Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE WANDERER: 1. IN ITALY: ON THE SEA, by EDWARD ROBERT BULWER-LYTTON

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE WANDERER: 1. IN ITALY: ON THE SEA, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Come! Breathe thou soft, or blow thou bold
Last Line: Of elephanta, the red.
Alternate Author Name(s): Meredith, Owen; Lytton, 1st Earl Of; Lytton, Robert
Subject(s): Italy; Sea; Travel; Italians; Ocean; Journeys; Trips

COME! breathe thou soft, or blow thou bold,
Thy coming be it kind or cold,
Thou soul of the heedless ocean wind; --
Little I rede and little I reck,
Though the mast be snapt on the mizzen-deck,
So thou blow her last kiss from my neck,
And her memory from my mind!

Comrades around the mast,
The welkin is o'ercast:
One watch is wellnigh past --
Out of sight of shore at last!

Fade fast, thou falling shore,
With that fair false face of yore,
And the love, and the life, now o'er!
What she sought, that let her have --
The praise of traitor and knave,
The simper of coward and slave,
And the worm that clings and stings --
The knowledge of nobler things.
But here shall the mighty sea
Make moan with my heart in me,
And her name be torn
By the winds in scorn,
In whose march we are moving free.
I am free, I am free, I am free!
Hark! how the wild waves roar!
Hark! how the wild winds rave!
Courage, true hearts and brave,
Whom Fate can afflict no more!

Comrades, the night is long.
I will sing you an ancient song
Of a tale that was told
In the days of old,
Of a Baron blithe and strong, --
High heart and bosom bold,
To strive for the right with wrong!

"Who left his castled home,
When the Cross was raised in Rome,
And swore on his sword
To fight for the Lord,
And the banners of Christendom.
To die or to overcome!

"In hauberk of mail, and helmet of steel,
And armor of proof from head to heel,
O, what is the wound which he shall feel?
And where the foe that shall make him reel?
True knight on whose crest the cross doth shine!
They buckled his harness, brought him his steed --
A stallion black of the land's best breed --
Belted his spurs, and bade him God-speed
'Mid the Paynim in Palestine.
But the wife that he loved, when she poured him up
A last deep health in her golden cup,
Put poison into the wine.

"So he rode till the land he loved grew dim,
And that poison began to work in him, --
A true knight chanting his Christian hymn,
With the cross on his gallant crest.
Eastward, aye, from the waning west,
Toward the land where the bones of the Saviour rest,
And the Battle of God is to win:
With his young wife's picture upon his breast,
And her poisoned wine within.

"Alas! poor knight, poor knight!
He carries the foe he cannot fight
In his own true breast shut up.
He shall die or ever he fight for the Lord,
And his heart be broken before his sword.
He hath pledged his life
To a faithless wife,
In the wine of a poisoned cup!"

Comrade, thy hand in mine!
Pledge me in our last wine,
While all is dark on the brine.
My friend, I reck not now
If the wild night-wind should blow
Our bark beyond the poles: --
To drift through fire or snow,
Out of reach of all we know --
Cold heart, and narrow brow,
Smooth faces, sordid souls!
Lost, like some pale crew
From Ophir, in golden galleys,
On a witch's island! who
Wander the tamarisk alleys,
Where the heaven is blue,
And the ocean too,
That murmurs among the valleys.
"Perisht with all on board!"
So runs the vagrant fame --
Thy wife weds another lord,
My children forget my name,
While we count new stars by night.
Each wanders out of sight
Till the beard on his chin grows white
And scant grow the curls on his head.
One paces the placid hours
In dim enchanted bowers,
By a soft-eyed Panther led
To a magical milk-white bed
Of deep, pale poison-flowers.
With ruined gods one dwells,
In caverns among the fells,
Where, with desolate arms outspread,
A single tree stands dead,
Smitten by savage spells,
And striking a silent dread
From its black and blighted head
Through the horrible, hopeless, sultry dells
Of Elephanta, the Red.

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