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114

THE HOUR OF DEATH.

Had he then fallen, as warriors fall,

Where spear strikes fire from spear?
Was there a banner for his pall,

A buckler for his bier?
Not somnor cloven shields nor helms

Had strewn the bloody sod,
Where he, the helpless lord of realms,

Yielded his soul to God.
Were there not friends, with words of cheer,

And princely vassals nigh?
And priests, the crucifix to rear

Before the fading eye?
A peasant girl, that royal head

Upon ber bosom laid;
And, shrinking not for woman's dread,

The face of death survey'd.
Alone she sat--from hill and wood

Red sank the mournful sun;
Fast gush'd the fount of noble blood,

Treason its worst had done!
With ber long hair she vainly pressid

The wounds, to staunch their tide.
Unknown, on that meek humble breast,

Imperial Albert died !

THE HOUR OF DEATH.

LEAVES have their time to fall,
And flowers to wither at the north-winil's breath,

And stars to set—but all,
Thou hast all seasons for thine own, oh! Death.

Day is for mortal care,
Eve for glad meetings round the joyous hearth,

Night for the dreams of sleep, the vioce of prayerBut all for thee, thou Mightiest of the earth.

The banquet hath its hour,
Its feverish hour of mirth, and song, and wine;

There comes a day for grief's o'erwhelming power, A time for softer tears but all are thine.

THE RELEASE OF TASSO.

115

Youth and the opening rose
May look like things too glorious for decay,

And smile at thee--but thou art not of those
That wait the ripen'd bloona to seize their prey.

Leaves have their time to fall,
And flowers to wither at the north-wind's breath,

And stars to set-but all,
Thou hast all seasons for thine own, oh! Death.

We know when moons shall wane,
When summer-birds from far shall cross the sea,

When autumn's hue shall tinge the golden grain-
But who shall teach us when to look for thee:-

Is it when Spring's first gale
Comes forth to whisper where the violets lie?

Is it when roses in our paths grow pale?---
They have one season--all are ours to die !

Thou art where billows foam, Thou art where music melts upon the air;

Thou art around us in our peaceful home, And the world calls us forth-and thou art there.

Thou art where friend meets friend, Beneath the shadow of the elin to rest

Thou art where foe meets foe, and trumpets rend
The skies, and swords beat down the princely crest.

Leaves have their time to fall,
And fowers to wither at the north-wind's breath,

And stars to set-but all,
Thou hast all seasons for thine own, oh! Death.

THE RELEASE OF TASSO.
THERE came a bard to Rome; he brought a lyre
Of sounds peal through Rome's triumphant sky,
To mourn a hero on his funeral pyre,
Or greet a conqueror with its war-notes high ;
For on each chord had fallen the gift of fire,
The living breath of Power and Victory-
Yet be, its lord, the sovereign city's guest,
Sigh'd but to flee away, and be at rest.

116

THE RELEASE OF TASSO.

He brought a spirit whose ethereal birth
Was of the loftiest, and whose haunts had been
Amidst the marvels and the pomps of earth,
Wild fairy-bowers, and groves of deathless green,
And fields where mail-clad bosoms prove their worth,
When flashing swords light up the stormy scene-
He brought a weary heart, a wasted frame,
The Child of Visions from a dungeon came.
On the blue waters, as in joy they sweep,
With starlight floating v'er their swells and falls,
On the blue waters of the Adrian deep,
His numbers had been sung-and in the halls,
Where, through the rich foliage if a sunbeam peep,
It seems Heaven's wakening to the sculptur'd walls,
Had princes listened to those lofty strains,
While the high soul they burst from, pined in chains.
And in the summer-gardens, where the spray,
Of founts, far-glancing from their marble bed,
Rains on the flowering myrtles in its play,
And the sweet limes, and glassy leaves that spread
Round the deep golden citrons-o'er his lay
Dark eyes, dark, soft, Italian eyes had shed
Warm tears, fast-glittering in that sun, whose light
Was a forbidden glory lọ his sigbt.
Oh! if it be that wizard sign and spell,
And talisman had power of old to bind,
In the dark chambers of some cavern-cell,
Or knolled oak, the spirits of the wind,
Things of the lightning-pinion, wont to dwell
High o'er the reach of eagles, and to find
Joy in the rush of storms—even such a doom
Was that high minstrel's in bis dungeon-gloom.
But he was free at last the glorious land
Of the white Alps and pine-crown'd Apennines,
Along whose shore the sapphire seas expand,
And the wastes teem with myrtle, and the shrines
Of long-forgotten gods from Nature's hand
Receive bright offerings still ; with all its vines,
And rocks, and ruins, clear before himn lay-
The seal was taken from the founts of day.
The winds came o'er his cheek; the soft winds, blending
All summer-sounds and odours in their sigh;
The orange-groves waved round; the hills were sending
Their bright streams down ; the free birds darting by,
And the blue festal heavens above him hending,
As if to fold a world where none could die !

THE RELCASE OF TASSO.

117

And who was he that look'd upon these things ?
-If but of earth, yet one whose thoughts were wings
To bear himn o'er creation ! and whose mind
Was as an air-harp, wakening to the sway
Of sunny Nature's breathings unconfined,
With all the mystic harmonies that lay
Far in the slumber of its chords enshrined,
Till the light breeze went thrilling on its way:

- There was no sound that wander'd through the sky,
But told him secrets in its melody.
Was the deep forest lonely unto him
With all its whispering leaves ? Each dell and glade
Teem'd with such forms as on the moss-clad brim
Of fountains, in their sparry grottoes, play'd,
Seen by the Greek of yore through twilight dim,
Or misty.noontide in the laurel-shade.

- There is no solitude on earth so deep
As that where man decrees that man should weep!
But oh! the life in Nature's green domains,
The breathing sense of joy ! where flowers are springing
By starry thousands, on the slopes and plains,
And the gray rocks and all the arch'd woods ringing,
And the young branches trembling to the strains
Of wild-born creatures, through the sunshine winging
Their fearless flight-and sylvan echoes round,
Mingling all tones to one Eólian sound;
And the glad voice, the laughing voice of streams,
And the low cadence of the silvery sea,
And reed-notes from the mountains, and the beams
Of the warm sun-all these are for the free !
And they were his once more, the bard whose dreams
Their spirit still had haunted.-Could it be
That he had borne the chain ?-oh! wbo shall dare
To say how much man's heart uncrush'd may bear ?
So deep a root hath bope! but wo for this,
Our frail mortality, that aught so bright,
So almost burthen'd with excess of bliss,
As the rich hour which back to sumıner's light
Calls the worn captive, with the geutle kiss
Of winds, and gush of waters, and the sight
Of the green earth, must so be bought with years
Of the heart's fever, parching up its tears ;
And feeding a slow fire on all its powers,
Until the boon for which we gasp in vain,
If hardly won at length, too late made ours
When the soul's wing is broken, comes like rain

118

THE RELEASE OF TASSO.

Withheld till evening, on the stately flowers
Which withered in the noontide, ne'er again
To lift their heads in glory --So doth Earth
Breathe on her gifts, and melt away their worth.
The sailor dies in sight of that green shore,
Whose fields, in slumbering beauty, seem'd to lie
On the deep's foam, amidst its hollow roar
Call'd up to sunlight by his fantasy-
And, when the shining desert-mists that wore
The lake's bright semblance, have been all pass’d by,
The pilgrim sinks beside the fountain-wave,
Which flashes from its rock, too late to save.
Or if we live, if that, too dearly bought,
And made too precious by long hopes and fears,
Remains our own-love, darken'd and o'erwrought
By memory of privation, love, which wears
And casts o'er life a troubled hue of thought,
Becomes the shadow of our closing years,
Making it almost inisery, to possess
Aught, watch'd with such unquiet tenderness.
Such unto him, the bard, the worn and wild,
And sick with hope deferr’d, from whom the sky,
With all its clouds in burning glory piled,
Had been shut out by long captivity ;
Such, freedom was to Tasso.—as a child
Is to the mother, whose foreboding eye
In its too radiant glance from day to day,
Reads that which calls the brightest first away.
And he became a wanderer--in whose breast
Wild fear, which, e'en when every sense doth sleep,
Clings to the burning heart, a wakeful guest,
Sat brooding as a spirit, raised to keep
Its gloomy vigil of intense unrest
O'er treasures, burthening life, and buried deep
In cavern-tomb, and sought, througb shades and stealth,
By some pale mortal, trembling at his wealth.
But wo for those who trample o'er a mind!
A deathless thing: -They know not what they do,
Or what they deal with Man perchance may bind

The flower his step hath bruised; or light anew
The torch be quenches; or to music wind
Again the lyre-string fronı his touch that flew
But for the soul !-oh! tremble, and beware
To lay rude hands upon God's mysteries there!

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