How Does The Form Of Song Of Myself Help The Poem Communicate Its Theme? By Moving Forward Without Formal Restraints, The Poet Justifies Expressions Of Freedom In The Work. The Division Of The Poem Into Sections Makes The Poem More Entertaining And More C (2023)

1. A nitride ion has 7 protons, 8 neutrons, and 10 electrons. What is ...

  • ... form of "Song of Myself" help the poem communicate its theme? By moving forward without formal restraints, the poet justifies expressions of freedom in the work ...

  • Answer: the overall charge on the nitride anion is (3)Explanation:The net charge of an ion is given by the balance that exists between the number of protons present

2. Which number can each term of the equation be multiplied by to eliminate

  • ... form of "Song of Myself" help the poem communicate its theme? By moving forward without formal restraints, the poet justifies expressions of freedom in the work ...

  • Answer:The Answer is D) 100 Explanation:Just did it on Edge

3. An Analysis Of Walt Whitman's Song Of Myself - IPL.org

  • Missing: form formal restraints, justifies expressions freedom entertaining communicative. presentation

  • ‹ å}Ûrã8–à{}Z=io‹´.–|K»[¶åLg9m­¬êœŽ^EBÓ©$)+U®Œ¨Ï؉؍è؇‰Øߘý“ú’=ç Á‹lù֝;eI œ;À׿;<;è}<ï²Q<öö¾{->ü{=â–#¾ÒÏ(ž{|ïOöÈ #³Ê‡Þ‘±YÙùo·ýà‹¹?»þp»„ (ùŠÝ3Þ¿vccø±ƒ a3ˏ]Ës­ˆ;;ªIÌ¿ÄØ 7,çÓ4Š·ýÀç;¥¥_­[*w¸„Vì¾(î{}ýyļڜyÕqoªw8 yu Có>ÂquT¯ŽÕQ³:Z¯ŽZÕQ»Š3…Z¹êBkÌ«žÕç^ÕãCî;UÏ­úÖM5èâv\ ¼ê¤Á7¸[}W§ÞíØ ‡®¿]ۙXŽƒ“¬}µÂص¡6ƒlÓ õ+ûºuÜhâYómšÇWw<¼ø„®Ì0˜Á_Œ™ëÄ£íVÈÇ;bHÃãƒxۚƁ*ÝáH”ÐsÛÛÖ ßûÀomXîÇۯث5.ÍEä ·BXÕxDÅ,-‘…a¶:hUúõOcìsŸY¾ÃVÆÐJt¶^ããÕ[}½ß­æFYDzøëWÓ¼éدÊÏèVtZ¯Õ~¿3ð+ÞƎÔâˆ^°ªPtú`óƒf»W0çúÏüíYQlØ#×s £ñÊöÀ UÁjÒ÷­nÅi Õ-"ÿ¯ª/ ”¢1mî’Xá©ÌÜj¹IÕ2dPË.o4¶<ϨËUÙ4›É¿ß#¼¾ãâ€6sãƍ\ Ã[út=7žoË"ÕMC-nÛl«¿WµMYÛh%EÁ` ,ËXÏÐT³™…B4mɧ×ëe}oÈÚÖfÙ³›²¶] W½¡Ñd)u%ûª¹EDB$6rü34äT|ož0 \Âß¹ãIÆÀR¿š‚µX_]E°wí2c—ПÃýÅm—_¥v6™ŽÕ Ô2+ t!«­¨¬Î,©,[—eùe”Õ‹ÖQV/Z*Y½u«ølZV¯)ê-1»¾w#§½NÈñ |Ñ®•‹0#j3ˆE‹ð"jۊ€kIÑ"TˆÚ&$¼‹!«Õ|¶êefѤ “õª7~¯S´d>†B†1~6D!|LA€5 "Wœo¥=9´&Ûu`̹'UqöçWӌ„ù!·‰ˆ×AXØO(W-ׇo°Ôñt‡÷­0y„8º©E‹ö³ÎEG†lŸá®uSô ÕPl,Ռ”$*&áWN“ ÓÁýZ½s/G£`¶$+Z‚7äÇo7K˜žbª´×þ;±Ú%@n¿^ß²œ­r]sÇ ² ÅôSØ “/_ÍþzsD:@SÝ90\÷†/¶èóêjÄÃÀ@­pÄ©ßFmòeG4']„9·§!0íQÅÜ1.÷œªëO¦1è˜ê®8+äV¢™K=´ ÏѶÙÄ];¥´<*+^X´]Ÿ|aQà¹ûž×ù:oí(Ä6[µÖ֎†

4. [PDF] ED311449.pdf - ERIC - Department of Education

  • Baron, Dennis. Declining Grammar--and Other Essays on the English. Vocabulary. National Council of Teachers of English, Urbana,. Ill. ISBN-0-8141-1073-8.

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5. Bibliography Search Results - The Walt Whitman Archive

  • [Examines "democratic portraiture" in "Song of Myself" in order to illuminate the ways that "aesthetics and politics" in the poem are not "two categories to be ...

6. [PDF] Memoir, Mysticism, and Modern Feminist Poetry - UC Berkeley

  • The feminist critical attention, of course, has gone largely to the poet, most famous and most lauded by the literary establishment, Adrienne Rich, whose first ...

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7. The Excerpt Suggests That The Iroquois Believed That - Free Essay

  • ... form of "Song of Myself" help the poem communicate its theme? By moving forward without formal restraints, the poet justifies expressions of freedom in the work ...

  • Looking for essays on the excerpt suggests that the iroquois believed that? We have thousands of essays on this topic and more.

8. [PDF] Revisions of the Pastoral Tradition in Twentieth-Century Southern Poetry ...

  • Finally, attending closely to two important southern voices, Anne Spencer and Eleanor. Ross Taylor—heretofore mostly neglected in literary scholarship—makes a ...

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9. data:image/png;base64 - The Beauty and Joy of Computing

  • ... moving,positive,sort,schools,east,nearly,equipment,piece,link,avoid,basic,latest,eat,track,associated,tried,limited,google,send,alone,june,investment,greater ...

10. Walt Whitman; a critical study, by Basil De Selincourt. London

  • Perry does not seem to know more on this point than is known commonly. ... And his greatness as a poet, when we regard his poetry on its formal side, is that ...

  • Page  [unnumbered] ISO — t) CC) 10Sol —, c-, t**3 's6. 0 D CO

11. Plain Text UTF-8 - Project Gutenberg

  • Author: Percy Bysshe Shelley Edited by Thomas Hutchinson, M. A. Release Date: December, 2003 [Etext #4797] [This file was last updated on March 18, 2002] ...

  • The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Complete Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley — Volume 1 This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this ebook or online at www.gutenberg.org. If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook. Title: The Complete Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley — Volume 1 Author: Percy Bysshe Shelley Editor: Thomas Hutchinson Release date: December 1, 2003 [eBook #4797] Most recently updated: December 28, 2020 Language: English *** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS OF PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY — VOLUME 1 *** Produced by Sue Asscher THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS OF PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY VOLUME 1 OXFORD EDITION. INCLUDING MATERIALS NEVER BEFORE PRINTED IN ANY EDITION OF THE POEMS. EDITED WITH TEXTUAL NOTES BY THOMAS HUTCHINSON, M. A. EDITOR OF THE OXFORD WORDSWORTH. 1914. PREFACE. This edition of his "Poetical Works" contains all Shelley's ascertained poems and fragments of verse that have hitherto appeared in print. In preparing the volume I have worked as far as possible on the principle of recognizing the editio princeps as the primary textual authority. I have not been content to reprint Mrs. Shelley's recension of 1839, or that of any subsequent editor of the "Poems". The present text is the result of a fresh collation of the early editions; and in every material instance of departure from the wording of those originals the rejected reading has been subjoined in a footnote. Again, wherever--as in the case of "Julian and Maddalo"--there has appeared to be good reason for superseding the authority of the editio princeps, the fact is announced, and the substituted exemplar indicated, in the Prefatory Note. in the case of a few pieces extant in two or more versions of debatable authority the alternative text or texts will be found at the [end] of the [relevant work]; but it may be said once for all that this does not pretend to be a variorum edition, in the proper sense of the term--the textual apparatus does not claim to be exhaustive. Thus I have not thought it necessary to cumber the footnotes with every minute grammatical correction introduced by Mrs. Shelley, apparently on her own authority, into the texts of 1839; nor has it come within the scheme of this edition to record every conjectural emendation adopted or proposed by Rossetti and others in recent times. But it is hoped that, up to and including the editions of 1839 at least, no important variation of the text has been overlooked. Whenever a reading has been adopted on manuscript authority, a reference to the particular source has been added below. I have been chary of gratuitous interference with the punctuation of the manuscripts and early editions; in this direction, however, some revision was indispensable. Even in his most carefully finished "fair copy" Shelley under-punctuates (Thus in the exquisite autograph "Hunt MS." of "Julian and Maddalo", Mr. Buxton Forman, the most conservative of editors, finds it necessary to supplement Shelley's punctuation in no fewer than ninety-four places.), and sometimes punctuates capriciously. In the very act of transcribing his mind was apt to stray from the work in hand to higher things; he would lose himself in contemplating those airy abstractions and lofty visions of which alone he greatly cared to sing, to the neglect and detriment of the merely external and formal element of his song. Shelley recked little of the jots and tittles of literary craftsmanship; he committed many a small sin against the rules of grammar, and certainly paid but a halting attention to the nice distinctions of punctuation. Thus in the early editions a comma occasionally plays the part of a semicolon; colons and semicolons seem to be employed interchangeably; a semicolon almost invariably appears where nowadays we should employ the dash; and, lastly, the dash itself becomes a point of all work, replacing indifferently commas, colons, semicolons or periods. Inadequate and sometimes haphazard as it is, however, Shelley's punctuation, so far as it goes, is of great value as an index to his metrical, or at times, it may be, to his rhetorical intention--for, in Shelley's hands, punctuation serves rather to mark the rhythmical pause and onflow of the verse, or to secure some declamatory effect, than to indicate the structure or elucidate the sense. For this reason the original pointing has been retained, save where it tends to obscure or pervert the poet's meaning. Amongst the Editor's Notes at the end of the Volume 3 the reader will find lists of the punctual variations in the longer poems, by means of which the supplementary points now added may be identified, and the original points, which in this edition have been deleted or else replaced by others, ascertained, in the order of their occurrence. In the use of capitals Shelley's practice has been followed, while an attempt has been made to reduce the number of his inconsistencies in this regard. To have reproduced the spelling of the manuscripts would only have served to divert attention from Shelley's poetry to my own ingenuity in disgusting the reader according to the rules of editorial punctilio. (I adapt a phrase or two from the preface to "The Revolt of Islam".) Shelley was neither very accurate, nor always consistent, in his spelling. He was, to say the truth, indifferent about all such matters: indeed, to one absorbed in the spectacle of a world travailing for lack of the gospel of "Political Justice", the study of orthographical niceties must have seemed an occupation for Bedlamites. Again--as a distinguished critic and editor of Shelley, Professor Dowden, aptly observes in this connexion--'a great poet is not of an age, but for all time.' Irregular or antiquated forms such as 'recieve,' 'sacrifize,' 'tyger,' 'gulph,' 'desart,' 'falshood,' and the like, can only serve to distract the reader's attention, and mar his enjoyment of the verse. Accordingly Shelley's eccentricities in this kind have been discarded, and his spelling reversed in accordance with modern usage. All weak preterite-forms, whether indicatives or participles, have been printed with "ed" rather than "t", participial adjectives and substantives, such as 'past,' alone excepted. In the case of 'leap,' which has two preterite-forms, both employed by Shelley (See for an example of the longer form, the "Hymn to Mercury", 18 5, where 'leaped' rhymes with 'heaped' (line 1). The shorter form, rhyming to 'wept,' 'adapt,' etc., occurs more frequently.)--one with the long vowel of the present-form, the other with a vowel-change (Of course, wherever this vowel-shortening takes place, whether indicated by a corresponding change in the spelling or not, "t", not "ed" is properly used--'cleave,' 'cleft,'; 'deal,' 'dealt'; etc. The forms discarded under the general rule laid down above are such as 'wrackt,' 'prankt,' 'snatcht,' 'kist,' 'opprest,' etc.) like that of 'crept' from 'creep'--I have not hesitated to print the longer form 'leaped,' and the shorter (after Mr. Henry Sweet's example) 'lept,' in order clearly to indicate the pronunciation intended by Shelley. In the editions the two vowel-sounds are confounded under the one spelling, 'leapt.' In a few cases Shelley's spelling, though unusual or obsolete, has been retained. Thus in 'aethereal,' 'paean,' and one or two more words the "ae" will be found, and 'airy' still appears as 'aery'. Shelley seems to have uniformly written 'lightening': here the word is so printed whenever it is employed as a trisyllable; elsewhere the ordinary spelling has been adopted. (Not a little has been written about 'uprest' ("Revolt of Islam", 3 21 5), which has been described as a nonce-word deliberately coined by Shelley 'on no better warrant than the exigency of the rhyme.' There can be little doubt that 'uprest' is simply an overlooked misprint for 'uprist'--not by any means a nonce-word, but a genuine English verbal substantive of regular formation, familiar to many from its employment by Chaucer. True, the corresponding rhyme-words in the passage above referred to are 'nest,' 'possessed,' 'breast'; but a laxity such as 'nest'--'uprist' is quite in Shelley's manner. Thus in this very poem we find 'midst'--'shed'st' (6 16), 'mist'--'rest'--'blest' (5 58), 'loveliest'--'mist'--kissed'--'dressed' (5 53). Shelley may have first seen the word in "The Ancient Mariner"; but he employs it more correctly than Coleridge, who seems to have mistaken it for a preterite-form (='uprose') whereas in truth it serves either as the third person singular of the present (='upriseth'), or, as here, for the verbal substantive (='uprising'). The editor of Shelley to-day enters upon a goodly heritage, the accumulated gains of a series of distinguished predecessors. Mrs. Shelley's two editions of 1839 form the nucleus of the present volume, and her notes are here reprinted in full; but the arrangement of the poems differs to some extent from that followed by her--chiefly in respect of "Queen Mab", which is here placed at the head of the "Juvenilia", instead of at the forefront of the poems of Shelley's maturity. In 1862 a slender volume of poems and fragments, entitled "Relics of Shelley", was published by Dr. Richard Garnett, C.B.--a precious sheaf gleaned from the manuscripts preserved at Boscombe Manor. The "Relics" constitute a salvage second only in value to the "Posthumous Poems" of 1824. To the growing mass of Shelley's verse yet more material was added in 1870 by Mr. William Michael Rossetti, who edited for Moxon the "Complete Poetical Works" published in that year. To him we owe in particular a revised and greatly enlarged version of the fragmentary drama of "Charles I". But though not seldom successful in restoring the text, Mr. Rossetti pushed revision beyond the bounds of prudence, freely correcting grammatical errors, rectifying small inconsistencies in the sense, and too lightly adopting conjectural emendations on the grounds of rhyme or metre. In the course of an article published in the "Westminster Review" for July, 1870, Miss Mathilde Blind, with the aid of material furnished by Dr. Garnett, 'was enabled,' in the words of Mr. Buxton Forman, 'to supply omissions, make authoritative emendations, and controvert erroneous changes' in Mr. Rossetti's work; and in the more cautiously edited text of his later edition, published by Moxon in 1878, may be traced the influence of her strictures. Six years later appeared a variorum edition in which for the first time Shelley's text was edited with scientific exactness of method, and with a due respect for the authority of the original editions. It would be difficult indeed to over-estimate the gains which have accrued to the lovers of Shelley from the strenuous labours of Mr. Harry Buxton Forman, C.B. He too has enlarged the body of Shelley's poetry (Mr. Forman's most notable addition is the second part of "The Daemon of the World", which he printed privately in 1876, and included in his Library Edition of the "Poetical Works" published in the same year. See the "List of Editions", etc. at the end of Volume 3.); but, important as his editions undoubtedly are, it may safely be affirmed that his services in this direction constitute the least part of what we owe him. He has vindicated the authenticity of the text in many places, while in many others he has succeeded, with the aid of manuscripts, in restoring it. His untiring industry in research, his wide bibliographical knowledge and experience, above all, his accuracy, as invariable as it is minute, have combined to make him, in the words of Professor Dowden, 'our chief living authority on all that relates to Shelley's writings.' His name stands securely linked for all time to Shelley's by a long series of notable words, including three successive editions (1876, 1882, 1892) of the Poems, an edition of the Prose Remains, as well as many minor publications--a Bibliography ("The Shelley Library", 1886)and several Facsimile Reprints of the early issues, edited for the Shelley Society. To Professor Dowden, whose authoritative Biography of the poet, published in 1886, was followed in 1890 by an edition of the Poems (Macmillans), is due the addition of several pieces belonging to the juvenile period, incorporated by him in the pages of the "Life of Shelley". Professor Dowden has also been enabled, with the aid of the manuscripts placed in his hands, to correct the text of the "Juvenilia" in many places. In 1893 Professor George E. Woodberry edited a "Centenary Edition of the Complete Poetical Works", in which, to quote his own words, an attempt is made 'to summarize the labours of more than half a century on Shelley's text, and on his biography so far as the biography is bound up with the text.' In this Centenary edition the textual variations found in the Harvard College manuscripts, as well as those in the manuscripts belonging to Mr. Frederickson of Brooklyn, are fully recorded. Professor Woodberry's text is conservative on the whole, but his revision of the punctuation is drastic, and occasionally sacrifices melody to perspicuity. In 1903 Mr. C.D. Locock published, in a quarto volume of seventy-five pages, the fruits of a careful scrutiny of the Shelley manuscripts now lodged in the Bodleian Library. Mr. Locock succeeded in recovering several inedited fragments of verse and prose. Amongst the poems chiefly concerned in the results of his "Examination" may be named "Marenghi", "Prince Athanase", "The Witch of Atlas", "To Constantia", the "Ode to Naples", and (last, not least) "Prometheus Unbound". Full use has been made in this edition of Mr. Locock's collations, and the fragments recovered and printed by him are included in the text. Variants derived from the Bodleian manuscripts are marked "B." in the footnotes. On the state of the text generally, and the various quarters in which it lies open to conjectural emendation, I cannot do better than quote the following succinct and luminous account from a "Causerie" on the Shelley manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, contributed by Dr. Richard Garnett, C.B., to the columns of "The Speaker" of December 19, 1903:-- 'From the textual point of view, Shelley's works may be divided into three classes--those published in his lifetime under his own direction; those also published in his lifetime, but in his absence from the press; and those published after his death. The first class includes "Queen Mab", "The Revolt of Islam", and "Alastor" with its appendages, published in England before his final departure for the continent; and "The Cenci" and "Adonais", printed under his own eye at Leghorn and Pisa respectively. Except for some provoking but corrigible misprints in "The Revolt of Islam" and one crucial passage in "Alastor", these poems afford little material for conjectural emendation; for the Alexandrines now and then left in the middle of stanzas in "The Revolt of Islam" must remain untouched, as proceeding not from the printer's carelessness but the author's. The second class, poems printed during Shelley's lifetime, but not under his immediate inspection, comprise "Prometheus Unbound" and "Rosalind and Helen", together with the pieces which accompanied them, "Epipsychidion", "Hellas", and "Swellfoot the Tyrant". The correction of the most important of these, the "Prometheus", was the least satisfactory. Shelley, though speaking plainly to the publisher, rather hints than expresses his dissatisfaction when writing to Gisborne, the corrector, but there is a pretty clear hint when on a subsequent occasion he says to him, "I have received 'Hellas', which is prettily printed, and with fewer mistakes than any poem I ever published." This also was probably not without influence on his determination to have "The Cenci" and "Adonais" printed in Italy...Of the third class of Shelley's writings--those which were first published after his death--sufficient facsimiles have been published to prove that Trelawny's graphic description of the chaotic state of most of them was really in no respect exaggerated...The difficulty is much augmented by the fact that these pieces are rarely consecutive, but literally disiecti membra poetae, scattered through various notebooks in a way to require piecing together as well as deciphering. The editors of the Posthumous Poems, moreover, though diligent according to their light, were neither endowed with remarkable acumen nor possessed of the wide knowledge requisite for the full intelligence of so erudite a poet as Shelley, hence the perpetration of numerous mistakes. Some few of the manuscripts, indeed, such as those of "The Witch of Atlas", "Julian and Maddalo", and the "Lines at Naples", were beautifully written out for the press in Shelley's best hand, but their very value and beauty necessitated the ordeal of transcription, with disastrous results in several instances. An entire line dropped out of the "Lines at Naples", and although "Julian and Maddalo" was extant in more than one very clear copy, the printed text had several such sense-destroying errors as "least" for "lead". 'The corrupt state of the text has stimulated the ingenuity of numerous correctors, who have suggested many acute and convincing emendations, and some very specious ones which sustained scrutiny has proved untenable. It should be needless to remark that success has in general been proportionate to the facilities of access to the manuscripts, which have only of late become generally available. If Shelley is less fortunate than most modern poets in the purity of his text, he is more fortunate than many in the preservation of his manuscripts. These have not, as regards a fair proportion, been destroyed or dispersed at auctions, but were protected from either fate by their very character as confused memoranda. As such they remained in the possession of Shelley's widow, and passed from her to her son and daughter-in-law. After Sir Percy Shelley's death, Lady Shelley took the occasion of the erection of the monument to Shelley at University College, Oxford, to present [certain of] the manuscripts to the Bodleian Library, and verse and sculpture form an imperishable memorial of his connection with the University where his residence was so brief and troubled.' (Dr. Garnett proceeds:--'The most important of the Bodleian manuscripts is that of "Prometheus Unbound", which, says Mr. Locock, has the appearance of being an intermediate draft, and also the first copy made. This should confer considerable authority on its variations from the accepted text, as this appears to have been printed from a copy not made by Shelley himself. "My 'Prometheus'," he writes to Ollier on September 6, 1819, "is now being transcribed," an expression which he would hardly have used if he had himself been the copyist. He wished the proofs to be sent to him in Italy for correction, but to this Ollier objected, and on May 14, 1820, Shelley signifies his acquiescence, adding, however, "In this case I shall repose trust in your care respecting the correction of the press; Mr. Gisborne will revise it; he heard it recited, and will therefore more readily seize any error." This confidence in the accuracy of Gisborne's verbal memory is touching! From a letter to Gisborne on May 26 following it appears that the offer to correct came from him, and that Shelley sent him "two little papers of corrections and additions," which were probably made use of, or the fact would have been made known. In the case of additions this may satisfactorily account for apparent omissions in the Bodleian manuscript. Gisborne, after all, did not prove fully up to the mark. "It is to be regretted," writes Shelley to Ollier on November 20, "that the errors of the press are so numerous," adding, "I shall send you the list of errata in a day or two." This was probably "the list of errata written by Shelley himself," from which Mrs. Shelley corrected the edition of 1839.') In placing "Queen Mab" at the head of the "Juvenilia" I have followed the arrangement adopted by Mr. Buxton Forman in his Library Edition of 1876. I have excluded "The Wandering Jew", having failed to satisfy myself of the sufficiency of the grounds on which, in certain quarters, it is accepted as the work of Shelley. The shorter fragments are printed, as in Professor Dowden's edition of 1890, along with the miscellaneous poems of the years to which they severally belong, under titles which are sometimes borrowed from Mr. Buxton Forman, sometimes of my own choosing. I have added a few brief Editor's Notes, mainly on textual questions, at the end of the book. Of the poverty of my work in this direction I am painfully aware; but in the present edition the ordinary reader will, it is hoped, find an authentic, complete, and accurately printed text, and, if this be so, the principal end and aim of the OXFORD SHELLEY will have been attained. I desire cordially to acknowledge the courtesy of Mr. H. Buxton Forman, C.B., by whose kind sanction the second part of "The Daemon the World" appears in this volume. And I would fain express my deep sense of obligation for manifold information and guidance, derived from Mr. Buxton Forman's various editions, reprints and other publications--especially from the monumental Library Edition of 1876. Acknowledgements are also due to the poet's grandson, Charles E.J. Esdaile, Esq., for permission to include the early poems first printed in Professor Dowden's "Life of Shelley"; and to Mr. C.D. Locock, for leave to make full use of the material contained in his interesting and stimulating volume. To Dr. Richard Garnett, C.B., and to Professor Dowden, cordial thanks are hereby tendered for good counsel cheerfully bestowed. To two of the editors of the Shelley Society Reprints, Mr. Thomas J. Wise and Mr. Robert A. Potts--both generously communicative collectors--I am deeply indebted for the gift or loan of scarce volumes, as well as for many kind offices in other ways. Lastly, to the staff of the Oxford University Press my heartiest thanks are owing, for their unremitting care in all that relates to the printing and correcting of the sheets. THOMAS HUTCHINSON. December, 1904. POSTSCRIPT. In a valuable paper, 'Notes on Passages in Shelley,' contributed to "The Modern Language Review" (October, 1905), Mr. A.C. Bradley discussed, amongst other things, some fifty places in the text of Shelley's verse, and indicated certain errors and omissions in this edition. With the aid of these "Notes" the editor has now carefully revised the text, and has in many places adopted the suggestions or conclusions of their accomplished author. June, 1913. PREFACE BY MRS. SHELLEY TO FIRST COLLECTED EDITION, 1839. Obstacles have long existed to my presenting the public with a perfect edition of Shelley's Poems. These being at last happily removed, I hasten to fulfil an important duty,--that of giving the productions of a sublime genius to the world, with all the correctness possible, and of, at the same time, detailing the history of those productions, as they sprang, living and warm, from his heart and brain. I abstain from any remark on the occurrences of his private life, except inasmuch as the passions which they engendered inspired his poetry. This is not the time to relate the truth; and I should reject any colouring of the truth. No account of these events has ever been given at all approaching reality in their details, either as regards himself or others; nor shall I further allude to them than to remark that the errors of action committed by a man as noble and generous as Shelley, may, as far as he only is concerned, be fearlessly avowed by those who loved him, in the firm conviction that, were they judged impartially, his character would stand in fairer and brighter light than that of any contemporary. Whatever faults he had ought to find extenuation among his fellows, since they prove him to be human; without them, the exalted nature of his soul would have raised him into something divine. The qualities that struck any one newly introduced to Shelley were,--First, a gentle and cordial goodness that animated his intercourse with warm affection and helpful sympathy. The other, the eagerness and ardour with which he was attached to the cause of human happiness and improvement; and the fervent eloquence with which he discussed such subjects. His conversation was marked by its happy abundance, and the beautiful language in which he clothed his poetic ideas and philosophical notions. To defecate life of its misery and its evil was the ruling passion of his soul; he dedicated to it every power of his mind, every pulsation of his heart. He looked on political freedom as the direct agent to effect the happiness of mankind; and thus any new-sprung hope of liberty inspired a joy and an exultation more intense and wild than he could have felt for any personal advantage. Those who have never experienced the workings of passion on general and unselfish subjects cannot understand this; and it must be difficult of comprehension to the younger generation rising around, since they cannot remember the scorn and hatred with which the partisans of reform were regarded some few years ago, nor the persecutions to which they were exposed. He had been from youth the victim of the state of feeling inspired by the reaction of the French Revolution; and believing firmly in the justice and excellence of his views, it cannot be wondered that a nature as sensitive, as impetuous, and as generous as his, should put its whole force into the attempt to alleviate for others the evils of those systems from which he had himself suffered. Many advantages attended his birth; he spurned them all when balanced with what he considered his duties. He was generous to imprudence, devoted to heroism. These characteristics breathe throughout his poetry. The struggle for human weal; the resolution firm to martyrdom; the impetuous pursuit, the glad triumph in good; the determination not to despair;--such were the features that marked those of his works which he regarded with most complacency, as sustained by a lofty subject and useful aim. In addition to these, his poems may be divided into two classes,--the purely imaginative, and those which sprang from the emotions of his heart. Among the former may be classed the "Witch of Atlas", "Adonais", and his latest composition, left imperfect, the "Triumph of Life". In the first of these particularly he gave the reins to his fancy, and luxuriated in every idea as it rose; in all there is that sense of mystery which formed an essential portion of his perception of life--a clinging to the subtler inner spirit, rather than to the outward form--a curious and metaphysical anatomy of human passion and perception. The second class is, of course, the more popular, as appealing at once to emotions common to us all; some of these rest on the passion of love; others on grief and despondency; others on the sentiments inspired by natural objects. Shelley's conception of love was exalted, absorbing, allied to all that is purest and noblest in our nature, and warmed by earnest passion; such it appears when he gave it a voice in verse. Yet he was usually averse to expressing these feelings, except when highly idealized; and many of his more beautiful effusions he had cast aside unfinished, and they were never seen by me till after I had lost him. Others, as for instance "Rosalind and Helen" and "Lines written among the Euganean Hills", I found among his papers by chance; and with some difficulty urged him to complete them. There are others, such as the "Ode to the Skylark and The Cloud", which, in the opinion of many critics, bear a purer poetical stamp than any other of his productions. They were written as his mind prompted: listening to the carolling of the bird, aloft in the azure sky of Italy; or marking the cloud as it sped across the heavens, while he floated in his boat on the Thames. No poet was ever warmed by a more genuine and unforced inspiration. His extreme sensibility gave the intensity of passion to his intellectual pursuits; and rendered his mind keenly alive to every perception of outward objects, as well as to his internal sensations. Such a gift is, among the sad vicissitudes of human life, the disappointments we meet, and the galling sense of our own mistakes and errors, fraught with pain; to escape from such, he delivered up his soul to poetry, and felt happy when he sheltered himself, from the influence of human sympathies, in the wildest regions of fancy. His imagination has been termed too brilliant, his thoughts too subtle. He loved to idealize reality; and this is a taste shared by few. We are willing to have our passing whims exalted into passions, for this gratifies our vanity; but few of us understand or sympathize with the endeavour to ally the love of abstract beauty, and adoration of abstract good, the to agathon kai to kalon of the Socratic philosophers, with our sympathies with our kind. In this, Shelley resembled Plato; both taking more delight in the abstract and the ideal than in the special and tangible. This did not result from imitation; for it was not till Shelley resided in Italy that he made Plato his study. He then translated his "Symposium" and his "Ion"; and the English language boasts of no more brilliant composition than Plato's Praise of Love translated by Shelley. To return to his own poetry. The luxury of imagination, which sought nothing beyond itself (as a child burdens itself with spring flowers, thinking of no use beyond the enjoyment of gathering them), often showed itself in his verses: they will be only appreciated by minds which have resemblance to his own; and the mystic subtlety of many of his thoughts will share the same fate. The metaphysical strain that characterizes much of what he has written was, indeed, the portion of his works to which, apart from those whose scope was to awaken mankind to aspirations for what he considered the true and good, he was himself particularly attached. There is much, however, that speaks to the many. When he would consent to dismiss these huntings after the obscure (which, entwined with his nature as they were, he did with difficulty), no poet ever expressed in sweeter, more heart-reaching, or more passionate verse, the gentler or more forcible emotions of the soul. A wise friend once wrote to Shelley: 'You are still very young, and in certain essential respects you do not yet sufficiently perceive that you are so.' It is seldom that the young know what youth is, till they have got beyond its period; and time was not given him to attain this knowledge. It must be remembered that there is the stamp of such inexperience on all he wrote; he had not completed his nine-and-twentieth year when he died. The calm of middle life did not add the seal of the virtues which adorn maturity to those generated by the vehement spirit of youth. Through life also he was a martyr to ill-health, and constant pain wound up his nerves to a pitch of susceptibility that rendered his views of life different from those of a man in the enjoyment of healthy sensations. Perfectly gentle and forbearing in manner, he suffered a good deal of internal irritability, or rather excitement, and his fortitude to bear was almost always on the stretch; and thus, during a short life, he had gone through more experience of sensation than many whose existence is protracted. 'If I die to-morrow,' he said, on the eve of his unanticipated death, 'I have lived to be older than my father.' The weight of thought and feeling burdened him heavily; you read his sufferings in his attenuated frame, while you perceived the mastery he held over them in his animated countenance and brilliant eyes. He died, and the world showed no outward sign. But his influence over mankind, though slow in growth, is fast augmenting; and, in the ameliorations that have taken place in the political state of his country, we may trace in part the operation of his arduous struggles. His spirit gathers peace in its new state from the sense that, though late, his exertions were not made in vain, and in the progress of the liberty he so fondly loved. He died, and his place, among those who knew him intimately, has never been filled up. He walked beside them like a spirit of good to comfort and benefit--to enlighten the darkness of life with irradiations of genius, to cheer it with his sympathy and love. Any one, once attached to Shelley, must feel all other affections, however true and fond, as wasted on barren soil in comparison. It is our best consolation to know that such a pure-minded and exalted being was once among us, and now exists where we hope one day to join him;--although the intolerant, in their blindness, poured down anathemas, the Spirit of Good, who can judge the heart, never rejected him. In the notes appended to the poems I have endeavoured to narrate the origin and history of each. The loss of nearly all letters and papers which refer to his early life renders the execution more imperfect than it would otherwise have been. I have, however, the liveliest recollection of all that was done and said during the period of my knowing him. Every impression is as clear as if stamped yesterday, and I have no apprehension of any mistake in my statements as far as they go. In other respects I am indeed incompetent: but I feel the importance of the task, and regard it as my most sacred duty. I endeavour to fulfil it in a manner he would himself approve; and hope, in this publication, to lay the first stone of a monument due to Shelley's genius, his sufferings, and his virtues:-- Se al seguir son tarda, Forse avverra che 'l bel nome gentile Consacrero con questa stanca penna. POSTSCRIPT IN SECOND EDITION OF 1839. In revising this new edition, and carefully consulting Shelley's scattered and confused papers, I found a few fragments which had hitherto escaped me, and was enabled to complete a few poems hitherto left unfinished. What at one time escapes the searching eye, dimmed by its own earnestness, becomes clear at a future period. By the aid of a friend, I also present some poems complete and correct which hitherto have been defaced by various mistakes and omissions. It was suggested that the poem "To the Queen of my Heart" was falsely attributed to Shelley. I certainly find no trace of it among his papers; and, as those of his intimate friends whom I have consulted never heard of it, I omit it. Two poems are added of some length, "Swellfoot the Tyrant" and "Peter Bell the Third". I have mentioned the circumstances under which they were written in the notes; and need only add that they are conceived in a very different spirit from Shelley's usual compositions. They are specimens of the burlesque and fanciful; but, although they adopt a familiar style and homely imagery, there shine through the radiance of the poet's imagination the earnest views and opinions of the politician and the moralist. At my request the publisher has restored the omitted passages of "Queen Mab". I now present this edition as a complete collection of my husband's poetical works, and I do not foresee that I can hereafter add to or take away a word or line. Putney, November 6, 1839. PREFACE BY MRS. SHELLEY. TO THE VOLUME OF POSTHUMOUS POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1824. In nobil sangue vita umile e queta, Ed in alto intelletto un puro core Frutto senile in sul giovenil fibre, E in aspetto pensoso anima lieta.--PETRARCA. It had been my wish, on presenting the public with the Posthumous Poems of Mr. Shelley, to have accompanied them by a biographical notice; as it appeared to me that at this moment a narration of the events of my husband's life would come more gracefully from other hands than mine, I applied to Mr. Leigh Hunt. The distinguished friendship that Mr. Shelley felt for him, and the enthusiastic affection with which Mr. Leigh Hunt clings to his friend's memory, seemed to point him out as the person best calculated for such an undertaking. His absence from this country, which prevented our mutual explanation, has unfortunately rendered my scheme abortive. I do not doubt but that on some other occasion he will pay this tribute to his lost friend, and sincerely regret that the volume which I edit has not been honoured by its insertion. The comparative solitude in which Mr. Shelley lived was the occasion that he was personally known to few; and his fearless enthusiasm in the cause which he considered the most sacred upon earth, the improvement of the moral and physical state of mankind, was the chief reason why he, like other illustrious reformers, was pursued by hatred and calumny. No man was ever more devoted than he to the endeavour of making those around him happy; no man ever possessed friends more unfeignedly attached to him. The ungrateful world did not feel his loss, and the gap it made seemed to close as quickly over his memory as the murderous sea above his living frame. Hereafter men will lament that his transcendent powers of intellect were extinguished before they had bestowed on them their choicest treasures. To his friends his loss is irremediable: the wise, the brave, the gentle, is gone for ever! He is to them as a bright vision, whose radiant track, left behind in the memory, is worth all the realities that society can afford. Before the critics contradict me, let them appeal to any one who had ever known him. To see him was to love him: and his presence, like Ithuriel's spear, was alone sufficient to disclose the falsehood of the tale which his enemies whispered in the ear of the ignorant world. His life was spent in the contemplation of Nature, in arduous study, or in acts of kindness and affection. He was an elegant scholar and a profound metaphysician; without possessing much scientific knowledge, he was unrivalled in the justness and extent of his observations on natural objects; he knew every plant by its name, and was familiar with the history and habits of every production of the earth; he could interpret without a fault each appearance in the sky; and the varied phenomena of heaven and earth filled him with deep emotion. He made his study and reading-room of the shadowed copse, the stream, the lake, and the waterfall. Ill health and continual pain preyed upon his powers; and the solitude in which we lived, particularly on our first arrival in Italy, although congenial to his feelings, must frequently have weighed upon his spirits; those beautiful and affecting "Lines written in Dejection near Naples" were composed at such an interval; but, when in health, his spirits were buoyant and youthful to an extraordinary degree. Such was his love for Nature that every page of his poetry is associated, in the minds of his friends, with the loveliest scenes of the countries which he inhabited. In early life he visited the most beautiful parts of this country and Ireland. Afterwards the Alps of Switzerland became his inspirers. "Prometheus Unbound" was written among the deserted and flower-grown ruins of Rome; and, when he made his home under the Pisan hills, their roofless recesses harboured him as he composed the "Witch of Atlas", "Adonais", and "Hellas". In the wild but beautiful Bay of Spezzia, the winds and waves which he loved became his playmates. His days were chiefly spent on the water; the management of his boat, its alterations and improvements, were his principal occupation. At night, when the unclouded moon shone on the calm sea, he often went alone in his little shallop to the rocky caves that bordered it, and, sitting beneath their shelter, wrote the "Triumph of Life", the last of his productions. The beauty but strangeness of this lonely place, the refined pleasure which he felt in the companionship of a few selected friends, our entire sequestration from the rest of the world, all contributed to render this period of his life one of continued enjoyment. I am convinced that the two months we passed there were the happiest which he had ever known: his health even rapidly improved, and he was never better than when I last saw him, full of spirits and joy, embark for Leghorn, that he might there welcome Leigh Hunt to Italy. I was to have accompanied him; but illness confined me to my room, and thus put the seal on my misfortune. His vessel bore out of sight with a favourable wind, and I remained awaiting his return by the breakers of that sea which was about to engulf him. He spent a week at Pisa, employed in kind offices toward his friend, and enjoying with keen delight the renewal of their intercourse. He then embarked with Mr. Williams, the chosen and beloved sharer of his pleasures and of his fate, to return to us. We waited for them in vain; the sea by its restless moaning seemed to desire to inform us of what we would not learn:--but a veil may well be drawn over such misery. The real anguish of those moments transcended all the fictions that the most glowing imagination ever portrayed; our seclusion, the savage nature of the inhabitants of the surrounding villages, and our immediate vicinity to the troubled sea, combined to imbue with strange horror our days of uncertainty. The truth was at last known,--a truth that made our loved and lovely Italy appear a tomb, its sky a pall. Every heart echoed the deep lament, and my only consolation was in the praise and earnest love that each voice bestowed and each countenance demonstrated for him we had lost,--not, I fondly hope, for ever; his unearthly and elevated nature is a pledge of the continuation of his being, although in an altered form. Rome received his ashes; they are deposited beneath its weed-grown wall, and 'the world's sole monument' is enriched by his remains. I must add a few words concerning the contents of this volume. "Julian and Maddalo", the "Witch of Atlas", and most of the "Translations", were written some years ago; and, with the exception of the "Cyclops", and the Scenes from the "Magico Prodigioso", may be considered as having received the author's ultimate corrections. The "Triumph of Life" was his last work, and was left in so unfinished a state that I arranged it in its present form with great difficulty. All his poems which were scattered in periodical works are collected in this volume, and I have added a reprint of "Alastor, or the Spirit of Solitude": the difficulty with which a copy can be obtained is the cause of its republication. Many of the Miscellaneous Poems, written on the spur of the occasion, and never retouched, I found among his manuscript books, and have carefully copied. I have subjoined, whenever I have been able, the date of their composition. I do not know whether the critics will reprehend the insertion of some of the most imperfect among them; but I frankly own that I have been more actuated by the fear lest any monument of his genius should escape me than the wish of presenting nothing but what was complete to the fastidious reader. I feel secure that the lovers of Shelley's poetry (who know how, more than any poet of the present day, every line and word he wrote is instinct with peculiar beauty) will pardon and thank me: I consecrate this volume to them. The size of this collection has prevented the insertion of any prose pieces. They will hereafter appear in a separate publication. MARY W. SHELLEY. London, June 1, 1824. *** CONTENTS. EDITOR'S PREFACE. MRS. SHELLEY'S PREFACE TO FIRST COLLECTED EDITION, 1839. POSTSCRIPT IN SECOND EDITION OF 1839. MRS. SHELLEY'S PREFACE TO "POSTHUMOUS POEMS", 1824. THE DAEMON OF THE WORLD. A FRAGMENT. PART 1. PART 2. ALASTOR; OR, THE SPIRiT OF SOLITUDE. NOTE BY MRS. SHELLEY. THE REVOLT OF ISLAM. A POEM IN TWELVE CANTOS. PREFACE. DEDICATION: TO MARY -- --. CANTO 1. CANTO 2. CANTO 3. CANTO 4. CANTO 5. CANTO 6. CANTO 7. CANTO 8. CANTO 9. CANTO 10. CANTO 11. CANTO 12. NOTE BY MRS. SHELLEY. PRINCE ATHANASE. A FRAGMENT. ROSALIND AND HELEN. A MODERN ECLOGUE. NOTE BY MRS. SHELLEY. JULIAN AND MADDALO. A CONVERSATION. NOTE BY MRS. SHELLEY. PROMETHEUS UNBOUND. A LYRICAL DRAMA IN FOUR ACTS. PREFACE. ACT 1. ACT 2. ACT 3. ACT 4. NOTE BY MRS. SHELLEY. THE CENCI. A TRAGEDY IN FIVE ACTS. DEDICATION, TO LEIGH HUNT, ESQUIRE. PREFACE ACT 1. ACT 2. ACT 3. ACT 4. ACT 5. NOTE BY MRS. SHELLEY. THe MASK OF ANARCHY. NOTE BY MRS. SHELLEY. PETER BELL THE THIRD. NOTE BY MRS. SHELLEY. LETTER TO MARIA GISBORNE. THE WITCH OF ATLAS. TO MARY. THE WITCH OF ATLAS. NOTE BY MRS. SHELLEY. OEDIPUS TYRANNUS; OR, SWELLFOOT THE TYRANT. A TRAGEDY IN TWO ACTS. NOTE BY MRS. SHELLEY. EPIPSYCHIDION. FRAGMENTS CONNECTED WITH EPIPSYCHIDION. ADONAIS. AN ELEGY ON THE DEATH OF JOHN KEATS. PREFACE. ADONAIS. CANCELLED PASSAGES. HELLAS. A LYRICAL DRAMA. PREFACE. PROLOGUE. HELLAS. SHELLEY'S NOTES. NOTE BY MRS. SHELLEY. FRAGMENTS OF AN UNFINISHED DRAMA. CHARLES THE FIRST. THE TRIUMPH OF LIFE. CANCELLED OPENING. *** THE DAEMON OF THE WORLD. A FRAGMENT. PART 1. [Sections 1 and 2 of "Queen Mab" rehandled, and published by Shelley in the "Alastor" volume, 1816. See "Bibliographical List", and the Editor's Introductory Note to "Queen Mab".] Nec tantum prodere vati, Quantum scire licet. Venit aetas omnis in unam Congeriem, miserumque premunt tot saecula pectus. LUCAN, Phars. v. 176. How wonderful is Death, Death and his brother Sleep! One pale as yonder wan and horned moon, With lips of lurid blue, The other glowing like the vital morn, _5 When throned on ocean's wave It breathes over the world: Yet both so passing strange and wonderful! Hath then the iron-sceptred Skeleton, Whose reign is in the tainted sepulchres, _10 To the hell dogs that couch beneath his throne Cast that fair prey? Must that divinest form, Which love and admiration cannot view Without a beating heart, whose azure veins Steal like dark streams along a field of snow, _15 Whose outline is as fair as marble clothed In light of some sublimest mind, decay? Nor putrefaction's breath Leave aught of this pure spectacle But loathsomeness and ruin?-- _20 Spare aught but a dark theme, On which the lightest heart might moralize? Or is it but that downy-winged slumbers Have charmed their nurse coy Silence near her lids To watch their own repose? _25 Will they, when morning's beam Flows through those wells of light, Seek far from noise and day some western cave, Where woods and streams with soft and pausing winds A lulling murmur weave?-- _30 Ianthe doth not sleep The dreamless sleep of death: Nor in her moonlight chamber silently Doth Henry hear her regular pulses throb, Or mark her delicate cheek _35 With interchange of hues mock the broad moon, Outwatching weary night, Without assured reward. Her dewy eyes are closed; On their translucent lids, whose texture fine _40 Scarce hides the dark blue orbs that burn below With unapparent fire, The baby Sleep is pillowed: Her golden tresses shade The bosom's stainless pride, _45 Twining like tendrils of the parasite Around a marble column. Hark! whence that rushing sound? 'Tis like a wondrous strain that sweeps Around a lonely ruin _50 When west winds sigh and evening waves respond In whispers from the shore: 'Tis wilder than the unmeasured notes Which from the unseen lyres of dells and groves The genii of the breezes sweep. _55 Floating on waves of music and of light, The chariot of the Daemon of the World Descends in silent power: Its shape reposed within: slight as some cloud That catches but the palest tinge of day _60 When evening yields to night, Bright as that fibrous woof when stars indue Its transitory robe. Four shapeless shadows bright and beautiful Draw that strange car of glory, reins of light _65 Check their unearthly speed; they stop and fold Their wings of braided air: The Daemon leaning from the ethereal car Gazed on the slumbering maid. Human eye hath ne'er beheld _70 A shape so wild, so bright, so beautiful, As that which o'er the maiden's charmed sleep Waving a starry wand, Hung like a mist of light. Such sounds as breathed around like odorous winds _75 Of wakening spring arose, Filling the chamber and the moonlight sky. Maiden, the world's supremest spirit Beneath the shadow of her wings Folds all thy memory doth inherit _80 From ruin of divinest things, Feelings that lure thee to betray, And light of thoughts that pass away. For thou hast earned a mighty boon, The truths which wisest poets see _85 Dimly, thy mind may make its own, Rewarding its own majesty, Entranced in some diviner mood Of self-oblivious solitude. Custom, and Faith, and Power thou spurnest; _90 From hate and awe thy heart is free; Ardent and pure as day thou burnest, For dark and cold mortality A living light, to cheer it long, The watch-fires of the world among. _95 Therefore from nature's inner shrine, Where gods and fiends in worship bend, Majestic spirit, be it thine The flame to seize, the veil to rend, Where the vast snake Eternity _100 In charmed sleep doth ever lie. All that inspires thy voice of love, Or speaks in thy unclosing eyes, Or through thy frame doth burn or move, Or think or feel, awake, arise! _105 Spirit, leave for mine and me Earth's unsubstantial mimicry! It ceased, and from the mute and moveless frame A radiant spirit arose, All beautiful in naked purity. _110 Robed in its human hues it did ascend, Disparting as it went the silver clouds, It moved towards the car, and took its seat Beside the Daemon shape. Obedient to the sweep of aery song, _115 The mighty ministers Unfurled their prismy wings. The magic car moved on; The night was fair, innumerable stars Studded heaven's dark blue vault; _120 The eastern wave grew pale With the first smile of morn. The magic car moved on. From the swift sweep of wings The atmosphere in flaming sparkles flew; _125 And where the burning wheels Eddied above the mountain's loftiest peak Was traced a line of lightning. Now far above a rock the utmost verge Of the wide earth it flew, _130 The rival of the Andes, whose dark brow Frowned o'er the silver sea. Far, far below the chariot's stormy path, Calm as a slumbering babe, Tremendous ocean lay. _135 Its broad and silent mirror gave to view The pale and waning stars, The chariot's fiery track, And the grey light of morn Tingeing those fleecy clouds _140 That cradled in their folds the infant dawn. The chariot seemed to fly Through the abyss of an immense concave, Radiant with million constellations, tinged With shades of infinite colour, _145 And semicircled with a belt Flashing incessant meteors. As they approached their goal, The winged shadows seemed to gather speed. The sea no longer was distinguished; earth _150 Appeared a vast and shadowy sphere, suspended In the black concave of heaven With the sun's cloudless orb, Whose rays of rapid light Parted around the chariot's swifter course, _155 And fell like ocean's feathery spray Dashed from the boiling surge Before a vessel's prow. The magic car moved on. Earth's distant orb appeared _160 The smallest light that twinkles in the heavens, Whilst round the chariot's way Innumerable systems widely rolled, And countless spheres diffused An ever varying glory. _165 It was a sight of wonder! Some were horned, And like the moon's argentine crescent hung In the dark dome of heaven; some did shed A clear mild beam like Hesperus, while the sea Yet glows with fading sunlight; others dashed _170 Athwart the night with trains of bickering fire, Like sphered worlds to death and ruin driven; Some shone like stars, and as the chariot passed Bedimmed all other light. Spirit of Nature! here _175 In this interminable wilderness Of worlds, at whose involved immensity Even soaring fancy staggers, Here is thy fitting temple. Yet not the lightest leaf _180 That quivers to the passing breeze Is less instinct with thee,-- Yet not the meanest worm. That lurks in graves and fattens on the dead, Less shares thy eternal breath. _185 Spirit of Nature! thou Imperishable as this glorious scene, Here is thy fitting temple. If solitude hath ever led thy steps To the shore of the immeasurable sea, _190 And thou hast lingered there Until the sun's broad orb Seemed resting on the fiery line of ocean, Thou must have marked the braided webs of gold That without motion hang _195 Over the sinking sphere: Thou must have marked the billowy mountain clouds, Edged with intolerable radiancy, Towering like rocks of jet Above the burning deep: _200 And yet there is a moment When the sun's highest point Peers like a star o'er ocean's western edge, When those far clouds of feathery purple gleam Like fairy lands girt by some heavenly sea: _205 Then has thy rapt imagination soared Where in the midst of all existing things The temple of the mightiest Daemon stands. Yet not the golden islands That gleam amid yon flood of purple light, _210 Nor the feathery curtains That canopy the sun's resplendent couch, Nor the burnished ocean waves Paving that gorgeous dome, So fair, so wonderful a sight _215 As the eternal temple could afford. The elements of all that human thought Can frame of lovely or sublime, did join To rear the fabric of the fane, nor aught Of earth may image forth its majesty. _220 Yet likest evening's vault that faery hall, As heaven low resting on the wave it spread Its floors of flashing light, Its vast and azure dome; And on the verge of that obscure abyss _225 Where crystal battlements o'erhang the gulf Of the dark world, ten thousand spheres diffuse Their lustre through its adamantine gates. The magic car no longer moved; The Daemon and the Spirit _230 Entered the eternal gates. Those clouds of aery gold That slept in glittering billows Beneath the azure canopy, With the ethereal footsteps trembled not; _235 While slight and odorous mists Floated to strains of thrilling melody Through the vast columns and the pearly shrines. The Daemon and the Spirit Approached the overhanging battlement, _240 Below lay stretched the boundless universe! There, far as the remotest line That limits swift imagination's flight. Unending orbs mingled in mazy motion, Immutably fulfilling _245 Eternal Nature's law. Above, below, around, The circling systems formed A wilderness of harmony. Each with undeviating aim _250 In eloquent silence through the depths of space Pursued its wondrous way.-- Awhile the Spirit paused in ecstasy. Yet soon she saw, as the vast spheres swept by, Strange things within their belted orbs appear. _255 Like animated frenzies, dimly moved Shadows, and skeletons, and fiendly shapes, Thronging round human graves, and o'er the dead Sculpturing records for each memory In verse, such as malignant gods pronounce, _260 Blasting the hopes of men, when heaven and hell Confounded burst in ruin o'er the world: And they did build vast trophies, instruments Of murder, human bones, barbaric gold, Skins torn from living men, and towers of skulls _265 With sightless holes gazing on blinder heaven, Mitres, and crowns, and brazen chariots stained With blood, and scrolls of mystic wickedness, The sanguine codes of venerable crime. The likeness of a throned king came by. _270 When these had passed, bearing upon his brow A threefold crown; his countenance was calm. His eye severe and cold; but his right hand Was charged with bloody coin, and he did gnaw By fits, with secret smiles, a human heart _275 Concealed beneath his robe; and motley shapes, A multitudinous throng, around him knelt. With bosoms bare, and bowed heads, and false looks Of true submission, as the sphere rolled by. Brooking no eye to witness their foul shame, _280 Which human hearts must feel, while human tongues Tremble to speak, they did rage horribly, Breathing in self-contempt fierce blasphemies Against the Daemon of the World, and high Hurling their armed hands where the pure Spirit, _285 Serene and inaccessibly secure, Stood on an isolated pinnacle. The flood of ages combating below, The depth of the unbounded universe Above, and all around _290 Necessity's unchanging harmony. PART 2. [Sections 8 and 9 of "Queen Mab" rehandled by Shelley. First printed in 1876 by Mr. H. Buxton Forman, C.B., by whose kind permission it is here reproduced. See Editor's Introductory Note to "Queen Mab".] O happy Earth! reality of Heaven! To which those restless powers that ceaselessly Throng through the human universe aspire; Thou consummation of all mortal hope! _295 Thou glorious prize of blindly-working will! Whose rays, diffused throughout all space and time, Verge to one point and blend for ever there: Of purest spirits thou pure dwelling-place! Where care and sorrow, impotence and crime, _300 Languor, disease, and ignorance dare not come: O happy Earth, reality of Heaven! Genius has seen thee in her passionate dreams, And dim forebodings of thy loveliness, Haunting the human heart, have there entwined _305 Those rooted hopes, that the proud Power of Evil Shall not for ever on this fairest world Shake pestilence and war, or that his slaves With blasphemy for prayer, and human blood For sacrifice, before his shrine for ever _310 In adoration bend, or Erebus With all its banded fiends shall not uprise To overwhelm in envy and revenge The dauntless and the good, who dare to hurl Defiance at his throne, girt tho' it be _315 With Death's omnipotence. Thou hast beheld His empire, o'er the present and the past; It was a desolate sight--now gaze on mine, Futurity. Thou hoary giant Time, Render thou up thy half-devoured babes,-- _320 And from the cradles of eternity, Where millions lie lulled to their portioned sleep By the deep murmuring stream of passing things, Tear thou that gloomy shroud.--Spirit, behold Thy glorious destiny! The Spirit saw _325 The vast frame of the renovated world Smile in the lap of Chaos, and the sense Of hope thro' her fine texture did suffuse Such varying glow, as summer evening casts On undulating clouds and deepening lakes. _330 Like the vague sighings of a wind at even, That wakes the wavelets of the slumbering sea And dies on the creation of its breath, And sinks and rises, fails and swells by fits, Was the sweet stream of thought that with wild motion _335 Flowed o'er the Spirit's human sympathies. The mighty tide of thought had paused awhile, Which from the Daemon now like Ocean's stream Again began to pour.-- To me is given The wonders of the human world to keep- _340 Space, matter, time and mind--let the sight Renew and strengthen all thy failing hope. All things are recreated, and the flame Of consentaneous love inspires all life: The fertile bosom of the earth gives suck _345 To myriads, who still grow beneath her care, Rewarding her with their pure perfectness: The balmy breathings of the wind inhale Her virtues, and diffuse them all abroad: Health floats amid the gentle atmosphere, _350 Glows in the fruits, and mantles on the stream; No storms deform the beaming brow of heaven, Nor scatter in the freshness of its pride The foliage of the undecaying trees; But fruits are ever ripe, flowers ever fair, _355 And Autumn proudly bears her matron grace, Kindling a flush on the fair cheek of Spring, Whose virgin bloom beneath the ruddy fruit Reflects its tint and blushes into love. The habitable earth is full of bliss; _360 Those wastes of frozen billows that were hurled By everlasting snow-storms round the poles, Where matter dared not vegetate nor live, But ceaseless frost round the vast solitude Bound its broad zone of stillness, are unloosed; _365 And fragrant zephyrs there from spicy isles Ruffle the placid ocean-deep, that rolls Its broad, bright surges to the sloping sand, Whose roar is wakened into echoings sweet To murmur through the heaven-breathing groves _370 And melodise with man's blest nature there. The vast tract of the parched and sandy waste Now teems with countless rills and shady woods, Corn-fields and pastures and white cottages; And where the startled wilderness did hear _375 A savage conqueror stained in kindred blood, Hymmng his victory, or the milder snake Crushing the bones of some frail antelope Within his brazen folds--the dewy lawn, Offering sweet incense to the sunrise, smiles _380 To see a babe before his mother's door, Share with the green and golden basilisk That comes to lick his feet, his morning's meal. Those trackless deeps, where many a weary sail Has seen, above the illimitable plain, _385 Morning on night and night on morning rise, Whilst still no land to greet the wanderer spread Its shadowy mountains on the sunbright sea, Where the loud roarings of the tempest-waves So long have mingled with the gusty wind _390 In melancholy loneliness, and swept The desert of those ocean solitudes, But vocal to the sea-bird's harrowing shriek, The bellowing monster, and the rushing storm, Now to the sweet and many-mingling sounds _395 Of kindliest human impulses respond: Those lonely realms bright garden-isles begem, With lightsome clouds and shining seas between, And fertile valleys resonant with bliss, Whilst green woods overcanopy the wave, _400 Which like a toil-worn labourer leaps to shore, To meet the kisses of the flowerets there. Man chief perceives the change, his being notes The gradual renovation, and defines Each movement of its progress on his mind. _405 Man, where the gloom of the long polar night Lowered o'er the snow-clad rocks and frozen soil, Where scarce the hardiest herb that braves the frost Basked in the moonlight's ineffectual glow, Shrank with the plants, and darkened with the night; _410 Nor where the tropics bound the realms of day With a broad belt of mingling cloud and flame, Where blue mists through the unmoving atmosphere Scattered the seeds of pestilence, and fed Unnatural vegetation, where the land _415 Teemed with all earthquake, tempest and disease, Was man a nobler being; slavery Had crushed him to his country's blood-stained dust. Even where the milder zone afforded man A seeming shelter, yet contagion there, _420 Blighting his being with unnumbered ills, Spread like a quenchless fire; nor truth availed Till late to arrest its progress, or create That peace which first in bloodless victory waved Her snowy standard o'er this favoured clime: _425 There man was long the train-bearer of slaves, The mimic of surrounding misery, The jackal of ambition's lion-rage, The bloodhound of religion's hungry zeal. Here now the human being stands adorning _430 This loveliest earth with taintless body and mind; Blest from his birth with all bland impulses, Which gently in his noble bosom wake All kindly passions and all pure desires. Him, still from hope to hope the bliss pursuing, _435 Which from the exhaustless lore of human weal Dawns on the virtuous mind, the thoughts that rise In time-destroying infiniteness gift With self-enshrined eternity, that mocks The unprevailing hoariness of age, _440 And man, once fleeting o'er the transient scene Swift as an unremembered vision, stands Immortal upon earth: no longer now He slays the beast that sports around his dwelling And horribly devours its mangled flesh, _445 Or drinks its vital blood, which like a stream Of poison thro' his fevered veins did flow Feeding a plague that secretly consumed His feeble frame, and kindling in his mind Hatred, despair, and fear and vain belief, _450 The germs of misery, death, disease and crime. No longer now the winged habitants, That in the woods their sweet lives sing away, Flee from the form of man; but gather round, And prune their sunny feathers on the hands _455 Which little children stretch in friendly sport Towards these dreadless partners of their play. All things are void of terror: man has lost His desolating privilege, and stands An equal amidst equals: happiness _460 And science dawn though late upon the earth; Peace cheers the mind, health renovates the frame; Disease and pleasure cease to mingle here, Reason and passion cease to combat there; Whilst mind unfettered o'er the earth extends _465 Its all-subduing energies, and wields The sceptre of a vast dominion there. Mild is the slow necessity of death: The tranquil spirit fails beneath its grasp, Without a groan, almost without a fear, _470 Resigned in peace to the necessity, Calm as a voyager to some distant land, And full of wonder, full of hope as he. The deadly germs of languor and disease Waste in the human frame, and Nature gifts _475 With choicest boons her human worshippers. How vigorous now the athletic form of age! How clear its open and unwrinkled brow! Where neither avarice, cunning, pride, or care, Had stamped the seal of grey deformity _480 On all the mingling lineaments of time. How lovely the intrepid front of youth! How sweet the smiles of taintless infancy. Within the massy prison's mouldering courts, Fearless and free the ruddy children play, _485 Weaving gay chaplets for their innocent brows With the green ivy and the red wall-flower, That mock the dungeon's unavailing gloom; The ponderous chains, and gratings of strong iron, There rust amid the accumulated ruins _490 Now mingling slowly with their native earth: There the broad beam of day, which feebly once Lighted the cheek of lean captivity With a pale and sickly glare, now freely shines On the pure smiles of infant playfulness: _495 No more the shuddering voice of hoarse despair Peals through the echoing vaults, but soothing notes Of ivy-fingered winds and gladsome birds And merriment are resonant around. The fanes of Fear and Falsehood hear no more _500 The voice that once waked multitudes to war Thundering thro' all their aisles: but now respond To the death dirge of the melancholy wind: It were a sight of awfulness to see The works of faith and slavery, so vast, _505 So sumptuous, yet withal so perishing! Even as the corpse that rests beneath their wall. A thousand mourners deck the pomp of death To-day, the breathing marble glows above To decorate its memory, and tongues _510 Are busy of its life: to-morrow, worms In silence and in darkness seize their prey. These ruins soon leave not a wreck behind: Their elements, wide-scattered o'er the globe, To happier shapes are moulded, and become _515 Ministrant to all blissful impulses: Thus human things are perfected, and earth, Even as a child beneath its mother's love, Is strengthened in all excellence, and grows Fairer and nobler with each passing year. _520 Now Time his dusky pennons o'er the scene Closes in steadfast darkness, and the past Fades from our charmed sight. My task is done: Thy lore is learned. Earth's wonders are thine own, With all the fear and all the hope they bring. _525 My spells are past: the present now recurs. Ah me! a pathless wilderness remains Yet unsubdued by man's reclaiming hand. Yet, human Spirit, bravely hold thy course, Let virtue teach thee firmly to pursue _530 The gradual paths of an aspiring change: For birth and life and death, and that strange state Before the naked powers that thro' the world Wander like winds have found a human home, All tend to perfect happiness, and urge _535 The restless wheels of being on their way, Whose flashing spokes, instinct with infinite life, Bicker and burn to gain their destined goal: For birth but wakes the universal mind Whose mighty streams might else in silence flow _540 Thro' the vast world, to individual sense Of outward shows, whose unexperienced shape New modes of passion to its frame may lend; Life is its state of action, and the store Of all events is aggregated there _545 That variegate the eternal universe; Death is a gate of dreariness and gloom, That leads to azure isles and beaming skies And happy regions of eternal hope. Therefore, O Spirit! fearlessly bear on: _550 Though storms may break the primrose on its stalk, Though frosts may blight the freshness of its bloom, Yet spring's awakening breath will woo the earth, To feed with kindliest dews its favourite flower, That blooms in mossy banks and darksome glens, _555 Lighting the green wood with its sunny smile. Fear not then, Spirit, death's disrobing hand, So welcome when the tyrant is awake, So welcome when the bigot's hell-torch flares; 'Tis but the voyage of a darksome hour, _560 The transient gulf-dream of a startling sleep. For what thou art shall perish utterly, But what is thine may never cease to be; Death is no foe to virtue: earth has seen Love's brightest roses on the scaffold bloom, _565 Mingling with freedom's fadeless laurels there, And presaging the truth of visioned bliss. Are there not hopes within thee, which this scene Of linked and gradual being has confirmed? Hopes that not vainly thou, and living fires _570 Of mind as radiant and as pure as thou, Have shone upon the paths of men--return, Surpassing Spirit, to that world, where thou Art destined an eternal war to wage With tyranny and falsehood, and uproot _575 The germs of misery from the human heart. Thine is the hand whose piety would soothe The thorny pillow of unhappy crime, Whose impotence an easy pardon gains, Watching its wanderings as a friend's disease: _580 Thine is the brow whose mildness would defy Its fiercest rage, and brave its sternest will, When fenced by power and master of the world. Thou art sincere and good; of resolute mind, Free from heart-withering custom's cold control, _585 Of passion lofty, pure and unsubdued. Earth's pride and meanness could not vanquish thee, And therefore art thou worthy of the boon Which thou hast now received: virtue shall keep Thy footsteps in the path that thou hast trod, _590 And many days of beaming hope shall bless Thy spotless life of sweet and sacred love. Go, happy one, and give that bosom joy Whose sleepless spirit waits to catch Light, life and rapture from thy smile. _595 The Daemon called its winged ministers. Speechless with bliss the Spirit mounts the car, That rolled beside the crystal battlement, Bending her beamy eyes in thankfulness. The burning wheels inflame _600 The steep descent of Heaven's untrodden way. Fast and far the chariot flew: The mighty globes that rolled Around the gate of the Eternal Fane Lessened by slow degrees, and soon appeared _605 Such tiny twinklers as the planet orbs That ministering on the solar power With borrowed light pursued their narrower way. Earth floated then below: The chariot paused a moment; _610 The Spirit then descended: And from the earth departing The shadows with swift wings Speeded like thought upon the light of Heaven. The Body and the Soul united then, _615 A gentle start convulsed Ianthe's frame: Her veiny eyelids quietly unclosed; Moveless awhile the dark blue orbs remained: She looked around in wonder and beheld Henry, who kneeled in silence by her couch, _620 Watching her sleep with looks of speechless love, And the bright beaming stars That through the casement shone. Notes: _87 Regarding cj. A.C. Bradley.) *** ALASTOR: OR, THE SPIRIT OF SOLITUDE. [Composed at Bishopsgate Heath, near Windsor Park, 1815 (autumn); published, as the title-piece of a slender volume containing other poems (see "Biographical List", by Baldwin, Cradock and Joy, London, 1816 (March). Reprinted--the first edition being sold out--amongst the "Posthumous Poems", 1824. Sources of the text are (1) the editio princeps, 1816; (2) "Posthumous Poems", 1824; (3) "Poetical Works", 1839, editions 1st and 2nd. For (2) and (3) Mrs. Shelley is responsible.] PREFACE. The poem entitled "Alastor" may be considered as allegorical of one of the most interesting situations of the human mind. It represents a youth of uncorrupted feelings and adventurous genius led forth by an imagination inflamed and purified through familiarity with all that is excellent and majestic, to the contemplation of the universe. He drinks deep of the fountains of knowledge, and is still insatiate. The magnificence and beauty of the external world sinks profoundly into the frame of his conceptions, and affords to their modifications at variety not to be exhausted. so long as it is possible for his desires to point towards objects thus infinite and unmeasured, he is joyous, and tranquil, and self-possessed. But the period arrives when these objects cease to suffice. His mind is at length suddenly awakened and thirsts for intercourse with an intelligence similar to itself. He images to himself the Being whom he loves. Conversant with speculations of the sublimest and most perfect natures, the vision in which he embodies his own imaginations unites all of wonderful, or wise, or beautiful, which the poet, the philosopher, or the lover could depicture. The intellectual faculties, the imagination, the functions of sense, have their respective requisitions on the sympathy of corresponding powers in other human beings. The Poet is represented as uniting these requisitions, and attaching them to a single image. He seeks in vain for a prototype of his conception. Blasted by his disappointment, he descends to an untimely grave. The picture is not barren of instruction to actual men. The Poet's self-centred seclusion was avenged by the furies of an irresistible passion pursuing him to speedy ruin. But that Power which strikes the luminaries of the world with sudden darkness and extinction, by awakening them to too exquisite a perception of its influences, dooms to a slow and poisonous decay those manner spirits that dare to abjure its dominion. Their destiny is more abject and inglorious as their delinquency is more contemptible and pernicious. They who, deluded by no generous error, instigated by no sacred thirst of doubtful knowledge, duped by no illustrious superstition, loving nothing on this earth, and cherishing no hopes beyond, yet keep aloof from sympathies with their kind, rejoicing neither in human joy nor mourning with human grief; these, and such as they, have their apportioned curse. They languish, because none feel with them their common nature. They are morally dead. They are neither friends, nor lovers, nor fathers, nor citizens of the world, nor benefactors of their country. Among those who attempt to exist without human sympathy, the pure and tender-hearted perish through the intensity and passion of their search after its communities, when the vacancy of their spirit suddenly makes itself felt. All else, selfish, blind, and torpid, are those unforeseeing multitudes who constitute, together with their own, the lasting misery and loneliness of the world. Those who love not their fellow-beings live unfruitful lives, and prepare for their old age a miserable grave. 'The good die first, And those whose hearts are dry as summer dust, Burn to the socket!' December 14, 1815. ALASTOR: OR, THE SPIRIT OF SOLITUDE. Earth, Ocean, Air, beloved brotherhood! If our great Mother has imbued my soul With aught of natural piety to feel Your love, and recompense the boon with mine; If dewy morn, and odorous noon, and even, _5 With sunset and its gorgeous ministers, And solemn midnight's tingling silentness; If autumn's hollow sighs in the sere wood, And winter robing with pure snow and crowns Of starry ice the grey grass and bare boughs; _10 If spring's voluptuous pantings when she breathes Her first sweet kisses, have been dear to me; If no bright bird, insect, or gentle beast I consciously have injured, but still loved And cherished these my kindred; then forgive _15 This boast, beloved brethren, and withdraw No portion of your wonted favour now! Mother of this unfathomable world! Favour my solemn song, for I have loved Thee ever, and thee only; I have watched _20 Thy shadow, and the darkness of thy steps, And my heart ever gazes on the depth Of thy deep mysteries. I have made my bed In charnels and on coffins, where black death Keeps record of the trophies won from thee, _25 Hoping to still these obstinate questionings Of thee and thine, by forcing some lone ghost, Thy messenger, to render up the tale Of what we are. In lone and silent hours, When night makes a weird sound of its own stillness, _30 Like an inspired and desperate alchymist Staking his very life on some dark hope, Have I mixed awful talk and asking looks With my most innocent love, until strange tears, Uniting with those breathless kisses, made _35 Such magic as compels the charmed night To render up thy charge:...and, though ne'er yet Thou hast unveiled thy inmost sanctuary, Enough from incommunicable dream, And twilight phantasms, and deep noon-day thought, _40 Has shone within me, that serenely now And moveless, as a long-forgotten lyre Suspended in the solitary dome Of some mysterious and deserted fane, I wait thy breath, Great Parent, that my strain _45 May modulate with murmurs of the air, And motions of the forests and the sea, And voice of living beings, and woven hymns Of night and day, and the deep heart of man. There was a Poet whose untimely tomb _50 No human hands with pious reverence reared, But the charmed eddies of autumnal winds Built o'er his mouldering bones a pyramid Of mouldering leaves in the waste wilderness:-- A lovely youth,--no mourning maiden decked _55 With weeping flowers, or votive cypress wreath, The lone couch of his everlasting sleep:-- Gentle, and brave, and generous,--no lorn bard Breathed o'er his dark fate one melodious sigh: He lived, he died, he sung in solitude. _60 Strangers have wept to hear his passionate notes, And virgins, as unknown he passed, have pined And wasted for fond love of his wild eyes. The fire of those soft orbs has ceased to burn, And Silence, too enamoured of that voice, _65 Locks its mute music in her rugged cell. By solemn vision, and bright silver dream His infancy was nurtured. Every sight And sound from the vast earth and ambient air, Sent to his heart its choicest impulses. _70 The fountains of divine philosophy Fled not his thirsting lips, and all of great, Or good, or lovely, which the sacred past In truth or fable consecrates, he felt And knew. When early youth had passed, he left _75 His cold fireside and alienated home To seek strange truths in undiscovered lands. Many a wide waste and tangled wilderness Has lured his fearless steps; and he has bought With his sweet voice and eyes, from savage men, _80 His rest and food. Nature's most secret steps He like her shadow has pursued, where'er The red volcano overcanopies Its fields of snow and pinnacles of ice With burning smoke, or where bitumen lakes _85 On black bare pointed islets ever beat With sluggish surge, or where the secret caves, Rugged and dark, winding among the springs Of fire and poison, inaccessible To avarice or pride, their starry domes _90 Of diamond and of gold expand above Numberless and immeasurable halls, Frequent with crystal column, and clear shrines Of pearl, and thrones radiant with chrysolite. Nor had that scene of ampler majesty _95 Than gems or gold, the varying roof of heaven And the green earth lost in his heart its claims To love and wonder; he would linger long In lonesome vales, making the wild his home, Until the doves and squirrels would partake _100 From his innocuous hand his bloodless food, Lured by the gentle meaning of his looks, And the wild antelope, that starts whene'er The dry leaf rustles in the brake, suspend Her timid steps, to gaze upon a form More graceful than her own. _105 His wandering step, Obedient to high thoughts, has visited The awful ruins of the days of old: Athens, and Tyre, and Balbec, and the waste Where stood Jerusalem, the fallen towers _110 Of Babylon, the eternal pyramids, Memphis and Thebes, and whatsoe'er of strange, Sculptured on alabaster obelisk, Or jasper tomb, or mutilated sphynx, Dark Aethiopia in her desert hills _115 Conceals. Among the ruined temples there, Stupendous columns, and wild images Of more than man, where marble daemons watch The Zodiac's brazen mystery, and dead men Hang their mute thoughts on the mute walls around, _120 He lingered, poring on memorials Of the world's youth: through the long burning day Gazed on those speechless shapes; nor, when the moon Filled the mysterious halls with floating shades Suspended he that task, but ever gazed _125 And gazed, till meaning on his vacant mind Flashed like strong inspiration, and he saw The thrilling secrets of the birth of time. Meanwhile an Arab maiden brought his food, Her daily portion, from her father's tent, _130 And spread her matting for his couch, and stole From duties and repose to tend his steps, Enamoured, yet not daring for deep awe To speak her love:--and watched his nightly sleep, Sleepless herself, to gaze upon his lips _135 Parted in slumber, whence the regular breath Of innocent dreams arose; then, when red morn Made paler the pale moon, to her cold home Wildered, and wan, and panting, she returned. The Poet, wandering on, through Arabie, _140 And Persia, and the wild Carmanian waste, And o'er the aerial mountains which pour down Indus and Oxus from their icy caves, In joy and exultation held his way; Till in the vale of Cashmire, far within _145 Its loneliest dell, where odorous plants entwine Beneath the hollow rocks a natural bower, Beside a sparkling rivulet he stretched His languid limbs. A vision on his sleep There came, a dream of hopes that never yet _150 Had flushed his cheek. He dreamed a veiled maid Sate near him, talking in low solemn tones. Her voice was like the voice of his own soul Heard in the calm of thought; its music long, Like woven sounds of streams and breezes, held _155 His inmost sense suspended in its web Of many-coloured woof and shifting hues. Knowledge and truth and virtue were her theme, And lofty hopes of divine liberty, Thoughts the most dear to him, and poesy, _160 Herself a poet. Soon the solemn mood Of her pure mind kindled through all her frame A permeating fire; wild numbers then She raised, with voice stifled in tremulous sobs Subdued by its own pathos; her fair hands _165 Were bare alone, sweeping from some strange harp Strange symphony, and in their branching veins The eloquent blood told an ineffable tale. The beating of her heart was heard to fill The pauses of her music, and her breath _170 Tumultuously accorded with those fits Of intermitted song. Sudden she rose, As if her heart impatiently endured Its bursting burthen: at the sound he turned, And saw by the warm light of their own life _175 Her glowing limbs beneath the sinuous veil Of woven wind, her outspread arms now bare, Her dark locks floating in the breath of night, Her beamy bending eyes, her parted lips Outstretched, and pale, and quivering eagerly. _180 His strong heart sunk and sickened with excess Of love. He reared his shuddering limbs and quelled His gasping breath, and spread his arms to meet Her panting bosom:...she drew back a while, Then, yielding to the irresistible joy, _185 With frantic gesture and short breathless cry Folded his frame in her dissolving arms. Now blackness veiled his dizzy eyes, and night Involved and swallowed up the vision; sleep, Like a dark flood suspended in its course, _190 Rolled back its impulse on his vacant brain. Roused by the shock he started from his trance-- The cold white light of morning, the blue moon Low in the west, the clear and garish hills, The distinct valley and the vacant woods, _195 Spread round him where he stood. Whither have fled The hues of heaven that canopied his bower Of yesternight? The sounds that soothed his sleep, The mystery and the majesty of Earth, The joy, the exultation? His wan eyes _200 Gaze on the empty scene as vacantly As ocean's moon looks on the moon in heaven. The spirit of sweet human love has sent A vision to the sleep of him who spurned Her choicest gifts. He eagerly pursues _205 Beyond the realms of dream that fleeting shade; He overleaps the bounds. Alas! Alas! Were limbs, and breath, and being intertwined Thus treacherously? Lost, lost, for ever lost In the wide pathless desert of dim sleep, _210 That beautiful shape! Does the dark gate of death Conduct to thy mysterious paradise, O Sleep? Does the bright arch of rainbow clouds And pendent mountains seen in the calm lake, Lead only to a black and watery depth, _215 While death's blue vault, with loathliest vapours hung, Where every shade which the foul grave exhales Hides its dead eye from the detested day, Conducts, O Sleep, to thy delightful realms? This doubt with sudden tide flowed on his heart; _220 The insatiate hope which it awakened, stung His brain even like despair. While daylight held The sky, the Poet kept mute conference With his still soul. At night the passion came, Like the fierce fiend of a distempered dream, _225 And shook him from his rest, and led him forth Into the darkness.--As an eagle, grasped In folds of the green serpent, feels her breast Burn with the poison, and precipitates Through night and day, tempest, and calm, and cloud, _230 Frantic with dizzying anguish, her blind flight O'er the wide aery wilderness: thus driven By the bright shadow of that lovely dream, Beneath the cold glare of the desolate night, Through tangled swamps and deep precipitous dells, _235 Startling with careless step the moonlight snake, He fled. Red morning dawned upon his flight, Shedding the mockery of its vital hues Upon his cheek of death. He wandered on Till vast Aornos seen from Petra's steep _240 Hung o'er the low horizon like a cloud; Through Balk, and where the desolated tombs Of Parthian kings scatter to every wind Their wasting dust, wildly he wandered on, Day after day a weary waste of hours, _245 Bearing within his life the brooding care That ever fed on its decaying flame. And now his limbs were lean; his scattered hair, Sered by the autumn of strange suffering Sung dirges in the wind; his listless hand _250 Hung like dead bone within its withered skin; Life, and the lustre that consumed it, shone As in a furnace burning secretly From his dark eyes alone. The cottagers, Who ministered with human charity _255 His human wants, beheld with wondering awe Their fleeting visitant. The mountaineer, Encountering on some dizzy precipice That spectral form, deemed that the Spirit of wind With lightning eyes, and eager breath, and feet _260 Disturbing not the drifted snow, had paused In its career: the infant would conceal His troubled visage in his mother's robe In terror at the glare of those wild eyes, To remember their strange light in many a dream _265 Of after-times; but youthful maidens, taught By nature, would interpret half the woe That wasted him, would call him with false names Brother and friend, would press his pallid hand At parting, and watch, dim through tears, the path _270 Of his departure from their father's door. At length upon the lone Chorasmian shore He paused, a wide and melancholy waste Of putrid marshes. A strong impulse urged His steps to the sea-shore. A swan was there, _275 Beside a sluggish stream among the reeds. It rose as he approached, and, with strong wings Scaling the upward sky, bent its bright course High over the immeasurable main. His eyes pursued its flight:--'Thou hast a home, _280 Beautiful bird; thou voyagest to thine home, Where thy sweet mate will twine her downy neck With thine, and welcome thy return with eyes Bright in the lustre of their own fond joy. And what am I that I should linger here, _285 With voice far sweeter than thy dying notes, Spirit more vast than thine, frame more attuned To beauty, wasting these surpassing powers In the deaf air, to the blind earth, and heaven That echoes not my thoughts?' A gloomy smile _290 Of desperate hope wrinkled his quivering lips. For sleep, he knew, kept most relentlessly Its precious charge, and silent death exposed, Faithless perhaps as sleep, a shadowy lure, With doubtful smile mocking its own strange charms. _295 Startled by his own thoughts he looked around. There was no fair fiend near him, not a sight Or sound of awe but in his own deep mind. A little shallop floating near the shore Caught the impatient wandering of his gaze. _300 It had been long abandoned, for its sides Gaped wide with many a rift, and its frail joints Swayed with the undulations of the tide. A restless impulse urged him to embark And meet lone Death on the drear ocean's waste; _305 For well he knew that mighty Shadow loves The slimy caverns of the populous deep. The day was fair and sunny; sea and sky Drank its inspiring radiance, and the wind Swept strongly from the shore, blackening the waves. _310 Following his eager soul, the wanderer Leaped in the boat, he spread his cloak aloft On the bare mast, and took his lonely seat, And felt the boat speed o'er the tranquil sea Like a torn cloud before the hurricane. _315 As one that in a silver vision floats Obedient to the sweep of odorous winds Upon resplendent clouds, so rapidly Along the dark and ruffled waters fled The straining boat.--A whirlwind swept it on, _320 With fierce gusts and precipitating force, Through the white ridges of the chafed sea. The waves arose. Higher and higher still Their fierce necks writhed beneath the tempest's scourge Like serpents struggling in a vulture's grasp. _325 Calm and rejoicing in the fearful war Of wave ruining on wave, and blast on blast Descending, and black flood on whirlpool driven With dark obliterating course, he sate: As if their genii were the ministers _330 Appointed to conduct him to the light Of those beloved eyes, the Poet sate, Holding the steady helm. Evening came on, The beams of sunset hung their rainbow hues High 'mid the shifting domes of sheeted spray _335 That canopied his path o'er the waste deep; Twilight, ascending slowly from the east, Entwined in duskier wreaths her braided locks O'er the fair front and radiant eyes of day; Night followed, clad with stars. On every side _340 More horribly the multitudinous streams Of ocean's mountainous waste to mutual war Rushed in dark tumult thundering, as to mock The calm and spangled sky. The little boat Still fled before the storm; still fled, like foam _345 Down the steep cataract of a wintry river; Now pausing on the edge of the riven wave; Now leaving far behind the bursting mass That fell, convulsing ocean: safely fled-- As if that frail and wasted human form, _350 Had been an elemental god. At midnight The moon arose; and lo! the ethereal cliffs Of Caucasus, whose icy summits shone Among the stars like sunlight, and around Whose caverned base the whirlpools and the waves _355 Bursting and eddying irresistibly Rage and resound forever.--Who shall save?-- The boat fled on,--the boiling torrent drove,-- The crags closed round with black and jagged arms, The shattered mountain overhung the sea, _360 And faster still, beyond all human speed, Suspended on the sweep of the smooth wave, The little boat was driven. A cavern there Yawned, and amid its slant and winding depths Ingulfed the rushing sea. The boat fled on _365 With unrelaxing speed.--'Vision and Love!' The Poet cried aloud, 'I have beheld The path of thy departure. Sleep and death Shall not divide us long.' The boat pursued The windings of the cavern. Daylight shone _370 At length upon that gloomy river's flow; Now, where the fiercest war among the waves Is calm, on the unfathomable stream The boat moved slowly. Where the mountain, riven, Exposed those black depths to the azure sky, _375 Ere yet the flood's enormous volume fell Even to the base of Caucasus, with sound That shook the everlasting rocks, the mass Filled with one whirlpool all that ample chasm: Stair above stair the eddying waters rose, _380 Circling immeasurably fast, and laved With alternating dash the gnarled roots Of mighty trees, that stretched their giant arms In darkness over it. I' the midst was left, Reflecting, yet distorting every cloud, _385 A pool of treacherous and tremendous calm. Seized by the sway of the ascending stream, With dizzy swiftness, round, and round, and round, Ridge after ridge the straining boat arose, Till on the verge of the extremest curve, _390 Where, through an opening of the rocky bank, The waters overflow, and a smooth spot Of glassy quiet mid those battling tides Is left, the boat paused shuddering.--Shall it sink Down the abyss? Shall the reverting stress _395 Of that resistless gulf embosom it? Now shall it fall?--A wandering stream of wind, Breathed from the west, has caught the expanded sail, And, lo! with gentle motion, between banks Of mossy slope, and on a placid stream, _400 Beneath a woven grove it sails, and, hark! The ghastly torrent mingles its far roar, With the breeze murmuring in the musical woods. Where the embowering trees recede, and leave A little space of green expanse, the cove _405 Is closed by meeting banks, whose yellow flowers For ever gaze on their own drooping eyes, Reflected in the crystal calm. The wave Of the boat's motion marred their pensive task, Which naught but vagrant bird, or wanton wind, _410 Or falling spear-grass, or their own decay Had e'er disturbed before. The Poet longed To deck with their bright hues his withered hair, But on his heart its solitude returned, And he forbore. Not the strong impulse hid _415 In those flushed cheeks, bent eyes, and shadowy frame Had yet performed its ministry: it hung Upon his life, as lightning in a cloud Gleams, hovering ere it vanish, ere the floods Of night close over it. The noonday sun _420 Now shone upon the forest, one vast mass Of mingling shade, whose brown magnificence A narrow vale embosoms. There, huge caves, Scooped in the dark base of their aery rocks, Mocking its moans, respond and roar for ever. _425 The meeting boughs and implicated leaves Wove twilight o'er the Poet's path, as led By love, or dream, or god, or mightier Death, He sought in Nature's dearest haunt some bank, Her cradle, and his sepulchre. More dark _430 And dark the shades accumulate. The oak, Expanding its immense and knotty arms, Embraces the light beech. The pyramids Of the tall cedar overarching frame Most solemn domes within, and far below, _435 Like clouds suspended in an emerald sky, The ash and the acacia floating hang Tremulous and pale. Like restless serpents, clothed In rainbow and in fire, the parasites, Starred with ten thousand blossoms, flow around _440 The grey trunks, and, as gamesome infants' eyes, With gentle meanings, and most innocent wiles, Fold their beams round the hearts of those that love, These twine their tendrils with the wedded boughs Uniting their close union; the woven leaves _445 Make net-work of the dark blue light of day, And the night's noontide clearness, mutable As shapes in the weird clouds. Soft mossy lawns Beneath these canopies extend their swells, Fragrant with perfumed herbs, and eyed with blooms _450 Minute yet beautiful. One darkest glen Sends from its woods of musk-rose, twined with jasmine, A soul-dissolving odour to invite To some more lovely mystery. Through the dell, Silence and Twilight here, twin-sisters, keep _455 Their noonday watch, and sail among the shades, Like vaporous shapes half-seen; beyond, a well, Dark, gleaming, and of most translucent wave, Images all the woven boughs above, And each depending leaf, and every speck _460 Of azure sky, darting between their chasms; Nor aught else in the liquid mirror laves Its portraiture, but some inconstant star Between one foliaged lattice twinkling fair, Or painted bird, sleeping beneath the moon, _465 Or gorgeous insect floating motionless, Unconscious of the day, ere yet his wings Have spread their glories to the gaze of noon. Hither the Poet came. His eyes beheld Their own wan light through the reflected lines _470 Of his thin hair, distinct in the dark depth Of that still fountain; as the human heart, Gazing in dreams over the gloomy grave, Sees its own treacherous likeness there. He heard The motion of the leaves, the grass that sprung _475 Startled and glanced and trembled even to feel An unaccustomed presence, and the sound Of the sweet brook that from the secret springs Of that dark fountain rose. A Spirit seemed To stand beside him--clothed in no bright robes _480 Of shadowy silver or enshrining light, Borrowed from aught the visible world affords Of grace, or majesty, or mystery;-- But, undulating woods, and silent well, And leaping rivulet, and evening gloom _485 Now deepening the dark shades, for speech assuming, Held commune with him, as if he and it Were all that was,--only...when his regard Was raised by intense pensiveness,...two eyes, Two starry eyes, hung in the gloom of thought, _490 And seemed with their serene and azure smiles To beckon him. Obedient to the light That shone within his soul, he went, pursuing The windings of the dell.--The rivulet, Wanton and wild, through many a green ravine _495 Beneath the forest flowed. Sometimes it fell Among the moss with hollow harmony Dark and profound. Now on the polished stones It danced; like childhood laughing as it went: Then, through the plain in tranquil wanderings crept, _500 Reflecting every herb and drooping bud That overhung its quietness.--'O stream! Whose source is inaccessibly profound, Whither do thy mysterious waters tend? Thou imagest my life. Thy darksome stillness, _505 Thy dazzling waves, thy loud and hollow gulfs, Thy searchless fountain, and invisible course Have each their type in me; and the wide sky. And measureless ocean may declare as soon What oozy cavern or what wandering cloud _510 Contains thy waters, as the universe Tell where these living thoughts reside, when stretched Upon thy flowers my bloodless limbs shall waste I' the passing wind!' Beside the grassy shore Of the small stream he went; he did impress _515 On the green moss his tremulous step, that caught Strong shuddering from his burning limbs. As one Roused by some joyous madness from the couch Of fever, he did move; yet, not like him, Forgetful of the grave, where, when the flame _520 Of his frail exultation shall be spent, He must descend. With rapid steps he went Beneath the shade of trees, beside the flow Of the wild babbling rivulet; and now The forest's solemn canopies were changed _525 For the uniform and lightsome evening sky. Grey rocks did peep from the spare moss, and stemmed The struggling brook; tall spires of windlestrae Threw their thin shadows down the rugged slope, And nought but gnarled roots of ancient pines _530 Branchless and blasted, clenched with grasping roots The unwilling soil. A gradual change was here, Yet ghastly. For, as fast years flow away, The smooth brow gathers, and the hair grows thin And white, and where irradiate dewy eyes _535 Had shone, gleam stony orbs:--so from his steps Bright flowers departed, and the beautiful shade Of the green groves, with all their odorous winds And musical motions. Calm, he still pursued The stream, that with a larger volume now _540 Rolled through the labyrinthine dell; and there Fretted a path through its descending curves With its wintry speed. On every side now rose Rocks, which, in unimaginable forms, Lifted their black and barren pinnacles _545 In the light of evening, and its precipice Obscuring the ravine, disclosed above, Mid toppling stones, black gulfs and yawning caves, Whose windings gave ten thousand various tongues To the loud stream. Lo! where the pass expands _550 Its stony jaws, the abrupt mountain breaks, And seems, with its accumulated crags, To overhang the world: for wide expand Beneath the wan stars and descending moon Islanded seas, blue mountains, mighty streams, _555 Dim tracts and vast, robed in the lustrous gloom Of leaden-coloured even, and fiery hills Mingling their flames with twilight, on the verge Of the remote horizon. The near scene, In naked and severe simplicity, _560 Made contrast with the universe. A pine, Rock-rooted, stretched athwart the vacancy Its swinging boughs, to each inconstant blast Yielding one only response, at each pause In most familiar cadence, with the howl _565 The thunder and the hiss of homeless streams Mingling its solemn song, whilst the broad river Foaming and hurrying o'er its rugged path, Fell into that immeasurable void Scattering its waters to the passing winds. _570 Yet the grey precipice and solemn pine And torrent were not all;--one silent nook Was there. Even on the edge of that vast mountain, Upheld by knotty roots and fallen rocks, It overlooked in its serenity _575 The dark earth, and the bending vault of stars. It was a tranquil spot, that seemed to smile Even in the lap of horror. Ivy clasped The fissured stones with its entwining arms, And did embower with leaves for ever green, _580 And berries dark, the smooth and even space Of its inviolated floor, and here The children of the autumnal whirlwind bore, In wanton sport, those bright leaves, whose decay, Red, yellow, or ethereally pale, _585 Rivals the pride of summer. 'Tis the haunt Of every gentle wind, whose breath can teach The wilds to love tranquillity. One step, One human step alone, has ever broken The stillness of its solitude:--one voice _590 Alone inspired its echoes;--even that voice Which hither came, floating among the winds, And led the loveliest among human forms To make their wild haunts the depository Of all the grace and beauty that endued _595 Its motions, render up its majesty, Scatter its music on the unfeeling storm, And to the damp leaves and blue cavern mould, Nurses of rainbow flowers and branching moss, Commit the colours of that varying cheek, _600 That snowy breast, those dark and drooping eyes. The dim and horned moon hung low, and poured A sea of lustre on the horizon's verge That overflowed its mountains. Yellow mist Filled the unbounded atmosphere, and drank _605 Wan moonlight even to fulness; not a star Shone, not a sound was heard; the very winds, Danger's grim playmates, on that precipice Slept, clasped in his embrace.--O, storm of death! Whose sightless speed divides this sullen night: 610 And thou, colossal Skeleton, that, still Guiding its irresistible career In thy devastating omnipotence, Art king of this frail world, from the red field Of slaughter, from the reeking hospital, _615 The patriot's sacred couch, the snowy bed Of innocence, the scaffold and the throne, A mighty voice invokes thee. Ruin calls His brother Death. A rare and regal prey He hath prepared, prowling around the world; _620 Glutted with which thou mayst repose, and men Go to their graves like flowers or creeping worms, Nor ever more offer at thy dark shrine The unheeded tribute of a broken heart. When on the threshold of the green recess _625 The wanderer's footsteps fell, he knew that death Was on him. Yet a little, ere it fled, Did he resign his high and holy soul To images of the majestic past, That paused within his passive being now, _630 Like winds that bear sweet music, when they breathe Through some dim latticed chamber. He did place His pale lean hand upon the rugged trunk Of the old pine. Upon an ivied stone Reclined his languid head, his limbs did rest, _635 Diffused and motionless, on the smooth brink Of that obscurest chasm;--and thus he lay, Surrendering to their final impulses The hovering powers of life. Hope and despair, The torturers, slept; no mortal pain or fear _640 Marred his repose; the influxes of sense, And his own being unalloyed by pain, Yet feebler and more feeble, calmly fed The stream of thought, till he lay breathing there At peace, and faintly smiling:--his last sight _645 Was the great moon, which o'er the western line Of the wide world her mighty horn suspended, With whose dun beams inwoven darkness seemed To mingle. Now upon the jagged hills It rests; and still as the divided frame _650 Of the vast meteor sunk, the Poet's blood, That ever beat in mystic sympathy With nature's ebb and flow, grew feebler still: And when two lessening points of light alone Gleamed through the darkness, the alternate gasp _655 Of his faint respiration scarce did stir The stagnate night:--till the minutest ray Was quenched, the pulse yet lingered in his heart. It paused--it fluttered. But when heaven remained Utterly black, the murky shades involved _660 An image, silent, cold, and motionless, As their own voiceless earth and vacant air. Even as a vapour fed with golden beams That ministered on sunlight, ere the west Eclipses it, was now that wondrous frame-- _665 No sense, no motion, no divinity-- A fragile lute, on whose harmonious strings The breath of heaven did wander--a bright stream Once fed with many-voiced waves--a dream Of youth, which night and time have quenched for ever, _670 Still, dark, and dry, and unremembered now. Oh, for Medea's wondrous alchemy, Which wheresoe'er it fell made the earth gleam With bright flowers, and the wintry boughs exhale From vernal blooms fresh fragrance! O, that God, _675 Profuse of poisons, would concede the chalice Which but one living man has drained, who now, Vessel of deathless wrath, a slave that feels No proud exemption in the blighting curse He bears, over the world wanders for ever, _680 Lone as incarnate death! O, that the dream Of dark magician in his visioned cave, Raking the cinders of a crucible For life and power, even when his feeble hand Shakes in its last decay, were the true law _685 Of this so lovely world! But thou art fled, Like some frail exhalation; which the dawn Robes in its golden beams,--ah! thou hast fled! The brave, the gentle and the beautiful, The child of grace and genius. Heartless things _690 Are done and said i' the world, and many worms And beasts and men live on, and mighty Earth From sea and mountain, city and wilderness, In vesper low or joyous orison, Lifts still its solemn voice:--but thou art fled-- _695 Thou canst no longer know or love the shapes Of this phantasmal scene, who have to thee Been purest ministers, who are, alas! Now thou art not. Upon those pallid lips So sweet even in their silence, on those eyes _700 That image sleep in death, upon that form Yet safe from the worm's outrage, let no tear Be shed--not even in thought. Nor, when those hues Are gone, and those divinest lineaments, Worn by the senseless wind, shall live alone _705 In the frail pauses of this simple strain, Let not high verse, mourning the memory Of that which is no more, or painting's woe Or sculpture, speak in feeble imagery Their own cold powers. Art and eloquence, _710 And all the shows o' the world are frail and vain To weep a loss that turns their lights to shade. It is a woe "too deep for tears," when all Is reft at once, when some surpassing Spirit, Whose light adorned the world around it, leaves _715 Those who remain behind, not sobs or groans, The passionate tumult of a clinging hope; But pale despair and cold tranquillity, Nature's vast frame, the web of human things, Birth and the grave, that are not as they were. _720 Notes: _219 Conduct edition 1816. See "Editor's Notes". _530 roots edition 1816: query stumps or trunks. See "Editor's Notes". NOTE ON ALASTOR, BY MRS. SHELLEY. "Alastor" is written in a very different tone from "Queen Mab". In the latter, Shelley poured out all the cherished speculations of his youth--all the irrepressible emotions of sympathy, censure, and hope, to which the present suffering, and what he considers the proper destiny of his fellow-creatures, gave birth. "Alastor", on the contrary, contains an individual interest only. A very few years, with their attendant events, had checked the ardour of Shelley's hopes, though he still thought them well-grounded, and that to advance their fulfilment was the noblest task man could achieve. This is neither the time nor place to speak of the misfortunes that chequered his life. It will be sufficient to say that, in all he did, he at the time of doing it believed himself justified to his own conscience; while the various ills of poverty and loss of friends brought home to him the sad realities of life. Physical suffering had also considerable influence in causing him to turn his eyes inward; inclining him rather to brood over the thoughts and emotions of his own soul than to glance abroad, and to make, as in "Queen Mab", the whole universe the object and subject of his song. In the Spring of 1815, an eminent physician pronounced that he was dying rapidly of a consumption; abscesses were formed on his lungs, and he suffered acute spasms. Suddenly a complete change took place; and though through life he was a martyr to pain and debility, every symptom of pulmonary disease vanished. His nerves, which nature had formed sensitive to an unexampled degree, were rendered still more susceptible by the state of his health. As soon as the peace of 1814 had opened the Continent, he went abroad. He visited some of the more magnificent scenes of Switzerland, and returned to England from Lucerne, by the Reuss and the Rhine. This river-navigation enchanted him. In his favourite poem of "Thalaba", his imagination had been excited by a description of such a voyage. In the summer of 1815, after a tour along the southern coast of Devonshire and a visit to Clifton, he rented a house on Bishopgate Heath, on the borders of Windsor Forest, where he enjoyed several months of comparative health and tranquil happiness. The later summer months were warm and dry. Accompanied by a few friends, he visited the source of the Thames, making a voyage in a wherry from Windsor to Crichlade. His beautiful stanzas in the churchyard of Lechlade were written on that occasion. "Alastor" was composed on his return. He spent his days under the oak-shades of Windsor Great Park; and the magnificent woodland was a fitting study to inspire the various descriptions of forest scenery we find in the poem. None of Shelley's poems is more characteristic than this. The solemn spirit that reigns throughout, the worship of the majesty of nature, the broodings of a poet's heart in solitude--the mingling of the exulting joy which the various aspects of the visible universe inspires with the sad and struggling pangs which human passion imparts--give a touching interest to the whole. The death which he had often contemplated during the last months as certain and near he here represented in such colours as had, in his lonely musings, soothed his soul to peace. The versification sustains the solemn spirit which breathes throughout: it is peculiarly melodious. The poem ought rather to be considered didactic than narrative: it was the outpouring of his own emotions, embodied in the purest form he could conceive, painted in the ideal hues which his brilliant imagination inspired, and softened by the recent anticipation of death. *** THE REVOLT OF ISLAM. A POEM IN TWELVE CANTOS. Osais de Broton ethnos aglaiais aptomestha perainei pros eschaton ploon nausi d oute pezos ion an eurois es Uperboreon agona thaumatan odon. Pind. Pyth. x. [Composed in the neighbourhood of Bisham Wood, near Great Marlow, Bucks, 1817 (April-September 23); printed, with title (dated 1818), "Laon and Cythna; or, The Revolution of the Golden City: A Vision of the Nineteenth Century", October, November, 1817, but suppressed, pending revision, by the publishers, C & J. Ollier. (A few copies had got out, but these were recalled, and some recovered.) Published, with a fresh title-page and twenty-seven cancel-leaves, as "The Revolt of Islam", January 10, 1818. Sources of the text are (1) "Laon and Cythna", 1818; (2) "The Revolt of Islam", 1818; (3) "Poetical Works", 1839, editions 1st and 2nd--both edited by Mrs. Shelley. A copy, with several pages missing, of the "Preface", the Dedication", and "Canto 1" of "Laon and Cythna" is amongst the Shelley manuscripts at the Bodleian. For a full collation of this manuscript see Mr. C.D. Locock's "Examination of the Shelley Manuscripts at the Bodleian Library". Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1903. Two manuscript fragments from the Hunt papers are also extant: one (twenty-four lines) in the possession of Mr. W.M. Rossetti, another (9 23 9 to 29 6) in that of Mr. H. Buxton Forman, C.B. See "The Shelley Library", pages 83-86, for an account of the copy of "Laon" upon which Shelley worked in revising for publication.] AUTHOR'S PREFACE. The Poem which I now present to the world is an attempt from which I scarcely dare to expect success, and in which a writer of established fame might fail without disgrace. It is an experiment on the temper of the public mind, as to how far a thirst for a happier condition of moral and political society survives, among the enlightened and refined, the tempests which have shaken the age in which we live. I have sought to enlist the harmony of metrical language, the ethereal combinations of the fancy, the rapid and subtle transitions of human passion, all those elements which essentially compose a Poem, in the cause of a liberal and comprehensive morality; and in the view of kindling within the bosoms of my readers a virtuous enthusiasm for those doctrines of liberty and justice, that faith and hope in something good, which neither violence nor misrepresentation nor prejudice can ever totally extinguish among mankind. For this purpose I have chosen a story of human passion in its most universal character, diversified with moving and romantic adventures, and appealing, in contempt of all artificial opinions or institutions, to the common sympathies of every human breast. I have made no attempt to recommend the motives which I would substitute for those at present governing mankind, by methodical and systematic argument. I would only awaken the feelings, so that the reader should see the beauty of true virtue, and be incited to those inquiries which have led to my moral and political creed, and that of some of the sublimest intellects in the world. The Poem therefore (with the exception of the first canto, which is purely introductory) is narrative, not didactic. It is a succession of pictures illustrating the growth and progress of individual mind aspiring after excellence, and devoted to the love of mankind; its influence in refining and making pure the most daring and uncommon impulses of the imagination, the understanding, and the senses; its impatience at 'all the oppressions which are done under the sun;' its tendency to awaken public hope, and to enlighten and improve mankind; the rapid effects of the application of that tendency; the awakening of an immense nation from their slavery and degradation to a true sense of moral dignity and freedom; the bloodless dethronement of their oppressors, and the unveiling of the religious frauds by which they had been deluded into submission; the tranquillity of successful patriotism, and the universal toleration and benevolence of true philanthropy; the treachery and barbarity of hired soldiers; vice not the object of punishment and hatred, but kindness and pity; the faithlessness of tyrants; the confederacy of the Rulers of the World and the restoration of the expelled Dynasty by foreign arms; the massacre and extermination of the Patriots, and the victory of established power; the consequences of legitimate despotism,--civil war, famine, plague, superstition, and an utter extinction of the domestic affections; the judicial murder of the advocates of Liberty; the temporary triumph of oppression, that secure earnest of its final and inevitable fall; the transient nature of ignorance and error and the eternity of genius and virtue. Such is the series of delineations of which the Poem consists. And, if the lofty passions with which it has been my scope to distinguish this story shall not excite in the reader a generous impulse, an ardent thirst for excellence, an interest profound and strong such as belongs to no meaner desires, let not the failure be imputed to a natural unfitness for human sympathy in these sublime and animating themes. It is the business of the Poet to communicate to others the pleasure and the enthusiasm arising out of those images and feelings in the vivid presence of which within his own mind consists at once his inspiration and his reward. The panic which, like an epidemic transport, seized upon all classes of men during the excesses consequent upon the French Revolution, is gradually giving place to sanity. It has ceased to be believed that whole generations of mankind ought to consign themselves to a hopeless inheritance of ignorance and misery, because a nation of men who had been dupes and slaves for centuries were incapable of conducting themselves with the wisdom and tranquillity of freemen so soon as some of their fetters were partially loosened. That their conduct could not have been marked by any other characters than ferocity and thoughtlessness is the historical fact from which liberty derives all its recommendations, and falsehood the worst features of its deformity. There is a reflux in the tide of human things which bears the shipwrecked hopes of men into a secure haven after the storms are past. Methinks, those who now live have survived an age of despair. The French Revolution may be considered as one of those manifestations of a general state of feeling among civilised mankind produced by a defect of correspondence between the knowledge existing in society and the improvement or gradual abolition of political institutions. The year 1788 may be assumed as the epoch of one of the most important crises produced by this feeling. The sympathies connected with that event extended to every bosom. The most generous and amiable natures were those which participated the most extensively in these sympathies. But such a degree of unmingled good was expected as it was impossible to realise. If the Revolution had been in every respect prosperous, then misrule and superstition would lose half their claims to our abhorrence, as fetters which the captive can unlock with the slightest motion of his fingers, and which do not eat with poisonous rust into the soul. The revulsion occasioned by the atrocities of the demagogues, and the re-establishment of successive tyrannies in France, was terrible, and felt in the remotest corner of the civilised world. Could they listen to the plea of reason who had groaned under the calamities of a social state according to the provisions of which one man riots in luxury whilst another famishes for want of bread? Can he who the day before was a trampled slave suddenly become liberal-minded, forbearing, and independent? This is the consequence of the habits of a state of society to be produced by resolute perseverance and indefatigable hope, and long-suffering and long-believing courage, and the systematic efforts of generations of men of intellect and virtue. Such is the lesson which experience teaches now. But, on the first reverses of hope in the progress of French liberty, the sanguine eagerness for good overleaped the solution of these questions, and for a time extinguished itself in the unexpectedness of their result. Thus, many of the most ardent and tender-hearted of the worshippers of public good have been morally ruined by what a partial glimpse of the events they deplored appeared to show as the melancholy desolation of all their cherished hopes. Hence gloom and misanthropy have become the characteristics of the age in which we live, the solace of a disappointment that unconsciously finds relief only in the wilful exaggeration of its own despair. This influence has tainted the literature of the age with the hopelessness of the minds from which it flows. Metaphysics (I ought to except sir W. Drummond's "Academical Questions"; a volume of very acute and powerful metaphysical criticism.), and inquiries into moral and political science, have become little else than vain attempts to revive exploded superstitions, or sophisms like those of Mr. Malthus (It is remarkable, as a symptom of the revival of public hope, that Mr. Malthus has assigned, in the later editions of his work, an indefinite dominion to moral restraint over the principle of population. This concession answers all the inferences from his doctrine unfavourable to human improvement, and reduces the "Essay on Population" to a commentary illustrative of the unanswerableness of "Political Justice".), calculated to lull the oppressors of mankind into a security of everlasting triumph. Our works of fiction and poetry have been overshadowed by the same infectious gloom. But mankind appear to me to be emerging from their trance. I am aware, methinks, of a slow, gradual, silent change. In that belief I have composed the following Poem. I do not presume to enter into competition with our greatest contemporary Poets. Yet I am unwilling to tread in the footsteps of any who have preceded me. I have sought to avoid the imitation of any style of language or versification peculiar to the original minds of which it is the character; designing that, even if what I have produced be worthless, it should still be properly my own. Nor have I permitted any system relating to mere words to divert the attention of the reader, from whatever interest I may have succeeded in creating, to my own ingenuity in contriving to disgust them according to the rules of criticism. I have simply clothed my thoughts in what appeared to me the most obvious and appropriate language. A person familiar with nature, and with the most celebrated productions of the human mind, can scarcely err in following the instinct, with respect to selection of language, produced by that familiarity. There is an education peculiarly fitted for a Poet, without which genius and sensibility can hardly fill the circle of their capacities. No education, indeed, can entitle to this appellation a dull and unobservant mind, or one, though neither dull nor unobservant, in which the channels of communication between thought and expression have been obstructed or closed. How far it is my fortune to belong to either of the latter classes I cannot know. I aspire to be something better. The circumstances of my accidental education have been favourable to this ambition. I have been familiar from boyhood with mountains and lakes and the sea, and the solitude of forests: Danger, which sports upon the brink of precipices, has been my playmate. I have trodden the glaciers of the Alps, and lived under the eye of Mont Blanc. I have been a wanderer among distant fields. I have sailed down mighty rivers, and seen the sun rise and set, and the stars come forth, whilst I have sailed night and day down a rapid stream among mountains. I have seen populous cities, and have watched the passions which rise and spread, and sink and change, amongst assembled multitudes of men. I have seen the theatre of the more visible ravages of tyranny and war, cities and villages reduced to scattered groups of black and roofless houses, and the naked inhabitants sitting famished upon their desolated thresholds. I have conversed with living men of genius. The poetry of ancient Greece and Rome, and modern Italy, and our own country, has been to me, like external nature, a passion and an enjoyment. Such are the sources from which the materials for the imagery of my Poem have been drawn. I have considered Poetry in its most comprehensive sense; and have read the Poets and the Historians and the Metaphysicians (In this sense there may be such a thing as perfectibility in works of fiction, notwithstanding the concession often made by the advocates of human improvement, that perfectibility is a term applicable only to science.) whose writings have been accessible to me, and have looked upon the beautiful and majestic scenery of the earth, as common sources of those elements which it is the province of the Poet to embody and combine. Yet the experience and the feelings to which I refer do not in themselves constitute men Poets, but only prepares them to be the auditors of those who are. How far I shall be found to possess that more essential attribute of Poetry, the power of awakening in others sensations like those which animate my own bosom, is that which, to speak sincerely, I know not; and which, with an acquiescent and contented spirit, I expect to be taught by the effect which I shall produce upon those whom I now address. I have avoided, as I have said before, the imitation of any contemporary style. But there must be a resemblance, which does not depend upon their own will, between all the writers of any particular age. They cannot escape from subjection to a common influence which arises out of an infinite combination of circumstances belonging to the times in which they live; though each is in a degree the author of the very influence by which his being is thus pervaded. Thus, the tragic poets of the age of Pericles; the Italian revivers of ancient learning; those mighty intellects of our own country that succeeded the Reformation, the translators of the Bible, Shakespeare, Spenser, the Dramatists of the reign of Elizabeth, and Lord Bacon (Milton stands alone in the age which he illumined.); the colder spirits of the interval that succeeded;--all resemble each other, and differ from every other in their several classes. In this view of things, Ford can no more be called the imitator of Shakespeare than Shakespeare the imitator of Ford. There were perhaps few other points of resemblance between these two men than that which the universal and inevitable influence of their age produced. And this is an influence which neither the meanest scribbler nor the sublimest genius of any era can escape; and which I have not attempted to escape. I have adopted the stanza of Spenser (a measure inexpressibly beautiful), not because I consider it a finer model of poetical harmony than the blank verse of Shakespeare and Milton, but because in the latter there is no shelter for mediocrity; you must either succeed or fail. This perhaps an aspiring spirit should desire. But I was enticed also by the brilliancy and magnificence of sound which a mind that has been nourished upon musical thoughts can produce by a just and harmonious arrangement of the pauses of this measure. Yet there will be found some instances where I have completely failed in this attempt, and one, which I here request the reader to consider as an erratum, where there is left, most inadvertently, an alexandrine in the middle of a stanza. But in this, as in every other respect, I have written fearlessly. It is the misfortune of this age that its Writers, too thoughtless of immortality, are exquisitely sensible to temporary praise or blame. They write with the fear of Reviews before their eyes. This system of criticism sprang up in that torpid interval when Poetry was not. Poetry, and the art which professes to regulate and limit its powers, cannot subsist together. Longinus could not have been the contemporary of Homer, nor Boileau of Horace. Yet this species of criticism never presumed to assert an understanding of its own; it has always, unlike true science, followed, not preceded, the opinion of mankind, and would even now bribe with worthless adulation some of our greatest Poets to impose gratuitous fetters on their own imaginations, and become unconscious accomplices in the daily murder of all genius either not so aspiring or not so fortunate as their own. I have sought therefore to write, as I believe that Homer, Shakespeare, and Milton wrote, with an utter disregard of anonymous censure. I am certain that calumny and misrepresentation, though it may move me to compassion, cannot disturb my peace. I shall understand the expressive silence of those sagacious enemies who dare not trust themselves to speak. I shall endeavour to extract, from the midst of insult and contempt and maledictions, those admonitions which may tend to correct whatever imperfections such censurers may discover in this my first serious appeal to the Public. If certain Critics were as clear-sighted as they are malignant, how great would be the benefit to be derived from their virulent writings! As it is, I fear I shall be malicious enough to be amused with their paltry tricks and lame invectives. Should the Public judge that my composition is worthless, I shall indeed bow before the tribunal from which Milton received his crown of immortality, and shall seek to gather, if I live, strength from that defeat, which may nerve me to some new enterprise of thought which may not be worthless. I cannot conceive that Lucretius, when he meditated that poem whose doctrines are yet the basis of our metaphysical knowledge, and whose eloquence has been the wonder of mankind, wrote in awe of such censure as the hired sophists of the impure and superstitious noblemen of Rome might affix to what he should produce. It was at the period when Greece was led captive and Asia made tributary to the Republic, fast verging itself to slavery and ruin, that a multitude of Syrian captives, bigoted to the worship of their obscene Ashtaroth, and the unworthy successors of Socrates and Zeno, found there a precarious subsistence by administering, under the name of freedmen, to the vices and vanities of the great. These wretched men were skilled to plead, with a superficial but plausible set of sophisms, in favour of that contempt for virtue which is the portion of slaves, and that faith in portents, the most fatal substitute for benevolence in the imaginations of men, which, arising from the enslaved communities of the East, then first began to overwhelm the western nations in its stream. Were these the kind of men whose disapprobation the wise and lofty-minded Lucretius should have regarded with a salutary awe? The latest and perhaps the meanest of those who follow in his footsteps would disdain to hold life on such conditions. The Poem now presented to the Public occupied little more than six months in the composition. That period has been devoted to the task with unremitting ardour and enthusiasm. I have exercised a watchful and earnest criticism on my work as it grew under my hands. I would willingly have sent it forth to the world with that perfection which long labour and revision is said to bestow. But I found that, if I should gain something in exactness by this method, I might lose much of the newness and energy of imagery and language as it flowed fresh from my mind. And, although the mere composition occupied no more than six months, the thoughts thus arranged were slowly gathered in as many years. I trust that the reader will carefully distinguish between those opinions which have a dramatic propriety in reference to the characters which they are designed to elucidate, and such as are properly my own. The erroneous and degrading idea which men have conceived of a Supreme Being, for instance, is spoken against, but not the Supreme Being itself. The belief which some superstitious persons whom I have brought upon the stage entertain of the Deity, as injurious to the character of his benevolence, is widely different from my own. In recommending also a great and important change in the spirit which animates the social institutions of mankind, I have avoided all flattery to those violent and malignant passions of our nature which are ever on the watch to mingle with and to alloy the most beneficial innovations. There is no quarter given to Revenge, or Envy, or Prejudice. Love is celebrated everywhere as the sole law which should govern the moral world. DEDICATION. There is no danger to a man that knows What life and death is: there's not any law Exceeds his knowledge; neither is it lawful That he should stoop to any other law.--CHAPMAN. TO MARY -- --. 1. So now my summer-task is ended, Mary, And I return to thee, mine own heart's home; As to his Queen some victor Knight of Faery, Earning bright spoils for her enchanted dome; Nor thou disdain, that ere my fame become _5 A star among the stars of mortal night, If it indeed may cleave its natal gloom, Its doubtful promise thus I would unite With thy beloved name, thou Child of love and light. 2. The toil which stole from thee so many an hour, _10 Is ended,--and the fruit is at thy feet! No longer where the woods to frame a bower With interlaced branches mix and meet, Or where with sound like many voices sweet, Waterfalls leap among wild islands green, _15 Which framed for my lone boat a lone retreat Of moss-grown trees and weeds, shall I be seen; But beside thee, where still my heart has ever been. 3. Thoughts of great deeds were mine, dear Friend, when first The clouds which wrap this world from youth did pass. _20 I do remember well the hour which burst My spirit's sleep. A fresh May-dawn it was, When I walked forth upon the glittering grass, And wept, I knew not why; until there rose From the near schoolroom, voices that, alas! _25 Were but one echo from a world of woes-- The harsh and grating strife of tyrants and of foes. 4. And then I clasped my hands and looked around-- --But none was near to mock my streaming eyes, Which poured their warm drops on the sunny ground-- _30 So without shame I spake:--'I will be wise, And just, and free, and mild, if in me lies Such power, for I grow weary to behold The selfish and the strong still tyrannise Without reproach or check.' I then controlled _35 My tears, my heart grew calm, and I was meek and bold. 5. And from that hour did I with earnest thought Heap knowledge from forbidden mines of lore; Yet nothing that my tyrants knew or taught I cared to learn, but from that secret store _40 Wrought linked armour for my soul, before It might walk forth to war among mankind; Thus power and hope were strengthened more and more Within me, till there came upon my mind A sense of loneliness, a thirst with which I pined. _45 6. Alas, that love should be a blight and snare To those who seek all sympathies in one!-- Such once I sought in vain; then black despair, The shadow of a starless night, was thrown Over the world in which I moved alone:-- _50 Yet never found I one not false to me, Hard hearts, and cold, like weights of icy stone Which crushed and withered mine, that could not be Aught but a lifeless clod, until revived by thee. 7. Thou Friend, whose presence on my wintry heart _55 Fell, like bright Spring upon some herbless plain; How beautiful and calm and free thou wert In thy young wisdom, when the mortal chain Of Custom thou didst burst and rend in twain, And walked as free as light the clouds among, _60 Which many an envious slave then breathed in vain From his dim dungeon, and my spirit sprung To meet thee from the woes which had begirt it long! 8. No more alone through the world's wilderness, Although I trod the paths of high intent, _65 I journeyed now: no more companionless, Where solitude is like despair, I went.-- There is the wisdom of a stern content When Poverty can blight the just and good, When Infamy dares mock the innocent, _70 And cherished friends turn with the multitude To trample: this was ours, and we unshaken stood! 9. Now has descended a serener hour, And with inconstant fortune, friends return; Though suffering leaves the knowledge and the power _75 Which says:--Let scorn be not repaid with scorn. And from thy side two gentle babes are born To fill our home with smiles, and thus are we Most fortunate beneath life's beaming morn; And these delights, and thou, have been to me _80 The parents of the Song I consecrate to thee. 10. Is it that now my inexperienced fingers But strike the prelude of a loftier strain? Or, must the lyre on which my spirit lingers Soon pause in silence, ne'er to sound again, _85 Though it might shake the Anarch Custom's reign, And charm the minds of men to Truth's own sway Holier than was Amphion's? I would fain Reply in hope--but I am worn away, And Death and Love are yet contending for their prey. _90 11. And what art thou? I know, but dare not speak: Time may interpret to his silent years. Yet in the paleness of thy thoughtful cheek, And in the light thine ample forehead wears, And in thy sweetest smiles, and in thy tears, _95 And in thy gentle speech, a prophecy Is whispered, to subdue my fondest fears: And through thine eyes, even in thy soul I see A lamp of vestal fire burning internally. 12. They say that thou wert lovely from thy birth, _100 Of glorious parents thou aspiring Child. I wonder not--for One then left this earth Whose life was like a setting planet mild, Which clothed thee in the radiance undefiled Of its departing glory; still her fame _105 Shines on thee, through the tempests dark and wild Which shake these latter days; and thou canst claim The shelter, from thy Sire, of an immortal name. 13. One voice came forth from many a mighty spirit, Which was the echo of three thousand years; _110 And the tumultuous world stood mute to hear it, As some lone man who in a desert hears The music of his home:--unwonted fears Fell on the pale oppressors of our race, And Faith, and Custom, and low-thoughted cares, _115 Like thunder-stricken dragons, for a space Left the torn human heart, their food and dwelling-place. 14. Truth's deathless voice pauses among mankind! If there must be no response to my cry-- If men must rise and stamp with fury blind _120 On his pure name who loves them,--thou and I, Sweet friend! can look from our tranquillity Like lamps into the world's tempestuous night,-- Two tranquil stars, while clouds are passing by Which wrap them from the foundering seaman's sight, _125 That burn from year to year with unextinguished light. NOTES. _54 cloaking edition 1818. See notes at end. CANTO 1. 1. When the last hope of trampled France had failed Like a brief dream of unremaining glory, From visions of despair I rose, and scaled The peak of an aerial promontory, _130 Whose caverned base with the vexed surge was hoary; And saw the golden dawn break forth, and waken Each cloud, and every wave:--but transitory The calm; for sudden, the firm earth was shaken, As if by the last wreck its frame were overtaken. _135 2. So as I stood, one blast of muttering thunder Burst in far peals along the waveless deep, When, gathering fast, around, above, and under, Long trains of tremulous mist began to creep, Until their complicating lines did steep _140 The orient sun in shadow:--not a sound Was heard; one horrible repose did keep The forests and the floods, and all around Darkness more dread than night was poured upon the ground. 3. Hark! 'tis the rushing of a wind that sweeps _145 Earth and the ocean. See! the lightnings yawn Deluging Heaven with fire, and the lashed deeps Glitter and boil beneath: it rages on, One mighty stream, whirlwind and waves upthrown, Lightning, and hail, and darkness eddying by. _150 There is a pause--the sea-birds, that were gone Into their caves to shriek, come forth, to spy What calm has fall'n on earth, what light is in the sky. 4. For, where the irresistible storm had cloven That fearful darkness, the blue sky was seen _155 Fretted with many a fair cloud interwoven Most delicately, and the ocean green, Beneath that opening spot of blue serene, Quivered like burning emerald; calm was spread On all below; but far on high, between _160 Earth and the upper air, the vast clouds fled, Countless and swift as leaves on autumn's tempest shed. 5. For ever, as the war became more fierce Between the whirlwinds and the rack on high, That spot grew more serene; blue light did pierce _165 The woof of those white clouds, which seem to lie Far, deep, and motionless; while through the sky The pallid semicircle of the moon Passed on, in slow and moving majesty; Its upper horn arrayed in mists, which soon _170 But slowly fled, like dew beneath the beams of noon. 6. I could not choose but gaze; a fascination Dwelt in that moon, and sky, and clouds, which drew My fancy thither, and in expectation Of what I knew not, I remained:--the hue _175 Of the white moon, amid that heaven so blue, Suddenly stained with shadow did appear; A speck, a cloud, a shape, approaching grew, Like a great ship in the sun's sinking sphere Beheld afar at sea, and swift it came anear. _180 7. Even like a bark, which from a chasm of mountains, Dark, vast and overhanging, on a river Which there collects the strength of all its fountains, Comes forth, whilst with the speed its frame doth quiver, Sails, oars and stream, tending to one endeavour; _185 So, from that chasm of light a winged Form On all the winds of heaven approaching ever Floated, dilating as it came; the storm Pursued it with fierce blasts, and lightnings swift and warm. 8. A course precipitous, of dizzy speed, _190 Suspending thought and breath; a monstrous sight! For in the air do I behold indeed An Eagle and a Serpent wreathed in fight:-- And now, relaxing its impetuous flight, Before the aerial rock on which I stood, _195 The Eagle, hovering, wheeled to left and right, And hung with lingering wings over the flood, And startled with its yells the wide air's solitude. 9. A shaft of light upon its wings descended, And every golden feather gleamed therein-- _200 Feather and scale, inextricably blended. The Serpent's mailed and many-coloured skin Shone through the plumes its coils were twined within By many a swoln and knotted fold, and high And far, the neck, receding lithe and thin, _205 Sustained a crested head, which warily Shifted and glanced before the Eagle's steadfast eye. 10. Around, around, in ceaseless circles wheeling With clang of wings and scream, the Eagle sailed Incessantly--sometimes on high concealing _210 Its lessening orbs, sometimes as if it failed, Drooped through the air; and still it shrieked and wailed, And casting back its eager head, with beak And talon unremittingly assailed The wreathed Serpent, who did ever seek _215 Upon his enemy's heart a mortal wound to wreak. 11. What life, what power, was kindled and arose Within the sphere of that appalling fray! For, from the encounter of those wondrous foes, A vapour like the sea's suspended spray _220 Hung gathered; in the void air, far away, Floated the shattered plumes; bright scales did leap, Where'er the Eagle's talons made their way, Like sparks into the darkness;--as they sweep, Blood stains the snowy foam of the tumultuous deep. _225 12. Swift chances in that combat--many a check, And many a change, a dark and wild turmoil; Sometimes the Snake around his enemy's neck Locked in stiff rings his adamantine coil, Until the Eagle, faint with pain and toil, _230 Remitted his strong flight, and near the sea Languidly fluttered, hopeless so to foil His adversary, who then reared on high His red and burning crest, radiant with victory. 13. Then on the white edge of the bursting surge, _235 Where they had sunk together, would the Snake Relax his suffocating grasp, and scourge The wind with his wild writhings; for to break That chain of torment, the vast bird would shake The strength of his unconquerable wings _240 As in despair, and with his sinewy neck, Dissolve in sudden shock those linked rings-- Then soar, as swift as smoke from a volcano springs. 14. Wile baffled wile, and strength encountered strength, Thus long, but unprevailing:--the event _245 Of that portentous fight appeared at length: Until the lamp of day was almost spent It had endured, when lifeless, stark, and rent, Hung high that mighty Serpent, and at last Fell to the sea, while o'er the continent _250 With clang of wings and scream the Eagle passed, Heavily borne away on the exhausted blast. 15. And with it fled the tempest, so that ocean And earth and sky shone through the atmosphere-- Only, 'twas strange to see the red commotion _255 Of waves like mountains o'er the sinking sphere Of sunset sweep, and their fierce roar to hear Amid the calm: down the steep path I wound To the sea-shore--the evening was most clear And beautiful, and there the sea I found _260 Calm as a cradled child in dreamless slumber bound. 16. There was a Woman, beautiful as morning, Sitting beneath the rocks, upon the sand Of the waste sea--fair as one flower adorning An icy wilderness; each delicate hand _265 Lay crossed upon her bosom, and the band Of her dark hair had fall'n, and so she sate Looking upon the waves; on the bare strand Upon the sea-mark a small boat did wait, Fair as herself, like Love by Hope left desolate. _270 17. It seemed that this fair Shape had looked upon That unimaginable fight, and now That her sweet eyes were weary of the sun, As brightly it illustrated her woe; For in the tears which silently to flow _275 Paused not, its lustre hung: she watching aye The foam-wreaths which the faint tide wove below Upon the spangled sands, groaned heavily, And after every groan looked up over the sea. 18. And when she saw the wounded Serpent make _280 His path between the waves, her lips grew pale, Parted, and quivered; the tears ceased to break From her immovable eyes; no voice of wail Escaped her; but she rose, and on the gale Loosening her star-bright robe and shadowy hair _285 Poured forth her voice; the caverns of the vale That opened to the ocean, caught it there, And filled with silver sounds the overflowing air. 19. She spake in language whose strange melody Might not belong to earth. I heard alone, _290 What made its music more melodious be, The pity and the love of every tone; But to the Snake those accents sweet were known His native tongue and hers; nor did he beat The hoar spray idly then, but winding on _295 Through the green shadows of the waves that meet Near to the shore, did pause beside her snowy feet. 20. Then on the sands the Woman sate again, And wept and clasped her hands, and all between, Renewed the unintelligible strain _300 Of her melodious voice and eloquent mien; And she unveiled her bosom, and the green And glancing shadows of the sea did play O'er its marmoreal depth:--one moment seen, For ere the next, the Serpent did obey _305 Her voice, and, coiled in rest in her embrace it lay. 21. Then she arose, and smiled on me with eyes Serene yet sorrowing, like that planet fair, While yet the daylight lingereth in the skies Which cleaves with arrowy beams the dark-red air, _310 And said: 'To grieve is wise, but the despair Was weak and vain which led thee here from sleep: This shalt thou know, and more, if thou dost dare With me and with this Serpent, o'er the deep, A voyage divine and strange, companionship to keep.' _315 22. Her voice was like the wildest, saddest tone, Yet sweet, of some loved voice heard long ago. I wept. 'Shall this fair woman all alone, Over the sea with that fierce Serpent go? His head is on her heart, and who can know _320 How soon he may devour his feeble prey?'-- Such were my thoughts, when the tide gan to flow; And that strange boat like the moon's shade did sway Amid reflected stars that in the waters lay:-- 23. A boat of rare device, which had no sail _325 But its own curved prow of thin moonstone, Wrought like a web of texture fine and frail, To catch those gentlest winds which are not known To breathe, but by the steady speed alone With which it cleaves the sparkling sea; and now _330 We are embarked--the mountains hang and frown Over the starry deep that gleams below, A vast and dim expanse, as o'er the waves we go. 24. And as we sailed, a strange and awful tale That Woman told, like such mysterious dream _335 As makes the slumberer's cheek with wonder pale! 'Twas midnight, and around, a shoreless stream, Wide ocean rolled, when that majestic theme Shrined in her heart found utterance, and she bent Her looks on mine; those eyes a kindling beam _340 Of love divine into my spirit sent, And ere her lips could move, made the air eloquent. 25. 'Speak not to me, but hear! Much shalt thou learn, Much must remain unthought, and more untold, In the dark Future's ever-flowing urn: _345 Know then, that from the depth of ages old Two Powers o'er mortal things dominion hold, Ruling the world with a divided lot, Immortal, all-pervading, manifold, Twin Genii, equal Gods--when life and thought _350 Sprang forth, they burst the womb of inessential Nought. 26. 'The earliest dweller of the world, alone, Stood on the verge of chaos. Lo! afar O'er the wide wild abyss two meteors shone, Sprung from the depth of its tempestuous jar: _355 A blood-red Comet and the Morning Star Mingling their beams in combat--as he stood, All thoughts within his mind waged mutual war, In dreadful sympathy--when to the flood That fair Star fell, he turned and shed his brother's blood. _360 27. 'Thus evil triumphed, and the Spirit of evil, One Power of many shapes which none may know, One Shape of many names; the Fiend did revel In victory, reigning o'er a world of woe, For the new race of man went to and fro, _365 Famished and homeless, loathed and loathing, wild, And hating good--for his immortal foe, He changed from starry shape, beauteous and mild, To a dire Snake, with man and beast unreconciled. 28. 'The darkness lingering o'er the dawn of things, _370 Was Evil's breath and life; this made him strong To soar aloft with overshadowing wings; And the great Spirit of Good did creep among The nations of mankind, and every tongue Cursed and blasphemed him as he passed; for none _375 Knew good from evil, though their names were hung In mockery o'er the fane where many a groan, As King, and Lord, and God, the conquering Fiend did own,-- 29. 'The Fiend, whose name was Legion: Death, Decay, Earthquake and Blight, and Want, and Madness pale, _380 Winged and wan diseases, an array Numerous as leaves that strew the autumnal gale; Poison, a snake in flowers, beneath the veil Of food and mirth, hiding his mortal head; And, without whom all these might nought avail, _385 Fear, Hatred, Faith, and Tyranny, who spread Those subtle nets which snare the living and the dead. 30. 'His spirit is their power, and they his slaves In air, and light, and thought, and language, dwell; And keep their state from palaces to graves, _390 In all resorts of men--invisible, But when, in ebon mirror, Nightmare fell To tyrant or impostor bids them rise, Black winged demon forms--whom, from the hell, His reign and dwelling beneath nether skies, _395 He loosens to their dark and blasting ministries. 31. 'In the world's youth his empire was as firm As its foundations...Soon the Spirit of Good, Though in the likeness of a loathsome worm, Sprang from the billows of the formless flood, _400 Which shrank and fled; and with that Fiend of blood Renewed the doubtful war...Thrones then first shook, And earth's immense and trampled multitude In hope on their own powers began to look, And Fear, the demon pale, his sanguine shrine forsook. _405 32. 'Then Greece arose, and to its bards and sages, In dream, the golden-pinioned Genii came, Even where they slept amid the night of ages, Steeping their hearts in the divinest flame Which thy breath kindled, Power of holiest name! _410 And oft in cycles since, when darkness gave New weapons to thy foe, their sunlike fame Upon the combat shone--a light to save, Like Paradise spread forth beyond the shadowy grave. 33. 'Such is this conflict--when mankind doth strive _415 With its oppressors in a strife of blood, Or when free thoughts, like lightnings, are alive, And in each bosom of the multitude Justice and truth with Custom's hydra brood Wage silent war; when Priests and Kings dissemble _420 In smiles or frowns their fierce disquietude, When round pure hearts a host of hopes assemble, The Snake and Eagle meet--the world's foundations tremble! 34. 'Thou hast beheld that fight--when to thy home Thou dost return, steep not its hearth in tears; _425 Though thou may'st hear that earth is now become The tyrant's garbage, which to his compeers, The vile reward of their dishonoured years, He will dividing give.--The victor Fiend, Omnipotent of yore, now quails, and fears _430 His triumph dearly won, which soon will lend An impulse swift and sure to his approaching end. 35. 'List, stranger, list, mine is an human form, Like that thou wearest--touch me--shrink not now! My hand thou feel'st is not a ghost's, but warm _435 With human blood.--'Twas many years ago, Since first my thirsting soul aspired to know The secrets of this wondrous world, when deep My heart was pierced with sympathy, for woe Which could not be mine own, and thought did keep, _440 In dream, unnatural watch beside an infant's sleep. 36. 'Woe could not be mine own, since far from men I dwelt, a free and happy orphan child, By the sea-shore, in a deep mountain glen; And near the waves, and through the forests wild, _445 I roamed, to storm and darkness reconciled: For I was calm while tempest shook the sky: But when the breathless heavens in beauty smiled, I wept, sweet tears, yet too tumultuously For peace, and clasped my hands aloft in ecstasy. _450 37. 'These were forebodings of my fate--before A woman's heart beat in my virgin breast, It had been nurtured in divinest lore: A dying poet gave me books, and blessed With wild but holy talk the sweet unrest _455 In which I watched him as he died away-- A youth with hoary hair--a fleeting guest Of our lone mountains: and this lore did sway My spirit like a storm, contending there alway. 38. 'Thus the dark tale which history doth unfold _460 I knew, but not, methinks, as others know, For they weep not; and Wisdom had unrolled The clouds which hide the gulf of mortal woe,-- To few can she that warning vision show-- For I loved all things with intense devotion; _465 So that when Hope's deep source in fullest flow, Like earthquake did uplift the stagnant ocean Of human thoughts--mine shook beneath the wide emotion. 39. 'When first the living blood through all these veins Kindled a thought in sense, great France sprang forth, _470 And seized, as if to break, the ponderous chains Which bind in woe the nations of the earth. I saw, and started from my cottage-hearth; And to the clouds and waves in tameless gladness Shrieked, till they caught immeasurable mirth-- _475 And laughed in light and music: soon, sweet madness Was poured upon my heart, a soft and thrilling sadness. 40. 'Deep slumber fell on me:--my dreams were fire-- Soft and delightful thoughts did rest and hover Like shadows o'er my brain; and strange desire, _480 The tempest of a passion, raging over My tranquil soul, its depths with light did cover, Which passed; and calm, and darkness, sweeter far, Came--then I loved; but not a human lover! For when I rose from sleep, the Morning Star _485 Shone through the woodbine-wreaths which round my casement were. 41. ''Twas like an eye which seemed to smile on me. I watched, till by the sun made pale, it sank Under the billows of the heaving sea; But from its beams deep love my spirit drank, _490 And to my brain the boundless world now shrank Into one thought--one image--yes, for ever! Even like the dayspring, poured on vapours dank, The beams of that one Star did shoot and quiver Through my benighted mind--and were extinguished never. _495 42. 'The day passed thus: at night, methought, in dream A shape of speechless beauty did appear: It stood like light on a careering stream Of golden clouds which shook the atmosphere; A winged youth, his radiant brow did wear _500 The Morning Star: a wild dissolving bliss Over my frame he breathed, approaching near, And bent his eyes of kindling tenderness Near mine, and on my lips impressed a lingering kiss,-- 43. 'And said: "A Spirit loves thee, mortal maiden, _505 How wilt thou prove thy worth?" Then joy and sleep Together fled; my soul was deeply laden, And to the shore I went to muse and weep; But as I moved, over my heart did creep A joy less soft, but more profound and strong _510 Than my sweet dream; and it forbade to keep The path of the sea-shore: that Spirit's tongue Seemed whispering in my heart, and bore my steps along. 44. 'How, to that vast and peopled city led, Which was a field of holy warfare then, _515 I walked among the dying and the dead, And shared in fearless deeds with evil men, Calm as an angel in the dragon's den-- How I braved death for liberty and truth, And spurned at peace, and power, and fame--and when _520 Those hopes had lost the glory of their youth, How sadly I returned--might move the hearer's ruth: 45. 'Warm tears throng fast! the tale may not be said-- Know then, that when this grief had been subdued, I was not left, like others, cold and dead; _525 The Spirit whom I loved, in solitude Sustained his child: the tempest-shaken wood, The waves, the fountains, and the hush of night-- These were his voice, and well I understood His smile divine, when the calm sea was bright _530 With silent stars, and Heaven was breathless with delight. 46. 'In lonely glens, amid the roar of rivers, When the dim nights were moonless, have I known Joys which no tongue can tell; my pale lip quivers When thought revisits them:--know thou alone, _535 That after many wondrous years were flown, I was awakened by a shriek of woe; And over me a mystic robe was thrown, By viewless hands, and a bright Star did glow Before my steps--the Snake then met his mortal foe.' _540 47. 'Thou fearest not then the Serpent on thy heart?' 'Fear it!' she said, with brief and passionate cry, And spake no more: that silence made me start-- I looked, and we were sailing pleasantly, Swift as a cloud between the sea and sky; _545 Beneath the rising moon seen far away, Mountains of ice, like sapphire, piled on high, Hemming the horizon round, in silence lay On the still waters--these we did approach alway. 48. And swift and swifter grew the vessel's motion, _550 So that a dizzy trance fell on my brain-- Wild music woke me; we had passed the ocean Which girds the pole, Nature's remotest reign-- And we glode fast o'er a pellucid plain Of waters, azure with the noontide day. _555 Ethereal mountains shone around--a Fane Stood in the midst, girt by green isles which lay On the blue sunny deep, resplendent far away. 49. It was a Temple, such as mortal hand Has never built, nor ecstasy, nor dream _560 Reared in the cities of enchanted land: 'Twas likest Heaven, ere yet day's purple stream Ebbs o'er the western forest, while the gleam Of the unrisen moon among the clouds Is gathering--when with many a golden beam _565 The thronging constellations rush in crowds, Paving with fire the sky and the marmoreal floods. 50. Like what may be conceived of this vast dome, When from the depths which thought can seldom pierce Genius beholds it rise, his native home, _570 Girt by the deserts of the Universe; Yet, nor in painting's light, or mightier verse, Or sculpture's marble language, can invest That shape to mortal sense--such glooms immerse That incommunicable sight, and rest _575 Upon the labouring brain and overburdened breast. 51. Winding among the lawny islands fair, Whose blosmy forests starred the shadowy deep, The wingless boat paused where an ivory stair Its fretwork in the crystal sea did steep, _580 Encircling that vast Fane's aerial heap: We disembarked, and through a portal wide We passed--whose roof of moonstone carved, did keep A glimmering o'er the forms on every side, Sculptures like life and thought, immovable, deep-eyed. _585 52. We came to a vast hall, whose glorious roof Was diamond, which had drunk the lightning's sheen In darkness, and now poured it through the woof Of spell-inwoven clouds hung there to screen Its blinding splendour--through such veil was seen _590 That work of subtlest power, divine and rare; Orb above orb, with starry shapes between, And horned moons, and meteors strange and fair, On night-black columns poised--one hollow hemisphere! 53. Ten thousand columns in that quivering light _595 Distinct--between whose shafts wound far away The long and labyrinthine aisles--more bright With their own radiance than the Heaven of Day; And on the jasper walls around, there lay Paintings, the poesy of mightiest thought, _600 Which did the Spirit's history display; A tale of passionate change, divinely taught, Which, in their winged dance, unconscious Genii wrought. 54. Beneath, there sate on many a sapphire throne, The Great, who had departed from mankind, _605 A mighty Senate;--some, whose white hair shone Like mountain snow, mild, beautiful, and blind; Some, female forms, whose gestures beamed with mind; And ardent youths, and children bright and fair; And some had lyres whose strings were intertwined _610 With pale and clinging flames, which ever there Waked faint yet thrilling sounds that pierced the crystal air. 55. One seat was vacant in the midst, a throne, Reared on a pyramid like sculptured flame, Distinct with circling steps which rested on _615 Their own deep fire--soon as the Woman came Into that hall, she shrieked the Spirit's name And fell; and vanished slowly from the sight. Darkness arose from her dissolving frame, Which gathering, filled that dome of woven light, _620 Blotting its sphered stars with supernatural night. 56. Then first, two glittering lights were seen to glide In circles on the amethystine floor, Small serpent eyes trailing from side to side, Like meteors on a river's grassy shore, _625 They round each other rolled, dilating more And more--then rose, commingling into one, One clear and mighty planet hanging o'er A cloud of deepest shadow, which was thrown Athwart the glowing steps and the crystalline throne. _630 57. The cloud which rested on that cone of flame Was cloven; beneath the planet sate a Form, Fairer than tongue can speak or thought may frame, The radiance of whose limbs rose-like and warm Flowed forth, and did with softest light inform _635 The shadowy dome, the sculptures, and the state Of those assembled shapes--with clinging charm Sinking upon their hearts and mine. He sate Majestic, yet most mild--calm, yet compassionate. 58. Wonder and joy a passing faintness threw _640 Over my brow--a hand supported me, Whose touch was magic strength; an eye of blue Looked into mine, like moonlight, soothingly; And a voice said:--'Thou must a listener be This day--two mighty Spirits now return, _645 Like birds of calm, from the world's raging sea, They pour fresh light from Hope's immortal urn; A tale of human power--despair not--list and learn! 59. I looked, and lo! one stood forth eloquently. His eyes were dark and deep, and the clear brow _650 Which shadowed them was like the morning sky, The cloudless Heaven of Spring, when in their flow Through the bright air, the soft winds as they blow Wake the green world--his gestures did obey The oracular mind that made his features glow, _655 And where his curved lips half-open lay, Passion's divinest stream had made impetuous way. 60. Beneath the darkness of his outspread hair He stood thus beautiful; but there was One Who sate beside him like his shadow there, _660 And held his hand--far lovelier; she was known To be thus fair, by the few lines alone Which through her floating locks and gathered cloak, Glances of soul-dissolving glory, shone:-- None else beheld her eyes--in him they woke _665 Memories which found a tongue as thus he silence broke. CANTO 2. 1. The starlight smile of children, the sweet looks Of women, the fair breast from which I fed, The murmur of the unreposing brooks, And the green light which, shifting overhead, _670 Some tangled bower of vines around me shed, The shells on the sea-sand, and the wild flowers, The lamp-light through the rafters cheerly spread, And on the twining flax--in life's young hours These sights and sounds did nurse my spirit's folded powers. _675 2. In Argolis, beside the echoing sea, Such impulses within my mortal frame Arose, and they were dear to memory, Like tokens of the dead:--but others came Soon, in another shape: the wondrous fame _680 Of the past world, the vital words and deeds Of minds whom neither time nor change can tame, Traditions dark and old, whence evil creeds Start forth, and whose dim shade a stream of poison feeds. 3. I heard, as all have heard, the various story _685 Of human life, and wept unwilling tears. Feeble historians of its shame and glory, False disputants on all its hopes and fears, Victims who worshipped ruin, chroniclers Of daily scorn, and slaves who loathed their state _690 Yet, flattering power, had given its ministers A throne of judgement in the grave:--'twas fate, That among such as these my youth should seek its mate. 4. The land in which I lived, by a fell bane Was withered up. Tyrants dwelt side by side, _695 And stabled in our homes,--until the chain Stifled the captive's cry, and to abide That blasting curse men had no shame--all vied In evil, slave and despot; fear with lust Strange fellowship through mutual hate had tied, _700 Like two dark serpents tangled in the dust, Which on the paths of men their mingling poison thrust. 5. Earth, our bright home, its mountains and its waters, And the ethereal shapes which are suspended Over its green expanse, and those fair daughters, _705 The clouds, of Sun and Ocean, who have blended The colours of the air since first extended It cradled the young world, none wandered forth To see or feel; a darkness had descended On every heart; the light which shows its worth, _710 Must among gentle thoughts and fearless take its birth. 6. This vital world, this home of happy spirits, Was as a dungeon to my blasted kind; All that despair from murdered hope inherits They sought, and in their helpless misery blind, _715 A deeper prison and heavier chains did find, And stronger tyrants:--a dark gulf before, The realm of a stern Ruler, yawned; behind, Terror and Time conflicting drove, and bore On their tempestuous flood the shrieking wretch from shore. _720 7. Out of that Ocean's wrecks had Guilt and Woe Framed a dark dwelling for their homeless thought, And, starting at the ghosts which to and fro Glide o'er its dim and gloomy strand, had brought The worship thence which they each other taught. _725 Well might men loathe their life, well might they turn Even to the ills again from which they sought Such refuge after death!--well might they learn To gaze on this fair world with hopeless unconcern! 8. For they all pined in bondage; body and soul, _730 Tyrant and slave, victim and torturer, bent Before one Power, to which supreme control Over their will by their own weakness lent, Made all its many names omnipotent; All symbols of things evil, all divine; _735 And hymns of blood or mockery, which rent The air from all its fanes, did intertwine Imposture's impious toils round each discordant shrine. 9. I heard, as all have heard, life's various story, And in no careless heart transcribed the tale; _740 But, from the sneers of men who had grown hoary In shame and scorn, from groans of crowds made pale By famine, from a mother's desolate wail O'er her polluted child, from innocent blood Poured on the earth, and brows anxious and pale _745 With the heart's warfare, did I gather food To feed my many thoughts--a tameless multitude! 10. I wandered through the wrecks of days departed Far by the desolated shore, when even O'er the still sea and jagged islets darted _750 The light of moonrise; in the northern Heaven, Among the clouds near the horizon driven, The mountains lay beneath one planet pale; Around me, broken tombs and columns riven Looked vast in twilight, and the sorrowing gale _755 Waked in those ruins gray its everlasting wail! 11. I knew not who had framed these wonders then, Nor had I heard the story of their deeds; But dwellings of a race of mightier men, And monuments of less ungentle creeds _760 Tell their own tale to him who wisely heeds The language which they speak; and now, to me The moonlight making pale the blooming weeds, The bright stars shining in the breathless sea, Interpreted those scrolls of mortal mystery. _765 12. Such man has been, and such may yet become! Ay, wiser, greater, gentler even than they Who on the fragments of yon shattered dome Have stamped the sign of power--I felt the sway Of the vast stream of ages bear away _770 My floating thoughts--my heart beat loud and fast-- Even as a storm let loose beneath the ray Of the still moon, my spirit onward passed Beneath truth's steady beams upon its tumult cast. 13. It shall be thus no more! too long, too long, _775 Sons of the glorious dead, have ye lain bound In darkness and in ruin!--Hope is strong, Justice and Truth their winged child have found-- Awake! arise! until the mighty sound Of your career shall scatter in its gust _780 The thrones of the oppressor, and the ground Hide the last altar's unregarded dust, Whose Idol has so long betrayed your impious trust! 14. It must be so--I will arise and waken The multitude, and like a sulphurous hill, _785 Which on a sudden from its snows has shaken The swoon of ages, it shall burst and fill The world with cleansing fire; it must, it will-- It may not be restrained!--and who shall stand Amid the rocking earthquake steadfast still, _790 But Laon? on high Freedom's desert land A tower whose marble walls the leagued storms withstand! 15. One summer night, in commune with the hope Thus deeply fed, amid those ruins gray I watched, beneath the dark sky's starry cope; _795 And ever from that hour upon me lay The burden of this hope, and night or day, In vision or in dream, clove to my breast: Among mankind, or when gone far away To the lone shores and mountains, 'twas a guest _800 Which followed where I fled, and watched when I did rest. 16. These hopes found words through which my spirit sought To weave a bondage of such sympathy, As might create some response to the thought Which ruled me now--and as the vapours lie _805 Bright in the outspread morning's radiancy, So were these thoughts invested with the light Of language: and all bosoms made reply On which its lustre streamed, whene'er it might Through darkness wide and deep those tranced spirits smite. _810 17. Yes, many an eye with dizzy tears was dim, And oft I thought to clasp my own heart's brother, When I could feel the listener's senses swim, And hear his breath its own swift gaspings smother Even as my words evoked them--and another, _815 And yet another, I did fondly deem, Felt that we all were sons of one great mother; And the cold truth such sad reverse did seem As to awake in grief from some delightful dream. 18. Yes, oft beside the ruined labyrinth _820 Which skirts the hoary caves of the green deep, Did Laon and his friend, on one gray plinth, Round whose worn base the wild waves hiss and leap, Resting at eve, a lofty converse keep: And that this friend was false, may now be said _825 Calmly--that he like other men could weep Tears which are lies, and could betray and spread Snares for that guileless heart which for his own had bled. 19. Then, had no great aim recompensed my sorrow, I must have sought dark respite from its stress _830 In dreamless rest, in sleep that sees no morrow-- For to tread life's dismaying wilderness Without one smile to cheer, one voice to bless, Amid the snares and scoffs of human kind, Is hard--but I betrayed it not, nor less _835 With love that scorned return sought to unbind The interwoven clouds which make its wisdom blind. 20. With deathless minds which leave where they have passed A path of light, my soul communion knew; Till from that glorious intercourse, at last, _840 As from a mine of magic store, I drew Words which were weapons;--round my heart there grew The adamantine armour of their power; And from my fancy wings of golden hue Sprang forth--yet not alone from wisdom's tower, _845 A minister of truth, these plumes young Laon bore. 21. An orphan with my parents lived, whose eyes Were lodestars of delight, which drew me home When I might wander forth; nor did I prize Aught human thing beneath Heaven's mighty dome _850 Beyond this child; so when sad hours were come, And baffled hope like ice still clung to me, Since kin were cold, and friends had now become Heartless and false, I turned from all, to be, Cythna, the only source of tears and smiles to thee. _855 22. What wert thou then? A child most infantine, Yet wandering far beyond that innocent age In all but its sweet looks and mien divine; Even then, methought, with the world's tyrant rage A patient warfare thy young heart did wage, _860 When those soft eyes of scarcely conscious thought Some tale, or thine own fancies, would engage To overflow with tears, or converse fraught With passion, o'er their depths its fleeting light had wrought. 23. She moved upon this earth a shape of brightness, _865 A power, that from its objects scarcely drew One impulse of her being--in her lightness Most like some radiant cloud of morning dew, Which wanders through the waste air's pathless blue, To nourish some far desert; she did seem _870 Beside me, gathering beauty as she grew, Like the bright shade of some immortal dream Which walks, when tempest sleeps, the wave of life's dark stream. 24. As mine own shadow was this child to me, A second self, far dearer and more fair; _875 Which clothed in undissolving radiancy All those steep paths which languor and despair Of human things, had made so dark and bare, But which I trod alone--nor, till bereft Of friends, and overcome by lonely care, _880 Knew I what solace for that loss was left, Though by a bitter wound my trusting heart was cleft. 25. Once she was dear, now she was all I had To love in human life--this playmate sweet, This child of twelve years old--so she was made _885 My sole associate, and her willing feet Wandered with mine where earth and ocean meet, Beyond the aereal mountains whose vast cells The unreposing billows ever beat, Through forests wild and old, and lawny dells _890 Where boughs of incense droop over the emerald wells. 26. And warm and light I felt her clasping hand When twined in mine; she followed where I went, Through the lone paths of our immortal land. It had no waste but some memorial lent _895 Which strung me to my toil--some monument Vital with mind; then Cythna by my side, Until the bright and beaming day were spent, Would rest, with looks entreating to abide, Too earnest and too sweet ever to be denied. _900 27. And soon I could not have refused her--thus For ever, day and night, we two were ne'er Parted, but when brief sleep divided us: And when the pauses of the lulling air Of noon beside the sea had made a lair _905 For her soothed senses, in my arms she slept, And I kept watch over her slumbers there, While, as the shifting visions over her swept, Amid her innocent rest by turns she smiled and wept. 28. And, in the murmur of her dreams was heard _910 Sometimes the name of Laon:--suddenly She would arise, and, like the secret bird Whom sunset wakens, fill the shore and sky With her sweet accents, a wild melody! Hymns which my soul had woven to Freedom, strong _915 The source of passion, whence they rose, to be; Triumphant strains, which, like a spirit's tongue, To the enchanted waves that child of glory sung-- 29. Her white arms lifted through the shadowy stream Of her loose hair. Oh, excellently great _920 Seemed to me then my purpose, the vast theme Of those impassioned songs, when Cythna sate Amid the calm which rapture doth create After its tumult, her heart vibrating, Her spirit o'er the Ocean's floating state _925 From her deep eyes far wandering, on the wing Of visions that were mine, beyond its utmost spring! 30. For, before Cythna loved it, had my song Peopled with thoughts the boundless universe, A mighty congregation, which were strong _930 Where'er they trod the darkness to disperse The cloud of that unutterable curse Which clings upon mankind:--all things became Slaves to my holy and heroic verse, Earth, sea and sky, the planets, life and fame _935 And fate, or whate'er else binds the world's wondrous frame. 31. And this beloved child thus felt the sway Of my conceptions, gathering like a cloud The very wind on which it rolls away: Hers too were all my thoughts, ere yet, endowed _940 With music and with light, their fountains flowed In poesy; and her still and earnest face, Pallid with feelings which intensely glowed Within, was turned on mine with speechless grace, Watching the hopes which there her heart had learned to trace. _945 32. In me, communion with this purest being Kindled intenser zeal, and made me wise In knowledge, which, in hers mine own mind seeing, Left in the human world few mysteries: How without fear of evil or disguise _950 Was Cythna!--what a spirit strong and mild, Which death, or pain or peril could despise, Yet melt in tenderness! what genius wild Yet mighty, was enclosed within one simple child! 33. New lore was this--old age with its gray hair, _955 And wrinkled legends of unworthy things, And icy sneers, is nought: it cannot dare To burst the chains which life for ever flings On the entangled soul's aspiring wings, So is it cold and cruel, and is made _960 The careless slave of that dark power which brings Evil, like blight, on man, who, still betrayed, Laughs o'er the grave in which his living hopes are laid. 34. Nor are the strong and the severe to keep The empire of the world: thus Cythna taught _965 Even in the visions of her eloquent sleep, Unconscious of the power through which she wrought The woof of such intelligible thought, As from the tranquil strength which cradled lay In her smile-peopled rest, my spirit sought _970 Why the deceiver and the slave has sway O'er heralds so divine of truth's arising day. 35. Within that fairest form, the female mind, Untainted by the poison clouds which rest On the dark world, a sacred home did find: _975 But else, from the wide earth's maternal breast, Victorious Evil, which had dispossessed All native power, had those fair children torn, And made them slaves to soothe his vile unrest, And minister to lust its joys forlorn, _980 Till they had learned to breathe the atmosphere of scorn. 36. This misery was but coldly felt, till she Became my only friend, who had endued My purpose with a wider sympathy; Thus, Cythna mourned with me the servitude _985 In which the half of humankind were mewed Victims of lust and hate, the slaves of slaves, She mourned that grace and power were thrown as food To the hyena lust, who, among graves, Over his loathed meal, laughing in agony, raves. _990 37. And I, still gazing on that glorious child, Even as these thoughts flushed o'er her:--'Cythna sweet, Well with the world art thou unreconciled; Never will peace and human nature meet Till free and equal man and woman greet _995 Domestic peace; and ere this power can make In human hearts its calm and holy seat, This slavery must be broken'--as I spake, From Cythna's eyes a light of exultation brake. 38. She replied earnestly:--'It shall be mine, _1000 This task,--mine, Laon!--thou hast much to gain; Nor wilt thou at poor Cythna's pride repine, If she should lead a happy female train To meet thee over the rejoicing plain, When myriads at thy call shall throng around _1005 The Golden City.'--Then the child did strain My arm upon her tremulous heart, and wound Her own about my neck, till some reply she found. 39. I smiled, and spake not.--'Wherefore dost thou smile At what I say? Laon, I am not weak, _1010 And, though my cheek might become pale the while, With thee, if thou desirest, will I seek Through their array of banded slaves to wreak Ruin upon the tyrants. I had thought It was more hard to turn my unpractised cheek _1015 To scorn and shame, and this beloved spot And thee, O dearest friend, to leave and murmur not. 40. 'Whence came I what I am? Thou, Laon, knowest How a young child should thus undaunted be; Methinks, it is a power which thou bestowest, _1020 Through which I seek, by most resembling thee, So to become most good and great and free; Yet far beyond this Ocean's utmost roar, In towers and huts are many like to me, Who, could they see thine eyes, or feel such lore _1025 As I have learnt from them, like me would fear no more. 41. 'Think'st thou that I shall speak unskilfully, And none will heed me? I remember now, How once, a slave in tortures doomed to die, Was saved, because in accents sweet and low _1030 He sung a song his Judge loved long ago, As he was led to death.--All shall relent Who hear me--tears, as mine have flowed, shall flow, Hearts beat as mine now beats, with such intent As renovates the world; a will omnipotent! _1035 42. 'Yes, I will tread Pride's golden palaces, Through Penury's roofless huts and squalid cells Will I descend, where'er in abjectness Woman with some vile slave her tyrant dwells, There with the music of thine own sweet spells _1040 Will disenchant the captives, and will pour For the despairing, from the crystal wells Of thy deep spirit, reason's mighty lore, And power shall then abound, and hope arise once more. 43. 'Can man be free if woman be a slave? _1045 Chain one who lives, and breathes this boundless air, To the corruption of a closed grave! Can they whose mates are beasts, condemned to bear Scorn, heavier far than toil or anguish, dare To trample their oppressors? in their home _1050 Among their babes, thou knowest a curse would wear The shape of woman--hoary Crime would come Behind, and Fraud rebuild religion's tottering dome. 44. 'I am a child:--I would not yet depart. When I go forth alone, bearing the lamp _1055 Aloft which thou hast kindled in my heart, Millions of slaves from many a dungeon damp Shall leap in joy, as the benumbing cramp Of ages leaves their limbs--no ill may harm Thy Cythna ever--truth its radiant stamp _1060 Has fixed, as an invulnerable charm, Upon her children's brow, dark Falsehood to disarm. 45. 'Wait yet awhile for the appointed day-- Thou wilt depart, and I with tears shall stand Watching thy dim sail skirt the ocean gray; _1065 Amid the dwellers of this lonely land I shall remain alone--and thy command Shall then dissolve the world's unquiet trance, And, multitudinous as the desert sand Borne on the storm, its millions shall advance, _1070 Thronging round thee, the light of their deliverance. 46. 'Then, like the forests of some pathless mountain, Which from remotest glens two warring winds Involve in fire which not the loosened fountain Of broadest floods might quench, shall all the kinds _1075 Of evil, catch from our uniting minds The spark which must consume them;--Cythna then Will have cast off the impotence that binds Her childhood now, and through the paths of men Will pass, as the charmed bird that haunts the serpent's den. _1080 47. 'We part!--O Laon, I must dare nor tremble, To meet those looks no more!--Oh, heavy stroke! Sweet brother of my soul! can I dissemble The agony of this thought?'--As thus she spoke The gathered sobs her quivering accents broke, _1085 And in my arms she hid her beating breast. I remained still for tears--sudden she woke As one awakes from sleep, and wildly pressed My bosom, her whole frame impetuously possessed. 48. 'We part to meet again--but yon blue waste, _1090 Yon desert wide and deep, holds no recess, Within whose happy silence, thus embraced We might survive all ills in one caress: Nor doth the grave--I fear 'tis passionless-- Nor yon cold vacant Heaven:--we meet again _1095 Within the minds of men, whose lips shall bless Our memory, and whose hopes its light retain When these dissevered bones are trodden in the plain.' 49. I could not speak, though she had ceased, for now The fountains of her feeling, swift and deep, _1100 Seemed to suspend the tumult of their flow; So we arose, and by the starlight steep Went homeward--neither did we speak nor weep, But, pale, were calm with passion--thus subdued Like evening shades that o'er the mountains creep, _1105 We moved towards our home; where, in this mood, Each from the other sought refuge in solitude. CANTO 3. 1. What thoughts had sway o'er Cythna's lonely slumber That night, I know not; but my own did seem As if they might ten thousand years outnumber _1110 Of waking life, the visions of a dream Which hid in one dim gulf the troubled stream Of mind; a boundless chaos wild and vast, Whose limits yet were never memory's theme: And I lay struggling as its whirlwinds passed, _1115 Sometimes for rapture sick, sometimes for pain aghast. 2. Two hours, whose mighty circle did embrace More time than might make gray the infant world, Rolled thus, a weary and tumultuous space: When the third came, like mist on breezes curled, _1120 From my dim sleep a shadow was unfurled: Methought, upon the threshold of a cave I sate with Cythna; drooping briony, pearled With dew from the wild streamlet's shattered wave, Hung, where we sate to taste the joys which Nature gave. _1125 3. We lived a day as we were wont to live, But Nature had a robe of glory on, And the bright air o'er every shape did weave Intenser hues, so that the herbless stone, The leafless bough among the leaves alone, _1130 Had being clearer than its own could be, And Cythna's pure and radiant self was shown, In this strange vision, so divine to me, That if I loved before, now love was agony. 4. Morn fled, noon came, evening, then night descended, _1135 And we prolonged calm talk beneath the sphere Of the calm moon--when suddenly was blended With our repose a nameless sense of fear; And from the cave behind I seemed to hear Sounds gathering upwards!--accents incomplete, _1140 And stifled shrieks,--and now, more near and near, A tumult and a rush of thronging feet The cavern's secret depths beneath the earth did beat. 5. The scene was changed, and away, away, away! Through the air and over the sea we sped, _1145 And Cythna in my sheltering bosom lay, And the winds bore me--through the darkness spread Around, the gaping earth then vomited Legions of foul and ghastly shapes, which hung Upon my flight; and ever, as we fled, _1150 They plucked at Cythna--soon to me then clung A sense of actual things those monstrous dreams among. 6. And I lay struggling in the impotence Of sleep, while outward life had burst its bound, Though, still deluded, strove the tortured sense _1155 To its dire wanderings to adapt the sound Which in the light of morn was poured around Our dwelling; breathless, pale and unaware I rose, and all the cottage crowded found With armed men, whose glittering swords were bare, _1160 And whose degraded limbs the tyrant's garb did wear. 7. And, ere with rapid lips and gathered brow I could demand the cause--a feeble shriek-- It was a feeble shriek, faint, far and low, Arrested me--my mien grew calm and meek, _1165 And grasping a small knife, I went to seek That voice among the crowd--'twas Cythna's cry! Beneath most calm resolve did agony wreak Its whirlwind rage:--so I passed quietly Till I beheld, where bound, that dearest child did lie. _1170 8. I started to behold her, for delight And exultation, and a joyance free, Solemn, serene and lofty, filled the light Of the calm smile with which she looked on me: So that I feared some brainless ecstasy, _1175 Wrought from that bitter woe, had wildered her-- 'Farewell! farewell!' she said, as I drew nigh; 'At first my peace was marred by this strange stir, Now I am calm as truth--its chosen minister. 9. 'Look not so, Laon--say farewell in hope, _1180 These bloody men are but the slaves who bear Their mistress to her task--it was my scope The slavery where they drag me now, to share, And among captives willing chains to wear Awhile--the rest thou knowest--return, dear friend! _1185 Let our first triumph trample the despair Which would ensnare us now, for in the end, In victory or in death our hopes and fears must blend.' 10. These words had fallen on my unheeding ear, Whilst I had watched the motions of the crew _1190 With seeming-careless glance; not many were Around her, for their comrades just withdrew To guard some other victim--so I drew My knife, and with one impulse, suddenly All unaware three of their number slew, _1195 And grasped a fourth by the throat, and with loud cry My countrymen invoked to death or liberty! 11. What followed then, I know not--for a stroke On my raised arm and naked head, came down, Filling my eyes with blood.--When I awoke, _1200 I felt that they had bound me in my swoon, And up a rock which overhangs the town, By the steep path were bearing me; below, The plain was filled with slaughter,--overthrown The vineyards and the harvests, and the glow _1205 Of blazing roofs shone far o'er the white Ocean's flow. 12. Upon that rock a mighty column stood, Whose capital seemed sculptured in the sky, Which to the wanderers o'er the solitude Of distant seas, from ages long gone by, _1210 Had made a landmark; o'er its height to fly Scarcely the cloud, the vulture, or the blast, Has power--and when the shades of evening lie On Earth and Ocean, its carved summits cast The sunken daylight far through the aerial waste. _1215 13. They bore me to a cavern in the hill Beneath that column, and unbound me there; And one did strip me stark; and one did fill A vessel from the putrid pool; one bare A lighted torch, and four with friendless care _1220 Guided my steps the cavern-paths along, Then up a steep and dark and narrow stair We wound, until the torch's fiery tongue Amid the gushing day beamless and pallid hung. 14. They raised me to the platform of the pile, _1225 That column's dizzy height:--the grate of brass Through which they thrust me, open stood the while, As to its ponderous and suspended mass, With chains which eat into the flesh, alas! With brazen links, my naked limbs they bound: _1230 The grate, as they departed to repass, With horrid clangour fell, and the far sound Of their retiring steps in the dense gloom was drowned. 15. The noon was calm and bright:--around that column The overhanging sky and circling sea _1235 Spread forth in silentness profound and solemn The darkness of brief frenzy cast on me, So that I knew not my own misery: The islands and the mountains in the day Like clouds reposed afar; and I could see _1240 The town among the woods below that lay, And the dark rocks which bound the bright and glassy bay. 16. It was so calm, that scarce the feathery weed Sown by some eagle on the topmost stone Swayed in the air:--so bright, that noon did breed _1245 No shadow in the sky beside mine own-- Mine, and the shadow of my chain alone. Below, the smoke of roofs involved in flame Rested like night, all else was clearly shown In that broad glare; yet sound to me none came, _1250 But of the living blood that ran within my frame. 17. The peace of madness fled, and ah, too soon! A ship was lying on the sunny main, Its sails were flagging in the breathless noon-- Its shadow lay beyond--that sight again _1255 Waked, with its presence, in my tranced brain The stings of a known sorrow, keen and cold: I knew that ship bore Cythna o'er the plain Of waters, to her blighting slavery sold, And watched it with such thoughts as must remain untold. _1260 18. I watched until the shades of evening wrapped Earth like an exhalation--then the bark Moved, for that calm was by the sunset snapped. It moved a speck upon the Ocean dark: Soon the wan stars came forth, and I could mark _1265 Its path no more!--I sought to close mine eyes, But like the balls, their lids were stiff and stark; I would have risen, but ere that I could rise, My parched skin was split with piercing agonies. 19. I gnawed my brazen chain, and sought to sever _1270 Its adamantine links, that I might die: O Liberty! forgive the base endeavour, Forgive me, if, reserved for victory, The Champion of thy faith e'er sought to fly.-- That starry night, with its clear silence, sent _1275 Tameless resolve which laughed at misery Into my soul--linked remembrance lent To that such power, to me such a severe content. 20. To breathe, to be, to hope, or to despair And die, I questioned not; nor, though the Sun _1280 Its shafts of agony kindling through the air Moved over me, nor though in evening dun, Or when the stars their visible courses run, Or morning, the wide universe was spread In dreary calmness round me, did I shun _1285 Its presence, nor seek refuge with the dead From one faint hope whose flower a dropping poison shed. 21. Two days thus passed--I neither raved nor died-- Thirst raged within me, like a scorpion's nest Built in mine entrails; I had spurned aside _1290 The water-vessel, while despair possessed My thoughts, and now no drop remained! The uprest Of the third sun brought hunger--but the crust Which had been left, was to my craving breast Fuel, not food. I chewed the bitter dust, _1295 And bit my bloodless arm, and licked the brazen rust. 22. My brain began to fail when the fourth morn Burst o'er the golden isles--a fearful sleep, Which through the caverns dreary and forlorn Of the riven soul, sent its foul dreams to sweep _1300 With whirlwind swiftness--a fall far and deep,-- A gulf, a void, a sense of senselessness-- These things dwelt in me, even as shadows keep Their watch in some dim charnel's loneliness, A shoreless sea, a sky sunless and planetless! _1305 23. The forms which peopled this terrific trance I well remember--like a choir of devils, Around me they involved a giddy dance; Legions seemed gathering from the misty levels Of Ocean, to supply those ceaseless revels, _1310 Foul, ceaseless shadows:--thought could not divide The actual world from these entangling evils, Which so bemocked themselves, that I descried All shapes like mine own self, hideously multiplied. 24. The sense of day and night, of false and true, _1315 Was dead within me. Yet two visions burst That darkness--one, as since that hour I knew, Was not a phantom of the realms accursed, Where then my spirit dwelt--but of the first I know not yet, was it a dream or no. _1320 But both, though not distincter, were immersed In hues which, when through memory's waste they flow, Make their divided streams more bright and rapid now. 25. Methought that grate was lifted, and the seven Who brought me thither four stiff corpses bare, _1325 And from the frieze to the four winds of Heaven Hung them on high by the entangled hair; Swarthy were three--the fourth was very fair; As they retired, the golden moon upsprung, And eagerly, out in the giddy air, _1330 Leaning that I might eat, I stretched and clung Over the shapeless depth in which those corpses hung. 26. A woman's shape, now lank and cold and blue, The dwelling of the many-coloured worm, Hung there; the white and hollow cheek I drew _1335 To my dry lips--what radiance did inform Those horny eyes? whose was that withered form? Alas, alas! it seemed that Cythna's ghost Laughed in those looks, and that the flesh was warm Within my teeth!--a whirlwind keen as frost _1340 Then in its sinking gulfs my sickening spirit tossed. 27. Then seemed it that a tameless hurricane Arose, and bore me in its dark career Beyond the sun, beyond the stars that wane On the verge of formless space--it languished there, _1345 And dying, left a silence lone and drear, More horrible than famine:--in the deep The shape of an old man did then appear, Stately and beautiful; that dreadful sleep His heavenly smiles dispersed, and I could wake and weep. _1350 28. And, when the blinding tears had fallen, I saw That column, and those corpses, and the moon, And felt the poisonous tooth of hunger gnaw My vitals, I rejoiced, as if the boon Of senseless death would be accorded soon;-- _1355 When from that stony gloom a voice arose, Solemn and sweet as when low winds attune The midnight pines; the grate did then unclose, And on that reverend form the moonlight did repose. 29. He struck my chains, and gently spake and smiled; _1360 As they were loosened by that Hermit old, Mine eyes were of their madness half beguiled, To answer those kind looks; he did enfold His giant arms around me, to uphold My wretched frame; my scorched limbs he wound _1365 In linen moist and balmy, and as cold As dew to drooping leaves;--the chain, with sound Like earthquake, through the chasm of that steep stair did bound, 30. As, lifting me, it fell!--What next I heard, Were billows leaping on the harbour-bar, _1370 And the shrill sea-wind, whose breath idly stirred My hair;--I looked abroad, and saw a star Shining beside a sail, and distant far That mountain and its column, the known mark Of those who in the wide deep wandering are, _1375 So that I feared some Spirit, fell and dark, In trance had lain me thus within a fiendish bark. 31. For now indeed, over the salt sea-billow I sailed: yet dared not look upon the shape Of him who ruled the helm, although the pillow _1380 For my light head was hollowed in his lap, And my bare limbs his mantle did enwrap, Fearing it was a fiend: at last, he bent O'er me his aged face; as if to snap Those dreadful thoughts the gentle grandsire bent, _1385 And to my inmost soul his soothing looks he sent. 32. A soft and healing potion to my lips At intervals he raised--now looked on high, To mark if yet the starry giant dips His zone in the dim sea--now cheeringly, _1390 Though he said little, did he speak to me. 'It is a friend beside thee--take good cheer, Poor victim, thou art now at liberty!' I joyed as those a human tone to hear, Who in cells deep and lone have languished many a year. _1395 33. A dim and feeble joy, whose glimpses oft Were quenched in a relapse of wildering dreams; Yet still methought we sailed, until aloft The stars of night grew pallid, and the beams Of morn descended on the ocean-streams, _1400 And still that aged man, so grand and mild, Tended me, even as some sick mother seems To hang in hope over a dying child, Till in the azure East darkness again was piled. 34. And then the night-wind steaming from the shore, _1405 Sent odours dying sweet across the sea, And the swift boat the little waves which bore, Were cut by its keen keel, though slantingly; Soon I could hear the leaves sigh, and could see The myrtle-blossoms starring the dim grove, _1410 As past the pebbly beach the boat did flee On sidelong wing, into a silent cove, Where ebon pines a shade under the starlight wove. NOTES: _1223 torches' editions 1818, 1839. _1385 bent]meant cj. J. Nettleship. CANTO 4. 1. The old man took the oars, and soon the bark Smote on the beach beside a tower of stone; _1415 It was a crumbling heap, whose portal dark With blooming ivy-trails was overgrown; Upon whose floor the spangling sands were strown, And rarest sea-shells, which the eternal flood, Slave to the mother of the months, had thrown _1420 Within the walls of that gray tower, which stood A changeling of man's art nursed amid Nature's brood. 2. When the old man his boat had anchored, He wound me in his arms with tender care, And very few, but kindly words he said, _1425 And bore me through the tower adown a stair, Whose smooth descent some ceaseless step to wear For many a year had fallen.--We came at last To a small chamber, which with mosses rare Was tapestried, where me his soft hands placed _1430 Upon a couch of grass and oak-leaves interlaced. 3. The moon was darting through the lattices Its yellow light, warm as the beams of day-- So warm, that to admit the dewy breeze, The old man opened them; the moonlight lay _1435 Upon a lake whose waters wove their play Even to the threshold of that lonely home: Within was seen in the dim wavering ray The antique sculptured roof, and many a tome Whose lore had made that sage all that he had become. _1440 4. The rock-built barrier of the sea was past,-- And I was on the margin of a lake, A lonely lake, amid the forests vast And snowy mountains:--did my spirit wake From sleep as many-coloured as the snake _1445 That girds eternity? in life and truth, Might not my heart its cravings ever slake? Was Cythna then a dream, and all my youth, And all its hopes and fears, and all its joy and ruth? 5. Thus madness came again,--a milder madness, _1450 Which darkened nought but time's unquiet flow With supernatural shades of clinging sadness; That gentle Hermit, in my helpless woe, By my sick couch was busy to and fro, Like a strong spirit ministrant of good: _1455 When I was healed, he led me forth to show The wonders of his sylvan solitude, And we together sate by that isle-fretted flood. 6. He knew his soothing words to weave with skill From all my madness told; like mine own heart, _1460 Of Cythna would he question me, until That thrilling name had ceased to make me start, From his familiar lips--it was not art, Of wisdom and of justice when he spoke-- When mid soft looks of pity, there would dart _1465 A glance as keen as is the lightning's stroke When it doth rive the knots of some ancestral oak. 7. Thus slowly from my brain the darkness rolled, My thoughts their due array did re-assume Through the enchantments of that Hermit old; _1470 Then I bethought me of the glorious doom Of those who sternly struggle to relume The lamp of Hope o'er man's bewildered lot, And, sitting by the waters, in the gloom Of eve, to that friend's heart I told my thought-- _1475 That heart which had grown old, but had corrupted not. 8. That hoary man had spent his livelong age In converse with the dead, who leave the stamp Of ever-burning thoughts on many a page, When they are gone into the senseless damp _1480 Of graves;--his spirit thus became a lamp Of splendour, like to those on which it fed; Through peopled haunts, the City and the Camp, Deep thirst for knowledge had his footsteps led, And all the ways of men among mankind he read. _1485 9. But custom maketh blind and obdurate The loftiest hearts;--he had beheld the woe In which mankind was bound, but deemed that fate Which made them abject, would preserve them so; And in such faith, some steadfast joy to know, _1490 He sought this cell: but when fame went abroad That one in Argolis did undergo Torture for liberty, and that the crowd High truths from gifted lips had heard and understood; 10. And that the multitude was gathering wide,-- _1495 His spirit leaped within his aged frame; In lonely peace he could no more abide, But to the land on which the victor's flame Had fed, my native land, the Hermit came: Each heart was there a shield, and every tongue _1500 Was as a sword of truth--young Laon's name Rallied their secret hopes, though tyrants sung Hymns of triumphant joy our scattered tribes among. 11. He came to the lone column on the rock, And with his sweet and mighty eloquence _1505 The hearts of those who watched it did unlock, And made them melt in tears of penitence. They gave him entrance free to bear me thence. 'Since this,' the old man said, 'seven years are spent, While slowly truth on thy benighted sense _1510 Has crept; the hope which wildered it has lent Meanwhile, to me the power of a sublime intent. 12. 'Yes, from the records of my youthful state, And from the lore of bards and sages old, From whatsoe'er my wakened thoughts create _1515 Out of the hopes of thine aspirings bold, Have I collected language to unfold Truth to my countrymen; from shore to shore Doctrines of human power my words have told, They have been heard, and men aspire to more _1520 Than they have ever gained or ever lost of yore. 13. 'In secret chambers parents read, and weep, My writings to their babes, no longer blind; And young men gather when their tyrants sleep, And vows of faith each to the other bind; _1525 And marriageable maidens, who have pined With love, till life seemed melting through their look, A warmer zeal, a nobler hope, now find; And every bosom thus is rapt and shook, Like autumn's myriad leaves in one swoln mountain-brook. _1530 14. 'The tyrants of the Golden City tremble At voices which are heard about the streets; The ministers of fraud can scarce dissemble The lies of their own heart, but when one meets Another at the shrine, he inly weets, _1535 Though he says nothing, that the truth is known; Murderers are pale upon the judgement-seats, And gold grows vile even to the wealthy crone, And laughter fills the Fane, and curses shake the Throne. 15. 'Kind thoughts, and mighty hopes, and gentle deeds _1540 Abound, for fearless love, and the pure law Of mild equality and peace, succeeds To faiths which long have held the world in awe, Bloody and false, and cold:--as whirlpools draw All wrecks of Ocean to their chasm, the sway _1545 Of thy strong genius, Laon, which foresaw This hope, compels all spirits to obey, Which round thy secret strength now throng in wide array. 16. 'For I have been thy passive instrument'-- (As thus the old man spake, his countenance _1550 Gleamed on me like a spirit's)--'thou hast lent To me, to all, the power to advance Towards this unforeseen deliverance From our ancestral chains--ay, thou didst rear That lamp of hope on high, which time nor chance _1555 Nor change may not extinguish, and my share Of good, was o'er the world its gathered beams to bear. 17. 'But I, alas! am both unknown and old, And though the woof of wisdom I know well To dye in hues of language, I am cold _1560 In seeming, and the hopes which inly dwell, My manners note that I did long repel; But Laon's name to the tumultuous throng Were like the star whose beams the waves compel And tempests, and his soul-subduing tongue _1565 Were as a lance to quell the mailed crest of wrong. 18. 'Perchance blood need not flow, if thou at length Wouldst rise, perchance the very slaves would spare Their brethren and themselves; great is the strength Of words--for lately did a maiden fair, _1570 Who from her childhood has been taught to bear The Tyrant's heaviest yoke, arise, and make Her sex the law of truth and freedom hear, And with these quiet words--"for thine own sake I prithee spare me;"--did with ruth so take _1575 19. 'All hearts, that even the torturer who had bound Her meek calm frame, ere it was yet impaled, Loosened her, weeping then; nor could be found One human hand to harm her--unassailed Therefore she walks through the great City, veiled _1580 In virtue's adamantine eloquence, 'Gainst scorn, and death and pain thus trebly mailed, And blending, in the smiles of that defence, The Serpent and the Dove, Wisdom and Innocence. 20. 'The wild-eyed women throng around her path: _1585 From their luxurious dungeons, from the dust Of meaner thralls, from the oppressor's wrath, Or the caresses of his sated lust They congregate:--in her they put their trust; The tyrants send their armed slaves to quell _1590 Her power;--they, even like a thunder-gust Caught by some forest, bend beneath the spell Of that young maiden's speech, and to their chiefs rebel. 21. 'Thus she doth equal laws and justice teach To woman, outraged and polluted long; _1595 Gathering the sweetest fruit in human reach For those fair hands now free, while armed wrong Trembles before her look, though it be strong; Thousands thus dwell beside her, virgins bright, And matrons with their babes, a stately throng! _1600 Lovers renew the vows which they did plight In early faith, and hearts long parted now unite, 22. 'And homeless orphans find a home near her, And those poor victims of the proud, no less, Fair wrecks, on whom the smiling world with stir, _1605 Thrusts the redemption of its wickedness:-- In squalid huts, and in its palaces Sits Lust alone, while o'er the land is borne Her voice, whose awful sweetness doth repress All evil, and her foes relenting turn, _1610 And cast the vote of love in hope's abandoned urn. 23. 'So in the populous City, a young maiden Has baffled Havoc of the prey which he Marks as his own, whene'er with chains o'erladen Men make them arms to hurl down tyranny,-- _1615 False arbiter between the bound and free; And o'er the land, in hamlets and in towns The multitudes collect tumultuously, And throng in arms; but tyranny disowns Their claim, and gathers strength around its trembling thrones. _1620 24. 'Blood soon, although unwillingly, to shed The free cannot forbear--the Queen of Slaves, The hoodwinked Angel of the blind and dead, Custom, with iron mace points to the graves Where her own standard desolately waves _1625 Over the dust of Prophets and of Kings. Many yet stand in her array--"she paves Her path with human hearts," and o'er it flings The wildering gloom of her immeasurable wings. 25. 'There is a plain beneath the City's wall, _1630 Bounded by misty mountains, wide and vast, Millions there lift at Freedom's thrilling call Ten thousand standards wide, they load the blast Which bears one sound of many voices past, And startles on his throne their sceptred foe: _1635 He sits amid his idle pomp aghast, And that his power hath passed away, doth know-- Why pause the victor swords to seal his overthrow? 26. 'The tyrant's guards resistance yet maintain: Fearless, and fierce, and hard as beasts of blood, _1640 They stand a speck amid the peopled plain; Carnage and ruin have been made their food From infancy--ill has become their good, And for its hateful sake their will has wove The chains which eat their hearts. The multitude _1645 Surrounding them, with words of human love, Seek from their own decay their stubborn minds to move. 27. 'Over the land is felt a sudden pause, As night and day those ruthless bands around, The watch of love is kept:--a trance which awes _1650 The thoughts of men with hope; as when the sound Of whirlwind, whose fierce blasts the waves and clouds confound, Dies suddenly, the mariner in fear Feels silence sink upon his heart--thus bound, The conquerors pause, and oh! may freemen ne'er _1655 Clasp the relentless knees of Dread, the murderer! 28. 'If blood be shed, 'tis but a change and choice Of bonds,--from slavery to cowardice A wretched fall!--Uplift thy charmed voice! Pour on those evil men the love that lies _1660 Hovering within those spirit-soothing eyes-- Arise, my friend, farewell!'--As thus he spake, From the green earth lightly I did arise, As one out of dim dreams that doth awake, And looked upon the depth of that reposing lake. _1665 29. I saw my countenance reflected there;-- And then my youth fell on me like a wind Descending on still waters--my thin hair Was prematurely gray, my face was lined With channels, such as suffering leaves behind, _1670 Not age; my brow was pale, but in my cheek And lips a flush of gnawing fire did find Their food and dwelling; though mine eyes might speak A subtle mind and strong within a frame thus weak. 30. And though their lustre now was spent and faded, _1675 Yet in my hollow looks and withered mien The likeness of a shape for which was braided The brightest woof of genius, still was seen-- One who, methought, had gone from the world's scene, And left it vacant--'twas her lover's face-- _1680 It might resemble her--it once had been The mirror of her thoughts, and still the grace Which her mind's shadow cast, left there a lingering trace. 31. What then was I? She slumbered with the dead. Glory and joy and peace, had come and gone. _1685 Doth the cloud perish, when the beams are fled Which steeped its skirts in gold? or, dark and lone, Doth it not through the paths of night unknown, On outspread wings of its own wind upborne Pour rain upon the earth? The stars are shown, _1690 When the cold moon sharpens her silver horn Under the sea, and make the wide night not forlorn. 32. Strengthened in heart, yet sad, that aged man I left, with interchange of looks and tears, And lingering speech, and to the Camp began _1695 My war. O'er many a mountain-chain which rears Its hundred crests aloft, my spirit bears My frame; o'er many a dale and many a moor, And gaily now meseems serene earth wears The blosmy spring's star-bright investiture, _1700 A vision which aught sad from sadness might allure. 33. My powers revived within me, and I went, As one whom winds waft o'er the bending grass, Through many a vale of that broad continent. At night when I reposed, fair dreams did pass _1705 Before my pillow;--my own Cythna was, Not like a child of death, among them ever; When I arose from rest, a woful mass That gentlest sleep seemed from my life to sever, As if the light of youth were not withdrawn for ever. _1710 34. Aye as I went, that maiden who had reared The torch of Truth afar, of whose high deeds The Hermit in his pilgrimage had heard, Haunted my thoughts.--Ah, Hope its sickness feeds With whatsoe'er it finds, or flowers or weeds! _1715 Could she be Cythna?--Was that corpse a shade Such as self-torturing thought from madness breeds? Why was this hope not torture? Yet it made A light around my steps which would not ever fade. NOTES: _1625 Where]When edition 1818. CANTO 5. 1. Over the utmost hill at length I sped, _1720 A snowy steep:--the moon was hanging low Over the Asian mountains, and outspread The plain, the City, and the Camp below, Skirted the midnight Ocean's glimmering flow; The City's moonlit spires and myriad lamps, _1725 Like stars in a sublunar sky did glow, And fires blazed far amid the scattered camps, Like springs of flame, which burst where'er swift Earthquake stamps. 2. All slept but those in watchful arms who stood, And those who sate tending the beacon's light, _1730 And the few sounds from that vast multitude Made silence more profound.--Oh, what a might Of human thought was cradled in that night! How many hearts impenetrably veiled Beat underneath its shade, what secret fight _1735 Evil and good, in woven passions mailed, Waged through that silent throng--a war that never failed! 3. And now the Power of Good held victory. So, through the labyrinth of many a tent, Among the silent millions who did lie _1740 In innocent sleep, exultingly I went; The moon had left Heaven desert now, but lent From eastern morn the first faint lustre showed An armed youth--over his spear he bent His downward face.--'A friend!' I cried aloud, _1745 And quickly common hopes made freemen understood. 4. I sate beside him while the morning beam Crept slowly over Heaven, and talked with him Of those immortal hopes, a glorious theme! Which led us forth, until the stars grew dim: _1750 And all the while, methought, his voice did swim As if it drowned in remembrance were Of thoughts which make the moist eyes overbrim: At last, when daylight 'gan to fill the air, He looked on me, and cried in wonder--'Thou art here!' _1755 5. Then, suddenly, I knew it was the youth In whom its earliest hopes my spirit found; But envious tongues had stained his spotless truth, And thoughtless pride his love in silence bound, And shame and sorrow mine in toils had wound, _1760 Whilst he was innocent, and I deluded; The truth now came upon me, on the ground Tears of repenting joy, which fast intruded, Fell fast, and o'er its peace our mingling spirits brooded. 6. Thus, while with rapid lips and earnest eyes _1765 We talked, a sound of sweeping conflict spread As from the earth did suddenly arise; From every tent roused by that clamour dread, Our bands outsprung and seized their arms--we sped Towards the sound: our tribes were gathering far. _1770 Those sanguine slaves amid ten thousand dead Stabbed in their sleep, trampled in treacherous war The gentle hearts whose power their lives had sought to spare. 7. Like rabid snakes, that sting some gentle child Who brings them food, when winter false and fair _1775 Allures them forth with its cold smiles, so wild They rage among the camp;--they overbear The patriot hosts--confusion, then despair, Descends like night--when 'Laon!' one did cry; Like a bright ghost from Heaven that shout did scare _1780 The slaves, and widening through the vaulted sky, Seemed sent from Earth to Heaven in sign of victory. 8. In sudden panic those false murderers fled, Like insect tribes before the northern gale: But swifter still, our hosts encompassed _1785 Their shattered ranks, and in a craggy vale, Where even their fierce despair might nought avail, Hemmed them around!--and then revenge and fear Made the high virtue of the patriots fail: One pointed on his foe the mortal spear-- _1790 I rushed before its point, and cried 'Forbear, forbear!' 9. The spear transfixed my arm that was uplifted In swift expostulation, and the blood Gushed round its point: I smiled, and--'Oh! thou gifted With eloquence which shall not be withstood, _1795 Flow thus!' I cried in joy, 'thou vital flood, Until my heart be dry, ere thus the cause For which thou wert aught worthy be subdued-- Ah, ye are pale,--ye weep,--your passions pause,-- 'Tis well! ye feel the truth of love's benignant laws. _1800 10. 'Soldiers, our brethren and our friends are slain. Ye murdered them, I think, as they did sleep! Alas, what have ye done? the slightest pain Which ye might suffer, there were eyes to weep, But ye have quenched them--there were smiles to steep _1805 Your hearts in balm, but they are lost in woe; And those whom love did set his watch to keep Around your tents, truth's freedom to bestow, Ye stabbed as they did sleep--but they forgive ye now. 11. 'Oh wherefore should ill ever flow from ill, _1810 And pain still keener pain for ever breed? We all are brethren--even the slaves who kill For hire, are men; and to avenge misdeed On the misdoer, doth but Misery feed With her own broken heart! O Earth, O Heaven! _1815 And thou, dread Nature, which to every deed And all that lives, or is, to be hath given, Even as to thee have these done ill, and are forgiven! 12. 'Join then your hands and hearts, and let the past Be as a grave which gives not up its dead _1820 To evil thoughts.'--A film then overcast My sense with dimness, for the wound, which bled Freshly, swift shadows o'er mine eyes had shed. When I awoke, I lay mid friends and foes, And earnest countenances on me shed _1825 The light of questioning looks, whilst one did close My wound with balmiest herbs, and soothed me to repose; 13. And one whose spear had pierced me, leaned beside With quivering lips and humid eyes;--and all Seemed like some brothers on a journey wide _1830 Gone forth, whom now strange meeting did befall In a strange land, round one whom they might call Their friend, their chief, their father, for assay Of peril, which had saved them from the thrall Of death, now suffering. Thus the vast array _1835 Of those fraternal bands were reconciled that day. 14. Lifting the thunder of their acclamation, Towards the City then the multitude, And I among them, went in joy--a nation Made free by love;--a mighty brotherhood _1840 Linked by a jealous interchange of good; A glorious pageant, more magnificent Than kingly slaves arrayed in gold and blood, When they return from carnage, and are sent In triumph bright beneath the populous battlement. _1845 15. Afar, the city-walls were thronged on high, And myriads on each giddy turret clung, And to each spire far lessening in the sky Bright pennons on the idle winds were hung; As we approached, a shout of joyance sprung _1850 At once from all the crowd, as if the vast And peopled Earth its boundless skies among The sudden clamour of delight had cast, When from before its face some general wreck had passed. 16. Our armies through the City's hundred gates _1855 Were poured, like brooks which to the rocky lair Of some deep lake, whose silence them awaits, Throng from the mountains when the storms are there And, as we passed through the calm sunny air A thousand flower-inwoven crowns were shed, _1860 The token flowers of truth and freedom fair, And fairest hands bound them on many a head, Those angels of love's heaven that over all was spread. 17. I trod as one tranced in some rapturous vision: Those bloody bands so lately reconciled, _1865 Were, ever as they went, by the contrition Of anger turned to love, from ill beguiled, And every one on them more gently smiled, Because they had done evil:--the sweet awe Of such mild looks made their own hearts grow mild, _1870 And did with soft attraction ever draw Their spirits to the love of freedom's equal law. 18. And they, and all, in one loud symphony My name with Liberty commingling, lifted, 'The friend and the preserver of the free! _1875 The parent of this joy!' and fair eyes gifted With feelings, caught from one who had uplifted The light of a great spirit, round me shone; And all the shapes of this grand scenery shifted Like restless clouds before the steadfast sun,-- _1880 Where was that Maid? I asked, but it was known of none. 19. Laone was the name her love had chosen, For she was nameless, and her birth none knew: Where was Laone now?--The words were frozen Within my lips with fear; but to subdue _1885 Such dreadful hope, to my great task was due, And when at length one brought reply, that she To-morrow would appear, I then withdrew To judge what need for that great throng might be, For now the stars came thick over the twilight sea. _1890 20. Yet need was none for rest or food to care, Even though that multitude was passing great, Since each one for the other did prepare All kindly succour--Therefore to the gate Of the Imperial House, now desolate, _1895 I passed, and there was found aghast, alone, The fallen Tyrant!--Silently he sate Upon the footstool of his golden throne, Which, starred with sunny gems, in its own lustre shone. 21. Alone, but for one child, who led before him _1900 A graceful dance: the only living thing Of all the crowd, which thither to adore him Flocked yesterday, who solace sought to bring In his abandonment!--She knew the King Had praised her dance of yore, and now she wove _1905 Its circles, aye weeping and murmuring Mid her sad task of unregarded love, That to no smiles it might his speechless sadness move. 22. She fled to him, and wildly clasped his feet When human steps were heard:--he moved nor spoke, _1910 Nor changed his hue, nor raised his looks to meet The gaze of strangers--our loud entrance woke The echoes of the hall, which circling broke The calm of its recesses,--like a tomb Its sculptured walls vacantly to the stroke _1915 Of footfalls answered, and the twilight's gloom Lay like a charnel's mist within the radiant dome. 23. The little child stood up when we came nigh; Her lips and cheeks seemed very pale and wan, But on her forehead, and within her eye _1920 Lay beauty, which makes hearts that feed thereon Sick with excess of sweetness; on the throne She leaned;--the King, with gathered brow, and lips Wreathed by long scorn, did inly sneer and frown With hue like that when some great painter dips _1925 His pencil in the gloom of earthquake and eclipse. 24. She stood beside him like a rainbow braided Within some storm, when scarce its shadows vast From the blue paths of the swift sun have faded; A sweet and solemn smile, like Cythna's, cast _1930 One moment's light, which made my heart beat fast, O'er that child's parted lips--a gleam of bliss, A shade of vanished days,--as the tears passed Which wrapped it, even as with a father's kiss I pressed those softest eyes in trembling tenderness. _1935 25. The sceptred wretch then from that solitude I drew, and, of his change compassionate, With words of sadness soothed his rugged mood. But he, while pride and fear held deep debate, With sullen guile of ill-dissembled hate _1940 Glared on me as a toothless snake might glare: Pity, not scorn I felt, though desolate The desolator now, and unaware The curses which he mocked had caught him by the hair. 26. I led him forth from that which now might seem _1945 A gorgeous grave: through portals sculptured deep With imagery beautiful as dream We went, and left the shades which tend on sleep Over its unregarded gold to keep Their silent watch.--The child trod faintingly, _1950 And as she went, the tears which she did weep Glanced in the starlight; wildered seemed she, And, when I spake, for sobs she could not answer me. 27. At last the tyrant cried, 'She hungers, slave! Stab her, or give her bread!'--It was a tone _1955 Such as sick fancies in a new-made grave Might hear. I trembled, for the truth was known; He with this child had thus been left alone, And neither had gone forth for food,--but he In mingled pride and awe cowered near his throne, _1960 And she a nursling of captivity Knew nought beyond those walls, nor what such change might be. 28. And he was troubled at a charm withdrawn Thus suddenly; that sceptres ruled no more-- That even from gold the dreadful strength was gone, _1965 Which once made all things subject to its power-- Such wonder seized him, as if hour by hour The past had come again; and the swift fall Of one so great and terrible of yore, To desolateness, in the hearts of all _1970 Like wonder stirred, who saw such awful change befall. 29. A mighty crowd, such as the wide land pours Once in a thousand years, now gathered round The fallen tyrant;--like the rush of showers Of hail in spring, pattering along the ground, _1975 Their many footsteps fell, else came no sound From the wide multitude: that lonely man Then knew the burden of his change, and found, Concealing in the dust his visage wan, Refuge from the keen looks which through his bosom ran. _1980 30. And he was faint withal: I sate beside him Upon the earth, and took that child so fair From his weak arms, that ill might none betide him Or her;--when food was brought to them, her share To his averted lips the child did bear, _1985 But, when she saw he had enough, she ate And wept the while;--the lonely man's despair Hunger then overcame, and of his state Forgetful, on the dust as in a trance he sate. 31. Slowly the silence of the multitudes _1990 Passed, as when far is heard in some lone dell The gathering of a wind among the woods-- 'And he is fallen!' they cry, 'he who did dwell Like famine or the plague, or aught more fell Among our homes, is fallen! the murderer _1995 Who slaked his thirsting soul as from a well Of blood and tears with ruin! he is here! Sunk in a gulf of scorn from which none may him rear!' 32. Then was heard--'He who judged let him be brought To judgement! blood for blood cries from the soil _2000 On which his crimes have deep pollution wrought! Shall Othman only unavenged despoil? Shall they who by the stress of grinding toil Wrest from the unwilling earth his luxuries, Perish for crime, while his foul blood may boil, _2005 Or creep within his veins at will?--Arise! And to high justice make her chosen sacrifice!' 33. 'What do ye seek? what fear ye,' then I cried, Suddenly starting forth, 'that ye should shed The blood of Othman?--if your hearts are tried _2010 In the true love of freedom, cease to dread This one poor lonely man--beneath Heaven spread In purest light above us all, through earth-- Maternal earth, who doth her sweet smiles shed For all, let him go free; until the worth _2015 Of human nature win from these a second birth. 34. 'What call ye "justice"? Is there one who ne'er In secret thought has wished another's ill?-- Are ye all pure? Let those stand forth who hear And tremble not. Shall they insult and kill, _2020 If such they be? their mild eyes can they fill With the false anger of the hypocrite? Alas, such were not pure!--the chastened will Of virtue sees that justice is the light Of love, and not revenge, and terror and despite.' _2025 35. The murmur of the people, slowly dying, Paused as I spake, then those who near me were, Cast gentle looks where the lone man was lying Shrouding his head, which now that infant fair Clasped on her lap in silence;--through the air _2030 Sobs were then heard, and many kissed my feet In pity's madness, and to the despair Of him whom late they cursed, a solace sweet His very victims brought--soft looks and speeches meet. 36. Then to a home for his repose assigned, _2035 Accompanied by the still throng, he went In silence, where, to soothe his rankling mind, Some likeness of his ancient state was lent; And if his heart could have been innocent As those who pardoned him, he might have ended _2040 His days in peace; but his straight lips were bent, Men said, into a smile which guile portended, A sight with which that child like hope with fear was blended. 37. 'Twas midnight now, the eve of that great day Whereon the many nations at whose call _2045 The chains of earth like mist melted away, Decreed to hold a sacred Festival, A rite to attest the equality of all Who live. So to their homes, to dream or wake All went. The sleepless silence did recall _2050 Laone to my thoughts, with hopes that make The flood recede from which their thirst they seek to slake. 38. The dawn flowed forth, and from its purple fountains I drank those hopes which make the spirit quail, As to the plain between the misty mountains _2055 And the great City, with a countenance pale, I went:--it was a sight which might avail To make men weep exulting tears, for whom Now first from human power the reverend veil Was torn, to see Earth from her general womb _2060 Pour forth her swarming sons to a fraternal doom: 39. To see, far glancing in the misty morning, The signs of that innumerable host; To hear one sound of many made, the warning Of Earth to Heaven from its free children tossed, _2065 While the eternal hills, and the sea lost In wavering light, and, starring the blue sky The city's myriad spires of gold, almost With human joy made mute society-- Its witnesses with men who must hereafter be. _2070 40. To see, like some vast island from the Ocean, The Altar of the Federation rear Its pile i' the midst; a work, which the devotion Of millions in one night created there, Sudden as when the moonrise makes appear _2075 Strange clouds in the east; a marble pyramid Distinct with steps: that mighty shape did wear The light of genius; its still shadow hid Far ships: to know its height the morning mists forbid! 41. To hear the restless multitudes for ever _2080 Around the base of that great Altar flow, As on some mountain-islet burst and shiver Atlantic waves; and solemnly and slow As the wind bore that tumult to and fro, To feel the dreamlike music, which did swim _2085 Like beams through floating clouds on waves below Falling in pauses, from that Altar dim, As silver-sounding tongues breathed an aerial hymn. 42. To hear, to see, to live, was on that morn Lethean joy! so that all those assembled _2090 Cast off their memories of the past outworn; Two only bosoms with their own life trembled, And mine was one,--and we had both dissembled; So with a beating heart I went, and one, Who having much, covets yet more, resembled; _2095 A lost and dear possession, which not won, He walks in lonely gloom beneath the noonday sun. 43. To the great Pyramid I came: its stair With female choirs was thronged: the loveliest Among the free, grouped with its sculptures rare; _2100 As I approached, the morning's golden mist, Which now the wonder-stricken breezes kissed With their cold lips, fled, and the summit shone Like Athos seen from Samothracia, dressed In earliest light, by vintagers, and one _2105 Sate there, a female Shape upon an ivory throne: 44. A Form most like the imagined habitant Of silver exhalations sprung from dawn, By winds which feed on sunrise woven, to enchant The faiths of men: all mortal eyes were drawn, _2110 As famished mariners through strange seas gone Gaze on a burning watch-tower, by the light Of those divinest lineaments--alone With thoughts which none could share, from that fair sight I turned in sickness, for a veil shrouded her countenance bright. _2115 45. And neither did I hear the acclamations, Which from brief silence bursting, filled the air With her strange name and mine, from all the nations Which we, they said, in strength had gathered there From the sleep of bondage; nor the vision fair _2120 Of that bright pageantry beheld,--but blind And silent, as a breathing corpse did fare, Leaning upon my friend, till like a wind To fevered cheeks, a voice flowed o'er my troubled mind. 46. Like music of some minstrel heavenly gifted, _2125 To one whom fiends enthral, this voice to me; Scarce did I wish her veil to be uplifted, I was so calm and joyous.--I could see The platform where we stood, the statues three Which kept their marble watch on that high shrine, _2130 The multitudes, the mountains, and the sea; As when eclipse hath passed, things sudden shine To men's astonished eyes most clear and crystalline. 47. At first Laone spoke most tremulously: But soon her voice the calmness which it shed _2135 Gathered, and--'Thou art whom I sought to see, And thou art our first votary here,' she said: 'I had a dear friend once, but he is dead!-- And of all those on the wide earth who breathe, Thou dost resemble him alone--I spread _2140 This veil between us two that thou beneath Shouldst image one who may have been long lost in death. 48. 'For this wilt thou not henceforth pardon me? Yes, but those joys which silence well requite Forbid reply;--why men have chosen me _2145 To be the Priestess of this holiest rite I scarcely know, but that the floods of light Which flow over the world, have borne me hither To meet thee, long most dear; and now unite Thine hand with mine, and may all comfort wither _2150 From both the hearts whose pulse in joy now beat together, 49. 'If our own will as others' law we bind, If the foul worship trampled here we fear; If as ourselves we cease to love our kind!'-- She paused, and pointed upwards--sculptured there _2155 Three shapes around her ivory throne appear; One was a Giant, like a child asleep On a loose rock, whose grasp crushed, as it were In dream, sceptres and crowns; and one did keep Its watchful eyes in doubt whether to smile or weep; _2160 50. A Woman sitting on the sculptured disk Of the broad earth, and feeding from one breast A human babe and a young basilisk; Her looks were sweet as Heaven's when loveliest In Autumn eves. The third Image was dressed _2165 In white wings swift as clouds in winter skies; Beneath his feet, 'mongst ghastliest forms, repressed Lay Faith, an obscene worm, who sought to rise, While calmly on the Sun he turned his diamond eyes. 51. Beside that Image then I sate, while she _2170 Stood, mid the throngs which ever ebbed and flowed, Like light amid the shadows of the sea Cast from one cloudless star, and on the crowd That touch which none who feels forgets, bestowed; And whilst the sun returned the steadfast gaze _2175 Of the great Image, as o'er Heaven it glode, That rite had place; it ceased when sunset's blaze Burned o'er the isles. All stood in joy and deep amaze-- --When in the silence of all spirits there Laone's voice was felt, and through the air _2180 Her thrilling gestures spoke, most eloquently fair:-- 51.1. 'Calm art thou as yon sunset! swift and strong As new-fledged Eagles, beautiful and young, That float among the blinding beams of morning; And underneath thy feet writhe Faith, and Folly, _2185 Custom, and Hell, and mortal Melancholy-- Hark! the Earth starts to hear the mighty warning Of thy voice sublime and holy; Its free spirits here assembled See thee, feel thee, know thee now,-- _2190 To thy voice their hearts have trembled Like ten thousand clouds which flow With one wide wind as it flies!-- Wisdom! thy irresistible children rise To hail thee, and the elements they chain _2195 And their own will, to swell the glory of thy train. 51.2. 'O Spirit vast and deep as Night and Heaven! Mother and soul of all to which is given The light of life, the loveliness of being, Lo! thou dost re-ascend the human heart, _2200 Thy throne of power, almighty as thou wert In dreams of Poets old grown pale by seeing The shade of thee;--now, millions start To feel thy lightnings through them burning: Nature, or God, or Love, or Pleasure, _2205 Or Sympathy the sad tears turning To mutual smiles, a drainless treasure, Descends amidst us;--Scorn and Hate, Revenge and Selfishness are desolate-- A hundred nations swear that there shall be _2210 Pity and Peace and Love, among the good and free! 51.3. 'Eldest of things, divine Equality! Wisdom and Love are but the slaves of thee, The Angels of thy sway, who pour around thee Treasures from all the cells of human thought, _2215 And from the Stars, and from the Ocean brought, And the last living heart whose beatings bound thee: The powerful and the wise had sought Thy coming, thou in light descending O'er the wide land which is thine own _2220 Like the Spring whose breath is blending All blasts of fragrance into one, Comest upon the paths of men!-- Earth bares her general bosom to thy ken, And all her children here in glory meet _2225 To feed upon thy smiles, and clasp thy sacred feet. 51.4 'My brethren, we are free! the plains and mountains, The gray sea-shore, the forests and the fountains, Are haunts of happiest dwellers;--man and woman, Their common bondage burst, may freely borrow _2230 From lawless love a solace for their sorrow; For oft we still must weep, since we are human. A stormy night's serenest morrow, Whose showers are pity's gentle tears, Whose clouds are smiles of those that die _2235 Like infants without hopes or fears, And whose beams are joys that lie In blended hearts, now holds dominion; The dawn of mind, which upwards on a pinion Borne, swift as sunrise, far illumines space, _2240 And clasps this barren world in its own bright embrace! 51.5 'My brethren, we are free! The fruits are glowing Beneath the stars, and the night-winds are flowing O'er the ripe corn, the birds and beasts are dreaming-- Never again may blood of bird or beast _2245 Stain with its venomous stream a human feast, To the pure skies in accusation steaming; Avenging poisons shall have ceased To feed disease and fear and madness, The dwellers of the earth and air _2250 Shall throng around our steps in gladness, Seeking their food or refuge there. Our toil from thought all glorious forms shall cull, To make this Earth, our home, more beautiful, And Science, and her sister Poesy, _2255 Shall clothe in light the fields and cities of the free! 51.6 'Victory, Victory to the prostrate nations! Bear witness Night, and ye mute Constellations Who gaze on us from your crystalline cars! Thoughts have gone forth whose powers can sleep no more! _2260 Victory! Victory! Earth's remotest shore, Regions which groan beneath the Antarctic stars, The green lands cradled in the roar Of western waves, and wildernesses Peopled and vast, which skirt the oceans _2265 Where morning dyes her golden tresses, Shall soon partake our high emotions: Kings shall turn pale! Almighty Fear, The Fiend-God, when our charmed name he hear, Shall fade like shadow from his thousand fanes, _2270 While Truth with Joy enthroned o'er his lost empire reigns!' 51.52. Ere she had ceased, the mists of night entwining Their dim woof, floated o'er the infinite throng; She, like a spirit through the darkness shining, In tones whose sweetness silence did prolong, _2275 As if to lingering winds they did belong, Poured forth her inmost soul: a passionate speech With wild and thrilling pauses woven among, Which whoso heard was mute, for it could teach To rapture like her own all listening hearts to reach. _2280 53. Her voice was as a mountain stream which sweeps The withered leaves of Autumn to the lake, And in some deep and narrow bay then sleeps In the shadow of the shores; as dead leaves wake, Under the wave, in flowers and herbs which make _2285 Those green depths beautiful when skies are blue, The multitude so moveless did partake Such living change, and kindling murmurs flew As o'er that speechless calm delight and wonder grew. 54. Over the plain the throngs were scattered then _2290 In groups around the fires, which from the sea Even to the gorge of the first mountain-glen Blazed wide and far: the banquet of the free Was spread beneath many a dark cypress-tree, Beneath whose spires, which swayed in the red flame, _2295 Reclining, as they ate, of Liberty, And Hope, and Justice, and Laone's name, Earth's children did a woof of happy converse frame. 55. Their feast was such as Earth, the general mother, Pours from her fairest bosom, when she smiles _2300 In the embrace of Autumn;--to each other As when some parent fondly reconciles Her warring children, she their wrath beguiles With her own sustenance, they relenting weep: Such was this Festival, which from their isles _2305 And continents, and winds, and oceans deep, All shapes might throng to share, that fly, or walk or creep,-- 56. Might share in peace and innocence, for gore Or poison none this festal did pollute, But, piled on high, an overflowing store _2310 Of pomegranates and citrons, fairest fruit, Melons, and dates, and figs, and many a root Sweet and sustaining, and bright grapes ere yet Accursed fire their mild juice could transmute Into a mortal bane, and brown corn set _2315 In baskets; with pure streams their thirsting lips they wet. 57. Laone had descended from the shrine, And every deepest look and holiest mind Fed on her form, though now those tones divine Were silent as she passed; she did unwind _2320 Her veil, as with the crowds of her own kind She mixed; some impulse made my heart refrain From seeking her that night, so I reclined Amidst a group, where on the utmost plain A festal watchfire burned beside the dusky main. _2325 58. And joyous was our feast; pathetic talk, And wit, and harmony of choral strains, While far Orion o'er the waves did walk That flow among the isles, held us in chains Of sweet captivity which none disdains _2330 Who feels; but when his zone grew dim in mist Which clothes the Ocean's bosom, o'er the plains The multitudes went homeward, to their rest, Which that delightful day with its own shadow blessed. NOTES: _2295 flame]light edition 1818. CANTO 6. 1. Beside the dimness of the glimmering sea, _2335 Weaving swift language from impassioned themes, With that dear friend I lingered, who to me So late had been restored, beneath the gleams Of the silver stars; and ever in soft dreams Of future love and peace sweet converse lapped _2340 Our willing fancies, till the pallid beams Of the last watchfire fell, and darkness wrapped The waves, and each bright chain of floating fire was snapped; 2. And till we came even to the City's wall And the great gate; then, none knew whence or why, _2345 Disquiet on the multitudes did fall: And first, one pale and breathless passed us by, And stared and spoke not;--then with piercing cry A troop of wild-eyed women, by the shrieks Of their own terror driven,--tumultuously _2350 Hither and thither hurrying with pale cheeks, Each one from fear unknown a sudden refuge seeks-- 3. Then, rallying cries of treason and of danger Resounded: and--'They come! to arms! to arms! The Tyrant is amongst us, and the stranger _2355 Comes to enslave us in his name! to arms!' In vain: for Panic, the pale fiend who charms Strength to forswear her right, those millions swept Like waves before the tempest--these alarms Came to me, as to know their cause I lept _2360 On the gate's turret, and in rage and grief and scorn I wept! 4. For to the North I saw the town on fire, And its red light made morning pallid now, Which burst over wide Asia;--louder, higher, The yells of victory and the screams of woe _2365 I heard approach, and saw the throng below Stream through the gates like foam-wrought waterfalls Fed from a thousand storms--the fearful glow Of bombs flares overhead--at intervals The red artillery's bolt mangling among them falls. _2370 5. And now the horsemen come--and all was done Swifter than I have spoken--I beheld Their red swords flash in the unrisen sun. I rushed among the rout, to have repelled That miserable flight--one moment quelled _2375 By voice and looks and eloquent despair, As if reproach from their own hearts withheld Their steps, they stood; but soon came pouring there New multitudes, and did those rallied bands o'erbear. 6. I strove, as, drifted on some cataract _2380 By irresistible streams, some wretch might strive Who hears its fatal roar:--the files compact Whelmed me, and from the gate availed to drive With quickening impulse, as each bolt did rive Their ranks with bloodier chasm:--into the plain _2385 Disgorged at length the dead and the alive In one dread mass, were parted, and the stain Of blood, from mortal steel fell o'er the fields like rain. 7. For now the despot's bloodhounds with their prey Unarmed and unaware, were gorging deep _2390 Their gluttony of death; the loose array Of horsemen o'er the wide fields murdering sweep, And with loud laughter for their tyrant reap A harvest sown with other hopes; the while, Far overhead, ships from Propontis keep _2395 A killing rain of fire:--when the waves smile As sudden earthquakes light many a volcano-isle, 8. Thus sudden, unexpected feast was spread For the carrion-fowls of Heaven.--I saw the sight-- I moved--I lived--as o'er the heaps of dead, _2400 Whose stony eyes glared in the morning light I trod;--to me there came no thought of flight, But with loud cries of scorn, which whoso heard That dreaded death, felt in his veins the might Of virtuous shame return, the crowd I stirred, _2405 And desperation's hope in many hearts recurred. 9. A band of brothers gathering round me, made, Although unarmed, a steadfast front, and still Retreating, with stern looks beneath the shade Of gathered eyebrows, did the victors fill _2410 With doubt even in success; deliberate will Inspired our growing troop; not overthrown It gained the shelter of a grassy hill, And ever still our comrades were hewn down, And their defenceless limbs beneath our footsteps strown. _2415 10. Immovably we stood--in joy I found, Beside me then, firm as a giant pine Among the mountain-vapours driven around, The old man whom I loved--his eyes divine With a mild look of courage answered mine, _2420 And my young friend was near, and ardently His hand grasped mine a moment--now the line Of war extended, to our rallying cry As myriads flocked in love and brotherhood to die. 11. For ever while the sun was climbing Heaven _2425 The horseman hewed our unarmed myriads down Safely, though when by thirst of carnage driven Too near, those slaves were swiftly overthrown By hundreds leaping on them:--flesh and bone Soon made our ghastly ramparts; then the shaft _2430 Of the artillery from the sea was thrown More fast and fiery, and the conquerors laughed In pride to hear the wind our screams of torment waft. 12. For on one side alone the hill gave shelter, So vast that phalanx of unconquered men, _2435 And there the living in the blood did welter Of the dead and dying, which in that green glen, Like stifled torrents, made a plashy fen Under the feet--thus was the butchery waged While the sun clomb Heaven's eastern steep--but when _2440 It 'gan to sink--a fiercer combat raged, For in more doubtful strife the armies were engaged. 13. Within a cave upon the hill were found A bundle of rude pikes, the instrument Of those who war but on their native ground _2445 For natural rights: a shout of joyance sent Even from our hearts the wide air pierced and rent, As those few arms the bravest and the best Seized, and each sixth, thus armed, did now present A line which covered and sustained the rest, _2450 A confident phalanx, which the foes on every side invest. 14. That onset turned the foes to flight almost; But soon they saw their present strength, and knew That coming night would to our resolute host Bring victory; so dismounting, close they drew _2455 Their glittering files, and then the combat grew Unequal but most horrible;--and ever Our myriads, whom the swift bolt overthrew, Or the red sword, failed like a mountain river Which rushes forth in foam to sink in sands for ever. _2460 15. Sorrow and shame, to see with their own kind Our human brethren mix, like beasts of blood, To mutual ruin armed by one behind Who sits and scoffs!--That friend so mild and good, Who like its shadow near my youth had stood, _2465 Was stabbed!--my old preserver's hoary hair With the flesh clinging to its roots, was strewed Under my feet!--I lost all sense or care, And like the rest I grew desperate and unaware. 16. The battle became ghastlier--in the midst _2470 I paused, and saw, how ugly and how fell O Hate! thou art, even when thy life thou shedd'st For love. The ground in many a little dell Was broken, up and down whose steeps befell Alternate victory and defeat, and there _2475 The combatants with rage most horrible Strove, and their eyes started with cracking stare, And impotent their tongues they lolled into the air, 17. Flaccid and foamy, like a mad dog's hanging; Want, and Moon-madness, and the pest's swift Bane _2480 When its shafts smite--while yet its bow is twanging-- Have each their mark and sign--some ghastly stain; And this was thine, O War! of hate and pain Thou loathed slave! I saw all shapes of death And ministered to many, o'er the plain _2485 While carnage in the sunbeam's warmth did seethe, Till twilight o'er the east wove her serenest wreath. 18. The few who yet survived, resolute and firm Around me fought. At the decline of day Winding above the mountain's snowy term _2490 New banners shone; they quivered in the ray Of the sun's unseen orb--ere night the array Of fresh troops hemmed us in--of those brave bands I soon survived alone--and now I lay Vanquished and faint, the grasp of bloody hands _2495 I felt, and saw on high the glare of falling brands, 19. When on my foes a sudden terror came, And they fled, scattering--lo! with reinless speed A black Tartarian horse of giant frame Comes trampling over the dead, the living bleed _2500 Beneath the hoofs of that tremendous steed, On which, like to an Angel, robed in white, Sate one waving a sword;--the hosts recede And fly, as through their ranks with awful might, Sweeps in the shadow of eve that Phantom swift and bright; _2505 20. And its path made a solitude.--I rose And marked its coming: it relaxed its course As it approached me, and the wind that flows Through night, bore accents to mine ear whose force Might create smiles in death--the Tartar horse _2510 Paused, and I saw the shape its might which swayed, And heard her musical pants, like the sweet source Of waters in the desert, as she said, 'Mount with me, Laon, now'--I rapidly obeyed. 21. Then: 'Away! away!' she cried, and stretched her sword _2515 As 'twere a scourge over the courser's head, And lightly shook the reins.--We spake no word, But like the vapour of the tempest fled Over the plain; her dark hair was dispread Like the pine's locks upon the lingering blast; _2520 Over mine eyes its shadowy strings it spread Fitfully, and the hills and streams fled fast, As o'er their glimmering forms the steed's broad shadow passed. 22. And his hoofs ground the rocks to fire and dust, His strong sides made the torrents rise in spray, _2525 And turbulence, as of a whirlwind's gust Surrounded us;--and still away! away! Through the desert night we sped, while she alway Gazed on a mountain which we neared, whose crest, Crowned with a marble ruin, in the ray _2530 Of the obscure stars gleamed;--its rugged breast The steed strained up, and then his impulse did arrest. 23. A rocky hill which overhung the Ocean:-- From that lone ruin, when the steed that panted Paused, might be heard the murmur of the motion _2535 Of waters, as in spots for ever haunted By the choicest winds of Heaven, which are enchanted To music, by the wand of Solitude, That wizard wild, and the far tents implanted Upon the plain, be seen by those who stood _2540 Thence marking the dark shore of Ocean's curved flood. 24. One moment these were heard and seen--another Passed; and the two who stood beneath that night, Each only heard, or saw, or felt the other; As from the lofty steed she did alight, _2545 Cythna, (for, from the eyes whose deepest light Of love and sadness made my lips feel pale With influence strange of mournfullest delight, My own sweet Cythna looked), with joy did quail, And felt her strength in tears of human weakness fail. _2550 25. And for a space in my embrace she rested, Her head on my unquiet heart reposing, While my faint arms her languid frame invested; At length she looked on me, and half unclosing Her tremulous lips, said, 'Friend, thy bands were losing _2555 The battle, as I stood before the King In bonds.--I burst them then, and swiftly choosing The time, did seize a Tartar's sword, and spring Upon his horse, and swift, as on the whirlwind's wing, 26. 'Have thou and I been borne beyond pursuer, _2560 And we are here.'--Then, turning to the steed, She pressed the white moon on his front with pure And rose-like lips, and many a fragrant weed From the green ruin plucked, that he might feed;-- But I to a stone seat that Maiden led, _2565 And, kissing her fair eyes, said, 'Thou hast need Of rest,' and I heaped up the courser's bed In a green mossy nook, with mountain flowers dispread. 27. Within that ruin, where a shattered portal Looks to the eastern stars, abandoned now _2570 By man, to be the home of things immortal, Memories, like awful ghosts which come and go, And must inherit all he builds below, When he is gone, a hall stood; o'er whose roof Fair clinging weeds with ivy pale did grow, _2575 Clasping its gray rents with a verdurous woof, A hanging dome of leaves, a canopy moon-proof. 28. The autumnal winds, as if spell-bound, had made A natural couch of leaves in that recess, Which seasons none disturbed, but, in the shade _2580 Of flowering parasites, did Spring love to dress With their sweet blooms the wintry loneliness Of those dead leaves, shedding their stars, whene'er The wandering wind her nurslings might caress; Whose intertwining fingers ever there _2585 Made music wild and soft that filled the listening air. 29. We know not where we go, or what sweet dream May pilot us through caverns strange and fair Of far and pathless passion, while the stream Of life, our bark doth on its whirlpools bear, _2590 Spreading swift wings as sails to the dim air; Nor should we seek to know, so the devotion Of love and gentle thoughts be heard still there Louder and louder from the utmost Ocean Of universal life, attuning its commotion. _2595 30. To the pure all things are pure! Oblivion wrapped Our spirits, and the fearful overthrow Of public hope was from our being snapped, Though linked years had bound it there; for now A power, a thirst, a knowledge, which below _2600 All thoughts, like light beyond the atmosphere, Clothing its clouds with grace, doth ever flow, Came on us, as we sate in silence there, Beneath the golden stars of the clear azure air;-- 31. In silence which doth follow talk that causes _2605 The baffled heart to speak with sighs and tears, When wildering passion swalloweth up the pauses Of inexpressive speech:--the youthful years Which we together passed, their hopes and fears, The blood itself which ran within our frames, _2610 That likeness of the features which endears The thoughts expressed by them, our very names, And all the winged hours which speechless memory claims, 32. Had found a voice--and ere that voice did pass, The night grew damp and dim, and, through a rent _2615 Of the ruin where we sate, from the morass A wandering Meteor by some wild wind sent, Hung high in the green dome, to which it lent A faint and pallid lustre; while the song Of blasts, in which its blue hair quivering bent, _2620 Strewed strangest sounds the moving leaves among; A wondrous light, the sound as of a spirit's tongue. 33. The Meteor showed the leaves on which we sate, And Cythna's glowing arms, and the thick ties Of her soft hair, which bent with gathered weight _2625 My neck near hers; her dark and deepening eyes, Which, as twin phantoms of one star that lies O'er a dim well, move, though the star reposes, Swam in our mute and liquid ecstasies, Her marble brow, and eager lips, like roses, _2630 With their own fragrance pale, which Spring but half uncloses. 34. The Meteor to its far morass returned: The beating of our veins one interval Made still; and then I felt the blood that burned Within her frame, mingle with mine, and fall _2635 Around my heart like fire; and over all A mist was spread, the sickness of a deep And speechless swoon of joy, as might befall Two disunited spirits when they leap In union from this earth's obscure and fading sleep. _2640 35. Was it one moment that confounded thus All thought, all sense, all feeling, into one Unutterable power, which shielded us Even from our own cold looks, when we had gone Into a wide and wild oblivion _2645 Of tumult and of tenderness? or now Had ages, such as make the moon and sun, The seasons, and mankind their changes know, Left fear and time unfelt by us alone below? 36. I know not. What are kisses whose fire clasps _2650 The failing heart in languishment, or limb Twined within limb? or the quick dying gasps Of the life meeting, when the faint eyes swim Through tears of a wide mist boundless and dim, In one caress? What is the strong control _2655 Which leads the heart that dizzy steep to climb, Where far over the world those vapours roll Which blend two restless frames in one reposing soul? 37. It is the shadow which doth float unseen, But not unfelt, o'er blind mortality, _2660 Whose divine darkness fled not from that green And lone recess, where lapped in peace did lie Our linked frames, till, from the changing sky That night and still another day had fled; And then I saw and felt. The moon was high, _2665 And clouds, as of a coming storm, were spread Under its orb,--loud winds were gathering overhead. 38. Cythna's sweet lips seemed lurid in the moon, Her fairest limbs with the night wind were chill, And her dark tresses were all loosely strewn _2670 O'er her pale bosom:--all within was still, And the sweet peace of joy did almost fill The depth of her unfathomable look;-- And we sate calmly, though that rocky hill, The waves contending in its caverns strook, _2675 For they foreknew the storm, and the gray ruin shook. 39. There we unheeding sate, in the communion Of interchanged vows, which, with a rite Of faith most sweet and sacred, stamped our union.-- Few were the living hearts which could unite _2680 Like ours, or celebrate a bridal night With such close sympathies, for they had sprung From linked youth, and from the gentle might Of earliest love, delayed and cherished long, Which common hopes and fears made, like a tempest, strong. _2685 40. And such is Nature's law divine, that those Who grow together cannot choose but love, If faith or custom do not interpose, Or common slavery mar what else might move All gentlest thoughts; as in the sacred grove _2690 Which shades the springs of Ethiopian Nile, That living tree which, if the arrowy dove Strike with her shadow, shrinks in fear awhile, But its own kindred leaves clasps while the sunbeams smile; 41. And clings to them, when darkness may dissever _2695 The close caresses of all duller plants Which bloom on the wide earth--thus we for ever Were linked, for love had nursed us in the haunts Where knowledge, from its secret source enchants Young hearts with the fresh music of its springing, _2700 Ere yet its gathered flood feeds human wants, As the great Nile feeds Egypt; ever flinging Light on the woven boughs which o'er its waves are swinging. 42. The tones of Cythna's voice like echoes were Of those far murmuring streams; they rose and fell, _2705 Mixed with mine own in the tempestuous air,-- And so we sate, until our talk befell Of the late ruin, swift and horrible, And how those seeds of hope might yet be sown, Whose fruit is evil's mortal poison: well, _2710 For us, this ruin made a watch-tower lone, But Cythna's eyes looked faint, and now two days were gone 43. Since she had food:--therefore I did awaken The Tartar steed, who, from his ebon mane Soon as the clinging slumbers he had shaken, _2715 Bent his thin head to seek the brazen rein, Following me obediently; with pain Of heart, so deep and dread, that one caress, When lips and heart refuse to part again Till they have told their fill, could scarce express _2720 The anguish of her mute and fearful tenderness, 44. Cythna beheld me part, as I bestrode That willing steed--the tempest and the night, Which gave my path its safety as I rode Down the ravine of rocks, did soon unite _2725 The darkness and the tumult of their might Borne on all winds.--Far through the streaming rain Floating at intervals the garments white Of Cythna gleamed, and her voice once again Came to me on the gust, and soon I reached the plain. _2730 45. I dreaded not the tempest, nor did he Who bore me, but his eyeballs wide and red Turned on the lightning's cleft exultingly; And when the earth beneath his tameless tread, Shook with the sullen thunder, he would spread _2735 His nostrils to the blast, and joyously Mock the fierce peal with neighings;--thus we sped O'er the lit plain, and soon I could descry Where Death and Fire had gorged the spoil of victory. 46. There was a desolate village in a wood _2740 Whose bloom-inwoven leaves now scattering fed The hungry storm; it was a place of blood, A heap of hearthless walls;--the flames were dead Within those dwellings now,--the life had fled From all those corpses now,--but the wide sky _2745 Flooded with lightning was ribbed overhead By the black rafters, and around did lie Women, and babes, and men, slaughtered confusedly. 47. Beside the fountain in the market-place Dismounting, I beheld those corpses stare _2750 With horny eyes upon each other's face, And on the earth and on the vacant air, And upon me, close to the waters where I stooped to slake my thirst;--I shrank to taste, For the salt bitterness of blood was there; _2755 But tied the steed beside, and sought in haste If any yet survived amid that ghastly waste. 48. No living thing was there beside one woman, Whom I found wandering in the streets, and she Was withered from a likeness of aught human _2760 Into a fiend, by some strange misery: Soon as she heard my steps she leaped on me, And glued her burning lips to mine, and laughed With a loud, long, and frantic laugh of glee, And cried, 'Now, Mortal, thou hast deeply quaffed _2765 The Plague's blue kisses--soon millions shall pledge the draught! 49. 'My name is Pestilence--this bosom dry, Once fed two babes--a sister and a brother-- When I came home, one in the blood did lie Of three death-wounds--the flames had ate the other! _2770 Since then I have no longer been a mother, But I am Pestilence;--hither and thither I flit about, that I may slay and smother:-- All lips which I have kissed must surely wither, But Death's--if thou art he, we'll go to work together! _2775 50. 'What seek'st thou here? The moonlight comes in flashes,-- The dew is rising dankly from the dell-- 'Twill moisten her! and thou shalt see the gashes In my sweet boy, now full of worms--but tell First what thou seek'st.'--'I seek for food.'--''Tis well, _2780 Thou shalt have food. Famine, my paramour, Waits for us at the feast--cruel and fell Is Famine, but he drives not from his door Those whom these lips have kissed, alone. No more, no more!' 51. As thus she spake, she grasped me with the strength _2785 Of madness, and by many a ruined hearth She led, and over many a corpse:--at length We came to a lone hut where on the earth Which made its floor, she in her ghastly mirth, Gathering from all those homes now desolate, _2790 Had piled three heaps of loaves, making a dearth Among the dead--round which she set in state A ring of cold, stiff babes; silent and stark they sate. 52. She leaped upon a pile, and lifted high Her mad looks to the lightning, and cried: 'Eat! _2795 Share the great feast--to-morrow we must die!' And then she spurned the loaves with her pale feet, Towards her bloodless guests;--that sight to meet, Mine eyes and my heart ached, and but that she Who loved me, did with absent looks defeat _2800 Despair, I might have raved in sympathy; But now I took the food that woman offered me; 53. And vainly having with her madness striven If I might win her to return with me, Departed. In the eastern beams of Heaven _2805 The lightning now grew pallid--rapidly, As by the shore of the tempestuous sea The dark steed bore me; and the mountain gray Soon echoed to his hoofs, and I could see Cythna among the rocks, where she alway _2810 Had sate with anxious eyes fixed on the lingering day. 54. And joy was ours to meet: she was most pale, Famished, and wet and weary, so I cast My arms around her, lest her steps should fail As to our home we went, and thus embraced, _2815 Her full heart seemed a deeper joy to taste Than e'er the prosperous know; the steed behind Trod peacefully along the mountain waste; We reached our home ere morning could unbind Night's latest veil, and on our bridal-couch reclined. _2820 55. Her chilled heart having cherished in my bosom, And sweetest kisses past, we two did share Our peaceful meal:--as an autumnal blossom Which spreads its shrunk leaves in the sunny air, After cold showers, like rainbows woven there, _2825 Thus in her lips and cheeks the vital spirit Mantled, and in her eyes, an atmosphere Of health, and hope; and sorrow languished near it, And fear, and all that dark despondence doth inherit. NOTES: _2397 -isle. Bradley, who cps. Marianne's Dream, St. 12. See note at end. CANTO 7. 1. So we sate joyous as the morning ray _2830 Which fed upon the wrecks of night and storm Now lingering on the winds; light airs did play Among the dewy weeds, the sun was warm, And we sate linked in the inwoven charm Of converse and caresses sweet and deep, _2835 Speechless caresses, talk that might disarm Time, though he wield the darts of death and sleep, And those thrice mortal barbs in his own poison steep. 2. I told her of my sufferings and my madness, And how, awakened from that dreamy mood _2840 By Liberty's uprise, the strength of gladness Came to my spirit in my solitude; And all that now I was--while tears pursued Each other down her fair and listening cheek Fast as the thoughts which fed them, like a flood _2845 From sunbright dales; and when I ceased to speak, Her accents soft and sweet the pausing air did wake. 3. She told me a strange tale of strange endurance, Like broken memories of many a heart Woven into one; to which no firm assurance, _2850 So wild were they, could her own faith impart. She said that not a tear did dare to start From the swoln brain, and that her thoughts were firm When from all mortal hope she did depart, Borne by those slaves across the Ocean's term, _2855 And that she reached the port without one fear infirm. 4. One was she among many there, the thralls Of the cold Tyrant's cruel lust; and they Laughed mournfully in those polluted halls; But she was calm and sad, musing alway _2860 On loftiest enterprise, till on a day The Tyrant heard her singing to her lute A wild, and sad, and spirit-thrilling lay, Like winds that die in wastes--one moment mute The evil thoughts it made, which did his breast pollute. _2865 5. Even when he saw her wondrous loveliness, One moment to great Nature's sacred power He bent, and was no longer passionless; But when he bade her to his secret bower Be borne, a loveless victim, and she tore _2870 Her locks in agony, and her words of flame And mightier looks availed not; then he bore Again his load of slavery, and became A king, a heartless beast, a pageant and a name. 6. She told me what a loathsome agony _2875 Is that when selfishness mocks love's delight, Foul as in dream's most fearful imagery, To dally with the mowing dead--that night All torture, fear, or horror made seem light Which the soul dreams or knows, and when the day _2880 Shone on her awful frenzy, from the sight Where like a Spirit in fleshly chains she lay Struggling, aghast and pale the Tyrant fled away. 7. Her madness was a beam of light, a power Which dawned through the rent soul; and words it gave, _2885 Gestures and looks, such as in whirlwinds bore Which might not be withstood--whence none could save-- All who approached their sphere,--like some calm wave Vexed into whirlpools by the chasms beneath; And sympathy made each attendant slave _2890 Fearless and free, and they began to breathe Deep curses, like the voice of flames far underneath. 8. The King felt pale upon his noonday throne: At night two slaves he to her chamber sent,-- One was a green and wrinkled eunuch, grown _2895 From human shape into an instrument Of all things ill--distorted, bowed and bent. The other was a wretch from infancy Made dumb by poison; who nought knew or meant But to obey: from the fire isles came he, _2900 A diver lean and strong, of Oman's coral sea. 9. They bore her to a bark, and the swift stroke Of silent rowers clove the blue moonlight seas, Until upon their path the morning broke; They anchored then, where, be there calm or breeze, _2905 The gloomiest of the drear Symplegades Shakes with the sleepless surge;--the Ethiop there Wound his long arms around her, and with knees Like iron clasped her feet, and plunged with her Among the closing waves out of the boundless air. _2910 10. 'Swift as an eagle stooping from the plain Of morning light, into some shadowy wood, He plunged through the green silence of the main, Through many a cavern which the eternal flood Had scooped, as dark lairs for its monster brood; _2915 And among mighty shapes which fled in wonder, And among mightier shadows which pursued His heels, he wound: until the dark rocks under He touched a golden chain--a sound arose like thunder. 11. 'A stunning clang of massive bolts redoubling _2920 Beneath the deep--a burst of waters driven As from the roots of the sea, raging and bubbling: And in that roof of crags a space was riven Through which there shone the emerald beams of heaven, Shot through the lines of many waves inwoven, _2925 Like sunlight through acacia woods at even, Through which, his way the diver having cloven, Passed like a spark sent up out of a burning oven. 12. 'And then,' she said, 'he laid me in a cave Above the waters, by that chasm of sea, _2930 A fountain round and vast, in which the wave Imprisoned, boiled and leaped perpetually, Down which, one moment resting, he did flee, Winning the adverse depth; that spacious cell Like an hupaithric temple wide and high, _2935 Whose aery dome is inaccessible, Was pierced with one round cleft through which the sunbeams fell. 13. 'Below, the fountain's brink was richly paven With the deep's wealth, coral, and pearl, and sand Like spangling gold, and purple shells engraven _2940 With mystic legends by no mortal hand, Left there, when thronging to the moon's command, The gathering waves rent the Hesperian gate Of mountains, and on such bright floor did stand Columns, and shapes like statues, and the state _2945 Of kingless thrones, which Earth did in her heart create. 14. 'The fiend of madness which had made its prey Of my poor heart, was lulled to sleep awhile: There was an interval of many a day, And a sea-eagle brought me food the while, _2950 Whose nest was built in that untrodden isle, And who, to be the gaoler had been taught Of that strange dungeon; as a friend whose smile Like light and rest at morn and even is sought That wild bird was to me, till madness misery brought. _2955 15. 'The misery of a madness slow and creeping, Which made the earth seem fire, the sea seem air, And the white clouds of noon which oft were sleeping, In the blue heaven so beautiful and fair, Like hosts of ghastly shadows hovering there; _2960 And the sea-eagle looked a fiend, who bore Thy mangled limbs for food!--Thus all things were Transformed into the agony which I wore Even as a poisoned robe around my bosom's core. 16. 'Again I knew the day and night fast fleeing, _2965 The eagle, and the fountain, and the air; Another frenzy came--there seemed a being Within me--a strange load my heart did bear, As if some living thing had made its lair Even in the fountains of my life:--a long _2970 And wondrous vision wrought from my despair, Then grew, like sweet reality among Dim visionary woes, an unreposing throng. 17. 'Methought I was about to be a mother-- Month after month went by, and still I dreamed _2975 That we should soon be all to one another, I and my child; and still new pulses seemed To beat beside my heart, and still I deemed There was a babe within--and, when the rain Of winter through the rifted cavern streamed, _2980 Methought, after a lapse of lingering pain, I saw that lovely shape, which near my heart had lain. 18. 'It was a babe, beautiful from its birth,-- It was like thee, dear love, its eyes were thine, Its brow, its lips, and so upon the earth _2985 It laid its fingers, as now rest on mine Thine own, beloved!--'twas a dream divine; Even to remember how it fled, how swift, How utterly, might make the heart repine,-- Though 'twas a dream.'--Then Cythna did uplift _2990 Her looks on mine, as if some doubt she sought to shift: 19. A doubt which would not flee, a tenderness Of questioning grief, a source of thronging tears; Which having passed, as one whom sobs oppress She spoke: 'Yes, in the wilderness of years _2995 Her memory, aye, like a green home appears; She sucked her fill even at this breast, sweet love, For many months. I had no mortal fears; Methought I felt her lips and breath approve,-- It was a human thing which to my bosom clove. _3000 20. 'I watched the dawn of her first smiles; and soon When zenith stars were trembling on the wave, Or when the beams of the invisible moon, Or sun, from many a prism within the cave Their gem-born shadows to the water gave, _3005 Her looks would hunt them, and with outspread hand, From the swift lights which might that fountain pave, She would mark one, and laugh, when that command Slighting, it lingered there, and could not understand. 21. 'Methought her looks began to talk with me; _3010 And no articulate sounds, but something sweet Her lips would frame,--so sweet it could not be, That it was meaningless; her touch would meet Mine, and our pulses calmly flow and beat In response while we slept; and on a day _3015 When I was happiest in that strange retreat, With heaps of golden shells we two did play,-- Both infants, weaving wings for time's perpetual way. 22. 'Ere night, methought, her waning eyes were grown Weary with joy, and tired with our delight, _3020 We, on the earth, like sister twins lay down On one fair mother's bosom:--from that night She fled,--like those illusions clear and bright, Which dwell in lakes, when the red moon on high Pause ere it wakens tempest;--and her flight, _3025 Though 'twas the death of brainless fantasy, Yet smote my lonesome heart more than all misery. 23. 'It seemed that in the dreary night the diver Who brought me thither, came again, and bore My child away. I saw the waters quiver, _3030 When he so swiftly sunk, as once before: Then morning came--it shone even as of yore, But I was changed--the very life was gone Out of my heart--I wasted more and more, Day after day, and sitting there alone, _3035 Vexed the inconstant waves with my perpetual moan. 24. 'I was no longer mad, and yet methought My breasts were swoln and changed:--in every vein The blood stood still one moment, while that thought Was passing--with a gush of sickening pain _3040 It ebbed even to its withered springs again: When my wan eyes in stern resolve I turned From that most strange delusion, which would fain Have waked the dream for which my spirit yearned With more than human love,--then left it unreturned. _3045 25. 'So now my reason was restored to me I struggled with that dream, which, like a beast Most fierce and beauteous, in my memory Had made its lair, and on my heart did feast; But all that cave and all its shapes, possessed _3050 By thoughts which could not fade, renewed each one Some smile, some look, some gesture which had blessed Me heretofore: I, sitting there alone, Vexed the inconstant waves with my perpetual moan. 26. 'Time passed, I know not whether months or years; _3055 For day, nor night, nor change of seasons made Its note, but thoughts and unavailing tears: And I became at last even as a shade, A smoke, a cloud on which the winds have preyed, Till it be thin as air; until, one even, _3060 A Nautilus upon the fountain played, Spreading his azure sail where breath of Heaven Descended not, among the waves and whirlpools driven. 27. 'And, when the Eagle came, that lovely thing, Oaring with rosy feet its silver boat, _3065 Fled near me as for shelter; on slow wing, The Eagle, hovering o'er his prey did float; But when he saw that I with fear did note His purpose, proffering my own food to him, The eager plumes subsided on his throat-- _3070 He came where that bright child of sea did swim, And o'er it cast in peace his shadow broad and dim. 28. 'This wakened me, it gave me human strength; And hope, I know not whence or wherefore, rose, But I resumed my ancient powers at length; _3075 My spirit felt again like one of those Like thine, whose fate it is to make the woes Of humankind their prey--what was this cave? Its deep foundation no firm purpose knows Immutable, resistless, strong to save, _3080 Like mind while yet it mocks the all-devouring grave. 29. 'And where was Laon? might my heart be dead, While that far dearer heart could move and be? Or whilst over the earth the pall was spread, Which I had sworn to rend? I might be free, _3085 Could I but win that friendly bird to me, To bring me ropes; and long in vain I sought By intercourse of mutual imagery Of objects, if such aid he could be taught; But fruit, and flowers, and boughs, yet never ropes he brought. _3090 30. 'We live in our own world, and mine was made From glorious fantasies of hope departed: Aye we are darkened with their floating shade, Or cast a lustre on them--time imparted Such power to me--I became fearless-hearted, _3095 My eye and voice grew firm, calm was my mind, And piercing, like the morn, now it has darted Its lustre on all hidden things, behind Yon dim and fading clouds which load the weary wind. 31. 'My mind became the book through which I grew _3100 Wise in all human wisdom, and its cave, Which like a mine I rifled through and through, To me the keeping of its secrets gave-- One mind, the type of all, the moveless wave Whose calm reflects all moving things that are, _3105 Necessity, and love, and life, the grave, And sympathy, fountains of hope and fear, Justice, and truth, and time, and the world's natural sphere. 32. 'And on the sand would I make signs to range These woofs, as they were woven, of my thought; _3110 Clear, elemental shapes, whose smallest change A subtler language within language wrought: The key of truths which once were dimly taught In old Crotona;--and sweet melodies Of love, in that lorn solitude I caught _3115 From mine own voice in dream, when thy dear eyes Shone through my sleep, and did that utterance harmonize. 33. 'Thy songs were winds whereon I fled at will, As in a winged chariot, o'er the plain Of crystal youth; and thou wert there to fill _3120 My heart with joy, and there we sate again On the gray margin of the glimmering main, Happy as then but wiser far, for we Smiled on the flowery grave in which were lain Fear, Faith and Slavery; and mankind was free, _3125 Equal, and pure, and wise, in Wisdom's prophecy. 34. 'For to my will my fancies were as slaves To do their sweet and subtile ministries; And oft from that bright fountain's shadowy waves They would make human throngs gather and rise _3130 To combat with my overflowing eyes, And voice made deep with passion--thus I grew Familiar with the shock and the surprise And war of earthly minds, from which I drew The power which has been mine to frame their thoughts anew. _3135 35. 'And thus my prison was the populous earth-- Where I saw--even as misery dreams of morn Before the east has given its glory birth-- Religion's pomp made desolate by the scorn Of Wisdom's faintest smile, and thrones uptorn, _3140 And dwellings of mild people interspersed With undivided fields of ripening corn, And love made free,--a hope which we have nursed Even with our blood and tears,--until its glory burst. 36. 'All is not lost! There is some recompense _3145 For hope whose fountain can be thus profound, Even throned Evil's splendid impotence, Girt by its hell of power, the secret sound Of hymns to truth and freedom--the dread bound Of life and death passed fearlessly and well, _3150 Dungeons wherein the high resolve is found, Racks which degraded woman's greatness tell, And what may else be good and irresistible. 37. 'Such are the thoughts which, like the fires that flare In storm-encompassed isles, we cherish yet _3155 In this dark ruin--such were mine even there; As in its sleep some odorous violet, While yet its leaves with nightly dews are wet, Breathes in prophetic dreams of day's uprise, Or as, ere Scythian frost in fear has met _3160 Spring's messengers descending from the skies, The buds foreknow their life--this hope must ever rise. 38. 'So years had passed, when sudden earthquake rent The depth of ocean, and the cavern cracked With sound, as if the world's wide continent _3165 Had fallen in universal ruin wracked: And through the cleft streamed in one cataract The stifling waters--when I woke, the flood Whose banded waves that crystal cave had sacked Was ebbing round me, and my bright abode _3170 Before me yawned--a chasm desert, and bare, and broad. 39. 'Above me was the sky, beneath the sea: I stood upon a point of shattered stone, And heard loose rocks rushing tumultuously With splash and shock into the deep--anon _3175 All ceased, and there was silence wide and lone. I felt that I was free! The Ocean-spray Quivered beneath my feet, the broad Heaven shone Around, and in my hair the winds did play Lingering as they pursued their unimpeded way. _3180 40. 'My spirit moved upon the sea like wind Which round some thymy cape will lag and hover, Though it can wake the still cloud, and unbind The strength of tempest: day was almost over, When through the fading light I could discover _3185 A ship approaching--its white sails were fed With the north wind--its moving shade did cover The twilight deep; the mariners in dread Cast anchor when they saw new rocks around them spread. 41. 'And when they saw one sitting on a crag, _3190 They sent a boat to me;--the Sailors rowed In awe through many a new and fearful jag Of overhanging rock, through which there flowed The foam of streams that cannot make abode. They came and questioned me, but when they heard _3195 My voice, they became silent, and they stood And moved as men in whom new love had stirred Deep thoughts: so to the ship we passed without a word. NOTES: _2877 dreams edition 1818. _2994 opprest edition 1818. _3115 lone solitude edition 1818. CANTO 8. 1. 'I sate beside the Steersman then, and gazing Upon the west, cried, "Spread the sails! Behold! _3200 The sinking moon is like a watch-tower blazing Over the mountains yet;--the City of Gold Yon Cape alone does from the sight withhold; The stream is fleet--the north breathes steadily Beneath the stars; they tremble with the cold! _3205 Ye cannot rest upon the dreary sea!-- Haste, haste to the warm home of happier destiny!" 2. 'The Mariners obeyed--the Captain stood Aloof, and, whispering to the Pilot, said, "Alas, alas! I fear we are pursued _3210 By wicked ghosts; a Phantom of the Dead, The night before we sailed, came to my bed In dream, like that!" The Pilot then replied, "It cannot be--she is a human Maid-- Her low voice makes you weep--she is some bride, _3215 Or daughter of high birth--she can be nought beside." 3. 'We passed the islets, borne by wind and stream, And as we sailed, the Mariners came near And thronged around to listen;--in the gleam Of the pale moon I stood, as one whom fear _3220 May not attaint, and my calm voice did rear; "Ye are all human--yon broad moon gives light To millions who the selfsame likeness wear, Even while I speak--beneath this very night, Their thoughts flow on like ours, in sadness or delight. _3225 4. '"What dream ye? Your own hands have built an home, Even for yourselves on a beloved shore: For some, fond eyes are pining till they come, How they will greet him when his toils are o'er, And laughing babes rush from the well-known door! _3230 Is this your care? ye toil for your own good-- Ye feel and think--has some immortal power Such purposes? or in a human mood, Dream ye some Power thus builds for man in solitude? 5. '"What is that Power? Ye mock yourselves, and give _3235 A human heart to what ye cannot know: As if the cause of life could think and live! 'Twere as if man's own works should feel, and show The hopes, and fears, and thoughts from which they flow, And he be like to them! Lo! Plague is free _3240 To waste, Blight, Poison, Earthquake, Hail, and Snow, Disease, and Want, and worse Necessity Of hate and ill, and Pride, and Fear, and Tyranny! 6. '"What is that Power? Some moon-struck sophist stood Watching the shade from his own soul upthrown _3245 Fill Heaven and darken Earth, and in such mood The Form he saw and worshipped was his own, His likeness in the world's vast mirror shown; And 'twere an innocent dream, but that a faith Nursed by fear's dew of poison, grows thereon, _3250 And that men say, that Power has chosen Death On all who scorn its laws, to wreak immortal wrath. 7. '"Men say that they themselves have heard and seen, Or known from others who have known such things, A Shade, a Form, which Earth and Heaven between _3255 Wields an invisible rod--that Priests and Kings, Custom, domestic sway, ay, all that brings Man's freeborn soul beneath the oppressor's heel, Are his strong ministers, and that the stings Of death will make the wise his vengeance feel, _3260 Though truth and virtue arm their hearts with tenfold steel. 8. '"And it is said, this Power will punish wrong; Yes, add despair to crime, and pain to pain! And deepest hell, and deathless snakes among, Will bind the wretch on whom is fixed a stain, _3265 Which, like a plague, a burden, and a bane, Clung to him while he lived; for love and hate, Virtue and vice, they say are difference vain-- The will of strength is right--this human state Tyrants, that they may rule, with lies thus desolate. _3270 9. '"Alas, what strength? Opinion is more frail Than yon dim cloud now fading on the moon Even while we gaze, though it awhile avail To hide the orb of truth--and every throne Of Earth or Heaven, though shadow, rests thereon, _3275 One shape of many names:--for this ye plough The barren waves of ocean, hence each one Is slave or tyrant; all betray and bow, Command, or kill, or fear, or wreak, or suffer woe. 10. '"Its names are each a sign which maketh holy _3280 All power--ay, the ghost, the dream, the shade Of power--lust, falsehood, hate, and pride, and folly; The pattern whence all fraud and wrong is made, A law to which mankind has been betrayed; And human love, is as the name well known _3285 Of a dear mother, whom the murderer laid In bloody grave, and into darkness thrown, Gathered her wildered babes around him as his own. 11. '"O Love, who to the hearts of wandering men Art as the calm to Ocean's weary waves! _3290 Justice, or Truth, or Joy! those only can From slavery and religion's labyrinth caves Guide us, as one clear star the seaman saves. To give to all an equal share of good, To track the steps of Freedom, though through graves _3295 She pass, to suffer all in patient mood, To weep for crime, though stained with thy friend's dearest blood,-- 12. '"To feel the peace of self-contentment's lot, To own all sympathies, and outrage none, And in the inmost bowers of sense and thought, _3300 Until life's sunny day is quite gone down, To sit and smile with Joy, or, not alone, To kiss salt tears from the worn cheek of Woe; To live, as if to love and live were one,-- This is not faith or law, nor those who bow _3305 To thrones on Heaven or Earth, such destiny may know. 13. '"But children near their parents tremble now, Because they must obey--one rules another, And as one Power rules both high and low, So man is made the captive of his brother, _3310 And Hate is throned on high with Fear her mother, Above the Highest--and those fountain-cells, Whence love yet flowed when faith had choked all other, Are darkened--Woman as the bond-slave dwells Of man, a slave; and life is poisoned in its wells. _3315 14. '"Man seeks for gold in mines, that he may weave A lasting chain for his own slavery;-- In fear and restless care that he may live He toils for others, who must ever be The joyless thralls of like captivity; _3320 He murders, for his chiefs delight in ruin; He builds the altar, that its idol's fee May be his very blood; he is pursuing-- O, blind and willing wretch!--his own obscure undoing. 15. '"Woman!--she is his slave, she has become _3325 A thing I weep to speak--the child of scorn, The outcast of a desolated home; Falsehood, and fear, and toil, like waves have worn Channels upon her cheek, which smiles adorn, As calm decks the false Ocean:--well ye know _3330 What Woman is, for none of Woman born Can choose but drain the bitter dregs of woe, Which ever from the oppressed to the oppressors flow. 16. '"This need not be; ye might arise, and will That gold should lose its power, and thrones their glory; _3335 That love, which none may bind, be free to fill The world, like light; and evil faith, grown hoary With crime, be quenched and die.--Yon promontory Even now eclipses the descending moon!-- Dungeons and palaces are transitory-- _3340 High temples fade like vapour--Man alone Remains, whose will has power when all beside is gone. 17. '"Let all be free and equal!--From your hearts I feel an echo; through my inmost frame Like sweetest sound, seeking its mate, it darts-- _3345 Whence come ye, friends? Alas, I cannot name All that I read of sorrow, toil, and shame, On your worn faces; as in legends old Which make immortal the disastrous fame Of conquerors and impostors false and bold, _3350 The discord of your hearts, I in your looks behold. 18. '"Whence come ye, friends? from pouring human blood Forth on the earth? Or bring ye steel and gold, That Kings may dupe and slay the multitude? Or from the famished poor, pale, weak and cold, _3355 Bear ye the earnings of their toil? Unfold! Speak! Are your hands in slaughter's sanguine hue Stained freshly? have your hearts in guile grown old? Know yourselves thus! ye shall be pure as dew, And I will be a friend and sister unto you. _3360 19. '"Disguise it not--we have one human heart-- All mortal thoughts confess a common home: Blush not for what may to thyself impart Stains of inevitable crime: the doom Is this, which has, or may, or must become _3365 Thine, and all humankind's. Ye are the spoil Which Time thus marks for the devouring tomb-- Thou and thy thoughts and they, and all the toil Wherewith ye twine the rings of life's perpetual coil. 20. '"Disguise it not--ye blush for what ye hate, _3370 And Enmity is sister unto Shame; Look on your mind--it is the book of fate-- Ah! it is dark with many a blazoned name Of misery--all are mirrors of the same; But the dark fiend who with his iron pen _3375 Dipped in scorn's fiery poison, makes his fame Enduring there, would o'er the heads of men Pass harmless, if they scorned to make their hearts his den. 21. '"Yes, it is Hate, that shapeless fiendly thing Of many names, all evil, some divine, _3380 Whom self-contempt arms with a mortal sting; Which, when the heart its snaky folds entwine Is wasted quite, and when it doth repine To gorge such bitter prey, on all beside It turns with ninefold rage, as with its twine _3385 When Amphisbaena some fair bird has tied, Soon o'er the putrid mass he threats on every side. 22. '"Reproach not thine own soul, but know thyself, Nor hate another's crime, nor loathe thine own. It is the dark idolatry of self, _3390 Which, when our thoughts and actions once are gone, Demands that man should weep, and bleed, and groan; Oh, vacant expiation! Be at rest.-- The past is Death's, the future is thine own; And love and joy can make the foulest breast _3395 A paradise of flowers, where peace might build her nest. 23. '"Speak thou! whence come ye?"--A Youth made reply: "Wearily, wearily o'er the boundless deep We sail;--thou readest well the misery Told in these faded eyes, but much doth sleep _3400 Within, which there the poor heart loves to keep, Or dare not write on the dishonoured brow; Even from our childhood have we learned to steep The bread of slavery in the tears of woe, And never dreamed of hope or refuge until now. _3405 24. '"Yes--I must speak--my secret should have perished Even with the heart it wasted, as a brand Fades in the dying flame whose life it cherished, But that no human bosom can withstand Thee, wondrous Lady, and the mild command _3410 Of thy keen eyes:--yes, we are wretched slaves, Who from their wonted loves and native land Are reft, and bear o'er the dividing waves The unregarded prey of calm and happy graves. 25. '"We drag afar from pastoral vales the fairest _3415 Among the daughters of those mountains lone, We drag them there, where all things best and rarest Are stained and trampled:--years have come and gone Since, like the ship which bears me, I have known No thought;--but now the eyes of one dear Maid _3420 On mine with light of mutual love have shone-- She is my life,--I am but as the shade Of her,--a smoke sent up from ashes, soon to fade. 26. '"For she must perish in the Tyrant's hall-- Alas, alas!"--He ceased, and by the sail _3425 Sate cowering--but his sobs were heard by all, And still before the ocean and the gale The ship fled fast till the stars 'gan to fail; And, round me gathered with mute countenance, The Seamen gazed, the Pilot, worn and pale _3430 With toil, the Captain with gray locks, whose glance Met mine in restless awe--they stood as in a trance. 27. '"Recede not! pause not now! Thou art grown old, But Hope will make thee young, for Hope and Youth Are children of one mother, even Love--behold! _3435 The eternal stars gaze on us!--is the truth Within your soul? care for your own, or ruth For others' sufferings? do ye thirst to bear A heart which not the serpent Custom's tooth May violate?--Be free! and even here, _3440 Swear to be firm till death!" They cried, "We swear! We swear!" 28. 'The very darkness shook, as with a blast Of subterranean thunder, at the cry; The hollow shore its thousand echoes cast Into the night, as if the sea and sky, _3445 And earth, rejoiced with new-born liberty, For in that name they swore! Bolts were undrawn, And on the deck, with unaccustomed eye The captives gazing stood, and every one Shrank as the inconstant torch upon her countenance shone. _3450 29. 'They were earth's purest children, young and fair, With eyes the shrines of unawakened thought, And brows as bright as Spring or Morning, ere Dark time had there its evil legend wrought In characters of cloud which wither not.-- _3455 The change was like a dream to them; but soon They knew the glory of their altered lot, In the bright wisdom of youth's breathless noon, Sweet talk, and smiles, and sighs, all bosoms did attune. 30. 'But one was mute; her cheeks and lips most fair, _3460 Changing their hue like lilies newly blown, Beneath a bright acacia's shadowy hair, Waved by the wind amid the sunny noon, Showed that her soul was quivering; and full soon That Youth arose, and breathlessly did look _3465 On her and me, as for some speechless boon: I smiled, and both their hands in mine I took, And felt a soft delight from what their spirits shook. CANTO 9. 1. 'That night we anchored in a woody bay, And sleep no more around us dared to hover _3470 Than, when all doubt and fear has passed away, It shades the couch of some unresting lover, Whose heart is now at rest: thus night passed over In mutual joy:--around, a forest grew Of poplars and dark oaks, whose shade did cover _3475 The waning stars pranked in the waters blue, And trembled in the wind which from the morning flew. 2. 'The joyous Mariners, and each free Maiden Now brought from the deep forest many a bough, With woodland spoil most innocently laden; _3480 Soon wreaths of budding foliage seemed to flow Over the mast and sails, the stern and prow Were canopied with blooming boughs,--the while On the slant sun's path o'er the waves we go Rejoicing, like the dwellers of an isle _3485 Doomed to pursue those waves that cannot cease to smile. 3. 'The many ships spotting the dark blue deep With snowy sails, fled fast as ours came nigh, In fear and wonder; and on every steep Thousands did gaze, they heard the startling cry, _3490 Like Earth's own voice lifted unconquerably To all her children, the unbounded mirth, The glorious joy of thy name--Liberty! They heard!--As o'er the mountains of the earth From peak to peak leap on the beams of Morning's birth: _3495 4. 'So from that cry over the boundless hills Sudden was caught one universal sound, Like a volcano's voice, whose thunder fills Remotest skies,--such glorious madness found A path through human hearts with stream which drowned _3500 Its struggling fears and cares, dark Custom's brood; They knew not whence it came, but felt around A wide contagion poured--they called aloud On Liberty--that name lived on the sunny flood. 5. 'We reached the port.--Alas! from many spirits _3505 The wisdom which had waked that cry, was fled, Like the brief glory which dark Heaven inherits From the false dawn, which fades ere it is spread, Upon the night's devouring darkness shed: Yet soon bright day will burst--even like a chasm _3510 Of fire, to burn the shrouds outworn and dead, Which wrap the world; a wide enthusiasm, To cleanse the fevered world as with an earthquake's spasm! 6. 'I walked through the great City then, but free From shame or fear; those toil-worn Mariners _3515 And happy Maidens did encompass me; And like a subterranean wind that stirs Some forest among caves, the hopes and fears From every human soul, a murmur strange Made as I passed; and many wept, with tears _3520 Of joy and awe, and winged thoughts did range, And half-extinguished words, which prophesied of change. 7. 'For, with strong speech I tore the veil that hid Nature, and Truth, and Liberty, and Love,-- As one who from some mountain's pyramid _3525 Points to the unrisen sun!--the shades approve His truth, and flee from every stream and grove. Thus, gentle thoughts did many a bosom fill,-- Wisdom, the mail of tried affections wove For many a heart, and tameless scorn of ill, _3530 Thrice steeped in molten steel the unconquerable will. 8. 'Some said I was a maniac wild and lost; Some, that I scarce had risen from the grave, The Prophet's virgin bride, a heavenly ghost:-- Some said, I was a fiend from my weird cave, _3535 Who had stolen human shape, and o'er the wave, The forest, and the mountain, came;--some said I was the child of God, sent down to save Woman from bonds and death, and on my head The burden of their sins would frightfully be laid. _3540 9. 'But soon my human words found sympathy In human hearts: the purest and the best, As friend with friend, made common cause with me, And they were few, but resolute;--the rest, Ere yet success the enterprise had blessed, _3545 Leagued with me in their hearts;--their meals, their slumber, Their hourly occupations, were possessed By hopes which I had armed to overnumber Those hosts of meaner cares, which life's strong wings encumber. 10. 'But chiefly women, whom my voice did waken _3550 From their cold, careless, willing slavery, Sought me: one truth their dreary prison has shaken,-- They looked around, and lo! they became free! Their many tyrants sitting desolately In slave-deserted halls, could none restrain; _3555 For wrath's red fire had withered in the eye, Whose lightning once was death,--nor fear, nor gain Could tempt one captive now to lock another's chain. 11. 'Those who were sent to bind me, wept, and felt Their minds outsoar the bonds which clasped them round, _3560 Even as a waxen shape may waste and melt In the white furnace; and a visioned swound, A pause of hope and awe the City bound, Which, like the silence of a tempest's birth, When in its awful shadow it has wound _3565 The sun, the wind, the ocean, and the earth, Hung terrible, ere yet the lightnings have leaped forth. 12. 'Like clouds inwoven in the silent sky, By winds from distant regions meeting there, In the high name of truth and liberty, _3570 Around the City millions gathered were, By hopes which sprang from many a hidden lair,-- Words which the lore of truth in hues of flame Arrayed, thine own wild songs which in the air Like homeless odours floated, and the name _3575 Of thee, and many a tongue which thou hadst dipped in flame. 13. 'The Tyrant knew his power was gone, but Fear, The nurse of Vengeance, bade him wait the event-- That perfidy and custom, gold and prayer, And whatsoe'er, when force is impotent, _3580 To fraud the sceptre of the world has lent, Might, as he judged, confirm his failing sway. Therefore throughout the streets, the Priests he sent To curse the rebels.--To their gods did they For Earthquake, Plague, and Want, kneel in the public way. _3585 14. 'And grave and hoary men were bribed to tell From seats where law is made the slave of wrong, How glorious Athens in her splendour fell, Because her sons were free,--and that among Mankind, the many to the few belong, _3590 By Heaven, and Nature, and Necessity. They said, that age was truth, and that the young Marred with wild hopes the peace of slavery, With which old times and men had quelled the vain and free. 15. 'And with the falsehood of their poisonous lips _3595 They breathed on the enduring memory Of sages and of bards a brief eclipse; There was one teacher, who necessity Had armed with strength and wrong against mankind, His slave and his avenger aye to be; _3600 That we were weak and sinful, frail and blind, And that the will of one was peace, and we Should seek for nought on earth but toil and misery-- 16. '"For thus we might avoid the hell hereafter." So spake the hypocrites, who cursed and lied; _3605 Alas, their sway was past, and tears and laughter Clung to their hoary hair, withering the pride Which in their hollow hearts dared still abide; And yet obscener slaves with smoother brow, And sneers on their strait lips, thin, blue and wide, _3610 Said that the rule of men was over now, And hence, the subject world to woman's will must bow; 17. 'And gold was scattered through the streets, and wine Flowed at a hundred feasts within the wall. In vain! the steady towers in Heaven did shine _3615 As they were wont, nor at the priestly call Left Plague her banquet in the Ethiop's hall, Nor Famine from the rich man's portal came, Where at her ease she ever preys on all Who throng to kneel for food: nor fear nor shame, _3620 Nor faith, nor discord, dimmed hope's newly kindled flame. 18. 'For gold was as a god whose faith began To fade, so that its worshippers were few, And Faith itself, which in the heart of man Gives shape, voice, name, to spectral Terror, knew _3625 Its downfall, as the altars lonelier grew, Till the Priests stood alone within the fane; The shafts of falsehood unpolluting flew, And the cold sneers of calumny were vain, The union of the free with discord's brand to stain. _3630 19. 'The rest thou knowest.--Lo! we two are here-- We have survived a ruin wide and deep-- Strange thoughts are mine.--I cannot grieve or fear, Sitting with thee upon this lonely steep I smile, though human love should make me weep. _3635 We have survived a joy that knows no sorrow, And I do feel a mighty calmness creep Over my heart, which can no longer borrow Its hues from chance or change, dark children of to-morrow. 20. 'We know not what will come--yet, Laon, dearest, _3640 Cythna shall be the prophetess of Love, Her lips shall rob thee of the grace thou wearest, To hide thy heart, and clothe the shapes which rove Within the homeless Future's wintry grove; For I now, sitting thus beside thee, seem _3645 Even with thy breath and blood to live and move, And violence and wrong are as a dream Which rolls from steadfast truth, an unreturning stream. 21. 'The blasts of Autumn drive the winged seeds Over the earth,--next come the snows, and rain, _3650 And frosts, and storms, which dreary Winter leads Out of his Scythian cave, a savage train; Behold! Spring sweeps over the world again, Shedding soft dews from her ethereal wings; Flowers on the mountains, fruits over the plain, _3655 And music on the waves and woods she flings, And love on all that lives, and calm on lifeless things. 22. 'O Spring, of hope, and love, and youth, and gladness Wind-winged emblem! brightest, best and fairest! Whence comest thou, when, with dark Winter's sadness _3660 The tears that fade in sunny smiles thou sharest? Sister of joy, thou art the child who wearest Thy mother's dying smile, tender and sweet; Thy mother Autumn, for whose grave thou bearest Fresh flowers, and beams like flowers, with gentle feet, _3665 Disturbing not the leaves which are her winding-sheet. 23. 'Virtue, and Hope, and Love, like light and Heaven, Surround the world.--We are their chosen slaves. Has not the whirlwind of our spirit driven Truth's deathless germs to thought's remotest caves? _3670 Lo, Winter comes!--the grief of many graves, The frost of death, the tempest of the sword, The flood of tyranny, whose sanguine waves Stagnate like ice at Faith the enchanter's word, And bind all human hearts in its repose abhorred. _3675 24. 'The seeds are sleeping in the soil: meanwhile The Tyrant peoples dungeons with his prey, Pale victims on the guarded scaffold smile Because they cannot speak; and, day by day, The moon of wasting Science wanes away _3680 Among her stars, and in that darkness vast The sons of earth to their foul idols pray, And gray Priests triumph, and like blight or blast A shade of selfish care o'er human looks is cast. 25. 'This is the winter of the world;--and here _3685 We die, even as the winds of Autumn fade, Expiring in the frore and foggy air. Behold! Spring comes, though we must pass, who made The promise of its birth,--even as the shade Which from our death, as from a mountain, flings _3690 The future, a broad sunrise; thus arrayed As with the plumes of overshadowing wings, From its dark gulf of chains, Earth like an eagle springs. 26. 'O dearest love! we shall be dead and cold Before this morn may on the world arise; _3695 Wouldst thou the glory of its dawn behold? Alas! gaze not on me, but turn thine eyes On thine own heart--it is a paradise Which everlasting Spring has made its own, And while drear Winter fills the naked skies, _3700 Sweet streams of sunny thought, and flowers fresh-blown, Are there, and weave their sounds and odours into one. 27. 'In their own hearts the earnest of the hope Which made them great, the good will ever find; And though some envious shade may interlope _3705 Between the effect and it, One comes behind, Who aye the future to the past will bind-- Necessity, whose sightless strength for ever Evil with evil, good with good must wind In bands of union, which no power may sever: _3710 They must bring forth their kind, and be divided never! 28. 'The good and mighty of departed ages Are in their graves, the innocent and free, Heroes, and Poets, and prevailing Sages, Who leave the vesture of their majesty _3715 To adorn and clothe this naked world;--and we Are like to them--such perish, but they leave All hope, or love, or truth, or liberty, Whose forms their mighty spirits could conceive, To be a rule and law to ages that survive. _3720 29. 'So be the turf heaped over our remains Even in our happy youth, and that strange lot, Whate'er it be, when in these mingling veins The blood is still, be ours; let sense and thought Pass from our being, or be numbered not _3725 Among the things that are; let those who come Behind, for whom our steadfast will has bought A calm inheritance, a glorious doom, Insult with careless tread, our undivided tomb. 30. 'Our many thoughts and deeds, our life and love, _3730 Our happiness, and all that we have been, Immortally must live, and burn and move, When we shall be no more;--the world has seen A type of peace; and--as some most serene And lovely spot to a poor maniac's eye, _3735 After long years, some sweet and moving scene Of youthful hope, returning suddenly, Quells his long madness--thus man shall remember thee. 31. 'And Calumny meanwhile shall feed on us, As worms devour the dead, and near the throne _3740 And at the altar, most accepted thus Shall sneers and curses be;--what we have done None shall dare vouch, though it be truly known; That record shall remain, when they must pass Who built their pride on its oblivion; _3745 And fame, in human hope which sculptured was, Survive the perished scrolls of unenduring brass. 32. 'The while we two, beloved, must depart, And Sense and Reason, those enchanters fair, Whose wand of power is hope, would bid the heart _3750 That gazed beyond the wormy grave despair: These eyes, these lips, this blood, seems darkly there To fade in hideous ruin; no calm sleep Peopling with golden dreams the stagnant air, Seems our obscure and rotting eyes to steep _3755 In joy;--but senseless death--a ruin dark and deep! 33. 'These are blind fancies--reason cannot know What sense can neither feel, nor thought conceive; There is delusion in the world--and woe, And fear, and pain--we know not whence we live, _3760 Or why, or how, or what mute Power may give Their being to each plant, and star, and beast, Or even these thoughts.--Come near me! I do weave A chain I cannot break--I am possessed With thoughts too swift and strong for one lone human breast. _3765 34. 'Yes, yes--thy kiss is sweet, thy lips are warm-- O! willingly, beloved, would these eyes, Might they no more drink being from thy form, Even as to sleep whence we again arise, Close their faint orbs in death: I fear nor prize _3770 Aught that can now betide, unshared by thee-- Yes, Love when Wisdom fails makes Cythna wise: Darkness and death, if death be true, must be Dearer than life and hope, if unenjoyed with thee. 35. 'Alas, our thoughts flow on with stream, whose waters _3775 Return not to their fountain--Earth and Heaven, The Ocean and the Sun, the Clouds their daughters, Winter, and Spring, and Morn, and Noon, and Even, All that we are or know, is darkly driven Towards one gulf.--Lo! what a change is come _3780 Since I first spake--but time shall be forgiven, Though it change all but thee!'--She ceased--night's gloom Meanwhile had fallen on earth from the sky's sunless dome. 36. Though she had ceased, her countenance uplifted To Heaven, still spake, with solemn glory bright; _3785 Her dark deep eyes, her lips, whose motions gifted The air they breathed with love, her locks undight. 'Fair star of life and love,' I cried, 'my soul's delight, Why lookest thou on the crystalline skies? O, that my spirit were yon Heaven of night, _3790 Which gazes on thee with its thousand eyes!' She turned to me and smiled--that smile was Paradise! NOTES: _3573 hues of grace edition 1818. CANTO 10. 1. Was there a human spirit in the steed, That thus with his proud voice, ere night was gone, He broke our linked rest? or do indeed _3795 All living things a common nature own, And thought erect an universal throne, Where many shapes one tribute ever bear? And Earth, their mutual mother, does she groan To see her sons contend? and makes she bare _3800 Her breast, that all in peace its drainless stores may share? 2. I have heard friendly sounds from many a tongue Which was not human--the lone nightingale Has answered me with her most soothing song, Out of her ivy bower, when I sate pale _3805 With grief, and sighed beneath; from many a dale The antelopes who flocked for food have spoken With happy sounds, and motions, that avail Like man's own speech; and such was now the token Of waning night, whose calm by that proud neigh was broken. _3810 3. Each night, that mighty steed bore me abroad, And I returned with food to our retreat, And dark intelligence; the blood which flowed Over the fields, had stained the courser's feet; Soon the dust drinks that bitter dew,--then meet _3815 The vulture, and the wild dog, and the snake, The wolf, and the hyaena gray, and eat The dead in horrid truce: their throngs did make Behind the steed, a chasm like waves in a ship's wake. 4. For, from the utmost realms of earth came pouring _3820 The banded slaves whom every despot sent At that throned traitor's summons; like the roaring Of fire, whose floods the wild deer circumvent In the scorched pastures of the South; so bent The armies of the leagued Kings around _3825 Their files of steel and flame;--the continent Trembled, as with a zone of ruin bound, Beneath their feet, the sea shook with their Navies' sound. 5. From every nation of the earth they came, The multitude of moving heartless things, _3830 Whom slaves call men: obediently they came, Like sheep whom from the fold the shepherd brings To the stall, red with blood; their many kings Led them, thus erring, from their native land; Tartar and Frank, and millions whom the wings _3835 Of Indian breezes lull, and many a band The Arctic Anarch sent, and Idumea's sand, 6. Fertile in prodigies and lies;--so there Strange natures made a brotherhood of ill. The desert savage ceased to grasp in fear _3840 His Asian shield and bow, when, at the will Of Europe's subtler son, the bolt would kill Some shepherd sitting on a rock secure; But smiles of wondering joy his face would fill, And savage sympathy: those slaves impure, _3845 Each one the other thus from ill to ill did lure. 7. For traitorously did that foul Tyrant robe His countenance in lies,--even at the hour When he was snatched from death, then o'er the globe, With secret signs from many a mountain-tower, _3850 With smoke by day, and fire by night, the power Of Kings and Priests, those dark conspirators, He called:--they knew his cause their own, and swore Like wolves and serpents to their mutual wars Strange truce, with many a rite which Earth and Heaven abhors. _3855 8. Myriads had come--millions were on their way; The Tyrant passed, surrounded by the steel Of hired assassins, through the public way, Choked with his country's dead:--his footsteps reel On the fresh blood--he smiles. 'Ay, now I feel _3860 I am a King in truth!' he said, and took His royal seat, and bade the torturing wheel Be brought, and fire, and pincers, and the hook, And scorpions, that his soul on its revenge might look. 9. 'But first, go slay the rebels--why return _3865 The victor bands?' he said, 'millions yet live, Of whom the weakest with one word might turn The scales of victory yet;--let none survive But those within the walls--each fifth shall give The expiation for his brethren here.-- _3870 Go forth, and waste and kill!'--'O king, forgive My speech,' a soldier answered--'but we fear The spirits of the night, and morn is drawing near; 10. 'For we were slaying still without remorse, And now that dreadful chief beneath my hand _3875 Defenceless lay, when on a hell-black horse, An Angel bright as day, waving a brand Which flashed among the stars, passed.'--'Dost thou stand Parleying with me, thou wretch?' the king replied; 'Slaves, bind him to the wheel; and of this band, _3880 Whoso will drag that woman to his side That scared him thus, may burn his dearest foe beside; 11. 'And gold and glory shall be his.--Go forth!' They rushed into the plain.--Loud was the roar Of their career: the horsemen shook the earth; _3885 The wheeled artillery's speed the pavement tore; The infantry, file after file, did pour Their clouds on the utmost hills. Five days they slew Among the wasted fields; the sixth saw gore Stream through the city; on the seventh, the dew _3890 Of slaughter became stiff, and there was peace anew: 12. Peace in the desert fields and villages, Between the glutted beasts and mangled dead! Peace in the silent streets! save when the cries Of victims to their fiery judgement led, _3895 Made pale their voiceless lips who seemed to dread Even in their dearest kindred, lest some tongue Be faithless to the fear yet unbetrayed; Peace in the Tyrant's palace, where the throng Waste the triumphal hours in festival and song! _3900 13. Day after day the burning sun rolled on Over the death-polluted land--it came Out of the east like fire, and fiercely shone A lamp of Autumn, ripening with its flame The few lone ears of corn;--the sky became _3905 Stagnate with heat, so that each cloud and blast Languished and died,--the thirsting air did claim All moisture, and a rotting vapour passed From the unburied dead, invisible and fast. 14. First Want, then Plague came on the beasts; their food _3910 Failed, and they drew the breath of its decay. Millions on millions, whom the scent of blood Had lured, or who, from regions far away, Had tracked the hosts in festival array, From their dark deserts; gaunt and wasting now, _3915 Stalked like fell shades among their perished prey; In their green eyes a strange disease did glow, They sank in hideous spasm, or pains severe and slow. 15. The fish were poisoned in the streams; the birds In the green woods perished; the insect race _3920 Was withered up; the scattered flocks and herds Who had survived the wild beasts' hungry chase Died moaning, each upon the other's face In helpless agony gazing; round the City All night, the lean hyaenas their sad case _3925 Like starving infants wailed; a woeful ditty! And many a mother wept, pierced with unnatural pity. 16. Amid the aereal minarets on high, The Ethiopian vultures fluttering fell From their long line of brethren in the sky, _3930 Startling the concourse of mankind.--Too well These signs the coming mischief did foretell:-- Strange panic first, a deep and sickening dread Within each heart, like ice, did sink and dwell, A voiceless thought of evil, which did spread _3935 With the quick glance of eyes, like withering lightnings shed. 17. Day after day, when the year wanes, the frosts Strip its green crown of leaves, till all is bare; So on those strange and congregated hosts Came Famine, a swift shadow, and the air _3940 Groaned with the burden of a new despair; Famine, than whom Misrule no deadlier daughter Feeds from her thousand breasts, though sleeping there With lidless eyes, lie Faith, and Plague, and Slaughter, A ghastly brood; conceived of Lethe's sullen water. _3945 18. There was no food, the corn was trampled down, The flocks and herds had perished; on the shore The dead and putrid fish were ever thrown; The deeps were foodless, and the winds no more Creaked with the weight of birds, but, as before _3950 Those winged things sprang forth, were void of shade; The vines and orchards, Autumn's golden store, Were burned;--so that the meanest food was weighed With gold, and Avarice died before the god it made. 19. There was no corn--in the wide market-place _3955 All loathliest things, even human flesh, was sold; They weighed it in small scales--and many a face Was fixed in eager horror then: his gold The miser brought; the tender maid, grown bold Through hunger, bared her scorned charms in vain; _3960 The mother brought her eldest born, controlled By instinct blind as love, but turned again And bade her infant suck, and died in silent pain. 20. Then fell blue Plague upon the race of man. 'O, for the sheathed steel, so late which gave _3965 Oblivion to the dead, when the streets ran With brothers' blood! O, that the earthquake's grave Would gape, or Ocean lift its stifling wave!' Vain cries--throughout the streets thousands pursued Each by his fiery torture howl and rave, _3970 Or sit in frenzy's unimagined mood, Upon fresh heaps of dead; a ghastly multitude. 21. It was not hunger now, but thirst. Each well Was choked with rotting corpses, and became A cauldron of green mist made visible _3975 At sunrise. Thither still the myriads came, Seeking to quench the agony of the flame, Which raged like poison through their bursting veins; Naked they were from torture, without shame, Spotted with nameless scars and lurid blains, _3980 Childhood, and youth, and age, writhing in savage pains. 22. It was not thirst, but madness! Many saw Their own lean image everywhere, it went A ghastlier self beside them, till the awe Of that dread sight to self-destruction sent _3985 Those shrieking victims; some, ere life was spent, Sought, with a horrid sympathy, to shed Contagion on the sound; and others rent Their matted hair, and cried aloud, 'We tread On fire! the avenging Power his hell on earth has spread!' _3990 23. Sometimes the living by the dead were hid. Near the great fountain in the public square, Where corpses made a crumbling pyramid Under the sun, was heard one stifled prayer For life, in the hot silence of the air; _3995 And strange 'twas, amid that hideous heap to see Some shrouded in their long and golden hair, As if not dead, but slumbering quietly Like forms which sculptors carve, then love to agony. 24. Famine had spared the palace of the king:-- _4000 He rioted in festival the while, He and his guards and priests; but Plague did fling One shadow upon all. Famine can smile On him who brings it food, and pass, with guile Of thankful falsehood, like a courtier gray, _4005 The house-dog of the throne; but many a mile Comes Plague, a winged wolf, who loathes alway The garbage and the scum that strangers make her prey. 25. So, near the throne, amid the gorgeous feast, Sheathed in resplendent arms, or loosely dight _4010 To luxury, ere the mockery yet had ceased That lingered on his lips, the warrior's might Was loosened, and a new and ghastlier night In dreams of frenzy lapped his eyes; he fell Headlong, or with stiff eyeballs sate upright _4015 Among the guests, or raving mad did tell Strange truths; a dying seer of dark oppression's hell. 26. The Princes and the Priests were pale with terror; That monstrous faith wherewith they ruled mankind, Fell, like a shaft loosed by the bowman's error, _4020 On their own hearts: they sought and they could find No refuge--'twas the blind who led the blind! So, through the desolate streets to the high fane, The many-tongued and endless armies wind In sad procession: each among the train _4025 To his own Idol lifts his supplications vain. 27. 'O God!' they cried, 'we know our secret pride Has scorned thee, and thy worship, and thy name; Secure in human power we have defied Thy fearful might; we bend in fear and shame _4030 Before thy presence; with the dust we claim Kindred; be merciful, O King of Heaven! Most justly have we suffered for thy fame Made dim, but be at length our sins forgiven, Ere to despair and death thy worshippers be driven. _4035 28. 'O King of Glory! thou alone hast power! Who can resist thy will? who can restrain Thy wrath, when on the guilty thou dost shower The shafts of thy revenge, a blistering rain? Greatest and best, be merciful again! _4040 Have we not stabbed thine enemies, and made The Earth an altar, and the Heavens a fane, Where thou wert worshipped with their blood, and laid Those hearts in dust which would thy searchless works have weighed? 29. 'Well didst thou loosen on this impious City _4045 Thine angels of revenge: recall them now; Thy worshippers, abased, here kneel for pity, And bind their souls by an immortal vow: We swear by thee! and to our oath do thou Give sanction, from thine hell of fiends and flame, _4050 That we will kill with fire and torments slow, The last of those who mocked thy holy name, And scorned the sacred laws thy prophets did proclaim.' 30. Thus they with trembling limbs and pallid lips Worshipped their own hearts' image, dim and vast, _4055 Scared by the shade wherewith they would eclipse The light of other minds;--troubled they passed From the great Temple;--fiercely still and fast The arrows of the plague among them fell, And they on one another gazed aghast, _4060 And through the hosts contention wild befell, As each of his own god the wondrous works did tell. 31. And Oromaze, Joshua, and Mahomet, Moses, and Buddh, Zerdusht, and Brahm, and Foh, A tumult of strange names, which never met _4065 Before, as watchwords of a single woe, Arose; each raging votary 'gan to throw Aloft his armed hands, and each did howl 'Our God alone is God!'--and slaughter now Would have gone forth, when from beneath a cowl _4070 A voice came forth, which pierced like ice through every soul. 32. 'Twas an Iberian Priest from whom it came, A zealous man, who led the legioned West, With words which faith and pride had steeped in flame, To quell the unbelievers; a dire guest _4075 Even to his friends was he, for in his breast Did hate and guile lie watchful, intertwined, Twin serpents in one deep and winding nest; He loathed all faith beside his own, and pined To wreak his fear of Heaven in vengeance on mankind. _4080 33. But more he loathed and hated the clear light Of wisdom and free thought, and more did fear, Lest, kindled once, its beams might pierce the night, Even where his Idol stood; for, far and near Did many a heart in Europe leap to hear _4085 That faith and tyranny were trampled down; Many a pale victim, doomed for truth to share The murderer's cell, or see, with helpless groan, The priests his children drag for slaves to serve their own. 34. He dared not kill the infidels with fire _4090 Or steel, in Europe; the slow agonies Of legal torture mocked his keen desire: So he made truce with those who did despise The expiation, and the sacrifice, That, though detested, Islam's kindred creed _4095 Might crush for him those deadlier enemies; For fear of God did in his bosom breed A jealous hate of man, an unreposing need. 35. 'Peace! Peace!' he cried, 'when we are dead, the Day Of Judgement comes, and all shall surely know _4100 Whose God is God, each fearfully shall pay The errors of his faith in endless woe! But there is sent a mortal vengeance now On earth, because an impious race had spurned Him whom we all adore,--a subtle foe, _4105 By whom for ye this dread reward was earned, And kingly thrones, which rest on faith, nigh overturned. 36. 'Think ye, because ye weep, and kneel, and pray, That God will lull the pestilence? It rose Even from beneath his throne, where, many a day, _4110 His mercy soothed it to a dark repose: It walks upon the earth to judge his foes; And what are thou and I, that he should deign To curb his ghastly minister, or close The gates of death, ere they receive the twain _4115 Who shook with mortal spells his undefended reign? 37. 'Ay, there is famine in the gulf of hell, Its giant worms of fire for ever yawn.-- Their lurid eyes are on us! those who fell By the swift shafts of pestilence ere dawn, _4120 Are in their jaws! they hunger for the spawn Of Satan, their own brethren, who were sent To make our souls their spoil. See! see! they fawn Like dogs, and they will sleep with luxury spent, When those detested hearts their iron fangs have rent! _4125 38. 'Our God may then lull Pestilence to sleep:-- Pile high the pyre of expiation now, A forest's spoil of boughs, and on the heap Pour venomous gums, which sullenly and slow, When touched by flame, shall burn, and melt, and flow, _4130 A stream of clinging fire,--and fix on high A net of iron, and spread forth below A couch of snakes, and scorpions, and the fry Of centipedes and worms, earth's hellish progeny! 39. 'Let Laon and Laone on that pyre, _4135 Linked tight with burning brass, perish!--then pray That, with this sacrifice, the withering ire Of Heaven may be appeased.' He ceased, and they A space stood silent, as far, far away The echoes of his voice among them died; _4140 And he knelt down upon the dust, alway Muttering the curses of his speechless pride, Whilst shame, and fear, and awe, the armies did divide. 40. His voice was like a blast that burst the portal Of fabled hell; and as he spake, each one _4145 Saw gape beneath the chasms of fire immortal, And Heaven above seemed cloven, where, on a throne Girt round with storms and shadows, sate alone Their King and Judge--fear killed in every breast All natural pity then, a fear unknown _4150 Before, and with an inward fire possessed, They raged like homeless beasts whom burning woods invest. 41. 'Twas morn.--At noon the public crier went forth, Proclaiming through the living and the dead, 'The Monarch saith, that his great Empire's worth _4155 Is set on Laon and Laone's head: He who but one yet living here can lead, Or who the life from both their hearts can wring, Shall be the kingdom's heir--a glorious meed! But he who both alive can hither bring, _4160 The Princess shall espouse, and reign an equal King.' 42. Ere night the pyre was piled, the net of iron Was spread above, the fearful couch below; It overtopped the towers that did environ That spacious square; for Fear is never slow _4165 To build the thrones of Hate, her mate and foe; So, she scourged forth the maniac multitude To rear this pyramid--tottering and slow, Plague-stricken, foodless, like lean herds pursued By gadflies, they have piled the heath, and gums, and wood. _4170 43. Night came, a starless and a moonless gloom. Until the dawn, those hosts of many a nation Stood round that pile, as near one lover's tomb Two gentle sisters mourn their desolation; And in the silence of that expectation, _4175 Was heard on high the reptiles' hiss and crawl-- It was so deep--save when the devastation Of the swift pest, with fearful interval, Marking its path with shrieks, among the crowd would fall. 44. Morn came,--among those sleepless multitudes, _4180 Madness, and Fear, and Plague, and Famine still Heaped corpse on corpse, as in autumnal woods The frosts of many a wind with dead leaves fill Earth's cold and sullen brooks; in silence, still The pale survivors stood; ere noon, the fear _4185 Of Hell became a panic, which did kill Like hunger or disease, with whispers drear, As 'Hush! hark! Come they yet?--Just Heaven! thine hour is near!' 45. And Priests rushed through their ranks, some counterfeiting The rage they did inspire, some mad indeed _4190 With their own lies; they said their god was waiting To see his enemies writhe, and burn, and bleed,-- And that, till then, the snakes of Hell had need Of human souls:--three hundred furnaces Soon blazed through the wide City, where, with speed, _4195 Men brought their infidel kindred to appease God's wrath, and, while they burned, knelt round on quivering knees. 46. The noontide sun was darkened with that smoke, The winds of eve dispersed those ashes gray. The madness which these rites had lulled, awoke _4200 Again at sunset.--Who shall dare to say The deeds which night and fear brought forth, or weigh In balance just the good and evil there? He might man's deep and searchless heart display, And cast a light on those dim labyrinths, where _4205 Hope, near imagined chasms, is struggling with despair. 47. 'Tis said, a mother dragged three children then, To those fierce flames which roast the eyes in the head, And laughed, and died; and that unholy men, Feasting like fiends upon the infidel dead, _4210 Looked from their meal, and saw an Angel tread The visible floor of Heaven, and it was she! And, on that night, one without doubt or dread Came to the fire, and said, 'Stop, I am he! Kill me!'--They burned them both with hellish mockery. _4215 48. And, one by one, that night, young maidens came, Beauteous and calm, like shapes of living stone Clothed in the light of dreams, and by the flame Which shrank as overgorged, they laid them down, And sung a low sweet song, of which alone _4220 One word was heard, and that was Liberty; And that some kissed their marble feet, with moan Like love, and died; and then that they did die With happy smiles, which sunk in white tranquillity. NOTES: _3834 native home edition 1818. _3967 earthquakes edition 1818. _4176 reptiles']reptiles edition 1818. CANTO 11. 1. She saw me not--she heard me not--alone _4225 Upon the mountain's dizzy brink she stood; She spake not, breathed not, moved not--there was thrown Over her look, the shadow of a mood Which only clothes the heart in solitude, A thought of voiceless depth;--she stood alone, _4230 Above, the Heavens were spread;--below, the flood Was murmuring in its caves;--the wind had blown Her hair apart, through which her eyes and forehead shone. 2. A cloud was hanging o'er the western mountains; Before its blue and moveless depth were flying _4235 Gray mists poured forth from the unresting fountains Of darkness in the North:--the day was dying:-- Sudden, the sun shone forth, its beams were lying Like boiling gold on Ocean, strange to see, And on the shattered vapours, which defying _4240 The power of light in vain, tossed restlessly In the red Heaven, like wrecks in a tempestuous sea. 3. It was a stream of living beams, whose bank On either side by the cloud's cleft was made; And where its chasms that flood of glory drank, _4245 Its waves gushed forth like fire, and as if swayed By some mute tempest, rolled on HER; the shade Of her bright image floated on the river Of liquid light, which then did end and fade-- Her radiant shape upon its verge did shiver; _4250 Aloft, her flowing hair like strings of flame did quiver. 4. I stood beside her, but she saw me not-- She looked upon the sea, and skies, and earth; Rapture, and love, and admiration wrought A passion deeper far than tears, or mirth, _4255 Or speech, or gesture, or whate'er has birth From common joy; which with the speechless feeling That led her there united, and shot forth From her far eyes a light of deep revealing, All but her dearest self from my regard concealing. _4260 5. Her lips were parted, and the measured breath Was now heard there;--her dark and intricate eyes Orb within orb, deeper than sleep or death, Absorbed the glories of the burning skies, Which, mingling with her heart's deep ecstasies, _4265 Burst from her looks and gestures;--and a light Of liquid tenderness, like love, did rise From her whole frame, an atmosphere which quite Arrayed her in its beams, tremulous and soft and bright. 6. She would have clasped me to her glowing frame; _4270 Those warm and odorous lips might soon have shed On mine the fragrance and the invisible flame Which now the cold winds stole;--she would have laid Upon my languid heart her dearest head; I might have heard her voice, tender and sweet; _4275 Her eyes, mingling with mine, might soon have fed My soul with their own joy.--One moment yet I gazed--we parted then, never again to meet! 7. Never but once to meet on Earth again! She heard me as I fled--her eager tone _4280 Sunk on my heart, and almost wove a chain Around my will to link it with her own, So that my stern resolve was almost gone. 'I cannot reach thee! whither dost thou fly? My steps are faint--Come back, thou dearest one-- _4285 Return, ah me! return!'--The wind passed by On which those accents died, faint, far, and lingeringly. 8. Woe! Woe! that moonless midnight!--Want and Pest Were horrible, but one more fell doth rear, As in a hydra's swarming lair, its crest _4290 Eminent among those victims--even the Fear Of Hell: each girt by the hot atmosphere Of his blind agony, like a scorpion stung By his own rage upon his burning bier Of circling coals of fire; but still there clung _4295 One hope, like a keen sword on starting threads uphung: 9. Not death--death was no more refuge or rest; Not life--it was despair to be!--not sleep, For fiends and chasms of fire had dispossessed All natural dreams: to wake was not to weep, _4300 But to gaze mad and pallid, at the leap To which the Future, like a snaky scourge, Or like some tyrant's eye, which aye doth keep Its withering beam upon his slaves, did urge Their steps; they heard the roar of Hell's sulphureous surge. _4305 10. Each of that multitude, alone, and lost To sense of outward things, one hope yet knew; As on a foam-girt crag some seaman tossed Stares at the rising tide, or like the crew Whilst now the ship is splitting through and through; _4310 Each, if the tramp of a far steed was heard, Started from sick despair, or if there flew One murmur on the wind, or if some word Which none can gather yet, the distant crowd has stirred. 11. Why became cheeks, wan with the kiss of death, _4315 Paler from hope? they had sustained despair. Why watched those myriads with suspended breath Sleepless a second night? they are not here, The victims, and hour by hour, a vision drear, Warm corpses fall upon the clay-cold dead; _4320 And even in death their lips are wreathed with fear.-- The crowd is mute and moveless--overhead Silent Arcturus shines--'Ha! hear'st thou not the tread 12. 'Of rushing feet? laughter? the shout, the scream, Of triumph not to be contained? See! hark! _4325 They come, they come! give way!' Alas, ye deem Falsely--'tis but a crowd of maniacs stark Driven, like a troop of spectres, through the dark, From the choked well, whence a bright death-fire sprung, A lurid earth-star, which dropped many a spark _4330 From its blue train, and spreading widely, clung To their wild hair, like mist the topmost pines among. 13. And many, from the crowd collected there, Joined that strange dance in fearful sympathies; There was the silence of a long despair, _4335 When the last echo of those terrible cries Came from a distant street, like agonies Stifled afar.--Before the Tyrant's throne All night his aged Senate sate, their eyes In stony expectation fixed; when one _4340 Sudden before them stood, a Stranger and alone. 14. Dark Priests and haughty Warriors gazed on him With baffled wonder, for a hermit's vest Concealed his face; but when he spake, his tone, Ere yet the matter did their thoughts arrest,-- _4345 Earnest, benignant, calm, as from a breast Void of all hate or terror--made them start; For as with gentle accents he addressed His speech to them, on each unwilling heart Unusual awe did fall--a spirit-quelling dart. _4350 15. 'Ye Princes of the Earth, ye sit aghast Amid the ruin which yourselves have made, Yes, Desolation heard your trumpet's blast, And sprang from sleep!--dark Terror has obeyed Your bidding--O, that I whom ye have made _4355 Your foe, could set my dearest enemy free From pain and fear! but evil casts a shade, Which cannot pass so soon, and Hate must be The nurse and parent still of an ill progeny. 16. 'Ye turn to Heaven for aid in your distress; _4360 Alas, that ye, the mighty and the wise, Who, if ye dared, might not aspire to less Than ye conceive of power, should fear the lies Which thou, and thou, didst frame for mysteries To blind your slaves:--consider your own thought, _4365 An empty and a cruel sacrifice Ye now prepare, for a vain idol wrought Out of the fears and hate which vain desires have brought. 17. 'Ye seek for happiness--alas, the day! Ye find it not in luxury nor in gold, _4370 Nor in the fame, nor in the envied sway For which, O willing slaves to Custom old, Severe taskmistress! ye your hearts have sold. Ye seek for peace, and when ye die, to dream No evil dreams: all mortal things are cold _4375 And senseless then; if aught survive, I deem It must be love and joy, for they immortal seem. 18. 'Fear not the future, weep not for the past. Oh, could I win your ears to dare be now Glorious, and great, and calm! that ye would cast _4380 Into the dust those symbols of your woe, Purple, and gold, and steel! that ye would go Proclaiming to the nations whence ye came, That Want, and Plague, and Fear, from slavery flow; And that mankind is free, and that the shame _4385 Of royalty and faith is lost in freedom's fame! 19. 'If thus, 'tis well--if not, I come to say That Laon--' while the Stranger spoke, among The Council sudden tumult and affray Arose, for many of those warriors young, _4390 Had on his eloquent accents fed and hung Like bees on mountain-flowers; they knew the truth, And from their thrones in vindication sprung; The men of faith and law then without ruth Drew forth their secret steel, and stabbed each ardent youth. _4395 20. They stabbed them in the back and sneered--a slave Who stood behind the throne, those corpses drew Each to its bloody, dark, and secret grave; And one more daring raised his steel anew To pierce the Stranger. 'What hast thou to do _4400 With me, poor wretch?'--Calm, solemn and severe, That voice unstrung his sinews, and he threw His dagger on the ground, and pale with fear, Sate silently--his voice then did the Stranger rear. 21. 'It doth avail not that I weep for ye-- _4405 Ye cannot change, since ye are old and gray, And ye have chosen your lot--your fame must be A book of blood, whence in a milder day Men shall learn truth, when ye are wrapped in clay: Now ye shall triumph. I am Laon's friend, _4410 And him to your revenge will I betray, So ye concede one easy boon. Attend! For now I speak of things which ye can apprehend. 22. 'There is a People mighty in its youth, A land beyond the Oceans of the West, _4415 Where, though with rudest rites, Freedom and Truth Are worshipped; from a glorious Mother's breast, Who, since high Athens fell, among the rest Sate like the Queen of Nations, but in woe, By inbred monsters outraged and oppressed, _4420 Turns to her chainless child for succour now, It draws the milk of Power in Wisdom's fullest flow. 23. 'That land is like an Eagle, whose young gaze Feeds on the noontide beam, whose golden plume Floats moveless on the storm, and in the blaze _4425 Of sunrise gleams when Earth is wrapped in gloom; An epitaph of glory for the tomb Of murdered Europe may thy fame be made, Great People! as the sands shalt thou become; Thy growth is swift as morn, when night must fade; _4430 The multitudinous Earth shall sleep beneath thy shade. 24. 'Yes, in the desert there is built a home For Freedom. Genius is made strong to rear The monuments of man beneath the dome Of a new Heaven; myriads assemble there, _4435 Whom the proud lords of man, in rage or fear, Drive from their wasted homes: the boon I pray Is this--that Cythna shall be convoyed there-- Nay, start not at the name--America! And then to you this night Laon will I betray. _4440 25. 'With me do what ye will. I am your foe!' The light of such a joy as makes the stare Of hungry snakes like living emeralds glow, Shone in a hundred human eyes--'Where, where Is Laon? Haste! fly! drag him swiftly here! _4445 We grant thy boon.'--'I put no trust in ye, Swear by the Power ye dread.'--'We swear, we swear!' The Stranger threw his vest back suddenly, And smiled in gentle pride, and said, 'Lo! I am he!' NOTES: _4321 wreathed]writhed. "Poetical Works" 1839. 1st edition. _4361 the mighty]tho' mighty edition 1818. _4362 ye]he edition 1818. _4432 there]then edition 1818. CANTO 12. 1. The transport of a fierce and monstrous gladness _4450 Spread through the multitudinous streets, fast flying Upon the winds of fear; from his dull madness The starveling waked, and died in joy; the dying, Among the corpses in stark agony lying, Just heard the happy tidings, and in hope _4455 Closed their faint eyes; from house to house replying With loud acclaim, the living shook Heaven's cope, And filled the startled Earth with echoes: morn did ope 2. Its pale eyes then; and lo! the long array Of guards in golden arms, and Priests beside, _4460 Singing their bloody hymns, whose garbs betray The blackness of the faith it seems to hide; And see, the Tyrant's gem-wrought chariot glide Among the gloomy cowls and glittering spears-- A Shape of light is sitting by his side, _4465 A child most beautiful. I' the midst appears Laon,--exempt alone from mortal hopes and fears. 3. His head and feet are bare, his hands are bound Behind with heavy chains, yet none do wreak Their scoffs on him, though myriads throng around; _4470 There are no sneers upon his lip which speak That scorn or hate has made him bold; his cheek Resolve has not turned pale,--his eyes are mild And calm, and, like the morn about to break, Smile on mankind--his heart seems reconciled _4475 To all things and itself, like a reposing child. 4. Tumult was in the soul of all beside, Ill joy, or doubt, or fear; but those who saw Their tranquil victim pass, felt wonder glide Into their brain, and became calm with awe.-- _4480 See, the slow pageant near the pile doth draw. A thousand torches in the spacious square, Borne by the ready slaves of ruthless law, Await the signal round: the morning fair Is changed to a dim night by that unnatural glare. _4485 5. And see! beneath a sun-bright canopy, Upon a platform level with the pile, The anxious Tyrant sit, enthroned on high, Girt by the chieftains of the host; all smile In expectation, but one child: the while _4490 I, Laon, led by mutes, ascend my bier Of fire, and look around: each distant isle Is dark in the bright dawn; towers far and near, Pierce like reposing flames the tremulous atmosphere. 6. There was such silence through the host, as when _4495 An earthquake trampling on some populous town, Has crushed ten thousand with one tread, and men Expect the second; all were mute but one, That fairest child, who, bold with love, alone Stood up before the King, without avail, _4500 Pleading for Laon's life--her stifled groan Was heard--she trembled like one aspen pale Among the gloomy pines of a Norwegian vale. 7. What were his thoughts linked in the morning sun, Among those reptiles, stingless with delay, _4505 Even like a tyrant's wrath?--The signal-gun Roared--hark, again! In that dread pause he lay As in a quiet dream--the slaves obey-- A thousand torches drop,--and hark, the last Bursts on that awful silence; far away, _4510 Millions, with hearts that beat both loud and fast, Watch for the springing flame expectant and aghast. 8. They fly--the torches fall--a cry of fear Has startled the triumphant!--they recede! For, ere the cannon's roar has died, they hear _4515 The tramp of hoofs like earthquake, and a steed Dark and gigantic, with the tempest's speed, Bursts through their ranks: a woman sits thereon, Fairer, it seems, than aught that earth can breed, Calm, radiant, like the phantom of the dawn, _4520 A spirit from the caves of daylight wandering gone. 9. All thought it was God's Angel come to sweep The lingering guilty to their fiery grave; The Tyrant from his throne in dread did leap,-- Her innocence his child from fear did save; _4525 Scared by the faith they feigned, each priestly slave Knelt for his mercy whom they served with blood, And, like the refluence of a mighty wave Sucked into the loud sea, the multitude With crushing panic, fled in terror's altered mood. _4530 10. They pause, they blush, they gaze,--a gathering shout Bursts like one sound from the ten thousand streams Of a tempestuous sea:--that sudden rout One checked, who, never in his mildest dreams Felt awe from grace or loveliness, the seams _4535 Of his rent heart so hard and cold a creed Had seared with blistering ice--but he misdeems That he is wise, whose wounds do only bleed Inly for self,--thus thought the Iberian Priest indeed, 11. And others, too, thought he was wise to see, _4540 In pain, and fear, and hate, something divine; In love and beauty, no divinity.-- Now with a bitter smile, whose light did shine Like a fiend's hope upon his lips and eyne, He said, and the persuasion of that sneer _4545 Rallied his trembling comrades--'Is it mine To stand alone, when kings and soldiers fear A woman? Heaven has sent its other victim here.' 12. 'Were it not impious,' said the King, 'to break Our holy oath?'--'Impious to keep it, say!' _4550 Shrieked the exulting Priest:--'Slaves, to the stake Bind her, and on my head the burden lay Of her just torments:--at the Judgement Day Will I stand up before the golden throne Of Heaven, and cry, "To Thee did I betray _4555 An infidel; but for me she would have known Another moment's joy! the glory be thine own."' 13. They trembled, but replied not, nor obeyed, Pausing in breathless silence. Cythna sprung From her gigantic steed, who, like a shade _4560 Chased by the winds, those vacant streets among Fled tameless, as the brazen rein she flung Upon his neck, and kissed his mooned brow. A piteous sight, that one so fair and young, The clasp of such a fearful death should woo _4565 With smiles of tender joy as beamed from Cythna now. 14. The warm tears burst in spite of faith and fear From many a tremulous eye, but like soft dews Which feed Spring's earliest buds, hung gathered there, Frozen by doubt,--alas! they could not choose _4570 But weep; for when her faint limbs did refuse To climb the pyre, upon the mutes she smiled; And with her eloquent gestures, and the hues Of her quick lips, even as a weary child Wins sleep from some fond nurse with its caresses mild, _4575 15. She won them, though unwilling, her to bind Near me, among the snakes. When there had fled One soft reproach that was most thrilling kind, She smiled on me, and nothing then we said, But each upon the other's countenance fed _4580 Looks of insatiate love; the mighty veil Which doth divide the living and the dead Was almost rent, the world grew dim and pale,-- All light in Heaven or Earth beside our love did fail.-- 16. Yet--yet--one brief relapse, like the last beam _4585 Of dying flames, the stainless air around Hung silent and serene--a blood-red gleam Burst upwards, hurling fiercely from the ground The globed smoke,--I heard the mighty sound Of its uprise, like a tempestuous ocean; _4590 And through its chasms I saw, as in a swound, The tyrant's child fall without life or motion Before his throne, subdued by some unseen emotion.-- 17. And is this death?--The pyre has disappeared, The Pestilence, the Tyrant, and the throng; _4595 The flames grow silent--slowly there is heard The music of a breath-suspending song, Which, like the kiss of love when life is young, Steeps the faint eyes in darkness sweet and deep; With ever-changing notes it floats along, _4600 Till on my passive soul there seemed to creep A melody, like waves on wrinkled sands that leap. 18. The warm touch of a soft and tremulous hand Wakened me then; lo! Cythna sate reclined Beside me, on the waved and golden sand _4605 Of a clear pool, upon a bank o'ertwined With strange and star-bright flowers, which to the wind Breathed divine odour; high above, was spread The emerald heaven of trees of unknown kind, Whose moonlike blooms and bright fruit overhead _4610 A shadow, which was light, upon the waters shed. 19. And round about sloped many a lawny mountain With incense-bearing forests and vast caves Of marble radiance, to that mighty fountain; And where the flood its own bright margin laves, _4615 Their echoes talk with its eternal waves, Which, from the depths whose jagged caverns breed Their unreposing strife, it lifts and heaves,-- Till through a chasm of hills they roll, and feed A river deep, which flies with smooth but arrowy speed. _4620 20. As we sate gazing in a trance of wonder, A boat approached, borne by the musical air Along the waves which sung and sparkled under Its rapid keel--a winged shape sate there, A child with silver-shining wings, so fair, _4625 That as her bark did through the waters glide, The shadow of the lingering waves did wear Light, as from starry beams; from side to side, While veering to the wind her plumes the bark did guide. 21. The boat was one curved shell of hollow pearl, _4630 Almost translucent with the light divine Of her within; the prow and stern did curl Horned on high, like the young moon supine, When o'er dim twilight mountains dark with pine, It floats upon the sunset's sea of beams, _4635 Whose golden waves in many a purple line Fade fast, till borne on sunlight's ebbing streams, Dilating, on earth's verge the sunken meteor gleams. 22. Its keel has struck the sands beside our feet;-- Then Cythna turned to me, and from her eyes _4640 Which swam with unshed tears, a look more sweet Than happy love, a wild and glad surprise, Glanced as she spake: 'Ay, this is Paradise And not a dream, and we are all united! Lo, that is mine own child, who in the guise _4645 Of madness came, like day to one benighted In lonesome woods: my heart is now too well requited!' 23. And then she wept aloud, and in her arms Clasped that bright Shape, less marvellously fair Than her own human hues and living charms; _4650 Which, as she leaned in passion's silence there, Breathed warmth on the cold bosom of the air, Which seemed to blush and tremble with delight; The glossy darkness of her streaming hair Fell o'er that snowy child, and wrapped from sight _4655 The fond and long embrace which did their hearts unite. 24. Then the bright child, the plumed Seraph came, And fixed its blue and beaming eyes on mine, And said, 'I was disturbed by tremulous shame When once we met, yet knew that I was thine _4660 From the same hour in which thy lips divine Kindled a clinging dream within my brain, Which ever waked when I might sleep, to twine Thine image with HER memory dear--again We meet; exempted now from mortal fear or pain. _4665 25. 'When the consuming flames had wrapped ye round, The hope which I had cherished went away; I fell in agony on the senseless ground, And hid mine eyes in dust, and far astray My mind was gone, when bright, like dawning day, _4670 The Spectre of the Plague before me flew, And breathed upon my lips, and seemed to say, "They wait for thee, beloved!"--then I knew The death-mark on my breast, and became calm anew. 26. 'It was the calm of love--for I was dying. _4675 I saw the black and half-extinguished pyre In its own gray and shrunken ashes lying; The pitchy smoke of the departed fire Still hung in many a hollow dome and spire Above the towers, like night,--beneath whose shade _4680 Awed by the ending of their own desire The armies stood; a vacancy was made In expectation's depth, and so they stood dismayed. 27. 'The frightful silence of that altered mood, The tortures of the dying clove alone, _4685 Till one uprose among the multitude, And said--"The flood of time is rolling on; We stand upon its brink, whilst THEY are gone To glide in peace down death's mysterious stream. Have ye done well? They moulder, flesh and bone, _4690 Who might have made this life's envenomed dream A sweeter draught than ye will ever taste, I deem. 28. '"These perish as the good and great of yore Have perished, and their murderers will repent,-- Yes, vain and barren tears shall flow before _4695 Yon smoke has faded from the firmament Even for this cause, that ye who must lament The death of those that made this world so fair, Cannot recall them now; but there is lent To man the wisdom of a high despair, _4700 When such can die, and he live on and linger here. 29. '"Ay, ye may fear not now the Pestilence, From fabled hell as by a charm withdrawn; All power and faith must pass, since calmly hence In pain and fire have unbelievers gone; _4705 And ye must sadly turn away, and moan In secret, to his home each one returning; And to long ages shall this hour be known; And slowly shall its memory, ever burning, Fill this dark night of things with an eternal morning. _4710 30. '"For me that world is grown too void and cold, Since Hope pursues immortal Destiny With steps thus slow--therefore shall ye behold How those who love, yet fear not, dare to die; Tell to your children this!" Then suddenly _4715 He sheathed a dagger in his heart and fell; My brain grew dark in death, and yet to me There came a murmur from the crowd, to tell Of deep and mighty change which suddenly befell. 31. 'Then suddenly I stood, a winged Thought, _4720 Before the immortal Senate, and the seat Of that star-shining spirit, whence is wrought The strength of its dominion, good and great, The better Genius of this world's estate. His realm around one mighty Fane is spread, _4725 Elysian islands bright and fortunate, Calm dwellings of the free and happy dead, Where I am sent to lead!' These winged words she said, 32. And with the silence of her eloquent smile, Bade us embark in her divine canoe; _4730 Then at the helm we took our seat, the while Above her head those plumes of dazzling hue Into the winds' invisible stream she threw, Sitting beside the prow: like gossamer On the swift breath of morn, the vessel flew _4735 O'er the bright whirlpools of that fountain fair, Whose shores receded fast, while we seemed lingering there; 33. Till down that mighty stream, dark, calm, and fleet, Between a chasm of cedarn mountains riven, Chased by the thronging winds whose viewless feet _4740 As swift as twinkling beams, had, under Heaven, From woods and waves wild sounds and odours driven, The boat fled visibly--three nights and days, Borne like a cloud through morn, and noon, and even, We sailed along the winding watery ways _4745 Of the vast stream, a long and labyrinthine maze. 34. A scene of joy and wonder to behold That river's shapes and shadows changing ever, Where the broad sunrise filled with deepening gold Its whirlpools, where all hues did spread and quiver; _4750 And where melodious falls did burst and shiver Among rocks clad with flowers, the foam and spray Sparkled like stars upon the sunny river, Or when the moonlight poured a holier day, One vast and glittering lake around green islands lay. _4755 35. Morn, noon, and even, that boat of pearl outran The streams which bore it, like the arrowy cloud Of tempest, or the speedier thought of man, Which flieth forth and cannot make abode; Sometimes through forests, deep like night, we glode, _4760 Between the walls of mighty mountains crowned With Cyclopean piles, whose turrets proud, The homes of the departed, dimly frowned O'er the bright waves which girt their dark foundations round. 36. Sometimes between the wide and flowering meadows, _4765 Mile after mile we sailed, and 'twas delight To see far off the sunbeams chase the shadows Over the grass; sometimes beneath the night Of wide and vaulted caves, whose roofs were bright With starry gems, we fled, whilst from their deep _4770 And dark-green chasms, shades beautiful and white, Amid sweet sounds across our path would sweep, Like swift and lovely dreams that walk the waves of sleep. 37. And ever as we sailed, our minds were full Of love and wisdom, which would overflow _4775 In converse wild, and sweet, and wonderful, And in quick smiles whose light would come and go Like music o'er wide waves, and in the flow Of sudden tears, and in the mute caress-- For a deep shade was cleft, and we did know, _4780 That virtue, though obscured on Earth, not less Survives all mortal change in lasting loveliness. 38. Three days and nights we sailed, as thought and feeling Number delightful hours--for through the sky The sphered lamps of day and night, revealing _4785 New changes and new glories, rolled on high, Sun, Moon and moonlike lamps, the progeny Of a diviner Heaven, serene and fair: On the fourth day, wild as a windwrought sea The stream became, and fast and faster bare _4790 The spirit-winged boat, steadily speeding there. 39. Steady and swift, where the waves rolled like mountains Within the vast ravine, whose rifts did pour Tumultuous floods from their ten thousand fountains, The thunder of whose earth-uplifting roar _4795 Made the air sweep in whirlwinds from the shore, Calm as a shade, the boat of that fair child Securely fled, that rapid stress before, Amid the topmost spray, and sunbows wild, Wreathed in the silver mist: in joy and pride we smiled. _4800 40. The torrent of that wide and raging river Is passed, and our aereal speed suspended. We look behind; a golden mist did quiver When its wild surges with the lake were blended,-- Our bark hung there, as on a line suspended _4805 Between two heavens,--that windless waveless lake Which four great cataracts from four vales, attended By mists, aye feed; from rocks and clouds they break, And of that azure sea a silent refuge make. 41. Motionless resting on the lake awhile, _4810 I saw its marge of snow-bright mountains rear Their peaks aloft, I saw each radiant isle, And in the midst, afar, even like a sphere Hung in one hollow sky, did there appear The Temple of the Spirit; on the sound _4815 Which issued thence, drawn nearer and more near, Like the swift moon this glorious earth around, The charmed boat approached, and there its haven found. NOTES: _4577 there]then edition 1818. _4699 there]then edition 1818. _4749 When]Where edition 1818. _4804 Where]When edition 1818. _4805 on a line]one line edition 1818. NOTE ON THE "REVOLT OF ISLAM", BY MRS. SHELLEY. Shelley possessed two remarkable qualities of intellect--a brilliant imagination, and a logical exactness of reason. His inclinations led him (he fancied) almost alike to poetry and metaphysical discussions. I say 'he fancied,' because I believe the former to have been paramount, and that it would have gained the mastery even had he struggled against it. However, he said that he deliberated at one time whether he should dedicate himself to poetry or metaphysics; and, resolving on the former, he educated himself for it, discarding in a great measure his philosophical pursuits, and engaging himself in the study of the poets of Greece, Italy, and England. To these may be added a constant perusal of portions of the old Testament--the Psalms, the Book of Job, the Prophet Isaiah, and others, the sublime poetry of which filled him with delight. As a poet, his intellect and compositions were powerfully influenced by exterior circumstances, and especially by his place of abode. He was very fond of travelling, and ill-health increased this restlessness. The sufferings occasioned by a cold English winter made him pine, especially when our colder spring arrived, for a more genial climate. In 1816 he again visited Switzerland, and rented a house on the banks of the Lake of Geneva; and many a day, in cloud or sunshine, was passed alone in his boat--sailing as the wind listed, or weltering on the calm waters. The majestic aspect of Nature ministered such thoughts as he afterwards enwove in verse. His lines on the Bridge of the Arve, and his "Hymn to Intellectual Beauty", were written at this time. Perhaps during this summer his genius was checked by association with another poet whose nature was utterly dissimilar to his own, yet who, in the poem he wrote at that time, gave tokens that he shared for a period the more abstract and etherealised inspiration of Shelley. The saddest events awaited his return to England; but such was his fear to wound the feelings of others that he never expressed the anguish he felt, and seldom gave vent to the indignation roused by the persecutions he underwent; while the course of deep unexpressed passion, and the sense of injury, engendered the desire to embody themselves in forms defecated of all the weakness and evil which cling to real life. He chose therefore for his hero a youth nourished in dreams of liberty, some of whose actions are in direct opposition to the opinions of the world; but who is animated throughout by an ardent love of virtue, and a resolution to confer the boons of political and intellectual freedom on his fellow-creatures. He created for this youth a woman such as he delighted to imagine--full of enthusiasm for the same objects; and they both, with will unvanquished, and the deepest sense of the justice of their cause, met adversity and death. There exists in this poem a memorial of a friend of his youth. The character of the old man who liberates Laon from his tower prison, and tends on him in sickness, is founded on that of Doctor Lind, who, when Shelley was at Eton, had often stood by to befriend and support him, and whose name he never mentioned without love and veneration. During the year 1817 we were established at Marlow in Buckinghamshire. Shelley's choice of abode was fixed chiefly by this town being at no great distance from London, and its neighbourhood to the Thames. The poem was written in his boat, as it floated under the beech groves of Bisham, or during wanderings in the neighbouring country, which is distinguished for peculiar beauty. The chalk hills break into cliffs that overhang the Thames, or form valleys clothed with beech; the wilder portion of the country is rendered beautiful by exuberant vegetation; and the cultivated part is peculiarly fertile. With all this wealth of Nature which, either in the form of gentlemen's parks or soil dedicated to agriculture, flourishes around, Marlow was inhabited (I hope it is altered now) by a very poor population. The women are lacemakers, and lose their health by sedentary labour, for which they were very ill paid. The Poor-laws ground to the dust not only the paupers, but those who had risen just above that state, and were obliged to pay poor-rates. The changes produced by peace following a long war, and a bad harvest, brought with them the most heart-rending evils to the poor. Shelley afforded what alleviation he could. In the winter, while bringing out his poem, he had a severe attack of ophthalmia, caught while visiting the poor cottages. I mention these things,--for this minute and active sympathy with his fellow-creatures gives a thousandfold interest to his speculations, and stamps with reality his pleadings for the human race. The poem, bold in its opinions and uncompromising in their expression, met with many censurers, not only among those who allow of no virtue but such as supports the cause they espouse, but even among those whose opinions were similar to his own. I extract a portion of a letter written in answer to one of these friends. It best details the impulses of Shelley's mind, and his motives: it was written with entire unreserve; and is therefore a precious monument of his own opinion of his powers, of the purity of his designs, and the ardour with which he clung, in adversity and through the valley of the shadow of death, to views from which he believed the permanent happiness of mankind must eventually spring. 'Marlowe, December 11, 1817. 'I have read and considered all that you say about my general powers, and the particular instance of the poem in which I have attempted to develop them. Nothing can be more satisfactory to me than the interest which your admonitions express. But I think you are mistaken in some points with regard to the peculiar nature of my powers, whatever be their amount. I listened with deference and self-suspicion to your censures of "The Revolt of Islam"; but the productions of mine which you commend hold a very low place in my own esteem; and this reassures me, in some degree at least. The poem was produced by a series of thoughts which filled my mind with unbounded and sustained enthusiasm. I felt the precariousness of my life, and I engaged in this task, resolved to leave some record of myself. Much of what the volume contains was written with the same feeling--as real, though not so prophetic--as the communications of a dying man. I never presumed indeed to consider it anything approaching to faultless; but, when I consider contemporary productions of the same apparent pretensions, I own I was filled with confidence. I felt that it was in many respects a genuine picture of my own mind. I felt that the sentiments were true, not assumed. And in this have I long believed that my power consists; in sympathy, and that part of the imagination which relates to sentiment and contemplation. I am formed, if for anything not in common with the herd of mankind, to apprehend minute and remote distinctions of feeling, whether relative to external nature or the living beings which surround us, and to communicate the conceptions which result from considering either the moral or the material universe as a whole. Of course, I believe these faculties, which perhaps comprehend all that is sublime in man, to exist very imperfectly in my own mind. But, when you advert to my Chancery-paper, a cold, forced, unimpassioned, insignificant piece of cramped and cautious argument, and to the little scrap about "Mandeville", which expressed my feelings indeed, but cost scarcely two minutes' thought to express, as specimens of my powers more favourable than that which grew as it were from "the agony and bloody sweat" of intellectual travail; surely I must feel that, in some manner, either I am mistaken in believing that I have any talent at all, or you in the selection of the specimens of it. Yet, after all, I cannot but be conscious, in much of what I write, of an absence of that tranquillity which is the attribute and accompaniment of power. This feeling alone would make your most kind and wise admonitions, on the subject of the economy of intellectual force, valuable to me. And, if I live, or if I see any trust in coming years, doubt not but that I shall do something, whatever it may be, which a serious and earnest estimate of my powers will suggest to me, and which will be in every respect accommodated to their utmost limits. [Shelley to Godwin.] *** PRINCE ATHANASE. A FRAGMENT. (The idea Shelley had formed of Prince Athanase was a good deal modelled on "Alastor". In the first sketch of the poem, he named it "Pandemos and Urania". Athanase seeks through the world the One whom he may love. He meets, in the ship in which he is embarked, a lady who appears to him to embody his ideal of love and beauty. But she proves to be Pandemos, or the earthly and unworthy Venus; who, after disappointing his cherished dreams and hopes, deserts him. Athanase, crushed by sorrow, pines and dies. 'On his deathbed, the lady who can really reply to his soul comes and kisses his lips' ("The Deathbed of Athanase"). The poet describes her [in the words of the final fragment, page 164]. This slender note is all we have to aid our imagination in shaping out the form of the poem, such as its author imagined. [Mrs. Shelley's Note.]) [Written at Marlow in 1817, towards the close of the year; first published in "Posthumous Poems", 1824. Part 1 is dated by Mrs. Shelley, 'December, 1817,' the remainder, 'Marlow, 1817.' The verses were probably rehandled in Italy during the following year. Sources of the text are (1) "Posthumous Poems", 1824; (2) "Poetical Works" 1839, editions 1st and 2nd; (3) a much-tortured draft amongst the Bodleian manuscripts, collated by Mr. C.D. Locock. For (1) and (2) Mrs. Shelley is responsible. Our text (enlarged by about thirty lines fro the Bodleian manuscript) follows for the most part the "Poetical Works", 1839; verbal exceptions are pointed out in the footnotes. See also the Editor's Notes at the end of this volume, and Mr. Locock's "Examination of Shelley Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library", Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1903.] PART 1. There was a youth, who, as with toil and travel, Had grown quite weak and gray before his time; Nor any could the restless griefs unravel Which burned within him, withering up his prime And goading him, like fiends, from land to land. _5 Not his the load of any secret crime, For nought of ill his heart could understand, But pity and wild sorrow for the same;-- Not his the thirst for glory or command, Baffled with blast of hope-consuming shame; _10 Nor evil joys which fire the vulgar breast, And quench in speedy smoke its feeble flame, Had left within his soul their dark unrest: Nor what religion fables of the grave Feared he,--Philosophy's accepted guest. _15 For none than he a purer heart could have, Or that loved good more for itself alone; Of nought in heaven or earth was he the slave. What sorrow, strange, and shadowy, and unknown, Sent him, a hopeless wanderer, through mankind?-- _20 If with a human sadness he did groan, He had a gentle yet aspiring mind; Just, innocent, with varied learning fed; And such a glorious consolation find In others' joy, when all their own is dead: _25 He loved, and laboured for his kind in grief, And yet, unlike all others, it is said That from such toil he never found relief. Although a child of fortune and of power, Of an ancestral name the orphan chief, _30 His soul had wedded Wisdom, and her dower Is love and justice, clothed in which he sate Apart from men, as in a lonely tower, Pitying the tumult of their dark estate.-- Yet even in youth did he not e'er abuse _35 The strength of wealth or thought, to consecrate Those false opinions which the harsh rich use To blind the world they famish for their pride; Nor did he hold from any man his dues, But, like a steward in honest dealings tried, _40 With those who toiled and wept, the poor and wise, His riches and his cares he did divide. Fearless he was, and scorning all disguise, What he dared do or think, though men might start, He spoke with mild yet unaverted eyes; _45 Liberal he was of soul, and frank of heart, And to his many friends--all loved him well-- Whate'er he knew or felt he would impart, If words he found those inmost thoughts to tell; If not, he smiled or wept; and his weak foes _50 He neither spurned nor hated--though with fell And mortal hate their thousand voices rose, They passed like aimless arrows from his ear-- Nor did his heart or mind its portal close To those, or them, or any, whom life's sphere _55 May comprehend within its wide array. What sadness made that vernal spirit sere?-- He knew not. Though his life, day after day, Was failing like an unreplenished stream, Though in his eyes a cloud and burthen lay, _60 Through which his soul, like Vesper's serene beam Piercing the chasms of ever rising clouds, Shone, softly burning; though his lips did seem Like reeds which quiver in impetuous floods; And through his sleep, and o'er each waking hour, _65 Thoughts after thoughts, unresting multitudes, Were driven within him by some secret power, Which bade them blaze, and live, and roll afar, Like lights and sounds, from haunted tower to tower O'er castled mountains borne, when tempest's war _70 Is levied by the night-contending winds, And the pale dalesmen watch with eager ear;-- Though such were in his spirit, as the fiends Which wake and feed an everliving woe,-- What was this grief, which ne'er in other minds _75 A mirror found,--he knew not--none could know; But on whoe'er might question him he turned The light of his frank eyes, as if to show He knew not of the grief within that burned, But asked forbearance with a mournful look; _80 Or spoke in words from which none ever learned The cause of his disquietude; or shook With spasms of silent passion; or turned pale: So that his friends soon rarely undertook To stir his secret pain without avail;-- _85 For all who knew and loved him then perceived That there was drawn an adamantine veil Between his heart and mind,--both unrelieved Wrought in his brain and bosom separate strife. Some said that he was mad, others believed _90 That memories of an antenatal life Made this, where now he dwelt, a penal hell; And others said that such mysterious grief From God's displeasure, like a darkness, fell On souls like his, which owned no higher law _95 Than love; love calm, steadfast, invincible By mortal fear or supernatural awe; And others,--''Tis the shadow of a dream Which the veiled eye of Memory never saw, 'But through the soul's abyss, like some dark stream _100 Through shattered mines and caverns underground, Rolls, shaking its foundations; and no beam 'Of joy may rise, but it is quenched and drowned In the dim whirlpools of this dream obscure; Soon its exhausted waters will have found _105 'A lair of rest beneath thy spirit pure, O Athanase!--in one so good and great, Evil or tumult cannot long endure. So spake they: idly of another's state Babbling vain words and fond philosophy; _110 This was their consolation; such debate Men held with one another; nor did he, Like one who labours with a human woe, Decline this talk: as if its theme might be Another, not himself, he to and fro _115 Questioned and canvassed it with subtlest wit; And none but those who loved him best could know That which he knew not, how it galled and bit His weary mind, this converse vain and cold; For like an eyeless nightmare grief did sit _120 Upon his being; a snake which fold by fold Pressed out the life of life, a clinging fiend Which clenched him if he stirred with deadlier hold;-- And so his grief remained--let it remain--untold. [1] PART 2. FRAGMENT 1. Prince Athanase had one beloved friend, _125 An old, old man, with hair of silver white, And lips where heavenly smiles would hang and blend With his wise words; and eyes whose arrowy light Shone like the reflex of a thousand minds. He was the last whom superstition's blight _130 Had spared in Greece--the blight that cramps and blinds,-- And in his olive bower at Oenoe Had sate from earliest youth. Like one who finds A fertile island in the barren sea, One mariner who has survived his mates _135 Many a drear month in a great ship--so he With soul-sustaining songs, and sweet debates Of ancient lore, there fed his lonely being:-- 'The mind becomes that which it contemplates,'-- And thus Zonoras, by for ever seeing _140 Their bright creations, grew like wisest men; And when he heard the crash of nations fleeing A bloodier power than ruled thy ruins then, O sacred Hellas! many weary years He wandered, till the path of Laian's glen _145 Was grass-grown--and the unremembered tears Were dry in Laian for their honoured chief, Who fell in Byzant, pierced by Moslem spears:-- And as the lady looked with faithful grief From her high lattice o'er the rugged path, _150 Where she once saw that horseman toil, with brief And blighting hope, who with the news of death Struck body and soul as with a mortal blight, She saw between the chestnuts, far beneath, An old man toiling up, a weary wight; _155 And soon within her hospitable hall She saw his white hairs glittering in the light Of the wood fire, and round his shoulders fall; And his wan visage and his withered mien, Yet calm and gentle and majestical. _160 And Athanase, her child, who must have been Then three years old, sate opposite and gazed In patient silence. FRAGMENT 2. Such was Zonoras; and as daylight finds One amaranth glittering on the path of frost, _165 When autumn nights have nipped all weaker kinds, Thus through his age, dark, cold, and tempest-tossed, Shone truth upon Zonoras; and he filled From fountains pure, nigh overgrown and lost, The spirit of Prince Athanase, a child, _170 With soul-sustaining songs of ancient lore And philosophic wisdom, clear and mild. And sweet and subtle talk they evermore, The pupil and the master, shared; until, Sharing that undiminishable store, _175 The youth, as shadows on a grassy hill Outrun the winds that chase them, soon outran His teacher, and did teach with native skill Strange truths and new to that experienced man; Still they were friends, as few have ever been _180 Who mark the extremes of life's discordant span. So in the caverns of the forest green, Or on the rocks of echoing ocean hoar, Zonoras and Prince Athanase were seen By summer woodmen; and when winter's roar _185 Sounded o'er earth and sea its blast of war, The Balearic fisher, driven from shore, Hanging upon the peaked wave afar, Then saw their lamp from Laian's turret gleam, Piercing the stormy darkness, like a star _190 Which pours beyond the sea one steadfast beam, Whilst all the constellations of the sky Seemed reeling through the storm...They did but seem-- For, lo! the wintry clouds are all gone by, And bright Arcturus through yon pines is glowing, _195 And far o'er southern waves, immovably Belted Orion hangs--warm light is flowing From the young moon into the sunset's chasm.-- 'O, summer eve! with power divine, bestowing 'On thine own bird the sweet enthusiasm _200 Which overflows in notes of liquid gladness, Filling the sky like light! How many a spasm 'Of fevered brains, oppressed with grief and madness, Were lulled by thee, delightful nightingale,-- And these soft waves, murmuring a gentle sadness,-- _205 'And the far sighings of yon piny dale Made vocal by some wind we feel not here.-- I bear alone what nothing may avail 'To lighten--a strange load!'--No human ear Heard this lament; but o'er the visage wan _210 Of Athanase, a ruffling atmosphere Of dark emotion, a swift shadow, ran, Like wind upon some forest-bosomed lake, Glassy and dark.--And that divine old man Beheld his mystic friend's whole being shake, _215 Even where its inmost depths were gloomiest-- And with a calm and measured voice he spake, And, with a soft and equal pressure, pressed That cold lean hand:--'Dost thou remember yet When the curved moon then lingering in the west _220 'Paused, in yon waves her mighty horns to wet, How in those beams we walked, half resting on the sea? 'Tis just one year--sure thou dost not forget-- 'Then Plato's words of light in thee and me Lingered like moonlight in the moonless east, _225 For we had just then read--thy memory 'Is faithful now--the story of the feast; And Agathon and Diotima seemed From death and dark forgetfulness released...' FRAGMENT 3. And when the old man saw that on the green Leaves of his opening ... a blight had lighted _230 He said: 'My friend, one grief alone can wean A gentle mind from all that once delighted:-- Thou lovest, and thy secret heart is laden With feelings which should not be unrequited.' _235 And Athanase ... then smiled, as one o'erladen With iron chains might smile to talk (?) of bands Twined round her lover's neck by some blithe maiden, And said... FRAGMENT 4. 'Twas at the season when the Earth upsprings _240 From slumber, as a sphered angel's child, Shadowing its eyes with green and golden wings, Stands up before its mother bright and mild, Of whose soft voice the air expectant seems-- So stood before the sun, which shone and smiled _245 To see it rise thus joyous from its dreams, The fresh and radiant Earth. The hoary grove Waxed green--and flowers burst forth like starry beams;-- The grass in the warm sun did start and move, And sea-buds burst under the waves serene:-- _250 How many a one, though none be near to love, Loves then the shade of his own soul, half seen In any mirror--or the spring's young minions, The winged leaves amid the copses green;-- How many a spirit then puts on the pinions _255 Of fancy, and outstrips the lagging blast, And his own steps--and over wide dominions Sweeps in his dream-drawn chariot, far and fast, More fleet than storms--the wide world shrinks below, When winter and despondency are past. _260 FRAGMENT 5. 'Twas at this season that Prince Athanase Passed the white Alps--those eagle-baffling mountains Slept in their shrouds of snow;--beside the ways The waterfalls were voiceless--for their fountains Were changed to mines of sunless crystal now, _265 Or by the curdling winds--like brazen wings Which clanged along the mountain's marble brow-- Warped into adamantine fretwork, hung And filled with frozen light the chasms below. Vexed by the blast, the great pines groaned and swung _270 Under their load of [snow]-- ... ... Such as the eagle sees, when he dives down From the gray deserts of wide air, [beheld] _275 [Prince] Athanase; and o'er his mien (?) was thrown The shadow of that scene, field after field, Purple and dim and wide... FRAGMENT 6. Thou art the wine whose drunkenness is all We can desire, O Love! and happy souls, _280 Ere from thy vine the leaves of autumn fall, Catch thee, and feed from their o'erflowing bowls Thousands who thirst for thine ambrosial dew;-- Thou art the radiance which where ocean rolls Investeth it; and when the heavens are blue _285 Thou fillest them; and when the earth is fair The shadow of thy moving wings imbue Its deserts and its mountains, till they wear Beauty like some light robe;--thou ever soarest Among the towers of men, and as soft air _290 In spring, which moves the unawakened forest, Clothing with leaves its branches bare and bleak, Thou floatest among men; and aye implorest That which from thee they should implore:--the weak Alone kneel to thee, offering up the hearts _295 The strong have broken--yet where shall any seek A garment whom thou clothest not? the darts Of the keen winter storm, barbed with frost, Which, from the everlasting snow that parts The Alps from Heaven, pierce some traveller lost _300 In the wide waved interminable snow Ungarmented,... ANOTHER FRAGMENT (A) Yes, often when the eyes are cold and dry, And the lips calm, the Spirit weeps within Tears bitterer than the blood of agony _305 Trembling in drops on the discoloured skin Of those who love their kind and therefore perish In ghastly torture--a sweet medicine Of peace and sleep are tears, and quietly Them soothe from whose uplifted eyes they fall _310 But... ANOTHER FRAGMENT (B) Her hair was brown, her sphered eyes were brown, And in their dark and liquid moisture swam, Like the dim orb of the eclipsed moon; Yet when the spirit flashed beneath, there came _315 The light from them, as when tears of delight Double the western planet's serene flame. NOTES: _19 strange edition 1839; deep edition 1824. _74 feed an Bodleian manuscript; feed on editions 1824, 1839. _124 [1. The Author was pursuing a fuller development of the ideal character of Athanase, when it struck him that in an attempt at extreme refinement and analysis, his conceptions might be betrayed into the assuming a morbid character. The reader will judge whether he is a loser or gainer by this diffidence. [Shelley's Note.] Footnote diffidence cj. Rossetti (1878); difference editions 1824, 1839.] _154 beneath editions 1824, 1839; between Bodleian manuscript. _165 One Bodleian manuscript edition 1839; An edition 1824. _167 Thus thro' Bodleian manuscript (?) edition 1839; Thus had edition 1824. _173 talk they edition 1824, Bodleian manuscript; talk now edition 1839. _175 that edition 1839; the edition 1824. _182 So edition 1839; And edition 1824. _183 Or on Bodleian manuscript; Or by editions 1824, 1839. _199 eve Bodleian manuscript edition 1839; night edition 1824. _212 emotion, a swift editions 1824, 1839; emotion with swift Bodleian manuscript. _250 under edition 1824, Bodleian manuscript; beneath edition 1839. _256 outstrips editions 1824, 1839; outrides Bodleian manuscript. _259 Exulting, while the wide Bodleian manuscript. _262 mountains editions 1824, 1839; crags Bodleian manuscript. _264 fountains editions 1824, 1839; springs Bodleian manuscript. _269 chasms Bodleian manuscript; chasm editions 1824, 1839. _283 thine Bodleian manuscript; thy editions 1824, 1839. _285 Investeth Bodleian manuscript; Investest editions 1824, 1839. _289 light Bodleian manuscript; bright editions 1824, 1839. *** ROSALIND AND HELEN. A MODERN ECLOGUE. [Begun at Marlow, 1817 (summer); already in the press, March, 1818; finished at the Baths of Lucca, August, 1818; published with other poems, as the title-piece of a slender volume, by C. & J. Ollier, London, 1819 (spring). See "Biographical List". Sources of the text are (1) editio princeps, 1819; (2) "Poetical Works", edition Mrs. Shelley, 1839, editions 1st and 2nd. A fragment of the text is amongst the Boscombe manuscripts. The poem is reprinted here from the editio princeps; verbal alterations are recorded in the footnotes, punctual in the Editor's Notes at the end of Volume 3.] ADVERTISEMENT. The story of "Rosalind and Helen" is, undoubtedly, not an attempt in the highest style of poetry. It is in no degree calculated to excite profound meditation; and if, by interesting the affections and amusing the imagination, it awakens a certain ideal melancholy favourable to the reception of more important impressions, it will produce in the reader all that the writer experienced in the composition. I resigned myself, as I wrote, to the impulses of the feelings which moulded the conception of the story; and this impulse determined the pauses of a measure, which only pretends to be regular inasmuch as it corresponds with, and expresses, the irregularity of the imaginations which inspired it. I do not know which of the few scattered poems I left in England will be selected by my bookseller to add to this collection. One ("Lines written among the Euganean Hills".--Editor.), which I sent from Italy, was written after a day's excursion among those lovely mountains which surround what was once the retreat, and where is now the sepulchre, of Petrarch. If any one is inclined to condemn the insertion of the introductory lines, which image forth the sudden relief of a state of deep despondency by the radiant visions disclosed by the sudden burst of an Italian sunrise in autumn on the highest peak of those delightful mountains, I can only offer as my excuse, that they were not erased at the request of a dear friend, with whom added years of intercourse only add to my apprehension of its value, and who would have had more right than any one to complain, that she has not been able to extinguish in me the very power of delineating sadness. Naples, December 20, 1818. ROSALIND, HELEN, AND HER CHILD. SCENE. THE SHORE OF THE LAKE OF COMO. HELEN: Come hither, my sweet Rosalind. 'Tis long since thou and I have met; And yet methinks it were unkind Those moments to forget. Come, sit by me. I see thee stand _5 By this lone lake, in this far land, Thy loose hair in the light wind flying, Thy sweet voice to each tone of even United, and thine eyes replying To the hues of yon fair heaven. _10 Come, gentle friend: wilt sit by me? And be as thou wert wont to be Ere we were disunited? None doth behold us now; the power That led us forth at this lone hour _15 Will be but ill requited If thou depart in scorn: oh! come, And talk of our abandoned home. Remember, this is Italy, And we are exiles. Talk with me _20 Of that our land, whose wilds and floods, Barren and dark although they be, Were dearer than these chestnut woods: Those heathy paths, that inland stream, And the blue mountains, shapes which seem _25 Like wrecks of childhood's sunny dream: Which that we have abandoned now, Weighs on the heart like that remorse Which altered friendship leaves. I seek No more our youthful intercourse. _30 That cannot be! Rosalind, speak. Speak to me. Leave me not.--When morn did come, When evening fell upon our common home, When for one hour we parted,--do not frown: I would not chide thee, though thy faith is broken: _35 But turn to me. Oh! by this cherished token, Of woven hair, which thou wilt not disown, Turn, as 'twere but the memory of me, And not my scorned self who prayed to thee. ROSALIND: Is it a dream, or do I see _40 And hear frail Helen? I would flee Thy tainting touch; but former years Arise, and bring forbidden tears; And my o'erburthened memory Seeks yet its lost repose in thee. _45 I share thy crime. I cannot choose But weep for thee: mine own strange grief But seldom stoops to such relief: Nor ever did I love thee less, Though mourning o'er thy wickedness _50 Even with a sister's woe. I knew What to the evil world is due, And therefore sternly did refuse To link me with the infamy Of one so lost as Helen. Now _55 Bewildered by my dire despair, Wondering I blush, and weep that thou Should'st love me still,--thou only!--There, Let us sit on that gray stone Till our mournful talk be done. _60 HELEN: Alas! not there; I cannot bear The murmur of this lake to hear. A sound from there, Rosalind dear, Which never yet I heard elsewhere But in our native land, recurs, _65 Even here where now we meet. It stirs Too much of suffocating sorrow! In the dell of yon dark chestnutwood Is a stone seat, a solitude Less like our own. The ghost of Peace _70 Will not desert this spot. To-morrow, If thy kind feelings should not cease, We may sit here. ROSALIND: Thou lead, my sweet, And I will follow. HENRY: 'Tis Fenici's seat Where you are going? This is not the way, _75 Mamma; it leads behind those trees that grow Close to the little river. HELEN: Yes: I know; I was bewildered. Kiss me and be gay, Dear boy: why do you sob? HENRY: I do not know: But it might break any one's heart to see _80 You and the lady cry so bitterly. HELEN: It is a gentle child, my friend. Go home, Henry, and play with Lilla till I come. We only cried with joy to see each other; We are quite merry now: Good-night. The boy _85 Lifted a sudden look upon his mother, And in the gleam of forced and hollow joy Which lightened o'er her face, laughed with the glee Of light and unsuspecting infancy, And whispered in her ear, 'Bring home with you _90 That sweet strange lady-friend.' Then off he flew, But stopped, and beckoned with a meaning smile, Where the road turned. Pale Rosalind the while, Hiding her face, stood weeping silently. In silence then they took the way _95 Beneath the forest's solitude. It was a vast and antique wood, Thro' which they took their way; And the gray shades of evening O'er that green wilderness did fling _100 Still deeper solitude. Pursuing still the path that wound The vast and knotted trees around Through which slow shades were wandering, To a deep lawny dell they came, _105 To a stone seat beside a spring, O'er which the columned wood did frame A roofless temple, like the fane Where, ere new creeds could faith obtain, Man's early race once knelt beneath _110 The overhanging deity. O'er this fair fountain hung the sky, Now spangled with rare stars. The snake, The pale snake, that with eager breath Creeps here his noontide thirst to slake, _115 Is beaming with many a mingled hue, Shed from yon dome's eternal blue, When he floats on that dark and lucid flood In the light of his own loveliness; And the birds that in the fountain dip _120 Their plumes, with fearless fellowship Above and round him wheel and hover. The fitful wind is heard to stir One solitary leaf on high; The chirping of the grasshopper _125 Fills every pause. There is emotion In all that dwells at noontide here; Then, through the intricate wild wood, A maze of life and light and motion Is woven. But there is stillness now: _130 Gloom, and the trance of Nature now: The snake is in his cave asleep; The birds are on the branches dreaming: Only the shadows creep: Only the glow-worm is gleaming: _135 Only the owls and the nightingales Wake in this dell when daylight fails, And gray shades gather in the woods: And the owls have all fled far away In a merrier glen to hoot and play, _140 For the moon is veiled and sleeping now. The accustomed nightingale still broods On her accustomed bough, But she is mute; for her false mate Has fled and left her desolate. _145 This silent spot tradition old Had peopled with the spectral dead. For the roots of the speaker's hair felt cold And stiff, as with tremulous lips he told That a hellish shape at midnight led _150 The ghost of a youth with hoary hair, And sate on the seat beside him there, Till a naked child came wandering by, When the fiend would change to a lady fair! A fearful tale! The truth was worse: _155 For here a sister and a brother Had solemnized a monstrous curse, Meeting in this fair solitude: For beneath yon very sky, Had they resigned to one another _160 Body and soul. The multitude: Tracking them to the secret wood, Tore limb from limb their innocent child, And stabbed and trampled on its mother; But the youth, for God's most holy grace, _165 A priest saved to burn in the market-place. Duly at evening Helen came To this lone silent spot, From the wrecks of a tale of wilder sorrow So much of sympathy to borrow _170 As soothed her own dark lot. Duly each evening from her home, With her fair child would Helen come To sit upon that antique seat, While the hues of day were pale; _175 And the bright boy beside her feet Now lay, lifting at intervals His broad blue eyes on her; Now, where some sudden impulse calls Following. He was a gentle boy _180 And in all gentle sorts took joy; Oft in a dry leaf for a boat, With a small feather for a sail, His fancy on that spring would float, If some invisible breeze might stir _185 Its marble calm: and Helen smiled Through tears of awe on the gay child, To think that a boy as fair as he, In years which never more may be, By that same fount, in that same wood, _190 The like sweet fancies had pursued; And that a mother, lost like her, Had mournfully sate watching him. Then all the scene was wont to swim Through the mist of a burning tear. _195 For many months had Helen known This scene; and now she thither turned Her footsteps, not alone. The friend whose falsehood she had mourned, Sate with her on that seat of stone. _200 Silent they sate; for evening, And the power its glimpses bring Had, with one awful shadow, quelled The passion of their grief. They sate With linked hands, for unrepelled _205 Had Helen taken Rosalind's. Like the autumn wind, when it unbinds The tangled locks of the nightshade's hair, Which is twined in the sultry summer air Round the walls of an outworn sepulchre, _210 Did the voice of Helen, sad and sweet, And the sound of her heart that ever beat, As with sighs and words she breathed on her, Unbind the knots of her friend's despair, Till her thoughts were free to float and flow; _215 And from her labouring bosom now, Like the bursting of a prisoned flame, The voice of a long pent sorrow came. ROSALIND: I saw the dark earth fall upon The coffin; and I saw the stone _220 Laid over him whom this cold breast Had pillowed to his nightly rest! Thou knowest not, thou canst not know My agony. Oh! I could not weep: The sources whence such blessings flow _225 Were not to be approached by me! But I could smile, and I could sleep, Though with a self-accusing heart. In morning's light, in evening's gloom, I watched,--and would not thence depart-- _230 My husband's unlamented tomb. My children knew their sire was gone, But when I told them,--'He is dead,'-- They laughed aloud in frantic glee, They clapped their hands and leaped about, _235 Answering each other's ecstasy With many a prank and merry shout. But I sate silent and alone, Wrapped in the mock of mourning weed. They laughed, for he was dead: but I _240 Sate with a hard and tearless eye, And with a heart which would deny The secret joy it could not quell, Low muttering o'er his loathed name; Till from that self-contention came _245 Remorse where sin was none; a hell Which in pure spirits should not dwell. I'll tell thee truth. He was a man Hard, selfish, loving only gold, Yet full of guile; his pale eyes ran _250 With tears, which each some falsehood told, And oft his smooth and bridled tongue Would give the lie to his flushing cheek; He was a coward to the strong: He was a tyrant to the weak, _255 On whom his vengeance he would wreak: For scorn, whose arrows search the heart, From many a stranger's eye would dart, And on his memory cling, and follow His soul to its home so cold and hollow. _260 He was a tyrant to the weak, And we were such, alas the day! Oft, when my little ones at play, Were in youth's natural lightness gay, Or if they listened to some tale _265 Of travellers, or of fairy land,-- When the light from the wood-fire's dying brand Flashed on their faces,--if they heard Or thought they heard upon the stair His footstep, the suspended word _270 Died on my lips: we all grew pale: The babe at my bosom was hushed with fear If it thought it heard its father near; And my two wild boys would near my knee Cling, cowed and cowering fearfully. _275 I'll tell thee truth: I loved another. His name in my ear was ever ringing, His form to my brain was ever clinging: Yet if some stranger breathed that name, My lips turned white, and my heart beat fast: _280 My nights were once haunted by dreams of flame, My days were dim in the shadow cast By the memory of the same! Day and night, day and night, He was my breath and life and light, _285 For three short years, which soon were passed. On the fourth, my gentle mother Led me to the shrine, to be His sworn bride eternally. And now we stood on the altar stair, _290 When my father came from a distant land, And with a loud and fearful cry Rushed between us suddenly. I saw the stream of his thin gray hair, I saw his lean and lifted hand, _295 And heard his words,--and live! Oh God! Wherefore do I live?--'Hold, hold!' He cried, 'I tell thee 'tis her brother! Thy mother, boy, beneath the sod Of yon churchyard rests in her shroud so cold: _300 I am now weak, and pale, and old: We were once dear to one another, I and that corpse! Thou art our child!' Then with a laugh both long and wild The youth upon the pavement fell: _305 They found him dead! All looked on me, The spasms of my despair to see: But I was calm. I went away: I was clammy-cold like clay! I did not weep: I did not speak: _310 But day by day, week after week, I walked about like a corpse alive! Alas! sweet friend, you must believe This heart is stone: it did not break. My father lived a little while, _315 But all might see that he was dying, He smiled with such a woeful smile! When he was in the churchyard lying Among the worms, we grew quite poor, So that no one would give us bread: _320 My mother looked at me, and said Faint words of cheer, which only meant That she could die and be content; So I went forth from the same church door To another husband's bed. _325 And this was he who died at last, When weeks and months and years had passed, Through which I firmly did fulfil My duties, a devoted wife, With the stern step of vanquished will, _330 Walking beneath the night of life, Whose hours extinguished, like slow rain Falling for ever, pain by pain, The very hope of death's dear rest; Which, since the heart within my breast _335 Of natural life was dispossessed, Its strange sustainer there had been. When flowers were dead, and grass was green Upon my mother's grave,--that mother Whom to outlive, and cheer, and make _340 My wan eyes glitter for her sake, Was my vowed task, the single care Which once gave life to my despair,-- When she was a thing that did not stir And the crawling worms were cradling her _345 To a sleep more deep and so more sweet Than a baby's rocked on its nurse's knee, I lived: a living pulse then beat Beneath my heart that awakened me. What was this pulse so warm and free? _350 Alas! I knew it could not be My own dull blood: 'twas like a thought Of liquid love, that spread and wrought Under my bosom and in my brain, And crept with the blood through every vein; _355 And hour by hour, day after day, The wonder could not charm away, But laid in sleep, my wakeful pain, Until I knew it was a child, And then I wept. For long, long years _360 These frozen eyes had shed no tears: But now--'twas the season fair and mild When April has wept itself to May: I sate through the sweet sunny day By my window bowered round with leaves, _365 And down my cheeks the quick tears fell Like twinkling rain-drops from the eaves, When warm spring showers are passing o'er. O Helen, none can ever tell The joy it was to weep once more! _370 I wept to think how hard it were To kill my babe, and take from it The sense of light, and the warm air, And my own fond and tender care, And love and smiles; ere I knew yet _375 That these for it might, as for me, Be the masks of a grinning mockery. And haply, I would dream, 'twere sweet To feed it from my faded breast, Or mark my own heart's restless beat _380 Rock it to its untroubled rest, And watch the growing soul beneath Dawn in faint smiles; and hear its breath, Half interrupted by calm sighs, And search the depth of its fair eyes _385 For long departed memories! And so I lived till that sweet load Was lightened. Darkly forward flowed The stream of years, and on it bore Two shapes of gladness to my sight; _390 Two other babes, delightful more In my lost soul's abandoned night, Than their own country ships may be Sailing towards wrecked mariners, Who cling to the rock of a wintry sea. _395 For each, as it came, brought soothing tears; And a loosening warmth, as each one lay Sucking the sullen milk away About my frozen heart, did play, And weaned it, oh how painfully-- _400 As they themselves were weaned each one From that sweet food,--even from the thirst Of death, and nothingness, and rest, Strange inmate of a living breast! Which all that I had undergone _405 Of grief and shame, since she, who first The gates of that dark refuge closed, Came to my sight, and almost burst The seal of that Lethean spring; But these fair shadows interposed: _410 For all delights are shadows now! And from my brain to my dull brow The heavy tears gather and flow: I cannot speak: Oh, let me weep! The tears which fell from her wan eyes _415 Glimmered among the moonlight dew: Her deep hard sobs and heavy sighs Their echoes in the darkness threw. When she grew calm, she thus did keep The tenor of her tale: He died: _420 I know not how: he was not old, If age be numbered by its years: But he was bowed and bent with fears, Pale with the quenchless thirst of gold, Which, like fierce fever, left him weak; _425 And his strait lip and bloated cheek Were warped in spasms by hollow sneers; And selfish cares with barren plough, Not age, had lined his narrow brow, And foul and cruel thoughts, which feed _430 Upon the withering life within, Like vipers on some poisonous weed. Whether his ill were death or sin None knew, until he died indeed, And then men owned they were the same. _435 Seven days within my chamber lay That corse, and my babes made holiday: At last, I told them what is death: The eldest, with a kind of shame, Came to my knees with silent breath, _440 And sate awe-stricken at my feet; And soon the others left their play, And sate there too. It is unmeet To shed on the brief flower of youth The withering knowledge of the grave; _445 From me remorse then wrung that truth. I could not bear the joy which gave Too just a response to mine own. In vain. I dared not feign a groan, And in their artless looks I saw, _450 Between the mists of fear and awe, That my own thought was theirs, and they Expressed it not in words, but said, Each in its heart, how every day Will pass in happy work and play, _455 Now he is dead and gone away. After the funeral all our kin Assembled, and the will was read. My friend, I tell thee, even the dead Have strength, their putrid shrouds within, _460 To blast and torture. Those who live Still fear the living, but a corse Is merciless, and power doth give To such pale tyrants half the spoil He rends from those who groan and toil, _465 Because they blush not with remorse Among their crawling worms. Behold, I have no child! my tale grows old With grief, and staggers: let it reach The limits of my feeble speech, _470 And languidly at length recline On the brink of its own grave and mine. Thou knowest what a thing is Poverty Among the fallen on evil days: 'Tis Crime, and Fear, and Infamy, _475 And houseless Want in frozen ways Wandering ungarmented, and Pain, And, worse than all, that inward stain Foul Self-contempt, which drowns in sneers Youth's starlight smile, and makes its tears _480 First like hot gall, then dry for ever! And well thou knowest a mother never Could doom her children to this ill, And well he knew the same. The will Imported, that if e'er again _485 I sought my children to behold, Or in my birthplace did remain Beyond three days, whose hours were told, They should inherit nought: and he, To whom next came their patrimony, _490 A sallow lawyer, cruel and cold, Aye watched me, as the will was read, With eyes askance, which sought to see The secrets of my agony; And with close lips and anxious brow _495 Stood canvassing still to and fro The chance of my resolve, and all The dead man's caution just did call; For in that killing lie 'twas said-- 'She is adulterous, and doth hold _500 In secret that the Christian creed Is false, and therefore is much need That I should have a care to save My children from eternal fire.' Friend, he was sheltered by the grave, _505 And therefore dared to be a liar! In truth, the Indian on the pyre Of her dead husband, half consumed, As well might there be false, as I To those abhorred embraces doomed, _510 Far worse than fire's brief agony As to the Christian creed, if true Or false, I never questioned it: I took it as the vulgar do: Nor my vexed soul had leisure yet _515 To doubt the things men say, or deem That they are other than they seem. All present who those crimes did hear, In feigned or actual scorn and fear, Men, women, children, slunk away, _520 Whispering with self-contented pride, Which half suspects its own base lie. I spoke to none, nor did abide, But silently I went my way, Nor noticed I where joyously _525 Sate my two younger babes at play, In the court-yard through which I passed; But went with footsteps firm and fast Till I came to the brink of the ocean green, And there, a woman with gray hairs, _530 Who had my mother's servant been, Kneeling, with many tears and prayers, Made me accept a purse of gold, Half of the earnings she had kept To refuge her when weak and old. _535 With woe, which never sleeps or slept, I wander now. 'Tis a vain thought-- But on yon alp, whose snowy head 'Mid the azure air is islanded, (We see it o'er the flood of cloud, _540 Which sunrise from its eastern caves Drives, wrinkling into golden waves, Hung with its precipices proud, From that gray stone where first we met) There now--who knows the dead feel nought?-- _545 Should be my grave; for he who yet Is my soul's soul, once said: ''Twere sweet 'Mid stars and lightnings to abide, And winds and lulling snows, that beat With their soft flakes the mountain wide, _550 Where weary meteor lamps repose, And languid storms their pinions close: And all things strong and bright and pure, And ever during, aye endure: Who knows, if one were buried there, _555 But these things might our spirits make, Amid the all-surrounding air, Their own eternity partake?' Then 'twas a wild and playful saying At which I laughed, or seemed to laugh: _560 They were his words: now heed my praying, And let them be my epitaph. Thy memory for a term may be My monument. Wilt remember me? I know thou wilt, and canst forgive _565 Whilst in this erring world to live My soul disdained not, that I thought Its lying forms were worthy aught And much less thee. HELEN: O speak not so, But come to me and pour thy woe _570 Into this heart, full though it be, Ay, overflowing with its own: I thought that grief had severed me From all beside who weep and groan; Its likeness upon earth to be, _575 Its express image; but thou art More wretched. Sweet! we will not part Henceforth, if death be not division; If so, the dead feel no contrition. But wilt thou hear since last we parted _580 All that has left me broken hearted? ROSALIND: Yes, speak. The faintest stars are scarcely shorn Of their thin beams by that delusive morn Which sinks again in darkness, like the light Of early love, soon lost in total night. _585 HELEN: Alas! Italian winds are mild, But my bosom is cold--wintry cold-- When the warm air weaves, among the fresh leaves, Soft music, my poor brain is wild, And I am weak like a nursling child, _590 Though my soul with grief is gray and old. ROSALIND: Weep not at thine own words, though they must make Me weep. What is thy tale? HELEN: I fear 'twill shake Thy gentle heart with tears. Thou well Rememberest when we met no more, _595 And, though I dwelt with Lionel, That friendless caution pierced me sore With grief; a wound my spirit bore Indignantly, but when he died, With him lay dead both hope and pride. _600 Alas! all hope is buried now. But then men dreamed the aged earth Was labouring in that mighty birth, Which many a poet and a sage Has aye foreseen--the happy age _605 When truth and love shall dwell below Among the works and ways of men; Which on this world not power but will Even now is wanting to fulfil. Among mankind what thence befell _610 Of strife, how vain, is known too well; When Liberty's dear paean fell 'Mid murderous howls. To Lionel, Though of great wealth and lineage high, Yet through those dungeon walls there came _615 Thy thrilling light, O Liberty! And as the meteor's midnight flame Startles the dreamer, sun-like truth Flashed on his visionary youth, And filled him, not with love, but faith, _620 And hope, and courage mute in death; For love and life in him were twins, Born at one birth: in every other First life then love its course begins, Though they be children of one mother; _625 And so through this dark world they fleet Divided, till in death they meet; But he loved all things ever. Then He passed amid the strife of men, And stood at the throne of armed power _630 Pleading for a world of woe: Secure as one on a rock-built tower O'er the wrecks which the surge trails to and fro, 'Mid the passions wild of human kind He stood, like a spirit calming them; _635 For, it was said, his words could bind Like music the lulled crowd, and stem That torrent of unquiet dream Which mortals truth and reason deem, But is revenge and fear and pride. _640 Joyous he was; and hope and peace On all who heard him did abide, Raining like dew from his sweet talk, As where the evening star may walk Along the brink of the gloomy seas, _645 Liquid mists of splendour quiver. His very gestures touched to tears The unpersuaded tyrant, never So moved before: his presence stung The torturers with their victim's pain, _650 And none knew how; and through their ears The subtle witchcraft of his tongue Unlocked the hearts of those who keep Gold, the world's bond of slavery. Men wondered, and some sneered to see _655 One sow what he could never reap: For he is rich, they said, and young, And might drink from the depths of luxury. If he seeks Fame, Fame never crowned The champion of a trampled creed: _660 If he seeks Power, Power is enthroned 'Mid ancient rights and wrongs, to feed Which hungry wolves with praise and spoil, Those who would sit near Power must toil; And such, there sitting, all may see. _665 What seeks he? All that others seek He casts away, like a vile weed Which the sea casts unreturningly. That poor and hungry men should break The laws which wreak them toil and scorn, _670 We understand; but Lionel We know, is rich and nobly born. So wondered they: yet all men loved Young Lionel, though few approved; All but the priests, whose hatred fell _675 Like the unseen blight of a smiling day, The withering honey dew, which clings Under the bright green buds of May, Whilst they unfold their emerald wings: For he made verses wild and queer _680 On the strange creeds priests hold so dear, Because they bring them land and gold. Of devils and saints and all such gear, He made tales which whoso heard or read Would laugh till he were almost dead. _685 So this grew a proverb: 'Don't get old Till Lionel's "Banquet in Hell" you hear, And then you will laugh yourself young again.' So the priests hated him, and he Repaid their hate with cheerful glee. _690 Ah, smiles and joyance quickly died, For public hope grew pale and dim In an altered time and tide, And in its wasting withered him, As a summer flower that blows too soon _695 Droops in the smile of the waning moon, When it scatters through an April night The frozen dews of wrinkling blight. None now hoped more. Gray Power was seated Safely on her ancestral throne; _700 And Faith, the Python, undefeated, Even to its blood-stained steps dragged on Her foul and wounded train, and men Were trampled and deceived again, And words and shows again could bind _705 The wailing tribes of human kind In scorn and famine. Fire and blood Raged round the raging multitude, To fields remote by tyrants sent To be the scorned instrument _710 With which they drag from mines of gore The chains their slaves yet ever wore: And in the streets men met each other, And by old altars and in halls, And smiled again at festivals. _715 But each man found in his heart's brother Cold cheer; for all, though half deceived, The outworn creeds again believed, And the same round anew began, Which the weary world yet ever ran. _720 Many then wept, not tears, but gall Within their hearts, like drops which fall Wasting the fountain-stone away. And in that dark and evil day Did all desires and thoughts, that claim _725 Men's care--ambition, friendship, fame, Love, hope, though hope was now despair-- Indue the colours of this change, As from the all-surrounding air The earth takes hues obscure and strange, _730 When storm and earthquake linger there. And so, my friend, it then befell To many, most to Lionel, Whose hope was like the life of youth Within him, and when dead, became _735 A spirit of unresting flame, Which goaded him in his distress Over the world's vast wilderness. Three years he left his native land, And on the fourth, when he returned, _740 None knew him: he was stricken deep With some disease of mind, and turned Into aught unlike Lionel. On him, on whom, did he pause in sleep, Serenest smiles were wont to keep, _745 And, did he wake, a winged band Of bright persuasions, which had fed On his sweet lips and liquid eyes, Kept their swift pinions half outspread To do on men his least command; _750 On him, whom once 'twas paradise Even to behold, now misery lay: In his own heart 'twas merciless, To all things else none may express Its innocence and tenderness. _755 'Twas said that he had refuge sought In love from his unquiet thought In distant lands, and been deceived By some strange show; for there were found, Blotted with tears as those relieved _760 By their own words are wont to do, These mournful verses on the ground, By all who read them blotted too. 'How am I changed! my hopes were once like fire: I loved, and I believed that life was love. _765 How am I lost! on wings of swift desire Among Heaven's winds my spirit once did move. I slept, and silver dreams did aye inspire My liquid sleep: I woke, and did approve All nature to my heart, and thought to make _770 A paradise of earth for one sweet sake. 'I love, but I believe in love no more. I feel desire, but hope not. O, from sleep Most vainly must my weary brain implore Its long lost flattery now: I wake to weep, _775 And sit through the long day gnawing the core Of my bitter heart, and, like a miser, keep, Since none in what I feel take pain or pleasure, To my own soul its self-consuming treasure.' He dwelt beside me near the sea; _780 And oft in evening did we meet, When the waves, beneath the starlight, flee O'er the yellow sands with silver feet, And talked: our talk was sad and sweet, Till slowly from his mien there passed _785 The desolation which it spoke; And smiles,--as when the lightning's blast Has parched some heaven-delighting oak, The next spring shows leaves pale and rare, But like flowers delicate and fair, _790 On its rent boughs,--again arrayed His countenance in tender light: His words grew subtile fire, which made The air his hearers breathed delight: His motions, like the winds, were free, _795 Which bend the bright grass gracefully, Then fade away in circlets faint: And winged Hope, on which upborne His soul seemed hovering in his eyes, Like some bright spirit newly born _800 Floating amid the sunny skies, Sprang forth from his rent heart anew. Yet o'er his talk, and looks, and mien, Tempering their loveliness too keen, Past woe its shadow backward threw, _805 Till like an exhalation, spread From flowers half drunk with evening dew, They did become infectious: sweet And subtle mists of sense and thought: Which wrapped us soon, when we might meet, _810 Almost from our own looks and aught The wild world holds. And so, his mind Was healed, while mine grew sick with fear: For ever now his health declined, Like some frail bark which cannot bear _815 The impulse of an altered wind, Though prosperous: and my heart grew full 'Mid its new joy of a new care: For his cheek became, not pale, but fair, As rose-o'ershadowed lilies are; _820 And soon his deep and sunny hair, In this alone less beautiful, Like grass in tombs grew wild and rare. The blood in his translucent veins Beat, not like animal life, but love _825 Seemed now its sullen springs to move, When life had failed, and all its pains: And sudden sleep would seize him oft Like death, so calm, but that a tear, His pointed eyelashes between, _830 Would gather in the light serene Of smiles, whose lustre bright and soft Beneath lay undulating there. His breath was like inconstant flame, As eagerly it went and came; _835 And I hung o'er him in his sleep, Till, like an image in the lake Which rains disturb, my tears would break The shadow of that slumber deep: Then he would bid me not to weep, _840 And say, with flattery false, yet sweet, That death and he could never meet, If I would never part with him. And so we loved, and did unite All that in us was yet divided: _845 For when he said, that many a rite, By men to bind but once provided, Could not be shared by him and me, Or they would kill him in their glee, I shuddered, and then laughing said-- _850 'We will have rites our faith to bind, But our church shall be the starry night, Our altar the grassy earth outspread, And our priest the muttering wind.' 'Twas sunset as I spoke: one star _855 Had scarce burst forth, when from afar The ministers of misrule sent, Seized upon Lionel, and bore His chained limbs to a dreary tower, In the midst of a city vast and wide. _860 For he, they said, from his mind had bent Against their gods keen blasphemy, For which, though his soul must roasted be In hell's red lakes immortally, Yet even on earth must he abide _865 The vengeance of their slaves: a trial, I think, men call it. What avail Are prayers and tears, which chase denial From the fierce savage, nursed in hate? What the knit soul that pleading and pale _870 Makes wan the quivering cheek, which late It painted with its own delight? We were divided. As I could, I stilled the tingling of my blood, And followed him in their despite, _875 As a widow follows, pale and wild, The murderers and corse of her only child; And when we came to the prison door And I prayed to share his dungeon floor With prayers which rarely have been spurned, _880 And when men drove me forth and I Stared with blank frenzy on the sky, A farewell look of love he turned, Half calming me; then gazed awhile, As if thro' that black and massy pile, _885 And thro' the crowd around him there, And thro' the dense and murky air, And the thronged streets, he did espy What poets know and prophesy; And said, with voice that made them shiver _890 And clung like music in my brain, And which the mute walls spoke again Prolonging it with deepened strain: 'Fear not the tyrants shall rule for ever, Or the priests of the bloody faith; _895 They stand on the brink of that mighty river, Whose waves they have tainted with death: It is fed from the depths of a thousand dells, Around them it foams, and rages, and swells, And their swords and their sceptres I floating see, _900 Like wrecks in the surge of eternity.' I dwelt beside the prison gate; And the strange crowd that out and in Passed, some, no doubt, with mine own fate, Might have fretted me with its ceaseless din, _905 But the fever of care was louder within. Soon, but too late, in penitence Or fear, his foes released him thence: I saw his thin and languid form, As leaning on the jailor's arm, _910 Whose hardened eyes grew moist the while, To meet his mute and faded smile, And hear his words of kind farewell, He tottered forth from his damp cell. Many had never wept before, _915 From whom fast tears then gushed and fell: Many will relent no more, Who sobbed like infants then; aye, all Who thronged the prison's stony hall, The rulers or the slaves of law, _920 Felt with a new surprise and awe That they were human, till strong shame Made them again become the same. The prison blood-hounds, huge and grim, From human looks the infection caught, _925 And fondly crouched and fawned on him; And men have heard the prisoners say, Who in their rotting dungeons lay, That from that hour, throughout one day, The fierce despair and hate which kept _930 Their trampled bosoms almost slept: Where, like twin vultures, they hung feeding On each heart's wound, wide torn and bleeding,-- Because their jailors' rule, they thought, Grew merciful, like a parent's sway. _935 I know not how, but we were free: And Lionel sate alone with me, As the carriage drove thro' the streets apace; And we looked upon each other's face; And the blood in our fingers intertwined _940 Ran like the thoughts of a single mind, As the swift emotions went and came Thro' the veins of each united frame. So thro' the long long streets we passed Of the million-peopled City vast; _945 Which is that desert, where each one Seeks his mate yet is alone, Beloved and sought and mourned of none; Until the clear blue sky was seen, And the grassy meadows bright and green, _950 And then I sunk in his embrace, Enclosing there a mighty space Of love: and so we travelled on By woods, and fields of yellow flowers, And towns, and villages, and towers, _955 Day after day of happy hours. It was the azure time of June, When the skies are deep in the stainless noon, And the warm and fitful breezes shake The fresh green leaves of the hedgerow briar, _960 And there were odours then to make The very breath we did respire A liquid element, whereon Our spirits, like delighted things That walk the air on subtle wings, _965 Floated and mingled far away, 'Mid the warm winds of the sunny day. And when the evening star came forth Above the curve of the new bent moon, And light and sound ebbed from the earth, _970 Like the tide of the full and the weary sea To the depths of its own tranquillity, Our natures to its own repose Did the earth's breathless sleep attune: Like flowers, which on each other close _975 Their languid leaves when daylight's gone, We lay, till new emotions came, Which seemed to make each mortal frame One soul of interwoven flame, A life in life, a second birth _980 In worlds diviner far than earth, Which, like two strains of harmony That mingle in the silent sky Then slowly disunite, passed by And left the tenderness of tears, _985 A soft oblivion of all fears, A sweet sleep: so we travelled on Till we came to the home of Lionel, Among the mountains wild and lone, Beside the hoary western sea, _990 Which near the verge of the echoing shore The massy forest shadowed o'er. The ancient steward, with hair all hoar, As we alighted, wept to see His master changed so fearfully; _995 And the old man's sobs did waken me From my dream of unremaining gladness; The truth flashed o'er me like quick madness When I looked, and saw that there was death On Lionel: yet day by day _1000 He lived, till fear grew hope and faith, And in my soul I dared to say, Nothing so bright can pass away: Death is dark, and foul, and dull, But he is--O how beautiful! _1005 Yet day by day he grew more weak, And his sweet voice, when he might speak, Which ne'er was loud, became more low; And the light which flashed through his waxen cheek Grew faint, as the rose-like hues which flow _1010 From sunset o'er the Alpine snow: And death seemed not like death in him, For the spirit of life o'er every limb Lingered, a mist of sense and thought. When the summer wind faint odours brought _1015 From mountain flowers, even as it passed His cheek would change, as the noonday sea Which the dying breeze sweeps fitfully. If but a cloud the sky o'ercast, You might see his colour come and go, _1020 And the softest strain of music made Sweet smiles, yet sad, arise and fade Amid the dew of his tender eyes; And the breath, with intermitting flow, Made his pale lips quiver and part. _1025 You might hear the beatings of his heart, Quick, but not strong; and with my tresses When oft he playfully would bind In the bowers of mossy lonelinesses His neck, and win me so to mingle _1030 In the sweet depth of woven caresses, And our faint limbs were intertwined, Alas! the unquiet life did tingle From mine own heart through every vein, Like a captive in dreams of liberty, _1035 Who beats the walls of his stony cell. But his, it seemed already free, Like the shadow of fire surrounding me! On my faint eyes and limbs did dwell That spirit as it passed, till soon, _1040 As a frail cloud wandering o'er the moon, Beneath its light invisible, Is seen when it folds its gray wings again To alight on midnight's dusky plain, I lived and saw, and the gathering soul _1045 Passed from beneath that strong control, And I fell on a life which was sick with fear Of all the woe that now I bear. Amid a bloomless myrtle wood, On a green and sea-girt promontory, _1050 Not far from where we dwelt, there stood In record of a sweet sad story, An altar and a temple bright Circled by steps, and o'er the gate Was sculptured, 'To Fidelity;' _1055 And in the shrine an image sate, All veiled: but there was seen the light Of smiles which faintly could express A mingled pain and tenderness Through that ethereal drapery. _1060 The left hand held the head, the right-- Beyond the veil, beneath the skin, You might see the nerves quivering within-- Was forcing the point of a barbed dart Into its side-convulsing heart. _1065 An unskilled hand, yet one informed With genius, had the marble warmed With that pathetic life. This tale It told: A dog had from the sea, When the tide was raging fearfully, _1070 Dragged Lionel's mother, weak and pale, Then died beside her on the sand, And she that temple thence had planned; But it was Lionel's own hand Had wrought the image. Each new moon _1075 That lady did, in this lone fane, The rites of a religion sweet, Whose god was in her heart and brain: The seasons' loveliest flowers were strewn On the marble floor beneath her feet, _1080 And she brought crowns of sea-buds white Whose odour is so sweet and faint, And weeds, like branching chrysolite, Woven in devices fine and quaint. And tears from her brown eyes did stain _1085 The altar: need but look upon That dying statue fair and wan, If tears should cease, to weep again: And rare Arabian odours came, Through the myrtle copses steaming thence _1090 From the hissing frankincense, Whose smoke, wool-white as ocean foam, Hung in dense flocks beneath the dome-- That ivory dome, whose azure night With golden stars, like heaven, was bright-- _1095 O'er the split cedar's pointed flame; And the lady's harp would kindle there The melody of an old air, Softer than sleep; the villagers Mixed their religion up with hers, _1100 And, as they listened round, shed tears. One eve he led me to this fane: Daylight on its last purple cloud Was lingering gray, and soon her strain The nightingale began; now loud, _1105 Climbing in circles the windless sky, Now dying music; suddenly 'Tis scattered in a thousand notes, And now to the hushed ear it floats Like field smells known in infancy, _1110 Then failing, soothes the air again. We sate within that temple lone, Pavilioned round with Parian stone: His mother's harp stood near, and oft I had awakened music soft _1115 Amid its wires: the nightingale Was pausing in her heaven-taught tale: 'Now drain the cup,' said Lionel, 'Which the poet-bird has crowned so well With the wine of her bright and liquid song! _1120 Heardst thou not sweet words among That heaven-resounding minstrelsy? Heard'st thou not that those who die Awake in a world of ecstasy? That love, when limbs are interwoven, _1125 And sleep, when the night of life is cloven, And thought, to the world's dim boundaries clinging, And music, when one beloved is singing, Is death? Let us drain right joyously The cup which the sweet bird fills for me.' _1130 He paused, and to my lips he bent His own: like spirit his words went Through all my limbs with the speed of fire; And his keen eyes, glittering through mine, Filled me with the flame divine, _1135 Which in their orbs was burning far, Like the light of an unmeasured star, In the sky of midnight dark and deep: Yes, 'twas his soul that did inspire Sounds, which my skill could ne'er awaken; _1140 And first, I felt my fingers sweep The harp, and a long quivering cry Burst from my lips in symphony: The dusk and solid air was shaken, As swift and swifter the notes came _1145 From my touch, that wandered like quick flame, And from my bosom, labouring With some unutterable thing: The awful sound of my own voice made My faint lips tremble; in some mood _1150 Of wordless thought Lionel stood So pale, that even beside his cheek The snowy column from its shade Caught whiteness: yet his countenance, Raised upward, burned with radiance _1155 Of spirit-piercing joy, whose light, Like the moon struggling through the night Of whirlwind-rifted clouds, did break With beams that might not be confined. I paused, but soon his gestures kindled _1160 New power, as by the moving wind The waves are lifted, and my song To low soft notes now changed and dwindled, And from the twinkling wires among, My languid fingers drew and flung _1165 Circles of life-dissolving sound, Yet faint; in aery rings they bound My Lionel, who, as every strain Grew fainter but more sweet, his mien Sunk with the sound relaxedly; _1170 And slowly now he turned to me, As slowly faded from his face That awful joy: with looks serene He was soon drawn to my embrace, And my wild song then died away _1175 In murmurs: words I dare not say We mixed, and on his lips mine fed Till they methought felt still and cold: 'What is it with thee, love?' I said: No word, no look, no motion! yes, _1180 There was a change, but spare to guess, Nor let that moment's hope be told. I looked, and knew that he was dead, And fell, as the eagle on the plain Falls when life deserts her brain, _1185 And the mortal lightning is veiled again. O that I were now dead! but such (Did they not, love, demand too much, Those dying murmurs?) he forbade. O that I once again were mad! _1190 And yet, dear Rosalind, not so, For I would live to share thy woe. Sweet boy! did I forget thee too? Alas, we know not what we do When we speak words. No memory more _1195 Is in my mind of that sea shore. Madness came on me, and a troop Of misty shapes did seem to sit Beside me, on a vessel's poop, And the clear north wind was driving it. _1200 Then I heard strange tongues, and saw strange flowers, And the stars methought grew unlike ours, And the azure sky and the stormless sea Made me believe that I had died, And waked in a world, which was to me _1205 Drear hell, though heaven to all beside: Then a dead sleep fell on my mind, Whilst animal life many long years Had rescued from a chasm of tears; And when I woke, I wept to find _1210 That the same lady, bright and wise, With silver locks and quick brown eyes, The mother of my Lionel, Had tended me in my distress, And died some months before. Nor less _1215 Wonder, but far more peace and joy, Brought in that hour my lovely boy; For through that trance my soul had well The impress of thy being kept; And if I waked, or if I slept, _1220 No doubt, though memory faithless be, Thy image ever dwelt on me; And thus, O Lionel, like thee Is our sweet child. 'Tis sure most strange I knew not of so great a change, _1225 As that which gave him birth, who now Is all the solace of my woe. That Lionel great wealth had left By will to me, and that of all The ready lies of law bereft _1230 My child and me, might well befall. But let me think not of the scorn, Which from the meanest I have borne, When, for my child's beloved sake, I mixed with slaves, to vindicate _1235 The very laws themselves do make: Let me not say scorn is my fate, Lest I be proud, suffering the same With those who live in deathless fame. She ceased.--'Lo, where red morning thro' the woods _1240 Is burning o'er the dew;' said Rosalind. And with these words they rose, and towards the flood Of the blue lake, beneath the leaves now wind With equal steps and fingers intertwined: Thence to a lonely dwelling, where the shore _1245 Is shadowed with steep rocks, and cypresses Cleave with their dark green cones the silent skies, And with their shadows the clear depths below, And where a little terrace from its bowers, Of blooming myrtle and faint lemon-flowers, _1250 Scatters its sense-dissolving fragrance o'er The liquid marble of the windless lake; And where the aged forest's limbs look hoar, Under the leaves which their green garments make, They come: 'Tis Helen's home, and clean and white, _1255 Like one which tyrants spare on our own land In some such solitude, its casements bright Shone through their vine-leaves in the morning sun, And even within 'twas scarce like Italy. And when she saw how all things there were planned, _1260 As in an English home, dim memory Disturbed poor Rosalind: she stood as one Whose mind is where his body cannot be, Till Helen led her where her child yet slept, And said, 'Observe, that brow was Lionel's, _1265 Those lips were his, and so he ever kept One arm in sleep, pillowing his head with it. You cannot see his eyes--they are two wells Of liquid love: let us not wake him yet.' But Rosalind could bear no more, and wept _1270 A shower of burning tears, which fell upon His face, and so his opening lashes shone With tears unlike his own, as he did leap In sudden wonder from his innocent sleep. So Rosalind and Helen lived together _1275 Thenceforth, changed in all else, yet friends again, Such as they were, when o'er the mountain heather They wandered in their youth, through sun and rain. And after many years, for human things Change even like the ocean and the wind, _1280 Her daughter was restored to Rosalind, And in their circle thence some visitings Of joy 'mid their new calm would intervene: A lovely child she was, of looks serene, And motions which o'er things indifferent shed _1285 The grace and gentleness from whence they came. And Helen's boy grew with her, and they fed From the same flowers of thought, until each mind Like springs which mingle in one flood became, And in their union soon their parents saw _1290 The shadow of the peace denied to them. And Rosalind, for when the living stem Is cankered in its heart, the tree must fall, Died ere her time; and with deep grief and awe The pale survivors followed her remains _1295 Beyond the region of dissolving rains, Up the cold mountain she was wont to call Her tomb; and on Chiavenna's precipice They raised a pyramid of lasting ice, Whose polished sides, ere day had yet begun, _1300 Caught the first glow of the unrisen sun, The last, when it had sunk; and thro' the night The charioteers of Arctos wheeled round Its glittering point, as seen from Helen's home, Whose sad inhabitants each year would come, _1305 With willing steps climbing that rugged height, And hang long locks of hair, and garlands bound With amaranth flowers, which, in the clime's despite, Filled the frore air with unaccustomed light: Such flowers, as in the wintry memory bloom _1310 Of one friend left, adorned that frozen tomb. Helen, whose spirit was of softer mould, Whose sufferings too were less, Death slowlier led Into the peace of his dominion cold: She died among her kindred, being old. _1315 And know, that if love die not in the dead As in the living, none of mortal kind Are blest, as now Helen and Rosalind. NOTES: _63 from there]from thee edition 1819. _366 fell]ran edition 1819. _405-_408 See Editor's Note on this passage. _551 Where]When edition 1819. _572 Ay, overflowing]Aye overflowing edition 1819. _612 dear]clear cj. Bradley. _711 gore editions 1819, 1839. See Editor's Note. _932 Where]When edition 1819. _1093-_1096 See Editor's Note. _1168-_1171] See Editor's Note. _1209 rescue]rescued edition 1819. See Editor's Note. NOTE BY MRS. SHELLEY. "Rosalind and Helen" was begun at Marlow, and thrown aside--till I found it; and, at my request, it was completed. Shelley had no care for any of his poems that did not emanate from the depths of his mind, and develop some high or abstruse truth. When he does touch on human life and the human heart, no pictures can be more faithful, more delicate, more subtle, or more pathetic. He never mentioned Love but he shed a grace borrowed from his own nature, that scarcely any other poet has bestowed on that passion. When he spoke of it as the law of life, which inasmuch as we rebel against we err and injure ourselves and others, he promulgated that which he considered an irrefragable truth. In his eyes it was the essence of our being, and all woe and pain arose from the war made against it by selfishness, or insensibility, or mistake. By reverting in his mind to this first principle, he discovered the source of many emotions, and could disclose the secrets of all hearts, and his delineations of passion and emotion touch the finest chords of our nature. "Rosalind and Helen" was finished during the summer of 1818, while we were at the Baths of Lucca. *** JULIAN AND MADDALO. A CONVERSATION. [Composed at Este after Shelley's first visit to Venice, 1818 (Autumn); first published in the "Posthumous Poems", London, 1824 (edition Mrs. Shelley). Shelley's original intention had been to print the poem in Leigh Hunt's "Examiner"; but he changed his mind and, on August 15, 1819, sent the manuscript to Hunt to be published anonymously by Ollier. This manuscript, found by Mr. Townshend Mayer, and by him placed in the hands of Mr. H. Buxton Forman, C.B., is described at length in Mr. Forman's Library Edition of the poems (volume 3 page 107). The date, 'May, 1819,' affixed to "Julian and Maddalo" in the "Posthumous Poems", 1824, indicates the time when the text was finally revised by Shelley. Sources of the text are (1) "Posthumous Poems", 1824; (2) the Hunt manuscript; (3) a fair draft of the poem amongst the Boscombe manuscripts; (4) "Poetical Works", 1839, 1st and 2nd editions (Mrs. Shelley). Our text is that of the Hunt manuscript, as printed in Forman's Library Edition of the Poems, 1876, volume 3, pages 103-30; variants of 1824 are indicated in the footnotes; questions of punctuation are dealt with in the notes at the end of the volume.] PREFACE. The meadows with fresh streams, the bees with thyme, The goats with the green leaves of budding Spring, Are saturated not--nor Love with tears.--VIRGIL'S "Gallus". Count Maddalo is a Venetian nobleman of ancient family and of great fortune, who, without mixing much in the society of his countrymen, resides chiefly at his magnificent palace in that city. He is a person of the most consummate genius, and capable, if he would direct his energies to such an end, of becoming the redeemer of his degraded country. But it is his weakness to be proud: he derives, from a comparison of his own extraordinary mind with the dwarfish intellects that surround him, an intense apprehension of the nothingness of human life. His passions and his powers are incomparably greater than those of other men; and, instead of the latter having been employed in curbing the former, they have mutually lent each other strength. His ambition preys upon itself, for want of objects which it can consider worthy of exertion. I say that Maddalo is proud, because I can find no other word to express the concentred and impatient feelings which consume him; but it is on his own hopes and affections only that he seems to trample, for in social life no human being can be more gentle, patient and unassuming than Maddalo. He is cheerful, frank and witty. His more serious conversation is a sort of intoxication; men are held by it as by a spell. He has travelled much; and there is an inexpressible charm in his relation of his adventures in different countries. Julian is an Englishman of good family, passionately attached to those philosophical notions which assert the power of man over his own mind, and the immense improvements of which, by the extinction of certain moral superstitions, human society may be yet susceptible. Without concealing the evil in the world he is for ever speculating how good may be made superior. He is a complete infidel, and a scoffer at all things reputed holy; and Maddalo takes a wicked pleasure in drawing out his taunts against religion. What Maddalo thinks on these matters is not exactly known. Julian, in spite of his heterodox opinions, is conjectured by his friends to possess some good qualities. How far this is possible the pious reader will determine. Julian is rather serious. Of the Maniac I can give no information. He seems, by his own account, to have been disappointed in love. He was evidently a very cultivated and amiable person when in his right senses. His story, told at length, might be like many other stories of the same kind: the unconnected exclamations of his agony will perhaps be found a sufficient comment for the text of every heart. I rode one evening with Count Maddalo Upon the bank of land which breaks the flow Of Adria towards Venice: a bare strand Of hillocks, heaped from ever-shifting sand, Matted with thistles and amphibious weeds, _5 Such as from earth's embrace the salt ooze breeds, Is this; an uninhabited sea-side, Which the lone fisher, when his nets are dried, Abandons; and no other object breaks The waste, but one dwarf tree and some few stakes _10 Broken and unrepaired, and the tide makes A narrow space of level sand thereon, Where 'twas our wont to ride while day went down. This ride was my delight. I love all waste And solitary places; where we taste _15 The pleasure of believing what we see Is boundless, as we wish our souls to be: And such was this wide ocean, and this shore More barren than its billows; and yet more Than all, with a remembered friend I love _20 To ride as then I rode;--for the winds drove The living spray along the sunny air Into our faces; the blue heavens were bare, Stripped to their depths by the awakening north; And, from the waves, sound like delight broke forth _25 Harmonising with solitude, and sent Into our hearts aereal merriment. So, as we rode, we talked; and the swift thought, Winging itself with laughter, lingered not, But flew from brain to brain,--such glee was ours, _30 Charged with light memories of remembered hours, None slow enough for sadness: till we came Homeward, which always makes the spirit tame. This day had been cheerful but cold, and now The sun was sinking, and the wind also. _35 Our talk grew somewhat serious, as may be Talk interrupted with such raillery As mocks itself, because it cannot scorn The thoughts it would extinguish: --'twas forlorn, Yet pleasing, such as once, so poets tell, _40 The devils held within the dales of Hell Concerning God, freewill and destiny: Of all that earth has been or yet may be, All that vain men imagine or believe, Or hope can paint or suffering may achieve, _45 We descanted; and I (for ever still Is it not wise to make the best of ill?) Argued against despondency, but pride Made my companion take the darker side. The sense that he was greater than his kind _50 Had struck, methinks, his eagle spirit blind By gazing on its own exceeding light. Meanwhile the sun paused ere it should alight, Over the horizon of the mountains;--Oh, How beautiful is sunset, when the glow _55 Of Heaven descends upon a land like thee, Thou Paradise of exiles, Italy! Thy mountains, seas and vineyards, and the towers Of cities they encircle!--it was ours To stand on thee, beholding it: and then, _60 Just where we had dismounted, the Count's men Were waiting for us with the gondola.-- As those who pause on some delightful way Though bent on pleasant pilgrimage, we stood Looking upon the evening, and the flood _65 Which lay between the city and the shore, Paved with the image of the sky...the hoar And aery Alps towards the North appeared Through mist, an heaven-sustaining bulwark reared Between the East and West; and half the sky _70 Was roofed with clouds of rich emblazonry Dark purple at the zenith, which still grew Down the steep West into a wondrous hue Brighter than burning gold, even to the rent Where the swift sun yet paused in his descent _75 Among the many-folded hills: they were Those famous Euganean hills, which bear, As seen from Lido thro' the harbour piles, The likeness of a clump of peaked isles-- And then--as if the Earth and Sea had been _80 Dissolved into one lake of fire, were seen Those mountains towering as from waves of flame Around the vaporous sun, from which there came The inmost purple spirit of light, and made Their very peaks transparent. 'Ere it fade,' _85 Said my companion, 'I will show you soon A better station'--so, o'er the lagune We glided; and from that funereal bark I leaned, and saw the city, and could mark How from their many isles, in evening's gleam, _90 Its temples and its palaces did seem Like fabrics of enchantment piled to Heaven. I was about to speak, when--'We are even Now at the point I meant,' said Maddalo, And bade the gondolieri cease to row. _95 'Look, Julian, on the west, and listen well If you hear not a deep and heavy bell.' I looked, and saw between us and the sun A building on an island; such a one As age to age might add, for uses vile, _100 A windowless, deformed and dreary pile; And on the top an open tower, where hung A bell, which in the radiance swayed and swung; We could just hear its hoarse and iron tongue: The broad sun sunk behind it, and it tolled _105 In strong and black relief.--'What we behold Shall be the madhouse and its belfry tower,' Said Maddalo, 'and ever at this hour Those who may cross the water, hear that bell Which calls the maniacs, each one from his cell, _110 To vespers.'--'As much skill as need to pray In thanks or hope for their dark lot have they To their stern maker,' I replied. 'O ho! You talk as in years past,' said Maddalo. ''Tis strange men change not. You were ever still _115 Among Christ's flock a perilous infidel, A wolf for the meek lambs--if you can't swim Beware of Providence.' I looked on him, But the gay smile had faded in his eye. 'And such,'--he cried, 'is our mortality, _120 And this must be the emblem and the sign Of what should be eternal and divine!-- And like that black and dreary bell, the soul, Hung in a heaven-illumined tower, must toll Our thoughts and our desires to meet below _125 Round the rent heart and pray--as madmen do For what? they know not,--till the night of death As sunset that strange vision, severeth Our memory from itself, and us from all We sought and yet were baffled.' I recall _130 The sense of what he said, although I mar The force of his expressions. The broad star Of day meanwhile had sunk behind the hill, And the black bell became invisible, And the red tower looked gray, and all between _135 The churches, ships and palaces were seen Huddled in gloom;--into the purple sea The orange hues of heaven sunk silently. We hardly spoke, and soon the gondola Conveyed me to my lodging by the way. _140 The following morn was rainy, cold, and dim: Ere Maddalo arose, I called on him, And whilst I waited with his child I played; A lovelier toy sweet Nature never made; A serious, subtle, wild, yet gentle being, _145 Graceful without design and unforeseeing, With eyes--Oh speak not of her eyes!--which seem Twin mirrors of Italian Heaven, yet gleam With such deep meaning, as we never see But in the human countenance: with me _150 She was a special favourite: I had nursed Her fine and feeble limbs when she came first To this bleak world; and she yet seemed to know On second sight her ancient playfellow, Less changed than she was by six months or so; _155 For after her first shyness was worn out We sate there, rolling billiard balls about, When the Count entered. Salutations past-- 'The word you spoke last night might well have cast A darkness on my spirit--if man be _160 The passive thing you say, I should not see Much harm in the religions and old saws (Tho' I may never own such leaden laws) Which break a teachless nature to the yoke: Mine is another faith.'--thus much I spoke _165 And noting he replied not, added: 'See This lovely child, blithe, innocent and free; She spends a happy time with little care, While we to such sick thoughts subjected are As came on you last night. It is our will _170 That thus enchains us to permitted ill-- We might be otherwise--we might be all We dream of happy, high, majestical. Where is the love, beauty, and truth we seek, But in our mind? and if we were not weak _175 Should we be less in deed than in desire?' 'Ay, if we were not weak--and we aspire How vainly to be strong!' said Maddalo: 'You talk Utopia.' 'It remains to know,' I then rejoined, 'and those who try may find _180 How strong the chains are which our spirit bind; Brittle perchance as straw...We are assured Much may be conquered, much may be endured, Of what degrades and crushes us. We know That we have power over ourselves to do _185 And suffer--what, we know not till we try; But something nobler than to live and die-- So taught those kings of old philosophy Who reigned, before Religion made men blind; And those who suffer with their suffering kind _190 Yet feel their faith, religion.' 'My dear friend,' Said Maddalo, 'my judgement will not bend To your opinion, though I think you might Make such a system refutation-tight As far as words go. I knew one like you _195 Who to this city came some months ago, With whom I argued in this sort, and he Is now gone mad,--and so he answered me,-- Poor fellow! but if you would like to go, We'll visit him, and his wild talk will show _200 How vain are such aspiring theories.' 'I hope to prove the induction otherwise, And that a want of that true theory, still, Which seeks a "soul of goodness" in things ill Or in himself or others, has thus bowed _205 His being--there are some by nature proud, Who patient in all else demand but this-- To love and be beloved with gentleness; And being scorned, what wonder if they die Some living death? this is not destiny _210 But man's own wilful ill.' As thus I spoke Servants announced the gondola, and we Through the fast-falling rain and high-wrought sea Sailed to the island where the madhouse stands. We disembarked. The clap of tortured hands, _215 Fierce yells and howlings and lamentings keen, And laughter where complaint had merrier been, Moans, shrieks, and curses, and blaspheming prayers Accosted us. We climbed the oozy stairs Into an old courtyard. I heard on high, _220 Then, fragments of most touching melody, But looking up saw not the singer there-- Through the black bars in the tempestuous air I saw, like weeds on a wrecked palace growing, Long tangled locks flung wildly forth, and flowing, _225 Of those who on a sudden were beguiled Into strange silence, and looked forth and smiled Hearing sweet sounds. Then I: 'Methinks there were A cure of these with patience and kind care, If music can thus move...but what is he _230 Whom we seek here?' 'Of his sad history I know but this,' said Maddalo: 'he came To Venice a dejected man, and fame Said he was wealthy, or he had been so; Some thought the loss of fortune wrought him woe; _235 But he was ever talking in such sort As you do--far more sadly--he seemed hurt, Even as a man with his peculiar wrong, To hear but of the oppression of the strong, Or those absurd deceits (I think with you _240 In some respects, you know) which carry through The excellent impostors of this earth When they outface detection--he had worth, Poor fellow! but a humorist in his way'-- 'Alas, what drove him mad?' 'I cannot say: _245 A lady came with him from France, and when She left him and returned, he wandered then About yon lonely isles of desert sand Till he grew wild--he had no cash or land Remaining,--the police had brought him here-- _250 Some fancy took him and he would not bear Removal; so I fitted up for him Those rooms beside the sea, to please his whim, And sent him busts and books and urns for flowers, Which had adorned his life in happier hours, _255 And instruments of music--you may guess A stranger could do little more or less For one so gentle and unfortunate: And those are his sweet strains which charm the weight From madmen's chains, and make this Hell appear _260 A heaven of sacred silence, hushed to hear.'-- 'Nay, this was kind of you--he had no claim, As the world says'--'None--but the very same Which I on all mankind were I as he Fallen to such deep reverse;--his melody _265 Is interrupted--now we hear the din Of madmen, shriek on shriek, again begin; Let us now visit him; after this strain He ever communes with himself again, And sees nor hears not any.' Having said _270 These words, we called the keeper, and he led To an apartment opening on the sea-- There the poor wretch was sitting mournfully Near a piano, his pale fingers twined One with the other, and the ooze and wind _275 Rushed through an open casement, and did sway His hair, and starred it with the brackish spray; His head was leaning on a music book, And he was muttering, and his lean limbs shook; His lips were pressed against a folded leaf _280 In hue too beautiful for health, and grief Smiled in their motions as they lay apart-- As one who wrought from his own fervid heart The eloquence of passion, soon he raised His sad meek face and eyes lustrous and glazed _285 And spoke--sometimes as one who wrote, and thought His words might move some heart that heeded not, If sent to distant lands: and then as one Reproaching deeds never to be undone With wondering self-compassion; then his speech _290 Was lost in grief, and then his words came each Unmodulated, cold, expressionless,-- But that from one jarred accent you might guess It was despair made them so uniform: And all the while the loud and gusty storm _295 Hissed through the window, and we stood behind Stealing his accents from the envious wind Unseen. I yet remember what he said Distinctly: such impression his words made. 'Month after month,' he cried, 'to bear this load _300 And as a jade urged by the whip and goad To drag life on, which like a heavy chain Lengthens behind with many a link of pain!-- And not to speak my grief--O, not to dare To give a human voice to my despair, _305 But live, and move, and, wretched thing! smile on As if I never went aside to groan, And wear this mask of falsehood even to those Who are most dear--not for my own repose-- Alas! no scorn or pain or hate could be _310 So heavy as that falsehood is to me-- But that I cannot bear more altered faces Than needs must be, more changed and cold embraces, More misery, disappointment, and mistrust To own me for their father...Would the dust _315 Were covered in upon my body now! That the life ceased to toil within my brow! And then these thoughts would at the least be fled; Let us not fear such pain can vex the dead. 'What Power delights to torture us? I know _320 That to myself I do not wholly owe What now I suffer, though in part I may. Alas! none strewed sweet flowers upon the way Where wandering heedlessly, I met pale Pain My shadow, which will leave me not again-- _325 If I have erred, there was no joy in error, But pain and insult and unrest and terror; I have not as some do, bought penitence With pleasure, and a dark yet sweet offence, For then,--if love and tenderness and truth _330 Had overlived hope's momentary youth, My creed should have redeemed me from repenting; But loathed scorn and outrage unrelenting Met love excited by far other seeming Until the end was gained...as one from dreaming _335 Of sweetest peace, I woke, and found my state Such as it is.-- 'O Thou, my spirit's mate Who, for thou art compassionate and wise, Wouldst pity me from thy most gentle eyes If this sad writing thou shouldst ever see-- _340 My secret groans must be unheard by thee, Thou wouldst weep tears bitter as blood to know Thy lost friend's incommunicable woe. 'Ye few by whom my nature has been weighed In friendship, let me not that name degrade _345 By placing on your hearts the secret load Which crushes mine to dust. There is one road To peace and that is truth, which follow ye! Love sometimes leads astray to misery. Yet think not though subdued--and I may well _350 Say that I am subdued--that the full Hell Within me would infect the untainted breast Of sacred nature with its own unrest; As some perverted beings think to find In scorn or hate a medicine for the mind _355 Which scorn or hate have wounded--O how vain! The dagger heals not but may rend again... Believe that I am ever still the same In creed as in resolve, and what may tame My heart, must leave the understanding free, _360 Or all would sink in this keen agony-- Nor dream that I will join the vulgar cry; Or with my silence sanction tyranny; Or seek a moment's shelter from my pain In any madness which the world calls gain, _365 Ambition or revenge or thoughts as stern As those which make me what I am; or turn To avarice or misanthropy or lust... Heap on me soon, O grave, thy welcome dust! Till then the dungeon may demand its prey, _370 And Poverty and Shame may meet and say-- Halting beside me on the public way-- "That love-devoted youth is ours--let's sit Beside him--he may live some six months yet." Or the red scaffold, as our country bends, _375 May ask some willing victim; or ye friends May fall under some sorrow which this heart Or hand may share or vanquish or avert; I am prepared--in truth, with no proud joy-- To do or suffer aught, as when a boy _380 I did devote to justice and to love My nature, worthless now!... 'I must remove A veil from my pent mind. 'Tis torn aside! O, pallid as Death's dedicated bride, Thou mockery which art sitting by my side, _385 Am I not wan like thee? at the grave's call I haste, invited to thy wedding-ball To greet the ghastly paramour, for whom Thou hast deserted me...and made the tomb Thy bridal bed...But I beside your feet _390 Will lie and watch ye from my winding-sheet-- Thus...wide awake tho' dead...yet stay, O stay! Go not so soon--I know not what I say-- Hear but my reasons...I am mad, I fear, My fancy is o'erwrought...thou art not here... _395 Pale art thou, 'tis most true...but thou art gone, Thy work is finished...I am left alone!-- ... 'Nay, was it I who wooed thee to this breast Which, like a serpent, thou envenomest As in repayment of the warmth it lent? _400 Didst thou not seek me for thine own content? Did not thy love awaken mine? I thought That thou wert she who said, "You kiss me not Ever, I fear you do not love me now"-- In truth I loved even to my overthrow _405 Her, who would fain forget these words: but they Cling to her mind, and cannot pass away. ... 'You say that I am proud--that when I speak My lip is tortured with the wrongs which break The spirit it expresses...Never one _410 Humbled himself before, as I have done! Even the instinctive worm on which we tread Turns, though it wound not--then with prostrate head Sinks in the dusk and writhes like me--and dies? No: wears a living death of agonies! _415 As the slow shadows of the pointed grass Mark the eternal periods, his pangs pass, Slow, ever-moving,--making moments be As mine seem--each an immortality! ... 'That you had never seen me--never heard _420 My voice, and more than all had ne'er endured The deep pollution of my loathed embrace-- That your eyes ne'er had lied love in my face-- That, like some maniac monk, I had torn out The nerves of manhood by their bleeding root _425 With mine own quivering fingers, so that ne'er Our hearts had for a moment mingled there To disunite in horror--these were not With thee, like some suppressed and hideous thought Which flits athwart our musings, but can find _430 No rest within a pure and gentle mind... Thou sealedst them with many a bare broad word, And searedst my memory o'er them,--for I heard And can forget not...they were ministered One after one, those curses. Mix them up _435 Like self-destroying poisons in one cup, And they will make one blessing which thou ne'er Didst imprecate for, on me,--death. ... 'It were A cruel punishment for one most cruel, If such can love, to make that love the fuel _440 Of the mind's hell; hate, scorn, remorse, despair: But ME--whose heart a stranger's tear might wear As water-drops the sandy fountain-stone, Who loved and pitied all things, and could moan For woes which others hear not, and could see _445 The absent with the glance of phantasy, And with the poor and trampled sit and weep, Following the captive to his dungeon deep; ME--who am as a nerve o'er which do creep The else unfelt oppressions of this earth, _450 And was to thee the flame upon thy hearth, When all beside was cold--that thou on me Shouldst rain these plagues of blistering agony-- Such curses are from lips once eloquent With love's too partial praise--let none relent _455 Who intend deeds too dreadful for a name Henceforth, if an example for the same They seek...for thou on me lookedst so, and so-- And didst speak thus...and thus...I live to show How much men bear and die not! ... 'Thou wilt tell _460 With the grimace of hate, how horrible It was to meet my love when thine grew less; Thou wilt admire how I could e'er address Such features to love's work...this taunt, though true, (For indeed Nature nor in form nor hue _465 Bestowed on me her choicest workmanship) Shall not be thy defence...for since thy lip Met mine first, years long past, since thine eye kindled With soft fire under mine, I have not dwindled Nor changed in mind or body, or in aught _470 But as love changes what it loveth not After long years and many trials. 'How vain Are words! I thought never to speak again, Not even in secret,--not to mine own heart-- But from my lips the unwilling accents start, _475 And from my pen the words flow as I write, Dazzling my eyes with scalding tears...my sight Is dim to see that charactered in vain On this unfeeling leaf which burns the brain And eats into it...blotting all things fair _480 And wise and good which time had written there. 'Those who inflict must suffer, for they see The work of their own hearts, and this must be Our chastisement or recompense--O child! I would that thine were like to be more mild _485 For both our wretched sakes...for thine the most Who feelest already all that thou hast lost Without the power to wish it thine again; And as slow years pass, a funereal train Each with the ghost of some lost hope or friend _490 Following it like its shadow, wilt thou bend No thought on my dead memory? ... 'Alas, love! Fear me not...against thee I would not move A finger in despite. Do I not live That thou mayst have less bitter cause to grieve? _495 I give thee tears for scorn and love for hate; And that thy lot may be less desolate Than his on whom thou tramplest, I refrain From that sweet sleep which medicines all pain. Then, when thou speakest of me, never say _500 "He could forgive not." Here I cast away All human passions, all revenge, all pride; I think, speak, act no ill; I do but hide Under these words, like embers, every spark Of that which has consumed me--quick and dark _505 The grave is yawning...as its roof shall cover My limbs with dust and worms under and over So let Oblivion hide this grief...the air Closes upon my accents, as despair Upon my heart--let death upon despair!' _510 He ceased, and overcome leant back awhile, Then rising, with a melancholy smile Went to a sofa, and lay down, and slept A heavy sleep, and in his dreams he wept And muttered some familiar name, and we _515 Wept without shame in his society. I think I never was impressed so much; The man who were not, must have lacked a touch Of human nature...then we lingered not, Although our argument was quite forgot, _520 But calling the attendants, went to dine At Maddalo's; yet neither cheer nor wine Could give us spirits, for we talked of him And nothing else, till daylight made stars dim; And we agreed his was some dreadful ill _525 Wrought on him boldly, yet unspeakable, By a dear friend; some deadly change in love Of one vowed deeply which he dreamed not of; For whose sake he, it seemed, had fixed a blot Of falsehood on his mind which flourished not _530 But in the light of all-beholding truth; And having stamped this canker on his youth She had abandoned him--and how much more Might be his woe, we guessed not--he had store Of friends and fortune once, as we could guess _535 From his nice habits and his gentleness; These were now lost...it were a grief indeed If he had changed one unsustaining reed For all that such a man might else adorn. The colours of his mind seemed yet unworn; _540 For the wild language of his grief was high, Such as in measure were called poetry; And I remember one remark which then Maddalo made. He said: 'Most wretched men Are cradled into poetry by wrong, _545 They learn in suffering what they teach in song.' If I had been an unconnected man, I, from this moment, should have formed some plan Never to leave sweet Venice,--for to me It was delight to ride by the lone sea; _550 And then, the town is silent--one may write Or read in gondolas by day or night, Having the little brazen lamp alight, Unseen, uninterrupted; books are there, Pictures, and casts from all those statues fair _555 Which were twin-born with poetry, and all We seek in towns, with little to recall Regrets for the green country. I might sit In Maddalo's great palace, and his wit And subtle talk would cheer the winter night _560 And make me know myself, and the firelight Would flash upon our faces, till the day Might dawn and make me wonder at my stay: But I had friends in London too: the chief Attraction here, was that I sought relief _565 From the deep tenderness that maniac wrought Within me--'twas perhaps an idle thought-- But I imagined that if day by day I watched him, and but seldom went away, And studied all the beatings of his heart _570 With zeal, as men study some stubborn art For their own good, and could by patience find An entrance to the caverns of his mind, I might reclaim him from this dark estate: In friendships I had been most fortunate-- _575 Yet never saw I one whom I would call More willingly my friend; and this was all Accomplished not; such dreams of baseless good Oft come and go in crowds or solitude And leave no trace--but what I now designed _580 Made for long years impression on my mind. The following morning, urged by my affairs, I left bright Venice. After many years And many changes I returned; the name Of Venice, and its aspect, was the same; _585 But Maddalo was travelling far away Among the mountains of Armenia. His dog was dead. His child had now become A woman; such as it has been my doom To meet with few,--a wonder of this earth, _590 Where there is little of transcendent worth, Like one of Shakespeare's women: kindly she, And, with a manner beyond courtesy, Received her father's friend; and when I asked Of the lorn maniac, she her memory tasked, _595 And told as she had heard the mournful tale: 'That the poor sufferer's health began to fail Two years from my departure, but that then The lady who had left him, came again. Her mien had been imperious, but she now _600 Looked meek--perhaps remorse had brought her low. Her coming made him better, and they stayed Together at my father's--for I played, As I remember, with the lady's shawl-- I might be six years old--but after all _605 She left him.'...'Why, her heart must have been tough: How did it end?' 'And was not this enough? They met--they parted.'--'Child, is there no more?' 'Something within that interval which bore The stamp of WHY they parted, HOW they met: _610 Yet if thine aged eyes disdain to wet Those wrinkled cheeks with youth's remembered tears, Ask me no more, but let the silent years Be closed and cered over their memory As yon mute marble where their corpses lie.' _615 I urged and questioned still, she told me how All happened--but the cold world shall not know. CANCELLED FRAGMENTS OF JULIAN AND MADDALO. 'What think you the dead are?' 'Why, dust and clay, What should they be?' ''Tis the last hour of day. Look on the west, how beautiful it is _620 Vaulted with radiant vapours! The deep bliss Of that unutterable light has made The edges of that cloud ... fade Into a hue, like some harmonious thought, Wasting itself on that which it had wrought, _625 Till it dies ... and ... between The light hues of the tender, pure, serene, And infinite tranquillity of heaven. Ay, beautiful! but when not...' ... 'Perhaps the only comfort which remains _630 Is the unheeded clanking of my chains, The which I make, and call it melody.' NOTES: _45 may Hunt manuscript; can 1824. _99 a one Hunt manuscript; an one 1824. _105 sunk Hunt manuscript; sank 1824. _108 ever Hunt manuscript; even 1824. _119 in Hunt manuscript; from 1824. _124 a Hunt manuscript; an 1824. _171 That Hunt manuscript; Which 1824. _175 mind Hunt manuscript; minds 1824. _179 know 1824; see Hunt manuscript. _188 those Hunt manuscript; the 1824. _191 their Hunt manuscript; this 1824. _218 Moons, etc., Hunt manuscript; The line is wanting in editions 1824 and 1839. _237 far Hunt manuscript; but 1824. _270 nor Hunt manuscript; and 1824. _292 cold Hunt manuscript; and 1824. _318 least Hunt manuscript; last 1824. _323 sweet Hunt manuscript; fresh 1824. _356 have Hunt manuscript; hath 1824. _361 in this keen Hunt manuscript; under this 1824. _362 cry Hunt manuscript; eye 1824. _372 on Hunt manuscript; in 1824. _388 greet Hunt manuscript; meet 1824. _390 your Hunt manuscript; thy 1824. _417 his Hunt manuscript; its 1824. _446 glance Hunt manuscript; glass 1824. _447 with Hunt manuscript; near 1824. _467 lip Hunt manuscript; life 1824. _483 this Hunt manuscript; that 1824. _493 I would Hunt manuscript; I'd 1824. _510 despair Hunt manuscript; my care 1839. _511 leant] See Editor's Note. _518 were Hunt manuscript; was 1839. _525 his Hunt manuscript; it 1824. _530 on Hunt manuscript; in 1824. _537 were now Hunt manuscript; now were 1824. _588 regrets Hunt manuscript; regret 1824. _569 but Hunt manuscript; wanting in editions 1824 and 1839. _574 his 1824; this [?] Hunt manuscript. NOTE BY MRS. SHELLEY. From the Baths of Lucca, in 1818, Shelley visited Venice; and, circumstances rendering it eligible that we should remain a few weeks in the neighbourhood of that city, he accepted the offer of Lord Byron, who lent him the use of a villa he rented near Este; and he sent for his family from Lucca to join him. I Capuccini was a villa built on the site of a Capuchin convent, demolished when the French suppressed religious houses; it was situated on the very overhanging brow of a low hill at the foot of a range of higher ones. The house was cheerful and pleasant; a vine-trellised walk, a pergola, as it is called in Italian, led from the hall-door to a summer-house at the end of the garden, which Shelley made his study, and in which he began the "Prometheus"; and here also, as he mentions in a letter, he wrote "Julian and Maddalo". A slight ravine, with a road in its depth, divided the garden from the hill, on which stood the ruins of the ancient castle of Este, whose dark massive wall gave forth an echo, and from whose ruined crevices owls and bats flitted forth at night, as the crescent moon sunk behind the black and heavy battlements. We looked from the garden over the wide plain of Lombardy, bounded to the west by the far Apennines, while to the east the horizon was lost in misty distance. After the picturesque but limited view of mountain, ravine, and chestnut-wood, at the Baths of Lucca, there was something infinitely gratifying to the eye in the wide range of prospect commanded by our new abode. Our first misfortune, of the kind from which we soon suffered even more severely, happened here. Our little girl, an infant in whose small features I fancied that I traced great resemblance to her father, showed symptoms of suffering from the heat of the climate. Teething increased her illness and danger. We were at Este, and when we became alarmed, hastened to Venice for the best advice. When we arrived at Fusina, we found that we had forgotten our passport, and the soldiers on duty attempted to prevent our crossing the laguna; but they could not resist Shelley's impetuosity at such a moment. We had scarcely arrived at Venice before life fled from the little sufferer, and we returned to Este to weep her loss. After a few weeks spent in this retreat, which was interspersed by visits to Venice, we proceeded southward. *** PROMETHEUS UNBOUND. A LYRICAL DRAMA IN FOUR ACTS. AUDISNE HAEC AMPHIARAE, SUB TERRAM ABDITE? [Composed at Este, September, October, 1818 (Act 1); at Rome, March-April 6, 1819 (Acts 2, 3); at Florence, close of 1819 (Act 4). Published by C. and J. Ollier, London, summer of 1820. Sources of the text are (1) edition of 1820; (2) text in "Poetical Works", 1839, prepared with the aid of a list of errata in (1) written out by Shelley; (3) a fair draft in Shelley's autograph, now in the Bodleian. This has been carefully collated by Mr. C.D. Locock, who prints the result in his "Examination of the Shelley Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library", Oxford (Clarendon Press), 1903. Our text is that of 1820, modified by edition 1839, and by the Bodleian fair copy. In the following notes B = the Bodleian manuscript; 1820 = the editio princeps, printed by Marchant for C. and J. Ollier, London; and 1839 = the text as edited by Mrs. Shelley in the "Poetical Works", 1st and 2nd editions, 1839. The reader should consult the notes on the Play at the end of the volume.] PREFACE. The Greek tragic writers, in selecting as their subject any portion of their national history or mythology, employed in their treatment of it a certain arbitrary discretion. They by no means conceived themselves bound to adhere to the common interpretation or to imitate in story as in title their rivals and predecessors. Such a system would have amounted to a resignation of those claims to preference over their competitors which incited the composition. The Agamemnonian story was exhibited on the Athenian theatre with as many variations as dramas. I have presumed to employ a similar license. The "Prometheus Unbound" of Aeschylus supposed the reconciliation of Jupiter with his victim as the price of the disclosure of the danger threatened to his empire by the consummation of his marriage with Thetis. Thetis, according to this view of the subject, was given in marriage to Peleus, and Prometheus, by the permission of Jupiter, delivered from his captivity by Hercules. Had I framed my story on this model, I should have done no more than have attempted to restore the lost drama of Aeschylus; an ambition which, if my preference to this mode of treating the subject had incited me to cherish, the recollection of the high comparison such an attempt would challenge might well abate. But, in truth, I was averse from a catastrophe so feeble as that of reconciling the Champion with the Oppressor of mankind. The moral interest of the fable, which is so powerfully sustained by the sufferings and endurance of Prometheus, would be annihilated if we could conceive of him as unsaying his high language and quailing before his successful and perfidious adversary. The only imaginary being resembling in any degree Prometheus, is Satan; and Prometheus is, in my judgement, a more poetical character than Satan, because, in addition to courage, and majesty, and firm and patient opposition to omnipotent force, he is susceptible of being described as exempt from the taints of ambition, envy, revenge, and a desire for personal aggrandisement, which, in the Hero of "Paradise Lost", interfere with the interest. The character of Satan engenders in the mind a pernicious casuistry which leads us to weigh his faults with his wrongs, and to excuse the former because the latter exceed all measure. In the minds of those who consider that magnificent fiction with a religious feeling it engenders something worse. But Prometheus is, as it were, the type of the highest perfection of moral and intellectual nature, impelled by the purest and the truest motives to the best and noblest ends. This Poem was chiefly written upon the mountainous ruins of the Baths of Caracalla, among the flowery glades, and thickets of odoriferous blossoming trees, which are extended in ever winding labyrinths upon its immense platforms and dizzy arches suspended in the air. The bright blue sky of Rome, and the effect of the vigorous awakening spring in that divinest climate, and the new life with which it drenches the spirits even to intoxication, were the inspiration of this drama. The imagery which I have employed will be found, in many instances, to have been drawn from the operations of the human mind, or from those external actions by which they are expressed. This is unusual in modern poetry, although Dante and Shakespeare are full of instances of the same kind: Dante indeed more than any other poet, and with greater success. But the Greek poets, as writers to whom no resource of awakening the sympathy of their contemporaries was unknown, were in the habitual use of this power; and it is the study of their works (since a higher merit would probably be denied me) to which I am willing that my readers should impute this singularity. One word is due in candour to the degree in which the study of contemporary writings may have tinged my composition, for such has been a topic of censure with regard to poems far more popular, and indeed more deservedly popular, than mine. It is impossible that any one who inhabits the same age with such writers as those who stand in the foremost ranks of our own, can conscientiously assure himself that his language and tone of thought may not have been modified by the study of the productions of those extraordinary intellects. It is true, that, not the spirit of their genius, but the forms in which it has manifested itself, are due less to the peculiarities of their own minds than to the peculiarity of the moral and intellectual condition of the minds among which they have been produced. Thus a number of writers possess the form, whilst they want the spirit of those whom, it is alleged, they imitate; because the former is the endowment of the age in which they live, and the latter must be the uncommunicated lightning of their own mind. The peculiar style of intense and comprehensive imagery which distinguishes the modern literature of England has not been, as a general power, the product of the imitation of any particular writer. The mass of capabilities remains at every period materially the same; the circumstances which awaken it to action perpetually change. If England were divided into forty republics, each equal in population and extent to Athens, there is no reason to suppose but that, under institutions not more perfect than those of Athens, each would produce philosophers and poets equal to those who (if we except Shakespeare) have never been surpassed. We owe the great writers of the golden age of our literature to that fervid awakening of the public mind which shook to dust the oldest and most oppressive form of the Christian religion. We owe Milton to the progress and development of the same spirit: the sacred Milton was, let it ever be remembered, a republican, and a bold inquirer into morals and religion. The great writers of our own age are, we have reason to suppose, the companions and forerunners of some unimagined change in our social condition or the opinions which cement it. The cloud of mind is discharging its collected lightning, and the equilibrium between institutions and opinions is now restoring, or is about to be restored. As to imitation, poetry is a mimetic art. It creates, but it creates by combination and representation. Poetical abstractions are beautiful and new, not because the portions of which they are composed had no previous existence in the mind of man or in nature, but because the whole produced by their combination has some intelligible and beautiful analogy with those sources of emotion and thought, and with the contemporary condition of them: one great poet is a masterpiece of nature which another not only ought to study but must study. He might as wisely and as easily determine that his mind should no longer be the mirror of all that is lovely in the visible universe as exclude from his contemplation the beautiful which exists in the writings of a great contemporary. The pretence of doing it would be a presumption in any but the greatest; the effect, even in him, would be strained, unnatural and ineffectual. A poet is the combined product of such internal powers as modify the nature of others; and of such external influences as excite and sustain these powers; he is not one, but both. Every man's mind is, in this respect, modified by all the objects of nature and art; by every word and every suggestion which he ever admitted to act upon his consciousness; it is the mirror upon which all forms are reflected, and in which they compose one form. Poets, not otherwise than philosophers, painters, sculptors and musicians, are, in one sense, the creators, and, in another, the creations, of their age. From this subjection the loftiest do not escape. There is a similarity between Homer and Hesiod, between Aeschylus and Euripides, between Virgil and Horace, between Dante and Petrarch, between Shakespeare and Fletcher, between Dryden and Pope; each has a generic resemblance under which their specific distinctions are arranged. If this similarity be the result of imitation, I am willing to confess that I have imitated. Let this opportunity be conceded to me of acknowledging that I have, what a Scotch philosopher characteristically terms, 'a passion for reforming the world:' what passion incited him to write and publish his book, he omits to explain. For my part I had rather be damned with Plato and Lord Bacon, than go to Heaven with Paley and Malthus. But it is a mistake to suppose that I dedicate my poetical compositions solely to the direct enforcement of reform, or that I consider them in any degree as containing a reasoned system on the theory of human life. Didactic poetry is my abhorrence; nothing can be equally well expressed in prose that is not tedious and supererogatory in verse. My purpose has hitherto been simply to familiarise the highly refined imagination of the more select classes of poetical readers with beautiful idealisms of moral excellence; aware that until the mind can love, and admire, and trust, and hope, and endure, reasoned principles of moral conduct are seeds cast upon the highway of life which the unconscious passenger tramples into dust, although they would bear the harvest of his happiness. Should I live to accomplish what I purpose, that is, produce a systematical history of what appear to me to be the genuine elements of human society, let not the advocates of injustice and superstition flatter themselves that I should take Aeschylus rather than Plato as my model. The having spoken of myself with unaffected freedom will need little apology with the candid; and let the uncandid consider that they injure me less than their own hearts and minds by misrepresentation. Whatever talents a person may possess to amuse and instruct others, be they ever so inconsiderable, he is yet bound to exert them: if his attempt be ineffectual, let the punishment of an unaccomplished purpose have been sufficient; let none trouble themselves to heap the dust of oblivion upon his efforts; the pile they raise will betray his grave which might otherwise have been unknown. DRAMATIS PERSONAE. PROMETHEUS. DEMOGORGON. JUPITER. THE EARTH. OCEAN. APOLLO. MERCURY. OCEANIDES: ASIA, PANTHEA, IONE. HERCULES. THE PHANTASM OF JUPITER. THE SPIRIT OF THE EARTH. THE SPIRIT OF THE MOON. SPIRITS OF THE HOURS. SPIRITS. ECHOES. FAUNS. FURIES. ACT 1. SCENE: A RAVINE OF ICY ROCKS IN THE INDIAN CAUCASUS. PROMETHEUS IS DISCOVERED BOUND TO THE PRECIPICE. PANTEA AND IONE ARE SEATED AT HIS FEET. TIME, NIGHT. DURING, THE SCENE MORNING SLOWLY BREAKS. PROMETHEUS: Monarch of Gods and DAEmons, and all Spirits But One, who throng those bright and rolling worlds Which Thou and I alone of living things Behold with sleepless eyes! regard this Earth Made multitudinous with thy slaves, whom thou _5 Requitest for knee-worship, prayer, and praise, And toil, and hecatombs of broken hearts, With fear and self-contempt and barren hope. Whilst me, who am thy foe, eyeless in hate, Hast thou made reign and triumph, to thy scorn, _10 O'er mine own misery and thy vain revenge. Three thousand years of sleep-unsheltered hours, And moments aye divided by keen pangs Till they seemed years, torture and solitude, Scorn and despair,--these are mine empire:-- _15 More glorious far than that which thou surveyest From thine unenvied throne, O Mighty God! Almighty, had I deigned to share the shame Of thine ill tyranny, and hung not here Nailed to this wall of eagle-baffling mountain, _20 Black, wintry, dead, unmeasured; without herb, Insect, or beast, or shape or sound of life. Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, for ever! No change, no pause, no hope! Yet I endure. I ask the Earth, have not the mountains felt? _25 I ask yon Heaven, the all-beholding Sun, Has it not seen? The Sea, in storm or calm, Heaven's ever-changing Shadow, spread below, Have its deaf waves not heard my agony? Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, for ever! _30 The crawling glaciers pierce me with the spears Of their moon-freezing crystals; the bright chains Eat with their burning cold into my bones. Heaven's winged hound, polluting from thy lips His beak in poison not his own, tears up _35 My heart; and shapeless sights come wandering by, The ghastly people of the realm of dream, Mocking me: and the Earthquake-fiends are charged To wrench the rivets from my quivering wounds When the rocks split and close again behind: _40 While from their loud abysses howling throng The genii of the storm, urging the rage Of whirlwind, and afflict me with keen hail. And yet to me welcome is day and night, Whether one breaks the hoar-frost of the morn, _45 Or starry, dim, and slow, the other climbs The leaden-coloured east; for then they lead The wingless, crawling hours, one among whom --As some dark Priest hales the reluctant victim-- Shall drag thee, cruel King, to kiss the blood _50 From these pale feet, which then might trample thee If they disdained not such a prostrate slave. Disdain! Ah, no! I pity thee. What ruin Will hunt thee undefended through wide Heaven! How will thy soul, cloven to its depth with terror, _55 Gape like a hell within! I speak in grief, Not exultation, for I hate no more, As then ere misery made me wise. The curse Once breathed on thee I would recall. Ye Mountains, Whose many-voiced Echoes, through the mist _60 Of cataracts, flung the thunder of that spell! Ye icy Springs, stagnant with wrinkling frost, Which vibrated to hear me, and then crept Shuddering through India! Thou serenest Air, Through which the Sun walks burning without beams! _65 And ye swift Whirlwinds, who on poised wings Hung mute and moveless o'er yon hushed abyss, As thunder, louder than your own, made rock The orbed world! If then my words had power, Though I am changed so that aught evil wish _70 Is dead within; although no memory be Of what is hate, let them not lose it now! What was that curse? for ye all heard me speak. NOTE: _54 thro' wide B; thro' the wide 1820. FIRST VOICE (FROM THE MOUNTAINS): Thrice three hundred thousand years O'er the Earthquake's couch we stood: _75 Oft, as men convulsed with fears, We trembled in our multitude. SECOND VOICE (FROM THE SPRINGS): Thunderbolts had parched our water, We had been stained with bitter blood, And had run mute, 'mid shrieks of slaughter, _80 Thro' a city and a solitude. THIRD VOICE (FROM THE AIR): I had clothed, since Earth uprose, Its wastes in colours not their own, And oft had my serene repose Been cloven by many a rending groan. _85 FOURTH VOICE (FROM THE WHIRLWINDS): We had soared beneath these mountains Unresting ages; nor had thunder, Nor yon volcano's flaming fountains, Nor any power above or under Ever made us mute with wonder. _90 FIRST VOICE: But never bowed our snowy crest As at the voice of thine unrest. SECOND VOICE: Never such a sound before To the Indian waves we bore. A pilot asleep on the howling sea _95 Leaped up from the deck in agony, And heard, and cried, 'Ah, woe is me!' And died as mad as the wild waves be. THIRD VOICE: By such dread words from Earth to Heaven My still realm was never riven: _100 When its wound was closed, there stood Darkness o'er the day like blood. FOURTH VOICE: And we shrank back: for dreams of ruin To frozen caves our flight pursuing Made us keep silence--thus--and thus-- _105 Though silence is a hell to us. THE EARTH: The tongueless caverns of the craggy hills Cried, 'Misery!' then; the hollow Heaven replied, 'Misery!' And the Ocean's purple waves, Climbing the land, howled to the lashing winds, _110 And the pale nations heard it, 'Misery!' NOTE: _106 as hell 1839, B; a hell 1820. PROMETHEUS: I hear a sound of voices: not the voice Which I gave forth. Mother, thy sons and thou Scorn him, without whose all-enduring will Beneath the fierce omnipotence of Jove, _115 Both they and thou had vanished, like thin mist Unrolled on the morning wind. Know ye not me, The Titan? He who made his agony The barrier to your else all-conquering foe? Oh, rock-embosomed lawns, and snow-fed streams, _120 Now seen athwart frore vapours, deep below, Through whose o'ershadowing woods I wandered once With Asia, drinking life from her loved eyes; Why scorns the spirit which informs ye, now To commune with me? me alone, who checked, _125 As one who checks a fiend-drawn charioteer, The falsehood and the force of him who reigns Supreme, and with the groans of pining slaves Fills your dim glens and liquid wildernesses: Why answer ye not, still? Brethren! THE EARTH: They dare not. _130 PROMETHEUS: Who dares? for I would hear that curse again. Ha, what an awful whisper rises up! 'Tis scarce like sound: it tingles through the frame As lightning tingles, hovering ere it strike. Speak, Spirit! from thine inorganic voice _135 I only know that thou art moving near And love. How cursed I him? THE EARTH: How canst thou hear Who knowest not the language of the dead? PROMETHEUS: Thou art a living spirit; speak as they. THE EARTH: I dare not speak like life, lest Heaven's fell King _140 Should hear, and link me to some wheel of pain More torturing than the one whereon I roll. Subtle thou art and good; and though the Gods Hear not this voice, yet thou art more than God, Being wise and kind: earnestly hearken now. _145 PROMETHEUS: Obscurely through my brain, like shadows dim, Sweep awful thoughts, rapid and thick. I feel Faint, like one mingled in entwining love; Yet 'tis not pleasure. THE EARTH: No, thou canst not hear: Thou art immortal, and this tongue is known _150 Only to those who die. PROMETHEUS: And what art thou, O, melancholy Voice? THE EARTH: I am the Earth, Thy mother; she within whose stony veins, To the last fibre of the loftiest tree Whose thin leaves trembled in the frozen air, _155 Joy ran, as blood within a living frame, When thou didst from her bosom, like a cloud Of glory, arise, a spirit of keen joy! And at thy voice her pining sons uplifted Their prostrate brows from the polluting dust, _160 And our almighty Tyrant with fierce dread Grew pale, until his thunder chained thee here. Then, see those million worlds which burn and roll Around us: their inhabitants beheld My sphered light wane in wide Heaven; the sea _165 Was lifted by strange tempest, and new fire From earthquake-rifted mountains of bright snow Shook its portentous hair beneath Heaven's frown; Lightning and Inundation vexed the plains; Blue thistles bloomed in cities; foodless toads _170 Within voluptuous chambers panting crawled: When Plague had fallen on man, and beast, and worm, And Famine; and black blight on herb and tree; And in the corn, and vines, and meadow-grass, Teemed ineradicable poisonous weeds _175 Draining their growth, for my wan breast was dry With grief; and the thin air, my breath, was stained With the contagion of a mother's hate Breathed on her child's destroyer; ay, I heard Thy curse, the which, if thou rememberest not, _180 Yet my innumerable seas and streams, Mountains, and caves, and winds, and yon wide air, And the inarticulate people of the dead, Preserve, a treasured spell. We meditate In secret joy and hope those dreadful words, _185 But dare not speak them. NOTE: _137 And love 1820; And lovest cj. Swinburne. PROMETHEUS: Venerable mother! All else who live and suffer take from thee Some comfort; flowers, and fruits, and happy sounds, And love, though fleeting; these may not be mine. But mine own words, I pray, deny me not. _190 THE EARTH: They shall be told. Ere Babylon was dust, The Magus Zoroaster, my dead child, Met his own image walking in the garden. That apparition, sole of men, he saw. For know there are two worlds of life and death: _195 One that which thou beholdest; but the other Is underneath the grave, where do inhabit The shadows of all forms that think and live Till death unite them and they part no more; Dreams and the light imaginings of men, _200 And all that faith creates or love desires, Terrible, strange, sublime and beauteous shapes. There thou art, and dost hang, a writhing shade, 'Mid whirlwind-peopled mountains; all the gods Are there, and all the powers of nameless worlds, _205 Vast, sceptred phantoms; heroes, men, and beasts; And Demogorgon, a tremendous gloom; And he, the supreme Tyrant, on his throne Of burning gold. Son, one of these shall utter The curse which all remember. Call at will _210 Thine own ghost, or the ghost of Jupiter, Hades or Typhon, or what mightier Gods From all-prolific Evil, since thy ruin, Have sprung, and trampled on my prostrate sons. Ask, and they must reply: so the revenge _215 Of the Supreme may sweep through vacant shades, As rainy wind through the abandoned gate Of a fallen palace. PROMETHEUS: Mother, let not aught Of that which may be evil, pass again My lips, or those of aught resembling me. _220 Phantasm of Jupiter, arise, appear! IONE: My wings are folded o'er mine ears: My wings are crossed o'er mine eyes: Yet through their silver shade appears, And through their lulling plumes arise, _225 A Shape, a throng of sounds; May it be no ill to thee O thou of many wounds! Near whom, for our sweet sister's sake, Ever thus we watch and wake. _230 PANTHEA: The sound is of whirlwind underground, Earthquake, and fire, and mountains cloven; The shape is awful like the sound, Clothed in dark purple, star-inwoven. A sceptre of pale gold _235 To stay steps proud, o'er the slow cloud His veined hand doth hold. Cruel he looks, but calm and strong, Like one who does, not suffers wrong. PHANTASM OF JUPITER: Why have the secret powers of this strange world _240 Driven me, a frail and empty phantom, hither On direst storms? What unaccustomed sounds Are hovering on my lips, unlike the voice With which our pallid race hold ghastly talk In darkness? And, proud sufferer, who art thou? _245 PROMETHEUS: Tremendous Image, as thou art must be He whom thou shadowest forth. I am his foe, The Titan. Speak the words which I would hear, Although no thought inform thine empty voice. THE EARTH: Listen! And though your echoes must be mute, _250 Grey mountains, and old woods, and haunted springs, Prophetic caves, and isle-surrounding streams, Rejoice to hear what yet ye cannot speak. PHANTASM: A spirit seizes me and speaks within: It tears me as fire tears a thunder-cloud. _255 PANTHEA: See, how he lifts his mighty looks, the Heaven Darkens above. IONE: He speaks! O shelter me! PROMETHEUS: I see the curse on gestures proud and cold, And looks of firm defiance, and calm hate, And such despair as mocks itself with smiles, _260 Written as on a scroll: yet speak! Oh, speak! PHANTASM: Fiend, I defy thee! with a calm, fixed mind, All that thou canst inflict I bid thee do; Foul Tyrant both of Gods and Humankind, One only being shalt thou not subdue. _265 Rain then thy plagues upon me here, Ghastly disease, and frenzying fear; And let alternate frost and fire Eat into me, and be thine ire Lightning, and cutting hail, and legioned forms _270 Of furies, driving by upon the wounding storms. Ay, do thy worst. Thou art omnipotent. O'er all things but thyself I gave thee power, And my own will. Be thy swift mischiefs sent To blast mankind, from yon ethereal tower. _275 Let thy malignant spirit move In darkness over those I love: On me and mine I imprecate The utmost torture of thy hate; And thus devote to sleepless agony, _280 This undeclining head while thou must reign on high. But thou, who art the God and Lord: O, thou, Who fillest with thy soul this world of woe, To whom all things of Earth and Heaven do bow In fear and worship: all-prevailing foe! _285 I curse thee! let a sufferer's curse Clasp thee, his torturer, like remorse; Till thine Infinity shall be A robe of envenomed agony; And thine Omnipotence a crown of pain, _290 To cling like burning gold round thy dissolving brain. Heap on thy soul, by virtue of this Curse, Ill deeds, then be thou damned, beholding good; Both infinite as is the universe, And thou, and thy self-torturing solitude. _295 An awful image of calm power Though now thou sittest, let the hour Come, when thou must appear to be That which thou art internally; And after many a false and fruitless crime _300 Scorn track thy lagging fall through boundless space and time. PROMETHEUS: Were these my words, O Parent? THE EARTH: They were thine. PROMETHEUS: It doth repent me: words are quick and vain; Grief for awhile is blind, and so was mine. I wish no living thing to suffer pain. _305 THE EARTH: Misery, Oh misery to me, That Jove at length should vanquish thee. Wail, howl aloud, Land and Sea, The Earth's rent heart shall answer ye. Howl, Spirits of the living and the dead, _310 Your refuge, your defence, lies fallen and vanquished. FIRST ECHO: Lies fallen and vanquished! SECOND ECHO: Fallen and vanquished! IONE: Fear not: 'tis but some passing spasm, The Titan is unvanquished still. _315 But see, where through the azure chasm Of yon forked and snowy hill Trampling the slant winds on high With golden-sandalled feet, that glow Under plumes of purple dye, _320 Like rose-ensanguined ivory, A Shape comes now, Stretching on high from his right hand A serpent-cinctured wand. PANTHEA: 'Tis Jove's world-wandering herald, Mercury. _325 IONE: And who are those with hydra tresses And iron wings that climb the wind, Whom the frowning God represses Like vapours steaming up behind, Clanging loud, an endless crowd-- _330 PANTHEA: These are Jove's tempest-walking hounds, Whom he gluts with groans and blood, When charioted on sulphurous cloud He bursts Heaven's bounds. IONE: Are they now led, from the thin dead _335 On new pangs to be fed? PANTHEA: The Titan looks as ever, firm, not proud. FIRST FURY: Ha! I scent life! SECOND FURY: Let me but look into his eyes! THIRD FURY: The hope of torturing him smells like a heap Of corpses, to a death-bird after battle. _340 FIRST FURY: Darest thou delay, O Herald! take cheer, Hounds Of Hell: what if the Son of Maia soon Should make us food and sport--who can please long The Omnipotent? MERCURY: Back to your towers of iron, And gnash, beside the streams of fire and wail, _345 Your foodless teeth. Geryon, arise! and Gorgon, Chimaera, and thou Sphinx, subtlest of fiends Who ministered to Thebes Heaven's poisoned wine, Unnatural love, and more unnatural hate: These shall perform your task. FIRST FURY: Oh, mercy! mercy! _350 We die with our desire: drive us not back! MERCURY: Crouch then in silence. Awful Sufferer! To thee unwilling, most unwillingly I come, by the great Father's will driven down, To execute a doom of new revenge. _355 Alas! I pity thee, and hate myself That I can do no more: aye from thy sight Returning, for a season, Heaven seems Hell, So thy worn form pursues me night and day, Smiling reproach. Wise art thou, firm and good, _360 But vainly wouldst stand forth alone in strife Against the Omnipotent; as yon clear lamps That measure and divide the weary years From which there is no refuge, long have taught And long must teach. Even now thy Torturer arms _365 With the strange might of unimagined pains The powers who scheme slow agonies in Hell, And my commission is to lead them here, Or what more subtle, foul, or savage fiends People the abyss, and leave them to their task. _370 Be it not so! there is a secret known To thee, and to none else of living things, Which may transfer the sceptre of wide Heaven, The fear of which perplexes the Supreme: Clothe it in words, and bid it clasp his throne _375 In intercession; bend thy soul in prayer, And like a suppliant in some gorgeous fane, Let the will kneel within thy haughty heart: For benefits and meek submission tame The fiercest and the mightiest. PROMETHEUS: Evil minds _380 Change good to their own nature. I gave all He has; and in return he chains me here Years, ages, night and day: whether the Sun Split my parched skin, or in the moony night The crystal-winged snow cling round my hair: _385 Whilst my beloved race is trampled down By his thought-executing ministers. Such is the tyrant's recompense: 'tis just: He who is evil can receive no good; And for a world bestowed, or a friend lost, _390 He can feel hate, fear, shame; not gratitude: He but requites me for his own misdeed. Kindness to such is keen reproach, which breaks With bitter stings the light sleep of Revenge. Submission, thou dost know I cannot try: _395 For what submission but that fatal word, The death-seal of mankind's captivity, Like the Sicilian's hair-suspended sword, Which trembles o'er his crown, would he accept, Or could I yield? Which yet I will not yield. _400 Let others flatter Crime, where it sits throned In brief Omnipotence: secure are they: For Justice, when triumphant, will weep down Pity, not punishment, on her own wrongs, Too much avenged by those who err. I wait, _405 Enduring thus, the retributive hour Which since we spake is even nearer now. But hark, the hell-hounds clamour: fear delay: Behold! Heaven lowers under thy Father's frown. MERCURY: Oh, that we might be spared; I to inflict _410 And thou to suffer! Once more answer me: Thou knowest not the period of Jove's power? PROMETHEUS: I know but this, that it must come. MERCURY: Alas! Thou canst not count thy years to come of pain? PROMETHEUS: They last while Jove must reign: nor more, nor less _415 Do I desire or fear. MERCURY: Yet pause, and plunge Into Eternity, where recorded time, Even all that we imagine, age on age, Seems but a point, and the reluctant mind Flags wearily in its unending flight, _420 Till it sink, dizzy, blind, lost, shelterless; Perchance it has not numbered the slow years Which thou must spend in torture, unreprieved? PROMETHEUS: Perchance no thought can count them, yet they pass. MERCURY: If thou might'st dwell among the Gods the while Lapped in voluptuous joy? _425 PROMETHEUS: I would not quit This bleak ravine, these unrepentant pains. MERCURY: Alas! I wonder at, yet pity thee. PROMETHEUS: Pity the self-despising slaves of Heaven, Not me, within whose mind sits peace serene. _430 As light in the sun, throned: how vain is talk! Call up the fiends. IONE: O, sister, look! White fire Has cloven to the roots yon huge snow-loaded cedar; How fearfully God's thunder howls behind! MERCURY: I must obey his words and thine: alas! _435 Most heavily remorse hangs at my heart! PANTHEA: See where the child of Heaven, with winged feet, Runs down the slanted sunlight of the dawn. IONE: Dear sister, close thy plumes over thine eyes Lest thou behold and die: they come: they come _440 Blackening the birth of day with countless wings, And hollow underneath, like death. FIRST FURY: Prometheus! SECOND FURY: Immortal Titan! THIRD FURY: Champion of Heaven's slaves! PROMETHEUS: He whom some dreadful voice invokes is here, Prometheus, the chained Titan. Horrible forms, _445 What and who are ye? Never yet there came Phantasms so foul through monster-teeming Hell From the all-miscreative brain of Jove; Whilst I behold such execrable shapes, Methinks I grow like what I contemplate, _450 And laugh and stare in loathsome sympathy. FIRST FURY: We are the ministers of pain, and fear, And disappointment, and mistrust, and hate, And clinging crime; and as lean dogs pursue Through wood and lake some struck and sobbing fawn, _455 We track all things that weep, and bleed, and live, When the great King betrays them to our will. PROMETHEUS: Oh! many fearful natures in one name, I know ye; and these lakes and echoes know The darkness and the clangour of your wings. _460 But why more hideous than your loathed selves Gather ye up in legions from the deep? SECOND FURY: We knew not that: Sisters, rejoice, rejoice! PROMETHEUS: Can aught exult in its deformity? SECOND FURY: The beauty of delight makes lovers glad, _465 Gazing on one another: so are we. As from the rose which the pale priestess kneels To gather for her festal crown of flowers The aereal crimson falls, flushing her cheek, So from our victim's destined agony _470 The shade which is our form invests us round, Else we are shapeless as our mother Night. PROMETHEUS: I laugh your power, and his who sent you here, To lowest scorn. Pour forth the cup of pain. FIRST FURY: Thou thinkest we will rend thee bone from bone, _475 And nerve from nerve, working like fire within? PROMETHEUS: Pain is my element, as hate is thine; Ye rend me now; I care not. SECOND FURY: Dost imagine We will but laugh into thy lidless eyes? PROMETHEUS: I weigh not what ye do, but what ye suffer, _480 Being evil. Cruel was the power which called You, or aught else so wretched, into light. THIRD FURY: Thou think'st we will live through thee, one by one, Like animal life, and though we can obscure not The soul which burns within, that we will dwell _485 Beside it, like a vain loud multitude Vexing the self-content of wisest men: That we will be dread thought beneath thy brain, And foul desire round thine astonished heart, And blood within thy labyrinthine veins _490 Crawling like agony? PROMETHEUS: Why, ye are thus now; Yet am I king over myself, and rule The torturing and conflicting throngs within, As Jove rules you when Hell grows mutinous. CHORUS OF FURIES: From the ends of the earth, from the ends of the earth, _495 Where the night has its grave and the morning its birth, Come, come, come! Oh, ye who shake hills with the scream of your mirth, When cities sink howling in ruin; and ye Who with wingless footsteps trample the sea, _500 And close upon Shipwreck and Famine's track, Sit chattering with joy on the foodless wreck; Come, come, come! Leave the bed, low, cold, and red, Strewed beneath a nation dead; _505 Leave the hatred, as in ashes Fire is left for future burning: It will burst in bloodier flashes When ye stir it, soon returning: Leave the self-contempt implanted _510 In young spirits, sense-enchanted, Misery's yet unkindled fuel: Leave Hell's secrets half unchanted To the maniac dreamer; cruel More than ye can be with hate _515 Is he with fear. Come, come, come! We are steaming up from Hell's wide gate And we burthen the blast of the atmosphere, But vainly we toil till ye come here. _520 IONE: Sister, I hear the thunder of new wings. PANTHEA: These solid mountains quiver with the sound Even as the tremulous air: their shadows make The space within my plumes more black than night. FIRST FURY: Your call was as a winged car, _525 Driven on whirlwinds fast and far; It rapped us from red gulfs of war. SECOND FURY: From wide cities, famine-wasted; THIRD FURY: Groans half heard, and blood untasted; FOURTH FURY: Kingly conclaves stern and cold, _530 Where blood with gold is bought and sold; FIFTH FURY: From the furnace, white and hot, In which-- A FURY: Speak not: whisper not: I know all that ye would tell, But to speak might break the spell _535 Which must bend the Invincible, The stern of thought; He yet defies the deepest power of Hell. FURY: Tear the veil! ANOTHER FURY: It is torn. CHORUS: The pale stars of the morn Shine on a misery, dire to be borne. _540 Dost thou faint, mighty Titan? We laugh thee to scorn. Dost thou boast the clear knowledge thou waken'dst for man? Then was kindled within him a thirst which outran Those perishing waters; a thirst of fierce fever, Hope, love, doubt, desire, which consume him for ever. _545 One came forth of gentle worth Smiling on the sanguine earth; His words outlived him, like swift poison Withering up truth, peace, and pity. Look! where round the wide horizon _550 Many a million-peopled city Vomits smoke in the bright air. Mark that outcry of despair! 'Tis his mild and gentle ghost Wailing for the faith he kindled: _555 Look again, the flames almost To a glow-worm's lamp have dwindled: The survivors round the embers Gather in dread. Joy, joy, joy! _560 Past ages crowd on thee, but each one remembers, And the future is dark, and the present is spread Like a pillow of thorns for thy slumberless head. NOTE: _553 Hark B; Mark 1820. SEMICHORUS 1: Drops of bloody agony flow From his white and quivering brow. _565 Grant a little respite now: See a disenchanted nation Springs like day from desolation; To Truth its state is dedicate, And Freedom leads it forth, her mate; _570 A legioned band of linked brothers Whom Love calls children-- SEMICHORUS 2: 'Tis another's: See how kindred murder kin: 'Tis the vintage-time for death and sin: Blood, like new wine, bubbles within: _575 Till Despair smothers The struggling world, which slaves and tyrants win. [ALL THE FURIES VANISH, EXCEPT ONE.] IONE: Hark, sister! what a low yet dreadful groan Quite unsuppressed is tearing up the heart Of the good Titan, as storms tear the deep, _580 And beasts hear the sea moan in inland caves. Darest thou observe how the fiends torture him? PANTHEA: Alas! I looked forth twice, but will no more. IONE: What didst thou see? PANTHEA: A woful sight: a youth With patient looks nailed to a crucifix. _585 IONE: What next? PANTHEA: The heaven around, the earth below Was peopled with thick shapes of human death, All horrible, and wrought by human hands, And some appeared the work of human hearts, For men were slowly killed by frowns and smiles: _590 And other sights too foul to speak and live Were wandering by. Let us not tempt worse fear By looking forth: those groans are grief enough. NOTE: _589 And 1820; Tho' B. FURY: Behold an emblem: those who do endure Deep wrongs for man, and scorn, and chains, but heap _595 Thousand-fold torment on themselves and him. PROMETHEUS: Remit the anguish of that lighted stare; Close those wan lips; let that thorn-wounded brow Stream not with blood; it mingles with thy tears! Fix, fix those tortured orbs in peace and death, _600 So thy sick throes shake not that crucifix, So those pale fingers play not with thy gore. O, horrible! Thy name I will not speak, It hath become a curse. I see, I see The wise, the mild, the lofty, and the just, _605 Whom thy slaves hate for being like to thee, Some hunted by foul lies from their heart's home, An early-chosen, late-lamented home; As hooded ounces cling to the driven hind; Some linked to corpses in unwholesome cells: _610 Some--Hear I not the multitude laugh loud?-- Impaled in lingering fire: and mighty realms Float by my feet, like sea-uprooted isles, Whose sons are kneaded down in common blood By the red light of their own burning homes. _615 FURY: Blood thou canst see, and fire; and canst hear groans; Worse things unheard, unseen, remain behind. PROMETHEUS: Worse? FURY: In each human heart terror survives The ravin it has gorged: the loftiest fear All that they would disdain to think were true: _620 Hypocrisy and custom make their minds The fanes of many a worship, now outworn. They dare not devise good for man's estate, And yet they know not that they do not dare. The good want power, but to weep barren tears. _625 The powerful goodness want: worse need for them. The wise want love; and those who love want wisdom; And all best things are thus confused to ill. Many are strong and rich, and would be just, But live among their suffering fellow-men _630 As if none felt: they know not what they do. NOTE: _619 ravin B, edition 1839; ruin 1820. PROMETHEUS: Thy words are like a cloud of winged snakes; And yet I pity those they torture not. FURY: Thou pitiest them? I speak no more! [VANISHES.] PROMETHEUS: Ah woe! Ah woe! Alas! pain, pain ever, for ever! _635 I close my tearless eyes, but see more clear Thy works within my woe-illumed mind, Thou subtle tyrant! Peace is in the grave. The grave hides all things beautiful and good: I am a God and cannot find it there, _640 Nor would I seek it: for, though dread revenge, This is defeat, fierce king, not victory. The sights with which thou torturest gird my soul With new endurance, till the hour arrives When they shall be no types of things which are. _645 PANTHEA: Alas! what sawest thou more? NOTE: _646 thou more? B; thou? 1820. PROMETHEUS: There are two woes: To speak, and to behold; thou spare me one. Names are there, Nature's sacred watchwords, they Were borne aloft in bright emblazonry; The nations thronged around, and cried aloud, _650 As with one voice, Truth, liberty, and love! Suddenly fierce confusion fell from heaven Among them: there was strife, deceit, and fear: Tyrants rushed in, and did divide the spoil. This was the shadow of the truth I saw. _655 THE EARTH: I felt thy torture, son; with such mixed joy As pain and virtue give. To cheer thy state I bid ascend those subtle and fair spirits, Whose homes are the dim caves of human thought, And who inhabit, as birds wing the wind, _660 Its world-surrounding aether: they behold Beyond that twilight realm, as in a glass, The future: may they speak comfort to thee! PANTHEA: Look, sister, where a troop of spirits gather, Like flocks of clouds in spring's delightful weather, _665 Thronging in the blue air! IONE: And see! more come, Like fountain-vapours when the winds are dumb, That climb up the ravine in scattered lines. And, hark! is it the music of the pines? Is it the lake? Is it the waterfall? _670 PANTHEA: 'Tis something sadder, sweeter far than all. CHORUS OF SPIRITS: From unremembered ages we Gentle guides and guardians be Of heaven-oppressed mortality; And we breathe, and sicken not, _675 The atmosphere of human thought: Be it dim, and dank, and gray, Like a storm-extinguished day, Travelled o'er by dying gleams; Be it bright as all between _680 Cloudless skies and windless streams, Silent, liquid, and serene; As the birds within the wind, As the fish within the wave, As the thoughts of man's own mind _685 Float through all above the grave; We make there our liquid lair, Voyaging cloudlike and unpent Through the boundless element: Thence we bear the prophecy _690 Which begins and ends in thee! NOTE: _687 there B, edition 1839; these 1820. IONE: More yet come, one by one: the air around them Looks radiant as the air around a star. FIRST SPIRIT: On a battle-trumpet's blast I fled hither, fast, fast, fast, _695 'Mid the darkness upward cast. From the dust of creeds outworn, From the tyrant's banner torn, Gathering 'round me, onward borne, There was mingled many a cry-- _700 Freedom! Hope! Death! Victory! Till they faded through the sky; And one sound, above, around, One sound beneath, around, above, Was moving; 'twas the soul of Love; _705 'Twas the hope, the prophecy, Which begins and ends in thee. SECOND SPIRIT: A rainbow's arch stood on the sea, Which rocked beneath, immovably; And the triumphant storm did flee, _710 Like a conqueror, swift and proud, Between, with many a captive cloud, A shapeless, dark and rapid crowd, Each by lightning riven in half: I heard the thunder hoarsely laugh: _715 Mighty fleets were strewn like chaff And spread beneath a hell of death O'er the white waters. I alit On a great ship lightning-split, And speeded hither on the sigh _720 Of one who gave an enemy His plank, then plunged aside to die. THIRD SPIRIT: I sate beside a sage's bed, And the lamp was burning red Near the book where he had fed, _725 When a Dream with plumes of flame, To his pillow hovering came, And I knew it was the same Which had kindled long ago Pity, eloquence, and woe; _730 And the world awhile below Wore the shade, its lustre made. It has borne me here as fleet As Desire's lightning feet: I must ride it back ere morrow, _735 Or the sage will wake in sorrow. FOURTH SPIRIT: On a poet's lips I slept Dreaming like a love-adept In the sound his breathing kept; Nor seeks nor finds he mortal blisses, _740 But feeds on the aereal kisses Of shapes that haunt thought's wildernesses. He will watch from dawn to gloom The lake-reflected sun illume The yellow bees in the ivy-bloom, _745 Nor heed nor see, what things they be; But from these create he can Forms more real than living man, Nurslings of immortality! One of these awakened me, _750 And I sped to succour thee. IONE: Behold'st thou not two shapes from the east and west Come, as two doves to one beloved nest, Twin nurslings of the all-sustaining air On swift still wings glide down the atmosphere? _755 And, hark! their sweet sad voices! 'tis despair Mingled with love and then dissolved in sound. PANTHEA: Canst thou speak, sister? all my words are drowned. IONE: Their beauty gives me voice. See how they float On their sustaining wings of skiey grain, _760 Orange and azure deepening into gold: Their soft smiles light the air like a star's fire. CHORUS OF SPIRITS: Hast thou beheld the form of Love? FIFTH SPIRIT: As over wide dominions I sped, like some swift cloud that wings the wide air's wildernesses, That planet-crested shape swept by on lightning-braided pinions, _765 Scattering the liquid joy of life from his ambrosial tresses: His footsteps paved the world with light; but as I passed 'twas fading, And hollow Ruin yawned behind: great sages bound in madness, And headless patriots, and pale youths who perished, unupbraiding, Gleamed in the night. I wandered o'er, till thou, O King of sadness, _770 Turned by thy smile the worst I saw to recollected gladness. SIXTH SPIRIT: Ah, sister! Desolation is a delicate thing: It walks not on the earth, it floats not on the air, But treads with lulling footstep, and fans with silent wing The tender hopes which in their hearts the best and gentlest bear; _775 Who, soothed to false repose by the fanning plumes above And the music-stirring motion of its soft and busy feet, Dream visions of aereal joy, and call the monster, Love, And wake, and find the shadow Pain, as he whom now we greet. NOTE: _774 lulling B; silent 1820. CHORUS: Though Ruin now Love's shadow be, _780 Following him, destroyingly, On Death's white and winged steed, Which the fleetest cannot flee, Trampling down both flower and weed, Man and beast, and foul and fair, _785 Like a tempest through the air; Thou shalt quell this horseman grim, Woundless though in heart or limb. PROMETHEUS: Spirits! how know ye this shall be? CHORUS: In the atmosphere we breathe, _790 As buds grow red when the snow-storms flee, From Spring gathering up beneath, Whose mild winds shake the elder-brake, And the wandering herdsmen know That the white-thorn soon will blow: _795 Wisdom, Justice, Love, and Peace, When they struggle to increase, Are to us as soft winds be To shepherd boys, the prophecy Which begins and ends in thee. _800 IONE: Where are the Spirits fled? PANTHEA: Only a sense Remains of them, like the omnipotence Of music, when the inspired voice and lute Languish, ere yet the responses are mute, Which through the deep and labyrinthine soul, _805 Like echoes through long caverns, wind and roll. PROMETHEUS: How fair these airborn shapes! and yet I feel Most vain all hope but love; and thou art far, Asia! who, when my being overflowed, Wert like a golden chalice to bright wine _810 Which else had sunk into the thirsty dust. All things are still: alas! how heavily This quiet morning weighs upon my heart; Though I should dream I could even sleep with grief If slumber were denied not. I would fain _815 Be what it is my destiny to be, The saviour and the strength of suffering man, Or sink into the original gulf of things: There is no agony, and no solace left; Earth can console, Heaven can torment no more. _820 PANTHEA: Hast thou forgotten one who watches thee The cold dark night, and never sleeps but when The shadow of thy spirit falls on her? PROMETHEUS: I said all hope was vain but love: thou lovest. PANTHEA: Deeply in truth; but the eastern star looks white, _825 And Asia waits in that far Indian vale, The scene of her sad exile; rugged once And desolate and frozen, like this ravine; But now invested with fair flowers and herbs, And haunted by sweet airs and sounds, which flow _830 Among the woods and waters, from the aether Of her transforming presence, which would fade If it were mingled not with thine. Farewell! END OF ACT 1. ACT 2. SCENE 2.1: MORNING. A LOVELY VALE IN THE INDIAN CAUCASUS. ASIA, ALONE. ASIA: From all the blasts of heaven thou hast descended: Yes, like a spirit, like a thought, which makes Unwonted tears throng to the horny eyes, And beatings haunt the desolated heart, Which should have learnt repose: thou hast descended _5 Cradled in tempests; thou dost wake, O Spring! O child of many winds! As suddenly Thou comest as the memory of a dream, Which now is sad because it hath been sweet; Like genius, or like joy which riseth up _10 As from the earth, clothing with golden clouds The desert of our life. This is the season, this the day, the hour; At sunrise thou shouldst come, sweet sister mine, Too long desired, too long delaying, come! _15 How like death-worms the wingless moments crawl! The point of one white star is quivering still Deep in the orange light of widening morn Beyond the purple mountains: through a chasm Of wind-divided mist the darker lake _20 Reflects it: now it wanes: it gleams again As the waves fade, and as the burning threads Of woven cloud unravel in pale air: 'Tis lost! and through yon peaks of cloud-like snow The roseate sunlight quivers: hear I not _25 The Aeolian music of her sea-green plumes Winnowing the crimson dawn? PANTHEA [ENTERS]: I feel, I see Those eyes which burn through smiles that fade in tears, Like stars half quenched in mists of silver dew. Beloved and most beautiful, who wearest _30 The shadow of that soul by which I live, How late thou art! the sphered sun had climbed The sea; my heart was sick with hope, before The printless air felt thy belated plumes. PANTHEA: Pardon, great Sister! but my wings were faint _35 With the delight of a remembered dream, As are the noontide plumes of summer winds Satiate with sweet flowers. I was wont to sleep Peacefully, and awake refreshed and calm Before the sacred Titan's fall, and thy _40 Unhappy love, had made, through use and pity, Both love and woe familiar to my heart As they had grown to thine: erewhile I slept Under the glaucous caverns of old Ocean Within dim bowers of green and purple moss, _45 Our young Ione's soft and milky arms Locked then, as now, behind my dark, moist hair, While my shut eyes and cheek were pressed within The folded depth of her life-breathing bosom: But not as now, since I am made the wind _50 Which fails beneath the music that I bear Of thy most wordless converse; since dissolved Into the sense with which love talks, my rest Was troubled and yet sweet; my waking hours Too full of care and pain. ASIA: Lift up thine eyes, _55 And let me read thy dream. PANTHEA: As I have said With our sea-sister at his feet I slept. The mountain mists, condensing at our voice Under the moon, had spread their snowy flakes, From the keen ice shielding our linked sleep. _60 Then two dreams came. One, I remember not. But in the other his pale wound-worn limbs Fell from Prometheus, and the azure night Grew radiant with the glory of that form Which lives unchanged within, and his voice fell _65 Like music which makes giddy the dim brain, Faint with intoxication of keen joy: 'Sister of her whose footsteps pave the world With loveliness--more fair than aught but her, Whose shadow thou art--lift thine eyes on me.' _70 I lifted them: the overpowering light Of that immortal shape was shadowed o'er By love; which, from his soft and flowing limbs, And passion-parted lips, and keen, faint eyes, Steamed forth like vaporous fire; an atmosphere _75 Which wrapped me in its all-dissolving power, As the warm ether of the morning sun Wraps ere it drinks some cloud of wandering dew. I saw not, heard not, moved not, only felt His presence flow and mingle through my blood _80 Till it became his life, and his grew mine, And I was thus absorbed, until it passed, And like the vapours when the sun sinks down, Gathering again in drops upon the pines, And tremulous as they, in the deep night _85 My being was condensed; and as the rays Of thought were slowly gathered, I could hear His voice, whose accents lingered ere they died Like footsteps of weak melody: thy name Among the many sounds alone I heard _90 Of what might be articulate; though still I listened through the night when sound was none. Ione wakened then, and said to me: 'Canst thou divine what troubles me to-night? I always knew, what I desired before, _95 Nor ever found delight to wish in vain. But now I cannot tell thee what I seek; I know not; something sweet, since it is sweet Even to desire; it is thy sport, false sister; Thou hast discovered some enchantment old, _100 Whose spells have stolen my spirit as I slept And mingled it with thine: for when just now We kissed, I felt within thy parted lips The sweet air that sustained me, and the warmth Of the life-blood, for loss of which I faint, _105 Quivered between our intertwining arms.' I answered not, for the Eastern star grew pale, But fled to thee. ASIA: Thou speakest, but thy words Are as the air: I feel them not: Oh, lift Thine eyes, that I may read his written soul! _110 PANTHEA: I lift them though they droop beneath the load Of that they would express: what canst thou see But thine own fairest shadow imaged there? ASIA: Thine eyes are like the deep, blue, boundless heaven Contracted to two circles underneath _115 Their long, fine lashes; dark, far, measureless, Orb within orb, and line through line inwoven. PANTHEA: Why lookest thou as if a spirit passed? ASIA: There is a change: beyond their inmost depth I see a shade, a shape: 'tis He, arrayed _120 In the soft light of his own smiles, which spread Like radiance from the cloud-surrounded moon. Prometheus, it is thine! depart not yet! Say not those smiles that we shall meet again Within that bright pavilion which their beams _125 Shall build o'er the waste world? The dream is told. What shape is that between us? Its rude hair Roughens the wind that lifts it, its regard Is wild and quick, yet 'tis a thing of air, For through its gray robe gleams the golden dew _130 Whose stars the noon has quenched not. NOTE: _122 moon B; morn 1820. _126 o'er B; on 1820. DREAM Follow! Follow! PANTHEA: It is mine other dream. ASIA: It disappears. PANTHEA: It passes now into my mind. Methought As we sate here, the flower-infolding buds Burst on yon lightning-blasted almond tree, _135 When swift from the white Scythian wilderness A wind swept forth wrinkling the Earth with frost: I looked, and all the blossoms were blown down; But on each leaf was stamped, as the blue bells Of Hyacinth tell Apollo's written grief, _140 O, FOLLOW, FOLLOW! ASIA: As you speak, your words Fill, pause by pause, my own forgotten sleep With shapes. Methought among these lawns together We wandered, underneath the young gray dawn, And multitudes of dense white fleecy clouds _145 Were wandering in thick flocks along the mountains Shepherded by the slow, unwilling wind; And the white dew on the new-bladed grass, Just piercing the dark earth, hung silently; And there was more which I remember not: _150 But on the shadows of the morning clouds, Athwart the purple mountain slope, was written FOLLOW, O, FOLLOW! as they vanished by; And on each herb, from which Heaven's dew had fallen, The like was stamped, as with a withering fire; _155 A wind arose among the pines; it shook The clinging music from their boughs, and then Low, sweet, faint sounds, like the farewell of ghosts, Were heard: O, FOLLOW, FOLLOW, FOLLOW ME! And then I said, 'Panthea, look on me.' _160 But in the depth of those beloved eyes Still I saw, FOLLOW, FOLLOW! NOTE: _143 these B; the 1820. ECHO: Follow, follow! PANTHEA: The crags, this clear spring morning, mock our voices As they were spirit-tongued. ASIA: It is some being Around the crags. What fine clear sounds! O, list! _165 ECHOES, UNSEEN: Echoes we: listen! We cannot stay: As dew-stars glisten Then fade away-- Child of Ocean! _170 ASIA: Hark! Spirits speak. The liquid responses Of their aereal tongues yet sound. PANTHEA: I hear. ECHOES: Oh, follow, follow, As our voice recedeth Through the caverns hollow, _175 Where the forest spreadeth; [MORE DISTANT.] Oh, follow, follow! Through the caverns hollow, As the song floats thou pursue, Where the wild bee never flew, _180 Through the noontide darkness deep, By the odour-breathing sleep Of faint night-flowers, and the waves At the fountain-lighted caves, While our music, wild and sweet, _185 Mocks thy gently falling feet, Child of Ocean! ASIA: Shall we pursue the sound? It grows more faint And distant. PANTHEA: List! the strain floats nearer now. ECHOES: In the world unknown _190 Sleeps a voice unspoken; By thy step alone Can its rest be broken; Child of Ocean! ASIA: How the notes sink upon the ebbing wind! _195 ECHOES: Oh, follow, follow! Through the caverns hollow, As the song floats thou pursue, By the woodland noontide dew; By the forests, lakes, and fountains, _200 Through the many-folded mountains; To the rents, and gulfs, and chasms, Where the Earth reposed from spasms, On the day when He and thou Parted, to commingle now; _205 Child of Ocean! ASIA: Come, sweet Panthea, link thy hand in mine, And follow, ere the voices fade away. SCENE 2.2: A FOREST, INTERMINGLED WITH ROCKS AND CAVERNS. ASIA AND PANTHEA PASS INTO IT. TWO YOUNG FAUNS ARE SITTING ON A ROCK LISTENING. SEMICHORUS 1 OF SPIRITS: The path through which that lovely twain Have passed, by cedar, pine, and yew, And each dark tree that ever grew, Is curtained out from Heaven's wide blue; Nor sun, nor moon, nor wind, nor rain, _5 Can pierce its interwoven bowers, Nor aught, save where some cloud of dew, Drifted along the earth-creeping breeze, Between the trunks of the hoar trees, Hangs each a pearl in the pale flowers _10 Of the green laurel, blown anew, And bends, and then fades silently, One frail and fair anemone: Or when some star of many a one That climbs and wanders through steep night, _15 Has found the cleft through which alone Beams fall from high those depths upon Ere it is borne away, away, By the swift Heavens that cannot stay, It scatters drops of golden light, _20 Like lines of rain that ne'er unite: And the gloom divine is all around, And underneath is the mossy ground. SEMICHORUS 2: There the voluptuous nightingales, Are awake through all the broad noonday. _25 When one with bliss or sadness fails, And through the windless ivy-boughs, Sick with sweet love, droops dying away On its mate's music-panting bosom; Another from the swinging blossom, _30 Watching to catch the languid close Of the last strain, then lifts on high The wings of the weak melody, Till some new strain of feeling bear The song, and all the woods are mute; _35 When there is heard through the dim air The rush of wings, and rising there Like many a lake-surrounded flute, Sounds overflow the listener's brain So sweet, that joy is almost pain. _40 NOTE: _38 surrounded B, edition 1839; surrounding 1820. SEMICHORUS 1: There those enchanted eddies play Of echoes, music-tongued, which draw, By Demogorgon's mighty law, With melting rapture, or sweet awe, All spirits on that secret way; _45 As inland boats are driven to Ocean Down streams made strong with mountain-thaw: And first there comes a gentle sound To those in talk or slumber bound, And wakes the destined soft emotion,-- _50 Attracts, impels them; those who saw Say from the breathing earth behind There steams a plume-uplifting wind Which drives them on their path, while they Believe their own swift wings and feet _55 The sweet desires within obey: And so they float upon their way, Until, still sweet, but loud and strong, The storm of sound is driven along, Sucked up and hurrying: as they fleet _60 Behind, its gathering billows meet And to the fatal mountain bear Like clouds amid the yielding air. NOTE: _50 destined]destinied 1820. FIRST FAUN: Canst thou imagine where those spirits live Which make such delicate music in the woods? _65 We haunt within the least frequented caves And closest coverts, and we know these wilds, Yet never meet them, though we hear them oft: Where may they hide themselves? SECOND FAUN: 'Tis hard to tell; I have heard those more skilled in spirits say, _70 The bubbles, which the enchantment of the sun Sucks from the pale faint water-flowers that pave The oozy bottom of clear lakes and pools, Are the pavilions where such dwell and float Under the green and golden atmosphere _75 Which noontide kindles through the woven leaves; And when these burst, and the thin fiery air, The which they breathed within those lucent domes, Ascends to flow like meteors through the night, They ride on them, and rein their headlong speed, _80 And bow their burning crests, and glide in fire Under the waters of the earth again. FIRST FAUN: If such live thus, have others other lives, Under pink blossoms or within the bells Of meadow flowers, or folded violets deep, _85 Or on their dying odours, when they die, Or in the sunlight of the sphered dew? NOTE: _86 on 1820; in B. SECOND FAUN: Ay, many more which we may well divine. But should we stay to speak, noontide would come, And thwart Silenus find his goats undrawn, _90 And grudge to sing those wise and lovely songs Of Fate, and Chance, and God, and Chaos old, And Love, and the chained Titan's woful doom, And how he shall be loosed, and make the earth One brotherhood: delightful strains which cheer _95 Our solitary twilights, and which charm To silence the unenvying nightingales. NOTE: _93 doom B, edition 1839; dooms 1820. SCENE 2.3: A PINNACLE OF ROCK AMONG MOUNTAINS. ASIA AND PANTHEA. PANTHEA: Hither the sound has borne us--to the realm Of Demogorgon, and the mighty portal, Like a volcano's meteor-breathing chasm, Whence the oracular vapour is hurled up Which lonely men drink wandering in their youth, _5 And call truth, virtue, love, genius, or joy, That maddening wine of life, whose dregs they drain To deep intoxication; and uplift, Like Maenads who cry loud, Evoe! Evoe! The voice which is contagion to the world. _10 ASIA: Fit throne for such a Power! Magnificent! How glorious art thou, Earth! And if thou be The shadow of some spirit lovelier still, Though evil stain its work, and it should be Like its creation, weak yet beautiful, _15 I could fall down and worship that and thee. Even now my heart adoreth: Wonderful! Look, sister, ere the vapour dim thy brain: Beneath is a wide plain of billowy mist, As a lake, paving in the morning sky, _20 With azure waves which burst in silver light, Some Indian vale. Behold it, rolling on Under the curdling winds, and islanding The peak whereon we stand, midway, around, Encinctured by the dark and blooming forests, _25 Dim twilight-lawns, and stream-illumined caves, And wind-enchanted shapes of wandering mist; And far on high the keen sky-cleaving mountains From icy spires of sun-like radiance fling The dawn, as lifted Ocean's dazzling spray, _30 From some Atlantic islet scattered up, Spangles the wind with lamp-like water-drops. The vale is girdled with their walls, a howl Of cataracts from their thaw-cloven ravines, Satiates the listening wind, continuous, vast, _35 Awful as silence. Hark! the rushing snow! The sun-awakened avalanche! whose mass, Thrice sifted by the storm, had gathered there Flake after flake, in heaven-defying minds As thought by thought is piled, till some great truth _40 Is loosened, and the nations echo round, Shaken to their roots, as do the mountains now. NOTE: _26 illumed B; illumined 1820. PANTHEA: Look how the gusty sea of mist is breaking In crimson foam, even at our feet! it rises As Ocean at the enchantment of the moon _45 Round foodless men wrecked on some oozy isle. ASIA: The fragments of the cloud are scattered up; The wind that lifts them disentwines my hair; Its billows now sweep o'er mine eyes; my brain Grows dizzy; see'st thou shapes within the mist? _50 NOTE: see'st thou B; I see thin 1820; I see 1839. PANTHEA: A countenance with beckoning smiles: there burns An azure fire within its golden locks! Another and another: hark! they speak! SONG OF SPIRITS: To the deep, to the deep, Down, down! _55 Through the shade of sleep, Through the cloudy strife Of Death and of Life; Through the veil and the bar Of things which seem and are _60 Even to the steps of the remotest throne, Down, down! While the sound whirls around, Down, down! As the fawn draws the hound, _65 As the lightning the vapour, As a weak moth the taper; Death, despair; love, sorrow; Time both; to-day, to-morrow; As steel obeys the spirit of the stone, _70 Down, down! Through the gray, void abysm, Down, down! Where the air is no prism, And the moon and stars are not, _75 And the cavern-crags wear not The radiance of Heaven, Nor the gloom to Earth given, Where there is One pervading, One alone, Down, down! _80 In the depth of the deep, Down, down! Like veiled lightning asleep, Like the spark nursed in embers, The last look Love remembers, _85 Like a diamond, which shines On the dark wealth of mines, A spell is treasured but for thee alone. Down, down! We have bound thee, we guide thee; _90 Down, down! With the bright form beside thee; Resist not the weakness, Such strength is in meekness That the Eternal, the Immortal, _95 Must unloose through life's portal The snake-like Doom coiled underneath his throne By that alone. SCENE 2.4: THE CAVE OF DEMOGORGON. ASIA AND PANTHEA. PANTHEA: What veiled form sits on that ebon throne? ASIA: The veil has fallen. PANTHEA: I see a mighty darkness Filling the seat of power, and rays of gloom Dart round, as light from the meridian sun. --Ungazed upon and shapeless; neither limb, _5 Nor form, nor outline; yet we feel it is A living Spirit. DEMOGORGON: Ask what thou wouldst know. ASIA: What canst thou tell? DEMOGORGON: All things thou dar'st demand. ASIA: Who made the living world? DEMOGORGON: God. ASIA: Who made all That it contains? thought, passion, reason, will, _10 Imagination? DEMOGORGON: God: Almighty God. ASIA: Who made that sense which, when the winds of Spring In rarest visitation, or the voice Of one beloved heard in youth alone, Fills the faint eyes with falling tears which dim _15 The radiant looks of unbewailing flowers, And leaves this peopled earth a solitude When it returns no more? DEMOGORGON: Merciful God. ASIA: And who made terror, madness, crime, remorse, Which from the links of the great chain of things, _20 To every thought within the mind of man Sway and drag heavily, and each one reels Under the load towards the pit of death; Abandoned hope, and love that turns to hate; And self-contempt, bitterer to drink than blood; _25 Pain, whose unheeded and familiar speech Is howling, and keen shrieks, day after day; And Hell, or the sharp fear of Hell? DEMOGORGON: He reigns. ASIA: Utter his name: a world pining in pain Asks but his name: curses shall drag him down. _30 DEMOGORGON: He reigns. ASIA: I feel, I know it: who? DEMOGORGON: He reigns. ASIA: Who reigns? There was the Heaven and Earth at first, And Light and Love; then Saturn, from whose throne Time fell, an envious shadow: such the state Of the earth's primal spirits beneath his sway, _35 As the calm joy of flowers and living leaves Before the wind or sun has withered them And semivital worms; but he refused The birthright of their being, knowledge, power, The skill which wields the elements, the thought _40 Which pierces this dim universe like light, Self-empire, and the majesty of love; For thirst of which they fainted. Then Prometheus Gave wisdom, which is strength, to Jupiter, And with this law alone, 'Let man be free,' _45 Clothed him with the dominion of wide Heaven. To know nor faith, nor love, nor law; to be Omnipotent but friendless is to reign; And Jove now reigned; for on the race of man First famine, and then toil, and then disease, _50 Strife, wounds, and ghastly death unseen before, Fell; and the unseasonable seasons drove With alternating shafts of frost and fire, Their shelterless, pale tribes to mountain caves: And in their desert hearts fierce wants he sent, _55 And mad disquietudes, and shadows idle Of unreal good, which levied mutual war, So ruining the lair wherein they raged. Prometheus saw, and waked the legioned hopes Which sleep within folded Elysian flowers, _60 Nepenthe, Moly, Amaranth, fadeless blooms, That they might hide with thin and rainbow wings The shape of Death; and Love he sent to bind The disunited tendrils of that vine Which bears the wine of life, the human heart; _65 And he tamed fire which, like some beast of prey, Most terrible, but lovely, played beneath The frown of man; and tortured to his will Iron and gold, the slaves and signs of power, And gems and poisons, and all subtlest forms _70 Hidden beneath the mountains and the waves. He gave man speech, and speech created thought, Which is the measure of the universe; And Science struck the thrones of earth and heaven, Which shook, but fell not; and the harmonious mind _75 Poured itself forth in all-prophetic song; And music lifted up the listening spirit Until it walked, exempt from mortal care, Godlike, o'er the clear billows of sweet sound; And human hands first mimicked and then mocked, _80 With moulded limbs more lovely than its own, The human form, till marble grew divine; And mothers, gazing, drank the love men see Reflected in their race, behold, and perish. He told the hidden power of herbs and springs, _85 And Disease drank and slept. Death grew like sleep. He taught the implicated orbits woven Of the wide-wandering stars; and how the sun Changes his lair, and by what secret spell The pale moon is transformed, when her broad eye _90 Gazes not on the interlunar sea: He taught to rule, as life directs the limbs, The tempest-winged chariots of the Ocean, And the Celt knew the Indian. Cities then Were built, and through their snow-like columns flowed _95 The warm winds, and the azure ether shone, And the blue sea and shadowy hills were seen. Such, the alleviations of his state, Prometheus gave to man, for which he hangs Withering in destined pain: but who rains down _100 Evil, the immedicable plague, which, while Man looks on his creation like a God And sees that it is glorious, drives him on, The wreck of his own will, the scorn of earth, The outcast, the abandoned, the alone? _105 Not Jove: while yet his frown shook Heaven ay, when His adversary from adamantine chains Cursed him, he trembled like a slave. Declare Who is his master? Is he too a slave? NOTE: _100 rains B, edition 1839; reigns 1820. DEMOGORGON: All spirits are enslaved which serve things evil: _110 Thou knowest if Jupiter be such or no. ASIA: Whom calledst thou God? DEMOGORGON: I spoke but as ye speak, For Jove is the supreme of living things. ASIA: Who is the master of the slave? DEMOGORGON: If the abysm Could vomit forth its secrets...But a voice _115 Is wanting, the deep truth is imageless; For what would it avail to bid thee gaze On the revolving world? What to bid speak Fate, Time, Occasion, Chance and Change? To these All things are subject but eternal Love. _120 ASIA: So much I asked before, and my heart gave The response thou hast given; and of such truths Each to itself must be the oracle. One more demand; and do thou answer me As my own soul would answer, did it know _125 That which I ask. Prometheus shall arise Henceforth the sun of this rejoicing world: When shall the destined hour arrive? DEMOGORGON: Behold! ASIA: The rocks are cloven, and through the purple night I see cars drawn by rainbow-winged steeds _130 Which trample the dim winds: in each there stands A wild-eyed charioteer urging their flight. Some look behind, as fiends pursued them there, And yet I see no shapes but the keen stars: Others, with burning eyes, lean forth, and drink _135 With eager lips the wind of their own speed, As if the thing they loved fled on before, And now, even now, they clasped it. Their bright locks Stream like a comet's flashing hair; they all Sweep onward. DEMOGORGON: These are the immortal Hours, _140 Of whom thou didst demand. One waits for thee. ASIA: A Spirit with a dreadful countenance Checks its dark chariot by the craggy gulf. Unlike thy brethren, ghastly charioteer, Who art thou? Whither wouldst thou bear me? Speak! _145 SPIRIT: I am the shadow of a destiny More dread than is my aspect: ere yon planet Has set, the darkness which ascends with me Shall wrap in lasting night heaven's kingless throne. ASIA: What meanest thou? PANTHEA: That terrible shadow floats _150 Up from its throne, as may the lurid smoke Of earthquake-ruined cities o'er the sea. Lo! it ascends the car; the coursers fly Terrified: watch its path among the stars Blackening the night! ASIA: Thus I am answered: strange! _155 PANTHEA: See, near the verge, another chariot stays; An ivory shell inlaid with crimson fire, Which comes and goes within its sculptured rim Of delicate strange tracery; the young spirit That guides it has the dove-like eyes of hope; _160 How its soft smiles attract the soul! as light Lures winged insects through the lampless air. SPIRIT: My coursers are fed with the lightning, They drink of the whirlwind's stream, And when the red morning is bright'ning _165 They bathe in the fresh sunbeam; They have strength for their swiftness I deem; Then ascend with me, daughter of Ocean. I desire: and their speed makes night kindle; I fear: they outstrip the Typhoon; _170 Ere the cloud piled on Atlas can dwindle We encircle the earth and the moon: We shall rest from long labours at noon: Then ascend with me, daughter of Ocean. SCENE 2.5: THE CAR PAUSES WITHIN A CLOUD ON THE TOP OF A SNOWY MOUNTAIN. ASIA, PANTHEA, AND THE SPIRIT OF THE HOUR. SPIRIT: On the brink of the night and the morning My coursers are wont to respire; But the Earth has just whispered a warning That their flight must be swifter than fire: They shall drink the hot speed of desire! _5 ASIA: Thou breathest on their nostrils, but my breath Would give them swifter speed. SPIRIT: Alas! it could not. PANTHEA: Oh Spirit! pause, and tell whence is the light Which fills this cloud? the sun is yet unrisen. NOTE: _9 this B; the 1820. SPIRIT: The sun will rise not until noon. Apollo _10 Is held in heaven by wonder; and the light Which fills this vapour, as the aereal hue Of fountain-gazing roses fills the water, Flows from thy mighty sister. PANTHEA: Yes, I feel-- ASIA: What is it with thee, sister? Thou art pale. _15 PANTHEA: How thou art changed! I dare not look on thee; I feel but see thee not. I scarce endure The radiance of thy beauty. Some good change Is working in the elements, which suffer Thy presence thus unveiled. The Nereids tell _20 That on the day when the clear hyaline Was cloven at thine uprise, and thou didst stand Within a veined shell, which floated on Over the calm floor of the crystal sea, Among the Aegean isles, and by the shores _25 Which bear thy name; love, like the atmosphere Of the sun's fire filling the living world, Burst from thee, and illumined earth and heaven And the deep ocean and the sunless caves And all that dwells within them; till grief cast _30 Eclipse upon the soul from which it came: Such art thou now; nor is it I alone, Thy sister, thy companion, thine own chosen one, But the whole world which seeks thy sympathy. Hearest thou not sounds i' the air which speak the love _35 Of all articulate beings? Feelest thou not The inanimate winds enamoured of thee? List! NOTE: _22 thine B; thy 1820. [MUSIC.] ASIA: Thy words are sweeter than aught else but his Whose echoes they are; yet all love is sweet, Given or returned. Common as light is love, _40 And its familiar voice wearies not ever. Like the wide heaven, the all-sustaining air, It makes the reptile equal to the God: They who inspire it most are fortunate, As I am now; but those who feel it most _45 Are happier still, after long sufferings, As I shall soon become. PANTHEA: List! Spirits speak. VOICE IN THE AIR, SINGING: Life of Life! thy lips enkindle With their love the breath between them; And thy smiles before they dwindle _50 Make the cold air fire; then screen them In those looks, where whoso gazes Faints, entangled in their mazes. Child of Light! thy limbs are burning Through the vest which seems to hide them; _55 As the radiant lines of morning Through the clouds ere they divide them; And this atmosphere divinest Shrouds thee wheresoe'er thou shinest. Fair are others; none beholds thee, _60 But thy voice sounds low and tender Like the fairest, for it folds thee From the sight, that liquid splendour, And all feel, yet see thee never, As I feel now, lost for ever! _65 Lamp of Earth! where'er thou movest Its dim shapes are clad with brightness, And the souls of whom thou lovest Walk upon the winds with lightness, Till they fail, as I am failing, _70 Dizzy, lost, yet unbewailing! NOTE: _54 limbs B, edition 1839; lips 1820. ASIA: My soul is an enchanted boat, Which, like a sleeping swan, doth float Upon the silver waves of thy sweet singing; And thine doth like an angel sit _75 Beside a helm conducting it, Whilst all the winds with melody are ringing. It seems to float ever, for ever, Upon that many-winding river, Between mountains, woods, abysses, _80 A paradise of wildernesses! Till, like one in slumber bound, Borne to the ocean, I float down, around, Into a sea profound, of ever-spreading sound: Meanwhile thy spirit lifts its pinions _85 In music's most serene dominions; Catching the winds that fan that happy heaven. And we sail on, away, afar, Without a course, without a star, But, by the instinct of sweet music driven; _90 Till through Elysian garden islets By thee most beautiful of pilots, Where never mortal pinnace glided, The boat of my desire is guided: Realms where the air we breathe is love, _95 Which in the winds on the waves doth move, Harmonizing this earth with what we feel above. We have passed Age's icy caves, And Manhood's dark and tossing waves, And Youth's smooth ocean, smiling to betray: _100 Beyond the glassy gulfs we flee Of shadow-peopled Infancy, Through Death and Birth, to a diviner day; A paradise of vaulted bowers, Lit by downward-gazing flowers, _105 And watery paths that wind between Wildernesses calm and green, Peopled by shapes too bright to see, And rest, having beheld; somewhat like thee; Which walk upon the sea, and chant melodiously! _110 NOTE: _96 winds and on B; winds on 1820. END OF ACT 2. ACT 3. SCENE 3.1: HEAVEN. JUPITER ON HIS THRONE; THETIS AND THE OTHER DEITIES ASSEMBLED. JUPITER: Ye congregated powers of heaven, who share The glory and the strength of him ye serve, Rejoice! henceforth I am omnipotent. All else had been subdued to me; alone The soul of man, like unextinguished fire, _5 Yet burns towards heaven with fierce reproach, and doubt, And lamentation, and reluctant prayer, Hurling up insurrection, which might make Our antique empire insecure, though built On eldest faith, and hell's coeval, fear; _10 And though my curses through the pendulous air, Like snow on herbless peaks, fall flake by flake, And cling to it; though under my wrath's night It climbs the crags of life, step after step, Which wound it, as ice wounds unsandalled feet, _15 It yet remains supreme o'er misery, Aspiring, unrepressed, yet soon to fall: Even now have I begotten a strange wonder, That fatal child, the terror of the earth, Who waits but till the destined hour arrive, _20 Bearing from Demogorgon's vacant throne The dreadful might of ever-living limbs Which clothed that awful spirit unbeheld, To redescend, and trample out the spark. Pour forth heaven's wine, Idaean Ganymede, _25 And let it fill the Daedal cups like fire, And from the flower-inwoven soil divine Ye all-triumphant harmonies arise, As dew from earth under the twilight stars: Drink! be the nectar circling through your veins _30 The soul of joy, ye ever-living Gods, Till exultation burst in one wide voice Like music from Elysian winds. And thou Ascend beside me, veiled in the light Of the desire which makes thee one with me, _35 Thetis, bright image of eternity! When thou didst cry, 'Insufferable might! God! Spare me! I sustain not the quick flames, The penetrating presence; all my being, Like him whom the Numidian seps did thaw _40 Into a dew with poison, is dissolved, Sinking through its foundations:' even then Two mighty spirits, mingling, made a third Mightier than either, which, unbodied now, Between us floats, felt, although unbeheld, _45 Waiting the incarnation, which ascends, (Hear ye the thunder of the fiery wheels Griding the winds?) from Demogorgon's throne. Victory! victory! Feel'st thou not, O world, The earthquake of his chariot thundering up _50 Olympus? [THE CAR OF THE HOUR ARRIVES. DEMOGORGON DESCENDS, AND MOVES TOWARDS THE THRONE OF JUPITER.] Awful shape, what art thou? Speak! NOTES: _5 like unextinguished B, edition 1839; like an unextinguished 1820. _13 night B, edition 1839; might 1820. _20 destined B, edition 1839; distant 1820. DEMOGORGON: Eternity. Demand no direr name. Descend, and follow me down the abyss. I am thy child, as thou wert Saturn's child; Mightier than thee: and we must dwell together _55 Henceforth in darkness. Lift thy lightnings not. The tyranny of heaven none may retain, Or reassume, or hold, succeeding thee: Yet if thou wilt, as 'tis the destiny Of trodden worms to writhe till they are dead, _60 Put forth thy might. JUPITER: Detested prodigy! Even thus beneath the deep Titanian prisons I trample thee! thou lingerest? Mercy! mercy! No pity, no release, no respite! Oh, That thou wouldst make mine enemy my judge, _65 Even where he hangs, seared by my long revenge, On Caucasus! he would not doom me thus. Gentle, and just, and dreadless, is he not The monarch of the world? What then art thou? No refuge! no appeal! Sink with me then, _70 We two will sink on the wide waves of ruin, Even as a vulture and a snake outspent Drop, twisted in inextricable fight, Into a shoreless sea. Let hell unlock Its mounded oceans of tempestuous fire, _75 And whelm on them into the bottomless void This desolated world, and thee, and me, The conqueror and the conquered, and the wreck Of that for which they combated. Ai, Ai! The elements obey me not. I sink _80 Dizzily down, ever, for ever, down. And, like a cloud, mine enemy above Darkens my fall with victory! Ai, Ai! NOTE: _69 then B, edition 1839; omitted 1820. SCENE 3.2: THE MOUTH OF A GREAT RIVER IN THE ISLAND ATLANTIS. OCEAN IS DISCOVERED RECLINING NEAR THE SHORE; APOLLO STANDS BESIDE HIM. OCEAN: He fell, thou sayest, beneath his conqueror's frown? APOLLO: Ay, when the strife was ended which made dim The orb I rule, and shook the solid stars, The terrors of his eye illumined heaven With sanguine light, through the thick ragged skirts _5 Of the victorious darkness, as he fell: Like the last glare of day's red agony, Which, from a rent among the fiery clouds, Burns far along the tempest-wrinkled deep. OCEAN: He sunk to the abyss? To the dark void? _10 APOLLO: An eagle so caught in some bursting cloud On Caucasus, his thunder-baffled wings Entangled in the whirlwind, and his eyes Which gazed on the undazzling sun, now blinded By the white lightning, while the ponderous hail _15 Beats on his struggling form, which sinks at length Prone, and the aereal ice clings over it. OCEAN: Henceforth the fields of heaven-reflecting sea Which are my realm, will heave, unstained with blood, Beneath the uplifting winds, like plains of corn _20 Swayed by the summer air; my streams will flow Round many-peopled continents, and round Fortunate isles; and from their glassy thrones Blue Proteus and his humid nymphs shall mark The shadow of fair ships, as mortals see _25 The floating bark of the light-laden moon With that white star, its sightless pilot's crest, Borne down the rapid sunset's ebbing sea; Tracking their path no more by blood and groans, And desolation, and the mingled voice _30 Of slavery and command; but by the light Of wave-reflected flowers, and floating odours, And music soft, and mild, free, gentle voices, And sweetest music, such as spirits love. NOTES: _22 many-peopled B; many peopled 1820. _26 light-laden B; light laden 1820. APOLLO: And I shall gaze not on the deeds which make _35 My mind obscure with sorrow, as eclipse Darkens the sphere I guide; but list, I hear The small, clear, silver lute of the young Spirit That sits i' the morning star. NOTE: _39 i' the B, edition 1839; on the 1820. OCEAN: Thou must away; Thy steeds will pause at even, till when farewell: _40 The loud deep calls me home even now to feed it With azure calm out of the emerald urns Which stand for ever full beside my throne. Behold the Nereids under the green sea, Their wavering limbs borne on the wind-like stream, _45 Their white arms lifted o'er their streaming hair With garlands pied and starry sea-flower crowns, Hastening to grace their mighty sister's joy. [A SOUND OF WAVES IS HEARD.] It is the unpastured sea hungering for calm. Peace, monster; I come now. Farewell. APOLLO: Farewell. _50 SCENE 3.3: CAUCASUS. PROMETHEUS, HERCULES, IONE, THE EARTH, SPIRITS, ASIA, AND PANTHEA, BORNE IN THE CAR WITH THE SPIRIT OF THE HOUR. HERCULES UNBINDS PROMETHEUS, WHO DESCENDS. HERCULES: Most glorious among Spirits, thus doth strength To wisdom, courage, and long-suffering love, And thee, who art the form they animate, Minister like a slave. PROMETHEUS: Thy gentle words Are sweeter even than freedom long desired _5 And long delayed. Asia, thou light of life, Shadow of beauty unbeheld: and ye, Fair sister nymphs, who made long years of pain Sweet to remember, through your love and care: Henceforth we will not part. There is a cave, _10 All overgrown with trailing odorous plants, Which curtain out the day with leaves and flowers, And paved with veined emerald, and a fountain Leaps in the midst with an awakening sound. From its curved roof the mountain's frozen tears _15 Like snow, or silver, or long diamond spires, Hang downward, raining forth a doubtful light: And there is heard the ever-moving air, Whispering without from tree to tree, and birds, And bees; and all around are mossy seats, _20 And the rough walls are clothed with long soft grass; A simple dwelling, which shall be our own; Where we will sit and talk of time and change, As the world ebbs and flows, ourselves unchanged. What can hide man from mutability? _25 And if ye sigh, then I will smile; and thou, Ione, shalt chant fragments of sea-music, Until I weep, when ye shall smile away The tears she brought, which yet were sweet to shed. We will entangle buds and flowers and beams _30 Which twinkle on the fountain's brim, and make Strange combinations out of common things, Like human babes in their brief innocence; And we will search, with looks and words of love, For hidden thoughts, each lovelier than the last, _35 Our unexhausted spirits; and like lutes Touched by the skill of the enamoured wind, Weave harmonies divine, yet ever new, From difference sweet where discord cannot be; And hither come, sped on the charmed winds, _40 Which meet from all the points of heaven, as bees From every flower aereal Enna feeds, At their known island-homes in Himera, The echoes of the human world, which tell Of the low voice of love, almost unheard, _45 And dove-eyed pity's murmured pain, and music, Itself the echo of the heart, and all That tempers or improves man's life, now free; And lovely apparitions,--dim at first, Then radiant, as the mind, arising bright _50 From the embrace of beauty (whence the forms Of which these are the phantoms) casts on them The gathered rays which are reality-- Shall visit us, the progeny immortal Of Painting, Sculpture, and rapt Poesy, _55 And arts, though unimagined, yet to be. The wandering voices and the shadows these Of all that man becomes, the mediators Of that best worship love, by him and us Given and returned; swift shapes and sounds, which grow _60 More fair and soft as man grows wise and kind, And, veil by veil, evil and error fall: Such virtue has the cave and place around. [TURNING TO THE SPIRIT OF THE HOUR.] For thee, fair Spirit, one toil remains. Ione, Give her that curved shell, which Proteus old _65 Made Asia's nuptial boon, breathing within it A voice to be accomplished, and which thou Didst hide in grass under the hollow rock. IONE: Thou most desired Hour, more loved and lovely Than all thy sisters, this is the mystic shell; _70 See the pale azure fading into silver Lining it with a soft yet glowing light: Looks it not like lulled music sleeping there? SPIRIT: It seems in truth the fairest shell of Ocean: Its sound must be at once both sweet and strange. _75 PROMETHEUS: Go, borne over the cities of mankind On whirlwind-footed coursers: once again Outspeed the sun around the orbed world; And as thy chariot cleaves the kindling air, Thou breathe into the many-folded shell, _80 Loosening its mighty music; it shall be As thunder mingled with clear echoes: then Return; and thou shalt dwell beside our cave. And thou, O Mother Earth!-- THE EARTH: I hear, I feel; Thy lips are on me, and thy touch runs down _85 Even to the adamantine central gloom Along these marble nerves; 'tis life, 'tis joy, And, through my withered, old, and icy frame The warmth of an immortal youth shoots down Circling. Henceforth the many children fair _90 Folded in my sustaining arms; all plants, And creeping forms, and insects rainbow-winged, And birds, and beasts, and fish, and human shapes, Which drew disease and pain from my wan bosom, Draining the poison of despair, shall take _95 And interchange sweet nutriment; to me Shall they become like sister-antelopes By one fair dam, snow-white and swift as wind, Nursed among lilies near a brimming stream. The dew-mists of my sunless sleep shall float _100 Under the stars like balm: night-folded flowers Shall suck unwithering hues in their repose: And men and beasts in happy dreams shall gather Strength for the coming day, and all its joy: And death shall be the last embrace of her _105 Who takes the life she gave, even as a mother, Folding her child, says, 'Leave me not again.' NOTES: _85 their B; thy 1820. _102 unwithering B, edition 1839; unwitting 1820. ASIA: Oh, mother! wherefore speak the name of death? Cease they to love, and move, and breathe, and speak, Who die? THE EARTH: It would avail not to reply: _110 Thou art immortal, and this tongue is known But to the uncommunicating dead. Death is the veil which those who live call life: They sleep, and it is lifted: and meanwhile In mild variety the seasons mild _115 With rainbow-skirted showers, and odorous winds, And long blue meteors cleansing the dull night, And the life-kindling shafts of the keen sun's All-piercing bow, and the dew-mingled rain Of the calm moonbeams, a soft influence mild, _120 Shall clothe the forests and the fields, ay, even The crag-built deserts of the barren deep, With ever-living leaves, and fruits, and flowers. And thou! There is a cavern where my spirit Was panted forth in anguish whilst thy pain _125 Made my heart mad, and those who did inhale it Became mad too, and built a temple there, And spoke, and were oracular, and lured The erring nations round to mutual war, And faithless faith, such as Jove kept with thee; _130 Which breath now rises, as amongst tall weeds A violet's exhalation, and it fills With a serener light and crimson air Intense, yet soft, the rocks and woods around; It feeds the quick growth of the serpent vine, _135 And the dark linked ivy tangling wild, And budding, blown, or odour-faded blooms Which star the winds with points of coloured light, As they rain through them, and bright golden globes Of fruit, suspended in their own green heaven, _140 And through their veined leaves and amber stems The flowers whose purple and translucid bowls Stand ever mantling with aereal dew, The drink of spirits: and it circles round, Like the soft waving wings of noonday dreams, _145 Inspiring calm and happy thoughts, like mine, Now thou art thus restored. This cave is thine. Arise! Appear! [A SPIRIT RISES IN THE LIKENESS OF A WINGED CHILD.] This is my torch-bearer; Who let his lamp out in old time with gazing On eyes from which he kindled it anew _150 With love, which is as fire, sweet daughter mine, For such is that within thine own. Run, wayward, And guide this company beyond the peak Of Bacchic Nysa, Maenad-haunted mountain, And beyond Indus and its tribute rivers, _155 Trampling the torrent streams and glassy lakes With feet unwet, unwearied, undelaying, And up the green ravine, across the vale, Beside the windless and crystalline pool, Where ever lies, on unerasing waves, _160 The image of a temple, built above, Distinct with column, arch, and architrave, And palm-like capital, and over-wrought, And populous with most living imagery, Praxitelean shapes, whose marble smiles _165 Fill the hushed air with everlasting love. It is deserted now, but once it bore Thy name, Prometheus; there the emulous youths Bore to thy honour through the divine gloom The lamp which was thine emblem; even as those _170 Who bear the untransmitted torch of hope Into the grave, across the night of life, As thou hast borne it most triumphantly To this far goal of Time. Depart, farewell. Beside that temple is the destined cave. _175 NOTE: _164 with most B; most with 1820. SCENE 3.4: A FOREST. IN THE BACKGROUND A CAVE. PROMETHEUS, ASIA, PANTHEA, IONE, AND THE SPIRIT OF THE EARTH. IONE: Sister, it is not earthly: how it glides Under the leaves! how on its head there burns A light, like a green star, whose emerald beams Are twined with its fair hair! how, as it moves, The splendour drops in flakes upon the grass! _5 Knowest thou it? PANTHEA: It is the delicate spirit That guides the earth through heaven. From afar The populous constellations call that light The loveliest of the planets; and sometimes It floats along the spray of the salt sea, _10 Or makes its chariot of a foggy cloud, Or walks through fields or cities while men sleep, Or o'er the mountain tops, or down the rivers, Or through the green waste wilderness, as now, Wondering at all it sees. Before Jove reigned _15 It loved our sister Asia, and it came Each leisure hour to drink the liquid light Out of her eyes, for which it said it thirsted As one bit by a dipsas, and with her It made its childish confidence, and told her _20 All it had known or seen, for it saw much, Yet idly reasoned what it saw; and called her-- For whence it sprung it knew not, nor do I-- Mother, dear mother. THE SPIRIT OF THE EARTH [RUNNING TO ASIA]: Mother, dearest mother; May I then talk with thee as I was wont? _25 May I then hide my eyes in thy soft arms, After thy looks have made them tired of joy? May I then play beside thee the long noons, When work is none in the bright silent air? ASIA: I love thee, gentlest being, and henceforth _30 Can cherish thee unenvied: speak, I pray: Thy simple talk once solaced, now delights. SPIRIT OF THE EARTH: Mother, I am grown wiser, though a child Cannot be wise like thee, within this day; And happier too; happier and wiser both. _35 Thou knowest that toads, and snakes, and loathly worms, And venomous and malicious beasts, and boughs That bore ill berries in the woods, were ever An hindrance to my walks o'er the green world: And that, among the haunts of humankind, _40 Hard-featured men, or with proud, angry looks, Or cold, staid gait, or false and hollow smiles, Or the dull sneer of self-loved ignorance, Or other such foul masks, with which ill thoughts Hide that fair being whom we spirits call man; _45 And women too, ugliest of all things evil, (Though fair, even in a world where thou art fair, When good and kind, free and sincere like thee) When false or frowning made me sick at heart To pass them, though they slept, and I unseen. _50 Well, my path lately lay through a great city Into the woody hills surrounding it: A sentinel was sleeping at the gate: When there was heard a sound, so loud, it shook The towers amid the moonlight, yet more sweet _55 Than any voice but thine, sweetest of all; A long, long sound, as it would never end: And all the inhabitants leaped suddenly Out of their rest, and gathered in the streets, Looking in wonder up to Heaven, while yet _60 The music pealed along. I hid myself Within a fountain in the public square, Where I lay like the reflex of the moon Seen in a wave under green leaves; and soon Those ugly human shapes and visages _65 Of which I spoke as having wrought me pain, Passed floating through the air, and fading still Into the winds that scattered them; and those From whom they passed seemed mild and lovely forms After some foul disguise had fallen, and all _70 Were somewhat changed, and after brief surprise And greetings of delighted wonder, all Went to their sleep again: and when the dawn Came, wouldst thou think that toads, and snakes, and efts, Could e'er be beautiful? yet so they were, _75 And that with little change of shape or hue: All things had put their evil nature off: I cannot tell my joy, when o'er a lake, Upon a drooping bough with nightshade twined, I saw two azure halcyons clinging downward _80 And thinning one bright bunch of amber berries, With quick long beaks, and in the deep there lay Those lovely forms imaged as in a sky; So, with my thoughts full of these happy changes, We meet again, the happiest change of all. _85 ASIA: And never will we part, till thy chaste sister Who guides the frozen and inconstant moon Will look on thy more warm and equal light Till her heart thaw like flakes of April snow And love thee. SPIRIT OF THE EARTH: What! as Asia loves Prometheus? _90 ASIA: Peace, wanton, thou art yet not old enough. Think ye by gazing on each other's eyes To multiply your lovely selves, and fill With sphered fires the interlunar air? SPIRIT OF THE EARTH: Nay, mother, while my sister trims her lamp 'Tis hard I should go darkling. _95 ASIA: Listen; look! [THE SPIRIT OF THE HOUR ENTERS.] PROMETHEUS: We feel what thou hast heard and seen: yet speak. SPIRIT OF THE HOUR: Soon as the sound had ceased whose thunder filled The abysses of the sky and the wide earth, There was a change: the impalpable thin air _100 And the all-circling sunlight were transformed, As if the sense of love dissolved in them Had folded itself round the sphered world. My vision then grew clear, and I could see Into the mysteries of the universe: _105 Dizzy as with delight I floated down, Winnowing the lightsome air with languid plumes, My coursers sought their birthplace in the sun, Where they henceforth will live exempt from toil, Pasturing flowers of vegetable fire; _110 And where my moonlike car will stand within A temple, gazed upon by Phidian forms Of thee, and Asia, and the Earth, and me, And you fair nymphs looking the love we feel,-- In memory of the tidings it has borne,-- _115 Beneath a dome fretted with graven flowers, Poised on twelve columns of resplendent stone, And open to the bright and liquid sky. Yoked to it by an amphisbaenic snake The likeness of those winged steeds will mock _120 The flight from which they find repose. Alas, Whither has wandered now my partial tongue When all remains untold which ye would hear? As I have said, I floated to the earth: It was, as it is still, the pain of bliss _125 To move, to breathe, to be. I wandering went Among the haunts and dwellings of mankind, And first was disappointed not to see Such mighty change as I had felt within Expressed in outward things; but soon I looked, _130 And behold, thrones were kingless, and men walked One with the other even as spirits do, None fawned, none trampled; hate, disdain, or fear, Self-love or self-contempt, on human brows No more inscribed, as o'er the gate of hell, _135 'All hope abandon ye who enter here;' None frowned, none trembled, none with eager fear Gazed on another's eye of cold command, Until the subject of a tyrant's will Became, worse fate, the abject of his own, _140 Which spurred him, like an outspent horse, to death. None wrought his lips in truth-entangling lines Which smiled the lie his tongue disdained to speak; None, with firm sneer, trod out in his own heart The sparks of love and hope till there remained _145 Those bitter ashes, a soul self-consumed, And the wretch crept a vampire among men, Infecting all with his own hideous ill; None talked that common, false, cold, hollow talk Which makes the heart deny the "yes" it breathes, _150 Yet question that unmeant hypocrisy With such a self-mistrust as has no name. And women, too, frank, beautiful, and kind As the free heaven which rains fresh light and dew On the wide earth, past; gentle radiant forms, _155 From custom's evil taint exempt and pure; Speaking the wisdom once they could not think, Looking emotions once they feared to feel, And changed to all which once they dared not be, Yet being now, made earth like heaven; nor pride, _160 Nor jealousy, nor envy, nor ill shame, The bitterest of those drops of treasured gall, Spoiled the sweet taste of the nepenthe, love. Thrones, altars, judgement-seats, and prisons; wherein, And beside which, by wretched men were borne _165 Sceptres, tiaras, swords, and chains, and tomes Of reasoned wrong, glozed on by ignorance, Were like those monstrous and barbaric shapes, The ghosts of a no-more-remembered fame, Which, from their unworn obelisks, look forth _170 In triumph o'er the palaces and tombs Of those who were their conquerors: mouldering round, These imaged to the pride of kings and priests A dark yet mighty faith, a power as wide As is the world it wasted, and are now _175 But an astonishment; even so the tools And emblems of its last captivity, Amid the dwellings of the peopled earth, Stand, not o'erthrown, but unregarded now. And those foul shapes, abhorred by god and man,-- _180 Which, under many a name and many a form Strange, savage, ghastly, dark and execrable, Were Jupiter, the tyrant of the world; And which the nations, panic-stricken, served With blood, and hearts broken by long hope, and love _185 Dragged to his altars soiled and garlandless, And slain among men's unreclaiming tears, Flattering the thing they feared, which fear was hate,-- Frown, mouldering fast, o'er their abandoned shrines: The painted veil, by those who were, called life, _190 Which mimicked, as with colours idly spread, All men believed and hoped, is torn aside; The loathsome mask has fallen, the man remains Sceptreless, free, uncircumscribed, but man Equal, unclassed, tribeless, and nationless, _195 Exempt from awe, worship, degree, the king Over himself; just, gentle, wise; but man Passionless?--no, yet free from guilt or pain, Which were, for his will made or suffered them, Nor yet exempt, though ruling them like slaves, _200 From chance, and death, and mutability, The clogs of that which else might oversoar The loftiest star of unascended heaven, Pinnacled dim in the intense inane. NOTES: _121 flight B, edition 1839; light 1820. _173 These B; Those 1820. _187 amid B; among 1820. _192 or B; and 1820. END OF ACT 3. ACT 4. SCENE 4.1: A PART OF THE FOREST NEAR THE CAVE OF PROMETHEUS. PANTHEA AND IONE ARE SLEEPING: THEY AWAKEN GRADUALLY DURING THE FIRST SONG. VOICE OF UNSEEN SPIRITS: The pale stars are gone! For the sun, their swift shepherd, To their folds them compelling, In the depths of the dawn, Hastes, in meteor-eclipsing array, and the flee _5 Beyond his blue dwelling, As fawns flee the leopard. But where are ye? [A TRAIN OF DARK FORMS AND SHADOWS PASSES BY CONFUSEDLY, SINGING.] Here, oh, here: We bear the bier _10 Of the father of many a cancelled year! Spectres we Of the dead Hours be, We bear Time to his tomb in eternity. Strew, oh, strew _15 Hair, not yew! Wet the dusty pall with tears, not dew! Be the faded flowers Of Death's bare bowers Spread on the corpse of the King of Hours! _20 Haste, oh, haste! As shades are chased, Trembling, by day, from heaven's blue waste. We melt away, Like dissolving spray, _25 From the children of a diviner day, With the lullaby Of winds that die On the bosom of their own harmony! IONE: What dark forms were they? _30 PANTHEA: The past Hours weak and gray, With the spoil which their toil Raked together From the conquest but One could foil. IONE: Have they passed? PANTHEA: They have passed; _35 They outspeeded the blast, While 'tis said, they are fled: IONE: Whither, oh, whither? PANTHEA: To the dark, to the past, to the dead. VOICE OF UNSEEN SPIRITS: Bright clouds float in heaven, _40 Dew-stars gleam on earth, Waves assemble on ocean, They are gathered and driven By the storm of delight, by the panic of glee! They shake with emotion, _45 They dance in their mirth. But where are ye? The pine boughs are singing Old songs with new gladness, The billows and fountains _50 Fresh music are flinging, Like the notes of a spirit from land and from sea; The storms mock the mountains With the thunder of gladness. But where are ye? _55 IONE: What charioteers are these? PANTHEA: Where are their chariots? SEMICHORUS OF HOURS: The voice of the Spirits of Air and of Earth Has drawn back the figured curtain of sleep Which covered our being and darkened our birth In the deep. A VOICE: In the deep? SEMICHORUS 2: Oh, below the deep. _60 SEMICHORUS 1: An hundred ages we had been kept Cradled in visions of hate and care, And each one who waked as his brother slept, Found the truth-- SEMICHORUS 2: Worse than his visions were! SEMICHORUS 1: We have heard the lute of Hope in sleep; _65 We have known the voice of Love in dreams; We have felt the wand of Power, and leap-- SEMICHORUS 2: As the billows leap in the morning beams! CHORUS: Weave the dance on the floor of the breeze, Pierce with song heaven's silent light, _70 Enchant the day that too swiftly flees, To check its flight ere the cave of Night. Once the hungry Hours were hounds Which chased the day like a bleeding deer, And it limped and stumbled with many wounds _75 Through the nightly dells of the desert year. But now, oh weave the mystic measure Of music, and dance, and shapes of light, Let the Hours, and the spirits of might and pleasure, Like the clouds and sunbeams, unite-- A VOICE: Unite! _80 PANTHEA: See, where the Spirits of the human mind Wrapped in sweet sounds, as in bright veils, approach. CHORUS OF SPIRITS: We join the throng Of the dance and the song, By the whirlwind of gladness borne along; _85 As the flying-fish leap From the Indian deep, And mix with the sea-birds, half-asleep. CHORUS OF HOURS: Whence come ye, so wild and so fleet, For sandals of lightning are on your feet, _90 And your wings are soft and swift as thought, And your eyes are as love which is veiled not? CHORUS OF SPIRITS: We come from the mind Of human kind Which was late so dusk, and obscene, and blind, _95 Now 'tis an ocean Of clear emotion, A heaven of serene and mighty motion. From that deep abyss Of wonder and bliss, _100 Whose caverns are crystal palaces; From those skiey towers Where Thought's crowned powers Sit watching your dance, ye happy Hours! From the dim recesses _105 Of woven caresses, Where lovers catch ye by your loose tresses; From the azure isles, Where sweet Wisdom smiles, Delaying your ships with her siren wiles. _110 From the temples high Of Man's ear and eye, Roofed over Sculpture and Poesy; From the murmurings Of the unsealed springs _115 Where Science bedews her Daedal wings. Years after years, Through blood, and tears, And a thick hell of hatreds, and hopes, and fears; We waded and flew, _120 And the islets were few Where the bud-blighted flowers of happiness grew. Our feet now, every palm, Are sandalled with calm, And the dew of our wings is a rain of balm; _125 And, beyond our eyes, The human love lies Which makes all it gazes on Paradise. NOTE: _116 her B; his 1820. CHORUS OF SPIRITS AND HOURS: Then weave the web of the mystic measure; From the depths of the sky and the ends of the earth, _130 Come, swift Spirits of might and of pleasure, Fill the dance and the music of mirth, As the waves of a thousand streams rush by To an ocean of splendour and harmony! CHORUS OF SPIRITS: Our spoil is won, _135 Our task is done, We are free to dive, or soar, or run; Beyond and around, Or within the bound Which clips the world with darkness round. _140 We'll pass the eyes Of the starry skies Into the hoar deep to colonize; Death, Chaos, and Night, From the sound of our flight, _145 Shall flee, like mist from a tempest's might. And Earth, Air, and Light, And the Spirit of Might, Which drives round the stars in their fiery flight; And Love, Thought, and Breath, _150 The powers that quell Death, Wherever we soar shall assemble beneath. And our singing shall build In the void's loose field A world for the Spirit of Wisdom to wield; _155 We will take our plan From the new world of man, And our work shall be called the Promethean. CHORUS OF HOURS: Break the dance, and scatter the song; Let some depart, and some remain; _160 SEMICHORUS 1: We, beyond heaven, are driven along: SEMICHORUS 2: Us the enchantments of earth retain: SEMICHORUS 1: Ceaseless, and rapid, and fierce, and free, With the Spirits which build a new earth and sea, And a heaven where yet heaven could never be; _165 SEMICHORUS 2: Solemn, and slow, and serene, and bright, Leading the Day and outspeeding the Night, With the powers of a world of perfect light; SEMICHORUS 1: We whirl, singing loud, round the gathering sphere, Till the trees, and the beasts, and the clouds appear _170 From its chaos made calm by love, not fear. SEMICHORUS 2: We encircle the ocean and mountains of earth, And the happy forms of its death and birth Change to the music of our sweet mirth. CHORUS OF HOURS AND SPIRITS: Break the dance, and scatter the song; _175 Let some depart, and some remain, Wherever we fly we lead along In leashes, like starbeams, soft yet strong, The clouds that are heavy with love's sweet rain. PANTHEA: Ha! they are gone! IONE: Yet feel you no delight _180 From the past sweetness? PANTHEA: As the bare green hill When some soft cloud vanishes into rain, Laughs with a thousand drops of sunny water To the unpavilioned sky! IONE: Even whilst we speak New notes arise. What is that awful sound? _185 PANTHEA: 'Tis the deep music of the rolling world Kindling within the strings of the waved air Aeolian modulations. IONE: Listen too, How every pause is filled with under-notes, Clear, silver, icy, keen awakening tones, _190 Which pierce the sense, and live within the soul, As the sharp stars pierce winter's crystal air And gaze upon themselves within the sea. PANTHEA: But see where through two openings in the forest Which hanging branches overcanopy, _195 And where two runnels of a rivulet, Between the close moss violet-inwoven, Have made their path of melody, like sisters Who part with sighs that they may meet in smiles, Turning their dear disunion to an isle _200 Of lovely grief, a wood of sweet sad thoughts; Two visions of strange radiance float upon The ocean-like enchantment of strong sound, Which flows intenser, keener, deeper yet Under the ground and through the windless air. _205 IONE: I see a chariot like that thinnest boat, In which the Mother of the Months is borne By ebbing light into her western cave, When she upsprings from interlunar dreams; O'er which is curved an orblike canopy _210 Of gentle darkness, and the hills and woods, Distinctly seen through that dusk aery veil, Regard like shapes in an enchanter's glass; Its wheels are solid clouds, azure and gold, Such as the genii of the thunderstorm _215 Pile on the floor of the illumined sea When the sun rushes under it; they roll And move and grow as with an inward wind; Within it sits a winged infant, white Its countenance, like the whiteness of bright snow, _220 Its plumes are as feathers of sunny frost, Its limbs gleam white, through the wind-flowing folds Of its white robe, woof of ethereal pearl. Its hair is white, the brightness of white light Scattered in strings; yet its two eyes are heavens _225 Of liquid darkness, which the Deity Within seems pouring, as a storm is poured From jagged clouds, out of their arrowy lashes, Tempering the cold and radiant air around, With fire that is not brightness; in its hand _230 It sways a quivering moonbeam, from whose point A guiding power directs the chariot's prow Over its wheeled clouds, which as they roll Over the grass, and flowers, and waves, wake sounds, Sweet as a singing rain of silver dew. _235 NOTES: _208 light B; night 1820. _212 aery B; airy 1820. _225 strings B, edition 1839; string 1820. PANTHEA: And from the other opening in the wood Rushes, with loud and whirlwind harmony, A sphere, which is as many thousand spheres, Solid as crystal, yet through all its mass Flow, as through empty space, music and light: _240 Ten thousand orbs involving and involved, Purple and azure, white, and green, and golden, Sphere within sphere; and every space between Peopled with unimaginable shapes, Such as ghosts dream dwell in the lampless deep, _245 Yet each inter-transpicuous, and they whirl Over each other with a thousand motions, Upon a thousand sightless axles spinning, And with the force of self-destroying swiftness, Intensely, slowly, solemnly, roll on, _250 Kindling with mingled sounds, and many tones, Intelligible words and music wild. With mighty whirl the multitudinous orb Grinds the bright brook into an azure mist Of elemental subtlety, like light; _255 And the wild odour of the forest flowers, The music of the living grass and air, The emerald light of leaf-entangled beams Round its intense yet self-conflicting speed, Seem kneaded into one aereal mass _260 Which drowns the sense. Within the orb itself, Pillowed upon its alabaster arms, Like to a child o'erwearied with sweet toil, On its own folded wings, and wavy hair, The Spirit of the Earth is laid asleep, _265 And you can see its little lips are moving, Amid the changing light of their own smiles, Like one who talks of what he loves in dream. NOTE: _242 white and green B; white, green 1820. IONE: 'Tis only mocking the orb's harmony. PANTHEA: And from a star upon its forehead, shoot, _270 Like swords of azure fire, or golden spears With tyrant-quelling myrtle overtwined, Embleming heaven and earth united now, Vast beams like spokes of some invisible wheel Which whirl as the orb whirls, swifter than thought, _275 Filling the abyss with sun-like lightenings, And perpendicular now, and now transverse, Pierce the dark soil, and as they pierce and pass, Make bare the secrets of the earth's deep heart; Infinite mine of adamant and gold, _280 Valueless stones, and unimagined gems, And caverns on crystalline columns poised With vegetable silver overspread; Wells of unfathomed fire, and water springs Whence the great sea, even as a child is fed, _285 Whose vapours clothe earth's monarch mountain-tops With kingly, ermine snow. The beams flash on And make appear the melancholy ruins Of cancelled cycles; anchors, beaks of ships; Planks turned to marble; quivers, helms, and spears, _290 And gorgon-headed targes, and the wheels Of scythed chariots, and the emblazonry Of trophies, standards, and armorial beasts, Round which death laughed, sepulchred emblems Of dead destruction, ruin within ruin! _295 The wrecks beside of many a city vast, Whose population which the earth grew over Was mortal, but not human; see, they lie, Their monstrous works, and uncouth skeletons, Their statues, homes and fanes; prodigious shapes _300 Huddled in gray annihilation, split, Jammed in the hard, black deep; and over these, The anatomies of unknown winged things, And fishes which were isles of living scale, And serpents, bony chains, twisted around _305 The iron crags, or within heaps of dust To which the tortuous strength of their last pangs Had crushed the iron crags; and over these The jagged alligator, and the might Of earth-convulsing behemoth, which once _310 Were monarch beasts, and on the slimy shores, And weed-overgrown continents of earth, Increased and multiplied like summer worms On an abandoned corpse, till the blue globe Wrapped deluge round it like a cloak, and they _315 Yelled, gasped, and were abolished; or some God Whose throne was in a comet, passed, and cried, 'Be not!' And like my words they were no more. NOTES: _274 spokes B, edition 1839; spoke 1820. _276 lightenings B; lightnings 1820. _280 mines B; mine 1820. _282 poised B; poized edition 1839; poured 1820. THE EARTH: The joy, the triumph, the delight, the madness! The boundless, overflowing, bursting gladness, _320 The vaporous exultation not to be confined! Ha! ha! the animation of delight Which wraps me, like an atmosphere of light, And bears me as a cloud is borne by its own wind. THE MOON: Brother mine, calm wanderer, _325 Happy globe of land and air, Some Spirit is darted like a beam from thee, Which penetrates my frozen frame, And passes with the warmth of flame, With love, and odour, and deep melody _330 Through me, through me! THE EARTH: Ha! ha! the caverns of my hollow mountains, My cloven fire-crags, sound-exulting fountains Laugh with a vast and inextinguishable laughter. The oceans, and the deserts, and the abysses, _335 And the deep air's unmeasured wildernesses, Answer from all their clouds and billows, echoing after. They cry aloud as I do. Sceptred curse, Who all our green and azure universe Threatenedst to muffle round with black destruction, sending _340 A solid cloud to rain hot thunderstones, And splinter and knead down my children's bones, All I bring forth, to one void mass battering and blending,-- Until each crag-like tower, and storied column, Palace, and obelisk, and temple solemn, _345 My imperial mountains crowned with cloud, and snow, and fire, My sea-like forests, every blade and blossom Which finds a grave or cradle in my bosom, Were stamped by thy strong hate into a lifeless mire: How art thou sunk, withdrawn, covered, drunk up _350 By thirsty nothing, as the brackish cup Drained by a desert-troop, a little drop for all; And from beneath, around, within, above, Filling thy void annihilation, love Bursts in like light on caves cloven by the thunder-ball. _355 NOTES: _335-_336 the abysses, And 1820, 1839; the abysses Of B. _355 the omitted 1820. THE MOON: The snow upon my lifeless mountains Is loosened into living fountains, My solid oceans flow, and sing and shine: A spirit from my heart bursts forth, It clothes with unexpected birth _360 My cold bare bosom: Oh! it must be thine On mine, on mine! Gazing on thee I feel, I know Green stalks burst forth, and bright flowers grow, And living shapes upon my bosom move: _365 Music is in the sea and air, Winged clouds soar here and there, Dark with the rain new buds are dreaming of: 'Tis love, all love! THE EARTH: It interpenetrates my granite mass, _370 Through tangled roots and trodden clay doth pass Into the utmost leaves and delicatest flowers; Upon the winds, among the clouds 'tis spread, It wakes a life in the forgotten dead, They breathe a spirit up from their obscurest bowers. _375 And like a storm bursting its cloudy prison With thunder, and with whirlwind, has arisen Out of the lampless caves of unimagined being: With earthquake shock and swiftness making shiver Thought's stagnant chaos, unremoved for ever, _380 Till hate, and fear, and pain, light-vanquished shadows, fleeing, Leave Man, who was a many-sided mirror, Which could distort to many a shape of error, This true fair world of things, a sea reflecting love; Which over all his kind, as the sun's heaven _385 Gliding o'er ocean, smooth, serene, and even, Darting from starry depths radiance and life, doth move: Leave Man, even as a leprous child is left, Who follows a sick beast to some warm cleft Of rocks, through which the might of healing springs is poured; _390 Then when it wanders home with rosy smile, Unconscious, and its mother fears awhile It is a spirit, then, weeps on her child restored. Man, oh, not men! a chain of linked thought, Of love and might to be divided not, _395 Compelling the elements with adamantine stress; As the sun rules, even with a tyrant's gaze, The unquiet republic of the maze Of planets, struggling fierce towards heaven's free wilderness. Man, one harmonious soul of many a soul, _400 Whose nature is its own divine control, Where all things flow to all, as rivers to the sea; Familiar acts are beautiful through love; Labour, and pain, and grief, in life's green grove Sport like tame beasts, none knew how gentle they could be! _405 His will, with all mean passions, bad delights, And selfish cares, its trembling satellites, A spirit ill to guide, but mighty to obey, Is as a tempest-winged ship, whose helm Love rules, through waves which dare not overwhelm, _410 Forcing life's wildest shores to own its sovereign sway. All things confess his strength. Through the cold mass Of marble and of colour his dreams pass; Bright threads whence mothers weave the robes their children wear; Language is a perpetual Orphic song, _415 Which rules with Daedal harmony a throng Of thoughts and forms, which else senseless and shapeless were. The lightning is his slave; heaven's utmost deep Gives up her stars, and like a flock of sheep They pass before his eye, are numbered, and roll on! _420 The tempest is his steed, he strides the air; And the abyss shouts from her depth laid bare, Heaven, hast thou secrets? Man unveils me; I have none. NOTE: _387 life B; light 1820. THE MOON: The shadow of white death has passed From my path in heaven at last, _425 A clinging shroud of solid frost and sleep; And through my newly-woven bowers, Wander happy paramours, Less mighty, but as mild as those who keep Thy vales more deep. _430 THE EARTH: As the dissolving warmth of dawn may fold A half unfrozen dew-globe, green, and gold, And crystalline, till it becomes a winged mist, And wanders up the vault of the blue day, Outlives the noon, and on the sun's last ray _435 Hangs o'er the sea, a fleece of fire and amethyst. NOTE: _432 unfrozen B, edition 1839; infrozen 1820. THE MOON: Thou art folded, thou art lying In the light which is undying Of thine own joy, and heaven's smile divine; All suns and constellations shower _440 On thee a light, a life, a power Which doth array thy sphere; thou pourest thine On mine, on mine! THE EARTH: I spin beneath my pyramid of night, Which points into the heavens dreaming delight, _445 Murmuring victorious joy in my enchanted sleep; As a youth lulled in love-dreams faintly sighing, Under the shadow of his beauty lying, Which round his rest a watch of light and warmth doth keep. THE MOON: As in the soft and sweet eclipse, _450 When soul meets soul on lovers' lips, High hearts are calm, and brightest eyes are dull; So when thy shadow falls on me, Then am I mute and still, by thee Covered; of thy love, Orb most beautiful, _455 Full, oh, too full! Thou art speeding round the sun Brightest world of many a one; Green and azure sphere which shinest With a light which is divinest _460 Among all the lamps of Heaven To whom life and light is given; I, thy crystal paramour Borne beside thee by a power Like the polar Paradise, _465 Magnet-like of lovers' eyes; I, a most enamoured maiden Whose weak brain is overladen With the pleasure of her love, Maniac-like around thee move Gazing, an insatiate bride, _470 On thy form from every side Like a Maenad, round the cup Which Agave lifted up In the weird Cadmaean forest. _475 Brother, wheresoe'er thou soarest I must hurry, whirl and follow Through the heavens wide and hollow, Sheltered by the warm embrace Of thy soul from hungry space, _480 Drinking from thy sense and sight Beauty, majesty, and might, As a lover or a chameleon Grows like what it looks upon, As a violet's gentle eye _485 Gazes on the azure sky Until its hue grows like what it beholds, As a gray and watery mist Glows like solid amethyst Athwart the western mountain it enfolds, _490 When the sunset sleeps Upon its snow-- THE EARTH: And the weak day weeps That it should be so. Oh, gentle Moon, the voice of thy delight _495 Falls on me like thy clear and tender light Soothing the seaman, borne the summer night, Through isles for ever calm; Oh, gentle Moon, thy crystal accents pierce The caverns of my pride's deep universe, _500 Charming the tiger joy, whose tramplings fierce Made wounds which need thy balm. PANTHEA: I rise as from a bath of sparkling water, A bath of azure light, among dark rocks, Out of the stream of sound. IONE: Ah me! sweet sister, _505 The stream of sound has ebbed away from us, And you pretend to rise out of its wave, Because your words fall like the clear, soft dew Shaken from a bathing wood-nymph's limbs and hair. PANTHEA: Peace! peace! a mighty Power, which is as darkness, _510 Is rising out of Earth, and from the sky Is showered like night, and from within the air Bursts, like eclipse which had been gathered up Into the pores of sunlight: the bright visions, Wherein the singing spirits rode and shone, _515 Gleam like pale meteors through a watery night. IONE: There is a sense of words upon mine ear. PANTHEA: An universal sound like words: Oh, list! DEMOGORGON: Thou, Earth, calm empire of a happy soul, Sphere of divinest shapes and harmonies, _520 Beautiful orb! gathering as thou dost roll The love which paves thy path along the skies: THE EARTH: I hear: I am as a drop of dew that dies. DEMOGORGON: Thou, Moon, which gazest on the nightly Earth With wonder, as it gazes upon thee; _525 Whilst each to men, and beasts, and the swift birth Of birds, is beauty, love, calm, harmony: THE MOON: I hear: I am a leaf shaken by thee! DEMOGORGON: Ye Kings of suns and stars, Daemons and Gods, Ethereal Dominations, who possess _530 Elysian, windless, fortunate abodes Beyond Heaven's constellated wilderness: A VOICE FROM ABOVE: Our great Republic hears: we are blest, and bless. DEMOGORGON: Ye happy Dead, whom beams of brightest verse Are clouds to hide, not colours to portray, _535 Whether your nature is that universe Which once ye saw and suffered-- A VOICE: FROM BENEATH: Or as they Whom we have left, we change and pass away. DEMOGORGON: Ye elemental Genii, who have homes From man's high mind even to the central stone _540 Of sullen lead; from heaven's star-fretted domes To the dull weed some sea-worm battens on: A CONFUSED VOICE: We hear: thy words waken Oblivion. DEMOGORGON: Spirits, whose homes are flesh; ye beasts and birds, Ye worms and fish; ye living leaves and buds; _545 Lightning and wind; and ye untameable herds, Meteors and mists, which throng air's solitudes:-- NOTE: _547 throng 1820, 1839; cancelled for feed B. A VOICE: Thy voice to us is wind among still woods. DEMOGORGON: Man, who wert once a despot and a slave; A dupe and a deceiver; a decay; _550 A traveller from the cradle to the grave Through the dim night of this immortal day: ALL: Speak: thy strong words may never pass away. DEMOGORGON: This is the day, which down the void abysm At the Earth-born's spell yawns for Heaven's despotism, _555 And Conquest is dragged captive through the deep: Love, from its awful throne of patient power In the wise heart, from the last giddy hour Of dread endurance, from the slippery, steep, And narrow verge of crag-like agony, springs _560 And folds over the world its healing wings. Gentleness, Virtue, Wisdom, and Endurance, These are the seals of that most firm assurance Which bars the pit over Destruction's strength; And if, with infirm hand, Eternity, _565 Mother of many acts and hours, should free The serpent that would clasp her with his length; These are the spells by which to reassume An empire o'er the disentangled doom. To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite; _570 To forgive wrongs darker than death or night; To defy Power, which seems omnipotent; To love, and bear; to hope till Hope creates From its own wreck the thing it contemplates; Neither to change, nor falter, nor repent; _575 This, like thy glory, Titan, is to be Good, great and joyous, beautiful and free; This is alone Life, Joy, Empire, and Victory! NOTES: _559 dread B, edition 1839; dead 1820. _575 falter B, edition 1839; flatter 1820. CANCELLED FRAGMENTS OF "PROMETHEUS UNBOUND". [First printed by Mr. C.D. Locock, "Examination of the Shelley Manuscripts at the Bodleian Library", 1903, pages 33-7.] (following 1._37.) When thou descendst each night with open eyes In torture, for a tyrant seldom sleeps, Thou never; ... ... (following 1._195.) Which thou henceforth art doomed to interweave ... (following the first two words of 1._342.) [Of Hell:] I placed it in his choice to be The crown, or trampled refuse of the world With but one law itself a glorious boon-- I gave-- ... (following 1._707.) SECOND SPIRIT: I leaped on the wings of the Earth-star damp As it rose on the steam of a slaughtered camp-- The sleeping newt heard not our tramp As swift as the wings of fire may pass-- We threaded the points of long thick grass Which hide the green pools of the morass But shook a water-serpent's couch In a cleft skull, of many such The widest; at the meteor's touch The snake did seem to see in dream Thrones and dungeons overthrown Visions how unlike his own... 'Twas the hope the prophecy Which begins and ends in thee ... (following 2.1._110.) Lift up thine eyes Panthea--they pierce they burn PANTHEA: Alas! I am consumed--I melt away The fire is in my heart-- ASIA: Thine eyes burn burn!-- Hide them within thine hair-- PANTHEA: O quench thy lips I sink I perish ASIA: Shelter me now--they burn It is his spirit in their orbs...my life Is ebbing fast--I cannot speak-- PANTHEA: Rest, rest! Sleep death annihilation pain! aught else ... (following 2.4._27.) Or looks which tell that while the lips are calm And the eyes cold, the spirit weeps within Tears like the sanguine sweat of agony; ... UNCANCELLED PASSAGE. (following 2.5._71.) ASIA: You said that spirits spoke, but it was thee Sweet sister, for even now thy curved lips Tremble as if the sound were dying there Not dead PANTHEA: Alas it was Prometheus spoke Within me, and I know it must be so I mixed my own weak nature with his love ...And my thoughts Are like the many forests of a vale Through which the might of whirlwind and of rain Had passed--they rest rest through the evening light As mine do now in thy beloved smile. CANCELLED STAGE DIRECTIONS. (following 1._221.) [THE SOUND BENEATH AS OF EARTHQUAKE AND THE DRIVING OF WHIRLWINDS--THE RAVINE IS SPLIT, AND THE PHANTASM OF JUPITER RISES, SURROUNDED BY HEAVY CLOUDS WHICH DART FORTH LIGHTNING.] (following 1._520.) [ENTER RUSHING BY GROUPS OF HORRIBLE FORMS; THEY SPEAK AS THEY PASS IN CHORUS.] (following 1._552.) [A SHADOW PASSES OVER THE SCENE, AND A PIERCING SHRIEK IS HEARD.] NOTE ON "PROMETHEUS UNBOUND", BY MRS. SHELLEY. On the 12th of March, 1818, Shelley quitted England, never to return. His principal motive was the hope that his health would be improved by a milder climate; he suffered very much during the winter previous to his emigration, and this decided his vacillating purpose. In December, 1817, he had written from Marlow to a friend, saying: 'My health has been materially worse. My feelings at intervals are of a deadly and torpid kind, or awakened to such a state of unnatural and keen excitement that, only to instance the organ of sight, I find the very blades of grass and the boughs of distant trees present themselves to me with microscopic distinctness. Towards evening I sink into a state of lethargy and inanimation, and often remain for hours on the sofa between sleep and waking, a prey to the most painful irritability of thought. Such, with little intermission, is my condition. The hours devoted to study are selected with vigilant caution from among these periods of endurance. It is not for this that I think of travelling to Italy, even if I knew that Italy would relieve me. But I have experienced a decisive pulmonary attack; and although at present it has passed away without any considerable vestige of its existence, yet this symptom sufficiently shows the true nature of my disease to be consumptive. It is to my advantage that this malady is in its nature slow, and, if one is sufficiently alive to its advances, is susceptible of cure from a warm climate. In the event of its assuming any decided shape, IT WOULD BE MY DUTY to go to Italy without delay. It is not mere health, but life, that I should seek, and that not for my own sake--I feel I am capable of trampling on all such weakness; but for the sake of those to whom my life may be a source of happiness, utility, security, and honour, and to some of whom my death might be all that is the reverse.' In almost every respect his journey to Italy was advantageous. He left behind friends to whom he was attached; but cares of a thousand kinds, many springing from his lavish generosity, crowded round him in his native country, and, except the society of one or two friends, he had no compensation. The climate caused him to consume half his existence in helpless suffering. His dearest pleasure, the free enjoyment of the scenes of Nature, was marred by the same circumstance. He went direct to Italy, avoiding even Paris, and did not make any pause till he arrived at Milan. The first aspect of Italy enchanted Shelley; it seemed a garden of delight placed beneath a clearer and brighter heaven than any he had lived under before. He wrote long descriptive letters during the first year of his residence in Italy, which, as compositions, are the most beautiful in the world, and show how truly he appreciated and studied the wonders of Nature and Art in that divine land. The poetical spirit within him speedily revived with all the power and with more than all the beauty of his first attempts. He meditated three subjects as the groundwork for lyrical dramas. One was the story of Tasso; of this a slight fragment of a song of Tasso remains. The other was one founded on the Book of Job, which he never abandoned in idea, but of which no trace remains among his papers. The third was the "Prometheus Unbound". The Greek tragedians were now his most familiar companions in his wanderings, and the sublime majesty of Aeschylus filled him with wonder and delight. The father of Greek tragedy does not possess the pathos of Sophocles, nor the variety and tenderness of Euripides; the interest on which he founds his dramas is often elevated above human vicissitudes into the mighty passions and throes of gods and demi-gods: such fascinated the abstract imagination of Shelley. We spent a month at Milan, visiting the Lake of Como during that interval. Thence we passed in succession to Pisa, Leghorn, the Baths of Lucca, Venice, Este, Rome, Naples, and back again to Rome, whither we returned early in March, 1819. During all this time Shelley meditated the subject of his drama, and wrote portions of it. Other poems were composed during this interval, and while at the Bagni di Lucca he translated Plato's "Symposium". But, though he diversified his studies, his thoughts centred in the Prometheus. At last, when at Rome, during a bright and beautiful Spring, he gave up his whole time to the composition. The spot selected for his study was, as he mentions in his preface, the mountainous ruins of the Baths of Caracalla. These are little known to the ordinary visitor at Rome. He describes them in a letter, with that poetry and delicacy and truth of description which render his narrated impressions of scenery of unequalled beauty and interest. At first he completed the drama in three acts. It was not till several months after, when at Florence, that he conceived that a fourth act, a sort of hymn of rejoicing in the fulfilment of the prophecies with regard to Prometheus, ought to be added to complete the composition. The prominent feature of Shelley's theory of the destiny of the human species was that evil is not inherent in the system of the creation, but an accident that might be expelled. This also forms a portion of Christianity: God made earth and man perfect, till he, by his fall, 'Brought death into the world and all our woe.' Shelley believed that mankind had only to will that there should be no evil, and there would be none. It is not my part in these Notes to notice the arguments that have been urged against this opinion, but to mention the fact that he entertained it, and was indeed attached to it with fervent enthusiasm. That man could be so perfectionized as to be able to expel evil from his own nature, and from the greater part of the creation, was the cardinal point of his system. And the subject he loved best to dwell on was the image of One warring with the Evil Principle, oppressed not only by it, but by all--even the good, who were deluded into considering evil a necessary portion of humanity; a victim full of fortitude and hope and the spirit of triumph emanating from a reliance in the ultimate omnipotence of Good. Such he had depicted in his last poem, when he made Laon the enemy and the victim of tyrants. He now took a more idealized image of the same subject. He followed certain classical authorities in figuring Saturn as the good principle, Jupiter the usurping evil one, and Prometheus as the regenerator, who, unable to bring mankind back to primitive innocence, used knowledge as a weapon to defeat evil, by leading mankind, beyond the state wherein they are sinless through ignorance, to that in which they are virtuous through wisdom. Jupiter punished the temerity of the Titan by chaining him to a rock of Caucasus, and causing a vulture to devour his still-renewed heart. There was a prophecy afloat in heaven portending the fall of Jove, the secret of averting which was known only to Prometheus; and the god offered freedom from torture on condition of its being communicated to him. According to the mythological story, this referred to the offspring of Thetis, who was destined to be greater than his father. Prometheus at last bought pardon for his crime of enriching mankind with his gifts, by revealing the prophecy. Hercules killed the vulture, and set him free; and Thetis was married to Peleus, the father of Achilles. Shelley adapted the catastrophe of this story to his peculiar views. The son greater than his father, born of the nuptials of Jupiter and Thetis, was to dethrone Evil, and bring back a happier reign than that of Saturn. Prometheus defies the power of his enemy, and endures centuries of torture; till the hour arrives when Jove, blind to the real event, but darkly guessing that some great good to himself will flow, espouses Thetis. At the moment, the Primal Power of the world drives him from his usurped throne, and Strength, in the person of Hercules, liberates Humanity, typified in Prometheus, from the tortures generated by evil done or suffered. Asia, one of the Oceanides, is the wife of Prometheus--she was, according to other mythological interpretations, the same as Venus and Nature. When the benefactor of mankind is liberated, Nature resumes the beauty of her prime, and is united to her husband, the emblem of the human race, in perfect and happy union. In the Fourth Act, the Poet gives further scope to his imagination, and idealizes the forms of creation--such as we know them, instead of such as they appeared to the Greeks. Maternal Earth, the mighty parent, is superseded by the Spirit of the Earth, the guide of our planet through the realms of sky; while his fair and weaker companion and attendant, the Spirit of the Moon, receives bliss from the annihilation of Evil in the superior sphere. Shelley develops, more particularly in the lyrics of this drama, his abstruse and imaginative theories with regard to the Creation. It requires a mind as subtle and penetrating as his own to understand the mystic meanings scattered throughout the poem. They elude the ordinary reader by their abstraction and delicacy of distinction, but they are far from vague. It was his design to write prose metaphysical essays on the nature of Man, which would have served to explain much of what is obscure in his poetry; a few scattered fragments of observations and remarks alone remain. He considered these philosophical views of Mind and Nature to be instinct with the intensest spirit of poetry. More popular poets clothe the ideal with familiar and sensible imagery. Shelley loved to idealize the real--to gift the mechanism of the material universe with a soul and a voice, and to bestow such also on the most delicate and abstract emotions and thoughts of the mind. Sophocles was his great master in this species of imagery. I find in one of his manuscript books some remarks on a line in the "Oedipus Tyrannus", which show at once the critical subtlety of Shelley's mind, and explain his apprehension of those 'minute and remote distinctions of feeling, whether relative to external nature or the living beings which surround us,' which he pronounces, in the letter quoted in the note to the "Revolt of Islam", to comprehend all that is sublime in man. 'In the Greek Shakespeare, Sophocles, we find the image, Pollas d' odous elthonta phrontidos planois: a line of almost unfathomable depth of poetry; yet how simple are the images in which it is arrayed! "Coming to many ways in the wanderings of careful thought." If the words odous and planois had not been used, the line might have been explained in a metaphorical instead of an absolute sense, as we say "WAYS and means," and "wanderings" for error and confusion. But they meant literally paths or roads, such as we tread with our feet; and wanderings, such as a man makes when he loses himself in a desert, or roams from city to city--as Oedipus, the speaker of this verse, was destined to wander, blind and asking charity. What a picture does this line suggest of the mind as a wilderness of intricate paths, wide as the universe, which is here made its symbol; a world within a world which he who seeks some knowledge with respect to what he ought to do searches throughout, as he would search the external universe for some valued thing which was hidden from him upon its surface.' In reading Shelley's poetry, we often find similar verses, resembling, but not imitating the Greek in this species of imagery; for, though he adopted the style, he gifted it with that originality of form and colouring which sprung from his own genius. In the "Prometheus Unbound", Shelley fulfils the promise quoted from a letter in the Note on the "Revolt of Islam". (While correcting the proof-sheets of that poem, it struck me that the poet had indulged in an exaggerated view of the evils of restored despotism; which, however injurious and degrading, were less openly sanguinary than the triumph of anarchy, such as it appeared in France at the close of the last century. But at this time a book, "Scenes of Spanish Life", translated by Lieutenant Crawford from the German of Dr. Huber, of Rostock, fell into my hands. The account of the triumph of the priests and the serviles, after the French invasion of Spain in 1823, bears a strong and frightful resemblance to some of the descriptions of the massacre of the patriots in the "Revolt of Islam".) The tone of the composition is calmer and more majestic, the poetry more perfect as a whole, and the imagination displayed at once more pleasingly beautiful and more varied and daring. The description of the Hours, as they are seen in the cave of Demogorgon, is an instance of this--it fills the mind as the most charming picture--we long to see an artist at work to bring to our view the 'cars drawn by rainbow-winged steeds Which trample the dim winds: in each there stands A wild-eyed charioteer urging their flight. Some look behind, as fiends pursued them there, And yet I see no shapes but the keen stars: Others, with burning eyes, lean forth, and drink With eager lips the wind of their own speed, As if the thing they loved fled on before, And now, even now, they clasped it. Their bright locks Stream like a comet's flashing hair: they all Sweep onward.' Through the whole poem there reigns a sort of calm and holy spirit of love; it soothes the tortured, and is hope to the expectant, till the prophecy is fulfilled, and Love, untainted by any evil, becomes the law of the world. England had been rendered a painful residence to Shelley, as much by the sort of persecution with which in those days all men of liberal opinions were visited, and by the injustice he had lately endured in the Court of Chancery, as by the symptoms of disease which made him regard a visit to Italy as necessary to prolong his life. An exile, and strongly impressed with the feeling that the majority of his countrymen regarded him with sentiments of aversion such as his own heart could experience towards none, he sheltered himself from such disgusting and painful thoughts in the calm retreats of poetry, and built up a world of his own--with the more pleasure, since he hoped to induce some one or two to believe that the earth might become such, did mankind themselves consent. The charm of the Roman climate helped to clothe his thoughts in greater beauty than they had ever worn before. And, as he wandered among the ruins made one with Nature in their decay, or gazed on the Praxitelean shapes that throng the Vatican, the Capitol, and the palaces of Rome, his soul imbibed forms of loveliness which became a portion of itself. There are many passages in the "Prometheus" which show the intense delight he received from such studies, and give back the impression with a beauty of poetical description peculiarly his own. He felt this, as a poet must feel when he satisfies himself by the result of his labours; and he wrote from Rome, 'My "Prometheus Unbound" is just finished, and in a month or two I shall send it. It is a drama, with characters and mechanism of a kind yet unattempted; and I think the execution is better than any of my former attempts.' I may mention, for the information of the more critical reader, that the verbal alterations in this edition of "Prometheus" are made from a list of errata written by Shelley himself. *** THE CENCI. A TRAGEDY IN FIVE ACTS. [Composed at Rome and near Leghorn (Villa Valsovano), May-August 5, 1819; published 1820 (spring) by C. & J. Ollier, London. This edition of two hundred and fifty copies was printed in Italy 'because,' writes Shelley to Peacock, September 21, 1819, 'it costs, with all duties and freightage, about half what it would cost in London.' A Table of Errata in Mrs. Shelley's handwriting is printed by Forman in "The Shelley Library", page 91. A second edition, published by Ollier in 1821 (C.H. Reynell, printer), embodies the corrections indicated in this Table. No manuscript of "The Cenci" is known to exist. Our text follows that of the second edition (1821); variations of the first (Italian) edition, the title-page of which bears date 1819, are given in the footnotes. The text of the "Poetical Works", 1839, 1st and 2nd editions (Mrs. Shelley), follows for the most part that of the editio princeps of 1819.] DEDICATION, TO LEIGH HUNT, ESQ. Mv dear friend-- I inscribe with your name, from a distant country, and after an absence whose months have seemed years, this the latest of my literary efforts. Those writings which I have hitherto published, have been little else than visions which impersonate my own apprehensions of the beautiful and the just. I can also perceive in them the literary defects incidental to youth and impatience; they are dreams of what ought to be, or may be. The drama which I now present to you is a sad reality. I lay aside the presumptuous attitude of an instructor, and am content to paint, with such colours as my own heart furnishes, that which has been. Had I known a person more highly endowed than yourself with all that it becomes a man to possess, I had solicited for this work the ornament of his name. One more gentle, honourable, innocent and brave; one of more exalted toleration for all who do and think evil, and yet himself more free from evil; one who knows better how to receive, and how to confer a benefit, though he must ever confer far more than he can receive; one of simpler, and, in the highest sense of the word, of purer life and manners I never knew: and I had already been fortunate in friendships when your name was added to the list. In that patient and irreconcilable enmity with domestic and political tyranny and imposture which the tenor of your life has illustrated, and which, had I health and talents, should illustrate mine, let us, comforting each other in our task, live and die. All happiness attend you! Your affectionate friend, PERCY B. SHELLEY. Rome, May 29, 1819. THE CENCI. PREFACE. A manuscript was communicated to me during my travels in Italy, which was copied from the archives of the Cenci Palace at Rome, and contains a detailed account of the horrors which ended in the extinction of one of the noblest and richest families of that city during the Pontificate of Clement VIII, in the year 1599. The story is, that an old man having spent his life in debauchery and wickedness, conceived at length an implacable hatred towards his children; which showed itself towards one daughter under the form of an incestuous passion, aggravated by every circumstance of cruelty and violence. This daughter, after long and vain attempts to escape from what she considered a perpetual contamination both of body and mind, at length plotted with her mother-in-law and brother to murder their common tyrant. The young maiden, who was urged to this tremendous deed by an impulse which overpowered its horror, was evidently a most gentle and amiable being, a creature formed to adorn and be admired, and thus violently thwarted from her nature by the necessity of circumstance and opinion. The deed was quickly discovered, and, in spite of the most earnest prayers made to the Pope by the highest persons in Rome, the criminals were put to death. The old man had during his life repeatedly bought his pardon from the Pope for capital crimes of the most enormous and unspeakable kind, at the price of a hundred thousand crowns; the death therefore of his victims can scarcely be accounted for by the love of justice. The Pope, among other motives for severity, probably felt that whoever killed the Count Cenci deprived his treasury of a certain and copious source of revenue. (The Papal Government formerly took the most extraordinary precautions against the publicity of facts which offer so tragical a demonstration of its own wickedness and weakness; so that the communication of the manuscript had become, until very lately, a matter of some difficulty.) Such a story, if told so as to present to the reader all the feelings of those who once acted it, their hopes and fears, their confidences and misgivings, their various interests, passions, and opinions, acting upon and with each other, yet all conspiring to one tremendous end, would be as a light to make apparent some of the most dark and secret caverns of the human heart. On my arrival at Rome I found that the story of the Cenci was a subject not to be mentioned in Italian society without awakening a deep and breathless interest; and that the feelings of the company never failed to incline to a romantic pity for the wrongs, and a passionate exculpation of the horrible deed to which they urged her, who has been mingled two centuries with the common dust. All ranks of people knew the outlines of this history, and participated in the overwhelming interest which it seems to have the magic of exciting in the human heart. I had a copy of Guido's picture of Beatrice which is preserved in the Colonna Palace, and my servant instantly recognized it as the portrait of La Cenci. This national and universal interest which the story produces and has produced for two centuries and among all ranks of people in a great City, where the imagination is kept for ever active and awake, first suggested to me the conception of its fitness for a dramatic purpose. In fact it is a tragedy which has already received, from its capacity of awakening and sustaining the sympathy of men, approbation and success. Nothing remained as I imagined, but to clothe it to the apprehensions of my countrymen in such language and action as would bring it home to their hearts. The deepest and the sublimest tragic compositions, King Lear and the two plays in which the tale of Oedipus is told, were stories which already existed in tradition, as matters of popular belief and interest, before Shakspeare and Sophocles made them familiar to the sympathy of all succeeding generations of mankind. This story of the Cenci is indeed eminently fearful and monstrous: anything like a dry exhibition of it on the stage would be insupportable. The person who would treat such a subject must increase the ideal, and diminish the actual horror of the events, so that the pleasure which arises from the poetry which exists in these tempestuous sufferings and crimes may mitigate the pain of the contemplation of the moral deformity from which they spring. There must also be nothing attempted to make the exhibition subservient to what is vulgarly termed a moral purpose. The highest moral purpose aimed at in the highest species of the drama, is the teaching the human heart, through its sympathies and antipathies, the knowledge of itself; in proportion to the possession of which knowledge, every human being is wise, just, sincere, tolerant and kind. If dogmas can do more, it is well: but a drama is no fit place for the enforcement of them. Undoubtedly, no person can be truly dishonoured by the act of another; and the fit return to make to the most enormous injuries is kindness and forbearance, and a resolution to convert the injurer from his dark passions by peace and love. Revenge, retaliation, atonement, are pernicious mistakes. If Beatrice had thought in this manner she would have been wiser and better; but she would never have been a tragic character: the few whom such an exhibition would have interested, could never have been sufficiently interested for a dramatic purpose, from the want of finding sympathy in their interest among the mass who surround them. It is in the restless and anatomizing casuistry with which men seek the justification of Beatrice, yet feel that she has done what needs justification; it is in the superstitious horror with which they contemplate alike her wrongs and their revenge, that the dramatic character of what she did and suffered, consists. I have endeavoured as nearly as possible to represent the characters as they probably were, and have sought to avoid the error of making them actuated by my own conceptions of right or wrong, false or true: thus under a thin veil converting names and actions of the sixteenth century into cold impersonations of my own mind. They are represented as Catholics, and as Catholics deeply tinged with religion. To a Protestant apprehension there will appear something unnatural in the earnest and perpetual sentiment of the relations between God and men which pervade the tragedy of the Cenci. It will especially be startled at the combination of an undoubting persuasion of the truth of the popular religion with a cool and determined perseverance in enormous guilt. But religion in Italy is not, as in Protestant countries, a cloak to be worn on particular days; or a passport which those who do not wish to be railed at carry with them to exhibit; or a gloomy passion for penetrating the impenetrable mysteries of our being, which terrifies its possessor at the darkness of the abyss to the brink of which it has conducted him. Religion coexists, as it were, in the mind of an Italian Catholic, with a faith in that of which all men have the most certain knowledge. It is interwoven with the whole fabric of life. It is adoration, faith, submission, penitence, blind admiration; not a rule for moral conduct. It has no necessary connection with any one virtue. The most atrocious villain may be rigidly devout, and without any shock to established faith, confess himself to be so. Religion pervades intensely the whole frame of society, and is according to the temper of the mind which it inhabits, a passion, a persuasion, an excuse, a refuge; never a check. Cenci himself built a chapel in the court of his Palace, and dedicated it to St. Thomas the Apostle, and established masses for the peace of his soul. Thus in the first scene of the fourth act Lucretia's design in exposing herself to the consequences of an expostulation with Cenci after having administered the opiate, was to induce him by a feigned tale to confess himself before death; this being esteemed by Catholics as essential to salvation; and she only relinquishes her purpose when she perceives that her perseverance would expose Beatrice to new outrages. I have avoided with great care in writing this play the introduction of what is commonly called mere poetry, and I imagine there will scarcely be found a detached simile or a single isolated description, unless Beatrice's description of the chasm appointed for her father's murder should be judged to be of that nature. (An idea in this speech was suggested by a most sublime passage in "El Purgaterio de San Patricio" of Calderon; the only plagiarism which I have intentionally committed in the whole piece.) In a dramatic composition the imagery and the passion should interpenetrate one another, the former being reserved simply for the full development and illustration of the latter. Imagination is as the immortal God which should assume flesh for the redemption of mortal passion. It is thus that the most remote and the most familiar imagery may alike be fit for dramatic purposes when employed in the illustration of strong feeling, which raises what is low, and levels to the apprehension that which is lofty, casting over all the shadow of its own greatness. In other respects, I have written more carelessly; that is, without an over-fastidious and learned choice of words. In this respect I entirely agree with those modern critics who assert that in order to move men to true sympathy we must use the familiar language of men, and that our great ancestors the ancient English poets are the writers, a study of whom might incite us to do that for our own age which they have done for theirs. But it must be the real language of men in general and not that of any particular class to whose society the writer happens to belong. So much for what I have attempted; I need not be assured that success is a very different matter; particularly for one whose attention has but newly been awakened to the study of dramatic literature. I endeavoured whilst at Rome to observe such monuments of this story as might be accessible to a stranger. The portrait of Beatrice at the Colonna Palace is admirable as a work of art: it was taken by Guido during her confinement in prison. But it is most interesting as a just representation of one of the loveliest specimens of the workmanship of Nature. There is a fixed and pale composure upon the features: she seems sad and stricken down in spirit, yet the despair thus expressed is lightened by the patience of gentleness. Her head is bound with folds of white drapery from which the yellow strings of her golden hair escape, and fall about her neck. The moulding of her face is exquisitely delicate; the eyebrows are distinct and arched: the lips have that permanent meaning of imagination and sensibility which suffering has not repressed and which it seems as if death scarcely could extinguish. Her forehead is large and clear; her eyes, which we are told were remarkable for their vivacity, are swollen with weeping and lustreless, but beautifully tender and serene. In the whole mien there is a simplicity and dignity which, united with her exquisite loveliness and deep sorrow, are inexpressibly pathetic. Beatrice Cenci appears to have been one of those rare persons in whom energy and gentleness dwell together without destroying one another: her nature was simple and profound. The crimes and miseries in which she was an actor and a sufferer are as the mask and the mantle in which circumstances clothed her for her impersonation on the scene of the world. The Cenci Palace is of great extent; and though in part modernized, there yet remains a vast and gloomy pile of feudal architecture in the same state as during the dreadful scenes which are the subject of this tragedy. The Palace is situated in an obscure corner of Rome, near the quarter of the Jews, and from the upper windows you see the immense ruins of Mount Palatine half hidden under their profuse overgrowth of trees. There is a court in one part of the Palace (perhaps that in which Cenci built the Chapel to St. Thomas), supported by granite columns and adorned with antique friezes of fine workmanship, and built up, according to the ancient Italian fashion, with balcony over balcony of open-work. One of the gates of the Palace formed of immense stones and leading through a passage, dark and lofty and opening into gloomy subterranean chambers, struck me particularly. Of the Castle of Petrella, I could obtain no further information than that which is to be found in the manuscript. THE CENCI: A TRAGEDY IN FIVE ACTS. DRAMATIS PERSONAE: COUNT FRANCESCO CENCI. GIACOMO, BERNARDO, HIS SONS. CARDINAL CAMILLO. PRINCE COLONNA. ORSINO, A PRELATE. SAVELLA, THE POPE'S LEGATE. OLIMPIO, MARZIO, ASSASSINS. ANDREA, SERVANT TO CENCI. NOBLES. JUDGES. GUARDS, SERVANTS. LUCRETIA, WIFE OF CENCI AND STEP-MOTHER OF HIS CHILDREN. BEATRICE, HIS DAUGHTER. THE SCENE LIES PRINCIPALLY IN ROME, BUT CHANGES DURING THE FOURTH ACT TO PETRELLA, A CASTLE AMONG THE APULIAN APENNINES. TIME. DURING THE PONTIFICATE OF CLEMENT VIII. ACT 1. SCENE 1.1: AN APARTMENT IN THE CENCI PALACE. ENTER COUNT CENCI AND CARDINAL CAMILLO. CAMILLO: That matter of the murder is hushed up If you consent to yield his Holiness Your fief that lies beyond the Pincian gate.-- It needed all my interest in the conclave To bend him to this point; he said that you _5 Bought perilous impunity with your gold; That crimes like yours if once or twice compounded Enriched the Church, and respited from hell An erring soul which might repent and live: -- But that the glory and the interest _10 Of the high throne he fills, little consist With making it a daily mart of guilt As manifold and hideous as the deeds Which you scarce hide from men's revolted eyes. CENCI: The third of my possessions--let it go! _15 Ay, I once heard the nephew of the Pope Had sent his architect to view the ground, Meaning to build a villa on my vines The next time I compounded with his uncle: I little thought he should outwit me so! _20 Henceforth no witness--not the lamp--shall see That which the vassal threatened to divulge Whose throat is choked with dust for his reward. The deed he saw could not have rated higher Than his most worthless life:--it angers me! _25 Respited me from Hell! So may the Devil Respite their souls from Heaven! No doubt Pope Clement, And his most charitable nephews, pray That the Apostle Peter and the Saints Will grant for their sake that I long enjoy _30 Strength, wealth, and pride, and lust, and length of days Wherein to act the deeds which are the stewards Of their revenue.--But much yet remains To which they show no title. CAMILLO: Oh, Count Cenci! So much that thou mightst honourably live _35 And reconcile thyself with thine own heart And with thy God, and with the offended world. How hideously look deeds of lust and blood Through those snow white and venerable hairs!-- Your children should be sitting round you now, _40 But that you fear to read upon their looks The shame and misery you have written there. Where is your wife? Where is your gentle daughter? Methinks her sweet looks, which make all things else Beauteous and glad, might kill the fiend within you. _45 Why is she barred from all society But her own strange and uncomplaining wrongs? Talk with me, Count,--you know I mean you well. I stood beside your dark and fiery youth Watching its bold and bad career, as men _50 Watch meteors, but it vanished not--I marked Your desperate and remorseless manhood; now Do I behold you in dishonoured age Charged with a thousand unrepented crimes. Yet I have ever hoped you would amend, _55 And in that hope have saved your life three times. CENCI: For which Aldobrandino owes you now My fief beyond the Pincian.--Cardinal, One thing, I pray you, recollect henceforth, And so we shall converse with less restraint. _60 A man you knew spoke of my wife and daughter-- He was accustomed to frequent my house; So the next day HIS wife and daughter came And asked if I had seen him; and I smiled: I think they never saw him any more. _65 CAMILLO: Thou execrable man, beware!-- CENCI: Of thee? Nay, this is idle: --We should know each other. As to my character for what men call crime Seeing I please my senses as I list, And vindicate that right with force or guile, _70 It is a public matter, and I care not If I discuss it with you. I may speak Alike to you and my own conscious heart-- For you give out that you have half reformed me, Therefore strong vanity will keep you silent _75 If fear should not; both will, I do not doubt. All men delight in sensual luxury, All men enjoy revenge; and most exult Over the tortures they can never feel-- Flattering their secret peace with others' pain. _80 But I delight in nothing else. I love The sight of agony, and the sense of joy, When this shall be another's, and that mine. And I have no remorse and little fear, Which are, I think, the checks of other men. _85 This mood has grown upon me, until now Any design my captious fancy makes The picture of its wish, and it forms none But such as men like you would start to know, Is as my natural food and rest debarred _90 Until it be accomplished. CAMILLO: Art thou not Most miserable? CENCI: Why miserable?-- No.--I am what your theologians call Hardened;--which they must be in impudence, So to revile a man's peculiar taste. _95 True, I was happier than I am, while yet Manhood remained to act the thing I thought; While lust was sweeter than revenge; and now Invention palls:--Ay, we must all grow old-- And but that there remains a deed to act _100 Whose horror might make sharp an appetite Duller than mine--I'd do,--I know not what. When I was young I thought of nothing else But pleasure; and I fed on honey sweets: Men, by St. Thomas! cannot live like bees, _105 And I grew tired:--yet, till I killed a foe, And heard his groans, and heard his children's groans, Knew I not what delight was else on earth, Which now delights me little. I the rather Look on such pangs as terror ill conceals, _110 The dry fixed eyeball; the pale, quivering lip, Which tell me that the spirit weeps within Tears bitterer than the bloody sweat of Christ. I rarely kill the body, which preserves, Like a strong prison, the soul within my power, _115 Wherein I feed it with the breath of fear For hourly pain. NOTE: _100 And but that edition 1821; But that editions 1819, 1839. CAMILLO: Hell's most abandoned fiend Did never, in the drunkenness of guilt, Speak to his heart as now you speak to me; I thank my God that I believe you not. _120 [ENTER ANDREA.] ANDREA: My Lord, a gentleman from Salamanca Would speak with you. CENCI: Bid him attend me In the grand saloon. [EXIT ANDREA.] CAMILLO: Farewell; and I will pray Almighty God that thy false, impious words Tempt not his spirit to abandon thee. _125 [EXIT CAMILLO.] CENCI: The third of my possessions! I must use Close husbandry, or gold, the old man's sword, Falls from my withered hand. But yesterday There came an order from the Pope to make Fourfold provision for my cursed sons; _130 Whom I had sent from Rome to Salamanca, Hoping some accident might cut them off; And meaning if I could to starve them there. I pray thee, God, send some quick death upon them! Bernardo and my wife could not be worse _135 If dead and damned:--then, as to Beatrice-- [LOOKING AROUND HIM SUSPICIOUSLY.] I think they cannot hear me at that door; What if they should? And yet I need not speak Though the heart triumphs with itself in words. O, thou most silent air, that shalt not hear _140 What now I think! Thou, pavement, which I tread Towards her chamber,--let your echoes talk Of my imperious step scorning surprise, But not of my intent!--Andrea! NOTES: _131 Whom I had edition 1821; Whom I have editions 1819, 1839. _140 that shalt edition 1821; that shall editions 1819, 1839. [ENTER ANDREA.] ANDREA: My lord? CENCI: Bid Beatrice attend me in her chamber _145 This evening:--no, at midnight and alone. [EXEUNT.] SCENE 1.2: A GARDEN OF THE CENCI PALACE. ENTER BEATRICE AND ORSINO, AS IN CONVERSATION. BEATRICE: Pervert not truth, Orsino. You remember where we held That conversation;--nay, we see the spot Even from this cypress;--two long years are past Since, on an April midnight, underneath _5 The moonlight ruins of Mount Palatine, I did confess to you my secret mind. ORSINO: You said you loved me then. BEATRICE: You are a Priest. Speak to me not of love. ORSINO: I may obtain The dispensation of the Pope to marry. _10 Because I am a Priest do you believe Your image, as the hunter some struck deer, Follows me not whether I wake or sleep? BEATRICE: As I have said, speak to me not of love; Had you a dispensation I have not; _15 Nor will I leave this home of misery Whilst my poor Bernard, and that gentle lady To whom I owe life, and these virtuous thoughts, Must suffer what I still have strength to share. Alas, Orsino! All the love that once _20 I felt for you, is turned to bitter pain. Ours was a youthful contract, which you first Broke, by assuming vows no Pope will loose. And thus I love you still, but holily, Even as a sister or a spirit might; _25 And so I swear a cold fidelity. And it is well perhaps we shall not marry. You have a sly, equivocating vein That suits me not.--Ah, wretched that I am! Where shall I turn? Even now you look on me _30 As you were not my friend, and as if you Discovered that I thought so, with false smiles Making my true suspicion seem your wrong. Ah, no! forgive me; sorrow makes me seem Sterner than else my nature might have been; _35 I have a weight of melancholy thoughts, And they forebode,--but what can they forebode Worse than I now endure? NOTE: _24 And thus editions 1821, 1839; And yet edition 1819. ORSINO: All will be well. Is the petition yet prepared? You know My zeal for all you wish, sweet Beatrice; _40 Doubt not but I will use my utmost skill So that the Pope attend to your complaint. BEATRICE: Your zeal for all I wish;--Ah me, you are cold! Your utmost skill...speak but one word... [ASIDE.] Alas! Weak and deserted creature that I am, _45 Here I stand bickering with my only friend! [TO ORSINO.] This night my father gives a sumptuous feast, Orsino; he has heard some happy news From Salamanca, from my brothers there, And with this outward show of love he mocks _50 His inward hate. 'Tis bold hypocrisy, For he would gladlier celebrate their deaths, Which I have heard him pray for on his knees: Great God! that such a father should be mine! But there is mighty preparation made, _55 And all our kin, the Cenci, will be there, And all the chief nobility of Rome. And he has bidden me and my pale Mother Attire ourselves in festival array. Poor lady! She expects some happy change _60 In his dark spirit from this act; I none. At supper I will give you the petition: Till when--farewell. ORSINO: Farewell. [EXIT BEATRICE.] I know the Pope Will ne'er absolve me from my priestly vow But by absolving me from the revenue _65 Of many a wealthy see; and, Beatrice, I think to win thee at an easier rate. Nor shall he read her eloquent petition: He might bestow her on some poor relation Of his sixth cousin, as he did her sister, _70 And I should be debarred from all access. Then as to what she suffers from her father, In all this there is much exaggeration:-- Old men are testy and will have their way; A man may stab his enemy, or his vassal, _75 And live a free life as to wine or women, And with a peevish temper may return To a dull home, and rate his wife and children; Daughters and wives call this foul tyranny. I shall be well content if on my conscience _80 There rest no heavier sin than what they suffer From the devices of my love--a net From which he shall escape not. Yet I fear Her subtle mind, her awe-inspiring gaze, Whose beams anatomize me nerve by nerve _85 And lay me bare, and make me blush to see My hidden thoughts.--Ah, no! A friendless girl Who clings to me, as to her only hope:-- I were a fool, not less than if a panther Were panic-stricken by the antelope's eye, _90 If she escape me. NOTE: _75 vassal edition 1821; slave edition 1819. [EXIT.] SCENE 1.3: A MAGNIFICENT HALL IN THE CENCI PALACE. A BANQUET. ENTER CENCI, LUCRETIA, BEATRICE, ORSINO, CAMILLO, NOBLES. CENCI: Welcome, my friends and kinsmen; welcome ye, Princes and Cardinals, pillars of the church, Whose presence honours our festivity. I have too long lived like an anchorite, And in my absence from your merry meetings _5 An evil word is gone abroad of me; But I do hope that you, my noble friends, When you have shared the entertainment here, And heard the pious cause for which 'tis given, And we have pledged a health or two together, _10 Will think me flesh and blood as well as you; Sinful indeed, for Adam made all so, But tender-hearted, meek and pitiful. FIRST GUEST: In truth, my Lord, you seem too light of heart, Too sprightly and companionable a man, _15 To act the deeds that rumour pins on you. [TO HIS COMPANION.] I never saw such blithe and open cheer In any eye! SECOND GUEST: Some most desired event, In which we all demand a common joy, Has brought us hither; let us hear it, Count. _20 CENCI: It is indeed a most desired event. If when a parent from a parent's heart Lifts from this earth to the great Father of all A prayer, both when he lays him down to sleep, And when he rises up from dreaming it; _25 One supplication, one desire, one hope, That he would grant a wish for his two sons, Even all that he demands in their regard-- And suddenly beyond his dearest hope It is accomplished, he should then rejoice, _30 And call his friends and kinsmen to a feast, And task their love to grace his merriment,-- Then honour me thus far--for I am he. BEATRICE [TO LUCRETIA]: Great God! How horrible! some dreadful ill Must have befallen my brothers. LUCRETIA: Fear not, child, _35 He speaks too frankly. BEATRICE: Ah! My blood runs cold. I fear that wicked laughter round his eye, Which wrinkles up the skin even to the hair. CENCI: Here are the letters brought from Salamanca; Beatrice, read them to your mother. God! _40 I thank thee! In one night didst thou perform, By ways inscrutable, the thing I sought. My disobedient and rebellious sons Are dead!--Why, dead!--What means this change of cheer? You hear me not, I tell you they are dead; _45 And they will need no food or raiment more: The tapers that did light them the dark way Are their last cost. The Pope, I think, will not Expect I should maintain them in their coffins. Rejoice with me--my heart is wondrous glad. _50 [LUCRETIA SINKS, HALF FAINTING; BEATRICE SUPPORTS HER.] BEATRICE : It is not true!--Dear Lady, pray look up. Had it been true, there is a God in Heaven, He would not live to boast of such a boon. Unnatural man, thou knowest that it is false. CENCI: Ay, as the word of God; whom here I call _55 To witness that I speak the sober truth;-- And whose most favouring Providence was shown Even in the manner of their deaths. For Rocco Was kneeling at the mass, with sixteen others, When the church fell and crushed him to a mummy, _60 The rest escaped unhurt. Cristofano Was stabbed in error by a jealous man, Whilst she he loved was sleeping with his rival; All in the self-same hour of the same night; Which shows that Heaven has special care of me. _65 I beg those friends who love me, that they mark The day a feast upon their calendars. It was the twenty-seventh of December: Ay, read the letters if you doubt my oath. [THE ASSEMBLY APPEARS CONFUSED; SEVERAL OF THE GUESTS RISE.] FIRST GUEST: Oh, horrible! I will depart-- SECOND GUEST: And I.-- THIRD GUEST: No, stay! _70 I do believe it is some jest; though faith! 'Tis mocking us somewhat too solemnly. I think his son has married the Infanta, Or found a mine of gold in El Dorado. 'Tis but to season some such news; stay, stay! _75 I see 'tis only raillery by his smile. CENCI [FILLING A BOWL OF WINE, AND LIFTING IT UP]: Oh, thou bright wine whose purple splendour leaps And bubbles gaily in this golden bowl Under the lamplight, as my spirits do, To hear the death of my accursed sons! _80 Could I believe thou wert their mingled blood, Then would I taste thee like a sacrament, And pledge with thee the mighty Devil in Hell, Who, if a father's curses, as men say, Climb with swift wings after their children's souls, _85 And drag them from the very throne of Heaven, Now triumphs in my triumph!--But thou art Superfluous; I have drunken deep of joy, And I will taste no other wine to-night. Here, Andrea! Bear the bowl around. A GUEST [RISING]: Thou wretch! _90 Will none among this noble company Check the abandoned villain? CAMILLO: For God's sake, Let me dismiss the guests! You are insane, Some ill will come of this. SECOND GUEST: Seize, silence him! FIRST GUEST: I will! THIRD GUEST: And I! CENCI [ADDRESSING THOSE WHO RISE WITH A THREATENING GESTURE]: Who moves? Who speaks? [TURNING TO THE COMPANY.] 'tis nothing, _95 Enjoy yourselves.--Beware! For my revenge Is as the sealed commission of a king That kills, and none dare name the murderer. [THE BANQUET IS BROKEN UP; SEVERAL OF THE GUESTS ARE DEPARTING.] BEATRICE: I do entreat you, go not, noble guests; What, although tyranny and impious hate _100 Stand sheltered by a father's hoary hair? What if 'tis he who clothed us in these limbs Who tortures them, and triumphs? What, if we, The desolate and the dead, were his own flesh, His children and his wife, whom he is bound _105 To love and shelter? Shall we therefore find No refuge in this merciless wide world? O think what deep wrongs must have blotted out First love, then reverence in a child's prone mind, Till it thus vanquish shame and fear! O think! _110 I have borne much, and kissed the sacred hand Which crushed us to the earth, and thought its stroke Was perhaps some paternal chastisement! Have excused much, doubted; and when no doubt Remained, have sought by patience, love, and tears _115 To soften him, and when this could not be I have knelt down through the long sleepless nights And lifted up to God, the Father of all, Passionate prayers: and when these were not heard I have still borne,--until I meet you here, _120 Princes and kinsmen, at this hideous feast Given at my brothers' deaths. Two yet remain, His wife remains and I, whom if ye save not, Ye may soon share such merriment again As fathers make over their children's graves. _125 O Prince Colonna, thou art our near kinsman, Cardinal, thou art the Pope's chamberlain, Camillo, thou art chief justiciary, Take us away! CENCI [HE HAS BEEN CONVERSING WITH CAMILLO DURING THE FIRST PART OF BEATRICE'S SPEECH; HE HEARS THE CONCLUSION, AND NOW ADVANCES]: I hope my good friends here Will think of their own daughters--or perhaps _130 Of their own throats--before they lend an ear To this wild girl. BEATRICE [NOT NOTICING THE WORDS OF CENCI]: Dare no one look on me? None answer? Can one tyrant overbear The sense of many best and wisest men? Or is it that I sue not in some form _135 Of scrupulous law, that ye deny my suit? O God! That I were buried with my brothers! And that the flowers of this departed spring Were fading on my grave! And that my father Were celebrating now one feast for all! _140 NOTE: _132 no edition 1821; not edition 1819. CAMILLO: A bitter wish for one so young and gentle. Can we do nothing? COLONNA: Nothing that I see. Count Cenci were a dangerous enemy: Yet I would second any one. A CARDINAL: And I. CENCI: Retire to your chamber, insolent girl! _145 BEATRICE: Retire thou, impious man! Ay, hide thyself Where never eye can look upon thee more! Wouldst thou have honour and obedience Who art a torturer? Father, never dream, Though thou mayst overbear this company, _150 But ill must come of ill.--Frown not on me! Haste, hide thyself, lest with avenging looks My brothers' ghosts should hunt thee from thy seat! Cover thy face from every living eye, And start if thou but hear a human step: _155 Seek out some dark and silent corner, there, Bow thy white head before offended God, And we will kneel around, and fervently Pray that he pity both ourselves and thee. CENCI: My friends, I do lament this insane girl _160 Has spoilt the mirth of our festivity. Good night, farewell; I will not make you longer Spectators of our dull domestic quarrels. Another time.-- [EXEUNT ALL BUT CENCI AND BEATRICE.] My brain is swimming round; Give me a bowl of wine! [TO BEATRICE.] Thou painted viper! _165 Beast that thou art! Fair and yet terrible! I know a charm shall make thee meek and tame, Now get thee from my sight! [EXIT BEATRICE.] Here, Andrea, Fill up this goblet with Greek wine. I said I would not drink this evening; but I must; _170 For, strange to say, I feel my spirits fail With thinking what I have decreed to do.-- [DRINKING THE WINE.] Be thou the resolution of quick youth Within my veins, and manhood's purpose stern, And age's firm, cold, subtle villainy; _175 As if thou wert indeed my children's blood Which I did thirst to drink! The charm works well; It must be done; it shall be done, I swear! [EXIT.] END OF ACT 1. ACT 2. SCENE 2.1: AN APARTMENT IN THE CENCI PALACE. ENTER LUCRETIA AND BERNARDO. LUCRETIA: Weep not, my gentle boy; he struck but me Who have borne deeper wrongs. In truth, if he Had killed me, he had done a kinder deed. O God Almighty, do Thou look upon us, We have no other friend but only Thee! _5 Yet weep not; though I love you as my own, I am not your true mother. BERNARDO: Oh, more, more, Than ever mother was to any child, That have you been to me! Had he not been My father, do you think that I should weep! _10 LUCRETIA: Alas! Poor boy, what else couldst thou have done? [ENTER BEATRICE.] BEATRICE [IN A HURRIED VOICE]: Did he pass this way? Have you seen him, brother? Ah, no! that is his step upon the stairs; 'Tis nearer now; his hand is on the door; Mother, if I to thee have ever been _15 A duteous child, now save me! Thou, great God, Whose image upon earth a father is, Dost thou indeed abandon me? He comes; The door is opening now; I see his face; He frowns on others, but he smiles on me, _20 Even as he did after the feast last night. [ENTER A SERVANT.] Almighty God, how merciful Thou art! 'Tis but Orsino's servant.--Well, what news? SERVANT: My master bids me say, the Holy Father Has sent back your petition thus unopened. _25 [GIVING A PAPER.] And he demands at what hour 'twere secure To visit you again? LUCRETIA: At the Ave Mary. [EXIT SERVANT.] So, daughter, our last hope has failed. Ah me! How pale you look; you tremble, and you stand Wrapped in some fixed and fearful meditation, _30 As if one thought were over strong for you: Your eyes have a chill glare; O, dearest child! Are you gone mad? If not, pray speak to me. BEATRICE: You see I am not mad: I speak to you. LUCRETIA: You talked of something that your father did _35 After that dreadful feast? Could it be worse Than when he smiled, and cried, 'My sons are dead!' And every one looked in his neighbour's face To see if others were as white as he? At the first word he spoke I felt the blood _40 Rush to my heart, and fell into a trance; And when it passed I sat all weak and wild; Whilst you alone stood up, and with strong words Checked his unnatural pride; and I could see The devil was rebuked that lives in him. _45 Until this hour thus you have ever stood Between us and your father's moody wrath Like a protecting presence; your firm mind Has been our only refuge and defence: What can have thus subdued it? What can now _50 Have given you that cold melancholy look, Succeeding to your unaccustomed fear? BEATRICE: What is it that you say? I was just thinking 'Twere better not to struggle any more. Men, like my father, have been dark and bloody, _55 Yet never--Oh! Before worse comes of it 'Twere wise to die: it ends in that at last. LUCRETIA: Oh, talk not so, dear child! Tell me at once What did your father do or say to you? He stayed not after that accursed feast _60 One moment in your chamber.--Speak to me. BERNARDO: Oh, sister, sister, prithee, speak to us! BEATRICE [SPEAKING VERY SLOWLY, WITH A FORCED CALMNESS]: It was one word, Mother, one little word; One look, one smile. [WILDLY.] Oh! He has trampled me Under his feet, and made the blood stream down _65 My pallid cheeks. And he has given us all Ditch-water, and the fever-stricken flesh Of buffaloes, and bade us eat or starve, And we have eaten.--He has made me look On my beloved Bernardo, when the rust _70 Of heavy chains has gangrened his sweet limbs, And I have never yet despaired--but now! What could I say? [RECOVERING HERSELF.] Ah, no! 'tis nothing new. The sufferings we all share have made me wild: He only struck and cursed me as he passed; _75 He said, he looked, he did;--nothing at all Beyond his wont, yet it disordered me. Alas! I am forgetful of my duty, I should preserve my senses for your sake. LUCRETIA: Nay, Beatrice; have courage, my sweet girl. _80 If any one despairs it should be I Who loved him once, and now must live with him Till God in pity call for him or me. For you may, like your sister, find some husband, And smile, years hence, with children round your knees; _85 Whilst I, then dead, and all this hideous coil Shall be remembered only as a dream. BEATRICE: Talk not to me, dear lady, of a husband. Did you not nurse me when my mother died? Did you not shield me and that dearest boy? _90 And had we any other friend but you In infancy, with gentle words and looks, To win our father not to murder us? And shall I now desert you? May the ghost Of my dead Mother plead against my soul _95 If I abandon her who filled the place She left, with more, even, than a mother's love! BERNARDO: And I am of my sister's mind. Indeed I would not leave you in this wretchedness, Even though the Pope should make me free to live _100 In some blithe place, like others of my age, With sports, and delicate food, and the fresh air. Oh, never think that I will leave you, Mother! LUCRETIA: My dear, dear children! [ENTER CENCI, SUDDENLY.] CENCI: What! Beatrice here! Come hither! [SHE SHRINKS BACK, AND COVERS HER FACE.] Nay, hide not your face, 'tis fair; _105 Look up! Why, yesternight you dared to look With disobedient insolence upon me, Bending a stern and an inquiring brow On what I meant; whilst I then sought to hide That which I came to tell you--but in vain. _110 BEATRICE [WILDLY STAGGERING TOWARDS THE DOOR]: Oh, that the earth would gape! Hide me, O God! CENCI: Then it was I whose inarticulate words Fell from my lips, and who with tottering steps Fled from your presence, as you now from mine. Stay, I command you--from this day and hour _115 Never again, I think, with fearless eye, And brow superior, and unaltered cheek, And that lip made for tenderness or scorn, Shalt thou strike dumb the meanest of mankind; Me least of all. Now get thee to thy chamber! _120 Thou too, loathed image of thy cursed mother, [TO BERNARDO.] Thy milky, meek face makes me sick with hate! [EXEUNT BEATRICE AND BERNARDO.] [ASIDE.] So much has passed between us as must make Me bold, her fearful.--'Tis an awful thing To touch such mischief as I now conceive: _125 So men sit shivering on the dewy bank, And try the chill stream with their feet; once in... How the delighted spirit pants for joy! LUCRETIA [ADVANCING TIMIDLY TOWARDS HIM]: O husband! Pray forgive poor Beatrice. She meant not any ill. CENCI: Nor you perhaps? _130 Nor that young imp, whom you have taught by rote Parricide with his alphabet? Nor Giacomo? Nor those two most unnatural sons, who stirred Enmity up against me with the Pope? Whom in one night merciful God cut off: _135 Innocent lambs! They thought not any ill. You were not here conspiring? You said nothing Of how I might be dungeoned as a madman; Or be condemned to death for some offence, And you would be the witnesses?--This failing, _140 How just it were to hire assassins, or Put sudden poison in my evening drink? Or smother me when overcome by wine? Seeing we had no other judge but God, And He had sentenced me, and there were none _145 But you to be the executioners Of His decree enregistered in heaven? Oh, no! You said not this? LUCRETIA: So help me God, I never thought the things you charge me with! CENCI: If you dare to speak that wicked lie again _150 I'll kill you. What! It was not by your counsel That Beatrice disturbed the feast last night? You did not hope to stir some enemies Against me, and escape, and laugh to scorn What every nerve of you now trembles at? _155 You judged that men were bolder than they are; Few dare to stand between their grave and me. LUCRETIA: Look not so dreadfully! By my salvation I knew not aught that Beatrice designed; Nor do I think she designed any thing _160 Until she heard you talk of her dead brothers. CENCI: Blaspheming liar! You are damned for this! But I will take you where you may persuade The stones you tread on to deliver you: For men shall there be none but those who dare _165 All things--not question that which I command. On Wednesday next I shall set out: you know That savage rock, the Castle of Petrella: 'Tis safely walled, and moated round about: Its dungeons underground, and its thick towers _170 Never told tales; though they have heard and seen What might make dumb things speak.--Why do you linger? Make speediest preparation for the journey! [EXIT LUCRETIA.] The all-beholding sun yet shines; I hear A busy stir of men about the streets; _175 I see the bright sky through the window panes: It is a garish, broad, and peering day; Loud, light, suspicious, full of eyes and ears, And every little corner, nook, and hole Is penetrated with the insolent light. _180 Come darkness! Yet, what is the day to me? And wherefore should I wish for night, who do A deed which shall confound both night and day? 'Tis she shall grope through a bewildering mist Of horror: if there be a sun in heaven _185 She shall not dare to look upon its beams; Nor feel its warmth. Let her then wish for night; The act I think shall soon extinguish all For me: I bear a darker deadlier gloom Than the earth's shade, or interlunar air, _190 Or constellations quenched in murkiest cloud, In which I walk secure and unbeheld Towards my purpose.--Would that it were done! [EXIT.] SCENE 2.2: A CHAMBER IN THE VATICAN. ENTER CAMILLO AND GIACOMO, IN CONVERSATION. CAMILLO: There is an obsolete and doubtful law By which you might obtain a bare provision Of food and clothing-- GIACOMO: Nothing more? Alas! Bare must be the provision which strict law Awards, and aged, sullen avarice pays. _5 Why did my father not apprentice me To some mechanic trade? I should have then Been trained in no highborn necessities Which I could meet not by my daily toil. The eldest son of a rich nobleman _10 Is heir to all his incapacities; He has wide wants, and narrow powers. If you, Cardinal Camillo, were reduced at once From thrice-driven beds of down, and delicate food, An hundred servants, and six palaces, _15 To that which nature doth indeed require?-- CAMILLO: Nay, there is reason in your plea; 'twere hard. GIACOMO: 'Tis hard for a firm man to bear: but I Have a dear wife, a lady of high birth, Whose dowry in ill hour I lent my father _20 Without a bond or witness to the deed: And children, who inherit her fine senses, The fairest creatures in this breathing world; And she and they reproach me not. Cardinal, Do you not think the Pope would interpose _25 And stretch authority beyond the law? CAMILLO: Though your peculiar case is hard, I know The Pope will not divert the course of law. After that impious feast the other night I spoke with him, and urged him then to check _30 Your father's cruel hand; he frowned and said, 'Children are disobedient, and they sting Their fathers' hearts to madness and despair, Requiting years of care with contumely. I pity the Count Cenci from my heart; _35 His outraged love perhaps awakened hate, And thus he is exasperated to ill. In the great war between the old and young I, who have white hairs and a tottering body, Will keep at least blameless neutrality.' _40 [ENTER ORSINO.] You, my good Lord Orsino, heard those words. ORSINO: What words? GIACOMO: Alas, repeat them not again! There then is no redress for me, at least None but that which I may achieve myself, Since I am driven to the brink.--But, say, _45 My innocent sister and my only brother Are dying underneath my father's eye. The memorable torturers of this land, Galeaz Visconti, Borgia, Ezzelin, Never inflicted on their meanest slave _50 What these endure; shall they have no protection? CAMILLO: Why, if they would petition to the Pope I see not how he could refuse it--yet He holds it of most dangerous example In aught to weaken the paternal power, _55 Being, as 'twere, the shadow of his own. I pray you now excuse me. I have business That will not bear delay. [EXIT CAMILLO.] GIACOMO: But you, Orsino, Have the petition: wherefore not present it? ORSINO: I have presented it, and backed it with _60 My earnest prayers, and urgent interest; It was returned unanswered. I doubt not But that the strange and execrable deeds Alleged in it--in truth they might well baffle Any belief--have turned the Pope's displeasure _65 Upon the accusers from the criminal: So I should guess from what Camillo said. GIACOMO: My friend, that palace-walking devil Gold Has whispered silence to his Holiness: And we are left, as scorpions ringed with fire. _70 What should we do but strike ourselves to death? For he who is our murderous persecutor Is shielded by a father's holy name, Or I would-- [STOPS ABRUPTLY.] ORSINO: What? Fear not to speak your thought. Words are but holy as the deeds they cover: _75 A priest who has forsworn the God he serves; A judge who makes Truth weep at his decree; A friend who should weave counsel, as I now, But as the mantle of some selfish guile; A father who is all a tyrant seems, _80 Were the profaner for his sacred name. NOTE: _77 makes Truth edition 1821; makes the truth editions 1819, 1839. GIACOMO: Ask me not what I think; the unwilling brain Feigns often what it would not; and we trust Imagination with such fantasies As the tongue dares not fashion into words, _85 Which have no words, their horror makes them dim To the mind's eye.--My heart denies itself To think what you demand. ORSINO: But a friend's bosom Is as the inmost cave of our own mind Where we sit shut from the wide gaze of day, _90 And from the all-communicating air. You look what I suspected-- GIACOMO: Spare me now! I am as one lost in a midnight wood, Who dares not ask some harmless passenger The path across the wilderness, lest he, _95 As my thoughts are, should be--a murderer. I know you are my friend, and all I dare Speak to my soul that will I trust with thee. But now my heart is heavy, and would take Lone counsel from a night of sleepless care. _100 Pardon me, that I say farewell--farewell! I would that to my own suspected self I could address a word so full of peace. ORSINO: Farewell!--Be your thoughts better or more bold. [EXIT GIACOMO.] I had disposed the Cardinal Camillo _105 To feed his hope with cold encouragement: It fortunately serves my close designs That 'tis a trick of this same family To analyse their own and other minds. Such self-anatomy shall teach the will _110 Dangerous secrets: for it tempts our powers, Knowing what must be thought, and may be done. Into the depth of darkest purposes: So Cenci fell into the pit; even I, Since Beatrice unveiled me to myself, _115 And made me shrink from what I cannot shun, Show a poor figure to my own esteem, To which I grow half reconciled. I'll do As little mischief as I can; that thought Shall fee the accuser conscience. [AFTER A PAUSE.] Now what harm _120 If Cenci should be murdered?--Yet, if murdered, Wherefore by me? And what if I could take The profit, yet omit the sin and peril In such an action? Of all earthly things I fear a man whose blows outspeed his words _125 And such is Cenci: and while Cenci lives His daughter's dowry were a secret grave If a priest wins her.--Oh, fair Beatrice! Would that I loved thee not, or loving thee, Could but despise danger and gold and all _130 That frowns between my wish and its effect. Or smiles beyond it! There is no escape... Her bright form kneels beside me at the altar, And follows me to the resort of men, And fills my slumber with tumultuous dreams, _135 So when I wake my blood seems liquid fire; And if I strike my damp and dizzy head My hot palm scorches it: her very name, But spoken by a stranger, makes my heart Sicken and pant; and thus unprofitably _140 I clasp the phantom of unfelt delights Till weak imagination half possesses The self-created shadow. Yet much longer Will I not nurse this life of feverous hours: From the unravelled hopes of Giacomo _145 I must work out my own dear purposes. I see, as from a tower, the end of all: Her father dead; her brother bound to me By a dark secret, surer than the grave; Her mother scared and unexpostulating _150 From the dread manner of her wish achieved; And she!--Once more take courage, my faint heart; What dares a friendless maiden matched with thee? I have such foresight as assures success: Some unbeheld divinity doth ever, _155 When dread events are near, stir up men's minds To black suggestions; and he prospers best, Not who becomes the instrument of ill, But who can flatter the dark spirit, that makes Its empire and its prey of other hearts _160 Till it become his slave...as I will do. [EXIT.] END OF ACT 2. ACT 3. SCENE 3.1: AN APARTMENT IN THE CENCI PALACE. LUCRETIA, TO HER ENTER BEATRICE. BEATRICE [SHE ENTERS STAGGERING AND SPEAKS WILDLY]: Reach me that handkerchief!--My brain is hurt; My eyes are full of blood; just wipe them for me... I see but indistinctly... LUCRETIA: My sweet child, You have no wound; 'tis only a cold dew That starts from your dear brow.--Alas! Alas! _5 What has befallen? BEATRICE: How comes this hair undone? Its wandering strings must be what blind me so, And yet I tied it fast.--Oh, horrible! The pavement sinks under my feet! The walls Spin round! I see a woman weeping there, _10 And standing calm and motionless, whilst I Slide giddily as the world reels...My God! The beautiful blue heaven is flecked with blood! The sunshine on the floor is black! The air Is changed to vapours such as the dead breathe _15 In charnel pits! Pah! I am choked! There creeps A clinging, black, contaminating mist About me...'tis substantial, heavy, thick, I cannot pluck it from me, for it glues My fingers and my limbs to one another, _20 And eats into my sinews, and dissolves My flesh to a pollution, poisoning The subtle, pure, and inmost spirit of life! My God! I never knew what the mad felt Before; for I am mad beyond all doubt! _25 [MORE WILDLY.] No, I am dead! These putrefying limbs Shut round and sepulchre the panting soul Which would burst forth into the wandering air! [A PAUSE.] What hideous thought was that I had even now? 'Tis gone; and yet its burthen remains here _30 O'er these dull eyes...upon this weary heart! O, world! O, life! O, day! O, misery! LUCRETIA: What ails thee, my poor child? She answers not: Her spirit apprehends the sense of pain, But not its cause; suffering has dried away _35 The source from which it sprung... BEATRICE [FRANTICLY]: Like Parricide... Misery has killed its father: yet its father Never like mine...O, God! What thing am I? LUCRETIA: My dearest child, what has your father done? BEATRICE [DOUBTFULLY]: Who art thou, questioner? I have no father. _40 [ASIDE.] She is the madhouse nurse who tends on me, It is a piteous office. [TO LUCRETIA, IN A SLOW, SUBDUED VOICE.] Do you know I thought I was that wretched Beatrice Men speak of, whom her father sometimes hales From hall to hall by the entangled hair; _45 At others, pens up naked in damp cells Where scaly reptiles crawl, and starves her there, Till she will eat strange flesh. This woful story So did I overact in my sick dreams, That I imagined...no, it cannot be! _50 Horrible things have been in this wide world, Prodigious mixtures, and confusions strange Of good and ill; and worse have been conceived Than ever there was found a heart to do. But never fancy imaged such a deed _55 As... [PAUSES, SUDDENLY RECOLLECTING HERSELF.] Who art thou? Swear to me, ere I die With fearful expectation, that indeed Thou art not what thou seemest...Mother! LUCRETIA: Oh! My sweet child, know you... BEATRICE: Yet speak it not: For then if this be truth, that other too _60 Must be a truth, a firm enduring truth, Linked with each lasting circumstance of life, Never to change, never to pass away. Why so it is. This is the Cenci Palace; Thou art Lucretia; I am Beatrice. _65 I have talked some wild words, but will no more. Mother, come near me: from this point of time, I am... [HER VOICE DIES AWAY FAINTLY.] LUCRETIA: Alas! What has befallen thee, child? What has thy father done? BEATRICE: What have I done? Am I not innocent? Is it my crime _70 That one with white hair, and imperious brow, Who tortured me from my forgotten years, As parents only dare, should call himself My father, yet should be!--Oh, what am I? What name, what place, what memory shall be mine? _75 What retrospects, outliving even despair? LUCRETIA: He is a violent tyrant, surely, child: We know that death alone can make us free; His death or ours. But what can he have done Of deadlier outrage or worse injury? _80 Thou art unlike thyself; thine eyes shoot forth A wandering and strange spirit. Speak to me, Unlock those pallid hands whose fingers twine With one another. BEATRICE: 'Tis the restless life Tortured within them. If I try to speak, _85 I shall go mad. Ay, something must be done; What, yet I know not...something which shall make The thing that I have suffered but a shadow In the dread lightning which avenges it; Brief, rapid, irreversible, destroying _90 The consequence of what it cannot cure. Some such thing is to be endured or done: When I know what, I shall be still and calm, And never anything will move me more. But now!--O blood, which art my father's blood, _95 Circling through these contaminated veins, If thou, poured forth on the polluted earth, Could wash away the crime, and punishment By which I suffer...no, that cannot be! Many might doubt there were a God above _100 Who sees and permits evil, and so die: That faith no agony shall obscure in me. LUCRETIA: It must indeed have been some bitter wrong; Yet what, I dare not guess. Oh, my lost child, Hide not in proud impenetrable grief _105 Thy sufferings from my fear. BEATRICE: I hide them not. What are the words which yon would have me speak? I, who can feign no image in my mind Of that which has transformed me: I, whose thought Is like a ghost shrouded and folded up _110 In its own formless horror: of all words, That minister to mortal intercourse, Which wouldst thou hear? For there is none to tell My misery: if another ever knew Aught like to it, she died as I will die, _115 And left it, as I must, without a name. Death, Death! Our law and our religion call thee A punishment and a reward...Oh, which Have I deserved? LUCRETIA: The peace of innocence; Till in your season you be called to heaven. _120 Whate'er you may have suffered, you have done No evil. Death must be the punishment Of crime, or the reward of trampling down The thorns which God has strewed upon the path Which leads to immortality. BEATRICE: Ay, death... _125 The punishment of crime. I pray thee, God, Let me not be bewildered while I judge. If I must live day after day, and keep These limbs, the unworthy temple of Thy spirit, As a foul den from which what Thou abhorrest _130 May mock Thee, unavenged...it shall not be! Self-murder...no, that might be no escape, For Thy decree yawns like a Hell between Our will and it:--O! In this mortal world There is no vindication and no law _135 Which can adjudge and execute the doom Of that through which I suffer. [ENTER ORSINO.] [SHE APPROACHES HIM SOLEMNLY.] Welcome, Friend! I have to tell you that, since last we met, I have endured a wrong so great and strange, That neither life nor death can give me rest. _140 Ask me not what it is, for there are deeds Which have no form, sufferings which have no tongue. NOTE: _140 nor edition 1821; or editions 1819, 1839 (1st). ORSINO: And what is he who has thus injured you? BEATRICE: The man they call my father: a dread name. ORSINO: It cannot be... BEATRICE: What it can be, or not, _145 Forbear to think. It is, and it has been; Advise me how it shall not be again. I thought to die; but a religious awe Restrains me, and the dread lest death itself Might be no refuge from the consciousness _150 Of what is yet unexpiated. Oh, speak! ORSINO: Accuse him of the deed, and let the law Avenge thee. BEATRICE: Oh, ice-hearted counsellor! If I could find a word that might make known The crime of my destroyer; and that done, _155 My tongue should like a knife tear out the secret Which cankers my heart's core; ay, lay all bare, So that my unpolluted fame should be With vilest gossips a stale mouthed story; A mock, a byword, an astonishment:-- _160 If this were done, which never shall be done, Think of the offender's gold, his dreaded hate, And the strange horror of the accuser's tale, Baffling belief, and overpowering speech; Scarce whispered, unimaginable, wrapped _165 In hideous hints...Oh, most assured redress! ORSINO: You will endure it then? BEATRICE: Endure!--Orsino, It seems your counsel is small profit. [TURNS FROM HIM, AND SPEAKS HALF TO HERSELF.] Ay, All must be suddenly resolved and done. What is this undistinguishable mist _170 Of thoughts, which rise, like shadow after shadow, Darkening each other? ORSINO: Should the offender live? Triumph in his misdeed? and make, by use, His crime, whate'er it is, dreadful no doubt, Thine element; until thou mayest become _175 Utterly lost; subdued even to the hue Of that which thou permittest? BEATRICE [TO HERSELF]: Mighty death! Thou double-visaged shadow! Only judge! Rightfullest arbiter! [SHE RETIRES, ABSORBED IN THOUGHT.] LUCRETIA: If the lightning Of God has e'er descended to avenge... _180 ORSINO: Blaspheme not! His high Providence commits Its glory on this earth, and their own wrongs Into the hands of men; if they neglect To punish crime... LUCRETIA: But if one, like this wretch, Should mock, with gold, opinion, law, and power? _185 If there be no appeal to that which makes The guiltiest tremble? If because our wrongs, For that they are unnatural, strange and monstrous, Exceed all measure of belief? O God! If, for the very reasons which should make _190 Redress most swift and sure, our injurer triumphs? And we, the victims, bear worse punishment Than that appointed for their torturer? ORSINO: Think not But that there is redress where there is wrong, So we be bold enough to seize it. LUCRETIA: How? _195 If there were any way to make all sure, I know not...but I think it might be good To... ORSINO: Why, his late outrage to Beatrice; For it is such, as I but faintly guess, As makes remorse dishonour, and leaves her _200 Only one duty, how she may avenge: You, but one refuge from ills ill endured; Me, but one counsel... LUCRETIA: For we cannot hope That aid, or retribution, or resource Will arise thence, where every other one _205 Might find them with less need. [BEATRICE ADVANCES.] ORSINO: Then... BEATRICE: Peace, Orsino! And, honoured Lady, while I speak, I pray, That you put off, as garments overworn, Forbearance and respect, remorse and fear, And all the fit restraints of daily life, _210 Which have been borne from childhood, but which now Would be a mockery to my holier plea. As I have said, I have endured a wrong, Which, though it be expressionless, is such As asks atonement; both for what is past, _215 And lest I be reserved, day after day, To load with crimes an overburthened soul, And be...what ye can dream not. I have prayed To God, and I have talked with my own heart, And have unravelled my entangled will, _220 And have at length determined what is right. Art thou my friend, Orsino? False or true? Pledge thy salvation ere I speak. ORSINO: I swear To dedicate my cunning, and my strength, My silence, and whatever else is mine, _225 To thy commands. LUCRETIA: You think we should devise His death? BEATRICE: And execute what is devised, And suddenly. We must be brief and bold. ORSINO: And yet most cautious. LUCRETIA: For the jealous laws Would punish us with death and infamy _230 For that which it became themselves to do. BEATRICE: Be cautious as ye may, but prompt. Orsino, What are the means? ORSINO: I know two dull, fierce outlaws, Who think man's spirit as a worm's, and they Would trample out, for any slight caprice, _235 The meanest or the noblest life. This mood Is marketable here in Rome. They sell What we now want. LUCRETIA: To-morrow before dawn, Cenci will take us to that lonely rock, Petrella, in the Apulian Apennines. _240 If he arrive there... BEATRICE: He must not arrive. ORSINO: Will it be dark before you reach the tower? LUCRETIA: The sun will scarce be set. BEATRICE: But I remember Two miles on this side of the fort, the road Crosses a deep ravine; 'tis rough and narrow, _245 And winds with short turns down the precipice; And in its depth there is a mighty rock, Which has, from unimaginable years, Sustained itself with terror and with toil Over a gulf, and with the agony _250 With which it clings seems slowly coming down; Even as a wretched soul hour after hour, Clings to the mass of life; yet, clinging, leans; And leaning, makes more dark the dread abyss In which it fears to fall: beneath this crag _255 Huge as despair, as if in weariness, The melancholy mountain yawns...below, You hear but see not an impetuous torrent Raging among the caverns, and a bridge Crosses the chasm; and high above there grow, _260 With intersecting trunks, from crag to crag, Cedars, and yews, and pines; whose tangled hair Is matted in one solid roof of shade By the dark ivy's twine. At noonday here 'Tis twilight, and at sunset blackest night. _265 ORSINO: Before you reach that bridge make some excuse For spurring on your mules, or loitering Until... BEATRICE: What sound is that? LUCRETIA: Hark! No, it cannot be a servant's step It must be Cenci, unexpectedly _270 Returned...Make some excuse for being here. BEATRICE [TO ORSINO AS SHE GOES OUT]: That step we hear approach must never pass The bridge of which we spoke. [EXEUNT LUCRETIA AND BEATRICE.] ORSINO: What shall I do? Cenci must find me here, and I must bear The imperious inquisition of his looks _275 As to what brought me hither: let me mask Mine own in some inane and vacant smile. [ENTER GIACOMO, IN A HURRIED MANNER.] How! Have you ventured hither? Know you then That Cenci is from home? NOTE: _278 hither edition 1821; thither edition 1819. GIACOMO: I sought him here; And now must wait till he returns. ORSINO: Great God! _280 Weigh you the danger of this rashness? GIACOMO: Ay! Does my destroyer know his danger? We Are now no more, as once, parent and child, But man to man; the oppressor to the oppressed; The slanderer to the slandered; foe to foe: _285 He has cast Nature off, which was his shield, And Nature casts him off, who is her shame; And I spurn both. Is it a father's throat Which I will shake, and say, I ask not gold; I ask not happy years; nor memories _290 Of tranquil childhood; nor home-sheltered love; Though all these hast thou torn from me, and more; But only my fair fame; only one hoard Of peace, which I thought hidden from thy hate, Under the penury heaped on me by thee, _295 Or I will...God can understand and pardon, Why should I speak with man? ORSINO: Be calm, dear friend. GIACOMO: Well, I will calmly tell you what he did. This old Francesco Cenci, as you know, Borrowed the dowry of my wife from me, _300 And then denied the loan; and left me so In poverty, the which I sought to mend By holding a poor office in the state. It had been promised to me, and already I bought new clothing for my ragged babes, _305 And my wife smiled; and my heart knew repose. When Cenci's intercession, as I found, Conferred this office on a wretch, whom thus He paid for vilest service. I returned With this ill news, and we sate sad together _310 Solacing our despondency with tears Of such affection and unbroken faith As temper life's worst bitterness; when he, As he is wont, came to upbraid and curse, Mocking our poverty, and telling us _315 Such was God's scourge for disobedient sons. And then, that I might strike him dumb with shame, I spoke of my wife's dowry; but he coined A brief yet specious tale, how I had wasted The sum in secret riot; and he saw _320 My wife was touched, and he went smiling forth. And when I knew the impression he had made, And felt my wife insult with silent scorn My ardent truth, and look averse and cold, I went forth too: but soon returned again; _325 Yet not so soon but that my wife had taught My children her harsh thoughts, and they all cried, 'Give us clothes, father! Give us better food! What you in one night squander were enough For months!' I looked, and saw that home was hell. _330 And to that hell will I return no more Until mine enemy has rendered up Atonement, or, as he gave life to me I will, reversing Nature's law... ORSINO: Trust me, The compensation which thou seekest here _335 Will be denied. GIACOMO: Then...Are you not my friend? Did you not hint at the alternative, Upon the brink of which you see I stand, The other day when we conversed together? My wrongs were then less. That word parricide, _340 Although I am resolved, haunts me like fear. ORSINO: It must be fear itself, for the bare word Is hollow mockery. Mark, how wisest God Draws to one point the threads of a just doom, So sanctifying it: what you devise _345 Is, as it were, accomplished. GIACOMO: Is he dead? ORSINO: His grave is ready. Know that since we met Cenci has done an outrage to his daughter. GIACOMO: What outrage? ORSINO: That she speaks not, but you may Conceive such half conjectures as I do, _350 From her fixed paleness, and the lofty grief Of her stern brow bent on the idle air, And her severe unmodulated voice, Drowning both tenderness and dread; and last From this; that whilst her step-mother and I, _355 Bewildered in our horror, talked together With obscure hints; both self-misunderstood And darkly guessing, stumbling, in our talk, Over the truth, and yet to its revenge, She interrupted us, and with a look _360 Which told, before she spoke it, he must die:... GIACOMO: It is enough. My doubts are well appeased; There is a higher reason for the act Than mine; there is a holier judge than me, A more unblamed avenger. Beatrice, _365 Who in the gentleness of thy sweet youth Hast never trodden on a worm, or bruised A living flower, but thou hast pitied it With needless tears! Fair sister, thou in whom Men wondered how such loveliness and wisdom _370 Did not destroy each other! Is there made Ravage of thee? O, heart, I ask no more Justification! Shall I wait, Orsino, Till he return, and stab him at the door? ORSINO: Not so; some accident might interpose _375 To rescue him from what is now most sure; And you are unprovided where to fly, How to excuse or to conceal. Nay, listen: All is contrived; success is so assured That... [ENTER BEATRICE.] BEATRICE: 'Tis my brother's voice! You know me not? GIACOMO: My sister, my lost sister! _380 BEATRICE: Lost indeed! I see Orsino has talked with you, and That you conjecture things too horrible To speak, yet far less than the truth. Now, stay not, He might return: yet kiss me; I shall know _385 That then thou hast consented to his death. Farewell, farewell! Let piety to God, Brotherly love, justice and clemency, And all things that make tender hardest hearts Make thine hard, brother. Answer not...farewell. _390 [EXEUNT SEVERALLY.] SCENE 3.2: A MEAN APARTMENT IN GIACOMO'S HOUSE. GIACOMO ALONE. GIACOMO: 'Tis midnight, and Orsino comes not yet. [THUNDER, AND THE SOUND OF A STORM.] What! can the everlasting elements Feel with a worm like man? If so, the shaft Of mercy-winged lightning would not fall On stones and trees. My wife and children sleep: _5 They are now living in unmeaning dreams: But I must wake, still doubting if that deed Be just which is most necessary. O, Thou unreplenished lamp! whose narrow fire Is shaken by the wind, and on whose edge _10 Devouring darkness hovers! Thou small flame, Which, as a dying pulse rises and falls, Still flickerest up and down, how very soon, Did I not feed thee, wouldst thou fail and be As thou hadst never been! So wastes and sinks _15 Even now, perhaps, the life that kindled mine: But that no power can fill with vital oil That broken lamp of flesh. Ha! 'tis the blood Which fed these veins that ebbs till all is cold: It is the form that moulded mine that sinks _20 Into the white and yellow spasms of death: It is the soul by which mine was arrayed In God's immortal likeness which now stands Naked before Heaven's judgement seat! [A BELL STRIKES.] One! Two! The hours crawl on; and, when my hairs are white, _25 My son will then perhaps be waiting thus, Tortured between just hate and vain remorse; Chiding the tardy messenger of news Like those which I expect. I almost wish He be not dead, although my wrongs are great; _30 Yet...'tis Orsino's step... [ENTER ORSINO.] Speak! ORSINO: I am come To say he has escaped. GIACOMO: Escaped! ORSINO: And safe Within Petrella. He passed by the spot Appointed for the deed an hour too soon. GIACOMO: Are we the fools of such contingencies? _35 And do we waste in blind misgivings thus The hours when we should act? Then wind and thunder, Which seemed to howl his knell, is the loud laughter With which Heaven mocks our weakness! I henceforth Will ne'er repent of aught designed or done _40 But my repentance. ORSINO: See, the lamp is out. GIACOMO: If no remorse is ours when the dim air Has drank this innocent flame, why should we quail When Cenci's life, that light by which ill spirits See the worst deeds they prompt, shall sink for ever? _45 No, I am hardened. ORSINO: Why, what need of this? Who feared the pale intrusion of remorse In a just deed? Although our first plan failed, Doubt not but he will soon be laid to rest. But light the lamp; let us not talk i' the dark. _50 GIACOMO [LIGHTING THE LAMP]: And yet once quenched I cannot thus relume My father's life: do you not think his ghost Might plead that argument with God? ORSINO: Once gone You cannot now recall your sister's peace; Your own extinguished years of youth and hope; _55 Nor your wife's bitter words; nor all the taunts Which, from the prosperous, weak misfortune takes; Nor your dead mother; nor... GIACOMO: O, speak no more! I am resolved, although this very hand Must quench the life that animated it. _60 ORSINO: There is no need of that. Listen: you know Olimpio, the castellan of Petrella In old Colonna's time; him whom your father Degraded from his post? And Marzio, That desperate wretch, whom he deprived last year _65 Of a reward of blood, well earned and due? GIACOMO: I knew Olimpio; and they say he hated Old Cenci so, that in his silent rage His lips grew white only to see him pass. Of Marzio I know nothing. ORSINO: Marzio's hate _70 Matches Olimpio's. I have sent these men, But in your name, and as at your request, To talk with Beatrice and Lucretia. GIACOMO: Only to talk? ORSINO: The moments which even now Pass onward to to-morrow's midnight hour _75 May memorize their flight with death: ere then They must have talked, and may perhaps have done, And made an end... GIACOMO: Listen! What sound is that? ORSINO: The house-dog moans, and the beams crack: nought else. GIACOMO: It is my wife complaining in her sleep: _80 I doubt not she is saying bitter things Of me; and all my children round her dreaming That I deny them sustenance. ORSINO: Whilst he Who truly took it from them, and who fills Their hungry rest with bitterness, now sleeps _85 Lapped in bad pleasures, and triumphantly Mocks thee in visions of successful hate Too like the truth of day. GIACOMO: If e'er he wakes Again, I will not trust to hireling hands... ORSINO: Why, that were well. I must be gone; good-night. _90 When next we meet--may all be done! NOTE: _91 may all be done! Giacomo: And all edition 1821; Giacomo: May all be done, and all edition 1819. GIACOMO: And all Forgotten: Oh, that I had never been! [EXEUNT.] END OF ACT 3. ACT 4. SCENE 4.1: AN APARTMENT IN THE CASTLE OF PETRELLA. ENTER CENCI. CENCI: She comes not; yet I left her even now Vanquished and faint. She knows the penalty Of her delay: yet what if threats are vain? Am I not now within Petrella's moat? Or fear I still the eyes and ears of Rome? _5 Might I not drag her by the golden hair? Stamp on her? keep her sleepless till her brain Be overworn? Tame her with chains and famine? Less would suffice. Yet so to leave undone What I most seek! No, 'tis her stubborn will _10 Which by its own consent shall stoop as low As that which drags it down. [ENTER LUCRETIA.] Thou loathed wretch! Hide thee from my abhorrence: fly, begone! Yet stay! Bid Beatrice come hither. NOTE: _4 not now edition 1821; now not edition 1819. LUCRETIA: Oh, Husband! I pray, for thine own wretched sake _15 Heed what thou dost. A man who walks like thee Through crimes, and through the danger of his crimes, Each hour may stumble o'er a sudden grave. And thou art old; thy hairs are hoary gray; As thou wouldst save thyself from death and hell, _20 Pity thy daughter; give her to some friend In marriage: so that she may tempt thee not To hatred, or worse thoughts, if worse there be. CENCI: What! like her sister who has found a home To mock my hate from with prosperity? _25 Strange ruin shall destroy both her and thee And all that yet remain. My death may be Rapid, her destiny outspeeds it. Go, Bid her come hither, and before my mood Be changed, lest I should drag her by the hair. _30 LUCRETIA: She sent me to thee, husband. At thy presence She fell, as thou dost know, into a trance; And in that trance she heard a voice which said, 'Cenci must die! Let him confess himself! Even now the accusing Angel waits to hear _35 If God, to punish his enormous crimes, Harden his dying heart!' CENCI: Why--such things are... No doubt divine revealings may be made. 'Tis plain I have been favoured from above, For when I cursed my sons they died.--Ay...so... _40 As to the right or wrong, that's talk...repentance... Repentance is an easy moment's work And more depends on God than me. Well...well... I must give up the greater point, which was To poison and corrupt her soul. [A PAUSE, LUCRETIA APPROACHES ANXIOUSLY, AND THEN SHRINKS BACK AS HE SPEAKS.] One, two; _45 Ay...Rocco and Cristofano my curse Strangled: and Giacomo, I think, will find Life a worse Hell than that beyond the grave: Beatrice shall, if there be skill in hate, Die in despair, blaspheming: to Bernardo, _50 He is so innocent, I will bequeath The memory of these deeds, and make his youth The sepulchre of hope, where evil thoughts Shall grow like weeds on a neglected tomb. When all is done, out in the wide Campagna, _55 I will pile up my silver and my gold; My costly robes, paintings, and tapestries; My parchments and all records of my wealth, And make a bonfire in my joy, and leave Of my possessions nothing but my name; _60 Which shall be an inheritance to strip Its wearer bare as infamy. That done, My soul, which is a scourge, will I resign Into the hands of him who wielded it; Be it for its own punishment or theirs, _65 He will not ask it of me till the lash Be broken in its last and deepest wound; Until its hate be all inflicted. Yet, Lest death outspeed my purpose, let me make Short work and sure... [GOING.] LUCRETIA [STOPS HIM]: Oh, stay! It was a feint: _70 She had no vision, and she heard no voice. I said it but to awe thee. CENCI: That is well. Vile palterer with the sacred truth of God, Be thy soul choked with that blaspheming lie! For Beatrice worse terrors are in store _75 To bend her to my will. LUCRETIA: Oh! to what will? What cruel sufferings more than she has known Canst thou inflict? CENCI: Andrea! Go call my daughter, And if she comes not tell her that I come. What sufferings? I will drag her, step by step, _80 Through infamies unheard of among men: She shall stand shelterless in the broad noon Of public scorn, for acts blazoned abroad, One among which shall be...What? Canst thou guess? She shall become (for what she most abhors _85 Shall have a fascination to entrap Her loathing will) to her own conscious self All she appears to others; and when dead, As she shall die unshrived and unforgiven, A rebel to her father and her God, _90 Her corpse shall be abandoned to the hounds; Her name shall be the terror of the earth; Her spirit shall approach the throne of God Plague-spotted with my curses. I will make Body and soul a monstrous lump of ruin. _95 [ENTER ANDREA.] ANDREA: The Lady Beatrice... CENCI: Speak, pale slave! What Said she? ANDREA: My Lord, 'twas what she looked; she said: 'Go tell my father that I see the gulf Of Hell between us two, which he may pass, I will not.' [EXIT ANDREA.] CENCI: Go thou quick, Lucretia, _100 Tell her to come; yet let her understand Her coming is consent: and say, moreover, That if she come not I will curse her. [EXIT LUCRETIA.] Ha! With what but with a father's curse doth God Panic-strike armed victory, and make pale _105 Cities in their prosperity? The world's Father Must grant a parent's prayer against his child, Be he who asks even what men call me. Will not the deaths of her rebellious brothers Awe her before I speak? For I on them _110 Did imprecate quick ruin, and it came. [ENTER LUCRETIA.] Well; what? Speak, wretch! LUCRETIA: She said, 'I cannot come; Go tell my father that I see a torrent Of his own blood raging between us.' CENCI [KNEELING]: God, Hear me! If this most specious mass of flesh, _115 Which Thou hast made my daughter; this my blood, This particle of my divided being; Or rather, this my bane and my disease, Whose sight infects and poisons me; this devil Which sprung from me as from a hell, was meant _120 To aught good use; if her bright loveliness Was kindled to illumine this dark world; If nursed by Thy selectest dew of love Such virtues blossom in her as should make The peace of life, I pray Thee for my sake, _125 As Thou the common God and Father art Of her, and me, and all; reverse that doom! Earth, in the name of God, let her food be Poison, until she be encrusted round With leprous stains! Heaven, rain upon her head _130 The blistering drops of the Maremma's dew, Till she be speckled like a toad; parch up Those love-enkindled lips, warp those fine limbs To loathed lameness! All-beholding sun, Strike in thine envy those life-darting eyes _135 With thine own blinding beams! LUCRETIA: Peace! Peace! For thine own sake unsay those dreadful words. When high God grants He punishes such prayers. CENCI [LEAPING UP, AND THROWING HIS RIGHT HAND TOWARDS HEAVEN]: He does his will, I mine! This in addition, That if she have a child... LUCRETIA: Horrible thought! _140 CENCI: That if she ever have a child; and thou, Quick Nature! I adjure thee by thy God, That thou be fruitful in her, and increase And multiply, fulfilling his command, And my deep imprecation! May it be _145 A hideous likeness of herself, that as From a distorting mirror, she may see Her image mixed with what she most abhors, Smiling upon her from her nursing breast. And that the child may from its infancy _150 Grow, day by day, more wicked and deformed, Turning her mother's love to misery: And that both she and it may live until It shall repay her care and pain with hate, Or what may else be more unnatural. _155 So he may hunt her through the clamorous scoffs Of the loud world to a dishonoured grave. Shall I revoke this curse? Go, bid her come, Before my words are chronicled in Heaven. [EXIT LUCRETIA.] I do not feel as if I were a man, _160 But like a fiend appointed to chastise The offences of some unremembered world. My blood is running up and down my veins; A fearful pleasure makes it prick and tingle: I feel a giddy sickness of strange awe; _165 My heart is beating with an expectation Of horrid joy. [ENTER LUCRETIA.] What? Speak! LUCRETIA: She bids thee curse; And if thy curses, as they cannot do, Could kill her soul... CENCI: She would not come. 'Tis well, I can do both; first take what I demand, _170 And then extort concession. To thy chamber! Fly ere I spurn thee; and beware this night That thou cross not my footsteps. It were safer To come between the tiger and his prey. [EXIT LUCRETIA.] It must be late; mine eyes grow weary dim _175 With unaccustomed heaviness of sleep. Conscience! Oh, thou most insolent of lies! They say that sleep, that healing dew of Heaven, Steeps not in balm the foldings of the brain Which thinks thee an impostor. I will go _180 First to belie thee with an hour of rest, Which will be deep and calm, I feel: and then... O, multitudinous Hell, the fiends will shake Thine arches with the laughter of their joy! There shall be lamentation heard in Heaven _185 As o'er an angel fallen; and upon Earth All good shall droop and sicken, and ill things Shall with a spirit of unnatural life, Stir and be quickened...even as I am now. [EXIT.] SCENE 4.2: BEFORE THE CASTLE OF PETRELLA. ENTER BEATRICE AND LUCRETIA ABOVE ON THE RAMPARTS. BEATRICE: They come not yet. LUCRETIA: 'Tis scarce midnight. BEATRICE: How slow Behind the course of thought, even sick with speed, Lags leaden-footed time! LUCRETIA: The minutes pass... If he should wake before the deed is done? BEATRICE: O, mother! He must never wake again. _5 What thou hast said persuades me that our act Will but dislodge a spirit of deep hell Out of a human form. LUCRETIA: 'Tis true he spoke Of death and judgement with strange confidence For one so wicked; as a man believing _10 In God, yet recking not of good or ill. And yet to die without confession!... BEATRICE: Oh! Believe that Heaven is merciful and just, And will not add our dread necessity To the amount of his offences. [ENTER OLIMPIO AND MARZIO BELOW.] LUCRETIA: See, _15 They come. BEATRICE: All mortal things must hasten thus To their dark end. Let us go down. [EXEUNT LUCRETIA AND BEATRICE FROM ABOVE.] OLIMPIO: How feel you to this work? MARZIO: As one who thinks A thousand crowns excellent market price For an old murderer's life. Your cheeks are pale. _20 OLIMPIO: It is the white reflection of your own, Which you call pale. MARZIO: Is that their natural hue? OLIMPIO: Or 'tis my hate and the deferred desire To wreak it, which extinguishes their blood. MARZIO: You are inclined then to this business? OLIMPIO: Ay, _25 If one should bribe me with a thousand crowns To kill a serpent which had stung my child, I could not be more willing. [ENTER BEATRICE AND LUCRETIA BELOW.] Noble ladies! BEATRICE: Are ye resolved? OLIMPIO: Is he asleep? MARZIO: Is all Quiet? LUCRETIA: I mixed an opiate with his drink: _30 He sleeps so soundly... BEATRICE: That his death will be But as a change of sin-chastising dreams, A dark continuance of the Hell within him, Which God extinguish! But ye are resolved? Ye know it is a high and holy deed? _35 OLIMPIO: We are resolved. MARZIO: As to the how this act Be warranted, it rests with you. BEATRICE: Well, follow! OLIMPIO: Hush! Hark! What noise is that? MARZIO: Ha! some one comes! BEATRICE: Ye conscience-stricken cravens, rock to rest Your baby hearts. It is the iron gate, _40 Which ye left open, swinging to the wind, That enters whistling as in scorn. Come, follow! And be your steps like mine, light, quick and bold. [EXEUNT.] SCENE 4.3: AN APARTMENT IN THE CASTLE. ENTER BEATRICE AND LUCRETIA. LUCRETIA: They are about it now. BEATRICE: Nay, it is done. LUCRETIA: I have not heard him groan. BEATRICE: He will not groan. LUCRETIA: What sound is that? BEATRICE: List! 'tis the tread of feet About his bed. LUCRETIA: My God! If he be now a cold, stiff corpse... BEATRICE: O, fear not _5 What may be done, but what is left undone: The act seals all. [ENTER OLIMPIO AND MARZIO.] Is it accomplished? MARZIO: What? OLIMPIO: Did you not call? BEATRICE: When? OLIMPIO: Now. BEATRICE: I ask if all is over? OLIMPIO: We dare not kill an old and sleeping man; His thin gray hair, his stern and reverend brow, _10 His veined hands crossed on his heaving breast, And the calm innocent sleep in which he lay, Quelled me. Indeed, indeed, I cannot do it. NOTE: _10 reverend]reverent all editions. MARZIO: But I was bolder; for I chid Olimpio, And bade him bear his wrongs to his own grave _15 And leave me the reward. And now my knife Touched the loose wrinkled throat, when the old man Stirred in his sleep, and said, 'God! hear, O, hear, A father's curse! What, art Thou not our Father?' And then he laughed. I knew it was the ghost _20 Of my dead father speaking through his lips, And could not kill him. BEATRICE: Miserable slaves! Where, if ye dare not kill a sleeping man, Found ye the boldness to return to me With such a deed undone? Base palterers! _25 Cowards and traitors! Why, the very conscience Which ye would sell for gold and for revenge Is an equivocation: it sleeps over A thousand daily acts disgracing men; And when a deed where mercy insults Heaven... _30 Why do I talk? [SNATCHING A DAGGER FROM ONE OF THEM, AND RAISING IT.] Hadst thou a tongue to say, 'She murdered her own father!'--I must do it! But never dream ye shall outlive him long! OLIMPIO: Stop, for God's sake! MARZIO: I will go back and kill him. OLIMPIO: Give me the weapon, we must do thy will. _35 BEATRICE: Take it! Depart! Return! [EXEUNT OLIMPIO AND MARZIO.] How pale thou art! We do but that which 'twere a deadly crime To leave undone. LUCRETIA: Would it were done! BEATRICE: Even whilst That doubt is passing through your mind, the world Is conscious of a change. Darkness and Hell _40 Have swallowed up the vapour they sent forth To blacken the sweet light of life. My breath Comes, methinks, lighter, and the jellied blood Runs freely through my veins. Hark! [ENTER OLIMPIO AND MARZIO.] He is... OLIMPIO: Dead! MARZIO: We strangled him that there might be no blood; _45 And then we threw his heavy corpse i' the garden Under the balcony; 'twill seem it fell. BEATRICE [GIVING THEM A BAG OF COIN]: Here, take this gold, and hasten to your homes. And, Marzio, because thou wast only awed By that which made me tremble, wear thou this! _50 [CLOTHES HIM IN A RICH MANTLE.] It was the mantle which my grandfather Wore in his high prosperity, and men Envied his state: so may they envy thine. Thou wert a weapon in the hand of God To a just use. Live long and thrive! And, mark, _55 If thou hast crimes, repent: this deed is none. [A HORN IS SOUNDED.] LUCRETIA: Hark, 'tis the castle horn: my God! it sounds Like the last trump. BEATRICE: Some tedious guest is coming. LUCRETIA: The drawbridge is let down; there is a tramp Of horses in the court; fly, hide yourselves! _60 [EXEUNT OLIMPIO AND MARZIO.] BEATRICE: Let us retire to counterfeit deep rest; I scarcely need to counterfeit it now: The spirit which doth reign within these limbs Seems strangely undisturbed. I could even sleep Fearless and calm: all ill is surely past. _65 [EXEUNT.] SCENE 4.4: ANOTHER APARTMENT IN THE CASTLE. ENTER ON ONE SIDE THE LEGATE SAVELLA, INTRODUCED BY A SERVANT, AND ON THE OTHER LUCRETIA AND BERNARDO. SAVELLA: Lady, my duty to his Holiness Be my excuse that thus unseasonably I break upon your rest. I must speak with Count Cenci; doth he sleep? LUCRETIA [IN A HURRIED AND CONFUSED MANNER]: I think he sleeps; Yet, wake him not, I pray, spare me awhile, _5 He is a wicked and a wrathful man; Should he be roused out of his sleep to-night, Which is, I know, a hell of angry dreams, It were not well; indeed it were not well. Wait till day break... [ASIDE.] Oh, I am deadly sick! _10 NOTE: _6 a wrathful edition 1821; wrathful editions 1819, 1839. SAVELLA: I grieve thus to distress you, but the Count Must answer charges of the gravest import, And suddenly; such my commission is. LUCRETIA [WITH INCREASED AGITATION]: I dare not rouse him: I know none who dare... 'Twere perilous;...you might as safely waken _15 A serpent; or a corpse in which some fiend Were laid to sleep. SAVELLA: Lady, my moments here Are counted. I must rouse him from his sleep, Since none else dare. LUCRETIA [ASIDE]: O, terror! O, despair! [TO BERNARDO.] Bernardo, conduct you the Lord Legate to _20 Your father's chamber. [EXEUNT SAVELLA AND BERNARDO.] [ENTER BEATRICE.] BEATRICE: 'Tis a messenger Come to arrest the culprit who now stands Before the throne of unappealable God. Both Earth and Heaven, consenting arbiters, Acquit our deed. LUCRETIA: Oh, agony of fear! _25 Would that he yet might live! Even now I heard The Legate's followers whisper as they passed They had a warrant for his instant death. All was prepared by unforbidden means Which we must pay so dearly, having done. _30 Even now they search the tower, and find the body; Now they suspect the truth; now they consult Before they come to tax us with the fact; O, horrible, 'tis all discovered! BEATRICE: Mother, What is done wisely, is done well. Be bold _35 As thou art just. 'Tis like a truant child To fear that others know what thou hast done, Even from thine own strong consciousness, and thus Write on unsteady eyes and altered cheeks All thou wouldst hide. Be faithful to thyself, _40 And fear no other witness but thy fear. For if, as cannot be, some circumstance Should rise in accusation, we can blind Suspicion with such cheap astonishment, Or overbear it with such guiltless pride, _45 As murderers cannot feign. The deed is done, And what may follow now regards not me. I am as universal as the light; Free as the earth-surrounding air; as firm As the world's centre. Consequence, to me, _50 Is as the wind which strikes the solid rock, But shakes it not. [A CRY WITHIN AND TUMULT.] VOICES: Murder! Murder! Murder! [ENTER BERNARDO AND SAVELLA.] SAVELLA [TO HIS FOLLOWERS]: Go search the castle round; sound the alarm; Look to the gates, that none escape! BEATRICE: What now? BERNARDO: I know not what to say...my father's dead. _55 BEATRICE: How; dead! he only sleeps; you mistake, brother. His sleep is very calm, very like death; 'Tis wonderful how well a tyrant sleeps. He is not dead? BERNARDO: Dead; murdered. LUCRETIA [WITH EXTREME AGITATION]: Oh no, no! He is not murdered though he may be dead; _60 I have alone the keys of those apartments. SAVELLA: Ha! Is it so? BEATRICE: My Lord, I pray excuse us; We will retire; my mother is not well: She seems quite overcome with this strange horror. [EXEUNT LUCRETIA AND BEATRICE.] SAVELLA: Can you suspect who may have murdered him? _65 BERNARDO: I know not what to think. SAVELLA: Can you name any Who had an interest in his death? BERNARDO: Alas! I can name none who had not, and those most Who most lament that such a deed is done; My mother, and my sister, and myself. _70 SAVELLA: 'Tis strange! There were clear marks of violence. I found the old man's body in the moonlight Hanging beneath the window of his chamber, Among the branches of a pine: he could not Have fallen there, for all his limbs lay heaped _75 And effortless; 'tis true there was no blood... Favour me, Sir; it much imports your house That all should be made clear; to tell the ladies That I request their presence. [EXIT BERNARDO.] [ENTER GUARDS, BRINGING IN MARZIO.] GUARD: We have one. OFFICER: My Lord, we found this ruffian and another _80 Lurking among the rocks; there is no doubt But that they are the murderers of Count Cenci: Each had a bag of coin; this fellow wore A gold-inwoven robe, which, shining bright Under the dark rocks to the glimmering moon _85 Betrayed them to our notice: the other fell Desperately fighting. SAVELLA: What does he confess? OFFICER: He keeps firm silence; but these lines found on him May speak. SAVELLA: Their language is at least sincere. [READS.] 'To the Lady Beatrice. _90 That the atonement of what my nature sickens to conjecture may soon arrive, I send thee, at thy brother's desire, those who will speak and do more than I dare write... 'Thy devoted servant, Orsino.' [ENTER LUCRETIA, BEATRICE, AND BERNARDO.] Knowest thou this writing, Lady? BEATRICE: No. SAVELLA: Nor thou? _95 LUCRETIA [HER CONDUCT THROUGHOUT THE SCENE IS MARKED BY EXTREME AGITATION]: Where was it found? What is it? It should be Orsino's hand! It speaks of that strange horror Which never yet found utterance, but which made Between that hapless child and her dead father A gulf of obscure hatred. SAVELLA: Is it so? _100 Is it true, Lady, that thy father did Such outrages as to awaken in thee Unfilial hate? BEATRICE: Not hate, 'twas more than hate: This is most true, yet wherefore question me? SAVELLA: There is a deed demanding question done; _105 Thou hast a secret which will answer not. BEATRICE: What sayest? My Lord, your words are bold and rash. SAVELLA: I do arrest all present in the name Of the Pope's Holiness. You must to Rome. LUCRETIA: O, not to Rome! Indeed we are not guilty. _110 BEATRICE: Guilty! Who dares talk of guilt? My Lord, I am more innocent of parricide Than is a child born fatherless...Dear mother, Your gentleness and patience are no shield For this keen-judging world, this two-edged lie, _115 Which seems, but is not. What! will human laws, Rather will ye who are their ministers, Bar all access to retribution first, And then, when Heaven doth interpose to do What ye neglect, arming familiar things _120 To the redress of an unwonted crime, Make ye the victims who demanded it Culprits? 'Tis ye are culprits! That poor wretch Who stands so pale, and trembling, and amazed, If it be true he murdered Cenci, was _125 A sword in the right hand of justest God. Wherefore should I have wielded it? Unless The crimes which mortal tongue dare never name God therefore scruples to avenge. SAVELLA: You own That you desired his death? BEATRICE: It would have been _130 A crime no less than his, if for one moment That fierce desire had faded in my heart. 'Tis true I did believe, and hope, and pray, Ay, I even knew...for God is wise and just, That some strange sudden death hung over him. _135 'Tis true that this did happen, and most true There was no other rest for me on earth, No other hope in Heaven...now what of this? SAVELLA: Strange thoughts beget strange deeds; and here are both: I judge thee not. BEATRICE: And yet, if you arrest me, _140 You are the judge and executioner Of that which is the life of life: the breath Of accusation kills an innocent name, And leaves for lame acquittal the poor life Which is a mask without it. 'Tis most false _145 That I am guilty of foul parricide; Although I must rejoice, for justest cause, That other hands have sent my father's soul To ask the mercy he denied to me. Now leave us free; stain not a noble house _150 With vague surmises of rejected crime; Add to our sufferings and your own neglect No heavier sum: let them have been enough: Leave us the wreck we have. SAVELLA: I dare not, Lady. I pray that you prepare yourselves for Rome: _155 There the Pope's further pleasure will be known. LUCRETIA: O, not to Rome! O, take us not to Rome! BEATRICE: Why not to Rome, dear mother? There as here Our innocence is as an armed heel To trample accusation. God is there _160 As here, and with His shadow ever clothes The innocent, the injured and the weak; And such are we. Cheer up, dear Lady, lean On me; collect your wandering thoughts. My Lord, As soon as you have taken some refreshment, _165 And had all such examinations made Upon the spot, as may be necessary To the full understanding of this matter, We shall be ready. Mother; will you come? LUCRETIA: Ha! they will bind us to the rack, and wrest _170 Self-accusation from our agony! Will Giacomo be there? Orsino? Marzio? All present; all confronted; all demanding Each from the other's countenance the thing Which is in every heart! O, misery! _175 [SHE FAINTS, AND IS BORNE OUT.] SAVELLA: She faints: an ill appearance this. BEATRICE: My Lord, She knows not yet the uses of the world. She fears that power is as a beast which grasps And loosens not: a snake whose look transmutes All things to guilt which is its nutriment. _180 She cannot know how well the supine slaves Of blind authority read the truth of things When written on a brow of guilelessness: She sees not yet triumphant Innocence Stand at the judgement-seat of mortal man, _185 A judge and an accuser of the wrong Which drags it there. Prepare yourself, my Lord; Our suite will join yours in the court below. [EXEUNT.] END OF ACT 4. ACT 5. SCENE 5.1: AN APARTMENT IN ORSINO'S PALACE. ENTER ORSINO AND GIACOMO. GIACOMO: Do evil deeds thus quickly come to end? O, that the vain remorse which must chastise Crimes done, had but as loud a voice to warn As its keen sting is mortal to avenge! O, that the hour when present had cast off _5 The mantle of its mystery, and shown The ghastly form with which it now returns When its scared game is roused, cheering the hounds Of conscience to their prey! Alas! Alas! It was a wicked thought, a piteous deed, _10 To kill an old and hoary-headed father. ORSINO: It has turned out unluckily, in truth. GIACOMO: To violate the sacred doors of sleep; To cheat kind Nature of the placid death Which she prepares for overwearied age; _15 To drag from Heaven an unrepentant soul Which might have quenched in reconciling prayers A life of burning crimes... ORSINO: You cannot say I urged you to the deed. GIACOMO: O, had I never Found in thy smooth and ready countenance _20 The mirror of my darkest thoughts; hadst thou Never with hints and questions made me look Upon the monster of my thought, until It grew familiar to desire... ORSINO: 'Tis thus Men cast the blame of their unprosperous acts _25 Upon the abettors of their own resolve; Or anything but their weak, guilty selves. And yet, confess the truth, it is the peril In which you stand that gives you this pale sickness Of penitence; confess 'tis fear disguised _30 From its own shame that takes the mantle now Of thin remorse. What if we yet were safe? GIACOMO: How can that be? Already Beatrice, Lucretia and the murderer are in prison. I doubt not officers are, whilst we speak, _35 Sent to arrest us. ORSINO: I have all prepared For instant flight. We can escape even now, So we take fleet occasion by the hair. GIACOMO: Rather expire in tortures, as I may. What! will you cast by self-accusing flight _40 Assured conviction upon Beatrice? She, who alone in this unnatural work, Stands like God's angel ministered upon By fiends; avenging such a nameless wrong As turns black parricide to piety; _45 Whilst we for basest ends...I fear, Orsino, While I consider all your words and looks, Comparing them with your proposal now, That you must be a villain. For what end Could you engage in such a perilous crime, _50 Training me on with hints, and signs, and smiles, Even to this gulf? Thou art no liar? No, Thou art a lie! Traitor and murderer! Coward and slave! But no, defend thyself; [DRAWING.] Let the sword speak what the indignant tongue _55 Disdains to brand thee with. ORSINO: Put up your weapon. Is it the desperation of your fear Makes you thus rash and sudden with a friend, Now ruined for your sake? If honest anger Have moved you, know, that what I just proposed _60 Was but to try you. As for me, I think, Thankless affection led me to this point, From which, if my firm temper could repent, I cannot now recede. Even whilst we speak The ministers of justice wait below: _65 They grant me these brief moments. Now if you Have any word of melancholy comfort To speak to your pale wife, 'twere best to pass Out at the postern, and avoid them so. NOTE: _58 a friend edition 1821; your friend edition 1839. GIACOMO: O, generous friend! How canst thou pardon me? _70 Would that my life could purchase thine! ORSINO: That wish Now comes a day too late. Haste; fare thee well! Hear'st thou not steps along the corridor? [EXIT GIACOMO.] I'm sorry for it; but the guards are waiting At his own gate, and such was my contrivance _75 That I might rid me both of him and them. I thought to act a solemn comedy Upon the painted scene of this new world, And to attain my own peculiar ends By some such plot of mingled good and ill _80 As others weave; but there arose a Power Which grasped and snapped the threads of my device And turned it to a net of ruin...Ha! [A SHOUT IS HEARD.] Is that my name I hear proclaimed abroad? But I will pass, wrapped in a vile disguise; _85 Rags on my back, and a false innocence Upon my face, through the misdeeming crowd Which judges by what seems. 'Tis easy then For a new name and for a country new, And a new life, fashioned on old desires, _90 To change the honours of abandoned Rome. And these must be the masks of that within, Which must remain unaltered...Oh, I fear That what is past will never let me rest! Why, when none else is conscious, but myself, _95 Of my misdeeds, should my own heart's contempt Trouble me? Have I not the power to fly My own reproaches? Shall I be the slave Of...what? A word? which those of this false world Employ against each other, not themselves; _100 As men wear daggers not for self-offence. But if I am mistaken, where shall I Find the disguise to hide me from myself, As now I skulk from every other eye? [EXIT.] SCENE 5.2: A HALL OF JUSTICE. CAMILLO, JUDGES, ETC., ARE DISCOVERED SEATED; MARZIO IS LED IN. FIRST JUDGE: Accused, do you persist in your denial? I ask you, are you innocent, or guilty? I demand who were the participators In your offence? Speak truth, and the whole truth. MARZIO: My God! I did not kill him; I know nothing; _5 Olimpio sold the robe to me from which You would infer my guilt. SECOND JUDGE: Away with him! FIRST JUDGE: Dare you, with lips yet white from the rack's kiss Speak false? Is it so soft a questioner, That you would bandy lover's talk with it _10 Till it wind out your life and soul? Away! MARZIO: Spare me! O, spare! I will confess. FIRST JUDGE: Then speak. MARZIO: I strangled him in his sleep. FIRST JUDGE: Who urged you to it? MARZIO: His own son Giacomo, and the young prelate Orsino sent me to Petrella; there _15 The ladies Beatrice and Lucretia Tempted me with a thousand crowns, and I And my companion forthwith murdered him. Now let me die. FIRST JUDGE: This sounds as bad as truth. Guards, there, Lead forth the prisoner! [ENTER LUCRETIA, BEATRICE AND GIACOMO, GUARDED.] Look upon this man; _20 When did you see him last? BEATRICE: We never saw him. MARZIO: You know me too well, Lady Beatrice. BEATRICE: I know thee! How? where? when? MARZIO: You know 'twas I Whom you did urge with menaces and bribes To kill your father. When the thing was done _25 You clothed me in a robe of woven gold And bade me thrive: how I have thriven, you see. You, my Lord Giacomo, Lady Lucretia, You know that what I speak is true. [BEATRICE ADVANCES TOWARDS HIM; HE COVERS HIS FACE, AND SHRINKS BACK.] Oh, dart The terrible resentment of those eyes _30 On the dead earth! Turn them away from me! They wound: 'twas torture forced the truth. My Lords, Having said this let me be led to death. BEATRICE: Poor wretch, I pity thee: yet stay awhile. CAMILLO: Guards, lead him not away. BEATRICE: Cardinal Camillo, _35 You have a good repute for gentleness And wisdom: can it be that you sit here To countenance a wicked farce like this? When some obscure and trembling slave is dragged From sufferings which might shake the sternest heart _40 And bade to answer, not as he believes, But as those may suspect or do desire Whose questions thence suggest their own reply: And that in peril of such hideous torments As merciful God spares even the damned. Speak now _45 The thing you surely know, which is that you, If your fine frame were stretched upon that wheel, And you were told: 'Confess that you did poison Your little nephew; that fair blue-eyed child Who was the lodestar of your life:'--and though _50 All see, since his most swift and piteous death, That day and night, and heaven and earth, and time, And all the things hoped for or done therein Are changed to you, through your exceeding grief, Yet you would say, 'I confess anything:' _55 And beg from your tormentors, like that slave, The refuge of dishonourable death. I pray thee, Cardinal, that thou assert My innocence. CAMILLO [MUCH MOVED]: What shall we think, my Lords? Shame on these tears! I thought the heart was frozen _60 Which is their fountain. I would pledge my soul That she is guiltless. JUDGE: Yet she must be tortured. CAMILLO: I would as soon have tortured mine own nephew (If he now lived he would be just her age; His hair, too, was her colour, and his eyes _65 Like hers in shape, but blue and not so deep) As that most perfect image of God's love That ever came sorrowing upon the earth. She is as pure as speechless infancy! JUDGE: Well, be her purity on your head, my Lord, _70 If you forbid the rack. His Holiness Enjoined us to pursue this monstrous crime By the severest forms of law; nay even To stretch a point against the criminals. The prisoners stand accused of parricide _75 Upon such evidence as justifies Torture. BEATRICE: What evidence? This man's? JUDGE: Even so. BEATRICE [TO MARZIO]: Come near. And who art thou thus chosen forth Out of the multitude of living men To kill the innocent? MARZIO: I am Marzio, _80 Thy father's vassal. BEATRICE: Fix thine eyes on mine; Answer to what I ask. [TURNING TO THE JUDGES.] I prithee mark His countenance: unlike bold calumny Which sometimes dares not speak the thing it looks, He dares not look the thing he speaks, but bends _85 His gaze on the blind earth. [TO MARZIO.] What! wilt thou say That I did murder my own father? MARZIO: Oh! Spare me! My brain swims round...I cannot speak... It was that horrid torture forced the truth. Take me away! Let her not look on me! _90 I am a guilty miserable wretch; I have said all I know; now, let me die! BEATRICE: My Lords, if by my nature I had been So stern, as to have planned the crime alleged, Which your suspicions dictate to this slave, _95 And the rack makes him utter, do you think I should have left this two-edged instrument Of my misdeed; this man, this bloody knife With my own name engraven on the heft, Lying unsheathed amid a world of foes, _100 For my own death? That with such horrible need For deepest silence, I should have neglected So trivial a precaution, as the making His tomb the keeper of a secret written On a thief's memory? What is his poor life? _105 What are a thousand lives? A parricide Had trampled them like dust; and, see, he lives! [TURNING TO MARZIO.] And thou... MARZIO: Oh, spare me! Speak to me no more! That stern yet piteous look, those solemn tones, Wound worse than torture. [TO THE JUDGES.] I have told it all; _110 For pity's sake lead me away to death. CAMILLO: Guards, lead him nearer the Lady Beatrice; He shrinks from her regard like autumn's leaf From the keen breath of the serenest north. BEATRICE: O thou who tremblest on the giddy verge _115 Of life and death, pause ere thou answerest me; So mayst thou answer God with less dismay: What evil have we done thee? I, alas! Have lived but on this earth a few sad years, And so my lot was ordered, that a father _120 First turned the moments of awakening life To drops, each poisoning youth's sweet hope; and then Stabbed with one blow my everlasting soul; And my untainted fame; and even that peace Which sleeps within the core of the heart's heart; _125 But the wound was not mortal; so my hate Became the only worship I could lift To our great father, who in pity and love, Armed thee, as thou dost say, to cut him off; And thus his wrong becomes my accusation; _130 And art thou the accuser? If thou hopest Mercy in heaven, show justice upon earth: Worse than a bloody hand is a hard heart. If thou hast done murders, made thy life's path Over the trampled laws of God and man, _135 Rush not before thy Judge, and say: 'My maker, I have done this and more; for there was one Who was most pure and innocent on earth; And because she endured what never any Guilty or innocent endured before: _140 Because her wrongs could not be told, not thought; Because thy hand at length did rescue her; I with my words killed her and all her kin.' Think, I adjure you, what it is to slay The reverence living in the minds of men _145 Towards our ancient house, and stainless fame! Think what it is to strangle infant pity, Cradled in the belief of guileless looks, Till it become a crime to suffer. Think What 'tis to blot with infamy and blood _150 All that which shows like innocence, and is, Hear me, great God! I swear, most innocent, So that the world lose all discrimination Between the sly, fierce, wild regard of guilt, And that which now compels thee to reply _155 To what I ask: Am I, or am I not A parricide? MARZIO: Thou art not! JUDGE: What is this? MARZIO: I here declare those whom I did accuse Are innocent. 'Tis I alone am guilty. JUDGE: Drag him away to torments; let them be _160 Subtle and long drawn out, to tear the folds Of the heart's inmost cell. Unbind him not Till he confess. MARZIO: Torture me as ye will: A keener pang has wrung a higher truth From my last breath. She is most innocent! _165 Bloodhounds, not men, glut yourselves well with me; I will not give you that fine piece of nature To rend and ruin. NOTE: _164 pang edition 1821; pain editions 1819, 1839. [EXIT MARZIO, GUARDED.] CAMILLO: What say ye now, my Lords? JUDGE: Let tortures strain the truth till it be white As snow thrice sifted by the frozen wind. _170 CAMILLO: Yet stained with blood. JUDGE [TO BEATRICE]: Know you this paper, Lady? BEATRICE: Entrap me not with questions. Who stands here As my accuser? Ha! wilt thou be he, Who art my judge? Accuser, witness, judge, What, all in one? Here is Orsino's name; _175 Where is Orsino? Let his eye meet mine. What means this scrawl? Alas! ye know not what, And therefore on the chance that it may be Some evil, will ye kill us? [ENTER AN OFFICER.] OFFICER: Marzio's dead. JUDGE: What did he say? OFFICER: Nothing. As soon as we _180 Had bound him on the wheel, he smiled on us, As one who baffles a deep adversary; And holding his breath, died. JUDGE: There remains nothing But to apply the question to those prisoners, Who yet remain stubborn. CAMILLO: I overrule _185 Further proceedings, and in the behalf Of these most innocent and noble persons Will use my interest with the Holy Father. JUDGE: Let the Pope's pleasure then be done. Meanwhile Conduct these culprits each to separate cells; _190 And be the engines ready; for this night If the Pope's resolution be as grave, Pious, and just as once, I'll wring the truth Out of those nerves and sinews, groan by groan. [EXEUNT.] SCENE 5.3: THE CELL OF A PRISON. BEATRICE IS DISCOVERED ASLEEP ON A COUCH. ENTER BERNARDO. BERNARDO: How gently slumber rests upon her face, Like the last thoughts of some day sweetly spent Closing in night and dreams, and so prolonged. After such torments as she bore last night, How light and soft her breathing comes. Ay me! _5 Methinks that I shall never sleep again. But I must shake the heavenly dew of rest From this sweet folded flower, thus...wake, awake! What, sister, canst thou sleep? BEATRICE [AWAKING]: I was just dreaming That we were all in Paradise. Thou knowest _10 This cell seems like a kind of Paradise After our father's presence. BERNARDO: Dear, dear sister, Would that thy dream were not a dream! O God! How shall I tell? BEATRICE: What wouldst thou tell, sweet brother? BERNARDO: Look not so calm and happy, or even whilst _15 I stand considering what I have to say My heart will break. BEATRICE: See now, thou mak'st me weep: How very friendless thou wouldst be, dear child, If I were dead. Say what thou hast to say. BERNARDO: They have confessed; they could endure no more _20 The tortures... BEATRICE: Ha! What was there to confess? They must have told some weak and wicked lie To flatter their tormentors. Have they said That they were guilty? O white innocence, That thou shouldst wear the mask of guilt to hide _25 Thine awful and serenest countenance From those who know thee not! [ENTER JUDGE WITH LUCRETIA AND GIACOMO, GUARDED.] Ignoble hearts! For some brief spasms of pain, which are at least As mortal as the limbs through which they pass, Are centuries of high splendour laid in dust? _30 And that eternal honour which should live Sunlike, above the reek of mortal fame, Changed to a mockery and a byword? What! Will you give up these bodies to be dragged At horses' heels, so that our hair should sweep _35 The footsteps of the vain and senseless crowd, Who, that they may make our calamity Their worship and their spectacle, will leave The churches and the theatres as void As their own hearts? Shall the light multitude _40 Fling, at their choice, curses or faded pity, Sad funeral flowers to deck a living corpse, Upon us as we pass to pass away, And leave...what memory of our having been? Infamy, blood, terror, despair? O thou, _45 Who wert a mother to the parentless, Kill not thy child! Let not her wrongs kill thee! Brother, lie down with me upon the rack, And let us each be silent as a corpse; It soon will be as soft as any grave. _50 'Tis but the falsehood it can wring from fear Makes the rack cruel. GIACOMO: They will tear the truth Even from thee at last, those cruel pains: For pity's sake say thou art guilty now. LUCRETIA: Oh, speak the truth! Let us all quickly die; _55 And after death, God is our judge, not they; He will have mercy on us. BERNARDO: If indeed It can be true, say so, dear sister mine; And then the Pope will surely pardon you, And all be well. JUDGE: Confess, or I will warp _60 Your limbs with such keen tortures... BEATRICE: Tortures! Turn The rack henceforth into a spinning-wheel! Torture your dog, that he may tell when last He lapped the blood his master shed...not me! My pangs are of the mind, and of the heart, _65 And of the soul; ay, of the inmost soul, Which weeps within tears as of burning gall To see, in this ill world where none are true, My kindred false to their deserted selves. And with considering all the wretched life _70 Which I have lived, and its now wretched end, And the small justice shown by Heaven and Earth To me or mine; and what a tyrant thou art, And what slaves these; and what a world we make, The oppressor and the oppressed...such pangs compel _75 My answer. What is it thou wouldst with me? JUDGE: Art thou not guilty of thy father's death? BEATRICE: Or wilt thou rather tax high-judging God That He permitted such an act as that Which I have suffered, and which He beheld; _80 Made it unutterable, and took from it All refuge, all revenge, all consequence, But that which thou hast called my father's death? Which is or is not what men call a crime, Which either I have done, or have not done; _85 Say what ye will. I shall deny no more. If ye desire it thus, thus let it be, And so an end of all. Now do your will; No other pains shall force another word. JUDGE: She is convicted, but has not confessed. _90 Be it enough. Until their final sentence Let none have converse with them. You, young Lord, Linger not here! BEATRICE: Oh, tear him not away! JUDGE: Guards! do your duty. BERNARDO [EMBRACING BEATRICE]: Oh! would ye divide Body from soul? OFFICER: That is the headsman's business. _95 [EXEUNT ALL BUT LUCRETIA, BEATRICE, AND GIACOMO.] GIACOMO: Have I confessed? Is it all over now? No hope! No refuge! O weak, wicked tongue Which hast destroyed me, would that thou hadst been Cut out and thrown to dogs first! To have killed My father first, and then betrayed my sister; _100 Ay, thee! the one thing innocent and pure In this black, guilty world, to that which I So well deserve! My wife! my little ones! Destitute, helpless, and I...Father! God! Canst Thou forgive even the unforgiving, _105 When their full hearts break thus, thus!... [COVERS HIS FACE AND WEEPS.] LUCRETIA: O my child! To what a dreadful end are we all come! Why did I yield? Why did I not sustain Those torments? Oh, that I were all dissolved Into these fast and unavailing tears, _110 Which flow and feel not! BEATRICE: What 'twas weak to do, 'Tis weaker to lament, once being done; Take cheer! The God who knew my wrong, and made Our speedy act the angel of His wrath, Seems, and but seems, to have abandoned us. _115 Let us not think that we shall die for this. Brother, sit near me; give me your firm hand, You had a manly heart. Bear up! Bear up! O dearest Lady, put your gentle head Upon my lap, and try to sleep awhile: _120 Your eyes look pale, hollow, and overworn, With heaviness of watching and slow grief. Come, I will sing you some low, sleepy tune, Not cheerful, nor yet sad; some dull old thing, Some outworn and unused monotony, _125 Such as our country gossips sing and spin, Till they almost forget they live: lie down! So, that will do. Have I forgot the words? Faith! They are sadder than I thought they were. SONG: False friend, wilt thou smile or weep _130 When my life is laid asleep? Little cares for a smile or a tear, The clay-cold corpse upon the bier! Farewell! Heighho! What is this whispers low? _135 There is a snake in thy smile, my dear; And bitter poison within thy tear. Sweet sleep, were death like to thee, Or if thou couldst mortal be, I would close these eyes of pain; _140 When to wake? Never again. O World! Farewell! Listen to the passing bell! It says, thou and I must part, With a light and a heavy heart. _145 [THE SCENE CLOSES.] SCENE 5.4: A HALL OF THE PRISON. ENTER CAMILLO AND BERNARDO. CAMILLO: The Pope is stern; not to be moved or bent. He looked as calm and keen as is the engine Which tortures and which kills, exempt itself From aught that it inflicts; a marble form, A rite, a law, a custom: not a man. _5 He frowned, as if to frown had been the trick Of his machinery, on the advocates Presenting the defences, which he tore And threw behind, muttering with hoarse, harsh voice: 'Which among ye defended their old father _10 Killed in his sleep?' Then to another: 'Thou Dost this in virtue of thy place; 'tis well.' He turned to me then, looking deprecation, And said these three words, coldly: 'They must die.' BERNARDO: And yet you left him not? CAMILLO: I urged him still; _15 Pleading, as I could guess, the devilish wrong Which prompted your unnatural parent's death. And he replied: 'Paolo Santa Croce Murdered his mother yester evening, And he is fled. Parricide grows so rife _20 That soon, for some just cause no doubt, the young Will strangle us all, dozing in our chairs. Authority, and power, and hoary hair Are grown crimes capital. You are my nephew, You come to ask their pardon; stay a moment; _25 Here is their sentence; never see me more Till, to the letter, it be all fulfilled.' BERNARDO: O God, not so! I did believe indeed That all you said was but sad preparation For happy news. Oh, there are words and looks _30 To bend the sternest purpose! Once I knew them, Now I forget them at my dearest need. What think you if I seek him out, and bathe His feet and robe with hot and bitter tears? Importune him with prayers, vexing his brain _35 With my perpetual cries, until in rage He strike me with his pastoral cross, and trample Upon my prostrate head, so that my blood May stain the senseless dust on which he treads, And remorse waken mercy? I will do it! _40 Oh, wait till I return! [RUSHES OUT.] CAMILLO: Alas, poor boy! A wreck-devoted seaman thus might pray To the deaf sea. [ENTER LUCRETIA, BEATRICE, AND GIACOMO, GUARDED.] BEATRICE: I hardly dare to fear That thou bring'st other news than a just pardon. CAMILLO: May God in heaven be less inexorable _45 To the Pope's prayers than he has been to mine. Here is the sentence and the warrant. BEATRICE [WILDLY]: O My God! Can it be possible I have To die so suddenly? So young to go Under the obscure, cold, rotting, wormy ground! _50 To be nailed down into a narrow place; To see no more sweet sunshine; hear no more Blithe voice of living thing; muse not again Upon familiar thoughts, sad, yet thus lost-- How fearful! to be nothing! Or to be... _55 What? Oh, where am I? Let me not go mad! Sweet Heaven, forgive weak thoughts! If there should be No God, no Heaven, no Earth in the void world; The wide, gray, lampless, deep, unpeopled world! If all things then should be...my father's spirit, _60 His eye, his voice, his touch surrounding me; The atmosphere and breath of my dead life! If sometimes, as a shape more like himself, Even the form which tortured me on earth, Masked in gray hairs and wrinkles, he should come _65 And wind me in his hellish arms, and fix His eyes on mine, and drag me down, down, down! For was he not alone omnipotent On Earth, and ever present? Even though dead, Does not his spirit live in all that breathe, _70 And work for me and mine still the same ruin, Scorn, pain, despair? Who ever yet returned To teach the laws of Death's untrodden realm? Unjust perhaps as those which drive us now, Oh, whither, whither? LUCRETIA: Trust in God's sweet love, _75 The tender promises of Christ: ere night, Think, we shall be in Paradise. BEATRICE: 'Tis past! Whatever comes, my heart shall sink no more. And yet, I know not why, your words strike chill: How tedious, false, and cold seem all things. I _80 Have met with much injustice in this world; No difference has been made by God or man, Or any power moulding my wretched lot, 'Twixt good or evil, as regarded me. I am cut off from the only world I know, _85 From light, and life, and love, in youth's sweet prime. You do well telling me to trust in God; I hope I do trust in him. In whom else Can any trust? And yet my heart is cold. [DURING THE LATTER SPEECHES GIACOMO HAS RETIRED CONVERSING WITH CAMILLO, WHO NOW GOES OUT; GIACOMO ADVANCES.] GIACOMO: Know you not, Mother...Sister, know you not? _90 Bernardo even now is gone to implore The Pope to grant our pardon. LUCRETIA: Child, perhaps It will be granted. We may all then live To make these woes a tale for distant years: Oh, what a thought! It gushes to my heart _95 Like the warm blood. BEATRICE: Yet both will soon be cold. Oh, trample out that thought! Worse than despair, Worse than the bitterness of death, is hope: It is the only ill which can find place Upon the giddy, sharp, and narrow hour _100 Tottering beneath us. Plead with the swift frost That it should spare the eldest flower of spring: Plead with awakening earthquake, o'er whose couch Even now a city stands, strong, fair, and free; Now stench and blackness yawn, like death. Oh, plead _105 With famine, or wind-walking Pestilence, Blind lightning, or the deaf sea, not with man! Cruel, cold, formal man; righteous in words, In deeds a Cain. No, Mother, we must die: Since such is the reward of innocent lives; _110 Such the alleviation of worst wrongs. And whilst our murderers live, and hard, cold men, Smiling and slow, walk through a world of tears To death as to life's sleep; 'twere just the grave Were some strange joy for us. Come, obscure Death, _115 And wind me in thine all-embracing arms! Like a fond mother hide me in thy bosom, And rock me to the sleep from which none wake. Live ye, who live, subject to one another As we were once, who now... NOTE: _105 yawn edition 1821; yawns editions 1819, 1839. [BERNARDO RUSHES IN.] BERNARDO: Oh, horrible! _120 That tears, that looks, that hope poured forth in prayer, Even till the heart is vacant and despairs, Should all be vain! The ministers of death Are waiting round the doors. I thought I saw Blood on the face of one...What if 'twere fancy? _125 Soon the heart's blood of all I love on earth Will sprinkle him, and he will wipe it off As if 'twere only rain. O life! O world! Cover me! let me be no more! To see That perfect mirror of pure innocence _130 Wherein I gazed, and grew happy and good, Shivered to dust! To see thee, Beatrice, Who made all lovely thou didst look upon... Thee, light of life ... dead, dark! while I say, sister, To hear I have no sister; and thou, Mother, _135 Whose love was as a bond to all our loves... Dead! The sweet bond broken! [ENTER CAMILLO AND GUARDS.] They come! Let me Kiss those warm lips before their crimson leaves Are blighted...white...cold. Say farewell, before Death chokes that gentle voice! Oh, let me hear _140 You speak! NOTE: _136 was as a Rossetti cj.; was a editions 1819, 1821, 1839. BEATRICE: Farewell, my tender brother. Think Of our sad fate with gentleness, as now: And let mild, pitying thoughts lighten for thee Thy sorrow's load. Err not in harsh despair, But tears and patience. One thing more, my child: _145 For thine own sake be constant to the love Thou bearest us; and to the faith that I, Though wrapped in a strange cloud of crime and shame, Lived ever holy and unstained. And though Ill tongues shall wound me, and our common name _150 Be as a mark stamped on thine innocent brow For men to point at as they pass, do thou Forbear, and never think a thought unkind Of those, who perhaps love thee in their graves. So mayest thou die as I do; fear and pain _155 Being subdued. Farewell! Farewell! Farewell! BERNARDO: I cannot say, farewell! CAMILLO: Oh, Lady Beatrice! BEATRICE: Give yourself no unnecessary pain, My dear Lord Cardinal. Here, Mother, tie My girdle for me, and bind up this hair _160 In any simple knot; ay, that does well. And yours I see is coming down. How often Have we done this for one another; now We shall not do it any more. My Lord, We are quite ready. Well, 'tis very well. _165 THE END. NOTE ON THE CENCI, BY MRS. SHELLEY. The sort of mistake that Shelley made as to the extent of his own genius and powers, which led him deviously at first, but lastly into the direct track that enabled him fully to develop them, is a curious instance of his modesty of feeling, and of the methods which the human mind uses at once to deceive itself, and yet, in its very delusion, to make its way out of error into the path which Nature has marked out as its right one. He often incited me to attempt the writing a tragedy: he conceived that I possessed some dramatic talent, and he was always most earnest and energetic in his exhortations that I should cultivate any talent I possessed, to the utmost. I entertained a truer estimate of my powers; and above all (though at that time not exactly aware of the fact) I was far too young to have any chance of succeeding, even moderately, in a species of composition that requires a greater scope of experience in, and sympathy with, human passion than could then have fallen to my lot,--or than any perhaps, except Shelley, ever possessed, even at the age of twenty-six, at which he wrote The Cenci. On the other hand, Shelley most erroneously conceived himself to be destitute of this talent. He believed that one of the first requisites was the capacity of forming and following-up a story or plot. He fancied himself to he defective in this portion of imagination: it was that which gave him least pleasure in the writings of others, though he laid great store by it as the proper framework to support the sublimest efforts of poetry. He asserted that he was too metaphysical and abstract, too fond of the theoretical and the ideal, to succeed as a tragedian. It perhaps is not strange that I shared this opinion with himself; for he had hitherto shown no inclination for, nor given any specimen of his powers in framing and supporting the interest of a story, either in prose or verse. Once or twice, when he attempted such, he had speedily thrown it aside, as being even disagreeable to him as an occupation. The subject he had suggested for a tragedy was Charles I: and he had written to me: 'Remember, remember Charles I. I have been already imagining how you would conduct some scenes. The second volume of "St. Leon" begins with this proud and true sentiment: "There is nothing which the human mind can conceive which it may not execute." Shakespeare was only a human being.' These words were written in 1818, while we were in Lombardy, when he little thought how soon a work of his own would prove a proud comment on the passage he quoted. When in Rome, in 1819, a friend put into our hands the old manuscript account of the story of the Cenci. We visited the Colonna and Doria palaces, where the portraits of Beatrice were to be found; and her beauty cast the reflection of its own grace over her appalling story. Shelley's imagination became strongly excited, and he urged the subject to me as one fitted for a tragedy. More than ever I felt my incompetence; but I entreated him to write it instead; and he began, and proceeded swiftly, urged on by intense sympathy with the sufferings of the human beings whose passions, so long cold in the tomb, he revived, and gifted with poetic language. This tragedy is the only one of his works that he communicated to me during its progress. We talked over the arrangement of the scenes together. I speedily saw the great mistake we had made, and triumphed in the discovery of the new talent brought to light from that mine of wealth (never, alas, through his untimely death, worked to its depths)--his richly gifted mind. We suffered a severe affliction in Rome by the loss of our eldest child, who was of such beauty and promise as to cause him deservedly to be the idol of our hearts. We left the capital of the world, anxious for a time to escape a spot associated too intimately with his presence and loss. (Such feelings haunted him when, in "The Cenci", he makes Beatrice speak to Cardinal Camillo of 'that fair blue-eyed child Who was the lodestar of your life:'--and say-- All see, since his most swift and piteous death, That day and night, and heaven and earth, and time, And all the things hoped for or done therein Are changed to you, through your exceeding grief.') Some friends of ours were residing in the neighbourhood of Leghorn, and we took a small house, Villa Valsovano, about half-way between the town and Monte Nero, where we remained during the summer. Our villa was situated in the midst of a podere; the peasants sang as they worked beneath our windows, during the heats of a very hot season, and in the evening the water-wheel creaked as the process of irrigation went on, and the fireflies flashed from among the myrtle hedges: Nature was bright, sunshiny, and cheerful, or diversified by storms of a majestic terror, such as we had never before witnessed. At the top of the house there was a sort of terrace. There is often such in Italy, generally roofed: this one was very small, yet not only roofed but glazed. This Shelley made his study; it looked out on a wide prospect of fertile country, and commanded a view of the near sea. The storms that sometimes varied our day showed themselves most picturesquely as they were driven across the ocean; sometimes the dark lurid clouds dipped towards the waves, and became water-spouts that churned up the waters beneath, as they were chased onward and scattered by the tempest. At other times the dazzling sunlight and heat made it almost intolerable to every other; but Shelley basked in both, and his health and spirits revived under their influence. In this airy cell he wrote the principal part of "The Cenci". He was making a study of Calderon at the time, reading his best tragedies with an accomplished lady living near us, to whom his letter from Leghorn was addressed during the following year. He admired Calderon, both for his poetry and his dramatic genius; but it shows his judgement and originality that, though greatly struck by his first acquaintance with the Spanish poet, none of his peculiarities crept into the composition of "The Cenci"; and there is no trace of his new studies, except in that passage to which he himself alludes as suggested by one in "El Purgatorio de San Patricio". Shelley wished "The Cenci" to be acted. He was not a playgoer, being of such fastidious taste that he was easily disgusted by the bad filling-up of the inferior parts. While preparing for our departure from England, however, he saw Miss O'Neil several times. She was then in the zenith of her glory; and Shelley was deeply moved by her impersonation of several parts, and by the graceful sweetness, the intense pathos, the sublime vehemence of passion she displayed. She was often in his thoughts as he wrote: and, when he had finished, he became anxious that his tragedy should be acted, and receive the advantage of having this accomplished actress to fill the part of the heroine. With this view he wrote the following letter to a friend in London: 'The object of the present letter us to ask a favour of you. I have written a tragedy on a story well known in Italy, and, in my conception, eminently dramatic. I have taken some pains to make my play fit for representation, and those who have already seen it judge favourably. It is written without any of the peculiar feelings and opinions which characterize my other compositions; I have attended simply to the impartial development of such characters as it is probable the persons represented really were, together with the greatest degree of popular effect to be produced by such a development. I send you a translation of the Italian manuscript on which my play is founded; the chief circumstance of which I have touched very delicately; for my principal doubt as to whether it would succeed as an acting play hangs entirely on the question as to whether any such a thing as incest in this shape, however treated, would be admitted on the stage. I think, however, it will form no objection; considering, first, that the facts are matter of history, and, secondly, the peculiar delicacy with which I have treated it. (In speaking of his mode of treating this main incident, Shelley said that it might be remarked that, in the course of the play, he had never mentioned expressly Cenci's worst crime. Every one knew what it must be, but it was never imaged in words--the nearest allusion to it being that portion of Cenci's curse beginning-- "That, if she have a child," etc.) 'I am exceedingly interested in the question of whether this attempt of mine will succeed or not. I am strongly inclined to the affirmative at present; founding my hopes on this--that, as a composition, it is certainly not inferior to any of the modern plays that have been acted, with the exception of "Remorse"; that the interest of the plot is incredibly greater and more real; and that there is nothing beyond what the multitude are contented to believe that they can understand, either in imagery, opinion, or sentiment. I wish to preserve a complete incognito, and can trust to you that, whatever else you do, you will at least favour me on this point. Indeed, this is essential, deeply essential, to its success. After it had been acted, and successfully (could I hope for such a thing), I would own it if I pleased, and use the celebrity it might acquire to my own purposes. 'What I want you to do is to procure for me its presentation at Covent Garden. The principal character, Beatrice, is precisely fitted for Miss O'Neil, and it might even seem to have been written for her (God forbid that I should see her play it--it would tear my nerves to pieces); and in all respects it is fitted only for Covent Garden. The chief male character I confess I should be very unwilling that any one but Kean should play. That is impossible, and I must be contented with an inferior actor.' The play was accordingly sent to Mr. Harris. He pronounced the subject to be so objectionable that he could not even submit the part to Miss O'Neil for perusal, but expressed his desire that the author would write a tragedy on some other subject, which he would gladly accept. Shelley printed a small edition at Leghorn, to ensure its correctness; as he was much annoyed by the many mistakes that crept into his text when distance prevented him from correcting the press. Universal approbation soon stamped "The Cenci" as the best tragedy of modern times. Writing concerning it, Shelley said: 'I have been cautious to avoid the introducing faults of youthful composition; diffuseness, a profusion of inapplicable imagery, vagueness, generality, and, as Hamlet says, "words, words".' There is nothing that is not purely dramatic throughout; and the character of Beatrice, proceeding, from vehement struggle, to horror, to deadly resolution, and lastly to the elevated dignity of calm suffering, joined to passionate tenderness and pathos, is touched with hues so vivid and so beautiful that the poet seems to have read intimately the secrets of the noble heart imaged in the lovely countenance of the unfortunate girl. The Fifth Act is a masterpiece. It is the finest thing he ever wrote, and may claim proud comparison not only with any contemporary, but preceding, poet. The varying feelings of Beatrice are expressed with passionate, heart-reaching eloquence. Every character has a voice that echoes truth in its tones. It is curious, to one acquainted with the written story, to mark the success with which the poet has inwoven the real incidents of the tragedy into his scenes, and yet, through the power of poetry, has obliterated all that would otherwise have shown too harsh or too hideous in the picture. His success was a double triumph; and often after he was earnestly entreated to write again in a style that commanded popular favour, while it was not less instinct with truth and genius. But the bent of his mind went the other way; and, even when employed on subjects whose interest depended on character and incident, he would start off in another direction, and leave the delineations of human passion, which he could depict in so able a manner, for fantastic creations of his fancy, or the expression of those opinions and sentiments, with regard to human nature and its destiny, a desire to diffuse which was the master passion of his soul. *** THE MASK OF ANARCHY. WRITTEN ON THE OCCASION OF THE MASSACRE AT MANCHESTER. [Composed at the Villa Valsovano near Leghorn--or possibly later, during Shelley's sojourn at Florence--in the autumn of 1819, shortly after the Peterloo riot at Manchester, August 16; edited with Preface by Leigh Hunt, and published under the poet's name by Edward Moxon, 1832 (Bradbury & Evans, printers). Two manuscripts are extant: a transcript by Mrs. Shelley with Shelley's autograph corrections, known as the 'Hunt manuscript'; and an earlier draft, not quite complete, in the poet's handwriting, presented by Mrs. Shelley to (Sir) John Bowring in 1826, and now in the possession of Mr. Thomas J. Wise (the 'Wise manuscript'). Mrs. Shelley's copy was sent to Leigh Hunt in 1819 with view to its publication in "The Examiner"; hence the name 'Hunt manuscript.' A facsimile of the Wise manuscript was published by the Shelley Society in 1887. Sources of the text are (1) the Hunt manuscript; (2) the Wise manuscript; (3) the editio princeps, editor Leigh Hunt, 1832; (4) Mrs. Shelley's two editions ("Poetical Works") of 1839. Of the two manuscripts Mrs. Shelley's transcript is the later and more authoritative.] 1. As I lay asleep in Italy There came a voice from over the Sea, And with great power it forth led me To walk in the visions of Poesy. 2. I met Murder on the way-- _5 He had a mask like Castlereagh-- Very smooth he looked, yet grim; Seven blood-hounds followed him: 3. All were fat; and well they might Be in admirable plight, _10 For one by one, and two by two, He tossed them human hearts to chew Which from his wide cloak he drew. 4. Next came Fraud, and he had on, Like Eldon, an ermined gown; _15 His big tears, for he wept well, Turned to mill-stones as they fell. 5. And the little children, who Round his feet played to and fro, Thinking every tear a gem, _20 Had their brains knocked out by them. 6. Clothed with the Bible, as with light, And the shadows of the night, Like Sidmouth, next, Hypocrisy On a crocodile rode by. _25 7. And many more Destructions played In this ghastly masquerade, All disguised, even to the eyes, Like Bishops, lawyers, peers, or spies. 8. Last came Anarchy: he rode _30 On a white horse, splashed with blood; He was pale even to the lips, Like Death in the Apocalypse. 9. And he wore a kingly crown; And in his grasp a sceptre shone; _35 On his brow this mark I saw-- 'I AM GOD, AND KING, AND LAW!' 10. With a pace stately and fast, Over English land he passed, Trampling to a mire of blood _40 The adoring multitude. 11. And a mighty troop around, With their trampling shook the ground, Waving each a bloody sword, For the service of their Lord. _45 12. And with glorious triumph, they Rode through England proud and gay, Drunk as with intoxication Of the wine of desolation. 13. O'er fields and towns, from sea to sea, _50 Passed the Pageant swift and free, Tearing up, and trampling down; Till they came to London town. 14. And each dweller, panic-stricken, Felt his heart with terror sicken _55 Hearing the tempestuous cry Of the triumph of Anarchy. 15. For with pomp to meet him came, Clothed in arms like blood and flame, The hired murderers, who did sing _60 'Thou art God, and Law, and King. 16. 'We have waited, weak and lone For thy coming, Mighty One! Our purses are empty, our swords are cold, Give us glory, and blood, and gold.' _65 17. Lawyers and priests, a motley crowd, To the earth their pale brows bowed; Like a bad prayer not over loud, Whispering--'Thou art Law and God.'-- 18. Then all cried with one accord, _70 'Thou art King, and God, and Lord; Anarchy, to thee we bow, Be thy name made holy now!' 19. And Anarchy, the Skeleton, Bowed and grinned to every one, _75 As well as if his education Had cost ten millions to the nation. 20. For he knew the Palaces Of our Kings were rightly his; His the sceptre, crown, and globe, _80 And the gold-inwoven robe. 21. So he sent his slaves before To seize upon the Bank and Tower, And was proceeding with intent To meet his pensioned Parliament _85 22. When one fled past, a maniac maid, And her name was Hope, she said: But she looked more like Despair, And she cried out in the air: 23. 'My father Time is weak and gray _90 With waiting for a better day; See how idiot-like he stands, Fumbling with his palsied hands! 24. 'He has had child after child, And the dust of death is piled _95 Over every one but me-- Misery, oh, Misery!' 25. Then she lay down in the street, Right before the horses' feet, Expecting, with a patient eye, _100 Murder, Fraud, and Anarchy. 26. When between her and her foes A mist, a light, an image rose, Small at first, and weak, and frail Like the vapour of a vale: _105 27. Till as clouds grow on the blast, Like tower-crowned giants striding fast, And glare with lightnings as they fly, And speak in thunder to the sky, 28. It grew--a Shape arrayed in mail _110 Brighter than the viper's scale, And upborne on wings whose grain Was as the light of sunny rain. 29. On its helm, seen far away, A planet, like the Morning's, lay; _115 And those plumes its light rained through Like a shower of crimson dew. 30. With step as soft as wind it passed O'er the heads of men--so fast That they knew the presence there, _120 And looked,--but all was empty air. 31. As flowers beneath May's footstep waken, As stars from Night's loose hair are shaken, As waves arise when loud winds call, Thoughts sprung where'er that step did fall. _125 32. And the prostrate multitude Looked--and ankle-deep in blood, Hope, that maiden most serene, Was walking with a quiet mien: 33. And Anarchy, the ghastly birth, _130 Lay dead earth upon the earth; The Horse of Death tameless as wind Fled, and with his hoofs did grind To dust the murderers thronged behind. 34. A rushing light of clouds and splendour, _135 A sense awakening and yet tender Was heard and felt--and at its close These words of joy and fear arose 35. As if their own indignant Earth Which gave the sons of England birth _140 Had felt their blood upon her brow, And shuddering with a mother's throe 36. Had turned every drop of blood By which her face had been bedewed To an accent unwithstood,-- _145 As if her heart had cried aloud: 37. 'Men of England, heirs of Glory, Heroes of unwritten story, Nurslings of one mighty Mother, Hopes of her, and one another; _150 38. 'Rise like Lions after slumber In unvanquishable number, Shake your chains to earth like dew Which in sleep had fallen on you-- Ye are many--they are few. _155 39. 'What is Freedom?--ye can tell That which slavery is, too well-- For its very name has grown To an echo of your own. 40. ''Tis to work and have such pay _160 As just keeps life from day to day In your limbs, as in a cell For the tyrants' use to dwell, 41. 'So that ye for them are made Loom, and plough, and sword, and spade, _165 With or without your own will bent To their defence and nourishment. 42. ''Tis to see your children weak With their mothers pine and peak, When the winter winds are bleak,-- _170 They are dying whilst I speak. 43. ''Tis to hunger for such diet As the rich man in his riot Casts to the fat dogs that lie Surfeiting beneath his eye; _175 44. ''Tis to let the Ghost of Gold Take from Toil a thousandfold More than e'er its substance could In the tyrannies of old. 45. 'Paper coin--that forgery _180 Of the title-deeds, which ye Hold to something of the worth Of the inheritance of Earth. 46. ''Tis to be a slave in soul And to hold no strong control _185 Over your own wills, but be All that others make of ye. 47. 'And at length when ye complain With a murmur weak and vain 'Tis to see the Tyrant's crew _190 Ride over your wives and you Blood is on the grass like dew. 48. 'Then it is to feel revenge Fiercely thirsting to exchange Blood for blood--and wrong for wrong-- _195 Do not thus when ye are strong. 49. 'Birds find rest, in narrow nest When weary of their winged quest; Beasts find fare, in woody lair When storm and snow are in the air. _200 50. 'Asses, swine, have litter spread And with fitting food are fed; All things have a home but one-- Thou, Oh, Englishman, hast none! 51. 'This is Slavery--savage men, _205 Or wild beasts within a den Would endure not as ye do-- But such ills they never knew. 52. 'What art thou Freedom? O! could slaves Answer from their living graves _210 This demand--tyrants would flee Like a dream's dim imagery: 53. 'Thou art not, as impostors say, A shadow soon to pass away, A superstition, and a name _215 Echoing from the cave of Fame. 54. 'For the labourer thou art bread, And a comely table spread From his daily labour come In a neat and happy home. _220 55. Thou art clothes, and fire, and food For the trampled multitude-- No--in countries that are free Such starvation cannot be As in England now we see. _225 56. 'To the rich thou art a check, When his foot is on the neck Of his victim, thou dost make That he treads upon a snake. 57. Thou art Justice--ne'er for gold _230 May thy righteous laws be sold As laws are in England--thou Shield'st alike the high and low. 58. 'Thou art Wisdom--Freemen never Dream that God will damn for ever _235 All who think those things untrue Of which Priests make such ado. 59. 'Thou art Peace--never by thee Would blood and treasure wasted be As tyrants wasted them, when all _240 Leagued to quench thy flame in Gaul. 60. 'What if English toil and blood Was poured forth, even as a flood? It availed, Oh, Liberty, To dim, but not extinguish thee. _245 61. 'Thou art Love--the rich have kissed Thy feet, and like him following Christ, Give their substance to the free And through the rough world follow thee, 62. 'Or turn their wealth to arms, and make _250 War for thy beloved sake On wealth, and war, and fraud--whence they Drew the power which is their prey. 63. 'Science, Poetry, and Thought Are thy lamps; they make the lot _255 Of the dwellers in a cot So serene, they curse it not. 64. 'Spirit, Patience, Gentleness, All that can adorn and bless Art thou--let deeds, not words, express _260 Thine exceeding loveliness. 65. 'Let a great Assembly be Of the fearless and the free On some spot of English ground Where the plains stretch wide around. _265 66. 'Let the blue sky overhead, The green earth on which ye tread, All that must eternal be Witness the solemnity. 67. 'From the corners uttermost _270 Of the bounds of English coast; From every hut, village, and town Where those who live and suffer moan For others' misery or their own, 68. 'From the workhouse and the prison Where pale as corpses newly risen, Women, children, young and old _277 Groan for pain, and weep for cold-- 69. 'From the haunts of daily life Where is waged the daily strife _280 With common wants and common cares Which sows the human heart with tares-- 70. 'Lastly from the palaces Where the murmur of distress Echoes, like the distant sound _285 Of a wind alive around 71. 'Those prison halls of wealth and fashion, Where some few feel such compassion For those who groan, and toil, and wail As must make their brethren pale-- 72. 'Ye who suffer woes untold, _291 Or to feel, or to behold Your lost country bought and sold With a price of blood and gold-- 73. 'Let a vast assembly be, _295 And with great solemnity Declare with measured words that ye Are, as God has made ye, free-- 74. 'Be your strong and simple words Keen to wound as sharpened swords, _300 And wide as targes let them be, With their shade to cover ye. 75. 'Let the tyrants pour around With a quick and startling sound, Like the loosening of a sea, _305 Troops of armed emblazonry. 76. 'Let the charged artillery drive Till the dead air seems alive With the clash of clanging wheels, And the tramp of horses' heels. _310 77. 'Let the fixed bayonet Gleam with sharp desire to wet Its bright point in English blood Looking keen as one for food. 78. Let the horsemen's scimitars _315 Wheel and flash, like sphereless stars Thirsting to eclipse their burning In a sea of death and mourning. 79. 'Stand ye calm and resolute, Like a forest close and mute, _320 With folded arms and looks which are Weapons of unvanquished war, 80. 'And let Panic, who outspeeds The career of armed steeds Pass, a disregarded shade _325 Through your phalanx undismayed. 81. 'Let the laws of your own land, Good or ill, between ye stand Hand to hand, and foot to foot, Arbiters of the dispute, _330 82. 'The old laws of England--they Whose reverend heads with age are gray, Children of a wiser day; And whose solemn voice must be Thine own echo--Liberty! _335 83. 'On those who first should violate Such sacred heralds in their state Rest the blood that must ensue, And it will not rest on you. 84. 'And if then the tyrants dare _340 Let them ride among you there, Slash, and stab, and maim, and hew,-- What they like, that let them do. 85. 'With folded arms and steady eyes, And little fear, and less surprise, _345 Look upon them as they slay Till their rage has died away. 86. Then they will return with shame To the place from which they came, And the blood thus shed will speak _350 In hot blushes on their cheek. 87. 'Every woman in the land Will point at them as they stand-- They will hardly dare to greet Their acquaintance in the street. _355 88. 'And the bold, true warriors Who have hugged Danger in wars Will turn to those who would be free, Ashamed of such base company. 89. 'And that slaughter to the Nation _360 Shall steam up like inspiration, Eloquent, oracular; A volcano heard afar. 90. 'And these words shall then become Like Oppression's thundered doom _365 Ringing through each heart and brain, Heard again--again--again-- 91. 'Rise like Lions after slumber In unvanquishable number-- Shake your chains to earth like dew _370 Which in sleep had fallen on you-- Ye are many--they are few.' NOTES: _15. Like Eldon Hunt manuscript; Like Lord Eldon Wise manuscript. _15. ermined Hunt manuscript, Wise manuscript edition 1832; ermine editions 1839. _23 shadows]shadow editions 1839 only. _29 or]and Wise manuscript only. _35 And in his grasp Hunt manuscript, edition 1882; In his hand Wise manuscript, Hunt manuscript cancelled, edition 1839. _36 On his]And on his edition 1832 only. _51 the Hunt manuscript, edition 1832; that Wise manuscript. _56 tempestuous]tremendous editions 1839 only. _58 For with pomp]For from... Hunt manuscript, Wise manuscript. _71 God]Law editions 1839 only. _79 rightly Wise manuscript; nightly Hunt manuscript, editions 1832, 1839. _93 Fumbling] Trembling editions 1839 only. _105 a vale Hunt manuscript, Wise manuscript; the vale editions 1832, 1839. _113 as]like editions 1839 only. _116 its Wise manuscript, Hunt manuscript; it editions 1832, 1839. _121 but Wise MS; and Hunt manuscript, editions 1832, 1839. _122 May's footstep Wise manuscript, Hunt manuscript; the footstep edition 1832; May's footsteps editions 1839. _132-4 omit Wise manuscript. _146 had cried Hunt manuscript, editions 1832, 1839; cried out Wise manuscript. _155 omit edition 1832 only. _182 of]from Wise manuscript only. _186 wills Hunt manuscript, editions 1832, 1839; will Wise manuscript. _198 their Wise manuscript, Hunt manuscript, editions 1839; the edition 1832. _216 cave Wise manuscript, Hunt manuscript, editions 1839; caves edition 1832, Hunt manuscript cancelled. _220 In Wise manuscript, editions 1832, 1839; To Hunt manuscript. (Note at stanza 49: The following stanza is found in the Wise manuscript and in editions 1839, but is wanting in the Hunt manuscript and in edition 1832:-- 'Horses, oxen, have a home, When from daily toil they come; Household dogs, when the wind roars, Find a home within warm doors.') _233 the Hunt manuscript, editions 1832, 1839; both Wise manuscript. _234 Freemen Wise manuscript, Hunt manuscript, editions 1839; Freedom edition 1832. _235 Dream Wise manuscript, Hunt manuscript, editions 1839; Dreams edition 1832. damn]doom editions 1839 only. _248 Give Hunt manuscript, edition 1832; Given Wise manuscript, Hunt manuscript cancelled, editions 1839. _249 follow]followed editions 1839 only. _250 Or Wise manuscript, Hunt manuscript; Oh editions 1832, 1839. _254 Science, Poetry, Wise manuscript, Hunt manuscript; Science, and Poetry editions 1832, 1839. _257 So Hunt manuscript, edition 1832; Such they curse their Maker not Wise manuscript, editions 1839. _263 and]of edition 1832 only. _274 or]and edition 1832 only. (Note to end of stanza 67: The following stanza is found (cancelled) at this place in the Wise manuscript:-- 'From the cities where from caves, Like the dead from putrid graves, Troops of starvelings gliding come, Living Tenants of a tomb.' _282 sows Wise manuscript, Hunt manuscript; sow editions 1832, 1839. _297 measured Wise manuscript, Hunt manuscript, edition 1832; ne'er-said editions 1839. _322 of unvanquished Wise manuscript; of an unvanquished Hunt manuscript, editions 1832, 1839. _346 slay Wise manuscript; Hunt manuscript, editions 1839; stay edition 1832. _357 in wars Wise manuscript, Hunt manuscript, edition 1832; in the wars editions 1839. NOTE ON THE MASK OF ANARCHY, BY MRS. SHELLEY. Though Shelley's first eager desire to excite his countrymen to resist openly the oppressions existent during 'the good old times' had faded with early youth, still his warmest sympathies were for the people. He was a republican, and loved a democracy. He looked on all human beings as inheriting an equal right to possess the dearest privileges of our nature; the necessaries of life when fairly earned by labour, and intellectual instruction. His hatred of any despotism that looked upon the people as not to be consulted, or protected from want and ignorance, was intense. He was residing near Leghorn, at Villa Valsovano, writing "The Cenci", when the news of the Manchester Massacre reached us; it roused in him violent emotions of indignation and compassion. The great truth that the many, if accordant and resolute, could control the few, as was shown some years after, made him long to teach his injured countrymen how to resist. Inspired by these feelings, he wrote the "Mask of Anarchy", which he sent to his friend Leigh Hunt, to be inserted in the Examiner, of which he was then the Editor. 'I did not insert it,' Leigh Hunt writes in his valuable and interesting preface to this poem, when he printed it in 1832, 'because I thought that the public at large had not become sufficiently discerning to do justice to the sincerity and kind-heartedness of the spirit that walked in this flaming robe of verse.' Days of outrage have passed away, and with them the exasperation that would cause such an appeal to the many to be injurious. Without being aware of them, they at one time acted on his suggestions, and gained the day. But they rose when human life was respected by the Minister in power; such was not the case during the Administration which excited Shelley's abhorrence. The poem was written for the people, and is therefore in a more popular tone than usual: portions strike as abrupt and unpolished, but many stanzas are all his own. I heard him repeat, and admired, those beginning 'My Father Time is old and gray,' before I knew to what poem they were to belong. But the most touching passage is that which describes the blessed effects of liberty; it might make a patriot of any man whose heart was not wholly closed against his humbler fellow-creatures. *** PETER BELL THE THIRD. BY MICHING MALLECHO, ESQ. Is it a party in a parlour, Crammed just as they on earth were crammed, Some sipping punch--some sipping tea; But, as you by their faces see, All silent, and all--damned! "Peter Bell", by W. WORDSWORTH. OPHELIA.--What means this, my lord? HAMLET.--Marry, this is Miching Mallecho; it means mischief. SHAKESPEARE. [Composed at Florence, October, 1819, and forwarded to Hunt (November 2) to be published by C. & J. Ollier without the author's name; ultimately printed by Mrs. Shelley in the second edition of the "Poetical Works", 1839. A skit by John Hamilton Reynolds, "Peter Bell, a Lyrical Ballad", had already appeared (April, 1819), a few days before the publication of Wordsworth's "Peter Bell, a Tale". These productions were reviewed in Leigh Hunt's "Examiner" (April 26, May 3, 1819); and to the entertainment derived from his perusal of Hunt's criticisms the composition of Shelley's "Peter Bell the Third" is chiefly owing.] DEDICATION. TO THOMAS BROWN, ESQ., THE YOUNGER, H.F. Dear Tom, Allow me to request you to introduce Mr. Peter Bell to the respectable family of the Fudges. Although he may fall short of those very considerable personages in the more active properties which characterize the Rat and the Apostate, I suspect that even you, their historian, will confess that he surpasses them in the more peculiarly legitimate qualification of intolerable dulness. You know Mr. Examiner Hunt; well--it was he who presented me to two of the Mr. Bells. My intimacy with the younger Mr. Bell naturally sprung from this introduction to his brothers. And in presenting him to you, I have the satisfaction of being able to assure you that he is considerably the dullest of the three. There is this particular advantage in an acquaintance with any one of the Peter Bells, that if you know one Peter Bell, you know three Peter Bells; they are not one, but three; not three, but one. An awful mystery, which, after having caused torrents of blood, and having been hymned by groans enough to deafen the music of the spheres, is at length illustrated to the satisfaction of all parties in the theological world, by the nature of Mr. Peter Bell. Peter is a polyhedric Peter, or a Peter with many sides. He changes colours like a chameleon, and his coat like a snake. He is a Proteus of a Peter. He was at first sublime, pathetic, impressive, profound; then dull; then prosy and dull; and now dull--oh so very dull! it is an ultra-legitimate dulness. You will perceive that it is not necessary to consider Hell and the Devil as supernatural machinery. The whole scene of my epic is in 'this world which is'--so Peter informed us before his conversion to "White Obi"-- 'The world of all of us, AND WHERE WE FIND OUR HAPPINESS, OR NOT AT ALL.' Let me observe that I have spent six or seven days in composing this sublime piece; the orb of my moonlike genius has made the fourth part of its revolution round the dull earth which you inhabit, driving you mad, while it has retained its calmness and its splendour, and I have been fitting this its last phase 'to occupy a permanent station in the literature of my country.' Your works, indeed, dear Tom, sell better; but mine are far superior. The public is no judge; posterity sets all to rights. Allow me to observe that so much has been written of Peter Bell, that the present history can be considered only, like the Iliad, as a continuation of that series of cyclic poems, which have already been candidates for bestowing immortality upon, at the same time that they receive it from, his character and adventures. In this point of view I have violated no rule of syntax in beginning my composition with a conjunction; the full stop which closes the poem continued by me being, like the full stops at the end of the Iliad and Odyssey, a full stop of a very qualified import. Hoping that the immortality which you have given to the Fudges, you will receive from them; and in the firm expectation, that when London shall be an habitation of bitterns; when St. Paul's and Westminster Abbey shall stand, shapeless and nameless ruins, in the midst of an unpeopled marsh; when the piers of Waterloo Bridge shall become the nuclei of islets of reeds and osiers, and cast the jagged shadows of their broken arches on the solitary stream, some transatlantic commentator will be weighing in the scales of some new and now unimagined system of criticism, the respective merits of the Bells and the Fudges, and their historians. I remain, dear Tom, yours sincerely, MICHING MALLECHO. December 1, 1819. P.S.--Pray excuse the date of place; so soon as the profits of the publication come in, I mean to hire lodgings in a more respectable street. PROLOGUE. Peter Bells, one, two and three, O'er the wide world wandering be.-- First, the antenatal Peter, Wrapped in weeds of the same metre, The so-long-predestined raiment _5 Clothed in which to walk his way meant The second Peter; whose ambition Is to link the proposition, As the mean of two extremes-- (This was learned from Aldric's themes) _10 Shielding from the guilt of schism The orthodoxal syllogism; The First Peter--he who was Like the shadow in the glass Of the second, yet unripe, _15 His substantial antitype.-- Then came Peter Bell the Second, Who henceforward must be reckoned The body of a double soul, And that portion of the whole _20 Without which the rest would seem Ends of a disjointed dream.-- And the Third is he who has O'er the grave been forced to pass To the other side, which is,-- _25 Go and try else,--just like this. Peter Bell the First was Peter Smugger, milder, softer, neater, Like the soul before it is Born from THAT world into THIS. _30 The next Peter Bell was he, Predevote, like you and me, To good or evil as may come; His was the severer doom,-- For he was an evil Cotter, _35 And a polygamic Potter. And the last is Peter Bell, Damned since our first parents fell, Damned eternally to Hell-- Surely he deserves it well! _40 NOTES: _10 Aldric's] i.e. Aldrich's--a spelling adopted here by Woodberry. (_36 The oldest scholiasts read-- A dodecagamic Potter. This is at once more descriptive and more megalophonous,--but the alliteration of the text had captivated the vulgar ear of the herd of later commentators.--[SHELLEY'S NOTE.]) PART 1. DEATH. 1. And Peter Bell, when he had been With fresh-imported Hell-fire warmed, Grew serious--from his dress and mien 'Twas very plainly to be seen Peter was quite reformed. _5 2. His eyes turned up, his mouth turned down; His accent caught a nasal twang; He oiled his hair; there might be heard The grace of God in every word Which Peter said or sang. _10 3. But Peter now grew old, and had An ill no doctor could unravel: His torments almost drove him mad;-- Some said it was a fever bad-- Some swore it was the gravel. _15 4. His holy friends then came about, And with long preaching and persuasion Convinced the patient that, without The smallest shadow of a doubt, He was predestined to damnation. _20 5. They said--'Thy name is Peter Bell; Thy skin is of a brimstone hue; Alive or dead--ay, sick or well-- The one God made to rhyme with hell; The other, I think, rhymes with you. _25 6. Then Peter set up such a yell!-- The nurse, who with some water gruel Was climbing up the stairs, as well As her old legs could climb them--fell, And broke them both--the fall was cruel. _30 7. The Parson from the casement lept Into the lake of Windermere-- And many an eel--though no adept In God's right reason for it--kept Gnawing his kidneys half a year. _35 8. And all the rest rushed through the door And tumbled over one another, And broke their skulls.--Upon the floor Meanwhile sat Peter Bell, and swore, And cursed his father and his mother; _40 9. And raved of God, and sin, and death, Blaspheming like an infidel; And said, that with his clenched teeth He'd seize the earth from underneath, And drag it with him down to hell. _45 10. As he was speaking came a spasm, And wrenched his gnashing teeth asunder; Like one who sees a strange phantasm He lay,--there was a silent chasm Between his upper jaw and under. _50 11. And yellow death lay on his face; And a fixed smile that was not human Told, as I understand the case, That he was gone to the wrong place:-- I heard all this from the old woman. _55 12. Then there came down from Langdale Pike A cloud, with lightning, wind and hail; It swept over the mountains like An ocean,--and I heard it strike The woods and crags of Grasmere vale. _60 13. And I saw the black storm come Nearer, minute after minute; Its thunder made the cataracts dumb; With hiss, and clash, and hollow hum, It neared as if the Devil was in it. _65 14. The Devil WAS in it:--he had bought Peter for half-a-crown; and when The storm which bore him vanished, nought That in the house that storm had caught Was ever seen again. _70 15. The gaping neighbours came next day-- They found all vanished from the shore: The Bible, whence he used to pray, Half scorched under a hen-coop lay; Smashed glass--and nothing more! _75 PART 2. THE DEVIL. 1. The Devil, I safely can aver, Has neither hoof, nor tail, nor sting; Nor is he, as some sages swear, A spirit, neither here nor there, In nothing--yet in everything. _80 2. He is--what we are; for sometimes The Devil is a gentleman; At others a bard bartering rhymes For sack; a statesman spinning crimes; A swindler, living as he can; _85 3. A thief, who cometh in the night, With whole boots and net pantaloons, Like some one whom it were not right To mention;--or the luckless wight From whom he steals nine silver spoons. _90 4. But in this case he did appear Like a slop-merchant from Wapping, And with smug face, and eye severe, On every side did perk and peer Till he saw Peter dead or napping. _95 5. He had on an upper Benjamin (For he was of the driving schism) In the which he wrapped his skin From the storm he travelled in, For fear of rheumatism. _100 6. He called the ghost out of the corse;-- It was exceedingly like Peter,-- Only its voice was hollow and hoarse-- It had a queerish look of course-- Its dress too was a little neater. _105 7. The Devil knew not his name and lot; Peter knew not that he was Bell: Each had an upper stream of thought, Which made all seem as it was not; Fitting itself to all things well. _110 8. Peter thought he had parents dear, Brothers, sisters, cousins, cronies, In the fens of Lincolnshire; He perhaps had found them there Had he gone and boldly shown his _115 9. Solemn phiz in his own village; Where he thought oft when a boy He'd clomb the orchard walls to pillage The produce of his neighbour's tillage, With marvellous pride and joy. _120 10. And the Devil thought he had, 'Mid the misery and confusion Of an unjust war, just made A fortune by the gainful trade Of giving soldiers rations bad-- _125 The world is full of strange delusion-- 11. That he had a mansion planned In a square like Grosvenor Square, That he was aping fashion, and That he now came to Westmoreland _130 To see what was romantic there. 12. And all this, though quite ideal,-- Ready at a breath to vanish,-- Was a state not more unreal Than the peace he could not feel, _135 Or the care he could not banish. 13. After a little conversation, The Devil told Peter, if he chose, He'd bring him to the world of fashion By giving him a situation _140 In his own service--and new clothes. 14. And Peter bowed, quite pleased and proud, And after waiting some few days For a new livery--dirty yellow Turned up with black--the wretched fellow _145 Was bowled to Hell in the Devil's chaise. PART 3. HELL. 1. Hell is a city much like London-- A populous and a smoky city; There are all sorts of people undone, And there is little or no fun done; _150 Small justice shown, and still less pity. 2. There is a Castles, and a Canning, A Cobbett, and a Castlereagh; All sorts of caitiff corpses planning All sorts of cozening for trepanning _155 Corpses less corrupt than they. 3. There is a ***, who has lost His wits, or sold them, none knows which; He walks about a double ghost, And though as thin as Fraud almost-- _160 Ever grows more grim and rich. 4. There is a Chancery Court; a King; A manufacturing mob; a set Of thieves who by themselves are sent Similar thieves to represent; _165 An army; and a public debt. 5. Which last is a scheme of paper money, And means--being interpreted-- 'Bees, keep your wax--give us the honey, And we will plant, while skies are sunny, _170 Flowers, which in winter serve instead.' 6. There is a great talk of revolution-- And a great chance of despotism-- German soldiers--camps--confusion-- Tumults--lotteries--rage--delusion-- _175 Gin--suicide--and methodism; 7. Taxes too, on wine and bread, And meat, and beer, and tea, and cheese, From which those patriots pure are fed, Who gorge before they reel to bed _180 The tenfold essence of all these. 8. There are mincing women, mewing, (Like cats, who amant misere,) Of their own virtue, and pursuing Their gentler sisters to that ruin, _185 Without which--what were chastity?(2) 9. Lawyers--judges--old hobnobbers Are there--bailiffs--chancellors-- Bishops--great and little robbers-- Rhymesters--pamphleteers--stock-jobbers-- _190 Men of glory in the wars,-- 10. Things whose trade is, over ladies To lean, and flirt, and stare, and simper, Till all that is divine in woman Grows cruel, courteous, smooth, inhuman, _195 Crucified 'twixt a smile and whimper. 11. Thrusting, toiling, wailing, moiling, Frowning, preaching--such a riot! Each with never-ceasing labour, Whilst he thinks he cheats his neighbour, _200 Cheating his own heart of quiet. 12. And all these meet at levees;-- Dinners convivial and political;-- Suppers of epic poets;--teas, Where small talk dies in agonies;-- _205 Breakfasts professional and critical; 13. Lunches and snacks so aldermanic That one would furnish forth ten dinners, Where reigns a Cretan-tongued panic, Lest news Russ, Dutch, or Alemannic _210 Should make some losers, and some winners-- 45. At conversazioni--balls-- Conventicles--and drawing-rooms-- Courts of law--committees--calls Of a morning--clubs--book-stalls-- _215 Churches--masquerades--and tombs. 15. And this is Hell--and in this smother All are damnable and damned; Each one damning, damns the other; They are damned by one another, _220 By none other are they damned. 16. 'Tis a lie to say, 'God damns'! (1) Where was Heaven's Attorney General When they first gave out such flams? Let there be an end of shams, _225 They are mines of poisonous mineral. 17. Statesmen damn themselves to be Cursed; and lawyers damn their souls To the auction of a fee; Churchmen damn themselves to see _230 God's sweet love in burning coals. 18. The rich are damned, beyond all cure, To taunt, and starve, and trample on The weak and wretched; and the poor Damn their broken hearts to endure _235 Stripe on stripe, with groan on groan. 19. Sometimes the poor are damned indeed To take,--not means for being blessed,-- But Cobbett's snuff, revenge; that weed From which the worms that it doth feed _240 Squeeze less than they before possessed. 20. And some few, like we know who, Damned--but God alone knows why-- To believe their minds are given To make this ugly Hell a Heaven; _245 In which faith they live and die. 21. Thus, as in a town, plague-stricken, Each man be he sound or no Must indifferently sicken; As when day begins to thicken, _250 None knows a pigeon from a crow,-- 22. So good and bad, sane and mad, The oppressor and the oppressed; Those who weep to see what others Smile to inflict upon their brothers; _255 Lovers, haters, worst and best; 23. All are damned--they breathe an air, Thick, infected, joy-dispelling: Each pursues what seems most fair, Mining like moles, through mind, and there _260 Scoop palace-caverns vast, where Care In throned state is ever dwelling. PART 4. SIN. 1. Lo. Peter in Hell's Grosvenor Square, A footman in the Devil's service! And the misjudging world would swear _265 That every man in service there To virtue would prefer vice. 2. But Peter, though now damned, was not What Peter was before damnation. Men oftentimes prepare a lot _270 Which ere it finds them, is not what Suits with their genuine station. 3. All things that Peter saw and felt Had a peculiar aspect to him; And when they came within the belt _275 Of his own nature, seemed to melt, Like cloud to cloud, into him. 4. And so the outward world uniting To that within him, he became Considerably uninviting _280 To those who, meditation slighting, Were moulded in a different frame. 5. And he scorned them, and they scorned him; And he scorned all they did; and they Did all that men of their own trim _285 Are wont to do to please their whim, Drinking, lying, swearing, play. 6. Such were his fellow-servants; thus His virtue, like our own, was built Too much on that indignant fuss _290 Hypocrite Pride stirs up in us To bully one another's guilt. 7. He had a mind which was somehow At once circumference and centre Of all he might or feel or know; _295 Nothing went ever out, although Something did ever enter. 8. He had as much imagination As a pint-pot;--he never could Fancy another situation, _300 From which to dart his contemplation, Than that wherein he stood. 9. Yet his was individual mind, And new created all he saw In a new manner, and refined _305 Those new creations, and combined Them, by a master-spirit's law. 10. Thus--though unimaginative-- An apprehension clear, intense, Of his mind's work, had made alive _310 The things it wrought on; I believe Wakening a sort of thought in sense. 11. But from the first 'twas Peter's drift To be a kind of moral eunuch, He touched the hem of Nature's shift, _315 Felt faint--and never dared uplift The closest, all-concealing tunic. 12. She laughed the while, with an arch smile, And kissed him with a sister's kiss, And said--My best Diogenes, _320 I love you well--but, if you please, Tempt not again my deepest bliss. 13. ''Tis you are cold--for I, not coy, Yield love for love, frank, warm, and true; And Burns, a Scottish peasant boy-- _325 His errors prove it--knew my joy More, learned friend, than you. 14. 'Boeca bacciata non perde ventura, Anzi rinnuova come fa la luna:-- So thought Boccaccio, whose sweet words might cure a _330 Male prude, like you, from what you now endure, a Low-tide in soul, like a stagnant laguna. 15. Then Peter rubbed his eyes severe. And smoothed his spacious forehead down With his broad palm;--'twixt love and fear, _335 He looked, as he no doubt felt, queer, And in his dream sate down. 16. The Devil was no uncommon creature; A leaden-witted thief--just huddled Out of the dross and scum of nature; _340 A toad-like lump of limb and feature, With mind, and heart, and fancy muddled. 17. He was that heavy, dull, cold thing, The spirit of evil well may be: A drone too base to have a sting; _345 Who gluts, and grimes his lazy wing, And calls lust, luxury. 18. Now he was quite the kind of wight Round whom collect, at a fixed aera, Venison, turtle, hock, and claret,-- _350 Good cheer--and those who come to share it-- And best East Indian madeira! 19. It was his fancy to invite Men of science, wit, and learning, Who came to lend each other light; _355 He proudly thought that his gold's might Had set those spirits burning. 20. And men of learning, science, wit, Considered him as you and I Think of some rotten tree, and sit _360 Lounging and dining under it, Exposed to the wide sky. 21. And all the while with loose fat smile, The willing wretch sat winking there, Believing 'twas his power that made _365 That jovial scene--and that all paid Homage to his unnoticed chair. 22. Though to be sure this place was Hell; He was the Devil--and all they-- What though the claret circled well, _370 And wit, like ocean, rose and fell?-- Were damned eternally. PART 5. GRACE. 1. Among the guests who often stayed Till the Devil's petits-soupers, A man there came, fair as a maid, _375 And Peter noted what he said, Standing behind his master's chair. 2. He was a mighty poet--and A subtle-souled psychologist; All things he seemed to understand, _380 Of old or new--of sea or land-- But his own mind--which was a mist. 3. This was a man who might have turned Hell into Heaven--and so in gladness A Heaven unto himself have earned; _385 But he in shadows undiscerned Trusted.--and damned himself to madness. 4. He spoke of poetry, and how 'Divine it was--a light--a love-- A spirit which like wind doth blow _390 As it listeth, to and fro; A dew rained down from God above; 5. 'A power which comes and goes like dream, And which none can ever trace-- Heaven's light on earth--Truth's brightest beam.' _395 And when he ceased there lay the gleam Of those words upon his face. 6. Now Peter, when he heard such talk, Would, heedless of a broken pate, Stand like a man asleep, or balk _400 Some wishing guest of knife or fork, Or drop and break his master's plate. 7. At night he oft would start and wake Like a lover, and began In a wild measure songs to make _405 On moor, and glen, and rocky lake, And on the heart of man-- 8. And on the universal sky-- And the wide earth's bosom green,-- And the sweet, strange mystery _410 Of what beyond these things may lie, And yet remain unseen. 9. For in his thought he visited The spots in which, ere dead and damned, He his wayward life had led; _415 Yet knew not whence the thoughts were fed Which thus his fancy crammed. 10. And these obscure remembrances Stirred such harmony in Peter, That, whensoever he should please, _420 He could speak of rocks and trees In poetic metre. 11. For though it was without a sense Of memory, yet he remembered well Many a ditch and quick-set fence; _425 Of lakes he had intelligence, He knew something of heath and fell. 12. He had also dim recollections Of pedlars tramping on their rounds; Milk-pans and pails; and odd collections _430 Of saws, and proverbs; and reflections Old parsons make in burying-grounds. 13. But Peter's verse was clear, and came Announcing from the frozen hearth Of a cold age, that none might tame _435 The soul of that diviner flame It augured to the Earth: 14. Like gentle rains, on the dry plains, Making that green which late was gray, Or like the sudden moon, that stains _440 Some gloomy chamber's window-panes With a broad light like day. 15. For language was in Peter's hand Like clay while he was yet a potter; And he made songs for all the land, _445 Sweet both to feel and understand, As pipkins late to mountain Cotter. 16. And Mr. --, the bookseller, Gave twenty pounds for some;--then scorning A footman's yellow coat to wear, _450 Peter, too proud of heart, I fear, Instantly gave the Devil warning. 17. Whereat the Devil took offence, And swore in his soul a great oath then, 'That for his damned impertinence _455 He'd bring him to a proper sense Of what was due to gentlemen!' PART 6. DAMNATION. 1. 'O that mine enemy had written A book!'--cried Job:--a fearful curse, If to the Arab, as the Briton, _460 'Twas galling to be critic-bitten:-- The Devil to Peter wished no worse. 2. When Peter's next new book found vent, The Devil to all the first Reviews A copy of it slyly sent, _465 With five-pound note as compliment, And this short notice--'Pray abuse.' 3. Then seriatim, month and quarter, Appeared such mad tirades.--One said-- 'Peter seduced Mrs. Foy's daughter, _470 Then drowned the mother in Ullswater, The last thing as he went to bed.' 4. Another--'Let him shave his head! Where's Dr. Willis?--Or is he joking? What does the rascal mean or hope, _475 No longer imitating Pope, In that barbarian Shakespeare poking?' 5. One more, 'Is incest not enough? And must there be adultery too? Grace after meat? Miscreant and Liar! _480 Thief! Blackguard! Scoundrel! Fool! hell-fire Is twenty times too good for you. 6. 'By that last book of yours WE think You've double damned yourself to scorn; We warned you whilst yet on the brink _485 You stood. From your black name will shrink The babe that is unborn.' 7. All these Reviews the Devil made Up in a parcel, which he had Safely to Peter's house conveyed. _490 For carriage, tenpence Peter paid-- Untied them--read them--went half mad. 8. 'What!' cried he, 'this is my reward For nights of thought, and days, of toil? Do poets, but to be abhorred _495 By men of whom they never heard, Consume their spirits' oil? 9. 'What have I done to them?--and who IS Mrs. Foy? 'Tis very cruel To speak of me and Betty so! _500 Adultery! God defend me! Oh! I've half a mind to fight a duel. 10. 'Or,' cried he, a grave look collecting, 'Is it my genius, like the moon, Sets those who stand her face inspecting, _505 That face within their brain reflecting, Like a crazed bell-chime, out of tune?' 11. For Peter did not know the town, But thought, as country readers do, For half a guinea or a crown, _510 He bought oblivion or renown From God's own voice (1) in a review. 12. All Peter did on this occasion Was, writing some sad stuff in prose. It is a dangerous invasion _515 When poets criticize; their station Is to delight, not pose. 13. The Devil then sent to Leipsic fair For Born's translation of Kant's book; A world of words, tail foremost, where _520 Right--wrong--false--true--and foul--and fair As in a lottery-wheel are shook. 14. Five thousand crammed octavo pages Of German psychologics,--he Who his furor verborum assuages _525 Thereon, deserves just seven months' wages More than will e'er be due to me. 15. I looked on them nine several days, And then I saw that they were bad; A friend, too, spoke in their dispraise,-- _530 He never read them;--with amaze I found Sir William Drummond had. 16. When the book came, the Devil sent It to P. Verbovale (2), Esquire, With a brief note of compliment, _535 By that night's Carlisle mail. It went, And set his soul on fire. 17. Fire, which ex luce praebens fumum, Made him beyond the bottom see Of truth's clear well--when I and you, Ma'am, _540 Go, as we shall do, subter humum, We may know more than he. 18. Now Peter ran to seed in soul Into a walking paradox; For he was neither part nor whole, _545 Nor good, nor bad--nor knave nor fool; --Among the woods and rocks 19. Furious he rode, where late he ran, Lashing and spurring his tame hobby; Turned to a formal puritan, _550 A solemn and unsexual man,-- He half believed "White Obi". 20. This steed in vision he would ride, High trotting over nine-inch bridges, With Flibbertigibbet, imp of pride, _555 Mocking and mowing by his side-- A mad-brained goblin for a guide-- Over corn-fields, gates, and hedges. 21. After these ghastly rides, he came Home to his heart, and found from thence _560 Much stolen of its accustomed flame; His thoughts grew weak, drowsy, and lame Of their intelligence. 22. To Peter's view, all seemed one hue; He was no Whig, he was no Tory; _565 No Deist and no Christian he;-- He got so subtle, that to be Nothing, was all his glory. 23. One single point in his belief From his organization sprung, _570 The heart-enrooted faith, the chief Ear in his doctrines' blighted sheaf, That 'Happiness is wrong'; 24. So thought Calvin and Dominic; So think their fierce successors, who _575 Even now would neither stint nor stick Our flesh from off our bones to pick, If they might 'do their do.' 25. His morals thus were undermined:-- The old Peter--the hard, old Potter-- _580 Was born anew within his mind; He grew dull, harsh, sly, unrefined, As when he tramped beside the Otter. (1) 26. In the death hues of agony Lambently flashing from a fish, _585 Now Peter felt amused to see Shades like a rainbow's rise and flee, Mixed with a certain hungry wish(2). 27. So in his Country's dying face He looked--and, lovely as she lay, _590 Seeking in vain his last embrace, Wailing her own abandoned case, With hardened sneer he turned away: 28. And coolly to his own soul said;-- 'Do you not think that we might make _595 A poem on her when she's dead:-- Or, no--a thought is in my head-- Her shroud for a new sheet I'll take: 29. 'My wife wants one.--Let who will bury This mangled corpse! And I and you, _600 My dearest Soul, will then make merry, As the Prince Regent did with Sherry,--' 'Ay--and at last desert me too.' 30. And so his Soul would not be gay, But moaned within him; like a fawn _605 Moaning within a cave, it lay Wounded and wasting, day by day, Till all its life of life was gone. 31. As troubled skies stain waters clear, The storm in Peter's heart and mind _610 Now made his verses dark and queer: They were the ghosts of what they were, Shaking dim grave-clothes in the wind. 32. For he now raved enormous folly, Of Baptisms, Sunday-schools, and Graves, _615 'Twould make George Colman melancholy To have heard him, like a male Molly, Chanting those stupid staves. 33. Yet the Reviews, who heaped abuse On Peter while he wrote for freedom, _620 So soon as in his song they spy The folly which soothes tyranny, Praise him, for those who feed 'em. 34. 'He was a man, too great to scan;-- A planet lost in truth's keen rays:-- _625 His virtue, awful and prodigious;-- He was the most sublime, religious, Pure-minded Poet of these days.' 35. As soon as he read that, cried Peter, 'Eureka! I have found the way _630 To make a better thing of metre Than e'er was made by living creature Up to this blessed day.' 36. Then Peter wrote odes to the Devil;-- In one of which he meekly said: _635 'May Carnage and Slaughter, Thy niece and thy daughter, May Rapine and Famine, Thy gorge ever cramming, Glut thee with living and dead! _640 37. 'May Death and Damnation, And Consternation, Flit up from Hell with pure intent! Slash them at Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds, and Chester; _645 Drench all with blood from Avon to Trent. 38. 'Let thy body-guard yeomen Hew down babes and women, And laugh with bold triumph till Heaven be rent! When Moloch in Jewry _650 Munched children with fury, It was thou, Devil, dining with pure intent. (1) PART 7. DOUBLE DAMNATION. 1. The Devil now knew his proper cue.-- Soon as he read the ode, he drove To his friend Lord MacMurderchouse's, _655 A man of interest in both houses, And said:--'For money or for love, 2. 'Pray find some cure or sinecure; To feed from the superfluous taxes A friend of ours--a poet--fewer _660 Have fluttered tamer to the lure Than he.' His lordship stands and racks his 3. Stupid brains, while one might count As many beads as he had boroughs,-- At length replies; from his mean front, _665 Like one who rubs out an account, Smoothing away the unmeaning furrows: 4. 'It happens fortunately, dear Sir, I can. I hope I need require No pledge from you, that he will stir _670 In our affairs;--like Oliver. That he'll be worthy of his hire.' 5. These words exchanged, the news sent off To Peter, home the Devil hied,-- Took to his bed; he had no cough, _675 No doctor,--meat and drink enough.-- Yet that same night he died. 6. The Devil's corpse was leaded down; His decent heirs enjoyed his pelf, Mourning-coaches, many a one, _680 Followed his hearse along the town:-- Where was the Devil himself? 7. When Peter heard of his promotion, His eyes grew like two stars for bliss: There was a bow of sleek devotion _685 Engendering in his back; each motion Seemed a Lord's shoe to kiss. 8. He hired a house, bought plate, and made A genteel drive up to his door, With sifted gravel neatly laid,-- _690 As if defying all who said, Peter was ever poor. 9. But a disease soon struck into The very life and soul of Peter-- He walked about--slept--had the hue _695 Of health upon his cheeks--and few Dug better--none a heartier eater. 10. And yet a strange and horrid curse Clung upon Peter, night and day; Month after month the thing grew worse, _700 And deadlier than in this my verse I can find strength to say. 11. Peter was dull--he was at first Dull--oh, so dull--so very dull! Whether he talked, wrote, or rehearsed-- _705 Still with this dulness was he cursed-- Dull--beyond all conception--dull. 12. No one could read his books--no mortal, But a few natural friends, would hear him; The parson came not near his portal; _710 His state was like that of the immortal Described by Swift--no man could bear him. 13. His sister, wife, and children yawned, With a long, slow, and drear ennui, All human patience far beyond; _715 Their hopes of Heaven each would have pawned, Anywhere else to be. 14. But in his verse, and in his prose, The essence of his dulness was Concentred and compressed so close, _720 'Twould have made Guatimozin doze On his red gridiron of brass. 15. A printer's boy, folding those pages, Fell slumbrously upon one side; Like those famed Seven who slept three ages. _725 To wakeful frenzy's vigil--rages, As opiates, were the same applied. 16. Even the Reviewers who were hired To do the work of his reviewing, With adamantine nerves, grew tired;-- _730 Gaping and torpid they retired, To dream of what they should be doing. 17. And worse and worse, the drowsy curse Yawned in him, till it grew a pest-- A wide contagious atmosphere, _735 Creeping like cold through all things near; A power to infect and to infest. 18. His servant-maids and dogs grew dull; His kitten, late a sportive elf; The woods and lakes, so beautiful, _740 Of dim stupidity were full. All grew dull as Peter's self. 19. The earth under his feet--the springs, Which lived within it a quick life, The air, the winds of many wings, _745 That fan it with new murmurings, Were dead to their harmonious strife. 20. The birds and beasts within the wood, The insects, and each creeping thing, Were now a silent multitude; _750 Love's work was left unwrought--no brood Near Peter's house took wing. 21. And every neighbouring cottager Stupidly yawned upon the other: No jackass brayed; no little cur _755 Cocked up his ears;--no man would stir To save a dying mother. 22. Yet all from that charmed district went But some half-idiot and half-knave, Who rather than pay any rent, _760 Would live with marvellous content, Over his father's grave. 23. No bailiff dared within that space, For fear of the dull charm, to enter; A man would bear upon his face, _765 For fifteen months in any case, The yawn of such a venture. 24. Seven miles above--below--around-- This pest of dulness holds its sway; A ghastly life without a sound; _770 To Peter's soul the spell is bound-- How should it ever pass away? NOTES: (_8 To those who have not duly appreciated the distinction between Whale and Russia oil, this attribute might rather seem to belong to the Dandy than the Evangelic. The effect, when to the windward, is indeed so similar, that it requires a subtle naturalist to discriminate the animals. They belong, however, to distinct genera.--[SHELLEY's NOTE.) (_183 One of the attributes in Linnaeus's description of the Cat. To a similar cause the caterwauling of more than one species of this genus is to be referred;--except, indeed, that the poor quadruped is compelled to quarrel with its own pleasures, whilst the biped is supposed only to quarrel with those of others.--[SHELLEY'S NOTE.]) (_186 What would this husk and excuse for a virtue be without its kernel prostitution, or the kernel prostitution without this husk of a virtue? I wonder the women of the town do not form an association, like the Society for the Suppression of Vice, for the support of what may be called the 'King, Church, and Constitution' of their order. But this subject is almost too horrible for a joke.--[SHELLEY'S NOTE.]) (_222 This libel on our national oath, and this accusation of all our countrymen of being in the daily practice of solemnly asseverating the most enormous falsehood, I fear deserves the notice of a more active Attorney General than that here alluded to.--[SHELLEY'S NOTE.]) _292 one Fleay cj., Rossetti, Forman, Dowden, Woodberry; out 1839, 2nd edition. _500 Betty]Emma 1839, 2nd edition. See letter from Shelley to Ollier, May 14, 1820 (Shelley Memorials, page 139). (_512 Vox populi, vox dei. As Mr. Godwin truly observes of a more famous saying, of some merit as a popular maxim, but totally destitute of philosophical accuracy.--[SHELLEY'S NOTE.]) (_534 Quasi, Qui valet verba:--i.e. all the words which have been, are, or may be expended by, for, against, with, or on him. A sufficient proof of the utility of this history. Peter's progenitor who selected this name seems to have possessed A PURE ANTICIPATED COGNITION of the nature and modesty of this ornament of his posterity.--[SHELLEY'S NOTE.]) _602-3 See Editor's Note. (_583 A famous river in the new Atlantis of the Dynastophylic Pantisocratists.--[SHELLEY'S NOTE.]) (_588 See the description of the beautiful colours produced during the agonizing death of a number of trout, in the fourth part of a long poem in blank verse, published within a few years. ["The Excursion", 8 2 568-71.--Ed.] That poem contains curious evidence of the gradual hardening of a strong but circumscribed sensibility, of the perversion of a penetrating but panic-stricken understanding. The author might have derived a lesson which he had probably forgotten from these sweet and sublime verses:-- 'This lesson, Shepherd, let us two divide, Taught both by what she (Nature) shows and what conceals, Never to blend our pleasure or our pride With sorrow of the meanest thing that feels.'--[SHELLEY'S NOTE.]) (_652 It is curious to observe how often extremes meet. Cobbett and Peter use the same language for a different purpose: Peter is indeed a sort of metrical Cobbett. Cobbett is, however, more mischievous than Peter, because he pollutes a holy and how unconquerable cause with the principles of legitimate murder; whilst the other only makes a bad one ridiculous and odious. If either Peter or Cobbett should see this note, each will feel more indignation at being compared to the other than at any censure implied in the moral perversion laid to their charge.--[SHELLEY'S NOTE.]) NOTE ON PETER BELL THE THIRD, BY MRS. SHELLEY. In this new edition I have added "Peter Bell the Third". A critique on Wordsworth's "Peter Bell" reached us at Leghorn, which amused Shelley exceedingly, and suggested this poem. I need scarcely observe that nothing personal to the author of "Peter Bell" is intended in this poem. No man ever admired Wordsworth's poetry more;--he read it perpetually, and taught others to appreciate its beauties. This poem is, like all others written by Shelley, ideal. He conceived the idealism of a poet--a man of lofty and creative genius--quitting the glorious calling of discovering and announcing the beautiful and good, to support and propagate ignorant prejudices and pernicious errors; imparting to the unenlightened, not that ardour for truth and spirit of toleration which Shelley looked on as the sources of the moral improvement and happiness of mankind, but false and injurious opinions, that evil was good, and that ignorance and force were the best allies of purity and virtue. His idea was that a man gifted, even as transcendently as the author of "Peter Bell", with the highest qualities of genius, must, if he fostered such errors, be infected with dulness. This poem was written as a warning--not as a narration of the reality. He was unacquainted personally with Wordsworth, or with Coleridge (to whom he alludes in the fifth part of the poem), and therefore, I repeat, his poem is purely ideal;--it contains something of criticism on the compositions of those great poets, but nothing injurious to the men themselves. No poem contains more of Shelley's peculiar views with regard to the errors into which many of the wisest have fallen, and the pernicious effects of certain opinions on society. Much of it is beautifully written: and, though, like the burlesque drama of "Swellfoot", it must be looked on as a plaything, it has so much merit and poetry--so much of HIMSELF in it--that it cannot fail to interest greatly, and by right belongs to the world for whose instruction and benefit it was written. *** LETTER TO MARIA GISBORNE. [Composed during Shelley's occupation of the Gisbornes' house at Leghorn, July, 1820; published in "Posthumous Poems", 1824. Sources of the text are (1) a draft in Shelley's hand, 'partly illegible' (Forman), amongst the Boscombe manuscripts; (2) a transcript by Mrs. Shelley; (3) the editio princeps, 1824; the text in "Poetical Works", 1839, let and 2nd editions. Our text is that of Mrs. Shelley's transcript, modified by the Boscombe manuscript. Here, as elsewhere in this edition, the readings of the editio princeps are preserved in the footnotes.] LEGHORN, July 1, 1820.] The spider spreads her webs, whether she be In poet's tower, cellar, or barn, or tree; The silk-worm in the dark green mulberry leaves His winding sheet and cradle ever weaves; So I, a thing whom moralists call worm, _5 Sit spinning still round this decaying form, From the fine threads of rare and subtle thought-- No net of words in garish colours wrought To catch the idle buzzers of the day-- But a soft cell, where when that fades away, _10 Memory may clothe in wings my living name And feed it with the asphodels of fame, Which in those hearts which must remember me Grow, making love an immortality. Whoever should behold me now, I wist, _15 Would think I were a mighty mechanist, Bent with sublime Archimedean art To breathe a soul into the iron heart Of some machine portentous, or strange gin, Which by the force of figured spells might win _20 Its way over the sea, and sport therein; For round the walls are hung dread engines, such As Vulcan never wrought for Jove to clutch Ixion or the Titan:--or the quick Wit of that man of God, St. Dominic, _25 To convince Atheist, Turk, or Heretic, Or those in philanthropic council met, Who thought to pay some interest for the debt They owed to Jesus Christ for their salvation, By giving a faint foretaste of damnation _30 To Shakespeare, Sidney, Spenser, and the rest Who made our land an island of the blest, When lamp-like Spain, who now relumes her fire On Freedom's hearth, grew dim with Empire:-- With thumbscrews, wheels, with tooth and spike and jag, _35 Which fishers found under the utmost crag Of Cornwall and the storm-encompassed isles, Where to the sky the rude sea rarely smiles Unless in treacherous wrath, as on the morn When the exulting elements in scorn, _40 Satiated with destroyed destruction, lay Sleeping in beauty on their mangled prey, As panthers sleep;--and other strange and dread Magical forms the brick floor overspread,-- Proteus transformed to metal did not make _45 More figures, or more strange; nor did he take Such shapes of unintelligible brass, Or heap himself in such a horrid mass Of tin and iron not to be understood; And forms of unimaginable wood, _50 To puzzle Tubal Cain and all his brood: Great screws, and cones, and wheels, and grooved blocks, The elements of what will stand the shocks Of wave and wind and time.--Upon the table More knacks and quips there be than I am able _55 To catalogize in this verse of mine:-- A pretty bowl of wood--not full of wine, But quicksilver; that dew which the gnomes drink When at their subterranean toil they swink, Pledging the demons of the earthquake, who _60 Reply to them in lava--cry halloo! And call out to the cities o'er their head,-- Roofs, towers, and shrines, the dying and the dead, Crash through the chinks of earth--and then all quaff Another rouse, and hold their sides and laugh. _65 This quicksilver no gnome has drunk--within The walnut bowl it lies, veined and thin, In colour like the wake of light that stains The Tuscan deep, when from the moist moon rains The inmost shower of its white fire--the breeze _70 Is still--blue Heaven smiles over the pale seas. And in this bowl of quicksilver--for I Yield to the impulse of an infancy Outlasting manhood--I have made to float A rude idealism of a paper boat:-- _75 A hollow screw with cogs--Henry will know The thing I mean and laugh at me,--if so He fears not I should do more mischief.--Next Lie bills and calculations much perplexed, With steam-boats, frigates, and machinery quaint _80 Traced over them in blue and yellow paint. Then comes a range of mathematical Instruments, for plans nautical and statical, A heap of rosin, a queer broken glass With ink in it;--a china cup that was _85 What it will never be again, I think,-- A thing from which sweet lips were wont to drink The liquor doctors rail at--and which I Will quaff in spite of them--and when we die We'll toss up who died first of drinking tea, _90 And cry out,--'Heads or tails?' where'er we be. Near that a dusty paint-box, some odd hooks, A half-burnt match, an ivory block, three books, Where conic sections, spherics, logarithms, To great Laplace, from Saunderson and Sims, _95 Lie heaped in their harmonious disarray Of figures,--disentangle them who may. Baron de Tott's Memoirs beside them lie, And some odd volumes of old chemistry. Near those a most inexplicable thing, _100 With lead in the middle--I'm conjecturing How to make Henry understand; but no-- I'll leave, as Spenser says, with many mo, This secret in the pregnant womb of time, Too vast a matter for so weak a rhyme. _105 And here like some weird Archimage sit I, Plotting dark spells, and devilish enginery, The self-impelling steam-wheels of the mind Which pump up oaths from clergymen, and grind The gentle spirit of our meek reviews _110 Into a powdery foam of salt abuse, Ruffling the ocean of their self-content;-- I sit--and smile or sigh as is my bent, But not for them--Libeccio rushes round With an inconstant and an idle sound, _115 I heed him more than them--the thunder-smoke Is gathering on the mountains, like a cloak Folded athwart their shoulders broad and bare; The ripe corn under the undulating air Undulates like an ocean;--and the vines _120 Are trembling wide in all their trellised lines-- The murmur of the awakening sea doth fill The empty pauses of the blast;--the hill Looks hoary through the white electric rain, And from the glens beyond, in sullen strain, _125 The interrupted thunder howls; above One chasm of Heaven smiles, like the eye of Love On the unquiet world;--while such things are, How could one worth your friendship heed the war Of worms? the shriek of the world's carrion jays, _130 Their censure, or their wonder, or their praise? You are not here! the quaint witch Memory sees, In vacant chairs, your absent images, And points where once you sat, and now should be But are not.--I demand if ever we _135 Shall meet as then we met;--and she replies. Veiling in awe her second-sighted eyes; 'I know the past alone--but summon home My sister Hope,--she speaks of all to come.' But I, an old diviner, who knew well _140 Every false verse of that sweet oracle, Turned to the sad enchantress once again, And sought a respite from my gentle pain, In citing every passage o'er and o'er Of our communion--how on the sea-shore _145 We watched the ocean and the sky together, Under the roof of blue Italian weather; How I ran home through last year's thunder-storm, And felt the transverse lightning linger warm Upon my cheek--and how we often made _150 Feasts for each other, where good will outweighed The frugal luxury of our country cheer, As well it might, were it less firm and clear Than ours must ever be;--and how we spun A shroud of talk to hide us from the sun _155 Of this familiar life, which seems to be But is not:--or is but quaint mockery Of all we would believe, and sadly blame The jarring and inexplicable frame Of this wrong world:--and then anatomize _160 The purposes and thoughts of men whose eyes Were closed in distant years;--or widely guess The issue of the earth's great business, When we shall be as we no longer are-- Like babbling gossips safe, who hear the war _165 Of winds, and sigh, but tremble not;--or how You listened to some interrupted flow Of visionary rhyme,--in joy and pain Struck from the inmost fountains of my brain, With little skill perhaps;--or how we sought _170 Those deepest wells of passion or of thought Wrought by wise poets in the waste of years, Staining their sacred waters with our tears; Quenching a thirst ever to be renewed! Or how I, wisest lady! then endued _175 The language of a land which now is free, And, winged with thoughts of truth and majesty, Flits round the tyrant's sceptre like a cloud, And bursts the peopled prisons, and cries aloud, 'My name is Legion!'--that majestic tongue _180 Which Calderon over the desert flung Of ages and of nations; and which found An echo in our hearts, and with the sound Startled oblivion;--thou wert then to me As is a nurse--when inarticulately _185 A child would talk as its grown parents do. If living winds the rapid clouds pursue, If hawks chase doves through the aethereal way, Huntsmen the innocent deer, and beasts their prey, Why should not we rouse with the spirit's blast _190 Out of the forest of the pathless past These recollected pleasures? You are now In London, that great sea, whose ebb and flow At once is deaf and loud, and on the shore Vomits its wrecks, and still howls on for more. _195 Yet in its depth what treasures! You will see That which was Godwin,--greater none than he Though fallen--and fallen on evil times--to stand Among the spirits of our age and land, Before the dread tribunal of "to come" _200 The foremost,--while Rebuke cowers pale and dumb. You will see Coleridge--he who sits obscure In the exceeding lustre and the pure Intense irradiation of a mind, Which, with its own internal lightning blind, _200 Flags wearily through darkness and despair-- A cloud-encircled meteor of the air, A hooded eagle among blinking owls.-- You will see Hunt--one of those happy souls Which are the salt of the earth, and without whom _210 This world would smell like what it is--a tomb; Who is, what others seem; his room no doubt Is still adorned with many a cast from Shout, With graceful flowers tastefully placed about; And coronals of bay from ribbons hung, _215 And brighter wreaths in neat disorder flung; The gifts of the most learned among some dozens Of female friends, sisters-in-law, and cousins. And there is he with his eternal puns, Which beat the dullest brain for smiles, like duns _220 Thundering for money at a poet's door; Alas! it is no use to say, 'I'm poor!' Or oft in graver mood, when he will look Things wiser than were ever read in book, Except in Shakespeare's wisest tenderness.-- _225 You will see Hogg,--and I cannot express His virtues,--though I know that they are great, Because he locks, then barricades the gate Within which they inhabit;--of his wit And wisdom, you'll cry out when you are bit. _230 He is a pearl within an oyster shell. One of the richest of the deep;--and there Is English Peacock, with his mountain Fair, Turned into a Flamingo;--that shy bird That gleams i' the Indian air--have you not heard _235 When a man marries, dies, or turns Hindoo, His best friends hear no more of him?--but you Will see him, and will like him too, I hope, With the milk-white Snowdonian Antelope Matched with this cameleopard--his fine wit _240 Makes such a wound, the knife is lost in it; A strain too learned for a shallow age, Too wise for selfish bigots; let his page, Which charms the chosen spirits of the time, Fold itself up for the serener clime _245 Of years to come, and find its recompense In that just expectation.--Wit and sense, Virtue and human knowledge; all that might Make this dull world a business of delight, Are all combined in Horace Smith.--And these. _250 With some exceptions, which I need not tease Your patience by descanting on,--are all You and I know in London. I recall My thoughts, and bid you look upon the night. As water does a sponge, so the moonlight _255 Fills the void, hollow, universal air-- What see you?--unpavilioned Heaven is fair, Whether the moon, into her chamber gone, Leaves midnight to the golden stars, or wan Climbs with diminished beams the azure steep; _260 Or whether clouds sail o'er the inverse deep, Piloted by the many-wandering blast, And the rare stars rush through them dim and fast:-- All this is beautiful in every land.-- But what see you beside?--a shabby stand _265 Of Hackney coaches--a brick house or wall Fencing some lonely court, white with the scrawl Of our unhappy politics;--or worse-- A wretched woman reeling by, whose curse Mixed with the watchman's, partner of her trade, _270 You must accept in place of serenade-- Or yellow-haired Pollonia murmuring To Henry, some unutterable thing. I see a chaos of green leaves and fruit Built round dark caverns, even to the root _275 Of the living stems that feed them--in whose bowers There sleep in their dark dew the folded flowers; Beyond, the surface of the unsickled corn Trembles not in the slumbering air, and borne In circles quaint, and ever-changing dance, _280 Like winged stars the fire-flies flash and glance, Pale in the open moonshine, but each one Under the dark trees seems a little sun, A meteor tamed; a fixed star gone astray From the silver regions of the milky way;-- _285 Afar the Contadino's song is heard, Rude, but made sweet by distance--and a bird Which cannot be the Nightingale, and yet I know none else that sings so sweet as it At this late hour;--and then all is still-- _290 Now--Italy or London, which you will! Next winter you must pass with me; I'll have My house by that time turned into a grave Of dead despondence and low-thoughted care, And all the dreams which our tormentors are; _295 Oh! that Hunt, Hogg, Peacock, and Smith were there, With everything belonging to them fair!-- We will have books, Spanish, Italian, Greek; And ask one week to make another week As like his father, as I'm unlike mine, _300 Which is not his fault, as you may divine. Though we eat little flesh and drink no wine, Yet let's be merry: we'll have tea and toast; Custards for supper, and an endless host Of syllabubs and jellies and mince-pies, _305 And other such lady-like luxuries,-- Feasting on which we will philosophize! And we'll have fires out of the Grand Duke's wood, To thaw the six weeks' winter in our blood. And then we'll talk;--what shall we talk about? _310 Oh! there are themes enough for many a bout Of thought-entangled descant;--as to nerves-- With cones and parallelograms and curves I've sworn to strangle them if once they dare To bother me--when you are with me there. _315 And they shall never more sip laudanum, From Helicon or Himeros (1);--well, come, And in despite of God and of the devil, We'll make our friendly philosophic revel Outlast the leafless time; till buds and flowers _320 Warn the obscure inevitable hours, Sweet meeting by sad parting to renew;-- 'To-morrow to fresh woods and pastures new.' NOTES: _13 must Bos. manuscript; most edition 1824. _27 philanthropic Bos. manuscript; philosophic edition 1824. _29 so 1839, 2nd edition; They owed... edition 1824. _36 Which fishers Bos. manuscript; Which fishes edition 1824; With fishes editions 1839. _38 rarely transcript; seldom editions 1824, 1839. _61 lava--cry]lava-cry editions 1824, 1839. _63 towers transcript; towns editions 1824, 1839. _84 queer Bos. manuscript; green transcript, editions 1824, 1839. _92 odd hooks transcript; old books editions 1839 (an evident misprint); old hooks edition 1824. _93 A]An edition 1824. _100 those transcript; them editions 1824, 1839. _101 lead Bos. manuscript; least transcript, editions 1824, 1839. _127 eye Bos. manuscript, transcript, editions 1839; age edition 1824. _140 knew Bos. manuscript; know transcript, editions 1824, 1839. _144 citing Bos. manuscript; acting transcript, editions 1824, 1839. _151 Feasts transcript; Treats editions 1824, 1839. _153 As well it]As it well editions 1824, 1839. _158 believe, and]believe; or editions 1824, 1839. _173 their transcript; the editions 1824, 1839. _188 aethereal transcript; aereal editions 1824, 1839. _197-201 See notes Volume 3. _202 Coleridge]C-- edition 1824. So too H--t l. 209; H-- l. 226; P-- l. 233; H.S. l. 250; H-- -- and -- l. 296. _205 lightning Bos. manuscript, transcript; lustre editions 1824, 1839. _224 read Bos. manuscript; said transcript, editions 1824, 1839. _244 time Bos. manuscript, transcript; age editions 1824, 1839. _245 the transcript: a editions 1824, 1839. _272, _273 found in the 2nd edition of P. W., 1839; wanting in transcript, edition 1824 and 1839, 1st. edition. _276 that transcript; who editions 1824, 1839. _288 the transcript; a editions 1824, 1839. _296 See notes Volume 3. _299, _300 So 1839, 2nd edition; wanting in editions 1824, 1839, 1st. _301 So transcript; wanting in editions 1824, 1839. _317 well, come 1839, 2nd edition; we'll come editions 1824, 1839. 1st. _318 despite of God] transcript; despite of... edition 1824; spite of... editions 1839. (_317 Imeros, from which the river Himera was named, is, with some slight shade of difference, a synonym of Love.--[SHELLEY'S NOTE.] *** THE WITCH OF ATLAS. [Composed at the Baths of San Giuliano, near Pisa, August 14-16, 1820; published in Posthumous Poems, edition Mrs. Shelley, 1824. The dedication To Mas-y first appeared in the Poetical Works, 1839, 1st edition Sources of the text are (1) the editio princeps, 1824; (2) editions 1839 (which agree, and, save in two instances, follow edition 1824); (3) an early and incomplete manuscript in Shelley's handwriting (now at the Bodleian, here, as throughout, cited as B.), carefully collated by Mr. C.D. Locock, who printed the results in his Examination of the Shelley manuscripts, etc., Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1903; (4) a later, yet intermediate, transcript by Mrs. Shelley, the variations of which are noted by Mr. H. Buxton Forman. The original text is modified in many places by variants from the manuscripts, but the readings of edition 1824 are, in every instance, given in the footnotes.] TO MARY (ON HER OBJECTING TO THE FOLLOWING POEM, UPON THE SCORE OF ITS CONTAINING NO HUMAN INTEREST). 1. How, my dear Mary,--are you critic-bitten (For vipers kill, though dead) by some review, That you condemn these verses I have written, Because they tell no story, false or true? What, though no mice are caught by a young kitten, _5 May it not leap and play as grown cats do, Till its claws come? Prithee, for this one time, Content thee with a visionary rhyme. 2. What hand would crush the silken-winged fly, The youngest of inconstant April's minions, _10 Because it cannot climb the purest sky, Where the swan sings, amid the sun's dominions? Not thine. Thou knowest 'tis its doom to die, When Day shall hide within her twilight pinions The lucent eyes, and the eternal smile, _15 Serene as thine, which lent it life awhile. 3. To thy fair feet a winged Vision came, Whose date should have been longer than a day, And o'er thy head did beat its wings for fame, And in thy sight its fading plumes display; _20 The watery bow burned in the evening flame. But the shower fell, the swift Sun went his way-- And that is dead.--O, let me not believe That anything of mine is fit to live! 4. Wordsworth informs us he was nineteen years _25 Considering and retouching Peter Bell; Watering his laurels with the killing tears Of slow, dull care, so that their roots to Hell Might pierce, and their wide branches blot the spheres Of Heaven, with dewy leaves and flowers; this well _30 May be, for Heaven and Earth conspire to foil The over-busy gardener's blundering toil. 5. My Witch indeed is not so sweet a creature As Ruth or Lucy, whom his graceful praise Clothes for our grandsons--but she matches Peter, _35 Though he took nineteen years, and she three days In dressing. Light the vest of flowing metre She wears; he, proud as dandy with his stays, Has hung upon his wiry limbs a dress Like King Lear's 'looped and windowed raggedness.' _40 6. If you strip Peter, you will see a fellow Scorched by Hell's hyperequatorial climate Into a kind of a sulphureous yellow: A lean mark, hardly fit to fling a rhyme at; In shape a Scaramouch, in hue Othello. _45 If you unveil my Witch, no priest nor primate Can shrive you of that sin,--if sin there be In love, when it becomes idolatry. THE WITCH OF ATLAS. 1. Before those cruel Twins, whom at one birth Incestuous Change bore to her father Time, _50 Error and Truth, had hunted from the Earth All those bright natures which adorned its prime, And left us nothing to believe in, worth The pains of putting into learned rhyme, A lady-witch there lived on Atlas' mountain _55 Within a cavern, by a secret fountain. 2. Her mother was one of the Atlantides: The all-beholding Sun had ne'er beholden In his wide voyage o'er continents and seas So fair a creature, as she lay enfolden _60 In the warm shadow of her loveliness;-- He kissed her with his beams, and made all golden The chamber of gray rock in which she lay-- She, in that dream of joy, dissolved away. 3. 'Tis said, she first was changed into a vapour, _65 And then into a cloud, such clouds as flit, Like splendour-winged moths about a taper, Round the red west when the sun dies in it: And then into a meteor, such as caper On hill-tops when the moon is in a fit: _70 Then, into one of those mysterious stars Which hide themselves between the Earth and Mars. 4. Ten times the Mother of the Months had bent Her bow beside the folding-star, and bidden With that bright sign the billows to indent _75 The sea-deserted sand--like children chidden, At her command they ever came and went-- Since in that cave a dewy splendour hidden Took shape and motion: with the living form Of this embodied Power, the cave grew warm. _80 5. A lovely lady garmented in light From her own beauty--deep her eyes, as are Two openings of unfathomable night Seen through a Temple's cloven roof--her hair Dark--the dim brain whirls dizzy with delight. _85 Picturing her form; her soft smiles shone afar, And her low voice was heard like love, and drew All living things towards this wonder new. 6. And first the spotted cameleopard came, And then the wise and fearless elephant; _90 Then the sly serpent, in the golden flame Of his own volumes intervolved;--all gaunt And sanguine beasts her gentle looks made tame. They drank before her at her sacred fount; And every beast of beating heart grew bold, _95 Such gentleness and power even to behold. 7. The brinded lioness led forth her young, That she might teach them how they should forego Their inborn thirst of death; the pard unstrung His sinews at her feet, and sought to know _100 With looks whose motions spoke without a tongue How he might be as gentle as the doe. The magic circle of her voice and eyes All savage natures did imparadise. 8. And old Silenus, shaking a green stick _105 Of lilies, and the wood-gods in a crew Came, blithe, as in the olive copses thick Cicadae are, drunk with the noonday dew: And Dryope and Faunus followed quick, Teasing the God to sing them something new; _110 Till in this cave they found the lady lone, Sitting upon a seat of emerald stone. 9. And universal Pan, 'tis said, was there, And though none saw him,--through the adamant Of the deep mountains, through the trackless air, _115 And through those living spirits, like a want, He passed out of his everlasting lair Where the quick heart of the great world doth pant, And felt that wondrous lady all alone,-- And she felt him, upon her emerald throne. _120 10. And every nymph of stream and spreading tree, And every shepherdess of Ocean's flocks, Who drives her white waves over the green sea, And Ocean with the brine on his gray locks, And quaint Priapus with his company, _125 All came, much wondering how the enwombed rocks Could have brought forth so beautiful a birth;-- Her love subdued their wonder and their mirth. 11. The herdsmen and the mountain maidens came, And the rude kings of pastoral Garamant-- _130 Their spirits shook within them, as a flame Stirred by the air under a cavern gaunt: Pigmies, and Polyphemes, by many a name, Centaurs, and Satyrs, and such shapes as haunt Wet clefts,--and lumps neither alive nor dead, _135 Dog-headed, bosom-eyed, and bird-footed. 12. For she was beautiful--her beauty made The bright world dim, and everything beside Seemed like the fleeting image of a shade: No thought of living spirit could abide, _140 Which to her looks had ever been betrayed, On any object in the world so wide, On any hope within the circling skies, But on her form, and in her inmost eyes. 13. Which when the lady knew, she took her spindle _145 And twined three threads of fleecy mist, and three Long lines of light, such as the dawn may kindle The clouds and waves and mountains with; and she As many star-beams, ere their lamps could dwindle In the belated moon, wound skilfully; _150 And with these threads a subtle veil she wove-- A shadow for the splendour of her love. 14. The deep recesses of her odorous dwelling Were stored with magic treasures--sounds of air, Which had the power all spirits of compelling, _155 Folded in cells of crystal silence there; Such as we hear in youth, and think the feeling Will never die--yet ere we are aware, The feeling and the sound are fled and gone, And the regret they leave remains alone. _160 15. And there lay Visions swift, and sweet, and quaint, Each in its thin sheath, like a chrysalis, Some eager to burst forth, some weak and faint With the soft burthen of intensest bliss. It was its work to bear to many a saint _165 Whose heart adores the shrine which holiest is, Even Love's:--and others white, green, gray, and black, And of all shapes--and each was at her beck. 16. And odours in a kind of aviary Of ever-blooming Eden-trees she kept, _170 Clipped in a floating net, a love-sick Fairy Had woven from dew-beams while the moon yet slept; As bats at the wired window of a dairy, They beat their vans; and each was an adept, When loosed and missioned, making wings of winds, _175 To stir sweet thoughts or sad, in destined minds. 17. And liquors clear and sweet, whose healthful might Could medicine the sick soul to happy sleep, And change eternal death into a night Of glorious dreams--or if eyes needs must weep, _180 Could make their tears all wonder and delight, She in her crystal vials did closely keep: If men could drink of those clear vials, 'tis said The living were not envied of the dead. 18. Her cave was stored with scrolls of strange device, _185 The works of some Saturnian Archimage, Which taught the expiations at whose price Men from the Gods might win that happy age Too lightly lost, redeeming native vice; And which might quench the Earth-consuming rage _190 Of gold and blood--till men should live and move Harmonious as the sacred stars above; 19. And how all things that seem untameable, Not to be checked and not to be confined, Obey the spells of Wisdom's wizard skill; _195 Time, earth, and fire--the ocean and the wind, And all their shapes--and man's imperial will; And other scrolls whose writings did unbind The inmost lore of Love--let the profane Tremble to ask what secrets they contain. _200 20. And wondrous works of substances unknown, To which the enchantment of her father's power Had changed those ragged blocks of savage stone, Were heaped in the recesses of her bower; Carved lamps and chalices, and vials which shone _205 In their own golden beams--each like a flower, Out of whose depth a fire-fly shakes his light Under a cypress in a starless night. 21. At first she lived alone in this wild home, And her own thoughts were each a minister, _210 Clothing themselves, or with the ocean foam, Or with the wind, or with the speed of fire, To work whatever purposes might come Into her mind; such power her mighty Sire Had girt them with, whether to fly or run, _215 Through all the regions which he shines upon. 22. The Ocean-nymphs and Hamadryades, Oreads and Naiads, with long weedy locks, Offered to do her bidding through the seas, Under the earth, and in the hollow rocks, _220 And far beneath the matted roots of trees, And in the gnarled heart of stubborn oaks, So they might live for ever in the light Of her sweet presence--each a satellite. 23. 'This may not be,' the wizard maid replied; _225 'The fountains where the Naiades bedew Their shining hair, at length are drained and dried; The solid oaks forget their strength, and strew Their latest leaf upon the mountains wide; The boundless ocean like a drop of dew _230 Will be consumed--the stubborn centre must Be scattered, like a cloud of summer dust. 24. 'And ye with them will perish, one by one;-- If I must sigh to think that this shall be, If I must weep when the surviving Sun _235 Shall smile on your decay--oh, ask not me To love you till your little race is run; I cannot die as ye must--over me Your leaves shall glance--the streams in which ye dwell Shall be my paths henceforth, and so--farewell!'-- _240 25. She spoke and wept:--the dark and azure well Sparkled beneath the shower of her bright tears, And every little circlet where they fell Flung to the cavern-roof inconstant spheres And intertangled lines of light:--a knell _245 Of sobbing voices came upon her ears From those departing Forms, o'er the serene Of the white streams and of the forest green. 26. All day the wizard lady sate aloof, Spelling out scrolls of dread antiquity, _250 Under the cavern's fountain-lighted roof; Or broidering the pictured poesy Of some high tale upon her growing woof, Which the sweet splendour of her smiles could dye In hues outshining heaven--and ever she _255 Added some grace to the wrought poesy. 27. While on her hearth lay blazing many a piece Of sandal wood, rare gums, and cinnamon; Men scarcely know how beautiful fire is-- Each flame of it is as a precious stone _260 Dissolved in ever-moving light, and this Belongs to each and all who gaze upon. The Witch beheld it not, for in her hand She held a woof that dimmed the burning brand. 28. This lady never slept, but lay in trance _265 All night within the fountain--as in sleep. Its emerald crags glowed in her beauty's glance; Through the green splendour of the water deep She saw the constellations reel and dance Like fire-flies--and withal did ever keep _270 The tenour of her contemplations calm, With open eyes, closed feet, and folded palm. 29. And when the whirlwinds and the clouds descended From the white pinnacles of that cold hill, She passed at dewfall to a space extended, _275 Where in a lawn of flowering asphodel Amid a wood of pines and cedars blended, There yawned an inextinguishable well Of crimson fire--full even to the brim, And overflowing all the margin trim. _280 30. Within the which she lay when the fierce war Of wintry winds shook that innocuous liquor In many a mimic moon and bearded star O'er woods and lawns;--the serpent heard it flicker In sleep, and dreaming still, he crept afar-- _285 And when the windless snow descended thicker Than autumn leaves, she watched it as it came Melt on the surface of the level flame. 31. She had a boat, which some say Vulcan wrought For Venus, as the chariot of her star; _290 But it was found too feeble to be fraught With all the ardours in that sphere which are, And so she sold it, and Apollo bought And gave it to this daughter: from a car Changed to the fairest and the lightest boat _295 Which ever upon mortal stream did float. 32. And others say, that, when but three hours old, The first-born Love out of his cradle lept, And clove dun Chaos with his wings of gold, And like a horticultural adept, _300 Stole a strange seed, and wrapped it up in mould, And sowed it in his mother's star, and kept Watering it all the summer with sweet dew, And with his wings fanning it as it grew. 33. The plant grew strong and green, the snowy flower _305 Fell, and the long and gourd-like fruit began To turn the light and dew by inward power To its own substance; woven tracery ran Of light firm texture, ribbed and branching, o'er The solid rind, like a leaf's veined fan-- _310 Of which Love scooped this boat--and with soft motion Piloted it round the circumfluous ocean. 34. This boat she moored upon her fount, and lit A living spirit within all its frame, Breathing the soul of swiftness into it. _315 Couched on the fountain like a panther tame, One of the twain at Evan's feet that sit-- Or as on Vesta's sceptre a swift flame-- Or on blind Homer's heart a winged thought,-- In joyous expectation lay the boat. _320 35. Then by strange art she kneaded fire and snow Together, tempering the repugnant mass With liquid love--all things together grow Through which the harmony of love can pass; And a fair Shape out of her hands did flow-- _325 A living Image, which did far surpass In beauty that bright shape of vital stone Which drew the heart out of Pygmalion. 36. A sexless thing it was, and in its growth It seemed to have developed no defect _330 Of either sex, yet all the grace of both,-- In gentleness and strength its limbs were decked; The bosom swelled lightly with its full youth, The countenance was such as might select Some artist that his skill should never die, _335 Imaging forth such perfect purity. 37. From its smooth shoulders hung two rapid wings, Fit to have borne it to the seventh sphere, Tipped with the speed of liquid lightenings, Dyed in the ardours of the atmosphere: _340 She led her creature to the boiling springs Where the light boat was moored, and said: 'Sit here!' And pointed to the prow, and took her seat Beside the rudder, with opposing feet. 38. And down the streams which clove those mountains vast, _345 Around their inland islets, and amid The panther-peopled forests whose shade cast Darkness and odours, and a pleasure hid In melancholy gloom, the pinnace passed; By many a star-surrounded pyramid _350 Of icy crag cleaving the purple sky, And caverns yawning round unfathomably. 39. The silver noon into that winding dell, With slanted gleam athwart the forest tops, Tempered like golden evening, feebly fell; _355 A green and glowing light, like that which drops From folded lilies in which glow-worms dwell, When Earth over her face Night's mantle wraps; Between the severed mountains lay on high, Over the stream, a narrow rift of sky. _360 40. And ever as she went, the Image lay With folded wings and unawakened eyes; And o'er its gentle countenance did play The busy dreams, as thick as summer flies, Chasing the rapid smiles that would not stay, _365 And drinking the warm tears, and the sweet sighs Inhaling, which, with busy murmur vain, They had aroused from that full heart and brain. 41. And ever down the prone vale, like a cloud Upon a stream of wind, the pinnace went: _370 Now lingering on the pools, in which abode The calm and darkness of the deep content In which they paused; now o'er the shallow road Of white and dancing waters, all besprent With sand and polished pebbles:--mortal boat _375 In such a shallow rapid could not float. 42. And down the earthquaking cataracts which shiver Their snow-like waters into golden air, Or under chasms unfathomable ever Sepulchre them, till in their rage they tear _380 A subterranean portal for the river, It fled--the circling sunbows did upbear Its fall down the hoar precipice of spray, Lighting it far upon its lampless way. 43. And when the wizard lady would ascend _385 The labyrinths of some many-winding vale, Which to the inmost mountain upward tend-- She called 'Hermaphroditus!'--and the pale And heavy hue which slumber could extend Over its lips and eyes, as on the gale _390 A rapid shadow from a slope of grass, Into the darkness of the stream did pass. 44. And it unfurled its heaven-coloured pinions, With stars of fire spotting the stream below; And from above into the Sun's dominions _395 Flinging a glory, like the golden glow In which Spring clothes her emerald-winged minions, All interwoven with fine feathery snow And moonlight splendour of intensest rime, With which frost paints the pines in winter time. _400 45. And then it winnowed the Elysian air Which ever hung about that lady bright, With its aethereal vans--and speeding there, Like a star up the torrent of the night, Or a swift eagle in the morning glare _405 Breasting the whirlwind with impetuous flight, The pinnace, oared by those enchanted wings, Clove the fierce streams towards their upper springs. 46. The water flashed, like sunlight by the prow Of a noon-wandering meteor flung to Heaven; _410 The still air seemed as if its waves did flow In tempest down the mountains; loosely driven The lady's radiant hair streamed to and fro: Beneath, the billows having vainly striven Indignant and impetuous, roared to feel _415 The swift and steady motion of the keel. 47. Or, when the weary moon was in the wane, Or in the noon of interlunar night, The lady-witch in visions could not chain Her spirit; but sailed forth under the light _420 Of shooting stars, and bade extend amain Its storm-outspeeding wings, the Hermaphrodite; She to the Austral waters took her way, Beyond the fabulous Thamondocana,-- 48. Where, like a meadow which no scythe has shaven, _425 Which rain could never bend, or whirl-blast shake, With the Antarctic constellations paven, Canopus and his crew, lay the Austral lake-- There she would build herself a windless haven Out of the clouds whose moving turrets make _430 The bastions of the storm, when through the sky The spirits of the tempest thundered by: 49. A haven beneath whose translucent floor The tremulous stars sparkled unfathomably, And around which the solid vapours hoar, _435 Based on the level waters, to the sky Lifted their dreadful crags, and like a shore Of wintry mountains, inaccessibly Hemmed in with rifts and precipices gray, And hanging crags, many a cove and bay. _440 50. And whilst the outer lake beneath the lash Of the wind's scourge, foamed like a wounded thing, And the incessant hail with stony clash Ploughed up the waters, and the flagging wing Of the roused cormorant in the lightning flash _445 Looked like the wreck of some wind-wandering Fragment of inky thunder-smoke--this haven Was as a gem to copy Heaven engraven,-- 51. On which that lady played her many pranks, Circling the image of a shooting star, _450 Even as a tiger on Hydaspes' banks Outspeeds the antelopes which speediest are, In her light boat; and many quips and cranks She played upon the water, till the car Of the late moon, like a sick matron wan, _455 To journey from the misty east began. 52. And then she called out of the hollow turrets Of those high clouds, white, golden and vermilion, The armies of her ministering spirits-- In mighty legions, million after million, _460 They came, each troop emblazoning its merits On meteor flags; and many a proud pavilion Of the intertexture of the atmosphere They pitched upon the plain of the calm mere. 53. They framed the imperial tent of their great Queen _465 Of woven exhalations, underlaid With lambent lightning-fire, as may be seen A dome of thin and open ivory inlaid With crimson silk--cressets from the serene Hung there, and on the water for her tread _470 A tapestry of fleece-like mist was strewn, Dyed in the beams of the ascending moon. 54. And on a throne o'erlaid with starlight, caught Upon those wandering isles of aery dew, Which highest shoals of mountain shipwreck not, _475 She sate, and heard all that had happened new Between the earth and moon, since they had brought The last intelligence--and now she grew Pale as that moon, lost in the watery night-- And now she wept, and now she laughed outright. _480 55. These were tame pleasures; she would often climb The steepest ladder of the crudded rack Up to some beaked cape of cloud sublime, And like Arion on the dolphin's back Ride singing through the shoreless air;--oft-time _485 Following the serpent lightning's winding track, She ran upon the platforms of the wind, And laughed to bear the fire-balls roar behind. 56. And sometimes to those streams of upper air Which whirl the earth in its diurnal round, _490 She would ascend, and win the spirits there To let her join their chorus. Mortals found That on those days the sky was calm and fair, And mystic snatches of harmonious sound Wandered upon the earth where'er she passed, _495 And happy thoughts of hope, too sweet to last. 57. But her choice sport was, in the hours of sleep, To glide adown old Nilus, where he threads Egypt and Aethiopia, from the steep Of utmost Axume, until he spreads, _500 Like a calm flock of silver-fleeced sheep, His waters on the plain: and crested heads Of cities and proud temples gleam amid, And many a vapour-belted pyramid. 58. By Moeris and the Mareotid lakes, _505 Strewn with faint blooms like bridal chamber floors, Where naked boys bridling tame water-snakes, Or charioteering ghastly alligators, Had left on the sweet waters mighty wakes Of those huge forms--within the brazen doors _510 Of the great Labyrinth slept both boy and beast, Tired with the pomp of their Osirian feast. 59. And where within the surface of the river The shadows of the massy temples lie, And never are erased--but tremble ever _515 Like things which every cloud can doom to die, Through lotus-paven canals, and wheresoever The works of man pierced that serenest sky With tombs, and towers, and fanes, 'twas her delight To wander in the shadow of the night. _520 60. With motion like the spirit of that wind Whose soft step deepens slumber, her light feet Passed through the peopled haunts of humankind. Scattering sweet visions from her presence sweet, Through fane, and palace-court, and labyrinth mined _525 With many a dark and subterranean street Under the Nile, through chambers high and deep She passed, observing mortals in their sleep. 61. A pleasure sweet doubtless it was to see Mortals subdued in all the shapes of sleep. _530 Here lay two sister twins in infancy; There, a lone youth who in his dreams did weep; Within, two lovers linked innocently In their loose locks which over both did creep Like ivy from one stem;--and there lay calm _535 Old age with snow-bright hair and folded palm. 62. But other troubled forms of sleep she saw, Not to be mirrored in a holy song-- Distortions foul of supernatural awe, And pale imaginings of visioned wrong; _540 And all the code of Custom's lawless law Written upon the brows of old and young: 'This,' said the wizard maiden, 'is the strife Which stirs the liquid surface of man's life.' 63. And little did the sight disturb her soul.-- _545 We, the weak mariners of that wide lake Where'er its shores extend or billows roll, Our course unpiloted and starless make O'er its wild surface to an unknown goal:-- But she in the calm depths her way could take, _550 Where in bright bowers immortal forms abide Beneath the weltering of the restless tide. 64. And she saw princes couched under the glow Of sunlike gems; and round each temple-court In dormitories ranged, row after row, _555 She saw the priests asleep--all of one sort-- For all were educated to be so.-- The peasants in their huts, and in the port The sailors she saw cradled on the waves, And the dead lulled within their dreamless graves. _560 65. And all the forms in which those spirits lay Were to her sight like the diaphanous Veils, in which those sweet ladies oft array Their delicate limbs, who would conceal from us Only their scorn of all concealment: they _565 Move in the light of their own beauty thus. But these and all now lay with sleep upon them, And little thought a Witch was looking on them. 66. She, all those human figures breathing there, Beheld as living spirits--to her eyes _570 The naked beauty of the soul lay bare, And often through a rude and worn disguise She saw the inner form most bright and fair-- And then she had a charm of strange device, Which, murmured on mute lips with tender tone, _575 Could make that spirit mingle with her own. 67. Alas! Aurora, what wouldst thou have given For such a charm when Tithon became gray? Or how much, Venus, of thy silver heaven Wouldst thou have yielded, ere Proserpina _580 Had half (oh! why not all?) the debt forgiven Which dear Adonis had been doomed to pay, To any witch who would have taught you it? The Heliad doth not know its value yet. 68. 'Tis said in after times her spirit free _585 Knew what love was, and felt itself alone-- But holy Dian could not chaster be Before she stooped to kiss Endymion, Than now this lady--like a sexless bee Tasting all blossoms, and confined to none, _590 Among those mortal forms, the wizard-maiden Passed with an eye serene and heart unladen. 69. To those she saw most beautiful, she gave Strange panacea in a crystal bowl:-- They drank in their deep sleep of that sweet wave, _595 And lived thenceforward as if some control, Mightier than life, were in them; and the grave Of such, when death oppressed the weary soul, Was as a green and overarching bower Lit by the gems of many a starry flower. _600 70. For on the night when they were buried, she Restored the embalmers' ruining, and shook The light out of the funeral lamps, to be A mimic day within that deathy nook; And she unwound the woven imagery _605 Of second childhood's swaddling bands, and took The coffin, its last cradle, from its niche, And threw it with contempt into a ditch. 71. And there the body lay, age after age. Mute, breathing, beating, warm, and undecaying, _610 Like one asleep in a green hermitage, With gentle smiles about its eyelids playing, And living in its dreams beyond the rage Of death or life; while they were still arraying In liveries ever new, the rapid, blind _615 And fleeting generations of mankind. 72. And she would write strange dreams upon the brain Of those who were less beautiful, and make All harsh and crooked purposes more vain Than in the desert is the serpent's wake _620 Which the sand covers--all his evil gain The miser in such dreams would rise and shake Into a beggar's lap;--the lying scribe Would his own lies betray without a bribe. 73. The priests would write an explanation full, _625 Translating hieroglyphics into Greek, How the God Apis really was a bull, And nothing more; and bid the herald stick The same against the temple doors, and pull The old cant down; they licensed all to speak _630 Whate'er they thought of hawks, and cats, and geese, By pastoral letters to each diocese. 74. The king would dress an ape up in his crown And robes, and seat him on his glorious seat, And on the right hand of the sunlike throne _635 Would place a gaudy mock-bird to repeat The chatterings of the monkey.--Every one Of the prone courtiers crawled to kiss the feet Of their great Emperor, when the morning came, And kissed--alas, how many kiss the same! _640 75. The soldiers dreamed that they were blacksmiths, and Walked out of quarters in somnambulism; Round the red anvils you might see them stand Like Cyclopses in Vulcan's sooty abysm, Beating their swords to ploughshares;--in a band _645 The gaolers sent those of the liberal schism Free through the streets of Memphis, much, I wis, To the annoyance of king Amasis. 76. And timid lovers who had been so coy, They hardly knew whether they loved or not, _650 Would rise out of their rest, and take sweet joy, To the fulfilment of their inmost thought; And when next day the maiden and the boy Met one another, both, like sinners caught, Blushed at the thing which each believed was done _655 Only in fancy--till the tenth moon shone; 77. And then the Witch would let them take no ill: Of many thousand schemes which lovers find, The Witch found one,--and so they took their fill Of happiness in marriage warm and kind. _660 Friends who, by practice of some envious skill, Were torn apart--a wide wound, mind from mind!-- She did unite again with visions clear Of deep affection and of truth sincere. 80. These were the pranks she played among the cities _665 Of mortal men, and what she did to Sprites And Gods, entangling them in her sweet ditties To do her will, and show their subtle sleights, I will declare another time; for it is A tale more fit for the weird winter nights _670 Than for these garish summer days, when we Scarcely believe much more than we can see. NOTES: _2 dead]deaf cj. A.C. Bradley, who cps. "Adonais" 317. _65 first was transcript, B.; was first edition 1824. _84 Temple's transcript, B.; tempest's edition 1824. _165 was its transcript, B.; is its edition 1824. _184 envied so all manuscripts and editions; envious cj. James Thomson ('B. V.'). _262 upon so all manuscripts and editions: thereon cj. Rossetti. _333 swelled lightly edition 1824, B.; lightly swelled editions 1839; swelling lightly with its full growth transcript. _339 lightenings B., editions 1839; lightnings edition 1824, transcript. _422 Its transcript; His edition 1824, B. _424 Thamondocana transcript, B.; Thamondocona edition 1824. _442 wind's transcript, B.; winds' edition 1834. _493 where transcript, B.; when edition 1824. _596 thenceforward B.; thence forth edition 1824; henceforward transcript. _599 Was as a B.; Was a edition 1824. _601 night when transcript; night that edition 1824, B. _612 smiles transcript, B.; sleep edition 1824. NOTE ON THE WITCH OF ATLAS, BY MRS. SHELLEY. We spent the summer of 1820 at the Baths of San Giuliano, four miles from Pisa. These baths were of great use to Shelley in soothing his nervous irritability. We made several excursions in the neighbourhood. The country around is fertile, and diversified and rendered picturesque by ranges of near hills and more distant mountains. The peasantry are a handsome intelligent race; and there was a gladsome sunny heaven spread over us, that rendered home and every scene we visited cheerful and bright. During some of the hottest days of August, Shelley made a solitary journey on foot to the summit of Monte San Pellegrino--a mountain of some height, on the top of which there is a chapel, the object, during certain days of the year, of many pilgrimages. The excursion delighted him while it lasted; though he exerted himself too much, and the effect was considerable lassitude and weakness on his return. During the expedition he conceived the idea, and wrote, in the three days immediately succeeding to his return, the "Witch of Atlas". This poem is peculiarly characteristic of his tastes--wildly fanciful, full of brilliant imagery, and discarding human interest and passion, to revel in the fantastic ideas that his imagination suggested. The surpassing excellence of "The Cenci" had made me greatly desire that Shelley should increase his popularity by adopting subjects that would more suit the popular taste than a poem conceived in the abstract and dreamy spirit of the "Witch of Atlas". It was not only that I wished him to acquire popularity as redounding to his fame; but I believed that he would obtain a greater mastery over his own powers, and greater happiness in his mind, if public applause crowned his endeavours. The few stanzas that precede the poem were addressed to me on my representing these ideas to him. Even now I believe that I was in the right. Shelley did not expect sympathy and approbation from the public; but the want of it took away a portion of the ardour that ought to have sustained him while writing. He was thrown on his own resources, and on the inspiration of his own soul; and wrote because his mind overflowed, without the hope of being appreciated. I had not the most distant wish that he should truckle in opinion, or submit his lofty aspirations for the human race to the low ambition and pride of the many; but I felt sure that, if his poems were more addressed to the common feelings of men, his proper rank among the writers of the day would be acknowledged, and that popularity as a poet would enable his countrymen to do justice to his character and virtues, which in those days it was the mode to attack with the most flagitious calumnies and insulting abuse. That he felt these things deeply cannot be doubted, though he armed himself with the consciousness of acting from a lofty and heroic sense of right. The truth burst from his heart sometimes in solitude, and he would writes few unfinished verses that showed that he felt the sting; among such I find the following:-- 'Alas! this is not what I thought Life was. I knew that there were crimes and evil men, Misery and hate; nor did I hope to pass Untouched by suffering through the rugged glen. In mine own heart I saw as in a glass The hearts of others...And, when I went among my kind, with triple brass Of calm endurance my weak breast I armed, To bear scorn, fear, and hate--a woful mass!' I believed that all this morbid feeling would vanish if the chord of sympathy between him and his countrymen were touched. But my persuasions were vain, the mind could not be bent from its natural inclination. Shelley shrunk instinctively from portraying human passion, with its mixture of good and evil, of disappointment and disquiet. Such opened again the wounds of his own heart; and he loved to shelter himself rather in the airiest flights of fancy, forgetting love and hate, and regret and lost hope, in such imaginations as borrowed their hues from sunrise or sunset, from the yellow moonshine or paly twilight, from the aspect of the far ocean or the shadows of the woods,--which celebrated the singing of the winds among the pines, the flow of a murmuring stream, and the thousand harmonious sounds which Nature creates in her solitudes. These are the materials which form the "Witch of Atlas": it is a brilliant congregation of ideas such as his senses gathered, and his fancy coloured, during his rambles in the sunny land he so much loved. *** OEDIPUS TYRANNUS OR SWELLFOOT THE TYRANT. A TRAGEDY IN TWO ACTS TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL DORIC. 'Choose Reform or Civil War, When through thy streets, instead of hare with dogs, A CONSORT-QUEEN shall hunt a king with hogs, Riding on the IONIAN MINOTAUR.' [Begun at the Baths of San Giuliano, near Pisa, August 24, 1819; published anonymously by J. Johnston, Cheapside (imprint C.F. Seyfang), 1820. On a threat of prosecution the publisher surrendered the whole impression, seven copies--the total number sold--excepted. "Oedipus" does not appear in the first edition of the "Poetical Works", 1839, but it was included by Mrs. Shelley in the second edition of that year. Our text is that of the editio princeps, 1820, save in three places, where the reading of edition 1820 will be found in the notes.] ADVERTISEMENT. This Tragedy is one of a triad, or system of three Plays (an arrangement according to which the Greeks were accustomed to connect their dramatic representations), elucidating the wonderful and appalling fortunes of the SWELLFOOT dynasty. It was evidently written by some LEARNED THEBAN, and, from its characteristic dulness, apparently before the duties on the importation of ATTIC SALT had been repealed by the Boeotarchs. The tenderness with which he treats the PIGS proves him to have been a sus Boeotiae; possibly Epicuri de grege porcus; for, as the poet observes,