Scene - Room in a palace of Valencia. XIMENA singing to a lute. BALLAD. "THOU hast not been with a festal throng, At the pouring of the wine; Men bear not from the Hall of Song A mien so dark as thine! - There's blood upon thy shield, There's dust upon thy plume, - Thou hast brought from some disastrous field, That brow of wrath and gloom!" "And is there blood upon my shield? - Maiden! it well may be ! We have sent the streams from our battle-field, All darken'd to the sea! We have given the founts a stain, 'Midst their woods of ancient pine, And the ground is wet - but not with rain, Deep-dyed - but not with wine! "The ground is wet - but not with rain - We have been in war array, And the noblest blood of Christian Spain Hath bathed her soil to-day. I have seen the strong man die And the stripling meet his fate, Where the mountain-winds go sounding by, In the Roncesvalles' Strait. "In the gloomy Roncesvalles' Strait There are helms and lances cleft; And they that moved at morn elate On a bed of heath are left! There's many a fair young face, Which the war-steed hath gone o'er; At many a board there is kept a place For those that come no more!" "Alas! for love, for woman's breast, If woe like this must be! - Hast thou seen a youth with an eagle crest, And a white plume waving free? With his proud quick-flashing eye, And his mien of knightly state? Doth he come from where the swords flash'd high, In the Roncesvalles' Strait?" "In the gloomy Roncesvalles' strait I saw and mark'd him well; For nobly on his steed he sate, When the pride of manhood fell! - But it is not youth which turns From the field of spears again; For the boy's wild heart too wildly burns, Till it rests amidst the slain!" "Thou canst not say that he lies low, The lovely and the brave; Oh! none could look on his joyous brow, And think upon the grave! Dark, dark perchance the day Hath been with valour's fate, But he is on his homeward way, From the Roncesvalles' Strait." "There is dust upon his joyous brow, And o'er his graceful head; And the war-horse will not wake him now, Though it bruise his greensward bed! - I have seen the stripling die, And the strong man meet his fate, Where the mountain-winds go sounding by, In the Roncesvalles' Strait!" ELMINA enters. Elmina. Your songs are not like those of other days, Mine own Ximena! - Where is now the young And buoyant spirit of the morn, which once Breath'd in your spring-like melodies, and woke Joy's echo from all hearts? Ximena. My mother, this Is not the free air of our mountain-wilds; And these are not the halls, wherein my voice First pour'd those gladdening strains. Elmina. Alas! thy heart (I see it well) doth sicken for the pure Free-wandering breezes of the joyous hills, Where thy young brothers, o'er the rock and heath, Bound in glad boyhood, e'en as torrent streams Leap brightly from the heights. Had we not been Within these walls thus suddenly begirt, Thou wouldst have track'd ere now with step as light, Their wild wood-paths. Ximena. I would not but have shared These hours of woe and peril, though the deep And solemn feelings wakening at their voice, Claim all the wrought-up spirit to themselves, And will not blend with mirth. The storm doth hush All floating whispery sound, all bird-notes wild O' th' summer forest, filling earth and heaven With its own awful music. - And 'tis well! Should not a hero's child be train'd to hear The trumpet's blast unstartled, and to look In the fix'd face of Death without dismay? Elmina. Woe! woe! that aught so gentle and so young Should thus be call'd to stand i' the tempest's path, And bear the token and the hue of death On a bright soul so soon! I had not shrunk From mine own lot, but thou, my child, shouldst move As a light breeze of heaven, through summer-bowers, And not o'er foaming billows. We are fall'n On dark and evil days! Ximena. Ay, days that wake All to their tasks! - Youth may not loiter now In the green walks of spring; and womanhood Is summon'd unto conflicts, heretofore The lot of warrior souls. But we will take Our toils upon us nobly! Strength is born In the deep silence of long-suffering hearts; Not amidst joy. Elmina. Hast thou some secret woe, That thus thou speak'st? Ximena. What sorrow should be mine, Unknown to thee? Elmina. Alas! the baleful air Wherewith the pestilence in darkness walks Through the devoted city, like a blight Amidst the rose-tints of thy cheek hath fall'n, And wrought an early withering! - Thou hast cross'd The paths of Death, and minister'd to those O'er whom his shadow rested, till thine eye Deep, solemn radiance, and thy brow hath caught A wild and high expression, which at times Fades unto desolate calmness, most unlike What youth's bright mien should wear. My gentle child! I look on thee in fear! Ximena. Thou hast no cause To fear for me. When the wild clash of steel, And the deep tambour, and the heavy step Of armed men, break on our morning dreams; When, hour by hour, the noble and the brave Are falling round us, and we deem it much To give them funeral rites, and call them blest If the good sword, in its own stormy hour, Hath done its work upon them, ere disease Had chill'd their fiery blood; - it is no time For the light mien wherewith, in happier hours We trod the woodland mazes, when young leaves Were whispering in the gale. - My Father comes - Oh! speak of me no more. I would not shade His princely aspect with a thought less high Than his proud duties claim. GONZALEZ enters. Elmina. My noble lord! Welcome from this day's toil! - It is the hour Whose shadows, as they deepen, bring repose Unto all weary men; and wilt not thou Free thy mail'd bosom from the corslet's weight, To rest at fall of eve? Gonzalez. There may be rest For the tired peasant when the vesper-bell Doth send him to his cabin, and beneath His vine and olive he may sit at eve Watching his children's sport: but unto him Who keeps the watch-place on the mountain height, When Heaven lets loose the storms that chasten realms - Who speaks of rest? Ximena. My father, shall I fill The wine-cup for thy lips, or bring the lute Whose sound thou lovest? Gonzalez. If there be strains of power To rouse a spirit, which in triumphant scorn May cast off nature's feebleness, and hold Its proud career unshackled, dashing down Tears and fond thoughts to earth; give voice to those! I have need of such Ximena! we must hear No melting music now. Ximena. I know all high Heroic ditties of the elder time, Sung by the mountain-Christians, in the holds Of th' everlasting hills, whose snows yet bear The print of Freedom's step; and all wild strains Wherein the dark serranos teach the rocks And the pine forests deeply to resound The praise of later champions. Wouldst thou hear The war-song of thine ancestor, the Cid? Gonzalez. Ay, speak of him, for in that name is power Such as might rescue kingdoms! Speak of him! We are his children! They that can look back I' th' annals of their house on such a name, How should they take Dishonour by the hand, And o'er the threshold of their fathers' halls First lead her as a guest? Elmina. Oh, why this? How my heart sinks! Gonzalez. It must not fail thee yet, Daughter of heroes! - thine inheritance Is strength to meet all conflicts. Thou canst number In thy long line of glorious ancestry Men, the bright offering of whose blood hath made The ground it bathed e'en as an altar, whence High thoughts shall rise for ever. Bore they not, 'Midst flame and sword, their witness of the Cross, With its victorious inspiration girt As with a conqueror's robe, till th' infidel, O'erawed, shrank back before them? - Ay, the earth Doth call them martyrs, but their agonies Were of a moment, tortures whose brief aim Was to destroy, within whose powers and scope Lay naught but dust - And earth doth call them martyrs! Why, Heaven but claim'd their blood, their lives, and not The things which grow as tendrils round their hearts; No, not their children! Elmina. Mean'st thou? - know'st thou aught? I cannot utter it - My sons! my son! Is it of them? - Oh! would'st thou speak of them? Gonzalez. A mother's heart divineth but too well! Elmina. Speak, I adjure thee! - I can bear it all. - Where are my children? Gonzalez. In the Moorish camp Whose lines have girt the city. Ximena. But they live? - All is not lost, my mother! Elmina. Say, they live. Gonzalez. Elmina, still they live. Elmina. But captives! - They Whom my fond heart had imaged to itself Bounding from cliff to cliff amidst the wilds Where the rock-eagle seem'd not more secure In its rejoicing freedom! - And my boys Are captives with the Moor! - Oh! how was this? Gonzalez. Alas! our brave Alphonso, in the pride Of boyish daring , left our mountain-halls, With his young brother, eager to behold The face of noble war. Thence on their way Were the rash wanderers captured. Elmina. 'Tis enough. - And when shall they be ransomed? Gonzalez. There is ask'd A random far too high. Elmina. What! have we wealth Which might redeem a monarch, and our sons The while wear fetters? - Take thou all for them, And we will cast our worthless grandeur from us, As 'twere a cumbrous robe! - Why, thou art one To whose high nature pomp hath ever been But as the plumage to a warrior's helm, Worn or thrown off as lightly. And for me, Thou know'st not how serenely I could take The peasant's lot upon me, so my heart, Amidst its deep affections undisturb'd, May dwell in silence. Ximena. Father! doubt thou not But we will bind ourselves to poverty, With glad devotedness, if this, but this, May win them back. - Distrust us not, my father! We can bear all things. Gonzalez. Can ye bear disgrace? Ximina. We were not born for this. Gonzalez. No, thou sayest well! Hold to that lofty faith. - My wife, my child! Hath earth no treasures richer than the gems Torn from her secret caverns? - If by them Chains may be riven, then let the captive spring Rejoicing to the light! - But he, for whom Freedom and life may but be worn with shame, Hath naught to do, save fearlessly to fix His steadfast look on the majestic heavens, And proudly die! Elmina. Gonzalez, who must die? Gonzalez (hurriedly). They on whose lives a fearful price is set, But to be paid by treason! - Is 't enough? Or must I yet seek words? Elmina. That look saith more! Thou canst not mean - Gonzalez. I do! why dwells there not Power in a glance to speak it? They must die! They - must their names be told - Our sons must die. Unless I yield the city! Ximena. Oh! look up! My mother, sink not thus! - Until the grave Shut from our sight its victims, there is hope. Elmina (in a low voice.) Whose knell was in the breeze! - No, no, not theirs! Whose was the blessed voice that spoke of hope? - And there is hope! - I will not be subdued - I will not hear a whisper of despair! For Nature is all-powerful, and her breath Moves like a quickening spirit o'er the depths Within a father's heart. - Thou too, Gonzalez, Wilt tell me there is hope! Gonzalez (solemnly.) Hope but in Him Who bade the patriarch lay his fair young son Bound on the shrine of sacrifice, and when The bright steel quiver'd in the father's hand Just raised to strike, sent forth his awful voice Through the still clouds, and on the breathless air, Commanding to withhold! - Earth has no hope: It rests with him. Elmina. Thou canst not tell me this! Thou father of my sons, within whose hands Doth lie thy children's fate. Gonzalez. If there have been Men in whose bosoms Nature's voice hath made Its accents as the solitary sound Of an o'erpowering torrent, silencing Th' austere and yet divine remonstrances Whispered by faith and honour, lift thy hands, And, to that Heaven, which arms the brave with strength Pray that the father of thy sons may ne'er Be thus found wanting! Elmina. Then their doom is seal'd! Thou wilt not save they children? Gonzalez. Hast thou cause, Wife of my youth, to deem it lies within The bounds of possible things, that I should link My name to that word - traitor? They that sleep On their proud battle-fields, thy sires and mine, Died not for this! Elmina. Oh, cold and hard of heart! Thou shouldst be born for empire, since thy soul Thus lightly from all human bonds can free Its haughty flight! - Men! men! too much is yours Of vantage; ye, that with a sound, a breath, A shadow, thus can fill the desolate space Of rooted-up affections, o'er whose void Our yearning hearts must wither! - So it is, Dominion must be won! - Nay, leave me not - My heart is bursting, and I must be heard! Heaven hath given power to mortal agony, As to the elements in their hour of might And mastery o'er creation! - Who shall dare To mock that fearful strength? - I must be heard! Give me my sons! Gonzalez. That they may live to hide With covering hands th' indignant flush of shame On their young brows, when men shall speak of him They called their father! Was the oath whereby, On th' altar of my faith, I bound myself, With an unswerving spirit to maintain This free and Christian city for my God And for my king, a writing traced on sand? That passionate tears should wash it from the earth. Or e'en the life-drops of a bleeding heart Efface it, as a billow sweeps away The last light vessel's wake? - Then never more Let man's deep vows be trusted! - though enforced By all th' appeals of high remembrances, And silent claims o' th' sepulchres, wherein His fathers with their stainless glory sleep, On their good swords! Think'st thou I feel no pangs? He that hath given me sons, doth know the heart Whose treasures he recalls. - Of this no more. 'Tis vain. I tell thee that th' inviolate cross Still, from our ancient temples, must look up Through the blue heavens of Spain, though at its foot I perish with my race. Thou darest not ask That I, the son of warriors - men who died To fix it on that proud supremacy - Should tear the sign of our victorious faith From its high place of sunbeams, for the Moor In impious joy to trample! Elmina. Scorn me not, In mine extreme of misery! - Thou art strong - Thy heart is not as mine. My brain grows wild; I know not what I ask! - And yet 'twere but Anticipating fate - since it must fall, That cross must fall at last! There is no power, No hope within this city of the grave, To keep its place on high. Her sultry air Breathes heavily of death, her warriors sink Beneath their ancient banners, era the Moor Hath bent his bow against them; for the shaft Of pestilence flies more swiftly to its mark, Than the arrow of the desert. Ev'n the skies O'erhang the desolate splendour of her domes With an ill omen's aspect, shaping forth, From the dull clouds, wild menacing forms and signs Foreboding ruin. Man might be withstood, But who shall cope with famine and disease, When leagued with armed foes! - where now the aid, Where the long-promised lances of Castile! - We are forsaken, in our utmost need, By heaven and earth forsaken! Gonzalez. If this be, (And yet I will not deem it) we must fall As men that in severe devotedness Have chosen their part and bound themselves to death, Through high conviction that their suffering land, By the free blood of martyrdom alone, Shall call deliverance down. Elmina. Oh! I have stood Beside thee through the beating storms of life, With the true heart of unrepining love, As the poor peasant's mate doth cheerily In the parch'd vineyard, or the harvest-field, Bearing her part, sustain with him the heat And burden of the day. But now the hour The heavy hour is come, when human strength Sinks down, a toil-worn pilgrim, in the dust, Owning that woe is mightier! - Spare me yet This bitter cup, my husband! - Let not her, The mother of the lovely, sit and mourn In her unpeopled home, a broken stem, O'er its fallen roses dying! Gonzalez. Urge me not, Thou that through all sharp conflicts hast been found Worthy a brave man's love, oh! urge me not To guilt, which, through the mist of blinding tears, In its own hues thou seest not! - Death may scarce Bring aught like this! Elmina. All, all thy gentle race, The beautiful beings that around thee grew, Creatures of sunshine! Wilt thou doom them all? - She, too, thy daughter - doth her smile unmark'd Pass from thee, with its radiance, day by day? Shadows are gathering round her - seest thou not? The misty dimness of the spoiler's breath Hangs o'er her beauty, and the face which made The summer of our hearts, now doth but send, With every glance, deep bodings through the soul, Telling of early fate. Gonzalez. I see a change Far nobler on her brow! - She is as one, Who, at the trumpet's sudden call, hath risen From the gay banquet, and in scorn cast down The wine-cup, and the garland, and the lute, Of festal hours, for the good spear and helm, Beseeming sterner tasks. - Her eye hath lost The beam which laugh'd upon th' awakening heart, E'en as morn breaks o'er earth. But far within Its full dark orb, a light hath sprung, whose source Lies deeper in the soul. - And let the torch Which but illumed the glittering pageant, fade! The altar-flame, i' th' sanctuary's recess, Burns quenchless, being of heaven! - She hath put on Courage, and faith, and generous constancy, Ev'n as a breastplate. - Ay, men look on her, As she goes forth serenely to her tasks, Binding the warrior's wounds, and bearing fresh Cool draughts to fever'd lips; they look on her, Thus moving in her beautiful array Of gently fortitude,, and bless the fair Majestic vision, and unmurmuring turn Unto their heavy toils. Elmina. And seest thou not In that high faith and strong collectedness, A fearful inspiration? - They have cause To tremble, who behold th' unearthly light Of high, and, it may be, prophetic thought, Investing youth with grandeur ! - From the grave It rises, on whose shadowy brink thy child Waits but a father's hand to snatch her back Into the laughing sunshine. - Kneel with me, Ximena, kneel beside me, and implore That which a deeper, more prevailing voice Than ours doth ask, and will not be denied; - His children's lives! Ximena. Alas! this may not be, Mother! - I cannot. [Exit XIMENA. Gonzalez. My heroic child! - A terrible sacrifice thou claim'st, O God! From creatures in whose agonizing hearts Nature is strong as death. Elmina. Is't thus in thine? Away! - what time is given thee to resolve On? - what I cannot utter! - Speak! thou know'st Too well what I would say. Gonzalez. Until - ask not! The time is brief. Elmina. Thou said'st - I heard not right - Gonzalez. The time is brief. Elmina. What! must we burst all ties Wherewith the thrilling chords of life are twined; And, for this task's fulfilment, can it be That man, in his cold heartlessness, hath dared To number and to mete us forth the sands Of hours, nay, moments? - Why, the sentenced wretch, He on whose soul there rests a brother's blood Pour'd forth in slumber, is allow'd more time To wean his turbulent passions from the world His presence doth pollute! - It is not thus! We must have time to school us. Gonzalez. We have but To bow the head in silence, when Heaven's voice Calls back the things we love. Elmina. Love! Love! - there are soft smiles and gentle words, And there are faces, skilful to put on The look we trust in - and 'tis mockery all! - A faithless mist, a desert-vapour, wearing The brightness of clear waters, thus to cheat The thirst that semblance kindled! - There is none In all this cold and hollow world, no fount Of deep, strong, deathless love, save that within A mother's heart. - It is but pride, wherewith To his fair son the father's eye doth turn Watching his growth. Ay, on the boy he looks, The bright glad creature springing in his path, But as the heir of his great name, the young And stately tree, whose rising strength ere long Shall bear his trophies well. - And this is love! This is man's love! - What marvel? - you ne'er made Your breast the pillow of his infancy, While to the fulness of your heart's glad heavings His fair cheek rose and fell; and his bright hair Waved softly to your breath! - You ne'er kept watch Beside him, till the last pale star had set, And morn, all dazzling, as in triumph, broke On your dim weary eye; not yours the face Which early faded through fond care for him, Hung o'er his sleep, and duly as Heaven's light, Was there to greet his wakening! You ne'er smoothed His couch, ne'er sung him to his rosy rest, Caught his least whisper, when his voice from yours Had learned soft utterance; pressed your lips to his When fever parch'd it; hush'd his wayward cries, With patient, vigilant, never-wearied love! No! these are woman's tasks! - In these her youth, And bloom of cheek, and buoyancy of heart, Steal from her all unmark'd! - My boys! my boys! Hath vain affection borne with all for this? - Why were ye given me? Gonzalez. Is there strength in man Thus to endure? - That thou couldst read, thro' all Its depths of silent agony, the heart Thy voice of woe doth rend! Elmina. Thy heart! thy heart! - Away! it feels not now! But an hour comes to tame the mighty man Unto the infant's weakness; nor shall Heaven Spare you that bitter chastening! - May you live To be alone, when loneliness doth seem Most heavy to sustain! - For me, my voice Of prayer and fruitless weeping shall be soon With all forgotten sounds; my quiet place Low with my lovely ones, and we shall sleep, Though kings lead armies o'er us; we shall sleep, Wrapt in earth's covering mantle! you the while Shall sit within your vast, forsaken halls, And hear the wild and melancholy winds Moan through their drooping banners, never more To wave above your race. Ay, then call up Shadows - dim phantoms from ancestral tombs, But all - all glorious - conquerors, chieftains, kings - To people that cold void! And when the strength From your right arm hath melted, when the blast Of the shrill clarion gives your heart no more A fiery wakening; if at last your pine For the glad voices, and the bounding steps, Once through your home re-echoing, and the clasp Of twining arms, and all the joyous light Of eyes that laugh'd with youth, and made your board A place of sunshine; - When those days are come, Then, in your utter desolation, turn To the cold world, the smiling, faithless world, Which hath swept past you long, and bid it quench Your soul's deep thirst with fame! immortal fame! Fame to the sick of heart! - a gorgeous robe, A crown of victory, unto him that dies I' th' burning waste, for water! Gonzalez. This from thee! Now the last drop of bitterness is pour'd. Elmina - I forgive thee! [Exit ELMINA. Aid me, Heaven! From whom alone is power! - Oh! thou hast set Duties, so stern of aspect, in my path, They almost, to my startled gaze, assume The hue of things less hallow'd! Men have sunk Unblamed beneath such trials! - Doth not He Who made us, know the limits of our strength? My wife! my sons! - Away! I must not pause To give my heart one moment's mastery thus! [Exit GONZALEZ. Scene - The Aisle of A Gothic Church. HERNANDEZ, GARCIAS, and others. Hernandez. The rites are closed. Now, valiant men depart, Each to his place - I may not say, of rest; Your faithful vigils for your sons may win What must not be your own. Ye are those Who sow, in peril and in care, the seed Of the fair tree, beneath whose stately shade They may not sit. But bless'd be they who toil For after-day! - All high, and holy thoughts Be with you, warriors, thro' the lingering hours Of the night-watch! Garcias. Ay, father! we have need Of high and holy thoughts, wherewith to fence Our hearts against despair. Yet have I been From youth a son of war. The stars have look'd A thousand times upon my couch of heath, Spread 'midst the wild sierras, by some stream Whose dark-red waves look'd e'en as though their source Caught his least whisper, when his voice from yours Had learned soft utterance; pressed your lips to his When fever parch'd it; hush'd his wayward cries, With patient, vigilant, never-wearied love! No! these are woman's tasks! - In these her youth, And bloom of cheek, and buoyancy of heart, Steal from her all unmark'd! - My boys! my boys! Hath vain affection borne with all for this? - Why were ye given me? Gonzalez. Is there strength in man Thus to endure? - That thou couldst read, thro' all Its depths of silent agony, the heart Thy voice of woe doth rend! Elmina. Thy heart! thy heart! - Away! it feels not now! But an hour comes to tame the mighty man Unto the infant's weakness; nor shall Heaven Spare you that bitter chastening! - May you live To be alone, when loneliness doth seem Most heavy to sustain! - For me, my voice Of prayer and fruitless weeping shall be soon With all forgotten sounds; my quiet place Low with my lovely ones, and we shall sleep, Though kings lead armies o'er us; we shall sleep, Wrapt in earth's covering mantle! you the while Shall sit within your vast, forsaken halls, And hear the wild and melancholy winds Moan through their drooping banners, never more To wave above your race. Ay, then call up Shadows - dim phantoms from ancestral tombs, But all - all glorious - conquerors, chieftains, kings - To people that cold void! And when the strength From your right arm hath melted, when the blast Of the shrill clarion gives your heart no more A fiery wakening; if at last your pine For the glad voices, and the bounding steps, Once through your home re-echoing, and the clasp Of twining arms, and all the joyous light Of eyes that laugh'd with youth, and made your board A place of sunshine; - When those days are come, Then, in your utter desolation, turn To the cold world, the smiling, faithless world, Which hath swept past you long, and bid it quench Your soul's deep thirst with fame! immortal fame! Fame to the sick of heart! - a gorgeous robe, A crown of victory, unto him that dies I' th' burning waste, for water! Gonzalez. This from thee! Now the last drop of bitterness is pour'd. Elmina - I forgive thee! [Exit ELMINA. Aid me, Heaven! From whom alone is power! - Oh! thou hast set Duties, so stern of aspect, in my path, They almost, to my startled gaze, assume The hue of things less hallow'd! Men have sunk Unblamed beneath such trials! - Doth not He Who made us, know the limits of our strength? My wife! my sons! - Away! I must not pause To give my heart one moment's mastery thus! [Exit GONZALEZ. Scene - The Aisle of A Gothic Church. HERNANDEZ, GARCIAS, and others. Hernandez. The rites are closed. Now, valiant men depart, Each to his place - I may not say, of rest; Your faithful vigils for your sons may win What must not be your own. Ye are those Who sow, in peril and in care, the seed Of the fair tree, beneath whose stately shade They may not sit. But bless'd be they who toil For after-day! - All high, and holy thoughts Be with you, warriors, thro' the lingering hours Of the night-watch! Garcias. Ay, father! we have need Of high and holy thoughts, wherewith to fence Our hearts against despair. Yet have I been From youth a son of war. The stars have look'd A thousand times upon my couch of heath, Spread 'midst the wild sierras, by some stream Whose dark-red waves look'd e'en as though their source Lay not in rocky caverns, but the veins Of noble hearts; while many a knightly crest Roll'd with them to the deep. And in the years Of my long exile and captivity, With the fierce Arab, I have watche'd beneath The still, pale shadow of some lonely palm, At midnight, in the desert; while the wind Swell'd with the lion's roar, and heavily The fearfulness and might of solitude Press'd on my weary heart. Hernandez (thoughtfully.) Thou little know'st Of what is solitude! - I tell thee, those For whom - in earth's remotest nook - howe'er Divided from their path by chain on chain Of mighty mountains, and the amplitude Of rolling seas - there beats one human heart, There breathes one being unto whom their name Comes with a thrilling and a gladdening sound, Heard o'er the din of life! are not alone! Not on the deep, nor in the wild, alone; For there is that on earth with which they hold A brotherhood of soul! - Call him alone; Who stands shut out from this! - And let those Whose homes are bright with sunshine and with love, Put on the insolence of happiness, Glorying in that proud lot! - A lonely hour Is on its way to each, to all; for Death Knows no companionship. Garcias. I have look'd on Death In field, and storm, and flood. But never yet Hath aught weigh'd down my spirit to a mood Of sadness, dreaming o'er dark auguries, Like this, our watch by midnight. Fearful things Are gathering round us. Death upon the earth, Omens in heaven! - The summer-skies put forth No clear bright stars above us, but at times, Catching some comet's fiery hue of wrath, Marshal their clouds to armies, traversing Heaven with the rush of meteor steeds, the array Of spears and banners, tossing like the pines Of Pyrenean forests, when the storm Doth sweep the mountains. Hernandez. Ay, last night, I too Kept vigil, gazing on the angry heavens; And I beheld the meeting and the shock Of those wild hosts i' th' air, when, as they closed, A red and sultry mist, like that which mantles The thunder's path, fell o'er them. Then were flung Through the dull glare, broad cloudy banners forth, And chariots seem'd to whirl, and steeds to sink, Bearing down crested warriors. But all this Was dim and shadowy; - then swift darkness rush'd Down on th' unearthly battle, as the deep Swept o'er the Egyptian's armament. - I look'd - And all that fiery field of plumes and spears Was blotted from heaven's face! - I look'd again - And from the brooding mass of clouds leap'd forth One meteor-sword, which o'er the reddening sea Shook with strange motion, such as earthquakes give Unto a rocking citadel! - I beheld, And yet my spirit sunk not. Garcias. Neither deem That mine hath blench'd. - But these are sights and sounds To awe the firmest. - Know'st thou what we hear At midnight from the walls? - Were 't but the deep Barbaric horn or Moorish tambour's peal, Thence might the warrior's heart catch impulses, Quickening its fiery currents. But our ears Are pierced by other tones. We hear the knell For brave men in their noon of strength cut down, And the shrill wail of woman, and the dirge Faint swelling through the streets. Then e'en the air Hath strange and fitful murmurs of lament, As if the viewless watchers of the land Sigh'd on its hollow breezes! - To my soul, The torrent-rush of battle, with its din Of trampling steeds and ringing panoply, Were, after these faint sounds of drooping woe, As the free sky's glad music unto him Who leaves a couch of sickness. Hernandez. (with solemnity.) If to plunge In the mid-waves of combat, as they bear Chargers and spearmen onwards; and to make A reckless bosom's front the buoyant mark On that wild current, for ten thousand arrows; If thus to dare were valour's noblest aim, Lightly might fame be won! - but there are things Which ask a spirit of more exalted pitch, And courage temper'd with a holier fire! Well may'st thou say, that these are fearful times; Therefore be firm, be patient! - There is strength, And a fierce instinct, e'en in common souls, To bear up manhood with a stormy joy, When red swords meet in lightning!- but our task Is more, and nobler!- We have to endure, And to keep watch, and to arouse a land, And to defend an altar! - If we fall, So that our blood make but the millionth part Of Spain's great ransom, we may count it joy To die upon her bosom, and beneath The banner of her faith! - Think but on this, And gird your hearts with silent fortitude, Suffering, yet hoping all things - Fare ye well. Garcian. Father, farewell. [exeunt GARCIAS and his followers. Hernandez. These men have earthly ties And bondage on their natures! - To the cause Of God, and Spain's revenge, they bring but half Their energies and hopes. But he whom Heaven Hath call'd to be th' awakener of a land, Should have his soul's affections all absorb'd In that majestic purpose, and press on To its fulfilment, as a mountain-born And mighty stream, with all its vassal rills Sweeps proudly to the ocean, pausing not To dally with the flowers. Hark! what quick step Comes hurrying through the gloom at this dead hour? ELMINA enters. Elmina. Are not all hours as one to misery? - Why Should she take note of time, for whom the day And night have lost their blessed attributes Of sunshine and repose? Hernandez. I know thy griefs; But there are trials for the noble heart Wherein its own deep fountains must supply All it can hope of comfort. Pity's voice Comes with vain sweetness to th' unheeding ear Of anguish, e'en as music heard afar On the green shore, by him who perishes 'Midst rocks and eddying waters. Elmina. Think thou not I sought thee but for pity. I am come For that which grief is privileged to demand With an imperious claim, from all whose form, Whose human form, doth seal them unto suffering! Father! I ask thine aid. Hernandez. There is no aid For thee or for thy children, but with Him Whose presence is around us in the cloud, As in the shining and the glorious light. Elmina. There is no aid! - Art thou a man of God? Art thou a man of sorrow, (for the world Doth call thee such) and hast thou not been taught By God and sorrow - mighty as they are, To own the claims of misery? Hernandez. Is there power With me to save thy sons? - Implore of Heaven! Elmina. Doth not Heaven work its purposes by man? I tell thee, thou canst save them! - Art thou not Gonzalez' counsellor? - Unto him thy words Are e'en as oracles - Hernandez. And therefore? - Speak! The noble daughter of Pelayo's line Hath naught to ask, unworthy of the name Which is a nation's heritage. - Dost thou shrink? Elmina. Pity on me, father! - I must speak That, from the thought of which, but yesterday, I had recoil'd in scorn! -But this is past. Oh! we grow humble in our agonies, And to the dust - their birth-place - bow the heads That wore the crown of glory! - I am weak - My chastening is far more than I can bear, Hernandez. These are no times for weakness. On our hills, The ancient cedars, in their gather'd might, Are battling with the tempest; and the flower Which cannot meet its driving blast must die. - But thou hast drawn thy nurture from a stem Unwont to bend or break - Lift thy proud head, Daughter of Spain! - What wouldst thou with thy Lord? Elmina. Look not upon me thus! - I have no power To tell thee. Take thy keen disdainful eye Off from my soul! - What! am I sunk to this? I, whose blood sprang from heroes! - How my sons Will scorn the mother that would bring disgrace On their majestic line! - My sons! my sons! - Now is all else forgotten! - I had once A babe that in the early spring-time lay Sickening upon my bosom, till at last, When earth's young flowers were opening to the sun, Death sunk on his meek eyelid, and I deem'd All sorrow light to mine! - But now the fate Of all my children seems to brood above me In the dark thunder-clouds! - Oh! I have power And voice unfaltering now to speak my prayer, And my last lingering hope that thou shouldst win The father to relent, to save his sons! Hernandez. By yielding up the city? Elmina. Rather say, By meeting that which gathers close upon us Perchance one day the sooner! - Is't not so? Must we not yield at last? - How long shall man Array his single breast against disease, And famine, and the sword? Hernandez. How long? - While he, Who shadows forth his power more gloriously In the high deeds and sufferings of the soul, Than in the circling heavens, with all their stars, Or the far-sounding deep, doth send abroad A spirit, which takes affliction for its mate, In the good cause, with solemn joy! - How long? And who art thou, that, in the littleness Of thine own selfish purpose, would'st set bounds To the free current of all noble thought And generous action, bidding its bright waves Be stay'd, and flow no further? - But the Power Whose interdict is laid on seas and orbs, To chain them in from wandering, hath assign'd No limits unto that which man's high strength Shall, through its aid, achieve! Elmina. Oh! there are times, When all that hopeless courage can achieve But sheds a mournful beauty o'er the fate Of those ho die in vain, Hernandez. Who dies in vain Upon his country's war-fields, and within The shadow of her altars? - Feeble heart! I tell thee that the voice of noble blood, Thus pour'd for faith and freedom, hath a tone Which from the night of ages, from the gulf Of death shall burst, and make its high appeal Sound unto earth and heaven! Ay, let the land, Whose sons through centuries of woe have striven And perish'd by her temples, sink awhile, Borne down in conflict! - But immortal seed Deep, by heroic suffering, hath been sown On all her ancient hills; and generous hope Knows that the soil, in its good time, shall yet Bring forth a glorious harvest! - Earth receives Not one red drop from faithful hearts in vain. Elmina. Then it must be! And ye will make those lives, Those young bright lives, an offering, to retard Our doom one day! Hernandez. The mantle of that day May wrap the fate of Spain! Elmina. What led me here? Why did I turn to thee in my despair? Love hath no ties upon thee; what had I To hope from thee, thou lone and childless man? Go to thy silent home! - there no young voice Shall bid thee welcome, no light footstep spring Forth at he sound of thine! - What knows thy heart? Hernandez. Woman! how dar'st thou taunt me with my woes? Thy children too shall perish, and I say It shall be well! - Why tak'st thou thought for them? Wearing thy heart, and wasting down thy life Unto its dregs, and making night thy time Of care yet more intense, and casting health, Unpriz'd to melt away, i' th' bitter cup Thou minglest for thyself! - Why, what hath earth To pay thee back for this? - Shall thy not live, (If the sword spare them now) to prove how soon All love may be forgotten? Years of thought, Long faithful watchings, looks of tenderness, That changed not, though to change be this world's law? Shall they not flush thy cheeks with shame, whose blood Marks, e'en like branding iron? - to thy sick heart Make death a want, as sleep to weariness? Doth not all hope end thus? - or e'en at best, Will they not leave thee? - far from thee seek room For th' overflowings of their fiery souls, On life's wide ocean? - Give the bounding steed Or the wing'd bark to youth, that his free course May be o'er hills and seas; and weep thou not In thy forsaken home, for the bright world Lies all before him, and be sure he wastes No thought on thee? Elmina. Not so ! it is not so! Thou dost but torture me! - My sons are kind, And brave, and gentle. Hernandez. Others too have worn The semblance of all good. Nay, stay thee yet: I will be calm, and thou shalt learn how earth, The fruitful in all agonies, hath woes Which far outweigh thine own. Elmina. It may not be - Whose grief is like a mother's for her sons? Hernandez. My son lay stretch'd upon his battle-bier, And there were hands wrung o'er him, which had caught Their hue from his young blood! Elmina. What tale is this? Hernandez. Read you no records in this mien, of things Whose traces on man's aspect are not such As the breeze leaves on water? - Lofty birth, War, peril, power? - Affliction's hand is strong, If it erase the haughty characters They grave so deep! - I have not always been That which I am. The name I bore is not Of those which perish! - I was once a chief, A warrior! - nor, as now, a lonely man! I was a father! Elmina. Then thy heart can feel! Thou wilt have pity! Hernandez. Should I pity thee? Thy sons will perish gloriously - their blood - Elmina. Their blood! my children's blood! - Thou speak'st as 'twere Of casting down a wine-cup, in the mirth And wantonness of feasting!- My fair boys! - Man! hast thou been a father? Hernandez. Let them die! Let them die now, thy children! so thy heart Shall wear their beautiful image all undimm'd, Within it, to the last! Nor shalt thou learn The bitter lesson, of what worthless dust Are framed the idols, whose false glory binds Earth's fetters on our souls! - Thou think'st it much To mourn the early dead; but there are tears Heavy with deeper anguish! We endow Those whom we love, in our fond passionate blindness, With power upon our souls, too absolute To be a mortal's trust! Within their hands We lay the flaming sword, whose stroke alone Can reach our hearts, and they are merciful, As they are strong, that wield it not to pierce us! - Ay, fear them, fear the loved! - Had I but wept O'er my son's grave, as o'er a babe's, where tears Are as spring dew-drops, glittering in the sun, And brightening the young verdure, I might still Have loved and trusted! Elmina (disdainfully.) But he fell in war! And hath not glory medicine in her cup For the brief pangs of nature? Hernandez. Glory! - Peace, And listen! - By my side the stripling grew, Last of my line. I rear'd him to take joy I' th' blaze of arms, as eagles train their young To look upon the day-king - His quick blood E'en to his boyish cheek would mantle up, When the heavens rang with trumpets, and his eye Flash with the spirit of a race whose deeds - But this availeth not! - Yet he was brave. I've seen him clear himself a path in fight As lighting through a forest, and his plume Waved like a torch, when princely crests had sunk, And banners were struck down - Around my steps Floated his fame, like music, and I lived But in the lofty sound. But when my heart In one frail ark had ventured all, when most He seem'd to stand between my soul and heaven, - Then came the thunder-stroke! Elmina. 'Tis ever thus! And the unquiet and foreboding sense That thus 'twill ever be, doth link itself Darkly with all deep love! - He died? Hernandez. Not so! - Death! Death! - Why, earth should be a paradise, To make that name so fearful! Had he died, With his young fame about him for a shroud, I had not learn'd the might of agony, To bring proud natures low! - No! he fell off - - Why do I tell thee this? - What right hast thou To learn how pass'd the glory from my house? Yet listen! - He forsook me! - He, that was As mine own soul, forsook me! - trampled o'er The ashes of his sires! - Ay, leagued himself E'en with the infidel, the curse of Spain, And, for the dark eye of a Moorish maid, Abjured his faith, his God! - Now, talk of death! Elmina. Oh! I can pity thee - Hernandez. There's more to hear. I braced the corslet o'er my heart's deep wound, And cast my troubled spirit on the tide Of war and high events, whose stormy waves Might bear it up from sinking; - Elmina. And ye met No more? Hernandez. Be still! - We did! - we met once more. God had his own high purpose to fulfil, Or think'st thou that the sun in his bright heaven Had look'd upon such things? - We met once more. - That was an hour to leave its lightning-mark Sear'd upon brain and bosom! - there had been Combat on Ebro's banks, and when the day Sank in red clouds, it faded from a field Still held by Moorish lances. Night closed round, A night of sultry darkness, in the shadow Of whose broad wing, e'en unto death I strove Long with a turban'd champion; but my sword Was heavy with God's vengeance - and prevail'd. He fell - my heart exulted - and I stood In gloomy triumph o'er him - Nature gave No sign of horror, for 'twas Heaven's decree! He strove to speak - but I had done the work Of wrath too well - yet in his last deep moan A dreadful something of familiar sound Came o'er my shuddering sense - The moon look'd forth, And I beheld - speak out! - 'twas he - my son! My boy lay dying there! He raised one glance, And knew me - for he sought with feeble hand To cover his glazed eyes. A darker veil Sank o'er them soon - I will not have thy look Fix'd on me thus! - away! Elmina. Thou hast seen this, Thou hast done this - and yet thou liv'st? Hernandez. I live! And know'st thou wherefore? - On my soul there fell A horror of great darkness, which shut out All earth, and heaven, and hope. I cast away The spear and helm, and made the cloister's shade The home of my despair. But a deep voice Came to me through the gloom, and sent its tones Far through my bosom's depths. And I awoke, Ay, as the mountain cedar doth shake off Its weight of wintry snow, e'en so I shook Despondence from my soul, and knew myself Seal'd by that blood wherewith my hands were dyed, And set apart, and fearfully mark'd out Unto a mighty task! - To rouse the soul Of Spain, as from the dead; and to lift up The cross, the sign of victory, on the hills, Gathering her sons to battle! - And my voice Must be as freedom's trumpet on the winds, From Roncesvalles to the blue sea-waves Where Calpe looks on Afric; till the land Have fill'd her cup of vengeance!- Ask me now To yield the Christian city, that its fanes May rear the minaret in the face of heaven! - But death shall have a bloodier vintage-feast Ere that day come! Elmina. I ask thee this no more, For I am hopeless now - But yet one boon - Hear me, by all thy woes! - Thy voice hath power Through the wide city - here I cannot rest: - Aid me to pass the gates! Hernandez. And wherefore? Elmina. Thou, That wert a father, and art now - alone! Canst thou ask 'wherefore?' - Ask the wretch whose sands Have not an hour to run, whose failing limbs Have but one earthly journey to perform, Why, on his pathway to the place of death, Ay, when the very axe is glistening cold Upon his dizzy sight, his pale, parch'd lip Implores a cup of water? - Why, the stroke Which trembles o'er him in itself shall bring Oblivion of all wants, yet who denies Nature's last prayer? - I tell thee that the thirst Which burns my spirit up is agony To be endured no more! - And I must look Upon my children's faces, I must hear Their voices, ere they perish!- But hath Heaven Decreed that they must perish? - Who shall say If in yon Moslem camp there beats no heart Which prayers and tears may melt? Hernandez. There! - with the Moor! Let him fill up the measure of his guilt! - 'Tis madness all! - How would'st thou pass the array Of armed foes? Elmina. Oh! free doth sorrow pass, Free and unquestion'd, through a suffering world! Hernandez. This must not be. Enough of woe is laid E'en now, upon thy lord's heroic soul, For man to bear, unsinking. Press thou not Too heavily th' o'erburthen'd heart. - Away! Bow down the knee, and send thy prayers for strength Up to Heaven's gate. - Farewell! [Exit HERNANDEZ. Elmina. Are all men thus? - Why, wer't not better thy should fall e'en now Than live to shut their hearts, in haughty scorn, Against the sufferer's pleadings? - But no, no! Who can be like this man, that slew his son, Yet wears his life still proudly, and a soul Untamed upon his brow? (After a pause.) There's one, whose arms Have borne my children in their infancy, And on whose knees they sported, and whose hand Hath led them oft - a vassal of their sire's: And I will seek him: he may lend me aid, When all beside pass on. DIRGE HEARD WITHOUT. Thou to thy rest art gone, High heart! and what are we, While o'er our head the storm sweeps on, That we should mourn for thee? Free grave and peaceful bier To the buried son of Spain! To those that live, the lance and spear, And well if not the chain! Be theirs to weep the dead As they sit beneath their vines, Whose flowery land hath borne no tread Of spoilers o'er its shrines! Thou hast thrown off the load Which we must yet sustain, And pour our blood where thine hath flow'd, Too blest if not in vain! We give thee holy rite, Slow knell, and chanted strain! - For those that fall to-morrow night May be left no funeral train. Again, when trumpets wake, We must brace our armour on; But a deeper note thy sleep must break - - Thou to thy rest art gone! Happier in this than all That, now thy race is run, Upon thy name no strain may fall, Thy work hath well been done. Elmina. "Thy work hath well been done!" - so thou mayst rest! - There is a solemn lesson in those words - But now I may not pause. [Exit ELMINA. Scene - A Street in the City. HERNANDEZ, GONZALEZ. Hernandez. Would they not hear? Gonzalez. They heard, as one that stands By the cold grave which hath but newly closed O'er his last friend, doth hear some passer-by Bid him be comforted! - Their hearts have died Within them: - We must perish, not as those That fall when battle's voice doth shake the hills, And peal through Heaven's great arch, but silently, And with a wasting of the spirit down, A quenching, day by day, of some bright spark, Which lit us on our toils! - Reproach me not; My soul is darken'd with a heavy cloud - - Yet fear not I shall yield! Hernandez. Breathe not the word, Save in proud scorn; - Each bitter day, o'erpass'd By slow endurance, is a triumph won For Spain's red cross. And be of trusting heart! A few brief hours, and those who turn'd away In cold despondence, shrinking from your voice, May crowd around their leader, and demand To be array'd for battle. We must watch For the swift impulse, and await its time, As the bark waits the ocean's. You have chosen To kindle up their souls, an hour, perchance, When they were weary. They had cast aside Their arms to slumber; or a knell, just then With its deep hollow tone, had made the blood Creep shuddering through their veins; or they had caught A glimpse of some new meteor, and shaped forth Strange omens from its blaze. Gonzalez. Alas! the cause Lies deeper in their misery! - I have seen, In my night's course through this beleaguer'd city, Things, whose remembrance doth not pass away As vapours from the mountains. - There were some, That sat beside their dead, with eyes wherein Grief had ta'en place of sight, and shut out all But its own ghastly object. To my voice Some answer'd with a fierce and bitter laugh, As men whose agonies were made to pass The bounds of sufferance, by some reckless word, Dropt from the light of spirit. - Others lay - Why should I tell thee, father! how despair Can bring the lofty brow of manhood down Unto the very dust? - And yet for this, Fear not that I embrace my doom - Oh God! That 'twere my doom alone! - with less of fix'd And solemn fortitude. - Lead on, prepare The holiest rites of faith, that I by them Once more may consecrate my sword, my life, - But what are these? - Who hath not dearer lives Twined with his own? - I shall be lonely soon - Childless! - Heaven wills it so. Let us begone. Perchance before the shrine my heart may beat With a less troubled motion. [Exeunt GONZALEZ and HERNANDEZ. Scene - A tent in the Moorish Camp. ABDULLAH, ALPHONSO, CARLOS. Abdullah. These are bold words: but hast thou look'd on death, Fair stripling! - On thy cheek and sunny brow Scarce fifteen summers of their laughing course Have left light traces. If thy shaft hath pierced The ibex of the mountains, if thy step Hath climb'd some eagle's nest, and thou hast made His nest thy spoil. 'tis much: - And fear'st thou not The leader of the mighty? Alphonso. I have been Rear'd among fearless men, and 'midst the rocks And the wild hills, whereon my fathers fought And won their battles. There are glorious tales Told of their deeds, and I have learn'd them all. How should I fear thee, Moor? Abdullah. So, thou hast seen Fields, where the combat's roar hath died away Into the whispering breeze, and where wild flowers Bloom o'er forgotten graves! - But know'st thou aught Of those, where sword from crossing sword strikes fire, And leaders are borne down, and rushing steeds Trample the life from out the mighty hearts That ruled the storm so late? - Speak not of death, Till thou hast look'd on such. Alphonso. I was not born A shepherd's son, to dwell with pipe and crook, And peasant-men, amidst the lowly vales; Instead of ringing clarions, and bright spears, And crested knights! - I am of princely race, And, if my father would have heard my suit, I tell thee, infidel! that long ere now, I should have seen how lances meet, and swords Do the field's work. Abdullah. Boy! know'st thou there are sights A thousand times more fearful! - Men may die Full proudly, when the skies and mountains ring To battle-horn and tecbir. - But not all So pass away in glory. There are those, 'Midst the dead silence of pale multitudes, Led forth in fetters - dost thou mark me, boy? - To take their last look of th' all-gladdening sun, And how, perchance, the stately head of youth, Unto the death of shame! - Hast thou seen this? - Alphonso (to Carlos.) Sweet brother, God is with us - fear thou not! We have had heroes for our sires - this man Should not behold us tremble. Abdullah. There are means To tame the loftiest natures. Yet again I ask thee, wilt thou, from beneath the walls, Sue to thy sire for life; or wouldst thou die, With this, thy brother? Alphonso. Moslem! on the hills, Around my father's castle, I have heard The mountain-peasants, as they dress'd the vines, Or drove the goats, by rock and torrent, home, Singing their ancient songs; and these were all Of the Cid Campeador; and how his sword Tizona clear'd its way through turban'd hosts And captured Afric's kings, and how he won Valencia from the Moor. - I will not shame The blood we draw from him! (A Moorish Soldier enters.) Soldier. Valencia's lord. Sends messengers, my chief. Abdullah. Conduct them hither. [The Soldier goes out, and re-enters with ELMINA, disguised, and an Attendant.] Carlos (springing forward to the Attendant.) Oh! Take me hence, Diego! take me hence With thee, that I may see my mother's face At morning, when I wake. Here dark-brow'd men Frown strangely, with their cruel eyes, upon us. Take me with thee, for thou art good and kind, And well I know thou lov'st me, my Diego! Abdullah. Peace, boy! - What tidings, Christian, from thy lord? Is he grown humbler? - doth he set the lives Of these fair nurslings at a city's worth? Alphonso (rushing forward impatiently.) Say not, he doth! - Yet wherefore art thou here? If it be so - I could weep with burning tears For very shame! - If this can be, return! Tell him, of all his wealth, his battle-spoils, I will but ask a war-horse and a sword, And that beside him in the mountain-chase, And in his halls, and at his stately feasts, My place shall be no more! - But no! - I wrong, I wrong my father! - Moor, believe it not! He is a champion of the cross and Spain, Sprung from the Cid; and I too, I can die As a warrior's high-born child! Elmina. Alas! alas! And wouldst thou die, thus early die, fair boy? What hath life done to thee, that thou shouldst cast Its flower away, in very scorn of heart, Ere yet the blight be come? Alphonso. That voice doth sound - Abdullah. Stranger, who art thou? - this is mockery - speak! Elmina (throwing off a mantle and helmet, and embracing her sons.) My boys! whom I have rear'd through many hours Of silent joys and sorrows, and deep thoughts Untold and unimagined; let me die With you, now I have held you to my heart, And seen once more the faces, in whose light My soul hath lived for years! Carlos. Sweet mother! now Thou shalt not leave us more. Abdullah. Enough of this! Woman! what seek'st thou here? - How hast thou dared To front the mightly thus amidst his hosts? Elmina. Think'st thou there dwells no courage but in breasts That set their mail against the ringing spears, When helmets are struck down? - Thou little know'st Of nature's marvels! - Chief! my heart is nerved To make its way through things which warrior men, - Ay, they that master death by field or flood, Would look on, ere they braved! - I have no thought, No sense of fear! - Thou'rt mighty; but a soul Wound up like mine, is mightier, in the power Of that one feeling, pour'd through all its depths, Than monarchs with their hosts! - Am I not come To die with these, my children? Abdullah. Doth thy faith Bid thee do this, fond Christian? - Hast thou not The means to save them? Elmina. I have prayers, and tears, And agonies! - And he - my God - the God Whose hand, or soon or late, doth find its hour To bow the crested head - hath made these things Most powerful in a world where all must learn That one deep language, by the storm call'd forth From the bruis'd reeds of earth! - For thee, perchance, Affliction's chastening lesson hath not yet Been laid upon thy heart, and thou may'st love To see the creatures, by its might brought low, Humbled before thee. [She throws herself at his feet. Conqueror! I can kneel! I, that drew birth from princes, bow myself E'en to thy feet! Call in thy chiefs, thy slaves, If this will swell thy triumph, to behold The blood of kings, of heroes, thus debased! Do this, but spare my sons! Alphonso (attempting to raise her.) Thou shouldst not kneel Unto this infidel! - Rise, rise, my mother! This sight doth shame our house. Abdullah. Thou daring boy! They that in arms have taught thy father's land How chains are worn, shall school that haughty mien Unto another language. Elmina. Peace, my son; Have pity on my heart! - Oh, pardon, Chief - He is of noble blood! - Hear, hear me yet! Are there no lives through which the shafts of Heaven May reach your soul? - He that loves aught on earth, Dares far too much, if he be merciless! Is it for those, whose frail mortality Must one day strive alone with God and death, To shut their souls against th' appealing voice Of nature in her anguish? - Warrior! man! To you too, ay, and haply with your hosts, By thousands and ten thousands marshall'd round, And your strong armour on, shall come that stroke Which the lance wards not - Where shall your high heart Find refuge then, if in the day of might Woe hath laid prostrate, bleeding at your feet, And you have pitied not? Abdullah. These are vain words. Elmina. Have you no children? - Fear you not to bring The lighting on their heads? - In your own land Doth no fond mother, from the tens, beneath Your native palms, look o'er the deserts out, To greet your homeward step? - You have not yet Forgot so utterly her patient love - - For is not woman's, in all climes, the same! - That you should scorn my prayer! - Oh Heaven! his eye Doth wear no mercy! Abdullah. Then it mocks you not. I have swept o'er the mountains of your land, Leaving my traces, as the visitings Of storms, upon them! - Shall I now be stay'd? Know, unto me it were as light a thing, In this, my course, to quench your children's lives, As, journeying through a forest, to break off The wild young branches that obstruct the way With their green sprays and leaves. Elmina. Are there such hearts Among thy works, oh God? Abdullah. Kneel not to me. Kneel to your lord; on his resolves doth hang His children's doom. He may be lightly won By a few bursts of passionate tears and words. Elmina (rising indignantly.) Speak not of noble men! - he bears a soul Stronger than love or death. Alphonso (with exultation.) I knew 'twas thus - He could not fail! Elmina. There is no mercy, none, On this cold earth! - To strive with such a world, Hearts should be void of love. We will go hence, My children, we are summon'd. Lay your heads, In their young radiant beauty, once again To rest upon this bosom. He that dwells Beyond the clouds which press us darkly round, Will yet have pity, and before his face We three will stand together! Moslem! now Let the stroke fall at once. Abdullah. 'Tis thine own will. These might e'en yet be spared. Elmina. Thou wilt not spare; And he beneath whose eye their childhood grew, And in whose paths they sported, and whose ear From their first lisping accents caught the sound Of that word - Father - once a man of love - Is - Men shall call him steadfast. Abdullah. Hath the blast Of sudden trumpets ne'er at dead of night, When the land's watchers fear'd no hostile step, Startled the slumberers from their dreamy world, In cities, whose heroic lords have been Steadfast as thine? Elmina. There's meaning in thine eye, More than thy words. Abdullah (pointing to the city.) Look to yon towers and walls! Think you no hearts within their limits pine, Weary of hopeless warfare, and prepared To burst the feeble links which bind them still Unto endurance? Elmina. Thou hast said too well. But what of this? Abdullah. Then there are those, to whom The prophet's armies not as foes would pass You gates, but as deliverers. Might they not, In some still hour, when weariness takes rest, Be won to welcome us? Your children's steps May yet bound lightly through their father's halls. Alphonso (indignantly.) Thou treacherous Moor! Elmina. Let me not thus be tried Beyond all strength, oh Heaven! Abdullah. Now 'tis for thee, Thou Christian mother, on thy sons to pass The sentence - life or death - the price is set On their young blood, and rests within thy hands. Alphonso. Mother, thou tremblest! Abdullah. Hath thy heart resolved? Elmina (covering her face with her hands.) My boy's proud eye is on me, and the things Which rush in stormy darkness, through my soul, Shrink from his glance. I cannot answer here. Abdullah. Come forth. We'll commune elewhere. Carlos (to his mother.) Wilt thou go? Oh, let me follow thee! Elmina. Mine own fair child! Now that thine eyes have pour'd once more on mine The light of their young smile, and thy sweet voice Hath sent its gentle music through my soul, And I have felt the twining of thine arms - - How shall I leave thee? Abdullah. Leave him, as 'twere but For a brief slumber, to behold his face At morning, with the sun's. Alphonso. Thou hast no look For me, my mother? Elmina. Oh, that I should live To say, I dare not look on thee! - Farewell, My first-born, fare thee well. Alphonso. Yet, yet beware! It were a grief more heavy on thy soul, That I should blush for thee, than o'er my grave That thou shouldst proudly weep. Abdullah. Away! we trifle here. The night wanes fast. Come forth. Elmina. One more embrace - My sons, farewell. [Exeunt ABDULLAH with ELMINA and her Attendant Alphonso. Hear me yet once, my mother! Art thou gone? But one word more. [He rushes out, followed by CARLOS. Scene - The Garden of a Palace in Valencia. XIMENA, THERESA. Theresa. Stay yet awhile. A purer air doth rove Here through the myrtles whispering, and the limes, And shaking sweetness from the orange boughs, Than waits you in the city. Ximena. There are those In their last need, and on their bed of death, At which no hand doth minister but mine, That wait me in the city. Let us hence. Theresa. You have been wont to love the music made By founts, and rustling foliage, and soft winds, Breathing of citron-grove. And will you turn From these to scenes of death? Ximena. To me the voice Of summer, whispering through young flowers and leaves, Now speaks too deep a language; and of all Its dreamy and mysterious melodies, The breathing soul is sadness. - I have felt That summons through my spirit, after which The hues of earth are changed, and all her sounds Seem fraught with secret warnings. There is cause That I should bend my footsteps to the scenes Where death is busy, taming warrior-hearts, And pouring winter through the fiery blood, And fettering the strong arm. - For now no sigh In the dull air, nor floating cloud in heaven, No, not the lightest murmur of a leaf, But of his angel's silent coming bears Some token to my soul. But naught of this Unto my mother. - These are awful hours! And on their heavy steps, afflictions crowd With such dark pressure, there is left no room For one grief more. Theresa. Sweet lady, talk not thus! Your eye this morn doth wear a calmer light, There's more of life in its clear tremulous ray Than I have mark'd of late. Nay, go not yet; Rest by this fountain, where the laurels dip Their glossy leaves. A fresher gale doth spring From the transparent waters, dashing round Their silvery spray, with a sweet voice of coolness, O'er the pale glistening marble. 'Twill call up Faint bloom, if but a moment's, to your cheek. Rest here, ere you go forth, and I will sing The melody you love. THERESA sings. Why is the Spanish maiden's grave So far from her own bright land? The sunny flowers that o'er it wave Were sown by no kindred hand. 'Tis not the orange-bough that sends Its breath on the sultry air, 'Tis not the myrtle-stem that bends To the breeze of evening there! But the Rose of Sharon's eastern bloom By the silent dwelling fades, And none but strangers pass the tomb, Which the Palm of Judah shades. The lowly cross, with flowers o'ergrown, Marks well that place of rest; But who hath graved, on its mossy stone, A sword, a helm, a crest? These are the trophies of a chief, A lord of the axe and spear! - Some blossom pluck'd, some faded leaf, Should grace a maiden's bier! Scorn not her tomb -deny not her The honours of the brave! O'er that forsaken sepulchre, Banner and plume might wave. She bound the steel, in battle tried, Her fearless heart above, And stood with brave men, side by side, In the strength and faith of love! That strength prevail'd - that faith was bless'd! True was the javelin thrown, Yet pierced it not her warrior's breast, She met it with her own! And nobly won, where heroes fell In arms for the holy shrine, A death which saved what she loved so well, And a grave in Palestine. Then let the Rose of Sharon spread Its breast to the glowing air, And the Palm of Judah lift its head, Green and immortal there! And let yon gray stone, undefaced, With its trophy mark the scene, Telling the pilgrim of the waste, Where Love and Death have been. Ximena. Those notes were wont to make my heart beat quick, As at a voice of victory; but to-day The spirit of the song is changed, and seems All mournful. Oh! that ere my early grave Shuts out the sun-beam, I might hear one peal Of the Castilian trumpet, ringing forth Beneath my father's banner! - In that sound Were life to you, sweet brother! - But for me - Come on - our tasks await us. They who know Their hours are number'd out, have little time To give the vague and slumberous languor way, Which doth steal o'er them in the breath of flowers, And whisper of soft winds. ELMINA enters hurriedly. Elmina. This air will calm my spirit, ere yet I meet His eye, which must be met. Thou here, Ximena! [She starts back, on seeing XIMENA Ximena. Alas! my mother! in that hurrying step And troubled glance I read - Elmina (wildly.) Thou read'st it not! Why, who would live, if unto mortal eye The things lay glaring, which within our hearts We treasure up for God's? - Thou read'st it not! I say, thou canst not! - There's not one on earth shall know the thoughts, which for themselves have made And kept dark places in the very breast Whereon he hath laid his slumber, till the hour When the graves open. Ximena. Mother! what is this? Alas! your eye is wandering, and your cheek Flush'd, as with fever! To your woes the night Hath brought no rest. Elmina. Rest! - who should rest? - not he That holds one earthly blessing to his heart Nearer than life! - No! if this world have aught Of bright or precious, let not him who calls Such things his own, take rest! - Dark spirits keep watch, And they to whom fair honour, chivalrous fame, Were as heaven's air, the vital element Wherein they breathed, may wake, and find their souls Made marks for human scorn! - Will they bear on With life struck down, and thus disrobed of all Its glorious drapery? - Who shall tell us this? - Will he so bear it? Ximena. Mother! let us kneel, And blend our hearts in prayer! - What else is left To mortals when the dark hour's might is on them? - Leave us, Theresa. - Grief like this doth find Its balm in solitude. [Exit THERESA. My mother! peace Is heaven's benignant answer to the cry Of wounded spirits. Wilt thou kneel with me? Elmina. Away! 'tis but for souls unstain'd to wear Heaven's tranquil image on their depths. - The stream Of my dark thoughts, all broken by the storm, Reflects but clouds and lightnings! - Didst thou speak Of peace? - 'Tis fled from earth! - but there is joy! Wild, troubled joy! - And who shall know, my child! It is no happiness? - Why, our own hearts Will keep the secret close! - Joy, joy! if but To leave this desolate city, with its dull Slow knells and dirges, and to breathe again Th' untainted mountain air! - But hush! the trees, The flowers, the waters, must hear naught of this! They are full of voices, and will whisper things - - We'll speak of it no more. Ximena. Oh! pitying Heaven! This grief doth shake her reason! Elmina (starting.) Hark! a step! 'Tis - 'tis thy father's - come away - not now - He must not see us now! Ximena. Why should this be? GONZALEZ enters and detains ELMINA. Gonzalez. Elmina, dost thou shun me? - Have we not E'en from the hopeful and the sunny time When youth was as a glory round our brows, Held on through life together? - And is this, When eve is gathering round us, with the gloom Of stormy clouds, a time to part our steps Upon the darkening wild? Elmina (coldly.) There needs not this. Why shouldst thou think I shunn'd thee? Gonzalez. Should the love That shone o'er many years, th' unfading love, Whose only change hath been from gladdening smiles To mingling sorrows and sustaining strength, Thus lightly be forgotten? Elmina. Speak'st thou thus! - I have knelt before thee with that very plea, When it avail'd me not! - But there are things Whose very breathings on the soul erase All record of past love, save the chill sense, Th' unquiet memory of its wasted faith, And vain devotedness! - Ay, they that fix Affection's perfect trust on aught of earth, Have many a dream to start from! Gonzalez. This is but The wildness and the bitterness of grief, Ere yet th' unsettled heart hath closed its long Impatient conflicts with mightier power, Which makes all conflicts vain. - Hark! was there not A sound of distant trumpets, far beyond The Moorish tents, and of another tone Than th' Afric horn, Ximena? Ximena. Oh, my father! I know that horn too well. - 'Tis but the wind, Which, with a sudden rising, bears its deep And savage war-note from us, wafting it O'er the far hills. Gonzalez. Alas! this woe must be! I do but shake my spirit from its height, So startling it with hope! - But the dread hour Shall be met bravely still. I can keep down Yet for a little while - and Heaven will ask No more - the passionate workings of my heart; - And thine - Elmina! Elmina. 'Tis - I am prepared. I have prepared for all. Gonzalez. Oh, well I knew Thou wouldst not fail me! - Not in vain my soul, Upon thy faith and courage, hath built up Unshaken trust. Elmina (wildly.) Away! - thou know'st me not! Man dares too far: his rashness would invest This our mortality with an attribute Too high and awful, boasting that he knows One human heart! Gonzalez. These are wild words, but yet I will not doubt thee! - Hast thou not been found Noble in all things, pouring thy soul's light Undimm'd o'er every trial? - And, as our fates, So must our names be, undivided! - Thine, I' th' record of a warrior's life, shall find Its place of stainless honour. By his side - Elmina. May this be borne! - How much of agony - Hath the heart room for? - Speak to me in wrath - I can endure it! - But no gentle words! No words of love! no praise! - Thy sword might slay, And be more merciful! Gonzalez. Wherefore art thou thus? Elmina, my beloved! Elmina. No more of love! - Have I not said there's that within my heart, Whereon it falls as living fire would fall Upon and unclosed wound? Gonzalez. Nay, lift thine eyes That I may read their meaning! Elmina. Never more With a free soul - What have I said? - 'twas naught! Take thou no heed! The words of wretchedness Admit not scrutiny. Wouldst thou mark the speech Of troubled dreams? Gonzalez. I have seen thee in the hour Of thy deep spirit's joy, and when the breath Of grief hung chilling round thee; in all change, Bright health and drooping sickness; hope and fear; Youth and decline; but never yet, Elmina Ne'er hath thine eye till now shrunk back perturb'd With shame or dread, from mine! Elmina. Thy glance doth search A wounded heart too deeply. Gonzalez. Hast thou there Aught to conceal? Elmina. Who hath not? Gonzalez. Till this hour Thou never hadst! - Yet hear me! - by the free And unattainted fame which wraps the dust Of thine heroic fathers - Elmina. This to me! - Bring your inspiring war-notes, and your sounds Of festal music, round a dying man! Will his heart echo them? - But if thy words Were spells, to call up with each lofty tone, The grave's most awful spirits, they would stand Powerless, before my anguish! Gonzalez. Then, by her, Who there looks on thee in the purity Of her devoted youth, and o'er whose name No blight must fall, and whose pale cheek must ne'er Burn with that deeper tinge, caught painfully From the quick feeling of dishonour - Speak! Unfold this mystery! - By thy sons - Elmina. My sons! And canst thou name them? Gonzalez. Proudly! - Better far They died with all the promise of their youth, And the fair honour of their house upon them, Than that with manhood's high and passionate soul To fearful strength unfolded, they should live, Barr'd from the lists of crested chivalry, And pining in the silence of a woe, Which from the heart shuts daylight - o'er the shame Of those who gave them birth! - but thou couldst ne'er Forget their lofty claims! Elmina (wildly.) 'Twas but for them! 'Twas for them only! - Who shall dare arraign Madness of crime? - And he who made us, knows There are dark moments of all hearts and lives, Which bear down reason! Gonzalez. Thou, whom I have loved With such high trust, as o'er our nature threw A glory, scare allow'd; - what hast thou done? - Ximena, go thou hence! Elmina. No, no! my child! There's pity in thy look! - All other eyes Are full of wrath and scorn! - Oh! leave me not! Gonzalez. That I should live to see thee thus abased! - Yet speak! - What hast thou done? Elmina. Look to the gate! Thou'rt worn with toil - But tale no rest to-night! The western gate! - Its watchers have been won - The Christian city hath been bought and sold! They will admit the Moor! Gonzalez. They have been won! Brave men and tried so long! - Whose work was this? Elmina. Think'st thou all hearts like thine? - Can mothers stand To see their children perish? Gonzalez. Then the guilt Was thine! Elmina. - Shall mortal dare to call it guilt? I tell thee, Heaven, which made all holy things, Made naught more holy than the boundless love Which fills a mother's heart! - I say, 'tis woe Enough with such an aching tenderness, To love aught earthly! - and in vain! in vain! - We are press'd down too sorely! Gonzalez (in a low desponding voice.) Now my life Is struck to worthless ashes! - In my soul Suspicion hath ta'en root. The nobleness Heneceforth is blotted from all human brows, And fearful power, a dark and troublous gift, Almost like prophecy, is pour's upon me, To read the guilty secrets in each eye That once look'd bright with truth! - Why then I have gain'd What men call wisdom! - A new sense, to which All tales that speak of high fidelity, And holy courage, and proud honour, tried, Search'd, and found steadfast, even to martyrdom, Are food for mockery! - Why should I not cast From my thinn'd locks the wearing helm at once, And in the heavy sickness of my soul! Throw the sword down for ever? - Is there aught In all this world of gilded hollowness, Now the bright hues drop off its loveliest things, Worth striving for again? Ximena. Father! look up! Turn unto me, thy child! Gonzalez. Thy face is fair; And hath been unto me, in other days, As morning to the journeyer of the deep; But now - 'tis too like hers! Elmina (falling at his feet.) Woe, shame and woe, Are on me in their might! - forgive, forgive! Gonzalez (starting up.) Doth the Moor deem that I have part, or share, Or counsel in this vileness? - Stay me not! Let go thy hold - 'tis powerless on me now - I linger here, while treason is at work! [Exit GONZALEZ. Elmina. Ximena, dost thou scorn me? Ximena. I have found In mine own heart too much of feebleness, Hid, beneath many foldings, from all eyes But His whom naught can blind - to dare do aught But pity thee, dear mother! Elmina. Blessings light On thy fair head, my gentle child, for this! Thou kind and merciful! - My soul is faint - Worn with long strife! - Is there aught else to do, Or suffer, ere we die? - Oh God! my sons! - I have betray'd them! - All their innocent blood Is on my soul! Ximena. How shall I comfort thee? - Oh! hark! what sounds come deepening on the wind. So full of solemn hope! (A procession of Nuns passing across the scene, bearing relies, and chanting. Chant. A sword is on the land! He that bears down young tree and glorious flower, Death is gone forth, he walks the wind in power! - Where is the warrior's hand? Our steps are in the shadows of the grave, Hear us, we perish! Father, hear, and save! If, in the days of song, The days of gladness, we have call'd on thee, When mirthful voices rang from sea to sea, And joyous hearts were strong; Now that alike the feeble and the brave Must cry, "We perish!" - Father! hear, and save! The days of song are fled! The winds come loaded, wafting dirge-notes by, But they that linger, soon unmourn'd must die; - The dead weep not the dead! - Wilt thou forsake us 'midst the stormy wave? We sink, we perish! - father, hear, and save! Helmet and lance are dust! Is not the strong man wither'd from our eye? The arm struck down that held our banners high? - Thine is our spirit's trust! Look through the gathering shadows of the grave! Do we not perish? - Father, hear and save! HERNANDEZ enters. Elmina. Why comest thou, man of vengeance? - What have I To do with thee? - Am I not bow'd enough? Thou art no mourner's comforter! Hernandez. Thy lord Hath sent me unto thee. Till this day's task Be closed, thou daughter of the feeble heart! He bids thee seek him not, but lay thy woes Before Heaven's altar, and in penitence Make thy soul's peace with God. Elmina. Till this day's task Be closed! - there is strange triumph in thine eyes - Is it that I have fallen from that high place Whereon I stood in fame? - But I can feel A wild and bitter pride in thus being past The power of thy dark glance! - My spirit now Is wound about by one sole mighty grief; Thy scorn hath lost its sting. - Thou may'st reproach - Hernandez. I come not to reproach thee. Heaven doth work By many agencies; and in its hour There is no insect which the summer breeze From the green leaf shakes trembling, but may serve Its deep unsearchable purposes, as well As the great ocean, or th' eternal fires, Pent in earth's caves! - Thou hast but speeded that Which, in th' infatuate blindness of thy heart, Thou wouldst have trampled o'er all holy ties, But to avert one day! Elmina. My senses fail - Thou saidst - speak yet again! - I could not catch The meaning of thy words. Hernandez. E'en now thy lord Hath sent our foes defiance. On the walls He stands in conference with the boastful Moor, And awful strength is with him. Through the blood Which, this day, must be pour'd in sacrifice, Shall Spain be free. On all her olive-hills Shall men set up the battle-sign of fire, And round its blaze, at midnight keep the sense Of vengeance wakeful in each other's hearts E'en with thy children's tale! Ximena. Peace, father! peace! Behold, she sinks! - the storm hath done its work Upon the broken reed. Oh! lend thine aid To bear her hence. [They lead her away. Scene - A street in Valencia. Several Groups of Citizens and Soldiers, many of them lying on the steps of a Church. Arms scattered on the ground around them. An old Citizen. The air is sultry, as with thunder-clouds. I left my desolate home, that I might breathe More freely in heaven's face, but my heart feels With this hot gloom o'erburthen'd. I have now No sons to tend me. Which of you, kind friends, Will bring the old man water from the fount, To moisten his parch'd lip? [A Citizen goes out. Second Citizen. This wasting siege, Good Father Lopez, hath gone hard with you! 'Tis sad to hear no voices through the house, Once peopled with fair sons! Third Citizen. Why, better thus, Than to be haunted with their famish'd cries, E'en in your very dreams! Old Citizen. Heaven's will be done! These are dark times! I have not been alone In my affliction. Third Citizen (with bitterness.) Why, we have but this thought Left for our gloomy comfort! - And 'tis well! Ay, let the balance be awhile struck even Between the noble's palace, and the hut Where the worn peasant sickens! - They that bear The humble dead unhonour'd to their homes, Pass now i' th' street no lordly bridal train, With its exulting music; and the wretch Who on the marble steps of some proud hall Flings himself down to die, in his last need And agony of famine, doth behold No scornful guests, with their long purple robes To the banquet sweeping by. Why, this is just! These are the days when pomp is made to feel Its human mould! Fourth Citizen. Heard you last night the sound Of Saint Iago's bell? - How sullenly From the great tower it peal'd! Fifth Citizen. Ay, and 'tis said No mortal hand was near when so it seem'd To shake the midnight streets. Old Citizen. Too well I know The sound of coming fate! - 'Tis ever thus When death is on his way to make it night In the Cid's ancient house. - Oh! there are things In this strange world of which we have all to learn When its dark bounds are pass'd. - Yon bell, untouch'd (Save by hands we see not) still doth speak - - When of that line some stately head is mark'd - With a wild hollow peal, at dead of night, Rocking Valencia's towers. I have heard it oft, Nor known its warning false. Fourth Citizen. And will our chief Buy, at the price of his fair children's blood, A few more days of pining wretchedness For this forsaken city? Old Citizen. Doubt it nor! - But with that ransom he may purchase still Deliverance for the land! - And yet 'tis sad To think that such a race, with all its fame, Should pass away! - For she, his daughter too, Moves upon earth as some bright thing whose time To sojourn there is short. Fifth Citizen. Then woe for us When she is gone! - Her voice - the very sound Of her soft step was comfort as she moved Through the still house of mourning! - Who like her Shall give us hope again? Old Citizen. Be still! she comes, And with a mien how changed! - A hurrying step And a flush'd cheek! - What may this bode? - Be still! XIMENA enters, with Attendants carrying a Banner. Ximena. Men of Valencia! in an hour like this, What do ye here? A Citizen. We die! Ximena. Brave men die now Girt for the toil, as travellers suddenly By the dark night o'ertaken on their way! These days require such death! - It is too much Of luxury for our wild and angry times, To fold the mantle round us and to sink From life, as flowers that shut up silently, When the sun's heat doth scorch them!- Hear ye not? A Citizen. Lady! what wouldst thou with us? Ximena. Rise and arm! E'en now the children of your chief are led Forth by the Moor to perish! - Shall this be? Shall the high sound of such a name be hush'd, I' th' land to which for ages it hath been A battle-word, as 'twere some passing note Of shepherd music? - Must this work be done, Any ye lie pining here, as men in whom The pulse which God hath made for noble thought Can so be thrill'd no longer? Citizens. 'Tis even so! Sickness, and toil, and grief, have breathed upon us. Our hearts beat faint and low. Ximena. Are ye so poor Of soul, my countrymen! that ye can draw Strength from no deeper source than that which sends The red blood mantling through the joyous veins, And gives the fleet step wings? - Why, how have age And sensitive womanhood ere now endured, Through pangs of searching fire, in some proud cause, Blessing that agony? - Think ye the Power Which bore them nobly up, as if to teach The torturer where eternal Heaven had set Bounds to his sway, was earthly, of this earth, This dull mortality? - Nay, then look on me! Death's touch hath mark'd me, and I stand among you, As one whose place, i' th' sunshine of your world, Shall soon be left to fill! - I say the breath Of th' incense, floating through yon fane, shall scarce Pass from your path before me! But even now, I have that within me, kindling through the dust, Which from all time hath made high deeds its voice And token to the nations! - Look on me! Why hath Heaven pour'd forth courage, as a flame Wasting the womanish heart, which must be still'd Yet sooner for its swift consuming brightness, If not to shame your doubt, and your despair, And your soul's torpor? - Yet, arise and arm! It may not be too late. A Citizen. Why, what are we, To cope with hosts? - Thus faint, and worn, and few, O'ernumber'd and forsaken, is't for us To stand against the mighty? Ximena. And for whom Hath He, who shakes the mightly with a breath From their high places, made the fearfulness, And ever-wakeful presence of his power, To the pale startled earth most manifest, But for the weak? - Wasn't for the helm'd and crown'd That suns were stay'd at noonday? - Stormy seas As a rill parted? - Mail'd archangels sent To wither up the strength of kings with death? - I tell you, if these marvels have been done 'Twas for the wearied and the oppress'd of men, They needed such! - And generous faith hath power By her prevailing spirit, e'en yet to work Deliverances, whose tale shall live with those Of the great elder time! - Be of good heart! Who is forsaken? - He that gives the thought A place within his breast! - 'Tis not for you. - Know ye this banner? Citizens (murmuring to each other.) Is she not inspired? Doth not Heaven call us by her fervent voice? Ximena. Know ye this banner? Citizens. 'Tis the Cid's. Ximena. The Cid's! Who breathes that name but in th' exulting tone Which the heart rings to? - Why, the very wind, As it swells out the noble standard's fold, Hath a triumphant sound! - The Cid's! - it moved Even as a sign of victory through the land, From the free skies ne'er stooping to a foe! Old Citizen. Can ye still pause, my brethren? - Oh! that youth Through this worn frame were kindling once again! Ximena. Ye linger still!- Upon this very air, He that was born in happy hour for Spain Pour'd forth his conquering spirit! - 'Twas the breeze From your own mountains which came down to wave This banner of his battles, as it droop'd Above the champion's death-bed. Nor even then Its tale of glory closed. - They made no moan O'er the dead hero, and no dirge was sung, But the deep tambour and shrill horn of war Told when the mighty pass'd! - They wrapt him not With the pale shroud, but braced the warrior's form, In war array, and on his barbed steed, As for a triumph, rear'd him; marching forth In the hush'd midnight from Valencia's walls, Beleaguer'd then as now. All silently The stately funeral moved:- but who was he That follow'd, charging on the tall white horse, And with the solemn standard, broad and pale, Waving in sheets of snow-light? - And the cross, The bloody cross far-blazing from his shield, And the fierce meteor-sword? They fled, they fled! The kings of Afric, with their countless hosts, Were dust in his red path! - The scimetar Was shiver'd as a reed! - For in that hour The warrior saint that keeps the watch for Spain, Was arm'd betimes! - And o'er that fiery field The Cid's high banner stream'd all joyously, For still its lord was there! Citizens (rising tumultuously.) Even unto death Again it shall be follow'd! Ximena. Will he see The noble stem hewn down, the beacon-light Which his high house for ages o'er the land Hath shone through cloud and storm, thus quench'd at once? Will he not aid his children, in the hour Of this their uttermost peril? - Awful power Is with the holy dead, and there are times When the tomb hath no chain they cannot burst! - Is it a thing forgotten, how he woke From its deep rest of old, remembering Spain In her great danger? - At the night's mid-watch How Leon started, when the sound was heard That shook her dark and hollow-echoing streets, As with the heavy tramp of steel-clad men, By thousands marching through! - For he had risen! The Campeador was on his march again, And in his arms, and follow'd by his hosts Of shadowy spearmen! - He had left the world From which we are dimly parted, and gone forth And call'd his buried warriors from their sleep, Gathering them round him to deliver Spain; For Aflic was upon her! - Morning broke - Day rush'd through clouds of battle; but at eve Our God had triumph'd, and the rescued land Sent up a shout of victory from the field, That rock'd her ancient mountains. The Citizens. Arm! to arms! On to our chief! We have strength within us yet To die with our blood roused! Now, be the word, For the Cid's house! [They begin to arm themselves. Ximena. Ye know his battle-song, The old rude strain wherewith his hands went forth To strike down Paynim swords! (She sings.) THE CID'S BATTLE SONG. The Moor is on his way! With the tambour-peal and the tecbir-shout, And the horn o'er the blue seas ringing out, He hath marshall'd his dark array! Shout through the vine-clad land! That her sons on all their hills may hear, And sharpen the point of the red wolf-spear, And the sword for the brave man's hand! (The Citizens join in the song, while they continue arming themselves.) Banners are in the field! The chief must rise from his joyous board, And turn from the feast ere the wine be pour'd, And take up his father's shield! The Moor is on his way! Let the peasant leave his olive-ground, And the goats roam wild through the pine-woods round! - There is nobler work to-day! Send forth the trumpet's call! Till the bridegroom cast he goblet down, And the marriage-robe and the flowery crown, And arm in the banquet-hall! And stay the funeral-train! Bid the chanted mass be hush'd awhile, And the bier laid down in the holy aisle, And the mourners girt for Spain! (They take up the banner and follow XIMENA out. Their voices are heard gradually dying away at a distance.) Ere night, must swords be red! It is not an hour for knells and tears, But for helmets braced, and serried spears! To-morrow for the dead! The Cid is in array! His steed is barb'd, his plume waves high, His banner is up in the sunny sky, Now, joy for the Cross to-day! Scene- The Walls of the City. The Plain beneath, with the Moorish Camp and Army. GONZALEZ, GARCIAN, HERNANDEZ. (A wild sound of Moorish music heard from below.) Hernandez. What notes are these, in their deep mournfulness So strangely wild? Garcias. 'Tis the shrill melody Of the Moor's ancient death-song. Well I know The rude barbaric sound: but, till this hour, It seem'd not fearful. Now, a shuddering chill Comes o'er me with its tones. - Lo! from yon tent They lead the noble boys! Hernandez. The young, and pure, And beautiful victims! - 'Tis on things like these We cast our hearts in wild idolatry, Sowing the winds with hope! - Yet this is well. Thus brightly crown'd with life's most gorgeous flowers, And all unblemish'd, earth should offer up Her treasures unto heaven! Garcias (to Gonzalez.) My chief, the Moor Hath led your children forth. Gonzalez (starting.) Are my sons there? I knew they could not perish; for yon heaven Would ne'er behold it! - Where is he that said I was no more a father? - They look changed - Pallid and worn, as from a prison-house! Or is't mine eye sees dimly? - But their steps Seem heavy, as with pain - I hear the clank - Oh! God! their limbs are fetter'd! Abdullah (coming forward beneath the walls.) Christian, look Once more upon thy children. There is yet One moment for the trembling of the sword: Their doom is still with thee. Gonzalez. Why should this man So mock us with the semblance of our kind? - Moor! Moor! thou dost too daringly provoke, In thy hold cruelty, th' all-judging One, Who visit for such things! - Hast thou no sense Of thy frail nature? - 'Twill be taught thee yet, And darkly shall the anguish of my soul, Darkly and heavily, pour itself on thine, When thou shalt cry for mercy from the dust, And be denied! Abdullah. Nay, is it not thyself That hast no mercy and no love within thee? These are thy sons, the nurslings of thy house; Speak! must they live or die? Gonzalez (in violent emotion.) Is it Heaven's will To try the dust it kindles for a day, With infinite agony! - How have I drawn This chastening on my head! - They bloom'd around me, And my heart grew too fearless in its joy, Glorying in their bright promise! - If we fall, Is there no pardon for our feebleness? (Hernandez, without speaking, holds up a Cross before him.) Abdullah. Speak! Gonzalez (snatching the Cross, and lifting it up.) Let the earth be shaken through its depths, But this must triumph! Abdullah (coldly.) Be it as thou wilt. - Unsheath the scimetar! [To his Guards. Garcian (to Gonzalez.) Away, my chief! This is your place no longer. There are things No human heart, though battle-proof as yours, Unmadden'd may sustain. Gonzalez. Be still! I have now No place on earth but this! Alphonso (from beneath.) Men! give me way, That I may speak forth once before I die! Garcias. The princely boy! - How gallantly his brow Wears its high nature in the face of death! Alphonso. Father! Gonzalez. My son! my son! - mine eldest-born! Alphonso. Stay but upon the ramparts! - Fear thou not - There is good courage in me: oh! my father! I will not shame thee! - only let me fall Knowing thine eye looks proudly on thy child, So shall my heart have strength. Gonzalez. Would, would to God, That I might die for thee, my noble boy! Alphonso, my fair son! Alphonso. Could I have lived, I might have been a warrior! - Now, farewell! But look upon me still! - I will not blench When the keen sabre flashes. - Mark me well! Mine eyelid shall not quiver as it falls, So thou wilt look upon me! Garcias (to Gonzalez.) Nay, my lord! We must be gone! - thou canst not bear it! Gonzalez. Peace! - Who hath told thee how much man's heart can bear? - Lend me thine arm - my brain whirls fearfully - How thick the shades close round! - my boy! my boy! Where art thou in this gloom? Garcias. Let us go hence. This is a dreadful moment! Gonzalez. Hush! - what saidst thou? Now let me look on him! - Dost thou see aught Through the dull mist that wraps us? Garcias. I behold - Oh! for a thousand Spaniards to rush down - Gonzalez. Thou seest - My heart stands still to hear thee speak! - There seems a fearful hush upon the air, As 'twere the dead of night! Garcias. The hosts have closed Around the spot in stillness. Through the spears, Ranged thick and motionless, I see him not; - But not - Gonzalez. He bade me keep mine eye upon him, And all is darkness round me! - Now? Garcias. A sword, A sword, springs upward, like a lightning burst, Through the dark serried mass! - Its cold blue glare Is wavering to and fro - 'tis vanish'd - hark! Gonzalez. I heard it, yes! - I heard the dull dead sound, That heavily broke the silence! - Didst thou speak? - I lost thy words - come nearer! Garcias. 'Twas - 'tis past! - The sword fell then! Hernandez (with exultation.) Flow forth, thou noble blood! Fount of Spain's ransom and deliverance, flow Uncheck'd and brightly forth! - Thou kingly stream! Blood of our heroes! blood of martyrdom! Which through so many warrior-hearts hast pour'd Thy fiery currents, and hast made our hills Free, by thine own free offering! - Bathe the land! But there thou shalt not sink! - Our very air Shall take thy colouring, and our loaded skies, O'er th' infidel hang dark and ominous, With battle-hues of thee! - And thy deep voice Rising above them to the judgement-seat Shall call a burst of gather'd vengeance down, To sweep th' oppressor from us! - For thy wave Hath made his guilt run o'er! Gonzalez (endeavouring to rouse himself.) 'Tis all a dream! There is not one - no hand on earth could harm That fair boy's graceful head! - Why look you thus! Abdullah (pointing to Carlos.) Christian! e'en yet thou hast a son! Gonzalez. E'en yet! Carlos. My father! take me from these fearful men! Wilt thou not save me, father? Gonzalez (attempting to unsheath his sword.) Is the strength From mine arm shiver'd? Garcian, follow me! Garcian. Whither, my chief? Gonzalez. Why, we can die as well On yonder plain, - ay, a spear's thrust will do The little that our misery doth require, Sooner than e'er this anguish! Life is best Thrown from us in such moments. [Voices heard at a distance. Hernandez. Hush! what strain Floats on the wind? Garcias. 'Tis the Cid's battle-song! What marvel hath been wrought? [Voices approaching heard in chorus. The Moor is on his way! With the tambour peal and the tecbir-shout, And the horn o'er the blue seas ringing out, He hath marshall'd his dark array! XIMENA enters, followed by CITIZENS, with the Banner. Ximena. Is it too late? - My father, these are men Through life and death prepared to follow thee Beneath this banner! - Is their zeal too late? - Oh! there's a fearful history on thy brow! What hast thou seen? Garcias. It is not all too late. Ximena. My brothers! Hernandez. All is well. (To CARCIAS.) Hush! would'st thou chill That which hath sprung within them, as a flame From th' altar-embers mounts in sudden brightness? I say, 'tis not too late, ye men of Spain! On to the rescue! Ximena. Bless me, oh, my father! And I will hence, to aid thee with my prayers, Sending my spirit with thee through the storm, Lit up by flashing swords! Gonzalez (falling on her neck.) Hath aught been spared? Am I not all bereft? - Thou'rt left me still! Mine own, my loveliest one, thou'rt left me still! Farewell!- thy father's blessing, and thy God's, Be with thee, my Ximena. Ximena. Fare thee well! If, ere thy steps turn homeward from the field, The voice is hush'd that still hath welcomed thee, Think of me in thy victory! Hernandez. Peace! no more! This is no time to melt our nature down To a soft stream of tears. - Be of strong heart! Give me the banner! Swell the song again! THE CITIZENS. Ere night, must swords be red! It is not an hour for knells and tears, But for helmets braced and serried spears! To-morrow for the dead! [Exeunt omnes. Scene - Before the Altar of a Church. ELMINA rises from the steps of the Altar. Elmina. The clouds are fearful that o'erhang thy ways, Oh, thou mysterious Heaven! - It cannot be That I have drawn the vials of thy wrath, To burst upon me through the lifting up Of a proud heart, elate in happiness! No! in my day's full noon, for me life's flowers But wreathed a cup of trembling; and the love The boundless love, my spirit was form'd to bear, Hath ever, in its place of silence, been A trouble and a shadow, tinging thought With hues too deep for joy! - I never look'd On my fair children, in their buoyant mirth, Or sunny sleep, when all the gentle air Seem'd glowing with their quiet blessedness, But o'er my soul there came a shuddering sense Of earth, and its pale changes; even like that Which vaguely mingles with our glorious dreams A restless and disturbing consciousness That the bright things must fade! - How have I shrunk From the dull murmur of th' upquiet voice, With its low tokens of mortality, Till my heart fainted 'midst their smiles! - their smiles! - Where are those glad looks now? Could they go down With all their joyous light, that seem'd not earth's, To the cold grave? - My children! - Righteous Heaven! There floats a dark rememberance o'er my brain Of one who told me, with relentless eye, That this should be the hour! XIMENA enters. Ximena. They are gone forth Unto the rescue- strong in heart and hope, Faithful, though few! - My mother, let thy prayers Call on the land's good saints to lift once more The sword and cross that sweep the field for Spain, As in old battle; so thine arms e'en yet May clasp thy sons! - For me, my part is done! The flame, which dimly might have linger'd yet A little while, hath gather'd all its rays Brightly to sink at once! and it is well! The shadows are around me; to thy heart Fold me, that I may die. Elmina. My child! - What dream Is on thy soul? - E'en now thine aspect wears Life's brightest inspiration! Ximena. Death's! Elmina. Away! Thine eye hath starry clearness, and thy cheek Doth glow beneath it with a richer hue Than ting'd its earlier flower! Ximena. It well may be! There are far deeper and far warmer hues Than those which draw their colouring from the founts Of youth, or health, or hope. Elmina. Nay, speak not thus: There's that about thee shining which would send E'en through my heart a sunny flow of joy, Wer't not for these sad words. The dim cold air And solemn light, which wrap these tombs and shrines As a pale gleaming shroud, seem kindled up With a young spirit of ethereal hope Caught from thy mien! - Oh no! this is not death! Ximena. Why should not He, whose touch dissolves our chain, Put on his robes of beauty when he comes As a deliverer? - He hath many forms, They should not all be fearful! - If his call Be but our gathering to that distant land For whose sweet waters we have pined with thirst, Why should not its prophetic sense be borne Into the heart's deep stillness, with a breath Of summer-winds, a voice of melody, Solemn, yet lovely? - Mother! I depart! - Be it thy comfort, in the after-days, That thou hast seen me thus! Elmina. Distract me not With such wild fears! Can I bear on with life When thou art gone? - Thy voice, thy step, thy smile, Pass'd from my path? - Alas! even now thine eye Is changed - thy cheek is fading! Ximena. Ay the clouds Of the dim hour are gathering o'er my sight, And yet I fear not, for the God of Help Comes in that quiet darkness! - It may soothe Thy woes, my mother, if I tell thee now, With what glad calmness I behold the veil Falling between me and the world, wherein My heart so ill hath rested. Elmina. Thine! Ximena. Rejoice For her, that, when the garland of her life Was blighted, and the springs of hope were dried, Received her summons hence; and had no time, Bearing the canker at th' impatient heart, To wither, sorrowing for that gift of Heaven, Which lent one moment of existence light, That dimm'd the rest for ever! Elmina. How is this? My child, what mean'st thou? Ximena. Mother, I have loved, And been beloved! - the sunbeam of an hour, Which gave life's hidden treasures to mine eye, As they lay shining in their secret founts, Went out, and left them colourless. - 'Tis past - And what remains on earth? - the rainbow mist, Through which I gazed, hath melted, and my sight Is clear'd to look on all things as they are! - But this is far too mournful! - Life's dark gift Hath fallen too early and too cold upon me! - Therefore I would go hence! Elmina. And thou hast loved Unknown - Ximena. Oh! pardon, pardon that I veil'd My thoughts from thee! - But thou hadst woes enough, And mine came o'er me when thy had need Of more than mortal strength! - For I had scarce Given the deep consciousness that I was loved A treasure's place within my secret heart, When earth's brief joy went from me! 'Twas at morn I saw the warriors to their field go forth, And he - my chosen - was there amongst the rest, With his young, glorious brow! - I look'd again - The strife grew dark beneath me - but his plume Waved free above the lances. - Yet again - It had gone down! and steeds were trampling o'er The spot to which mine eyes were riveted Till blinded by th' intenseness of their gaze! - And then - at last - I hurried to the gate, And met him there! - I met him! - on his shield, And with his cloven helm, and shiver'd sword, And dark hair steep'd in blood! - They bore him past - Mother! I saw his face! - Oh! such a death Works fearful changes on the fair of earth, The pride of woman's eye! Elmina. Sweet daughter, peace! Wake not the dark remembrance; for thy frame - Ximena. There will be peace ere long. I shut my heart E'en as a tomb, o'er that lone silent grief, That I might spare it thee! - But now the hour Is come when that which would have pierced thy soul Shall be its healing balm. Oh! weep thou not, Save with a gentle sorrow! Elmina. Must it be? Art thou indeed to leave me? Ximena (exultingly.) Be thou glad! I say, rejoice above thy favour'd child! Joy for the soldier, when his field is fought; Joy for the peasant, when his vintage-task Is closed at eve! - But most of all for her, Who, when her life changed its glittering robes For the dull garb of sorrow, which doth cling So heavily around the journeyers on, Cast down its weight - and slept! Elmina. Alas! thine eye Is wandering - yet how brightly! - Is this death, Or some high wondrous vision? - Speak, my child! How is it with thee now? Ximena (wildly.) I see it still! 'Tis floating, like a glorious cloud on high, My father's banner! - Hear'st thou not a sound? The trumpet of Castile? - Praise, praise to Heaven! - Now may the weary rest! - Be still! - Who calls The night so fearful? - [She dies, Elmina. No! she is not dead! - Ximena! speak to me! - Oh! yet a tone From that sweet voice, that I may gather in One more remembrance of its lovely sound Ere the deep silence fall! - What! is all hush'd? - No, no! - it cannot be! - How should we bear The dark misgivings of our souls, if Heaven Left not such beings with us? - But is this Her wonted look? - too sad a quiet lies On its dim fearful beauty! - Speak, Ximena! Speak! - my heart dies within me! - She is gone, With all her blessed smiles! - My child! my child! Where art thou? - Where is that which answer'd me, From thy soft-shining eyes! - Hush! doth she move? - One light lock seem'd to tremble on her brow, As a pulse throbb'd beneath; - 'twas but the voice Of my despair that stirr'd it! - She is gone! [She throws herself on the body. Gonzalez enters alone, and wounded. Elmina (rising as he approaches.) I must not now be scorn'd! - No, not a look, A whisper of reproach! - Behold my woe! Thou canst not scorn me now! Gonzalez. Hast thou heard all? Elmina. Thy daughter on my bosom laid her head, And pass'd away to rest. - Behold her there, Even such as death hath made her! Gonzalez (bending over Ximena's body.) Thou art gone A little while before me, oh, my child! Why should the traveller weep to part with those That scarce an hour will reach their promised land Ere he too cast his pilgrim staff away, And spread his couch beside them? Elmina. Must it be Henceforth enough that once a thing so fair Had its bright place among us? - Is this all, Left for the years to come? - We will not stay! Earth's chain each hour grows weaker. Gonzalez (still gazing upon Ximena.) And thou'rt laid To slumber in the shadow, blessed child! Of a yet stainless altar, and beside A sainted warrior's tomb! - Oh, fitting place For thee to yield thy pure heroic soul Back unto him that gave it! - And thy cheek Yet smiles in its bright paleness! Elmina. Hadst thou seen The look with which she pass'd! Gonzalez (still bending over her.) Why, 'tis almost Like joy to view thy beautiful repose! The faded image of that perfect calm Floats, e'en as long-forgotten music, back Into my weary heart! - No dark wild spot On thy clear brow doth tell of bloody hands That quench'd young life by violence! - We have seen Too much of horror, in one crowded hour, To weep for aught, so gently gather'd hence! - Oh! man leaves other traces! Elmina (starting suddenly.) It returns On my bewilder'd soul! - Went ye not forth Unto the rescue? - And thou'rt here alone! - Where are my sons? Gonzalez (solemnly.) We were too late! Elmina. Too late! Hast thou naught else to tell me? Gonzalez. I brought back From that last field the banner of my sires, And my own death-wound. Elmina. Thine! Gonzalez. Another hour Shall hush its throbs for ever. I go hence, And with me - Elmina. No! - Man could not lift his bands - Where hast thou left thy sons? Gonzalez. I have no sons. Elmina. What hast thou said? Gonzalez. That now there lives not one To wear the glory of mine ancient house, When I am gone to rest, Elmina (throwing herself on the ground, and speaking in a low hurried voice.) In one brief hour, all gone! - and such a death! - I see their blood gush forth! - their graceful heads - Take the dark vision from me, oh my God! And such a death for them! - I was not there! - They were but mine in beauty and in joy, Not in that mortal anguish! - Ah, all gone! - Why should I struggle more? - What is this Power Against whose might, on all sides pressing us, We strive with fierce impatience, which but lays Our own frail spirit prostrate? (After a long pause.) Now I know Thy hand, my God! - and they are soonest crush'd That most withstand it! - I resist no more (She rises.) - A light, a light springs up from grief and death Which with its solemn radiance doth reveal Why we have thus been tried! Gonzalez. Then I may still Fix my last look on thee, in holy love, Parting, but yet with hope. Elmina (falling at his feet.) Canst thou forgive? - Oh, I have driven the arrow to thy heart, That should have buried it within mine own, And borne the pang in silence! - I have cast Thy life's fair honour, in my wild despair, As an unvalued gem upon the waves, Whence thou hast snatch'd it back, to bear from earth, All stainless, on thy breast - Well hast thou done - But I - canst thou forgive? Gonzalez. Within this hour I have stood upon that verge whence mortals fall, And learn'd how 'tis with one whose sight grows dim, And whose foot trembles on the gulf's dark side. - Death purifies all feeling - We will part In pity and in love. Elmina. Death! - And thou too Art on thy way! - Oh, joy for thee, high heart! Glory and joy for thee! - The day is closed, And well and nobly hast thou borne thyself Through its long battle-toils, though many swords Have enter'd thine own soul! - But on my head Recoil the fierce invokings of despair, And I am left far distanced in the race, The lonely one of earth! - Ay, this is just: I am not worthy that upon my breast In this, thine hour of victory, thou shouldst yield Thy spirit unto God. Gonzalez. Thou art! thou art! Oh! a life's love, a heart's long faithfulness, E'en in the presence of eternal things Wearing their chasten'd beauty all undimm'd, Assert their lofty claims; and these art not For one dark hour to cancel! - We are here Before that altar which received the vows Of our unbroken youth, and meet it is For such a witness in the sight of Heaven, And in the face of death, whose shadowy arm Comes dim between us, to regard th' exchange Of our tried hearts' forgiveness - who art they, That in one path have journey'd, needing not Forgiveness at its close? (A Citizen enters hastily.) Citizen. The Moors! the Moors! Gonzalez. How ! is the city storm'd? Oh! righteous Heaven! - for this I look'd not yet! Hath all been done in vain? - Why, then 'tis time For prayer, and then to rest! Citizen. The sun shall set And not a Christian voice be left for prayer, To-night, within Valencia! - round our walls The paynim host is gathering for th' assault, And we have none to guard them. Gonzalez. Then my place Is here no longer. - I had hoped to die Ev'n by the altar and the sepulchre Of my brave sires - but this was not to be! Give me my sword again, and lead me hence Back to the ramparts. I have yet an hour, And it hath still high duties. - Now my wife! Thou mother of my children - of the dead - Whom I name unto thee, in steadfast hope - Farewell! Elmina. No, not farewell! - My soul hath risen To mate itself with thine; and by thy side, Amidst the hurtling lances, I will stand, As one to whom a brave man's love hath been Wasted not utterly. Gonzalez. I thank thee, Heaven, That I have tasted of the awful joy Which thou hast given to temper hours like this, With a deep sense of thee, and of thine ends In these dread visitings! (To ELMINA.) We will not part, But with the spirit's parting! Elmina. One farewell To her, that, mantled with sad loveliness, Doth slumber at our feet! - My blessed child! Oh! in thy heart's affliction thou wert strong, And holy courage did pervade thy woe, As light the troubled waters! - Be at peace! Thou whose bright spirit made itself the soul Of all that were around thee! - And thy life E'en then was struck, and withering at the core! - Farewell! - Thy parting look hath on me fall'n, E'en as a gleam of heaven, and I am now More like what thou hast been! - My soul is hush'd, For a still sense of purer worlds hath sunk And settled on its depths with that last smile Which from thine shone forth. - Thou hast not lived In vain - my child, farewell! Gonzalez. Surely for thee Death had no sting, Ximena! - We are blest, To learn one secret of the shadowy past, From such an aspect's calmness. Yet once more I kiss thy pale young cheek, my broken flower! In token of th' undying love and hope, Whose land is far away. [Exeunt. Scene - The Walls of the City. HERNANDEZ. - A few Citizens gathered round him. Hernandez. Why, men have cast the treasures, which their lives Had been worn down in gathering, on the pyre, Ay, at their household hearts have lit the brand, Ev'n from that shrine of quiet love of bear The flame which gave their temples and their homes, In ashes, to the winds! - They have done this, Making a blasted void, where once the sun Look'd upon lovely dwellings; and from earth Razing all record that on such a spot Childhood hath sprung, age faded, misery wept, And frail Humanity knelt before her God; - They have done this, in their free nobleness, Rather than see the spoiler's tread pollute Their holy places! - Praise, high praise be theirs, Who have left man such lessons! - And these things, Made your own hills their witnesses! - The sky, Whose arch bends o'er you, and the seas, wherein Your rivers pour their gold, rejoicing saw The altar, and the birth-place, and the tomb, And all memorials of man's heart and faith, Thus proudly honour'd. - Be ye not outdone By the departed! - Though the godless foe Be close upon us, we have power to snatch The spoils of victory from him. Be but strong! A few bright torches and brief moments yet Shall baffle his flush'd hope, and we may die Laughing him unto scorn. - Rise, follow me, And thou, Valencia! triumph in thy fate, The ruin, not the yoke, and make thy towers A beacon unto Spain! Citizen. We'll follow thee! - Alas! for our fair city, and the homes Wherein we rear'd our children! - But away! The Moor shall plant no cresent o'er our fanes! Voice (from a tower on the walls.) Succours! - Castile! Castile! Citizens (rushing to the spot.) It is even so! Now blessing be to Heaven, for we are saved! Castile, Castile! Voice (from the tower.) Line after line of spears, Lance after lance, upon the horizon's verge, Like festal lights from cities bursting up, Doth skirt the plains! - in faith, a noble host! Another Voice. The Moor hath turn'd him from our walls, to front Th' advancing might of Spain! Citizens (shouting.) Castile! Castile! (GONZALEZ enters, supported by ELMINA and a Citizen. Gonzalez. What shouts of joy are these? Hernandez. Hail, chieftain! hail! Thus ev'n in death 'tis given thee to receive The conqueror's crown! - Behold our God hath heard And arm'd himself with vengeance! - Lo! they come! The lances of Castile! Gonzalez. I knew, I knew Thou wouldst not utterly, my God, forsake Thy servant in his need! - My blood and tears Have not sunk vainly to th' attesting earth! Praise to thee, thanks and praise, that I have lived To see this hour! Elmina. And I too bless thy name, Though thou hast proved me unto agony! Oh! God! - thou God of chastening! Voice (from the tower.) They move on! I see the royal banner in the air, With its emblazon'd towers! Gonzalez. Go, bring ye forth The banner of the Cid, and plant it here, To stream above me for an answering sign That the good cross doth hold its lofty place Within Valencia still! - What see ye now? Hernandez. I see a kingdom's might upon its path, Moving in terrible magnificence, Unto revenge and victory! - With the flash Of knightly swords, up-springing from the ranks, As meteors from a still and gloomy deep, And with the waving of ten thousand plumes, Like a land's harvest in the autumn wind, And with fierce light, which is not of the sun, But flung from sheets of steel - it comes, it comes, The vengeance of our God! Gonzalez. I hear it now, The heavy tread of mail-clad multitudes, Like thunder-showers upon the forest paths. Hernandez. Ay, earth knows well the omen of that sound, And she hath echoes, like a sepulchre's, Pent in her secret hollows, to respond Unto the step of death! Gonzalez. Hark! how the wind Swells proudly with the battle-march of Spain! Now the heart feels its power! - A little while Grant me to live, my God! - What pause is this? Hernandez. A deep and dreadful one! - the serried files Level their spears for combat; now the hosts Look on each other in their brooding wrath, Silent, and face to face. VOICES HEARD WITHOUT, CHANTING. Calm on the bosom of thy God, Fair spirit! rest thee now! E'en while with ours thy footsteps trod, His seal was on thy brow. Dust, to its narrow house beneath! Soul, to its place on high! They that have seen thy look in death, No more may fear to die. Elmina (to GONZALEZ.) It is the death-hymn o'er thy daughter's bier! - But I am clam, and e'en like gentle winds, That music, through the stillness of my heart, Sends mournful peace. Gonzalez. Oh! well those solemn tunes Accord with such an hour, for all her life Breathed of a hero's soul! [A sound of trumpets and shouting from the plain. Hernandez. Now, now they close! - Hark! what a dull dead sound Is in the Moorish war-shout! - I have known Such tones prophetic oft. - The shock is given - Lo! they have placed their shields before their hearts, And lower'd their lances with the streamers on, And on their steeds bent forward! - God for Spain! The first bright sparks of battle have been struck From spear to spear, across the gleaming field! - There is no sight on which the blue sky looks To match with this! - 'Tis not the gallant crests, Nor banners with their glorious blazonry; The very nature and high soul of man Doth now reveal itself! Gonzalez. Oh, raise me up, That I may look upon the noble scene! - It will not be! - That this dull mist would pass A moment from my sight! - Whence rose that shout, As in fierce triumph? Hernandez (clasping his hands.) Must I look on this? The banner sinks - 'tis taken! Gonzalez. Whose? Hernandez. Castile's! Gonzalez. Oh, God of battles! Elmina. Calm thy noble heart! Thou wilt not pass away without thy meed. Nay, rest thee on my bosom. Hernandez. Cheer thee yet! Our knights have spurr'd to rescue. - There is now A whirl, a mingling of all terrible things, Yet more appalling than the fierce distinctness Wherewith they moved before! - I see tall plumes All wildly tossing o'er the battle's tide, Sway'd by the wrathful motion, and the press Of desperate men, as cedar-boughs by storms. Many a white streamer there is dyed with blood, Many a false corslet broken, many a shield Pierced through! - Now, shout for Santiago, shout! Lo! javelins with a moment's brightness cleave The thickening dust, and barbed steeds go down With their helm'd riders! - Who, but One, can tell How spirits part amidst that fearful rush And trampling on of furious multitudes? Gonzalez. Thou'rt silent! - See'st thou more? - My soul grows dark. Hernandez. And dark and troubled, as an angry sea, Dashing some gallant armament in scorn Against its rocks, is all on which I gaze! - I can but tell thee how tall spears are cross'd, And lances seem to shiver, and proud helms To lighten with the stroke! - But round the spot, Where, like a storm-fell'd mast, our standard sank, The heart of battle burns. Gonzalez. Where is that spot? Hernandez. It is beneath the lonely tuft of palms, That lift their green heads o'er the tumult still, In calm and stately grace. Gonzalez. There, didst thou say? Then God is with us, and we must prevail! For on that spot they died! - My children's blood Calls on the avenger thence! Elmina. They perish'd there! - And the bright locks that waved so joyously To the free winds, lay trampled and defiled Ev'n on that place of death! - Oh, merciful! Hush the dark thought within me! Hernandez (with sudden exultation.) Who is he, On the white steed, and with the castled helm, And the gold broider'd mantle, which doth float E'en like a sunny cloud above the fight; And the pale cross, which from his breast-plate gleams With star-like radiance? Gonzalez (eagerly.) Didst thou say the cross? Hernandez. On his mail'd bosom shines a broad white cross. And his long plumage through the darkening air Streams like a snow-wreath. Gonzalez. That should be - Hernandez. The king! - Was it not told us how he sent, of late, To the Cid's tomb, e'en for the silver cross. Which he who slumbers there was wont to bind O'er his brave heart in fight? Gonzalez (springing up joyfully.) My king! my king! Now all good saints for Spain! - My noble king! And thou art there! - That I might look once more Upon thy face! - But yet I thank thee, Heaven! That thou hast sent him, from my dying hands Thus to receive his city! [He sinks back into ELMINA's arms. Hernandez. He hath clear'd A pathway 'midst the combat, and the light Follows his charge through yon close living mass E'en as the gleam on some proud vessel's wake Along the stormy waters! - 'Tis redeem'd - The castled banner! - It is flung once more, In joy and glory, to the sweeping winds! - There seems a wavering through the paynim hosts - Castile doth press them sore - Now, now rejoice! Gonzalez. What hast thou seen? Hernandez. Abdullah falls! He falls! The man of blood! - the spoiler! - he hath sunk In our king's path! - Well hath that royal sword Avenged thy cause, Gonzalez. They give way, The Crescent's van is broken! - On the hills And the dark pine-woods may the infidel Call vainly in his agony of fear, To cover him from vengeance! - Lo! they fly! They of the forest and the wilderness Are scatter's e'en as leaves upon the wind! Woe to the sons of Afric! - Let the plains, And the vine-mountains, and Hesperian seas, Take their dead unto them! - that blood shall wash Our soil from stains of bondage. Gonzalez (attempting to raise himself.) Set me free! Come with me forth, for I must greet my king, After his battle-field! Hernandez. Oh, blest in death! Chosen of Heaven, farewell! - Look on the Cross, And part from earth in peace! Gonzalez. Now charge once more! God is with Spain, and Santiago's sword Is reddening all the air! - Shout forth 'Castile!' The day is ours! - I go! - but fear ye not! For Afric's lance is broken, and my sons Have won their first good field! [He dies. Elmina. Look on me yet! Speak one farewell, my husband! - must thy voice Enter my soul no more? - Thine eye is fix'd - Now is my life uprooted,- and 'tis well. (A Sound of triumphant music is heard, and many Castilian Knights and Soldiers enter.) A Citizen. Hush your triumphal sounds, although ye come E'en as deliverers! - But the noble dead, And those that mourn them, claim from human hearts Deep silent reverence. Elmina (rising proudly.) No: swell forth, Castile! Thy trumpet-music, till the seas and heavens, And the deep hills, give every stormy note Echoes to ring through Spain! - How, know ye not That all array'd for triumph, crown'd and robed With the strong spirit which hath saved the land, Ev'n now a conqueror to his rest is gone? - Fear not to break that sleep, but let the wind Swell on with victory's shout? - He will not hear - Hath earth a sound more sad? Hernandez. Lift ye the dead, And bear him, with the banner of his race Waving above him proudly, as it waved O'er the Cid's battles, to the tomb, wherein His warrior-sires are gather'd. [They raise the body. Elmina. Ay, 'tis thus Thou shouldst be honour'd! - And I follow thee With an unfaltering and a lofty step, To the last home of glory. She that wears In her deep heart the memory of thy love Shall thence draw strength for all things, till the God Whose hand around her hath unpeopled earth, Looking upon her still and chasten'd soul, Call it once more to thine! (To the Castilians.) Awake, I say, Tambour and trumpet, wake! - and let the land Through all her mountains hear your funeral peal - So should a hero pass to his repose. [Exeunt omnes.
Scanned by Masayuki Yamaguchi
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