Page:The Corsair (Byron).djvu/86

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72
THE CORSAIR.


When every step that echoed by the gate,
Might entering lead where axe and stake await; 1380
When every voice that grated on his ear
Might be the last that he could ever hear;
Could terror tame—that spirit stern and high
Had proved unwilling as unfit to die;
'Twas worn—perhaps decayed—yet silent bore
That conflict deadlier far than all before:
The heat of fight, the hurry of the gale.
Leave scarce one thought inert enough to quail;
But bound and fix'd in fettered solitude,
To pine, the prey of every changing mood; 1390
To gaze on thine own heart—and meditate
Irrevocable faults—and coming fate—
Too late the last to shun—the first to mend—
To count the hours that struggle to thine end,
With not a friend to animate and tell
To other ears that death became thee well;
Around thee foes to forge the ready lie,
And blot life's latest scene with calumny:
Before thee tortures, which the soul can dare,
Yet doubts how well the shrinking flesh may bear; 1400