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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 5.djvu/674

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[CANTO IV.
THE ISLAND.

When Eloïsa's form was lowered beneath
Their nuptial vault, his arms outstretched, and pressed
The kindling ashes to his kindled breast.[1]
The waves without sang round their couch, their roar
As much unheeded as if life were o'er;
Within, their hearts made all their harmony,
Love's broken murmur and more broken sigh.230


X.

And they, the cause and sharers of the shock
Which left them exiles of the hollow rock,
Where were they? O'er the sea for life they plied,
To seek from Heaven the shelter men denied.
Another course had been their choice—but where?
The wave which bore them still their foes would bear,
Who, disappointed of their former chase,
In search of Christian now renewed their race.
Eager with anger, their strong arms made way,
Like vultures baffled of their previous prey.240
They gained upon them, all whose safety lay
In some bleak crag or deeply-hidden bay:
No further chance or choice remained; and right
For the first further rock which met their sight
They steered, to take their latest view of land,
And yield as victims, or die sword in hand;
Dismissed the natives and their shallop, who
Would still have battled for that scanty crew;
But Christian bade them seek their shore again,
Nor add a sacrifice which were in vain;250
For what were simple bow and savage spear
Against the arms which must be wielded here?


  1. The tradition is attached to the story of Eloïsa, that when her body was lowered into the grave of Abelard (who had been buried twenty years), he opened his arms to receive her.

    [The story is told by Bayle, who quotes from a manuscript chronicle of Tours, preserved in the notes of Andreas Quercetanus, affixed to the Historia Calamitatum Abælardi: "Eadem defuncta ad tumulum apertum deportata, maritus ejus qui multis diebus ante eam defunctus fuerat, elevatis brachiis eam recepit, et ita eam amplexatus brachia sua strinxit."—See Petri Abelardi Opera, Paris, 1616, ii. 1195.]