Constantia: or, The Man of Law's Tale, Modernized from Chaucer - Part 12

Ah hapless state of every human mind,
Wrapt in the present, to the future blind!
In the gay vapour of a lucky hour,
Light Folly mounts, and looks with scorn on power:
Nor sees how swift the tides of fortune flow,
The swelling happiness, and ebbing woe;
That man, should ne'er indulge, or bliss, or care,
The Prosperous triumph, or the Wretch despair;
So close, so sudden, each reverse succeeds,
And Mischief treads where'er Success precedes.

And now the night, with brooding horrors still,
Gloom'd from the brow of each adjacent hill;
Slow heaved her bosom with distemper'd breath,
And o'er her forehead hung the weights of death.
Opprest with sleep, and drown'd in fumy wine,
The prostrate guards their Regal Charge resign;
But far within, still wakeful to delight,
The Prince and peers protract the festal night —
When from the portal, lo! a sudden gloom
Projects its horrors through the spacious room:
Fearful and dark the ruffian bands appear,
The dire Sultana storming in the rear.
The bloody task invading treason plies:
Quick, and at once alarm'd, the nobles rise;
But these, as faith or faction led, divide,
And traitors most with entering traitors side:
Boards, bowls, and seats o'erturn'd, the pavement strow;
Of blood with wine the mingling currents flow;
Vain is the fear that wings their feet for flight,
They fall who basely fly or bravely fight;
With screams and groans the echoing courts resound,
And gasping Romans bite the traitorous ground.

Say, Royal S YRIAN ! in that hour of death,
Say, didst thou tamely then resign thy breath?
Surprize and shame, and love and boundless rage,
Flash from his eyes and in his breast engage.
Threatning aloft, his flaming steel he drew,
And swift to save his loved C ONSTANTIA flew;
Before his bride a beauteous bulwark stands,
Now presses on, and backwards bears the bands:
Bold to his aid surviving Romans spring,
Some Syrians too could dare to join their king;
Invaded late, they in their turn invade,
And traitors are with mutual death repaid.
But what may courage, what may strength avail,
Where still o'erpowering multitudes assail;
Where number with increasing number grows,
And every sword must match a thousand foes?
As melting snows with gradual waste subside,
So sink the warriors from their Hero's side:
Thin'd are the remnants of his bleeding train,
And scarce, but scarce, the unequal strife sustain;
Their veins exhausted, and o'ertoil'd their might,
And struggling, but to fall the last, they fight.
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