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Then first, two glittering lights were seen to glide In circles on the amethystine floor,

Small serpent eyes trailing from side to side,

Like meteors on a river's grassy shore,
They round each other roll'd, dilating more
And more then rose, commingling into one,
One clear and mighty planet hanging o'er

A cloud of deepest shadow, which was thrown Athwart the glowing steps and the crystalline throne.


The cloud which rested on that cone of flame Was cloven; beneath the planet sate a Form, Fairer than tongue can speak or thought may frame, The radiance of whose limbs rose-like and warm Flow'd forth, and did with softest light inform The shadowy dome, the sculptures, and the state Of those assembled shapes-with clinging charm Sinking upon their hearts and mine-He sate Majestic, yet most mild--calm, yet compassionate.


Wonder and joy a passing faintness threw Over my brow-a hand supported me, Whose touch was magic strength : an eye of blue Look'd into mine, like moonlight, soothingly; And a voice said-Thou must a listener be This day-two mighty Spirits now return, Like birds of calm, from the world's raging sea, They pour fresh light from Hope's immortal urn; A tale of human power-despair not-list and learn!


I look'd, and lo! one stood forth eloquently, His eyes were dark and deep, and the clear brow Which shadow'd them was like the morning sky, The cloudless Heaven of Spring, when in their flow Through the bright air, the soft winds as they blow Wake the green world-his gestures did obey The oracular mind that made his features glow, And where his curved lips half open lay, Passion's divinest stream had made impetuous way.


Beneath the darkness of his outspread hair
He stood thus beautiful: but there was One
Who sate beside him like his shadow there,
And held his hand-far lovelier-she was known
To be thus fair, by the few lines alone

Which through her floating locks and gather'd cloke,
Glances of soul-dissolving glory, shone:-
None else beheld her eyes-in him they woke
Memories which found a tongue, as thus he silence


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THE star-light smile of children, the sweet looks Of women, the fair breast from which I fed, The murmur of the unreposing brooks, And the green light which, shifting overhead, Some tangled bower of vines around me shed, The shells on the sea-sand, and the wild flowers, The lamp-light through the rafters cheerly spread, And on the twining flax-in life's young hours These sights and sounds did nurse my spirits' folded powers. II.

In Argolis, beside the echoing sea, Such impulses within my mortal frame Arose, and they were dear to memory, Like tokens of the dead:-but others came Soon, in another shape: the wondrous fame Of the past world, the vital words and deeds Of minds whom neither time nor change can tame, Traditions dark and old, whence evil creeds Start forth, and whose dim shade a stream of poison feeds.


I heard, as all have heard, the various story
Of human life, and wept unwilling tears.
Feeble historians of its shame and glory,
False disputants on all its hopes and fears,
Victims who worshipp'd ruin,-chroniclers
Of daily scorn, and slaves who loathed their state;
Yet flattering power had given its ministers

A throne of judgment in the grave:-'t was fate, That among such as these my youth should seek its



The land in which I lived, by a fell bane Was wither'd up. Tyrants dwelt side by side, And stabled in our homes,-until the chain Stifled the captive's cry, and to abide That blasting curse men had no shame-all vied In evil, slave and despot; fear with lust, Strange fellowship through mutual hate had tied, Like two dark serpents tangled in the dust, Which on the paths of men their mingling poison thrust.


Earth, our bright home, its mountains and its waters, And the etherial shapes which are suspended Over its green expanse, and those fair daughters, The clouds, of Sun and Ocean, who have blended The colours of the air since first extended It cradled the young world, none wander'd forth To see or feel: a darkness had descended On every heart: the light which shows its worth, Must among gentle thoughts and fearless take its birth.

VI. This vital world, this home of happy spirits, Was as a dungeon to my blasted kind, All that despair from murder'd hope inherits They sought, and in their helpless misery blind, A deeper prison and heavier chains did find, And stronger tyrants:—a dark gulf before, The realm of a stern Ruler, yawn'd; behind, Terror and Time conflicting drove, and bore


Such man has been, and such may yet become! Aye, wiser, greater, gentler, even than they Who on the fragments of yon shatter'd dome

Have stamp'd the sign of power-I felt the sway

Of the vast stream of ages bear away

My floating thoughts-my heart beat loud and fastEven as a storm let loose beneath the ray

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. shore.

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Imposture's impious toils round each discordant shrine. A tower whose marble walls the leagued storms with

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The adamantine armour of their power,
And from my fancy wings of golden hue
Sprang forth-yet not alone from wisdom's tower,
A minister of truth, these plumes young Laon bore.

An orphan with my parents lived, whose eyes
Were load-stars of delight, which drew me home
When I might wander forth; nor did I prize
Aught human thing beneath Heaven's mighty dome
Beyond this child: so when sad hours were come,
And baffled hope like ice still clung to me,
Since kin were cold, and friends had now become
Heartless and false, I turn'd from all, to be,
Cythna, the only source of tears and smiles to thee.


What wert thou then? A child most infantine,
Yet wandering far beyond that innocent age
In all but its sweet looks and mien divine;
Even then, methought, with the world's tyrant rage
A patient warfare thy young heart did wage,
When those soft eyes of scarcely conscious thought,
Some tale, or thine own fancies would engage
To overflow with tears, or converse fraught


As mine own shadow was this child to me,
A second self, far dearer and more fair;
Which clothed in undissolving radiancy,
All those steep paths which languor and despair
Of human things, had made so dark and bare,
But which I trod alone-nor, till bereft
Of friends, and overcome by lonely care,
Knew I what solace for that loss was left,
Though by a bitter wound my trusting heart was cleft.

Once she was dear, now she was all I had
To love in human life-this playmate sweet,
This child of twelve years old-so she was made

My sole associate, and her willing feet

Wander'd with mine where earth and ocean meet,
Beyond the aerial mountains whose vast cells
The unreposing billows ever beat,

Through forests wide and old, and lawny dells,
Where boughs of incense droop over the emerald wells.


And warm and light I felt her clasping hand
When twined in mine: she followed where I went,
Through the lone paths of our immortal land.
It had no waste, but some memorial lent
Which strung me to my toil-some monument
Vital with mind: then, Cythna by my side,
Until the bright and beaming day were spent,
Would rest, with looks entreating to abide,
Too earnest and too sweet ever to be denied.


And soon I could not have refused her-thus
For ever, day and night, we two were ne'er
Parted, but when brief sleep divided us:
And when the pauses of the lulling air
Of noon beside the sea, had made a lair
For her soothed senses, in my arms she slept,
And I kept watch over her slumbers there,
While, as the shifting visions o'er her swept,
Amid her innocent rest by turns she smiled and wept.-


And, in the murmur of her dreams was heard
Sometimes the name of Laon :-suddenly
She would arise, and like the secret bird
Whom sunset wakens, fill the shore and sky
With her sweet accents-a wild melody!

Hymns which my soul had woven to Freedom, strong
The source of passion whence they rose, to be;
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,


She moved upon this earth a shape of brightness,
A power, that from its objects scarcely drew
One impulse of her being-in her lightness
Most like some radiant cloud of morning dew,
Which wanders through the waste air's pathless blue,
To nourish some far desert; she did seem
Beside me, gathering beauty as she grew,
Like the bright shade of some immortal dream
Which walks, when tempest sleeps, the wave of life's
dark stream.


Her white arms lifted through the shadowy stream
Of her loose hair-oh, excellently great
Seem'd to me then my purpose, the vast theme
Of those impassion'd songs, when Cythna sate
Amid the calm which rapture doth create
After its tumult, her heart vibrating,
Her spirit o'er the ocean's floating state

From her deep eyes far wandering, on the wing
Of visions that were mine, beyond its utmost spring.


For, before Cythna loved it, had my song
Peopled with thoughts the boundless universe,
A mighty congregation, which were strong
Where'er they trod the darkness to disperse
The cloud of that unutterable curse

Which clings upon mankind :--all things became
Slaves to my holy and heroic verse,

Earth, sea and sky, the planets, life and fame

And fate, or whate'er else binds the world's wondrous frame.


And this beloved child thus felt the sway Of my conceptions, gathering like a cloud The very wind on which it rolls away: Hers too were all my thoughts, ere yet endow'd With music and with light, their fountains flow'd In poesy; and her still and earnest face, Pallid with feelings which intensely glow'd Within, was turn'd on mine with speechless grace, Watching the hopes which there her heart had learn'd

to trace.


In me, communion with this purest being
Kindled intenser zeal, and made me wise

In knowledge, which in hers mine own mind seeing,
Left in the human world few mysteries:
How without fear of evil or disguise

Was Cythna!-what a spirit strong and mild,
Which death, or pain or peril could despise,
Yet melt in tenderness! what genius wild,
Yet mighty, was inclosed within one simple child!


New lore was this-old age with its grey hair,
And wrinkled legends of unworthy things,
And icy sneers, is nought: it cannot dare
To burst the chains which life for ever flings
On the entangled soul's aspiring wings,
So is it cold and cruel, and is made

The careless slave of that dark power which brings
Evil, like blight on man, who still betray'd,
Laughs o'er the grave in which his living hopes are laid.


Nor are the strong and the severe to keep
The empire of the world: thus Cythna taught
Even in the visions of her eloquent sleep,
Unconscious of the power through which she wrought
The woof of such intelligible thought,

As from the tranquil strength which cradled lay
In her smile-peopled rest, my spirit sought
Why the deceiver and the slave has sway
O'er heralds so divine of truth's arising day.


Within that fairest form, the female mind
Untainted by the poison clouds which rest
On the dark world, a sacred home did find :
But else, from the wide earth's maternal breast,
Victorious Evil, which had dispossest
All native power, had those fair children torn,
And made them slaves to soothe his vile unrest,
And minister to lust its joys forlorn,

Till they had learned to breathe the atmosphere of scorn.


This misery was but coldly felt, till she
Became my only friend, who had indued
My purpose with a wider sympathy;
Thus, Cythna mourn'd with me the servitude
In which the half of humankind were mew'd
Victims of lust and hate, the slaves of slaves,
She mourn'd that grace and power were thrown as

To the hyena Lust, who, among graves,

Over his loathed meal, laughing in agony, raves.


And I, still gazing on that glorious child,

Even as these thoughts flush'd o'er her. Cythna


Well with the world art thou unreconciled;
Never will peace and human nature meet
Till free and equal man and woman greet
Domestic peace; and ere this power can make
In human hearts its calm and holy seat:
This slavery must be broken-as I spake,
From Cythna's eyes a light of exultation brake.

She replied earnestly: - It shall be mine,
This task, mine, Laon!-thou hast much to gain;
Nor wilt thou at poor Cythna's pride repine,
If she should lead a happy female train
To meet thee over the rejoicing plain,
When myriads at thy call shall throng around
The Golden City.»-Then the child did strain
My arm upon her tremulous heart, and wound
Her own about my neck, till some reply she found.


I smiled, and spake not-«Wherefore dost thou smile
At what I say? Laon, I am not weak,

And though my cheek might become pale the while,
With thee, if thou desirest, will I seek
Through their array of banded slaves to wreak
Ruin upon the tyrants. I had thought

It was more hard to turn my unpractised cheek
To scorn and shame, and this beloved spot
And thee, O dearest friend, to leave and murmur not.


Whence came I what I am? thou, Laon, knowest How a young child should thus undaunted be; Methinks, it is a power which thou bestowest, Through which I seek, by most resembling thee, So to become most good, and great and free, Yet far beyond this Ocean's utmost roar In towers and huts are many like to me, Who, could they see thine eyes, or feel such lore As I have learnt from them, like me would fear no more.


Think'st thou that I shall speak unskilfully,
And none will heed me? I remember now,
How once, a slave in tortures doom'd to die,
Was saved, because in accents sweet and low
He sung a song his Judge loved long ago,
As he was led to death.-All shall relent

Who hear me-tears as mine have flow'd, shall flow,
Hearts beat as mine now beats, with such intent

As renovates the world; a wiH omnipotent!

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