BY THE SPANIARDS
BY JOHN DRYDEN
THE FIRST PART
Major rerum miki nascitur ordo;
Majus opus moveo.1
VIRGIL, Æneid, vii [44, 45].
BOABDELIN, ABENAMAR, ABDELMELECH, Guards.
BOAB. Thus, in the triumphs of soft peace, I
And, from my walls, defy the pow'rs of Spain:
With pomp and sports my love I celebrate,
While they keep distance, and attend my state. --
Parent to her, whose eyes my soul enthral, 5 Whom I, in hope, already father call,
Abenamar, thy youth these sports has known,
Of which thy age is now spectator grown:
Judge-like thou sit'st, to praise, or to arraign
The flying skirmish of the darted cane:210 But, when fierce bulls run loose upon the place, And our bold Moors their loves with danger grace,
Then heat new-bends thy slackened nerves again,
And a short youth runs warm through every vein.
ABEN. I must confess th' encounters of this day 15 Warmed me indeed, but quite another way:
Not with the fire of youth, but gen'rous rage,
To see the glories of my youthful age
So far outdone.
ABDELM. Castile could never boast, in all its
pride, 20 A pomp so splendid, when the lists, set wide, Gave room to the fierce bulls, which wildly ran
In Sierra Ronda, ere the war began:
Who, with high nostrils snuffing up the wind,
Now stood the champions of the savage kind. 25 Just opposite, within the circled place, Ten of our bold Abencerrages' race
(Each brandishing his bull-spear in his hand)
Did their proud jennets3 gracefully command.
On their steeled heads their demi-lances wore 30 Small pennons, which their ladies' colors bore. Before this troop did warlike Ozmyn go;
Each lady, as he rode, saluting low;
At the chief stands, with reverence more profound,
His well-taught courser, kneeling, touched the
ground; 35 Thence raised, he sidelong bore his rider on, Still facing, till he out of sight was gone.
BOAB. You praise him like a friend, and I confess
His brave deportment merited no less.
ABDELM. Nine bulls were launched4 by his victori-
ous arm, 40 Whose wary jennet, shunning still the harm, Seemed to attend the shock, and then leaped wide:
Meanwhile, his dext'rous rider, when he spied
The beast just stooping, 'twixt the neck and head
His lance, with never-erring fury, sped. 45
ABEN. My son did well, and so did Hamet too;
Yet did no more than we were wont to do;
But what the stranger did was more than man: --
ABDELM. He finished all those triumphs we began.
One bull, with curled black head, beyond the rest, 50 And dew-laps hanging from his brawny chest, With nodding front a while did daring stand,
And with his jetty hoof spurned back the sand:
Then, leaping forth, he bellowed out aloud:
Th' amazed assistants back each other crow'd, 55 While monarch-like he ranged the listed field: Some tossed, some gored, some trampling down he
Th' ignobler Moors, from far, his rage provoke,
With woods of darts, which from his sides he shook.
Meantime your valiant son, who had before 60
'A larger scene of action is displayed;
And, rising hence, a greater work is weighed.'