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Full text of "Lara, a tale"

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LARA 



T. DAVISON, Lombard-street, 
Fleet-street. 



LARA, 



A TALE, 



BY LORD BYRON, 



FOURTH EDITION. 



Hottlfon: 

PRINTED FOR JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE-STREET. 
1814. 



LARA, 



A TALE, 



CANTO I. 



LARA 



CANTO I. 



HE Serfs are glad through Lara's wide domain, 
ind Slavery half forgets her feudal chain; 
le, their unhop'd, but un forgotten lord, 
'he long self-exiled chieftain is restored: 
lere be bright faces in the bu^y hall, 
►wis on the board, and banners on the wall ; 
far chequering o'er the pictured window plays 
'he unwonted faggots' hospitable blaze; 
ind gay retainers gather round the hearth 
'ith tongues all loudness, and with eyes all mirth. 



10 



4 LARA. Canto J, 

II. 

The chief of Lara is returned again : , 

And why had Lara cross'd the bounding main ? 

Left by his sire, too young such loss to know, 

Lord of himself ;^- that heritage of woe, 

That fearful empire which the human breast 

But holds to rob the heart within of rest ! — 

With none to check, and few to point in time 

The thousand paths that slope the way to crime ; 

Then, when he most required commandment, then 

Had Lara's daring boyhood govern'd men. 20 

It skills not, boots not, step by step to trace 

His youth through all the mazes of its race ; 

Short was the course his restlessness had run. 

But long enough to leave him half undone. 

IIL 

And Lara left in youth his father-land; 
But from the hour he waved his parting hand 
Each trace wax'd fainter of his course, till all 
Had nearly ceased his memory to recall. 



Canto I, LARA. rj 

His sire was dust, his vassals could declare, 

'Twas all they knew, that Lara was not there ; 30 

Nor sent, nor came he, till conjecture grew 

Cold in the many, anxious in the few. 

His hall scarce echoes with his wonted name. 

His portrait darkens in its fading frame. 

Another chief consoled his destined bride, 

The young forgot him, and the old had died ; 

" Yet doth he live!" exclaims the impatient heir, 

And sighs for sables which he must not wear. 

A hundred scutcheons deck with gloomy grace 

The Laras* last and longest dwelling place 5 40 

But one is absent from the mouldering file 

That now were welcome in that Gothic pile. 

IV. 

He comes at last in' sudden loneliness. 

And whence they know not, why they need not guess ; 

They more might marvel, when the greeting's o'er. 

Not that he came, but came not long before : 

No train is hb beyond a single page, t'lj ^ ' ■ 

Of foreign aspect, and of tender age. 



6 LARA. Canto I. 

Years had rollM on, and fast they speed away 

To those that wander as to those that stay ; 50 

But lack of tidings from another clime 

Had lent a flagging wing to weary Time : 

They see, they recognise, yet almost deem 

The present dubious, or the past a dream. 

He lives, nor yet is past his manhood's prime. 

Though seared by toil, and something touch'd by time; 

His faults, whatever they were, if scarce forgot. 

Might be untaught him by his varied lot; 

Nor good nor ill of late were known, his name 

Might yet uphold his patrimonial fame : 60 

His soul in youth was haughty, but his sins 

No more than pleasure from the stripling wins ; 

And such, if not yet hardened in their course. 

Might be redeemed, nor ask a long remorse. 

V. 

And they indeed were changed — 'tis quickly seen 
Whatever he be, 'twas not what he had been; 



Canto I. LARA. 7 

That brow in furrow'd lines had fixM at last, 

And spake of passions, but of passion past ; 

The pride, but not the fire, of early days, 

Coldness of mien, and carelessness of praise; 70 

A high demeanour, and a glance that took 

Their thoughts from others by a single look ; 

And that sarcastic levity of tongue, 

The slinging of a heart the world hath stung. 

That darts in seeming playfulness around. 

And makes those feel that will not own the wound ; 

All these seem'd his, and something more beneath 

Than glance could well reveal, or accent breathe : 

Ambition, glory, love, the common aim 

That some can conquer, and that all would claim, 80 

Within his breast appeared no more to strive, 

Yet seem'd as lately they had been alive; 

And some deep feeling it were vam to trace 

At moments lightened o'er his livm face. 

VI. 

Not much he lov'd long question of the past, 
Nor told of wondrous wilds, and desarts vast 



t- 



8 LARA. Canto I. 

In those far lands where he had wandered lone, 

And — as himself would have it seem— unknown : 

Yet these in vain his eye could scarcely scan, 

Nor glean experience from his fellow man ; 90 

But what he had beheld he shunn'd to show, 

As hardly worth a stranger*s care to know ; 

If still more prying such enquiry grew. 

His brow fell darker, and his words more few. 

vir. 

Not unrejoiced to see him once again, 

Warm was his welcome to the haunts of men ; 

Born of high lineage, link'd in high command. 

He mingled with the Magnates of his land ; 

Join'd the carousal of the great and gay. 

And saw them smile or sigh their hours away : 1,00 

But still he only saw, and did not share 

The common pleasure or the general care ; 

He did not follow what they all pursued 

With hope still baffled, still to be renew'd ; 

Nor shadowy honour, nor substantial gain, 

iJor beauty's preference, uTid the rival's pain: 



Canto 1. LAllA. 9 

Around him some mysterious circle thrown 

Repell'd approach, and showed him still aloae ; 

Upon his eye sate something of reproof, 

That kept at least frivolity aloof; UO 

And things more timid that beheld him near. 

In silence gaz'd, or whisper'd mutual fear ; 

And they the wiser, friendlier few confessed 

They deem'd him better than his air expressed. 

VIII. 

'Twas strange — in youth all action and all life, 

Burning for pleasure, not averse from strife ; 

Woman — the field — the ocean — all that gave 

Promise of gladness, peril of a grave, 

In turn he tried — he ransack'd all below, 

And found his recompence in joy or woe, J 20 

No tame, trite medium ; for his feelings sought 

In that intenseness an escape from thought : 

The tempest of his heart in scorn had gazed 

On that the feebler elements hath rais'd ; 

The rapture of his heart had look'd on high, 

And ask'd if greater dwelt beyond the sky : 



'0 LARA. Catitol. 

Chain'd to excess, the slave of each extreme, 

How woke he from the wildness of that dream ? 

Alas ! he told not — but he did awake 

To cm'se the wither'd heart that would not break. 130 

IX. 

Books, for his volume heretofore was Man, 

With eye more curious he appeared to scan. 

And oft in sudden mood for many a day 

From all communion he would start away : 

And then, his rarely call'd attendants said. 

Through night's long hours would sound his hurried tread 

O'er the dark gallery, where his fathers frown'd 

In rude but antique portraiture around. 

They heard, but whisper'd — " that must not be known — 

*' The sound of words less earthly than his own. 140 

" Yes, they who choose might smile, but some had seen 

" They scarce knew what, but more than should have been* 

<i Why gazM he so upon the ghastly head 

" Which hands profane had gather'd from the dead, 

" That still beside his open'd volume lay, 

" As if to startle all save him away ? 



Canlol. LARA. H 

" Why slept he not when others were at rest ? 

'' Why heard no music, and received no guest ? 

** All was not well they deemed — but where the wrong ? 

'* Some knew perchance— but 'twere a tale too long; 150 

" And such besides were too discreetly wise, 

" To more than hint their knowledge in surmise ; 

" But if they would — they could" — around the board 

Thus Lara's vassals prattled of their lord, 

X. 

It was the night — and Lara's glassy stream 

The stars are studding, each with imaged beam : 

So calm, the waters scarcely seem to stray. 

And yet they glide like happiness away ; 

Reflecting far and fairy-like from high . 

The immortal lights that live along the sky : IGO 

Its banks are fringed with many a goodly tree. 

And flowe.s the fairest that may feast the bee; 

Such in her chaplet infant Dian wove. 

And Inno( ence would offer to her love. 

These deck the shore ; the waves their channel make 

In windings bright and mazy, like the snake. 



12 I.ARA. Canto I. 

All was so still, so soft in earth and air, 

You scarce would start to meet a spirit there ; 

Secure that nought of evil could delight 

To walk in such a scene, on such a night ! 1 70 

It was a moment only for the good : 

So Lara deemed, nor longer there he stood, 

But turned in silence to his castle-gate ; 

Such scene his soul no more could contemplate : 

Such scene reminded him of other days, 

Of skies more cloudless, moons of purer blaze. 

Of nights more soft and frequent, hearts tliat now — 

No — no— the storm may beat upon his brow, 

Unfelt — unsparing — but a night like this, 

A night of beauty mock'd such breast as his. 180 

XI. 

He turned within his solitary hall, 
And his high shadow shot along the wall ; 
There were the painted forms of other times, 
'Twas all they left of virtues or of crimes, 
Save vague tradition : and the gloomy vaults 
That hid their dust, their foibles, and their faults ; 



Can/0 /. LAUA. 31 

And half a column of the pompous page, 

That speeds the specious tale from age to age ; 

Where history's pen its praise or blame supplies. 

And lies like truth, and still most truly lies. 190 

He wandering mused, and as the moon-beam shone 

Through the dim lattice o*er the floor of stone. 

And tlie high fretted roof, and saiuts, that there 

O'er Gothic windows knelt in pictured prayer. 

Reflected in fantastic figures grew, 

Like life, but not like mortal life, to view ; 

His bristling locks of sable, brow of gloom. 

And the wide waving of his shaken plume 

Glanced like a spectre's attributes, and gave 

His aspect all that terror gives the grave. 200 

xn. 

Twas midnight — all was slumber; the lone light 
Dimm'd in the lamp, as loth to break the night* 
Harkf there be murmurs heard in Lara's hall — 
A sound — a voice — a shriek — a fearful call! 
A long, loud shriek — and silence — did they hear 
That frantic echo burst the sleeping ear ? 



^^ LARA. CanloL 

They heard and rose, and tremulously brave 

Rush where the sound invoked their aid to save; 

They come with half-lit tapers in their hands, 

And snatch'd in startled haste unbelted brands. 210 

XIII. 

Cold as the marble where his length was laid. 

Pale as the beam that o'er his features played, 

Was Lara stretched ; his half drawn sabre near, 

Dropp'd it should seem in more than nature's fear; 

Yet he was firm, or had been firm till now. 

And still defiance knit his gathered brow ; 

Though mix'd with terror, senseless as he lay, 

There lived upon his lip the wish to slay ; 

Some half form'd threat in utterance there had died, 

Some imprecation of despairing pride; 220 

His eye was almost seal'd, but not forsook. 

Even in its trance, the gladiator's look. 

That oft awake his aspect could disclose. 

And now was fix'd in horrible repose. 

They raise him- — bear him; — hush ! he breathes, he speaks. 

The swarthy blush recolours in his cheeks, 



Canto L LARA. 15 

His lip resumes its red, his eye, though dim. 

Rolls wide and wild, each slowly quivering limb 

Recalls its function, but his words are strung 

In terms that seem not of his native tongue; 230 

Distinct but strange, enough they understand 

To deem them accents of another land. 

And such they were, and meant to meet an ear 

That hears him not — alas! that cannot hear! 

XIV. 

His page approach'd, and he alone appear'd 

To know the import of the words they heard; 

And by the changes of his cheek and brow 

They were not such as Lara should avow, 

Nor he interpret, yet with less surprise 

Than those around their chieftain's state he eyes, 240 

But Lara's prostrate form he bent beside, 

And in that tongue which seem'd his own replied, 

And Lara heeds those tones that gently seem 

To soothe away the horrors of his dream ; 

If dream ii were, that thus could overthrow 

A breast that needed not ideal woe. 



IQ LARA. , Canto L 

XV. 
Whatever his phrenzy dream'd or eye beheld, 
If yet remember'd ne'er to be reveaPd, 
Rests at his heart : the customM morning came, 
And breathM new vigour in his shaken frame ; Q.60 

And solace sought he none from priest nor leech. 
And soon the same in movement and in speech 
As heretofore he filFd the passing hours, 
Nor less he smiles, nor more his forehead lours 
Than these were wont ; and if the coming night 
Appeared less welcome now to Lara's sight, 
He to his marvelling vassals show'd it not. 
Whose shuddering proved thtir fear was less forgot. 
In trembling pairs (alone they dared not) crawl 
The astonished slaves, and shun the fated hall ; 26O 

The waving banner, and the clapping door. 
The rustling tapestry, and the echoing floor; 
The long dim shadows of surrounding trees. 
The flapping bat, the night song of the breeze ; 
Aught they behold or hear their thought appals 
As evening saddens o'er the dark grey walls. 



Canto I. LARA. H 

XVI. 

Vain thought ! that hour of ne'er unravell'd gloom 
Came not again, or Lara could assume 
A seeming of forgetfulness that made 

His vassals more amaz'd nor less afraid — 270 

Had memory vanished then with sense restored ? 
Since word, nor look, nor gesture of their lord . 

Betrayed a feeling that recalled to these 
That fevered moment of his mind's disease — 
Was it a dream ? was his the voice that spoke 
Those strange wild accents ; his the cry that broke 
Their slumber? his the oppress'd o'er-laboured heart 
That ceased to beat, the look that made them start ? 
Could he who thus had suffered, so forget 
When such as saw that suffering shudder yet ? 280 

Or did that silence prove his memory fix'd 
Too deep for words, indelible, unmix'd 
In that corroding secrecy which gnaws 
The heart to show the effect, but not the cause ? 
Not so in him ; his breast had buried both, 
Nor common gazers could discern the growth 

c 



18 LARA Canto 1. 

Of thoughts that mortal lips must leave half told ; 
They choak the feeble words that would unfold. 

XVII. 

In him inexplicably mix'd appeared 

Much to be loved and hated, sought and feared ; 290 

Opinion varying o'er his hidden lot, 

In praise or railing ne'er his name forgot ; 

His silence formed a theme for others' prate — 

They guess'd — they gazed — they fain would know his fate. 

What had he been ? what was he, thus unknown, 

Who walked their world, his lineage only known .' 

A hater of his kind? yet some would say. 

With them he could seem gay amidst the gay ; 

But own'd, that smile if oft observed and near, ' 

Waned in its mirth and withered to a sneer ; 500 

That smile might reach his lip, but passed not by, 

None e'er could trace its laughter to his eye : 

Yet there was softness too in his regard, 

At times, a heart as not by nature hard. 

But once perceiv'd, his spirit seem*d to chide 

Such weakness, as unworthy of its pride, 



Vanto L LARA. 19 

And steeFd itself, as scorning to redeem 

One doubt from others half withheld esteem ; 

In self-inflicted penance of a breast 

Which tenderness might once have wrung from rest; 3 10 

In vigilance of grief that would compel 

The soul to hate for having lov'd too well. 

XVIII. 

There was in him a vital scorn of all : 

As if the worst had falFn which could befall 

He stood a stranger in this breatliing world. 

An erring spirit from another hurled ; 

A thing of dark imaginings, that shaped 

By choice the perils he by chance escaped; 

But 'scaped in vain, for in their memory yet 

His mind would half exult and half regret: 320 

With more capacity for love than earth 

Bestows on most of mortal mould and birth. 

His early dreams of good outstrippM the truth. 

And troubled manhood followed baffled youth; 

With thought of years in phantom chace mispent, 

And wasted powers for better purpose lent ; 



^ LARA. Canto I. 

And 6ery passions that had poured their wrath 

In hurried desolation o'er liis path. 

And left the better feelings all at strife 

In wild reflection o'er his stormy life; S30 

But haughty still, and loth himself to blame, 

He called on Nature's self to share the shame. 

And charged all faults upon the fleshly form 

She gave to clog the soul, and feast the worm ; 

'Till he at last confounded good and ill^ 

And half mistook for fate the acts of will : 

Too high for common selfishness, he could 

At times resign his own for others' good. 

But not in pity, not because he ought; 

But in some strange perversity of thought, 34o 

That swayed him onward with a secret pride 

To do what few or none would do beside; 

And this same impulse would in tempting time 

Mislead his spirit equally to crime -y 

So much he soared beyond, or sunk beneath 

The men with whom he felt condemned to breathe. 

And longed by good or ill to separate 

Himself from all who shirred Ids mortal state; 



Canto I. LARA. 21 

His mind abhorring this had fixed her throne 

Far from the world, in regions of her own; 350 

Thus coldly passing all that passed below, 

His blood in temperate seeming now would flow : 

Ah! happier if it n^'er ^vith guilt had glowed. 

But ever in that icy smoothness flowed! 

'Tis true, with other men their path he walked, 

And like the rest in seeming did and talked. 

Nor outraged Reason's rules by flaw nor start. 

His madness was not of the head, but heart; 

And rarely wandered in his speech, or drew 

His thoughts so forth as to offend the view. 360 

XIX. 

With all that chilling mystery of mien, 
And seeming gladness to remain unseen; 
He had (if 'twere not nature's boon) an art 
Of fixing memory on another's heart : 
It was not love perchance — nor hate — nor aught 
That words can image to express the thought ; 
But they who saw him did not see in vain, 
And once beheld, would ask of hun again : 



22 LARA. Canto I 

And those to whom he spake remembered well, 

And on the words, however light, would dwell : 370 

None knew, nor how, nor why, but he entwined 

Himself perforce around the hearer's mind; 

There he was stamped, in liking, or in hate, 

If greeted once ; however brief the date 

That friendship, pity, or aversion knew, 

Still there within the inmost thought he grew. 

You could not penetrate his soul, but found. 

Despite your wonder, to your own he wound ; 

His presence haunted still ; and from the breast 

He forced an all unwilling interest; S80 

Vain was the struggle in that mental net. 

His spirit seemed to dare you to forget! 

XX. 

There is a festival, where knights and dames> 
And aught that wealth or lofty lineage claims 
Appear — a highborn and a welcomed guest 
To Otho's hall came Lara with the rest. 
The long carousal shakes the illumin'd hall, 
Well speeds alike the banquet and the ball; 



CarUo I. LARA. f S 

And the gay dance of bounding Beauty's train 

Links grace and harmony in happiest chain : 390 

Blest are the early hearts and gentle hands 

That mingle there in well according bands ; 

It is a sight the careful brow might smooth, 

And make Age smile} and dream itself to youth. 

And Youth forget such hour was past on earth — 

So springs the exulting bosom to that mirth! 

XXI. 

And Lara gaz'd on these sedately glad, 

His brow belied him if his soul was sad. 

And his glance followed fast each fluttering fair, 

Whose steps of lightness woke no echo there: 400 

He lean'd against the lofty pillar nigh 

With folded arras and long attentive eye, 

Nor mark'd a glance so sternly £x^d on his — 

I'll brook'd high Lara scrutiny like this: 

At length he caught it ; 'tis a face unknown, 

But seems as searching his, and his alone; 

Prying and dark, a stranger's by his mien. 

Who still till now had gaz'd on him unseen j 



^^ J.ARA, Canto L 

At length encountering meets the mutual gaze 

Of keen enquiry, and of mute amaze ; 4 1 

On Lara's glance emotion gathering grew, 

As if distrusting that the stranger threw ; 

Alongthe stranger's aspect fix'd and stern 

Flash'd more than thence the vulgar eye could learn. 

XXII. 

" 'Tis he ! " the stranger cried, and those that heard 

Re-echoed fast and far the whisper'd word. 

" 'Tis he!" — " 'Tis whof they question far and near, 

Till louder accents rung on Lara's ear; 

So widely spread, few bosoms well could brook 

The general marvel, or that single look ; 420 

But Lara stirr'd not, changed not — ^the surprise 

That sprung at first to his arrested eyes 

Seem'd now subsided; neither sunk nor rais'd 

Glanced his eye round, though still the stranger gaz'd; 

And drawing nigh, exclaim'd, with haughty sneer, 

'* 'Tis he! — how came he thence ? — what doth he here V* 



Gan4oL LARA. $15 

XXIII. 

It were too much for Lara to pass by 

Such question, so repeated fierce and high ; 

With look collected, but with accent cold, 

More mildly firm than petulantly bold, 430 

He turn'd, and met the inquisitorial tone — 

" My name is Lara! — when thine own is known, 

" Doubt not my fitting answer to requite 

" The unlook'd for courtesy of such a knight 

" Tis Lara ! — further wouldst thou mark or ask ? 

" I shun no question, and I wear no mask." 

" Thou shuu'st no question! Ponder — is there none 

'' Thy heart must answer, though thine ear would shun? 

" And deem'st thou me unknown too ? Gaze again ! 

" At least thy memory was not given in vain : 440 

" Oh! never canst thou cancel half her debt, 

" Eternity forbids thee to forget." 

With slow and searching glance upon his face 

Grew Lara's eyes, but nothing there could trace 

They knew, or chose to know — with dubious look 

He deigned no answer, but his head he sliook, 



26 LARA. Canto 1, 

And half contemptuous turnM to pass away; 

But the stern stranger motioned him to stay. 

" A word! — I charge thee stay, and answer here 

" To one, who, wert thou noble, were thy peer; 450 

" But as thou wast and art — nay, frown not, lord, 

" If false, 'tis easy to disprove the word — 

" But, as thou wast and art, on thee looks down, 

" Distrusts thy smiles, but shakes not at thy frown. 

" Art thou not he whose deeds ?" 

« Whate'er I be, 
'' Words wild as these, accusers like to thee 
^' I list no further ; those with whom they weigh 
" May hear the rest, nor venture to gainsay 
" The wondrous tale no doubt thy tongue can tell, 
" Which thus begins so courteously and well. 460 

" Let Otho cherish here his polish^ guest, 
" To him my thanks and thoughts shall be expressed." 
And here their wondering host hath interposed — 
'* Whatever there be between you undisclosed, 
" This is no time nor fitting place to mar 
f' The mirthful meeting with a wordy war. 



CarUo L LARA. 27 

" If thou> Sir Ezzelin, hast ought to show 

" Which it befits Count Lara's ear to know, 

" To-morrow, here, or elsewhere, as may best 

" Beseem your mutual judgment, speak the rest; 470 

" I pledge myself for thee, as not unknown, 

" Though like Count Lara now returned alone 

" From other lands, almost a stranger grown ; 

" And if from Lara's blood and gentle birth 

" I augur right of courage and of worth, 

" He will not that untainted line belie, 

" Nor aught that knighthood may accord deny." 

" To-morrow be it," Ezzelin rephed, 

" And here our several worth and truth be tried; 

" I gage my life, my falchion to attest 480 

" My words, so may I mingle with the blest !" 

What answers Lara? to its centre shrunk 

His soul, in deep abstraction sudden sunk ; 

The words of many, and the eyes of all 

That there were gathered seem'd on him to fall; 

But his were silent, his appeared to stray 

In far forgetfulness away— away— 



28 LARA. Canto I 

Alas! that heedlessness of all around 
Bespoke remembrance only too profound. 

XXIV. 

''To-morrow! — ay, to-morrow 1" further word 490 

Than those repeated none from Lara heard ; 

Upon his brow no outward passion spoke, 

From his large eye no flashing anger broke; 

Yet there was something fix'd in that low tone 

Which show'd resolve, determined, though unknown. 

He seiz'd his cloak— his head he slightly bow'd, 

And passing Ezzelin he left the crowd ; 

And, as he pass'd him, smiling met the frown 

With which that chieftain^s brow would bear him down : 

It was nor smile of mirth, nor struggling pride 500 

That curbs to scorn the wrath it cannot hide ; 

But that of one in his own heart secure 

Of all that he would do, or could endure. 

Could this mean peace ? the calmness of the good I 

Or guilt grown old in desperate hardihood ? 

Alas ! too like in confidence are each 

For man to trust to mortal look or speech ; 



Canto J. LARA. 29 

From deeds, and deeds alone, may he discern 
Truths which it wrings the unpractised heart to learn. 

XXV 

And Lara called his page, and went his way — 510 

Well could that stripling word or sign obey : 

His only follower from those climes afar 

Where the soul glows beneath a brighter star; 

For Lara left the shore from whence he sprung, 

In duty patient, and sedate though young ; 

Silent as him he served, his faith appears 

Above his station, and beyond his years. 

Though not unknown the, tongue of Lara's land, 

In such from him he rarely heard command ; 

But fleet his step, and clear his tones would come, 5(20 

When Lara's lip breathed forth the words of home : 

Those accents as his native mountains dear, 

Awake their absent echoes in his ear, 

Friends', kindreds', parents', wonted voice recall, 

Now lost, abjured, for one — his friend, his all: 

For him earth now disclosed no other guide ; 

What marvel then he rarely left his side ? 



30 LAilA. Canto L 

XXVI. 

Light was his form, and darkly delicate 

That brow whereon his native sun had sate, 

But had not marr'd, though in his beams he grew, 580 

The cheek where oft the unbidden blush shone through ; 

Yet not such blush as mounts when health would show 

All the heart's hue in that delighted glow; 

But 'twas a hectic tint of secret care 

That for a burning moment fevered there; 

And the wild sparkle of his eye seemed caught 

From high, and lightened with electric thought. 

Though its black orb those long low lashes fringe, 

Had tempered with a melancholy tinge; 

Yet less of sorrow than of pride was there, 540 

Or if 'twere grief, a grief that none should share: 

And pleased not him the sports that please his age. 

The tricks of youth, the frolics of the page. 

For hours on Lara he would fix his glance. 

As all forgotten in that watchful trance; 

And from his chief withdrawn, he wandered lone, 

Brief were his answers, and his questions none; 



Caniol, LARA. 51 

His walk the wood, his sport some foreign book; 

His resting-place the bank that curbs the brook : 

He seem'd, like him he served, to live apart 550 

From all that lures the eye, and fills the heart ; 

To know no brotherhood, and take from earth 

No gift beyond that bitter boon — our birth. 

xxvn. 

If aught he lov*d, 'twas Lara ; but was shown 

His faith in reverence and in deeds alone ; 

In mute attention ; and his care, which guessed 

Each wish, fulfilled it ere the tongue expressed. 

Still there was haughtiness in all he did, 

A spirit deep that brook'd not to be chid ; 

His zeal, though more than that of servile hands, 560 

In act alone obeys ; his air commands. 

As if 'twas Lara's less than his desire 

That thus he served, but surely not for hire. 

Slight were the tasks enjoined him by his lord, 

To hold the stirrup, or to bear the sword ; 

To tune his lute, or if he willed it more. 

On tomes of other times and tongues to pore; 



52 LARA. Canto h 

But ne'er to mingle with the menial train, 

Xo whom he showed nor deference nor disdain, 

But that well-worn reserve which proved he knew 570 

No sympathy with that familiar crew : 

His soul, whatever his station or his stem, ' 

Could bow to Lara, not descend to them. 

Of higher birth he seemed, and better days. 

Nor mark of vulgar toil that hand betrays, 

So femininely white it might bespeak 

Another sex, when matched with that smooth cheek, 

But for his garb, and something in his gaze. 

More wild and high than woman's eye betrays y 

A latent fierceness that far more became 580 

His fiery climate than his tender frame ; 

True, in his words it broke not from his breast, 

But from his aspect might be more than guessed. 

Kaled his name, though rumour said he bore 

Another ere he left his mountain-shore ; 

For sometimes he would hear, however nigh, 

That name repeated loud without reply. 

As unfamiliar, or, if roused again. 

Start to the sound, as but remembered then; 



Canu I LARA. 33 



I Unless 'twas Lara's wonted voice that spake, 590 

For then, ear, eyes, and heart would all awake. 

XXVIII. 

He had looked down upon the festive hall, 

And marked that sudden strife so marked of all ; 

And when the crowd around and near him told 

Their wonder at the calmness of the bold, 
I Their marvel how the high-born Lara bore 

Such insult from a stranger, doubly sore. 

The colour of young Kaled went and came. 

The lip of ashes, and the cheek of flame ; 
i And o'er his brow the dampening heart-drops threw 600 

The sickening iciness of that cold dew 

That rises as the busy bosom sinks 

With heavy thoughts from which reflection shrinks. 

Yes — there be things that we must dream and dare, 

And execute ere thought be half aware : 

Whatever might Kaled's be, it was enow 

To seal his lip, but agonise his brow. 

He gazed on Ezzelin till Lara cast 

Tliat sidelong smile upon the knight he passed ; 



U LARA. CanioL 

When Kaled saw that smile his visage fell^ .610 

As if on something recognized right ^^ ell ; 

His memory read in such a meaning more 

Than Lara's aspect unto others wore : 

Forward he sprung-r-a moment, both were gone. 

And all withjn that hall seem'd left alone ; 

Each had so fix'd his eye on Lara's mien, 

All had so mix'd their feelings with that scene, 

That when his long dark shadow through the porch 

No more relieves the glare of yon high torch. 

Each pulse beats .quicker, and all bosoms seem 6'iO 

To bound as doubting from too black a dream, 

Such as >ve know is false, yet dread in sooth. 

Because the worst is ever nearest truth. 

And they are gone — but Ezzelin is there, 

With thoughtful visage and imperious air ; 

But long remain'd not ; ere an hour expired 

He waved his hand to Otho, and retired. 

XXIX. 

The crowd are gone, the revellers at rest ; 
The courteous host, and all-approving guest, 



€anio L LARA. 35 

Again to that accustomed couch must creep 630 

Where joy subsides, and sorrow sighs to sleep, 

And man o'er- laboured with his being's strife, 

Slirinks to that sweet forgetfulness of life : 

There lie love's feverish hope, and cunning's guile, 

Hate's working brain, and luU'd ambition's wile, 

O'er each vain eye oblivion's pinions wave, 

And quench'd existence crouches in a grave. 

What better name may slumber's bed become f 

Night's sepulchre, the universal home. 

Where weakness, strength, vice, virtue, sunk supine, (540 

Alike in naked helplessness recline ; 

Glad for awhile to heave unconscious breath. 

Yet wake to wrestle with the dread of death, 

And shun, though day but dawn on ills increased, 

That sleep, tlie loveliest, since it dreams the least. 



CANTO II. 



LARA 



CANTO II. 

I. 

IN IGHT wanes — the vapours round the mountahis curl'd 

Melt into morn, and Light awakes the world. 

Man has another day to swell the past, 

And lead him near to little, but his last; 

But mighty Nature bounds as from her birth, 650 

The sun is in the heavens, and life on earth, 

Flowers in the valley, splendour in the beam, 

Health on the gale, and freshness in the stream. 

Immortal man ! behold her glories shine. 

And cry, exulting inly, " they are thine!" 



4^ . I-ARA. Canton. 

Gaze on, while yet thy gladdened eye may see — 

A morrow comes when they are not for thee ; 

And grieve what may above thy senseless bier, 

Nor earth nor sky will yield a single tear; 

Nor cloud shall gather more, nor leaf shall fall, 660 

Nor gale breathe forth one sigh for thee, for all; 

But creeping things shall revel in their spoil. 

And fit thy clay to fertilize the soil. 

II. 

Tis morn — 'tis noon — assembled in the hall, 

The gathered chieftains come to Otho's call; 

*Tis now the promised hour that must proclaim 

The life or death of Lara's future fame; 

When Ezzelin his charge may here unfold, 

And whatsoe'er the tale, it must be told. 

His faith was pledged, and Lara's promise given, 670 

To meet it in the eye of man and heaven. 

Why comes he not ? Such truths to be divulged, 

Methinks the accuser's rest is long indulged. 



Canto JL LARA. 41 

III. 

The hour is past, and Lara too is there, 

With self-confiding, coldly patient air ; 

Why comes not Ezzelin ? The hour is past, 

And murmurs rise, and Otho's brow's overcast : 

*' I know my friend ! his faith I cannot fear, 

" If yet he be on earth, expect him here ; 

" The roof that held him in the valley stands 680 

" Between my own and noble Lara's lands ; 

" My halls from such a guest had honour gained, 

" Nor had Sir Ezzelin his host disdain'd, 

" But that some previous proof forbade his stay, 

" And urged him to prepare against to-day ; 

*' The word I pledged for his I pledge again, 

" Or will myself redeem his knighthood's stain." 

He ceased — and Lara answered, " I am here 

" To lend at thy demand a listening ear ; 

" To tales of evil from a stranger's tongue, 690 

'' Whose words already might my heart have wrung, 

" But that I deem'd him scarcely less than mad, 

" Or, at the worst, a foe ignobly bad. 



42 LARA/ Canto II 

" I know him not — but me it seems he knew 
*' In lands where — but I must not trifle too : 
" Produce this babbler— or rtdeem the pledge ; 
" Here in thy holdy and with thy falchion's edge.'* 

Proud Otho on the instant, reddening, threw 

His glove on earth, and forth his sabre flew : 

" The last alternative befits me best, 700 

" And thus I answer for mine absent guest/' 

With cheek unchanging from its sallow gloom. 

However near his own or other's tomb; 

With hand, whose almost careless coolness spoke. 

Its grasp well-used to deal the sabre-stroke ; 

With eye, though calm, determined not to spare, 

Did Lara too his wilhng weapon bare. 

In vain the circling chieftains round them closed. 

For Otho's phrenzy would not be opposed; 

And from his lip those words of insult fell — 710 

His sword is good who can maintain them well. 

ly. 

Short was the conflict, furious, blindly rash, 

Vain Otho gave his bosom to the gash : ' 



Canto II. LARA. 4S 

He bled, and fell; but not with deadly wound, 

Stretched by a dextrous sleight akmg the ground. 

" Demand thy life!" He answered not: and then 

From that red floor he ne'er had risen again, 

For Lara's brow upon the moment grew 

Almost to blackness in its demon hue ; 

And fiercer shook his angry falchion now 720 

Than when his foe's was levelled at his brow; 

Then all was stern collectedness and art. 

Now rose the unleavened hatred of his heart ; 

So little sparing to the foe he fell'd. 

That when the approaching crowd his arm withheld, 

He almost turned the thirsty point on those . 

Who thus for mercy dared to interpose ; 

But to a moment's thought that purpose bent, 

Yet look'd he on him still with eye intent, 

As if he loathed the ineffectual strife 730 

That left a foe, howe'er o'erthrown, with life ; 

As if to search how far the wound he gave 1 

Had sent its victim onward to his grave. 



44 LARA. Cmto IL 

V. 

They raised the bleedmg Otho, and the Leech 

Forbade all present question, sign, and speech; 

The others met within a neighbouring hall^ 

And he, incensed and heedless of them all, 

The cause and conqueror in this sudden fray. 

In haughty silence slowly strode away ; 

He backed his steed, his homeward path he took, 740 

Nor cast on Otho's tower a single look. 

VI, 

But where w^as he ? that meteor of a night. 

Who menaced but to disappear with light ? 

Where was this Ezzelin? who came und went 

To leave no other trace of his intent. 

He left the dome of Otho long ere morn, 

In darkness, yet so well the path was worn 

He could not miss it; near his dwelling lay; 

But there he was not, and with coming day 

Came fast enquiry, which unfolded nought 750 

Except the absence of the chief it sought ; 



Canto 11, LARA. 45 

A chamber tenantless, a steed at rest, 

His host alarmed, his murmuring squires distressed: 

Their search extends along, around the path. 

In dread to meet the marks of prowlers* wrath: 

But none are there, and not a brake hath borne 

Nor gout of blood, nor shred of mantle torn; 

Nor fall nor struggle hath defaced the grass. 

Which still retains a mark where murder was; 

Nor dabbling fingers left to tell the tale, 160 

The bitter print of each convulsive nail, 

When agonized hands that cease to guard. 

Wound in that pang the smoothness of the sward. 

Some such had been, if here a life was reft, 

But these were not; and doubting hope is left; 

And strange suspicion, whispering Lara's name, 

Now daily niutters o'er his blackened fame; 

Then sudden silent when his form appeared. 

Awaits the absence of the thing it feared 

Again its wonted wondering to renew, 770 

A^d dye conjecture with a darker hue. 



46 LARA. Canto II. 

VII. 

D%s roll along, and Otho's wounds are healed. 

But not his pride; and hate no more concealed: 

He was a man of power, and Lara's foe, 

The friend of all who sought to work him woe, 

And from his country's justice now demands 

Account of Ezzelin at Lara's hands. 

Who else than Lara could have cause to fear 

His presence ? who had made him disappear, 

If not the man on whom his menaced charge 780 

Had sate too deeply were he left at large? 

The general rumour, ignorantly loud. 

The mystery, dearest to the curious crowd ; 

The seeming friendlessness of him who strove 

To win no confidence, and wake no love ; 

The sweeping fierceness which his soul betray 'd, 

The skill with which he wielded his keen blade; 

Where had his arm unwarlike caught that art? 

Where had that fierceness grown upon his heart? 

For it was not the blind capricious rage 190 

A word can kindle and a word assuage. 



Canlo II. LARA. 47 

But the deep working of a soul unmix'd 

With aught of pity where its wrath had fix'd j 

Such as long power and overgorged success 

Concentrates into all that's merciless: 

These, linked with that desire which ever sways 

Mankind the rathpr to condemn than praise, 

'Gainst Lara gathering raised at length a storm, 

Such as himself might fear, and foes would form ; 

And he must answer for the absent head » 800 

Of one that haupts him still, alive or dead. 

VIII. 

Within that land was many a malcontent. 

Who cursed the tyranny to which he bent ; 

That soil full many a wringing despot saw, 

Who worked his wantonness in form of law ; 

Long war widiout and frequent broil withii) 

Had made a path for blood and giant sin, 

That waited but a signal to begin 

New havock, such as civil discord blends. 

Which knows no neuter, owns but foes or friends: 8 10 



<^« LARA. Canto 11. 

Fix'd in his feudal fortress each was lord. 



In word and deed obeyed, in soul abhorred. 

Thus Lara had inherited his lands, 

And with them pining hearts and sluggish hands; 

But that long absence from his native clime 

Had left him stainless of oppression's crime, 

And now diverted by his milder sway, 

AH dread by slow degrees had worn away ; 

The menials felt their usual awe alone, 

But more for him than them that fear was grown ; S20 

They deem'd him now unhappy, though at first 

Their evil judgment angur*d of the worst, 

And each long restless night and silent mood 

Was traced to sickness, fed by solitude; 

And though his lonely habits threw of late 

Gloom o'er his chamber, cheerful was his gate ; 

For thence the wretched ne'er unsoothed withdrew ; 

For them, at least, his soul compassion knew : 

Cold to the great, contemptuous to the high, 

The humble passed not his unheeding eye ; 830 

Much he would speak not, but beneath his roof 

They found asylum oft, and ne'er reproof ; 



Canto 11, LARA. 49 

jt And they who watched might mark that day by day, 
Some new retainers gathered to his sway; 
But most of late since Ezzelin was lost 
He played the courteous lord and bounteous host : 
Perchance his strife with Otho made him dread 
Some snare prepared for his obnoxious head; 
Whate'cr his view, his favour more obtains 
With these, the people, than his fellow thanes. 84() 

If this were policy, so far 'twas sound, 
The million judged but of him as they found; 
From him by sterner chiefs to exile driven 
They but required a shelter, and 'twas given : 
By him no peasant mourn'd his rifled cot. 
And scarce the Serf could murmur o'er his lot; 
With him old avarice found its hoard secure. 
With him contempt forbore to mock the poor; 
Youth present cheer and promised recompence 
Detained, till all too late to part from thence : 830 

To hate he offered with the coming change 
The deep reversion of delayed revenge ; 
To love, long baffled by the unequal match, 
The well-won charms success was sure to snatch. 

S 



so ' LARA. Canto 11. 

All now was ripe, he waits but to proclaim 

That slavery nothing which was still a name. 

The moment came, the hour when Otho thought 

Secure at last the vengeance which he sought : 

His summons found the destined criminal 

Begirt by thousands in his swarming hall, 860 

Fresh from their feudal fetters newly riven, 

Defying earth, and confident of heaven. 

That morning he had freed the soil-bound slaves. 

Who dig no land for tyrants but their graves ! 

Such is their cry — some watchword for the fight 

Must vindicate the wrong, and warp the right : 

Religion — freedom^ — vengeance — what you will, 

A word's enough to raise mankind to kill ; 

Some factious phrase by cunning caught and spread 

That guilt may reign, and wolves and worms be fed ! 870 

IX. 

Throughout that clime the feudal chiefs had gaiu'd 
Such sway, their infant monarch hardly reign'd ; 
Now was the hour for faction's rebel growth, 
The Serfs contemned the one, and hated both : 



C'nto 11. LARA 51 

'^They waited but a leader, and they found 

One to their cause inseparably bound ; 

By circumstance compelled to plunge again 

In self-defence amidst the strife of men. 

Cut off by some mysterious fate from those 

Whom birth and nature meant not for his foes, S80 

Had Lara from that night, to him accurst. 

Prepared to meet, but not alone, the worst : 

Some reason urged, whate'er it was, to shun 

Enquiry into deeds at distance done ; 

By mingling with his own the cause of all. 

E'en if he failed, he still delayed his fall. 

The sullen calm that long his bosom kept, 

The storm that once had spent itself and slept, 

Roused by events that seemed foredoomed to urge 

His gloomy fortunes to their utmost verge, 890 

Burst forth, and made him all he once had been, 

And is again ; he only changed the scene. 

Light care had he for life, and less for fame. 

But not less fitted for the desperate game : 

He deem'd himself markM out for other's hate, 

And mock'd at ruin so they shared his fate. 



S2 LARA. Canton. 

What cared he for the freedom of the crowd ? 

He raised the humble but to bend the proud. 

He had hoped quiet in his sullen lair, 

But man and destiny beset him there : 900 

Inured to hunters he was found at bay, 

And they must kill, they cannot snare the prey. 

Stern, unambitious, silent, he had been 

Henceforth a calm spectator of life's scene ; 

But draggM again upon the arena, stood 

A leader not unequal to the feud ; 

In voice — mien — gesture — savage nature spoke. 

And from his eye the gladiator broke. 

X. 

What boots the oft-repeated tale of strife. 

The feast of vultures, and the waste of life? 9i(J. 

The varying fortune of each separate field. 

The fierce that vanquish, and the faint that yield i 

The smoking ruin, and the crumbled wall ? 

In this the struggle was the same with all ; 

Save that distempered passions lent their force 

Id bitterness that banished all remorse. 



Canio II, LARA. 55 

None sued, for Mercy knew her cry was vain. 

The captive died upon the battle-slain: 

In either cause one rage alone possessed 

The empire of the alternate victor^s brea.it ; 92# 

And they that smote for freedom or for sway 

Deemed few were slain, while more remained to slay. 

It was too late to check the wasting brand. 

And Desolation reaped the famished land ; 

The torch was lighted, and the flame was spread^ 

And Carnage smiled upon her daily dead. 

XI. 

Fresh with the nerve the new-born impulse strung. 

The first success to Lara's numbers clung ; 

But that vain victory hath ruined all, 

They form no longer to their leader's call; ^30 

In blind confusion on the foe they press, 

And think to snatch is to secure success. 

The lust of booty and the thirst of hate 

Lure on the broken brigands to their fate ; 

In vain he doth whatever a chief may do 

To check the headlong fury of that crew ; 



54 LARA. Canto 11. 

In vain their stubborn ardour he would tame, 

The hand that kindles cannot quench the flame ; 

The wary foe alone fcith turn'd their mood, 

And shown their rashness to that erring brood : 940 

The feign'd retreat, the nightly ambuscade, 

The daily harass, and the fight delayed, 

The long privation of the hoped supply, 

The tentless rest beneath the humid sky, 

The stubborn wall that mocks the leaguer's art, 

And palls the patience of his baffled heart. 

Of these they had not deemM : the battle-day 

They could encounter as a veteran may ; 

But more preferred the fury of the strife, 

And present death to hourly suffering life : 95Q 

And famine wrings, and fever sweeps away 

His numbers melting fast from their array ; 

Intemperate triumph fades to discontent, 

And Lara's soul alone seems still unbent : 

But few remain to aid his voice and hand, 

And thousands dwindled to a scanty band : 

Desperate, though few, the last and best remained 

To mourn the discipline they late disdain'd. 



Canton. LARA. t^r^ 

One hope survives, the frontier is not far, 

And thence they may escape from native war ; y60 

And bear within them to the neighbouring state 

An exile*s sorrows, or an outlaw's hate : 

Hard is the task their father-land to quit, 

But harder still to perish or submit. 

XII. 

It is resolved — they march — consenting Night 

Guides with her star their dim and torchless flight ; 

Already they perceive its tranquil beam 

Sleep on the surface of the barrier stream ; 

Already they descry — Is yon the bank ? 

Away ! 'tis lined with many a hostile rank. 970 

Return or fly! — What glitters in the rear? 

'Tis Otho's banner — the pursuer's spear! 

Are those the shepherds* fires upon the height ? 

Alas! they blaze .too widely for the flight: 

Cut off from hope, and compass'd in the toil, 

Less blood perchance hath bought a richer spoil ! 



56 LARA. Canto IJ. 

XIII. 

A moment's pause ; 'tis but to breathe their baud, 

Or shall they onward press, or here withstand ? 

It matters little — ^if they charge the foes 

Who by the border-stream their march oppose, 980 

Some few, perchance, may break and pass the line. 

However link'd to baffle such design. 

" The charge be ours ! to wait for their assault 

*' Were fate well worthy of a coward's halt." 

Forth flies each sabre, reined is every steed. 

And the next word shall scarce outstrip the deed : 

In the next tone of Lara's gathering breath 

How many shall but hear the voice of death ! 

XIV. 

His blade is bared, in him there is an air 

As deep, but far too tranquil for despair ; 990 

A something of indifference more than then 

Becomes the bravest if they feel for men — 

He turned his eye on Kaled, ever near. 

And still too faithful to betray one fear ; 

Perchance 'twas but the moon's dim twilight threw 

Along his aspect an unwonted hue 



Canto IL LARA. ^ 

Of mournful paleness, whose deep tint expressed 

The truth, and not the terror of his breast. 

This Lara mark'd, and laid his hand on his : 

It trembled not in such an hour as this ; 1000 

His lip was silent, scarcely beat his heart. 

His eye alone proclaimed, " We will not part! 

*' Thy band may perish, or thy friends may flee, 

" Farewell to life, but not adieu to thee !" 

The word hath pass'd his lips, and onward driven 

Pours the link'd band through ranks asunder riven; 

Well has each steed obeyed the armed heel. 

And flash the scimitars, and rings the steel; 

Outnumbered not outbraved, they still oppose 

Despair to daring, and a front to foes ; 1010: 

And blood is mingled with the dashing stream, 

Which runs all redly till the morning beam. 

XV. 

Commanding, aiding, animating all, 
Where foe appeared to press, or friend to fall, />;i 

Cheers Lara's voice, and waves or strikes his steel. 
Inspiring hope himself had ceased to feci. 



•'« * LARA. C^ntolL 

None fled, for well they knew that flight were vain, 

But those that waver turn to smite again 

While yet they find the firmest of the foe 

Recoil beio e their leader's look and blow; 1020 

Now girt with numbers, now almost alone, 

He foils theif ranks, or reunites his own; 

Himself he spared not— once they seemed to fly- — 

Now was the time, he waved his hand on high, 

And shook — why sudden droops that plumed crest? 

The shaft is sped — the arrow's in his breast ! 

That fatal gesture left the unguarded side. 

And Death hath stricken down yon arm of pride. 

The word of triumph fainted from his tongue ; 

That hand, so raised, how droopingly it hung ! 1030 

But yet the sword instinctively retains, 

Though from its fellow shrink the falling reins ; 

These Kaled snatches : dizzy with the blow. 

And senseless bending o'er his saddle-bow, 

Perceives not Lara that his anxious page 

Beguiles his charger from the combat's rage : 

Meantime his followers charge, and charge again ; 

Too mix'd the slayers now to heed the slain! 



Canlo II. LARA. 

XVL 

Day glimmers on the dying and the dead. 
The cloven cuirass, and the helniless head; 
The war-horse masterless is on the earth, 
And that last gasp hath burst his bloody girth ; 
And near yet quivering with what life remain'd, 
The heel that urgM him and the hand that rein'd; 
And some too near that rolhng torrent lie. 
Whose waters mock the lip of those that die ; 
That panting thirst which scorches in the breath 
Of those that die the soldier's fiery death. 
In vain impels the burning mouth to crave 
One drop — the last — to cool it for the grave ; 
With feeble and convulsive effort swept 
Their limbs along the crimson'd turf have crept; 
The faint remains of life such struggles waste, 
Rut yet they reach the stream, and bend to taste : 
lliey feel its freshness, and almost partake — 
Why pause ? — No further thirst have they to slake- 
It is unquench'd, and yet they feel it not ; 
It was an agony — but now forgot ! 



60 LARA. CantaJL 

XVIL 

Beneath a lime, remoter from the scene, 

Where but for him that strife had never been, IO6O 

A breathing but devoted warrior lay : 

'Twas Lara bleeding fast from life away. 

His follower once, and now his only guide. 

Kneels Kaled watchful o'er his welling side, 

And with his scarf w^ould staunch the tides that rush 

With each convulsion in a blacker gush ; 

And then as his faint breathing waxes low. 

In feebler, not less fatal trickhngs flow : 

He scarce can speak, but motions him 'tis vain. 

And merely adds another throb to pain. 1070 

He clasps the hand that pang which would assuage, 

And sadly smiles his thanks to that dark page 

Who nothing fears, nor feels, nor heeds, nor sees. 

Save that damp brow which rests upon his knees ; 

Save that pale aspect, where the~eye, though dim. 

Held all the light that shone on earth for him. 

xvni. 

The foe arrives, who long had search'd the field. 
Their triumph nought till Lara too should yield ; 



Canto JU LARA. 

They would remove him, but they see 'twere vain, 
And he regards them with a calm disdain, 
That rose to reconcile him with his fate, 
And that escape to death from living hate : 
And Othd comes, and leaping from his steed. 
Looks on the bleeding foe that made him bleed, 
And questions of his state ; he answers not, 
Scarce glances on him as on one forgot, 
And turns to Kaled : — each remaining word, 
They understood not, if distinctly heard ; 
His dying tones are in that other tongue, 
To which some strange remembrance wildly clung. 
They spake of other scenes, but what — is known 
To Kaled, whom their meaning reach'd alone; 
And he replied, though faintly, to their sound. 
While gaz'd the rest in dumb amazement round: 
They seem'd even then — that twain — unto the last 
To half forget the present in the past; 
To share between themselves some separate fate. 
Whose darkness none beside should penetrate. 



62 LARA. Canto 11. 

XIX. 

Their words though faint were many — from the tone 

Their import those who heard could judge alone ; 1 100 

From this, you might have deem'd young Kaled's death 

More near than Lara's by his voice and breath, 

So sad, so deep, and hesitating broke 

The accents his scarce-moving pale lips spoke ; 

But Lara's voice though low, at first was clear 

And calm, till murmuring death gasp*d hoarsely near : 

But from his visage little could we guess. 

So unrepentant, dark, and passionless. 

Save that when struggling nearer to his last. 

Upon that page his eye was kindly cast; 1110 

And once as Kaled's answering accents ceas*d, 

Rose Lara's hand, and pointed to the East: 

Whether (as then the breaking sun from high 

Roird back the clouds) the morrow caught his eye. 

Or that *twas chance, or some remember'd scene 

That rais'd his arm to point where such had been, 

Scarce Kaled seem'd to know, but turn*d away. 

As if his heart abhorred that coming day, 



Canto It LARA. ^ 

And shrunk his glance before that morning light 

To look on Lara's brow — where all grew night. 1 120 

Yet sense seem'd left, though better were its loss ; 

For when one near displny'd the absolving cross, 

And proffered to his touch the holy bead 

Of which his parting soul might own the need, 

He look'd upon it with an eye profane, 

And smiled — Heaven pardon ! if 'twere with disdain ; 

And Kaled tliough he spoke not, nor withdrew 

From Lara's face his fix'd despairing view, 

AVith brow repulsive, and with gesture swift, 

Flung back the hand which held the sacred gift, HSO 

As if such but disturbed the expiring man, 

Nor seem'd to know his life but then began, 

llie life immortal, infinite, secure, 

To all for whom that cross hath made it sure ! 

XX. 

But gasping heav'd the breath that Lara drew. 

And dull the film along his dim eye grew; 

His limbs stretch'd fiuttering, anti his head droop'd o'er 

The weak jet still untiring knee that bore; 



^4* LARA. Canto It, 

He pressed the hand he held upon his heart — 

It beats no more, feut Kaled will not part 1 140 

With the cold grasp, but feels, and feels in vain. 

For that faint throb which answers not again. 

" It beats!" — Away, thou dreamer! he is gone — 

It once was Lara which thou look'st upon. 

XXL 

He gaz'd, as if not yet had pass'd away 

The haughty spirit of that humble clay; 

And those around have rous'd him from his trance, 

But cannot tear from thence his fixed glance; 

And when in raising him from where he bore 

Within his arms the form that felt no more, 1 150 

He saw the head his breast would still sustain. 

Roll down like earth to earth upon the plain ; 

He did not dash himself thereby, nor tear 

The glossy tendrils of his raven hair, 

But strove to stand and gaze, but reeFd and fell, 

Scarce breathing more than that he lov'd so well — 

Than that he lov'd ! Oh ! never yet beneath 

The breast of man such trusty love may breathe! 



Canto //. LARA. (,5 

That trying moment hath at once reveard 

The secret long and yet but half-conceaFd ; 1160 

In baring to revive that lifeless breast, 

Its grief scem'd ended, but the sex confest; 

And life returned, and Kaled felt no shame* — 

What now to her was Womanhood or Fame ? 

XXIL 

And Lara sleeps not where his fathers sleep, 

But where he died his grave was dug as deep; 

Nor is his mortal slumber less profound. 

Though priest nor bless'd, nor marble decked the mound ; 

And he was moum'd by one whose quiet grief. 

Less loud, outlasts a people's for their chief. 1170 

Vain was all question ask'd her of the past, 

And vain e'en menace — silent to the last, 

She told nor whence nor why she left behind 

Her all for one who seem'd but little kind. 

Why did she love him? Curious fool! — be still — 

Is human love the growth of human will ? 

To her he might be gentleness; the stern 

Have deeper thoughts than your dull eyes discern, 

F 



$6 LARA. Qm^o IL 

And when they love, your smilers gUess not how 

Beats the strong heart, though less the lips avow. 1 180 

They were not common links that form'd the chain 

That bound to Lara Kaled's heart and brain; 

But that wild tale she brooked not to unfold. 

And seal'd is now each lip that could have told. 

XXIII. 

They laid him in the earth, and on his breast, 

Besides the wound that sent his soul to rest. 

They found the scattered dints of many a scar 

Which were not planted there in recent war; 

Where'er had pass'd his summer years of life 

It seems they vanish'd in a land of strife; 1 190 

But all unknown his glory or his guilt, 

These only told that somewhere blood was spilt, 

And Ezzelin, who might have spoke the past, 

Return'd no more — that night appear'd his last. 

XXIV. 

Upon that night (a peasant's is the tale) 
A Serf that cross'd the intervening vale. 



Cnnto n. LARA. ff 

When Cynthia's light almost gave way to mArn, 

And nearly veil'd in mist her waning horn; 

A Serf, that rose betimes to thread the wood, 

And hew tlie bough that bought his children's food, 1200 

Passed by the river that divides the plain 

Of Olho's lands and Lara's broad domain: 

He heard a tramp — a horse and horseman brok« 

From out the wood— before him was a cloak 

Wrapt round some burthen at his saddle-bow, 

Bent was his head, and hidden was his brow. 

Rous'd by the sudden sight at such a time. 

And some foreboding that it might be crime, 

Himself unheeded watch'd the stranger's course, 

Who reach'd the river, bounded from his horse, 1210 

And lifting thence the burthen which he bore, 

Heav'd up the bank, and dash'd it from the shore, 

Then paused, and look'd, and turn'd, and seem'd to watch, 

And still another hurried glance would snatch, 

And follow with his step the stream that flow'd, .^ 

As if even yet too much its surface show'd : j 

At once he started, stoop'd, around him strown ; 

The winter floods had scattered heaps of stone ; 



63 LARA, Canlo II. 

Of these the heaviest tlie«ce he gatheiM there, 

i\nd slung them with a more than common care. 1220 

Meantime the Serf had crept to where unseen 

Himself miglit safely mark what this might mean ; 

He caught a glimpse, as of a floating breast, 

And something glittered starlike on the vest, 

But ere he well could mark the buoyant trunk, 

A massy fragment smote it, and it sunk : 

It rose again but indistinct to view. 

And left the waters of a purple hue. 

Then deeply disappear'd : the horseman gaz'd 

Till ebbed the latest eddy it had rais'd; 1230 

Then turning, vaulted on his pawing steed. 

And instant spurr'd him into panting speed. 

His face was mask'd — the features of the dead. 

If dead it were, escaped the observer's dread ; 

But if in sooth a star its bosom bore, 

Such is the badge that knighthood ever wore. 

And such 'tis known Sir Ezzelin had worn 

Upon the night that led to such a morn. 

If thus he perish'd. Heaven receive his soul ! 

His undiscover'd limbs to ocean roll; 1240 



Canto £1. LARA. €)0 

And charity upon the hope would dwell 
It was not Lara's hand by which he fell. 

XXV. 

And Kaled — Lara — Ezzelin, are gone, 

Alike without their monumental stone ! 

The first, all efforts vainly strove to wean 

From lingering where her chieftain's blood had been, 

Grief had so tam*d a spirit once too proud. 

Her tears were few, her wailing never loud ; 

But furious would you tear her from the spot 

Where yet she scarce believ'd that he was not, 1260 

Her eye shot forth with all the living fire 

That haunts the tigress in her whelpless ire ; 

But left to waste her weary moments there, 

She talk'd all idly unto shapes of air. 

Such as the busy brain of Sorrow paints, 

And woos to listen to her fond complaints: 

And she would sit beneath the very tree 

Where lay his drooping head upon her knee; 

And in that posture where she saw him fall. 

His words, his looks, his dying grasp recall ; 1260 



'^ LARA. Gant&tt. 

And she had shorn, but sav'd her raven hair, 

And oft would snatch it from her bosom there, 

And fold, and press it gently to the ground, 

As if she staunch*d anew some phantom's wound. 

Herself would question, and for him reply; 

Then rising, start, and beckon him to fly 

From some imagined spectre in pursuit; 

Then seat her down upon some linden's root, 

And hide her visage with her meagre hand. 

Or trace strange characters along the sand — 1270 

This could not last — she lies by him she lov'd ; 

Her tale untold — ^her truth too dearly prov'd. 



TH E E N D. 



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARY 
BERKELEY 



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