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But he was hardy as his lord,
Ay, 'twas,-when Casimir was king-
Six summers in my earlier age;
He made no wars, and did not gain
And (save debates in Warsaw's diet) Though thousands were around, and Night, He reign'd in most unseemly quiet; Without a star, pursued her flight,
Not that he had no cares to vex, That steed from sunset until dawn
He loved the muses and the sex; His chief would follow like a fawn. And sometimes these so froward are,
They made him wish himself at war;
But soon his wrath being o'er, he took
Another mistress, or new book:
And then he gave prodigious fêtes-
All Warsaw gather'd round his gates If still the powder fill'd the pan,
And dames, and chiefs, of princely port : And flints unloosen'd kept their lock
He was the Polish Solomon,
So sung his poets, all but one,
Who, being unpension'd, made a satire,
And boasted that he could not flatter. From out his haversack and can,
It was a court of jousts and mimes, Prepared and spread his slender stock:
Where every courtier tried at rhymes;
Even I for once produced some verses,
And sign’d my odes, Despairing Thirsis.
There was a certain Palatine, Than courtiers at a banquet would.
A count of far and high descent, And Charles of this his slender share
Rich as a salt-or silver-mine; With smiles partook a moment there,
And he was proud, ye may divine, To force of cheer a greater show,
As if from heaven he had been sent: And seem above both wounds and woe;
He had such wealth in blood and ore
As few could match beneath the throne;
And o'er his pedigree would pore,
Until by some confusion led, Than thee, Mazeppa! On the earth
Which almost look like want of head, So fit a pair had never birth,
He thought their merits were his own. Since Alexander's days till now,
His wife was not of his opinionAs thy Bucephalus and thou:
His junior she by thirty yearsAll Scythia's fame to thine should yield
Grew daily tired of his dominion; For pricking on o'er flood and field.”
And after wishes, hopes, and fears, Mazeppa answer'd—“ III betide
To virtue a few farewell tears, The school wherein I learn'd to ride!"
A restless dream or two, some glances Quoth Charles—"Old hetman,wherefore so, At Warsaw's youth, some songs, and dances, Since thou hast learn'd the art so well?”
Awaited but the usual chances, Mazeppa said "Twere long to tell;
Those happy accidents which render
To deck her Count with titles given,
'Tis said, as passports into heaven; Beyond the swift Borysthenes :
But, strange to say, they rarely boast
Of these who have deserved them most.
“ I was a goodly stripling then ;
At seventy years I so may say,
That there were few, or boys or men,
Who, in my dawning time of day,
Of vassal or of knight's degree, The hope of present slumber flies."
Could vie in vanities with me;
For I had strength, youth, gaiety, “Well, Sire, with such a hope, I'll track A port not like to this ye see, My seventy years of memory back: But smooth, as all is rugged now; I think 'twas in my twentieth spring, -- For time, and care, and war, have plough'd
My very soul from out my brow;
A frivolous and foolish play, And thus I should be disavow'd
Wherewith we while away the day ; By all my kind and kin, could they It is—I have forgot the name Compare my day and yesterday;
And we to this, it seems, were set,
I reck'd not if I won or lost,
The being whom I loved the most.—
I watch'd her as a sentinel, With starless skies my canopy.
(May ours this dark night watch as well!) But let me on: Theresa's form
Until I saw, and thus it was,
but still And yet I find no words to tell
Play'd on for hours, as if her will The shape of her I loved so well :
Yet bound her to the place, though not She had the Asiatic eye,
That hers might be the winning lot. Such as our Turkish neighbourhood Then through my brain the thought Hath mingled with our Polish blood, Dark as above us is the sky;
Even as a flash of lightning there, But through it stole a tender light, That there was something in her air Like the first moonrise at midnight ;
Which would not doom me to despair; Large, dark, and swimming in the stream, And on the thought my words broke forth, Which seem'd to melt to its own beam; All incoherent as they wereAll love, half languor, and half fire, Their eloquence was little worth, Like saints that at the stake expire, But yet she listen'd—'lis enoughAnd lift their raptured looks on high, Who listens once will listen twice ; As though it were a joy to die.
Her heart, be sure, is not of ice,
And one refusal no rebuff.
“I loved, and was beloved again-
I shorten all my joy or pain, In fierce extremes—in good and ill. To you 'twould seem absurd as vain; But still we love even in our rage,
But all men are not born to reign, And haunted to our very age
Or o'er their passions, or as you With the vain shadow of the past,
Thus o'er themselves and nations too, As is Mazeppa to the last.
I am-or rather was—a prince,
Them on where each would foremost bleed “We met—we gazed—I saw, and sigh'd, But could not o'er myself evince She did not speak, and yet replied ;
The like control-But to resume: There are ten thousand tones and signs I loved, and was beloved again : We hear and see, but none defines In sooth, it is a happy doom, Involuntary sparks of thought,
But yet where happiest ends in pain.Which strike from out the heart o'er- We met in secret, and the hour
Which led me to that lady's bower And form a strange intelligence,
Was fiery Expectation's dower. Alike mysterious and intense,
My days and nights were nothing-all Which link the burning chain that binds, Except that hour, which doth recal Without their will, young hearts and minds; In the long lapse from youth to age Conveying, as the electric wire,
No other like itself-I'd give We know not how, the absorbing fire. The Ukraine back again to live I saw, and sigh'd-in silence wept,
It o'er once more - and be a page, And still reluctant distance kept,
The happy page, who was the lord Until I was made known to her,
Of one soft heart, and his own sword, And we might then and there confer And had no other gem nor wealth Without saspicion - then, even then, Save nature's gift of youth and health. I long’d, and was resolved to speak; We met in secret-doubly sweet, But on my lips they died again,
Some say, they find it so to meet; The accents tremulous and weak,
I know not that -- I would have given Until one hour.-There is a game,
My life but to have call'd her mine
In the full view of earth and heaven; “Away !-away!--My breath was gone -
I saw not where he hurried on :
And on he foam'd--away!--away!
The last of human sounds which rose, " For lover, there are inany eyes, As I was darted from my foes, And such there were on 18 ;- the devil
Was the wild shout of savage laughter, On such occasions should be civilThe devil!-- I'm loth to do him wrong,
Which on the wind came roaring after
A moment from that rabble rout : It might be some untoward saint,
With sudden wrath I wrench'd my head, Who would not be at rest too long, But to his pious bile gave vent
And snapp'd the cord, which to the inane But one fair night, some lurking spies
Had bound my neck in lieu of rein, Surprised and seized us both.
And, writhing half my form about, The Count was something more
Howl'd back my curse; but ʼmidst the tread, than
The thunder of my courser's speed, wroth
Perchance they did not hear nor heed : I was unarm'd; but if in steel,
It vexes me- for I would fain All cap-à-pie from head to heel,
Have paid their insult back again. What 'gainst their numbers could I do? – 'Twas near his castle, far away
I paid it well in after-days :
There is not of that castle-gate, From city or from succour near,
Its drawbridge and portcullis' weight, And almost on the break of day;
Stone, bar, moat, bridge, or barrier left ; I did not think to see another,
Nor of its ficlds a blade of grass, My moments secm'd reduced to few;
Save what grows on a ridge of wall, And with one prayer to Mary Mother,
Where stood the hearth-stone of the hall; And, it may be, a saint or two,
And many a time ye there might pass, As I resign'd me to my fate,
Nor dreain that e'er that fortress was : They led me to the castle-gate :
I saw its turrets in a blaze,
Their crackling battlements all cleft,
And the hot lead pour down like rain An angry man, ye may opine,
From off the scorch'd and blackening roof, Was he, the proud Count Palatine;
Whose thickness was not vengeance-proof. And he had reason good to be,
They little thought that day of pain, But he was most enraged lest such
When launch’d, as on the lightning's flash, An accident should chance to touch
They bade me to destruction dash, Upon his future pedigree;
That one day I should come again, Nor less amazed, that such a blot
With twice five thousand horse to thank His noble 'scutcheon should have got,
The Count for his uncourteous ride.
They play'd me then a bitter prank,
When, with the wild horse for my guide, The first of men, nor less he deem'd
They bound me to his foaming flank: In others' eyes, and most in mine. Sdeath! with a page-perchance a king
At length I play'd them one as frank
For time at last sets all things evenHad reconciled him to the thing; But with a stripling of a page
And if we do but watch the hour,
There never yet was human power
The patient search and vigil long *“Bring forth the horse!"- the horse was of him who treasures up a wrong.
brought; In truth, he was a noble steed, A Tartar of the Ukraine breed,
“Away, away, my steed and I, Who look'd as though the speed of thought Upon the pinions of the wind, Were in his limbs; but he was wild, All human dwellings left behind : Wild as the wild deer, and untaught, We sped, like meteors through the sky, With spur and bridle undefiled –
When with its crackling sound the night 'Twas but a day he had been caught; Is chequer'd with the northern light: And snorting, with erected mane, Town-village-none were on our track, And struggling fiercely, but in vain, But a wild plain of far extent, In the full foam of wrath and dread And bounded by a forest black ; To me the desert-born was led :
And, save the scarce seen battlement They bound me on, that menial throng, On distant heights of some strong hold, Upon his back with many a thong ; Against the Tartars built of old, Then loosed him with a sudden lash
No trace of man. The year before Away!-away!-- and on we dash !-- A Turkish army had march'd o'er ; Torrents less rapid and less rash.
And where the Spahi's houf hath trod,
The verdure flies the bloody sod: And through the night had heard their fect
Oh! how I wish'd for spear or sword,
And perish—if it must be 80-
Vain doubt! his swift and savage breed At times I almost thought, indeed,
Had nerved him like the mountain-roc; He must have slackend in his speed: Nor faster falls the blinding snow But nu – my bound and slender frame Which whelms the peasant near the door Was nothing to his angry might,
Whose threshold he shall cross no more, And inerely like a spur became :
Bewilderd with the dazzling blast, Each motion which I made to free Than through the forest-paths he past My swoln limbs from their agony
Untired, untamed, and worse than wild ; Increased his fury and affright:
All furious as a favour'd child I tried my voice,—twas faint and low, Balk'd of its wish; or fiercer still But yet he swerved as from a blow; A woman piqued—who has her will. And, starting to each accent, sprang As from a sudden trumpet's clang: Meantime my cords were wet with gore, “The wood was past ; 'twas more than Which, oozing through my limbs, ran o'er;
noon ; And in my tongue the thirst became But chill the air, although in Juno; A something fierier far than flame. Or it might be my veins ran cold -
Prolong'd endurance tames the bold :
And I was then not what I seem, “We near'd the wild wood—'twas so wide, But headlong as a wintry stream, I saw no bounds on either side;
And wore my feelings out before 'Twas studded with old sturdy trees, I well could count their causes o'er: That bent not to the roughest breeze And what with fury, fear, and wrath, Which howls down froin Siberia's waste, The tortures which beset my path, And strips the forest in its haste,
Cold, hunger, sorrow, shame, distress, But these were few, and far between Thus bound in nature's nakedness; Set thick with shrubs more young and green, Sprung from a race whose rising blood Luxuriant with their annual leaves, When stirr'd beyond its calmer mood, Ere strown by those autumnal eves And trodden hard upon, is like That nip the forest's foliage dead,
The rattle-snake's, in act to strike, Discolour'd with a lifeless red,
What marvel if this worn out trunk Which stands thereon like stiffen'd gore Beneath its woeg a moment sunk? Upon the slain when battle's o’er,
The earth gave way, the skies roll'd round, And some long winter's night hath shed I seem'd to sink upon the ground; Its frost o'er every tombless head, But err’d, for I was fastly bound. So cold and stark the raven's beak My heart turn'd sick, my brain grew sore, May peck unpierced each frozen cheek : And throbb'd awhile, then beat no more: Twas a wild waste of underwood, The skies spun like a mighty wheel ; And here and there a chesnut stood, I saw the trees like drunkards reel, The strong oak, and the hardy pine; And a slight flash sprang o'er my eyes, But far apart—and well it were,
Which saw no farther: he who dies Or else a different lot were mine
Can die no more than then I died. The boughs gave way, and did not tear O’ertortured by that ghastly ride, My limbs ; and I found strength to bear I felt the blackness come and go, My wounds, already scarr'd with cold -- And strove to wake; but could not make My bonds forbade to loose my hold. My senses climb up from below; We rustled through the leaves like wind, I felt as on a plank at sea, Left shrubs, and trees, and wolves behind; when all the waves that dash o'er thee, By night I heard them on the track, At the same time upheave and whelm, Their troop came bard upon our back, And hurl thee towards a desert realm. With their long gallop, which can tire My undulating life was as The bound's deep hate, and hunter's fit ; The fancied lights that fitting pass Where'er we flew they follow'd on, Our shut eyes in deep midnight, when Sor left us with the morning-sun; Fever begins upon the brain; Behind I saw them, scarce a rood,
But soon it pass'd, with little pain, At day-break winding through the wood, But a confusion worse than such:
I own that I should deem it much, Reminding me, through every ill,
Of the abodes of men.
“Onward we went, but slack and slow; No matier; I have bared my brow
His savage force at length o'erspent, Full in Death's face-before- and now.
The drooping courser, faint and low,
All feebly foaming went. “My thoughts came back; where was I? A sickly infant had had power
To guide him forward in that hour; And numb, and giddy: pulse by pulse
But useless all to me. Life reassumed its lingering hold,
His new-born tameness nought avail'd, And throb by throb; till grown a pang
My limbs were bound; my force had failid, Which for a moment would convulse,
Perchance, had they been free. My blood reflow'd, though thick and With feeble effort still I tried
To rend the bounds so starkly tiedMy ear with uncouth noises rang,
But still it was in vain; My heart began once more to thrill;
My limbs were only wrung the morc, My sight return'd, though dim; alas !
And soon the idle strife gave o'er, And thicken'd, as it were, with glass.
Which but prolong d their pain: Methought the dash of waves was nigh;
The dizzy race seem'd almost done, There was a gleam too of the sky,
Although no goal was nearly won: Studded with stars; - it is no dream;
Some streaks announced the coming sun The wild horse swim the wilder stream! How slow, alas ! he came ! The bright broad river's gushing tide
Methought that mist of dawning gray Sweeps, winding onward, far and wide,
Would never dapple into day : And we are half-way struggling o'er
How heavily it rollid awayTo yon unknown and silent shore.
Before the eastern flame The waters broke my hollow trance,
Rose crimson, and deposed the stars, And with a temporary strength
And call'd the radiance from their cars, My stiffen'd limbs were rebaptized.
And fill'd the earth, from his deep throne, My courser's broad breast proudly braves, With lonely lustre, all his own. And dashes off the ascending waves And onward we advance!
“Up rose the sun ; the mists were curl'd We reach the slippery shore at length, Back from the solitary world A haven I but little prized,
Which lay around—behind – before :
What booted it to traverse o'er
Nor dint of hoof, nor print of foot,
Lay in the wild luxuriant soil; I could not tell; I scarcely knew
No sign of travel - none of toil; If this were human breath I drew.
The very air was mute;
And not an insect's shrill small horn, “With glossy skin, and dripping mane, Nor matin bird's new voice was borno And reeling limbs, and reeking flank, From herb nor thicket. Many a werst, The wild steed's sinewy nerves still strain Panting as if his heart would burst, Up the repelling bank.
The weary brute still stagger'd on; We gain the top: a boundless plain And still we were-or seem'd-alone: Spreads through the shadow of the night, At length, while reeling on our way, And onward, onward, onward, seems Methought I heard a courser neigh, Like precipices in our dreams,
From out yon tuft of blackening firs. To stretch beyond the sight;
Is it the wind those branches stirs ? And here and there a speck of white, No, no! from out the forest prance Or scatter'd spot of dusky green,
A trampling troop; I see them come! In masses broke into the light,
In one vast squadron they advance ! As rose the moon upon my right.
I strove to cry-my lips were dumb. But nought distinctly seen
The steeds rush on in plunging pride ; In the dim waste, would indicate
But where are they the reins to guide ? The omen of a cottage-gate;
A thousand horse - and none to ride! No twinkling taper from afar
With flowing tail, and flying mane, Stood like an hospitable star;
Wide nostrils - never stretch'd by pain, Not even an ignis-fatuus rose
Mouths bloodless to the bit or rein,
And feet that iron never shod,
A thousand horse, the wild, the free..