The Missionary - Canto Eighth

The morn returns, and, reddening, seems to shed
One ray of glory on the patriot-dead.
Round the dark stone, the victor-chiefs behold!
Still on their locks the gouts of gore hang cold!
There stands the brave Caupolican, the pride
Of Chili, young Lautaro, by his side!
Near the grim circle, pendent from the wood,
Twelve hundred Spanish heads are dripping blood.
Shrill sound the notes of death: in festive dance,
The Indian maids with myrtle boughs advance;
The tinkling sea-shells on their ancles ring,
As, hailing thus the victor-youth, they sing:--

SONG OF INDIAN MAIDS.

Oh, shout for Lautaro, the young and the brave!
The arm of whose strength was uplifted to save,
When the steeds of the strangers came rushing amain,
And the ghosts of our fathers looked down on the slain!

'Twas eve, and the noise of the battle was o'er,
Five thousand brave warriors were cold in their gore;
When, in front, young Lautaro invincible stood,
And the horses and iron-men rolled in their blood!

As the snows of the mountain are swept by the blast,
The earthquake of death o'er the white men has passed;
Shout, Chili, in triumph! the battle is won,
And we dance round the heads that are black in the sun!

Lautaro, as if wrapt in thought profound,
Oft turned an anxious look inquiring round.
He is not here!--Say, does my father live?
Ere eager voices could an answer give,
With faltering footsteps and declining head,
And slowly by an aged Indian led,
Wounded and weak the mountain chief appears:
Live, live! Lautaro cried, with bursting tears,
And fell upon his neck, and, kissing, pressed,
With folding arms, his gray hairs to his breast.
Oh, live! I am thy son--thy long-lost child!
The warrior raised his look, and faintly smiled;
Chili, my country, is avenged! he cried:
My son!--then sunk upon a shield--and died.
Lautaro knelt beside him, as he bowed,
And kissed his bleeding breast, and wept aloud.
The sounds of sadness through the circle ran,
When thus, with lifted axe, Caupolican:
What, for our fathers, brothers, children, slain,
Canst thou repay, ruthless, inhuman Spain?
Here, on the scene with recent slaughter red,
To sooth the spirits of the brave who bled,
Raise we, to-day, the war-feast of the dead.
Bring forth the chief in bonds! Fathers, to-day
Devote we to our gods the noblest prey!
Lautaro turned his eyes, and, gazing round,
Beheld Valdivia and Anselmo bound!
One stood in arms, as with a stern despair,
His helmet cleft in twain, his temples bare,
Where streaks of blood that dropped upon his mail,
Served but to show his face more deadly pale:
His eyebrows, dark and resolute, he bent,
And stood, composed, to wait the dire event.
Still on the cross his looks Anselmo cast,
As if all thought of this vain world was passed,
And in a world of light, without a shade,
Ev'n now his meek and guileless spirit strayed.
Where stood the Spanish chief, a muttering sound
Rose, and each club was lifted from the ground;
When, starting from his father's corse, his sword
Waving before his once-triumphant lord,
Lautaro cried, My breast shall meet the blow:
But save--save him, to whom my life I owe!
Valdivia marked him with unmoving eye,
Then looked upon his bonds, nor deigned reply;
When Harratomac, stealing with slow pace,
And lifting high his iron-jagged mace,
Smote him to earth; a thousand voices rose,
Mingled with shouts and yells, So fall our foes!
Lautaro gave to tears a moment's space,
As black in death he marked Valdivia's face,
Then cried--Chiefs, friends, and thou, Caupolican,
Oh, spare this innocent and holy man!
He never sailed, rapacious, o'er the deep,
The gold of blood-polluted lands to heap;
He never gave the armed hosts his aid,
But meekly to the Mighty Spirit prayed,
That in all lands the sounds of woe might cease,
And brothers of the wide world dwell in peace!
The victor-youth saw generous sympathy
Already steal to every warrior's eye;
Then thus again: Oh, if this filial tear
Bear witness my own father was most dear;
If this uplifted arm, this bleeding steel
Speak for my country what I felt and feel;
If, at this hour, I meet her high applause,
While my heart beats still ardent in her cause;--
Hear, and forgive these tears that grateful flow,
Oh! hear, how much to this poor man I owe!
I was a child--when to my sire's abode,
In Chillan's vale, the armed horsemen rode:
Me, whilst my father cold and breathless lay,
Far off the crested soldiers bore away,
And for a captive sold. No friend was near,
To mark a young and orp
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"The Missionary - Canto Eighth" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 19 Jun 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/40950/the-missionary---canto-eighth>.

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