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But he seized on his share of a steed that lay,
Alp turned him from the sickening sight:
Never had shaken his nerves in fight; 435
But he better could brook to behold the dying,
Deep in the tide of their warm blood lying,
Scorched with the death-thirst, and writhing in vain,
Than the perishing dead who are past all pain.
There is something of pride in the perilous hour, 440
Whate'er be the shape in which death may lower;
For Fame is there to say who bleeds,
And Honour's eye on daring deeds!
But when all is past, it is humbling to tread
o'er the weltering field of the tombless dead, 445
And see worms of the earth, and fowls of the air,
Beasts of the forest, all gathering there;
All regarding man as their prey,
All rejoicing in his decay.
There is a temple in ruin stands,
450 Two or three columns, and many a stone,
Marble and granite, with grass o'ergrown! <
Out upon Time! it will leave no more
Of the things to come than the things before! 455
Out upon Time! who for ever will leave
But enough of the past for the future to grieve
over that which hath been, and o'er that which must be:
What we have seen, our sons shall see;
Remnants of things that have passed away, 460
Fragments of stone, reared by creatures of clay!
He sate him down at a pillar's base,
Declining was his attitude; 465
Hurriedly, as you may see 410
There he sate all heavily,
As he heard the night-wind sigh. 475
Was it the wind, through some hollow stone6,
Sent that soft and tender moan?
He lifted his head, and he looked on the sea,
But it was unrippled as glass may be;
He looked on the long grass—it waved not a blade;
How was that gentle sound conveyed? 481
He looked to the banners—each flag lay still,
So did the leaves on Cithaeron's hill,
And he felt not a breath come over his cheek;
What did that sudden sound bespeak? 485
He turned to the left—is he sure of sight?
There sate a lady, youthful and bright!
He started up with more of fear
Than if an armed foe were near.
"God of my fathers! what is here? 490
"Who art thou, and wherefore sent
"So near a hostile armament?"
His trembling hands refused to sign
The cross he deemed no more divine:
He had resumed it in that hour, 495
The maid who might have been his bride! 500
The rose was yet upon her cheek,
But mellowed with a tenderer streak:
Where was the play of her soft lips fled?
Gone was the smile that enlivened their red.
The ocean's calm within their view, 505
Beside her eye had less of blue;
But like that cold wave it stood still,
And its glance, though clear, was chill.
Around her form a thin robe twining,
Nought concealed her bosom shining; 510
Through the parting of her hair,
Floating darkly downward there,
Her rounded arm showed white and bare:
And ere yet she made reply,
Once she raised her hand on high; 515
It was so wan, and transparent of hue,
You might have seen the moon shine through.
v I come from my rest to him I love best,
"That I may be happy, and he may be blest.
* I have passed the guards, the gate, the wall; 520
"Sought thee in safety through foes and all.
"'Tis said the lion will turn and flee
"From a maid in the pride of her purity;
"And the Power on high, that can shield the good
"Thus from the tyrant of the wood, 525
"Hath extended its mercy to guard me as well
"From the hands of the leaguering infidel.
"I come—and if I come in vain,
"Never, oh never, we meet again!
"Thou hast done a fearful deed 530
"In falling away from thy father's creed:
"But dash that turban to earth, and sign
"The sign of the cross, and for ever be mine;
"Wring the black drop from thy heart,
"And to-morrow unites us, no more to part." 535
"And where should our bridal couch be spread? "In the 'midst of the dying and the dead?