The Abencerrage : Canto I.

Lonely and still are now thy marble halls,
Thou fair Alhambra! there the feast is o'er;
And with the murmur of thy fountain-falls,
Blend the wild tones of minstrelsy no more.

Hushed are the voices that in years gone by
Have mourned, exulted, menaced, through thy towers,
Within thy pillared courts the grass waves high,
And all uncultured bloom thy fairy bowers.

Unheeded there the flowering myrtle blows,
Through tall arcades unmarked the sunbeam smiles,
And many a tint of softened brilliance throws
O'er fretted walls and shining peristyles.

And well might Fancy deem thy fabrics lone,
So vast, so silent, and so wildly fair,
Some charmed abode of beings all unknown,
Powerful and viewless, children of the air.

For there no footstep treads the enchanted ground,
There not a sound the deep repose pervades,
Save winds and founts, diffusing freshness round,
Through the light domes and graceful colonnades.

For other tones have swelled those courts along,
In days romance yet fondly loves to trace;
The clash of arms, the voice of choral song,
The revels, combats, of a vanished race.

And yet awhile, at Fancy's potent call,
Shall rise that race, the chivalrous, the bold;
Peopling once more each fair, forsaken hall,
With stately forms, the knights and chiefs of old.

- The sun declines - upon Nevada's height
There dwells a mellow flush of rosy light;
Each soaring pinnacle of mountain snow
Smiles in the richness of that parting glow,
And Darro's wave reflects each passing dye
That melts and mingles in the empurpled sky.
Fragrance, exhaled from rose and citron bower,
Blends with the dewy freshness of the hour:
Hushed are the winds, and Nature seems to sleep
In light and stillness; wood, and tower, and steep,
Are dyed with tints of glory, only given
To the rich evening of a southern heaven;
Tints of the sun, whose bright farewell is fraught
With all that art hath dreamt, but never caught.
-Yes, Nature sleeps; but not with her at rest
The fiery passions of the human breast.
Hark! from the Alhambra's towers what stormy sound,
Each moment deepening, wildly swells around?
Those are no tumults of a festal throng,
Not the light zambra, nor the choral song:
The combat rages - 'tis the shout of war,
'Tis the loud clash of shield and scimitar.
Within the Hall of Lions, where the rays
Of eve, yet lingering, on the fountain blaze;
There, girt and guarded by his Zegri bands,
And stern in wrath, the Moorish monarch stands;
There the strife centres - swords around him wave;
There bleed the fallen, there contend the brave,
While echoing domes return the battle-cry,
'Revenge and freedom! let the tyrant die!'
And onward rushing, prevailing still,
Court, hall, and tower, the fierce avengers fill.

But first the bravest of that gallant train,
Where foes are mightiest, charging ne'er in vain;
In his red hand the sabre glancing bright,
His dark eye flashing with a fiercer light,
Ardent, untired, scarce conscious that he bleeds,
His Aben-Zurrahs there young Hamet leads;
While swells his voice that wild acclaim on high,
'Revenge and freedom! let the tyrant die!'

Yes! trace the footsteps of the warrior's wrath
By helm and corslet shattered in his path,
And by the thickest harvest of the slain,
And by the marble's deepest crimson stain:
Search through the serried fight, where loudest cries
From triumph, anguish, or despair, arise;
And brightest where the shivering falchions glare,
And where the ground is reddest - he is there.
Yes, that young arm, amidst the Zegri host,
Hath well avenged a sire, a brother, lost.

They perished - not as heroes should have died,
On the red field, in victory's hour of pride,
In all the glow and sunshine of their fame,
And proudly smiling as the death-pang came:
Oh! had they thus expired, a warrior's tear
Had flowed, almost in triumph, o'er their bier.
For thus alone the brave should weep for those
Who brightly pass in glory to repose.
- Not such their fate - a tyrant's stern command
Doomed them to fall by some ignoble hand,
As, with the flower of all their high-born race,
Summoned Abdallah's royal feast to grace,
Fearless in heart, no dream of danger nigh,
They sought the banquet's gilded hall - to die.
Betrayed, unarmed, they fell - the fountain wave
Flowed crimson with the life-blood of the brave,
Till far the fearful tidings of their fate
Through the wide city rang from gate to gate,
And of that lineage each surviving son
Rushed to the scene where vengeance might be won.
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified by Madeleine Quinn

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"The Abencerrage : Canto I." Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 7 Jul 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/13544/the-abencerrage-:-canto-i.>.

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