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To yield sense--feeling-motion-all! for what?
To mingle with the dust of tombs forgot.
Pacing the wall with feelings such as those,
The midnight guard look'd out upon his foes,
And saw, beneath fair Dian's mirror-light,
The tents of Asia glittering on the right;
From far beyond, and downward to the strand,
Where Bosphorus rolls her waves against the land :
Then to the left he gaz'd with hopeless eye,
And saw the European legions lie:
Encamp'd so near along the haven's side,
Their figures seem'd to foat upon the tide.
Betwixt the two the Sultan's tent arose,
Circled by chosen legions, fearful foes :
Against the gate that now was closed in vain,
As if he first an entrance hop'd to gain :
There lay the tyrant dreaming of the fray,
And grasping in his sleep the destined prey;
So fully on the fight his thoughts were bent,
He smote the very air triat fann'd his tent.
Beyond the barbour, on the farther side,
Zoganus lay, a Turkish chief of pride;
With him alone were hosts enough to smite
The glories of that once-proud realm in night :
These cut off all supplies that else might there
Have reach'd from friendly fields, still rich and fair.
Across the harbour's mouth, a Turkish fleet
Extended, made the hostile zone complete.
Scarce moving in the breeze, they seem'd to sleep
Upon the bosom pf the tranquil deep;
Their sails shook dimly in the snowy light,
Like distant wings that flapp'd across the night.
There, as the moon-beams o’er the waters glanc’d,
'Twas as a sea of molten silver danc'd;
While that long line of ships, so still, serene,
Look'd like a city stretching o'er the scene;
Whose lights like distant casements caught the eye,
And masts arose like far-off spires on high.
Proud in the midst the city rose supreme!
Her temples glittering in the silver beam;
Throned on a neck of land that pierced the flood,
The regal mistress of the waves she stood;
From thence her lights the Hellespont illum'd,
(Where once the fond Leander sank entomb’d,)
That, like a river, glides majestic through
A chain of fruitful hills that bound the view,
Whose verdant woods seem sleeping in the light,
That pours across the spangled arch of night;
VOL. I. PART II.
Whose fertile banks the winding channel laves,
Until it mingles with the Marmora's waves,
That wash the city's sea-protected side;
While, on the other, moord in harbour, ride
The ships that still a useful bulwark form,
Beneath her walls protected from the storm.
Eastward, beyond the port, fair Pera shone,
Circled by groves, in beauty all her own!
A lovely place of rest, where care might fly,
And learn at last to mourn that man must die.
Yet there was one who view'd this dread array, But fear'd not, for himself, th' approaching fray; Constantine-he the last who bore the name, Though not the lowest in the roll of fame, He had resolv'd to conquer or to fall, To brave the worst, or triumph over all : He neither scorn'd the danger threatening there, Nor droop'd like weaker spirits in despair : Whatever valour, wisdom, could provide, His care had sought, to stem the hostile tide: Food in abundance was secur'd, that none Might rage in famine e'er the strife was done; And arms enough to furnish every hand That dar'd to combat for its native land. Had all else yielded, he had stood alone, Nor liv'd to feel that he had lost a throne ! With empire still he might have purchas'd life,But rather chose the last-worst chance of strife; He had done all a prince might stoop to do, To bear the state that fearful trial through; From every Christian power had aid implor'd, To save the altars that they all ador'd; Urg'd them by that Great Name, to whom they pray'd, The common cause of Christendom to aid ; To check the Infidels, who threaten'd all They lov'd, or worshipp'd, in one general fall; But urg'd in vain-coldly apart they stood, And saw the holy city drench'd in blood; Beheld the sacred cross, to which they bent, By unbelieving hands defiled and rent; Saw o'er their church the impious crescent rise, And heard unmov'd their dying brethren's cries. Thus, from without all need ful aid denied, Within, by faction torn, and bigot pride ; Weaken’d by discord, and unnerv’d by crime, And palsied by the withering hand of time; How could that city hope, in such an hour, To triumph o'er a young and mighty power ;
That closed its bravest legions round her wall,
And with one hand, one spirit, doom'd ber fall?
No! she could scarcely hope again to rise,
Mistress of earth, and favorite of the skies.
The sun was up, and diamonding the sea ;
But, ah! Constantinople, not for thee:
Not o'er heaven's golden arch for thee he rose,-
No face of thine he gladden'd, but thy foe's!
Light gilt thy temples—shone thy streets among,
But could not cheer one heart amidst thy throng!
It show'd thy turrets glittering in the sky,
But scarcely beam'd on one according eye!
They saw it paint thy glories but to show
How rich a prize would there reward the foe:
For those no longer free-no day is bright,-
To slaves, 'tis but the absence of the night.
Morn shone not now upon thy sails afar,
Nor saw thy legions march to distant war;
But pictur'd, at thy gates, an enemy,
many, many days, to lord it over thee.
It shew'd the remnant of thy mighty men,
Like hunted lions chas'd into their den;
Beneath thy walls repos'd thy lessen'd fleet,
A feeble guard for thee, with no retreat
By which to launch into the boundless main,
And, ev'n though thou badst fallen, spurn the chain.
That morn shone out on glittering lines of arms,
And soon was heard the din, the loud alarms,
That burst upon the air on every side,
And rolld in dying murmurs o'er the tide.
That day beheld the foe his works begin,
From whence to hurl the bolts on those within :
They spread their bulwarks, rear'd their mounds on highi,
From whence to launch their thunders through the sky;
To flash their fires on that protecting wall,
And beat those towers till in one wreck they fall;
many a deadly gun was planted there,
Whose crashing balls would cleave th' exploding air;
To scatter deaih those battlements along,
And with a blast of lightning smite the strong.
That new and fearful power, that now had chang'd
The face of war, in wide destruction ranged;
Laid ranks of warriors prostrate in the grave;
Levelling alike the timid and the brave :
To whose dread thunder strongest cities yield,
That tower, nor wall, nor ditch, could longer shield;
Before whose fiery vengeance man and steed
Are swept away, and die ere scarce they bleed!
In earlier times the feather'd arrow fled,
Whose shaft had power to strike the distant dead;
But whether wing'd for death by living arm,
Or by an engine's mightier power to harm,
Compared witht his 'twas but a breath of wind,
passes by, and leaves no wreck behind :
Oft from the armed breast it bounded back-
And oft fell idly short upon its track
Here mail is useless--distance scarce can save-
And forms just seen are dash'd into the grave.
The fight was then not deem'd begun, till steel
Had reach'd the heart, and ranks began to reel:
So close they came--the eyes seem'd flashing fire-
And from the lips the breath rush'd hot with ire!
But now-before the features came in view
The hostile hand its distant victim slew :
And few could know, amidst the scatter'd dead,
Which perish'd by the bolts their hands had sped.
And but for this, armipotent in blood,
Perchance Constantinople still had stood;
Had seen those baffled, wearied hosts, retreat;
And stood earth's pride, religion's holy seat:
And taught by suffering wiser paths to tread,
Preserved the crown on her imperial head.
Now burst the wrath on that devoted wall!
And from one giant gun there came a ball
So vast, that human strength had toil'd in vain,
To roll it onward o'er the level plain!
Whene'er it struck-the city heard the sound,
And shook as though an earthquake rock'd the ground,
By those who in its trembling circle dwelt,
Those shocks like death-blows on the heart were felt:
They seem'd to speak a summons from the tomb;
The knell of an approaching, awful doom.
But where bad slept their energies, the while
The foe without pursued his threatening toil?
Had they beheld, with apathetic eyes,
His cannon planted and his batteries rise ?
Had they no thunders they could launch around,
To dasb his works in wreck along the ground-
To scatter death 'midst bands that toild in vain,
And strew his guns dismounted on the plain?
But now his artificial hills had grown
So strong, so high--they scarce could be o’erthrown:
High as the city's battlements they tower'd,
And from their summits flights of missiles showerd,
Gall'd the besieged where'er they canie in view,
And thinn'd the ranks already far too few.
So near they were, that they might almost throw
The dart--and see it reeking in the foe.
The shatter'd battlements with dead were strew'd,
Cover'd with mangled limbs, with blood embrued;
And fragments of the wall, that flew around,
As fatal as the balls themselves were found;
Slaying their own defenders as they spread,
And crimson'd with the blood that they had shed.
Th' incessant bolts that niighty cannon seut, To soon their passage through the wall had rent; And now the yawning breach appears to show A fatal entrance for the ready foe, Who rushes on, but finds his hopes betray'd, And leaves his foremost ranks in slaughter laid. Wherever danger calld, the Emperor flew, And, cheer'd by his example, thousands drew Around the breach, like him devoid of fear, To aid – to save him-or to perish near. Each gap they close as if by magic hand; And see their baffled foes astonish'd standThen turn unwilling from the spoil in view, To breathe their vengeance, and their toils renew.
And there was one, the foremost of the brave, Who strove that glorious seat of power to save ; Justiniani, who from Genoa came, Burning to conquer an immortal name; Who there with more than man appeared to vie, And filled with wonder each admiring eye; As if he would eclipse the fame of all Who ever fought to triumph or to fall. More zeal, more valour, he could ne'er have shown, Had that imperial city been his own; Or had he there first drawn the vital breath, There tomb'd his father in the sleep of death ; And never known beyond its bounds to roam, His place of joy-his wife and children's home. Nor did he idly from the wall behold The foe encamp'd around, a thousand-foldBut sallying forth, ev'n braved them on the plain, O'erthrew their works, and left a pile of slain : Till his heroic deeds, and martial fame, A source of watchfulness and fear became. And bark! what grating iron bolts reboundThe gates fly open with a jarring sound ! Arranged within, an armed band appears, And lightning flashes from their shining spears! Do they invite the foe? and do they yieldAnd bid him enter there from yonder field? Forbid it glory-freedom! no-behold --They issue forth a nearer strife to hold: