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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 5.djvu/630

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[CANTO I.
THE ISLAND.

Their shells, their fruits, the only wealth they know,
Their unexploring navy, the canoe;[1]
Their sport, the dashing breakers and the chase;
Their strangest sight, an European face:—
Such was the country which these strangers yearned
To see again—a sight they dearly earned.50


III.

Awake, bold Bligh! the foe is at the gate!
Awake! awake!——Alas! it is too late!
Fiercely beside thy cot the mutineer
Stands, and proclaims the reign of rage and fear.
Thy limbs are bound, the bayonet at thy breast;
The hands, which trembled at thy voice, arrest;
Dragged o'er the deck, no more at thy command
The obedient helm shall veer, the sail expand;
That savage Spirit, which would lull by wrath
Its desperate escape from Duty's path,60
Glares round thee, in the scarce believing eyes
Of those who fear the Chief they sacrifice:
For ne'er can Man his conscience all assuage,
Unless he drain the wine of Passion—Rage.


IV.

In vain, not silenced by the eye of Death,
Thou call'st the loyal with thy menaced breath:—
They come not; they are few, and, overawed,
Must acquiesce, while sterner hearts applaud.
In vain thou dost demand the cause: a curse
Is all the answer, with the threat of worse.70
Full in thine eyes is waved the glittering blade,
Close to thy throat the pointed bayonet laid.
The levelled muskets circle round thy breast
In hands as steeled to do the deadly rest.
Thou dar'st them to their worst, exclaiming—"Fire!"
But they who pitied not could yet admire;
Some lurking remnant of their former awe

Restrained them longer than their broken law;
  1. Their formidable fleet the quick canoe.—[MS. D. erased.]