« AnteriorContinuar »
XLIV. How, to that vast and peopled city led, Which was a field of holy warfare then, I walk'd 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 spurn'd at peace, and power, and fame; and when
Those hopes had lost the glory of their youth, How sadly I return'd-might move the hearer's ruth:
L. Like what may be conceived of this vast dome, When from the depths which thought can seldom
That incommunicable sight, and rest
LI. Winding among the lawny islands fair, Whose bloomy forests starred the shadowy deep, The wingless boat paused where an ivory stair Its fretwork in the crystal sea did steep, Encircling that vast Fane's aerial heap : We disembark'd, and through a portal wide We pass'd— whose roof of moonstone carved, did keep
A glimmering o'er the forms on every side, Sculptures like life and thought; immoveable, deep-cyed.
XLV. Warm tears throng fast! the tale may not be saidKnow then, that when this grief had been subdued, I was not left, like others, cold and dead; The Spirit whom I loved in solitude Sustain'd 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 With silent stars, and Heaven was breathless with delight.
XLVI. 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, That after many wondrous years were flown, I was awaken'd 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.
XLVII. Thou fearest not then the Serpent on thy heart! Fear it! she said, with brief and passionate cry, And spake po more: that silence made me startI look'd, and we were sailing pleasantly, Swift as a cloud between the sea and sky, 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.
LIT. We came to a vast hall, whose glorious roof Was diamond, which had drank the lightning's sheen Jo darkness, and now pour'd it through the woof Of spell-inwoven clouds hung there to screen Its blinding splendour-through such veil was seen That work of subtlest power, divine and rare; Orb above orb, with starry shapes between,
And horn'd moons, and meteors strange and fair, On night-black columns poised - one hollow hemisphere!
A tale of passionate change, divinely taught, Which, in their winged dance, unconscious Genii wrought.
LIV. Beneath, there sate on many a sapphire throne, The Great, who had departed from mankind, A mighty Senate;---some, whose wbite hair shone Like mountain spow, mild, beautiful, and blind. Some, female forms, whose gestures beam'd with mind; And ardent youths, and children bright and fair; And some had lyres whose strings were intertwined
With pale and clinging flames, whiclı ever there Waked faint yet thrilling sounds that pierced the crystal air.
Which gathering, filld that dome of woven light,
XLVIII. And swift and swifter grew the vessel's motion, So that a dizzy trance fell on my brainWild music woke me: we had past the ocean Which girds the pole, Nature's remotest reignAnd we glode fast o'er a pellucid plain Of waters, azure with the noon-tide day. Exherial mountains shone around-a Fane
Stood in the midst, girt by green isles which lay On the blue sunny deep, resplendent far away.
XLIX. It was a Temple, such as mortal hand Has never built, nor ecstacy, nor dream, Reared in the cities of enchanted land : 'T was 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
The thronging constellations rush in crowds, Paving with fire the sky and the marmoreal floods.
A cloud of deepest shadow, which was thrown
Sinking upon their hearts and mine-He sate
They pour fresh light from Hope's immortal urn;
And on the twining flax-in life's young hours
Traditions dark and old, whence evil creeds
A throne of judgment in the grave:-'t was fate,
And where his curved lips half open lay,
IV. Beneath the darkness of his outspread hair
The land in which I lived, by a fell bane lle stood thus beautiful: but there was One
Was wither'd up. Tyrants dwelt side by side,
And stabled in our homes,-until the chain
That blasting curse men had no shame-all vied
Strange fellowship through mutual bate had tied, None else beheld her eyes--in him they woke
Like two dark serpents langled in the dust, Memories which found a tongue, as thus he silence which on the paths of men their mingling poison thrust. broke.
On every heart: the light which shows its worth,
XII. This vital world, this home of happy spirits,
Such man has been, and such may yet become! Was as a dungeon to my blasted kind,
Aye, wiser, greater, gentler, even than they All that despair from murder'd hope inherits
Who on the fragments of yon shatter'd dome They sought, and in their helpless misery blind, Have stamp'd the sign of power-I felt the sway A deeper prison and heavier chains did find,
Of the vast stream of ages bear away And stronger tyrants:-a dark gulf before,
My floating thoughts-my lieart beat loud and fastThe realm of a stern Ruler, yawn'd; behind,
Even as a storm let loose beneath the ray Terror and Time conflicting drove, and bore
Of the still moon, my spirit onward past On their tempestuous flood the shrieking wretch from Beneath Truth's steady beams upon its tumult cast. shorc. VII.
XIII. Out of that Ocean's wrecks had Guilt and Woe
It shall be thus no more! too long, too long, Framed a dark dwelling for their homeless thought, Sons of the glorious dead! bave ye lain bound And, starting at the ghosts which to and fro
In darkness and in ruin.-Hope is strong, Glide o'er its dim and gloomy strand, had brought Justice and Truth their winged child have found The worship thence which they each other taught. Awake! arise! until the mighty sound Well might men loathe their life, well might they of your career shall scatter in its gust turn
The thrones of the oppressor, and the ground Even to the ills again from which they sought
Hide the last altar's unregarded dust,
The multitude, and like a sulphurous hill,
Which on a sudden from its snows has shaken Over their will by their own weakness lent,
The swoon of ages, it shall burst and fill Made all its many names omnipotent;
The world with cleansing fire; it must, it will All symbols of things evil, all divine;
It may not be restrain'd !-and who shall stand And hymns of blood or mockery, which rent
Amid the rocking earthquake stedfast still, · The air from all its fanes, did intertwine
But Laon? on high Freedom's desert land Imposture's impious toils round each discordant shrine. A tower whose marble walls the leagued storms willi
XV. I heard, as all have heard, life's various story,
One summer night, in commune with the hope And in no careless heart transcribed the tale;
Thus deeply fed, amid those ruins Grey
The burthen of this hope, and night or day,
In vision or in dream, clove to my
breast : Pour'd on the earth, and brows anxious and pale Among mankind, or when gone
away With the heart's warfare; did I gather food
To the lone shores and mountains, 't was a guest, To feed my many thoughtsma tameless multitude ! Which follow'd where I fled, and watch'd when I did
Look'd vast in twilight, and the sorrowing gale
On which its lustre stream'd, whene'er it might
The bright stars shining in the breathless sea,
And the cold truth such sad reverse did seem,
XXIV. Yes, oft beside the ruin'd labyrinth
As mine own shadow was this child to 'me, Which skirts the hoary caves of the green deep, A second self, far dearer and more fair; Did Laon and his friend on one grey plinth,
Which clothed in undissolving radiancy, Round whose worn base the wild waves luiss and leap, All those steep paths which languor and despair Resting at eve, a lofty converse keep:
Of human things, had made so dark and bare, And that this friend was false, may now be said But which I trod alone-nor, till bereft Calmly—that he like other men could wecp
Of friends, and overcome by lonely care, Tears which are lics, and could betray and spread
Knew I what solace for that loss was left, Snares for that guileless heart which for his own had Though by a bitter wound my trusting heart was cleft. bled. XIX.
XXV. Then, had no great aim recompensed my sorrow, Once she was dear, now she was all I had I must have sought dark respite from its stress, To love in human life-this playmate sweet, In dreamless rest, in sleep that sees no morrow This child of twelve years old-so she was made For to tread life's dismaying wilderness
My sole associate, and her willing feet Without one smile to cheer, one voice to bless,
Wander'd with mine where earth and ocean meet, Amid the snares and scoffs of human kind,
Beyond the aërial mountains whose vast cells Is hard—but I betray'd it not, nor less
The unreposing billows ever beat, With love that scorn'd return, sought to unbind Through forests wide and old, and lawny dells, The interwoven clouds which make its wisdom blind. Where boughs of incense droop over the emerald wells.
Would rest, with looks entreating to abide,
Sprang forth-yet not alone from wisdom's tower,
Heartless and false, I turn'd from all, to be,
While, as the shifting visions o'er her swepl,
Sometimes the name of Laon :-suddenly
She would arise, and like the secret bird Even then, methought, with the world's tyrant rage Whom sunset wakens, fill the shore and sky A patient warfare thy young heart did wage,
With her sweet accents—a wild melody! When those soft eyes of scarcely conscious thought, Hymns which my soul had woven to Freedom, strong Some tale, or thine own fancies would engage
The source of passion whence they rose, to be; To overflow with tears, or converse fraught
Triumphant strains, which, like a spirit's tongue, With passion, o'er their depths its fleeting light had to the enchanted waves that child of Glory sung, wrought. XXIII.
XXIX. She moved upon this earth a shape of brightness, Her white arms lifted through the shadowy stream A power, that from its objects scarcely drew
Of her loose hair-oh, excellently great One impulse of her being-in her lightness
Seem'd to me then my purpose, the vast theme Most like some radiant cloud of morning dew, Of those impassion'd songs, when Cythna sate Which wanders through the waste air's pathless blue, Amid the calm which rapture doth create To nourish some far desert; she did seem
After its tumult, her heart vibrating, Beside me, gathering beauty as she grew,
Her spirit o'er the ocean's floating state Like the bright shade of some immortal dream
From her deep eyes far wandering, on the wing Which walks, when tempest sleeps, the wave of life's of visions that were mine, beyond its utmost spring.
XXXVI. For, before Cythoa loved it, had my song
This misery was but coldly felt, till she Peopled with thoughts the boundless universe, Became my only friend, who had indued A mighty congregation, which were strong
My purpose with a wider sympathy; Where'er they trod the darkness to disperse
Thus, Cythna mourn'd with me the servitude The cloud of that unutterable curse
In which the half of humankind were mew'd Which clings upon mankind :-all things became Victims of lust and hate, the slaves of slaves, Slaves to my holy and heroic verse,
She mourn'd that grace and power were thrown as Earth, sea and sky, the planets, life and fame
Over his loathed meal, laughing in agony, raves.
And I, still gazing on that glorious child, Of my conceptions, gathering like a cloud
Even as these thoughts flush'd o'er her.-- Cythipa The very wind on which it rolls away:
sweet, Hers too were all my thoughts, ere yet endow'd
Well with the world art thou unreconciled;
Till free and equal man and woman greet
Domestic peace; and ere this power can make Within, was turn'd on mine with speechless grace,
In human hearts its calm and holy seat: Watching the hopes which there her heart had learn'd This slavery must be broken ;-as I spake, to trace.
From Cythna's eyes a light of exultation brake.
She replied earnestly :-. It shall be mine, Kindled intenser zeal, and made me wise
This task, mine, Laon!-thou hast much to gain; In knowledge, which in hers mine own mind seeing, Nor wilt thou at poor Cythna's pride repine, Left in the human world few mysteries :
If she should lead a happy female train How without fear of evil or disguise
To meet thee over the rejoicing plain, Was Cythna!—what a spirit strong and mild,
When myriads at thy call shall throng around, Which death, or pain or peril could despise,
The Golden City.»— Then the child did strain Yet melt in tenderness! what genius wild,
My arm upon her tremulous heart, and wound Yet mighty, was inclosed within one simple child! Her own about my neck, till some reply she found. XXXIII.
ΧΧΧΙΧ. . New lore was this-old age with its grey hair,
I smiled, and spake not—«Wherefore dost thou smile And wrinkled legends of unworthy things,
At what I say? Laon, I am not weak, And icy sneers, is nought : it cannot dare
And though my cheek might become pale the while, To burst the chains which life for ever flings
With thee, if thou desirest, will I seek On the entangled soul's aspiring wings,
Through their array of banded slaves to wreak So is it cold and cruel, and is made
Ruin upon the tyrants. I had thought The careless slave of that dark power which brings It was more hard to turn my unpractised cheek Evil, like blight on man, who still betray'd,
To scorn and shame, and this beloved spot Laughs o'er the grave in which his living hopes are laid. And thee, 0 dearest friend, to leave and murmur not. XXXIV.
XL. Nor are the strong and the severe to keep
• Whence came I what I am? thou, Laon, knowest The empire of the world : thus Cythna taught
How a young child should thus undaunted be ; Even in the visions of her eloquent sleep,
Methinks, it is a power which thou bestowest, Unconscious of the power through which she wrought Through which I seek, by most resembling thee, The woof of such intelligible thought,
So to become most good, and great and free,
In towers and huts are many like to me,
Who, could they see thine eyes, or feel such lore O'er heralds so divine of truth's arising day,
As I have learnt from them, like me would fear no more. XXXV.
XLI. Within that faïrest form, the female mind
Think'st thou that I shall speak upskilfully, Untainted by the poison clouds which rest
And none will heed me? I remember now, On the dark world, a sacred home did find :
How once, a slave in tortures doom'd to die, But else, from the wide earth's maternal breast, Was saved, because in accents sweet and low Victorious Evil, which had dispossest
He sung a song his Judge loved long ago, All native power, had those fair children torn, As he was led to death.-All shall relent And made them slaves to soothe his vile unrest, Who hear me-lears as mine have flow'd, shall flow, And minister to lust its joys forlorn,
Hearts beat as mine now beats, wiili such intent Till they had learned to breathe the atmosphere of scorn. As renovates the world; a will omnipotent!