Helen Maria Williams
Peruvian Tales: Alzira, Tale Ii - Poem by Helen Maria Williams
PIZARRO lands with the Forces--His meeting with ATALIBA --Its un-
happy consequences--ZORAI dies--ATALIBA imprisoned, and strangled
--Despair of ALZIRA .
Flush'd with impatient hope, the martial band,
By stern PIZARRO led, approach the land;
No terrors arm his hostile brow, for guile
Seeks to betray with candour's open smile.
Too artless for distrust, the Monarch springs
To meet his latent foe on friendship's wings.
On as he moves, with dazzling splendour crown'd,
His feather'd chiefs the golden throne surround;
The waving canopy its plume displays,
Whose waving hues reflect the morning rays;
With native grace he hails the warrior train,
Who stood majestic on PERUVIA'S plain,
In all the savage pomp of armour drest,
The frowning helmet, and the nodding crest.
Yet themes of joy PIZARRO'S lips impart,
And charm with eloquence the simple heart;
Unfolding to the monarch's wond'ring thought
All that inventive arts the rude have taught.
And now he bids the musing spirit rise
Above the circle of surrounding skies;
Presents the page that sheds Religion's light
O'er the dark mist of intellectual night:
While, thrill'd with awe, the monarch trembling stands,
He dropp'd the hallow'd volume from his hands.
Sudden,* while frantic zeal each breast inspires,
And shudd'ring demons fan the rising fires,
The bloody signal waves, the banners play,
The naked sabres flash their streaming ray;
The trumpet rolls its animating sound,
And the loud cannon rend the vault around;
While fierce in sanguine rage, the sons of Spain
Rush on Peru's unarm'd, defenceless train!
The fiends of slaughter urg'd their dire career,
And virtue's guardian spirits dropped a tear!
Mild ZORAI fell, deploring human strife,
And clos'd with prayer his consecrated life!--
In vain PERUVIA'S chiefs undaunted stood,
Shield their lov'd Prince, and bathe his robes in blood;--
Touch'd with heroic ardour, cling around,
And high of soul, receive each fatal wound;
Dragg'd from his throne, and hurried o'er the plain,
The wretched Monarch swells the captive train;
With iron grasp the frantic Prince they bear,
And feel their triumph in his wild despair.--
Deep in the gloomy dungeon's lone domain,
Lost ATALIBA wore the galling chain;
The earth's cold bed refus'd oblivious rest,
While throbb'd the woes of thousands at his breast;
ALZIRA'S desolating moan he hears,
And with the monarch's blends the lover's tears.
Soon had ALZIRA felt affliction's dart
Pierce her soft soul, and rend her bleeding heart;
Its quick pulsations paus'd, and chill'd with dread,
A livid hue her fading cheek o'erspread;
No tear the mourner shed, she breath'd no sigh,
Her lips were mute, and clos'd her languid eye;
Fainter, and slower heav'd her shiv'ring breast,
And her calm'd passions seem'd in death to rest.--
At length reviv'd, 'mid rising heaps of slain,
She prest with hurried step the crimson plain;
The dungeon's gloomy depth she fearless sought,
For love with scorn of danger arm'd her thought:
She reach'd the cell where ATALIBA lay,
Where human vultures haste to seize their prey.--
In vain her treasur'd wealth PERUVIA gave,
This dearer treasure from their grasp to save;
ALZIRA ! lo, the ruthless murd'rers come,
This moment seals thy ATALIBA'S doom.
Ah, what avails the shriek that anguish pours?
The look that mercy's lenient aid implores?
Torn from thy clinging arms, thy throbbing breast,
The fatal cord his agony supprest!--
In vain the livid corpse she firmly clasps,
And pours her sorrows o'er the form she grasps,
The murd'rers soon their struggling victim tear
From the lost object of her soul's despair!
The swelling pang unable to sustain,
Distraction throbb'd in every beating vein;
Its sudden tumults seize her yielding soul,
And in her eye distemper'd glances roll--
"They come!" the mourner cried with panting breath,
"To give the lost ALZIRA rest in death!
One moment more, ye bloody forms, bestow,
One moment more for ever cares my woe--
Lo! where the purple evening sheds her light
On blest remains! O! hide them, pitying night!
Slow in the breeze I see the verdure wave,
That shrouds with tufted grass my lover's grave;
Hark! on its wand'ring wing in mildness blows
The murm'ring gale, nor wakes his deep repose--
And see, yon hoary form still lingers there!
Dishevell'd by rude winds his silver hair;
O'er his chill'd bosom falls the winter rain,
I feel the big drops on my wither'd brain.
Not for himself that tear his bosom steeps,
For his lost child it flows--for me he weeps!
No more the dagger's point shall pierce thy breast,
For calm and lovely is thy silent rest;
Yet still in dust these eyes shall see thee roll,
Still the sad thought shall waste ALZIRA'S soul--
What bleeding phantom moves along the storm?
It is my ATALIBA'S well-known form!
Approach! ALZIRA'S breast no terrors move,
Her fears are all for ever lost in love.
Safe on the hanging cliff I now can rest,
And press its pointed pillow to my breast--
He weeps! in heaven he weeps!--I feel his tear--
It chills my trembling heart, yet still 'tis dear.
To him all joyless are the realms above,
That pale look speaks of pity and of love!
Ah come, descend in yonder bending cloud,
And wrap ALZIRA in thy misty shroud!"
As roll'd her wand'ring glances wild around,
She snatch'd a reeking sabre from the ground;
Firmly her lifted hand the weapon prest,
And deep she plung'd it in her panting breast!
" 'Tis but a few short moments that divide "--
She falt'ring said--then sunk on earth and died!
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