin host and wounded king. Then skilful Surrey's sage commands led back from strife his shattered bands; and from the charge they drew, as mountain-wave from wasted lands sweep back to ocean blue. Then did their loss his foeman know; their king, their lords, their mightiest low, they melted from the field as snow, when streams are swoln and south winds blow, dissolves in silent dew. Tweed's echoes heard the ceaseless plash, while many a broken band, disordered, through her currents dash, to gain the Scottish land; to town and tower, to down and dale, to tell red Flodden's dismal tale, and raise the universal wail. Tradition, legend, tune, and song, shall many an age that wail prolong: still from the sire the son shall hear of the stern strife and carnage drear of Flodden's fatal field, where shivered was fair Scotland's spear, and broken was her shield! SIR W. SCOTT.

« AnteriorContinuar »