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And the fair castles of our ancient lords,
Alas! we sat In happier days, so peacefully beneath The olives and the vines our fathers rear'd, Encircled by our children, whose quick steps Flew by us in the dance! The time hath been When peace was in the hamlet, wheresoe'er The storm might gather. But this yoke of France Falls on the peasant's neck as heavily As on the crested chieftain's. We are bow'd E'en to the earth.
My father, tell me when Shall the gay dance and song again resound Amidst our chesnut-woods, as in those days Of which thou ’rt wont to tell the joyous tale ?
When there are light and reckless hearts once more
To hear the mirthful song, and cast aside
Aye, it is well
AN OLD PEASANT.
What deep voice Came with that startling tone ?
It was our guest's, The stranger pilgrim, who hath sojourn'd here Since yester-morn. Good neighbours, mark him well; He hath a stately bearing, and an eye Whose glance looks through the heart. His mien accords Ill with such vestments. How he folds round him His pilgrim-cloak, e'en as it were a robe Of knightly ermine! That commanding step Should have been used in courts and camps to move. Mark him!
Nay, rather, mark him not : the times
He spoke of vengeance !
Peace! we are beset
PROCIDA (coming forward indignantly.)
SOME OF THE PEASANTS.
Away, away! Leave us, for there is danger in thy presence.
Why, what is danger ?--Are there deeper ills
A YOUTH (coming forward).
No, no! say on, say on! There are still free and fiery hearts e'en here, That kindle at thy words.
If that indeed Thou hast a hope to give us.
There is hope For all who suffer with indignant thoughts Which work in silent strength. What! think ye Heaven O'erlooks th' oppressor, if he bear awhile His crested head on high ?-I tell you, no! Th' avenger will not sleep. It was an hour Of triumph to the conqueror, when our king, Our young brave Conradin, in life's fair morn, On the red scaffold died. Yet not the less Is justice throned above ; and her good time Comes rushing on in storms : that royal blood Hath lifted an accusing voice from earth, And hath been heard. The traces of the past Fade in man's heart, but ne'er doth Heaven forget.
Had we but arms and leaders, we are men
Be vigilant ;