Pizarro, a Spanish Captain, lands with his forces - his meeting with Ataliba - its unhappy consequences - Zorai dies - Ataliba imprisoned, and strangled - Alzira's despair, and madness.



Flush'd with impatient hope, the martial band
By stern Pizarro led, approach the land:
No terrors arm the hostile brow, for guile
Charms to betray, in Candour's open smile.
Too artless for distrust, the monarch springs
To meet his latent foe on friendship's wings:
On as he moves, with glitt'ring splendours crown'd,
His feather'd chiefs the golden throne surround;
The waving canopy its plume displays,
Whose varied hues reflect the morning rays;
With native grace he hails the warrior train,
Who stood majestic on Peruvia's plain,
In all the savage pomp of armour drest,
The radiant helmet, and the nodding crest.
Yet themes of joy Pizarro's lips impart,
And charm with eloquence the simple heart;
Unfolding to the monarch's wond'ring thought,
All that inventive arts the rude have taught:
And now he bids the purer spirit rise
Above the circle of surrounding skies;
Presents the page that shed religion's light
O'er the dark mist of intellectual night;
While thrill'd with awe the monarch trembling stands,
He dropp'd the hallow'd volume from his hands.

[A]Sudden, while frantic zeal each breast inspires,
And shudd'ring demons fan the impious fires,
The bloody signal waves, the banners play,
The naked sabres flash their streaming ray;
The martial trumpet's animating sound,
And thund'ring cannon, rend the vault around;
While fierce in sanguine rage the sons of Spain
Rush on Peru's unarm'd, devoted train;
The fiends of slaughter urg'd their dire career,
And virtue's guardian spirits dropp'd a tear. -
Mild Zorai fell, deploring human strife,
And clos'd with prayer his consecrated life.
In vain Peruvia's chiefs undaunted stood,
Shield their lov'd prince, and bathe his robes in blood;
Touch'd with heroic ardor, rush around,
And high of soul, receive each fatal wound:
Dragg'd from his throne, and hurry'd o'er the plain,
The wretched monarch swells the captive train;
With iron grasp, the frantic prince they bear,
And bless the omen of his wild despair.

Deep in the gloomy dungeon's lone domain,
Lost Ataliba wore the galling chain;
The earth's cold bed refus'd oblivious rest,
While throb'd the pains of thousands at his breast;
Alzira's desolating moan he hears,
And with the monarch's, blends the lover's tears -
Soon had Alzira felt affliction's dart
Pierce her soft soul, and rend her bleeding heart;
Its quick pulsations paus'd, and, chill'd with dread,
A livid hue her fading cheek o'erspread;
No tear she gave to love, she breath'd no sigh,
Her lips were mute, and clos'd her languid eye;
Fainter, and slower heav'd her shiv'ring breast,
And her calm'd passions seem'd in death to rest! -
At length reviv'd, mid rising heaps of slain
She prest with trembling step, the crimson plain;
The dungeon's gloomy depth she fearless sought,
For love, with scorn of danger arm'd her thought:
The cell that holds her captive lord she gains,
Her tears fall quiv'ring on a lover's chains!
Too tender spirit, check the filial tear,
A sympathy more soft, a tie more dear
Shall claim the drops that frantic passion sheds,
When the rude storm its darkest pinion spreads.
Lo! bursting the deep cell where mis'ry lay,
The human vultures seize the dove-like prey!
In vain her treasur'd wealth Peruvia gave,
This dearer treasure from their grasp to save:
Alzira! lo, the ruthless murd'rers come,
This moment seals thy Ataliba's doom.
Ah, what avails the shriek that anguish pours!
The look, that mercy's lenient aid implores!
Torn from thy clinging arms, thy throbbing breast,
The fatal cord his agony supprest:
In vain the livid corse she fondly clasps,
And pours her sorrows o'er the form she grasps -
The murd'rers now their struggling victim tear
From the lost object of her keen despair:
The swelling pang unable to sustain,
Distraction throbb'd in every beating vein:
Its sudden tumults seize her yielding soul,
And in her eye distemper'd glances roll -
"They come! (the mourner cried, with panting breath,)
"To give the lost Alzira rest in death!
"One moment more, ye bloody forms, bestow,
"One moment more for ever cures my woe -
"Lo where the purple evening sheds her light
"On blest remains! oh hide them, pitying night!
"Slow in the breeze I see the verdure wave
"That shrouds with tufted grass, my lover's grave:
"There, on its wand'ring wing in mildness blows
"The mournful gale, nor wakes his deep repose -
"And see, yon hoary form still lingers there!
"Dishevell'd by rude winds his silver hair;
"O'er his chill'd bosom falls the winter's rain,
"I feel the big drops on my wither'd brain:
"Not for himself that tear his bosom steeps,
"For his lost child it flows, for me he weeps!
"No more the dagger's point shall pierce thy breast,
"For calm and lovely is thy silent rest;
"Yet still in dust these eyes shall see thee roll,
"Still the sad thought shall waste Alzira's soul -
"What bleeding phantom moves along the storm?
"It is - it is my lover's well-known form!
"Tho' the dim moon is veil'd, his robes of light
"Tinge the dark clouds, and gild the mist of night:
"Approach! Alzira's breast no terrors move,
"Her fears are all for ever lost in love!
"Safe on the hanging cliff I now can rest,
"And press its pointed pillow to my breast -
"He weeps! in heav'n he weeps! I feel his tear -
"It chills my trembling heart, yet still 'tis dear -
"To him all joyless are the realms above,
"That pale look speaks of pity, and of love!
"My love ascends! he soars in azure light;
"Stay tender spirit - cruel! stay thy flight -
"Again descend in yonder rolling cloud,
"And veil Alzira in thy misty shroud -
"He comes! my love has plac'd the dagger near,
"And on its hallow'd point has dropp'd a tear" -
As roll'd her wand'ring glances wide around
She snatch'd a reeking sabre from the ground;
Firmly her lifted hand the weapon press'd,
And deep she plung'd it in her panting breast:
"'Tis but a few short moments that divide
"Alzira from her love!" - she said - and died.

[A] "Sudden, while frantic zeal, &c." PIZARRO, who during a long conference, had with difficulty restrained his soldiers, eager to seize the rich spoils of which they had now so near a view, immediately gave the signal of assault. At once the martial music struck up, the cannon and muskets began to fire, the horse sallied out fiercely to the charge, the infantry rushed on sword in hand. The Peruvians, astonished at the suddenness of an attack which they did not expect, and dismayed with the destructive effects of the fire-arms, fled with universal consternation on every side. PIZARRO, at the head of his chosen band, advanced directly towards the Inca; and though his Nobles crowded around him with officious zeal, and fell in numbers at his feet, while they vied one with another in sacrificing their own lives, that they might cover the sacred person of their Sovereign, the Spaniards soon penetrated to the royal seat; and PIZARRO seizing the Inca by the arm, dragged him to the ground, and carried him a prisoner to his quarters. - Robertson's History of America.