1819 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lord Byron

Lionel Thomas Berguer, "Mazeppa's Ride" Morning Post (1 July 1819).



Brave Prince of the Ukraine, high Chief of the ranks,
Who rein their wild steeds on Borysthenes' banks—
Like a shaft from the bow, over mountain and plain,
Thou art off for the Desert, brave Prince of Ukraine!

If thou come back in safety, small thanks to the COUNT,
Who saved thee the trouble, MAZEPPA, to mount;
No fear of thy fall, though thy forces decay,
Thou art stripped to the saddle — bold Hetman, away!

No gallant but thou may that courser bestride;
No leg, save thine own, be passed over his side:
He has gained the deep forest — he sweeps through it now—
Yet — think not how ABSOLOM hung in the bough!

He faints not, nor stays in his rapid career,
Though the frontier is close, and the river is near:
'Twas the wild note of Freedom that thrilled in his neigh,
And he swooped in the torrent: bold Hetman, away!

His brain is on fire as he strains up the bank,
And the waters fall hot from his mane and his flank!
The winds are less fleet than that steed on the heath—
But the foal of the forest will gallop to death!

He has reached the far desert — he sinks on the ground;
Hark! the wild horses neigh their wild brother around;
'Tis the home of his Sires, and he rests from his pain,
Where bridle ne'er hung — in the depths of UKRAINE!

Ho! rouse thee, MAZEPPA! thy cords are undone;
'Tis a terrible ride; — but a kingdom is won!
A maid in the desert thy limbs shall array:
For love and for vengeance, bold Hetman, away!