[from Island Minstrelsy, 1839]


The seven—fold shield of Ajax cannot keep
The battery from my heart. O, cleave my sides,
Heart; once be stronger than thy continent;
Crack thy frail case!

WHAT reeks it that nay brain doth burn!
What reeks it that my heart is broken !
To me hope never may return—
Such the dark sentence fate hath spoken
My all is centred in the grave,
My lov'd—"my beautiful—my brave !"
But, gen'rous Briton, were that all,
I'd bless the turf that they lie under
Had they but died on peaceful bed,—
Had pure affection fondly shed
Its holiest tears above their slumber,—
Had friendship's hand but borne the pall,—
Oh! I had ask'd no dearer lot
Than gazing on their resting spot,
Deeming my most belov'd were given
A spotless offering unto heaven.
But, stranger,—Oh! my whirling brain !—
I feel the frightful past again;
I feel—Oh! yes, I feel too sadly
Conflicting passions burning madly,
And vengeance ever hurrying on
To riot in the foeman's blood
Oh! can I ever shrink from one
Deep vow pledg'd in Portalgre's wood ?
Pledg'd?—ay, by every streaming vein,
And scenes that never quit my brain!
They had no mercy—not for me
My vow !—aha !— tis full of glee
To revel on their dying groans;—
The richest music hath not tones
More sweet to my devouring ear;
Nor sigh, nor groan, nor prayer, nor tear
Shall blunt my firm resolve;—for I
Am sworn to vengeance till I die.
Briton,—nay, blench not!—mine's a tale
So very madly frenzy—fraught,
That manhood's bosom should not quail
To give my foe the wreck I wrought.
And, if for me those big tears start,
Oh ! " nerve thy arm and steel thine heart,"
And rush like tiger on the foe,
For he hath wrought me deathless woo!
Once, but—God sooth me!—now 'tis o'er,—
That heaven on earth is mine no more.
Yet, stranger, once a home had I,
Beneath our bright and beauteous sky,
So very blest, so calm, so sweet,—
Oh ! 'twas a holy, happy shrine,
With terrac'd roof and trellis'd vine—
A mountain valley's lone retreat:
There were delicious orangeries
And avenues of pale cork trees,
And all fruits of our sunny clime,
With bowers of orange, citron, lime,
And sparkling fountains in the shade
By ever—fragrant myrtle made.
And oh! there was one myrtle bower
Where we have linger'd many an hour,
Forgetful that beneath the sky
Others there breath'd save she and I.
Be still, rebellious heart, be still !—
I have a work to do,—and will!
In that sweet home a couple smil'd
Upon their only, happy child.
Oh' for that young son's weal, fond prayers
Were daily offer'd; him their cares,
Their fears, hopes, wishes centred on.
Parents, I live !—and ye are —,one!
And there, beneath their fost'ring shade,
Bloom'd an angelic Spanish maid,
A sweet and gentle. orphan, whom
Their love had rescued from the tomb,
And sheltcr'd in their peaceful bower,
Watching her beauties hour to hour
Richly and tranquilly expand:
I know that Britain's maids are fair,
With soft blue eyes and golden hair,—
Yet, stranger, in my warmer land
Their dark eyes glow with deeper feeling:.
And the dear blush of love will break
Thro' the clear olive of each cheek,
Most irresistibly appealing
To every heart that is not stone—
And such—Oh! such was mine—my own!
Ay, loveliest of Spain's noble race,
Bright queen of every love and grace,
With every trace of lineage high,
From high heart and sweet dignity,
And glance and bearing stately proud,
And the dear fairy foot and hand,
All spake the race born to command,
Pure and beyond the common crowd.
The lustre of her rich dark eye
Was of the spirit world on high,—
Such brilliance, such intensity,
Such passion—warmth—ay, fervency
And she for years bloom'd by my side,
My lov'd—my chosen one—my bride !
My very soul to her was given;
And earth with her seem'd more than heaven.
Oh! in that eye's pure pearly tear
Read I a tale to lovers dear;
But what avails it now to tell
Of joys that have ring out their knell—
Of more than human faith and trust,
And love and hope enshrined in dust.!
Tbat idol was a thing of clay ;—
Those joys—what was more false than they.,
Oh! bitterest of mortal woe
Is their's who make their heaven below—
And tenfold bitterness was mine !
But now I am alone on earth,
The last of an unsullied line,
To weep above my country's shrine,
And desecrate my very birth !
Oh God! if there be woes that wring
Forgiveness from an angry heaven,
Forgive—forgive a guilty thing
To the last verge of madness driven ;
And grant me, in thy radiant sphere,
A place where mine own murder'd are!
But briefly, stranger, she was mine;
Our parents blessed at holy shrine
And gave—Oh! with unbounded charms—
Their angel Inez to my arms.
I ask'd of heaven no more below.
Oh, too sincerely blest was I !
If bliss must diminution know—
If days must bring to true hearts woe—
If pleasures must grow dim and die,
None, none could be so blest in life—
I had my parents—had my wife!
A day of sore bereavement came
To sear my breast and blast my name.
Great heaven, explain !—what power of hell
Despatch'd the murderers, fierce and fell,
To waste our lands and wreck our homes,
And revel in our sacred domes ?
Alas, ill—fated Portugal
Fell crush'd within their fiendish thrall!
On, on the ruffians came to blast
Each guardian Sierra they pass'd.
Our force was small, our hearts were brave;
We dearly held us to the slave—
The monster—demon Corsican.
Our homes were trampled to the earth,
The fair proud freeholds of our birth ;
Our blood in gushing torrents ran ;
Yet dealt we vengeance on the foe,
And laid full many a craven low.
What boots it now of that to speak!—
They thousands strong—we few and weak;
They drag'd my worship'd father bound,
And bade him kneel on his own ground;—
(A goodly mark, Senhor, was he
To prove the Frenchman's musketry;)
They bade him kneel—the hounds of blood!—
As proudly in his home they stood.
My father kneel to them! 'Twas vain:
He stood erect among his slain.
I saw the level'd musketry,
I heard the exulting burst of glee,
I heard—Great heaven! where slept thy thunders ?
Oh! madness !—agony!—my brain
Burn'd with distraction;—but 'twas vain!
I was enchained, yet wrought I wonders;
I gnashed my teeth, I rav'd, I swore
A gentle breeze began to play,
And swept the curling smoke away;
I saw him writhing is his gore—
His gray hair soil'd!—I saw no more!

* * * *

From a long, deep, and blessed swoon
I raised my bruised and bleeding head;
But conscious horror came too soon,
I lived alone amid the dead.
The brutal monsters all were gone
O'er their black path of murder on;
And not a sound and not a breeze
Came sighing thro' the myrtle trees.
With stiffening wounds, and racking pain,
I sought my threshold once again;
I sought my mother—sought my bride—
My Inez'.—my ador'd—my pride!
Briton, then came the deadliest thrust
That e'er laid sinner in the dust.

* * * *

I dug a grave, the moon shone bright,
I made it deep, and long, and wide,
And there, alone at dead midnight,
Beneath that pure and lovely light,
I laid wife—mother—side by side
There was no trace, no bloody token,
Whereby to read my mother's fate ;
Her gentle heart had quickly broken
When that she was so desolate;—
Ay, heaven to yield its woes relief
Permitted it to burst with grief.
But Inez !—her, my gentle one!
Oh, Inez !—art thou ever gone ?
Oh, Inez !—beautiful and good—
Last flower of brave Don Carlos' blood—
Oh, Inez !—my own lovely wife—
Sole joy—sole treasure of my life—
And wilt thou come no more to me ?
And must my path in darkness be ?
Oh! Inez, Inez !—sweet—mine own!—
Pure spirit that from me hast flown !

* * * *

I drew the poniard from her breast,
My lips unto that wound I prest ;
And with the same cold cruel steel
I cross'd my brow with blood, and swore
By mine own soul's immortal weal,
To riot in the murderer's gore !
And from her high proud brow, so pale,
Reft I a tress of raven hair:—
Oh! Briton, Briton! thou wouldst quail
To know of all I pledg'd her there!
But in her blood that braid deep dyed
Now rests upon this throbbing side,
Upon my torn, my weary heart,
From whence it never more shall part.
I cover'd them with myrtles there,
And laurels and all shrubs that were
Uptorn from each beloved bower—
Torn as my heart's sweet blighted flower
And then I placed the earth above
Over each pure and pallid brow,—
My only earthly all of love,—
And bade death's portals faithful prove
As I should to my blood—sworn vow;
And well, senhor, the clay I prest
Upon my darling's bleeding breast,
Lest that the blood—hounds should rush back
Upon their mad insatiate track,
And tear them from the very grave
And not one burning tear I gave
Nor sigh, nor groan, nor human token
Whereby to read a true heart broken.
My father!—Oh! 'twas very vain
To seek for his dear honour'd clay;
He sleeps amid his warriors slain,
And with their high hearts must remain
Until the great avenging day.
Be still, rebellious heart!—thy hour
For doom and suffering comes with power:
Full dearly shall the foeman pay
The horrors of that dismal day.
Oh, trust me, I shall well make good
The vow of dark Portalgre's wood!
Ay, stranger, thou mayst deem I rave—
In very sooth my brain is burning.
Oh ! wretched country ! to your grave
A glorious, precious boon I gave—
Gave to your bosom's cold inurning.
And am I not a wondrous man
To live beneath so black a ban,
To move with such a cheerful bearing,
Fresh from a fate so madly searing?
Trust me, altho' perchance grown pale,
Mine is not craven brow to quail
This arm is sinewy yet, and strong;
Vengeance must prove its force ere long!
Vengeance ?—ay,vengeance ! Ihave chosen
A trusty hand of iron men,
Whose each relenting pulse is frozen—
And brief must be their chief's reposing.
My gallant band, I hail ye, then!
Now for the Sierra afar,
Where my unshrinking brethren are.
Briton, thy landsmen all are brave;
Dar'st thou the dangers of our cave
Whence the fierce fiery dart speeds flying
Dar'st thou to gaze on thousands dying ?
Dar'st thou the den unknown to all,
Save the proud band within its portal,
Which every night becomes the pall
Of hundreds?—and the flying ball
That ploughs them down is deem'd immortal.
And should our rich success be o'er,
And we be conquerors no more—
Should Destiny's resistless power
Lead them unto our stronghold tower,
Oh ! little reek they of the brave
And warlike welcome they shall have;
For our proud eagle home shall be
Meet tomb for warriors such as we.
For that we are a kingly race,
Who never may of vengeance tire
Till thousands of the foe expire,
And thousands more our dying grace.
Nay, worthy Briton, never start;
Lik'st not the ardour of my heart?
Lik'st not Alvarez should make good
The vow pledg'd in his Inez' blood ?
Oh, mark me! Ere with life I part
I'll trace my ruin on thy heart—
Thy thirsty heart, Napoleon!
Till it shall bleed at every pore ;
Ay, I shall calmly murder on
Till that I deem my calling done—
My vow waslr'd out by floods of gore.
Oh, Lrez, Inez !—bleeding shade !—
Thy wrongs shall be tenfold repaid!
Oh, Inez !—my belov'd—mine own!—
Pure angel of my bosom's throne,
Could—could I press thee to its burning,
Or clasp thee in a last embrace,—
Thou, who art wrapt in death's inurning—
Thou, in that bourne of no returning.
Oh, Inez ! in thy resting place
Would I might lay me down, and deem
That thou hadst only been a dream!
But hold, fond beam!—a truce to love!
That is for purer worlds above.
Stranger, my tale is said. I go
To hold communion with the foe.
Bethink thee, in thine own cold land,
Of that heroic mountain band
Led by a desperate chieftain on
To deeds from which they shrink not one.
Bethink thee, when love's dearest tones
Come like heav'n—harpings o'er thy sold,
Of woe and ruth and bitter moans,
Bethink thee of the patriot's goal
Ay, in the proud and princely domes
Of thine own Albion's stately homes,
Remember, men are sometimes not
What they would choose;—but 'tis their lot.
And Alvarez of Portugal
Lurks to avenge his household blood;
Firm purpos'd to extinguish all
The demons of Portalgre's wood;—
A true Guerilla of the land,
With dauntless heart and trusty band.
Then on, Guerilla!—bravest, on!
Until thy work of death be done;
For oceans of Gaul's blood shall flow
To sweep the Corsican below—
To hurl him from his despot throne
Oh! by each never—dying moan,
We'll hurl him from his crime—won height
To shades of everlasting night!
Then on, Guerilla!—firmly on,
Till that thy work of death be done !


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Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2004