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I knew not that, yet thought it, since I heard
Of death: although I know not what it is,
Yet it seems horrible. I have look'd out
In the vast desolate night in search of him;
And, when I saw gigantic shadows in
The umbrage of the walls of Eden, chequer'd
By the far-flashing of the cherubs' swords,
I watch'd for what I thought his coming; for
With fear rose longing in my heart to know
What 't was which shook us all-but nothing came.
And then I turn'd my weary eyes from off
Our native and forbidden Paradise,
Up to the lights above us, in the azure,
Which are so beautiful: shall they, too, die?
Perhaps but long outlive both thine and thee.
I'm glad of that; I would not have them die,
They are so lovely. What is death? I fear,
I feel, it is a dreadful thing; but what,
I cannot compass: 't is denounced against us,
Both them who sinn'd and sinn'd not, as an ill-
Ask Eve, your mother; bears she not the knowledge My little Enoch! and his lisping sister! Of good and evil?
Hast pluck'd a fruit more fatal to thine offspring
Than to thyself; thou at the least hast past
Thy youth in Paradise, in innocent
And happy intercourse with happy spirits;
we, thy children, ignorant of Eden,
Are girt about by demons, who assume
The words of God, and tempt us with our own
Dissatisfied and curious thoughts-as thou
Wert work'd on by the snake, in thy most flush'd
And heedless, harmless wantonness of bliss.
I cannot answer this immortal thing
Which stands before me: I cannot abhor him;
I look him with a pleasing fear,
And yet I fly not from him: in his eye
There is a fastening attraction, which
my fluttering eyes on his; my heart
Beats quick; he awes me, and yet draws me near,
Nearer and nearer: Cain-Cain-save me from him!
Could I but deem them happy, I would half
Forget-but it can never be forgotten
Through thrice a thousand generations! never
Shall men love the remembrance of the man
Who sow'd the seed of evil and mankind
In the same hour! They pluck'd the tree of science
And sin-and, not content with their own sorrow,
Begot me-thee-and all the few that are,
And all the unnumber'd and innumerable
Multitudes, millions, myriads, which may be,
To inherit agonies accumulated
By ages! And I must be sire of such things!
Thy beauty and thy love-my love and joy,
The rapturous moment and the placid hour,
All we love in our children and each other,
But lead them and ourselves through many years
Of sin and pain-or few, but still of sorrow,
Intercheck'd with an instant of brief pleasure,
To Death-the unknown! Methinks the tree of know
Hath not fulfill'd its promise:-if they sinn'd,
At least they ought to have known all things that ar
Of knowledge-and the mystery of death.
What do they know?-that they are miserable.
What need of snakes and fruits to teach us that!
I am not wretched, Cain, and if thou
I will have nought to do with happiness,
Which humbles me and mine.
Nor would be happy: but with those around us,
I think I could be so, despite of death,
Which, as I know it not, I dread not, though
It seems an awful shadow-if I may
Judge from what I have heard.
Alone, thou say'st, be happy?
But in his being?
Save in my father, who is God's own image;
Or in his angels, who are like to thee-
And brighter, yet less beautiful and powerful
In seeming: as the silent sunny noon,
All light, they look upon us; but thou seem'st
Like an ethereal night, where long white clouds
Streak the deep purple, and unnumber'd stars
Alone! Oh, my God! Spangle the wonderful mysterious vault
With things that look as if they would be suns;
So beautiful, unnumber'd, and endearing,
Not dazzling, and yet drawing us to them,
They fill my eyes with tears, and so dost thou.
Thou seem'st unhappy; do not make us so,
And I will weep for thee.
Who could be happy and alone, or good?
To me my solitude seems sin; unless
When I think how soon I shall see my brother,
His brother, and our children, and our parents.
Yet thy God is alone; and is he happy,
Lonely and good?
The angels and the mortals to make happy,
And thus becomes so in diffusing joy:
What else can joy be but the spreading joy?
Ask of your sire, the exile fresh from Eden;
Or of his first-born son; ask your own heart;
It is not tranquil.
The cause of this all-spreading happiness
(Which you proclaim) of the all-great and good
Maker of life and living things; it is
His secret, and he keeps it. We must bear,
And some of us resist, and both in vain,
His seraphs say; but it is worth the trial,
Since better may not be without: there is
A wisdom in the spirit, which directs
To right, as in the dim blue air the eye
Of you, young mortals, lights at once upon
The star which watches, welcoming the morn.
It is a beautiful star; I love it for
Adores the Invisible only.
Of the Invisible are the loveliest
Of what is visible; and yon bright star
Is leader of the host of heaven.
Saith that ne has beheld the God himself
Who made him and our mother.
In sooth return within an hour?
With us acts are exempt from time, and we
Can crowd eternity into an hour,
Or stretch an hour into eternity:
We breathe not by a mortal measurement-
But that's a mystery. Cain, come on with me.
Of mortals from that place (the first and last
The billows and be safe. I will not say
Believe in me, as a conditional creed
To save thee; but fly with me o'er the gulf
Of space an equal flight, and I will show
What thou dar'st not deny, the history
Who shall return, save ONE)-shall come back to thee, Of past, and present, and of future worlds.
To make that silent and expectant world
As populous as this: at present there
Are few inhabitants.
Throughout all space. Where should I dwell? Where are
Thy God or Gods-there am I; all things are
Divided with me; life and death-and time-
Eternity-and heaven and earth-and that
Which is not heaven nor earth, but peopled with
Those who once peopled or shall people both-
These are my realms! So that I do divide
His, and possess a kingdom which is not
His. If I were not that which I have said,
Could I stand here? His angels are within
Believe-and sink not! doubt-and perish! thus
Would run the edict of the other God,
Who names me demon to his angels; they
Echo the sound to miserable things,
Which, knowing nougnt oeyond their shallow senses,
Worship the word which strikes their ear, and deem
Evil or good what is proclaim'd to them
In their abasement. I will have none such :
Worship or worship not, thou shalt behold
The worlds beyond thy little world, nor be
Amerced, for doubts beyond thy little life,
With torture of my dooming. There will come
An hour, when, toss'd upon some water-drops,
A man shall say to a man, "Believe in me,
And walk the waters ;" and the man shall walk
Like sunbeams onward, it grows small and smaller,
And as it waxes little, and then less,
Gathers a halo round it, like the light
Which shone the roundest of the stars, when I
Beheld them from the skirts of Paradise:
Methinks they both, as we recede from them,
Appear to join the innumerable stars
Which are around us; and, as we move on,
Increase their myriads.
And if there should be Worlds greater than thine own, inhabited By greater things, and they themselves far more In number than the dust of thy dull earth, Though multiplied to animated atoms,
All living, and all doom'd to death, and wretched, What wouldst thou think?
I should be proud of thought
But if that high thought were
Link'd to a servile mass of matter, and,
Knowing such things, aspiring to such things,
And science still beyond them, were chain'd down
To the most gross and petty paltry wants,
All foul and fulsome, and the very best
Of thine enjoyments a sweet degradation,
A most enervating and filthy cheat,
To lure thee on to the renewal of
Fresh souls and bodies, all foredoom'd to be
As frail, and few so happy-
Know nought of death, save as a dreadful thing.
Of which I have heard my parents speak, as of
A hideous heritage I owe to them
No less than life; a heritage not happy,
If I may judge till now. But, spirit, if
It be as thou hast said (and I within
Fee! the prophetic torture of its truth),
Here let me die: for to give birth to those