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Each targe was dark below;
And with the ocean's mighty swing,
When heaving to the tempest's wing,
They hurled them on the foe.
I heard the lance's shivering crash,
As when the whirlwind rends the ash;
I heard the broadsword's deadly clang,
As if a hundred anvils rang;
But Moray wheeled his rearward rank
Of horsemen on Clan Alpine's flank-
"My banner-men advance!
I see," he cried, "their column shake;
Now gallants! for your ladies' sake,
Upon them with the lance."
The horsemen dashed among the rout,
As deer break through the broom;
Their steeds are stout, their swords are out,
They soon make lightsome room.
Clan Alpine's best are backward borne-
Where, where was Rhoderic then?
One blast upon his bugle-horn
Were worth a thousand men.
And refluent through the pass of fear
The battle's tide was poured;
Vanished the Saxon's struggling spear,
Vanished the mountain sword.
As Bracklinn's chasm, so black and steep,
Receives her roaring linn,
As the dark caverns of the deep
Suck the wild whirlpool in,
So did the deep and darksome pass
Devour the battle's mingled mass;
None linger now upon the plain,
Save those who ne'er shall fight again.
"Parrhasius, a painter of Athens, amongst those Olynthian captives Philip of Macedon brought home to sell, bought one very old man; and, when he had him at his house, put him to death with extreme torture and torment, the better by his example to express the pains and passions of his Prometheus, whom he was then about to paint."
Parrhasius stood, gazing forgetfully
Upon his canvass. There Prometheus lay,
Chained to the cold rocks of Mount Caucasus,
The vulture at his vitals, and the links
Of the lame Lemnian festering in his flesh;
And, as the painter's mind felt through the dim,
Rapt mystery, and plucked the shadows wild
Forth with its reaching fancy, and with form
And color clad them, his fine, earnest eye
Flashed with a passionate fire, and the quick curl
Of his thin nostril, and his quivering lip,
Were like the winged god's breathing from his flight.
Bring me the captive now!
My hand feels skilful, and the shadows lift
From my waked spirit airily and swift;
And I could paint the bow
Upon the bended heavens-around me play
Colors of such divinity to-day.
Ha! bind him on his back!
Look! as Prometheus in my picture here—
Quick―or he faints !—stand with the cordial near!
Now-bend him to the rack!
Press down the poisoned links into his flesh!
And tear agape that healing wound afresh!
So let him writhe! How long
Will he live thus? Quick, my good pencil, now!
What a fine agony works upon his brow!
Ha! gray-haired, and so strong!
How fearfully he stifles that short moan!
Gods! if I could but paint a dying groan!
I pity the dumb victim at the altar—
But does the robed priest for his pity falter?
I'd rack thee, though I knew
A thousand lives were perishing in thine-
What were ten thousand to a fame like mine?
Ah! there's a deathless name!
A spirit that the smothering vault shall spurn,
And, like a steadfast planet, mount and burn-
And though its crown of flame
Consumed my brain to ashes as it won me→
By all the fiery stars! I'd pluck it on me!
Ay-though it bid me rifle
My heart's last fount for its insatiate thirst—
Though every life-strung nerve be maddened first-
Though it should bid me stifle
The yearning in my throat for my sweet child,
And taunt its mother till my brain went wild-
All-I would do it all
Sooner than die, like a dull worm, to rot;
Thrust foully in the earth to be forgot.
Oh heavens-but I appall
Your heart, old man!-forgive-ha! on your lives
Let him not faint!-rack him till he revives!
Vain-vain-give o'er. His eye
Glazes apace. He does not feel you now-
Stand back! I'll paint the death-dew on his brow!
Gods! if he do not die
But for one moment-one-till I eclipse
Conception with the scorn of those calm lips!
Shivering! Hark! he mutters
Brokenly now that was a difficult breath-
Another? Wilt thou never come, oh, Death!
Look! how his temple flutters!
Is his heart still? Aha! lift up his head!
He shudders-gasps-Jove help him-so-he's dead."
How like a mountain devil in the heart
Rules the unreined ambition! Let it once
But play the monarch, and its haughty brow
Glows with a beauty that bewilders thought
And unthrones peace for ever. Putting on
The very pomp of Lucifer, it turns
The heart to ashes, and with not a spring
Left in the desert for the spirit's lip,
We look upon our splendor and forget
The thirst of which we perish!
57. MEETING OF SATAN AND DEATH AT THE GATE OF HELL. -Milton.
Meanwhile the adversary of God and man,
Satan, with thoughts inflamed of highest design,
Puts on swift wings, and towards the gates of hell
Explores his solitary flight! sometimes.
He scours the right hand coast, sometimes the left,
Now shaves with level wing the deep, then soars
Up to the fiery concave towering high.
As when far off at sea a fleet descried
Hangs in the clouds, by equinoctial winds
Close sailing from Bengala, or the isles
Of Ternate and Tidore, whence merchants bring
Their spicy drugs; they, on the trading flood,
Through the wide Ethiopian to the cape,
Ply stemming nightly toward the pole: so seemed
Far off the flying fiend. At last
Hell bounds, high reaching to the horrid roof,
And thrice three-fold the gates: three folds were brass,
Three iron, three of adamantine rock
Impenetrable, impaled with circling fire,
Yet unconsumed. Before the gates there sat
On either side a formidable shape;
The one seemed woman to the waist, and fair,
But ended foul in many a scaly fold
Voluminous and vast, a serpent armed
With mortal sting; about her middle round
A cry of hell-hounds, never ceasing, barked
With wide Cerberean mouths full loud, and rung
A hideous peal. Far less abhorred than these
Vexed Scylla, bathing in the sea that parts
Calabria from the hoarse Trinacrian shore:
Nor uglier follow the nighthag, when, called
In secret, riding through the air she comes,
Lured with the smell of infant blood, to dance
With Lapland witches, while the laboring moon
Eclipses at their charms. The other shape,
If shape it might be called that shape had none
Distinguishable in member, joint, or limb;
Or substance might be called that shadow seemed;
For each seemed either; black it stood as night,
Fierce as ten furies, terrible as hell,
And shook a dreadful dart; what seemed his head
The likeness of a kingly crown had on.
Satan was now at hand; and from his seat
The monster moving, onward came as fast
With horrid strides; hell trembled as he strode.
The undaunted fiend what this might be admired,
Admired, not feared; God and his son except,
Created thing naught valued he, nor shunned.
And with disdainful look thus first began.
"Whence, and what art thou, execrable shape! That darest, though grim and terrible, advance Thy miscreated front athwart my way
To yonder gates? Through them I mean to pass,
That be assured, without leave asked of thee:
Retire or taste thy folly; and learn by proof,
Hellborn! not to contend with spirits of heaven!"
To whom the goblin, full of wrath, replied,
"Art thou that traitor angel, art thou he,
Who first broke peace in heaven, and faith, till then
Unbroken, and in proud rebellious arms
Drew after him the third part of heaven's sons
Conjured against the highest, for which both thou
And they, outcast from God, are here condemned
To waste eternal days in wo and pain?
And reckonest thou thyself with spirits of heaven,
Hell-doomed! and breathest defiance here and scorn,
Where I reign king, and, to inflame thee more
Thy king and lord! Back to thy punishment,
False fugitive! and to thy speed add wings,
Lest with a whip of scorpions I pursue
Thy lingering, or with one stroke of this dart
Strange horror seize thee, and pangs unfelt before."
So spake the grisly terror, and in shape,
So speaking and so threatening, grew ten-fold
More dreadful and deformed: on the other side,
Incensed with indignation, Satan stood
Unterrified, and like a comet burned,
That fires the length of Ophiuchus huge
In the arctic sky, and from his horrid hair
Shakes pestilence and war. Each at the head.
Leveled his deadly aim; their fatal hands
No second stroke intend; and such a frown
Each cast at the other, as when two black clouds
With heaven's artillery fraught, come rattling on
Over the Caspian, then stand front to front
Hovering a space, till winds the signal blow
To join their dark encounter in mid air:
So frowned the mighty combatants, that hell
Grew darker at their frown; so matched they stood;
For never but once more was either like
To meet so great a foe: and now great deeds