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Thou art but the mind's first chamber,
But the portal of the grave,
Will make thy best glories seem
Peace! the abyss is wreath'd with scorn
What is heaven? and what are ye
What are suns and spheres which flee
Drops which Nature's mighty heart
What is heaven? a globe of dew,
Some eyed flower, whose young leaves waken On an unimagined world:
Constellated suns unshaken,
In that frail and fading sphere,
ODE TO THE WEST WIND.'
O WILD West-wind! thou breath of Autumn's being! Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,
Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red, Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O, thou, Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed
The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth, and fill (Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air) With living hues and odours, plain and hill:
Wild Spirit, which art moving every where ; Destroyer and preserver; hear, O, hear!
This poem was conceived and chiefly written in a wood that skirts the Arno, near Florence, and on a day when that tempestuous wind, whose temperature is at once mild and animating, was collecting the vapours which pour down the autumnal rains. They began, as I foresaw, at sunset with a violent tempest of hail and rain, attended by that magnificent thunder and lightning peculiar to the Cisalpine regions.
The phenomenon alluded to at the conclusion of the third stanza is well known to naturalists. The vegetation at the bottom of the sea, of rivers, and of lakes, sympathises with that of the land in the change of seasons, and is consequently influenced by the winds which announce it.
Thou on whose stream, 'mid the steep sky's commotion, Loose clouds like earth's decaying leaves are shed, Shook from the tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean,
Angels of rain and lightning: there are spread
Of some fierce Mænad, even from the dim verge Of the horizon to the zenith's height,
The locks of the approaching storm. Thou dirge
Of the dying year, to which this closing night
Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere
Thou who didst waken from his summer dreams
Beside a pumice isle in Baia's bay,
All overgrown with azure moss and flowers
Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below
Thy voice, and suddenly grow grey with fear, And tremble and despoil themselves: O, hear!
If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;
The impulse of thy strength, only less free
The comrade of thy wanderings over heaven,
As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need.
A heavy weight of hours has chain'd and bow'd
Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is : What if my leaves are falling like its own! The tumult of thy mighty harmonies
ODE TO LIBERTY.
Yet, Freedom, yet thy banner torn but flying, Streams like a thunder-storm against the wind. BYRON.
A GLORIOUS people vibrated again
The lightning of the nations: Liberty
Gleam'd. My soul spurn'd the chains of its dismay,
As a young eagle soars the morning clouds among,
Till from its station in the heaven of fame The Spirit's whirlwind rapt it, and the ray Of the remotest sphere of living flame Which paves the void was from behind it flung, As foam from a ship's swiftness, when there came A voice out of the deep: I will record the same.
Man, the imperial shape, then multiplied
Was savage, cunning, blind, and rude,
Into the shadow of her pinions wide, Anarchs and priests who feed on gold and blood, Till with the stain their inmost souls are dyed, Drove the astonish'd herds of men from every side.
The nodding promontories, and blue isles,
And cloud-like mountains, and dividuous waves Of Greece, bask'd glorious in the open smiles of favouring heaven: from their enchanted caves
Prophetic echoes flung dim melody
On the unapprehensive wild.
The vine, the corn, the olive mild, Grew savage yet, to human use unreconciled; And, like unfolded flowers beneath the sea,
Like the man's thought dark in the infant's brain, Like aught that is which wraps what is to be,
Art's deathless dreams lay veil'd by many a vein Of Parian stone; and yet a speechless child,
Verse murmur'd, and Philosophy did strain Her lidless eyes for thee; when o'er the Ægean main
Athens arose a city such as vision
Builds from the purple crags and silver towers
Of battlemented cloud, as in derision
Of kingliest masonry: the ocean-floors Pave it; the evening sky pavilions it;
Its portals are inhabited
By thunder-zoned winds, each head
Within its cloudy wings with sun-fire garlanded, A divine work! Athens diviner yet
Gleam'd with its crest of columns, on the will
Of man, as on a mount of diamond, set;
For thou wert, and thine all-creative skill Peopled with forms that mock the eternal dead In marble immortality, that hill
Which was thine earliest throne and latest oracle.
Within the surface of Time's fleeting river
Its wrinkled image lies, as then it lay
Immovably unquiet, and for ever
It trembles, but it cannot pass away! The voices of thy bards and sages thunder With an earth-awakening blast
Through the caverns of the past;
Religion veils her eyes; Oppression shrinks aghast : A winged sound of joy, and love, and wonder, Which soars where Expectation never flew, Rending the veil of space and time asunder!
One ocean feeds the clouds, and streams, and dew;
One sun illumines heaven; one spirit vast
Then Rome was, and from thy deep bosom fairest,
By thy sweet love was sanctified;
Saintly Camillus lived, and firm Atilius died.
Slaves of one tyrant: Palatinus sigh'd
Faint echoes of Jonian song; that tone
1 See the Baccha of Euripides.
From what Hyrcanian glen or frozen hill,
Didst thou lament the ruin of thy reign,
To talk in echoes sad and stern,
Of that sublimest lore which man had dared unlearn? For neither didst thou watch the wizard flocks
Of the Scald's dreams, nor haunt the Druid's sleep. What if the tears rain'd through thy shatter'd locks Were quickly dried? for thou didst groan, not weep, When from its sea of death to kill and burn, The Galilean serpent forth did creep,
And made thy world an undistinguishable heap.
A thousand years the Earth cried, Where art thou?
On Saxon Alfred's olive-cinctured brow:
Frowning o'er the tempestuous sea
Of kings, and priests, and slaves, in tower-crown'd ma
That multitudinous anarchy did sweep,
And burst around their walls, like idle foam, Whilst from the human spirit's deepest deep,
Strange melody with love and awe struck dumb Dissonant arms; and Art, which cannot die, With divine wand traced on our earthly home Fit imagery to pave heaven's everlasting dome.
Thou huntress swifter than the Moon! thou terror
Luther caught thy wakening glance:
Of Milton didst thou pass, from the sad scene Beyond whose night he saw, with a dejected mien.
Like shadows: as if day had cloven the skies At dreaming midnight o'er the western wave, Men started, staggering with a glad surprise, Under the lightnings of thine unfamiliar eyes.
Lift the victory-flashing sword,
And cut the snaky knots of this foul gordian word, Which weak itself as stubble, yet can bind
Into a mass, irrefragably firm,
The axes and the rods which awe mankind;
Thou heaven of earth! what spells could pall thee then, Of what makes life foul, cankerous, and abhorr'd;
In ominous eclipse? A thousand years,
Round France, the ghastly vintage, stood
Like clouds with clouds, darkening the sacred bowers
Of serene heaven. He, by the past pursued,
Rests with those dead, but unforgotten hours,
England yet sleeps: was she not call'd of old? Spain calls her now, as with its thrilling thunder Vesuvius wakens Etna, and the cold
Snow-crags by its reply are cloven in sunder : O'er the lit waves every Æolian isle
From Pithecusa to Pelorus
Howls, and leaps, and glares in chorus:
To the eternal years enthroned before us,
All ye have thought and done! Time cannot dare conceal.
Tomb of Arminius! render up thy dead,
Till, like a standard from a watch-tower's staff,
His dead spirit lives in thee.
Why do we fear or hope? thou art already free!
And glorious world! thou flowery wilderness! Thou island of eternity! thou shrine
Where desolation, clothed with loveliness,
Worships the thing thou wert! O Italy,
Gather thy blood into thy heart; repress
The beasts who make their dens thy sacred palaces.
Disdain not thou, at thine appointed term,
To set thine armed heel on this reluctant worm.
O, that the wise from their bright minds would kindle
Of its own aweless soul, or of the power unknown!
From a white lake blot heaven's blue portraiture, Were stript of their thin masks and various hue, And frowns and smiles and splendours not their own, Till in the nakedness of false and true
They stand before their Lord, each to receive its due.
He who taught man to vanquish whatsoever
Can be between the cradle and the grave, Crown'd him the King of Life. O vain endeavour! If on his own high will a willing slave, He has enthroned the oppression and the oppressor. What if earth can clothe and feed Amplest millions at their need, And power in thought be as the tree within the seed? Or what if Art, an ardent intercessor
Diving on fiery wings to Nature's throne, Checks the great mother stooping to caress her, And cries: Give me, thy child, dominion Over all height and depth? if Life can breed New wants, and wealth from those who toil and groan Rend of thy gifts and hers a thousandfold for one.
Come Thou, but lead out of the inmost cave
Wisdom. I hear the pennons of her car
To judge with solemn truth, life's ill-apportion'd lot? Blind Love, and equal Justice, and the Fame
Of what has been, the Hope of what will be!
O, Liberty! if such could be thy name
Wert thou disjoin'd from these, or they from thee:
If thine or theirs were treasures to be bought
By blood or tears, have not the wise and free
Wept tears, and blood like tears? The solemn harmony
Paused, and the spirit of that mighty singing
To its abyss was suddenly withdrawn ;
Then, as a wild swan, when sublimely winging
When the bolt has pierced its brain;
As summer clouds dissolve, unburthen'd of their rain; As a far taper fades with fading night,
As a brief insect dies with dying day, My song, its pinions disarray'd of might,
Droop'd; o'er it closed the echoes far away Of the great voice which did its flight sustain, As waves which lately paved his watery way
From the unknown graves
Of the dead kings of Melody.' Shadowy Aornos darken'd o'er the helm The horizontal æther; heaven stript bare Its depths over Elysium, where the prow Made the invisible water white as snow; From that Typhæan mount, Inarime There stream'd a sunlike vapour, like the standard Of some ethereal host;
Whilst from all the coast,
Louder and louder, gathering round, there wander'd
Hiss round a drowner's head in their tempestuous play. Prophesyings which grew articulate
ODE TO NAPLES."
EPODE I. a.
I STOOD within the city disinterr'd; 2
And heard the autumnal leaves like light footfalls Of spirits passing through the streets; and heard The Mountain's slumberous voice at intervals Thrill through those roofless_halls;
The oracular thunder penetrating shook
The listening soul in my suspended blood;
I felt that Earth out of her deep heart spoke
They seize me--I must speak them-be they fate!
STROPHE α. I.
Naples! thou Heart of men which ever pantest
Elysian City, which to calm enchantest
The mutinous air and sea! they round thee, even As sleep round Love, are driven !
Metropolis of a ruin'd Paradise
Long lost, late won, and yet but half regain'd! Bright Altar of the bloodless sacrifice,
Which armed Victory offers up unstain'd
To Love, the flower-enchain'd!
I felt, but heard not :-through white columns glow'd Thou which wert once, and then didst cease to be,
The isle-sustaining Ocean flood,
A plane of light between two Heavens of azure:
Weigh'd on their life; even as the Power divine,
Now art, and henceforth ever shalt be, free, If Hope, and Truth, and Justice can avail. Hail, hail, all hail!
STROPHE 8. 2.
Thou youngest giant birth
Which from the groaning earth
Leap'st, clothed in armour of impenetrable scale!
Who 'gainst the Crown'd Transgressors
Pleadest before God's love! Array'd in Wisdom's mail, Wave thy lightning lance in mirth;
What though Cimmerian Anarchs dare blaspheme
Shall their's have been-devour'd by their own hounds!
Gaze on oppression, till at that dread risk
ANTISTROPHE ß. 2.
From Freedom's form divine, From Nature's inmost shrine,
Homer and Virgil.