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When the first went forth, it was midnight deep,
In heaven was the moon, in the camp was sleep,
When the last through the city's gates had gone,
O’er tent and rampart the bright day shone,
With a sun-burst from the sea.
There were knights five hundred went armed before,
And Bermudezé the Cid's green standard bore ;
To its last fair field, with the break of morn,
Was the glorious banner in silence borne,
On the glad wind streaming free.
And the Campeador7 came stately then,
Like a leader circled with steel-clad men:
The helmet was down o’er the face of the dead,
But his steed went proud, by a warrior led,
For he knew that the Cid was there.
He was there, the Cid, with his own good sword,
And Ximenas following her noble lord;
Her eye was solemn, her step was slow,
But there rose not a sound of war or woe,
Not a whisper on the air.
The halls in Valencia were still and lone,
The churches were empty, the masses done;
There was not a voice through the wide streets far,
Not a foot-fall heard in the Alcazar,
So the burial train moved out.
With a measured pace, as the pace of one,
Was the still death-march of the host begun;
With a silent step went the cuirassed bands,
Like a lion's tread on the burning sands,
And they gave no battle-shout.
But the hills pealed with a cry ere long,
When the Christians burst on the Paynimo throng!
With a sudden flash of the lance and spear,
And a charge of the war-steed in full career,
It was Alvar Fanez" came!
He that was wrapt with no funeral shroud,
Had passed before, like a threatening cloud!
And the storm rushed down on the tented plain,
And the Archer Queen" with her bands lay slain,
For the Cid upheld his fame.
Then a terror fell on the King Bucar's,
And the Libyan4 kings who had joined his war:
And their hearts grew heavy and died away,
And their hands could not wield an assagay 5,
For the dreadful things they saw!
For it seemed where Minaya's his onset made,
There were seventy thousand knights arrayed,
All white as snow on Nevada's 17 steep,
And they came like the foam of a roaring deep;
I was a sight of fear and awe!
And the crested form of a warrior tall,
With a sword of fire went before them all;
With a sword of fire and a banner pale,
And a blood-red cross on his shadowy mail,
He rode in the battle's van!
There was fear in the path of his dim white horse,
There was death in the giant-warrior's course!
Where his banner streamed with its ghostly light,
Where his sword blazed out, there was hurrying flight,
For it seemed not the sword of man!
The field and the river grew darkly red,
As the kings and leaders of Afric fled;
There was work for the men of the Cid that day!
They were weary at eve when they ceased to slay,
As reapers whose task is done!
The kings and the leaders of Afric fled!
The sails of their galleys in haste were spread;
But the sea had its share of the Paynim slain,
And the bow of the desert was broke in Spain,
So the Cid to his grave passed on!
EDWIN ATHERSTONE Is a poet possessing great vigour of imagination, a high tone of moral feeling, and a great command of language. His Fall of Nineveh is full of the grand and gorgeous imagery of the East; it dwells perhaps too much in generalities to interest individual feelings: the fall of a mighty empire affects the mind less than the fate of a single person in whose fortunes we can sympathise. In all his works, Atherstone has shown a deep sense of religion, and has made his genius pay homage to the Almighty Being by whom it was bestowed.
THE PALL OF NINEVEH.
The days of old return;-I breathe the air
Of the young world; I see her giant sons,
Like to a gorgeous pageant in the sky
Of summer's evening, cloud on fiery cloud
Thronging upheaved, before me rise the walls
Of the Titanic city, brazen gates,-
Towers,—temples,-palaces enormous piled, -
Imperial Nineveh, the earthly queen!
In all her golden pomp I see her now,
Her swarming streets,-her splendid festivals, –
Her sprightly damsels to the timbrel's sound
Airily bounding, and their anklets' chime,-
Her lusty sons, like summer-morning gay,
Her warriors stern,-her rich-robed rulers grave;
I see her halls sun-bright at midnight shine,-
I hear the music of her banquetings;
I hear the laugh, the whisper, and the sigh.
A sound of stately treading towards me comes,
A silken wafting on the cedar-floor:
As from Arabia's flowering groves, an air
Delicious breathes around, -tall, lofty-browed,
Pale, and majestically beautiful,
In vesture gorgeous as the clouds of morn,-
With slow, proud step, her glorious dames sweep by.
Again I look, and lo! around the walls
Unnumbered hosts in flaming panoply,
Chariots like fire, and thunder-bearing steeds!
I hear the shouts of battle:- like the waves
Of the tumultuous sea they roll and rush -
In flame and smoke the imperial city sinks!
Her walls are gone, her palaces are dust-
The desert is around her, and within
Like shadows have the mighty passed away!
Whence, and how came the ruin? by the hand
Of the oppressor were the nations bowed;
They rose against him, and prevailed; for he,
The haughty monarch who the earth could rule,
By his own furious passions was o'er-ruled:
With pride his understanding was made dark,
That he the truth knew not; and by his lusts,
And by the fierceness of his wrath, the hearts
Of men he turned from him. So to kings
Be he example that the tyrannous
And iron rod breaks down at length the hand
That wields it strongest; that by virtue alone
And justice monarchs sway the hearts of men;
For there hath God implanted love of these,
And hatred of oppression, which, unseen
And noiseless though it work, yet in the end,
E'en like the viewless elements of the storm,
Brooding in silence, will in thunder burst!
So let the nations learn, that not in wealth,
Nor in the grosser pleasures of the sense,
Nor in the glare of conquest, nor the pomp
Of vassal kings, and tributary lands,
Do happiness and lasting power abide; -
That virtue unto man best glory is,
His strength, and truest wisdom;-and that guilt,
Though for a season it the heart delight,
Or to worse deeds the bad man do make strong,
Brings misery yet, and terror, and remorse,
And weakness and destruction in the end :
So if the nations learn, then not in vain
The mighty one hath been, and is no more!
THE BURNING OF THE FOREST BY COMMAND OF SARDA-
NAPALUS, AND BATTLE BY NIGHT BEFORE THE WALLS
WITH shouts of gladness, when the monarch ceased,
Rushed thousands to the work, then hastily,
His task to accomplish, Salamenes went, -
Nor more to sway the headlong monarch strove.
But, as he walked, a frequent glance behind
On that strange battle cast he-rock and dell
In lurid splendour,—and the raging hosts,
Like fiery foam on a dark sea of hell,
Tossing and working. From the plain anon,-
Shaking their torches,—shouting frantically,
Towered the cedar forest and the pine.
Thousands rush onward. A thin vapour mounts,-
A low flame gathers,-rises,--smoke like clouds
That bring the tempest, all the forest top
In darkness wraps :-a moaning sound is heard,
A crackling and a hiss :-bursts here and there
A sheet of flame, and sinks and bursts anew.
With roar incessant as of storm-vexed deeps,
In mighty volumes streaming to the clouds,
Goes up at length the universal blaze.
The sky, like to a fiery ocean flames:
Mountain and plain, far as the eye can reach,
The camps,-the battle,-as beneath the sun,
Shine out distinct. Terrific is the din :-
The thunder-roaring of the flames,-the crash
Of branch and giant-trunk,—the roll and jar
Or rocks descending,--and the ceaseless clang
Of armour, and the shoutings of the hosts,
Horribly mingling to the heavens go up.
The watchmen on the distant city-walls
That uproar hear,--and in the sky amazed
The wondrous splendour see. With crowds anon
The eastern wall is thronged :-and till the morn,
Marvelling they stand, -and of the issue fear.
Is one of the Society of Friends, commonly called Quakers. His poems display great depth and tenderness of feeling, with much of the unostentatious piety that honourably distinguishes the unobtrusive sect to which he belongs.
THE SOLITARY TOMB.
Not a leaf of the tree which stood near me was stirred,
Though a breath might have moved it so lightly;
Not a farewell note from a sweet singing bind,
Bade adieu to the sun setting brightly. The sky was cloudless and calm, except
In the west where the sun was descending; And there the rich tints of the rainbow slept,
As his beams with their beauty were blending,
And the evening star, with its ray so clear,
So tremulous, soft, and tender,
Had lit up its lamp, and shot down from its sphere
Its dewy delightful splendour.