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"Le roi alla par un autre chemin avec quelques cavaliers. "Le carrosse, où il était, rompit dans la marche; on le remit "à cheval. Pour comble de disgrace, il s'égara pendant la "nuit dans un bois; là, son courage ne pouvant plus suppléer "à ses forces épuisées, les douleurs de sa blessure devenues "plus insupportable par la fatigue, son cheval étant tombé "de lassitude, il se coucha quelques heures au pied d'un "arbre, en danger d'être surpris à tout moment par les "vainqueurs qui le cherchaient de tout côtés."—Voltaire, Histoire de Charles XII. p. 218.
'twas after dread Pultowa's day,
When fortune left the royal Swede, Around a slaughter'd army lay,
No more to combat and to bleed. The power and glory of the war,
Faithless as their vain votaries, men, Had pass'd to the triumphant Czar,
And Moscow's walls were safe again, Until a day more dark and drear, And a more memorable year, Should give to slaughter and to shame A mightier host and haughtier name; A greater wreck, a deeper fall, A shock to one—a thunderbolt to all.
Such was the hazard of the die;
A king must lay his limbs at length.
For which the nations strain their strength?
They laid him by a savage tree,
In out-worn nature's agony;
His wounds were stiff—his limbs were stark—
The heavy hour was chill and dark;
The fever in his blood forbade
A band of chiefs !—alas ! how few,
Since but the fleeting of a day Had thinn'd it; but this wreck was true
And chivalrous: upon the clay Each sate him down, all sad and mute,
Beside his monarch and his steed, For danger levels man and brute,
And all are fellows in their need. Among the rest, Mazeppa made His pillow in an old oak's shade— Himself as rough, and scarce less old, The Ukraine's hetman, calm and bold; But first, outspent with this long course,
The Cossack prince rubb'd down his horse,
And made for him a leafy bed,
And smooth'd his fetlocks and his mane,
And joy'd to see how well he fed;
For until now he had the dread
His wearied courser might refuse
To browze beneath the midnight dews:
But he was hardy as his lord,
And little cared for bed and board;
But spirited and docile too;
Whatever was to be done, would do.
Shaggy and swift, and strong of limb,
All Tartar-like he carried him;
Obey'd his voice, and came at call,
And knew him in the midst of all:
Though thousands were around,—and Night,
Without a star, pursued her flight,—
That steed from sunset until dawn
His chief would follow like a fawn.