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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 1.djvu/207

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THE EPISODE OF NISUS AND EURYALUS.

He only lov'd, too well, his hapless friend:
Spare, spare, ye Chiefs! from him your rage remove;
His fault was friendship, all his crime was love."
He pray'd in vain; the dark assassin's sword
Pierced the fair side, the snowy bosom gor'd;
Lowly to earth inclines his plume-clad crest,
And sanguine torrents mantle o'er his breast:
As some young rose whose blossom scents the air,
Languid in death, expires beneath the share;380
Or crimson poppy, sinking with the shower,
Declining gently, falls a fading flower;
Thus, sweetly drooping, bends his lovely head,
And lingering Beauty hovers round the dead.


But fiery Nisus stems the battle's tide,
Revenge his leader, and Despair his guide;[1]
Volscens he seeks amidst the gathering host,
Volscens must soon appease his comrade's ghost;
Steel, flashing, pours on steel, foe crowds on foe;
Rage nerves his arm, Fate gleams in every blow;390
In vain beneath unnumber'd wounds he bleeds,
Nor wounds, nor death, distracted Nisus heeds;
In viewless circles wheel'd his falchion flies,
Nor quits the hero's grasp till Volscens dies;
Deep in his throat its end the weapon found,

The tyrant's soul fled groaning through the wound.[2]
  1. Revenge his object.—[MS. Newstead.]
  2. The assassin's soul.—[MS. Newstead.]