Open main menu

Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 5.djvu/661

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
CANTO III.]
621
THE ISLAND.

Which deepened now and then the sandy dint
Beneath his heel, his form seemed turned to flint.
Some paces further Torquil leaned his head
Agdnst a bank, and spoke not, but he bled,—
Not mortally:—his worst wound was within;
His brow was pale, his blue eyes sunken in,100
And blood-drops, sprinkled o'er his yellow hair,
Showed that his faintness came not from despair,
But Nature's ebb. Beside him was another,
Rough as a bear, but willing as a brother,—
Ben Bunting, who essayed to wash, and wipe,
And bind his wound—then calmly lit his pipe,
A trophy which survived a hundred fights,
A beacon which had cheered ten thousand nights.
The fourth and last of this deserted group
Walked up and down—at times would stand, then stoop
To pick a pebble up—then let it drop—111
Then hurry as in haste—then quickly stop—
Then cast his eyes on his companions—then
Half whistle half a tune, and pause again—
And then his former movements would redouble,
With something between carelessness and trouble.
This is a long description, but applies
To scarce five minutes passed before the eyes;
But yet what minutes! Moments like to these
Rend men's lives into immortalities.120


V.

At length Jack Skyscrape, a mercurial man,
Who fluttered over all things like a fan,
More brave than firm, and more disposed to dare
And die at once than wrestle with despair,
Exclaimed, "G—d damn!"—those syllables intense,—
Nucleus of England's native eloquence,
As the Turk's "Allah!" or the Roman's more
Pagan "Proh Jupiter!" was wont of yore
To give their first impressions such a vent,
By way of echo to embarrassment.[1]130

Jack was embarrassed,—never hero more,
  1. To people in a small embarrassment.—[MS. D. erased.]