페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

Alas! he told not but he did awake
To curse the wither'd heart that would not break.

IX. Books, for his volume heretofore was Man, With eye more curious he appear'd to scan, And oft, in sudden mood, for many a day, From all communion he would start away : And then, his rarely call’d'attendants said, (tread Through night's long hours would sound his hurried O'er the dark gallery, where his fathers frown'd In rude but antique portraiture around : They heard, but whisper'd -" that must not be

known The sound of words less earthly than his own. Yes, they who chose might smile, but some had seen They scarce knew what, but more than should have

been. Why gazed he so upon the ghastly head Which hands profane had gather'd from the dead, That still beside his open'd volume lay, As if to startle all save him away? Why slept he not when others were at rest ? Why heard no music, and received no guest ? All was not well, they deem'd—but where the wrong? Some knew perchance -- but 't were a tale too long; And such besides were too discreetly wise, To more than hint their knowledge in surmise ; But if they would they could”-around the board Thus Lara's vassals prattled of their lord.

Where history's pen its praise or blame supplies,
And lies like truth, and still most truly lies.
He wandering mused, and as the moonbeam shone
Through the dim lattice o'er the floor of stone,
And the high fretted roof, and saints, that there
O'er Gothic windows knelt in pictured prayer,
Reflected in fantastic figures grew,
Like life, but not like mortal life, to view:
His bristling locks of sable, brow of gloom,
And the wide waving of his shaken plume,
Glanced like a spectre's attributes, and gave
His aspect all that terror gives the grave.

XII.
'T was midnight-all was slumber; the lone light
Dimm'd in the lamp, as loth to break the night.
Hark! there be murmurs heard in Lara's hall -
A sound -a voice - a shriek - a fearful call !
A long, loud shriek — and silence - did they hear
That frantic echo burst the sleeping ear ?
They heard and rose, and, tremulously brave,
Rush where the sound invoked their aid to save;
They come with half-lit tapers in their hands,
And snatch'd in startled haste unbelted brands.

X. It was the night and Lara's glassy stream The stars are studding, cach with imaged beam; So calm, the waters scarcely seem to stray, And yet they glide like happiness away; Reflecting far and fairy-like from high The immortal lights that live along the sky: Its banks are fringed with many a goodly trec, And flowers the fairest that may feast the bee; Such in her chaplet infant Dian wove, And Innocence would offer to her love. These deck the shore; the waves their channel make In windings bright and mazy like the snake. All was so still, so soft in earth and air, You scarce would start to meet a spirit there; Secure that nought of evil could delight To walk in such a scene, on such a night! It was a moment only for the good : So Lara deem'd, nor longer there he stood, But turn'd in silence to his castle-gate; Such scene his soul no more could contemplate: Such scene reminded him of other days, Of skies more cloudless, moons of purer blaze, Of nights more soft and frequent, hearts that nowNo— no- the storm may beat upon his brow, Unfelt - unsparing - but a night like this, A night of beauty, mock'd such breast as his.

XI. He turn'd within his solitary hall, And his high shadow shot along the wall : There were the painted forms of other times, 'T was all they left of virtues or of crimes, Save vague tradition; and the gloomy vaults That hid their dust, their foibles, and their faults ; And half a column of the pompous page, That speeds the specious tale from age to age ;

XIII.
Cold as the marble where his length was laid,
Pale as the beam that o'er his features play'd,
Was Lara stretch'd; his half-drawn sabre near,
Dropp'd it should seem in more than nature's fear;
Yet he was firm, or had been firm till now,
And still defiance knit his gather'd brow;
Though mix'd with terror, senseless as he lay,
There lived upon his lip the wish to slay;
Some half-form'd threat in utterance there had died,
Some imprecation of despairing pride;
His eye was almost seal'd, but not forsook,
Even in its trance, the gladiator's look,
That oft awake his aspect could disclose,
And now was fix'd in horrible repose.
They raise him — bear him:- hush! he breathes,

he speaks,
The swarthy blush recolours in his cheeks,
His lip resumes its red, his eye, though dim,
Rolls wide and wild, each slowly quivering limb
Recalls its function, but his words are strung
In terms that seem not of his native tongue;
Distinct but strange, enough they understand
To deem them accents of another land;
And such they were, and meant to meet an ear
That hears him not-alas! that cannot hear!

XIV.
His page approach'd, and he alone appeard
To know the import of the words they heard ;
And, by the changes of his cheek and brow,
They were not such as Lara should ayow,
Nor he interpret, -yet with less surprise
Than those around their chieftain's state he eyes,
But Lara's prostrate form he bent beside,
And in that tongue which seem'd his own replied,
And Lara heeds those tones that gently seem
To soothe away the horrors of his dream
If dream it were that thus could overthrow
A breast that needed not ideal woe.

XV. Whate'er his frenzy dream'd or eye bebeld, If yet remember'd ne'er to be reveal'd,

[ocr errors][graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Had

mernory

What had he been? what was he, thus unknown,
Who walk'd their world, his lineage only known ?
A hater of his kind ? yet some would say,
With them he could seem gay amidst the gay ;
But own'd that smile, if oft observed and near,
Waned in its mirth, and wither'd to a sneer;
That sinile might reach his lip, but pass'd not by,
Sone e'er could trace its laughter to his eye:
Yet there was softness too in his regard,
At times, a heart as not by nature hard,
Bat once perceived, his spirit seem'd to chide
Such weakness, as unworthy of its pride,
And steel d itself, as scorning to redeem
One doubt from others half withheld esteem;
In self-inflicted penance of a breast
Which tenderness might once have wrung from rest; | If greeted once; however brief the date

Rests at his heart: the custom'd morning came, In vigilance of grief that would compel
And breathed new vigour in his shaken frame; The soul to hate for having loved too well.
And solace sought he none from priest nor leech,
And soon the same in movement and in speech,

XVIII.
As heretofore he fill'd the passing hours,

There was in him a vital scorn of all :
Nor less he smiles, nor more his forehead lowers, As if the worst had fall'n which could befall,
Than these were wont; and if the coming night He stood a stranger in this breathing world,
Appear'd less welcome now to Lara's sight,

An erring spirit from another hurl'd;
He to his marvelling vassals show'd it not,

A thing of dark imaginings, that shaped Whose shuddering proved their fear was less forgot. By choice the perils he by chance escaped ; In trembling pairs (alone they dared not) crawl

But 'scaped in vain, for in their memory yet The astonish'd slaves, and shun the fated hall;

His mind would half exult and half regret : The waving banner, and the clapping door,

With more capacity for love than earth The rustling tapestry, and the echoing floor;

Bestows on most of mortal mould and birth, Tae long dim shadows of surrounding trees,

His early dreams of good outstripp'd the truth, The fapping bat, the night song of the breeze ;

And troubled manhood follow'd baffled youth ; Aught they behold or hear their thought appals,

With thought of years in phantom chase misspent, As efening sadden3 o'er the dark grey walls.

And wasted powers for better purpose lent;
And fiery passions that had pour'd their wrath

In hurried desolation o'er his path,
XVI.

And left the better feelings all at strife
Vain thought! that hour of ne'er unraveli'd gloom

In wild reflection o'er bis stormy life;
Came not again, or Lara could assume

But haughty still, and loth himself to blame,
A seeming of forgetfulness, that made
His vassals more amazed nor less afraid.

He call'd on Nature's self to share the shame,

And charged all faults upon the fleshy form vanish'd then with sense restored !

She gave to clog the soul, and feast the worm ; Since word, nor look, nor gesture of their lord

Till he at last confounded good and ill, Betray'd a feeling that recall'd to these

And half mistook for fate the acts of will :
That fever'd moment of his mind's disease.

Too high for common selfishness, he could
Was it a dream ? was his the voice that spoke
Those strange wild accents; his the cry that broke

At times resign his own for others' good,
Their slumber? his the oppress'd, o'erlabour'd heart

But not in pity, not because he ought, That ceased to beat, the look that made them start?

But in some strange perversity of thought, Could he who thus had suffer'd so forget,

That sway'd him onward with a secret pride

To do what few or none would do beside ;
When such as saw that suffering shudder yet?
Or did that silence prove his memory fix'd

And this same impulse would, in tempting time, Tod deep for words, indelible, unmix'd

Mislead his spirit equally to crime ; In that corroding secrecy which gnaws

So much he soar'd beyond, or sunk beneath, The heart to show the effect, but not the cause ?

The men with whom he felt condemn'd to breathe, Not so in him; his breast had buried both,

And long'd by good or ill to separate Nor common gazers could discern the growth

Himself from all who shared his mortal state; Of thoughts that mortal lips must leave half told;

His mind abhorring this, had fix'd her throne They choke the feeble words that would unfold.

Far from the world, in regions of her own :
Thus coldly passing all that pass'd below,

His blood in temperate seeming now would flow:
XVIL

Ah ! happier if it ne'er with guilt had glow'd, In him inexplicably mix'd appear'd

But ever in that icy smoothness flow'd !
Mach to be loved and hated, sought and fear'd;
Opinion varying o'er his hidden lot,

'Tis true, with other men their path he walk'd, In praise or railing ne'er his name forgot :

And like the rest in seeming did and talk'd, His silence form'd a theme for others' prate

Nor outraged Reason's rules by flaw nor start,

His madness was not of the head, but heart; They guess'd — they gazed — they fain would know And rarely wanderd in his speech, or drew

His thoughts so forth as to offend the view,

XIX,
With all that chilling mystery of mien,
And seeming gladness to remain unseen,
He had (if 't were not nature's boon) an art
Of fixing memory on another's heart:
It was not love perchance - nor hate — nor augat
That words can image to express the thought ;
But they who saw him did not see in vain,
And once behed, would ask of him again :
And those to whom he spake remember'd well,
And on the words, however light, would dwell :
None knew nor how, nor why, but he entwined
Himself perforce around the hearer's mind;
There he was stamp'd, in liking, or in hate,

his fate.

That friendship, pity, or aversion knew,

Doubt not my fitting answer to requite
Still there within the inmost thought he grew. The unlook'd for courtesy of such a knight.
You could not penetrate his soul, but found,

'Tis Lara !- further wouldst thou mark or ask ? Despite your wonder, to your own he wound;

I shun no question, and I wear no mask.”
His presence haunted still ; and from the breast
He forced an all unwilling interest :

“ Thou shunnst no question ! Ponder- is there none Vain was the struggle in that mental net,

Thy heart must answer, though thine ear would shun? His spirit seem'd to dare you to forget.

And deem'st thou me unknown too ? Gaze again!

At least thy memory was not given in vain.
XX.

Oh! never canst thou cancel half her debt,
There is a festival, where knights and dames,

Eternity forbids thee to forget." And aught that wealth or lofty lineage claims,

With slow and searching glance upon his face Appear — a highborn and a welcome guest

Grew Lara's eyes, but nothing there could trace To Otho's hall came Lara with the rest.

They knew, or chose to know — with dubious look The long carousal shakes the illumined hall,

He deign'd no answer, but his head he shook, Well speeds alike the banquet and the ball;

And half contemptuous turn’d to pass away; And the gay dance of bounding Beauty's train

But the stern stranger motion’d him to stay. Links grace and harmony in happiest chain :

“ A word !- I charge thee stay, and answer here Blest are the early hearts and gentle hands

To one, who, wert thou noble, were thy peer, That mingle there in well according bands;

But as thou wast and art — nay, frown not, lord, It is a sight the careful brow might smooth,

If false, 't is easy to disprove the word —
And make Age smile, and dream itself to youth, But as thou wast and art, on thee looks down,
And Youth forget such hour was past on earth,

Distrusts thy smiles, but shakes not at thy frown. So springs the exulting bosom to that mirth!

Art thou not he? whose deeds

“ Whate'er I be, XXI.

Words wild as these, accusers like to thee, And Lara gazed on these, sedately glad,

I list no further ; those with whom they weigh His brow belied him if his soul was sad ;

May hear the rest, nor venture to gainsay

The wondrous tale no doubt thy tongue can tell, And his glance follow'd fast each fluttering fair,

Which thus begins so courteously and well.
Whose steps of lightness woke'no echo there :
He lean'd against the lofty pillar nigh,

Let Otho cherish here his polish'd guest,
With folded arms and long attentive eye,

To him my thanks and thoughts shall be expressid."

And here their wondering host hath interposed Nor mark'd a glance so sternly fix'd on his —

“ Whate'er there be between you undisclosed, Ill brook'd high Lara scrutiny like this:

This is no time nor fitting place to mar At length he caught it— 't is a face unknown,

The mirthful meeting with a wordy war. But seems as searching his, and his alone;

If thou, Sir Ezzelin, hast aught to show Prying and dark, a stranger's by his mien,

Which it befits Count Lara's ear to know,
Who still till now had gazed on him unseen:

To-morrow, here, or elsewhere, as may best
At length encountering meets the mutual gaze
Of keen inquiry, and of mute amaze;

Beseem your mutual judgment, speak the rest;
On Lara's glance emotion gathering grew,

I pledge myself for thee, as not unknown, As if distrusting that the stranger threw;

Though, like Count Lara, now return'd alone

From other lands, almost a stranger grown;
Along the stranger's aspect, fix'd and stern,
Flash'd more than thence the vulgar eye could learn.

And if from Lara's blood and gentle birth
I augur right of courage and of worth,

He will not that untainted line belie,
XXII.

Nor aught that knighthood may accord, deny."
“ 'T is he !" the stranger cried, and those that heard
Re-echoed fast and far the whisper'd word.

“ To-morrow be it,” Ezzelin replied, “ 'Tis he!”—“'Tis who? "they question far and near, “ And here our several worth and truth be tried : Till louder accents rung on Lara's ear;

I gage my life, my falchion to attest
So widely spread, few bosoms well could brook My words, so may I mingle with the blest!"
The general marvel, or that single look :

What answers Lara ? to its centre shrunk
But Lara stirr'd not, changed not, the surprise His soul, in decp abstraction sudden sunk;
That sprung at first to his arrested eyes

The words of many, and the eyes of all Seem'd now subsided, neither sunk nor raised

That there were gather'd, seem'd on him to fall; Glanced his eye round, though still the stranger gazed; | But his were silent, his appear'd to stray And drawing nigh, exclaim'd, with haughty sneer, In far forgetfulness away-away“ 'Tis he! — how came he thence ? - what doth he Alas! that heedlessness of all around here ?"

Bespoke remembrance only too profound.

XXIII.
It were too much for Lara to pass by
Such questions, so repeated fierce and high;
With look collected, but with accent cold,
More mildly firm than petulantly bold,
He turn'd, and met the inquisitorial tone -
“ My name is Lara !- when thine own is known,

XXIV.
“ To-morrow !-ay, to-morrow!” further word
Than those repeated none from Lara heard :
Upon his brow no outward passion spoke ;
From his large eye no flashing anger broke ;
Yet there was something fix'd in that low tone,
Which show'd resolve, determined, though unknown.

« 이전계속 »