The Missionary. Canto Sixth
The City of Conception, The City of Penco, Castle, Lautaro, Wild Indian Maid, Zarinel, Missionary.
The second moon had now begun to wane,
Since bold Valdivia left the southern plain;
Goal of his labours, Penco's port and bay,
Far gleaming to the summer sunset lay.
The wayworn veteran, who had slowly passed
Through trackless woods, or o'er savannahs vast,
With hope impatient sees the city spires
Gild the horizon, like ascending fires.
Now well-known sounds salute him, as more near
The citadel and battlements appear;
The approaching trumpets ring at intervals;
The trumpet answers from the rampart walls,
Where many a maiden casts an anxious eye,
Some long-lost object of her love to espy,
Or watches, as the evening light illumes
The points of lances, or the passing plumes.
The grating drawbridge and the portal-arch,
Now echo to the long battalion's march;
Whilst every eye some friend remembered greets,
Amid the gazing crowd that throngs the streets.
As bending o'er his mule, amid the throng,
Pensive and pale, Anselmo rode along,
How sacred, 'mid the noise of arms, appeared
His venerable mien and snowy beard!
Whilst every heart a silent prayer bestowed,
Slow to the convent's massy gate he rode:
Around, the brothers, gratulating, stand,
And ask for tidings of the southern land.
As from the turret tolls the vesper bell,
He seeks, a weary man, his evening cell,
No sounds of social cheer, no beds of state,
Nor gorgeous canopies his coming wait;
But o'er a little bread, with folded hands,
Thanking the God that gave, a while he stands;
Then, while all thoughts of earthly sorrow cease,
Upon his pallet lays him down in peace.
The scene how different, where the castle-hall
Rings to the loud triumphant festival:
A hundred torches blaze, and flame aloof,
Long quivering shadows streak the vaulted roof,
Whilst, seen far off, the illumined windows throw
A splendour on the shore and seas below.
Amid his captains, in imperial state,
Beneath a crimson canopy, elate,
Valdivia sits, and, striking loud the strings,
The wandering ministrel of Valentia sings.
For Chili conquered, fill the bowl again!
For Chili conquered, raise the heroic strain!
Lautaro left the hall of jubilee
Unmarked, and wandered by the moonlit sea:
He heard far off, in dissonant acclaim,
The song, the shout, and his loved country's name.
As swelled at times the trump's insulting sound,
He raised his eyes impatient from the ground;
Then smote his breast indignantly, and cried,
Chili! my country; would that I had died
On the sad night of that eventful day
When on the ground my murdered father lay!
I should not then, dejected and alone,
Have thought I heard his injured spirit groan.
Ha! was it not his form, his face, his hair?
Hold, soldier! stern, inhuman soldier, spare!
Ha! is it not his blood? Avenge, he cries,
Avenge, my son, these wounds! He faints, he dies!
Leave me, dread shadow! Can I then forget
My father's look, his voice? He beckons yet!
Now on that glimmering rock I see him stand:
Avenge! he cries, and waves his dim-seen hand!
Thus mused the youth, distempered and forlorn,
When, hark! the sound as of a distant horn
Swells o'er the surge! he turned his look around,
And still, with many a pause, he heard the sound:
It came from yonder rocks; and, list! what strain
Breaks on the silence of the sleeping main?
I heard the song of gladness;
It seemed but yesterday,
But it turned my thoughts to madness,
So soon it died away:
I sound my sea-shell; but in vain I try
To bring back that enchanting harmony!
Hark! heard ye not the surges say,
Oh! heartless maid, what canst thou do?
O'er the moon-gleaming ocean, I'll wander away,
And paddle to Spain in my light canoe!
The youth drew near, by the strange accents led,
Where in a cave, wild sea-weeds round her head,
And holding a large sea-conch in her hand,
He saw, with wildering air, an Indian maiden stand.
A tattered poncho o'er her shoulders hung;
On either side her long black locks were flung;
And now by the moon's glimmer, he espies
Her high cheek-bones, and bright but hollow eyes.
Lautaro spoke: Oh! say what cruel wrong
Weighs on thy heart, maiden, what bodes thy song?
She answered not, but blew her shell again;
Then thus renewed the desultory strain:
Yes, yes, we must forget! the world is wide;
My music now shall be the dashing tide:
In the calm of the deep I will frolic and swim,
With the breath of the South o'er the sea-blossom skim.
If ever, stranger, on thy way,
Sounds, more than earthly sweet, thy soul should move,
It is the youth! Oh! do not say,
That poor Olola died for love.
Lautaro stretched his hand; she said, Adieu!
And o'er the glimmering rocks like lightning flew.
He followed, and still heard at distance swell
The lessening echoes of that mournful shell.
It ceased at once; and now he heard no more
Than the sea's murmur dying on the shore.
Olola! ha! his sister had that name!
Oh, horrid fancies! shake not thus his frame!
All night he wandered by the desert main,
To catch the melancholy sounds again.
No torches blaze in Penco's castled hall
That echoed to the midnight festival.
The weary soldiers by their toils oppressed,
Had now retired to silence and to rest.
The minstrel only, who the song had sung
Of noble Cid, as o'er the strings he hung,
Upon the instrument had fall'n asleep,
Weary, and now was hushed in slumbers deep.
Tracing the scenes long past, in busy dreams
Again he wanders by his native streams;
Or sits, his evening saraband to sing
To the clear Garonne's gentle murmuring.
Cold o'er the fleckered clouds the morning broke
Aslant ere from his slumbers he awoke;
Still as he sat, nor yet had left the place,
The first dim light fell on his pallid face.
He wakes, he gazes round, the dawning day
Comes from the deep, in garb of cloudy gray.
The woods with crow of early turkeys ring,
The glancing birds beneath the castle sing,
And the sole sun his rising orb displays,
Radiant and reddening, through the scattered haze.
To recreate the languid sense a while,
When earth and ocean wore their sweetest smile,
He wandered to the beach: the early air
Blew soft, and lifted, as it blew, his hair;
Flushed was his cheek; his faded eye, more bright,
Shone with a faint but animated light,
While the soft morning ray seemed to bestow
On his tired mind a transient kindred glow.
As thus, with shadow stretching o'er the sand,
He mused and wandered on the winding strand,
At distance tossed upon the tumbling tide,
A dark and floating substance he espied.
He stood, and where the eddying surges beat,
An Indian corse was rolled beneath his feet:
The hollow wave retired with sullen sound;
The face of that sad corse was to the ground;
It seemed a female, by the slender form;
He touched the hand, it was no longer warm;
He turned its face, O God! that eye, though dim,
Seemed with its deadly glare as fixed on him!
How sunk his shuddering sense, how changed his hue,
When poor Olola in that corse he knew!
Lautaro, rushing from the rocks, advanced;
His keen eye, like a startled eagle's glanced:
'Tis she! he knew her by a mark impressed
From earliest infancy beneath her breast.
Oh, my poor sister! when all hopes were past
Of meeting, do we meet, thus meet, at last!
Then full on Zarinel, as one amazed,
With rising wrath and stern suspicion gazed;
For Zarinel still knelt upon the sand,
And to his forehead pressed the dead maid's hand.
Speak! whence art thou?
Pale Zarinel, his head
Peace is with the dead!
Him dost thou seek who injured thine and thee?
Here,strike the fell assassin, I am he!
Die! he exclaimed, and with convulsive start
Instant had plunged the dagger in his heart,
When the meek father, with his holy book,
And placid aspect, met his frenzied look.
He trembled, struck his brow, and, turning round,
Flung the uplifted dagger to the ground.
Then murmured: Father, Heaven has heard thy prayer,
But oh! the sister of my soul lies there!
The Christian's God has triumphed! father, heap
Some earth upon her bones, whilst I go weep!
Anselmo with calm brow approached the place,
And hastened with his staff his faltering pace:
Ho! child of guilt and wretchedness, he cried,
Speak! Holy father, the sad youth replied,
God bade the seas the accusing victim roll
Dead at my feet, to teach my shuddering soul
Its guilt: Oh! father, holy father, pray
That heaven may take the deep, dire curse away!
Oh! yet, Anselmo cried, live and repent,
For not in vain was this dread warning sent;
The deep reproaches of thy soul I spare,
Go! seek Heaven's peace by penitence and prayer.
The youth arose, yet trembling from the shock,
And severed from the dead maid's hair a lock;
This to his heart with trembling hand he pressed,
And dried the salt-sea moisture on his breast.
They laid her limbs within the sea-beat grave,
And prayed: Her soul, O blessed Mary, save!