Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

X

Then kindled the dark Tyrant in his mood,
And to his brow returned its dauntless gloom;
"And welcome then," he cried, " be blood for blood,
For treason treachery, for dishonour doom!
Yet will I know whence come they, or by whom.
Show, for thou canst-give forth the fated key,
And guide me, Priest, to that mysterious room,
Where, if aught true in old tradition be,
His nation's future fates a Spanish King shall see.'

ΧΙ

"Ill-fated Prince! recall the desperate word,
Or pause ere yet the omen thou obey!
Bethink, yon spell-bound portal would afford
Never to former Monarch entrance-way;
Nor shall it ever ope, old records say,
Save to a King, the last of all his line,
What time his empire totters to decay,

[ocr errors]

And treason digs, beneath, her fatal mine,
And, high above, impends avenging wrath divine."-

XII

-"Prelate! a Monarch's fate brooks no delay!
Lead on!"-The ponderous key the old man took,
And held the winking lamp, and led the way
By winding stair, dark aisle, and secret nook,
Then on an ancient gateway bent his look;
And, as the key the desperate King essayed,
Low muttered thunders the Cathedral shook,

And twice he stopped, and twice new effort made, Till the huge bolts rolled back, and the loud hinges brayed.

XIII

Long, large, and lofty, was that vaulted hall;

Roof, walls, and floor, were all of marble stone,

Of polished marble, black as funeral pall,

Carved o'er with signs and characters unknown.

i The transition of an incident from history to tradition, and from tradition to fable and romance, becoming more marvellous at each step from its original simplicity, is not ill exemplified in the account of the "Fated Chamber" of Don Roderick, as given by his namesake, the historian of Toledo, contrasted with subsequent and more romantic accounts of the same subterranean discovery.

About the term of the expulsion of the Moors from Granada, we find, in the " Historia Verdadeyra del Rey Don Rodrigo," a (pre tended) translation from the Arabic of the sage Alcayde Abulcacim Tarif Abentarique, a legend which puts to shame the modesty of the historian Roderick, with his chest and prophetic picture. The custom of ascribing a pretended Moorish original to these legendary histories, is ridiculed by Cervantes, who affects to translate the History of the Knight of the Woeful figure, from the Arabic of the sage Cid Hamet Benengeli.

A paly light, as of the dawning, shone

Through the sad bounds, but whence they could not spy; For window to the upper air was none;

Yet, by that light, Don Roderick could descry Wonders that ne'er till then were seen by mortal eye.

XIV

Grim sentinels, against the upper wall,

Of molten bronze, two Statues held their place; Massive their naked limbs, their stature tall, Their frowning foreheads golden circles grace. Moulded they seemed for kings of giant race,

That lived and sinned before the avenging flood; This grasped a scythe, that rested on a mace;

This spread his wings for flight, that pondering stood, Each stubborn seemed and stern, immutable of mood.

XV

Fixed was the right-hand Giant's brazen look
Upon his brother's glass of shifting sand,
As if its ebb he measured by a book,

Whose iron volume loaded his huge hand;
In which was wrote of many a falling land,

Of empires lost, and kings to exile driven;
And o'er that pair their names in scroll expand-
"LO, DESTINY and TIME! to whom by Heaven
The guidance of the earth is for a season given."-

XVI

Even while they read, the sand-glass wastes away;
And, as the last and lagging grains did creep,
That right-hand Giant 'gan his club upsway
As one that startles from a heavy sleep.

Full on the upper wall the mace's sweep

At once descended with the force of thunder,

And hurtling down at once, in crumbled heap,
The marble boundary was rent asunder,

And gave to Roderick's view new sights of fear and wonder.

XVII.

For they might spy, beyond that mighty breach, Realms as of Spain in visioned prospect laid, Castles and towers, in due proportion each, As by some skilful artist's hand portrayed: Here, crossed by many a wild Sierra's shade, And boundless plains that tire the traveller's eye; There, rich with vineyard and with olive-glade, Or deep-embrowned by forests huge and high, Or washed by mighty streams, that slowly murmured by.

XVIII

And here, as erst upon the antique stage

Passed forth the bands of masquers trimly led,

[graphic][merged small][merged small]
« AnteriorContinuar »