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Vignette 20 Post by :kokopoko Category :Poems Author :Matilda Betham Date :August 2011 Read :3706

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Vignette 20

On reading in Savary's Travels the death of Ali Bey, who, it is there represented, in the midst of enlightened and benevolent efforts to benefit his country, was repeatedly betrayed, and at length taken captive by his brother-in-law, whom he had advanced and loved, and who, till the very last, he could not believe to be his enemy.

O generous Ali! while thy fate inspires
Indignant pity, with a patriot's fires,
I mourn for Egypt, and with equal zeal,
For her, for thee, and ruin'd science feel:
Admire the confidence my heart deplores
And blame the weakness it almost adores!

Pride of thy race! before my mental eyes,
I see thee, like another Alfred rise;
See honour splendent on thy ample brow,
While Thought and Genius fill the orbs below;
Those beaming orbs! where lofty sweetness shone,
And where the soul sate smiling on her throne:
Depriv'd too soon of that benignant ray,
Which impious Dahab shudder'd to survey.
Pale, bleeding, conquer'd, dying, and forlorn,
I see thee view the wretch with silent scorn!
See thy cheek flush at the false tears he shed,
And proudly turn away the languid head,
With mingled anger, sorrow, and disdain,
That he should dare to tempt thy love again!

Oh! yet within the tent I see thee lie,
The victor, like a coward, crouching by;
O'erawed, rebuked, and humbled in the hour,
The plenitude of his success and power!
A pain the guilty never make us know,
In all the miseries they cause below;
A pain which they in every triumph feel,
A humbling sense no glory yet could heal,
The want of conscious worth, the poignant thought,
That inwardly sets all pretence at naught!
That curbs all self-applause--tears all disguise--
When the subdued, the ruin'd can _despise_;
And, in the arms of death, can yet be free,
To say, "Let me be any thing but thee!"

Ambition! while thy zeal the good inflame,
And make a noble nature sigh for fame,
We deem thee of a more than royal line,
For self-devotion tendeth to divine!
But when, like Dahab's demon, selfish, vain,
It loosens Gratitude's mysterious chain;
When broken Faith aloud, but vainly calls;
When the warm friend, the king, the brother falls;
Instead of honours, and a conqueror's fame,
Hatred shall haunt, and curses brand thy name!

(The end)
Matilda Betham's poem: Vignette 20

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