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XLIV. Enough of Battle's minions ! let them play Their game of lives, and barter breath for fame : Fame that will scarce reanimate their clay, Though thousands fall to deck some single name. In sooth 'twere sad to thwart their noble aim Who strike, blest hirelings ! for their country's good, And die, that living might have proved her shame;
Perish’d, perchance, in some domestic feud, Or in a narrower sphere wild Rapine's path pursued.
Full swiftly Harold wends his lonely way
Where proud Sevilla triumphs unsubdued :
Yet is she free—the spoiler's wish'd-for prey !
Soon, soon shall Conquest's fiery foot intrude,
Blackening her lovely domes with traces rude.
Inevitable hour ! 'Gainst fate to strive
Where Desolation plants her famish'd brood
Is vain, or Ilion, Tyre might yet survive,
And Virtue vanquish all, and Murder cease to thrive.
But all unconscious of the coming doom,
The feast, the song, the revel here abounds ;
Strange modes of merriment the hours consume,
Nor bleed these patriots with their country's wounds;
Nor here War’s clarion, but Love's rebeck sounds ; 40
Here Folly still his votaries inthralls;
And young-eyed Lewdnesswalks her midnight rounds;
Girt with the silent crimes of Capitals,
Still to the last kind Vice clings to the tott'ring walls.
Not so the rustic-with his trembling mate
He lurks, nor casts his heavy eye afar,
Lest he should view his vineyard desolate,
Blasted below the dun hot breath of war.
No more beneath soft Eve's consenting star
Fandango twirls his jocund castanet :
Ah, monarchs ! could ye taste the mirth ye mar,
Not in the toils of Glory would ye
The hoarse dull drum would sleep, and Man be happy
How carols now the lusty muleteer ?
Of love, romance, devotion is his lay,
As whilome he was wont the leagues to cheer,
His quick bells wildly jingling on the way?
No! as he speeds, he chants “ Vivā el Rey!”
And checks his song to execrate Godoy,
The royal wittol Charles, and curse the day
When first Spain's queen beheld the black-eyed boy, And gore-faced Treason sprung from her adulterate joy.
On yon long, level plain, at distance crown'd
With crags, whereon those Moorish turrets rest,
Wide scatter'd hoof-marks dint the wounded ground;
And, scathed by fire, the greensward's darken'd vest
Tells that the foe was Andalusia's guest:
Here was the camp, the watch-flame, and the host,
Here the bold peasant storm'd the dragon's nest ;
Still does he mark it with triumphant boast;
And points to yonder cliffs, which oft were won and lost.
And whomsoe'er along the path you meet
Bears in his cap the badge of crimson hue,
Which tells you whom to shun and whom to greet : 42
Woe to the man that walks in public view
Without of loyalty this token true:
Sharp is the knife, and sudden is the stroke ;
And sorely would the Gallic foeman rue,
If subtle poniards, wrapt beneath the cloke,
Could blunt the sabre's edge, or clear the cannon's
At every turn Morena's dusky height
Sustains aloft the battery's iron load;
And, far as mortal eye can compass sight,
The mountain-howitzer, the broken road,
The bristling palisade, the fosse o'erflow'd,
The station'd bands, the never-vacant watch,
The magazine in rocky durance stow'd,
The holster'd steed beneath the shed of thatch,
The ball-piled pyramid, the ever-blazing match,43
Portend the deeds to come :—but he whose nod
Has tumbled feebler despots from their sway,
A moment pauseth ere he lifts the rod ;
A little moment deigneth to delay :
Soon will his legions sweep through these their way;
The West must own the Scourger of the world.
Ah ! Spain ! how sad will be thy reckoning-day,
When soars Gaul's Vulture, with his wings unfurl’d, And thou shalt view thy sons in crowds to Hades hurl'd.
And must they fall ? the young, the proud, the brave,
To swell one bloated Chief's unwholesome reign ?
No step between submission and a grave ?
The rise of rapine and the fall of Spain ?
And doth the Power that man adores ordain
Their doom, nor heed the suppliant's appeal ?
Is all that desperate Valour acts in vain ?
And Counsel sage, and patriotic Zeal,
The Veteran's skill, Youth's fire, and Manhood's heart
of steel ?
Is it for this the Spanish maid, aroused,
Hangs on the willow her unstrung guitar,
And, all unsex'd, the anlace hath espoused,
Sung the loud song, and dared the deed of war ?
And she, whom once the semblance of a scar
Appallid, an owlet's larum chill'd with dread,
Now views the column-scattering bay’net jar,
The falchion flash, and o'er the yet warm dead
Stalks with Minerva's step where Mars might quake to
Ye who shall marvel when you hear her tale,
Oh ! had you known her in her softer hour,
Mark'd her black eye that mocks her coal-black veil,
Heard her light, lively tones in Lady's bower,
Seen her long locks that foil the painter's power,
Her fairy form, with more than female grace,
Scarce would you deem that Saragoza's tower
Beheld her smile in Danger's Gorgon face,
Thin the closed ranks, and lead in Glory's fearful chase.