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Wide flew the men of spear and shield;
Scattered like foam along the wave,
Flew the proud pageant, prince and slave;
Or, in the chains of terror bound,
Lay, corpse-like, on the smouldering ground.
"Speak, King! the wrath is but begun,
Still dumb? - Then, Heaven, thy will be done!"
Echoed from earth a hollow roar,
Like ocean on the midnight shore;
A sheet of lightning o'er them wheeled,
The solid ground beneath them reeled;
In dust sank roof and battlement;
Like webs the giant walls were rent;
Red, broad, before his startled gaze,
The Monarch saw his Egypt blaze.
Still swelled the plague, the flame grew pale;
Burst from the clouds the charge of hail;
With arrowy keenness, iron weight,
Down poured the ministers of fate;
Till man and cattle, crushed, congealed,
Covered with death the boundless field.
Still swelled the plague,
uprose the blast,
The avenger, fit to be the last;
On ocean, river, forest, vale,
Thundered at once the mighty gale.
Before the whirlwind flew the tree,
Beneath the whirlwind roared the sea;
A thousand ships were on the wave,
Where are they? ask that foaming grave!
Down go the hope, the pride of years;
Down go the myriad mariners;
The riches of Earth's richest zone,
Gone! like a flash of lightning, gone!
And, lo! that first fierce triumph o'er,
Swells Ocean on the shrinking shore;
Still onward, onward, dark and wide,
Engulfs the land the furious tide.
Then bowed thy spirit, stubborn King,
Thou serpent, reft of fang and sting;
Humbled before the prophet's knee,
He groaned, "Be injured Israel free!"
3. THREE DAYS IN THE LIFE OF COLUMBUS.- Original adaptation of a translation from Delavigne.
On the deck stood Columbus; the ocean's expanse,
Untried and unlimited, swept by his glance.
"Back to Spain! cry his men ; "Put the vessel about!
We venture no further through danger and doubt."
"Three days, and I give you a world!" he replied;
"Bear up, my brave comrades; three days shall decide."
He sails, but no token of land is in sight;
To Heaven the sage upraised his wand:
Back rolled the deluge from the land;
Back to its caverns sank the gale;
Fled from the noon the vapors pale;
Broad burned again the joyous sun;
The hour of wrath and death was done.
He sails, but the day shows no more than the night; -
On, onward he sails, while in vain o'er the lee
The lead is plunged down through a fathomless sea.
'Columbus! 't is day, and the darkness is o'er."
'Day! and what dost thou see?"
The pilot, in silence, leans mournfully o'er
The rudder which creaks mid the billowy roar;
He hears the hoarse moan of the spray-driving blast,
And its funeral wail through the shrouds of the mast.
The stars of far Europe have sunk from the skies,
And the great Southern Cross meets his terrified eyes;
But, at length, the slow dawn, softly streaking the night,
Illumes the blue vault with its faint crimson light.
"Sky and ocean. No more!"
The second day's past, and Columbus is sleeping,
While Mutiny near him its vigil is keeping:
"Shall he perish?"-"Ay! death!" is the barbarous cry;
"He must triumph to-morrow, or, perjured, must die!"
Ungrateful and blind! - shall the world-linking sea,
He traced for the Future, his sepulchre be?
Shall that sea, on the morrow, with pitiless waves,
Fling his corse on that shore which his patient eye craves ?
The corse of an humble adventurer, then ;
One day later,
Columbus, the first among men!
But, hush! he is dreaming! - A veil on the main,
At the distant horizon, is parted in twain,
And now, on his dreaming eye, - rapturous sight! -
Fresh bursts the New World from the darkness of night!
O, vision of glory! how dazzling it seems!
How glistens the verdure! how sparkle the streams!
How blue the far mountains! how glad the green isles!
And the earth and the ocean, how dimpled with smiles!
Joy! joy!" cries Columbus, "this region is mine!"
Ah! not e'en its name, wondrous dreamer, is thine!
But, lo! his dream changes; - a vision less bright
Comes to darken and banish that scene of delight.
The gold-seeking Spaniards, a merciless band,
Assail the meek natives, and ravage the land.
He sees the fair palace, the temple on fire,
And the peaceful Cazique 'mid their ashes expire;
He sees, too, - O, saddest! O, mournfullest sight!
The crucifix gleam in the thick of the fight.
More terrible far than the merciless steel
Is the up-lifted cross in the red hand of Zeal!
Again the dream changes. Columbus looks forth,
And a bright constellation beholds in the North.
"Tis the herald of empire! A People appear,
Impatient of wrong, and unconscious of fear!
They level the forest, they ransack the seas,
Each zone finds their canvas unfurled to the breeze.
"Hold!" Tyranny cries; but their resolute breath
Sends back the reply, " Independence or death!"
The ploughshare they turn to a weapon of might,
And, defying all odds, they go forth to the fight.
They have conquered! The People, with grateful acclaim,
Look to Washington's guidance, from Washington's fame; ·
Behold Cincinnatus and Cato combined
In his patriot heart and republican mind.
O, type of true manhood! What sceptre or crown
But fades in the light of thy simple renown?
And lo! by the side of the Hero, a Sage,
In Freedom's behalf, sets his mark on the age;
Whom Science adoringly hails, while he wrings
The lightning from Heaven, the sceptre from kings!
At length, o'er Columbus slow consciousness breaks,
"Land! land!" cry the sailors; "land! land!"— he awakes, He runs, yes! behold it! - it blesseth his sight, The land! O, dear spectacle! transport! delight! O, generous sobs, which he cannot restrain!
What will Ferdinand say? and the Future? and Spain?
He will lay this fair land at the foot of the Throne, –
His King will repay all the ills he has known,
In exchange for a world what are honors and gains?
Or a crown? But how is he rewarded? — with chains!
4. DESTRUCTION OF THE PHILISTINES. -Milton.
It has been said of the following passage, that "the poet seems to exert no less force of genius
in describing, than Samson does strength of body in executing."
OCCASIONS drew me early to the city;
And, as the gates I entered with sunrise,
The morning trumpets festival proclaimed
Through each high street; little I had despatched,
When all abroad was rumored that this day
Samson should be brought forth, to show the People
Proof of his mighty strength in feats and games
I sorrowed at his captive state, but minded
Not to be absent at that spectacle.
The building was a spacious theatre
Half round, on two main pillars vaulted high,
With seats where all the lords, and each degree
Of sort, might sit, in order to behold;
The other side was open, where the throng
On banks and scaffolds under sky might stand;
I among these aloof obscurely stood.
The feast and noon grew high, and sacrifice
Had filled their hearts with mirth, high cheer, and wine,
When to their sports they turned. Immediately
Was Samson as a public servant brought,
In their state livery clad; before him pipes,
And timbrels, on each side went armed guards,
Both horse and foot, — before him and behind,
Archers, and slingers, cataphracts and spears.
At sight of him, the People with a shout
Rifted the air, clamoring their god with praise,
Who had made their dreadful enemy their thrall.
He, patient, but undaunted, where they led him,
Came to the place; and what was set before him,
Which without help of eye might be essayed,
To heave, pull, draw or break, he still performed
All with incredible, stupendous force;
None daring to appear antagonist.
At length, for intermission sake, they led him
Between the pillars; he his guide requested
(For so from such as nearer stood we heard),
As over-tired, to let him lean a while
With both his arms on those two massy pillars
* That is, men and horses in armor.
That to the archéd roof gave main support.
He, unsuspicious, led him; which when Samson
Felt in his arms, with head a while inclined,
And eyes fast fixed he stood, as one who prayed,
Or some great matter in his mind revolved:
At last, with head erect, thus cried aloud:
"Hitherto, Lords, what your commands imposed
I have performed, as reason was, obeying,
Not without wonder or delight beheld;
Now of my own accord such other trial
I mean to show you of my strength, yet greater,
As with amaze shall strike all who behold."
This uttered, straining all his nerves, he bowed:
As with the force of winds and waters pent,
When mountains tremble, those two massy pillars
With horrible convulsion to and fro
He tugged, he shook, till down they came, and drew
The whole roof after them, with burst of thunder
Upon the heads of all who sat beneath,
Lords, ladies, captains, counsellors, or priests,
Their choice nobility and flower, not only
Of this, but each Philistian city round,
Met from all parts to solemnize this feast.
Samson, with these immixed, inevitably
Pulled down the same destruction on himself;
The vulgar only 'scaped, who stood without.
5. SATAN'S ENCOUNTER WITH DEATH.-Milton.
BLACK it stood as night,
Fierce as ten furies, terrible as hell,
And shook a dreadful dart; what seemed his head
The likeness of a kingly crown had on.
Satan was now at hand; and from his seat
The monster moving onward came as fast,
With horrid strides; hell trembled as he strode.
The undaunted fiend what this might be admired,
Admired, not feared; God and His Son except,
Created thing naught valued he, nor shunned.
And with disdainful look thus first began:
"Whence, and what art thou, execrable shape! That darest, though grim and terrible, advance Thy miscreated front athwart my way To yonder gates? Through them I mean to pass, That be assured, without leave asked of thee: Retire, or taste thy folly; and learn by proof, Hellborn! not to contend with spirits of Heaven!" To whom the goblin, full of wrath, replied: