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Then this most wretched father went his way
Into the woods that round his castle 'ay,
Where once his daughters in their childhood played
With their young mother in the sun and shade.
Now all the leaves had fallen; the branches bare
Made a perpetual moaning in the air,
And screaming from their eyries overhead
The ravens sailed athwart the sky of lead.
With his own hands he lopped the boughs and bound
Fagots, that crackled with foreboding sound,
And on his mules, caparisoned and gay
With bells and tassels, sent them on their way.
Then with his mind on one dark purpose bent,
Again to the Inquisitor he went,
And said: “Behold the fagots I have brought,
And now, lest my atonement be as nought,
Grant me one more request, one last desire,-
With my own hand to light the funeral fire!"
And Torquemada answered from his seat,
“Son of the Church! thine offering is complete;
Her servants through all ages shall not cease
To magnify thy deed. Depart in peace !"

Upon the market-place, builded of stone
The scaffold rose, whereon Death claimed his own.
At the four corners, in stern attitude,
Four statues of the Hebrew Prophets stood,
Gazing with calm indifference in their eyes
Upon this place of human sacrifice,
Round which was gathering fast the eager crowd,
With clamour of voices dissonant and loud,
And every roof and window was alive
With restless gazers, swarming like a hive.
The church-bells tolled, the chant of monks drew near,
Loud trumpets stammered forth their notes of fear,
A line of torches smoked along the street,
There was a stir, a rush, a tramp of feet,
And, with its banners floating in the air,
Slowly the long procession crossed the square,
And, to the statues of the Prophets bound,
The victims stood, with fagots piled around.
Then all the air a blast of trumpets shook,
And louder sang the monks with bell and book,
And the Hidalgo, lofty, stern, and proud,
Lifted his torch, and, bursting through the crowd,
Lighted in haste the fagots, and then fled,
Lest those imploring eyes should strike him dead!
O pitiless skies! why did your clouds retain
For peasants' fields their floods of hoarded rain ?

O pitiless earth! why opened no abyss
To bury in its chasm a crime like this?
That night, a mingled column of fire and smoke
From the dark thickets of the forest broke,
And, glaring o'er the landscape leagues away,
Made all the fields and hamlets bright as day.
Wrapped in a sheet of flame the castle blazed,
And as the villagers in terror gazed,
They saw the figure of that cruel knight
Lean from a window in the turret's height,
His ghastly face illumined with the glare,
His hands upraised above his head in prayer,
Till the floor sank beneath him, and he fell
Down the black hollow of that burning well.

Three centuries and more above his bones
Have piled the oblivious years like funeral stones;
His name has perished with him, and no trace
Remains on earth of his afflicted race;
But Torquemada's name, with clouds o'ercast,
Looms in the distant landscape of the Past,
Like a burnt tower upon a blackened heath,
Lit by the fires of burning woods beneath !


Thus closed the tale of guilt and “In such a company as this, gloom,

A tale so tragic seems amiss, That cast upon each listener's face That by its terrible control Its shadow, and for some brief space | O'ermasters and drags down the soul Unbroken silence filled the room.

Into a fathomless abyss. The Jew was thoughtful and distressed; The Italian Tales that you disdain, Upon his memory thronged and pressed Some merry Night of Straparole, The persecution of his race,

Or Machiavelli's Belphagor, Their wrongs and sufferings and dis- Would cheer us and delight us more, grace ;

Give greater pleasure and less pain His head was sunk upon his breast, Than your grim tragedies of Spain!" And from his eyes alternate came Flashes of wrath and tears of shame. And here the Poet raised his hand,

With such entreaty and command, The Student first the silence broke, It stopped discussion at its birth, As one who long has laid in wait, And said: “The story I shall tell With purpose to retaliate,

Has meaning in it, if not mirth ; And thus he dealt the avenging Listen, and hear what once befell stroke.

| The merry birds of Killingworth!'


It was the season, when through all the land

The merle and mavis build, and building sing
Those lovely lyrics, written by His hand,

Whom Saxon Cadmon calls the Blithe-heart King; When on the boughs the purple buds expand,

The banners of the vanguard of the Spring,
And rivulets, rejoicing, rush and leap,
And wave their futtering signals from the steep.
The robin and the blue-bird, piping loud,

Filled all the blossoming orchards with their glee;
The sparrows chirped as if they still were proud

Their race in Holy Writ should mentioned be; And hungry crows assembled in a crowd,

Clamoured their piteous prayer incessantly, Knowing who hears the ravens cry, and said : “Give us, O Lord, this day our daily bread!”

Across the Sound the birds of passage sailed,

Speaking some unknown language strange and sweet Of tropic isle remote, and passing hailed

The village with the cheers of all their fleet;
Or, quarrelling together, laughed and railed

Like foreign sailors, landed in the street
Of seaport town, and with outlandish noise
Of oaths and gibberish frightening girls and boys.

Thus came the jocund Spring in Killingworth,

In fabulous days, some hundred years ago; And thrifty farmers, as they tilled the earth,

Heard with alarm the cawing of the crow, That mingled with the universal mirth,

Cassandra-like, prognosticating woe; They shook their heads, and doomed with dreadful words To swift destruction the whole race of birds.

And a town-meeting was convened straightway

To set a price upon the guilty heads Of these marauders, who, in lieu of pay,

Levied black-mail upon the garden beds
And corn-fields, and beheld without dismay

The awful scarecrow, with his fluttering shreds;
The skeleton that waited at their feast,
Whereby their sinful pleasure was increased.

Then from his house, a temple painted white,

With fluted columns and a roof of red,
The Squire came forth, august and splendid sight!

Slowly descending, with majestic tread,
Three flights of steps, nor looking left nor right,

Down the long street he walked, as one who said,
A town that boasts inbabitants like me
Can have no lack of good society !”
The Parson, too, appeared, a man austere,

The instinct of whose nature was to kill;
The wrath of God he preached from year to year,

And read, with fervour, Edwards on the Will;
His favourite pastime was to slay the deer

In Summer on some Adirondac hill;
E'en now, while walking down the rural lane
He lopped the wayside lilies with his cane.
From the Academy, whose belfry crowned

The hill of Science with its vane of brass,
Came the Preceptor, gazing idly round,

Now at the clouds, and now at the green grass,
And all absorbed in reveries profound

Of fair Almira in the upper class,
Who was, as in a sonnet he had said,
As pure as water, and as good as bread.
And next the Deacon issued from his door,

In his voluminous neck-cloth, white as snow;
A suit of sable bombazine he wore;

His form was ponderous, and his step was slow; There never was so wise a man before;

He seemed the incarnate “ Well, I told you so !” And to perpetuate his great renown There was a street named after him in town. These came together in the new town-hall,

With sundry farmers from the region round. The Squire presided, dignified and tall,

His air impressive and his reasoning sound. Ill fared it with the birds, both great and small;

Hardly a friend in all that crowd they found, But enemies enough, who every one Charged them with all the crimes beneath the sun. When they had ended, from his place apart,

Rose the Preceptor, to redress the wrong, And, trembling like a steed before the start,

Looked round bewildered on the expectant throng; Then thought of fair Almira, and took heart

To speak out what was in him, clear and strong,

Alike regardless of their smile or frown,
And quite determined not to be laughed down.

“ Plato, anticipating the Reviewers,

From his Republic banished without pity The Poets; in this little town of yours,

You put to death, by means of a Committee, The ballad-singers and the Troubadours,

The street-musicians of the heavenly city, The birds, who make sweet music for us all In our dark hours, as David did for Saul.

6. The thrush that carols at the dawn of day

From the green steeples of the piny wood;
The oriole in the elm; the noisy jay,

Jargoning like a foreigner at his food;
The blue-bird balanced on some topmost spray,

Flooding with melody the neighbourhood;
Linnet and meadow-lark, and all the throng
That dwell in nests and have the gift of song.

“ You slay them all! and wherefore ? for the gain

Of a scant bandful more or less of wheat, Or rye, or barley, or some other grain,

Scratched up at random by industrious feet,
Searching for worm or weevil after rain!

Or a few cherries, that are not so sweet
As are the songs these uninvited guests
Sing at their feast with comfortable breasts.

“Do you ne'er think what wondrous beings these?

Do you ne'er think who made them, and who taught The dialect they speak, where melodies

Alone are the interpreters of thought ?
Whose household words are songs in many keys,

Sweeter than instrument of man e'er caught!
Whose habitations in the tree-tops even
Are half-way houses on the road to heaven!

“ Think, every morning when the sun peeps through

The dim, leaf-latticed windows of the grove, How jubilant the happy birds renew

Their old, melodious madrigals of love! And when you think of this, remember too

'Tis always morning somewhere, and above The awakening continents, from shore to shore, Somewhere the birds are singing evermore.

“ Think of your woods and orchards without birds!

Of empty nests that cling to boughs and beams!

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