Page:Pieces People Ask For.djvu/61

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51
THE READING-CLUB.

A few brief years, then rot unnamed beneath it;
Or, decked for slaughter at their master's call,
To smite, and to be smitten, and lie crushed
In heaps to swell his glory or his shame?
Answer to them? No! though my heart had burst,
As it was nigh to bursting! To the mountains
I fled, and on their pinnacles of snow
Breasted the icy wind, in hope to cool
My spirit's fever; struggled with the oak
In search of weariness, and learned to rive
Its stubborn boughs, till limbs once lightly strung
Might mate in cordage with its infant stems;
Or on the sea-beat rock tore off the vest
Which burnt upon my bosom, and to air
Headlong committed, clove the water's depth
Which plummet never sounded,—but in vain.
Ion. Yet succor came to thee?
Ad. A blessed one!
Which the strange magic of thy voice revives,
And thus unlocks my soul. My rapid steps
Were in a wood-encircled valley stayed
By the bright vision of a maid, whose face
Most lovely, more than loveliness revealed
In touch of patient grief, which dearer seemed
Than happiness to spirit seared like mine.
With feeble hands she strove to lay in earth
The body of her aged sire, whose death
Left her alone. I aided her sad work;
And soon two lonely ones by holy rites
Became one happy being. Days, weeks, months,
In streamlike unity flowed silent by us
In our delightful nest. My father's spies—
Slaves, whom my nod should have consigned to stripes
Or the swift falchion—tracked our sylvan home,
Just as my bosom knew its second joy,
And, spite of fortune, I embraced a son.
Ion. Urged by thy trembling parents to avert
That dreadful prophecy.
Ad. Fools! did they deem
Its worst accomplishment could match the ill
Which they wrought on me ? It had left unharmed
A thousand ecstasies of passioned years,
Which, tasted once, live ever, and disdain