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Such the ungentle sport that oft invites
The Spanish maid, and cheers the Spanish swain.
Nurtured in blood betimes, his heart delights
In vengeance, gloating on another's pain.
What private feuds the troubled village stain !
Though now one phalanx'd host should meet the foe,
Enough, alas ! in humble homes remain,
To meditate 'gainst friends the secret blow,
For some slight cause of wrath, whence life's warm
stream must flow.61
But Jealousy has filed: his bars, his bolts,
His wither'd centinel, Duenna sage !
And all whereat the generous soul revolts,
Which the stern dotard deem'd he could encage,
Have pass’d to darkness with the vanish'd age.
Who late so free as Spanish girls were seen,
(Ere War uprose in his volcanic rage,)
With braided tresses bounding o'er the green,
While on the gay dance shone Night's lover-loving
Oh! many a time and oft, had Harold loved,
Or dream'd he loved, since rapture is a dream;
But now his wayward bosom was unmoved,
For not yet had he drunk of Lethe's stream ;
And lately had he learn'd with truth to deem
Love has no gift so grateful as his wings :
How fair, how young, how soft soe'er he seem,
Full from the fount of Joy's delicious springs
Some bitter o'er the flowers its bubbling venom flings.
Yet to the beauteous form he was not blind,
Though now it moved him as it moves the wise;
Not that Philosophy on such a mind
E’er deign'd to bend her chastely-awful eyes :
But Passion raves itself to rest, or flies ;
And Vice, that digs her own voluptuous tomb,
Had buried long his hopes, no more to rise :
Pleasure's pall'd victim ! life-abhorring gloom
Wrote on his faded brow curst Cain's unresting doom.
Still he beheld, nor mingled with the throng ;
But view'd them not with misanthropic hate:
Fain would he now have join'd the dance, the song ;
But who may smile that sinks beneath his fate ?
Nought that he saw his sadness could abate :
Yet once he struggled 'gainst the demon's sway,
And as in Beauty's bower he pensive sate,
Pour'd forth this unpremeditated lay,
To charms as fair as those that soothed his happier day.
Nay, smile not at my sullen brow;
Alas! I cannot smile again :
Yet Heaven avert that ever thou
Shouldst weep, and haply weep in vain.
And dost thou ask what secret woe
I bear, corroding joy and youth ? And wilt thou vainly seek to know
A pang, ev'n thou must fail to soothe ?
It is not love, it is not hate,
Nor low Ainbition's honours lost, That bids me loathe my present state,
And fly from all I prized the most :
It is that weariness which springs
From all I meet, or hear, or see : To me no pleasure Beauty brings ;
Thine eyes have scarce a charm for me.
It is that settled, ceaseless gloom
The fabled Hebrew wanderer bore That will not look beyond the tomb,
But cannot hope for rest before.
What Exile from himself can flee ? 63
To zones though more and more remote, Still, still pursues, where'er I be,
The blight of life—the demon Thought.
Yet others rapt in pleasure seem,
And taste of all that I forsake;
Oh! may they still of transport dream,
And ne'er, at least like me, awake!
Through many a clime 'tis mine to go,
With many a retrospection curst ;
And all my solace is to know,
Whate'er betides, I've known the worst.
What is that worst? Nay do not ask
In pity from the search forbear :
Smile on—nor venture to unmask
Man's heart, and view the Hell that's there
Adieu, fair Cadiz! yea, a long adieu !
Who may forget how well thy walls have stood ?
When all were changing thou alone wert true,
First to be free and last to be subdued :
And if amidst a scene, a shock so rude,
Some native blood was seen thy streets to dye,
A traitor only fell beneath the feud : 64
Here all were noble, save Nobility;
Vone hugg’d a conqueror's chain, save fallen Chivalry !
Such be the sons of Spain, and strange her fate !
They fight for freedom who were never free,
A Kingless people for a nerveless state ;
Her vassals combat when their chieftains flee,
True to the veriest slaves of Treachery :
Fond of a land which gave them nought but life,
Pride points the path that leads to Liberty ;
Back to the struggle, baffled in the strife,
War, war is still the cry, “ War even to the knife ! ”65
Ye, who would more of Spain and Spaniards know,
Go, read whate'er is writ of bloodiest strife :
Whate'er keen Vengeance urged on foreign foe
Can act, is acting there against man's life :
From flashing scimitar to secret knife,
War mouldeth there each weapon to his need
may he guard the sister and the wife, So may he make each curst oppressor
So may such foes deserve the most remorseless deed !
Flows there a tear of pity for the dead ?
Look o'er the ravage of the reeking plain ;
Look on the hands with female slaughter red ;
Then to the dogs resign the unburied slain,
Then to the vulture let each corse remain,
Albeit unworthy of the prey-bird's maw;
Let their bleach'd bones, and blood's unbleaching stain,
Long mark the battle-field with hideous awe :
Thus only may our sons conceive the scenes we saw !