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When fear, ere yet a blow is dealt,
Betrayed by none, by all is felt;
While, moved beneath their feet, the tomb
Widens her lap to make them room;
Till in the onset of the fray,
Fear, feeling, thought are cast away,
And foaming, raging, mingling foes,
Like billows dashed in conflict, close,
Charge, strike, repel, wound, struggle, fly,
Gloriously win, unconquered die;--
Here, in dread silence, while they stand,
Each with a death-stroke in his hand,
His eye fixed forward, and his ear
Tingling the signal-blast to hear;
The trumpet sounds ;--one note, -no more ;
The field, the fight, the war is o'er ;
An earthquake rent the void between;
A moment showed, and shut the scene;
Men, chariots, steeds,-of either host,
The flower, the pride, the strength were lost :
A solitude remains;-the dead
Are buried there;—the living fed.
Nor yet the reign of Summer closed :
At night in their own homes reposed
The fugitives, on either side,
Who 'scaped the death their comrades died;
When lo! with many a giddy shock,
The mountain-cliffs began to rock,
And deep below the hollow ground
Ran a strange mystery of sound,
As if, in chains and torments there,
Spirits were venting their despair.
That sound, those shocks the sleepers woke;
In trembling consternation, broke
Forth from their dwellings, young and old ;-
Nothing abroad their eyes behold
But darkness so intensely wrought,
'T was blindness in themselves they thought.
Anon, aloof, with sudden rays,
Issued so fierce, so broad a blaze,
That darkness started into light,
And every eye, restored to sight,
Gazed on the glittering crest of snows,
Whence the bright conflagration rose,
Whose flames condensed at once aspire,
A pillar of celestial fire,
Alone amidst infernal shade,
In glorious majesty displayed :
Beneath, from rifted caverns broke
Volumes of suffocating smoke,
That rolled in surges, like a food,
By the red radiance turned to blood.
Morn looked aghast upon the scene,
Nor could a sunbeam pierce between
The panoply of vapours, spread
Above, around the inountain's head.
In distant fields, with drought consumed,
Joy swelled all hearts, all eyes illumed,
When from that peak, through lowering skies,
Thick curling clouds were seen to rise,
And hang o'er all the darkened plain,
The presage of descending rain.
The exulting cattle bound along,
The tuneless birds attempt a song,
The swain, amidst his sterile lands,
With outstretched arms of rapture stands.
But, fraught with plague and curses, came
The insidious progeny of flame:
Ah! then,--for fertilizing showers,
The pledge of herbage, fruits, and flowers,
Words cannot paint, how every eye
(Bloodshot and dim with agony,)
Was glazed, as by a palsying spell,
When light sulphureous ashes fell,
Dazzling, and eddying to and fro,
Like wildering sleet or feathery snow:
Strewn with gray pumice Nature lies,
At every motion quick to rise,
Tainting with livid fumes the air;
-Then hope lies down in prone despair,
And man and beast, with misery dumb,
Sullenly brood on woes to come.
The mountain now, like living earth,
Pregnant with some stupendous birth,
Heaved, in the anguish of its throes,
Sheer from its crest the incumbent snows;
And where of old they chilled the sky,
Beneath the sun's meridian eye,
Or, purpling in the golden west,
Appeared his evening throne of rest,
There, black, and bottomless, and wide,
A caldron rent from side to side,
Simmered and hissed with huge turmoil;
Earth's disembowelled minerals boil,
And thence in molten torrents rush:
Water and fire, like sisters, gush
From the same source; the double stream
Meets, battles, and explodes in steam;
Then fire prevails; and broad and deep
Red lava roars from steep to steep;
While rocks unseated, woods upriven,
Are headlong down the current driven;
Columnar flames are rapt aloof,
In whirlwind forms, to heaven's high roof,
And there, amidst transcendent gloom,
Image the wrath beyond the tomb.
The mountaineers, in wild affright,
Too late for safety, urge their flight;
Women, made childless in the fray,
Women, made mothers yesterday,
The sick, the aged, and the blind;
-None but the dead are left behind.
Painful their journey, toilsome, slow;
Beneath their feet quick embers glow,
And hurtle round in dreadful hail ;
Their limbs, their hearts, their senses fail,
While many a victim, by the way,
Buried alive in ashes lay,
Or perished by the lightning's stroke,
Before the slower thunder broke.
A few the open field explore;
The throng seeks refuge on the shore,
Between two burning rivers hemmed,
Whose rage nor mounds nor hollows stemmed ;
Driven like a herd of deer, they reach
The lonely, dark, and silent beach,
Where, calm as innocence in sleep,
Expanded lies the unconscious deep.
Awhile the fugitives respire,
And watch those cataracts of fire,
(That bar escape on either hand,
Rush on the ocean from the strand;
Back from the onset rolls the tide,
But instant clouds the conflict hide;
The lavas plunge to gulfs unknown,
And as they plunge relapse to stone.
Meanwhile the mad volcano grew Teifold more terrible to view;
And thunders, such as shall be hurled
At the death-sentence of the world ;
And lightnings, such as shall consume
Creation and creation's tomb,
Nor leave amidst the eternal void
One trembling atom undestroyed ;
Such thunders crashed, such lightnings glared:
-Another fate those outcasts shared,
When, with one desolating sweep,
An earthquake seemed to engulf the deep,
Then threw it back, and from its bed
Hung a whole ocean overhead ;
The victims shrieked beneath the wave,
And in a moment found one grave;
Down to the abyss the flood returned :
Alone, unseen, the mountain burned.
THE BATTLE OF ALEXANDRIA. At Thebes, in Ancient Egypt, was erected a statue of Memnon, with a harp in his
hand, which is said to have hailed with delightful music the rising sun, and in melancholy tones to have mourned his departure. The introduction of this celebrated lyre, on a modern occasion, will be censured as an anachronism by those only who think that its chords have been touched unskilfully.
HARP of Memnon ! sweetly strung
To the music of the spheres,
While the hero's dirge is sung,
Breathe enchantment to our ears.
As the sun's descending beams,
Glancing o'er thy feeling wire,
Kindle every chord that gleams
Like a ray of heavenly fire;
Let thy numbers, soft and slow,
O'er the plain with carnage spread,
Soothe the dying, while they flow
To the memory of the dead.
Bright as Venus, newly born,
Blushing at her maiden charms,
Fresh from ocean rose the morn,
When the trumpet blew to arms.
Oh that Time had stayed his flight,
Ere that morning left the main ! Fatal as the Egyptian night,
When the eldest-born were slain !
Lashed to madness by the wind,
As the Red Sea surges roar, Leave a gloomy gulf behind,
And devour the shrinking shore:
Thus, with overwhelming pride,
Gallia's brightest, boldest boast, In a deep and dreadful tide
Rolled upon the British host.
Dauntless these their station held,
Though, with unextinguished ire, Gallia's legions, thrice repelled,
Thrice returned through blood and fire.
Thus, above the storms of time,
Towering to the sacred spheres, Stand the Pyramids sublime,-
Rocks amid the flood of years !
Now the veteran chief drew nigh,
Conquest towering on his crest, Valour beaming from his eye,
Pity bleeding in his breast.
Britain saw him thus advance
In her guardian angel's form; But he lowered on hostile France,
Like the Demon of the Storm.
On the whirlwind of the war
High he rode in vengeance dire ; To his friends a leading star,
To his foes consuming fire.
Then the mighty poured their breath,
Slaughter feasted on the brave; 'T was the carrival of Death ! 'T was the vintage of the Grave !