Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 3.djvu/283

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CANTO II.]
251
THE CORSAIR.


While dance the Almas[1] to wild minstrelsy.
The rising morn will view the chiefs embark;
But waves are somewhat treacherous in the dark:
And revellers may more securely sleep
On silken couch than o'er the rugged deep:
Feast there who can—nor combat till they must,
And less to conquest than to Korans trust;
And yet the numbers crowded in his host
Might warrant more than even the Pacha's boast. 650


III.

With cautious reverence from the outer gate
Slow stalks the slave, whose office there to wait,
Bows his bent head—his hand salutes the floor,
Ere yet his tongue the trusted tidings bore:
"A captive Dervise, from the Pirate's nest
Escaped, is here—himself would tell the rest."[2]
He took the sign from Seyd's assenting eye,
And led the holy man in silence nigh.
His arms were folded on his dark-green vest,
His step was feeble, and his look deprest; 660
Yet worn he seemed of hardship more than years,
And pale his cheek with penance, not from fears.
Vowed to his God—his sable locks he wore,
And these his lofty cap rose proudly o'er:

  1. Dancing girls. [Compare The Waltz, line 127, Poetical Works, 1898, i. 492, note I.]
  2. It has been observed, that Conrad's entering disguised as a spy is out of nature. Perhaps so. I find something not unlike it in history.—"Anxious to explore with his own eyes the state of the Vandals, Majorian ventured, after disguising the colour of his hair, to visit Carthage in the character of his own ambassador; and Genseric was afterwards mortified by the discovery, that he had entertained and dismissed the Emperor of the Romans. Such an anecdote may be rejected as an improbable fiction; but it is a fiction which would not have been imagined unless in the life of a hero."—See Gibbon's Decline and Fall [1854, iv. 272.]