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I grasped this ponderous and gnarled spear,
And what ? Wouldst thou Conceal from me the horror of my state? Ah! were I not a father, as I am, Alas! too certainly, of much-loved children, Would I have now life, victory, or the throne ? I should already, and a long time since, Headlong have cast myself mid hostile swords: I should already, thus at least, at once Have closed the horrible life that I drag on. How many years have now past, since a smile Was seen to play upon my lips ? My children, Whom still I love so much, if they caress me, For the most part inflame my heart to rage. Impatient, fierce, incensed, and turbulent, I am a burtlen to myself and others; In peace I wish for war, in war for peace; Poison concealed I drink in every cup, In every friend I see an enemy; The softest carpets of Assyria seem Planted with thorns to my unsolaced limbs ; My transient sleep is agonized with fear; Each dream with imaged terrors that distract me. Why should I add to this dark catalogue ?
Who would believe it? The sonorous trumpet
That selfsame voice, Imperative and visionary voice, Which as a youth my nightly slumbers broke, When I in privacy securely lived Far from the throne, and all aspiring thoughts For sundry nights hath that same voice been heard In menacing, denunciatory tones; Like the deep murmur of the stormy waves, Thundering repulsively, to me it cried, “Depart, depart, O Saul.” The sacred aspect, The venerable aspect of the prophet, Which I had seen in dreams before he had Made manifest that God had chosen me For Israel's king, that Samuel, in a dream, Now with far different aspect I behold, I, from a hollow, deep, and horrible vale, Behold him sitting on a radiant mount: David is humbly prostrate at his feet : The holy prophet on his forehead pours The consecrated oil: with the other hand Stretched to my head, a hundred cubits length, He snatches from my brow the royal crown, And would replace it on the brow of David : But wouldst thou think it ? David prostrate falls,
With piteous gesture, at the prophet's feet,
Vittorio Alfieri. Tr. C. Lloyd.
Gilead, the Mount.
N Gilead's hills a voice of wail is heard,
'Tis not the sighing wind or plaining bird ; Where yon cool fountain flows, beneath the shade Of arching willows sits the Hebrew maid : Young girls around her raise those cries of woe, But from sweet Miriam's lips no murmurs flow : Calm on that breast, which soon beneath the knife Must yield to heaven its gentle springs of life, Droops her fair head, her rich locks, once her pride, In unbound masses floating by her side. Like soft dark clouds which screen too brilliant skies The silken fringe half veils those large black eyes, And as in that deep hush scarce comes her breath, She seems absorbed in thought, and dreams of death.
Although weak shrinkings shake not Miriam's soul, Regret's sad pangs she may not all control; She feels how lovely Nature smiles around,
Joy in each beam, and music in each sound;
And there that maiden sat, but made no moan; Still drooped her beauteous brow, as turned to stone; The willow branches o'er her sighing spread, Its crystal tears the bubbling fountain shed: The fair attendants mourned to hill and dale, And pitying Echo caught the plaintive wail, Ages have passed, poor ill-starred Hebrew maid ! Thy heart is hushed, in long, long quiet laid, Yet pilgrims drawing near this lonely spot, Will ever think of thee, and mourn thy lot.
HERE stands a tree at Hebron, - huge its form,
Oft seared by lightning, worn by many a storm: Ages that level thrones beneath their stroke, And sweep off races, spare that spreading oak. Pilgrims, when Rome was Pagan, came to see, · And muse beneath this famed and hallowed tree. Here oft did Abraham sit, when evening still Cooled the green vale, and crimsoned Hebron's hill; The musky breezes round his forehead played, He blessed bright Nature's God, and blessed that shade. Here stood those guests sent earthward from the skies, Mortal their forms, but heaven within their eyes; And yonder glooms Machpelal's ancient cave, The bartering sons of Heth to Abraham gave. Now giant stones protect that spot so blest, Where the great sire and Hebrew mother rest; Nor yet perchance the rock betrays its trust, Though forty ages brood above their dust. But sealed to Christians is that cell of gloom, The Turk's proud crescent glittering o'er the tomb; For Moslems guard the spot with jealous care, And burn their lamps, and read their Koran there, And pray to Allah in that worshipped place, E’en while they scorn and hate the Patriarcli's race.