The wary

Fresh with the nerve the new-born impulse strung,
The first success to Lara's numbers clung:
But that vain victory hath ruin'd all ;
They form no longer to their leader's call :
In blind confusion on the foe they press,
And think to snatch is to secure success.
The lust of booty, and the thirst of hate,
Lure on the broken brigands to their fate :
In vain he doth whate'er a chief


do, To check the headlong fury of that crew; In vain their stubborn ardour he would tame, The hand that kindles cannot quench the flame;

foe alone hath turn'd their mood, And shown their rashness to that erring brood: The feign’d retreat, the nightly ambuscade, The daily harass, and the fight delay'd, The long privation of the hoped supply, The tentless rest beneath the humid sky, The stubborn wall that mocks the leaguer's art, And palls the patience of his baffled heart, Of these they had not deem’d: the battle-day They could encounter as a veteran may ; But more preferr’d the fury of the strife, And present death, to hourly suffering life : And famine wrings, and fever sweeps away His numbers melting fast from their array ; Intemperate triumph fades to discontent, And Lara's soul alone seems still unbent : But few remain to aid his voice and hand, And thousands dwindled to a scanty band : Desperate, though few, the last and best remain'd To mourn the discipline they late disdain'd. One hope survives, the frontier is not far, And thence they may escape from native war; And bear within them to the neighbouring state An exile's sorrows, or an outlaw's hate : Hard is the task their father-land to quit, But harder still to perish or submit.


It is resolved — they march — consenting Night
Guides with her star their dim and torchless flight;
Already they perceive its tranquil beam
Sleep on the surface of the barrier stream;

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Already they descry - Is yon the bank?
Away! 't is lined with many a hostile rank.
Return or fly! What glitters in the rear ?
'Tis Otho's banner - the pursuer's spear!
Are those the shepherds' fires upon the height ?
Alas! they blaze too widely for the flight:
Cut off from hope, and compass'd in the toil,
Less blood perchance hath bought a richer spoil !


A moment's pause, 't is but to breathe their band
Or shall they onward press, or here withstand ?
It matters little if they charge the foes
Who by their border-stream their march oppose,
Some few, perchance, may break and pass the line,
However link'd to baffle such design.
“ The charge be ours ! to wait for their assault
Were fate well worthy of a coward's halt.”
Forth flies each sabre, rein'd is every steed,
And the next word shall scarce outstrip the deed :
In the next tone of Lara's gathering breath
How many shall but hear the voice of death!


His blade is bared, in him there is an air
As deep, but far too tranquil for despair ;
A something of indifference more than then
Becomes the bravest, if they feel for men.
He turnd his eye on Kaled, ever near,
And still too faithful to betray one fear;
Perchance 't was but the moon's dim twilight threw
Along his aspect an unwonted hue
Of mournful paleness, whose deep tint express'd
The truth, and not the terror of his breast.
This Lara mark'd, and laid his hand on his :
It trembled not in such an hour as this ;
His lip was silent, scarcely beat his heart,
His eye alone proclaim'd, " We will not part !
Thy band may perish, or thy friends may flee,
Farewell to life, but not adieu to thee !"

The word hath pass'd his lips, and onward driven,
Pours the link'd band through ranks asunder riven;
Well has each steed obey'd the armed heel,
And flash the scimitars, and rings the steel;

Outnumber'd, not outbraved, they still oppose
Despair to daring, and a front to foes ;
And blood is mingled with the dashing stream,
Which runs all redly till the morning beam.


Commanding, aiding, animating all,
Where foe appear'd to press, or friend to fall,
Cheers Lara's voice, and waves or strikes his steel,
Inspiring hope himself had ceased to feel.
None fled, for well they knew that flight were vain ;
But those that waver turn to smite again,
While yet they find the firmest of the foe
Recoil before their leader's look and blow :
Now girt with numbers, now almost alone,
He foils their ranks, or re-unites his own ;
Himself he spared not once they seem'd to fly -
Now was the time, he waved his hand on high,
And shook — Why sudden droops that plumed crest
The shaft is sped - the arrow's in his breast !
That fatal gesture left the unguarded side,
And Death hath stricken down yon arm of pride.
The word of triumph fainted from his tongue ;
That hand, so raised, how droopingly it hung !
But yet the sword instinctively retains,
Though from its fellow shrink the falling reins,
These Kaled snatches : dizzy with the blow,
And senseless bending o'er his saddie-bow,
Perceives not Lara that his anxious page
Beguiles his charger from the combat's rage :
Meantime his followers charge, and charge again ;
Too mix'd the slayers now to heed the slain !


Day glimmers on the dying and the dead,
The cloven cuirass, and the helmless head;
The war-horse masterless is on the earth,
And that last gasp hath burst his bloody girth ;
And near, yet quivering with what life remain'd,
The heel that urged him and the hand that rein'd;
And some too near that rolling torrent lie,
Whose waters mock the lip of those that die;
That panting thirst which scorches in the breath,
Of those that die the soldier's fiery death,
In vain impels the burning mouth to crave
One drop - the last — to cool it for the grave ;

With feeble and convulsive effort swept,
Their limbs along the crimson'd turf have crept;
The faint remains of life such struggles waste,
But yet they reach the stream, and bend to taste :
They feel its freshness, and almost partake -
Why pause ? No further thirst have they to slake
It is unquench'd, and yet they feel it not ;
It was an agony — but now forgot!


Beneath a lime, remoter from the scene,
Where but for him the strife had never been,
A breathing but devoted warrior lay :
'T was Lara bleeding fast from life away.
His follower once, and now his only guide,
Kneels Kaled watchful o'er his welling side,
And with his scarf would stanch the tides that ruski,
With each convulsion, in a blacker gush;
And then, as his faint breathing waxes low,
In feebler, not less fatal tricklings flow :
He scarce can speak, but motions him 't is vain,
And merely adds another throb to pain.
He clasps the hand that


which would assuage, And sadly smiles his thanks to that dark page, Who nothing fears, nor feels, nor heeds, nor sees, Save that damp brow which rests upon his knees; Save that pale aspect, where the eye, though dim, Held all the light that shone on earth for him.


The foe arrives, who long had search'd the field,
Their triumph nought till Lara too should yield ;
They would remove him, but they see 't were vain,
And he regards them with a calm disdain,
That rose to reconcile him with his fate,
And that escape to death from living hate :
And Otho comes, and leaping from his steed,
Looks on the bleeding foe that made him bleed,
And questions of his state; he answers not,
Scarce glances on him as on one forgot,
And turns to Kaled : — each remaining word,
They understood not, if distinctly heard ;
His dying tones are in that other tongue,
To which some rtrange remembrance wildly clung.
They spake of other scenes, but what — is known

To Kaled, whom their meaning reach'd alone;

And he replied, though faintly, to their sound,
While gazed the rest in dumb amazement round:
They seem'd even then that twain- unto the last
To half forget the present in the past;
To share between themselves some separate fate,
Whose darkness none beside should penetrate.


Their words though faint were many :

from the tone Their import those who heard could judge alone ; From this, you might have deem'd young Kaled's death More near than Lara’s by his voice and breath, So sad, so deep, and hesitating broke The accents his scarce-moving pale lips spoke ; But Lara's voice, though low, at first was clear And calm, till murmuring death gasp'd hoarsely near : But from his visage little could we guess, So unrepentant, dark, and passionless, Save that when struggling nearer to his last, Upon that page his eye was kindly cast; And once, as Kaled's answering accents ceased, Rose Lara's hand, and pointed to the East : Where (as then the breaking sun from high Roll'd back the clouds) the morrow caught his eye, Or that 't was chance, or some remember'd scene, That raised his arm to point where such had been, Scarce Kaled seem'd to know, but turn'd away, As if his heart abhorr'd that coming day, And shrunk his glance before that morning light, To look on Lara's brow where all grew night. Yet sense seem'd left, though better were its loss , For when one near display'd the absolving cross, And proffer'd to his touch the holy bead, Of which his parting soul might own the need, He look'd upon it with an eye profane, And smiled – Heaven pardon! if 't were with disdain : And Kaled, though he spoke not, nor withdrew From Lara's face his fix'd despairing view, With brow repulsive, and with gesture swift, Flung back the hand which held the sacred gift, As if such but disturb'd the expiring man, Nor seem'd to know his life but then began, That life of Immortality, secure To none, save them whose faith in Christ is sure.

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