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The Missionary - Canto Second

William Lisle Bowles 1762 (King's Sutton) – 1850



The night was still and clear, when, o'er the snows,
Andes! thy melancholy Spirit rose,--
A shadow stern and sad: he stood alone,
Upon the topmost mountain's burning cone;
And whilst his eyes shone dim, through surging smoke,
Thus to the spirits of the fire he spoke:--

Ye, who tread the hidden deeps,
Where the silent earthquake sleeps;
Ye, who track the sulphurous tide,
Or on hissing vapours ride,--
Spirits, come!
From worlds of subterraneous night;
From fiery realms of lurid light;
From the ore's unfathomed bed;
From the lava's whirlpools red,--
Spirits, come!
On Chili's foes rush with vindictive sway,
And sweep them from the light of living day!
Heard ye not the ravenous brood,
That flap their wings, and scream for blood?
On Peru's devoted shore
Their murderous beaks are red with gore;
Yet here, impatient for new prey,
The insatiate vultures track their way.
Let them perish! they, whose bands
Swept remote and peaceful lands!
Let them perish!--on their head,
Descend the darkness of the dead!
Spirits, now your caves forsake:
Hark! ten thousand warriors wake!--
Spirits, their high cause defend!--
From your caves ascend! ascend!

As thus the Genius of the Andes spoke,
The trembling mountain heaved with darker smoke;
Lightnings, and phantom-forms, by fits appeared;
His mighty voice far off Osorno heard;
The caverned deeps shook through their vast profound,
And Chimborazzo's height rolled back the sound.
With lifted arm, and towering stature high,
And aspect frowning to the middle sky
(Its misty form dilated in the wind),
The phantom stood,--till, less and less defined,
Into thin air it faded from the sight,
Lost in the ambient haze of slow-returning light.
Its feathery-seeming crown, its giant spear,
Its limbs of huge proportion, disappear;
And the bare mountains to the dawn disclose
The same long line of solitary snows.
The morning shines, the military train
Streams far and wide along the tented plain;
And plaited cuirasses, and helms of steel,
Throw back the sunbeams, as the horsemen wheel:
Thus, with arms glancing to the eastern light,
Pass, in review, proud steeds and cohorts bright;
For all the host, by break of morrow's gray,
Wind back their march to Penco's northern bay,
Valdivia, fearful lest confederate foes,
Ambushed and dark, his progress might oppose,
Marshals to-day the whole collected force,
File and artillery, cuirassier and horse:
Himself yet lingers ere he joins the train,
That moves, in ordered march, along the plain,
While troops, and Indian slaves beneath his eye,
The labours of the rising city ply:
Wide glows the general toil; the mole extends,
The watch-tower o'er the desert surge ascends;
And battlements, and rising ramparts, shine
Above the ocean's blue and level line.
The sun ascended to meridian height,
And all the northern bastions shone in light;
With hoarse acclaim, the gong and trumpet rung,
The Moorish slaves aloft their cymbals swung,
When the proud victor, in triumphant state,
Rode forth, in arms, through the portcullis' gate.
With neck high-arching as he smote the ground,
And restless pawing to the trumpet's sound,--
With mantling mane, o'er his broad shoulders spread,
And nostrils blowing, and dilated red,--
The coal-black steed, in rich caparison
Far trailing to the ground, went proudly on.
Proudly he tramped, as conscious of his charge,
And turned around his eye-balls, bright and large,
And shook the frothy boss, as in disdain;
And tossed the flakes, indignant, off his mane;
And, with high-swelling veins, exulting pressed
Proudly against the barb his heaving breast.
The fate of empires glowing in his thought,
Thus armed, the tented field Valdivia sought.
On the left side his poised shield he bore,
With quaint devices richly blazoned o'er;
Above the plumes, upon his helmet's cone,
Castile's imperial crest illustrious shone;
Blue in the wind the escutcheoned mantle flowed,
O'er the chained mail, which tinkled as he rode.
The barred vizor raised, you might discern
His clime-changed countenance, though pale, yet stern,
And resolute as death,--whilst in his eye
Sat proud Assurance, Fame, and Victory.
Lautaro, now in manhood's rising pride,
Rode, with a lance, attendant at his side,
In Spanish mantle gracefully arrayed;
Upon his brow a tuft of feathers played:
His glossy locks, with dark and mantling grace,
Shaded the noonday sunbeams on his face.
Though passed in tears the dayspring of his youth,
Valdivia loved his gratitude and truth:
He
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:46 min read
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Quick analysis:

Scheme aabbcc axddEffggEhhxxiihhjjggkkll ccxxmmnnooffppaaqqrrffhhaassqqnnttuuffvvwwmmggbxxxqqyyzzixbb1 1 2 2 n3 dd4 4 5 5 6 6 3
Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 4,352
Words 735
Stanzas 3
Stanza Lengths 6, 26, 75

William Lisle Bowles

William Lisle Bowles was an English poet and critic In 1783 he won the chancellors prize for Latin verse In 1789 he published in a small quarto volume Fourteen Sonnets which were received with extraordinary favour not only by the general public but by such men as Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Wordsworth The Sonnets even in form were a revival a return to an older and purer poetic style and by their grace of expression melodious versification tender tone of feeling and vivid appreciation of the life and beauty of nature stood out in strong contrast to the elaborated commonplaces which at that time formed the bulk of English poetry more…

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