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The lists are oped, the spacious area clear’d,
Thousands on thousands piled are seated round;
Long ere the first loud trumpet's note is heard,
Ne vacant space for lated wight is found:
Here dons, grandees, but chiefly dames abound,
Skill'd in the ogle of a roguish eye,
Yet ever well inclined to heal the wound;
None through their cold disdain are doom'd to die, As moon-struck bards complain, by Love's sad archery.
Hush'd is the din of tongues-on gallant steeds,
With milk-white crest, gold spur, and light-poised lance,
Four cavaliers prepare for venturous deeds,
And lowly bending to the lists advance ;
Rich are their scarfs, their chargers featly prance :
If in the dangerous game they shine to-day,
The crowd's loud shout and ladies' lovely glance,
Best prize of better acts, they bear away,
And all that kings or chiefs e'er gain their toils repay.
In costly sheen and gaudy cloak array'd,
But all afoot, the light-limb’d Matadore
Stands in the centre, eager to invade
The lord of lowing herds ; but not before
The ground, with cautious tread, is traversed o’er,
Lest aught unseen should lurk to thwart his speed :
His arms a dart, he fights aloof, nor more
Can man achieve without the friendly steed-
Alas! too oft condemn’d for him to bear and bleed.
Thrice sounds the clarion ; lo! the signal falls,
The den expands, and Expectation mute
Gapes round the silent circle's peopled walls.
Bounds with one lashing spring the mighty brute,
And, wildly staring, spurns, with sounding foot,
The sand, nor blindly rushes on his foe':
Here, there, he points his threatening front, to suit
His first attack, wide waving to and fro
His angry tail ; red rolls his eye's dilated glow.
Sudden he stops ; his eye is fix'd: away,
Away, thou heedless boy! prepare the spear :
Now is thy time, to perish, or display
The skill that yet may check his mad career.
With well-timed croupe the nimble coursers veer;
On foams the bull, but not unscathed he goes;
Streams from his flank the crimson torrent clear :
He flies, he wheels, distracted with his throes ; Dart follows dart; lance, lance; loud bellowings speak his woes.
Again he comes ; nor dart nor lance avail,
Nor the wild plunging of the tortured horse ;
Though man and man's avenging arms assail,
Vain are his weapons, vainer is his force.
One gallant steed is stretch'd a mangled corse;
Another, hideous sight! unseam'd appears,
His gory chest unveils life's panting source;
Though death-struck, still his feeble frame he rears ; Staggering, but stemming all, his lord unharm’d he bears.
Full in the centre stands the bull at bay,
Mid wounds, and clinging darts, and lances brast,
And foes disabled in the brutal fray:
And now the Matadores around him play,
Shake the red cloak, and poise the ready brand :
Once more through all he bursts his thundering way-
Vain rage! the mantle quits the conynge hand,
Wraps his fierce eye—'tis past—he sinks upon the sand !
Where his vast neck just mingles with the spine,
Sheathed in his form the deadly weapon lies.
He stops-he starts—disdaining to decline:
Slowly he falls, amidst triumphant cries,
Without a groan, without a struggle dies.
The decorated car appears-on high
The corse is piled-sweet sight for vulgar eyes-
Four steeds that spurn the rein, as swift as shy,
Hurl the dark bulk along, scarce seen in dashing by.
Such the ungentle sport that oft invites
The Spanish maid, and cheers the Spanish swain.
Nurtured in blood betimes, his heart delights
In vengeance, gloating on another's pain.
What private feuds the troubled village stain !
Though now one phalanx'd host should meet the foc,
Enough, alas ! in humble homes remain,
To meditate ’gainst friends the secret blow, For some slight cause of wrath, whence life’s warm stream must flow.
But Jealousy has fled: his bars, his bolts,
His wither'd sentinel, Duenna sage!
And all whereat the generous soul revolts,
Which the stern dotard deem'd he could encage,
Have pass’d to darkness with the vanish'd age.
Who late so free as Spanish girls were seen,
(Ere War uprose in his volcanic rage),
With braided tresses bounding o’er the green,
While on the gay dance shone Night's lover-loving Queen?
Oh! many a time, and oft, had Harold loved,
Or dream'd he loved, since Rapture is a dream ;
But now his wayward bosom was unmoved,
For not yet had he drunk of Lethe's stream ;
And lately had he learn’d with truth to deem
Love has no gift so grateful as his wings:
How fair, how young, how soft soe'er he seem,
Full from the fount of Joy's delicious springs,
Some bitter o’er the flowers its bubbling venom flings.
Yet to the beauteous form he was not blind,
Though now it moved him as it moves the wise ;
Not that Philosophy on such a mind
E’er deign’d to bend her chastely-awful eyes :
But Passion raves herself to rest, or flies;
And Vice, that digs her own voluptuous tomb,
Had buried long his hopes, no more to rise:
Pleasure's pallid victim ! life-abhorring gloom
Wrote on his faded brow curst Cain's unresting doom.
LXXXIV. Still he beheld, nor mingled with the throng; But view'd them not with misanthropic hate : Fain would he now have join’d the dance, the song ; But who may smile that sinks beneath his fate? Nought that he saw his sadness could abate : Yet once he struggled 'gainst the demon's sway, And as in Beauty's bower he pensive sate,
Pour'd forth this unpremeditated lay, To charms as fair as those that soothed his happier day.