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The cunning skill, the curious arts,
The glorious strength that youth imparts
In life's first stage;
These shall become a heavy weight,
When Time swings wide his outward gate
To weary age.
The noble blood of Gothic name,
Heroes emblazoned high to fame,
In long array;
How, in the onward course of time,
The landmarks of that race sublime
Were swept away!
Some, the degraded slaves of lust,
Prostrate and trampled in the dust,
Shall rise no more ;
Others, by guilt and crime, maintain
The scutcheon, that, without a stain,
Their fathers bore.
Wealth and the high estate of pride,
With what untimely speed they glide,
How soon depart!
Bid not the shadowy phantoms stay,
The vassals of a mistress they,
Of fickle heart.
These gifts in Fortune's hands are found;
Her swift revolving wheel turns round,
And they are gone!
No rest the inconstant goddess knows,
But changing, and without repose,
Still hurries on.
Even could the hand of avarice save
Its gilded baubles, till the grave
Reclaimed its prey,
Let none on such poor hopes rely;
Life, like an empty dream, flits by,
And where are they?
Earthly desires and sensual lust
Are passions springing from the dust, ---
They fade and die
But, in the life beyond the tomb,
They seal the immortal spirit's doom
The pleasures and delights, which mask
In treacherous smiles life's serious task,
What are they, all,
But the fleet coursers of the chase,
And death an ambush in the race,
Wherein we fall ?
No foe, no dangerous pass, we heed,
Brook no delay,--but onward speed
With loosened rein;
And, when the fatal snare is near,
We strive to check our mad career,
But strive in vain.
Could we new charms to age impart,
And fashion with a cunning art
The human face,
As we can clothe the soul with light,
And make the glorious spirit bright
With heavenly grace,
How busily each passing hour
Should we exert that magic power.
What ardor show,
To seck the sensual slave of sin,
Yet leave the freeborn soul within,
In weeds of woe!
Monarchs, the powerful and the strong, Famous in history and in song
Of olden time,
Saw, by the stern decrees of fate,
Their kingdoms lost, and desolate
Their race sublime.
Who is the champion ? who the strong?
Pontiff and priest, and sceptred throng?
On these shall fall
As heavily the hand of Death,
As when it stays the shepherd's breath
Beside his stall.
I speak not of the Trojan name,
Neither its glory nor its shame
Has met our eyes;
Nor of Rome's great and glorious dead,
Though we have heard so oft, and read,
Little avails it now to know
Of ages passed so long ago,
Nor how they rolled;
Our theme shall be of yesterday,
Which to oblivion sweeps away,
Like days of old.
Where is the King, Don Juan? Where
Each royal prince
and noble heir
Where are the courtly gallantries ?
The deeds of love and high emprise,
In battle done ?
Tourney and joust, that charmed the eye,
And scarf, and gorgeous panoply,
And nodding plume,-
What were they but a pageant scene ?
What but the garlands, gay and green,
That deck the tomb ?
Where are the high-born dames, and where
Their gay attire, and jewelled hair,
And odors sweet ?
Where are the gentle knights, that came
To kneel, and breathe love's ardent flame,
Low at their feet?
Where is the song of Troubadour ?
Where are the lute and gay tambour
They loved of yore?
Where is the mazy dance of old,
The flowing robes, inwrought with gold,
The dancers wore ?
And he who next the sceptre swayed,
Henry, whose royal court displayed
Such power and pride;
0, in what winning smiles arrayed,
The world its various pleasures laid
His throne beside!
But O! how false and full of guile
That world, which wore so. soft a smile
But to betray!
She, that had been his friend before,
Now from the fated monarch tore
Her charms away.
The countless gifts,—the stately walls,
The royal palaces, and halls
All filled with gold;
I'late with armorial bearings wrought,
Chambers with ample treasures fraught
Of wealth untold ;
The noble steeds, and harness bright,
And gallant lord, and stalwart knight,
Where shall we seek therr now? Alas!
Like the bright dewdrops on the grass,
They passed away.
His brother, too, whose factious zeal
Usurped the sceptre of Castile,
Unskilled to reign;
What a gay, brilliant court had he,
When all the flower of chivalry
Was in his train !
But he was mortal; and the breath,
That flamed from the hot forge of Death,
Blasted his years;
Judgment of God! that flame by thee,
When raging fierce and fearfully,
Was quenched in tears!
Spain's haughty Constable, the true
And gallant Master, whom we knew
Most loved of all.
Breathe not a whisper of his pride,-
Ile on the gloomy scaffold died,
The countless treasures of his care,
His hamlets green, and cities fair,
His mighty power,
What were they all but grief and shama,
Tears and a broken heart, when came
The parting hour?
His other brothers, proud and high,
Masters, who, in prosperity,
Might rival kings;
Who made the bravest and the best
The bondsmen of their high behest,
What was their prosperous estate,
When high exalted and elate