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IX.

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.

X.

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.

XI.

But still the Lady heard that clang

Filling the wide air far away ;
And still the mist whose light did hang

Among the mountains shook alway,
So that the Lady's heart beat fast,
As half in joy, and half aghast,
On those high domes her look she cast.

XII.

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
Among those mighty towers and fanes
Dropped fire, as a volcano rains
Its sulphurous ruin on the plains.

XIII.

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
Through that wide vale; she felt no fear,
But said within herself, 'Tis clear
These towers are Nature's own, and she
To save them has sent forth the sea.

XIV.

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.

XV.

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.

XVI.

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,
As the thistle-beard on a whirlwind sails -
While the flood was filling those hollow vales.

XVII.

At last her plank an eddy crost,

And bore her to the city's wall,
Which now the flood had reached almost;

It might the stoutest heart appal
To hear the fire roar and hiss
Through the domes of those mighty palaces.

XVIII.

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.

XIX.

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.

XX.

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.

XXI.

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.

XXII.

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.

XXIII.

The dizzy flight of that phantom pale

Waked the fair Lady from her sleep,
And she arose, while from the veil

Of her dark eyes the dream did creep,
And she walked about as one who knew
That sleep has sights as clear and true
As any waking eyes can view.

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