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The Abencerrage : Canto II.

Felicia Dorothea Hemans 1793 (Liverpool, Lancashire) – 1835 (Dublin, County Dublin)

Fair land! of chivalry the old domain,
Land of the vine and olive, lovely Spain!
Though not for thee with classic shores to vie
In charms that fix the enthusiast's pensive eye;
Yet hast thou scenes of beauty, richly fraught
With all that wakes the glow of lofty thought;
Fountains, and vales, and rocks, whose ancient name
High deeds have raised to mingle with their fame.
Those scenes are peaceful now: the citron blows,
Wild spreads the myrtle, where the brave repose.
No sound of battle swells on Douro's shore,
And banners wave on Ebro's banks no more.
But who, unmoved, unawed, shall coldly tread
Thy fields that sepulchre the mighty dead?
Blest be that soil! where England's heroes share
The grave of chiefs, for ages slumbering there;
Whose names are glorious in romantic lays,
The wild, sweet chronicles of elder days -
By goathered lone, and rude serrano sung,
Thy cypress dells, and vine-clad rocks among:
How oft those rocks have echoed to the tale
Of knights who fell in Roncesvalles' vale;
Of him, renowned in old heroic lore,
First of the brave, the gallant Campeador;
Of those, the famed in song, who proudly died
When 'Rio Verde' rolled a crimson tide;
Or that high name, by Garcilaso's might,
On the green Vega won in single fight.

Round fair Granada, deepening from afar,
O'er that green Vega rose the din of war.
At morn or eve no more the sunbeams shone
O'er a calm scene, in pastoral beauty lone;
On helm and corslet tremulous they glanced,
On shield and spear in quivering lustre danced,
Far as the sight by clear Xenil could rove,
Tents rose around, and banners glanced above.
And steeds in gorgeous trappings, armour bright
With gold, reflecting every tint of light,
And many a floating plume, and blazoned shield
Diffused romantic splendour o'er the field.

There swell those sounds that bid the life-blood start
Swift to the mantling cheek and beating heart.
The clang of echoing steel, the charger's neigh,
The measured tread of hosts in war's array;
And, oh! that music, whose exulting breath
Speaks but of glory on the road of death;
In whose wild voice there dwells inspiring power
To wake the stormy joy of danger's hour;
To nerve the arm, the spirit to sustain,
Rouse from despondence, and support in pain;
And, 'midst the deepening tumults of the strife,
Teach every pulse to thrill with more than life.

High o'er the camp, in many a broidered fold,
Floats to the wind a standard rich with gold:
There, imaged on the cross,
His
form appears
Who drank for man the bitter cup of tears -

His
form, whose word recalled the spirit fled,
Now borne by hosts to guide them o'er the dead!
O'er yon fair walls to plant the cross on high,
Spain hath sent forth her flower of chivalry.
Fired with that ardour which, in days of yore,
To Syrian plains the bold crusaders bore;
Elate with lofty hope, with martial zeal,
They come, the gallant children of Castile;
The proud, the calmly dignified: - and there
Ebro's dark sons with haughty mien repair,
And those who guide the fiery steed of war
From yon rich province of the western star.

But thou, conspicuous 'midst the glitt'ring scene,
Stern grandeur stamped upon thy princely mien;
Known by the foreign garb, the silvery vest,
The snow-white charger, and the azure crest,
Young Aben-Zurrah! 'midst that host of foes,
Why shines
thy
helm, thy Moorish lance? Disclose
Why rise the tents where dwell thy kindred train,
O son of Afric, 'midst the sons of Spain?
Hast thou with these thy nation's fall conspired,
Apostate chief! by hope of vengeance fired?
How art thou changed! Still first in every fight,
Hamet, the Moor! Castile's devoted knight!
There dwells a fiery lustre in thine eye,
But not the light that shone in days gone by
There is wild ardour in thy look and tone,
But not the soul's expression once thine own,
Nor aught like peace within. Yet who shall say
What secret thoughts thine inmost heart may sway?
No eye but Heaven's may pierce that curtained breast,
Whose joys and griefs alike are unexpressed.

There hath been combat on the tented plain;
The Vega's turf is red with many a stain;
And, rent and trampled, banner, crest, and shield,
Tell of a fierce and well-contested field:
But all is peaceful now - the west is bright
With the rich splendour of departing light;
Mulhacen's peak, half lost amidst the sky,
Glows like a purple evening-cloud on high,
And tints, that mock the pencil's art, o'erspread
The eternal snow that crowns Veleta's head; Rate this poem:(0.00 / 0 votes)
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Felicia Dorothea Hemans

Felicia Dorothea Hemans was an English poet. Two of her opening lines, "The boy stood on the burning deck" and "The stately homes of England", have acquired classic status. more…

All Felicia Dorothea Hemans poems | Felicia Dorothea Hemans Books

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