The Voyage Of Columbus
[Inscribed On The Original Manuscript.]
Unclasp me, Stranger; and unfold,
With trembling care my leaves of gold,
Rich in gothic portraiture--
If yet, alas, a leaf endure.
In Rabida's monastic fane
I cannot ask, and ask in vain.
The language an Arab, many a Greek,
Old in the days of Charlemain;
When minstrel-music wandered round,
And Science, waking, blessed the sound.
No earthly thought has here a place,
The cowl let down on every face;
Yet here, in consecrated dust,
Here would I sleep, if sleep I must.
From Genoa when Columbus came,
(At once her glory and her shame)
'Twas here he caught the holy flame.
'Twas here the generous vow he made;
His banners on the altar laid.
Here tempest-worn and desolate
A Pilot, journeying thro' the wild,
Stopt to solicit at the gate
A pittance for his child.
'Twas here, unknowing and unknown,
He stood upon the threshold-stone.
But hope was his -- a faith sublime,
That triumphs over place and time;
And here, his mighty labour done,
And his course of glory run,
Awhile as more than man he stood,
So large the debt of gratitude!
One hallowed morn, methought, I felt
As if a soul within me dwelt!
But who arose and gave to me
The sacred trust I keep for thee,
And in his cell at even-tide
Knelt before the cross and died--
Inquire not now. His name no more
Glimmers on the chancel-floor,
Near the lights that ever shine
Before St. Mary's blessed shrine.
To me one little hour devote,
And lay thy staff and scrip beside thee;
Read in the temper that he wrote,
And may his gentle spirit guide thee!
My leaves forsake me, one by one;
The book-worm thro' and thro' has gone.
Oh haste -- unclasp me, and unfold;
The tale within was never told!
Night--Columbus on the Atlantic--the Variation of the Compass, &c.
Say who, when age on age has rolled away,
And still, as sunk the golden Orb of day,
The seamen watched him, while he lingered here,
With many a wish to follow, many a fear,
And gazed and gazed, and wondered where he went,
So bright his path, so glorious his descent,
Who first adventured--In his birth obscure,
And issuing through the portals of the West,
Fearless, resolved, with every sail unfurled,
Planted his standard on the Unknown World?
Him, by the Paynim bard descried of yore,
And ere his coming sung on either shore,
Him, ere the birth of Time by Heaven designed
To lift the veil that covered half mankind,
None can exalt--------------------
Yet, ere I die, I would fulfil my vow;
Praise cannot wound his generous spirit now.
'Twas night. The moon, o'er the wide wave, disclosed
Her awful face; and Nature's self reposed;
When, slowly rising in the azure sky,
Three white sails shone--but to no mortal eye,
Entering a boundless sea. In slumber cast,
The very ship-boy, on the dizzy mast,
Half breathed his orisons! Alone unchanged,
Calmly, beneath, the great Commander ranged,
Thoughtful not sad; and, as the planet grew,
His noble form, wrapt in his mantle blue,
Athwart the deck a deepening shadow threw.
'Thee hath it pleased -- Thy will be done!' he said,
Then sought his cabin; and, their garments spread,
When, by his lamp to that mysterious Guide,
On whose still counsels all his hopes relied,
That Oracle to man in mercy given,
Whose voice is truth, whose wisdom is from heaven,
Who over sands and seas directs the stray,
And, as with God's own finger, points the way,
He turned; but what strange thoughts perplexed his soul,
When, lo, no more attacted to the Pole,
The compass, faithless as the circling vane,
Fluttered and fixed, fluttered and fixed again!
At length, as by some unseen Hand imprest,
It sought with trembling energy -- the West!
'Ah no!' he cried, and calmed his anxious brow,
'Ill, nor the signs of ill, 'tis thine to show;
Thine but to lead me where I wished to go!'
Columbus erred not. In that awful hour,
Sent forth to save, and girt with God-like power,
And glorious as the regent of the sun,
An Angel came! He spoke, and it was done!
He spoke, and, at his call, a mighty Wind,
Not like the fitful blast, with fury blind,
But deep, majestic, in its destined course,
Sprung with unerring, unrelenting force,
From the bright East. Tides duly ebbed and flowed;
Stars rose and set; and new horizons glowed;
Yet still it blew! As with primeval sway
Still did its ample spirit, night and day,
Move on the waters! -- All, resigned to Fate,
Folded their arms and sate; and seemed to wait
Some sudden change; and sought, in chill suspense,
New spheres of being, and new modes of sense;
As men departing, though not doomed to die,
And midway on their passage to eternity.
The Voyage continued.
'What vast foundations in the Abyss are there,
As of a former world? Is it not where
Atlantic kings their barbarous pomp displayed;
Sunk into darkness with the realms they swayed,
When towers and temples, thro' the closing wave,
A glimmering ray of ancient splendour gave--
And we shall rest with them.--Or are we thrown'
(Each gazed on each, and all exclaimed as one)
'Where things familiar cease and strange begin,
All progress barred to those without, within?
--Soon is the doubt resolved. Arise, behold--
We stop to stir no more...nor will the tale be told.'
The pilot smote his breast; the watchman cried
'Land!' and his voice in faltering accents died.
At once the fury of the prow was quelled;
And (whence or why from many an age withheld)
Shrieks, not of men, were mingling in the blast;
And armed shapes of god-like stature passed!
Slowly along the evening-sky they went,
As on the edge of some vast battlement;
Helmet and shield, and spear and gonfalon,
Streaming a baleful light that was not of the sun!
Long from the stern the great Adventurer gazed
With awe not fear; then high his hands he raised.
'Thou All-supreme - - - in goodness as in power,
Who, from his birth to this eventful hour,
Hast led thy servant over land and sea,
Confessing Thee in all, and all in Thee,
Oh still' -- He spoke, and lo, the charm accurst
Fled whence it came, and the broad barrier burst!
A vain illusion! (such as mocks the eyes
Of fearful men, when mountains round them rise
From less than nothing) nothing now beheld,
But scattered sedge -- repelling, and repelled!
And once again that valiant company
Right onward came, ploughing the Unknown Sea.
Already borne beyond the range of thought,
With Light divine, with Truth immortal fraught,
From world to world their steady course they keep,
Swift as the winds along the waters sweep,
'Mid the mute nations of the purple deep.
-- And now the sound of harpy-wings they hear;
Now less and less, as vanishing in fear!
And see, the heavens bow down, the waters rise,
And, rising, shoot in columns to the skies,
That stand--and still, when they proceed, retire,
As in the Desert burned the sacred fire;
Moving in silent majesty, till Night
Descends, and shuts the vision from their sight.
An Assembly of Evil Spirits.
Tho' changed my cloth of gold for amice grey--
In my spring-time, when every month was May,
With hawk and hound I coursed away the hour,
Or sung my roundelay in lady's bower.
And tho' my world be now a narrow cell,
(Renounced for ever all I loved so well)
Tho' now my head be bald, my feet be bare,
And scarce my knees sustain my book of prayer,
Oh I was there, one of that gallant crew,
And saw--and wondered whence his Power He drew,
Yet little thought, tho' by his side I stood,
Of his great Foes in earth and air and flood,
Then uninstructed.--But my sand is run,
And the Night coming - - - and my Task not done! - -
'Twas in the deep, immeasurable cave
Of Andes, echoing to the Southern wave,
'Mid pillars of Basalt, the work of fire,
That, giant-like, to upper day aspire,
'Twas there that now, as wont in heaven to shine,
Forms of angelic mould and grace divine
Assembled. All, exiled the realms of rest,
In vain the sadness of their souls suppressed;
Yet of their glory many a scattered ray
Shot thro' the gathering shadows of decay.
Each moved a God; and all, as Gods, possessed
One half the globe; from pole to pole confessed!
Oh could I now -- but how in mortal verse --
Their numbers, their heroic deeds rehearse!
These in dim shrines and barbarous symbols reign,
Where Plata and Maragnon meet the Main.
Those the wild hunter worships as he roves,
In the green shade of Chili's fragrant groves;
Or warrior tribes with rites of blood implore,
Whose night-fires gleam along the sullen shore
Of Huron or Ontario, inland seas,
What time the song of death is in the breeze!
'Twas now in dismal pomp and order due,
While the vast concave flashed with lightnings blue,
On shining pavements of metallic ore,
That many an age the fusing sulphur bore,
They held high council. All was silence round,
When, with a voice most sweet yet most profound,
A sovereign Spirit burst the gates of night,
And from his wings of gold shook drops of liquid light!
Merion, commissioned with his host to sweep
From age to age the melancholy deep!
Chief of the Zemi, whom the Isles obeyed,
By Ocean severed from a world of shade.
'Prepare, again prepare,'
Thus o'er the soul the thrilling accents came,
'Thrones to resign for lakes of living flame,
And triumph for despair.
He, on whose call afflicting thunders wait,
Has willed it; and his will is fate!
In vain the legions, emulous to save,
Hung in the tempest o'er the troubled main;
Turned each presumptuous prow that broke the wave,
And dashed it on its shores again.
All is fulfilled! Behold, in close array,
What mighty banners stream in the bright track of day!
'No voice as erst shall in the desert rise;
Nor ancient, dread solemnities
With scorn of death the trembling tribes inspire.
Wreaths for the Conqueror's brow the victims bind!
Yet, tho' we fled yon firmament of fire,
Still shall we fly, all hope of rule resigned?'
He spoke; and all was silence, all was night!
Each had already winged his formidable flight.
The Voyage continued.
'Ah, why look back, tho' all is left behind?
No sounds of life are stirring in the wind.--
And you, ye birds, winging your passage home,
How blest we are!--We know not where we roam.
We go,' they cried, 'go to return no more;
Nor ours, alas, the transport to explore
A human footstep on a desert shore!'
--Still, as beyond this mortal life impelled
By some mysterious energy, He held
His everlasting course. Still self-possessed,
High on the deck He stood, disdaining rest;
(His amber chain the only badge he bore,
His mantle blue such as his fathers wore)
Fathomed, with searching hand, the dark profound,
And scattered hope and glad assurance round;
Tho', like some strange portentous dream, the Past
Still hovered, and the cloudless sky o'ercast.
At day-break might the Caravels be seen,
Chasing their shadows o'er the deep serene;
Their burnished prows lashed by the sparkling tide,
Their green-cross standards waving far and wide.
And now once more to better thoughts inclined,
The sea-man, mounting, clamoured in the wind.
The soldier told his tales of love and war;
The courtier sung -- sung to his gay guitar.
Round, at Primero, sate a whiskered band;
So Fortune smiled, careless of sea or land!
Leon, Montalvan, (serving side by side;
Two with one soul -- and, as they lived, they died)
Vasco the brave, thrice found among the slain,
Thrice, and how soon, up and in arms again,
As soon to wish he had been sought in vain;
Chained down in Fez, beneath the bitter thong,
To the hard bench and heavy oar so long!
Albert of Florence, who, at twilight-time,
In my rapt ear poured Dante's tragic rhyme,
Screened by the sail as near the mast we lay,
Our nights illumined by the ocean-spray;
And Manfred, who espoused with jewelled ring
Young Isabel, then left her sorrowing:
Lerma 'the generous,' Avila 'the proud;'
Velasquez, Garcia, thro' the echoing crowd
Traced by their mirth--from Ebro's classic shore,
From golden Tajo, to return no more!
The Voyage continued.
Yet who but He undaunted could explore
A world of waves, a sea without a shore,
Trackless and vast and wild as that revealed
When round the Ark the birds of tempest wheeled;
When all was still in the destroying hour--
No sign of man! no vestige of his power!
One at the stern before the hour-glass stood,
As 'twere to count the sands; one o'er the flood
Gazed for St. Elmo; while another cried
'Once more good morrow!' and sate down and sighed.
Day, when it came, came only with its light.
Though long invoked, 'twas sadder than the night!
Look where He would, for ever as He turned,
He met the eye of one that inly mourned.
Then sunk his generous spirit, and He wept.
The friend, the father rose; the hero slept.
Palos, thy port, with many a pang resigned,
Filled with its busy scenes his lonely mind;
The solemn march, the vows in concert given,
The bended knees and lifted hands to heaven,
The incensed rites choral harmonies,
The Guardian's blessings mingled with his sighs;
While his dear boys -- ah, on his neck they hung,
And long at parting to his garments clung.
Oft in the silent night-watch doubt and fear
Broke in uncertain murmurs on his ear.
Oft the stern Catalan, at noon of day,
Muttered dark threats, and lingered to obey;
Tho' that brave Youth -- he, whom his courser bore
Right thro' the midst, when, fetlock-deep in gore,
The great Gonzalo battled with the Moor,
(What time the Alhambra shook -- soon to unfold
Its sacred courts, and fountains yet untold,
Its holy texts and arabesques of gold)
Tho' Roldan, sleep and death to him alike,
Grasped his good swords and half unsheathed to strike.
'Oh born to wander with your flocks,' he cried,
'And bask and dream along the mountain-side;
To urge your mules, tinkling from hill to hill;
Or at the vintage-feast to drink your fill,
And strike your castanets, with gipsy-maid
Dancing Fandangos in the chestnut shade --
Come on,' he cried, and threw his glove in scorn,
'Not this your wonted pledge, the brimming horn.
Valiant in peace! Adventurous at home!
Oh, had ye vowed with pilgrim-staff to roam;
Or with banditti sought the sheltering wood,
Where mouldering crosses mark the scene of blood!--'
He said, he drew; then, at his Master's frown,
Sullenly sheathed, plunging the weapon down.
The flight of an Angel of Darkness.
War and the Great in War let others sing,
Havoc and spoil, and tears and triumphing;
The morning-march that flashes to the sun,
The feast of vultures when the day is done;
And the strange tale of many slain for one!
I sing a Man, amid his sufferings here,
Who watched and served in humbleness and fear;
Gentle to others, to himself severe.
Still unsubdued by Danger's varying form,
Still, as unconscious of the coming storm,
He looked elate; and, with his wonted smile,
On the great Ordnance leaning, would beguile
The hour with talk. His beard, his mien sublime,
Shadowed by Age -- by Age before the time,
From many a sorrow borne in many a clime,
Moved every heart. And now in opener skies
Stars yet unnamed of purer radiance rise!
And on the bright wave fling the trembling mast!
Another firmament! the orbs that roll,
Singly or clustering, round the Southern pole!
Not yet the four that glorify the Night--
Ah, how forget when to my ravished sight,
The Cross shone forth in everlasting light!
'Twas the mid hour, when He, whose accents dread
Still wandered thro' the regions of the dead,
(Merion, commissioned with his host to sweep
From age to age the melancholy deep)
To elude the seraph-guard that watched for man,
And mar, as erst, the Eternal's perfect plan,
Rose like the Condor, and, at towering height,
In pomp of plumage sailed, deepening the shades of night.
Roc of the West! to him all empire given!
Who bears Axalhua's dragon-folds to heaven;
His flight a whirlwind, and, when heard afar,
Like thunder, or the distant din of war!
Mountains and seas fled backward as he passed
O'er the great globe, by not a cloud o'ercast
From the Antarctic, from the Land of Fire
To where the Alasca's wintry wilds retire;
From mines of gold, and giant-sons of earth,
To grots of ice, and tribes of pigmy birth
Who freeze alive, nor, dead, in dust repose,
High-hung in forests to the casing snows.
Now 'mid angelic multitudes he flies,
That hourly come with blessings from the skies;
Wings the blue element, and, borne sublime,
Eyes the set sun, gilding each distant clime;
Then, like a meteor, shooting to the main,
Melts into pure intelligence again.
A mutiny excited.
What tho' Despondence reigned, and wild Affright--
Stretched in the midst, and, thro' that dismal night
By his white plume revealed and buskins white,
Slept Roldan. When he closed his gay career,
Hope fled for ever, and with Hope fled Fear.
Blest with each gift indulgent Fortune sends,
Birth and its rights, wealth and its train of friends,
Star-like he shone! Now beggared and alone,
Danger he wooed, and claimed her for his own.
O'er him a Vampire his dark wings displayed.
'Twas Merion's self, covering with dreadful shade.
He came, and, couched on Roldan's ample breast,
Each secret pore of breathing life possessed,
Fanning the sleep that seemed his final rest;
Then, inly gliding like a subtle flame,
Thrice, with a cry that thrilled the mortal frame,
Called on the Spirit within. Disdaining flight,
Calmly she rose, collecting all her might.
Dire was the dark encounter! Long unquelled,
Her sacred seat, sovereign and pure, she held.
At length the great Foe binds her for his prize,
And awful, as in death, the body lies!
Not long to slumber! In an evil hour
Informed and lifted by the unknown Power,
It starts, it speaks! 'We live, we breathe no more!
The fatal wind blows on the dreary shore!
On yonder cliffs beckoning their fellow-prey,
The spectres stalk, and murmur at delay!
-- Yet if thou canst (not for myself I plead!
Mine but to follow where 'tis thine to lead)
Oh turn and save! To thee, with streaming eyes,
To thee each widow kneels, each orphan cries!
Who now, condemned the lingering hours to tell,
Think and but think of those they loved so well!'
All melt in tears! but what can tears avail?
These climb the mast, and shift the swelling sail.
These snatch the helm; and round me now I hear
Smiting of hands, out-cries of grief and fear,
(That in the aisles at midnight haunt me still,
Turning my lonely thoughts from good to ill)
'Were there no graves -- none in our land,' they cry,
'That thou hast brought us on the deep to die?'
Silent with sorrow, long within his cloak
His face he muffled -- then the Hero spoke.
'Generous and brave! when God himself is here,
Why shake at shadows in your mid career?
He can suspend the laws himself designed,
He walks the waters, and the winged wind;
Himself your guide! and yours the high behest,
To lift your voice, and bid a world be blest!
And can you shrink? to you, to you consigned
The glorious privilege to serve mankind!
Oh had I perished, when my failing frame
Clung to the shattered oar 'mid wrecks of flame!
-- Was it for this I lingered life away!
The scorn of Folly, and of Fraud the prey;
Bowed down my mind, the gift His bounty gave,
At courts a suitor, and to slaves a slave?
--Yet in His name whom only we should fear,
('Tis all, all I shall ask, or you shall hear),
Grant but three days.' -- He spoke not uninspired;
And each in silence to his watch retired.
At length among us came an unknown Voice!
'Go, if ye will; and, if ye can, rejoice.
Go, with unbidden guests the banquet share;
In his own shape shall Death receive you there.'
Twice in the zenith blazed the orb of light;
No shade, all sun, insufferably bright!
Then the long line found rest -- in coral groves
Silent and dark, where the sea-lion roves:--
And all on deck, kindling to life again,
Sent forth their anxious spirits o'er the main.
'Oh whence, as wafted from Elysium, whence
These perfumes, strangers to the raptured sense?
These boughs of gold, and fruits of heavenly hue,
Tinging with vermeil light the billows blue?
And (thrice, thrice blessed is the eye that spied,
The hand that snatched it sparkling in the tide)
Whose cunning carved this vegetable bowl,
Symbol of social rites, and intercourse of soul?'
Such to their grateful ear the gush of springs,
Who course the ostrich, as away she wings;
Sons of the desert! who delight to dwell
'Mid kneeling camels round the sacred well;
Who, ere the terrors of his pomp be passed,
Fall to the demon in the redd'ning blast.
< br>The sails were furled; with many a melting close,
Solemn and slow the evening-anthem rose,
Rose to the Virgin. 'Twas the hour of day,
When setting suns o'er summer-seas display
A path of glory, opening in the west
To golden climes, and islands of the blest;
And human voices, on the silent air,
Went o'er the waves in sons of gladness there!
Chosen of men! 'Twas thine, at noon of night,
First from the prow to hail the glimmering light:
(Emblem of Truth divine, whose secret ray
Enters the soul and makes the darkness day!)
'Pedro! Rodrigo! there, methought, it shone!
There--in the west! and now, alas, 'tis gone!--
'Twas all a dream! we gaze and gaze in vain!
--But mark and speak not, there it comes again!
It moves!--what form unseen, what being there
With torch-like lustre fires the murky air?
His instincts, passions, say how like our own?
Oh! when will day reveal a world unknown?'
CAN TO IX.
The New World.
Long on the wave the morning mists reposed,
Then broke -- and, melting into light, disclosed
Half-circling hills, whose everlasting woods
Sweep with their sable skirts the shadowy floods:
And say, when all, to holy transport given,
Embraced and wept as at the gates of Heaven,
When one and all of us, repentant, ran,
And, on our faces, blessed the wondrous Man;
Say, was I then deceived, or from the skies
Burst on my ear seraphic harmonies?
'Glory to God!' unnumbered voices sung,
'Glory to God!' the vales and mountains rung,
Voices that hailed Creation's primal morn,
And to the Shepherds sung a Saviour born.
Slowly, bare-headed, through the surf we bore
The sacred cross, and, kneeling, kissed the shore.
But what a scene was there! Nymphs of romance,
Youths graceful as the Faun, with eager glance,
Spring from the glades, and down the alleys peep,
Then headlong rush, bounding from steep to steep,
And clap their hands, exclaiming as they run,
'Come and behold the children of the Sun!'
When hark, a signal shot! The voice, it came
Over the sea in darkness and in flame!
They saw, they heard; and up the highest hill,
As in a picture, all at once were still!
Creatures so fair, in garments strangely wrought,
From citadels, with Heaven's own thunder fraught,
Checked their light footsteps -- statue-like they stood,
As worshipped forms, the Genii of the Wood!
At length the spell dissolves! The warrior's lance
Rings on the tortoise with wild dissonance!
And see, the regal plumes, the couch of state!
Still where it moves the wise in council wait!
See now borne forth the monstrous mask of gold,
And ebon chair of many a serpent-fold;
These new exchanged for gifts that thrice surpass
The wondrous ring, the lamp, and horse of brass.
What long-drawn tube transports the gazer home,
Kindling with stars at noon the ethereal dome?
'Tis here: and here circles of solid light
Charm with another self the cheated sight;
As man to man another self disclose,
That now with terror starts, with triumph glows!
Cora--Luxuriant Vegetation--the Humming-bird--the Fountain of Youth.
Then Cora came, the youngest of her race,
And in her hands she hid her lovely face;
Yet oft by stealth a timid glance she cast,
And now with playful step the Mirror passed,
Each bright reflection brighter than the last!
And oft behind it flew, and oft before;
The more she searched, pleased and perplexed the more!
And look'd and laugh'd, and blush'd with quick surprise!
Her lips all mirth, all ecstasy her eyes!
But soon the telescope attracts her view;
And lo, her lover in his light canoe
Rocking, at noon-tide, on the silent sea,
Before her lies! It cannot, cannot be.
Late as he left the shore, she lingered there,
Till, less and less, he melted into air!--
Sigh after sigh steals from her gentle frame,
And say -- that murmur -- was it not his name?
She turns, and thinks; and, lost in wild amaze,
Gazes again, and could for ever gaze!
Nor can thy flute, Alonso, now excite
As in Valencia, when, with fond delight,
Franscica, waking, to the lattice flew,
So soon to love, and to be wretched too!
Hers thro' a convent-grate to send her last adieu.
--Yet who now comes uncalled; and round and round,
And near and nearer flutters to the sound;
Then stirs not, breathes not -- on enchanted ground?
Who now lets fall the flowers she culled to wear
When he, who promised, should at eve be there;
And faintly smiles, and hands her head aside
The tear that glistens on her cheek to hide!
Ah, who but Cora? -- till inspired, possessed,
At once she springs, and clasps it to her breast!
Soon from the bay the mingling crowd ascends,
Kindred first met! by sacred instinct Friends!
Thro' citron-groves, and fields of yellow maize,
Thro' plantain-walks where not a sun-beam plays.
Here blue savannas fade into the sky,
There forests frown in midnight majesty;
Ceiba, and Indian fig, and plane sublime,
Nature's first-born, and reverenced by Time!
There sits the bird that speaks! there, quivering, rise
Wings that reflect the glow of evening skies!
Half bird, half fly, the fairy king of flowers
Reigns there, and reveals thro' the fragrant hours;
Gem full of life, and joy, and song divine,
Soon in the virgin's graceful ear to shine.
'Twas he that sung, if ancient Fame speaks truth,
'Come! follow, follow to the Fount of Youth!
I quaff the ambrosial mists that round it rise,
Dissolved and lost in dreams of Paradise!'
For there called forth, to bless a happier hour,
It met the sun in many a rainbow-shower!
Murmuring delight, its living waters rolled
'Mid branching palms and amaranths of gold!
Evening--a Banquet--the Ghost of Cazziva.
The tamarind closed her leaves; the marmoset
Dreamed on his bough, and played the mimic yet.
Fresh from the lake the breeze of twilight blew,
And vast and deep the mountain-shadows grew;
When many a fire-fly, shooting thro' the glade,
Spangled the locks of many a lovely maid,
Who now danced forth to strew our path with flowers,
And hymn our welcome to celestial bowers.
There odorous lamps adorned the festal rite,
And guavas blushed as in the vales of light.
There silent sate many an unbidden Guest,
Whose steadfast looks a secret dread impressed;
Not there forgot the sacred fruit that fed
At nightly feasts the Spirits of the Dead.
Mingling in scenes that mirth to mortals give,
But by their sadness known from those that live.
There met, as erst, within the wonted grove,
Unmarried girls and youths that died for love!
Sons now beheld their ancient sires again;
And sires, alas, their sons in battle slain!
But whence that sigh? 'twas from a heart that broke!
And whence that voice? As from the grave it spoke!
And who, as unresolved the feast to share,
Sits half-withdrawn in faded splendour there?
'Tis he of yore, the warrior and the sage,
Whose lips have moved in prayer from age to age;
Whose eyes, that wandered as in search before,
Now on Columbus fixed -- to search no more!
Cazziva, gifted in his day to know
The gathering signs of a long night of woe;
Gifted by Those who give but to enslave;
No rest in death, no refuge in the grave!
--With sudden spring as at the shout of war,
He flies! and, turning in his flight, from far
Glares thro' the gloom like some portentous star!
Unseen, unheard! Hence, Minister of Ill!
Hence, 'tis not yet the hour! tho' come it will!
They that foretold -- too soon shall they fulfil;
When forth they rush as with the torrent's sweep,
And deeds are done that make the Angels weep!
Hark, o'er the busy mead the shell proclaims
Triumphs, and masques, and high heroic games.
And now the old sit round; and now the young
Climb the green boughs, the murmuring doves among.
Who claims the prize, when winged feet contend;
When twanging bows the flaming arrows send?
Who stands self-centred in the field of fame,
And, grappling, flings to earth a giant's frame?
Whilst all, with anxious hearts and eager eyes,
Bend as he bends, and, as he rises, rise!
And Cora's self, in pride of beauty here,
Trembles with grief and joy, and hope and fear!
(She who, the fairest, ever flew the first,
With cup of balm to quench his burning thirst;
Knelt at his head, her fan-leaf in her hand,
And hummed the air that pleased him, while she fanned)
How blest his lot!--tho', by the Muse unsung,
His name shall perish, when his knell is rung.
That night, transported, with a sigh I said,
''Tis all a dream!' -- Now, like a dream, 'tis fled;
And many and many a year has passed away,
And I alone remain to watch and pray!
Yet oft in darkness, on my bed of straw,
Oft I awake and think on what I saw!
The groves, the birds, the youths, the nymphs recall,
And Cora, loveliest, sweetest of them all!
Still would I speak of Him before I went,
Who among us a life of sorrow spent,
And, dying, left a world his monument;
Still, if the time allowed! My Hour draws near;
But He will prompt me when I faint with fear.
- - - Alas, He hears me not! He cannot hear!
Twice the Moon filled her silver urn with light.
Then from the Throne an Angel winged his flight;
He, who unfixed the compass, and assigned
O'er the wild waves a pathway to the wind;
Who, while approached by none but Spirits pure,
Wrought, in his progress thro' the dead obscure,
Signs like the ethereal bow -- that shall endure!
As he descended thro' the upper air,
Day broke on day as God himself were there!
Before the great Discoverer, laid to rest,
He stood, and thus his secret soul addressed:
'The wind recalls thee; its still voice obey,
Millions await thy coming; hence, away.
To thee blest tidings of great joy consigned,
Another Nature, and a new Mankind!
The vain to dream, the wise to doubt shall cease;
Young men be glad, and old depart in peace!
Hence! tho' assembling in the fields of air,
Now, in a night of clouds thy Foes prepare
To rock the globe with elemental wars,
And dash the floods of ocean to the stars;
To bid the meek repine, the valiant weep,
And Thee restore thy Secret to the Deep!
'Not then to leave Thee! to their vengeance cast,
Thy heart their aliment, their dire repast!
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
To other eyes shall Mexico unfold
Her feathered tapestries, and roofs of gold.
To other eyes, from distant cliff descried,
Shall the Pacific roll his ample tide;
There destined soon rich argosies to ride.
Chains thy reward! beyond the Atlantic wave
Hung in thy chamber, buried in thy grave!
Thy reverend form to time and grief a prey,
A phantom wandering in the light of day!
'What tho' thy grey hairs to the dust descend,
Their scent shall track thee, track thee to the end;
Thy sons reproached with their great father's fame,
And on his world inscribed another's name!
That world a prison-house, full of sights of woe,
Where groans burst forth, and tears in torrents flow!
These gardens of the sun, sacred to song,
By dogs of carnage howling loud and long,
Swept--till the voyager, in the desert air,
Starts back to hear his altered accents there!
'Not thine the olive, but the sword to bring,
Not peace, but war! Yet from these shores shall spring
Peace without end; from these, with blood defiled,
Spread the pure spirit of thy Master mild!
Here, in His train, shall arts and arms attend,
Arts to adorn, and arms but to defend.
Assembling here, all nations shall be blest;
The sad be comforted; the weary rest;
Untouched shall drop the fetters from the slave;
And He shall rule the world he died to save!
'Hence, and rejoice. The glorious work is done.
A spark is thrown that shall eclipse the sun!
And, tho' bad men shall long thy course pursue,
As erst the ravening brood o'er chaos flew,
He, whom I serve, shall vindicate his reign;
The spoiler spoiled of all; the slayer slain;
The tyrant's self, oppressing and opprest,
'Mid gems and gold unenvied and unblest:
While to the starry sphere thy name shall rise,
(Not there unsung thy generous enterprise!)
Thine in all hearts to dwell -- by Fame enshrined,
With those, the Few, that live but for Mankind;
Thine evermore, transcendent happiness!
World beyond world to visit and to bless.'
On the last two leaves, and written in another hand,
are some stanzas in the romance or ballad measure of
the Spaniards. The subject is an adventure soon related.
Thy lonely watch-tower, Larenille,
Had lost the western sun;
And loud and long from hill to hill
Echoed the evening-gun,
When Hernan, rising on his oar,
Shot like an arrow from the shore.
--'Those lights are on St. Mary's Isle;
They glimmer from the sacred pile.'
The waves were rough; the hour was late,
But soon across the Tinto borne,
Thrice he blew the signal-horn,
He blew and would not wait.
Home by his dangerous path he went;
Leaving, in rich habiliment,
Two Strangers at the Convent-gate.
They ascended by steps hewn out in the rock; and,
having asked for admittance, were lodged there.
Brothers in arms the Guests appeared;
The Youngest with a Princely grace!
Short and sable was his beard,
Thoughtful and wan his face.
His velvet cap a medal bore,
And ermine fringed his broidered vest;
And, ever sparkling on his breast,
An image of St. John he wore.
The Eldest had a rougher aspect, and there was craft
in his eye. He stood a little behind in a long black
mantle, his hand resting on the hilt of his sword; and his
white hat and white shoes glittered in the moon-shine.
'Not here unwelcome, tho' unknown.
Enter and rest!' the Friar said.
The moon, that thro' the portal shone,
Shone on his reverend head.
Thro' many a court and gallery dim
Slowly he led, the burial-hymn
Swelling from the distant choir.
But now the holy men retire;
The arched cloisters issuing thro',
In long long order, two and two.
Wh en other sounds had died away,
And the waves were heard alone,
They entered, tho' unused to pray,
Where God was worshipped night and day,
And the dead knelt round in stone;
They entered, and from aisle to aisle
Wandered with folded arms awhile,
Where on his altar-tomb reclined
The crosiered Abbot; and the Knight
In harness for the Christian fight,
His hands in supplications joined;--
Then said as in a solemn mood,
'Now stand we where Columbus stood!'
'Perez, thou good old man,' they cried,
'And art thou in thy place of rest?--
Tho' in the western world His grave,
That other world, the gift He gave,
Would ye were sleeping side by side!
Of all his friends He loved thee best.'
The supper in the chamber done,
Much of a Southern Sea they spake,
And of that glorious city won
Near the setting of the Sun,
Throned in a silver lake;
Of seven kings in chains of gold
And deeds of death by tongue untold,
Deeds such as breathed in secret there
Had shaken the Confession-chair!
The Eldest swore by our Lady, the Youngest by his
conscience; while the Franscican, sitting by in his grey
habit, turned away and crossed himself again and again.
'Here is a little book,' said he at last, 'the work of him
in his shroud below. It tells of things you have men-
tioned; and, were Cortez and Pizarro here, it might
perhaps as he took it into his hand. He read it aloud to
his companion with an unfaltering voice; but, when he
laid it down, a silence ensued; nor was he seen to smile
again that night. 'The curse is heavy,' said he at
parting, 'but Cortes may live to disappoint it.'--'Ay,
and Pizarro too!'
A circumstance, recorded by Herrera, reders this
visit not improbable. 'In May, 1528, Cortes arrived
unexpectedly at Palos; and, soon after he had landed, he
and Pizarro met and rejoiced; and it was remarkable
that they should meet, as they were two of the most re-
nowned men in the world.' B. Diaz makes no mention
of the interview; but, relating an occurrence that took
place at this time in Palos, says, 'that Cortes was now
absent at Nuestra Senora de la Rábida.' The convent
is within half a league of the town.
Samuel Rogers's Other Poems
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Comments about this poem (The Voyage Of Columbus by Samuel Rogers )
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