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On two dread mountains, from whose crest,
Might seem, the eagle, for her brood, Would ne'er have hung her dizzy nest,
Those tower-encircled cities stood. A vision strange such towers to see, Sculptured and wrought so gorgeously, Where human art could never be.
And columns framed of marble white,
And giant fanes, dome over dome Piled, and triumphant gates, all bright
With workmanship, which could not come From touch of mortal instrument, Shot o'er the vales, or lustre lent From its own shapes magnificent.
But still the Lady heard that clang
Filling the wide air far away ;
Among the mountains shook alway,
Sudden, from out that city sprung
A light that made the earth grow red; Two flames that each with quivering tongue
Licked its high domes, and over head
And hark ! a rush as if the deep
Had burst its bonds; she looked behind And saw over the western steep
A raging flood descend, and wind
And now those raging billows came
Where that fair Lady sate, and she Was borne towards the showering flame
By the wild waves heaped tumultuously, And on a little plank, the flow Of the whirlpool bore her to and fro.
The flames were fiercely vomited
From every tower and every dome, And dreary light did widely shed
O’er that vast flood's suspended foam, Beneath the smoke which hung its night On the stained cope of heaven's light.
The plank whereon that Lady sate
Was driven through the chasms, about and about, Between the peaks so desolate
Of the drowning mountains, in and out,
At last her plank an eddy crost,
And bore her to the city's wall,
It might the stoutest heart appal
The eddy whirled her round and round
Before a gorgeous gate, which stood Piercing the clouds of smoke which bound
Its aëry arch with light like blood; She looked on that gate of marble clear, With wonder that extinguished fear.
For it was filled with sculptures rarest,
Of forms most beautiful and strange, Like nothing human, but the fairest
Of winged shapes, whose legions range Throughout the sleep of those that are, Like this same Lady, good and fair.
And as she looked, still lovelier grew
Those marble forms; — the sculptor sure Was a strong spirit, and the hue
Of his own mind did there endure After the touch, whose power had braided Such grace, was in some sad change faded.
She looked, the flames were dim, the flood
Grew tranquil as a woodland river Winding through hills in solitude ;
Those marble shapes then seemed to quiver, And their fair limbs to float in motion, Like weeds unfolding in the ocean.
And their lips moved ; one seemed to speak,
When suddenly the mountain crackt, And through the chasm the flood did break
With an earth-uplifting cataract : The statues gave a joyous scream, And on its wings the pale thin dream Lifted the Lady from the stream.
The dizzy flight of that phantom pale
Waked the fair Lady from her sleep,
Of her dark eyes the dream did creep,