Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

II.

THE BIRD AT THE PRISON WINDOW.

A light broke in upon my brain,—
It was the carol of a bird;

It ceased, and then it came again,

The sweetest song ear ever heard,
And mine was thankful till my eyes
Ran over with the glad surprise,
And they that moment could not see
I was the mate of misery;
But then by dull degrees came back
My senses to their wonted track,
I saw the dungeon walls and floor
Close slowly round me as before,
I saw the glimmer of the sun
Creeping as it before had done,
But through the crevice where it came
That bird was perch'd, as fond and tame,
And tamer than upon the tree;
A lovely bird, with azure wings,
And song that said a thousand things,
And seem'd to say them all for me!

I never saw its like before,

I ne'er shall see its likeness more:
It seem'd like me to want a mate,
But was not half so desolate,
And it was come to love me when
None lived to love me so again,

And cheering from my dungeon's brink,
Had brought me back to feel and think.
I know not if it late were free,

Or broke its cage to perch on mine,

But knowing well captivity,

Sweet bird! I could not wish for thine! Or if it were in winged guise,

A visitant from Paradise ;

For-Heaven forgive that thought! the while
Which made me both to weep and smile;
I sometimes deem'd that it might be
My brother's soul come down to me;
But then at last away it flew,
And then 'twas mortal-well I knew,
For he would never thus have flown,

And left me twice so doubly lone,-
Lone-as the corse within its shroud,
Lone as a solitary cloud,

A single cloud on a sunny day,
While all the rest of heaven is clear,
A frown upon the atmosphere,
That hath no business to appear

When skies are blue, and earth is gay.

He is now allowed to walk up and down in his cell, and having made a footing in the wall, he clambers to his window, in order as he tells us

"to bend

"Once more, upon the mountains high,

The quiet of a loving eye."

In the following beautiful lines he describes the view from the "crevice of his prison," with his melancholy feelings on the occasion.

III.

THE CAPTIVE VIEWS NATURE FROM THE WINDOW OF HIS CELL.

I saw them and they were the same,

They were not changed like me in frame;
I saw their thousand years of snow
On high-their wide long lake below,
And the blue Rhone in fullest flow;
I heard the torrents leap aud gush
O'er channel'd rock and broken bush;
1;
I saw the white-wall'd distant town,
And whiter sails go skimming down;
And then there was a little isle,
Which in my very face did smile,
The only one in view;

A small green isle, it seem'd no more,
Scarce broader than my dungeon floor,
But in it there were three tall trees,
And o'er it blew the mountain breeze,
And by it there were waters flowing,
And on it there were young flowers growing,
Of gentle breath and hue.

The fish swam by the castle wall,
And they seem'd joyous each and all;
The eagle rode the rising blast,
Methought he never flew so fast
As then to me he seem'd to fly,
And then new tears came in my eye,
And I felt troubled-and would fain

I had not left my recent chain;
And when I did descend again,
The darkness of my dim abode
Fell on me as a heavy load;

It was as is a new-dug grave,

Closing o'er one we sought to save,-
And yet my glance, too much oppress'd,
Had almost need of such a rest.

The poem concludes with an account of Bonnivard's liberation from the dungeon.

IV.

THE CAPTIVE IS SET FREE.

It might be months, or years, or days,
I kept no count—I took no note,
I had no hope my eyes to raise,

And clear them of their dreary mote;
At last men came to set me free,

I ask'd not why, and reck'd not where,
It was at length the same to me,
Fetter'd or fetterless to be,
I learn'd to love despair.

And thus when they appear'd at last,
And all my bonds aside were cast,
These heavy walls to me had grown
A hermitage and all my own!
And half I felt as they were come
To tear me from a second home:
With spiders I had friendship made,
And watch'd them in their sullen trade,
Had seen the mice by moonlight play,
And why should I feel less than they?
We were all inmates of one place,
And I, the monarch of each race,
Had power to kill-yet, strange to tell!
In quiet we had learn'd to dwell-
My very chains and I grew friends,
So much a long communion tends
To make us what we are :—even I
Regain'd my freedom with a sigh.

[ocr errors]

Byron.

1. Give some account of the Castle of Chillon.

2. How far are the statements in the poem strictly true?

3. What portions are the creations of the poet's fancy?

4. On account of what were Bonnivard and his brothers imprisoned?

5. How were the brothers placed in the dungeon?

6. Which of them died first?

7. Which of them died next?

3. Why was the younger brother so beloved of his father?

9. Describe the gentle decay and grad

ual extinction of the younger brother's life?

10. How did Bonnivard get free from his chain?

11. What liberty was he now allowed? 12. Why did he wish to look from his lonely window?

13. Name the objects he saw when he looked from his cell,

14. What was the effect of this prospect on his mind?

15. With what does the poem conclude? 16. Why was he sorry to leave his dungeon?

XXXIX.-APPROACH OF MACBETH'S FATE.

DUNCAN, grandson of Malcolm the second, a prince of pacific temper and great virtues, ascended the throne in 1033. In king Duncan's time a great fleet of Danes came to Scotland and landed their men in Fife. Macbeth, a near relation of the king, was general of the army,-and he in conjunction with one Banquo, Thane of Lochaber, led the king's forces against the invaders and drove them out of the country. Macbeth was thane of Glammis, a district in Forfarshire, the governors of provinces being at this time in Scotland called Thanes, a title similar to thaf of Earl now. Macbeth and Banquo returning from their victory over the Danes were met by three old women in a great heath or moor near Forres, a town in Morayshire, who waited till Macbeth came forward, when the first woman said,-"All hail, Macbeth.hail to thee, Thare of Glammis,"-the second said, "All hail, Macbeth.-hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor,"-the third said, "Ail hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king of Scotland."-These three old women were considered, in the town of Forres, where they lived, to be witches, and able to tell what was going to come to pass. Nobody would believe such folly now-a-days surely; but in those early days even great men such as Macbeth gave heed to it. It would seem that the old women, seeing that they were respected and feared, endeavoured to impose upon people by pretending to tell what was going to happen to them, in order to get presents for so doing. Just as Macbeth left the old women, word was brought him that his father was dead, so that he was now Thane of Glammis by inheritance, and also that the king had made him Thane of Cawdor, for his valuable services in the war. Macbeth thus seeing part of their words come to pass, began to think how he was to make himself King, as well as Thane of Glammis and Cawdor. Macbeth's wife, whose name was Gruoch, an ambitious and wicked woman, urged him to slay Duncan the king, now an old man. Accordingly Macbeth invited the king to his great castle near Inverness, and during the night, when a dreadful storm was raging, he entered the king's bedroom and killed the old man. Macbeth thus seized the sceptre, which he held with a vigorous grasp for fifteen years. At the end of that time prince Malcolm the son of Duncan, and Macduff Thane of Fife, obtained help from the English king and led an army against the tyrant, who was now within the castle of Dunsinane, a strong fortress near Perth, where he imagined he was quite safe, as the three old women had told him that no one would kill him till Birnam wood should come to Dunsinane,-that wood being at a distance of some miles from the castle. When the English were about to march across the broad valley to Macbeth's castle, Macduff advised each soldier to cut down a bough of a tree and carry it in his hand in order that the enemy might not know their number. When the tyrant saw the appearance of a forest coming from Birnam, he lost courage and his followers deserted him. He sallied forth at the head of the few followers who remained faithful to him, and was killed fighting hand to hand with Macduff,-1054.

[blocks in formation]

Macb. Hang out our banners on the outward walls:

The cry is still, They come : Our castle's strength
Will laugh a siege to scorn: here let them lie,
Till famine, and the ague, eat them up:

Were they not forc'd with those that should be ours,
We might have met them dareful, beard to beard,
And beat them backward home. What is that noise?
Sey. It is the cry of women, my good lord.

Macb. I have almost forgot the taste of fears.
The time has been, my senses would have cool'd
To hear a night-shriek; and my fell of hair
Would at a dismal treatise rouse, and stir

As life were in't: I have supp'd full with horrors;
Direness, familiar to my slaught'rous thoughts,
Cannot once start me. Wherefore was that cry?
Sey. The queen, my lord, is dead.

Macb. She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Enter a MESSENGER.

Thou com'st to use thy tongue; thy story quickly.

Mess. My lord,

I shall report that which I say I saw,

But know not how to do it.

Macb. Well, say, sir.

Mess. As I did stand my watch upon the hill, I look'd toward Birnam, and anon methought The wood began to move.

Macb. Liar, and slave!

Striking.

Mess. Let me endure your wrath, if't be not so:
Within this three mile may you see it coming;
I say, a moving grove.

Macb. If thou speak'st false,

Upon the next tree shalt thou hang alive,

Till famine cling thee: if thy speech be sooth,
I care not if thou dost for me as much.

I pull in resolution; and begin

« AnkstesnisTęsti »