Графични страници
PDF файл



[The conception of this

ode originated in a popular tradition of Crom. well's earlier days. It is thus strikingly related by Mr. Forster, in his recent and very valuable Life of Cromwell: “He had laid himself down, too fatigued to hope for sleep, when suddenly the curtains of his bed were slowly withdrawn by a gigantic figure, which bore the aspect of a woman, and which, gazing at him silently for a while, told him that he should, before his death, be the greatest man in England. He remembered when he told the story, and the recollection marked the current of his thoughts, that the figure had not made mention of the word king." Alteration has been made in the scene of the vision and the age of Cromwell.]

The moor spread wild and far
In the sharp whiteness of a wintry shroud,

Midnight yet moonless; and the winds ice-bound,
And a gray dusk-not darkness—reign'd around,

Save where the paleness of a sudden star
Peer'd o'er some haggard precipice of cloud.

Where on the wold, the triple pathway crossid,
A sturdy wanderer, wearied, lone, and lost,
Paused and gazed round; a dwarf'd but aged yew
O'er the wan rime its gnomelike shadow threw;
The spot invited, and by sleep oppressid,

Beneath the boughs he laid him down to rest.
A man of stalwart limbs and hardy frame,
Meet for the antique time when force was fame,
Youthful in years—the features yet betray
Thoughts rarely mellow'd till the locks are gray;
Round the firm lips the lines of solemn wile
Might warn the wise of danger in the smile;
But the blunt aspect spoke more sternly still
That craft of craft, THE STUBBORN WILL:
That which, let what may betide,
Never halts nor swerves aside;
From afar its victim viewing,
Slow of speed, but sure-pursuing ;

Through maze, up mount, still bounding on its way,
Till it is grimly couch'd beside the conquer'd prey !

The loftiest fate will longest lie

In unrevealing sleep;
And yet unknown the destined race,
Nor yet his soul had walk'd with grace;
Still; on the seas of Time
Drifted the ever-careless prime;
But many a blast that o'er the sky
· All idly seems to sweep,
Still while it speeds may spread the seeds,

The toils of autumn reap:
And we must blame the soil, and not the wind,
:If hurrying passion leave no golden grain behind.

Seize, seize, seize !*
Bind him strong in the chain,
On his heart, on his brain,
Clasp the gyves of the iron sleep.

Seize, seize, seize,
Yé fiends that dimly sweep
Up from the cloudy deep,
Where Death holds ghastly watch beside his brother,

Ye pale impalpables, that are
--Shadows of truths afar,

Prophets that men call DREAMS;
The phantom birth of that mysterious mother,
•Who, by the Ebon Gate,
Beyond the shore where daylight streams,

Sits, muttering spells for mortal state,
Young with eternal years, the Titan-sibyl Fate !
Prophets that men call Dreams !

Seize, seize, seize,
Bind him strong in the chain,
On his heart, on his brain,

Clasp the gyves of the iron sleep! "Awakes or dreams he still ?

His eyes are open with a glassy stare, * Aábɛ, habe, habe, habe (seize, seize, seize).-Æschyl. Exmen., 125.

On the fix'd brow the large drops gather chill,
And horror like a wind stirs through the lifted hair.*

Before him stands the thing of dread,
A giant shadow motionless and pale!
As those dim Leinur-vapourst that exhale
From the rank grasses rotting o’er the dead,
And startle midnight with the mocking show
Of the still, shrouded bones that sleep below:

So the wan image which the vision bore

Was outlined from the air, no more Than served to make the loathing sense a bond Between the world of life and grislier worlds beyond.

“ Behold!" the shadow said, and lo,
Where the blank heath had spread, a smiling scene;
Soft woodlands sloping from a village green, I
And, waving to blue Heaven, the happy cornfields

glow :
A modest roof, with ivy cluster'd o'er,
And childhood's busy mirth beside the door.
But, yonder, sunset sleeping on the sod,

Bow labour's rustic sons in solemın prayer;
And, self-made teacher of the truths of God,

The dreamer sees the Phantom-Cromwell there!
Art thou content, of these the greatest Thou,"
Murmur'd the fiend, “the master and the priest ?"
A sullen anger knit the dreamer's brow,
And from his scornful lips the words came slow,

* ες άκραν
Δείμ' υπήλθε κρατος φόβαν. .

Soph. Edip. Col., 1465. + The Lemures or Larvæ, the evil spirits of the dead, as the Lares were the good. They haunted sepulchres" loath to leave the bodies that they loved."

I The farm of St. Ives, where Cromwell spent three years, afterward recalled with regret, though not unafflicted with dark hypochondria and sullen discontent. Here, as Mr. Forster impressively observes, “in the tenants that rented from him, in the labourers that served under him, he sought to sow the seeds of his after troop of Ironsides.

All the famous doctrines of his later and more cele brated years were tried and tested in the little farm of St. Ives. Before going to their fieldwork in the morning, they (his servants) knelt down with their master in the touching equality of prayer; in the evening they shared with him again the comfort and exaltation of divine precepts.”-Forster's Cromwell.

" The greatest of the hamlet, demon, no!" Loud laugh'd the fiend, then trembled through the sky,

Where haply angels watch'd, a warning sigh ; And darkness swept the scene, and golden quiet ceased.

VI. “ Behold!" the shadow said ; a hell-born ray Shoots through the night, up leaps the unbless'd day, Spring from the earth the dragon's armèd seed, The ghastly squadron wheels and neighs the spectre

steed. Unnatural sounds the mother-tongue As loud from host to host the English warcry rung ;

Kindred with kindred blent in slaughter, lo
The dark phantasma of the prophet-wo!

A gay and glittering band !
Apollo's velocks in the crest of Mars ;
Light-hearted Valour, laughing scorn to scars;

A gay and glittering band,
Unwitting of the scythe, the lilies of the land !

Pale in the midst, that stately squadron boast
A princely form, a mournful brow;

And still, where plumes are proudest, seen,
With sparkling eye and dauntless mien,
The young Achilles* of the host.

On rolls the surging war, and now
Along the closing columns ring,

Rupert” and “Charles," "The Lady of the Crown,”+ “Down with the Roundhead rebels, down!” “St. George and England's king."

A stalwart and a sturdy band,
Whose souls of sullen zeal
Are made by the Immortal Hand,

Invulnerable steel!
A kneeling host, a pause of prayer,
A single voice thrills through the air

“They come. Up, Ironsides !
For Truth and PEACE unsparing smite!

Behold the accursed Amalekite !"
The dreamer's heart beat high and loud,

* Prince Rupert. † Henrietta Maria was the popular watchword of the Cavaliers.

For, calmly through the carnage-cloud,
The scourge and servant of the Lord,
This hand the Bible, that the sword,

The Phantom-Cromwell rides !

A lurid darkness swallows the array,
One moment lost; the darkness rolls away,

And o'er the slaughter done
Smiles, with his eyes of love, the setting sun.
Death makes our foe our brother;

And, meekly, side by side,

Sleep scowling Hate and sternly smiling Pride, On the kind breast of earth, the quiet mother!

Lo, where the victor sweeps along,
The Gideon of the gory throng,
Beneath his hoofs the harmless dead,
The sunlight glory on his helmèd head,
Before him steel-clad Victory bending,

Around, from heaven to earth ascending,
The fiery incense of triumphant song.

So, as some orb above a mighty stream
Sway'd by its law, and sparkling in its beam,
A power apart from that tempestuous tide,

Calm and aloft behold the Phantom-Conqueror ride!
“ Art thou content, of these the greatest Thou,
Hero and patriot ?" murmur'd then the fiend.
The unsleeping dreamer answer'd, “ Tempter, nay,

My soul stands breathless on the mountain's brow, And looks beyond !” Again swift darkness screen'd

The solemn chieftain and the fierce array,
And armed glory pass’d, like happier peace, away.

He look'd again, and saw
A chamber with funereal sables hung,
Wherein there lay a ghastly, headless thing,

That once had been a king ;
And by the corpse a living man, whose doom,

Had both been left to Nature's quiet law,

Were riper for the garden-house of gloom.* * The reader will recall the well-known story of Cromwell open. ing the coffin of Charles with the hilt of a private soldier's sword, and, after gazing on the body some time, observing calmly, that it seemed made for long life.

« ПредишнаНапред »