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Full text of "The complete poetical works of Percy Bysshe Shelley"

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THE CAMBRIDGE POETS 

Student's Edition 



SHELLEY 

EDITED BY 

GEORGE EDWARD WOODBERRY 



€fje CamBri&se ^nttfi 




Edited by 


BROWNING 


Horace E. Scudder 


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Paul E. More 


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> George L. Kittredge 


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William Vaughn Moody 


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SHELLEY 


George E. Woodberry 


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THE 

COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 

OF PERCY BYSSHE 

SHELLEY 



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OPYRIGHT, I9OI, BY HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND CO. 
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 

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CAMBRIDGE . MASSACHUSETTS 
PRINTED IN THE U.S.A. 



TO 
EDWARD DOWDEN 

FOP, aiS SERVICE TO THE MEMORY OF 

SHELLEY 

THIS EDITION IS DEDICATED 



EDITOR'S NOTE 

The text of this edition is that of the Centenary Edition of Shelley's Poetical 
Works, 1892, hut differs from it hy the omission of variant readings and emenda- 
tions except in cases where the text is acknowledged to he corrupt or of doubtful 
authority. The only contribution to our knowledge of the sources of the text since 
1892 is Professor Zupitza's description of some of the Oxford (formerly Boscombe) 
MSS., contributed to the Archiv fur das Studium der neueren Sprachen und 
Literaturen, Band XCIV, Heft 1, from which a few corrections have been noted ; 
but for the student of the text the Centenary Edition is indispensable. The Me- 
moir of that Edition is reprinted as the Biographical Sketch, and a condensation 
of the documentary extracts which in that edition were used to illustrate the 
history of the poems has been embodied in the Headnotes. The long notes in 
French and Greek affixed by Shelley to Queen Mab have been omitted at the 
suggestion of the General Editor of the series ; and the Original Poetry of Victor 
and Cazire, of which a copy was found in 1898, has not been included. The 
Notes and Illustrations have been mainly confined to the more important 
poems of Shelley, especially Alastor, Prometheus Unbound, Epipsychidion, 
Adonais and Hellas ; and they embrace only simple explanations of the text, 
the principal sources and parallel passages in the poets familiar to Shelley, and 
such cross-references as seemed to throw light on his ideas and habit of mind, 
together with a few critical comments ; no attempt has been made to include such 
information as can be readily obtained from encyclopaedias, dictionaries, manuals 
of mythology, and hke works. In this portion of the work the editor has made 
use of the labors of scholars and critics who have studied particular poems of 
Shelley, and he takes pleasure in acknowledging special obligation to Professor 
Al. Beljame's Alastor, Miss Vida Scudder's Prometheus Unbound, Rossetti's 
Adonais, and Dr. Richard Ackermann's investigation of these three works and 
also the Epipsychidion ; the fact that these studies have appeared in the last 
ten years in France, America, Dngland and Germany indicates the vitality and 
extent of Shelley's fame. G. E. W. 

Aug^t, 1901. 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 



PAGE 

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH . . . xv 

QUEEN MAB: A PHILOSOPHICAL 
POEM. 
Introductory Note .... 1 
To Harriet ***** . , , , 2 
Queen Mab 3 

aLASTOR: or, the SPIRIT OF SOL- 
ITUDE. 
Introductory Note . . . .31 
Alastor 33 

THE REVOLT OF ISLAM. 

Introductory Note . . . .43 
Author's Preface .... 45 

To Mary .... 49 

Canto First 51 

Canto Second 61 

Canto Third 69 

Canto Fourth 74 

Canto Fifth 80 

Canto Sixth 91 

Canto Seventh .... 100 

Canto Eighth 107 

Canto Ninth Ill 

Canto Tenth 117 

Canto Eleventh .... 125 
Canto Twelfth 129 

ROSALIND AND HELEN: A MOD- 
ERN ECLOGUE. 

Introductory Note .... 136 
Rosalind and Helen . . . 137 

JULIAN AND MADDALO: A CON- 
VERSATION. 
Introductory Note . . . 151 
Author's Preface .... 152 
Julian and Maddalo . . . 152 

PROMETHEUS UNBOUND : A LYRI- 
CAL DRAMA. 

Introductory Note . . . 160 
Author's Preface .... 162 

Act I 165 

Act II 178 

Act III 189 

Act rV 197 



9^8 
THE CENCI : A TRAGEDY. 

Introductory Note . . . 206 
Dedication to Leigh Hunt, Esq. . 208 
Author's Preface .... 209 

Act I 211 

Act II 218 

Act III 224 

Act IV 232 

Act V 242 

THE MASK OF ANARCHY. 

Introductory Note . . . 252 
The Mask of Anarchy . . . 253 

PETER BELL THE THIRD. 

Introductory Note . . . 258 

Dedication 259 

Prologue 260 

Part the First : Death . . . 260 
Part the Second: The Devil . 261 
Part the Third: Hell . . . 262 
Part the Fourth: Sin. . . 264 
Part the Fifth: Grace . . • 265 
Part the Sixth: Damnation . 267 
Part the Seventh: Double Dam- 
nation 269 

THE WITCH OF ATLAS. 

Introductory Note .... 271 

To Mary 272 

The Witch of Atlas . . . 273 

(EDIPUS TYRANNUS, OR SWELL- 
FOOT THE TYRANT: A TRAGEDY. 
Introductory Note .... 283 
Advertisement .... 284 

Act I 284 

Act II 291 

EPIPSYCHIDION. 

Introductory Note .... 297 
Advertisement .... 298 
Epipsychidion 298 

ADONAIS: AN ELEGY ON THE 
DEATH OF JOHN KEATS. 
Introductory Note .... 307 
Author's Preface . . . « 307 
Adonais 308 



CONTENTS 



HELLAS : A LYRICAL DRAMA. 
Introductory Note 
Author's Preface 
Prologue : a Fragment 
Hellas . . . • • 



317 
318 
320 
322 



jIISCELLANEOUS POEMS. 

Early Pobwls. 

Evening: To Harriet . . . 339 

To Ianthe 3i0 

Stanza written at Brack- 
nell 340 

To COh, there are spirits 

OF the air') 340 

To (' Yet look on me — take 

not thine eyes away ') . . 341 
Stanzas. April, 1814. . . 341 

To Harriet 342 

To Mary Wollstonecraft God- 
win 342 

Mutability 343 

On Death 343 

A Summer Evening Churchyard 343 
To Wordsworth .... 344 
Feelings of a Republican on 

the Fall of Bonaparte . . 344 
Lines ('The cold earth slept 

below') 345 

Poems written in 1816. 

The Sunset 345 

Hymn to Intellectual Beauty 346 
Mont Blanc: IjInes written in 
the Vale of Chajviouni . . 347 
Poems written in 1817. 

Marianne's Dream . . . 350 
to constantia singing . . 352 
To THE Lord Chancellor. . 353 
To William Shelley . . . 354 
On Fanny Godwin . . . 355 
Lines ('That time is dead for- 
ever, child') .... 355 

Death 355 

Sonnet. — Ozymandias . . 356 
Lines to a Critic .... 356 
■*oems written in 1818. 

Sonnet : To the Nile . . . 357 
Passage of the Apennines . 357 

The Past 358 

On a Faded Violet . . . 358 
Lines written among the Euga- 

NEAN Hills 358 

Invocation to Misery . 362 

Stanzas written in Dejection, 

NEAR Naples .... 363 
Sonnet (' Lift not the painted 
veil which those who live ') 363 



Poems written in 1819. 

Lines written during the Cab- 

tlereagh administration . 364 
Song to the Men of England 364 
To SiDMOUTH AND Castlereagh . 365 
England in 1819 .... 365 
National Anthem .... 365 
Ode to Heaven .... 366 
An Exhortation .... 367 
Ode to the West Wind . . 367 
An Ode written October, 1819, 
before the Spaniards had re- 
covered their Liberty . . 369 
On the Medusa of Leonardo da 
Vinci in the Florentine Gal- 
lery 369 

The Indian Serenade . . . 370 

To Sophia 370 

Love's Philosophy .... 371 
Poems written in 1820. 
The Sensitive Plant. 

Part First . . . .372 
Part Second .... 374 
Part Third . . . . 375 
Conclusion .... 376 
A Vision of the Sea . . . 377 

The Cloud 380 

To A Skylark .... 381 
Ode to Liberty .... 382 
to c i fear thy kisses, gen- 
tle maiden ') 387 

Arethusa 387 

Song of Proserpine while gath- 
ering Flowers on the Plain 

OF Enna 388 

Hymn of Apollo .... 388 

Hymn of Pan 389 

The Question .... 389 
The Two Spirits: an Allegory 390 
Letter to Maria Gisborne . 390 
Ode to Naples .... 395 
Autumn: a Dirge . . • 398 

Death 398 

Liberty 398 

Summer and Winter . . . 399 
The Tower of Famine . . 399 
An Allegory ('A portal as of 

shadowy adamant ') . . 399 
The World's Wanderers • • 400 
Sonnet ('Ye hasten to the 

grave ! What seek ye there ') 400 
Lines to a Reviewer . . 400 
Time Long Past .... 400 
buona notte .... 400 

Good-Night 401 

Poems written in 1821. 

Dirge for the Yeak • • • 402 



CONTENTS 



Xl 



Time 402 

From the Arabic: an Imitation 403 
Song ('Rarely, rarely, coolest 

thou') 403 

To Night 403 

To C Music, when soft voices 

die') 404 

To (' When passion's trance 

IS overpast') .... 404 

Mutability 404 

Lines (' Far, far away, ye ') 405 

The Fugitives 405 

Lines written on hearing the 
News of the Death of Napo- 
leon 406 

Sonnet : Political Greatness . 406 
A Bridal Song .... 406 

Epithalamium 407 

Another Version . . . 407 
Evening : Ponte al Mare, Pisa 407 

The Aziola 408 

To (' One word is too often 

profaned ') 408 

Remembrance 408 

To Edward Williams . . 409 

To-morrow 410 

Lines (' If I walk in Autumn's 

EVEN ') 410 

A Lament (' world ! life ! 

TIME ! ') 410 

Poems written in 1822. 

Lines C When the lamp is shat- 
tered ') 410 

The Magnetic Lady to her Pa- 
tient 411 

To Jane. 

The Invitation . . . 412 

The Recollection . . • 412 

With a Guitar : To Jane . . 413 

To Jane 415 

Epitaph (' These are two friends 
whose lives were undivided ') 415 

The Isle 415 

A Dirge (' Rough wind, that 

moanest loud'). . . . 415 
Lines written in the Bay of 

Lerici 416 

Fragments. Part I. 

The D-emon of the World. 

Part 1 416 

Part II 420 

Prince Athanase. 

Part I 425 

Part II 427 

The Woodman and the Night- 
ingale 430 

Otho . . . i . . 431 



Tasso 431 

Marenghi 432 

Lines written for Julian and 

Maddalo 435 

Lines written for Prometheus 

Unbound 435 

Lines written for Mont Blanc 435 
Lines written for the Indian 

Serenade 435 

Lines written for the Ode to 

Liberty 436 

Stanza written for the Ode 

written October, 1819 . . 436 
Lines coi^nected with Epipsy- 

CHIDION 436 

Lines written for Adonais . 438 
Lines written for Hellas . . 439 
The Pine Forest op the Cas- 

ciNE NEAR Pisa. First Draft 

OF 'To Jane: The Invitation, 

The Recollection' . . . 440 

Orpheus 441 

FlORDISPINA 443 

The Birth of Pleasure . . 444 
Love, Hope, Desire, and Fear . 444 
A Satire on Satire • . . 445 

GiNEVRA 446 

The Boat on the Serchio . 449 

The Zucca 450 

Lines (' We meet not as we 

PARTED ') 452 

Charles the First. 

Introductory Note. . . 452 

Scene I 453 

Scene II 456 

Scene III .... 464 

Scene IV 465 

Scene V 466 

Fragments of an Unfinished 

Drama 466 

The Triumph of Life . . . 470 
Part II. Minor Fragments. 

Home 480 

Fragment of a Ghost Story . 480 
To Mary ('O Mary dear, that 

you were here ! ') . • • 480 
To Mary (' The world is dreary ') 480 
To Mary ('My dearest Mary, 

wherefore hast thou gone ') . 481 
To William Shelley ('My lost 

William, thou in whom') . 481 
Lines written for the Poem to 

William Shelley . . . 481 
To William Shelley (' Thy lit- 
tle FOOTSTEPS ON THE SANDS ') . 481 
To CONSTANTIA . . , .481 

To Emilia Viviani , > . 482 



CONTENTS 



to (' mighty mind, in whose 

deep stream this age ') . . 482 
Sonnet to Byron .... 482 
A Lost Leader .... 482 

On Keats 482 

To C For me, my friend, if 

NOT that tears DID TREM- 
BLE ') 483 

Milton's Spirit .... 483 

* Mighty eagle' .... 483 
Laurel 483 

* Once more descend ' . . . 483 
l^spiration ..... 483 
To the People of England . 484 
*• What men gain fairly ' . . 484 

Rome 484 

To Italy 484 

'Unrisen splendor' . . . 484 

To Zephyr 484 

' Follow ' 484 

The Rain- Wind .... 484 

Rain 484 

'When soft winds' . . . 484 

The Vine 485 

The Waning Moon . . .485 
To THE Moon (' Bright wanderer, 

FAIR COQUETTE OF HEAVEN ') . 485 

To THE Moon C Art thou pale 

FOR weariness ') . . . 485 
Poetry and Music .... 485 

*A GENTLE story' . . . 485 

The Lady of the South . . 485 
The Tale Untold . . .485 
Wine of Eglantine . . . 485 
A Roman's Chamber . . . 486 
Song of the Furies . . . 486 
'The rude wind is singing' . 486 
Before and After .... 486 
The Shadow of Hell . . 486 

Consequence 486 

A Hate-Song .... 486 

A Face 486 

The Poet's Lover . . . 487 
' I would not be a king ' . . 487 
'is it that in some brighter 

sphere ' 487 

To-day 487 

Love's Atmosphere . . . 487 

Torpor 487 

'Wake the serpent not' , . 487 
' Is not to-day enough ? ' . . 487 
'to thirst and find no fill ' . 487 
Love (' Wealth and dominion 

fade into the mass ') • . . 488 
Music ('I pant for the music 

"WHICH is divine ') . a . . 488 
To One Singing . « « . 488 



To Music ('Silver key of the 

FOUNTAIN OF TEARS ') . . 488 

To Music (' No, Music, thou art 
NOT the "food of Love " ') . 488 

' I FAINT, I PERISH WITH MY LOVE ! ' 489 

To Silence 489 

' Oh, THAT A Chariot of Cloud 

were mine ! ' . . . . 489 
'The fierce beasts' . . . 489 
'He wanders' .... 489 
The Deserts of Sleep . . . 489 

A Dream 489 

The Heart's Tomb . . . .489 
Hope, Fear, and Doubt . . 489 
'Alas ! this is not what I thought 

LIFE was' 490 

Crowned 490 

' Great Spirit ' . . . . 490 
'o thou immortal deity ' . . 490 
'Ye gentle visitations' . . 490 
' My thoughts ' . . . . 490 

TRANSLATIONS. 

From Homer. 

Hymn to Mercury . . .491 
Hymn to Venus .... 503 
Hymn to Castor and Pollux . 504 
Hymn to Minerva .... 504 
Hymn to the Sun . . . 504 
Hymn to the Moon . . . 505 
Hymn to the Earth, Mother of 

All 505 

From Euripides. 

The Cyclops : a Satyric Drama 506 
Epigrams from the Greek. 

Spirit of Plato .... 519 
Circumstance .... 619 

To Stella 519 

Kissing Helena .... 619 
From Moschus. 

I. ' When winds that move not 
ITS calm surface sweep' . 520 
II. Pan, Echo, and the Satyr 520 
III. Fragment of the Elegy on 

THE Death of Bion . . 520 
From Bion. 

Fragment of the Elegy on the 
Death of Adonis . . . 620 
From Virgil. 

The Tenth Eclogue . . .521 
From Dante. 

I. Adapted from a Sonnet in 

THE Vita Nuova . . 522 
II. Sonnet: Dante Alighieri 

to Guido Cavalcanti . 522 
III. The First Canzone of the 

CoNViTO . t . . 522 



CONTENTS 



xiii 



IV. Matilda gathering Flowers 523 

V. Ugolino 524 

From Cavalcanti. 

Sonnet: Guido Cavalcanti to 
Dante Alighieri. . . • 525 
From Calderon. 

Scenes from the Magico Prodi- 

GIOSO. 

Scene I 526 

Scene II 531 

Scene III 533 

Stanzas from Cisma de Ingla- 

TERRA 537 

From Goethe. 

Scenes from Faust. 

Scene I. Prologue in Hea- 
ven 538 

Scene II. May-day Night . 540 

JUVENILIA. 

Verses on a Cat .... 546 

Omens 547 

Epitaphium: Latin Version of 

the Epitaph in Gray's Elegy 547 
In Horologium .... 548 

A Dialogue 548 

To the Moonbeam . . . 549 
The Solitary ..... 549 

To Death 549 

Love's Rose 550 

Eyes . . . . . . .550 

Poems from St. Irvyne, or the 

rosicrucian. 

I. Victoria 551 

II. 'On the dark height of 
Jura ' 551 

III. Sister Rosa ; a Ballad. 652 
rV. St. Irvyne's Tower . . 553 
V- Bereavement . . . 553 
VI. The Drowned Lover . . 554 

Posthumous Fragments of Margaret 
Nicholson. 

War 555 

Fragment supposed to be an 
Epithalamium of Francis Ra- 
vaillac and Charlotte Cor- 
DAY ...... 557 

Despair 558 

Fragment ('Yes! all is past — 

swift time has fled away') . 559 
The Spectral Horseman . . 559 
Melody to a Scene of Former 
Times 560 



Stanza from a Translation op 

the Marseillaise Hymn . . 561 
Bigotry's Victim .... 561 
On an Icicle that clung to the 

Grass of a Grave .... 562 
Love (' Why is it said thou canst 

NOT LIVE ') 562 

On a Fete at Carlton House . 563 
To A Star ...... 563 

To Mary, who died in this Opinion 563 
A Tale of Society as it is from 

Facts, 1811 56S 

To the Republicans of North 

America 565 

To Ireland 565 

On Robert Emmet's Grave . . 566 
The Retrospect: Cwm Elan, 1812 566 
Fragment of a Sonnet to Harriet 568 

To Harriet 568 

Sonnet : To a Balloon laden with 

Knowledge 569 

Sonnet : On Launching Some Bot- 
tles filled with Knowledge 
INTO THE Bristol Channel . 569 
The Devil's Walk: a Ballad . 570 
Fragment of a Sonnet: Fare- 
well TO North Devon . . . 572 
On leaving London for Wales. 572 
The Wandering Jew's Soliloquy . 573 

DOUBTFUL, LOST AND UNPUB- 
LISHED POEMS. VICTOR AND 
CAZIRE. 

Doubtful Poems. 

The Wandering Jew . . 573 

Introduction. . . < 573 
Author's Preface . . . 575 

Canto I 576 

Canto II 579 

Canto III ... . 581 

Canto IV 585 

The Dinner Party Anticipated 589 
The Magic Horse . . .589 
To the Queen of my Heart . 589 

Lost Poems 589 

Unpublished Poems .... 590 
Original Poetry by Victor and Ca- 
ziRE 592 

NOTES AND ILLUSTRATIONS . . 694 

INDEX OF FIRST LINES ... 643 

INDEX OF TITLES . . . • .647 



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 

IlT a small southwestern room of the old-fashioned country house named Field Plac^ 
in Sussex, there stands over the fireplace this inscription : — 

' Shrine of the dawning speech and thought 

Of Shelley, sacred be 
To all who bow where Time has brought 
Gifts to Eternity.' 

Here Percy Bysshe Shelley was born, on Saturday, August 4, 1792. He was the eldest 
child of Timothy and Elizabeth (Pilfold) Shelley. In this home he had for playmates, 
as he grew up, four younger sisters, and a brother the youngest of all : and on their 
memories were imprinted some scenes of his early days. He was fond of them, and as a 
schoolboy, when they came in to dessert, would take them on his knee and tell them 
romantic stories out of books on which his own imagination was fed; or he would declaim 
Latin for his father's pleasure; sometimes he led them on tramps through the fields, 
dropping his little sister over inconvenient fences, or he romped with them in the garden, 
not without accident, upsetting his baby brother in the strawberry bed, and being re- 
proached by him as ' bad Bit.' St. Leonard's Wood, off to the northeast of the house, was 
traditionally inhabited by an old Dragon and a headless Spectre, and there was a fabu- 
lous Great Tortoise in Warnham Pond, which he made creatures in their children's 
world; nearer home was the old Snake, the familiar of the garden, unfortunately killed 
by the gardener's scythe; and, these not being marvels enough, a gray alchemist resided 
in the garret. He once dressed his sisters to impersonate fiends, and ran in front with a 
fire-stove flaming with magical liquids, — a sport that readily developed with schoolboy 
knowledge into rude and startling experiments with chemicals and electricity. Altogether 
he was an amiable brother, mingling high animal spirits with a delightful imagination 
and a gentle manner. His young pranks were numerous. He delighted in mystification, 
both verbal and practical; he invented incidents which he told for truth, and he espe- 
cially enjoyed the ruse of a disguise. A single childish answer survives in the anecdote 
that when he set the fagot-stack on fire and was rebuked, he explained that he wanted 
* a little hell of his own.' He also wished to adopt a child, — a fancy which lasted late 
into life, — and thought a small Gypsy tumbler at the door would serve. As child or 
boy, all our recollections of him are pleasant and natural, with touches of harmless mis- 
chief and vivid fancy. There was a spirit of wildness in him. Even before he went 
away to school, while still a fair, slight boy, with long, bright hair and full, blue eyes, 
running about or riding on his pony in the lanes, — where, after spending his own, he 
would stop and borrow money of the servant to give the beggars, — he attracted the 
notice of the villagers at Horsham as a madcap. Toward the end of his boyhood he 
liked to wander out alone at night, but the servant sent to watch him reported that he 
only * took a walk and came back again.' Of all the scenes of this early home life, while 
it was still untroubled, the most attractive is the picture impressed on his five-year-old 
sister, Margaret, whose closest childish memory of him was of the day when, being 



xvi PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 



home ill from Eton, he first went out again, and, coming up to the window where she was, 
pressed his face against the pane and gave her a kiss through the glass. 

His education began at the age of six, when he went for the rudiments of Latin and 
Greek to the Rev. Mr. Edwards, a Welsh parson at Warnham, and got traditional Welsh 
instruction from the old man. At ten he was sent away from home to Sion House 
Academy, near Brentford, under Dr. Greenlaw, whom he afterward spoke of ' not without 
respect,' says Hogg, as ' a hard-headed Scotchman, and a man of rather liberal opinions.' 
Shelley was then tall for his years, with a pink and white complexion, curling brown hair 
in abundance, large, prominent blue eyes, — dull in reverie, flashing in feeling, — and an 
expression of countenance, says his cousin and schoolfellow, Medwin, * of exceeding sweet- 
ness and innocence.' He was met in the playground, shut in by four stone walls with a 
single tree in it, by some sixty scholars drawn from the English middle class, who, writes 
Medwin, pounced on every new boy with a zest proportioned to the ordeal each had 
undergone in his turn. The new boy in this case knew nothing of peg-top, leapfrog, 
fives, or cricket. One challenged him to spar, and another to race. His only welcome 
was ' a general shout of derision.' To all this, continues Medwin, ' he made no reply, 
but with a look of disdain written in his countenance, turned his back on his new associ- 
ates, and, when he was alone, found relief in tears.' It was but a step from the boys to 
the masters. If he idled over his books and watched the clouds, or drew those rude 
pines and cedars which he used to scrawl on his manuscripts to the end of his life, a box 
on the ear recalled him; and under English school discipline he had his share of flogging. 
* He would roll on the floor,' says Gellibrand, another schoolmate, ' not from the pain, but 
from a sense of indignity.' He was a quick scholar, but he did not relish the master's 
coarseness in Virgil, and though he was well grounded in his classics, he owed little to 
such a moral discipline as he there received. He was very unhappy, and Medwin does 
not scruple to describe Sion House as ' a perfect hell ' to him. He kept much to himself, 
but he had pleasures of his own. He formed a taste for the wild sixpenny romances of 
the time, full of ghosts, bandits, and enchantments; and his curiosity in the wonders of 
science was awakened by a travelling lecturer, Adam Walker, who exhibited his Orrery 
at the school. He and Medwin boated together on the river, and ran away at times to 
Kew and Richmond, where Shelley saw his first play, Mrs. Jordan in the * Country Girl.' 
Sport, however, played a small part in such a boyhood. * He passed among his school- 
fellows,' says Medwin, ' as a strange and unsocial being, for when a holiday relieved us 
from our tasks, and the other boys were engaged in such sports as the narrow limits of 
our prison court allowed, Shelley, who entered into none of them, would pace backwards 
and forwards, — I think I see him now, — along the southern wall.' Rennie, another 
schoolmate, from whom comes the anecdote that Shelley once threw a small boy at his 
tormentors, adds that, * if treated with kindness he was very amiable, noble, high-spirited, 
and generous.' It is noteworthy that at Sion House he first developed the habit of sleep- 
walking, for which he was punished. 

A single fragment of autobiography softens the harshness of these two years. It is 
Shelley's description of his first boy friendship : — 

* I remember forming an attachment of this kind at school. I cannot recall to my 
memory the precise epoch at which this took place; but I imagine that it must have 
been at the age of eleven or twelve. The object of these sentiments was a boy about my 
own age, of a character eminently generous, brave and gentle; and the elements of 
human feeling seem to have been, from his birth, genially compounded within him. 
There was a delicacy and simplicity in his manners inexpressibly attractive. It has 



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH xvii 

never been my fortune to meet with him since my schoolboy days; but either I confound 
my present recollection with the delusions of past feelings, or he is now a source of 
honor and utility to every one around him. The tones of his voice were so soft and 
winning that every word pierced into my heart; and their pathos was so deep that in 
listening to him the tears have involuntarily gushed from my eyes. Such was the being 
for whom I first experienced the sacred sentiments of friendship. I remember in my 
simplicity writing to my mother a long account of his admirable qualities and my own 
devoted attachment. I suppose she thought me out of my wits, for she returned no 
answer to my letter. I remember we used to walk the whole play-hours up and down by 
some moss-covered palings, pouring out our hearts in youthful talk. We used to speak 
of the ladies with whom we were in love, and I remember that our usual practice was to 
confirm each other in the everlasting fidelity in which we had bound ourselves toward 
them and toward each other. I recollect thinking my friend exquisitely beautiful. 
Every night when we parted to go to bed we kissed each other like children, as we still 
were.' 

Shelley went up to Eton, July 29, 1804, being then almost twelve. Dr. Goodall, an 
amiable and dignified gentleman, was Head Master, and was succeeded in 1809 by Dr. 
Keate, renowned for flogging, who was previously Master of the Lower School. Shelley 
went into the house of a writing master, Hecker, and later into that of George Bethel, 
remembered as the dullest tutor of the school. He found a larger body of scholars, 
some five hundred, a more regulated fagging system, and a change of masters ; but if he 
was better off than before, it was because of his own growth and of the greater scale of 
the school, which afforded more freedom and variety and better companionship. He 
refused to fag, and he brought into the world of boyhood a compound of tastes and 
qualities that made him strange. ' He stood apart from the whole school,' says one of 
his mates, * a being never to be forgotten.' In particular the union in him of natural 
gentleness with a high spirit that could be exasperated to the point of frenzy exposed 
him to attack; but he was dangerous, and once, according to his own account, struck a 
fork through the hand of a boy, — an act which he spoke of in after-life as ' almost in- 
voluntary,' and ' done on the spur of anguish.' He was called ' Mad Shelley ' by the 
boys, who banded against him. Dowden describes their fun: — 

'Sometimes he would escape by flight, and before he was lost sight of the gamesome 
youths would have chased him in full cry and have enjoyed the sport of a " Shelley-bait " 
up town. At other times escape was impossible, and then he became desperate. " I 
have seen him," wrote a schoolfellow, " surrounded, hooted, baited like a maddened bull, 
and at this distance of time I seem to hear ringing in my ears the cry which Shelley was 
wont to utter in his paroxysm of revengeful anger." In dark and miry winter evenings 
it was the practice to assemble under the cloisters previous to mounting to the Upper 
School. To surround " Mad Shelley " and " nail " him with a ball slimy with mud, was a 
favorite pastime; or his name would suddenly be sounded through the cloisters, in an 
instant to be taken up by another and another voice, until hundreds joined in the clamor, 
and the roof would echo and reecho with " Shelley ! Shelley ! Shelley ! " Then a space 
would be opened, in which as in a ring or alley the victim must stand to endure his tor- 
ture ; or some urchin would dart in behind and by one dexterous push scatter at Shelley's 
feet the books which he had held under his arm ; or mischievous hands would pluck at 
his garments, or a hundred fingers would point at him from every side, while still the 
outcry " Shelley ! Shelley ! " rang against the walls. An access of passion — the desired 
result — would follow, which, declares a witness of these persecutions, "made his eyes 
flash like a tiger's, his cheeks grow pale as death, his limbs quiver." * 



xviii PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

Shelley, however, though private, was not a recluse. He took part in the school life 
on its public side as well as in his studies. He boated, marched in the Montem proces- 
sion as pole-bearer or corporal, and declaimed a speech of Cicero on an Election Monday. 
He once appeared in the boys' prize ring, but panic surprised him in the second round. 
He became an excellent Latin versifier and began that thoughtful acquaintance with 
Lucretius and Pliny's Natural History, which afterwards showed its effect in his early 
writings, and he learned something of Condorcet, Franklin and Godwin. Why he was 
called the ' atheist,' as the tradition is, cannot be made out, as there is no other trace of 
the word in the Eton vocabulary. His scientific interest was reinforced by a visit of the 
same itinerary Adam Walker who first revealed the mechanism of the heavens to him; 
and he bought an electrical machine from the philosopher's assistant, which the dull 
tutor. Bethel, unexpectedly felt the force of, when he undertook to investigate his 
lodger's instruments for ' raising the devil,' as Shelley boldly proclaimed his occupation 
to be at the moment. The willow stump which he set on fire with gunpowder and a 
burning glass is still shown, and there are other waifs of legend or anecdote which show 
his divided love for the ghosts of the cheap romances and incantations of his own inven- 
tion. Chemistry, his favorite amusement, was forbidden him, and from these escapades 
of a youthful search for knowledge, doubtless, some of his undefined troubles with the 
masters arose. In the six years he passed at Eton his native intellectual impulse was 
the strongest element in his growth. He began authorship, and there wrote ' Zastrozzi,' 
his first published story, and with the proceeds of that romance he is said to have paid 
for the farewell breakfast he gave to his Eton friends at the same time that he presented 
them with books for keepsakes. 

The reminiscences of these friends, several of whom have spoken of him, relieve the 
wilder traits of his Eton career. Halliday's description is the most full and heartfelt : — 

* Many a long and happy walk have I had with him in the beautiful neighborhood of 
dear old Eton. We used to wander for hours about Clewer, Frogmore, the Park at 
Windsor, the Terrace; and I was a delighted and willing listener to his marvellous stories 
of fairyland and apparitions and spirits and haunted ground; and his speculations were 
then (for his mind was far more developed than mine) of the world beyond the grave. 
Another of his favorite rambles was Stoke Park, and the picturesque graveyard, where 
Gray is said to have written his " Elegy," of which he was very fond. I was myself far 
too young to form any estimate of character, but I loved Shelley for his kindliness and 
affectionate ways. He was not made to endure the rough and boisterous pastime of Eton, 
and his shy and gentle nature was glad to escape far away to muse over strange fancies; 
for his mind was reflective, and teeming with deep thought. His lessons were child's 
play to him. . . . His love of nature was intense, and the sparkling poetry of his mind 
shone out of his speaking eyes when he was dwelling on anything good or great. He 
certainly was not happy at Eton, for his was a disposition that needed especial personal 
superintendence to watch and cherish and direct all his noble aspirations and the re- 
markable tenderness of his heart. He had great moral courage and feared nothing but 
what was base, and false, and low.' 

Such guidance as he had he received from Dr. Lind, a physician of Windsor, a man of 
humane disposition and independent thought, but of unconventional ways. Shelley always 
spoke of him in later years with veneration, and idealized him in his verse, but his influ- 
ence can be traced only slightly in the habit Shelley learned from him of addressing let- 
ters to strangers. At one time, when Shelley was recovering from a fever at Field 
Place, and thought, on the information of a servant, that his father was contemplating 



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH xix 

sending him to an asylum, he sent for Dr. Lind, who came, and, at all events, relieved 
him of his fears. 

While Shelley was still an Eton schoolboy Medwin spent the Christmas vacation of 
1809 at Field Place, and recalls walks with him in St. Leonard's Wood, and snipe-shoot- 
ing at Field Place Pond. He envied the marksmanship of Shelley, who was a good shot, 
pistol-shooting being a favorite amusement with him through life. Shelley was already 
in the full flow of his early literary faculty, which was first practised in collaboration with 
his friends. At Eton he at one time composed dramatic scenes with a schoolmate, and 
acted them before a third lower-form boy in the same house. His sister Helen says that 
he also sent an original play to Mathews, the comedian. He had written * Zastrozzi/ 
and he now began a similar romance with Medwin, * The Nightmare,' and also a story, 
having the Wandering Jew for its hero, which was immediately reworked by the joint 
authors into the juvenile poem of that title. By Apiil 1, 1810, he had completed his 
second published romance, ' St. Irvyne,' and before fall came he had, in company with his 
sister Elizabeth, produced the poems of ' Victor and Cazire,' of which he had 1480 copies 
printed at Horsham. Sir Bysshe, his grandfather, is said to have given him money to 
pay this village printer, but just how Shelley used this liberality is unknown. Shelley 
was always in haste to publish. He had sent ' The Wandering Jew ' to Campbell, who 
returned it with discouragement, but the manuscript was, nevertheless, put into the hands 
of Ballantyne & Co., of Edinburgh. Shelley had begun, too, his knight-errantry in be- 
half of poor and oppressed authors, and while at Eton had accepted bills for the purpose 
of bringing out a work on Sweden, by a Mr. Brown, who, to take his own account, had 
been forced to leave the navy in consequence of the injustice of his superior officers. He 
undertook also on Medwin's introduction a correspondence with Felicia Brown, after- 
wards well known as Mrs. Hemans, but it was stopped on the interference of her mother, 
who was alarmed by its skeptical character. These were all noticeable beginnings, mark- 
ing traits and habits that were to continue in Shelley's life; but the most important of all 
the events of the year was the attachment which was formed between him and his cousin, 
Harriet Grove, during a summer visit of the Grove family to Field Place, and a con- 
tinuance of the intimacy at London, where the whole party, excepting Shelley's father, 
immediately went. Shelley's attraction toward his cousin, who is described as a very 
beautiful girl, amiable and of a lively disposition, was sincere if not deep. The match 
was seriously considered by the two families, and at first no hindrance was thrown in its 
way. 

Shelley went up to Oxford in the fall of 1810 at the age of eighteen, with a cheerful 
and happy mind. He had signed his name in the books of University College, where his 
father had been before him, on April 10, and, returning to Eton, had finished there in 
good standing. His father accompanied him to his old college and saw him installed; 
and Mr. Slatter, then just beginning business as an Oxford publisher, a son of Timothy's 
old host at the Inn, remembered a kindly call from him in company with Shelley, in the 
course of which he said: 'My son here has a literary turn. He is already an author, and 
do, pray, indulge him in his printing freaks.' Shelley had already a publisher in London, 
Stockdale, afterwards notorious, whom he had induced to take the 1480 copies of the 
poems of * Victor and Cazire ' off the hands of the Horsham printer; but Stockdale, how- 
ever, undertook * St. Irvyne,' and brought it out at the end of the year, and he considered 
*The Wandering Jew,' which Ballantyne had declined; but events moved too rapidly to 
ndmit of his issuing the poem. 

Shelley found at Oxford the liberty and seclusion best fitted for his active and explor- 



XX PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 



ing mind. There is no safer place than college for a youth whose mind is confused and 
excited by the crude elements of new knowledge; the chaos of thought, on which Shelley's 
geuius sat on brood, would naturally take form and order there, in the slow leisure of 
four years of mingled acquisition, reflection and growth ; but such fortune was denied to 
him. He maintained friendly relations with his old Eton companions, though he was 
intimate with none of them; but he was absorbed in the first revelation of dawning 
thought and knowledge, and needed an intellectual auditor. He found his listener in 
Hogg, — *a pearl within an oyster shell,' he afterwards called him, — a fellow-student 
from York, destined for the law. Hogg developed into a cynical humorist; but to 
his gross nature and more worldly experience, Shelley was the one flash, in a lifetime, of 
tho ideal. He always regarded him as a spirit from another world, whose adventures in 
his journey through mortal afiPairs necessarily took on the aspect of a tragi-comedy. Yet 
he was devoted to him to a point singular in so opposite a character, and he told his story 
of Shelley out of real elements, with fidelity to his own impression, though touching it 
with a grotesqueness that is, in its effect, not far from caricature. Hogg first met Shelley 
in the common dining-hall. They fell into talk, as strangers, over the comparative merits 
of German and Italian literature ; and the conversation, being carried on with such ani- 
mation that they were left alone before they were aware of it, Hogg invited his inter- 
locutor to continue the discussion at his room, where the subject was at once dropped on 
their mutual confession that one knew as little of the German as the other of the Italian 
which he was defending. Shelley, however, was furnished with large discourse, and led 
the talk on to the wonders of science while Hogg scanned his guest. 

' His figure was slight and fragile, and yet his bones and joints were large and strong. 
He was tall, but he stooped so much that he seemed of a low stature. His clothes were 
expensive, and made according to the most approved mode of the day ; but they were 
tumbled, rumpled and unbrushed. His gestures were abrupt, and sometimes violent, 
occasionally even awkward, yet more frequently gentle and graceful. His complexion 
was delicate and almost feminine, of the purest red and white ; yet he was tanned and 
freckled by exposure to the sun, having passed the autumn, as he said, in shooting. His 
features, his whole face, and particularly his head, were in fact unusually small ; yet the 
last appeared of a remarkable bulk, for his hair was long and bushy, and in fits of absence, 
and in the agonies (if I may use the word) of anxious thought, he often rubbed it fiercely 
with his hands, or passed his fingers quickly through his locks unconsciously, so that it 
was singularly wild and rough. . . . His features were not symmetrical (the moutn per- 
haps excepted), yet was the effect of the whoie extremely powerful. They breathed an 
animation, a fire and enthusiasm, a vivid and preternatural intelligence that I never met 
with in any other countenance. J^or was the moral expression less beautiful than the 
intellectual. 

The one blemish was the shrill, harsh, discordant voice, which ceased when the speaker 
hurried away to attend a lecture on mineralogy, — ' About stones, about stones,' he 
said, with downcast look and melancholy tones, on his return at the end of the hour. 
The evening continued with talk on chemistry, and at last on metaphysics and the prob- 
lems of the soul, as such youthful college talks will do. * I lighted him downstairs,' says 
Hogg, * and soon heard him running through the quiet quadrangle in this still night. 
The sound became afterwards so familiar to my ear that I still seem to hear Shelley's 
hasty steps.' 

Such was Hogg's first night, and the others were like it, and are told with similar 
graphic power. Peacock corrects the detail of Shelley's shrill voice, while acknowledg- 



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH rxi 

ing the defect, which was * chiefly observable when he spoke under excitement. Then 
his voice was not only dissonant, like a jarring string, but he spoke ia sharp fourths, the 
most unpleasiug sequence of sound that can fall on the human ear ; but it was scarcely 
so when he spoke calmly, and not at all when he read. On the contrary, he seemed then 
to have his voice under perfect command ; it was good both in time and tone ; it was low 
and soft, but clear, distinct and expressive.' The matchless disorder of Shelley's room, 
with its various studious interests of books and apparatus betraying the self-guided seeker 
in knowledge, though similarly overcharged in the description, reflects the state of Shel- 
ley's mind. He was completely absorbed in the intellectual life. He read incessantly, 
as was his custom throughout life, at all times and in all places, — in bed, at meals, or in 
the street, threading even the crowds of London thoroughfares with a book before his 
eyes. His faith in great minds was an intense feeling. When he took up a classic for 
the first time 'his cheeks glowed, his eyes became bright, his whole frame trembled.' 
He approached Hume and Locke in the same way. What he read was thought over and 
discussed in the long evenings. Life went on with him, however, as it does even in revo- 
lutionary periods, with much matter of fact. He was indifferent to his meals, and 
showed already that abstemiousness which characterized him. Bread was his favorite 
food ; perhaps because it was handiest, and could be eaten with least interruption to his 
pursuits. In London he would go into a shop and return with a loaf, which he broke in 
two, giving the fragment to his astonished companion. Sweets, fruits and salads were 
relished, but he cared less for animal food, which he afterwards gave up wholly in his 
vegetarian days. Wine he took rarely, and much diluted, and, indeed, he had no taste 
for it. In his morals he was pure, and he was made uneasy by indelicacy, which he 
always resented with a maiden feeling. He was given to a bizarre kind of fun in high 
spirits, and occasionally to real gayety. He was always capable of a childlike light- 
heartedness, and from his boyhood he would sing by himself. These traits, which Hogg 
describes, are gathered from a longer period than their college days. At Oxford his 
physical regime was sufficient, if not hearty. He was well and strong. 

Every afternoon the friends took a long walk across country, and Shelley always car- 
ried his pistols for practice in shooting. Several of their adventures on these walks are 
recorded, and are too characteristic to be wholly passed over. The picture of him feed- 
ing a little girl, mean, dull and unattractive, whom he found oppressed by cold and hun- 
ger and the vague feeling of abandonment, and drew, not without a gentle violence, to a 
cottage near by to get some milk for her, is one of the most vivid. ' It was a strange 
spectacle to watch the young poet whilst . . . holding the wooden bowl in one hand and 
the wooden spoon in the other, and kneeling on his left knee, that he might more cer- 
tainly attain to her mouth, he urged and encouraged the torpid and timid child to eat.' 
His adventure with the gypsy boy and girl, also, is pretty. He had met them a day or 
two before, and, on seeing him again, the children, with a laughing salutation, darted 
back into the tent and Shelley after them. ' He placed a hand on each round, rough 
head, spoke a few kind words to the skulking children, and then returned not less pre- 
cipitately, and with as much ease and accuracy as if he had been a dweller in tents from 
the hour when he first drew air and milk to that day.' As he walked off he rolled an 
orange under their feet. On returning from these excursions Shelley would curl up on 
the rug, with his head to the fire where the heat was hottest, and sleep for three or four 
hours ; then he woke and took supper and talked till two, which Hogg had sternly fixed 
as the hour to retire. 

Hogg describes Shelley's figure rather than his life. He had come up to Oxford with 



xxii PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

many plans already on foot, but he constantly found something new to do. The practical 
instinct in him was as strong as the intellectual. He was in haste to act, and not merely 
from that necessity for expression which belongs to literary genius, but with that passion 
for realizing ideas which belongs to the reformer. In his early career the latter quality 
seems to predominate because its effects were obvious, and, besides, literary progress is a 
slower matter ; but both elements worked together equally in developing his character 
and determining his career. Stockdale had withdrawn the poems of 'Victor and Cazire,* 
but he was publishing ' St. Irvyne,' and considering ' The Wandering Jew.' The Oxford 
printers undertook ' The Posthumous Fragments of Margaret Nicholson,' a new collec- 
tion of poems, and published it. These verses, in which only the slight burlesque 
element, due to Hogg, was contemporary, represent the results on Shelley's imagination 
and taste of a really earlier period, and belong with ' Zastrozzi,' and ' St. Irvyne.' His 
poetic taste was improving, but the ferment of his mind was now mainly intellectual, 
and the new elements showed their influence principally in the propagandism of his spec- 
ulative opinions, his sympathy with the agitators for political reform, and his efforts to 
be of service to obscure writers. He continued to be interested in Brown's ' Sweden,* 
and on his last day at Oxford, became joint security with the publishers for £800 — a 
loss which fell upon them — to bring out the work. He also encouraged the publication 
(and may have undertaken to help pay for it) of a volume of poems by Miss Janetfa* 
Phillips, in whom he thought he had discovered a schoolgirl genius like Felicia Brown. 
He was more deeply interested in the case of Finnerty, an Irish agitator imprisoned for 
political publications, and published a poem, now lost, for his benefit, and subscribed his 
guinea to the fund for his relief ; and, in connection with this case also he first addressed 
Leigh Hunt, urging an association of men of liberal principles for mutual protection. 
His acquaintance with Hume and Locke, and the writings of the English reformers, led 
him to skeptical views. He informed Stockdale of a novel (presumably 'Leonora,* 
which was printed but not published, and is now unknown, in which Hogg may have had 
the principal share) ' principally constructed to convey metaphysical and political opin- 
ions by way of conversation,' and also of ' A Metaphysical Essay in support of Atheism, 
which he intended to promulgate throughout the University.' The most important expres- 
sion of these new views was made in his letters to his cousin, Harriet Grove, to the alarm 
of herself and her parents, who communicated with Shelley's father, and broke off the 
match. Stockdale, also, found it to be his duty to inform Shelley's father of his son's 
dangerous principles, and at the same time to express injurious ideas of Hogg's influence 
and character. When Shelley returned home at Christmas, between the anxiety of his 
family over his state of mind and his own feeling of exasperation and sense of injustice 
in the check given to his love, he had little enjoyment. On his return to Oxford his intel- 
lectual life reached a climax in the publication of his tract, ' The Necessity of Atheism,* 
which he seems to have intended as a circular letter for that irresponsible correspondence 
with strangers of which he had learned the habit from Dr. Lind. He strewed copies of 
this paper in Slatter's bookstore, where they remained on sale twenty minutes before dis- 
covery ; but the friends who at once summoned him to remonstrate were shocked when 
he told them that he had sent copies to every bishop on the bench, to the vice-chancellor, 
and to each of the Heads of Houses. The college authorities did not at once act, but on 
March 25, they assembled and summoned him. Hogg describes what followed : — 

* It was a fine spring morning, on Lady Day, in the year 1811, when I went to Shelley's 
room. He was absent, but before I had collected our books he rushed in. He was ter- 
ribly agitated. I anxiously inquired what had happened. " I am expelled," he said, as 



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH xxiii 

soon as he had recovered himself a little, " I am expelled ! I was sent for suddenly a 
few minutes ago. I went to our common room, where I found our Master and two or 
three of the Fellows. The Master produced a copy of the little syllabus, and asked me 
whether I was the author of it. He spoke in a rude, abrupt and insolent tone. I begged 
to be informed for what purpose he put the question. No answer was given, but the 
Master loudly and angrily repeated, * Are you the author of this book ? ' * If I can 
judge from your manner,' I said, * you are resolved to punish me if I should acknowledge 
that it is my work. If you can prove that it is, produce your evidence. It is neither 
just nor lawful to interrogate me in such a case and for such a purpose. Such proceed- 
ings would become a court of inquisitors, but not free men in a free country.' * Do you 
choose to deny that this is your composition ? ' the Master reiterated in the same rude 
and angry voice." Shelley complained much of his violence and ungentlemanly deport- 
ment, saying, " I have experienced tyranny and injustice before, and I well know what 
vulgar violence is, but I never met with such unworthy treatment. I told him calmly, 
but firmly, that I was determined not to answer any questions respecting the publication. 
He immediately repeated his demands. I persisted in my refusal, and he said furiously, 
* Then you are expelled, and I desire that you will quit the college early to-morrow 
morning at the latest.' One of the Fellows took up two papers and handed one of them 
to me, — here it is." He produced a regular sentence of expulsion drawn up in due form, 
under the seal of the college. ... I have been with Shelley in many trying situations 
of his after-life, but I never saw him so deeply shocked or so cruelly agitated as on 
this occasion. . . . He sat on the sofa, repeating with convulsive vehemence the words 
" expelled ! expelled ! " his head shaking with emotion, and his whole frame quiver- 
ing.' 

Hogg immediately sent word that he was as much concerned in the affair as Shelley, 
and received straightway the same sentence. In the afternoon a notice was publicly 
posted on the hall door, announcing the expulsion of the two students ' for contumaciously 
refusing to answer questions proposed to them, and for also repeatedly declining to disa- 
vow a publication entitled " Necessity of Atheism." ' That afternoon Shelley visited his 
old Eton friend, Halliday, saying, ' Halliday, I am come to say good-by to you, if you are 
not afraid to be seen with me.' The next morning the two friends left Oxford for Lon- 
don. Medwin tells how, a day or two later, at four o'clock in the morning, Shelley 
knocked at his door in Gardin* Court in the Temple. * I think I hear his cracked voice, 
with his well-known pipe, " Medw«in, let me in ! I am expelled ! " Here followed a loud 
half-hysteric laugh, and the repetition of the words, " I am expelled," with the addition 
of " for atheism." ' He and Hogg took lodgings in London, but in a few weeks the lat- 
ter went home and left Shelley alone. 

If Shelley was shocked. Field Place was troubled. His father demanded that he 
should return home, place himself submissively under a tutor, give up all connection 
with Hogg, apologize to the authorities at Oxford, and profess conformity to the church; 
otherwise he should have neither home nor money. Timothy Shelley was not a harsh 
man or an unfeeling father; he was kind-hearted, irascible and obstinate, inconsequential 
in his talk, and destitute of tact, with character and principles neither better nor worse 
than respectability required. He received the world from Providence, and his opinions 
from the Duke of Norfolk, and was content. He was a country squire and satisfied his 
constituents, his tenants, his family, and his servants, and all that was his except his 
father and his eldest son. It is pleasant to recall the fact that long after Shelley was 
dead his old nurse received her Christmas gift at the homestead to the end of her days. 



xxiv PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

Timothy Shelley was both alarmed and scandalized by his son's conduct, and he was evi- 
dently sincerely concerned. He did not understand it, and he did not know what to do. 
At this time, too, Shelley was an important person to his family, which had recently 
obtained wealth and title. He was looked to, as the heir, to maintain and secure its 
position, and the entail was already made for a large portion of the estate, — £80,000, 
although a remainder of £120,000 was still unsettled. Old Sir Bysshe, who had been made 
a baronet in 1806, was the founder of this prosperity. If he was an abler man than 
Timothy, whom he was accustomed to curse roundly to his face, he was a worse man. 
He was miserly, sordid, and vulgar in his tastes. He professed himself an atheist, and 
though he appears to have favored his grandson, when young, he had set an example 
which profited him ill. He was born in America, where his father had emigrated early 
in the last century and had married with a stock not now traceable, so that there were 
some drops of American blood in Shelley's veins. On his father's return to England, 
owing to the lunacy of his elder brother, to take charge of the small family place at Fen 
Place, Bysshe, then eighteen years old, went with him, and began the career of a fortune- 
hunter. He twice eloped with wealthy heiresses, and their property was the nucleus of 
the estate he built up. Two of his daughters followed his example in their mode of 
marrying. He had devoted himself to founding a family and had succeeded, and at the 
end of his days he was deeply concerned in the fate of the settlements. There were 
reasons, therefore, for making Shelley take a view of his place more in harmony with 
family expectations. 

Shelley, on his side, was not lacking in family affection. He was tenderly attached to 
his sisters, and Hogg relates that at Oxford he never received a letter from them or his 
mother without manifest pleasure. He certainly left in their minds only pleasant mem- 
ories of himself. He had a boy's regard for his father in early years, and his letters are, 
if firm, not deficient in respect. The only sign of distrust up to this period was the sus- 
picion, already mentioned, that his father intended sending him to a lunatic asylum at 
the time when he was home from Eton ill with fever. But, however warm his home 
affections were, he was not, at the age of eighteen, prepared to abandon on command his 
mind and what was to him moral duty; and he declined to accede to his father's terms. 
His relatives, the Med wins and Groves, helped him in London, and his sisters, who were 
at school, sent him their pocket money by a schoolmate. In the course of six weeks, 
after several ineffectual letters and interviews, a settlement was brought about, appar- 
ently through a maternal uncle, Captain Pilfold, who lived near Field Place and was 
always Shelley's friend; and it was agreed that Shelley should have £200 a year and 
entire freedom. This was toward the middle of May, and early in June he returned 
home, where he was well received, though he found his favorite sister, Elizabeth, whom 
he hoped Hogg might marry, less confiding in her brother than before these events. He 
was especially struck by the fact that the principles of his parents were social conven- 
tions, and that conflict with his own ideas did not proceed from any real convictions. 

In Shelley's enforced absence from his family an unknown opportunity had been given 
for blasting their hopes more effectual than any concession that could have been made 
which would have kept him near them. He had become acquainted with Harriet West- 
brook in the Christmas vacation before he left Oxford. She was a schoolmate of his 
sisters at Mrs. Fenning's, Clapham, like Sion House a middle-class school; and he had 
been commissioned to take her a gift. A correspondence sprang up, which, like all of 
Shelley's correspondences, was confined to his opinions, as he was still in the missionary 
stage of conviction. When he was living in London, it was she who acted between him 



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH xxv 

and his sisters and brought him their savings. There was also an elder Miss Westbrook, 
Eliza, thirty years old, who was very kind to Shelley; she took him to walk with Harriet, 
invited him to call, and was on all occasions ready to bring them together, guided the 
conversation upon love, and left them alone. Mr. Westbrook, Shelley noticed, was very 
civil. He was a retired tavern-keeper. Shelley's interest was the more engaged, because 
Harriet was reproached at school for being friendly with a youth of his principles, and 
suffered petty annoyances. She was a pretty, bright, amiable girl, sixteen, slightly 
formed, with regular features, a pink and white complexion uncommonly brilliant, and 
pure, brown hair — 'like a poet's dream,' says Helen; and with this youthful bloom she 
had a frank air, grace, and a pleasant lively laugh. But Shelley, though interested in 
his 'little friend,' as he called her, was untouched; and when he went down to his uncle Pil- 
fold's in May, in search of reconciliation with his father, he there met another to admire, 
Miss Hitchener, a school-teacher of twenty-nine, who was to hold a high place in his 
esteem, and with whom he began his customary correspondence on metaphysics, educa- 
tion, and the causes that interested him. He remained at home a mouth, and wrote 
apparently his lost poem on the fete at Carlton House, and in July went to Wales to visit 
his cousins, the Groves. He was taken soon after his arrival with a brief though violent 
nervous illness, but recovered, and was greatly delighted with the mountain scenery, then 
new to him. In his rambles in the neighborhood he met with that adventure with the 
beggar which seems to have impressed him deeply. He gave the man something and fol- 
lowed him a mile, trying to enter into talk with him. Finally the beggar said, ' I see by 
your dress that you are a rich man. They have injured me and mine a million times. 
Y^ou appear to me well intentioned, but I have no security of it while you live in such a 
house as that, or wear such clothes as those. It would be charity to quit me.' 

The Westbrooks also were in Wales, and letters came from Harriet, who wrote de- 
spondently, complained of unhappiness at home, dwelt upon suicide, and at last asked 
Shelley's protection. ' Her letters,' says Shelley, writing two months later to Miss 
Hitchener, ' became more and more gloomy. At length one assumed a tone of such de- 
spair, as induced me to leave Wales precipitately. I arrived in London. I was shocked 
at observing the alteration in her looks. Little did I divine its cause. She had become 
violently attached to me, and feared that I should not return her attachment. Prejudice 
made the confession painful. It was impossible to avoid being much affected; I promised 
to unite my fate to hers. I stayed in London several days, during which she recovered 
her spirits. I promised at her bidding to come again to London.' This was in the early 
part of August. He wrote to Hogg, whom he had previously told that he was not in 
love, detailing the affair, and discussed with him whether he should marry Harriet, or, as 
she was ready to do, should disregard an institution which he had learned from Godwin 
to consider irrational. He went home and did not anticipate that any decision would be 
necessary at present. Within a week Harriet called him back because her father would 
force her to return to school. He went to her, took the course of honor, and in the last 
week of August went with her to Edinburgh, where they were married, August 28. He 
was nineteen, and she sixteen years of age. 

Shelley was no sooner married than he began to feel the pecuniary embarrassments 
which were to become familiar to him. He had never been without money, except for 
the six weeks in London after leaving Oxford, and he did not anticipate that his father 
would cut him off. He had borrowed the money for his journey from the elder Medwin^ 
and now, his quarterly allowance not being paid, he was kept from want only by a kindly 
remittance from his uncle Pilfold. Hogg had joined them at Edinburgh, but Shelley 



xxvi PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

was anxious to make a settlement, and early in October the party went to York, where 
Shelley left Harriet in Hogg's charge while he went on to his uncle's to seek some com- 
munication with his father. Within a week he returned, unsuccessful, to York, whither 
Harriet's elder sister, Eliza, had preceded him. He found on his arrival that Hogg had 
undertaken to intrigue with Harriet. A month later, in a letter to Miss Hitchener he 
gave an account of the interview he had with him: — 

* We walked to the fields beyond York. I desired to know fully the account of this 
affair. I heard it from him and I believe he was sincere. All that I can recollect of 
that terrible day is that I pardoned him, — fully, freely pardoned him; that I would still 
be a friend to him, and hoped soon to convince him how lovely virtue was; that his crime, 
not himself, was the object of my detestation ; that I value a human being not for what 
it has been, but for what it is; that I hoped the time would come when he would regard 
this horrible error with as much disgust as I did. He said little. He was pale, terror- 
struck, remorseful.' 

After this incident Shelley remained in York but a few days, and in November left 
without giving Hogg any intimation of his intentions. ' I leave him,' wrote Shelley, * to 
his fate. Would that I could rescue him.' 

He took a cottage at Keswick. He had already written to the Duke of Norfolk, who 
had before been brought in as a peacemaker between father and son, soliciting his inter- 
vention, aiid was invited to Grey stoke by the duke, where he spent with his family a few 
days at the expense of almost his last guinea. He wrote to the elder Med win: * We are 
now so poor as to be actually in danger of every day being deprived of the necessaries of 
life.' In December Mr. Westbrook allowed Harriet £200 a year, and in January Shelley's 
father made an equal allowance to him, to prevent ' his cheating strangers.' At Grey- 
stoke he had met Calvert, who introduced him to Southey. * Here is a man at Keswick,* 
wrote Southey, ' who acts upon me as my own ghost would do; he is just what I was in 
1794.' Shelley had long regarded Southey with admiration, and ^ Thalaba ' remained a 
favorite book with him. But, although Southey was kind to him, contributing to his 
domestic comfort in material ways, the acquaintance resulted in a diminution of Shelley's 
regard. On January 2 he introduced himself to Godwin by letter, according to his 
custom, having only then heard that the writer whom he really revered was still alive, 
and he interested the grave philosopher very earnestly in his welfare. Meanwhile he 
had not been idle. Through all these events, indeed, he must have kept busy with his 
pen. He designed a poem representing the perfect state of man, gathered his verses to 
make a volume, worked on his metaphysical essays, and, especially, composed a novel, 
' Hubert Cauvin,' to illustrate the causes of the failure of the French Revolution. At 
Keswick, too, occurred the first of the personal assaults on Shelley, which tried the be- 
lief of his friends. He had begun the use of laudanum, as a relief from pain, but he 
had recovered from the illness which discloses this fact, before the incident occurred. On 
January 19, at seven o'clock at night, Shelley, hearing an unusual noise, went to the door 
and was struck to the ground and stunned by a blow. His landlord, alarmed by the noise, 
came to the scene, and the assailant fled. The affair was publisVied in the local paper, 
and is spoken of by Harriet as well as Shelley. Some of the neighbors disbelieved in it, 
but his simple chemical experiments had excited their minds and made him an object of 
suspicion, and it is to be said that the country was in a disturbed state. Shelley's thoughts 
were already turned to Ireland as a field of practical action, and, his private affairs being 
now satisfactorily settled, he determined to go there and work for the cause of Catholic 
emancipation. At Keswick he wrote his * Address to the Irish People,' and in spite of 



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH xxvii 

the dissuasion of Calvert and Godwin be started with his wife in the first days of Feb- 
ruary, 1812, and arrived in Dublin on the 12th. 

Shelley sent bis ' Address ' to the printer, and within two weeks had fifteen hundred 
copies on hand, which he distributed freely, sending them to sixty coffee-houses, flinging 
them from his balcony, giving them away on the street, and sending out a man with 
them. He wrote also ' Proposals for an Association,' published March 2. He had pre- 
sented a letter from Godwin to Curran, and made himself known to the leaders. On 
February 28, at a public meeting which O'Connell addressed, Shelley also spoke for an 
hour, and received mingled hisses and applause, — applause for the wrongs of Ireland, 
hisses for his plea for religious toleration. He also became acquainted with Mr. Lawless, 
a follower of Curran, and wrote passages of Irish history for a proposed work by him. 
Meanwhile Godwin sent letters dissuading him from his course, and finally wound up, — 
' Shelley, you are preparing a scene of blood.' Shelley's Irish principles were but 
remotely connected with the practical politics of the hour, and consisted, in the main, of 
very general convictions in regard to equality, toleration, and the other elements of 
republican government. He did compose, out of French sources, a revolutionary ' De- 
claration of Rights.' He was soon discouraged by the character of the men and of the 
situation. His heart, too, was touched by the state of the people, for he engaged at once 
in that practical philanthropy which was always a large part of his personal life. ' A 
poor boy,' he writes, ' whom I found starving with his mother, in a hiding place of unut- 
terable filth and misery, — whom I rescued and was about to teach, has been snatched on 
a charge of false and villainous effrontery to a Magistrate of Hell, who gave him the 
alternative of the tender or of military servitude. ... I am sick of this city, and long to 
be with you and peace.' At last he gave up, sent forward a box filled with his books, 
which was inspected by the government and reported as seditious, and on April 4 left 
Ireland. He settled ten days later at Nantgwilt, near Cwm Elan, the seat of his cousins, 
the Groves, and there remained until June. In this period he appears to have met Pea- 
cock, through whom he was probably introduced to his London publisher, Hookham. In 
June he again migrated to Lynmouth in Devon. Here he wrote his * Letter to Lord 
Ellenborough,' defending Eaton, who had been sentenced for publishing Paine's * Age of 
Reason ' in a periodical. He amused himself by putting copies of the ' Declaration of 
Rights ' and a new satirical poem, ' The Devil's Walk,' in bottles and fire balloons, and 
setting them adrift by sea and air; but a more mundane attempt to circulate the 'De- 
claration of Rights ' resulted unfortunately for his servant, Dan Healy, who had become 
attached to him and followed him from Ireland, and was punished in a fine of £200 or 
eight months' imprisonment for posting it on the walls of Barnstable. Shelley could not 
pay the fine, but he provided fifteen shillings a week to make the prisoner's confinement 
more comfortable. The government now put Shelley under surveillance, and he was 
watched by Leeson, a spy. At Lynmouth * Queen Mab ' is first heard of. In September 
be removed to Tanyrallt, near Treraadoc, in Wales, where he became deeply interested 
in a scheme of Mr. Maddock's for reclaiming some waste land by an embankment. It 
was a large, practical enterprise, which engaged both Shelley's imagination and his spirit 
of philanthropy. He subscribed £100, and on October 4, went to London, seeking to 
interest others in this undertaking. Here he first met Godwin, through whom he became 
acquainted with the Newtons, of vegetarian fame, but before this, while in Dublin, he 
had himself adopted that way of life. It is uncertain whether at this time he saw God- 
win's daughter Mary. He renewed his acquaintance with Hogg, in whose narrative 
scenes of Shelley's life at this period, presented with the same vigor and vivacity as in 



xxviii PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

the Oxford time, occur. None of them are more humorous than such as describe the ap« 
pearance of Miss Kitchener, who, yielding to Shelley's long expressed wish, had joined 
the family before they left Wales and was now an inmate of the household. Shelley had 
idealized her at a distance, but her near neighborhood was disenchantment. Hogg's de- 
scription of his walk with the ' Brown Demon,' as he called her, on one arm, and the 
* Black Diamond,' as he nicknamed Eliza, on the other, has given her an unenviable 
figure. She was finally got rid of, and a stipend paid her to make good the loss she had 
suffered by giving up her school-teaching; but in her after-life she was much respected 
by those with whom she lived; and she appears to have remained very loyal to the 
poet, whose correspondence for nearly two years was so large a part of her life. 

Shelley returned to Wales on November 13, going to Tanyrallt. There he worked 
very constantly at his essays, an unpublished collection of ' Biblical Extracts ' for popular 
distribution, and * Queen Mab.' There also occurred the second assault upon him, which 
has been received with more distrust than any other event in his life. On February 26, 
between ten and eleven o'clock, Shelley, after retiring, was alarmed by a noise in the 
parlor below. He went down with two loaded pistols to the billiard room, and followed 
the sound of retreating footsteps into a small office, where he saw a man passing, through 
a glass window. The man fired, and Shelley's pistol flashed, on which the man knocked 
Shelley down, and, while they struggled, Shelley fired his second pistol, which he thought 
took effect. The man arose with a cry and said, ' By God, I will be revenged ! I will 
murder your wife ! I will ravish your sister ! By God, I will be revenged ! ' He then 
fled. The servants were still up, and the whole family assembled in the parlor and 
remained for two hours. Shelley and his servant, Dan, who had that day returned from 
prison, sat up. At four o'clock, Harriet heard a pistol shot, and on going down, found 
that Shelley's clothes and the window curtain had been shot through. Dan had left the 
room to see what time it was, when Shelley heard a noise at the window; as he approached 
it, a man thrust his arm through the glass and fired. Shelley's pistol again missed fire, 
and he struck at the man with an old sword ; while they were still struggling, Dan came 
back, and the man escaped. Peacock was there the next summer, and heard that persons, 
who examined the premises in the morning, found the grass trampled and rolled on, but 
there were no footprints except toward the house, and the impression of the ball on the 
wainscot showed that the pistol had been fired toward the window and not from it. 
There are other accounts of what Shelley said. In after years he ascribed the spasms of 
pain, from which he suffered, to the pressure of the man's knee on his body. It is not 
unlikely, as Dowden remarks, that Dan Healy had been followed by a spy, and it is 
known that Shelley was dogged by Leeson, whom he feared long afterwards. If the 
affair is regarded as an illusion of the sort to which Shelley was said to be subject, the 
material circumstances show that the event was one of intense reality to Shelley, and it 
is not strange that he immediately left the neighborhood, finding life there insupportable. 
He made a short journey to Ireland, where he arrived March 9, visited the Lakes of 
Killarney, and returned to Dublin, March 21. Early in April he was back in London. 

On returning to London, Shelley entered again into negotiations with his father for a 
further settlement. He would soon be of age, and it was necessary to make some terms 
to prevent the loss the estate would suffer by raising money on post-obit bonds. He was 
much harassed by his creditors, and his father is said privately to have taken measures 
to relieve him from their persecutions without his knowledge. It is uncertain whether 
he lived in a hotel or in lodgings. His first child, lanthe Eliza, was born in June. At 
the end of July he was settled at Bracknell, near the Boinvilles, who were connected 



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH xxlx 



with the Newtons. Here Peacock visited him, and from this time became intimate. 
Peacock's cold judgment, notwithstanding his frequent skepticism and imperfect know- 
ledge of Shelley's affairs, makes his impressions valuable. To him, more than to any 
other external influence, is to be attributed the devotion of Shelley, which now began, to 
Greek studies. In the first week of October Peacock joined the family in a journey to 
Edinburgh, taken in a private carriage which Shelley had bought for Harriet. Nothing 
noteworthy occurred except that Shelley made a new convert, Baptista, a young Brazilian, 
who corresponded with him and partly translated ' Queen Mab,' which had been printed 
in the late spring, into Portuguese ; but he died while young. Shelley returned to London 
in December. 

Two years and a half had now passed since Shelley's marriage, and the union, in which 
love upon his part had not originally been an element, had become one of warm affection. 
Through all the vicissitudes of his wandering life it was a main source of Shelley's happi- 
ness. Time now began to disclose those limitations of character and temperament which 
were to be anticipated. The last pleasant scene in this early married life is Peacock's 
description of Shelley's pleasure in his child : — 

' He was extremely fond of it, and would walk up and down the room with it in his 
arms for a long time together, singing to it a monotonous melody of his own making, 
which ran on the repetition of a word of his own making. His song was, " Y^hmani, 
Yahmani, Yahmani, Yahmani." It did not please me; but, what was more important, it 
pleased the child, and lulled it when it was fretful. Shelley was extremely fond of his 
children. He was preeminently an affectionate father. But to the firstborn there were 
accompaniments which did not please him. The child had a wet nurse, whom he did not 
like, and was much looked after by his wife's sister, whom he intensely disliked. I have 
often thought that if Harriet had nursed her own child, and if this sister had not lived 
with them, the link of their married love would not have been so readily broken,' 

In the autumn of 1813, on coming to London, Harriet began to vary from that de- 
scription of her which Shelley had written to Fanny Godwin in December, 1812: — 

* How is Harriet a fine lady ? You indirectly accuse her of this offence, — to me the 
most unpardonable of all. The ease and simplicity of her habits, the unassuming plain- 
ness of her address, the uncalculated connection of her thought and speech, have ever 
formed in my eyes her greatest charm ; and none of these are compatible with fashionable 
-ire, or the attempted assumption of its vulgar and noisy eclat.'' 

It was to please her that he then bought a carriage and a quantity of plate, and she 
disolavec'. a taste for expensive things. On the birth of the child her intellectual sym- 
patuy with him seems to have ended. Afterwards she neither read nor studied. She 
was disenchanted of his views, which, Peacock mentions, she joined with him in not tak- 
ing seriously; she was disenchanted, too, of the wandering life and recurring poverty to 
which they led. 

Her sister's presence in the household became a cause of difference between her and 
her husband. The first expressed sign of domestic unhappiness occurs in Shelley's 
melancholy letter to Hogg, March 22, 1814. He had then been staying for a month 
with Mrs. Boinville, and looked forward with regret to ending his visit. He thus refers 
to Eliza: — 

* Eliza is still with us, not here, but will be with me when the infinite malice of destiny 
forces me to depart. I am now but little inclined to contest this point. I certainly hate 
her with all my heart and soul. It is a sight which awakens an inexpressible sensation 
of disgust and horror to see her caress my poor little lanthe, in whom I may hereafter 



XXX PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

find the consolation of sympathy. I sometimes feel faint with the fatigue of checking 
the overflowing of my unbounded abhorrence for this miserable wretch. But she is no 
more than a blind and loathsome worm that cannot see to sting.' 

Shelley felt keenly the contrast of the peaceful home in which he was staying with his 
own. Some years afterwards, in 1819, he wrote to Peacock: — 

* I could not help considering Mrs. B. when I knew her as the most admirable specimen 
of a human being I had ever seen. Nothing earthly ever appeared to me more perfect 
than her character and manners. It is improbtible that I shall ever meet again the per- 
son whom I so much esteem and still admire. I wish, however, that when you see her 
you would tell her that I have not forgotten her, nor any of the amiable circle once 
assembled around her; and that I desired such remembrances to her as an exile and a 
Pariah may be permitted to address to an acknowledged member of the community of 
mankind.' 

With Mrs. Boinville and her daughter, Mrs. Turner, he now made his first acquaint- 
ance with Italian. On March 26 he remarried Harriet, who had not been with him for 
the previous month, in St. George's Church, London, in order to place beyond doubt the 
validity of the Scotch marriage and the rights of his children. Shortly afterwards, in 
April, Harriet again left him, and to this month belongs the poem, ' Stanza, April, 1814,' 
the most melancholy verses he had yet written, in which he speaks of his ' sad and silent 
home,' and 'its desolated hearth.' During the next month Harriet was still away; and, 
at some time in it, he addressed to her the stanzas, ' To Harriet, May, 1814,' in which 
he appeals to her to return to him and restore his happiness, tells her that her feeling is 
' remorseless,' that it is ' malice,' ' revenge,' ' pride,' and begs her to ' pity if thou canst 
not love.' There is no evidence that Harriet rejoined Shelley, and, when her residence 
is next discovered, in July, she was living at Bath apparently with her sister. The story 
of Harriet's voluntarily leaving Shelley may have sprung from this protracted absence. 

Meanwhile Shelley had met Godwin's daughter, Mary, a girl of sixteen, who is de- 
scribed as golden-haired, with a pale, pure face, hazel eyes, a somewhat grave manner, 
and strength both of mind and will. Early in June he was feeling a strong attraction 
toward her. He confided in her, and out of their intimacy, through her sympathy, sprang 
that mutual love which soon became passion. The stanzas ' To Mary, June, 1814,' show 
deep feeling and a sense of doubtfulness in their position, but do not disclose any thought 
or suggestion of a relation other than friendship. But to Shelley, who was suffering 
deeply and was indeed wretched, it was not unnatural that he should reflect whether this 
was not one of those occasions justifying separation, which he had always held should 
be met by putting an end to a relation which had become false. This was his view of 
marriage, well known to Harriet at the time that he married her, when he had observed 
the ceremony for her sake, and openly repeated in his writings dedicated to her within a 
year. Shelley would not violate his principles by such an action; nor could it be pleaded 
that he had taken up with this view after obligations already incurred or subsequent to 
the incidents which made him desire a change. Harriet probably did not realize v/hat 
Shelley's convictions were, and may have been deceived by her experience of his disposi- 
tion. The natural inference from the state of the facts, which, at best, are imperfectly 
known, is that, as Shelley had now come of age and was in a position to make his rights 
of property felt, Harriet, under the guidance of her sister, who had been the intriguer 
from the start, desired such a settlement as would put her in possession of the social posi- 
tion and privileges which were at Shelley's command; that differences arose in the home, 
possibly on the comparatively slight question whether Eliza should continue to live with 



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH xxxl 

^ - 

them; and that Harriet, swayed by her sister, was endeavoring to subdue Shelley to her 
way by a certain hardness in her conduct, and by if not refusing to live with him, refrain- 
ing from doing so. But Shelley, on his part, in Harriet's absence, had come to lovo 
Mary, and to see in following that love the way of escape from his troubles. The time 
was one of intense mental excitement to him, especially when the crisis came early in 
July. He secured Mary's consent. She was the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft and of 
Godwin, and derived from both parents the same principles of marriage, both by practice 
and precept, that Shelley held. In their own eyes neither of them was committing a 
wrong. Shelley sent for Harriet. She came to London, and he told her his determina- 
tion. She was greatly shocked and made ill by the disclosure. Shelley acted with a 
certain deliberation as well as with openness. He directed settlements to be made for 
Harriet's maintenance, and saw that she was supplied with money for the present. At 
the same time his state of mind was one of conflict and distress. Peacock describes 
his appearance : — 

' Nothing that I ever read in tale or history could present a more striking image of a 
sudden, violent, irresistible, uncontrollable passion, than that under which I found him 
laboring, when, at his request, I went up from the country to call on him in London. 
Between his old feelings toward Harriet, from whom he was not then separated, and his 
new passion for Mary, he showed in his looks, in his gestures, in his speech, the state of 
a mind " suffering like a little kingdom the nature of an insurrection." His eyes were 
bloodshot, his hair and dress disordered. He caught up a bottle of laudanum and said, 
" I never part from this." He added, " I am always repeating to myself your lines from 
Sophocles : — 

' •' ' Man's happiest lot is not to be : 

And when we tread life's thorny steep 
Most blest are they who earliest free 
Descend to death's eternal sleep.' " ' 

Mary appears to have been determined at last by fears for Shelley's life, and on July 
28 she left England with him. 

It is unfortunately necessary to notice another element in the situation. It is the tes- 
timony of the common friends of Harriet and Shelley — Hogg, Peacock, and Hookham 
— that, up to the period of their parting, she was pure. It is said, indeed, on what must 
be regarded as the very doubtful authority of Miss Clairmont, that Shelley persuaded 
Mary to go by asserting Harriet's unfaithfulness. What is certain is that, after Harriet's 
death, he wrote to Mary, January 11, 1817, ' I learned just now from Godwin that he has 
evidence that Harriet was unfaithful to me four months before I left England with you.' 
That Godwin had such a story is known by his own evidence. The name of an obscure 
person, Ryan, who was acquainted with the family as early as the summer of 1813, was 
brought into connection with the affair. Shelley at one time doubted the paternity of 
his second child, Charles Bysshe, born in November, 1814, but he was afterwards 
satisfied that he was in error. I do not find any reliable evidence that Shelley ever 
maintained that he was convinced in July, 1814, of Harriet's infidelity. He afterwards 
believed that she had been in fault, as is shown by his letter to Southey in 1820, in which 
he maintains the rightfulness of his conduct : * I take God to witness, if such a being is 
now regarding both you and me ; and I pledge myself, if we meet, as perhaps you 
expect, before Him after death, to repeat the same in his presence — that you accuse me 
wrongfully. I am innocent of ill, either done or intended. The consequence you allude 
to flowed in no respect from me.' At the time of the event itself, it was not necessary 



xxxii PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

to Shelley's mind to have a justification which would appeal to all the world and ordinary 
ways of thinking ; but, when time disclosed such justification, he made use of it to 
strengthen his action in his own eyes and the eyes of Mary, and, though only by implica- 
tion, in Southey's judgment. He appears never to have mentioned the matter to others. 
Shelley's habitual reticence was far greater than he has ever received credit for. 

Shelley and Mary had for a companion on their voyage Miss Clairmont, a daughter of 
the second Mrs. Godwin by her first marriage. They visited Paris, crossed France, and 
stopped on the shores of Lake Lucerne, near Brunnen. There they remained but a short 
time, and, descending the Rhine to Cologne, journeyed by Rotterdam to England, where 
they arrived September 13. Peacock describes the following winter as the most solitary 
period of Shelley's life. He settled in London, and was greatly embarrassed with his 
affairs, endeavoring to raise money and to keep out of the way of creditors. He had 
written to Harriet during his journey, often saw her in London, and seems to have been 
upon pleasant terms with her. Godwin, who bad at first been very angry, renewed his 
relations under the stress of his own financial difficulties, and the money to be had from 
Shelley. In January, 1815, old Sir Bysshe's death greatly improved Shelley's position 
by making him the immediate heir. He went home, and was refused admittance by his 
father; but negotiations could not be long delayed. They lasted for eighteen months. He 
was given the choice of entailing the entire estate, £200,000, surrendering his claim to 
that part of the property, £80,000, which could not be taken from him, and accepting a 
life interest, on which condition he should receive the whole ; or, refusing this, he should 
be deprived of the £120,000, which would go to his younger brother, John. Shelley 
refused to execute the entail, which he thought wrong, and yielded the larger part of 
the property. To pay his immediate debts he sold his succession to the fee-simple of a 
portion of the estate, valued at £18,000,. to his father for £11,000, in June, 1815, and by 
the same agreement received a fixed annual allowance of £1,000, and also a considerable 
sum of money. He sent Harriet £200 for her debts, and directed his bankers to pay her 
£200 annually from his allowance. Mr. Westbrook also continued to his daughter his 
allowance of £200, so that she now had £400 a year. 

Early in this year Shelley was told that he was dying rapidly of consumption. His 
health was certainly broken before this time, but every symptom of pulmonary disease 
suddenly and completely passed away. In February Mary's first child was born, but 
died within a fortnight. In the spring he settled at Bishopgate and there wrote ' Alas- 
tor.' In 1816, Mary's second child, William, was born. In May, Shelley, with Mary 
and Miss Clairmont, left England for the Continent, and within two weeks arrived at 
Lake Geneva. There he became acquainted with Byron, and spent the summer boating 
with him. Unknown to Shelley or Mary, Miss Clairmont, before leaving London, had 
become Byron's mistress, and the intrigue went on at Geneva without their knowledge. 
There Shelley also met Monk Lewis. On returning to England, where he arrived Sep- 
tember 7, he settled at Bath for some months. The two incidents that saddened the 
year occurred in quick succession. On October 8, Mary's half-sister Fanny, daughter of 
Mary Wollstonecraft and Imlay, committed suicide by taking laudanum at an inn in 
Swansea. Shelley was much shocked by this event, but another blow was in store for 
him. He seems to have lost sight of Harriet during his residence abroad, and it is doubt- 
ful whether he saw her after reaching England. She had received her allowances reg- 
ularly. In Novem-ber Shelley sought for and could not find her. It is affirmed that she 
was living under the protection of her father until shortly before her death. She was in 
lodgings, however, in that month, and did not return to them after November 9. On 



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH xxxiii 

December 10 her body was found in the Serpentine River. Of the two suicides, he said 
that he felt that of Fanny most acutely; but it is plain that, while he said at a later time 
she had * a heart of stone,' the fate of Harriet brought a melancholy that was not to pass 
away, though he had ceased to love her. Unfortunately there is no doubt that she had 
erred in her life after leaving his protection, but the letters she wrote to an Irish friend 
excite pity and sympathy with her. 

Shelley was married to Mary December 30, in St. Mildred's Church. He immediately 
undertook to recover his children from the Westbrooks. These children had been placed, 
before Harriet's death, under the care of the Rev. John Kendall, at Budbrooke. The 
Westbrooks were determined to contest Shelley's possession of them. The affair was 
brought into the Chancery Court. It was set forth that Shelley was a man of atheistical 
and immoral principles, and ' Queen Mab,' which had been distributed only in a private 
way, was offered in proof. The case was heard early in 1817 before Lord Eldon. 
Shelley was represented by his lawyers. On March 27 Lord Eldon gave judgment 
against Shelley, basing it on his opinions as affecting his conduct. The children were 
not placed in the hands of the Westbrooks, but were made wards, and the persons 
nominated by Shelley, Dr. and Mrs. Hume, were appointed guardians. Shelley was to 
be allowed to visit them twelve times in the year, but only in the presence of their 
guardians, and the Westbrooks were given the same privilege without that restriction. 

Shelley settled at Marlow early in 1817, having with him Miss Clairmont and her new- 
born child Allegra, and his own two children, William and Clara. In the summer he 
wrote 'The Revolt of Islam,' besides prose pamphlets upon politics; but he had now 
really begun his serious life as a poet. The only cloud on his happiness was the separa- 
tion from his children, which his poems sufficiently illustrate. Hunt, with whom he was 
now intimate, says, that after the decision Shelley ' never dared to trust himself with 
mentioning their names in my hearing, though I had stood at his side throughout the 
business.' He was in fear lest his other children should be taken from him; and he 
finally determined to leave England and settle in Italy, being partly led thereto by the 
state of his health, for which he was advised to try a warm climate. 

The private and intimate view of Shelley, from the time of his union with Mary in the 
summer of 1814 to that of his final departure from England in the spring of 1818, is 
given by Peacock and Hunt. Peacock had become his familiar friend, though Shelley 
was less confidential with him than Peacock supposed. In the solitary winter of 1814-15, 
which was spent drearily in London, Peacock saw him often; and in the next summer, 
during his residence at Bishopgate, the pleasant voyage up the Thames to Lechlade was 
taken. It was on this excursion that Peacock's favorite prescription for Shelley's ills — 
•three mutton chops well peppered' — effected so sudden a cure. Peacock attributes 
much of Shelley's physical ills to his vegetarian diet. He observes that whenever Shelley 
took a journey and was obliged to live ' on what he could get,' as Shelley said, he became 
better in health, so that his frequent wanderings were beneficial to him. On these jour- 
neys, he notes, too, Shelley always took with him pistols for self-defence, and laudanum 
as a resource from the extreme fits of pain to which he was subject. Shelley was appre- 
hensive of personal danger, and he had a vague fear, till he left England, that his father 
would attempt to restrain his liberty on a charge of madness. He also had at one time 
the suspicion that he was afflicted with elephantiasis. Peacock took these incidents more 
seriously than is at all warranted. Shelley's mind was, in general, strong, active and 
sound; his industry, both in acquisition and creation, was remarkable ; and the theory that 
be was really unbalanced in any material degree is not in harmony with his constant 



xxxiv PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

intellectual power, his very noticeable practical sense and carefulness in such business as 
be bad to execute, and his adherence to fact in those cases where bis account can be 
tested by another's. He had visions, both waking and sleeping; he had wandering fears 
that became ideas temporarily, perhaps approaching the point of hallucination; but to give 
such incidents, which are not extraordinary, undue weight is to disturb a just impression 
of Shelley's mind and life, as a whole, which were singularly distinguished by continual 
intellectual force, tenacity and consistency of principle, and studies and moral aims main- 
tained in the midst of confusing and annoying affairs, perpetual discouragement, and 
bodily weariness and pain. The excess of ideality in him disturbed his judgment of wo- 
men, but in other relations of life, except at times of illness, he did not vary from the 
normal more than is the lot of genius. 

Peacock brings out, more than other friends, the manner of Shelley, his temperance in 
discussion, especially when his own affairs were concerned, and his serene demeanor. 
One anecdote is illustrative of this courtesy, and at the same time indicates that limitation 
under which his friendship with Peacock went on: — 

' I was walking with him in Bisham Wood, and we had been talking in the usual way 
of our ordinary subjects, when he suddenly fell into a gloomy reverie. I tried to rouse 
him out of it, and made some remarks which I thought might make him laugh at his own 
abstraction. Suddenly he said to me, still with the same gloomy expression: *' There is 
one thing to which I have decidedly made up my mind. I will take a great glass of ale 
every night." I said, laughingly, " A very good resolution, as the result of a melancholy 
musing." " Yes," he said, " but you do not know why I take it. I shall do it to deaden 
my feelings; for I see that those who drink ale have none." The next day he said to 
me, " You must have thought me very unreasonable yesterday evening ? " I said, " I did, 
certainly." " Then," he said, " I will tell you what I would not tell any one else. I was 
thinking of Harriet." I told him I had no idea of such a thing; it was so long since he 
had named her.' 

This is the single instance of expression of the remorse which Shelley felt for Harriet's 
fate. 

Peacock mentions the heartiness of Shelley's laughter, in connection with his failure 
to cultivate a taste for comedy in him, for Shelley felt the pain of comedy and its neces- 
sary insensibility to finer humane feeling; but this did not make him enjoy less his famil- 
iar, harmless humor, in which there was a dash of his early wild spirits. He was always 
fond of amusements of a childlike sort. Peacock thought that it was from him Shelley 
learned the sport of sailing paper-boats, happy if he could load them with pennies for the 
boys on the other side of stream or pond. At Marlow he used to play with a little girl 
who had attracted him, pushing a table across the floor to her, and when he went away 
he gave her nuts and raisins heaped on a plate,- which she kept through life in memory 
of him, and on her death willed it, so that it is now among the few personal relics of the 
poet. At Marlow, too, he visited the poor in their homes, as his custom was, helping 
and advising. His house there was a large one with many rooms, and handsomely fur- 
nished, the library being large enough for a ball-room, and the garden pleasant. Pea- 
cock's last service was to introduce him to the Italian opera, cf which he became fond, 
just before leaving England. 

Hunt had once seen Shelley in earlier years, and in prison had received letters of ad- 
miration and encouragement from him ; but he did not really know him until the end of 
1816, just at the time of Harriet's death. He is more evenly appreciative, and no such 
allowances as are made for Hogg and Peacock have to be observed in his case, Shelley 



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH xxxv 

was especially fond of Hunt's children, and would play with them to their great delight. 
The anecdote of their begging him ' not to do the horn ' (meaning that he should not 
twist his hair on his forehead in acting the monster) is well known. It had been the 
temptation of setting off fireworks with the Newton children that took Shelley away from 
Godwin on his first night with the philosopher and introduced him to the vegetarian 
circle. Hunt was in many ways more fitted by nature to enter into sympathy with Shel- 
ley than any one he had known; the friendship they formed was delightful to both, and 
Shelley's part in it caused him to show some of his finest qualities of tact, toleration and 
service, that asked no thanks and knew no bounds. On the other hand. Hunt several 
times defended Shelley's good name under virulent and slanderous attacks, and after his 
death was one of those who repeatedly spoke out for him. Hunt ascribes Shelley's dis- 
repute in England in considerable measure to the effect of the Lord Chancellor's decree 
depriving him of his children. He says: — 

* He was said to be keeping a seraglio at Marlow, and his friends partook of the scan- 
dal. This keeper of a seraglio, who, in fact, was extremely difficult to please in such 
matters, and who had no idea of love unconnected with sentiment, passed his days like a 
hermit. He rose early in the morning, walked and read before breakfast, took that meal 
sparingly, wrote and studied the greater part of the morning, walked and read again, 
dined on vegetables (for he took neither meat nor wine) conversed with nis friends (to 
whom his house was ever open), again walked out, and usually finished with reading to 
his wife till ten o'clock, when he went to bed. This was his daily existence. His book 
was generally Plato, or Homer, or one of the Greek tragedies, or the Bible, in which last 
he took a great, though peculiar, and often admiring interest.' 

Hunt notices, as others have done, the great variability of Shelley's expression, due io 
his responsiveness to the scenes about him or his own memories, and in particular the 
suddenness with which he would droop into an aspect of dejection. He admired his char- 
acter, and did not distrust his temperament because some of his moods might seem at the 
time inexplicable. He especially praises his generosity, and the noble way of it, as he 
had reason to do, having at one time received £1,400 from him, besides the loans (which 
were the same as gifts) in the ordinary course of affairs; and, indeed, nothing but its 
emptiness ever closed Shelley's purse to any of his friends, who, it must be said, availed 
themselves somewhat freely of his liberal nature. One anecdote told by Hunt brings 
Shelley before the eye better than pages of description, and with it he closes his reminis- 
cences of the Marlow period: — 

' Shelley, in coming to our house that night, had found a woman lying near the top of 
the hill in fits. It was a fierce winter night, with snow upon the ground; and winter 
loses nothing of its fierceness at Hampstead. My friend, always the promptest as well 
as most pitying on these occasions, knocked at the first houses he could reach, in order to 
have the woman taken in. The invariable answer was that they could not do it. He 
asked for an outhouse to put her in, while he went for a doctor. Impossible. In vain 
he assured them that she was no impostor. They would not dispute the point with him; 
but doors were closed, and windows shut down. . . . Time flies. The poor woman is in 
convulsions; her son, a young man, lamenting over her. At last my friend sees a car- 
riage driving up to a house at a little distance. The knock is given; the warm door 
opens; servants and lights pour forth. Now, thought he, is the time. He puts on his 
best address. . . . He tells his story. They only press on the faster. " Will you go and 
see her?" "No, sir; there's no necessity for that sort of thing, depend on it. Im- 
postors swarm everywhere. The thing cannot be done. Sir, your conduct is extraordi* 



xxxvi PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

. ' '' ■ ■■■. — — — - — ■ ' - — - . ■ - ■ ' ■^-^.—^^i^^^^^ 

nary." " Sir," cried Shelley, assuming a very different manner and forcing the flourishing 
householder to stop out of astonishment, '* I am sorry to say that your conduct is not ex- 
traordinary, and if my own seems to amaze you, I will tell you something which will 
amaze you more, and I hope will frighten you. It is such men as you who madden the 
spirits and the patience of the poor and wretched; and if ever a convulsion comes in this 
country (as is very probable) recollect what I tell you: you will have your house, that 
you refuse to put the miserable woman into, burnt over your head." " God bless me, 
sir ! Dear me, sir ! " exclaimed the poor, frightened man, and fluttered into his man- 
sion. The woman was then brought to our house, which was at some distance and down 
a bleak path; and Shelley and her son were obliged to hold her till the doctor could 
arrive. It appeared that she had been attending this son in London, on a criminal charge 
made against him, the agitation of which had thrown her into fits on her return. The 
doctor said that she would have perished, had she remained there a short time longer. 
The next day my friend sent mother and son comfortably home to Hendon, where they 
were known, and whence they returned him thanks full of gratitude.' 

Shelley left England for the last time on March 12, 1818, and travelled by the way of 
Paris and Mont Cenis to Milan. Thenceforth he resided in Italy, with frequent changes 
of abode at first, but finally at Pisa and its neighborhood. He had now matured, and his 
intimate life, his nature, and his character, are disclosed by himself in the rapidly pro- 
duced works on which his fame rests. From this time it is not necessary to seek in others' 
impressions that knowledge of himself which is the end of biography ; and the singular 
consistency and self-possession of his character and career, as shown in his poetry and 
prose, and in his familiar letters, bearing out as they do the permanent traits of his dis- 
position already known, and correcting or shedding light upon what was extraordinary in 
his personality, give the best reason for belief that much in Shelley's earlier career which 
seems abnormal is due to the misapprehension and the misinterpretation of him by his 
friends. It was the life of a youth, impulsive and self-confident, and, moreover, it is the 
only full narrative of youth which our literature affords. If the thoughts and actions 
of first years were more commonly and minutely detailed, there might be less wonder, 
less distrust, less harsh judgment upon what seems erratic and foolish in Shelley's early 
days. His misfortune was that immaturity of mind and judgment became fixed in im- 
prudent acts; his practical responsibility foreran its due time. Yet the story, as it stands, 
demonstrates generous aims, a sense of human duty, an interest in man's welfare, and a 
resolution to serve it, as exceptional as Shelley's poetic genius, intimate as the tie was 
between the two; for he was right in characterizing his poetic genius as in the main a 
moral one. The latter years, during which his life is contained and expressed in his 
works, require less attention to such details as have been followed thus far; his life in 
manhood must be read in his poetry and prose, and especially in his letters, but some 
account of external affairs is still necessary. 

He had taken Miss Clairmont and her child with him, but at Milan the baby, Allegra, 
was sent to Byron, who undertook her bringing up and education. He enjoyed the opera 
at Milan, and made an excursion to Como in search of a house, but finally decided to go 
further south, and departed, on May 1, for Leghorn, where the party arrived within ten 
days. The presence there of the Gisbornes, old friends of Godwin, drew him to that city, 
which became, with Pisa, his principal place of residence. Mrs. Gisborne was a middle- 
aged woman of sense and experience, and possessed of much literary cultivation. She 
had been brought up as a girl, in the East, and had married Reveley, the student of 
Athepian antiquities, in Rome. He was a Radical; and on returning to England became 



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH xxxvii 



associated with Godwin, Holcroft, and others of the group of reformers; and in this way 
it happened that when Mary's mother died at her child's birth, Mrs. Reveley took the 
babe home and cared for it. Two years later, when Reveley died, Godwin proposed 
marriage to her, but was refused; and afterwards she married Mr. Gisborne, with whom 
she had lived in Italj'^ for some years. She welcomed Mary with great cordiality, and 
the pleasantest relations, which were only once broken, sprang up between the families. 
She introduced Shelley to Calderon, and read Spanish with him, as time went on, greatly 
to his pleasure; and, on his side, he became attached to her son, Henry Reveley, a young 
engineer, and especially assisted him in the scheme of putting a steamboat on the Medi- 
terranean ; but the plan, in which Shelley had embarked capital, failed. It was in the 
financial complications springing out of this affair that opportunity was given for the 
breach of confidence which then occurred, as Shelley thought he was to be defrauded; 
but the trouble between them was amicably settled. These events took place at a later 
time. 

Shelley did not at once settle in Leghorn, but took a house at the Baths of Lucca, 
where he spent a quiet period, pleased with the scene, his walks and rides, the bath 
under the woodland waterfall, and all the first delights of Italy, while he was not blind 
to its miseries. He finished ' Rosalind and Helen,' which he had begun at Marlow, and 
translated Plato's * Symposium.' Miss Clairmont had already begun to be discontented 
at the separation from Allegra, and was far from comforted by what news reached her 
of Byron's life at Venice. Shelley yielded to her anxiety and, on August 19, accompa- 
nied her by Florence to Venice, where Byron received him cordially, and offered him his 
villa at Este, where her mother, whose presence in Venice was concealed, would be per- 
mitted to see Allegra. Shelley wrote to Mary, who left Lucca August 30, and the family 
was soon settled at Este. Here their youngest child, Clara, sickened, and, on their tak- 
ing her at once to Venice for advice, she died in that city, September 24. The loss made 
the autumn lonely at Este, but there, except for brief visits to Byron, Shelley remained, 
writing the ' Lines on the Euganean Hills,' ' Julian and Maddalo,' and the first act of 
* Prometheus Unbound.' His poetic genius had come somewhat suddenly to its mastery, 
and his mind was full of great plans, keeping it restless and absorbed, while his melauv 
choly seemed to deepen. On November 5 they departed for the south. Miss Clairmont 
still accompanying them, and she continued to live with them. They arrived at Rome 
November 20, and, remaining only a week, were settled at Naples December 1. Here 
Shelley was intoxicated with the beauty of Italy; he visited Pompeii, ascended Vesuvius, 
and went south as far as Paestum,and in his letters gives marvellously beautiful descriptions 
of these scenes; but he was, for causes which remain obscure, deeply dejected and unhappy 
to such a degree that he hid his verses from Mary and disclosed no more of his grief than 
he could help. She ascribed his melancholy to physical depression, but there were other 
reasons, never satisfactorily made out. He worked but little, only at finishing and 
remodelling old poems, except that he wrote the well-known personal poems of that 
winter. 

On March 5 they returned to Rome, and there he plucked up courage again, and fin- 
ished three acts of ' Prometheus Unbound,' writing in that wilderness of beauty and ruin 
which he describes with a sad eloquence. Here the most severe domestic sorrow they 
were to undergo came upon them in the death of their boy, William, on June 7. Shelley 
watched by him for sixty hours uninterruptedly, and immediately was called on to forget his 
grief and sustain Mary, who sank under this last blow. * Yesterday,' he wrote to Peacock, 
•after sxi illness of only a few days, mv little WiUiam died. There was no hope from 



Kxxviii PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

the moment of the attack. You will be kind enough to tell all my friends, so that I need 
not write to them. It is a great exertion to me to write even this, and it seems to me as 
if, hunted by calamity as I have been, that I should never recover any cheerfulness again.' 
He removed with Mary at once to Leghorn, that she might have Mrs. Gisborne's com- 
pany, and there spent the summer. ' The Cenci ' was the work of these months, written 
in a tower on the top of his house overlooking the country. On October 2 they went to 
Florence, where his last child, Percy, was born November 12. The galleries were a per- 
petual delight to him, and especially the sculptures, on which he made notes and from 
which he derived poetic stimulus. Here he wrote the fourth act of * Prometheus Un- 
bound,' finishing that poem. 

On January 27 they removed to Pisa, where they found a friend in Mrs. Mason, one 
of the Earl of Kingston's daughters whom Mary Wollstonecraft had once in charge. 
She was one of their set of acquaintances from this time. Shelley was much troubled in 
the opening months of this year, 1820, by Godwin's complaints and embarrassments, but 
as he had already given Godwin £4,000 or £5,000, and in order to do it had divested 
himself, as he reminded Godwin, of four or five times this amount, which he had raised 
from money-lenders, and as he was really unable to accomplish anything by such sacri- 
fices, he receded from the impossible task of extricating him from debt. Miss Clairmont, 
too, toward whom Shelley's conduct is tenderly considerate and manly, caused him 
trouble by her anxiety about Allegra, and her inability to keep on good terms with Mary, 
who was now unwilling that she should continue with them. His discharged servant, 
Paolo, also was a source of uneasiness and exasperation, as he first attempted to black- 
mail Shelley and then spread scandals about his private life, which were taken up in 
Italy and echoed in England. On June 15 they again removed to Leghorn, taking the 
house of the Gisbornes, and on August 5 went for the summer to the Baths of San Giuli- 
ano near Pisa. To these months belong ' The Witch of Atlas,' and ' (Edipus Tyrannus;' 
but Shelley's principal works were the occasional pieces. He had become greatly dis- 
couraged by the continued neglect of the public, and by the personal attacks to which 
his character was subjected in England. He certainly felt keenly his position as an out- 
cast, and though his enthusiasm for political causes was undiminished and flamed up in 
*The Mask of Anarchy,' and the 'Odes,' his spirit was depressed and hopeless. Miss 
Clairmont left them at the end of the summer, and became a private governess in Flor- 
ence, though from time to time she visited them. On October 22 Medwin joined them 
for some months, and directly after, on October 29, they returned from the Baths to Pisa 
for the winter. Here their circle of acquaintance was now large, and included Professor 
Pacchiani, Emilia Viviani, Prince Mavrocordato, the Princess Argiropoli, Sgricci, Taaffe, 
— new names, but, excepting two, of minor importance. Emilia Viviani was a young lady 
who interested Mary and Miss Clairmont as well as Shelley in her misfortunes. She was 
the occasion of * Epipsychidion,' in writing which Shelley expressed his full idealization of 
woman as the object of love and in so doing broke the charm of this last object of his 
idolatry. The event ended in exciting a certain jealousy in Mary, who was soon disen-« 
chanted of the distressed maiden; but she continued to be treated by all with the great- 
est kindness. Mavrocordato was the occasion of Shelley's keener interest in the Greek 
revolt, which was expressed in * Hellas,' an improvisation of 1821, and he was welcome 
also to Mary, who read Greek with him. The most important addition to the circle was 
Edward Williams and his wife, Jane, who came on January 13, 1821, and were Shelley's 
constant and most prized companions, from this time to the end. The summer was spent 
6t the Baths of Giuliano, where * Adonais * was composed, except that Shelley went to 



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH xxxix 



Ravenna to see Byron in August; and the winter was passed at Pisa, where Byron settled 
in November with the Countess Guiccioli. Med win also returned and joined the circle. 
It was proposed, too, to invite Hunt, who was in straits, to Italy, and a plan was made 
for him to join with Byron in issuing ' The Liberal ' there, and in consequence of this 
arrangement, and by Shelley's free but self-denying material aid, he was enabled to 
come, but did not arrive so soon as was hoped. 

Such, in rapid outline, was the external course of Shelley's life in these four Italian 
years up to the spring of 1822. He had accomplished his poetic work, though it remained 
in large part unpublished, and he looked upon himself as having failed, — not that he did 
not know that his work was good, but that it had received no recognition. In private 
life he had continued to meet with grave misfortune, and his character still stood black- 
ened and traduced in the eyes of the world. His life with Mary had been a happy one, 
but he had early learned that it was his part to deny himself and contain his own moods 
and sorrows. It is plain that he felt a lack of perfect sympathy between them, a certain 
coldness, and something like fault-finding with him because of his persistent difference 
from the world and its ways. He was pained by this, and made solitary, and Mary 
afterwards was aware of it, as her self-reproaches show; but the union, notwithstanding, 
was one of tender affection in the midst of many circumstances that might have disturbed 
it. To Shelley's continued loneliness must be ascribed the deep melancholy of his verses 
to Mrs. Williams, the sheaf of poems that was the last of all. Edward Williams, who 
had been at Eton in Shelley's time, may have had some knowledge of him, but he was 
practically a new acquaintance. He was manly and generous by nature, and had a taste 
for literature, though his previous life had been an active one. Shelley became much 
attached to him, and found in his company, as they boated on the Serchio together, great 
enjoyment. Both he and Mary express warm admiration for their friend. Mrs. Wil- 
liams suffered the same idealization that Shelley had wrought about every woman who 
attracted him at all; and the peace and happiness of her life with her husband especially 
won upon him. The verses he wrote her were kept secret from Mary, and have the 
personal and intimate quality of poems meant for one alone to read. This friendship 
was the last pleasure that Shelley was to know, and Williams was to be his companior 
in death. 

Trelawny, from whom the true description of Shelley at the end of life comes, joined 
the circle January 14, 1822. He had led a romantic life as a sailor, and was now twenty- 
eight years old when he sought out Shelley, and made friends with Byron, and through 
these friendships became an interesting character to the world. The scene of his intro- 
duction to Shelley has been often quoted: — 

* The Williamses received me in their earnest, cordial manner. We had a great deal 
to communicate to each other, and were in loud and animated conversation, when I was 
rather put out by observing in the passage near the open door opposite to where I sat a 
pair of glittering eyes steadily fixed on mine. It was too dark to make out whom they 
belonged to. With the acuteness of a woman, Mrs. Williams's eyes followed the direc- 
tion of mine, and going to the doorway she laughingly said, "Come in, Shelley; it's only 
our friend Tre, just arrived." Swiftly gliding in, blushing like a girl, a tall, slim strip- 
ling held out both his hands; and, although I could hardly believe, as I looked at his 
flushed, feminine and artless face, that it could be the poet, I returned his warm pressure. 
After the ordinary greetings and courtesies he sat down and listened. I was silent from 
astonishment. Was it possible this mild-looking, beardless boy could be the veritable 
monster at war with all the world ? — excommunicated by the Fathers of the Church, 



xl PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 



deprived of his civil rights by the fiat of a grim Lord Chancellor, discarded by every 
member of his family, and denounced by the rival sages of our literature as the founder 
of a Satanic school ? I could not believe it; it must be a hoax. . . . He was habited 
like a boy in a black jacket and trousers, which he seemed to have outgrown, or his 
tailor, as is the custom, had most shamefully stinted him in his " sizings." Mrs. Williams 
saw my embarrassment and, to relieve me, asked Shelley what book he had in his hand. 
His face brightened, and he answered briskly, " Calderon's ' Magico Prodigioso.' I am 
translating some passages in it." " Oh, read it to us ! " Shoved off from the shore of 
commonplace incidents, that could not interest him, and fairly launched on a theme that 
did, he instantly became oblivious of everything but the book in his hand. The masterly 
manner in which he analyzed the genius of the author, his lucid interpretation of the 
story, and the ease with which he translated into our language the most subtle and imag- 
inative passages of the Spanish poet were marvellous, as was his command of the two 
languages. After this touch of his quality I no longer doubted his identity. A dead 
silence ensued. Looking up I asked, " Where is he ? " Mrs. Williams said, " Who ? 
Shelley ? Oh, he comes and goes like a spirit, no one knows when or where." Pre- 
sently he reappeared with Mrs. Shelley.' 

Trelawny's whole narrative is very vivid and clear, and, in particular, he renders the 
boyishness of Shelley better than Hogg or Peacock, who turned it to ridicule. He found 
in him the old qualities, however, and many of the old habits. He still read or wrote 
incessantly, and could close his senses to the world around, even at Byron's dinner- 
parties, and withdraw to his own thoughts. He had no regular habits of eating, and 
lived on water and bread, — ' bread literally his staff of life.' He could jump into the 
water, on being told to swim, and lie quiet on the bottom till 'fished out,' — an incident 
that would have read very differently in Hogg or Peacock, but is here told with perfect 
nature. He was self-willed. ' I always go on till I am stopped, and I never am stopped,' 
he said. He had filled Williams with enthusiasm for self-improvement, and won him 
over wholly to books and thought and poetizing, just as he always sought to do with his 
friends, men or women. He was as passionately fond of boating as ever and eager for 
the craft he had ordered for the summer, which they were to spend in the Gulf of Spezia, 
as had been decided; and he wandered out alone into the Pine Forest to write, as when 
he composed * Alastor.' The same features, the same traits, are here as of old, — with 
the difference that they are told naturally without the suggestion of grotesqueness on 
one side or of incipient lunacy on the other. This sustains our belief in Shelley's always 
having been a natural being, subject to no more of eccentricity or disease than exists 
within the bounds of an ordinary healthy nature. ' He was like a healthy, well-condi- 
tioned boy,' says Trelawny. The gentle timidity is here, too, the half ludicrous fear of 
a * party ' with which Mary had * threatened ' him, and similar shynesses that existed in 
his temperament, with the openness that knew no wrong where no wrong was meant. 
His dislike of Byron, mixed with admiration of his genius and discouragement in its pre^ 
sence, is not concealed, and the vigor and brilliancy of his talk, its eloquent flow, together 
with his spells of sadness and the physical spasms that made him roll on the floor, but 
with self-command and words of unforgetting kindness for those about him who were 
obliged to look on, and also the constant discouragement of his spirits in respect to him- 
self and his life, — are all spread on these pages, which are biographically of the highest 
Value. It is fortunate that there is so faithful a witness of these last days ; but this 
memoir must draw to a close without lingering over the last portrait. 

The plan to pass the summer on the Gulf of Spezia was carried out. On May 1, after 



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH xli 

» _ : ^___ 

some difficulties in finding a place of abode, Shelley was settled in the Casa Magn'i, a 
lonely house on the edge of the sea, under steep and wooded slopes, beneath which rocky 
footpaths wound to Lerici on the south and to the near village of San Terenzo on the 
north. The Williamses were with him, and, temporarily. Miss Clairmont, to whom in 
the first days he there broke the news of the death of Allegra. The spot is one of inde- 
scribable beauty, with lovely views, both near and distant, wherever the eye wanders or 
rests ; but it had also an aspect of wildness and strangeness, which depressed Mary's 
spirits. ' The gales and squalls,' she says, ' that hailed our first arrival surrounded the 
bay with foam. The howling winds swept round our exposed house, and the sea roared 
unremittingly. . . . The natives were wilder than the place. Our near neighbors of 
San Terenzo were more like savages than any people I ever before lived among. Many 
a night they passed on the beach singing, or rather howling, the women dancing about 
among the waves that broke at their feet, the men leaning against the rocks and joining 
in their loud, wild chorus.' It was among these villagers that Shelley's last offices of 
charity were done, as he visited them in their houses, and helped the sick and the poor as 
he was able. On May 12 arrived the boat which Shelley christened the Ariel, — 'a per- 
fect plaything for the summer,' Williams said. They made also a shallop of canvas and 
reeds, and in one or the other of these crafts he incessantly boated. He wrote * The 
Triumph of Life,' going off by himself in his shallop in the moonlight. Mary thought it 
was the happiest period in his life. ' I still inhabit this divine bay,' he wrote, * reading 
Spanish dramas, and sailing and listening to the most enchanting music' Again he says^ 

* If the past and future could be obliterated, the present would content me so well that I 
could say with Faust to the passing moment, — " Remain thou, thou art so beautiful." ' 
Mary unfortunately was not so happy, and she says, took no pleasure excepting when 

* sailing, lying down with my head on his knee, I shut my eyes and felt the wind and our 
swift motion alone.' She was also at one time dangerously ill, and Shelley himself was 
far from well. The house was a place of visions. One night, when with Williams, he 
saw Allegra as a naked child rise from the waves, clapping her hands; again he saw the 
image of himself, who asked him, ' How long do you mean to be content ? ' And Mrs. 
Williams twice saw Shelley when he was not present. 

Two months passed by in this retreat, and it was now time for Leigh Hunt to arrive. 
Shelley set off to meet him at Leghorn, taking Williams and the sailor-boy, Charles 
Vivian, with him. Mary called Shelley back two or three times and told him that if he 
did not come soon she should go to Pisa, with their child Percy, and cried bitterly when 
he went away. The next day he arrived at Leghorn. Thornton Hunt always remem- 
bered the cry with which Shelley rushed into his father's arms, saying, ' I am inexpressi- 
bly delighted ! you cannot think how inexpressibly happy it makes me.' He saw the 
Hunts settled, and arranged affairs between Hunt and Byron ; but both he and W^illiams 
were anxious to return to their families in their lonely situation. On July 8 they set sail 
in the Ariel, not without warning of risk. The weather was threatening, and in a few 
moments they were lost in a sea-fog. Trelawny describes the scene : — 

* Although the sun was obscured by mists it was oppressively sultry. There was not a 
breath of air in the harbor. TLe heaviness of the atmosphere and an unwonted stillness 
benumbed my senses. I went down into the cabin and sank into a slumber. I was 
roused up by a noise overhead, and went on deck. The men were getting up a chain 
cable to let go another anchor. There was a general stir amongst the shipping; shifting 
berths, getting down yards and masts, veering out cables, hauling in of hawsers, letting 
go anchors, hailing from the ships and quays, boats sculling rapidly to and fro. It was 



xlii PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

almost dark, although only half past six. The sea was of the color and looked as solid 
and smooth as a sheet of lead, and covered with an oily scum ; gusts of wind swept over 
without ruffling it, and big drops of rain fell on its surface, rebounding, as if they could 
not penetrate it. There was a commotion in the air, made up of many threatening sounds, 
coming upon us from the sea. Fishing craft and coasting vessels under bare poles rushed 
by us in shoals, running foul of the ships in the harbor. As yet the din and hubbub was 
that made by men, but their shrill pipings were suddenly silenced by the crashing voice 
of a thunder squall that burst right over our heads. For some time no other sounds were 
to be heard than the thunder, wind and rain. When the fury of the storm, which did 
not last for more than twenty minutes, had abated, and the horizon was in some degree 
cleared, I looked to seaward anxiously, in the hope of descrying Shelley's boat amongst 
the many small crafts scattered about. I watched every speck that loomed on the hori- 
zon, thinking that they would have borne up on their return to the port, as all the other 
boats that had gone out in the same direction had done. I sent our Genoese mate on 
board some of the returning crafts to make inquiries, but they all professed not to have 
seen the English boat. . . . During the night it was gusty and showery, and the light- 
ning flashed along the coast; at daylight I returned on board and resumed my examina- 
tions of the crews of the various boats which had returned to the port during the night. 
They either knew nothing or would say nothing. My Genoese, with the quick eye of a 
sailor, pointed out on board a fishing-boat an English-made oar that he thought he had 
seen in Shelley's boat, but the entire crew swore by all the saints in the calendar that 
this was not so. Another day was passed in horrid suspense. On the morning of the 
third day I rode to Pisa. Byron had returned to the Lanfranchi Palace. I hoped to find 
a letter from the Villa Magni; there was none. I told my fears to Hunt, and then went 
upstairs to Byron. When I told him his lip quivered, and his voice faltered as he ques- 
tioned me.' 

Trelawny sent a courier to Leghorn and Byron ordered the Bolivar to cruise along the 
coast. He himself took his horse and rode. At Via Reggio he recognized a punt, a 
water keg, and some bottles that had been on Shelley's boat, and his fears became almost 
certainties. To quicken their watchfulness he promised rewards to the coast-guard 
patrol. On July 18 two bodies were found. ' The tall, slight figure, the jacket, the vol- 
ume of iEschylus in one pocket, and Keats's poems in the other, doubled back as if the 
reader in the act of reading had hastily thrust it away, were all too familiar to me to 
leave a doubt on my mind that this mutilated corpse was any other than Shelley's.' The 
second body was that of Williams. A few days later, the body of the sailor-boy, Charles 
Vivian, was also found. Trelawny went on to Lerici and broke the news to the two 
widows there, who, after suffering great suspense, and going to Pisa and returning, still 
hoped against hope through these days. 

There was nothing more to be done except that the last offices must be discharged. 
The bodies had been buried in the sand, but permission was obtained from the authorities 
to burn them. Trelawny took charge. He had a furnace made, and provided what else 
was necessary. On the first day Williams's body was burned, and on the second, August 
18, Shelley's. Three white wands had been stuck in the sand to mark the grave, but it 
was nearly an hour before his body was found. The preparations were then completed. 
Only Byron and Hunt besides Trelawny and some natives of the place were present. 
♦ The sea,' says Trelawny, ' with the islands of Gorgona, Capraja and Elba, was before 
us. Old battlemented watch towers stretched along the coast, backed by the marble- 
crested Apennines glistening in the sun, picturesque from their diversified outlines, and 



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH xliii 

not a human dwelling was in sight.' And Hunt takes up the description: * The beauty 
of the flame arising from the funeral pile was extraordinary. The weather was beauti- 
fully fine. The Mediterranean, now soft and lucid, kissed the shore as if to make peace 
with it. The yellow sand and blue sky were intensely contrasted with one another; 
marble mountains touched the air with coolness, and the flame of the fire bore away to- 
ward heaven in vigorous amplitude wavering and quivering with a brightness of incon- 
ceivable beauty.' Wine, oil and salt were thrown on the pile, and with them the volume 
of Keats, and all was slowly consumed. Trelawny snatched the heart from the flames. 
Hunt and Byron hardly maintained themselves, but at last all was over, and they rode 
away. The ashes were deposited in the English burying ground at Rome, in the no\9 
familiar spot where Trelawny placed a slab in the ground and inscribed its «= 

Percy Btsshe Shelley 

Cor Cordium 

Natus IV Aug. MDCCXCH 

Obiit VIII Jul. MDCCCXXII 

* Nothing of him that doth fade, 
But doth suffer a sea change 
into something rich and strange.' r 1? W 



QUEEN MAB 

A PHILOSOPHICAL POEM 

WITH NOTES 

ECRASEZ L'INFAME! 

Correspondatice de Voltairs^ 

Avia Pieridum peragro loca, nullius ante 
Trita solo, juvat integros accedere fonteis ; 
Atque haurire : juvatque novos decerpere flores. 

Unde prius nulli velarint tempora Musae. 
Primum quod magnis doceo de rebus ; et arctis 
Religionum animos nodis exsolvere pergo. 

Lucretius, lib. iv. 

Abj TTOu CTTO), KOI KoafJLOv Kivqaoi. 

Archimedes 



* During' my existence I have incessantly 
speculated, thought and read.' So Shelley 
wrote when he was yet not quite twenty years 
old ; and the statement fairly represents the 
history of his boyhood and youth. Queen Mab 
was composed in 1812-13, in its present form, 
and issued during the summer of the latter 
year, when Shelley was just twenty-one. It 
embodies substantially the contents of his mind 
at that period, especially those speculative, 
religious and philanthropic opinions to the ex- 
pression of which his ' passion for reforming 
the world ' was the incentive ; and, poetically, 
it is his first work of importance. Much of 
its subject-matter had been previously treated 
by him. The figure of Ahasuerus, which was 
a permanent imaginative motive for him, had 
been the centre of a juvenile poem, The Wan- 
dering Jew, in which Medwin claims to have 
collaborated with him, as early as 1809-10 ; 
and youthful verse written before 1812 is 
clearly incorporated in Queen Mab. It may 
fairly be regarded, poetically and intellectu- 
ally, as the result of the three preceding years, 
from the eighteenth to the twenty-first of the 
poet's life. 

The poem owes much to Shelley's studies in 
the Latin and French authors. The limitations 
of his poetical training and taste in English verse 
are justly stated by Mrs. Shelley, in her note : 

" Our earlier English poetry was almost un- 
known to him. The love and knowledge of 



nature developed by Wordsworth — the lofty 
melody and mysterious beauty of Coleridge's 
poetry — and the wild fantastic machinery and 
gorgeous scenery adopted by Southey, com- 
posed his favorite reading. The rhythm of 
Queen Mab was founded on that of Thalaba, 
and the first few lines bear a striking resem- 
blance in spirit, though not in idea, to the 
opening of that poem. His fertile imagina- 
tion, and ear tuned to the finest sense of har- 
mony, preserved him from imitation. Another 
of his favorite books was the poem of Gebir, 
by Walter Savage Landor.' 

Queen Mab is, in form, what would be ex- 
pected from such preferences. His own Notes 
indicate the prose sources of his thought. He 
dissented from all that was established in so- 
ciety, for the most part very radically, and was 
a believer in the perfectibility of man by moral 
means. Here, again, Mrs. Shelley's note is 
most just : 

' He was animated to greater zeal by com- 
passion for his fellow-creatures. His sym- 
pathy was excited by the misery with which 
the world is bursting. He witnessed the suf- 
ferings of the poor, and was aware of the evils 
of ignorance. He desired to induce every rich 
man to despoil himself of superfluity, and to 
create a brotherhood of property and service, 
and Avas ready to be the first to lay down the 
advantages of his birth. He was of too un-' 
compromising a disposition to Join a,nj party 



QUEEN MAB 



He did not in his youth look forward to grad- 
ual improvement : nay, in those days of intol 
erance, now almost forgotten, it seemed as easy 
to look forward to the sort of millennium of 
freedom and brotherhood, which he thought 
the proper state of mankind, as to the present 
reign of moderation and improvement. Ill 
health made him believe tliat his race would 
soon be run ; that a year or two was all he had 
of life. He desired that these years should be 
useful and illustrious. He saw, in a fervent 
call on his fellow-creatures to share alike the 
blessings of the creation, to love and serve 
each other, the noblest work that life and time 
permitted him. In this spirit he composed 
Queen Mob.'' 

Shelley's own opinion of the poem changed 
in later years. He always referred to it as 
written in his nineteenth year, when it was ap- 
parently begun, though its final form at any 
rate dates from the next year. In 18il7 he 
wrote of it as follows : 

. . . ' Full of those errors which belong to 
youth, as far as imagery and language and a 
connected plan is concerned. But it was a sin- 
cere overflowing of the heart and mind, and that 
at a period when they are most uncorrupted and 
pure. It is the author's boast, and it consti- 
tutes no small portion of his happiness, that, 
after six years [this period supports the date 
1811] of added experience and reflection, the 
doctrine of equality, and liberty, and disinter- 
estedness, and entire unbelief in religion of any 
sort, to which this poem is devoted, have 
gained rather than lost that beauty and that 
grandeur which first determined him to devote 
his life to the investigation and inculcation of 
them.' 

In 1821, when the poem was printed by W. 
Clark, Shelley, in a letter of protest to the edi- 
tor of the Exaviiner, describes it in a different 
strain : 

'A poem, entitled Queen Mab, was written 
by me, at the age of eighteen, I dare say in a 
sufficiently intemperate spirit — but even then 
was not intended for publication, and a few 



copies only were struck off, to be distributed 
among my personal friends. I have not seen 
this production for several years ; I doubt not 
but that it is perfectly worthless in point of 
literary composition ; and that in all that con- 
cerns moral and political speculation, as well 
as in the subtler discriminations of metaphysi- 
cal and religious doctrine, it is still more crude 
and immature. I am a devoted enemy to re- 
ligious, political, and domestic oppression ; and 
I regret this publication not so much from lit- 
erary vanity, as because I fear it is better fitted' 
to injure than to serve the sacred cause of 
freedom.' 

Queen Mob, as Shelley here states, was pri- 
vately issued. The name of the printer was 
cut out of nearly all copies, for fear of prose- 
cution. The edition was of two hundred and 
fifty copies, of which about seventy were put 
in circulation by gift. Many pirated editions 
were issvied after Shelley's death both in Eng- 
land and America, and the poem was especially 
popular with the Owenites. By it Shelley was 
long most widely known, and it remains one 
of the most striking of his works in popular 
apprehension. Though at last he abandoned 
it, because of its crudities, he had felt inter- 
est in it after its first issue and had partly 
recast it, and included a portion of this re- 
vision in his next volunie, Alastor, 1816, as the 
Daemon of the World. \ The radical character 
of Queen Mab, which was made a part of the 
evidence against his character, on the occasion 
of the trial which resulted in his being de- 
prived of the cvistody of his children by Lord 
Eldon, was a main element in the contempo- 
rary obloquy in which his name was involved in 
England, though very few persons could ever 
have read the poem then ; but it may be 
doubted whether in the end it did not help his 
fame by the fascination it exercises over a cer- 
tain class of minds in the first stages of social 
and intellectual revolt or angry unrest so wide- 
spread in this century. 

The dedication To Harriet ***** is to his 
first wife. 



TO HARRIET ***** 

Whose is the love that, gleaming through 
the world, 

Wards off the poisonous arrow of its scorn? 
Whose is the warm and partial praise. 
Virtue's most sweet reward ? 

Beneath whose looks did my reviving soul 
Riper in truth and virtuous daring grow ? 
Whose eyes have I gazed fondly on, 
And loved mankind the more ? 



Harriet ! on thine : — thou wert my purer 

mind ; 
Thou wert the inspiration of my song ; 

Thine are these early wilding flowers, 

Though garlanded by me. 

Then press into thy breast this pledge of 

love ; 
And know, though time may change and 
years may roll, 
Each floweret gathered in my heart 
It consecrates to thine. 



QUEEN MAB 



How wonderful is Death, 

Death, and his brother Sleep ! 
One pale as yonder waning moon 

With lips of lurid blue ; 

The other, rosy as the morn 
When throned on ocean's wave 

It blushes o'er the world ; 
Yet both so passing wonderful ! 

Hath then the gloomy Power 
Whose reign is in the tainted sepulchres lo 
Seized on her sinless soul ? 
Must then that peerless form 
Which love and admiration cannot view 
Without a beating heart, those azure veins 
Which steal like streams along a field of 
snow. 
That lovely outline which is fair 
As breathing marble, perish ? 
Must putrefaction's breath 
Leave nothing of this heavenly sight 

But loathsomeness and ruin ? 20 

Spare nothing but a gloomy theme. 
On which the lightest heart might moral- 
ize? 
Or is it only a sweet slumber 
Stealing o'er sensation, 
Which the breath of roseate morning 
Chaseth into darkness ? 
Will lanthe wake again, 
And give that faithful bosom joy 
Whose sleepless spirit waits to catch 
Light, life and rapture, from her smile ? 

Yes ! she will wake again, 31 

Although her glowing limbs are motionless, 
And silent those sweet lips, 
Once breathing eloquence 
That might have soothed a tiger's rage 
Or thawed the cold heart of a conqueror. 
Her dewy eyes are closed. 
And on their lids, whose texture fine 
Scarce hides the dark blue orbs beneath, 
The baby Sleep is pillowed ; 40 
Her golden tresses shade 
The bosom's stainless pride, 
Curling like tendrils of the parasite 
Around a marble column. 

Hark ! whence that rushing sound ? 

'Tis like the wondrous strain 
That round a lonely ruin swells. 
Which, wandering on the echoing shore, 

The enthusiast hears at evening ; 



'T is softer than the west wind's sigh ; 
'T is wilder than the unmeasured notes 
Of that strange lyre whose strings 52 
The genii of the breezes sweep ; 
Those lines of rainbow light 
Are like the moonbeams when they 
fall 
Through some cathedral window, but the 
tints 

Are such as may not find 
Comparison on earth. 

Behold the chariot of the Fairy Queen ! 
Celestial coursers paw the unyielding 
air; 6c 

Their filmy pennons at her word they 

furl, 
And stop obedient to the reins of light ; 
These the Queen of Spells drew in ; 
Slie spread a charm around the spot. 
And, leaning graceful from the ethereal 
car. 
Long did she gaze, and silently, 

Upon the slumbering maid. 

Oh ! not the visioned poet in his dreams. 
When silvery clouds float through the wil- 

dered brain, 
When every sight of lovely, wild and 
grand 70 

Astonishes, enraptures, elevates. 
When fancy at a glance combines 
The wondrous and the beautiful, — 
So bright, so fair, so wild a shape 
Hath ever yet beheld, 
As that which reined the coursers of the 
air 
And poured the magic of her gaze 
Upon the maiden's sleep. 

The broad and yellow moon 

Shone dimly through her form — 80 

That form of faultless symmetry; 

The pearly and pellucid car 

Moved not the moonlight's line. 
'T was not an earthly pageant. 

Those, who had looked upon the sight 
Passing all human glory, 
Saw not the yellow moon, 
Saw not the mortal scene, 
Heard not the night-wind's rush, 
Heard not an earthly sound, 90 

Saw but the fairy pageant. 
Heard but the heavenly strains 
That filled the lonely dwelling. 



QUEEN MAB 



The Fairy's frame was slight — yon fibrous 

cloud, 
That catches but the palest tinge of even, 
And which the straining eye can hardly 

seize 
When melting into eastern twilight's shad- 
ow. 
Were scarce so thin, so slight ; but the fair 

star 
That gems the glittering coronet of morn, 
Sheds not a light so mild, so powerful, loo 
As that which, bursting from the Fairy's 

form. 
Spread a purpureal halo round the scene, 
Yet with an undulating motion, 
Swayed to her outline gracefully. 

From her celestial car 

The Fairy Q\ieen descended, 

And thrice she waved her wand 

Circled with wreaths of amaranth; 
Her thin and misty form 
Moved with the moving air, no 

And the clear silver tones. 
As thus she spoke, were such 

As are unheard by all but gifted ear. 

FAIRY 

* Stars ! your balmiest influence shed ! 
Elements ! your wrath suspend ! 
Sleep, Ocean, in the rocky bounds 

That circle thy domain ! 
Let not a breath be seen to stir 
Around yon grass-grown ruin's height ! 
Let even the restless gossamer 120 

Sleep on the moveless air ! 
Soul of lanthe ! thou, 
Judged alone worthy of the envied boon 
That waits the good and the sincere ; that 

waits 
Those who have struggled, and with reso- 
lute will 
Vanquished earth's pride and meanness, 

burst the chains, 
The icy chains of custom, and have shone 
The day - stars of their age ; — Soul of 
lanthe ! 

Awake ! arise ! ' 

Sudden arose 130 

lanthe's Soul; it stood 
All beautiful in naked purity. 
The perfect semblance of its bodily frame ; 
Instinct with inexpressible beauty and 
grace — 



Each stain of earthliness 
Had passed away — it reassumed 
Its native dignity and stood 

Immortal amid ruin. 

Upon the couch the body lay. 

Wrapt in the depth of slumber; 140 

Its features were fixed and meaningless, 
Yet animal life was there. 
And every organ yet performed 
Its natural functions; 'twas a sight 

Of wonder to behold the body and the soul. 
The self-same lineaments, the same 
Marks of identity were there; 

Yet, oh, how different ! One aspires to 
Heaven, 

Pants for its sempiternal heritage. 

And, ever changing, ever rising still, 150 
Wantons in endless being: 

The other, for a time the unwilling sport 

Of circumstance and passion, struggles on; 

Fleets through its sad duration rapidly; 

Then like an useless and worn-out machine. 
Rots, perishes, and passes. 

FAIRY 

* Spirit ! who hast dived so deep; 
Spirit ! who hast soared so high; 
Thou the fearless, thou the mild, 

Accept the boon thy worth hath earned. 
Ascend the car with me ! ' 161 

SPIRIT 

* Do I dream ? Is this new feeling 
But a visioned ghost of slumber ? 

If indeed I am a soul, 
A free, a disembodied soul, 
Speak again to me.' 

FAIRY 

' I am the Fairy Mab: to me 'tis given 
The wonders of the human world to keep; 
The secrets of the immeasurable past, 
In the unfailing consciences of men, 170 
Those stern, unflattering chroniclers, I 

find; 
The future, from the causes which arise 
In each event, I gather; not the sting 
Which retribxitive memory implants 
In the hard bosom of the selfish man. 
Nor that ecstatic and exulting throb 
Which virtue's votary feels when he 

sums up 
The thoughts and actions of a well-spent 

day. 



QUEEN MAB 



Are unforeseen, unregistered by me; 
And it is yet permitted me to rend i8o 
The veil of mortal frailty, that the spirit, 
Clothed in its changeless purity, may 

know 
How soonest to accomplish the great 

end 
For which it hath its being, and may 

taste 
That peace which in the end all life will 

share. 
This is the meed of virtue; happy Soul, 
Ascend the car with me ! ' 

The chains of earth's immurement 

Fell from lanthe's spirit; 
They shrank and brake like bandages of 
straw 190 

Beneath a wakened giant's strength. 

She knew her glorious change, 
And felt in apprehension uncontrolled 

New raptures opening round; 
Each day-dream of her mortal life. 
Each frenzied vision of the slumbers 

That closed each well-spent day. 

Seemed now to meet reality. 
The Fairy and the Soul proceeded; 

The silver clouds disparted; 200 

And as the car of magic they ascended. 

Again the speechless music swelled, 

Again the coursers of the air 
Unfurled their azure pennons, and the 
Queen, 

Shaking the beamy reins, 

Bade them pursue their way. 

The magic car moved on. 
The night was fair, and countless stars 
Studded heaven's dark blue vault; 

Just o'er the eastern wave 210 

Peeped the first faint smile of morn. 

The magic car moved on — 

From the celestial hoofs 
The atmosphere in flaming sparkles flew. 

And where the burning wheels 
Eddied above the mountain'sloftiest peak. 

Was traced a line of lightning. 

Now it flew far above a rock, 

The utmost verge of earth, 219 

The rival of the Andes, whose dark brow 

Lowered o'er the silver sea. 

Far, far below the chariot's path, 
Calm as a slumbering babe, 
Tremendous Ocean lay. 



The mirror of its stillness showed 
The pale and waning stars, 
The chariot's fiery track, 
And the gray light of morn 
Tinging those fleecy clouds 
That canopied the dawn. 



230 



Seemed it that the chariot's way 
Lay through the midst of an immense con- 
cave 
Radiant with million constellations, tinged 
With shades of infinite color, 
And semicircled with a belt 
Flashing incessant meteors. 

The magic car moved on. 
As they approached their goal, 238 

The coursers seemed to gather speed; 
The sea no longer was distinguished; earth 
Appeared a vast and shadowy sphere; 
The sun's unclouded orb 
Rolled through the black concave ; 
Its rays of rapid light 
Parted around the chariot's swifter course. 
And fell, like ocean's feathery spray 

Dashed from the boiling surge 
• Before a vessel's prow. 

The magic car moved on. 
Earth's distant orb appeared 250 

The smallest light that twinkles in thtf 
heaven ; 
Whilst round the chariot's way 
Innumerable systems rolled 
And countless spheres diffused 
An ever-varying glory. 
It was a sight of wonder: some 
Were horned like the crescent moon; 
Some shed a mild and silver beam 
Like Hesperus o'er the western sea; 259 
Some dashed athwart with trains of flame, 
Like worlds to death and ruin driven; 
Some shone like suns, and as the chariot 
passed, 
Eclipsed all other light. 

Spirit of Nature ! here — 
In this interminable wilderness 
Of worlds, at whose immensity 
Even soaring fancy staggers, 
Here is thy fitting temple! 

Yet not the lightest leaf 269 

That quivers to the passing breeze 
Is less instinct with thee; 
Yet not the meanest worm 



QUEEN MAB 



That lurks in graves and fattens on the 

dead, 
Less shares thy eternal breath! 

Spirit of Nature! thou, 
Imperishable as this scene — 

Here is thy fitting temple! 

II 

If solitude hath ever led thy steps 
To the wild ocean's echoing shore, 
And thou hast lingered there, 
Until the sun's broad orb 

Seemed resting on the burnished wave, 
Thou must have marked the lines 

Of purple gold that motionless 
Hung o'er the sinking sphere ; 

Thou must have marked the billowy 
clouds, 

Edged with intolerable radiancy, lo 

Towering like rocks of jet 
Crowned with a diamond wreath; 
And yet there is a moment, 
When the sun's highest point 
Peeps like a star o'er ocean's western edge. 
When those far clouds of feathery gold. 

Shaded with deepest purple, gleam 

Like islands on a dark blue sea; 
Then has thy fancy soared above the earth 
And furled its wearied wing 20 

Within the Fairy's fane. 

Yet not the golden islands 
Gleaming in yon flood of light. 
Nor the feathery curtains 
Stretching o'er the su;i's bright couch, 
Nor the burnished ocean-waves 
Paving that gorgeous dome. 
So fair, so wonderful a sight 
As Mab's ethereal palace could afford. 29 
Yet likest evening's vault, that faery Hall ! 
As Heaven, low resting on the wave, it 
spread 

Its floors of flashing light, 
Its vast and azure dome, 
Its fertile golden islands 
Floating on a silver sea; 
Whilst suns their mingling beamings darted 
Through clouds of circumambient darkness. 
And pearly battlements around 
Looked o'er the immense of Heaven. 



The magic car no longer moved. 
The Fairy and the Spirit 
Entered the Hall of Spells. 
Those golden clouds 



40 



That rolled in glittering billows 
Beneath the azure canopy. 
With the ethereal footsteps trembled not; 

The light and crimson mists. 
Floating to strains of thrilling melody 
Through that unearthly dwelling, 
Yielded to every movement of the will; 50 
Upon their passive swell the Spirit leaned. 
And, for the varied bliss that pressed 
around, 
Used not the glorious privilege 
Of virtue and of wisdom. 

'Spirit!' the Fairy said. 
And pointed to the gorgeous dome, 
' Tins is a wondrous sight 
And mocks all human grandeur; 
But, were it virtue's only meed to dwell 
In a celestial palace, all resigned 60 

To pleasurable impulses, immured 
Within the prison of itself, the will 
Of changeless Nature would be unfulfilled. 
Learn to make others happy. Spirit, come! 
This is thine high reward: — the past shall 

rise; 
Thou shalt behold the present; I will teach 
The secrets of the future.' 

The Fairy and the Spirit 
Approached the overhanging battlement. 
Below lay stretched the universe! 70 
There, far as the remotest line 
That bounds imagination's flight, 

Countless and unending orbs 
In mazy motion intermingled, 
Yet still fulfilled immutably 
Eternal Nature's law. 
Above, below, around, 
The circling systems formed 
A wilderness of harmony; 
Each with undeviating aim, 80 

In eloquent silence, through the depths of 
space 

Pursued its wondrous way. 

There was a little light 
That twinkled in the misty distance. 

None but a spirit's eye 

Might ken that rolling orb. 

None but a spirit's eye. 

And in no other place 
But that celestial dwelling, might behold 
Each action of this earth's inhabitants, gt 

But matter, space, and time, 
In those aerial mansions cease to act; 



QUEEN MAB 



And all-prevailing wisdom, when it reaps 
The harvest of its excellence, o'erbounds 
Those obstacles of which an earthly soul 
Fears to attempt the conquest. 

The Fairy pointed to the earth. 
The Spirit's intellectual eye 
Its kindred beings recognized. 99 

The thronging thousands, to a passing view, 
Seemed like an ant-hill's citizens. 
How wonderful ! that even 
The passions, pnejudices, interests, 
That sway the meanest being — the weak 
touch 

That moves the finest nerve 
And in one human brain 
Causes the faintest thought, becomes a link 
In the great chain of Nature! 

' Behold,' the Fairy cried, 

'Palmyra's ruined palaces! no 

Behold where grandeur frowned! 

Behold where pleasure smiled! 
What now remains ? — the memory 

Of senselessness and shame. 

What is immortal there ? 

Nothing — it stands to tell 

A melancholy tale, to give 

An awful warning; soon 
Oblivion will steal silently 

The remnant of its fame. 120 

Monarchs and conquerors there 
Proud o'er prostrate millions trod — 
The earthquakes of the human race; 
Like them, forgotten when the ruin 

That marks their shock is past. 



' Beside the eternal Nile 
The Pyramids have risen. 
Nile shall pursue his changeless way; 

Those Pyramids shall fall. 
Yea! not a stone shall stand to tell 
The spot whereon they stood; 
Their very site shall be forgotten, 
As is their builder's name! 



130 



* Behold yon sterile spot, 
Where now the wandering Arab's tent 

Flaps in the desert blast! 
There once old Salem's haughty fane 
Reared high to heaven its thousand golden 
domes. 
And in the blushing face of day 

Exposed its shameful glory. 140 

Oh! many a widow, many an orphan cursed 



The building of that fane ; and many a 

father. 
Worn out with toil and slavery, implored 
The poor man's God to sweep it from the 

earth 
And spare his children the detested task 
Of piling stone on stone and poisoning 
The choicest days of life 
To soothe a dotard's vanity. 
There an inhuman and uncultured race 149 
Howled hideous praises to their Demon- 
God; 
They rushed to war, tore from the mother's 

womb 
The unborn child — old age and infancy 
Promiscuous perished; their victorious arms 
Left not a soul to breathe. Oh! they were 

fiends! 
But what was he who taught them that the 

God 
Of Nature and benevolence had given 
A special sanction to the trade of blood? 
His name and theirs are fading, and the 

tales 
Of this barbarian nation, which impos- 
ture 
Recites till terror credits, are pursuing 160 
Itself into forgetfulness. 

* Where Athens, Rome, and Sparta stood, 
There is a moral desert now. 
The mean and miserable huts. 
The yet more wretched palaces, 
Contrasted with those ancient fanes 
Now crumbling to oblivion, — 
The long and lonely colonnades 
Through which the ghost of Freedom 
stalks, — 
Seem like a well-known tune, 170 

Which in some dear scene we have loved 
to hear. 
Remembered now in sadness. 
But, oh ! how much more changed, 
How gloomier is the contrast 
Of human nature there ! 
Where Socrates expired, a tyrant's slave, 
A coward and a fool, spreads death 
around — 
Then, shuddering, meets his own. 
Where Cicero and Antoninus lived, 
A cowled and hypocritical monk 180 

Prays, curses and deceives. 

' Spirit ! ten thousand years 
Have scarcely passed away. 



8 



QUEEN MAB 



Since in the waste, where now the savage 

drinks 
His enemy's blood, and, aping Europe's 
sons, 
Wakes the unholy song of war. 
Arose a stately city, 
Metropolis of the western continent. 

There, now, the mossy column-stone, 
Indented by time's uurelaxing grasp, 190 
Which once appeared to brave 
All, save its country's ruin, — 
There the wide forest scene. 
Rude in the uncultivated loveliness 

Of gardens long run wild, — 
Seems, to the unwilling sojourner whose steps 

Chance in that desert has delayed. 
Thus to have stood since earth was what 
it is. 
Yet once it was the busiest haunt, 199 
Whither, as to a common centre, flocked 
Strangers, and ships, and merchandise ; 
Once peace and freedom blest 
The cultivated plain; 
But wealth, that curse of man, 
Blighted the bud of its prosperity; 
Virtue and wisdom, truth and liberty. 
Fled, to return not, until man shall know 
That they alone can give the bliss 
Worthy a soul that claims 
Itii kindred with eternity. 210 

* There 's not one atom of yon earth 
But once was living man ; 
Nor the minutest drop of rain, 
Tliat hangeth in its thinnest cloud, 
But flowed in human veins; 
And from the burning plains 
Where Libyan monsters yell. 
From the most gloomy glens 
Of Greenland's sunless clime, 
To where the golden fields 220 

Of fertile England spread 
Their harvest to the day. 
Thou canst not find one spot 
Whereon no city stood. 

' How strange is human pride ! 
I tell thee that those living things. 
To whom the fragile blade of grass 

That springeth in the morn 

And perisheth ere noon. 

Is an unbounded world; 230 

I tell thee that those viewless beings, 
Whose mansion is the smallest particle 

Of the impassive atmosphere, 



Think, feel and live like man; 
That their affections and antipathies, 

Like his, produce the laws 

Ruling their moral state; 

And the minutest throb 
That through their frame diffuses 

The slightest, faintest motion, 24s 

Is fixed and indispensable 

As the majestic laws 

That rule yon rolling orbs.' 

The Fairy paused. The Spirit, 
In ecstasy of admiration, felt 
All knowledge of the past revived ; the 
events 
Of old and wondrous times. 
Which dim tradition interruptedly 
Teaches the credulous vulgar, were un- 
folded 
In just perspective to the view; 250 

Yet dim from their infinitude. 
The Spirit seemed to stand 
High on an isolated pinnacle; 
The flood of ages combating below. 
The depth of the unbounded universe 
Above, and all around 
Nature's unchanging harmony. 

Ill 

* Fairy ! ' the Spirit said, 
And on the Queen of Spells 
Fixed her ethereal eyes, 

' I thank thee. Thou hast given 
A boon which I will not resign, and taught 
A lesson not to be unlearned. I know 
The past, and thence I will essay to glean 
A warning for the future, so that man 
May profit by his errors and derive 

Experience from his folly; i« 

For, when the power of imparting joy 
Is equal to the will, the human soul 

Requires no other heaven.' 

MAB 

' Turn thee, surpassing Spirit ! 
Much yet remains unscanned. 
Thou knowest how great is man, 
Thou knowest his imbecility; 
Yet learn thou what he is: 
Yet learn the lofty destiny 
Which restless Time prepares 2a 

For every living soul. 

* Behold a gorgeous palace that amid 
You populous city rears its thousand towers 



QUEEN MAB 



And seems itself a city. Gloomy troops 
Of sentinels in stern and silent ranks 
Encompass it around; the dweller there 
Cannot be free and happy; hearest thou 

not 
The curses of the fatherless, the groans 
Of those who have no friend ? He passes 

on — 
The King, the wearer of a gilded chain 30 
That binds his soul to abjectness, the fool 
Whom courtiers nickname monarch, whilst 

a slave 
Even to the basest appetites — that man 
Heeds not the shriek of penury; he smiles 
At the deep curses which the destitute 
Mutter in secret, and a sullen joy 
Pervades his bloodless heart when thou- 
sands groan 
But for those morsels which his wantonness 
Wastes in unjoyous revelry, to save 
All that they love from famine ; when he 

hears 40 

The tale of horror, to some ready-made 

face 
Of hypocritical assent he turns, 
Smothering the glow of shame, that, spite 

of him, 
Flushes his bloated cheek. 

Now to the meal 
Of silence, grandeur and excess he drags 
His palled unwilling appetite. If gold. 
Gleaming around, and numerous viands 

culled 
From every clime could force the loathing 

sense 
To overcome satiety, — if wealth 
The spring it draws from poisons not, — or 

vice, 50 

Unfeeling, stubborn vice, converteth not 
Its food to deadliest venom ; then that king 
Is happy ; and the peasant who fulfils 
His unforced task, when he returns at even 
And by the blazing fagot meets again 
Her welcome for whom all his toil is sped. 
Tastes not a sweeter meal. 

Behold him now 
Stretched on the gorgeous couch ; his fe- 
vered brain 
Reels dizzily awhile ; but ah ! too soon 
The slumber of intemperance subsides, 60 
And conscience, that undying serpent, calls 
Her venomous brood to their nocturnal 
task. 



Listen ! he speaks ! oh ! mark that frenzied 

eye — 
Oh ! mark that deadly visage I ' 

KING 

* No cessation ! 
Oh ! must this last forever ! Awful death, 
I wish, yet fear to clasp thee ! — Not one 

moment 
Of dreamless sleep ! O dear and blessed 

Peace, 
Why dost thou shroud thy vestal purity 
In penury and dungeons ? Wherefore 

lurkest 
With danger, death, and solitude ; yet 

shun'st 70 

The palace I have built thee ? Sacred 

Peace ! 
Oh, visit me but once, — but pitying shed 
One drop of balm upon my withered soul ! ' 

THE FAIRY 

' Vain man ! that palace is the virtuous 

heart, 
And Peace defileth not her snowy robes 
In such a shed as thine. Hark ! yet he 

mutters ; 
His slumbers are but varied agonies ; 
They prey like scorpions on the springs of 

life. 
There needeth not the hell that bigots 

frame 
To punish those who err ; earth in itself 80 
Contains at once the evil and the cure ; 
And all-sufficing Nature can chastise 
Those who transgress her law ; she only 

knows 
How justly to proportion to the fault 
The punishment it merits. 

Is it strange 
That this poor wretch should pride him in 

his woe ? 
Take pleasure in his abjectness, and hug 
The scorpion that consumes him ? Is it 

strange 
That, placed on a conspicuous throne of 

thorns, 
Grasping an iron sceptre, and immured 90 
Within a splendid prison whose stern 

bounds 
Shut him from all that's good or dear on 

earth. 
His soul asserts not its humanity ? 
That man's mild nature rises not in war 



lO 



QUEEN MAB 



Against a king's employ ? No — 'tis not 

strange. 
He, like the vulgar, thinks, feels, acts, and 

lives 
Just as his father did ; the unconquered 

powers 
Of precedent and custom interpose 
Between a king and virtue. Stranger yet, 
To those who know not Nature nor de- 
duce lOO 

The future from the present, it may seem. 
That not one slave, who suffers from the 

crimes 
Of this unnatural being, not one wretch, 
Whose children famish and whose nuptial 

bed 
Is earth's unpitying bosom, rears an arm 
To dash him from his throne ! 

Those gilded flies 
That, basking in the sunshine of a court. 
Fatten on its corruption ! what are they ? — 
The drones of the community ; they feed 
On the mechanic's labor ; the starved 

hind no 

For them compels the stubborn glebe to 

yield 
Its unshared harvests ; and yon squalid 

form, 
Leaner than fleshless misery, that wastes 
A sunless life in the unwholesome mine. 
Drags out in labor a protracted death 
To glut their grandeur ; many faint with 

toil 
That few may know the cares and woe of 

sloth. 

Whence, thinkest thou, kings and parasites 

arose ? 
Whence that unnatural line of drones who 

heap 
Toil and unvanquishable penury 120 

On those who build their palaces and bring 
Their daily bread ? — From vice, black 

loathsome vice ; 
From rapine, madness, treachery, and 

wrong ; 
From all that genders misery, and makes 
Of earth this thorny wilderness ; from lust, 
Revenge, and murder. — And when reason's 

voice. 
Loud as the voice of Nature, shall have 

waked 
The nations ; and mankind perceive that 

vice 



Is discord, war and misery ; that virtue 
Is peace and happiness and harmony ; 130 
When man's maturer nature shall disdain 
The playthings of its childhood ; — kingly 

glare 
Will lose its power to dazzle ; its authority 
Will silently pass by ; the gorgeous throne 
Shall stand unnoticed in the regal hall. 
Fast falling to decay ; whilst falsehood's 

trade 
Shall be as hateful and unprofitable 
As that of truth is now. 

Where is the fame 

Which the vain-glorious mighty of the earth 

Seek to eternize ? Oh ! the faintest 

sound 140 

From time's light footfall, the minutest 

wave 
That swells the flood of ages, whelms in 

nothing 
The unsubstantial bubble. Ay ! to-day 
Stern is the tyrant's mandate, red the gaze 
That flashes desolation, strong the arm 
That scatters multitudes. To - morrow 

comes ! 
That mandate is a thunder-peal that died 
In ages past ; that gaze, a transient flash 
On which the midnight closed ; and on that 
arm 149 

The worm has made his meal. 

The virtuous man, 
Who, great in his humility as kings 
Are little in their grandeur; he who leads 
Invincibly a life of resolute good 
And stands amid the silent dungeon-depths 
More free and fearless than the trembling 

judge 
Who, clothed in venal power, vainly strove 
To bind the impassive spirit; — when he 

falls, 
His mild eye beams benevolence no more; 
Withered the hand outstretched but to re- 
lieve; 159 
Sunk reason's simple eloquence that rolled 
But to appall the guilty. Yes! the grave 
Hath quenched that eye and death's relent- 
less frost 
Withered that arm ; but the unfading fame 
Which virtue hangs upon its votary's tomb. 
The deathless memory of that man whom 

kings 
Call to their minds and tremble, the re- 
membrance 
With which the ^appy spirit contemplates 



QUEEN MAB 



II 



Its well-spent pilgrimage on earth, 
Shall never pass away. 



169 



* Nature rejects the monarch, not the man; 
The subject, not the citizen; for kings 
And subjects, mutual foes, forever play 
A losing game into each other's hands, 
Whose stakes are vice and misery. The man 
Of virtuous soul commands not, nor obeys. 
Power, like a desolating pestilence. 
Pollutes whate'er it touches; and obedience. 
Bane of all genius, virtue, freedom, truth, 
Makes slaves of men, and of the human 
frame 179 

A mechanized automaton. 

When Nero 
High over flaming Rome with savage joy 
Lowered like a fiend, drank with enrap- 
tured ear 
The shrieks of agonizing death, beheld 
The frightful desolation spread, and felt 
A new-created sense within his soul 
Thrill to the sight and vibrate to the 

sound, — 
Thinkest thou his grandeur had not over- 
come 
The force of human kindness ? And when 

Rome 
With one stern blow hurled not the tyrant 

down, 
Crushed not the arm red with her dearest 
blood, 190 

Had not submissive abjectness destroyed 
Nature's suggestions ? 

Look on yonder earth: 
The golden harvests spring; the unfailing 

sun 
Sheds light and life ; the fruits, the flowers, 

the trees. 
Arise in due succession ; all things speak 
Peace, harmony and love. The universe. 
In Nature's silent eloquence, declares 
That all fulfil the works of love and joy, — 
All but the outcast, Man. He fabricates 
The sword which stabs his peace; he 

cherisheth 200 

The snakes that gnaw his heart; he raiseth 

The tyrant whose delight is in his woe, 
Whose sport is in his agony. Yon sun, 
Lights it the great alone ? Yon silver 

beams, 
Sleep they less sweetly on the cottage thatch 



Than on the dome of kings ? Is mother 

earth 
A step-dame to her numerous sons who earn 
Her unshared gifts with unremitting toil; 
A mother only to those puling babes 209 
Who, nursed iu ease and luxui-y, make men 
The playthings of their babyhood and mar 
In self-important childishness that peace 
Which men alone appreciate ? 

* Spirit of Nature, no ! 

The pure diffusion of thy essence throbs 
Alike in every human heart. 

Thou aye erectest there 
Thy throne of power unappealable; 
Thou art the judge beneath whose nod 
Man's brief and frail authority 22a 

Is powerless as the vsdnd 

That passeth idly by; 
Thine the tribunal which surpasseth 

The show of human justice 

As God surpasses man! 

* Spirit of Nature ! thou 
Life of interminable multitudes; 

Soul of those mighty spheres 
Whose changeless paths through Heaven's 
deep silence lie; 
Soul of that smallest being, 230 

The dwelling of whose life 
Is one faint April sun-gleam ; — 
Man, like these passive things, 
Thy will unconsciously fulfilleth; 

Like theirs, his age of endless peace, 
Which time is fast maturing, 
Will swiftly, surely, come; 
And the unbounded frame which thou per- 
vadest. 
Will be without a flaw 
Marring its perfect symmetry! 



240 



IV 



' How beautiful this night ! the balmiest 

sigh. 
Which vernal zephyrs breathe in evening's 

ear. 
Were discord to the speaking quietude 
That wraps this moveless scene. Heaven's 

ebon vault. 
Studded with stars unutterably bright, 
Through which the moon's unclouded gran- 
deur rolls, 
Seems like a canopy which love had spread 
To curtain her sleeping world. Yon gentle 
hills. 



12 



QUEEN MAB 



Robed in a garment of nutrodflen snow; 9 
Yon darksome rocks, whence icicles depend 
So stainless that their white and glittering 

spires 
Tinge not the moon's pure beam ; yon 

castled steep 
Whose banner hangeth o'er the time-worn 

tower 
So idly that rapt fancy deemeth it 
A metaphor of peace ; — all form a scene 
Where musing solitude might love to lift 
Her soul above this sphere of earthliness; 
Where silence undisturbed might watch 

alone — 
So cold, so bright, so still. 

The orb of day 
In southern climes o'er ocean's waveless 

field 20 

Sinks sweetly smiling ; not the faintest 

breath 
Steals o'er the unruffled deep ; the clouds 

of eve 
Reflect unmoved the lingering beam of day; 
And Vesper's image on the western main 
Is beautifully still. To-morrow comes: 
Cloud upon cloud, in dark and deepening 

mass, 
Roll o'er the blackened waters; the deep 

roar 
Of distant thunder mutters awfully; 
Tempest unfolds its pinion o'er the gloom 
That shrouds the boiling surge ; the pitiless 

fiend, 30 

With all his winds and lightnings, tracks 

his prey; 
The torn deep yawns, — the vessel finds a 

grave 
Beneath its jagged gulf. 

Ah ! whence yon glare 
That fires the arch of heaven ? that dark 

red smoke 
Blotting the silver moon ? The stars are 

quenched 
In darkness, and the pure and spangling 

snow 
Gleams faintly through the gloom that 

gathers round. 
Hark to that roar whose swift and deafen- 
ing peals 
In countless echoes through the mountains 

ring, 
Startling pale Midnight on her starry 

throne ! 40 



Now swells the intermingling din; the jar 
Frequent and frightful of the bursting 

bomb ; 
The falling beam, the shriek, the groan, 

the shout, 
The ceaseless clangor, and the rush of men 
Inebriate with rage: — loud and more loud 
The discord grows; till pale Death shuts 

the scene 
And o'er the conqueror and the conquered 

draws 
His cold and bloody shroud. — Of all the 

men 
Whom day's departing beam saw blooming 

there 
In proud and vigorous health; of all the 

hearts 50 

That beat with anxious life at sunset there; 
How few survive, how few are beating 

now ! 
All is deep silence, like the fearful calm 
That slumbers in the storm's portentous 

pause ; 
Save when the frantic wail of widowed love 
Comes shuddering on the blast, or the faint 

moan 
With which some soul bursts from the 

frame of clay 
Wrapt round its struggling powers. 

The gray morn 
Dawns on the mournful scene; the sulphur- 
ous smoke 
Before the icy wind slow rolls away, 60 

And the bright beams of frosty morning 

dance 
Along the spangling snow. There tracks 

of blood 
Even to the forest's depth, and scattered 

arms, 
And lifeless warriors, whose hard linea- 
ments 
Death's self could change not, mark the 

dreadful path 
Of the outsallying victors; far behind 
Black ashes note where their proud city 

stood. 
Within yon forest is a gloomy glen — 
Each tree which guards its darkness from 
the day, 69 

Waves o'er a warrior's tomb. 

I see thee shrink, 
Surpassing Spirit ! — wert thou human 
else? 



QUEEN MAB 



13 



I see a shade of doubt aud horror fleet 

Across thy stainless features; yet fear not; 

This is no unconnected misery, 

Nor stands uncaused and irretrievable. 

Man's evil nature, that apology 

Which kings who rule, and cowards who 

crouch, set up 
For their unnumbered crimes, sheds not 

the blood 
Which desolates the discord-wasted land. 
From kings and priests and statesmen war 

arose, 80 

Whose safety is man's deep unbettered 

woe. 
Whose grandeur his debasement. Let the 

axe 
Strike at the root, the poison-tree will fall; 
And where its venoraed exhalations spread 
Ruin, and death, and woe, where millions 

lay 
Quenching the serpent's famine, and their 

bones 
Bleaching unburied in the putrid blast, 
A garden shall arise, in loveliness 
Surpassing fabled Eden. 

Hath Nature's soul, — 
That formed this world so beautiful, that 

spread 90 

Earth's lap with plenty, and life's smallest 

chord 
Strung to unchanging unison, that gave 
The happy birds their dwelling in the 

grove. 
That yielded to the wanderers of the deep 
The lovely silence of the unfathomed main, 
And filled the meanest worm that crawls in 

dust 
W^ith spirit, thought and love, — on Man 

alone. 
Partial in causeless malice, wantonly 
Heaped ruin, vice, and slavery; his soul 99 
Blasted with withering curses; placed afar 
The meteor-happiness, that shuns his grasp, 
But serving on the frightful gulf to glare 
Rent wide beneath his footsteps ? 

Nature ! — no ! 

Kings, priests and statesmen blast the hu- 
man flower 

Even in its tender bud; their influence 
darts 

Like subtle poison through the bloodless 
veins 

Of desolate society. The child. 



Ere he can lisp his mother's sacred name, 
Swells with the unnatural pride of crime, 

and lifts 
His baby-sword even in a hero's mood, no 
This infant arm becomes the bloodiest 

scourge 
Of devastated earth ; whilst specious names. 
Learnt in soft childhood's unsuspecting 

hour, 
Serve as the sophisms v/ith which manhood 

dims 
Bright reason's ray and sanctifies the sword 
Upraised to shed a brother's innocent 

blood. 
Let priest-led slaves cease to proclaim that 

man 
Inherits vice and misery, when force 
And falsehood hang even o'er the cradled 

babe, irg 

Stifling with rudest grasp all natural good. 

* Ah ! to the stranger-soul, when first it 

peeps 
From its new tenement and looks abroad 
For happiness and sympathy, how stern 
And desolate a tract is this wide world ! 
How withered all the buds of natural good ! 
No shade, no shelter from the sweeping 

storms 
Of pitiless power ! On its wretched frame 
Poisoned, perchance, by the disease and 

woe 
Heaped on the wretched parent whence it 

sprung 129 

By morals, law and custom, the pure winds 
Of heaven, that renovate the insect tribes. 
May breathe not. The untainting light of 

day 
May visit not its longings. It is bound 
Ere it has life; yea, all the chains are 

forged 
Long ere its being; all liberty and love 
And peace is torn from its defencelessness; 
Cursed from its birth, even from its cradle 

doomed 
To abjectness and bondage ! 

* Throughout this varied and eternal world 
Soul is the only element, the block 140 
That for uncounted ages has remained. 
The moveless pillar of a mountain's weight 
Is active living spirit. Every grain 

Is sentient both in unity and part, 

And the minutest atom comprehends 

A world of loves and hatreds; these begef 



14 



QUEEN MAB 



Evil and good; hence truth and falsehood 

spring; 
Hence will and thought and action, all the 

germs 
Of pain or pleasure, sympathy or hate. 
That variegate the eternal universe. 150 
Soul is not more polluted than the beams 
Of heaven's pure orb ere round their rapid 

lines 
The taint of earth-born atmospheres arise. 

* Man is of soul and body, formed for deeds 
Of high resolve; on fancy's boldest wing 
To soar unwearied, fearlessly to turn 
The keenest pangs to peacefulness, and 

taste 
The joys which mingled sense and spirit 

yield; 
Or he is formed for abjectness and woe. 
To grovel on the dunghill of his fears, 160 
To shrink at every sound, to quench the 

flame 
Of natural love in sensualism, to know 
That hour as blest when on his worthless 

days 
The frozen hand of death shall set its seal. 
Yet fear the cure, though hating the disease. 
The one is man that shall hereafter be; 
The other, man as vice has made him now. 

' War is the statesman's game, the priest's 

delight, 
The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade. 
And to those royal murderers whose mean 

thrones 170 

Are bought by crimes of treachery and gore. 
The bread they eat, the staff on which they 

lean. 
Guards, garbed in blood-red livery, sur- 
round 
Their palaces, participate the crimes 
That force defends and from a nation's rage 
Secures the crown, which all the curses 

reach 
That famine, frenzy, woe and penury 

breathe. 
These are the hired bravos who defend 
The tyrant's throne — the bullies of his fear; 
These are the sinks and channels of worst 

vice, 180 

The refuse of society, the dregs 
Of all that is most vile; their cold hearts 

blend 
Deceit with sternness, ignorance with pride. 
All that is mean and villainous with rage 



Which hopelessness of good and self-con- 
tempt 
Alone might kindle; they are decked in 

wealth. 
Honor and power, then are sent abroad 
To do their work. The pestilence that 

stalks 
In gloomy triumph through some eastern 
land 189 

Is less destroying. They cajole with gold 
And promises of fame the thoughtless youth 
Already crushed with servitude; he knows 
His wretchedness too late, and cherishes 
Repentance for his ruin, when his doom 
Is sealed in gold and blood ! 
Those too the tyrant serve, who, skilled to 

snare 
The feet of justice in the toils of law. 
Stand ready to oppress the weaker still, 
And right or wrong will vindicate for gold, 
Sneering at public virtue, which beneath 
Their pitiless tread lies torn and trampled 
where 201 

Honor sits smiling at the sale of truth. ^ 

* Then grave and hoary-headed hypocrites, 
Without a hope, a passion or a love. 
Who through a life of luxury and lies 
Have crept by flattery to the seats of power, 
Support the system whence their honors 

flow. 
They have three words — well tyrants know 

their use. 
Well pay them for the loan with usury 
Torn from a bleeding world ! — God, Hell 

and Heaven: 210 

A vengeful, pitiless, and almighty fiend, 
Whose mercy is a nickname for the rage 
Of tameless tigers hungering for blood; 
Hell, a red gulf of everlasting fire, 
Where poisonous and undying worms pro- 
long 
Eternal misery to those hapless slaves 
Whose life has been a penance for its 

crimes; 
And Heaven, a meed for those who dare 

belie 
Their human nature, quake, believe and 

cringe /T 

Before the mockeiies of earthly power. 220 

'These tools the tyrant tempers to his 
work. 

Wields in his wrath, and as he wills de- 
stroys, 



QUEEN MAB 



15 



Omnipotent in wickedness; the while 
Youth springs, age moulders, manhood 

tamely does 
His bidding, bribed by short-lived joys to 

lend 
Force to the weakness of his trembling 

arm. 
They rise, they fall; one generation comes 
Yielding its harvest to destruction's scythe. 
It fades, another blossoms; yet behold ! 
Red glows the tyrant's stamp-mark on its 

bloom, 230 

Withering and cankering deep its passive 

prime. 
He has invented lying words and modes. 
Empty and vain as his own coreless heart; 
Evasive meanings, nothings of much sound, 
To lure the heedless victim to the toils 
Spread round the valley of its paradise. 

'Look to thyself, priest, conqueror or 



prince 



Whether thy trade is falsehood, and thy 

lusts 
Deep wallow in the earnings of the poor. 
With whom thy master was; or thou de- 

light'st 240 

In numbering o'er the myriads of thy slain. 
All misery weighing nothing in the scale 
Against thy short-lived fame; or thou dost 

load 
With cowardice and crime the groaning 

land, 
A pomp-fed king. Look to thy wretched 

self! 
Ay, art thou not the veriest slave that e'er 
Crawled on the loathing earth ? Are not 

thy days 
Days of unsatisfying listlessness ? 
Dost thou not cry, ere night's long rack is 

o'er, 
" When will the morning come ? " Is not 

thy youth 250 

A vain and feverish dream of sensualism ? 
Thy manhood blighted with unripe disease ? 
Are not thy views of unregretted death 
Drear, comfortless and horrible ? Thy 

mind. 
Is it not morbid as thy nerveless frame, 
Incapable of judgment, hope or love ? 
And dost thou wish the errors to survive, 
That bar thee from all sympathies of good. 
After the miserable interest 
Thou hold'st in their protraction ? When 

the grave 260 



Has swallowed up thy memory and thyself, 
Dost thou desire the bane that poisons 

earth 
To twine its roots around thy coffined clay, 
Spring from thy bones, and blossom on thy 

tomb. 
That of its fruit thy babes may eat and 

die? 



* Thus do the generations of the earth 
Go to the grave and issue from the womb, 
Surviving still the imperishable change 
That renovates the world ; even as the 

leaves 
Which the keen frost-wind of the waning 

year 
Has scattered on the forest-soil and heaped 
For many seasons there — though long they 

choke. 
Loading with loathsome rottenness the land, 
All germs of promise, yet when the tall 

trees 
From which they fell, shorn of their lovely 

shapes, jo 

Lie level with the earth to moulder there, 
They fertilize the land they long deformed; 
Till from the breathing lawn a forest 

springs 
Of youth, integrity and loveliness. 
Like that which gave it life, to spring and 

die. 
Thus suicidal selfishness, that blights 
The fairest feelings of the opening heart, 
Is destined to decay, whilst from the soil 
Shall spring all virtue, all delight, all love, 
And judgment cease to wage unnatural 

war 20 

With passion's unsubduable array. 
Twin-sister of Religion, Selfishness ! 
Rival in crime and falsehood, aping all 
The wanton horrors of her bloody play J 
Yet frozen, unimpassioned, spiritless, 
Shunning the light, and owning not its 

name. 
Compelled by its deformity to screen 
With flimsy veil of justice and of right 
Its unattractive lineaments that scare 
All save the brood of ignorance; at once 30 
The cause and the effect of tyranny; 
Unblushing, hardened, sensual and vile; 
Dead to all love but of its abjectness; 
With heart impassive by more noble powers 
Than unshared pleasure, sordid gain, 01 

fame; 



i6 



QUEEN MAB 



Despising its own miserable being, 
Which still it longs, yet fears, to disen- 
thrall. 

* Hence commerce springs, the venal inter- 

change 
Of all that human art or Nature yield ; 
Which wealth should purchase not, but 
want demand, 4° 

And natural kindness hasten to supply 
From the full fountain of its boundless 

love, 
Forever stifled, drained and tainted now. 
Commerce ! beneath whose poison-breath- 
ing shade 
No solitary virtue dares to spring, 
But poverty and wealth with equal hand 
Scatter their withering curses, and unfold 
The doors of premature and violent death 
To pining famine and full-fed disease, 
To all that shares the lot of human life, 50 
Which, poisoned body and soul, scarce 

drags the chain 
That lengthens as it goes and clanks be- 
hind. 

* Commerce has set the mark of selfishness. 
The signet of its all-enslaving power, 
Upon a shining ore, and called it gold ; 
Before whose image bow the vulgar great. 
The vainly rich, the miserable proud, 

The mob of peasants, nobles, priests and 

kings, 
And with blind feelings reverence the 

power 
That grinds them to the dust of misery. 60 
But in the temple of their hireling hearts 
Gold is a living god and rules in scorn 
All earthly things but virtue. 

* Since tyrants by the sale of human life 
Heap luxuries to their sensualism, and 

fame 
To their wide-wasting and insatiate pride. 
Success has sanctioned to a credulous world 
The ruin, the disgrace, the woe of war. 
His hosts of blind and unresisting dupes 
The despot numbers ; from his cabinet 70 
These puppets of his schemes he moves at 

will, 
Even as the slaves by force or famine 

driven. 
Beneath a vulgar master, to perform 
A task of cold and brutal drudgery ; — 
Hardened to hope, insensible to fear, 



Scarce living pulleys of a dead machine. 
Mere wheels of work and articles of trade, 
That grace the proud and noisy pomp of 
wealth ! 

' The harmony and happiness of man 
Yields to the wealth of nations; that which 
lifts 80 

His nature to the heaven of its pride. 
Is bartered for the poison of his soul; 
The weight that drags to earth his tower- 
ing hopes. 
Blighting all prospect but of selfish gain, 
Withering all passion but of slavish fear. 
Extinguishing all free and generous love 
Of enterprise and daring, even the pulse 
That fancy kindles in the beating heart 
To mingle with sensation, it destroys, — 
Leaves nothing but the sordid lust of 
self, 90 

The grovelling hope of interest and gold, 
Unqualified, unmingled, unredeemed 
Even by hypocrisy. 

And statesmen boast 
Of wealth ! The wordy eloquence that 

lives 
After the ruin of their hearts, can gild 
The bitter poison of a nation's woe ; 
Can turn the worship of the servile mob 
To their corrupt and glaring idol, fame, 
From virtue, trampled b}' its iron tread, — 
Although its dazzling pedestal be raised 100 
Amid the horrors of a limb-strewn field. 
With desolated dwellings smoking round. 
The man of ease, who, by his warm fire- 
side. 
To deeds of charitable intercourse 
And bare fulfilment of the common laws 
Of decency and prejudice confines 
The struggling nature of his human heart. 
Is duped by their cold sophistry; he sheds 
A passing tear perchance upon the wreck 
Of earthly peace, when near his dwelling's 

door no 

The frightful waves are driven, — when his 

son 
Is murdered by the tyrant, or religion 
Drives his wife raving mad. But the poor 

man 
Whose life is misery, and fear and care; 
Whom the morn wakens but to fruitless 

toil; 
Who ever hears his famished offspriag's 

scream ; 



QUEEN MAB 



17 



Whom their pale mother's uncomplaining 

gaze 
Forever meets, and the proud rich man's 

eye 
Flashing command, and the heart-breaking 

scene 
Of thousands like himself ; — he little heeds 
The rhetoric of tyranny ; his hate 121 

Is quenchless as his wrongs ; he laughs to 

scorn 
The vain and bitter mockery of words, 
Feeling the horror of the tyrant's deeds. 
And unrestrained but by the arm of power. 
That knows and dreads his enmity. 

' The iron rod of penury still compels 
Her wretched slave to bow the knee to 

wealth, 
And poison, with unprofitable toil, 
A life too void of solace to confirm 130 

The very chains that bind him to his doom. 
Nature, impartial in munificence, 
Has gifted man with all-subduing will. 
Matter, with all its transitory shapes, 
Lies subjected and plastic at his feet, 
That, weak from bondage, tremble as they 

tread. 
How many a rustic Milton has passed by, 
Stifling the speechless longings of his heart. 
In unremitting drudgery and care ! 
How many a vulgar Cato has compelled 140 
His energies, no longer tameless then, 
To mould a pin or fabricate a nail ! 
How many a Newton, to whose passive ken 
Those mighty spheres that gem infinity 
Were only specks of tinsel fixed in heaven 
To light the midnights of his native town ! 

* Yet every heart contains perfection's 

germ. 
The wisest of the sages of the earth, 
That ever from the stores of reason drew 
Science and truth, and virtue's dreadless 

tone, 150 

Were but a weak and inexperienced boy, 
Proud, sensual, unimpassioned, unimbued 
With pure desire and universal love, 
Compared to that high being, of cloudless 

brain, 
Untainted passion, elevated will. 
Which death (who even would linger long 

in awe 
Within his noble presence and beneath 
His changeless eye-beam) might alone sub- 

due- 



Him, every slave now dragging through 

the filth 
Of some corrupted city his sad life, i6a 
Pining with famine, swoln with luxury, 
Blunting the keenness of his spiritual sense 
With narrow schemings and unworthy 

cares. 
Or madly rushing through all violent crime 
To move the deep stagnation of his soul, — 
Might imitate and equal. 

But mean lust 
Has bound its chains so tight about the 

earth 
That all within it but the virtuous man 
Is venal ; gold or fame will surely reach 
The price prefixed by Selfishness to all 170 
But him of resolute and unchanging will ; 
Whom nor the plaudits of a servile crowd, 
Nor the vile joys of tainting luxury, 
Can bribe to yield his elevated soul 
To Tyranny or Falsehood, though they 

wield 
With blood-red hand the sceptre of the 

world. 

' All things are sold : the very light of 

heaven 
Is venal ; earth's unsparing gifts of love. 
The smallest and most despicable things 
That lurk in the abysses of the deep, 180 
All objects of our life, even life itself, 
And the poor pittance which the laws al- 
low 
Of liberty, the fellowship of man. 
Those duties which his heart of human love 
Should urge him to perform instinctively. 
Are bought and sold as in a public mart 
Of undisguising Selfishness, that sets 
On each its price, the stamp-mark of hei 

reigUo 
Even love is sold ; the solace of all woe 
Is turned to deadliest agony, old age 190 
Shivers in selfish beauty's loathing arms, 
And youth's corrupted impulses prepare 
A life of horror from the blighting bane 
Of commerce ; whilst the pestilence that 

springs 
From unen joying sensualism, has filled 
All human life with hydra-headed woes. 

* Falsehood demands but gold to pay the 

pangs 
Of outraged conscience; for the slavish 

priest 



i8 



QUEEN MAB 



Sets no great value on his hireling faith ; 
A little passing pomp, some servile 

souls, 200 

Whom cowardice itself might safely chain 
Or the spare mite of avarice could bribe 
To deck the triumph of their languid zeal, 
Can make him minister to tyranny. 
More daring crime requires a loftier meed. 
Without a shudder the slave-soldier lends 
His arm to murderous deeds, and steels his 

heart, 
When the dread eloquence of dying men. 
Low mingling on the lonely field of fame. 
Assails that nature whose applause he 

sells 210 

For the gross blessings of the patriot mob. 
For the vile gratitude of heartless kings, 
And for a cold world's good word, — viler 

still ! 

* There is a nobler glory which survives 
Until our being fades, and, solacing 

All human care, accompanies its change; 
Deserts not virtue in the dungeon's gloom. 
And in the precincts of the palace guides 
Its footsteps through that labyrinth of 

crime ; 
Imbues his lineaments with dauntless- 

ness, 220 

Even when from power's avenging hand he 

takes 
Its sweetest, last and noblest title — death ; 
— The consciousness of good, which neither 

gold, 
Nor sordid fame, nor hope of heavenly 

bliss, 
Can purchase ; but a life of resolute good, 
Unalterable will, quenchless desire 
Of universal happiness, the heart 
That beats with it in unison, the brain 
Whose ever-wakeful wisdom toils to change 
Reason's rich stores for its eternal weal. 230 

* This commerce of sincerest virtue needs 
No meditative signs of selfishness. 

No jealous intercourse of wretched gain. 
No balancings of prudence, cold and long ; 
In just and equal measure all is weighed, 
One scale contains the sum of human weal. 
And one, the good man's heart. 

How vainly seek 
The selfish for that happiness denied 
To aught but virtue ! Blind and hardened, 
they, 



Who hope for peace amid the storms of 

care, 240 

Who covet power they know not how to 

use, 
And sigh for pleasure they refuse to give, — 
Madly they frustrate still their own de- 
signs; 
And, where they hope that quiet to en- 

Which virtue pictures, bitterness of soul, 
Pining regrets, and vain repentances. 
Disease, disgust and lassitude pervade 
Their valueless and miserable lives. 

' But hoary-headed selfishness has felt 

Its death-blow and is tottering to the 

grave; 250 

A brighter morn awaits the human day. 
When every transfer of earth's natural 

gifts 
Shall be a commerce of good words and 

works ; 
When poverty and wealth, the thirst of 

fame, 
The fear of infamy, disease and woe. 
War with its million horrors, and fierce 

hell. 
Shall live but in the memory of time. 
Who, like a penitent libertine, shall start. 
Look back, and shudder at his younger 

years.' 

VI 

All touch, all eye, all ear, 
The Spirit felt the Fairy's burning speech. 

O'er the thin texture of its frame 
The varying periods painted changing 
glows, 

As on a summer even, 
When soul-enfolding music floats around, 
The stainless mirror of the lake 
Re-images the eastern gloom, 
Mingling convulsively its purple hues 

With sunset's burnished gold. 10 
Then thus the Spirit spoke : 
' It is a wild and miserable world ! 
Thorny, and full of care, 
Which every fiend can make his prey at 
will! 
O Fairy ! in the lapse of years, 
Is tliere no hope in store ? 
Will yon vast suns roll on 
Interminably, still illuming 
The night of so many wretched souls, 
And see no hope for them ? 20 



QUEEN MAB 



19 



Will not the universal Spirit e'er 
Revivify this withered limb of Heaven ? ' 

The Fairy calmly smiled 
In comfort, and a kindling gleam of hope 

Suffused the Spirit's lineaments. 
•Oh ! rest thee tranquil; chase those fear- 
ful doubts 
Which ne'er could rack an everlasting soul 
That sees the chains which bind it to its 

doom. 
Yee ! crime and misery are in yonder earth, 
Falsehood, mistake and lust; 30 
But the eternal world 
Contains at once the evil and the cure. 
Some eminent in virtue shall start up, 

Even in perversest time; 
The truths of their pure lips, that never 

die, 
Shall bind the scorpion falsehood with a 
wreath 

Of ever-living flame, 
Until the monster sting itself to death. 

* How sweet a scene will earth become ! 
Of purest spirits a pure dwelling-place, 40 
Symphonious with the planetary spheres; 
When man, with changeless Nature coa- 
lescing, 
Will undertake regeneration's work. 
When its ungenial poles no longer point 
To the red and baleful sun 
That faintly twinkles there ! 

* Spirit, on yonder earth, 
Falsehood now triumphs; deadly power 
Has fixed its seal upon the lip of truth ! 

Madness and misery are there ! 50 

The happiest is most wretched ! Yet con- 
fide 
Until pure health-drops from the cup of 

. joy 

Fall like a dew of balm upon the world. 
Now, to the scene I show, in silence turn. 
And read the blood-stained charter of all 

woe. 
Which Nature soon with recreating hand 
Will blot in mercy from the book of earth. 
How bold the flight of passion's wandering 

wing. 
How swift the step of reason's firmer tread. 
How calm and sweet the victories of life. 
How terrorlesB the triumph of the grave ! 
How powerless were the mightiest mon- 
arch's arm, 62 



Vain his loud threat, and impotent his 

frown ! 
How ludicrous the priest's dogmatic roar I 
The weight of his exterminating curse 
How light ! and his affected charity, 
To suit the pressure of the changing times. 
What palpable deceit ! — but for thy aid, 
Religion ! but for thee, prolific fiend. 
Who peoplest earth with demons, hell with 

men, 70 

And heaven with slaves ! 

* Thou faintest all thou lookest upon ! — 

the stars. 
Which on thy cradle beamed so brightly 

sweet, 
Were gods to the distempered playfulness 
Of thy untutored infancy; the trees. 
The grass, the clouds, the mountains and the 

sea. 
All living things that walk, swim, creep or 

fly, 

W^ere gods; the sun had homage, and the 

moon 
Her worshipper. Then thou becamest, a 

boy, 79 

More daring in thy frenzies; every shape, 
Monstrous or vast, or beautifully wild. 
Which from sensation's relics fancy culls; 
The spirits of the air, the shuddering ghost, 
The genii of the elements, the powers 
That give a shape to Nature's varied 

works. 
Had life and place in the corrupt belief 
Of thy blind heart; yet still thy youthful 

hands 
Were pure of human blood. Then man- 
hood gave 
Its strength and ardor to thy frenzied 

brain ; 
Thine eager gaze scanned the stupendous 

scene, 9a 

Whose wonders mocked the knowledge of 

thy pride; 
Their everlasting and unchanging laws 
Reproached thine ignorance. Awhile thou 

stood'st 
Baffled and gloomy; then thou didst sum 

up 
The elements of all that thou didst know; 
The changing seasons, winter's leaflesg 

reign. 
The budding of the heaven-breathing trees, 
The eternal orbs that beautify the night. 
The sunrise, and the setting of the moon. 



20 



QUEEN MAB 



Earthquakes and wars, and poisons and 

disease, loo 

And all their causes, to an abstract point 
Converging thou didst bend, and called it 

God! 
The self-sufficing, the omnipotent, 
The merciful, and the avenging God ! 
Who, prototype of human misrule, sits 
High in heaven's realm, upon a golden 

throne, 
Even like an earthly king; and whose dread 

work, 
Hell, gapes forever for the unhappy slaves 
Of fate, whom he created in his sport 
To triumph in their torments when they 

fell! 
Earth heard the name; earth trembled as 

the smoke 
Of his revenge ascended up to heaven. 
Blotting the constellations; and the cries 
Of millions butchered in sweet confidence 
And unsuspecting peace, even when the 

bonds 
Of safety were confirmed by wordy oaths 
Sworn in his dreadful name, rung through 

the land; 
Whilst innocent babes writhed on thy stub- 
born spear, 
And thou didst laugh to hear the mother's 

shriek 
Of maniac gladness, as the sacred steel 120 
Felt cold in her torn entrails ! 

* Religion ! thou wert then in manhood's 

prime ; 
But age crept on; one God would not suf- 
fice 
For senile puerility; thou framedst 
A tale to suit thy dotage and to glut 
Thy misery-thirsting soul, that the mad 

fiend 
Thy wickedness had pictured might afford 
A plea for sating the unnatural thirst 
For murder, rapine, violence and crime, 129 
That still consumed thy being, even when 
Thou heard'st the step of fate; that flames 

might light 
Thy funeral scene; and the shrill horrent 

shrieks 
Of parents dying on the pile that burned 
To light their children to thy paths, the roar 
Of the encircling flames, the exulting cries 
Of thine apostles loud commingling there. 
Might sate thine hungry ear 
Even on the bed of death ! 



' But now contempt is mocking thy gray 

hairs; 
Thou art descending to the darksome 

grave, 14a 

Unhonored and unpitied but by those 
Whose pride is passing by like thine, and 

sheds, 
Like thine, a glare that fades before the 

sun 
Of truth, and shines but in the dreadful 

night 
That long has lowered above the ruined 

world. 

' Throughout these infinite orbs of mingling 

light 
Of which yon earth is one, is wide diffused 
A Spirit of activity and life, 
That knows no term, cessation or decay; 
That fades not when the lamp of earthly 
life, 15a 

Extinguished in the dampness of the grave, 
Awhile there slumbers, more than when 

the babe 
In the dim newness of its being feels 
The impulses of sublunary things. 
And all is wonder to unpractised sense; 
But, active, steadfast and eternal, still 
Guides the fierce whirlwind, in the tempest 

roars, 
Cheers in the day, breathes in the balmy 

groves. 
Strengthens in health, and poisons in dis- 
ease; 
And in the storm of change, that cease- 
lessly 160 
Bolls round the eternal universe and shakes 
Its undecaying battlement, presides. 
Apportioning with irresistible law 
The place each spring of its machine shall 

fill; 
So that, when waves on waves tumultuous 

heap 
Confusion to the clouds, and fiercely driven 
Heaven's lightnings scorch the uprooted 

ocean-fords — 
Whilst, to the eye of shipwrecked mariner, 
Lone sitting on the bare and shuddering 

rock. 
All seems unlinked contingency and 
chance — 170 

No atom of this tnrbulence fulfils 
A vague and unnecessitated task 
Or acts but as it must and ought to act. 
Jiven the minutest molecule of light^ 



QUEEN MAB 



21 



That in an April sunbeam's fleeting glow 
Fulfils its destined though invisible work, 
The universal Spirit guides; nor less 
When merciless ambition, or mad zeal, 
Has led two hosts of dupes to battle-field, 
That, blind, they there may dig each other's 

graves 180 

And call the sad work glory, does it rule 
All passions; not a thought, a will, an 

act. 
No working of the tyrant's moody mind, 
Nor one misgiving of the slaves who boast 
Their servitude to hide the shame they 

feel. 
Nor the events enchaining every will. 
That from the depths of unrecorded time 
Have drawn all-influencing virtue, pass 
Unrecognized or unforeseen by thee. 
Soul of the Universe ! eternal spring 190 
Of life and death, of happiness and woe. 
Of all that chequers the phantasmal scene 
That floats before our eyes in wavering 

light. 
Which gleams but on the darkness of our 

prison 
Whose chains and massy walls 
We feel but cannot see. 

* Spirit of Nature ! all-sufficing Power, 
Necessity ! thou mother of the world ! 
Unlike the God of human error, thou 
Requirest no prayers or praises; the ca- 
price 200 
Of man's weak will belongs no more to 

thee 
Than do the changeful passions of his 

breast 
To thy unvarying harmony; the slave, 
Whose horrible lusts spread misery o'er 

the world. 
And the good man, who lifts with virtuous 

pride 
His being in the sight of happiness 
That springs from his own works; the 

poison-tree, 
Beneath whose shade all life is withered 

up, 
And the fair oak, whose leafy dome affords 
A temple where the vows of happy love 210 
Are registered, are equal in thy sight; 
No love, no hate thou cherishest; revenge 
And favoritism, and worst desire of fame 
Thou knowest not; all that the wide world 

contains 
Are but thy passive instruments, and thou 



Regard'st them all with an impartial eye, 
Whose joy or pain thy nature cannot feel, 
Because thou hast not human sense, 
Because thou art not human mind. 

' Yes ! when the sweeping storm of 

time 220 

Has sung its death-dirge o'er the ruined 

fanes 
And broken altars of the almighty fiend, 
Whose name usurps thy honors, and the 

blood 
Through centuries clotted there has floated 

down 
The tainted flood of ages, shalt thou live 
Unchangeable! A shrine is raised to thee, 
Which nor the tempest breath of time, 
Nor the interminable flood 
Over earth's slight pageant rolling, 

Availeth to destroy, — 230 

The sensitive extension of the world; 

That wondrous and eternal fane. 
Where pain and pleasure, good and evil 

join, 
To do the will of strong necessity. 

And life, in multitudinous shapes, 
Still pressing forward where no term can be. 

Like hungry and unresting flame 
Curls round the eternal columns of its 
strength.' 

VII 
SPIRIT 

' I was an infant when ray mother went 

To see an atheist burned. She took me 
there. 

The dark-robed priests were met around 
the pile; 

The multitude was gazing silently; 

And as the culprit passed with dauntless 
mien. 

Tempered disdain in his unaltering eye. 

Mixed with a quiet smile, shone calmly 
forth ; 

The thirsty fire crept round his manly 
limbs; 

His resolute eyes were scorched to blind- 
ness soon; 

His death-pang rent my heart! the insen- 
sate mob la 

Uttered a cry of triumph, and I wept 

" Weep not, child! " cried my mother, "for 
that man 

Has said. There is no God." ' 



22 



QUEEN MAB 



FAIRY 

* There is no God ! 
Nature confirms tlie faith his death-groan 

sealed. 
Let heaven and earth, let man's revolving 

race, 
His ceaseless generations, tell their tale ; 
liCt every part depending on the chain 
That links it to the whole, point to the 

hand 
That grasps its term! Let every seed that 

falls 
In silent eloquence unfold its store 20 

Of argument; infinity within. 
Infinity without, belie creation; 
The exterminable spirit it contains 
Is Nature's only God; but human pride 
Is skilful to invent most serious names 
To hide its ignorance. 

' The name of God 
Has fenced about all crime with holiness, 
Himself the creature of his worshippers, 
AVhose names and attributes and passions 
change, 29 

Seeva, Buddh, Fob, Jehovah, God, or Lord, 
Even with the human dupes who build his 

shrines. 
Still serving o'er the war-polluted world 
For desolation's watchword; whether hosts 
Stain his death-blushing chariot-wheels, as 

on 
Triumphantly they roll, whilst Brahmins 

raise 
A sacred hymn to mingle with the groans; 
Or countless partners of his power divide 
His tyranny to weakness; or the smoke 
Of burning towns, the cries of female help- 
lessness, 39 
Unarmed old age, and youth, and infancy. 
Horribly massacred, ascend to heaven 
In honor of his name ; or, last and woriit, 
Earth groans beneath religion's iron age. 
And priests dare babble of a God of peace. 
Even whilst their hands are red with guilt- 
less blood. 
Murdering the while, uprooting every germ 
Of truth, exterminating, spoiling all, 
Making the earth a slaughter-house! 

* O Spirit ! through the sense 
By which thy inner nature was apprised 50 
Of outward shows, vague dreams have 

rolled. 
And varied reminiscences have waked 



Tablets that never fade; 
All things have been imprinted there, 
The stars, the sea, the earth, the sky, 
Even the unshapeliest lineaments 
Of wild and fleeting visions 

Have left a record there 

To testify of earth. 

' These are my empire, for to me is given 6a 
The wonders of the human world to keep, 
And fancy's thin creations to endow 
With manner, being and reality; 
Therefore a wondrous phantom from the 

dreams 
Of human error's dense and purblind faith 
I will evoke, to meet thy questioning. 
Ahasuerus, rise ! ' 

A strange and woe-worn wight 
Arose beside the battlement. 

And stood unmoving there. 70 
His inessential figure cast no shade 

Upon the golden floor; 
His port and mien bore mark of many 

years, 
And chronicles of untold ancientness 
Were legible within his beamless eye; 

Yet his cheek bore the mark of youth; 
Freshness and vigor knit his manly frame; 
The wisdom of old age was mingled there 
With youth's primeval dauntlessness; 
And inexpressible woe, 8<» 

Chastened by fearless resignation, gave 
An awful grace to his all-speaking brow. 

SPIRIT 

* Is there a God ? ' 

AHASUERUS 

' Is there a God! — ay, an almighty God, 
And vengeful as almighty! Once his voice 
Was heard on earth; earth shuddered at 

the sound; 
The fiery-visaged firmament expressed 
Abhorrence, and the grave of Nature 

yawned 
To swallow all the dauntless and the good 
That dared to hurl defiance at his throne, 
Girt as it was with power. None but 

slaves 91 

Survived, — cold-blooded slaves, who did 

the work 
Of tyrannous omnipotence; whose soulii 
No honest indignation ever urged 
To elevated daring, to one deed 



QUEEN MAB 



23 



Which gross and sensual self did not pol- 
lute. 
These slaves built temples for the omnipo- 
tent fiend, 
Gorgeous and vast; the costly altars smoked 
With human blood, and hideous paeans rung 
Through all the long-drawn aisles. A mur- 
derer heard 100 
His voice in Egypt, one whose gifts and arts 
Had raised him to his eminence in power, 
Accomplice of omnipotence in crime 
And confidant of the all-knowing one. 
These were Jehovah's words. 

' " From an eternity of idleness 

I, God, awoke ; in seven days' toil made 

earth 
From nothing; rested, and created man; 
I placed him in a paradise, and there 
Planted the tree of evil, so that he no 

Might eat and perish, and my soul procure 
Wherewith to sate its malice and to turn, 
Even like a heartless conqueror of the 

earth, 
All misery to my fame. The race of men. 
Chosen to my honor, with impunity 
May sate the lusts I planted in their heart. 
Here I command thee hence to lead them 

on, 
Until with hardened feet their conquering 

troops 
Wade on the promised soil through wo- 
man's blood. 
And make my name be dreaded through 

the land. 120 

Yet ever-burning flame and ceaseless woe 
Shall be the doom of their eternal souls. 
With every soul on this ungrateful earth, 
Virtuous or vicious, weak or strong, — 

even all 
Shall perish, to fulfil the blind revenge 
(Which you, to men, call justice) of their 

God." 

* The murderer's brow 
Quivered with horror. 

* ** God omnipotent. 
Is there no mercy ? must our punishment 
Be endless ? will long ages roll away, 130 
And see no term ? Oh ! wherefore hast 

thou made 
In mockery and wrath this evil earth ? 
Mercy becomes the powerful — be but just ! 
God ! repent and save ! " 



* " One way remains: 
I will beget a son and he shall bear 
The sins of all the world; he shall arise 
In an unnoticed corner of the earth. 
And there shall die upon a cross, and purge 
The universal crime; so that the few 
On whom my grace descends, those who are 

marked 14a 

As vessels to the honor of their God, 
May credit this strange sacrifice and save 
Their souls alive. Millions shall live and 

die. 
Who ne'er shall call upon their Saviour's 

name. 
But, unredeemed, go to the gaping grave, 
Thousands shall deem it an old woman's 

tale. 
Such as the nurses frighten babes withal; 
These in a gulf of anguish and of flame 
Shall curse their reprobation endlessly. 
Yet tenfold pangs shall force them to 



avow. 



150 



Even on their beds of torment where they 

howl. 
My honor and the justice of their doom. 
What then avail their virtuous deeds, their 

thoughts 
Of purity, with radiant genius bright 
Or lit with human reason's earthly ray ? 
Many are called, but few will I elect. 
Do thou my bidding, Moses ! " 

* Even the murderer's cheek 
Was blanched with horror, and his quiver 

ing lips 
Scarce faintly uttered — " O almighty one, 
I tremble and obey ! " 160 

* O Spirit ! centuries have set their seal 
On this heart of many wounds, and loaded 

brain. 
Since the Incarnate came ; humbly he came, 
Veiling his horrible Godhead in the shape 
Of man, scorned by the world, iiis name 

unheard 
Save by the rabble of his native town. 
Even as a parish demagogue. He led 
The crowd ; he taught them justice, truth 

and peace, 
In semblance ; but he lit within their souls 
The quenchless flames of zeal, and blessed 

the sword 170 

He brought on earth to satiate with the 

blood 
Of truth and freedom his malignant soul. 



24 



QUEEN MAB 



At lengrth his mortal frame was led to 

death. 
I stood beside him ; on the torturing cross 
No pain assailed his unterrestrial sense; 
And yet he groaned. Indignantly I summed 
The massacres and miseries which his name 
Had sanctioned in my country, and I cried, 
" Go ! go ! " in mockei-y. 
A smile of godlike malice reillumined i8o 
His fading lineaments. " I go," he cried, 
" But thou shalt wander o'er the unquiet 

earth 
Eternally." The dampness of the grave 
Bathed my imperishable front. I fell. 
And long lay tranced upon the charmed 

soil. 
When I awoke hell burned within my brain 
Which staggered on its seat; for all around 
The mouldering relics of my kindred lay, 
Even as the Almighty's ire arrested them. 
And in their various attitudes of death 190 
My murdered children's mute and eyeless 

skulls 
Glared ghastily upon me. 

But my soul, 
From sight and sense of the polluting woe 
Of tyranny, had long learned to prefer 
Hell's freedom to the servitude of heaven. 
Therefore I rose, and dauntlessly began 
My lonely and unending pilgrimage. 
Resolved to wage unweariable war 
With my almighty tyrant and to hurl 
Defiance at his impotence to harm 200 

Beyond the curse I bore. The very hand. 
That barred my passage to the peaceful 

grave. 
Has crushed the earth to misery, and given 
Its empire to the chosen of his slaves. 
These I have seen, even from the earliest 

dawn 
Of weak, unstable and precarious power. 
Then preaching peace, as now they practise 

war; 
So, when they turned but from the mas- 
sacre 
Of unoffending infidels to quench 
Their thirst for ruin in the very blood 210 
That flowed in their own veins, and pitiless 

zeal 
Froze every human feeling as the wife 
Sheathed in her husband's heart the sacred 

steel, 
Even whilst its hopes were dreaming of her 

love; 



And friends to friends, brothers to brothers 

stood 
Opposed in bloodiest battle-field, and war, 
Scarce satiable by fate's last death-draught, 

waged, 
Drunk from the wine-press of the Al- 
mighty's wrath; 
Whilst the red cross, in mockery of peace, 
Pointed to victory! When the fray was 
done, 220 

No remnant of the exterminated faith 
Svirvived to tell its ruin, but the flesh, 
With putrid smoke poisoning the atmo- 
sphere, 
That rotted on the half-extinguished pile. 

' Yes ! I have seen God's worshippers un- 
sheathe 

The sword of his revenge, when grace de- 
scended. 

Confirming all unnatural impulses. 

To sanctify their desolating deeds; 

And frantic priests waved the ill-omened 
cross 

O'er the unhappy earth ; then shone the 
sun 230 

On showers of gore from the upflashing 
steel 

Of safe assassination, and all crime 

Made stingless by the spirits of the Locd, 

And blood-red rainbows canopied the land. 

' Spirit! no year of my eventful being 
Has passed unstained by crime and misery. 
Which flows from God's own faith. I 've 

marked his slaves 
With tongues, whose lies are venomous, 

beguile 
The insensate mob, and, whilst one hand 

was red 239 

With murder, feign to stretch the other out 
For brotherhood and peace; and that they 

now 
Babble of love and mercy, whilst their deeds 
Are marked with all the narrowness and 

crime 
That freedom's young arm dare not yet 

chastise. 
Reason may claim our gratitude, who now, 
Establishing the imperishable throne 
Of truth and stubborn virtue, maketh vain 
The unprevailing malice of my foe, 
Whose bootless rage heaps torments for the 

brave. 
Adds impotent eternities to pain, 250 



QUEEN MAB 



25 



Whilst keenest disappointment racks his 

breast 
To see the smiles of peace around them 

play, 
To frustrate or to sanctify their doom. 

* Thus have I stood, — through a wild waste 

of years 
Struggling with whirlwinds of mad agony, 
Yet peaceful, and serene, and self-en- 
shrined, 
Mocking my powerless tyrant's horrible 

curse 
With stubborn and unalterable will, 
Even as a giant oak, which heaven's fierce 

flame 
Had scathed in the wilderness, to stand 260 
A monument of fadeless ruin there ; 
Yet peacefully and movelessly it braves 
The midnight conflict of the wintry storm. 
As in the sunlight's calm it spreads 
Its worn and withered arms on high 
To meet the quiet of a summer's noon.' 

The Fairy waved her wand; 
Ahasuerus fled 

Fast as the shapes of mingled shade and 
mist, 269 

That lurk in the glens of a twilight grove, 
Flee from the morning beam; — 
The matter of which dreams are made 
Not more endowed with actual life 
Than this phantasmal portraiture 
Of wandering human thought. 

VIII 
THE FAIRY 

* The present and the past thou hast beheld. 
It was a desolate sight. Now, Spirit, learn, 

The secrets of the future. — Time! 
Unfold the brooding pinion of thy gloom. 
Render thou up thy half-devoured babes. 
And from the cradles of eternity. 
Where millions lie lulled to their portioned 

sleep 
By the deep murmuring stream of passing 

things, 
Tear thou that gloomy shroud. — Spirit, 

behold 
Thy glorious destiny!' 10 

Joy to the Spirit came. 
Through the wide rent in Time's eternal 
veil. 



Hope was seen beaming through the mists 
of fear; 
Earth was no longer bell; 
Love, freedom, health had given 
Their ripeness to the manhood of its prime, 

And all its pulses beat 
Symphonious to the planetary spheres; 

Then dulcet music swelled ig 

Concordant with the life-strings of the soul; 
It throbbed in sweet and languid beatings 

there. 
Catching new life from transitory death; 
Like the vague sighings of a wind at even 
That wakes the wavelets of the slumbering 

sea 
And dies on the creation of its breath, 
And sinks and rises, falls and swells by 
fits. 
Was the pure stream of feeling 
That sprung from these sweet notes. 
And o'er the Spirit's human sympsithies 29 
With mild and gentle motion calmly flowed. 

Joy to the Spirit came, — 

Such joy as when a lover sees 

The chosen of his soul in happiness 

And witnesses her peace 
Whose woe to him were bitterer than death; 

Sees her nnfaded cheek 
Glow mantling in first luxury of health, 

Thrills with her lovely eyes. 
Which like two stars amid the heaving 
main 

Sparkle through liquid bliss. 40 

Then in her triumph spoke the Fairy Queen 

* I will not call the ghost of ages gone 

To unfold the frightful secrets of its 

lore; 
The present now is past. 
And those events that desolate the earth 
Have faded from the memory of Time, 
Who dares not give reality to that 
Whose being I annul. To me is given 
The wonders of the human world to keep, 
Space, matter, time and mind. Futurity 50 
Exposes now its treasure; let the sight 
Renew and strengthen all thy failing hope. 
O human Spirit! spur thee to the goal 
Where virtue fixes universal peace, 
And, 'midst the ebb and flow of human 

things. 
Show somewhat stable, somewhat certain 

still, 
A light-house o'er the wild of dreary waves. 



26 



QUEEN MAB 



* The habitable earth is full of bliss ; 
Those wastes of frozen billows that were 

hurled 
By everlasting snow-storms round the 
poles, 60 

Where matter dared not vegetate or live, 
But ceaseless frost round the vast solitude 
Bound its broad zone of stillness, are un- 
loosed; 
And fragrant zephyrs there from spicy 

isles 
Ruffle the placid ocean-deep, that rolls 
Its broad, bright surges to the sloping sand. 
Whose roar is wakened into echoings sweet 
To murmur through the heaven-breathing 

groves 
And melodize with man's blest nature 
there. 

• Those deserts of immeasurable sand, 70 
Whose age-collected fervors scarce allowed 
A bird to live, a blade of grass to spring. 
Where the shrill chirp of the green lizard's 

love 
Broke on the sultry silentness alone, 
Now teem with countless rills and shady 

woods, 
Cornfields and pastures and white cottages ; 
And w^here the startled wilderness beheld 
A savage conqueror stained in kindr\ad 

blood, 
A tigress sating with the flesh of lambs 
The unnatural famine of her toothless 
cubs, 80 

Whilst shouts and bowlings through the 

desert rang, — 
Sloping and smooth the daisy-spangled 

lawn, 
Offering sweet incense to the sunrise, smiles 
To see a babe before his mother's door, 
Sharing his morning's meal 
With the green and golden basilisk 
That comes to lick his feet. 

' Those trackless deeps, where many a weary 
sail 

Has seen above the illimitable plain 

Morning on night and night on morning 
rise, 90 

Whilst still no land to greet the wanderer 
spread 

its shadowy mountains on the sun-bright 
sea. 

Where the loud roarings of the tempest- 
waves 



So long have mingled with the gusty wind 
In melancholy loneliness, and swept 
The desert of those ocean solitudes 
But vocal to the sea-bird's harrowing shriek, 
The bellowing monster, and the rushing 

storm ; 
Now to the sweet and many - mingling 

sounds 
Of kindliest human impulses respond. 100 
Those lonely realms bright garden-isles 

begem, 
With lightsome clouds and shining seas 

between. 
And fertile valleys, resonant with bliss. 
Whilst green woods overcanopy the wave, 
Which like a toil-worn laborer leaps to 

shore 
To meet the kisses of the flowrets there. 

' All things are recreated, and the flame 
Of consentaneous love inspires all life. 
The fertile bosom of the earth gives suck 
To myriads, who still grow beneath her 

care, no 

Rewarding her with their pure perfectness; 
The balmy breathings of the wind inhale 
Her virtues and diffuse them all abroad; 
Health floats amid the gentle atmosphere, 
Glows in the fruits and mantles on the 

stream ; 
No storms deform the beaming brow of 

heaven. 
Nor scatter in the freshness of its pride 
The foliage of the ever- verdant trees; 
But fruits are ever ripe, flowers ever fair. 
And autumn proudly bears her matron 

grace, 120 

Kindling a flush on the fair cheek of spring, 
Whose virgin bloom beneath the ruddy 

fruit 
Reflects its tint and blushes into love. 

' The lion now forgets to thirst for blood ; 

There might you see him sporting in the 
sun 

Beside the dreadless kid; his claws are 
sheathed. 

His teeth are harmless, custom's force has 
made 

His nature as the nature of a lamb. 

Like passion's fruit, the nightshade's tempt- 
ing bane 

Poisons no more the pleasure it be- 
stows ; i3« 

All bitterness is past; the cup of joy 



QUEEN MAB 



27 



Unraingled mantles to the goblet's brim 
Aud courts the thirsty lips it fled before. 

But chief, ambiguous man, he that can 

know 
More misery, and dream more joy than 

all; 
Whose keen sensations thrill within his 

breast 
To mingle with a loftier instinct there, 
Lending their power to pleasure and to 

pain, 
Yet raising, sharpening, and refining each; 
Who stands amid the ever-varying world. 
The burden or the glory of the earth; 141 
He chief perceives the change; his being 

notes 
The gradual renovation and defines 
Each movement of its progress on his 

mind. 

* Man, where the gloom of the long polar 

night 
Lowers o'er the snow -clad rocks and 

frozen soil, 
Where scarce the hardiest herb that braves 

the frost 
Basks in the moonlight's ineffectual glow, 
Shrank with the plants, and darkened with 

the night; 
His chilled and narrow energies, his 

heart 150 

Insensible to courage, truth or love, 
His stunted stature and imbecile frame. 
Marked him for some abortion of the earth, 
Fit compeer of the bears that roamed 

around. 
Whose habits and enjoyments were his 

own; 
His life a feverish dream of stagnant woe, 
Whose meagre wants, but scantily ful- 
filled. 
Apprised him ever of the joyless length 
Which his short being's wretchedness had 

reached ; 
His death a pang which famine, cold and 

toil 160 

Long on the mind, whilst yet the vital 

spark 
Clung to the body stubbornly, had brought: 
All was inflicted here that earth's revenge 
Could wreak on the infringers of her law; 
One curse alone was spared — the name of 

God. 



* Nor, where the trooics bound the realms 

of day 
With a broad belt of mingling cloud and 

flame. 
Where blue mists through the unmoving 

atmosphere 
Scattered the seeds of pestilence and fed 
Unnatural vegetation, where the land 170 
Teemed with all earthquake, tempest and 

disease, 
Was man a nobler being; slavery 
Had crushed him to his country's blood- 
stained dust; 
Or he was bartered for the fame of power, 
Which, all internal impulses destroying, 
Makes human will an article of trade; 
Or he was changed with Christians for their 

gold 
And dragged to distant isles, where to the 

sound 
Of the flesh-mangling scourge he does the 

work 
Of all-polluting luxury and wealth, 180 

Which doubly visits on the tyrants' heads 
The long-protracted fulness of their woe; 
Or he was led to legal butchery. 
To turn to worms beneath that burning sun 
Where kings first leagued against the rights 

of men 
And priests first traded with the name of 

God. 

* Even where the milder zone afforded man 
A seeming shelter, yet contagion there. 
Blighting his being with unnumbered ills. 
Spread like a quenchless fire ; nor truth till 

late I go 

Availed to arrest its progress or create 
That peace which first in bloodless victory 

waved 
Her snowy standard o'er this favored clime; 
There man was long the train-bearer of 

sl^-ves, 
The mimic of surrounding misery, 
The jackal of ambition's lion-rage. 
The bloodhound of religion's hungry zeal. 

* Here now the human being stands adorn- 

ing 

This loveliest earth with taintless body and 
mind ; 

Blest from his birth with all bland im- 
pulses, ioa 

Which gently in his noble bosom wake 



28 



QUEEN MAB 



All kindly passions and all pure desires. 
Him, still from hope to hope the bliss pur- 
suing 
Which from the exhaustless store of human 



weal 
Draws on the virtuous mind, the thoughts 

that rise 
In time-destroying infiniteness gift 
With self-enshrined eternity, that mocks 
The unprevailing hoariness of age; 
And man, once fleeting o'er the transient 

scene 
Swift as an unremembered vision, stands 210 
Immortal upon earth ; no longer now 
He slays the lamb that looks him in the 

face. 
And horribly devours his mangled flesh. 
Which, still avenging Nature's broken 

law. 
Kindled all putrid humors in his frame, 
All evil passions and all vain belief. 
Hatred, despair and loathing in his mind, 
The germs of misery, death, disease and 

crime. 
No longer now the winged habitants. 
That in the woods their sweet lives sing 

away, 220 

Flee from the form of man ; but gather 

round. 
And prune their sunny feathers on the 

hands 
Which little children stretch in friendly 

sport 
Towards these dreadless partners of their 

play. 
All things are void of terror; man has 

lost 
His terrible prerogative, and stands 
An equal amidst equals; happiness 
And science dawn, though late, upon the 

earth; 
Peace cheers the mind, health renovates 

the frame; 229 

Disease and pleasure cease to mingle here, 
Reason and passion cease to combat there; 
Whilst each unfettered o'er the earth ex- 
tend 
Their all-subduing energies, and wield 
The sceptre of a vast dominion there; 
Whilst every shape and mode of matter 

lends 
Its force to the omnipotence of mind. 
Which from its dark mine drags the gem 

of truth 
To decorate its paradise of peace.* 



IX 

* O happy Earth, reality of Heaven! 

To which those restless souls that cease" 

lessly 
Throng through the human universe, aspireJ 
Thou consummation of all mortal hope! 
Thou glorious prize of blindly working will, 
Whose rays, dijjfused throughout all space 

and time. 
Verge to one point and blend forever there! 
Of purest spirits thou pure dwelling-place 
Where care and sorrow, impotence and 

crime. 
Languor, disease and ignorance dare not 

come! 10 

O happy Earth, reality of Heaven! 

'Genius has seen thee in her passionate 

dreams; 
And dim forebodings of thy loveliness. 
Haunting the human heart, have there en- 
twined 
Those rooted hopes of some sweet place of 

bliss, 
Where friends and lovers meet to part no 

more. 
Thou art the end of all desire and will. 
The product of all action; and the souls, 
That by the paths of an aspiring change ig 
Have reached thy haven of perpetual peace, 
There rest from the eternity of toil 
That framed the fabric of thy perfectness, 

' Even Time, the conqueror, fled thee in his 

fear; 
That hoary giant, who in lonely pride 
So long had ruled the world that nations 

fell 
Beneath his silent footstep. Pyramids, 
That for millenniums had withstood the tide 
Of human things, his storm-breath drove in 

sand 
Across that desert where their stones sur- 
vived 
The name of him whose pride had heaped 

them there. 3a 

Yon monarch, in his solitary pomp. 
Was but the mushroom of a summer day, 
That his light-wiugM footstep pressed to 

dust ; 
Time was the king of earth ; all things gave 

way 
Before him but the fixed and virtuous will, 
The sacred sympathies of soul and sense, 
That mocked his fury and prepared his fall 



QUEEN MAB 



29 



'Yet slow and gradual dawned the morn of 
love; 

Long lay the clouds of darkness o'er the 
scene, 

Till from its native heaven they rolled 
away : 40 

First, crime triumphant o'er all hope ca- 
reered 

Unblushing, undisguising, bold and strong. 

Whilst falsehood, tricked in virtue's attri- 
butes, 

Long sanctified all deeds of vice and woe, 

Till, done by her own venomous sting to 
death. 

She left the moral world without a law. 

No longer fettering passion's fearless wing, 

Nor searing reason with the brand of God. 

Then steadily the happy ferment worked; 

Reason was free; and wild though passion 
went 50 

Through tangled glens and wood-embos- 
omed meads. 

Gathering a garland of the strangest flow- 
ers. 

Yet, like the bee returning to her queen. 

She bound the sweetest on her sister's brow, 

Who meek and sober kissed the sportive 
child. 

No longer trembling at the broken rod. 

' Mild was the slow necessity of death. 
The tranquil spirit failed beneath its grasp. 
Without a groan, almost without a fear. 
Calm as a voyager to some distant land, 60 
And full of wonder, full of hope as he. 
The deadly germs of languor and disease 
Died in the human frame, and purity 
Blessed with all gifts her earthly worship- 
pers. 
How vigorous then the athletic form of 



age 



How clear its open and unwrinkled brow ! 
Where neither avarice, cunning, pride or 

care 
Had stamped the seal of gray deformity 
On all the mingling lineaments of time. 
How lovely the intrepid front of youth, 70 
Which meek-eyed courage decked with 

freshest grace; 
Courage of soul, that dreaded not a name, 
And elevated will, tl^at journeyed on 
Through life's phantasmal scene in fear- 
lessness, 
With virtue, love and pleasure, hand in 
hand ! 



' Then, that sweet bondage which is free^ 

dom's self, 
And rivets with sensation's softest tie 
The kindred sympathies of human souls, 
Needed no fetters of tyrannic law. 
Those delicate and timid impulses 8a 

In Nature's primal modesty arose, 
And with undoubting confidence disclosed 
The growing longings of its dawning love, 
Unchecked by dull and selfish chastity, 
That virtue of the cheaply virtuous, 
W^ho pride themselves in senselessness and 

frost. 
No longer prostitution's venomed bane 
Poisoned the springs of happiness and 

life; 
Woman and man, in confidence and love, 
Equal and free and pure together trod 90 
The mountain - paths of virtue, which no 

more 
Were stained with blood from many a pil' 

grim's feet. 

' Then, where, through distant ages, long 

in pride 
The palace of the monarch - slave had 

mocked 
Famine's faint groan and penury's silent 

tear, 
A heap of crumbling ruins stood, and 

thre w 
Year after year their stones upon the field, 
Wakening a lonely echo; and the leaves 
Of the old thorn, that on the topmost tower 
Usurped the royal ensign's grandeur, shook 
In the stern storm that swayed the topmost 
tower, loi 

And whispered strange tales in the whirl- 
wind's ear. 

* Low through the lone cathedral's roofless 

aisles 
The melancholy winds a death-dirge sung. 
It were a sight of awfulness to see 
The works of faith and slavery, so vast. 
So sumptuous, yet so perishing withal, 
Even as the corpse that rests beneath its 

wall ! 
A thousand mourners deck the pomp of 

death 109 

To-day, the breathing marble glows above 
To decorate its memory, and tongues 
Are busy of its life; to-morrow, worms 
In silence and in darkness seize then 

prey. 



30 



QUEEN MAB 



* Within the massy prison's mouldering 

courts, 
Fearless and free the ruddy children played, 
Weaving gay chaplets for their innocent 

brows 
With the green ivy and the red wall-flower 
That mock the dungeon's unavailing gloom; 
The ponderous chains and gratings of 

strong iron 119 

There rusted amid heaps of broken stone 
That mingled slowly with their native 

earth ; 
There the broad beam of day, which feebly 

once 
Lighted the cheek of lean captivity 
With a pale and sickly glare, then freely 

shone 
On the pure smiles of infant playfulness; 
No more the shuddering voice of hoarse 

despair 
Pealed through the echoing vaults, but 

soothing notes 
Of ivy-fingered winds and gladsome birds 
And merriment were resonant around. 129 

' These ruins soon left not a wreck behind ; 

Their elements, wide-scattered o'er the 
globe, 

To happier shapes were moulded, and be- 
came 

Ministrant to all blissful impulses; 

Thus human things were perfected, and 
earth, 

Even as a child beneath its mother's love. 

Was strengthened in all excellence, and 
grew 

Fairer and nobler with each passing year. 

' Now Time his dusky pennons o'er the 
scene 

Closes in steadfast darkness, and the past 

Fades from our charmed sight. My task 
is done; 140 

Thy lore is learned. Earth's wonders are 
thine own 

With all the fear and all the hope they 
bring. 

My spells are passed ; the present now re- 
curs. 

Ah me ! a pathless wilderness remains 

Yet unsubdued by man's reclaiming hand. 

* Yet, human Spirit ! bravely hold thy 

course ; 
Let virtue teach thee firmly to pursue 



The gradual paths of an aspiring change; 
For birth and life and death, and that 

strange state 149 

Before the naked soul has found its home, 
All tend to perfect happiness, and urge 
The restless wheels of being on their 

way. 
Whose flashing spokes, instinct with infi- 
nite life. 
Bicker and burn to gain their destined 

goal; 
For birth but wakes the spirit to the sense 
Of outward shows, whose unexperienced 

shape 
New modes of passion to its frame may 

lend; 
Life is its state of action, and the store 
Of all events is aggregated there 
That variegate the eternal universe; 160 
Death is a gate of dreariness and gloom. 
That leads to azure isles and beaming 

skies 
And happy regions of eternal hope. 
Therefore, O Spirit ! fearlessly bear on. 
Though storms may break the primrose on 

its stalk, 
Though frosts may blight the freshness of 

its bloom. 
Yet spring's awakening breath will woo 

the earth 
To feed with kindliest dews its favorite 

flower. 
That blooms in mossy bank and darksome 

glens, 
Lighting the greenwood with its sunny 

smile. 170 

* Fear not then. Spirit, death's disrobing 

hand. 
So welcome when the tyrant is awake, 
So welcome when the bigot's hell-torch 

burns; 
'T is but the voyage of a darksome hour, 
The transient gulf-dream of a startling 

sleep. 
Death is no foe to virtue; earth has seen 
Love's brightest roses on the scaffold bloom, 
Mingling with freedom's fadeless laurels 

there. 
And presaging the truth of visioned bliss. 
Are there not hopes within thee, which this 

scene 180 

Of linked and gradual being has confirmed ? 
Whose stingings bade thy heart look further 

still. 



ALASTOR 



31 



When, to the moonlight walk by Henry led, 
Sweetly and sadly thou didst talk of death ? 
And wilt thou rudely tear them from thy 

breast, 
Listening supinely to a bigot's creed, 
Or tamely crouching to the tyrant's rod. 
Whose iron thongs are red with human 

gore ? 
Never : but bravely bearing on, thy will 
Is destined an eternal war to wage 190 

With tyranny and falsehood, and uproot 
The germs of misery from the human heart. 
Thine is the hand whose piety would soothe 
The thorny pillow of unhappy crime. 
Whose impotence an easy pardon gains. 
Watching its wanderings as a friend's dis- 
ease ; 
Thine is the brow whose mildness would 

defy 
Its fiercest rage, and brave its sternest 

will, 
When fenced by power and master of the 

world. 
Thou art sincere and good ; of resolute 
mind, 200 

Free from heart-withering custom's cold 

control, 
Of passion lofty, pure and unsubdued. 
Earth's pride and meanness could not van- 
quish thee. 
And therefore art thou worthy of the boon 
Which thou hast now received ; virtue shall 

keep 
Thy footsteps in the path that thou hast 

trod. 
And many days of beaming hope shall bless 
Thy spotless life of sweet and sacred love. 
Go, happy one, and give that bosom joy. 
Whose sleepless spirit waits to catch 210 
Light, life and rapture from thy smile ! ' 



ap- 



The Fairy waves her wand of charm. 
Speechless with bliss the Spirit mounts the 
car, 
That rolled beside the battlement, 
Bending her beamy eyes in thankfulness. 
Again the enchanted steeds were yoked ; 
Again the burning wheels inflame 
The steep descent of heaven's mitrodden 
way. 
Fast and far the chariot flew; 
The vast and fiery globes that rolled 330 
Around the Fairy's palace-gate 
Lessened by slow degrees, and soon 

peared 

Such tiny twinklers as the planet orbs 
That there attendant on the solar power 
With borrowed light pursued their nar- 
rower way. 

Earth floated then below; 
The chariot paused a moment there; 
The Spirit then descended; 
The restless coursers pawed the ungenial 

soil. 
Snuffed the gross air, and then, their errand 
done, 230 

Unfurled their pinions to the winds of 
heaven. 

The Body and the Soul united then. 
A gentle start convulsed lanthe's frame; 
Her veiny eyelids quietly unclosed; 
Moveless awhile the dark blue orbs re- 
mained. 
She looked around in wonder, and beheld 
Henry, who kneeled in silence by her couch, 
Watching her sleep with looks of speech- 
less love, 
And the bright beaming stars 
That through the casement shone. 240 



ALASTOR 

OR 

THE SPIRIT OF SOLITUDE 

Nondum amabam, et amare amabam, 
quaerebam quid amarem, amans amare. 

Confess. St. August. 



Alastor was published nearly three years 
after the issue of Queen Mab, in 1816, in a thin 
volume with a few other poems. It is strongly 
opposed to the earlier poem, and beg-ins that 
geries of ideal portraits, — in the main, incar- 



nations of Shelley's own aspiring" and raelan- 
choly spirit, — which contain his personal charm 
and shadow forth his own history of isolation 
in the world ; they are interpretations of the 
hero rather than pronunciamentos of the cause. 



32 



ALASTOR 



and are free from the entanglements of politi- 
cal and social reform and religious strife. The 
poetical antecedents of Alastor are Wordsworth 
and Coleridge. The deepening of the poet's self- 
consciousness is evident in every line, and the 
growth of his genius in grace and strength, in 
the element of expression, is so marked as to give 
a different cadence to his verse. He composed 
the poem in the autumn of 1815, when he was 
twentj^-three years old and after the earlier 
misfortunes of his life had befallen him. Mrs. 
Shelley's account of the poem is the best, and 
nothing has since been added to it : 

' Alastor is written in a very different tone 
from Queen Mab. In the latter, Shelley poured 
out all the cherished speculations of his youth 
— all the irrepressible emotions of sympathy, 
censure, and hope, to which the present suffer- 
ing, and what he considers the proper destiny 
of his fellow - creatures, gave birth. Alastor, 
on the contrary, contains an individual interest 
only. A very few years, with their attendant 
events, had checked the ardor of Shelley's 
hopes, though he still thought them well- 
grounded, and that to advance their fulfilment 
was the noblest task man could achieve. 

' This is neither the time nor place to speak 
of the misfortunes that checkered his life. It 
will be sufficient to say, that in all he did, he 
at the time of doing it believed himself justi- 
fied to his own conscience ; while the various 
ills of poverty and loss of friends brought home 
to him the sad realities of life. Physical suf- 
fering had also considerable influence in caus- 
ing him to turn his eyes inward ; inclining him 
rather to brood over the thoughts and emotions 
of his own soul, than to glance abroad, and to 
make, as in Queen Mab, the whole universe the 
object and subject of his song. In the spring 
of 1815, an eminent physician pronounced that 
he was dying rapidly of a consumption ; ab- 
scesses were formed on his lungs, and he suf- 
fered acute spasms. Suddenly a complete 
change took place ; and though through life he 
was a martyr to pain and debility, every symp- 
tom of pulmonary disease vanished. His nerves, 
which nature had formed sensitive to an unex- 
ampled degree, were rendered still more suscep- 
tible by the state of his health. 

' As soon as the peace of 1814 had opened 
the Continent, he went abroad. He visited 
some of the more magnificent scenes of Swit- 
zerland, and returned to England from Lucerne 
by the Reuss and the Rhine. This river-navi- 
gation enchanted him. In his favorite poem 
of Thalaba his imagination had been excited 
by a description of such a voyage. In the 
summer of 1815, after a tour along the south- 
ern coast of Devonshire and a visit to Clifton, 
he rented a house on Bishopgate Heath, on the 
borders of Windsor Forest, where he enjoyed 



several months of comparative health and tran- 
quil happiness. The later summer months 
were warm and dry. Accompanied by a few 
friends, he visited the source of the Thames, 
making a voyage in a wherry from Windsor to 
Crichlade. His beautiful stanzas in the church- 
yard of Lechlade were written on that occa- 
sion. Alastor was composed on his return. He 
spent his days under the oak-shades of Wind- 
sor Great Park ; and the magnificent woodland 
was a fitting study to inspire the various de- 
scriptions of forest scenery we find in the 
poem. 

' None of Shelley's poems is more character- 
istic than this. The solemn spirit that reigns 
throughout, the worship of the majesty of 
nature, the broodings of a poet's heart in soli- 
tude — the mingling of the exulting joy which 
the various aspect of the visible universe in- 
spires, with the sad and struggling pangs which 
human passion imparts, give a touching interest 
to the whole. The death which he had often 
contemplated during the last months as certain 
and near, he here represented in such colors as 
had, in his lonely musings, soothed his soul to 
peace. The versification sustains the solemn 
spirit which breathes throughout : it is pecu- 
liarly melodious. The poem ought rather to 
be considered didactic than narrative : it was 
the outpouring of his own emotions, embodied 
in the purest form he could conceive, painted 
in the ideal hues which his brilliant imagina- 
tion inspired, and softened by the recent antici- 
pation of death.' 

Peacock explains the title : ' At this time 
Shelley wrote his Alastor. He was at a loss 
for a title, and I proposed that which he 
adopted : Alastor ; or, the Spirit of Solitude. 
The Greek word, ''Axdarwp, is an evil genius, 
KaKodaificov, though the sense of the two words 
is somewhat different, as in the Pavels 'AAaCTtw/j 
f] KuKos Saljucov TTodev of ^schylus. The poem 
treated the spirit of solitude as a spirit of evil. 
I mention the true meaning of the word because 
many have supposed Alastor to be the name of 
the hero of the poem.' 

In his Preface Shelley thus describes the main 
character, and draws its moral: 

' The poem entitled Alastor may be con- 
sidered as allegorical of one of the most inter- 
esting situations of the human mind. It re- 
presents a youth of uncorrupted feelings and 
adventurous genius led forth by an imagination 
inflamed and purified through familiarity with 
all that is excellent and majestic to the con- 
templation of the universe. He drinks deep 
of the fountains of knowledge and is still in- 
satiate. The magnificence and beauty of the 
external world sinks profoundly into the frame 
of his conceptions and affords to their modifi- 
cations a variety not to be exhausted. So long 



ALASTOR 



33 



as it is possible for his desires to point towards 
objects thus infinite and unmeasured, he is 
joyous and tranquil and self-possessed. But 
the period arrives when these objects cease 
to suffice. His mind is at length suddenly 
awakened and thirsts for intercourse with an 
intellig'ence similar to itself. He imag-es to 
himself the Being whom he loves. Conversant 
with speculations of the sublimest and most 
perfect natures, the vision in which he em- 
bodies his own imaginations unites all of won- 
derful or wise or beautiful, which the poet, 
the philosopher or the lover could depicture. 
The intellectual faculties, the imagination, 
the functions of sense have their respective re- 
quisitions on the sympathy of corresponding' 
powers in other human beings. The Poet is 
represented as uniting these requisitions and 
attaching them to a single image. He seeks 
in vain for a prototype of his conception. 
Blasted by his disappointment, he descends to 
an untimely grave. 

' The picture is not barren of instruction to 
actual men. The Poet's self-centred seclusion 
was avenged by the furies of an irresistible 
passion pursuing him to speedy ruin. But that 
Power, which strikes the luminaries of the 
world with sudden darkness and extinction by 
awakening them to too exqiiisite a perception 
of its influences, dooms to a slow and poisonous 
decay those meaner spirits that dare to abjure 



its dominion. Their destiny is more abject 
and inglorious as their delinquency is more 
contemptible and pernicious. They who, de- 
luded by no generous error, instigated by no 
sacred thirst of doubtful knowledge, duped by 
no illustrious superstition, loving nothing on 
this earth, and cherishing no hopes beyond, 
yet keep aloof from sympathies with their kind, 
rejoicing neither in human joy nor mourning 
with human grief ; these, and such as they, 
have their apportioned curse. They languish, 
because none feel with them their common 
nature. They are morally dead. They are 
neither friends, nor lovers, nor fathers, nor 
citizens of the world, nor benefactors of their 
country. Among those who attempt to exist 
without human sympathy, the pure and tender- 
hearted perish through the intensity and pas- 
sion of their search after its communities, when 
the vacancy of their spirit suddenly makes 
itself felt. All else, selfish, blind and torpid, 
are those unforeseeing multitudes who con- 
stitute, together with their own, the lasting 
misery and loneliness of the world. Those who 
love not their fellow-beings live unfruitful 
lives and prepare for their old age a miserable 
grave. 

' The good die first. 
And those whose hearts are dry as summer dust 
Burn to the socket ! 

' December 14, 1815.' 



Earth, Ocean, Air, beloved brotherhood! 
If our great Mother has imbued my soul 
With aught of natural piety to feel 
Your love, and recompense the boon with 

mine; 
If dewy morn, and odorous noon, and even. 
With sunset and its gorgeous ministers, 
And solemn midnight's tingling silent- 

ness; 
If Autumn's hollow sighs in the sere wood. 
And Winter robing with pure snow and 

crowns 
Of starry ice the gray grass and bare 
boughs ; lo 

If Spring's voluptuous pantings when she 

breathes 
Her first sweet kisses, — have been dear to 

me; 
If no bright bird, insect, or gentle beast 
I consciously have injured, but still loved 
And cherished these my kindred ; then for- 
give 
This boast, beloved brethren, and with- 
draw 
No portion of your wonted favor now? 



Mother of this unfathomable world! 
Favor my solemn song, for I have loved ig 
Thee ever, and thee only; I have watched 
Thy shadow, and the darkness of thy steps. 
And my heart ever gazes on the depth 
Of thy deep mysteries. I have made my 

bed 
In charnels and on coffins, where black 

death 
Keeps record of the trophies won from 

thee, 
Hoping to still these obstinate questionings 
Of thee and thine, by forcing some lone 

ghost. 
Thy messenger, to render up the tale 
Of what we are. In lone and silent hours. 
When night makes a weird sound of its 

own stillness, 30 

Like an inspired and desperate alchemist 
Staking his very life on some dark hope. 
Have I mixed awful talk and asking looks 
With my most innocent love, until strange 

tears, 
Uniting with those breathless kisses, made 
Such magic as compels the charmed night 



34 



ALASTOR 



To render up thy charge; and, though 

ne'er yet 
Thou hast unveiled thy inmost sanctuary, 
Enough from incommunicable dream, 
And twilight phantasms, and deep noonday 

thought, 40 

Has shone within me, that serenely now 
And moveless, as a long-forgotten lyre 
Suspended in the solitary dome 
Of some mysterious and deserted fane, 
I wait thy breath. Great Parent, that my 

strain 
May modulate with murmurs of the air. 
And motions of the forests and the sea. 
And voice of living beings, and woven 

hymns 
Of night and day, and the deep heart of 

man. 49 

There was a Poet whose untimely tomb 

No human hands with pious reverence 
reared. 

But the charmed eddies of autumnal winds 

Built o'er his mouldering bones a pyra- 
mid 

Of mouldering leaves in the waste wilder- 
ness : 

A lovely youth, — no mourning maiden 
decked 

With weeping flowers, or votive cypress 
wreath, 

The lone couch of his everlasting sleep : 

Gentle, and brave, and generous, — no lorn 
bard 

Breathed o'er his dark fate one melodious 
sigh : 

He lived, he died, he sung in solitude. 60 

Strangers have wept to hear his passionate 
notes. 

And virgins, as unknown he passed, have 
pined 

And wasted for fond love of his wild eyes. 

The fire of those soft orbs has ceased to 
burn. 

And Silence, too enamoured of that voice. 

Locks its mute music in her rugged cell. 

By solemn vision and bright silver dream 
His infancy was nurtured. Every sight 
And sound from the vast earth and ambient 



air 



70 



Sent to his heart its choicest impulses 
The fountains of divine philosophy 
Fled not his thirsting lips, and all of great, 
Or good, or lovely, which the sacred past 



In truth or fable consecrates, he felt 

And knew. When early youth had passed, 

he left 
His cold fireside and alienated home 
To seek strange truths in undiscovered 

lands. 
Many a wide waste and tangled wilder- 
ness 
Has lured his fearless steps; and he has 

bought 
With his sweet voice and eyes, from savage 
men, 80 

His rest and food. Nature's most secret 

steps 
He like her shadow has pursued, where'er 
The red volcano overcanopies 
Its fields of snow and pinnacles of ice 
With burning smoke, or where bitumen 

lakes 
On black bare pointed islets ever beat 
With sluggish surge, or where the secret 

caves. 
Rugged and dark, winding among the 

springs 
Of fire and poison, inaccessible 
To avarice or pride, their starry domes 90 
Of diamond and of gold expand above 
Numberless and immeasurable halls, 
Frequent with crystal column, and clear 

shrines 
Of pearl, and thrones radiant with chryso- 
lite. 
Nor had that scene of ampler majesty 
Than gems or gold, the varying roof of 

heaven 
And the green earth, lost in his heart its 

claims 
To love and wonder; he would linger long 
In lonesome vales, making the wild his 

home, 
Until the doves and squirrels would par- 
take 100 
From his innocuous hand his bloodless food. 
Lured by the gentle meaning of his looks. 
And the wild antelope, that starts when- 
e'er 
The dry leaf rustles in the brake, suspend 
Her timid steps, to gaze upon a form 
More graceful than her own. 

His wandering step, 
Obedient to high thoughts, has visited 
The awful ruins of the days of old ; 
Athens, and Tyre, and Balbec, and the 
wastft X09 



ALASTOR 



35 



Where stood Jerusalem, the fallen towers 
Of Babylon, the eternal pyramids, 
Memphis and Thebes, and whatsoe'er of 

strange, 
Sculptured on alabaster obelisk 
Or jasper tomb or mutilated sphinX, 
Dark ^Ethiopia in her desert hills 
Conceals. Among the ruined temples 

there, 
Stupendous columns, and wild images 
Of more than man, where marble daemons 

watch 
The Zodiac's brazen mystery, and dead 

men 
Hang their mute thoughts on the mute 

walls around, 120 

He lingered, poring on memorials 
Of the world's youth: through the long 

burning day 
Gazed on those speechless shapes; nor, 

when the moon 
Filled the mysterious halls with floating 

shades 
Suspended he that task, but ever gazed 
And gazed, till meaning on his vacant 

mind 
Flashed like strong inspiration, and he saw 
The thrilling secrets of the birth of time. 

Meanwhile an Arab maiden brought his 
food, 129 

Her daily portion, from her father's tent. 
And spread her matting for his couch, and 

stole 
From duties and repose to tend his steps, 
Enamoured, yet not daring for deep awe 
To speak her love, and watched his nightly 

sleep. 
Sleepless herself, to gaze upon his lips 
Parted in slumber, whence the regular 

breath 
Of innocent dreams arose; then, when red 

morn 
Made paler the pale moon, to her cold 

home 
Wildered, and wan, and panting, she re- 
turned. 

The Poet, wandering on, through Ara- 
bic, 140 
And Persia, and the wild Carmanian waste. 
And o'er the aerial mountains which pour 

down 
Indus and Oxus from their icy caves, 
In joy and exultation held his way; 



Till in the vale of Cashmire, far within 
Its loneliest dell, where odorous plants en* 

twine 
Beneath the hollow rocks a natural bower, 
Beside a sparkling rivulet he stretched 
His languid limbs. A vision on his sleep 
There came, a dream of hopes that never 

yet 15a 

Had flushed his cheek. He dreamed a 

veiled maid 
Sate near him, talking in low solemn tones. 
Her voice was like the voice of his own 

soul 
Heard in the calm of thought; its music 

long, 
Like woven sounds of streams and breezes, 

held 
His inmost sense suspended in its web 
Of many-colored woof and shifting hues. 
Knowledge and truth and virtue were her 

themCj 
And lofty hopes of divine liberty, 159 

Thoughts the most dear to him, and poesy, 
Herself a poet. Soon the solemn mood 
Of her pure mind kindled through all her 

frame 
A permeating fire; wild numbers then 
She raised, with voice stifled in tremulous 

sobs 
Subdued by its own pathos; her fair hands 
Were bare alone, sweeping from some 

strange harp 
Strange symphony, and in their branching 

veins 
The eloquent blood told an ineffable tale. 
The beating of her heart was heard to fill 
The pauses of her music, and her breath 
Tumultuously accorded with those fits 171 
Of intermitted song. Sudden she rose. 
As if her heart impatiently endured 
Its bursting burden; at the sound he turned, 
And saw by the warm light of their own 

life 
Her glowing limbs beneath the sinuous veil 
Of woven wind, her outspread arms now 

bare, 
Her dark locks floating in the breath of 

night, 
Her beamy bending eyes, her parted lips 
Outstretched, and pale, and quivering 

eagerly. i8a 

His strong heart sunk and sickened with 

excess 
Of love. He reared his shuddering limbs, 

and quelled 



36 



ALASTOR 



His gasping breatli, aud spread his arms to 

meet 
Her panting bosom : — she drew back 

awhile, 
Then, yielding to the irresistible joy, 
With frantic gesture and sliort breathless 

cry 
Folded his frame in her dissolving arms. 
Now blackness veiled his dizzy eyes, and 

night 
Involved and swallowed up the vision ; 

sleep, 189 

Like a dark flood suspended in its course. 
Rolled back its impulse on his vacant brain. 

Roused by the shock, he started from his 

trance — 
The cold white light of morning, the blue 

moon 
Low in the west, the clear and garish hills, 
The distinct valley and the vacant woods, 
Spread round him where he stood. Whither 

have fled 
The hues of heaven that canopied his 

bower 
Of yesternight ? The sounds that soothed 

his sleep, 
The mystery and the majesty of Earth, 
The joy, the exultation ? His wan eyes 200 
Gaze on the empty scene as vacantly 
As ocean's moon looks on the moon in 

heaven. 
The spirit of sweet human love has sent 
A vision to the sleep of him who spurned 
Her choicest gifts. He eagerly pursues 
Beyond the realms of dream that fleeting 

shade; 
He overleaps the bounds. Alas ! alas ! 
Were limbs and breath and being inter- 
twined 
Thus treacherously ? Lost, lost, forever 

lost 209 

In the wide pathless desert of dim sleep. 
That beautiful shape ! Does the dark gate 

of death 
CoJiduct to thy mysterious paradise, 
O Sleep ? Does the bright arch of rain- 
bow clouds 
And pendent mountains seen in the calm 

lake 
Lead only to a black and watery depth, 
While death's blue vault with loathliest 

vapors hung. 
Where every shade which the foul grave 
exhales 



Hides its dead eye from the detested day, 
Conducts, O Sleep, to thy delightful realms? 
This doubt with sudden tide flowed on his 

heart ; 220 

The insatiate hope which it awakened 

stung 
His brain even like despair. 

While daylight held 
The sky, the Poet kept mute conference 
With his still soul. At night the passion 

came, 
Like the fierce fiend of a distempered 

dream, 
And shook him from his rest, and led him 

forth 
Into the darkness. As an eagle, grasped 
In folds of the green serpent, feels her 

breast 
Burn with the poison, and precipitates 
Through night aud day, tempest, and calm, 

and cloud, 230 

Frantic with dizzying anguish, her blind 

flight 
O'er the wide aery wilderness: thus driven 
By the bright shadow of that lovely dream, 
Beneath the cold glare of the desolate 

night. 
Through tangled swamps and deep preci- 
pitous dells, 
Startling with careless step the moon-light 

snake, 
He fled. Red morning dawned upon his 

flight, 
Shedding the mockery of its vital hues 
Upon his cheek of death. He wandered 

on 239 

Till vast Aornos seen from Petra's steep 
Hung o'er the low horizon like a cloud; 
Through Balk, and where the desolated 

tombs 
Of Parthian kings scatter to every wind 
Their wasting dust, wildly he wandered on, 
Day after day, a weary waste of hours. 
Bearing within his life the brooding care 
That ever fed on its decaying flame. 
And now his limbs were lean; his scattered 

hair, 
Sered by the autumn of strange suffering. 
Sung dirges in the wind; his listless hand 
Hung like dead bone within its withered 

skin; 251 

Life, and the lustre that consumed it 

shone, 
As in a furnace burning secretly. 



ALASTOR 



37 



From his dark eyes alone. The cottagers, 

Who ministered with human charity 

His human wants, beheld with wondering 

awe 
Their fleeting visitant. The mountaineer. 
Encountering on some dizzy precipice 
That spectral form, deemed that the Spirit 

of Wind, 
With lightning eyes, and eager breath, and 

feet 260 

Disturbing not the drifted snow, had paused 
In its career; the infant would conceal 
His troubled visage in his mother's robe 
In terror at the glare of those wild eyes, 
To remember their strange light in many a 

dream 
Of after times ; but youthful maidens, 

taught 
By nature, would interpret half the woe 
That wasted him, would call him with false 

names 
Brother and friend, would press his pallid 

hand 
At parting, and watch, dim through tears, 

the path 270 

Of his departure from their father's door. 

At length upon the lone Chorasmian shore 
He paused, a wide and melancholy waste 
Of putrid marshes. A strong impulse urged 
His steps to the sea-shore. A swan was 

there, 
Beside a sluggish stream among the reeds. 
It rose as he approached, and, with strong 

wings 
Scaling the upward sky, bent its bright 

course 
High over the immeasurable main. 
His eyes pursued its flight: — ' Thou hast a 

home, 280 

Beautiful bird ! thou voyagest to thine 

home. 
Where thy sweet mate will twine her downy 

neck 
With thine, and welcome thy return with 

eyes 
Bright in the lustre of their own fond joy. 
And what am I that I should linger here, 
With voice far sweeter than thy dying 

notes, 
Spirit more vast than thine, frame more 

attuned 
To beauty, wasting these surpassing powers 
(n the deaf air, to the blind earth, and 

beavea 



That echoes not my thoughts ? ' A gloomy 

smile 290 

Of desperate hope wrinkled his quivering 

lijjs. 
For sleep, he knew, kept most relentlessly 
Its precious charge, and silent death ex- 
posed, 
Faithless perhaps as sleep, a shadowy lure, 
With doubtful smile mocking its owu 
strange charms. 

Startled by his own thoughts, he looked 

around. 
There wa£ no fair fiend near him, not a 

sight 
Or sound of awe but in his own deep mind. 
A little shallop floating near the shore 
Caught the impatient wandering of his 

gaze. 300 

It had been long abandoned, for its sides 
Gaped wide with many a rift, and its frafl 

joints 
Swayed with the undulations of the tide. 
A restless impulse urged him to embark 
And meet lone Death on the drear ocean's 

waste; 
For well he knew that mighty Shadow 

loves 
The slimy caverns of the populous deep. 

The day was fair and sunny ; sea and sky 
Drank its inspiring radiance, and the wind 
Swept strongly from the shore, blackening 

the waves. 31a 

Following his eager soul, the wanderer 
Leaped in the boat ; he spread his cloak 

aloft 
On the bare mast, and took his lonely seat, 
And felt the boat speed o'er the tranquil 

sea 
Like a torn cloud before the hurricane. 

As one that in a silver vision floats 
Obedient to the sweep of odorous winds 
Upon resplendent clouds, so rapidly 
Along the dark and ruffled waters fled 
The straining boat. A whirlwind swept it 

on, 32a 

With fierce gusts and precipitating force, 
Through the white ridges of the chafed sea. 
The waves arose. Higher and higher still 
Their fierce necks writhed beneath the 

tempest's scourge 
Like serpents struggling in a vulture's 

grasp. 



38 



ALASTOR 



Calm and rejoicing in the fearful war 

Of wave ruining on wave, and blast on blast 

Descending, and black flood on whirlpool 

driven 
With dark obliterating course, he sate: 
As if their genii were the ministers 330 

Appointed to conduct him to the light 
Of those beloved eyes, the Poet sate, 
Holding the steady helm. Evening came 

on; 
The beams of sunset hung their rainbow 

hues 
High 'mid the shifting domes of sheeted 

spray 
That canopied his path o'er the waste deep ; 
Twilight, ascending slowly from the east. 
Entwined in duskier wreaths her braided 

locks 
O'er the fair front and radiant eyes of Day; 
Night followed, clad with stars. On every 

side 340 

More horribly the multitudinous streams 
Of ocean's mountainous waste to mutual 

war 
Rushed in dark tumult thundering, as to 

mock 
The calm and spangled sky. The little 

boat 
Still fled before the storm; still fled, like 

foam 
Down the steep cataract of a wintry river; 
Now pausing on the edge of the riven wave ; 
Now leaving far behind the bursting mass 
That fell, convulsing ocean ; safely fled — 
As if that frail and wasted human form 350 
Had been an elemental god. 

At midnight 
The moon arose; and lo! the ethereal cliffs 
Of Caucasus, whose icy summits shone 
Among the stars like sunlight, and around 
Whose caverned base the whirlpools and 

the waves 
Bursting and eddying irresistibly 
Rage and resound forever. — Who shall 

save ? — 
The boat fled on, — the boiling torrent 

drove, — 
The crags closed round with black and 

jagged arms, 359 

The shattered mountain overhung the sea, 
And faster still, beyond all human speed, 
Suspended on the sweep of the smooth 

wave. 
The little boat was driven. A cavern there 



Yawned, and amid its slant and winding 

depths 
Ingulfed the rushing sea. The boat fled on 
With unrelaxing speed. — * Vision and 

Love ! ' 
The Poet cried aloud, ' I have beheld 
The path of thy departure. Sleep and 

death 
Shall not divide us long.' 

The boat pursued 
The windings of the cavern. Daylight 

shone 370 

At length upon that gloomy river's flow; 
Now, where the fiercest war among the 

waves 
Is calm, on the unfathomable stream 
The boat moved slowly. Where the moun- 
tain, riven. 
Exposed those black depths to the azure 

sky, 
Ere yet the flood's enormous volume fell 
Even to the base of Caucasus, with sound 
That shook the everlasting rocks, the mass 
Filled with one whirlpool all that ample 

chasm; 379 

Stair above stair the eddying waters rose. 
Circling immeasurably fast, and laved 
With alternating dash the gnarled roots 
Of mighty trees, that stretched their giant 

arms 
In darkness over it. I' the midst was left, 
Reflecting yet distorting every cloud, 
A pool of treacherous and tremendous 

calm. 
Seized by the sway of the ascending stream. 
With dizzy swiftness, round and round and 

round, 
Ridge after ridge the straining boat arose, 
Till on the verge of the extremest curve. 
Where through an opening of the rocky 

bank 391 

The waters overflow, and a smooth spot 
Of glassy quiet 'mid those battling tides 
Is left, the boat paused shuddering. — 

Shall it sink 
Down the abyss ? Shall the reverting 

stress 
Of that resistless gulf embosom it ? 
Now shall it fall ? — A wandering stream 

of wind 
Breathed from the west, has caught the 

expanded sail. 
And, lo ! with gentle motion between banks 
Of mossy slope, and on a placid stream, 40a 



ALASTOR 



39 



Beneath a woven grove, it sails, and, hark ! 
The ghastly torrent mingles its far roar 
With the breeze murmuring in the musical 

woods. 
Where the embowering trees recede, and 

leave 
A little space of green expanse, the cove 
Is closed by meeting banks, whose yellow 

flowers 
Forever gaze on their own drooping eyes, 
Reflected in the crystal calm. The wave 
Of the boat's motion marred their pensive 

task, 
Which naught but vagrant bird, or wanton 

winf^, 410 

Or falling spear-grass, or their own decay 
ilad e'er disturbed before. The Poet 

longed 
To deck with their bright hues his withered 

hair, 
But on his heart its solitude returned, 
And he forbore. Not the strong impulse 

hid 
In those flushed cheeks, bent eyes, and 

shadowy frame, 
Had yet performed its ministry; it hung 
Upon his life, as lightning in a cloud 
Gleams, hovering ere it vanish, ere the 

floods 419 

Of night close over it. 

The noonday sun 
Now shone upon the forest, one vast mass 
Of mingling shade, whose brown magnifi- 
cence 
A narrow vale embosoms. There, huge 

caves, 
Scooped in the dark base of their aery 

rocks. 
Mocking its moans, respond and roar for- 
ever. 
The meeting boughs and implicated leaves 
Wove twilight o'er the Poet's path, as, led 
By love, or dream, or god, or mightier 

Death, 
He sought in Nature's dearest haunt some 



bank. 



429 



Her cradle and his sepulchre. More dark 
And dark the shades accumulate. The oak, 
Expanding its immense and knotty arms, 
Embraces the light beech. The pyramids 
Of the tall cedar overarching frame 
Most solemn domes within, and far below. 
Like clouds suspended in an emerald sky, 
The ash and the acacia floating hang 



Tremulous and pale. Like restless ser- 
pents, clothed 
In rainbow and in fire, the parasites. 
Starred with ten thousand blossoms, flow 

around 440 

The gray trunks, and, as gamesome infants' 

eyes, 
With gentle meanings, and most innocent 

wiles, 
Fold their beams round the hearts of those 

that love, 
These twine their tendrils with the wedded 

boughs. 
Uniting their close union; the woven leaves 
Make network of the dark blue light of day 
And the night's noontide clearness, mutable 
As shapes in the weird clouds. Soft mossy 

lawns 
Beneath these canopies extend their swells, 
Fragrant with perfumed herbs, and eyed 

with blooms 450 

Minute yet beautiful. One darkest glen 
Sends from its woods of musk-rose twin'^ 

with jasmine 
A soul-dissolving odor to invite 
To some more lovely mystery. Through 

the dell 
Silence and Twilight here, twin-sisters, 

keep 
Their noonday watch, and sail among the 

shades. 
Like vaporous shapes half-seen; beyond, a 

well, 
Dark, gleaming, and of most translucent 

wave. 
Images all the woven boughs above, 459 
And each depending leaf, and every speck 
Of azure sky darting between their chasms; 
Nor aught else in the liquid mirror laves 
Its portraiture, but some inconstant star, 
Between one foliaged lattice twinkling fair, 
Or painted bird, sleeping beneath the moou, 
Or gorgeous insect floating motionless. 
Unconscious of the day, ere yet his wings 
Have spread their glories to the gaze of 

noon. 

Hither the Poet came. His eyes beheld 
Their own wan light through the reflected 

lines 470 

Of his thin hair, distinct in the dark depth 
Of that still fountain ; as the human heart, 
Gazing in dreams over the gloomy grave, 
Sees its own treacherous likeness there. He 

heard 



40 



ALASTOR 



The motion of the leaves — the grass that 

sprung 
Startled and glaneed and trembled even to 

feel 
An unaccustomed presence — and the sound 
Of the sweet brook that from the secret 

springs 
Of that dark fountain rose. A Spirit 

seemed 
To stand beside him — clothed in no bright 

robes 480 

Of shadowy silver or enshrining light, 
Borrowed from aught the visible world 

afPords 
Of grace, or majesty, or mystery; 
But undulating woods, and silent well. 
And leaping rivulet, and evening gloom 
Now deepening the dark shades, for speech 

assuming. 
Held commune with him, as if he and it 
Were all that was ; only — when his regard 
Was raised by intense pensiveness — two 

eyes, 
Two starry eyes, hung in the gloom of 

thought, 490 

And seemed with their serene and azure 

smiles 
To beckon him. 

Obedient to the light 
That shone within his soul, he went, pur- 
suing 
The windings of the dell. The rivulet, 
Wanton and wild, through many a green 

ravine 
Beneath the forest flowed. Sometimes it 

fell 
Among the moss with hollow harmony 
Dark and profound. Now on the polished 

stones 
It danced, like childhood laughing as it 

went ; 
Then, through the plain in tranquil wan- 
derings crept, 500 
Reflecting every herb and drooping bud 
That overhung its quietness. — ' O stream ! 
Whose source is inaccessibly profound, 
Whither do thy mysterious waters tend ? 
Thou imagest my life. Thy darksome still- 
ness. 
Thy dazzling waves, thy loud and hollow 

gulfs, 
Thy searchless fountain and invisible course. 
Have each their type in me ; and the wide 
sky 



And measureless ocean may declare as soon 
What oozy cavern or what wandering 

cloud 510 

Contains thy waters, as the universe 
Tell where these living thoughts reside, 

when stretched 
Upon thy flowers my bloodless limbs shall 

waste 
I' the passing wind ! ' 

Beside the grassy shore 
Of the small stream he went ; he did im- 
press 
On the green moss his tremulous step, that 

caught 
Strong shuddering from his burning limbs. 

As one 
Roused by some joyous madness from the 

couch 
Of fever, he did move ; yet not like him 
Forgetful of the grave, where, when the 

flame 520 

Of his frail exultation shall be spent. 
He must descend. With rapid steps he 

went 
Beneath the shade of trees, beside the flow 
Of the wild babbling rivulet ; and now 
The forest's solemn canopies were changed 
For the uniform and lightsome evening sky. 
Gray rocks did peep from the spare moss, 

and stemmed 
The struggling brook ; tall spires of win- 

dlestrae 
Threw their thin shadows down the rugged 

slope. 
And nought but gnarled roots of ancient 

pines 530 

Branchless and blasted, clenched with 

grasping roots 
The unwilling soil. A gradual change was 

here 
Yet ghastly. For, as fast years flow away. 
The smooth brow gathers, and the hair 

grows thin 
And white, and where irradiate dewy eyes 
Had shone, gleam stony orbs : — so from 

his steps 
Bright flowers departed, and the beautiful 

shade 
Of the green groves, with all their odorous 

winds 
And musical motions. Calm he still pur- 
sued 
The stream, that with a larger volume 

now S4<» 



ALASTOR 



41 



Rolled through the labyrinthine dell ; and 

there 
Fretted a path through its descending 

curves 
With its wintry speed. On every side now 

rose 
Rocks, which, in unimaginable forms, 
Lifted their black and barren piunacles 
In the light of evening, and its preci- 
pice 
Obscuring the ravine, disclosed above, 
'Mid toppling stones, black gulfs and yawn- 
ing caves, 
Whose windings gave ten thousand various 

tongues 
To the loud stream. Lo ! where the pass 

expands 550 

Its stony jaws, the abrupt mountain breaks. 
And seems with its accumulated crags 
To overhang the world ; for wide expand 
Beneath the wan stars and descending moon 
Islanded seas, blue mountains, mighty 

streams. 
Dim tracts and vast, robed in the lustrous 

gloom 
Of leaden-colored even, and fiery hills 
Mingling their flames with twilight, on the 

verge 
Of the remote horizon. The near scene. 
In naked and severe simplicity, 560 

Made contrast with the universe. A pine. 
Rock-rooted, stretched athwart the vacancy 
Its swinging boughs, to each inconstant blast 
Yielding one only response at each pause 
In most familiar cadence, with the howl. 
The thunder and the hiss of homeless 

streams 
Mingling its solemn song, whilst the broad 

river 
Foaming and hurrying o'er its rugged path, 
Fell into that immeasurable void, 
Scattering its waters to the passing 

winds. 570 

Yet the gray precipice and solemn pine 
And torrent were not all; — one silent nook 
Was there. Even on the edge of that vast 

mountain, 
Upheld by knotty roots and fallen rocks. 
It overlooked in its serenity 
The dark earth and the bending vault of 

stars. 
It was a tranquil spot that seemed to smile 
Even in the lap of horror. Ivy clasped 
The fissured stones with its entwining arms, 



And did embower with leaves forever 

green 580 

And berries dark the smooth and even 

space 
Of its inviolated floor ; and here 
The children of the autumnal whirlwind 

bore 
In wanton sport those bright leaves whose 

decay, 
Red, yellow, or ethereally pale, 
Rivals the pride of summer. 'T is the haunt 
Of every gentle wind whose breath can 

teach 
The wilds to love tranquillity. One step, 
One human step alone, has ever broken 
The stillness of its solitude ; one voice 590 
Alone inspired its echoes ; — even that voice 
Which hither came, floating among the 

winds. 
And led the loveliest among human forms 
To make their wild haunts the depository 
Of all the grace and beauty that endued 
Its motions, render up its majesty. 
Scatter its music on the unfeeling storm. 
And to the damp leaves and blue cavern 

mould. 
Nurses of rainbow flowers and branching 

moss, 
Commit the colors of that varying cheek, 600 
That snowy breast, those dark and droop- 
ing eyes. 

The dim and horned moon hung low, and 

poured 
A sea of lustre on the horizon's verge 
That overflowed its mountains. Yellow 

mist 
Filled the unbounded atmosphere, and 

drank 
Wan moonlight even to fulness ; not a star 
Shone, not a sound was heard ; the very 

winds. 
Danger's grim playmates, on that precipice 
Slept, clasped in his embrace. — O storm 

of death. 
Whose sightless speed divides this sullen 

night ! 6ia 

And thou, colossal Skeleton, that, still 
Guiding its irresistible career 
In thy devastating omnipotence, 
Art king of this frail world ! from the red 

field 
Of slaughter, from the reeking hospital, 
The patriot's sacred couch, the snowy bed 
Of innocence, the scaffold and the throne, 



42 



ALASTOR 



A mighty voice invokes thee ! Ruin calls 
His brother Death ! A rare and regal prey 
He hath prepared, prowling around tlie 

world ; 620 

Glutted with which thou mayst repose, and 

men 
Go to their graves like flowers or creeping 

worms, 
Nor ever more offer at thy dark shrine 
The unheeded tribute of a broken heart. 

When on the threshold of the green 

recess 
The wanderer's footsteps fell, he knew that 

death 
Was on him. Yet a little, ere it fled, 
Did he resign his high and holy soul 
To images of the majestic past, 629 

That paused within his passive being now, 
Like winds that bear sweet music, when 

they breathe 
Through some dim latticed chamber. He 

did place 
His pale lean hand upon the rugged trunk 
Of the old pine; upon an ivied stone 
Reclined his languid head; his limbs did 

rest. 
Diffused and motionless, on the smooth 

brink 
Of that obscurest chasm; — and thus he 

lay. 
Surrendering to their final impulses 
The hovering powers of life. Hope and 

Despair, 
The torturers, slept; no mortal pain or 

fear 640 

Marred his repose; the influxes of sense 
And his own being, unalloyed by pain, 
Yet feebler and more feeble, calmly fed 
The stream of thought, till he lay breath- 
ing there 
At peace, and faintly smiling. His last 

sight 
Was the great moon, which o'er the western 

line 
Of the wide world her mighty horn sus- 
pended. 
With whose dun beams inwoven darkness 

seemed 
To mingle. Now upon the jagged hills 
It rests; and still as the divided frame 650 
Of the vast meteor sunk, the Poet's blood. 
That ever beat in mystic sympathy 
With Nature's ebb and flow, grew feebler 

still; 



And when two lessening points of ligU 

alone 
Gleamed through the darkness, the alter 

nate gasp 
Of his faint respiration scarce did stir 
The stagnate night : — till the minutest ray 
Was quenched, the pulse yet lingered in 

his heart. 
It paused — it fluttered. But when hea- 
ven remained 659 
Utterly black, the murky shades involved 
An image silent, cold, and motionless. 
As their own voiceless earth and vacant 

air. 
Even as a vapor fed with golden beams 
That ministered on sunlight, ere the west 
Eclipses it, was now that wondrous frame — 
No sense, no motion, no divinity — 
A fragile lute, on whose harmonious strings 
The breath of heaven did wander — a bright 

stream 
Once fed with many-voiced waves — a 

dream 
Of youth, which night and time have 

quenched forever — 670 

Still, dark, and dry, and unremembered 

now. 

Oh, for Medea's wondrous alchemy, 
Which wheresoe'er it fell made the earth 

gleam 
With bright flowers, and the wintry boughs 

exhale 
From vernal blooms fresh fragrance ! Oh, 

that God, 
Profuse of poisons, would concede the 

chalice 
Which but one living man has drained, whC 

now. 
Vessel of deathless wrath, a slave that feeli 
No proud exemption in the blighting curse 
He bears, over the world wanders for- 
ever, 680 
Lone as incarnate death ! Oh, that the 

dream 
Of dark magician in his visioned cave, 
Raking the cinders of a crucible 
For life and power, even when his feeble 

hand 
Shakes in its last decay, were the true law 
Of this so lovely world ! But thou art fled, 
Like some frail exhalation, which the dawn 
Robes in its golden beams, — ah ! thou 

hast fled ! 
The brave, the gentle and the beautiful. 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM: INTRODUCTORY NOTE 



43 



The child of grace and genius. Heartless 
things 690 

Are done and said i' the world, and many 
worms 

And beasts and men live on, and mighty 
Earth 

From sea and mountain, city and wilder- 
ness, 

In vesper low or joyous orison. 

Lifts still its solemn voice : — but thou art 
fled — 

Thou canst no longer know or love the 
shapes 

Of this phantasmal scene, who have to thee 

Been purest ministers, who are, alas ! 

Now thou art not ! Upon those pallid lips 

So sweet even in their silence, on those 
eyes 700 

That image sleep in death, upon that form 

Yet safe from the worm's outrage, let no 
tear 

Be shed — not even in thought. Nor, when 
those hues 

Are gone, and those divinest lineaments, 

Worn by the senseless wind, shall live alone 



In the frail pauses of this simple strain, 
Let not high verse, mourning the memory 
Of that which is no more, or painting's 

woe 
Or sculpture, speak in feeble imagery 
Their own cold powers. Art and elo- 
quence, 7I(D 
And all the shows o' the world, are frail 

and vain 
To weep a loss that turns their lights tc 

shade. 
It is a woe "too deep for tears," wbeq 

all 
Is reft at once, when some surpassing 

Spirit, 
Whose light adorned the world around it;, 

leaves 
Those who remain behind, not sobs 01 

groans. 
The passionate tumult of a clinging hope; 
But pale despair and cold tranquillity. 
Nature's vast frame, the web of human 

things. 
Birth and the grave, that are not as they 

were. 720 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



A POEM 



IN TWELVE CANTOS 



02AI2 AE BPOTON E0NO2 AFAAIAIS AHTOMESQA, 

HEPAINEI nP02 E2XAT0N 
HAOON- NAY2I A' OYTE HEZOS ION AN EYP0I2 
E2 YnEPBOPEHN APONA ©AYMATAN OAON. 

Pindar, Pyth. X. 



The Revolt of Islam is a return to the social 
and political propaganda of Queen Mab, thoug-h 
the narrative element is stronger and the ideal 
characterization is along the more human lines 
of Alastor. It belongs distinctly in the class 
of reform poems and obeys a didactic motive 
in the same way as does the Faerie Queene, in 
the stanza of which it is written. It was com- 
posed in the spring and summer of 1817, and 
embodies the opinions of Shelley nearly as 
completely as Queen Mab had done, five years 
earlier. It was printed under the title Laon 
and Cythna ; or, The Revolution of the Golden 
City : A Vision of the Nineteenth Century ; a 
few copies only were issued, when the pub- 
lisher refused to proceed with the work unless 
radical alterations were made in the text. 
Shelley reluctantly consented to this, and made 
the required changes. The title was altered. 



and the work published. The circumstances 
under which the poem was written are told by 
Mrs. Shelley, with a word upon the main 
characters : 

' He chose for his hero a youth nourished in 
dreams of liberty, some of whose actions are 
in direct opposition to the opinions of the 
world, but who is animated throughout by an 
ardent love of virtue, and a resolution to confer 
the boons of political and intellectual freedom 
on his fellow-creatures. He created for this 
youth a woman such as he delighted to imagine 
— full of enthusiasm for the same objects; 
and they both, with will unvanquished and the 
deepest sense of the justice of their cause, met 
adversity and death. There exists in this poem 
a memorial of a friend of his youth. The 
character of the old man who liberates Laon 
from his tower prison, and tends on him in. 



44 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



sickness, is founded on that of Doctor Lind, 
who, when Shelley was at Eton, had often 
stood by to befriend and support him, and 
whose name he never mentioned without love 
and veneration. 

' During- the year 1817 we were established 
at Marlow, in Buckinghamshire. Shelley's 
choice of abode was fixed chiefly by this town 
being at no great distance from London, and 
its neighborhood to the Thames. The poem 
was written in his boat, as it floated under the 
beech groves of Bisham, or during wanderings 
in the neig-hboring country, which is distin- 
guished for peculiar beauty. The chalk hills 
break into cliffs that overhang the Thames, or 
form valleys clothed with beech ; the wilder 
portion of the country is rendered beautiful by 
exuberant vegetation ; and the cultivated part 
is peculiarly fertile. With all this wealth of 
nature which, either in the form of gentle- 
men's parks or soil dedicated to agriculture, 
flourishes around, Marlow was inhabited (I 
hope it is altered now) by a very poor popu- 
lation. The women are lacemakers, and lose 
their health by sedentary labor, for which they 
were very ill paid. The poor-laws ground to 
the dust not only the paupers, but those who 
had risen just above that state, and were 
obliged to pay poor-rates. The changes pro- 
duced by peace following a long war, and a 
bad harvest, brought with them the most 
heart-rending evils to the poor. Shelley af- 
forded what alleviation he could. In the winter, 
while bringing out his poem, he had a severe 
attack of ophthalmia, caught while visiting the 
poor cottages. I mention these things, — for 
this minute and active sympathy with his 
fellow-creatures gives a thousand-fold interest 
to his speculations, and stamps with reality his 
pleadings for the human race.' 

Shelley himself gave two accounts of the 
poem, of which the most interesting occurs in 
a letter to Godwin, December 11, 1817: 

' The Poem was produced by a series of 
thoughts which filled my mind with unbounded 
and sustained enthusiasm. I felt the preca- 
riousness of my life, and I engaged in this 
task, resolved to leave some record of myself. 
Much of what the volume contains was written 
with the same feeling, as real, though not so 
prophetic, as the communications of a dying 
man. I never presumed indeed to consider it 
anything approaching to faultless ; but when I 
consider contemporary productions of the same 
apparent pretensions, I own I was filled with 
confidence. I felt that it was in many respects 
a genuine picture of my own mind. I felt that 
the sentiments were true, not assumed. And 
in . this have I long believed that my power 
consists; in sympathy and that part of the 



imagination which relates to sentiment and 
contemplation. I am formed, if for anything 
not in common with the herd of mankind, to 
apprehend minute and remote distinctions of 
feeling, whether relative to external nature or 
the living beings which surround us, and to 
communicate the conceptions which result from 
considering either the moral or the material 
universe as a whole. Of course, I believe these 
faculties, which perhaps comprehend all that 
is sublime in man, to exist very imperfectly, in 
my own mind.' 

The second is contained in an earlier letter 
to a publisher, October 13, 1817 : 

' The whole poem, with the exception of the 
first canto and part of the last, is a mere 
human story without the smallest intermixture 
of supernatural interference. The first canto 
is, indeed, in some measure a distinct poem, 
though very necessary to the wholeness of the 
work. I say this because, if it were all written 
in the manner of the first canto, 1 could not 
expect that it would be interesting to any 
great number of people. I have attempted in 
the progress of my work to speak to the com' 
mon elementary emotions of the human heart, 
so that, though it is the story of violence and 
revolution, it is relieved by milder pictures of 
friendship and love and natural affections. The 
scene is supposed to be laid in Constantinople 
and modern Greece, but without much attempt 
at minute delineation of Mahometan manners. 
It is, in fact, a tale illustrative of such a revo- 
lution as might be supposed to take place in 
an European nation, acted upon by the opinions 
of what has been called (erroneously, as I 
think) the modern philosophy, and contend- 
ing with ancient notions and the supposed 
advantage derivijd from them to those who 
support them. It is a Revolution of this kind 
that is the beau ideal, as it were, of the French 
Revohition, but produced by the influence of 
individual genius and out of general know- 
ledge.' 

Peacock supplements Mrs. Shelley's note, 
with some details of the revision : 

' In the summer of 1817 he wrote The Revolt 
of Islam, chiefly on a seat on a high promi- 
nence in Bisham Wood where he passed whole 
mornings with a blank book and a pencil. 
This work when completed was printed under 
the title of Laon and Cythna. In this poem 
he had carried the expression of his opinions, 
moral, political, and theological, beyond the 
bounds of discretion. The terror which, in 
those days of persecution of the press, the 
perusal of the book inspired in Mr. Oilier, the 
publisher, induced him to solicit the alteration 
of many passages which he had marked. 
Shelley was for some time inflexible ; but Mr. 
OUier's refusal to publish the poem as it was, 



AUTHOR'S PREFACE 



4b 



backed by the advice of all his friends, induced 
him to submit to the required changes.' 

Shelley subsequently revised the poem still 
more, in expectation of a second edition, but 
the changes so made are now unknown. 

PREFACE 

The Poem which I now present to the world 
is an attempt from which I scarcely dare to 
expect success, and in which a writer of es- 
tablished fame might fail without disgrace. 
It is an experiment on the temper of the public 
mind as to how far a thirst for a happier con- 
dition of moral and political society survives, 
among the enlightened and refined, the tem- 
pests which have shaken the age in which we 
live. I have sought to enlist the harmony of 
metrical language, the ethereal combinations 
of the fancy, the rapid and subtle transitions 
of human passion, all those elements which 
essentially compose a poem, in the cause of a 
liberal and comprehensive morality ; and in the 
view of kindling within the bosoms of my 
readers a virtuous enthusiasm for those doc- 
trines of liberty and justice, that faith and 
hope in something good, which neither vio- 
lence, nor misrepresentation, nor prejudice, 
can ever totally extinguish among mankind. 

For this purpose I have chosen a story of 
human passion in its most universal character, 
diversified with moving and romantic adven- 
tures, and appealing, in contempt of all arti- 
ficial opinions or institutions, to the common 
sympathies of every human breast. I have 
made no attempt to recommend the motives 
which I would substitute for those at present 
governing mankind, by methodical and sys- 
tematic argument. I would only awaken the 
feelings, so that the reader should see the 
beauty of true virtue, and be incited to those 
inquiries which have led to my moral and po- 
litical creed, and that of some of the sublimest 
intellects in the world. The Poem therefore 
(with the exception of the first Canto, which is 
purely introductory) is narrative, not didactic. 
It is a succession of pictures illustrating the 
growth and progress of individual mind aspir- 
ing after excellence and devoted to the love of 
mankind ; its influence in refining and making 
pure the most daring and uncommon impulses 
of the imagination, the understanding, and the 
senses ; its impatience at ' all the oppressions 
which are done under the sun ; ' its tendency 
to awaken public hope and to enlighten and 
improve mankind ; the rapid effects of the 
application of that tendency ; the awakening 
of an immense nation from their slavery and 
degradation to a true sense of moral dignity 
and freedom ; the bloodless dethronement of 
their oppressors and the unveiling of the reli- 



gious frauds by which they had been deluded 
into submission ; the tranquillity of successful 
patriotism and the universal toleration and 
benevolence of true philanthropy ; the treach« 
ery and barbarity of hired soldiers ; vice not 
the object of punishment and hatred, but 
kindness and pity ; the faithlessness of tyrants ; 
the confederacy of the Rulers of the World 
and the restoration of the expelled Dynasty by 
foreign arms ; the massacre and extermination 
of the Patriots and the victory of established 
power ; the consequences of legitimate despo- 
tism, — civil war, famine, plague, superstition, 
and an utter extinction of the domestic affec- 
tions ; the judicial murder of the advocates of 
liberty ; the temporary triumph of oppression, 
that secure earnest of its final and inevitable 
fall ; the transient nature of ignorance and 
error and the eternity of genius and virtue. 
Such is the series of delineations of which the 
Poem consists. And if the lofty passions with 
which it has been my scope to distinguish this 
story shall not excite in the reader a gener- 
ous impulse, an ardent thirst for excellence, an 
interest profound and strong, such as belongs 
to no meaner desires, let not the failure be 
imputed to a natural unfitness for human 
sympathy in these sublime and animating 
themes. It is the business of the poet to com- 
municate to others the pleasure and the enthu- 
siasm arising out of those images and feelings 
in the vivid presence of which within his own 
mind consists at once his inspiration and his 
reward. 

The panic which, like an epidemic transport, 
seized upon all classes of men during the ex- 
cesses consequent upon the French Revolution, 
is gradually giving place to sanity. It has 
ceased to be believed that whole generations of 
mankind ought to consign themselves to a hope- 
less inheritance of ignorance and misery be- 
cause a nation of men who had been dupes and 
slaves for centuries were incapable of conduct- 
ing themselves with the wisdom and tranquil- 
lity of freemen so soon as some of their fetters 
were partially loosened. That their conduct 
could not have been marked by any other 
characters than ferocity and thoughtlessness is 
the historical fact from which liberty derives 
all its recommendations, and falsehood the 
worst features of its deformity. There is a 
reflux in the tide of human things which bears 
the shipwrecked hopes of men into a secure 
haven after the storms are past. Methinks 
those who now live have survived an age of 
despair. 

The French Revolution may be considered 
as one of those manifestations of a general 
state of feeling among civilized mankind, pro- 
duced by a defect of correspondence between 
the knowledge existing in society and the im.* 



46 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



provement or gradual abolition of political 
institutions. The year 1788 may be assumed 
as the epoch of one of the most important 
crises produced by this feeling-. The sympa- 
thies connected with that event extended to 
every bosom. The most generous and amia- 
ble natures were those which participated the 
most extensively in these sympathies. But 
such a degree of unmingled good was expected 
as it was impossible to realize. If the Revolu- 
tion had been in every respect prosperous, then 
misrule and superstition would lose half their 
claims to our abhorrence, as fetters which the 
captive can unlock with the slightest motion of 
his fingers, and which do not eat with poison- 
ous rust into the soul. The revulsion occa- 
sioned by the atrocities of the demagogues and 
the reestablishment of successive tyrannies in 
France was terrible, and felt in the remot- 
est corner of the civilized world. Could they 
listen to the plea of reason who had groaned 
under the calamities of a social state, according 
to the provisions of which one man riots in lux- 
ury whilst another famishes for want of bread ? 
Can he who the day before was a trampled 
slave suddenly become liberal-minded, forbear- 
ing, and independent ? This is the consequence 
of the habits of a state of society to be pro- 
duced by resolute perseverance and indefatiga- 
ble hope, and long-suifering and long-believing 
courage, and the systematic efforts of genera- 
tions of men of intellect and virtue. Such is 
the lesson which experience teaches now. But 
on the first reverses of hope in the progress 
of French liberty, the sanguine eagerness for 
good overleapt the solution of these questions, 
and for a time extinguished itself in the unex- 
pectedness of their result. Thus many of the 
most ardent and tender-hearted of the wor- 
shippers of public good have been morally 
ruined by what a partial glimpse of the events 
they deplored appeared to show as the melan- 
choly desolation of all their cherished hopes. 
Hence gloom and misanthropy have become 
the characteristics of the age in which we live, 
the solace of a disappointment that uncon- 
sciously finds relief only in the wilful exagger- 
ation of its own despair. This influence has 
tainted the literature of the age with the hope- 
lessness of the minds from which it flows. 
Metaphysics,^ and inquiries into moral and 
political science, have become little else than 
vain attempts to revive exploded superstitions, 
or sophisms like those '^ of Mr. Malthus, calcu- 
lated to lull the oppressors of mankind into a 

^ I ought to except Sir W. Drummond's Academical 
Questions; a volume of very acute and powerful meta- 
physical criticism. 

2 It is remarkable, as a symptom of the revival of 
public hope, that Mr. Malthus has assigned, in the later 
•ditions of bis work, an indefinite dominion to moral 



security of everlasting triumph. Our works 
of fiction and poetry have been overshadowed 
by the same infectious gloom. But mankind 
appear to me to be emerging from their trance. 
I am aware, methinks, of a slow, gradual, 
silent change. In that belief I have composed 
the following Poem. 

I do not presume to enter into competition 
with our greatest contemporary poets. Yet I 
am unwilling to tread in the footsteps of any 
who have preceded me. I have sought to 
avoid the imitation of any style of language or 
versification peculiar to the original minds of 
which it is the character, designing that even 
if what I have produced be worthless, it should 
still be properly my own. Nor have I permit- 
ted any system relating to mere words to divert 
the attention of the reader from whatever in- 
terest I may have succeeded in creating, to my 
own ingenuity in contriving to disgust them 
according to the rules of criticism. I have 
simply clothed my thoughts in what appeared 
to me the most obvious and appropriate lan- 
guage. A person familiar with Nature, and 
with the most celebrated productions of the 
human mind, can scarcely err in following the 
instinct, with respect to selection of language, 
produced by that familiarity. 

There is an education peculiarly fitted for a 
poet, without which genius and sensibility can 
hardly fill the circle of their capacities. No ed- 
ucation indeed can entitle to this appellation 
a dull and unobservant mind, or one, though 
neither dull nor unobservant, in which the chan- 
nels of communication between thought and 
expression have been obstructed or closed. How 
far it is my fortune to belong to either of the 
latter classes I cannot know. I aspire to be 
something better. The circumstances of my ac- 
cidental education have been favorable to this 
ambition. I have been familiar from boyhood 
with mountains and lakes, and the sea, and the 
solitude of forests ; Danger which sports upon 
the brink of precipices has been my playmate. 
I have trodden the glaciers of the Alps, and 
lived under the eye of Mont Blanc. I have 
been a wanderer among distant fields. I have 
sailed down mighty rivers, and seen the sur 
rise and set, and the stars come forth, whilst 1 
have sailed night and day down a rapid stream 
among mountains. I have seen populous cities, 
and have watched the passions which rise and 
spread, and sink and change, amongst asserai- 
bled multitudes of men. I have seen the thea- 
tre of the more visible ravages of tyranny and 

restraint over the principle of population. This con- 
cession answers all the inferences from his doctrine 
unfavorable to human improvement, and reduces the 
Essay on Population to a commentary illustrative of 
the uuanswerableuess of Political Justice, 



AUTHOR'S PREFACE 



47 



war, cities and villages reduced to scattered 
groups of black and roofless houses, and the 
naked inhabitants sitting- famished upon their 
desolated thresholds. I have conversed with 
living men of genius. The poetry of ancient 
Greece and Rome, and modei'u Italy, and our 
own country, has been to me like external 
nature, a passion and an enjoyment. Such are 
the sources from which the materials for the 
imagery of my Poem have been drawn. I 
have considered poetry in its most comprehen- 
sive sense, and have read the poets and the his- 
torians, and the metaphysicians ^ whose writ- 
ings have been accessible to me, and have 
looked upon the beautiful and majestic scenery 
of the earth, as common sources of those ele- 
ments which it is the province of the poet to 
embody and combine. Yet the experience and 
the feelings to which I refer do not in them- 
selves constitute men poets, but only prepares 
them to be the auditors of those who are. 
How far I shall be found to possess that more 
essential attribute of poetry, the power of 
awakening in others sensations like those which 
animate my own bosom, is that which, to speak 
sincerely, I know not ; and which, with an 
acquiescent and contented spirit, I expect to 
be taught by the effect which I shall produce 
upon those whom I now address. 

I have avoided, as I have said before, the 
imitation of any contemporary style. But there 
must be a resemblance, which does not depend 
upon their own will, between all the writers of 
any particular age. They cannot escape from 
subjection to a common influence which arises 
out of an infinite combination of circumstances 
belonging to the times in which they live, 
though each is in a degree the author of the 
very influence by which his being is thus per- 
vaded. Thus, the tragic poets of the age of 
Pericles ; the Italian revivers of ancient learn- 
ing ; those mighty intellects of our own country 
that succeeded the Reformation, the translators 
of the Bible, Shakespeare, Spenser, the Dra- 
matists of the reign of Elizabeth, and Lord 
Bacon ; ^ the colder spirits of the interval that 
succeeded ; — all resemble each other, and dif- 
fer from every other in their several classes. 
In this view of things, Ford can no more be 
called the imitator of Shakespeare than Shake- 
speare the imitator of Ford. There were per- 
haps few other points of resemblance between 
these two men than that which the universal 
and inevitable influence of their age produced. 
And this is an influence which neither the mean- 
est scribbler nor the sublimest genius of any 

1 In this sense there may be such a thing as perfecti- 
bility in works of fiction, notwithstanding the conces- 
sion often made by the advocates of human improve- 



era can escape ; and which I have not attempted 
to escape. 

I have adopted the stanza of Spenser (a 
measure inexpressibly beautiful) not because I 
consider it a finer model of poetical harmony 
than the blank verse of Shakespeare and Mil- 
ton, but because in the latter there is no shelter 
for mediocrity ; you must either succeed or fail. 
This perhaps an aspiring spirit should desire. 
But I was enticed also by the brilliancy and 
magnificence of sound which a mind that has 
been nourished upon musical thoughts can pro- 
duce by a just and harmonious arrangement of 
the pauses of tiiis measure. Yet there will be 
found some instances where I have completely 
failed in this attempt, and one, which 1 here 
request the reader to consider as an erratum, 
where there is left most inadvertently an alex- 
andrine in the middle of a stanza. 

But in this, as in every other respect, I have 
written fearlessly. It is the misfortune of this 
age that its writers, too thoughtless of immor- 
tality, are exquisitely sensible to temporary 
praise or blame. They write with the fear of 
Reviews before their eyes. This system of 
criticism sprang up in that torpid interval 
when poetry was not. Poetry and the art 
which professes to regulate and limit its powers 
cannot subsist together. Longinus could not 
have been the contemporary of Homer, nor 
Boileau of Horace. Yet this species of crit- 
icism never presumed to assert an understand- 
ing of its own ; it has always, unlike true 
science, followed, not preceded the opinion 
of mankind, and would even now bribe with 
worthless adulation some of our greatest poets 
to impose gratuitous fetters on their own im- 
aginations and become unconscious accom- 
plices in the daily murder of all genius either 
not so aspiring or not so fortunate as their 
own. I have sought therefore to write, as I 
believe that Homer, Shakespeare, and Miltinn 
wrote, with an utter disregard of anonymoo? 
censure. I am certain that calumny and mis 
representation, though it may move me to com- 
passion, cannot disturb my peace. I shall 
understand the expressive silence of those sa- 
gacious enemies who dare not trust themselves 
to speak. I shall endeavor to extract from 
the midst of insult and contempt and maledic- 
tions those admonitions which may tend to 
correct whatever imperfections such censurers 
may discover in this my first serious appeal to 
the public. If certain critics were as clear- 
sighted as they are malignant, how great would 
be the benefit to be derived from their virulent 

ment, that perfectibility is a term \pplicable only tc 
science. 
2 Milton stands alone in the age which he illumined. 



48 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



writings ! As it is, I fear I shall be malicious 
enough to be amused with their paltry tricks 
and lame invectives. Should the public judge 
that my composition is worthless, I shall in- 
deed bow before the tribunal from which Mil- 
ton received his crown of immortality, and 
shall seek to gather, if I live, strength from 
that defeat, which may nerve me to some new 
enterprise of thought which may not be worth- 
less. I cannot conceive that Lucretius, when 
he meditated that poem whose doctrines are 
yet the basis of our metaphysical knowledge 
and whose eloquence has been the wonder of 
mankind, wrote in awe of such censure as the 
hired sophists of the impure and superstitious 
noblemen of Rome might affix to what he 
should produce. It was at the period when 
Greece was led captive and Asia made tribu- 
tary to the Republic, fast verging itself to 
slavery and ruin, that a multitude of Syrian 
captives, bigoted to the worship of their ob- 
scene Ashtaroth, and the unworthy successors 
of Socrates and Zeno, found there a precarious 
subsistence by administering, under the name 
of freedmen, to the vices and vanities of the 
great. These wretched men were skilled to 
plead, with a superficial but plausible set of 
sophisms, in favor of that contempt for virtue 
which is the portion of slaves, and that faith in 
portents, the most fatal substitute for benevo- 
lence in the imaginations of men, which arising 
from the enslaved communities of the East 
then first began to overwhelm the western na- 
tions in its stream. Were these the kind of 
men whose disapprobation the wise and lofty- 
minded Lucretius should have regarded with 
a salutary awe ? The latest and perhaps the 
meanest of those who follow in his footsteps 
would disdain to hold life on such conditions. 

The Poem now presented to the public oc- 
cupied little more than six months in the 
composition. That period has been devoted to 
the task with unremitting ardor and enthu- 
siasm. I have exercised a watchful and ear- 
nest criticism on my work as it grew under ray 
hands. I would willingly have sent it forth 
to the world with that perfection which long 
labor and revision is said to bestow. But I 
found that if I should gain something in 
exactness by this method, I might lose much 
of the newness and energy of imagery and 
language as it flowed fresh from my mind. 
And although the mere composition occupied 
no more than six months, the thoughts thus 



arranged were slowly gathered in as many 
years. 

I trust that the reader will carefully dis- 
tinguish between those opinions which have a 
dramatic propriety in reference to the char- 
acters which they are designed to elucidate, 
and such as are properly my own. The erro- 
neous and degrading idea which men have con- 
ceived of a Supreme Being, for instance, is 
spoken against, but not the Supreme Being 
itself. The belief which some superstitious 
persons whom I have brought upon the stage 
entertain of the Deity, as injurious to the 
character of his benevolence, is widely different 
from my own. In recommending also a great 
and important change in the spirit which ani- 
mates the social institutions of mankind, I 
have avoided all flattery to those violent and 
malignant passions of our nature which are 
ever on the watch to mingle with and to alloy 
the most beneficial innovations. There is no 
quarter given to revenge, or envy, or prejudice. 
Love is celebrated everywhere as the sole law 
which should govern the moral world. 

In Laon and Cythna the following passage 
was added, in conclusion : 

In the personal conduct of my hero and 
heroine, there is one circumstance which was 
intended to startle the reader from the trance 
of ordinary life. It was my object to break 
through the crust of those outworn opiiiions on 
which established institutions depend. I have 
appealed therefore to the most universal of all 
feelings, and have endeavored to strengthen 
the moral sense by forbidding it to waste its 
energies in seeking to avoid actions which are 
only crimes of convention. It is because there 
is so great a multitude of artificial vices that 
there are so few real virtues. Those feelings 
alone which are benevolent or malevolent are 
essentially good or bad. The circumstance of 
which I speak was introduced, however, merely 
to accustom men to that charitj"^ and tolera- 
tion which the exhibition of a practice widely 
differing from their own has a tendency to 
promote.^ Nothing indeed can be more mis- 
chievous than many actions innocent in them- 
selves which might bring down upon indi- 
viduals the bigoted contempt and rage of the 
multitude. 

1 The sentiments connected with and characteristic 
of this circumstance have no personal reference to the 
writer. 



DEDICATION 

There is no danger to a man that knows 
What life and death is : there's notany law 
Exceeds his knowledge ; neither is it lawful 
That he should stoop to any other law. 

Chapman. 



TO MARY 



49 



TO MARY 



So now my summer-task is ended, Mary, 
And I return to thee, mine own heart's 

home; 
As to his Queen some victor Knight of 

Faery, 
Earning bright spoils for her enchanted 

dome; 
Nor thou disdain, that ere my fame be- 
come 
A star among the stars of mortal night, 
If it indeed may cleave its natal gloom. 
Its doubtful promise thus I would unite 
With thy beloved name, thou Child of love 
and light. 

II 

The toil which stole from thee so many 

an hour. 
Is ended, — and the fruit is at thy feet ! 
No longer where the woods to frame a 

bower 
With interlaced branches mix and meet. 
Or where, with sound like many voices 

sweet, 
Water-falls leap among wild islands 

green. 
Which framed for my lone boat a lone 

-retreat 
Of moss-grown trees and weeds, shall I 

be seen; 
But beside thee, where still my heart has 

ever been. 

Ill 

Thoughts of great deeds were mine, dear 

Friend, when first 
The clouds which wrap this world from 

youth did pass. 
I do remember well the hour which burst 
My spirit's sleep. A fresh May-dawn it 

was. 
When I walked forth upon the glittering 

grass. 
And wept, I knew not why; until there 

rose 
From the near school-room voices that, 

alas! 
Were but one echo from a world of 

woes — 
Che harsh and grating strife of tyrants and 

of foes. 



IV 

And then I clasped my hands and looked 

around, 
But none was near to mock my streaming 

eyes. 
Which poured their warm drops on the 

sunny ground — 
So without shame I spake: — 'I will be 

wise. 
And just, and free, and mild, if in me 

lies 
Such power, for I grow weary to behold 
The selfish and the strong still tyrannize 
Without reproach or check.' I then con- 
trolled 
My tears, my heart grew calm, and I was 

meek and bold. 



And from that hour did I with earnest 
thought 

Heap knowledge from forbidden mines of 
lore; 

Yet nothing that my tyrants knew or 
taught 

I cared to learn, but from that secret 
store 

Wrought linked armor for my soul, be- 
fore 

It might walk forth to war among man- 
kind; 

Thus power and hope were strengthened 
more and more 

Within me, till there came upon my 
mind 
A sense of loneliness, a thirst with which I 
pined. 

VI 

Alas, that love should be a blight and 

snare 
To those who seek all sympathies in one ! 
Such once I sought in vain; then black 

despair. 
The shadow of a starless night, was 

thrown 
Over the world in which I moved alone : — 
Yet never found I one not false to me. 
Hard hearts, and cold, like weights of icy 

stone 
Which crushed and withered mine, that 

could not be 
Aught but a lifeless clog, until rerived by 

thee. 



50 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



VII 



Thou Friend, whose presence on my win- 
try heart 

Fell, like bright Spring upon some herb- 
less plain; 

How beautiful and calm and free thou 
wert 

In thy young wisdom, when the mortal 
chain 

Of Custom thou didst burst and rend in 
twain, 

And walked as free as light the clouds 
among, 

Which many an envious slave then 
breathed in vain 

From his dim dungeon, and my spirit 
sprung 
Xo meet thee from the woes which had 
begirt it long ! 

VIII 

No more alone through the world's wil- 
derness. 
Although I trod the paths of high intent, 
X journeyed now; no more companion- 
less, 
Where solitude is like despair, I went. 
There is the wisdom of a stern content 
When Poverty can blight the just and 

good. 
When Infamy dares mock the innocent. 
And cherished friends turn with the mul- 
titude 
To trample: this was ours, and we un- 
shaken stood ! 

IX 

Now has descended a serener hour, 
And with inconstant fortune, friends re- 
turn; 
Though suffering leaves the knowledge 

and the power 
Which says, — Let scorn be not repaid 

with scorn. 
And from thy side two gentle babes are 

born 
To fill our home with smiles, and thus 

are we 
Most fortunate beneath life's beaming 

morn; 
And these delights, and thou, have been 

to me 
llie parents of the Song I consecrate to 

thee. 



Is it that now my inexperienced fingers 

But strike the prelude of a loftier strain? 

Or must the lyre on which my spirit lin- 
gers 

Soon pause in silence, ne'er to sound 
again. 

Though it might shake the Anarch Cus- 
tom's reign. 

And charm the minds of men to Truth's 
own sway. 

Holier than was Amphion's ? I would 
fain 

Reply in hope — but I am worn away, 
And Death and Love are yet contending 
for their prey. 

XI 

And what art thou ? I know, but dare 

not speak: 
Time may interpret to his silent years. 
Yet in the paleness of thy thoughtful 

cheek, 
And in the light thine ample forehead 

wears, 
And in thy sweetest smiles, and in thy 

tears. 
And in thy gentle speech, a prophecy 
Is whispered to subdue my fondest fears; 
And, through thine eyes, even in thy soul 

I see 
A lamp of vestal fire burning internally. 

XII 

They say that thou wert lovely from thy 

birth. 
Of glorious parents thou aspiring Child ! 
I wonder not — for One then left this 

earth 
Whose life was like a setting planet 

mild. 
Which clothed thee in the radiance uude- 

filed 
Of its departing glory; still her fame 
Shines on thee, through the tempests 

dark and wild 
Which shake these latter days; and thou 

canst claim 
The shelter, from thy Sire, of an immortal 

name. 

XIII 

One voice came forth from many a 
mighty spirit, 



CANTO FIRST 



51 



Which was the echo of three thousand 

years: 
And the tumultuous world stood mute to 

hear it, 
As some lone man who in a desert hears 
The music of his home : — unwonted 

fears 
Fell on the pale oppressors of our race, 
And Faith, and Custom, and low- 

thoughted cares. 
Like thunder -stricken dragons, for a 

space 
Left the torn human heart, their food and 

dwelling-place. 

XIV 

Truth's deathless voice pauses among 
mankind ! 

If there must be no response to my 
cry — 

If men must rise and stamp with fury 
blind 

On his pure name who loves them, — 
thou and I, 

Sweet Friend ! can look from our tran- 
quillity 

Like lamps into the world's tempestuous 
night, — 

Two tranquil stars, while clouds are 
passing by 

Which wrap them from the foundering 
seaman's sight, 
That burn from year to year with unextin- 
guished light. 



CANTO FIRST 



When the last hope of trampled France 
had failed 

Like a brief dream of unremaining glory. 

From visions of despair I rose, and 
scaled 

The peak of an aerial promontory. 

Whose caverned base with the vexed 
surge was hoary; 

And saw the golden dawn break forth, 
and waken 

Each cloud and every wave: — but tran- 
sitory 

The calm; for sudden, the firm earth 
was shaken. 
As if by the last wreck its frame were over- 
taken. 



II 

So as I stood, one blast of muttering 

thunder 
Burst in far peals along the waveless deep. 
When, gathering fast, around, above 

and under, 
Long trains of tremulous mist began io 

creep. 
Until their complicating lines did steep 
The orient sun in shadow: — not a sound 
Was heard; one horrible repose did keep 
The forests and the floods, and all around 
Darkness more dread than night was 

poured upon the ground. 

Ill 

Hark ! 't is the rushing of a wind that 
sweeps 

Earth and the ocean. See! the light- 
nings yawn. 

Deluging Heaven with fire, and the 
lashed deeps 

Glitter and boil beneath! it rages on. 

One mighty stream, whirlwind and waves 
upt brown. 

Lightning, and hail, and darkness eddy- 
ing by! 

There is a pause — the sea-birds, that 
were gone 

Into their caves to shriek, come forth to 

spy 

What calm has fall'n on earth, what light 
is in the sky. 

IV 

For, where the irresistible storm had 

cloven 
That fearful darkness, the blue sky was 

seen, 
Fretted with many a fair cloud inter- 
woven 
Most delicately, and the ocean green. 
Beneath that opening spot of blue serene, 
Quivered like burning emerald; calm 

was spread 
On all below; but far on high, between 
Earth and the upper air, the vast clouds 
fled. 
Countless and swift as leaves on autumn's 
tempest shed. 



For ever as the war became more fierce 
Between the whirlwinds and the rack on 
high, 



52 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



That spot grew more serene; blue light 

did pierce 
The woof of those white clouds, which 

seemed to lie 
Far, deep and motionless; while through 

the sky 
The pallid semicircle of the moon 
Passed on, in slow and moving majesty ; 
Its upper horn arrayed in mists, which 

soon, 
But slowly, fled, like dew beneath the 

beams of noon. 

VI 

I could not choose but gaze; a fascina- 
tion 

Dwelt in that moon, and sky, and clouds, 
which drew 

My fancy thither, and in expectation 

Of what I knew not, I remained. The 
hue 

Of the white moon, amid that heaven so 
blue 

Suddenly stained with shadow did ap- 
pear; 

A speck, a cloud, a shape, approaching 
grew. 

Like a great ship in the sun's sinking 
sphere 
Beheld afar at sea, and swift it came anear. 

VII 

Even like a bark, which from a chasm of 

mountains, 
Dark, vast and overhanging, on a river 
Which there collects the strength of all 

its fountains, 
Comes forth, whilst with the speed its 

frame doth quiver. 
Sails, oars and stream, tending to one 

endeavor; 
So, from that chasm of light a winged 

Form 
On all the winds of heaven approaching 

ever 
Floated, dilating as it came; the storm 
Pursued it with fierce blasts, and light- 
nings swift and warm. 

VIII 

A course precipitous, of dizzy speed. 
Suspending thought and breath; a mon- 
strous sight! 
For in the air do I behold indeed 



An Eagle and a Serpent wreathed in 

fight : — 
And now, relaxing its impetuous flight, 
Before the aerial rock on which I stood, 
The Eagle, hovering, wheeled to left and 

right, 
And hung with lingering wings over the 

flood. 
And startled with its yells the wide air's 

solitude. 

IX 

A shaft of light upon its wings de- 
scended, 
And every golden feather gleamed 

therein — 
Feather and scale inextricably blended. 
The Serpent's mailed and many-colored 

skin 
Shone through the plumes its coils were 

twined within 
By many a swollen and knotted fold, 

and high 
And far, the neck receding lithe and 

thin. 
Sustained a crested head, which warily 
Shifted and glanced before the Eagle's 

steadfast eye. 



Around, around, in ceaseless circles 

wheeling 
With clang of wings and scream, the 

Eagle sailed 
Incessantly — sometimes on high con- 
cealing 
Its lessening orbs, sometimes as if it 

failed, 
Drooped through the air; and still it 

shrieked and wailed. 
And casting back its eager head, with 

beak 
And talon unremittingly assailed 
The wreathed Serpent, who did ever seek 
Upon his enemy's heart a mortal wound to 

wreak. 

XI 

What life, what power, was kindled and 
arose 

Within the sphere of that appalling fray! 

For, from the encounter of those won- 
drous foes, 

A vapor like the sea's suspended spray 



CANTO FIRST 



53 



Hung gathered ; in the void air, far 
away, 

Floated the shattered plumes ; bright 
scales did leap, 

Where'er the Eagle's talons made their 
way, 

Like sparks into the darkness ; — as they 
sweep, 
Blood stains the snowy foam of the tumul- 
tuous deep. 

XII 

Swift chances in that combat — many a 

check, 
And many a change, a dark and wild 

turmoil! 
Sometimes the Snake around his enemy's 

neck 
Locked in stiff rings hie adamantine 

coil. 
Until the Eagle, faint with pain and 

toil, 
Remitted his strong flight, and near the 

sea 
Languidly fluttered, hopeless so to foil 
His adversary, who then reared on high 
His red and burning crest, radiant with 

victory. 

XIII 

Then on the white edge of the bursting 

surge. 
Where they had sunk together, would 

the Snake 
Relax his suffocating grasp, and scourge 
The wind with his wild writhings; for, 

to break 
That chain of torment, the vast bird would 

shake 
The strength of his unconquerable wings 
As in despair, and with his sinewy neck 
Dissolve in sudden shock those linked 
rings — , 
Then soar, as swift as smoke from a vol- 
cano springs. 

XIV 

Wile baffled wile, and strength encoun- 
tered strength, 
Thus long, but unprevailing. The event 
Of that portentous fight appeared at 

length. 
Until the lamp of day was almost spent 
It had endured, when lifeless, stark and 
rent, I 



Hung high that mighty Serpent, and at 

last 
Fell to the sea, while o'er the continent 
With clang of wings and scream the 

Eagle passed. 
Heavily borne away on the exhausted blast 

XV 

And with it fled the tempest, so that 
ocean 

And earth and sky shone through the 
atmosphere; 

Only, 't was strange to see the red com- 
motion 

Of waves like mountains o'er the sinking 
sphere 

Of sunset sweep, and their fierce roar to 
hear 

Amid the calm ; down the steep path I 
wound 

To the sea-shore — the evening was most 
clear 

And beautiful, and there the sea I found 
Calm as a cradled child in dreamless slum- 
ber bound. 

There was a Woman, beautiful as morn- 
ing, 

Sitting beneath the rocks upon the sand 

Of the waste sea — fair as one flower 
adorning 

An icy wilderness; each delicate hand 

Lay crossed upon her bosom, and the 
band 

Of her dark hair had fall'n, and so sue 
sate 

Looking upon the waves ; on the bare 
strand 

Upon the sea-mark a small boat did wait. 
Fair as herself, like Love by Hope left 
desolate. 

XVII 

It seemed that this fair Shape had looked 
upon 

That unimaginable fight, and now 

That her sweet eyes were weary of the 
sim, 

As brightly it illustrated her woe; 

For in the tears, which silently to flow 

Paused not, its lustre hung: she, watch- 
ing aye 

The foam-wreaths w^hich the faint tide 
wove below 



54 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



Upon the spangled sands, groaned heav- 

ily, 

And after every groan looked up over the 
sea. 

XVIII 

And when she saw the wounded Serpent 

make 
His path between the waves, her lips 

grew pale, 
Parted and quivered; the tears ceased to 

break 
From her immovable eyes; no voice of 

wail 
Escaped her; but she rose, and on the 

gale 
Loosening her star -bright robe and 

shadowy hair. 
Poured forth her voice; the caverns of 

the vale 
That opened to the ocean, caught it there. 
And filled with silver sounds the overflow- 
ing air. 

XIX 

She spake in language whose strange 

melody 
Might not belong to earth. I heard alone 
What made its music more melodious 

be. 
The pity and the love of every tone; 
But to the Snake those accents sweet 

were known 
His native tongue and hers; nor did he 

beat 
The hoar spray idly then, but winding on 
Through the green shadows of the waves 

that meet 
Near to the shore, did pause beside her 

snowy feet. 

XX 

Then on the sands the Woman sate 

again. 
And wept and clasped her hands, and, all 

between. 
Renewed the unintelligible strain 
Of her melodious voice and eloquent 

mien ; 
And she unveiled her bosom, and the 

green 
And glancing shadows of the sea did 

play 
O'er its marmoreal depth — one moment 

seen, 



For ere the next, the Serpent did obey 
Her voice, and, coiled in rest, in her em» 
brace it lay. 

XXI 

Then she arose, and smiled on me with 
eyes 

Serene yet sorrowing, like that planet 
fair, 

While yet the daylight lingereth in the 
skies. 

Which cleaves with arrowy beams the 
dark-red air. 

And said : * To grieve is wise, but the de- 
spair 

Was weak and vain which led thee here 
from sleep. 

This shalt thou know, and more, if thou 
dost dare 

With me and with this Serpent, o'er the 
deep, 
A voyage divine and strange, companion- 
ship to keep.' 

XXII 

Her voice was like the wildest, saddest 

tone. 
Yet sweet, of some loved voice heard 

long ago. 
I wept. Shall this fair woman all alone 
Over the sea with that fierce Serpent go ? 
His head is on her heart, and who can 

know 
How soon he may devour his feeble 

prey ? — 
Such were my thoughts, when the tide 

'gan to flow ; 
And that strange boat like the moon's 

shade did sway 
Amid reflected stars that in the waters lay. 

XXIII 

A boat of rare device, which had no 
sail 

But its own curved prow of thin moon- 
stone. 

Wrought like a web of texture fine and 
frail. 

To catch those gentlest winds which are 
not known 

To breathe, but by the steady speed alone 

With which it cleaves the sparkling sea; 
and now 

We are embarked — the mountains bang 
and frown 



CANTO FIRST 



55 



Over the starry deep that gleams below 
A vast and dim expanse, as o'er the waves 
we go. 

XXIV 

And as we sailed, a strange and awful tale 
That Woman told, like such mysterious 

dream 
As makes the slumberer's cheek with 

wonder pale ! 
'T was midnight, and around, a shoreless 

stream, 
Wide ocean rolled, when that majestic 

theme 
Shrined in her heart found utterance, and 

she bent 
Her looks on mine; those eyes a kin- 
dling beam 
Of love divine into my spirit sent. 
And, ere her lips could move, made the air 

eloquent. 

XXV 

* Speak not to me, but hear ! much shalt 
thou learn. 

Much must remain unthought, and more 
untold. 

In the dark Future's ever-flowing urn. 

Know then that from the depth of ages 
old 

Two Powers o'er mortal things dominion 
hold. 

Ruling the world with a divided lot. 

Immortal, all-pervading, manifold, 

Twin Genii, equal Gods — when life and 
thought 
Sprang forth, they burst the womb of in- 
essential Nought. 

XXVI 

' The earliest dweller of the world alone 
Stood on the verge of chaos. Lo ! afar 
O'er the wide wild abyss two meteors 

shone, 
Sprung from the depth of its tempestu- 
ous jar — 
A blood-red Comet and the Morning Star 
Mingling their beams in combat. As he 

stood 
All thoughts within his mind waged mu- 
tual war 
In dreadful sympathy — when to the 
flood 
That fair Star fell, he turned and shed his 
brother's blood. 



XXVII 

* Thus Evil triumphed, and the Spirit of 
Evil, 
One Power of many shapes which none 

may know, 
One Shape of many names; the Fiend 

did revel 
In victory, reigning o'er a world of woe, 
For the new race of man went to and fro, 
Famished and homeless, loathed and 

loathing, wild. 
And hating good — for his immortal foe. 
He changed from starry shape, beauteous 
and mild. 
To a dire Snake, with man and beast un- 
reconciled. 



XXVIII 

' The darkness lingering o'er the dawn of 

things 
Was Evil's breath and life ; this made 

him strong 
To soar aloft with overshadowing wings ; 
And the great Spirit of Good did creep 

among 
The nations of mankind, and every tongue 
Cursed and blasphemed him as he passed; 

for none 
Knew good from evil, though their names 

were hung 
In mockery o'er the fane where many a 

groan. 
As King, and Lord, and God, the conquer- 
ing Fiend did own. 

XXIX 

' The Fiend, whose name was Legion 

Death, Decay, 
Earthquake and Blight, and Want, anc' 

Madness pale, 
Winged and wan diseases, an array 
Numerous as leaves that strew the au- 
tumnal gale; 
Poison, a snake in flowers, beneath the 

veil 
Of food and mirth, hiding his mortal 

head; 
And, without whom all these might 

nought avail. 
Fear, Hatred, Faith and Tyranny, who 

spread 
Those subtle nets which snare the living 

and the dead. 



56 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



XXX 

* His spirit is their power, and they his 

slaves 
In air, and light, and thought, and lan- 
guage dwell; 
And keep their state from palaces to 

graves, 
In all resorts of men — invisible. 
But when, in ebon mirror, Nightmare fell. 
To tyrant or impostor bids tliem rise. 
Black winged demon - forms — whom, 

from the hell. 
His reign and dwelling beneath nether 
skies. 
He loosens to their dark and blasting min- 
istries. 

XXXI 

* In the world's youth his empire was as 

firm 
As its foundations. Soon the Spirit of 

Good, 
Though in the likeness of a loathsome 

worm, 
Sprang from the billows of the formless 

flood, 
Which shrank and fled; and with that 

Fiend of blood 
Renewed the doubtful war. Thrones 

then first shook, 
And earth's immense and trampled mul- 
titude 
In hope on their own powers began to 

look. 
And Fear, the demon pale, his sanguine 

shrine forsook. 

XXXII 

* Then Greece arose, and to its bards and 

sages. 
In dream, the golden - pinioned Genii 

came. 
Even where they slept amid the night 

of ages, 
Steeping their hearts in the divinest flame 
Which thy breath kindled. Power of 

holiest name! 
And oft in cycles since, when darkness 

gave 
New weapons to thy foe, their sunlike 

fame 
Upon the combat shone — a light to save, 
Like Paradise spread forth beyond the 

shadowy grave. 



XXXIII 

' Such is this conflict — when mankind 

doth strive 
With its oppressors in a strife of blood, 
Or when free thoughts, like lightnings, 

are alive. 
And in each bosom of the multitude 
Justice and truth with custom's hydra 

brood 
Wage silent war; when priests and 

kings dissemble 
In smiles or frowns their fierce disqui- 
etude. 
When round pure hearts a host of hopes 

assemble. 
The Snake and Eagle meet — the world's 

foundations tremble! 



XXXIV 

' Thou hast beheld that fight — when to 
thy home 

Thou dost return, steep not its hearth 
in tears; 

Though thou mayst hear that earth is 
now become 

The tyrant's garbage, which to his com- 
peers, 

The vile reward of their dishonored 
years. 

He will dividing give. The victor 
Fiend 

Omnipotent of yore, now quails, and 
fears 

His triumph dearly won, which soon will 
lend 
An impulse swift and sure to his approach- 
ing end. 

XXXV 

* List, stranger, list! mine is an human 

form 
Like that thou wearest — touch me — 

shrink not now! 
My hand thou feel'st is not a ghost's, 

but warm 
With human blood. 'Twas many years 

ago, 
Since first my thirsting soul aspired to 

know 
The secrets of this wondrous world, 

when deep 
My heart was pierced with sympathy for 

woe 



CANTO FIRST 



57 



Which could not be mine own, and 
thought did keep 
In dream unnatural watch beside an in- 
fant's sleep. 

XXXVI 

* Woe could not be mine own, since far 

from men 

I dwelt, a free and happy orphan child, 

By the sea-shore, in a deep mountain glen ; 

And near the waves and through the for- 
ests wild 

I roamed, to storm and darkness recon- 
ciled; 

For I was calm while tempest shook the 
sky. 

But when the breathless heavens in 
beauty smiled, 

I wept sweet tears, yet too tumultuously 
For peace, and clasped my hands aloft in 
ecstasy. 

XXXVII 

' These were forebodings of my fate. Be- 
fore 
A woman's heart beat in my virgin 

breast. 
It had been nurtured in divinest lore; 
A dying poet gave me books, and blessed 
With wild but holy talk the sweet unrest 
In which I watched him as he died away; 
A youth with hoary hair, a fleeting guest 
Of our lone mountains; and this lore did 
sway 
My spirit like a storm, contending there 
alway. 

XXXVIII 

* Thus the dark tale which history doth 

unfold 

I knew, but not, methinks, as others 
know. 

For they weep not; and Wisdom had 
unrolled 

The clouds which hide the gulf of mortal 
woe; 

To few can she that warning vision show; 

For I loved all things with intense devo- 
tion. 

So that when Hope's deep source in full- 
est flow. 

Like earthquake did uplift the stagnant 
ocean 
Of human thoughts, mine shook beneath 
the wide emotion. 



XXXIX 

* When first the living blood through all 

these veins 
Kindled a thought in sense, great France 

sprang forth, 
And seized, as if to break, the ponderous 

chains 
Which bind in woe the nations of the 

earth. 
I saw, and started from my cottage 

hearth; 
And to the clouds and waves in tameless 

gladness 
Shrieked, till they caught immeasurable 

mirth. 
And laughed in light and music: soon 

sweet madness 
Was poured upon my heart, a soft and 

thrilling sadness. 



XL 

* Deep slumber fell on me : — my dreams 

were fire. 
Soft and delightful thoughts did rest and 

hover 
Like shadows o'er my brain ; and strange 

desire. 
The tempest of a passion, raging over 
My tranquil soul, its depths with light 

did cover. 
Which passed; and calm, and darkness, 

sweeter far. 
Came — then I loved; but not a human 

lover ! 
For when I rose from sleep, the Morning 

Star 
Shone through the woodbine wreaths which 

round my casement were. 

XLI 

' 'T was like an eye which seemed to smile 
on me. 

I watched, till by the sun made pale it 
sank 

Under the billows of the heaving sea; 

But from its beams deep love my spirit 
drank. 

And to my brain the boundless world 
now shrank 

Into one thought — one image — yes, 
forever ! 

Even like the dayspring, poured on va- 
pors dank, 



58 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



The beams of that one Star did shoot 
and quiver 
Through my benighted mind — and were 
extinguished never. 

XLII 

*The day passed thus. At night, me- 
thought, in dream 

A shape of speechless beauty did ap- 
pear; 

It stood like light on a careering stream 

Of golden clouds which shook the atmo- 
sphere; 

A winged youth, his radiant brow did 
wear 

The Morning Star; a wild dissolving 
bliss 

Over my frame he breathed, approach- 
ing near, 

And bent his eyes of kindling tender- 
ness 
Near mine, and on my lips impressed a 
lingering kiss, 

XLIII 

<And said: " A Spirit loves thee, mortal 

maiden ; 
How wilt thou prove thy worth ? " Then 

joy and sleep 
Together fled; my soul was deeply 

laden, 
And to the shore I went to muse and 

weep; 
But as I moved, over my heart did creep 
A joy less soft, but more profound and 

strong 
Than my sweet dream; and it forbade to 

keep 
The path of the sea-shore; that Spirit's 

tongue 
Seemed whispering in my heart, and bore 

my steps along. 

XLIV 

* How, to that vast and peopled city led, 
Which was a field of holy warfare 

then, 
I walked 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 spurned at peace, and power, and 

fame ; and wht n 



Those hopes had lost the glory of their 
youth. 
How sadly I returned — might move the 
hearer's ruth. 

XLV 

' Warm tears throng fast! the tale may 
not be said. 

Know then that, when this grief had 
been subdued, 

I was not left, like others, cold and dead ; 

The Spirit whom I loved in solitude 

Sustained his child; the tempest-shaken 
wood. 

The waves, the fountains, and the hush 
of night — 

These were his voice, and well I under- 
stood 

His smile divine, when the calm sea was 
bright 
With silent stars, and Heaven was breath- 
less 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 awakened 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 pas- 
sionate cry. 
And spake no more. That silence made 

me start — 
I looked, 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 ap- 
proach alway. 



CANTO FIRST 



59 



XLVIII 

And swift and swifter grew the vessel's 

motion, 
So that a dizzy trance fell on my brain, — 
Wild music woke me; we bad passed the 

ocean 
Which girds the pole, Nature's remotest 

reign; 
And we glode fast o'er a pellucid plain 
Of waters, azure with the noontide day. 
Ethereal 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 ecstasy, 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 marmo- 
real floods. 

L 

Like what may be conceived of this vast 
dome, 

When from the depths which thought 
can seldom pierce 

Genius beholds it rise, his native home, 

Girt by the deserts of the Universe; 

Yet, nor in painting's light, or mightier 
verse, 

Or sculpture's marble language can in- 
vest 

That shape to mortal sense — such 
glooms immerse 

That incommunicable sight, and rest 
Upon the laboring brain and over-burdened 
breast. 

LI 

Winding among the lawny islands fair, 
Whose blosmy forests starred the shad- 
owy 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 disembarked, and through a portal 

wide 
We passed, whose roof of moonstone 

carved did keep 
A glimmering o'er the forms on every 

side. 
Sculptures like life and thought, immovable, 

deep-eyed. 

LII 

We came to a vast hall, whose glorious 

roof 
Was diamond which had drunk the 

lightning's sheen 
In darkness and now poured it through 

the woof 
Of spell-inwoven clouds hung there to 

screen 
Its blinding splendor — through such veil 

was seen 
That work of subtlest power, divine and 

rare; 
Orb above orb, with starry shapes be- 
tween, 
And horned moons, and meteors strange 

and fair, 
On night-black columns poised — one hoi' 

low hemisphere! 

LIII 

Ten thousand columns in that quivering 

light 
Distinct, between whose shafts wound far 

away 
The long and labyrinthine aisles, more 

bright 
With their own radiance than the Heaven 

of Day; 
And on the jasper walls around there lay 
Paintings, the poesy of mightiest thought, 
Which did the Spirit's history display; 
A tale of passionate change, divinely 

taught, 
Which, in their wingM dance, unconscious 

Genii wrought. 

Liv 

Beneath there sate on many a sapphire 
throne 

The Great who had departed from man- 
kind, 

A mighty Senate; — some, whose white 
hair shone 



6o 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



Like mountain snow, mild, beautiful and 

blind; 
Some, female forms, whose gestures 

beamed with mind; 
And ardent youths, and children bright 

and fair; 
And some had lyres whose strings were 

intertwined 
With pale and clinging flames, which 

ever there 
Waked faint yet thrilling sounds that 

pierced the crystal air. 

LV 

One seat was vacant in the midst, a throne, 
Reared on a pyramid like sculptured 

flame. 
Distinct with circling steps which rested 

on 
Their own deep fire. Soon as the Woman 

came 
Into that hall, she shrieked the Spirit's 

name 
And fell; and vanished slowly from the 

sight. 
Darkness arose from her dissolving 

frame, — 
Which, gathering, filled that dome of 

woven light. 
Blotting its sphered stars with supernatural 

night. 

LVI 

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 rolled, 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 crystal- 
line throne. 

LVI I 

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 

Flowed forth, and did with softest light 
inform 

The shadowy dome, the sculptures and 
the state 

Of those assembled shapes — with cling- 
ing charm 

Sinking upon their hearts and mine. He 
sate 
Majestic yet most mild, calm yet compas- 
sionate. 

LVIII 

Wonder and joy a passing faintness threw 
Over my brow — a hand supported me. 
Whose touch was magic strength; an eye 

of blue 
Looked into mine, like moonlight, sooth- 
ingly; 
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 im- 
mortal urn; 
A tale of human power — despair not — 
list and learn! 

LIX 

I looked, and lo! one stood forth elo- 
quently. 

His eyes were dark and deep, and the 
clear brow 

Which shadowed 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 fea- 
tures glow, 

And where his curved lips half open lay. 
Passion's divinest stream had made impetu- 
ous way. 

LX 

Beneath the darkness of his outspread 

hair 
He stood thus beautiful; but there was 

One 



CANTO SECOND 



6i 



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 

gathered 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 broke. 

CANTO SECOND 
I 
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 over- 
head, 
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 

spirit's 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. 

Ill 

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 worshipped 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 mate. 

IV 

The land in which I lived by a fell 

bane 
Was withered 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 ethereal shapes which are sus- 
pended 

Over its green expanse, and those fair 
daughters, 

The clouds, of Sun and Ocean, who have 
blended 

The colors of the air since first extended 

It cradled the young world, none wan- 
dered 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 murdered hope in- 
herits 



62 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



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, yawned; 

behind, 
Terror and Time conflicting drove, and 

bore 
On their tempestuous flood the shrieking 

wretch from shore. 

VII 

Out of that Ocean's wrecks had Guilt 
and Woe 

Framed a dark dwelling for their home- 
less thought, 

And, starting at the ghosts which to and 
fro 

Glide o'er its dim and gloomy strand, had 
brought 

The worship thence which they each 
other taught. 

Well might men loathe their life! well 
might they turn 

Even to the ills again from which they 
sought 

Such refuge after death! — well might 
they learn 
To gaze on this fair world with hopeless un- 
concern ! 

VIII 

For they all pined in bondage; body and 
soul. 

Tyrant and slave, victim and torturer, 
bent 

Before one Power, to which supreme 
control 

Over their will by their own weakness 
lent 

Made all its many names omnipotent; 

All symbols of things evil, all divine; 

And hymns of blood or mockery, which 
rent 

The air from all its fanes, did intertwine 
Imposture's impious toils round each dis- 
cordant shrine. 

IX 

I heard, as all have heard, life's various 

story. 
And in no careless heart transcribed the 

tale: 



But, from the sneers of men who had 

grown hoary 
In shame and scorn, from groans of 

crowds made pale 
By famine, from a mother's desolate wail 
O'er her polluted child, from innocent 

blood 
Poured on the earth, and brows anxious 

and pale 
With the heart's warfare, did I gather 

food 
To feed my many thoughts — a tameless 

multitude! 

X 

I wandered through the wrecks of days 

departed 
Far by the desolated shore, when even 
O'er the still sea and jagged islets darted 
The light of moonrise ; in the northern 

Heaven, 
Among the clouds near the horizon 

driven, 
The mountains lay beneath one planet 

pale; 
Around me broken tombs and columns 

riven 
Looked vast in twilight, and the sorrow- 
ing gale 
Waked in those ruins gray its everlasting 

wail! 

XI 

I knew not who had framed these won- 
ders then. 

Nor had I heard the story of their deeds; 

But dwellings of a race of mightier 
men. 

And monuments of less ungentle creeds 

Tell their own tale to him who wiselj 
heeds 

The language which they speak; and 
now, to me, 

The moonlight making pale the blooming 
weeds. 

The bright stars shining in the breathless 
sea. 
Interpreted those scrolls of mortal mys- 
tery. 

XII 

Such man has been, and such may yet 

become! 
Ay, wiser, greater, gentler even than 

they 



CANTO SECOND 



63 



Who on the fragments of yon shattered 
dome 

Have stamped the sign of power! I felt 
the sway 

Of the vast stream of ages bear away 

My floating thoughts — my heart beat 
loud and fast — 

Even as a storm let loose beneath the 
ray 

Of the still moon, my spirit onward 
passed 
Beneath truth's steady beams upon its tu- 
mult cast. 

XIII 

It shall be thus no more! too long, too 

long, 
Sons of the glorious dead, have ye lain 

bound 
In darkness and in ruin! Hope is strong, 
Justice and Truth their winged child 

have found! 
Awake! arise! until the mighty sound 
Of your career shall scatter in its gust 
The thrones of the oppressor, and the 

ground 
Hide the last altar's unregarded dust. 
Whose Idol has so long betrayed your im- 
pious trust. 

XIV 

It must be so — I will arise and waken 
The multitude, and like a sulphurous 

hill, 
Which on a sudden from its snows has 

shaken 
The swoon of ages, it shall burst, and fill 
The world with cleansing fire; it must, it 

will — 
It may not be restrained ! — and who 

shall stand 
Amid the rocking earthquake steadfast 

still 
But Laon ? on high Freedom's desert 

land 
A tower whose marble walls the leagued 

storms withstand! 

XV 

One summer night, in commune with the 

hope 
Thus deeply fed, amid those ruins gray 
I watched beneath the dark sky's starry 

cope; 
And ever from that hour upon me lay 



The burden of this hope, and night or 

day, 
In vision or in dream, clove to my breast; 
Among mankind, or when gone far away 
To the lone shores and mountains, 't was 

a guest 
Which followed where I fled, and watched 

when I did rest. 

XVI 

These hopes found words through which 

my spirit sought 
To weave a bondage of such sympathy 
As might create some response to the 

thought 
Which ruled me now — and as the vapors 

lie 
Bright in the outspread morning's radi- 
ancy. 
So were these thoughts invested with the 

light 
Of language; and all bosoms made reply 
On which its lustre streamed, whene'er 

it might 
Through darkness wide and deep those 

tranced spirits smite. 

XVII 

Yes, many an eye with dizzy tears was 

dim, 
And oft I thought to clasp my own heart's 

brother. 
When I could feel the listener's senses 

swim, 
And hear his breath its own swift gasp- 

ings smother 
Even as my words evoked them — and 

another, 
And yet another, I did fondly deem. 
Felt that we all were sons of one great 

mother; 
And the cold truth such sad reverse did 

seem 
As to awake in grief from some delightful 

dream. 

XVIII 
Yes, oft beside the ruined labyrinth 
Which skirts the hoary caves of the 

green deep 
Did Laon and his friend on one gray 

plinth, 
Round whose worn base the wild waves 

hiss and leap. 
Resting at eve, a lofty converse keep; 



64 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



And that this friend was false may now 

be said 
t/aimly — that he like other men could 

weep 
Tears which are lies, and could betray 

ana spread 
Jnares for that guileless heart which for 

his own had bled. 

XIX 

Then, had no great aim recompensed my 

sorrow, 
1 must have sought dark respite from its 

stress 
In dreamless rest, in sleep that sees no 

morrow — 
For to tread life's dismaying wilderness 
Without one smile to cheer, one voice to 

bless, 
Amid the snares and scoffs of human- 
kind, 
Is hard — but I betrayed it not, nor less 
With love that scorned return sought to 

unbind 
The interwoven clouds which make its 

wisdom blind. 

XX 

With deathless minds, which leave where 
they have passed 

A path of light, my soul communion 
knew. 

Till from that glorious intercourse, at 
last, 

As from a mine of magic store, I drew 

Words which were weapons; round my 
heart there grew 

The adamantine armor of their power; 

And from my fancy wings of golden hue 

Sprang forth — yet not alone from wis- 
dom's tower, 
A. minister of truth, these plumes young 
Laon bore. 

XXI 

An orphan with my parents lived, whose 

eyes 
Were lodestars 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 turned from all 

to be, 
Cythna, the only source of tears and smiles 

to thee. 

XXII 

What wert thou then ? A child most 
infantine. 

Yet wandering far beyond that innocent 
age 

In all but its sweet looks and mien di- 
vine ; 

Even then, methought, with the world's 
tyrant rage 

A patient warfare thy young heart did 
wage, 

When those soft eyes of scarcely con- 
scious thought 

Some tale or thine own fancies would 
engage 

To overflow with tears, or converse 
fraught 
With passion o'er their depths its fleeting 
light had wrought. 

XXIII 

She moved upon this earth a shape of 

brightness, 
A power, that from its objects scarcely 

drew 
One impulse of her being — in her light- 
ness 
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. 

XXIV 

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 



CANTO SECOND 



65 



Of human things had made so dark and 
bare, 

But which I trod alone — nor, till be- 
reft 

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. 

XXV 

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 
Wandered with mine where Earth and 

Ocean meet. 
Beyond the aerial mountains whose vast 

cells 
The unreposing billows ever beat. 
Through forests wild and old, and lawny 

dells 
Where boughs of incense droop over the 

emerald wells. 

XXVI 

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 bat 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 de- 
nied. 

XXVII 

And soon I could not have refused her. 

Thus 
Forever, 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 over her 

swept, 
Amid her innocent rest by turns she smiled 

and wept. 

XXVIII 

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 mel- 
ody, — 
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. 
To the enchanted waves that child of glory 

sung — 

XXIX 

Her white arms lifted through the shad- 
owy stream 
Of her loose hair. Oh, excellently great 
Seemed to me then my purpose, the vast 

theme 
Of those impassioned songs, when Cythna 

sate 
Amid the calm which rapture doth cre- 
ate 
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 ut- 
most spring ! 

XXX 

For, before Cythna loved it, had my song 
Peopled with thoughts the boundless uni- 
verse, 
A mighty congregation, which were 

strong. 
Where'er they trod the darkness, to dis- 
perse 
The cloud of that unutterable curse 
Which clings upon mankind; all things 
became 



66 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



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. 

XXXI 

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 
endowed 

With music and with light their foun- 
tains flowed 

In poesy; and her still and earnest face, 

Pallid with feelings which intensely 
glowed 

Within, was turned on mine with speech- 
less grace, 
Watching the hopes which there her heart 
had learned to trace. 

XXXII 

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 de- 
spise, 
Yet melt in tenderness ! what genius 
wild. 
Yet mighty, was enclosed within one simple 
child ! 

XXXIII 

New lore was this. Old age with its gray 
hair. 

And wrinkled legends of unworthy 
things. 

And icy sneers, is nought: it cannot dare 

To burst the chains which life forever 
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 be- 
trayed, 
Laughs o'er the grave in which his living 
hopes are laid, 



XXXIV 

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. 

XXXV 

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 dispossessed 

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 atmo- 
sphere of scorn. 

XXXVI 

This misery was but coldly felt, till she 

Became my only friend, who had endued 

My purpose with a wider sympathy. 

Thus Cythna mourned with me the servi- 
tude 

In which the half of humankind were 
mewed, 

Victims of lust and hate, the slaves of 
slaves; 

She mourned that grace and power were 
thrown as food 

To the hyena Lust, who, among graves. 
Over his loathed meal, laughing in agony, 
raves. 

XXXVII 

And I, still gazing on that glorious child, 
Even as these thoughts flushed o'er her: 

— ' Cythna sweet. 
Well with the world art thou unrecon- 

ciled; 



CANTO SECOND 



67 



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. 

XXXVIII 

She replied earnestly : — 'It shall be 

mine, 
This task, — mine, Laon ! thou hast much 

to gain; 
Nor wilt thou at poor Cythna's pride re- 
pine. 
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. 

XXXIX 

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. 

XL 

* Whence came I what I am ? Thou, Laon, 
knowest 

How a young child should thus undaunted 
be; 

Methinks it is a power which thou be- 
stowest. 

Through which I seek, by most resem- 
bling 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. 

XLI 

' Think 'st thou that I shall speak unskil- 

fully. 
And none will heed me ? I remember 

now 
How once a slave in tortures doomed 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 flowed, 

shall flow; 
Hearts beat as mine now beats, with such 

intent 
As renovates the world; a will omnipotent! 

XLII 

' Yes, I will tread Pride's golden palaces, 
Through Penury's roofless huts and 

squalid cells 
Will I descend, where'er in abjectness 
Woman with some vile slave her tyrant 

dwells; 
There with the music of thine own sweet 

spells 
Will disenchant the captives, and will 

pour 
For the despairing, from the crystal wells 
Of thy deep spirit, reason's mighty lore. 
And power shall then abound, and hope 

arise once more. 

XLIII 
* Can man be free if woman be a slave ? 

Chain one who lives, and breathes this 
boundless air, 

To the corruption of a closed grave! 

Can they, whose mates are beasts con- 
demned to bear 

Scorn heavier far than toil or anguish, 
dare 

To trample their oppressors ? In theii 
home. 



68 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



Among their babes, thou knowest a curse 
would wear 

The shape of woman — hoary Crime 
would come 
Behind, and Fraud rebuild Religion's tot- 
tering dome. 

XLIV 

*I am a child: — I would not yet de- 
part. 
When I go forth alone, bearing the lamp 
Aloft which thou hast kindled in my 

heart, 
Millions of slaves from many a dungeon 

damp 
Shall leap in joy, as the benumbing 

cramp 
Of ages leaves their limbs. No ill may 

harm 
Thy Cythna ever. Truth its radiant 

stamp 
Has fixed, as an invulnerable charm. 
Upon her children's brow, dark Falsehood 

to disarm. 

XLV 

* Wait yet awhile for the appointed day. 
Thou wilt depart, and I with tears shall 

stand 
Watching thy dim sail skirt the ocean 

gray; 
Amid the dwellers of this lonely land 
I shall remain alone — and thy command 
Shall then dissolve the world's unquiet 

trance. 
And, multitudinous as the desert sand 
Borne on the storm, its millions shall ad- 
vance. 
Thronging round thee, the light of their 
deliverance. 

XLVI 

* Then, like the forests of some pathless 

mountain 
Which from remotest glens two warring 

winds 
Involve in fire which not the loosened 

fountain 
Of broadest floods might quench, shall 

all the kinds 
Of evil catch from our uniting minds 
The spark which must consume them; — 

Cythna then 
Will have cast off the impotence that 

binds 



Her childhood now, and through the 
paths of men 
Will pass, as the charmed bird that haunts 
the serpent's den. 

XLVII 

* We part! — Laon, I must dare, nor 

tremble. 
To meet those looks no more! — Oh, 

heavy stroke! 
Sweet brother of my soul! can I dis- 
semble 
The agony of this thought? ' — As thus 

she spoke 
The gathered sobs her quivering accents 

broke, 
And in my arms she hid her beating 

breast. 
I remained still for tears — sudden she 

woke 
As one awakes from sleep, and wildly 

pressed 
My bosom, her whole frame impetuously 

possessed. 

XLVIII 

* We part to meet again — but yon blue 

waste. 

Yon desert wide and deep, holds no recess 

Within whose happy silence, thus em- 
braced. 

We might survive all ills in one caress; 

Nor doth the grave — I fear 't is passion- 
less — 

Nor yon cold vacant Heaven: — we meet 
again 

Within the minds of men, whose lips 
shall bless 

Our memory, and whose hopes its light 
retain 
When these dissevered bones are trodden 
in the plain.' 

XLIX 

I could not speak, though she had ceased, 

for now 
The fountains of her feeling, swift and 

deep, 
Seemed to suspend the tumult of their 

flow. 
So we arose, and by the star-light steep 
Went homeward — neither did we speak 

nor weep. 
But, pale, were calm with passion. Thus 

subdued. 



CANTO THIRD 



69 



Like evening shades that o'er the moun- 
tains creep, 

We moved towards our home; where, in 
this mood, 
Each from the other sought refuge in soli- 
tude. 

CANTO THIRD 



What thoughts had sway o'er Cythna's 

lonely slumber 
That night, I know not; but my own did 

seem 
As if they might ten thousand years out- 
number 
Of waking life, the visions of a dream 
Which hid in one dim gulf the troubled 

stream 
Of mind; a boundless chaos wild and 

vast. 
Whose limits yet were never memory's 

theme; 
And I lay struggling as its whirlwinds 

passed, 
Sometimes for rapture sick, sometimes for 

pain aghast. 

II 

Two hours, whose mighty circle did em- 
brace 

More time than might make gray the in- 
fant world. 

Rolled thus, a weary and tumultuous 
space ; 

When the third came, like mist on 
breezes curled. 

From my dim sleep a shadow was un- 
furled; 

Methought, upon the threshold of a cave 

I sate with Cythna; drooping briouy, 
pearled 

With dew from the wild streamlet's 
shattered wave, 
Hung, where we sate to taste the joys which 
Nature gave. 

Ill 

We lived a day as we were wont to live. 
But Nature had a robe of glory on. 
And the bright air o'er every shape did 

weave 
Intenser hues, so that the herbless stone. 
The leafless bough among the leaves 

alone, 



Had being clearer than its own could be ; 
And Cythna's pure and radiant self was 

shown, 
In this strange vision, so divine to me, 
That if I loved before, now love was agony. 

IV 

Morn fled, noon came, evening, then 

night, descended. 
And we prolonged calm talk beneath the 

sphere 
Of the calm moon — when suddenly was 

blended 
With our repose a nameless sense of 

fear; 
And from the cave behind I seemed to 

hear 
Sounds gathering upwards — accents in- 
complete. 
And stifled shrieks, — and now, more 

near and near, 
A tumult and a rush of thronging feet 
The cavern's secret depths beneath the 

earth did beat. 



The scene was changed, and away, away. 



away 



Through the air and over the sea we 

sped, 
And Cythna in my sheltering bosom lay. 
And the winds bore me; through the 

darkness spread 
Around, the gaping earth then vomited 
Legions of foul and ghastly shapes, 

which hung 
Upon my flight; and ever as we fled 
They plucked at Cythna; soon to me 

then clung 
A sense of actual things those monstrous 

dreams among. 

VI 

And I lay struggling in the impotence 

Of sleep, while outward life had burst 
its bound. 

Though, still deluded, strove the tor- 
tured sense 

To its dire wanderings to adapt the 
sound 

Which in the light of morn was poured 
around 

Our dwelling; breathless, pale and una- 
ware 

I rose, and all the cottage crowded found 



70 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



With arm^d men, whose glittering swords 
were bare, 
And whose degraded limbs the Tyrant's 
garb did wear. 

VII 

And ere with rapid lips and gathered 

brow 
I could demand the cause, a feeble 

shriek — 
It was a feeble shriek, faint, far and 

low — 
Arrested me; my mien grew calm and 

meek, 
And grasping a small knife I went to 

seek 
That voice among the crowd — 't was 

Cythna's cry! 
Beneath most calm resolve did agony 

wreak 
Its whirlwind rage: — so I passed quietly 
Till I beheld where bound that dearest 

child did lie. 

VIII 

I started to behold her, for delight 
And exultation, and a joyance free. 
Solemn, serene and lofty, filled the 

light 
Of the calm smile with which she looked 

on me; 
So that I feared some brainless ecstasy, 
Wrought from that bitter woe, had wil- 

dered her. 

* Farewell! farewell! ' she said, as I drew 

nigh; 

* At first my peace was marred by this 

strange stir, 
Now I am calm as truth — its chosen min- 
ister. 

IX 

* Look not so, Laon — say farewell in 

hope; 
These bloody men are but the slaves who 

bear 
Their mistress to her task; it was my 

scope 
The slavery where they drag me now to 

share. 
And among captives willing chains to 

wear 
Awhile — the rest thou knowest. Return, 

dear friend! 
Let our first triumph trample the despair 



Which would ensnare us now, for, in the 
end. 
In victory or in death our hopes and fears 
must blend.' 



These words had fallen on my unheed- 
ing ear. 

Whilst I had watched the motions of the 
crew 

With seeming careless glance; not many 
were 

Around her, for their comrades just 
withdrew 

To guard some other victim ; so I drew 

My knife, and with one impulse, sud- 
denly. 

All unaware three of their number slew, 

And grasped a fourth by the throat, and 
with loud cry 
My countrymen invoked to death or lib- 
erty. 

XI 

What followed then I know not, for a 

stroke, 
On my raised arm and naked head came 

down. 
Filling my eyes with blood. — When I 

awoke, 
I felt that they had bound me in my 

swoon. 
And up a rock which overhangs the town 
By the steep path were bearing me; 

below 
The plain was filled with slaughter, — 

overthrown 
The vineyards and the harvests, and the 

glow 
Of blazing roofs shone far o'er the white 

Ocean's flow. 

XII 

Upon that rock a mighty column stood, 
Whose capital seemed sculptured in the 

sky, 
Which to the wanderers o'er the solitude 
Of distant seas, from ages long gone 

by, 
Had made a landmark; o'er its height to 

fly 

Scarcely the cloud, the vulture or the 

blast 
Has power, and when the shades of even- 

invf lie 



CANTO THIRD 



71 



On Earth and Ocean, its carved summits 
cast 
The sunken daylight far through the aerial 
waste. 

XIII 

They bore me to a cavern in the hill 
Beneath that column, and unbound me 

there ; 
And one did strip me stark ; and one did 

fill 
A vessel from the putrid pool; one bare 
A lighted torch, and four with friendless 

care 
Guided my steps the cavern-paths along; 
Then up a steep and dark and narrow 

stair 
We wound, until the torch's fiery tongue 
Amid the gushing day beamless and pallid 

hung. 

XIV 

They raised me to the platform of the 

pile, 
That column's dizzy height; the grate of 

brass. 
Through which they thrust me, open 

stood the while, 
As to its ponderous and suspended mass, 
With chains which eat into the flesh, 

alas! 
With brazen links, my naked limbs they 

bound ; 
The grate, as they departed to repass, 
With horrid clangor fell, and the far 

sound 
Of their retiring steps in the dense gloom 

was drowned. 

XV 

The noon was calm and bright: — around 

that column 
The overhanging sky and circling sea, 
Spread forth in silentness profound and 

solemn. 
The darkness of brief frenzy cast on me. 
So that I knew not my own misery; 
The islands and the mountains in the 

day 
Like clouds reposed afar; and I could 

see 
The town among the woods below that 

lay, 
And the dark rocks which bound the bright 

and glassy bay. 



XVI 

It was so calm, that scarce the feathery 

weed 
Sown by some eagle on the topmost stone 
Swayed in the air: — so bright, that noon 

did breed 
No shadow in the sky beside mine own — 
Mine, and the shadow of my chain alone. 
Below, the smoke of roofs involved in 

flame 
Rested like night; all else was clearly 

shown 
In that broad glare; yet sound to me 

none came. 
But of the living blood that ran within my 

frame. 

XVII 

The peace of madness fled, and ah, too 

soon! 
A ship was lying on the sunny main; 
Its sails were flagging in the breathless 

noon ; 
Its shadow lay beyond. That sight again 
Waked with its presence in my tranced 

brain 
The stings of a known sorrow, keen and 

cold; 
I knew that ship bore Cythna o'er the 

plain 
Of waters, to her blighting slavery sold, 
And watched it with such thoughts as must 

remain untold. 

XVIII 

I watched until the shades of evening 

wrapped 
Earth like an exhalation; then the bark 
Moved, for that calm was by the sunset 

snapped. 
It moved a speck upon the Ocean dark; 
Soon the wan stars came forth, and I 

could mark 
Its path no more! I sought to close mine 

eyes. 
But, like the balls, their lids were stiff 

and stark; 
I would have risen, but ere that I could 

rise 
My parched skin was split with piercing 

agonies. 

XIX 

I gnawed my brazen chain, and sought 
to sever 



72 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



Its adamantine links, that I might die. 
O Liberty! forgive the base endeavor, 
Forgive me, if, reserved for victory, 
The Champion of thy faith e'er sought 

to fly! 
That starry night, with its clear silence, 

sent 
Tameless resolve which laughed at misery 
Into my soul — linked remembrance lent 
To that such power, to me such a severe 

content. 

XX 

To breathe, to be, to hope, or to despair 
And die, I questioned not; nor, though 

the Sun, 
Its shafts of agony kindling through the 

air, 
Moved over me, nor though in evening 

dun, 
Or when the stars their visible courses 

run. 
Or morning, the wide universe was 

spread 
In dreary calmness round me, did I shun 
Its presence, nor seek refuge with the 

dead 
From one faint hope whose flower a drop- 
ping poison shed. 

XXI 

Two days thus passed — I neither raved 

nor died; 
Thirst raged within me, like a scorpion's 

nest 
Built in mine entrails; I had spurned 

aside 
The water-vessel, while despair pos- 
sessed 
My thoughts, and now no drop remained. 

The uprest 
Of the third sun brought hunger — but 

the crust 
Which had been left was to my craving 
' breast 

Fuel, not food. I chewed the bitter dust, 
A.nd bit my bloodless arm, and licked the 

brazen rust. 

XXII 

My brain began to fail when the fourth 

morn 
Burst o'er the golden isles. A fearful 

sleep, 



Which through the caverns dreary and 
forlorn 

Of the riven soul sent its foul dreams to 
sweep 

With whirlwind swiftness — a fall far 
and deep — 

A gulf, a void, a sense of senselessness — 

These things dwelt in me, even as shadows 
keep 

Their watch in some dim charnel's lone- 
liness, — 
A shoreless sea, a sky sunless and planet- 
less! 

XXIII 

The forms which peopled this terrific 

trance 
I well remember. Like a choir of devils, 
Around me they involved a giddy dance; 
Legions seemed gathering from the misty 

levels 
Of Ocean, to supply those ceaseless 

revels, — 
Foul, ceaseless shadows; thought could 

not divide 
The actual world from these entangling 

evils. 
Which so bemocked themselves that 1 

descried 
All shapes like mine own self hideously 

multiplied. 

XXIV 

The sense of day and night, of false and 

true. 
Was dead within me. Yet two visions 

burst 
That darkness; one, as since that hour I 

knew, 
Was not a phantom of the realms ac- 
cursed. 
Where then my spirit dwelt — but of the 

first 
I know not yet, was it a dream or no; 
But both, though not distincter, were 

immersed 
In hues which, when through memory's 

waste they flow, 
Make their divided streams more bright 

and rapid now. 

XXV 

Methought that grate was lifted, and the 
seven. 



CANTO THIRD 



73 



Who brought me thither, four stiff 

corpses bare, 
And from the frieze to the four winds of 

Heaven 
Hung them on high by the entangled 

hair; 
Swarthy were three — the fourth was 

very fair; 
As they retired, the golden moon up- 
sprung, 
And eagerly, out in the giddy air. 
Leaning that I might eat, I stretched 

and clung 
Over the shapeless depth in which those 

corpses hung. 

XXVI 

A woman's shape, now lank and cold and 

blue. 
The dwelling of the many-colored worm, 
Hung there ; the white and hollow cheek 

I drew 
To my dry lips — What radiance did 

inform 
Those horny eyes? whose was that with- 
ered form? 
Alas, alas! it seemed that Cythna's ghost 
Laughed in those looks, and that the 

flesh was warm 
Within my teeth! — a whirlwind keen 

as frost 
Then in its sinking gulfs my sickening spirit 

tossed. 

XXVII 

Then seemed it that a tameless hurricane 
Arose, and bore me in its dark career 
Beyond the sun, beyond the stars that 

wane 
On the verge of formless space — it lan- 
guished there. 
And, dying, left a silence lone and drear, 
More horrible than famine. In the deep 
The shape of an old man did then ap- 
pear. 
Stately and beautiful; that dreadful sleep 
His heavenly smiles dispersed, and I could 
wake and weep. 

XXVIII 

And, when the blinding tears had fallen, 

I saw 
That column, and those corpses, and the 

moon, 



And felt the poisonous tooth of hunger 

gnaw 
My vitals; I rejoiced, as if the boon 
Of senseless death would be accorded 

soon. 
When from that stony gloom a voice 

arose. 
Solemn and sweet as when low winds 

attune 
The midnight pines; the grate did then 

unclose. 
And on that reverend form the moonlight 

did repose. 

XXIX 

He struck my chains, and gently spake 

and smiled; 
As they were loosened by that Hermit 

old, 
Mine eyes were of their madness half 

beguiled 
To answer those kind looks; he did en- 
fold 
His giant arms around me to uphold 
My wretched frame ; my scorched limbs 

he wound 
In linen moist and balmy, and as cold 
As dew to drooping leaves; the chain, 

with sound 
Like earthquake, through the chasm of 

that steep stair did bound, 

XXX 

As, lifting me, it fell! — What next I 
heard 

Were billows leaping on the harbor bar, 

And the shrill sea-wind whose breath 
idly stirred 

My hair; I looked abroad, and saw a 
star 

Shining beside a sail, and distant far 

That mountain and its column, the known 
mark 

Of those who in the wide deep wander- 
ing are, — 

So that I feared some Spirit, fell and 
dark. 
In trance had lain me thus within a fiend- 
ish bark. 

XXXI 

For now, indeed, over the salt sea billow 
I sailed; yet dared not look upon the 
shap^ 



H 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



Of him who ruled the helm, although 

the pillow 
For my light head was hollowed in his 

lap, 
And my bare limbs his mantle did en- 
wrap, — 
Fearing it was a fiend; at last, he bent 
O'er me his aged face; as if to snap 
Those dreadful thoughts, the gentle 
grandsire bent. 
And to my inmost soul his soothing looks 
he sent. 

XXXII 

A soft and healing potion to my lips 
At intervals he raised — now looked on 

high 
To mark if yet the starry giant dips 
His zone in the dim sea — now cheer- 

ingly, 
Though he said little, did he speak to me. 
* It is a friend beside thee — take good 
cheer 
Poor victim, thou art now at liberty! ' 
I joyed as those a human tone to hear 
Who in cells deep and lone have languished 
many a year. 

XXXIII 

A dim and feeble joy, whose glimpses oft 
Were quenched in a relapse of wildering 

dreams; 
Yet still methought we sailed, until aloft 
The stars of night grew pallid, and the 

beams 
Of morn descended on the ocean-streams; 
And still that aged man, so grand and 

mild, 
Tended me, even as some sick mother 

seems 
To hang in hope over a dying child. 
Pill in the azure East darkness again was 

piled. 

XXXIV 

And then the night-wind, steaming from 
the shore, 

Sent odors dying sweet across the sea, 

And the swift boat the little waves which 
bore, 

Were cut by its keen keel, though slant- 
ingly; 

Soon I could hear the leaves sigh, and 
could see 



The myrtle-blossoms starring the dim 
grove, 

As past the pebbly beach the boat did 
flee 

On sidelong wing into a silent cove 
Where ebon pines a shade under the star- 
light wove. 



CANTO FOURTH 



The old man took the oars, and soon the 

bark 
Smote on the beach beside a tower of 

stone. 
It was a crumbling heap whose portal 

dark 
With blooming ivy-trails was overgrown ; 
Upon whose floor the spangling sands 

were strown, 
And rarest sea-shells, which the eternal 

flood. 
Slave to the mother of the months, had 

thrown 
Within the walls of that gray tower, 

which stood 
A changeling of man's art nursed amid 

Nature's brood. 

II 

When the old man his boat had anchored, 
He wound me in his arms with tender 

care, 
And very few but kindly words he said. 
And bore me through the tower adown a 

stair. 
Whose smooth descent some ceaseless 

step to wear 
For many a year had fallen. We came 

at last 
To a small chamber which with mosses 

rare 
Was tapestried, where me his soft hands 

placed 
Upon a couch of grass and oak-leaves in- 
terlaced. 

Ill 

The moon was darting through the lat- 
tices 

Its yellow light, warm as the beams of 
day — 

So warm that to admit the dewy breeze 



CANTO FOURTH 



75 



The old man opened them ; the moonlight 

lay 
Upon a lake whose waters wove their 

play 
Even to the threshold of that lonely 

home ; 
Within was seen in the dim wavering 

ray 
The antique sculptured roof, and many a 

tome 
Whose lore had made that sage all that he 

had become. 

IV 

The rock-built barrier of the sea was 

passed 
And I was on the margin of a lake, 
A lonely lake, amid the forests vast 
And snowy mountains. Did my spirit 

wake 
From sleep as many-colored as the snake 
That girds eternity ? in life and truth 
Might not my heart its cravings ever 

slake ? 
Was Cythna then a dream, and all my 

youth, 
And all its hopes and fears, and all its joy 

and ruth ? 



Thus madness came again, — a milder 
madness. 

Which darkened nought but time's un- 
quiet flow 

With supernatural shades of clinging 
sadness; 

That gentle Hermit, in my helpless woe. 

By my sick couch was busy to and fro, 

Like a strong spirit ministrant of good; 

When I was healed, he led me forth to 
show 

The wonders of his sylvan solitude, 
And we together sate by that isle-fretted 
flood. 

VI 

He knew his soothing words to weave 

with skill 
From all my madness told; like mine 

own heart. 
Of Cythna would he question me, until 
That thrilling name had ceased to make 

me start, 
From his familiar lips; it was not art, 



Of wisdom and of justice when he 
spoke — 

When 'mid soft looks of pity, there would 
dart 

A glance as keen as is the lightning's 
stroke 
When it doth rive the knots of some an- 
cestral oak. 

VII 

Thus slowly from my brain the darkness 

rolled ; 
My thoughts their due array did reas- 

sume 
Through the enchantments of that Hermit 

old. 
Then I bethought me of the glorious 

doom 
Of those who sternly struggle to relume 
The lamp of Hope o'er man's bewildered 

lot; 
And, sitting by the waters, in the gloom 
Of eve, to that friend's heart I told my 

thought — 
That heart which had grown old, but had 

corrupted not. 

VIII 

That hoary man had spent his livelong 

age 
In converse with the dead who leave the 

stamp 
Of ever-burning thoughts on many a 

page. 
When they are gone into the senseless 

damp 
Of graves; his spirit thus became a lamp 
Of splendor, like to those on which it 

fed; 
Through peopled haunts, the City and 

the Camp, 
Deep thirst for knowledge had his foot- 
steps led. 
And all the ways of men among mankind 

he read. 

IX 

But custom maketh blind and obdurate 
The loftiest hearts; he had beheld the 

woe 
In which mankind was bound, but 

deemed that fate 
Which made them abject would pre« 

serve them so; 



76 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



And in such faith, some steadfast joy to 

know, 
He sought this cell; but when fame went 

abroad 
That one in Argolis did undergo 
Torture for liberty, and that the crowd 
High truths from gifted lips had heard and 

understood. 



And that the multitude was gathering 

wide, — 
His spirit leaped within his aged frame; 
In lonely peace he could no more abide, 
But to the land on which the victor's 

flame 
Had fed, my native land, the Hermit 

came; 
Each heart was there a shield, and every 

tongue 
Was as a sword of truth — young Laon's 

name 
Rallied their secret hopes, though tyrants 

sung 
Hymns of triumphant joy our scattered 

tribes among. 

XI 

He came to the lone column on the rock. 

And with his sweet and mighty elo- 
quence 

The hearts of those who watched it did 
unlock, 

And made them melt in tears of peni- 
tence. 

They gave him entrance free to bear me 
thence. 
* Since this,' the old man said, ' seven 
years are spent. 

While slowly truth on thy benighted 
sense 

Has crept; the hope which wildered it 
has lent, 
Meanwhile, to me the power of a sublime 
intent. 

XII 

*Yes, from the records of my youthful 

state, 
And from the lore of bards and sages 

old, 
From whatsoe'er my wakened thoughts 

create 
Out of the hopes of thine aspirings bold. 
Have I collected language to unfold 



Truth to my countrymen; from shore tc 

shore 
Doctrines of human power my words 

have told; 
They have been heard, and men aspire 

to more 
Than they have ever gained or ever lost 

of yore. 

XIII 

* In secret chambers parents read, and 

weep. 
My writings to their babes, no longer 

blind ; 
And young men gather when their ty- 
rants sleep, 
And vows of faith each to the other 

bind; 
And marriageable maidens, who have 

pined 
With love till life seemed melting 

through their look, 
A warmer zeal, a nobler hope, now find; 
And every bosom thus is rapt and shook, 
Like autumn's myriad leaves in one swoln 

mountain brook. 

XIV 

' The tyrants of the Golden City tremble 

At voices which are heard about the 
streets; 

The ministers of fraud can scarce dis- 
semble 

The lies of their own heart, but when 
one meets 

Another at the shrine, he inly weets. 

Though he says nothing, that the truth 
is known; 

Murderers are pale upon the judgment- 
seats. 

And gold grows vile even to the wealthy 
crone. 
And laughter fills the Fane, and curses 
shake the Throne. 

XV 

* Kind thoughts, and mighty hopes, and 

gentle deeds 

Abound; for fearless love, and the pure 
law 

Of mild equality and peace, succeeds 

To faiths which long have held the world 
in awe, 

Bloody, and false, and cold. As whirl- 
pools draw 



CANTO FOURTH 



77 



All wrecks of Ocean to their chasm, the 
sway 

Of thy strong genius, Laon, which fore- 
saw 

This hope, compels all spirits to obey. 
Which round thy secret strength now 
throng in wide array. 

XVI 

* For I have been thy passive instru- 

ment ' — 
(As thus the old man spake, his counte- 
nance 
Gleamed on me like a spirit's) — * thou 

hast lent 
To me, to all, the power to advance 
Towards this unforeseen deliverance 
From our ancestral chains — ay, thou 

didst rear 
That lamp of hope on high, which time 

nor chance 
Nor change may not extinguish, and my 

share 
Of good was o'er the world its gathered 

beams to bear. 

XVII 

* But I, alas! am both unknown and old. 
And though the woof of wisdom I know 

well 
To dye in hues of language, I am cold 
In seeming, and the hopes which inly 

dwell 
My manners note that I did long repel ; 
But Laou's name to the tumultuous 

throng 
Were like the star whose beams the 

waves compel 
And tempests, and his soul - subduing 

tongue 
Were as a lance to quell the mailed crest 

of wrong. 

XVIII 

* Perchance blood need not flow ; if thou 

at length 
Wouldst rise, perchance the very slaves 

would spare 
Their brethren and themselves; great is 

the strength 
Of words — for lately did a maiden fair. 
Who from her childhood has been 

taught to bear 
The Tyrant's heaviest yoke, arise, and 

make 



Her sex the law of truth and freedom 

hear, 
And with these quiet words — " for thine 

own sake 
I prithee spare me," — did with ruth so 

take 

XIX 

* All hearts that even the torturer, who 

had bound 

Her meek calm frame, ere it was yet 
impaled. 

Loosened her weeping then; nor could 
be found 

One human hand to harm her. Unas- 
sailed 

Therefore she walks through the great 
City, veiled 

In virtue's adamantine eloquence, 

'Gainst scorn and death and pain thus 
trebly mailed, 

And blending in the smiles of that de- 
fence 
The serpent and the dove, wisdom and 
innocence. 

XX 

* The wild-eyed women throng around her 

path; 
From their luxurious dungeons, from the 

dust 
Of meaner thralls, from the oppressor's 

wrath. 
Or the caresses of his sated lust. 
They congregate; in her they put their 

trust. 
The tyrants send their arm^d slaves to 

quell 
Her power; they, even like a thunder- 
gust 
Caught by some forest, bend beneath the 

spell 
Of that young maiden's speech, and to their 

chiefs rebel. 

XXI 

'Thus she doth equal laws and justice 

teach 
To woman, outraged and polluted long; 
Gathering the sweetest fruit in human 

reach 
For those fair hands now free, while 

arm^d wrong 
Trembles before her look, though it be 

strong; 



78 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



Thousands thus dwell beside her, virgms 

bright 
And matrons with their babes, a stately 

throng ! 
Lovers renew the vows which they did 

plight 
[n early faith, and hearts long parted now 

unite; 

XXII 

* And homeless orphans find a home near 

her, 

And those poor victims of the proud, no 
less, 

Fair wrecks, on whom the smiling world 
with stir 

Thrusts the redemption of its wicked- 
ness. 

In squalid huts, and in its palaces, 

Sits Lust alone, while o'er the land is 
borne 

Her voice, whose awful sweetness doth 
repress 

All evil; and her foes relenting turn, 
A.nd cast the vote of love in hope's aban- 
doned urn. 

XXIII 

* So in the populous City, a young maiden 
Has baffled Havoc of the prey which he 
Marks as his own, whene'er with chains 

o'erladen 

Men make them arms to hurl down ty- 
ranny, — 

False arbiter between the bound and free ; 

And o'er the land, in hamlets and in 
towns 

The multitudes collect tumultuously. 

And throng in arms; but tyranny dis- 
owns 
Their claim, and gathers strength around 
its trembling thrones. 

XXIV 

* Blood soon, although unwillingly, to shed 
The free cannot forbear. The Queen of 

Slaves, 
The hood-winked Angel of the blind and 

dead, 
Custom, with iron mace points to the 

graves 
Where her own standard desolately waves 
Over the dxist of Prophets and of Kings. 
Many yet stand in her array — " she 

paves 



Her path with human hearts," and o'er it 
flings 
The wildering gloom of her immeasurable 
wings. 

XXV 

' There is a plain beneath the City's wall, 
Bounded by misty mountains, wide and 

vast; 
Millions there lift at Freedom's thrilling 

call 
Ten thousand standards wide; they load 

the blast 
Which bears one sound of many voices 

past. 
And startles on his throne their sceptred 

foe; 
He sits amid his idle pomp aghast. 
And that his power hath passed away, 

doth know — 
Why pause the victor swords to seal his 

overthrow ? 

XXVI 

' The Tyrant's guards resistance yet main- 
tain, 
Fearless, and fierce, and hard as beasts 

of blood; 
They stand a speck amid the peopled 

plain; 
Carnage and ruin have been made their 

food 
From infancy ; ill has become their good. 
And for its hateful sake their will has 

wove 
The chains which eat their hearts. The 

multitude. 
Surrounding them, with words of human 

love 
Seek from their own decay their stubborn 

minds to move. 

XXVII 

' Over the land is felt a sudden pause, 
As night and day those ruthless bands 

around 
The watch of love is kept — a trance 

which awes 
The thoughts of men with hope; as when 

the sound 
Of whirlwind, whose fierce blasts the 

waves and clouds confound. 
Dies suddenly, the mariner in fear 
Feels silence sink upon his heart — thus 

bound 



CANTO FOURTH 



79 



The conquerors pause ; and oh ! may free- 


The mirror of her thoughts, and still the 


men ne'er 


grace 


Clasp the relentless knees of Dread, the 


Which her mind's shadow cast left there U 


murderer ! 


lingering trace. 


XXVIII 


XXXI 


* If blood be shed, 't is but a change and 


What then was I? She slumbered with 


choice 


the dead. 


Of bonds — from slavery to cowardice, — 


Glory and joy and peace had come and 


A wretched fall ! Uplift thy charmed 


gone. 


voice. 


Doth the cloud perish when the beams 


Pour on those evil men the love that 


are fled 


lies 


Which steeped its skirts in gold ? or, 


Hovering within those spirit-soothing 


dark and lone, 


eyes ! 


Doth it not through the paths of night 


Arise, my friend, farewell ! ' — As thus 


unknown, 


he spake, 


On outspread wings of its own wind up- 


From the green earth lightly I did arise. 


borne, 


As one out of dim dreams that doth 


Pour rain upon the earth ? the stars are 


awake. 


shown. 


And looked upon the depth of that reposing 


When the cold moon sharpens her silver 


lake. 


horn 




Under the sea, and make the wide night 


XXIX 


not forlorn. 


I saw my countenance reflected there; — 




And then my youth fell on me like a 


XXXII 


wind 


Strengthened in heart, yet sad, that aged 


Descending on still waters. My thin hair 


man 


Was prematurely gray; my face was 


I left, with interchange of looks and tears 


lined 


And lingering speech, and to the Camp 


With channels, such as suffering leaves 


began 


behind. 


My way. O'er many a mountain-chain 


Not age; my brow was pale, but in my 


which rears 


cheek 


Its hundred crests aloft my spirit bears 


And lips a flush of gnawing fire did find 


My frame, o'er many a dale and many a 


Their food and dwelling; though mine 


moor; 


eyes might speak 


And gayly now meseems serene earth 


A subtle mind and strong within a frame 


wears 


thus weak. 


The blosmy spring's star-bright investi- 




ture, — 


XXX 


A vision which aught sad from sadnes- 


And though their lustre now was spent 


might allure. 


and faded, 




Yet in my hollow looks and withered 


XXXIII 


mien 


My powers revived within me, and I 


The likeness of a shape for which was 


went, 


braided 


As one whom winds waft o'er the bend- 


The brightest woof of genius still was 


ing grass, 


seen — 


Through many a vale of that broad con- 


One who, methought, had gone from the 


tinent. 


world's scene. 


At night when I reposed, fair dreams did 


And left it vacant — 't was her lover's 


pass 


face — 


Before my pillow; my own Cythna was, 


It might resemble her — it once had 


Not like a child of death, among thena 


been 


ever; 



8o 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



When I arose from rest, a woful mass 
That gentlest sleep seemed from my life 

to sever, 
As if the light of youth were not withdrawn 

forever. 

XXXIV 

Aye as I went, that maiden who had 

reared 
The torch of Truth afar, of whose high 

deeds 
The Hermit in his pilgrimage had heard. 
Haunted my thoughts. Ah, Hope its 

sickness feeds 
With whatsoe'er it finds, or flowers or 

weeds! 
Could she be Cythna? Was that corpse 

a shade 
Such as self -torturing thought from mad- 
ness breeds? 
Why was this hope not torture? Yet it 

made 
A light around my steps which would not 

ever fade. 



CANTO FIFTH 



Over the utmost hill at length I sped, 

A snowy steep: — the moon was hanging 
low 

Over the Asian mountains, and, out- 
spread 

The plain, the City, and the Camp be- 
low, 

Skirted the midnight Ocean's glimmer- 
ing flow; 

The City's moon-lit spires and myriad 
lamps 

Like stars in a sublunar sky did glow, 

And fires blazed far amid the scattered 
camps, 
Like springs of flame which burst where'er 
swift Earthquake stamps. 

II 

All slept but those in watchful arms who 
stood, 

And those who sate tending the beacon's 
light; 

And the few sounds from that vast mul- 
titude 

Made silence more profound. Oh, what 
a might 



Of human thought was cradled in that 

night! 
How many hearts impenetrably veiled 
Beat underneath its shade! what secret 

fight 
Evil and Good, in woven passions mailed, 
Waged through that silent throng — a war 

that never failed! 

Ill 

And now the Power of Good held victory. 
So, through the labyrinth of many a tent, 
Among the silent millions who did lie 
In innocent sleep, exultingly I went. 
The moon had left Heaven desert now, 

but lent 
From eastern morn the first faint lustre 

showed 
An arm^d youth; over his spear he bent 
His downward face : — 'A friend ! ' I 

cried aloud, 
And quickly common hopes made freemen 

understood. 

IV 

I sate beside him while the morning 

beam 
Crept slowly over Heaven, and talked 

with him 
Of those immortal hopes, a glorious 

theme, 
Which led us forth, until the stars grew 

dim; 
And all the while methought his voice 

did swim, 
As if it drowned in remembrance were 
Of thoughts which make the moist eyes 

overbrim ; 
At last, when daylight 'gan to fill the air. 
He looked on me, and cried in wonder, 

' Thou art here ! ' 

V 

Then, suddenly, I knew it was the youth 
In whom its earliest hopes my spirit 

found ; 
But envious tongues had stained his 

spotless truth, 
And thoughtless pride his love in silence 

bound. 
And shame and sorrow mine in toils had 

wound, 
Whilst he was innocent, and I deluded; 
The truth now came upon me — on the 

ground 



CANTO FIFTH 



8i 



Tears of repenting joy, which fast in- 
truded, 
Fell fast — and o'er its peace our mingling 
spirits brooded. 

VI 

Thus, while with rapid lips and earnest 

eyes 
We talked, a sound of sweeping conflict, 

spread 
As from the earth, did suddenly arise. 
From every tent, roused by that clamor 

dread. 
Our bands outsprung and seized their 

arms; we sped 
Towards the sound; our tribes were 

gathering far. 
Those sanguine slaves, amid ten thousand 

dead 
Stabbed in their sleep, trampled in 

treacherous war 
The gentle hearts whose power their lives 

had sought to spare. 

VII 

Like rabid snakes that sting some gentle 
child 

Who brings them food when winter false 
and fair 

Allures them forth with its cold smiles, 
so wild 

They rage among the camp; they over- 
bear 

The patriot hosts — confusion, then de- 
spair. 

Descends like night — when ' Laon! ' 
one did cry; 

Like a bright ghost from Heaven that 
shout did scare 

The slaves, and, widening through the 
vaulted sky. 
Seemed sent from Earth to Heaven in sign 
of victory. 

VIII 

In sudden panic those false murderers 

fled, 
Like insect tribes before the northern 

gale; 
But swifter still our hosts encompassed 
Their shattered ranks, and in a craggy 

vale, 
Where even their fierce despair might 

nought avail, 



Hemmed them around! — and then re- 
venge and fear 
Made the high virtue of the patriots fail; 
One pointed on his foe the mortal spear — 
I rushed before its point, and cried * For- 
bear, forbear! ' 

IX 

The spear transfixed my arm that was 
uplifted 

In swift expostulation, and the blood 

Gushed round its point; I smiled, and — 
* Oh! thou gifted 

With eloquence which shall not be with- 
stood. 

Flow thus!' I cried in joy, * thou vital 
flood. 

Until my heart be dry, ere thus the cause 

For which thou wert aught worthy be 
subdued! — 

Ah, ye are pale — ye weep — your pas- 
sions pause — 
'T is well! ye feel the truth of love's be- 
nignant laws. 

X 

'Soldiers, our brethren and our friends 

are slain; 
Ye murdered them, I think, as they did 

sleep! 
Alas, what have ye done ? The slightest 

pain 
Which ye might suffer, there were eyes 

to weep. 
But ye have quenched them — there 

were smiles to steep 
Your hearts in balm, but they are lost in 

woe; 
And those whom love did set his watch 

to keep 
Around your tents truth's freedom to 

bestow, 
Ye stabbed as they did sleep — but they 

forgive ye now. 

XI 

* Oh, wherefore should ill ever flow from 

And pain still keener pain forever breed ? 
We all are brethren — even the slaves 

who kill 
For hire are men; and to avenge misdeed 
On the misdoer doth but Misery feed 
With her own broken heart! O Earth, 

O Heaven! 



82 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



And thou, dread Nature, which to every 

deed 
And all that lives, or is, to be hath given, 
Even as to thee have these done ill, and are 

forgiven. 

XII 

* Join then your hands and hearts, and let 

the past 
Be as a grave which gives not up its dead 
To evil thouglits.' — A film then over- 
cast 
My sense with dimness, for the wound, 

which bled 
Freshly, swift shadows o'er mine eyes 

had shed. 
When I awoke, I lay 'mid friends and 

foes. 
And earnest countenances on me shed 
The liglit of questioning looks, whilst 

one did close 
My wound with balmiest herbs, and soothed 

me to repose ; 

XIII 

And one, whose spear had pierced me, 

leaned beside 
With quivering lips and humid eyes; and 

all 
Seemed like some brothers on a journey 

wide 
Gone forth, whom now strange meeting 

did befall 
In a strange land round one whom they 

might call 
Their friend, their chief, their father, for 

assay 
Of peril, which had saved them from the 

thrall 
Of death, now suffering. Thus the vast 

array 
Of those fraternal bands were reconciled 

that day. 

XIV 

Lifting the thunder of their acclamation. 
Towards the City then the multitude, 
And I among them, went in joy — a 

nation 
Made free by love; a mighty brother- 
hood 
Linked by a jealous interchange of good ; 
A glorious pageant, more magnificent 
Than kingly slaves arrayed in gold and 
blood, 



When they return from carnage, and are 
sent 
In triumph bright beneath the populous 
battlement. 

XV 

Afar, the City walls were thronged on 

high. 
And myriads on each giddy turret clung. 
And to each spire far lessening in the 

sky 
Bright pennons on the idle winds were 

hung; 
As we approached, a shout of joyance 

sprung 
At once from all the crowd, as if the 

vast 
And peopled Earth its boundless skies 

among 
The sudden clamor of delight had cast. 
When from before its face some general 

wreck had passed. 

XVI 

Our armies through the City's hundred 

gates 
Were poured, like brooks which to the 

rocky lair 
Of some deep lake, whose silence them 

awaits. 
Throng from the mountains when the 

storms are there; 
And, as we passed through the calm 

sunny air, 
A thousand flower-inwoven crowns were 

shed, 
The token-flowers of truth and freedom 

fair, 
And fairest hands bound them on many 

a head, 
Those angels of love's heaven that over all 

was spread. 

XVII 

I trod as one tranced in some rapturous 
vision; 

Those bloody bands so lately reconciled. 

Were ever, as they went, by the contri- 
tion 

Of anger turned to love, from ill be- 
guiled. 

And every one on them more gently 
smiled 

Because they had done evil; the sweet 
awe 



CANTO FIFTH 



83 



Of such mild looks made their own hearts 

grow mild, 
And did with soft attraction ever draw 
Their spirits to the love of freedom's equal 

law. 

XVIII 

And they, and all, in one loud symphony 
My name with Liberty commingling 

lifted — 
* The friend and the preserver of the free! 
The parent of this joy!' and fair eyes, 

gifted 
With feelings caught from one who had 

uplifted 
The light of a great spirit, round me 

shone ; 
And all the shapes of this grand scenery 

shifted 
Like restless clouds before the steadfast 

sun. 
Where was that Maid ? I asked, but it was 

known of none. 

XIX 

Laone was the name her love had chosen, 

For she was nameless, and her birth 
none knew. 

Where was Laone now ? — The words 
were frozen 

Within my lips with fear J but to sub- 
due 

Such dreadful hope to my great task was 
due. 

And when at length one brought reply 
that she 

To-morrow would appear, I then with- 
drew 

To judge what need for that great throng 
might be. 
For now the stars came thick over the twi- 
light sea. 

XX 

Yet need was none for rest or food to 

care. 
Even though that multitude was passing 

great. 
Since each one for the other did prepare 
All kindly succor. Therefore to the 

gate 
Of the Imperial House, now desolate, 
I passed, and there was found aghast, 

alone, 
The fallen Tyrant! — silently he sate 



Upon the footstool of his golden throne, 
Which, starred with sunny gems, in its owu 
lustre shone. 

XXI 

Alone, but for one child who led before 
him 

A graceful dance — the only living 
thing, 

Of all the crowd, which thither to adore 
him 

Flocked yesterday, who solace sought to 
bring 

In his abandonment; she knew the King 

Had praised her dance of yore, and now 
she wove 

Its circles, aye weeping and murmur- 
ing* 

'Mid her sad task of unregarded love, 

That to no smiles it might his speechless 
sadness move. 

XXII 

She fled to him, and wildly clasped his 

feet 
When human steps were heard; he 

moved nor spoke, 
Nor changed his hue, nor raised his looks 

to meet 
The gaze of strangers. Our loud eu' 

trance woke 
The echoes of the hall, which circling 

broke 
The calm of its recesses ; like a tomb 
Its sculptured walls vacantly to the 

stroke 
Of footfalls answered, and the twilight's 

gloom 
Lay like a charnel's mist within the radiant 

dome. 

XXIII 

The little child stood up when we came 

nigh; 
Her lips and cheeks seemed very pale 

and wan. 
But on her forehead and within her eye 
Lay beauty which makes hearts that feed 

thereon 
Sick with excess of sweetness; on the 

throne 
She leaned; the King, with gathered 

brow and lips 
Wreathed by long scorn, did inly sneei 

and frown, 



B4 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



With hue like that when some great 
painter dips 
His pencil in the gloom of earthquake and 
eclipse. 

XXIV 

She stood beside him like a rainbow 

braided 
Within some storm, when scarce its 

shadows vast 
From the blue paths of the swift sun 

have faded ; 
A sweet and solemn smile, like Cythna's, 

cast 
One moment's light, which made my 

heart beat fast, 
O'er that child's parted lips — a gleam 

of bliss, 
A shade of vanished days; as the tears 

passed 
Which wrapped it, even as with a father's 

kiss 
1 pressed those softest eyes in trembling 

tenderness. 

XXV 

The sceptred wretch then from that soli- 
tude 

I drew, and, of his change compassion- 
ate. 

With words of sadness soothed his rugged 
mood. 

But he, while pride and fear held deep 
debate. 

With sullen guile of ill-dissembled hate 

Glared on me as a toothless snake might 
glare ; 

Pity, not scorn, I felt, though desolate 

The desolator now, and unaware 
The curses which he mocked had caught 
him by the hair. 

XXVI 

I led him forth from that which now 
might seem 

A gorgeous grave; through portals sculp- 
tured deep 

With imagery beautiful as dream 

We went, and left the shades which tend 
on sleep 

Over its unregarded gold to keep 

Their silent watch. The child trod 
faintingly. 

And as she went, the tears which she did 
weep 



Glanced in the star-light ; wilder^d 
seemed she. 
And, when I spake, for sobs she could not 
answer me. 

XXVII 

At last the Tyrant cried, * She hungers, 

slave ! 
Stab her, or give her bread ! * — It was a 

tone 
Such as sick fancies in a new-made grave 
Might hear. I trembled, for the truth 

was known, — 
He with this child had thus been left 

alone, 
And neither had gone forth for food, but 

he 
In mingled pride and awe cowered near 

his throne. 
And she, a nursling of captivity, 
Knew nought beyond those walls, nor what 

such change might be. 

XXVIII 

And he was troubled at a charm with- 
drawn 
Thus suddenly — that sceptres ruled no 

more, 
That even from gold the dreadful strength 

was gone 
Which once made all things subject to its 

power; 
Such wonder seized him as if hour by 

hour 
The past had come again; and the swift 

fall 
Of one so great and terrible of yore 
To desolateness, in the hearts of all 
Like wonder stirred who saw such awful 

change befall. 

XXIX 

A mighty crowd, such as the wide land 

pours 
Once in a thousand years, now gathered 

round 
The fallen Tyrant; like the rush of 

showers 
Of hail in spring, pattering along the 

ground, 
Their many footsteps fell — else came no 

sound 
From the wide multitude; that lonelj 

man 
Then knew the burden of his change, 

and found, 



CANTO FIFTH 



8S 



Concealing in the dust his visage wan, 
Refuge from the keen looks which through 
his bosom ran. 

XXX 

And he was faint withal. I sate beside 
him 

Upon the earth, and took that child so fair 

From his weak arms, that ill might none 
betide him 

Or her ; when food was brought to them, 
her share 

To his averted lips the child did bear. 

But, when she saw he had enough, she 
ate. 

And wept the while; the lonely man's de- 
spair 

Hunger then overcame, and, of his state 
Forgetful, on the dust as in a trance he sate. 

XXXI 

Slowly the silence of the multitudes 
Passed, as when far is heard in some lone 

dell 
The gathering of a wind among the 

woods: 
* And he is fallen! ' they cry, ' he who did 

dwell 
Like famine or the plague, or aught more 

fell. 
Among our homes, is fallen! the mur- 
derer 
Who slaked his thirsting soul, as from a 

well 
Of blood and tears, with ruin! he is here! 
Sunk in a gulf of scorn from which none 

may him rear! ' 

XXXII 

Then was heard — * He who judged, let 
him be brousrht 

To judgment! blood for blood cries from 
the soil 

On which his crimes have deep pollution 
wrought! 

Shall Othman only unavenged despoil? 

Shall they, who by the stress of grinding 
toil 

Wrest from the unwilling earth his lux- 
uries. 

Perish for crime, while his foul blood 
may boil 

Or creep within his veins at will? Arise! 
And to high Justice make her chosen sacri- 
fice!' 



XXXIII 

* What do ye seek ? what fear ye ? ' then 

I cried. 
Suddenly starting forth, ' that ye should 

shed 
The blood of Othman? if your hearts are 

tried 
In the true love of freedom, cease to 

dread 
This one poor lonely man ; beneath 

Heaven spread 
In purest light above us all, through 

Earth — 
Maternal Earth, who doth her sweet 

smiles shed 
For all — let him go free, until the worth 
Of human nature win from these a second 

birth. 

XXXIV 

' What call ye justice ? Is there one who 

ne'er 
In secret thought has wished another's 

ill? 
Are ye all pure? Let those stand forth 

who hear 
And tremble not. Shall they insult and 

kill, 
If such they be? their mild eyes can they 

fill 
With the false anger of the hypocrite? 
Alas, such were not pure! The chastened 

will 
Of virtue sees that justice is the light 
Of love, and not revenge and terror and 

despite.' 

XXXV 

The murmur of the people, slowly dy- 
ings 

Paused as I spake; then those who near 
me were 

Cast gentle looks where the lone man 
was lying 

Shrouding his head, which now that in- 
fant fair 

Clasped on her lap in silence; through 
the air 

Sobs were then heard, and many kissed 
my feet 

In pity's madness, and to the despair 

Of him whom late they cursed a solace 
sweet 
His very victims brought — soft looks and 
speeches meet. 



86 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



XXXVI 

Then to a home for his repose assigned, 

Accompanied by the still throng, he went 

In silence, where to soothe his rankling 
mind 

Some likeness of his ancient state was 
lent ; 

And if his heart could have been inno- 
cent 

As those who pardoned him, he might 
have ended 

His days in peace; but his straight lips 
were bent, 

Men said, into a smile which guile por- 
tended, — 
A sight with which that child, like hope 
with fear, was blended. 

XXXVII 

'T was midnight now, the eve of that 

great day 
Whereon the many nations, at whose 

call 
The chains of earth like mist melted 

away, 
Decreed to hold a sacred Festival, 
A rite to attest the equality of all 
Who live. So to their homes, to dream 

or wake. 
All went. The sleepless silence did re- 
call 
Laone to my thoughts, with hopes that 

make 
The flood recede from which their thirst 

they seek to slake. 

XXXVIII 

The dawn flowed forth, and from its 
purple fountains 

I drank those hopes which make the spirit 
quail, 

As to the plain between the misty moun- 
tains 

And the great City, with a countenance 
pale, 

I went. It was a sight which might avail 

To make men weep exulting tears, for 
whom 

Now first from human power the rev- 
erend veil 

Was torn, to see Earth from her general 
womb 
Four forth her swarming sons to a fraternal 
doom : 



XXXIX 

To see, far glancing in the misty morn- 

The signs of that innumerable host; 

To hear one sound of many made, the 
warning 

Of Earth to Heaven from its free chil- 
dren tossed; 

Wliile the eternal hills, and the sea lost 

In wavering light, and, starring the blue 
sky. 

The City's myriad spires of gold, almost 

With human joy made mute society — 
Its witnesses with men who must hereafter 
be: 

XL 

To see, like some vast island from the 
Ocean, 

The Altar of the Federation rear 

Its pile i' the midst — a work which the 
devotion 

Of millions in one night created there. 

Sudden as when the moonrise makes ap- 
pear 

Strange clouds in the east — a marble 
pyramid 

Distinct with steps ; — that mighty shape 
did wear 

The light of genius; its still shadow hid 
Far ships; to know its height the morning 
mists forbid ! — 

XLI 

To hear the restless multitudes forever 
Around the base of that great Altar 

flow, 
As on some mountain islet burst and 

shiver 
Atlantic waves; and, solemnly and slow, 
As the wind bore that tumult to and fro. 
To feel the dreamlike music, which did 

swim 
Like beams through floating clouds on 

waves below, 
Falling in pauses, from that Altar dim. 
As silver-sounding tongues breathed an 

aerial hymn. 

XLII 

To hear, to see, to live, was on that 

morn 
Lethean joy! so that all those assembled 
Cast off their memories of the past out- 
worn ; 



CANTO FIFTH 



S7 



Two only bosoms with their own life 
trembled, 

And mine was one, — and we had both 
dissembled; 

So with a beating heart I went, and one. 

Who having much, covets yet more, re- 
sembled, — 

A lost and dear possession, which not 
won. 
He walks in lonely gloom beneath the noon- 
day sun. 

XLIII 

To the great Pyramid I came; its stair 

With female choirs was thronged, the 
loveliest 

Among the free, grouped with its sculp- 
tures rare. 

As I approached, the morning's golden 
mist, 

Which now the wonder-stricken breezes 
kissed 

With their cold lips, fled, and the sum- 
mit shone 

Like Athos seen from Samothracia, 
dressed 

In earliest light, by vintagers; and One 
Sate there, a female Shape upon an ivory 
throne : — 

XLIV 

A Form most like the imagined habitant 
Of silver exhalations sprung from dawn. 
By winds which feed on sunrise woven, 

to enchant 
The faiths of men. All mortal eyes were 

drawn — 
As famished mariners through strange 

seas gone 
Gaze on a burning watch-tower — by the 

light 
Of those divinest lineaments. Alone, 
With thoughts which none could share, 

from that fair sight 
I turned in sickness, for a veil shrouded 

her countenance bright. 

XLV 

And neither did I hear the acclamations, 
Which from brief silence bursting filled 

the air 
With her strange name and mine, from 

all the nations 
Which we, they said, in strength had 

gathered there 



From the sleep of bondage; nor the 

vision fair 
Of that bright pageantry beheld; but 

blind 
And silent, as a breathing corpse, did fare, 
Leaning upon my friend, till like a wind 
To fevered cheeks a voice flowed o'er my 

troubled mind. 

XLVI 

Like music of some minstrel heavenly 

gifted. 
To one whom fiends enthrall, this voice 

to me; 
Scarce did I wish her veil to be uplifted, 
I was so calm and joyous. I could see 
The platform where we stood, the statues 

three 
Which kept their marble watch on that 

high shrine, 
The multitudes, the mountains, and the 

sea, — 
As, when eclipse hath passed, things sud- 
den shine 
To men's astonished eyes most clear and 

crystalline. 

XLVII 

At first Laone spoke most tremulously; 

But soon her voice the calmness which it 
shed 

Gathered, and — ' Thou art whom I 
sought to see. 

And thou art our first votary here,' she 
said; 
' I had a dear friend once, but he is dead! 

And, of all those on the wide earth who 
breathe, 

Thou dost resemble him alone. I spread 

This veil between us two that thou be- 
neath 
Shouldst image one who may have been 
long lost in death. 

XLVIIT 

' For this wilt thou not henceforth pardon 

me ? 
Yes, but those joys which silence well 

requite 
Forbid reply. Why men have chosen me 
lo be the Priestess of this holiest rite 
I scarcely know, but that the floods of 

light 
Which flow over the world have borne 

me hither 



88 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



To meet thee, long most dear. And now 
unite 

Thine hand with mine, and may all com- 
fort wither 
From both the hearts whose pulse in joy 
now beat together, 

XLIX 

* If our own will as others' law we bind, 
If the foul worship trampled here we fear, 
If as ourselves we cease to love our 

kind ! ' — 
She paused, and pointed upwards — 

sculptured there 
Three shapes around her ivory throne 

appear. 
One was a Giant, like a child asleep 
On a loose rock, whose grasp crushed, as 

it were 
In dream, sceptres and crowns; and orie 

did keep 
Its watchful eyes in doubt whether to 

smile or weep — 



A Woman sitting on the sculptured disk 
Of the broad earth, and feeding from 

one breast 
A human babe and a young basilisk; 
Her looks were sweet as Heaven's when 

loveliest 
In Autumn eves. The third Image was 

dressed 
In white wings swift as clouds in winter 

skies; 
Beneath his feet, 'mongst ghastliest 

forms, repressed 
Lay Faith, an obscene worm, who sought 

to rise, — 
IVhile calmly on the Sun he turned his dia- 
mond eyes. 

LI 

Beside that Image then I sate, while she 
Stood 'mid the throngs which ever ebbed 

and flowed. 
Like light amid the shadows of the sea 
Cast from one cloudless star, and on the 

crowd 
That touch which none who feels forgets 

bestowed; 
And whilst the sun returned the steadfast 

gaze 
Of the great Image, as o'er Heaven it 

glode, 



That rite had place; it ceased when sun- 
set's blaze 

Burned o'er the isles; all stood in joy and 
deep amaze — 

When in the silence of all spirits there 

Laone's voice was felt, and through the 
air 
Her thrilling gestures spoke, most elo- 
quently fair. 



* Calm art thou as yon sunset! swift and 

strong 
As new-fledged Eagles beautiful and young. 
That float among the blinding beams of 

morning; 
And underneath thy feet writhe Faith and 

Folly, 
Custom and Hell and mortal Melancholy. 
Hark! the Earth starts to hear the mighty 
warning 
Of thy voice sublime and holy; 
Its free spirits here assembled 
See thee, feel thee, know thee now; 
To thy voice their hearts have trembled, 
Like ten thousand clouds which flow 
With one wide wind as it flies! 
Wisdom ! thy irresistible children rise 
To hail thee; and the elements they chain, 
And their own will, to swell the glory of 
thy train! 



' O Spirit vast and deep as Night and 

Heaven, 
Mother and soul of all to which is given 
The light of life, the loveliness of being! 
Lo! thou dost reascend the human heart. 
Thy throne of power, almighty as thou 

wert 
In dreams of Poets old grown pale by see- 
ing 
The shade of thee ; — now millions start 
To feel thy lightnings through them 

burning! 
Nature, or God, or Love, or Pleasure, 
Or Sympathy, the sad tears turning 
To mutual smiles, a drainless treasure, 
Descends amidst us! Scorn and Hate, 
Revenge and Selfishness, are desolate! 
A hundred nations swear that there shall 

be 
Pity and Peace and Love among the good 
and free! 



CANTO FIFTH 



89 



* Eldest of things, divine Equality ! 
Wisdom and Love are but the slaves of 

thee, 
The angels of thy sway, who pour around 

thee 
Treasures from all the cells of human 

thought 
And from the Stars and from the Ocean 

brought, 
And the last living heart whose beatings 
bound thee. 
The powerful and the wise had sought 
Thy coming; thou, in light descending 
O'er the wide land which is thine own. 
Like the spring whose breath is blending 
All blasts of fragrance into one, 
Comest upon the paths of men! 
Earth bares her general bosoxu to thy ken. 
And all her children liere in glory meet 
To feed upon thy smiles, and clasp thy 
sacred feet. 



*My brethren, we are free! the plains and 

mountains, 
The gray sea-shore, the forests and the 

fountains. 
Are haunts of happiest dwellers; man and 

woman. 
Their common bondage burst, may freely 

borrow 
From lawless love a solace for their sorrow; 
For oft we still must weep, since we are 
human. 
A stormy night's serenest morrow. 
Whose showers are pity's gentle tears, 
Whose clouds are smiles of those that die 
Like infanta without hopes or fears. 
And whose beams are joys that lie 
In blended hearts, now holds dominion, — 
The dawn of mind, which, upwards on a 

pinion 
Borne, swift as sunrise, far illumines space, 
And clasps this barren world in its own 
bright embrace ! 

5 
* My brethren, we are free ! the fruits are 

glowing 
Beneath the stars, and the night-winds are 

flowing 
O'er the ripe corn, the birds and beasts are 

dreaminsr. 



Never again may blood of bird or beast 
Stain with its venomous stream a human 

feast, 
To the pure skies in accusation steaming ! 
Avenging poisons shall have ceased 
To feed disease and fear and madness; 
The dwellers of the earth and air 
Shall throng around our steps in gladness, 
Seeking their food or refuge there. 
Our toil from thought all glorious forms 

shall cull, 
To make this earth, our home, more beau- 
tiful, 
And Science, and her sister Poesy, 
Shall clothe in light the fields and cities of 
the free ! 



' Victory, Victory to the prostrate nations ! 
Bear witness. Night, and ye mute Constel- 
lations 
Who gaze on us from your crystalline cars I 
Thoughts have gone forth whose powers 

can sleep no more ! 
Victory ! Victory ! Earth's remotest shore, 
Regions which groan beneath the Antarctic 
stars, 
The green lands cradled in the roar 
Of western waves, and wildernesses 
Peopled and vast which skirt the oceans, 
Where Morning dyes her golden tresses, 
Shall soon partake our high emotions. 
Kings shall turn pale ! Almighty Fear, 
The Fiend-God, when our charmed name 

he hear, 
Shall fade like shadow from his thousand 

fanes, 
While Truth with Joy enthroned o'er his 
lost empire reigns ! ' 

LII 

Ere she had ceased, the mists of night 
entwining 

Their dim woof floated o'er the infinite 
throng; 

She, like a spirit through the darkness 
shining. 

In tones whose sweetness silence did pro- 
long 

As if to lingering winds they did belong, 

Poured forth her inmost soul: a passion- 
ate speech 

With wild and thrilling pauses woven 
among, 



90 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



Which whoso heard was mute, for it 
could teach 
To rapture like her own all listening hearts 
to reach. 

LIII 

Her voice was as a mountain stream 
which sweeps 

The withered leaves of autumn to the 
lake, 

And in some deep and narrow bay then 
sleeps 

In the shadow of the shores; as dead 
leaves wake, 

Under the wave, in flowers and herbs 
which make 

Those green depths beautiful when skies 
are blue. 

The multitude so moveless did par- 
take 

Such living change, and kindling mur- 
murs flew 
As o'er that speechless calm delight and 
wonder grew. 

LIV 

Over the plain the throngs were scattered 

then 
In groups around the fires, which from 

the sea 
Even to the gorge of the first mountain 

glen 
Blazed wide and far; the banquet of the 

free 
Was spread beneath many a dark cypress 

tree, 
Beneath whose spires, which swayed in 

the red flame. 
Reclining as they ate, of Liberty 
And Hope and Justice and Laone's name 
Earth's children did a woof of happy con- 
verse frame. 

LV 

Their feast was such as Earth, the gen- 
eral mother, 

Pours from her fairest bosom, when she 
smiles 

In the embrace of Autumn; to each 
other 

As when some parent fondly reconciles 

Her warring children — she their wrath 
beguiles 

With her own sustenance, they relenting 
weep — 



Such was this Festival, which from their 

isles 
And continents and winds and oceans 

deep 
All shapes might throng to share that fly 

or walk or creep; 

LVI 

Might share in peace and innocence, for 

gore 
Or poison none this festal did pollute. 
But, piled on high, an overflowing store 
Of pomegranates and citrous, fairest 

fruit, 
Melons, and dates, and figs, and many a 

root 
Sweet and sustaining, and bright grapes 

ere yet 
Accursed fire their mild juice could trans- 

nmte 
Into a mortal bane, and brown corn 

set 
In baskets; with pure streams their thirst- 
ing lips they wet. 

LVII 

Laone had descended from the shrine. 

And every deepest look and holiest mind 

Fed on her form, though now those tones 
divine 

Were silent as she passed; she did un- 
wind 

Her veil, as with the crowds of her own 
kind 

She mixed ; some impulse made my heart 
refrain 

From seeking her that night, so I re- 
clined 

Amidst a group, where on the utmost 
plain 
A festal watch-fire burned beside the dusky 
main. 

LVIII 

And joyous was our feast; pathetic talk, 
And wit, and harmony of choral strains, 
While far Orion o'er the waves did 

walk 
That flow among the isles, held us in 

chains 
Of sweet captivity which none disdains 
Who feels; but, when his zone grew dim 

in mist 
Which clothes the Ocean's bosom, o'er 

the plains 



CANTO SIXTH 



91 



The multitudes went homeward to their 
rest, 
Which that delightful day with its own 
shadow blest. 



CANTO SIXTH 



Beside the dimness of the glimmering 
sea, 

Weaving swift language from impas- 
sioned themes. 

With that dear friend I lingered, who to 
me 

So late had been restored, beneath the 
gleams 

Of the silver stars; and ever in soft 
dreams 

Of future love and peace sweet converse 
lapped 

Our willing fancies, till the pallid beams 

Of the last watch-fire fell, and darkness 
wrapped 
The waves, and each bright chain of float- 
ing fire was snapped, 

II 

And till we came even to the City's wall 
And the great gate. Then, none knew 

whence or why. 
Disquiet on the multitudes did fall; 
And first, one pale and breathless passed 

us by, 
And stared and spoke not; then with 

piercing cry 
A troop of wild-eyed women — by the 

shrieks 
Of their own terror driven, tumultuously 
Hither and thither hurrying with pale 

cheeks — 
Each one from fear unknown a sudden 

refuge seeks 

III 

Then, rallying cries of treason and of 

danger 
Resounded, and — * They come ! to arms ! 

to arms! 
The Tyrant is amongst us, and the 

stranger 
Comes to enslave us in his name ! to 

arms ! ' 
In vain: for Panic, the pale fiend who 

charms 



Strength to forswear her right, those 

millions swept 
Like waves before the tempest. These 

alarms 
Came to me, as to know their cause I 

leapt 
On the gate's turret, and in rage and grief 

and scorn I wept ! 

IV 

For to the north I saw the town on fire, 

And its red light made morning pallid 
now. 

Which burst over wide Asia; — louder, 
higher. 

The yells of victory and the screams of 
woe 

I heard approach, and saw the throng 
below 

Stream through the gates like foam- 
wrought waterfalls 

Fed from a thousand storms — the fear- 
ful glow 

Of bombs flares overhead — at intervals 
The red artillery's bolt mangling among 
them falls. 



And now the horsemen come — and all 

was done 
Swifter than I have spoken — I beheld 
Their red swords flash in the unrisen sun. 
I rushed among the rout to have repelled 
That miserable flight — one moment 

quelled 
By voice, and looks, and eloquent despair, 
As if reproach from their own hearts 

withheld 
Their steps, they stood; but soon cam*/ 

pouring there 
New multitudes, and did those rallied 

bands o'erbear. 

VI 

I strove, as drifted on some cataract 

By irresistible streams some wretch 
might strive 

Who hears its fatal roar; the files com- 
pact 

Whelmed me, and from the gate availed 
to drive 

With quickening impulse, as each bolt 
did rive 

Their ranks with bloodier chasm; intc 
the plain 



92 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



Disgorged at length the dead and the 

alive 
In one dread mass were parted, and the 

stain 
Of blood from mortal steel fell o'er the 

fields like rain. 

VII 

For now the despot's bloodhounds with 
their prey, 

Unarmed and unaware, were gorging 
deep 

Their gluttony of death ; the loose ar- 
ray 

Of horsemen o'er the wide fields murder- 
ing sweep, 

And with loud laughter for their Tyrant 
reap 

A harvest sown with other hopes; the 
while, 

Far overhead, ships from Propontis keep 

A killing rain of fire. When the waves 
smile 
is sudden earthquakes light many a vol- 
cano isle, 

VIII 

Thus sudden, unexpected feast was 

spread 
For the carrion fowls of Heaven. I saw 

the sight — 
I moved — I lived — as o'er the heaps of 

dead. 
Whose stony eyes glared in the morning 

light, 
I trod; to me there came no thought of 

flight, 
But with loud cries of scorn, which 

whoso heard 
That dreaded death felt in his veins the 

might 
Of virtuous shame return, the crowd I 

stirred. 
And desperation's hope in many hearts re- 
curred. 

IX 

A band of brothers gathering round me 

made, 
Although unarmed, a steadfast front, and, 

still 
Retreating, with stern looks beneath the 

shade 
Of gathered eyebrows, did the victors 

fill 



With doubt even in success; deliberate 
will 

Inspired our growing troop; not over- 
thrown. 

It gained the shelter of a grassy hill, — 

And ever still our comrades were hewn 
down, 
And their defenceless limbs beneath our 
footsteps strown. 

X 

Immovably we stood; in joy I found 
Beside me then, firm as a giant pine 
Among the mountain vapors driven 

around. 
The old man whom I loved; his eyes 

divine 
With a mild look of courage answered 

mine, 
And my young friend was near, and 

ardently 
His hand grasped mine a moment; now 

the line 
Of war extended, to our rallying cry 
As myriads flocked in love and brotherhood 

to die. 

XI 

For ever while the sun was climbing 

Heaven 
The horseman hewed our unarmed 

myriads down 
Safely, though when by thirst of carnage 

driven 
Too near, those slaves were swiftly over- 
thrown 
By hundreds leaping on them; flesh and 

bone 
Soon made our ghastly ramparts; then 

the shaft 
Of the artillery from the sea was thrown 
More fast and fiery, and the conquerors 

laughed 
In pride to hear the wind our screams of 

torment waft, 

XII 

For on one side alone the hill gave shel- 
ter. 

So vast that phalanx of unconquered 
men. 

And there the living in the blood did 
welter 

Of the dead and dying, which in that 
green glen. 



CANTO SIXTH 



93 



Like stifled torrents, made a plashy 

fen 
Under the feet. Thus was the butchery 

waged 
While the sun clomb Heaven's eastern 

steep; but, when 
It 'gan to sink, a fiercer combat raged, 
For in more doubtful strife the armies were 

engaged. 

XIII 

Within a cave upon the hill were found 
A bundle of rude pikes, the instrument 
Of those who war but on their native 

ground 
For natural rights; a shout of joyance, 

sent 
Even from our hearts, the wide air 

pierced and rent. 
As those few arms the bravest and the 

best 
Seized, and each sixth, thus armed, did 

now present 
A line which covered and sustained the 

rest, 
A confident phalanx which the foes on 

every side invest. 

XIV 

That onset turned the foes to flight al- 
most; 

But soon they saw their present strength, 
and knew 

That coming night would to our resolute 
host 

Bring victory; so, dismounting, close they 
drew 

Their glittering files, and then the com- 
bat grew 

Unequal but most horrible; and ever 

Our myriads, whom the swift bolt over- 
threw, 

Or the red sword, failed like a mountain 
river 
Which rushes forth in foam to sink in 
sands forever. 

XV 

Sorrow and shame, to see with their own 

kind 
Our human brethren mix, like beasts of 

blood. 
To mutual ruin armed by one behind 
Who sits and scoffs! — that friend so 

mild and good, 



Who like its shadow near my youth had 

stood, 
Was stabbed! — my old preserver's 

hoary hair, 
With the flesh clinging to its roots, was 

strewed 
Under my feet! I lost all sense or care. 
And like the rest I grew desperate and 

unaware. 

XVI 

The battle became ghastlier; in the 

midst 
I paused, and saw how ugly and how fell, 
O Hate! thou art, even when thy life 

thou shedd'st 
For love. The ground in many a little 

dell 
Was broken, up and down whose steeps 

befell 
Alternate victory and defeat; and there 
The combatants with rage most horrible 
Strove, and their eyes started with crack- 
ing stare. 
And impotent their tongues they lolled 
into the air, 

XVII 

Flaccid and foamy, like a mad dog's 

hanging. 
Want, and Moon-madness, and the pest's 

swift Bane, 
When its shafts smite — while yet its 

bow is twanging — 
Have each their mark and sign, some 

ghastly stain; 
And this was thine, O War ! of hate and 

pain 
Thou loathM slave! I saw all shapes of 

death. 
And ministered to many, o'er the plain 
While carnage in the sunbeam's warmth 

did seethe. 
Till Twilight o'er the east wove her seren- 

est wreath. 

XVIII 

The few who yet survived, resolute and 

firm. 
Around me fought. At the decline of 

day, 
Winding above the mountain's snowy 

term. 
New banners shone; they quivered If 

the ray 



94 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



Of the sun's unseen orb; ere night the 

array 
Of fresh troops hemmed us in — of those 

brave bands 
I soon survived alone — and now I lay 
Vanquished and faint, the grasp of 

bloody hands 
1 felt, and saw on high the glare of falling 

brands, 

XIX 

When on my foes a sudden terror 

came, 
And they fled, scattering. — Lo ! with 

reinless speed 
A black Tartarian horse of giant frame, 
Comes trampling over the dead; the 

living bleed 
Beneath the hoofs of that tremendous 

steed, 
On which, like to an Angel, robed in 

white. 
Sate one waving a sword; the hosts re- 
cede 
And fly, as through their ranks, with 

awful might 
Sweeps in the shadow of eve that Phantom 

swift and bright; 

XX 

And its path made a solitude. I rose 
And marked its coming; it relaxed its 

course 
As it approached me, and the wind that 

flows 
Through night bore accents to mine ear 

whose force 
Might create smiles in death. The Tar- 
tar horse 
Paused, and I saw the shape its might 

which swayed. 
And heard her musical pants, like the 

sweet source 
Of waters in the desert, as she said. 
Mount with me, Laon, now ' — I rapidly 

obeyed. 

XXI 

Then, ' Away ! away ! ' she cried, and 

stretched her sword 
As 't were a scourge over the courser's 

head. 
And lightly shook the reins. We spake 

no word. 
But like the vapor of the tempest fled 



Over the plain; her dark hair was 

dispread 
Like the pine's locks upon the lingering 

blast; 
Over mine eyes its shadowy strings it 

spread 
Fitfully, and the hills and streams fled 

fast. 
As o'er their glimmering forms the steed't 

broad shadow passed. 

XXII 

And his hoofs ground the rocks to fire 

and dust. 
His strong sides made the torrents rise 

in spray. 
And turbulence, as of a whirlwind's gust. 
Surrounded us; — and still away, away. 
Through the desert night we sped, while 

she alway 
Gazed on a mountain which we neared, 

whose crest, 
Crowned with a marble ruin, in the ray 
Of the obscure stars gleamed; its rugged 

breast 
The steed strained up, and then his impulse 

did arrest. 

XXIII 

A rocky hill which overhung the 

Ocean: — 
From that lone ruin, when the steed that 

panted 
Paused, might be heard the murmur of 

the motion 
Of waters, as in spots forever haunted 
By the choicest winds of Heaven which 

are enchanted 
To music by the wand of Solitude, 
That wizard wild, — and the far tents 

implanted 
Upon the plain, be seen by those who 

stood 
Thence marking the dark shore of Ocean's 

curved flood. 

XXIV 

One moment these were heard and seer 

— another 
Passed; and the two who stood beneath 

that night 
Each only heard or saw or felt the other. 
As from the lofty steed she did alight, 
Cythna (for, from the eyes whose deepest 

light 



CANTO SIXTH 



95 



Of love and sadness made my lips feel 

pale 
With influence strange of mournfullest 

delight, 
My own sweet Cythna looked) with joy 

did quail, 
And felt her strength in tears of human 

weakness fail. 

XXV 

And for a space in my embrace she 

rested, 
Her head on my unquiet heart reposing, 
While my faint arms her languid frame 

invested; 
At length she looked on me, and, half 

unclosing 
Her tremulous lips, said, * Friend, thy 

bands were losing 
The battle, as I stood before the King 
In bonds. I burst them then, and, swiftly 

choosing 
The time, did seize a Tartar's sword, 

and spring 
Upon his horse, and swift as on the whirl- 
wind's wing 

XXVI 

' Have thou and I been borne beyond pur- 
suer, 
And we are here.' Then, turning to the 

steed, 
She pressed the white moon on his front 

with pure 
And rose-like lips, and many a fragrant 

weed 
From the green ruin plucked that he 

might feed; 
But I to a stone seat that Maiden led, 
And, kissing her fair eyes, said, ' Thou 

hast need 
Of rest,' and I heaped up the courser's 

bed 
In a green mossy nook, with mountain 

flowers dispread. 

XXVII 

Within that ruin, where a shattered 
portal 

Looks to the eastern stars — abandoned 
now 

By man to be the home of things im- 
mortal, 

Memories, like awful ghosts which come 
and go, 



And must inherit all he builds below 

When he is gone — a hall stood; o'er 
whose roof 

Fair clinging weeds with ivy pale did 
grow. 

Clasping its gray rents with a verdurous 
woof, 
A hanging dome of leaves, a canopy moon- 
proof. 

XXVIII 

The autumnal winds, as if spell-bound, 

had made 
A natural couch of leaves in that recess, 
Which seasons none disturbed; but, in 

the shade 
Of flowering parasites, did Spring love 

to dress 
With their sweet blooms the wintry lone- 
liness 
Of those dead leaves, shedding their 

stars whene'er 
The wandering wind her nurslings might 

caress; 
Whose intertwining fingers ever there 
Made music wild and soft that filled the 

listening air. 

XXIX 

We know not where we go, or what 

sweet dream 
May pilot us through caverns strange 

and fair 
Of far and pathless passion, while the 

stream 
Of life Our bark doth on its whirlpools 

bear. 
Spreading swift wings as sails to the dim 

air; 
Nor should we seek to know, so the de- 
votion 
Of love and gentle thoughts be heard 

still there 
Louder and louder from the utmost 

Ocean 
Of universal life, attuning its commotion. 

XXX 

To the pure all things are pure! Oblivion 

wrapped 
Our spirits, and the fearful overthrow 
Of public hope was from our being 

snapped. 
Though linked years had bound it there? 

for now 



96 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



A power, a thirst, a knowledge, which 
below 

All thoughts, like light beyond the at- 
mosphere 

Clothing its clouds with grace, doth ever 
flow, 

Came on us, as we sate in silence there. 
Beneath the golden stars of the clear azure 
air; — 

XXXI 

In silence which doth follow talk that 

causes 
The baffled heart to speak with sighs 

and tears, 
When wildering passion swalloweth up 

the pauses 
Of inexpressive speech; — the youthful 

years 
Which we together passed, their hopes 

and fears. 
The blood itself which ran within our 

frames. 
That likeness of the features which en- 
dears 
The thoughts expressed by them, our 

very names, 
A.nd all the winged hours which speechless 

memory claims, 

XXXII 

Had found a voice; and ere that voice 

did pass, 
The night grew damp and dim, and, 

through a rent 
Of the ruin where we sate, from the 

morass 
A wandering Meteor by some wild wind 

sent 
Hung high in the green dome, to which 

it lent 
A faint and pallid lustre; while the 

song 
Of blasts, in which its blue hair quiver- 
ing bent. 
Strewed strangest sounds the moving 

leaves among; 
A wondrous light, the sound as of a spirit's 

tongue. 

XXXIII 

The Meteor showed the leaves on which 

we sate. 
And Cythna's glowing arms, and the 

thick ties 



Of her soft hair which bent with gath- 
ered weight 

My neck near hers; her dark and deep- 
ening eyes, 

Which, as twin phantoms of one star 
that lies 

O'er a dim well move though the star 
reposes, 

Swam in our mute and liquid ecstasies; 

Her marble brow, and eager lips, like 
roses. 
With their own fragrance pale, which 
Spring but half uncloses. 

XXXIV 

The Meteor to its far morass returned. 
The beating of our veins one interval 
Made still; and then I felt the blood that 

burned 
Within her frame mingle with mine, and 

fall 
Around my heart like fire; and over 

all 
A mist was spread, the sickness of a 

deep 
And speechless swoon of joy, as might 

befall 
Two disunited spirits when they leap 
In union from this earth's obscure and 

fading sleep. 

XXXV 

Was it one moment that confounded 

thus 
All thought, all sense, all feeling, into 

one 
Unutterable power, which shielded us 
Even from our own cold looks, when we 

had gone 
Into a wide and wild oblivion 
Of tumult and of tenderness ? or now 
Had ages, such as make the moon and 

sun, 
The seasons, and mankind their changes 
know. 
Left fear and time unfelt by us alone be- 
low ? 

XXXVI 

I know not. What are kisses whose fire 

clasps 
The failing heart in languishment, or 

limb 
Twined within limb ? or the quick dying 

gasps 



CANTO SIXTH 



97 



Of the life meeting, when the faint eyes 


Few were the living hearts which could 


swim 


unite 


Through tears of a wide mist boundless 


Like ours, or celebrate a bridal night 


and dim. 


With such close sympathies, for they 


In one caress ? What is the strong con- 


had sprung 


trol 


From linked youth, and from the gentle 


Which leads the heart that dizzy steep 


might 


to climb 


Of earliest love, delayed and cherished 


Where far over the world those vapors 


long. 


roll 


Which common hopes and fears made, like 


Which blend two restless frames in one re- 


a tempest, strong. 


posing soul ? 


XL 


XXXVII 


And such is Nature's law divine that 


It is the shadow which doth float unseen, 


those 


But not unfelt, o'er blind mortality, 


Who grow together cannot choose but 


Whose divine darkness fled not from 


love. 


that green 


If faith or custom do not interpose. 


And lone recess, where lapped in peace 


Or common slavery mar what else might 


did lie 


move 


Our linked frames, till, from the chan- 


All gentlest thoughts. As in the sacred 


ging sky 


grove 


That night and still another day had 


Which shades the springs of Ethiopian 


fled; 


Nile, 


And then I saw and felt. The moon was 


That living tree which, if the arrowy 


high. 


dove 


And clouds, as of a coming storm, were 


Strike with her shadow, shrinks in fear 


spread 


awhile, 


Under its orb, — loud winds were gather- 


But its own kindred leaves clasps while the 


ing overhead. 


sunbeams smile, 


XXXVIII 


XLI 


Cythna's sweet lips seemed lurid in the 


And clings to them when darkness may 


moon. 


dissever 


Her fairest limbs with the night wind 


The close caresses of all duller plants 


were chill, 


Which bloom on the wide earth ; — thus 


And her dark tresses were all loosely 


we forever 


strewn 


Were linked, for love had nursed us in 


O'er her pale bosom ; all within was still. 


the haunts 


And the sweet peace of joy did almost 


Where knowledge from its secret source 


fill 


enchants 


The depth of her unfathomable look; 


Young hearts with the fresh music of its 


And we sate calmly, though that rocky 


springing, 


hill 


Ere yet its gathered flood feeds human 


The waves contending in its caverns 


wants 


strook, 


As the great Nile feeds Egypt, — ever 


For they foreknew the storm, and the gray 


flinging 


ruin shook. 


Light on the woven boughs which o'er its 


XXXIX 


waves are swinging. 


There we unheeding sate in the com- 


XLII 


munion 


The tones of Cythna's voice like echoes 


Of interchanged vows, which, with a rite 


were 


Of faith most sweet and sacred, stamped 


Of those far murmuring streams; they 


our union. 


rose and fell, 



98 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



Mixed with mine own in the tempestuous 

air; 
And so we sate, until our talk befell 
Of the late ruin, swift and horrible. 
And how those seeds of hope might yet 

be sown, 
Whose fruit is Evil's mortal poison. 

Well, 
For us, this ruin made a watch-tower 

lone. 
But Cythna's eyes looked faint, and now 

two days were gone 

XLIII 

Since she had food. Therefore I did 

awaken 
The Tartar steed, who, from his ebon 

mane 
Soon as the clinging slumbers he had 

shaken, 
Bent his thin head to seek the brazen 

rein. 
Following me obediently. W^ith pain 
Of heart so deep and dread that one 

caress. 
When lips and heart refuse to part again 
Till they have told their fill, could scarce 

express 
The anguish of her mute and fearful ten- 
derness, 

XLIV 

Cythna beheld me part, as I bestrode 
That willing steed. The tempest and the 

night. 
Which gave my path its safety as I rode 
Down the ravine of rocks, did soon unite 
The darkness and the tumult of their 

might 
Borne on all winds. — Far through the 

streaming rain 
Floating, at intervals the garments white 
Of Cythna gleamed, and her voice once 

again 
Came to me on the gust, and soon I reached 

the plain. 

XLV 

I dreaded not the tempest, nor did he 

Who bore me, but his eyeballs wide and 
red 

Turned on the lightning's cleft exult- 
ingly; 

And when the earth beneath his tame- 
less tread 



Shook with the sullen thunder, he would 
spread 

His nostrils to the blast, and joyously 

Mock the fierce peal with neighings; — 
thus we sped 

O'er the lit plain, and soon I could de- 
scry 
Where Death and Fire had gorged the 
spoil of victory. 

XLVI 

There was a desolate village in a wood. 

Whose bloom-inwoven leaves now scat- 
tering fed 

The hungry storm; it was a place of 
blood, 

A heap of hearthless walls; — the flames 
were dead 

Within those dwellings now, — the life 
had fled 

From all those corpses now, — but the 
wide sky 

Flooded with lightning was ribbed over- 
head 

By the black rafters, and around did 
lie 
Women and babes and men, slaughtered 
confusedly. 

XLVII 

Beside the fountain in the market-place 
Dismounting, I beheld those corpses 

stare 
W^ith horny eyes upon each other's face, 
And on the earth, and on the vacant 

air, 
And upon me, close to the waters where 
I stooped to slake my thirst; — I shrank 

to taste. 
For the salt bitterness of blood was 

there! 
But tied the steed beside, and sought in 

haste 
If any yet survived amid that ghastly waste. 

XLVIII 

No living thing was there beside one 

woman 
Whom I found wandering in the streets, 

and she 
Was withered from a likeness of aught 

human 
Into a fiend, by some strange misery; 
Soon as she heard my steps she leaped 

on me. 



CANTO SIXTH 



99 



And glued her burning lips to mine, and 

laughed 
With a loud, long and frantic laugh of 

glee, 
And cried, ' Now, mortal, thou hast 

deeply quaffed 
The Plague's blue kisses — soon millions 

shall pledge the draught! 

XLIX 

* My name is Pestilence ; this bosom dry 
Once fed two babes — a sister and a 

brother; 
When I came home, one in the blood did 

lie 
Of three death-wounds — the flames had 

ate the other! 
Since then I have no longer been a 

mother, 
But I am Pestilence; hither and thither 
I flit about, that I may slay and smother; 
All lips which I have kissed must surely 

wither, 
But Death's — if thou art he, we '11 go to 

work together! 



' What seek'st thou here? the moonlight 

comes in flashes; 
The dew is rising dankly from the dell; 
'T will moisten her! and thou shalt see 

the gashes 
In my sweet boy, now full of worms. But 

tell 
First what thou seek'st.' — ' I seek for 

food.' — * 'T is well, 
Thou shalt have food. Famine, my par- 
amour, 
Waits for us at the feast — cruel and fell 
Is Famine, but he drives not from his 

door 
Those whom these lips have kissed, alone. 

No more, no more! ' 

LI 

As thus she spake, she grasped me with 

the strength 
Of madness, and by many a ruined 

hearth 
She led, and over many a corpse. At 

length 
We came to a lone hut, where on the 

earth 
Which made its floor she in her ghastly 

mirth, 



Gathering from all those homes now 

desolate. 
Had piled three heaps of loaves, making 

a dearth 
Among the dead — round which she set 

in state 
A ring of cold, stiff babes; silent and stark 

they sate. 

LII 

She leaped upon a pile, and lifted high 
Her mad looks to the lightning, and 

cried, ' Eat! 
Share the great feast — to-morrow we 

must die! ' 
And then she spurned the loaves with 

her pale feet 
Towards her bloodless guests; — that 

sight to meet. 
Mine eyes and my heart ached, and but 

that she 
Who loved me did with absent looks 

defeat 
Despair, I might have raved in sympa- 

tby; 
But now I took the food that woman of- 
fered me; 

LIII 

And vainly having with her madness 

striven 
If I might win her to return with me. 
Departed. In the eastern beams of 

Heaven 
The lightning now grew pallid, rapidly 
As by the shore of the tempestuous sea 
The dark steed bore me; and the moun- 
tain gray 
Soon echoed to his hoofs, and I could 

see 
Cythna among the rocks, where she al- 
way 
Had sate with anxious eyes fixed on the 
lingering day. 

LIV 

And joy was ours to meet. She was 

most pale. 
Famished and wet and weary; so I cast 
My arms around her, lest her steps 

should fail 
As to our home we went, — and, thus 

embraced. 
Her full heart seemed a deeper joy to 

taste 



lOO 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



Than e'er the prosperous know; the 

steed behind 
Trod peacefully along the mountain 

waste; 
We reached our home ere morning could 

unbind 
Night's latest veil, and on our bridal couch 

reclined. 

LV 

Her chilled heart having cherished in 
my bosom, 

And sweetest kisses past, we two did 
share 

Our peaceful meal; as an autumnal blos- 
som. 

Which spreads its shrunk leaves in the 
sunny air 

After cold showers, like rainbows woven 
there, 

Thus in her lips and cheeks the vital 
spirit 

Mantled, and in her eyes an atmosphere 

Of health and hope; and sorrow lan- 
guished near it. 
And fear, and all that dark despondence 
doth inherit. 



CANTO SEVENTH 
I 

So we sate joyous as the morning ray 
Which fed upon the wrecks of night and 

storm 
Now lingering on the winds; light airs 

did play 
Among the dewy weeds, the sun was 

warm, 
And we sate linked in the inwoven charm 
Of converse and caresses sweet and 

deep — 
Speechless caresses, talk that might dis- 
arm 
Time, though he wield the darts of 

death and sleep, 
A.nd those thrice mortal barbs in his own 

poison steep. 

II 

I told her of my sufferings and my mad- 
ness. 

And how, awakened from that dreamy 
mood 

By Liberty's uprise, the strength of 
gladness 



Came to my spirit in my solitude. 

And all that now I was, while tears pur- 
sued 

Each other down her fair and listening 
cheek 

Fast as the thoughts which fed them, 
like a flood 

From sunbright dales; and when I ceased 
to speak, 
Her accents soft and sweet the pausing air 
did wake. 

Ill 

She told me a strange tale of strange 
endurance. 

Like broken memories of many a heart 

Woven into one; to which no firm assur- 
ance. 

So wild were they, could her own faith 
impart. 

She said that not a tear did dare to start 

From the swoln brain, and that her 
thoughts were firm, 

When from all mortal hope she did de- 
part. 

Borne by those slaves across the Ocean's 
term, 
And that she reached the port without one 
fear infirm. 

IV 

One was she among many there, the 

thralls 
Of the cold Tyrant's cruel lust; and they 
Laughed mournfully in those polluted 

halls; 
But she was calm and sad, musing alway 
On loftiest enterprise, till on a day 
The Tyrant heard her singing to her 

lute 
A wild and sad and spirit-thrilling lay, 
Like winds that die in wastes — one mo- 
ment mute 
The evil thoughts it made which did his 
breast pollute. 



Even when he saw her wondrous loveli- 
ness. 

One moment to great Nature's sacred 
power 

He bent, and was no longer passionless; 

But when he bade her to his secret bower 

Be borne, a loveless victim, and she 
tore 



CANTO SEVENTH 



lOI 



Her locks in agony, and her words of 

flame 
And mightier looks availed not, then he 

bore 
Again his load of slavery, and became 
A. king, a heartless beast, a pageant and a 

name. 

VI 

She told me what a loathsome agony 
Is that when selfishness mocks love's 

delight, 
Foul as in dreams, most fearful imagery. 
To dally with the mowing dead; that 

night 
All torture, fear, or horror made seem 

light 
Which the soul dreams or knows, and 

when the day 
Shone on her awful frenzy, from the 

sight, 
Where like a Spirit in fleshly chains she 

lay 
Struggling, aghast and pale the Tyrant fled 

away. 

VII 

Her madness was a beam of light, a 
power 

Which dawned through the rent soul; 
and words it gave. 

Gestures and looks, such as in whirl- 
winds bore 

(Which might not be withstood, whence 
none could save) 

All who approached their sphere, like 
some calm wave 

Vexed into whirlpools by the chasms be- 
neath; 

And sympathy made each attendant slave 

Fearless and free, and they began to 
breathe 
Deep curses, like the voice of flames far 
underneath. 

VIII 

The King felt pale upon his noon-day 

throne. 
At night two slaves he to her chamber 

sent; 
One was a green and wrinkled eunuch, 

grown 
From human shape into an instrument 
Of all things ill — distorted, bowed and 

bent; 



The other was a wretch from infancy 
Made dumb by poison; who nought knew 

or meant 
But to obey; from the fire isles came he, 
A diver lean and strong, of Oman's coral 

sea. 

IX 

They bore her to a bark, and the swift 

stroke 
Of silent rowers clove the blue moonlight 

seas. 
Until upon their path the morning broke; 
They anchored then, where, be there 

calm or breeze. 
The gloomiest of the drear Symplegades 
Shakes with the sleepless surge; the 

^thiop there 
Wound Lis long arms around her, and 

with knees 
Like iron clasped her feet, and plunged 

with her 
Among the closing waves out of the bound- 
less air. 

X 

' Swift as an eagle stooping from the plain 

Of morning light into some shadowy 
wood. 

He plunged through the green silence of 
the main. 

Through many a cavern which the eter- 
nal flood 

Had scooped as dark lairs for its monster 
brood ; 

And among mighty shapes which fled in 
wonder. 

And among mightier shadows which pur- 
sued 

His heels, he wound; until the dark rocks 
under 
He touched a golden chain — a sound arose 
like thunder, 

XI 

' A stunning clang of massive bolts re- 
doubling 

Beneath the deep — a burst of waters 
driven 

As from the roots of the sea, raging and 
bubbling: 

And in that roof of crags a space was 
riven 

Through which there shone the emerald 
beams of heaven, 



I02 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



Shot through the lines of many waves 
inwoven, 

Like sunlight through acacia woods at 
even, 

Through which his way the diver having 
cloven 
Passed like a spark sent up out of a burn- 
ing oven. 

XII 

* And then,' she said, ' he laid me in a cave 
Above the waters, by that chasm of sea, 
A fountain round and vast, in which the 

wave 

Imprisoned, boiled and leaped perpet- 
ually, 

Down which, one moment resting, he did 
flee, 

Winning the adverse depth; that spacious 
cell 

Like an hupaithric temple wide and high, 

Whose aery dome is inaccessible, 
Was pierced with one round cleft through 
which the sunbeams fell. 

XIII 

* Below, the fountain's brink was richly 

paven 
With the deep's wealth, coral, and pearl, 

and sand 
Like spangling gold, and purple shells 

engraven 
With mystic legends by no mortal hand. 
Left there when, thronging to the moon's 

command. 
The gathering waves rent the Hesperian 

gate 
Of mountains; and on such bright floor 

did stand 
Columns, and shapes like statues, and 

the state 
Of kingless thrones, which Earth did in her 

heart create. 

XIV 

' The fiend of madness which had made 

its prey 
Of my poor heart was lulled to sleep 

awhile. 
There was an interval of many a day; 
And a sea-eagle brought me food the 

while. 
Whose nest was built in that untrodden 

isle, 
And who to be the jailer had been taught 



Of that strange dungeon; as a friend 

whose smile 
Like light and rest at morn and even is 

sought 
That wild bird was to me, till madness 

misery brought : — 

XV 

' The misery of a madness slow and creep- 

Which made the earth seem fire, the sea 

seem air. 
And the white clouds of noon which oft 

were sleeping 
In the blue heaven so beautiful and fair, 
Like hosts of ghastly shadows hovering 

there ; 
And the sea-eagle looked a fiend who 

bore 
Thy mangled limbs for food ! — thus all 

things were 
Transformed into the agony which I 

wore 
Even as a poisoned robe around my bosom's 

core. 

XVI 

* Again I knew the day and night fast 

fleeing, 
The eagle and the fountain and the air; 
Another frenzy came — there seemed a 

being 
Within me — a strange load my heart 

did bear. 
As if some living thing had made its lair 
Even in the fountains of my life; — a 

long 
And wondrous vision wrought from my 

despair, 
Then grew, like sweet reality among 
Dim visionary woes, an unreposing throng. 

XVII 

* Methought I was about to be a mother. 
Month after month went by, and still I 

dreamed 
That we should soon be all to one another, 
I and my child; and still new pulses 

seemed 
To beat beside my heart, and still I 

deemed 
There was a babe within — and when the 

rain 
Of winter through the rifted cavern 

streamed. 



CANTO SEVENTH 



103 



Methought, after a lapse of lingering 
pain, 
I saw that lovely shape which near my 
heart had lain. 

XVIII 

' It was a babe, beautiful from its birth, — 
It was like thee, dear love! its eyes were 

thine, 
Its brow, its lips, and so upon the earth 
It laid its fingers as now rest on mine 
Thine own, beloved! — 'twas a dream 

divine; 
Even to remember how it fled, how swift. 
How utterly, might make the heart re- 
pine, — 
Though 't was a dream.' — Then Cy thna 
did uplift 
Her looks on mine, as if some doubt she 
sought to shift — 

XIX 

A doubt which would not flee, a tender- 
ness 

Of questioning grief, a source of throng- 
ing tears; 

Which having passed, as one whom sobs 
oppress 

She spoke : * Yes, in the wilderness of 
years 

Her memory aye like a green home ap- 
pears. 

She sucked her fill even at this breast, 
sweet love, 

For many months. I had no mortal 
fears ; 

Methought I felt her lips and breath ap- 
prove 
It was a human thing which to my bosom 
clove. 

XX 

'I watched the dawn of her first smiles; 

and soon 
When zenith stars were trembling on the 

wave, 
Or when the beams of the invisible moon 
Or sun from many a prism within the 

cave 
Their gem-born shadows to the water 

gave, 
Her looks would hunt them, and with 

outspread hand. 
From the swift lights which might that 

fountain pave, 



She would mark one, and laugh when, 
that command 
Slighting, it lingered there, and could not 
understand. 



XXI 

' Methought her looks began to talk with 
me; 

And no articulate sounds, but something 
sweet 

Her lips would frame, — so sweet it 
could not be 

That it was meaningless; her touch would 
meet 

Mine, and our pulses calmly flow and 
beat 

In response while we slept; and, on a day 

When I was happiest in that strange re- 
treat, 

With heaps of golden shells we two did 

Both infants, weaving wings for time's per- 
petual way. 

XXII 

* Ere night, methought, her waning eyes 

were grown 
Weary with joy — and, tired with our 

delight, 
We, on the earth, like sister twins lay 

down 
On one fair mother's bosom : — from that 

night 
She fled, — like those illusions clear and 

bright. 
Which dwell in lakes, when the red moon 

on high 
Pause ere it wakens tempest; and her 

flight, 
Though 't was the death of brainless fan- 
tasy. 
Yet smote my lonesome heart more than 

all misery. 

XXIII 

* It seemed that in the dreary night the 

diver 
Who brought me thither came again, 

and bore 
My child away. I saw the waters quiver, 
When he so swiftly sunk, as once before; 
Then morning came — it shone even as 

of yore, 
But I was changed — the very life was 

gone 



I04 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



Out of my heart — I wasted more and 


Spreading his azure sail where breath of 


more, 


heaven 


Day after day, and, sitting there alone, 


Descended not, among the waves and 


V^exed the inconstant waves with my per- 


whirlpools driven. 


petual moan. 






XXVII 


XXIV 


* And when the Eagle came, that lovely 


* I was no longer mad, and yet methought 


thing, 


My breasts were s woln and changed : — 


Oaring with rosy feet its silver boat, 


in every vein 


Fled near me as for shelter; on slow 


The blood stood still one moment, while 


wing 


that thought 


The Eagle hovering o'er his prey did 


Was passing — with a gush of sickening 


float; 


pain 


But when he saw that I with fear did 


It ebbed even to its withered springs 


note 


again; 


His purpose, proffering my own food to 


When my wan eyes in stern resolve I 


him. 


turned 


The eager plumes subsided on his 


From that most strange delusion, which 


throat — 


would fain 


He came where that bright child of sea 


Have waked the dream for which my 


did swim, 


spirit yearned 


And o'er it cast in peace his shadow broad 


W^ith more than human love, — then left it 


and dim. 


unreturned. 






XXVIII 


XXV 


' This wakened me, it gave me human 


* So now my reason was restored to me 


strengtli; 


I struggled with that dream, which like 


And hope, I know not whence or where- 


a beast 


fore, rose. 


Most fierce and beauteous in my mem- 


But I resumed my ancient powers at 


ory 


length ; 


Had made its lair, and on my heart did 


My spirit felt again like one of those, 


feast ; 


Like thine, whose fate it is to make the 


But all that cave and all its shapes, pos- 


woes 


sessed 


Of humankind their prey. What was 


By thoughts which could not fade, re- 


this cave ? 


newed each one 


Its deep foundation no firm purpose 


Some smile, some look, some gesture 


knows 


which had blessed 


Immutable, resistless, strong to save. 


Me heretofore; I, sitting there alone, 


Like mind while yet it mocks the all-de- 


Vexed the inconstant waves with my per- 


vouring grave. 


petual moan. 


XXIX 


XXVI 


* And where was Laon ? might my heart 


« Time passed, I know not whether months 


be dead. 


or years; 


While that far dearer heart could move 


For day, nor night, nor change of seasons 


and be? 


made 


Or whilst over the earth the pall was 


Its note, but thoughts and unavailing 


spread 


tears ; 


Which I had sworn to rend ? I might 


And I became at last even as a shade, 


be free. 


A smoke, a cloud on which the winds 


Could I but win that friendly bird to me 


have preyed, 


To bring me ropes; and long in vain I 


Till it be thin as air; until, one even, 


sought 


A Nautilus upon the fountain played, 


By intercourse of mutual imagerj 



CANTO SEVENTH 



loS 



Of objects if such aid he could be taught; 
But fruit and flowers and boughs, yet never 
ropes he brought. 

XXX 

* We live in our own world, and mine was 

made 

From glorious fantasies of hope departed ; 

Aye we are darkened with their floating 
shade, 

Or cast a lustre on them; time imparted 

Such power to me — I became fearless- 
hearted, 

My eye and voice grew firm, calm was 
my mind. 

And piercing, like the morn, now it has 
darted 

Its lustre on all hidden things behind 
Yon dim and fading clouds which load the 
weary wind. 

XXXI 

* My mind became the book through which 

I grew 
Wise in all human wisdom, and its cave. 
Which like a mine I rifled through and 

through, 
To me the keeping of its secrets gave — 
One mind, the type of all, the moveless 

wave 
Whose calm reflects all moving things 

that are. 
Necessity, and love, and life, the grave, 
And sympathy, fountains of hope and 

fear. 
Justice, and truth, and time, and the world's 

natural sphere. 

XXXIl 

* And on the sand would I make signs to 

range 
These woofs, as they were woven, of my 

thought; 
Clear elemental shapes, whose smallest 

change 
A subtler language within language 

wrought — 
The key of truths which once were dimly 

taught 
In old Crotona; and sweet melodies 
Of love in that lorn solitude I caught 
From mine own voice in dream, when 

thy dear eyes 
3hone through my sleep, and did that utter- 
ance harmonize. 



XXXIII 

' Thy songs were winds whereon I fled at 

will. 
As in a winged chariot, o'er the plain 
Of crystal youth; and thou wert there to 

fill 
My heart with joy, and there we sate 

again 
On the gray margin of the glimmering 

main, 
Happy as then but wiser far, for we 
Smiled on the flowery grave in which 

were lain 
Fear, Faith and Slavery: and mankind 

was free, 
Equal, and pure, and wise, in Wisdom's 

prophecy. 

XXXIV 

' For to my will my fancies were as slaves 

To do their sweet and subtle minis- 
tries ; 

And oft from that bright fountain's 
shadowy waves 

They would make human throngs gather 
and rise 

To combat with my overflowing eyes 

And voice made deep with passion; — 
thus I grew 

Familiar with the shock and the sur- 
prise 

And war of earthly minds, from which I 
drew 
The power which has been mine to frame 
their thoughts anew. 

XXXV 

' And thus my prison was the populous 

earth. 
Where I saw — even as misery dreams 

of morn 
Before the east has given its glory 

birth — 
Religion's pomp made desolate by the 

scorn 
Of Wisdom's faintest smile, and thrones 

uptorn. 
And dwellings of mild people inter- 
spersed 
With undivided fields of ripening corn, 
And love made free — a hope which we 

have nursed 
Even with our blood and tears, — until its 

glory burst. 



io6 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



XXXVI 

' All is not lost! There is some recom- 
pense 

For hope whose fountain can be thus pro- 
found, — 

Even throned Evil's splendid impotence 

Girt by its hell of power, the secret 
sound 

Of hymns to truth and freedom, the 
dread bound 

Of life and death passed fearlessly and 
well, 

Dungeons wherein the high resolve is 
found. 

Racks which degraded woman's greatness 
tell, 
And what may else be good and irresistible. 

XXXVII 

* Such are the thoughts which, like the 

fires that flare 
In storm-encompassed isles, we cherish 

yet 
In this dark ruin — such were mine even 

there ; 
As in its sleep some odorous violet, 
While yet its leaves with nightly dews 

are wet, 
Breathes in prophetic dreams of day's 

uprise. 
Or as, ere Scythian frost in fear has met 
Spring's messengers descending from the 

skies, 
The buds foreknow their life — this hope 

must ever rise. 

XXXVIII 

* So years had passed, when sudden earth- 

quake rent 
The depth of Ocean, and the cavern 

cracked 
With sound, as if the world's wide con- 
tinent 
Had fallen in universal ruin wracked, 
And through the cleft streamed in one 

cataract 
The stifling waters: — when I woke, the 

flood 
Whose banded waves that crystal cave 

had sacked 
Was ebbing round me, and my bright 

abode 
Before me yawned — a chasm desert, and 

bare, and broad. 



XXXIX 

' Above me was the sky, beneath the 

sea; 
I stood upon a point of shattered stone, 
And heard loose rocks rushing tumultu- 

ously 
With splash and shock into the deep — 

anon 
All ceased, and there was silence wide 

and lone. 
I felt that I was free! The Ocean spray 
Quivered beneath my feet, the broad 

Heaven shone 
Around, and in my hair the winds did 

play 
Lingering as they pursued their unim- 
peded way. 

XL 

' My spirit moved upon the sea like wind 
Which round some thymy cape will lag 

and hover. 
Though it can wake the still cloud, and 

unbind 
The strength of tempest. Day was al- 
most over. 
When through the fading light I could 

discover 
A ship approaching — its white sails 

were fed 
With the north wind — its moving shade 

did cover 
The twilight deep; the mariners in dread 
Cast anchor when they saw new rocks 

around them spread. 

XLI 

' And when they saw one sitting on a crag, 
They sent a boat to me; the sailors 

rowed 
In awe through many a new and fearful 

jag 
Of overhanging rock, through which 

there flowed 
The foam of streams that cannot make 

abode. 
They came and questioned me, but when 

they heard 
My voice, they became silent, and thej' 

stood 
And moved as men in whom new lovt> 

had stirred 
Deep thoughts; so to the ship we passed 

without a word. 



CANTO EIGHTH 



107 



CANTO EIGHTH 



* I SATE beside the steersman then, and 

gazing 
Upon the west cried, " Spread the sails ! 

behold ! 
The sinking moon is like a watch-tower 

blazing 
Over the mountains yet; the City of 

Gold 
Ton Cape alone does from the sight with- 
hold; 
The stream is fleet — the north breathes 

steadily 
Beneath the stars ; they tremble with the 

cold ! 
Ye cannot rest upon the dreary sea ! — 
Haste, haste to the warm home of happier 

destiny ! " 

II 

' The Mariners obeyed ; the Captain stood 
Aloof, and whispering to the Pilot said, 
" Alas, alas ! I fear we are pursued 
By wicked ghosts; a Phantom of the 

Dead, 
The night before we sailed, came to my 

bed 
In dream, like that ! " The Pilot then 

replied, 
" It cannot be — she is a human maid — 
Her low voice makes you weep — she is 

some bride, 
Or daughter of high birth — she can be 

nought beside." 

Ill 

* We passed the islets, borne by wind and 

stream, 
And as we sailed the Mariners came near 
And thronged around to listen; in the 

gleam 
Of the pale moon I stood, as one whom 

fear 
May not attaint, and my calm voice did 

rear: 
" Ye are all human — yon broad moon 

gives light 
To millions who the self-same likeness 

wear, 
Even while I speak — beneath this very 

night, 
Heir thoughts flow on like ours, in sadness 

or delight. 



IV 

' " What dream ye ? Your own hajids have 

built an home 
Even for yourselves on a beloved shore; 
For some, fond eyes are pining till they 

come — 
How they will greet him when his toils 

are o'er, 
And laughing babes rush from the well- 
known door! 
Is this your care ? ye toil for your own 

good — 
Ye feel and think — has some immortal 

power 
Such purposes ? or in a human mood 
Dream ye some Power thus builds for man 

in solitude? 



' " What is that Power ? Ye mock your- 
selves, and give 
A human heart to what ye cannot know: 
As if the cause of life could think and 

live! 
'T were as if man's own works should 

feel, and show 
The hopes and fears and thoughts from 

which they flow. 
And he be like to them. Lo ! Plague is 

free 
To waste, Blight, Poison, Earthquake, 

Hail, and Snow, 
Disease, and Want, and worse Necessity 
Of hate and ill, and Pride, and Fear, and 

Tyranny. 

VI 

* " What is that Power ? Some moon- 
struck sophist stood, 
Watching the shade from his own soul 

upthrown 
Fill Heaven and darken Earth, and in 

such mood 
The Form he saw and worshipped was 

his own, 
His likeness in the world's vast mirror 

shown ; 
And 't were an innocent dream, but that 

a faith 
Nursed by fear's dew of poison grows 

thereon. 
And that men say that Power has chosen 

Death 
On all who scorn its laws to wreak immortal 

wrath. 



io8 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



VII 

' " Men say that they themselves have heard 
and seen, 

Or known from others who have known 
such thiny;s, 

A Shade, a Form, which Earth and 
Heaven between 

Wields an invisible rod — that Priests 
and Kings, 

Custom, domestic sway, ay, all that 
brings 

Man's free-born soul beneath the op- 
pressor's heel. 

Are his strong ministers, and that the 
stings 

Of death will make the wise his ven- 
geance feel. 
Though truth and virtue arm their hearts 
with tenfold steel. 

VIII 

* " And it is said this Power will punish 

wrong ; 
Yes, add despair to crime, and pain to 

pain ! 
And deepest hell, and deathless snakes 

among, 
Will bind the wretch on whom is fixed a 

stain, 
Which, like a plague, a burden, and a 

bane, 
Clung to him while he lived; for love 

and hate. 
Virtue and vice, they say, are difference 

vain — 
The will of strength is right. This hu- 
man state 
Tyrants, that they may rule, with lies thus 

desolate. 

IX 

-** Alas, what strength ? Opinion is more 

frail 
Than yon dim cloud now fading on the 

moon 
Even while we gaze, though it awhile 

avail 
To hide the orb of truth — and every 

throne 
Of Earth or Heaven, though shadow, 

rests thereon. 
One shape of many names: — for this ye 

plough 
The barren waves of Ocean — hence 

each one 



Is slave or tyrant; all betray and bow. 
Command, or kill, or fear, or wreak or 
suffer woe. 

X 

* " Its names are each a sign which mak- 

eth holy 
All power — ay, the ghost, the dream, 

the shade 
Of power — lust, falsehood, hate, and 

pride, and folly; 
The pattern whence all fraud and wrong 

is made, 
A law to which mankind has been be- 
trayed ; 
And human love is as the name well 

known 
Of a dear mother whom the murderer 

laid 
In bloody grave, and, into darkness 

thrown. 
Gathered her wildered babes around him 

as his own. 

XI 

' " O Love, who to the hearts of wander- 
ing men 

Art as the calm to Ocean's weary waves ! 

Justice, or Truth, or Joy ! those only can 

From slavery and religion's labyrinth- 
caves 

Guide us, as one clear star the seaman 
saves. 

To give to all an equal share of good. 

To track the steps of Freedom, though 
through graves 

She pass, to suffer all in patient mood. 
To weep for crime though stained with 
thy friend's dearest blood, 

XII 

' " To feel the peace of self-contentment's 

lot. 
To own all sympathies, and outrage none. 
And in the inmost bowers of sense and 

thought, 
Until life's sunny day is quite gone down. 
To sit and smile with Joy, or, not alone, 
To kiss salt tears from the worn cheek 

of Woe; 
To live as if to love and live were one, -^ 
This is not faith or law, nor those who 

bow 
To thrones on Heaven or Earth such destiny 

may know. 



CANTO EIGHTH 



109 



XIII 

' " But children near their parents tremble 
now, 

Because they must obey; one rules 
another, 

And, as one Power rules both high and 
low, 

So man is made the captive of his brother, 

And Hate is throned on high with Fear 
his mother 

Above the Highest; and those fountain- 
cells. 

Whence love yet flowed when faith had 
choked all other. 

Are darkened — Woman as the bond- 
slave dwells 
Of man, a slave ; and life is poisoned in its 
wells. 

XIV 

* " Man seeks for gold in mines that he 
may weave 
A lasting chain for his own slavery; 
In fear and restless care that he may live 
He toils for others who must ever be 
The joyless thralls of like captivity; 
He murders, for his chiefs delight in ruin; 
He builds the altar that its idol's fee 
May be his very blood; he is pursuing — 
Oh, blind and willing wretch ! — his own 
obscure undoing. 

XV 

'"Woman! — she is his slave, she has 

become 
A thing I weep to speak — the child of 

scorn, 
The outcast of a desolated home; 
Falsehood, and fear, and toil, like waves 

have worn 
Channels upon her cheek, which smiles 

adorn 
As calm decks the false Ocean: — well 

ye know 
What Woman is, for none of Woman born 
Can choose but drain the bitter dregs of 

woe, 
Which ever from the oppressed to the op- 
pressors flow. 

XVI 

' " This need not be ; ye might arise, and 
will 
That gold should lose its power, and 
thrones their glory; 



That love, which none may bind, be free 

to fill 
The world, like light; and evil faith, 

grown hoary 
With crime, be quenched and die. — 

Yon promontory 
Even now eclipses the descending 

moon ! — 
Dungeons and palaces are transitory — 
High temples fade like vapor — Man 

alone 
Remains, whose will has power when all 

beside is gone. 

XVII 

*"Let all be free and equal! — from 
your hearts 
I feel an echo; through my inmost frame 
Like sweetest sound, seeking its mate, 

it darts. 
Whence come ye, friends ? Alas, I can- 
not name 
All that I read of sorrow, toil and shame 
On your worn faces; as in legends old 
Which make immortal the disastrous 

fame 
Of conquerors and impostors false and 
bold. 
The discord of your hearts I in your looks 
behold. 

XVIII 

' " Whence come ye, friends ? from pour- 
ing human blood 

Forth on the earth ? or bring ye steel 
and gold, 

That kings may dupe and slay the multi- 
tude ? 

Or from the famished poor, pale, weak 
and cold. 

Bear ye the earnings of their toil ? un- 
fold ! 

Speak ! are your hands in slaughter's 
sanguine hue 

Stained freshly ? have your hearts in 
guile grown old ? 

Know yourselves thus ! ye shall be pure 
as dew. 
And I will be a friend and sister unto you. 

XIX 

* " Disguise it not — we have one human 
heart — 
All mortal thoughts confess a common 
home; 



no 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



Blush not for what may to thyself impart 
Stains of inevitable crime; the doom 
Is this, which has, or may, or must, be- 
come 
Thine, and all humankind's. Ye are 

the spoil 
Which Time thus marks for the devour- 
ing tomb — 
Thou and thy thoughts, and they, and all 
the toil 
Wherewith ye twine the rings of life's per- 
petual coil. 

XX 

* " Disguise it not — ye blush for what ye 

hate. 
And Enmity is sister unto Shame; 
Look on your mind — it is the book of 

fate — 
Ah! it is dark with many a blazoned 

name 
Of misery — all are mirrors of the same; 
But the dark fiend who with his iron pen. 
Dipped in scorn's fiery poison, makes 

his fame 
Enduring there, would o'er the heads of 

men 
Pass harmless, if they scorned to make 

their hearts his den. 

XXI 

* " Yes, it is Hate, that shapeless fiendly 

thing 
Of many names, all evil, some divine. 
Whom self-contempt arms with a mortal 

sting; 
Which, when the heart its snaky folds 

entwine. 
Is wasted quite, and when it doth repine 
To gorge such bitter prey, on all beside 
It turns with ninefold rage, as with its 

twine 
When Amphisbsena some fair bird has 

tied. 
Soon o'er the putrid mass he threats on 

every side. 

XXII 

* " Reproach not thine own soul, but know 

thyself, 
Nor hate another's crime, nor loathe thine 

own. 
It is the dark idolatry of self. 
Which, when our thoughts and actions 

once are ffone, 



Demands that man should weep, and 

bleed, and groan ; 
Oh, vacant expiation ! be at rest ! 
The past is Death's, the future is thine 

own; 
And love and joy can make the foulest 

breast 
A paradise of flowers, where peace might 

build her nest. 

XXIII 

* " Speak thou ! whence come ye ? " — 

A youth made reply, — 
" Wearily, wearily o'er the boundless 

deep 
We sail; thou readest well the misery 
Told in these faded eyes, but much doth 

sleep 
Within, which there the poor heart loves 

to keep. 
Or dare not write on the dishonored 

brow; 
Even from our childhood have we learned 

to steep 
The bread of slavery in the tears of woe, 
And never dreamed of hope or refuge un- 
til now. 

XXIV 

* "Yes — I must speak — my secret should 

have perished 
Even with the heart it wasted, as a 

brand 
Fades in the dying flame whose life it 

cherished. 
But that no human bosom can withstand 
Thee, wondrous Lady, and the mild 

command 
Of thy keen eyes: — yes, we are wretched 

slaves, 
Who from their wonted loves and native 

land 
Are reft, and bear o'er the dividing waves 
The unregarded prey of calm and happy 

graves. 

XXV 

* " We drag afar from pastoral vales the 

fairest 
Among the daughters of those mountains 

lone ; 
We drag them there where aU things 

best and rarest 
Are stained and trampled; years have 

come and ^one 



CANTO NINTH 



III 



Since, like the ship which bears me, I 

have known 
No thought; but now the eyes of one 

dear maid 
On mine with light of mutual love have 

shone — 
She is my life — I am but as the shade 
Of her — a smoke sent up from ashes, soon 

to fade ! — 

XXVI 

* " For she must perish in the Tyrant's 

hall — 
Alas, alas ! " — He ceased, and by the 

sail 
Sat cowering — but his sobs were heard 

by all, 
And still before the Ocean and the gale 
The ship fled fast till the stars 'gan to 

fail; 
And, round me gathered with mute 

countenance, 
The Seamen gazed, the Pilot, worn and 

pale 
With toil, the Captain with gray locks 

whose glance 
Met mine in restless awe — they stood as 

in a trance. 

XXVII 

' " Recede not ! pause not now ! thou art 

grown old, 
But Hope will make thee young, for 

Hope and Youth 
Are children of one mother, even Love 

— behold! 
The eternal stars gaze on us ! — is the 

truth 
Within your soul ? care for your own, 

or ruth 
For others' sufferings ? do ye thirst to 

bear 
A heart which not the serpent Custom's 

tooth 
May violate ? — be free ! and even here, 
Swear to be firm till death ! " — they cried, 

" We swear ! we swear ! " 

XXVIII 

* The very darkness shook, as with a blast 
Of subterranean thunder, at the cry; 
The hollow shore its thousand echoes 

cast 
Into the night, as if the sea and sky 
And earth rejoiced with new-born liberty, 



For in that name they swore ! Bolts 

were undrawn. 
And on the deck with unaccustomed eye 
The captives gazing stood, and every 

one 
Shrank as the mconstant torch upon her 

countenance shone. 

XXIX 

'They were earth's purest children, 
young and fair. 

With eyes the shrines of unawakened 
thought, 

And brows as bright as spring or morn- 
ing, ere 

Dark time had there its evil legend 
wrought 

In characters of cloud which wither not. 

The change was like a dream to them; 
but soon 

They knew the glory of their altered 
lot — 

In the bright wisdom of youth's breath- 
less noon. 
Sweet talk and smiles and sighs all bosoms 
did attune. 

XXX 

'But one was mute; her cheeks and lips 

most fair. 
Changing their hue like lilies newly 

blown 
Beneath a bright acacia's shadowy hair 
Waved by the wind amid the sunny noon, 
Showed that her soul was quivering; and 

full soon 
That youth arose, and breathlessly did 

look 
On her and me, as for some speechless 

boon; 
I smiled, and both their hands in mine I 

took. 
And felt a soft delight from what their 

spirits shook. 

CANTO NINTH 



* That night we anchored in a woody bay, 
And sleep no more around us dared to 

hover 
Than, when all doubt and fear has passed 

away. 
It shades the couch of some unresting 

lover 



112 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



Whose heart is now at rest; thus night 

passed over 
In mutual joy; around, a forest grew 
Of poplars and dark oaks, whose shade 

did cover 
The waning stars pranked in the waters 

blue. 
And trembled in the wind which from the 

morning flew. 

II 

* The joyous mariners and each free maiden 
Now brought from the deep forest many 

a bough, 
With woodland spoil most innocently 

laden; 
Soon wreaths of budding foliage seemed 

to flow 
Over the mast and sails; the stern and 

prow 
Were canopied with blooming boughs; 

the while 
On the slant sun's path o'er the waves 

we go 
Rejoicing, like the dwellers of an isle 
Doomed to pursue those waves that cannot 

cease to smile. 

Ill 

* The many ships spotting the dark blue 

deep 

With snowy sails, fled fast as ours came 
nigh, 

In fear and wonder; and on every steep 

Thousands did gaze. They heard the 
startling cry, 

Like earth's own voice lifted unconquer- 
ably 

To all her children, the unbounded mirth, 

The glorious joy of thy name — Liberty ! 

They heard ! — As o'er the mountains 
of the earth 
From peak to peak leap on the beams of 
morning's birth, 

IV 

* So from that cry over the boundless 

hills 
Sudden was caught one universal sound. 
Like a volcano's voice whose thunder 

fills 
Remotest skies, — such glorious madness 

found 
A path through human hearts with 

stream which drowned 



Its struggling fears and cares, dark Cus- 
tom's brood; 

They knew not whence it came, but felt 
around 

A wide contagion poured — they called 
aloud 
On Liberty — that name lived on the sunny 
flood. 



* We reached the port. Alas ! from many 

spirits 
The wisdom which had waked that cry 

was fled, 
Like the brief glory which dark Heaven 

inherits 
From the false dawn, which fades ere it 

is spread. 
Upon the night's devouring darkness 

shed ; 
Yet soon bright day will burst — even 

like a chasm 
Of fire, to burn the shrouds outworn and 

dead 
Which wrap the world; a wide enthusi- 
asm, 
To cleanse the fevered world as with an 

earthquake's spasm ! 

VI 

*I walked through the great City then, 

but free 
From shame or fear; those toil-worn 

mariners 
And happy maidens did encompass me; 
And like a subterranean wind that 

stirs 
Some forest among caves, the hopes and 

fears 
From every human soul a murmur 

strange 
Made as I passed; and many wept with 

tears 
Of joy and awe, and winged thoughts did 

range. 
And half-extinguished words which prophe- 
sied of change, 

VII 

' For with strong speech I tore the veil 
that hid 

Nature, and Truth, and Liberty, and 
Love, — 

As one who from some mountain's pyra- 
mid 



CANTO NINTH 



Jti3 



Poiuts to the unriseu sun ! the shades 
approve 

His truth, and flee from every stream 
and grove. 

Thus, gentle thoughts did many a bosom 
fill, 

Wisdom the mail of tried affections wove 

For many a heart, and tameless scorn of 
ill 
Thrice steeped in molten steel the uncon- 
querable will. 

VIII 

* Some said I was a maniac wild and 

lost; 
Some, that I scarce had risen from the 

grave 
The Prophet's virgin bride, a heavenly 

ghost; 
Some said I was a fiend from my weird 

cave, 
Who had stolen human shape, and o'er 

the wave, 
The forest, and the mountain, came; 

some said 
I was the child of God, sent down to save 
Woman from bonds and death, and on 

my head 
The burden of their sins would frightfully 

be laid. 

IX 

' But soon my human words found sympa- 

thy 
In human hearts; the purest and the best, 
As friend with friend, made common 

cause with me. 
And they were few, but resolute; the 

rest. 
Ere yet success the enterprise had 

blessed. 
Leagued with me in their hearts; their 

meals, their slumber. 
Their hourly occupations, were possessed 
By hopes which I had armed to over- 
number 
Those hosts of meaner cares which life's 

strong wings encumber. 

X 

* But chiefly women, whom my voice did 

waken 
From their cold, careless, willing slavery, 
Sought me ; one truth their dreary prison 

has shaken, 



They looked around, and lo! they be- 
came free ! 

Their many tyrants, sitting desolately 

In slave-deserted halls, could none re- 
strain ; 

For wrath's red fire had withered in the 
eye 

Whose lightning once was death, — nor 
fear nor gain 
Could tempt one captive now to lock an- 
other's chain. 

XI 

* Those who were sent to bind me wept, 

and felt 
Their minds outsoar the bonds which 

clasped them round, 
Even as a waxen shape may waste and 

melt 
In the white furnace; and a visioned 

s wound, 
A pause of hope and awe, the City bound, 
Which, like the silence of a tempest's 

birth, 
When in its awful shadow it has wound 
The sun, the wind, the ocean, and the 

earth. 
Hung terrible, ere yet the lightnings have 

leaped forth. 

XII 

* Like clouds inwoven in the silent sky 
By winds from distant regions meeting 

there. 
In the high name of Truth and Liberty 
Around the City millions gathered were 
By hopes which sprang from many a 

hidden lair, — 
Words which the lore of truth in hues of 

grace 
Arrayed, thine own wild songs which in 

the air 
Like homeless odors floated, and the 

name 
Of thee, and many a tongue which thou 

hadst dipped in flame. 

XIII 

' The Tyrant knew his power was gone, 

but Fear, 
The nurse of Vengeance, bade him wait 

the event — 
That perfidy and custom, gold and 

prayer, 
And whatsoe'er, when Force is impotent, 



114 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



To Fraud the sceptre of the world has 

lent, 
Might, as he judged, confirm his failing 

sway. 
Therefore throughout the streets, the 

Priests he sent 
To curse the rebels. To their gods did 

they 
For Earthquake, Plague and Want, kneel 

in the public way. 

XIV 

* And grave and hoary men were bribed to 

tell, 
From seats where law is made the slave 

of wrong, 
How glorious Athens in her splendor fell. 
Because her sons were free, — and that 

among 
Mankind, the many to the few belong 
By Heaven, and Nature, and Necessity. 
They said, that age was truth, and that 

the young 
Marred with wild hopes the peace of 

slavery, 
With which old times and men had quelled 

the vain and free. 

XV 

* And with the falsehood of their poisonous 

lips 
They breathed on the enduring memory 
Of sages and of bards a brief eclipse. 
There was one teacher, who necessity 
Had armed with strength and wrong 

against mankind, 
His slave and his avenger aye to be; 
That we were weak and sinful, frail and 

blind, 
And that the will of one was peace, and 

we 
Should seek for nought on earth but toil 

and misery — 

XVI 

* " For thus we might avoid the hell here- 

after." 
So spake the hypocrites, who cursed and 

lied. 
Alas, their sway was passed, and tears 

and laughter 
Clung to their hoary hair, withering the 

pride 
Which in their hollow hearts dared still 

abide ; 



And yet obscener slaves with smoother 

brow. 
And sneers on their strait lips, thin, blue 

and wide, 
Said that the rule of men was over now, 
And hence the subject world to woman's 

will must bow. 

XVII 

* And gold was scattered through the 

streets, and wine 
Flowed at a hundred feasts within the 

wall. 
In vain ! the steady towers in Heaven 

did shine 
As they were wont, nor at the priestly call 
Left Plague her banquet in the ^thiop's 

hall, 
Nor Famine from the rich man's portal 

came, 
W^here at her ease she ever preys on all 
Who throng to kneel for food; nor fear, 

nor shame, 
Nor faith, nor discord, dimmed hope's newly 

kindled flame. 

XVIII 

* For gold was as a god whose faith be- 

gan 
To fade, so that its worshippers were 

few; 
And Faith itself, which in the heart of 

man 
Gives shape, voice, name, to spectral 

Terror, knew 
Its downfall, as the altars lonelier grew, 
Till the Priests stood alone within the 

fane; 
The shafts of falsehood unpollutingflew, 
And the cold sneers of calumny were vain 
The union of the free with discord's brand 

to stain. 

XIX 

* The rest thou knowest. — Lo ! we two 

are here — 
We have survived a ruin wide and deep — 
Strange thoughts are mine. I cannot 

grieve or fear. 
Sitting with thee upon this lonely steep 
I smile, though human love should make 

me weep. 
We have survived a joy that knows no 

sorrow, 
And I do feel a mighty calmness creep 



CANTO NINTH 



115 



Over my heart, which can no longer 
borrow 
Its hues from chance or change, dark chil- 
dren of to-morrow. 

XX 

' We know not what will come. Yet, Laon, 

dearest, 
Cythna shall be the prophetess of Love; 
Her lips shall rob thee of the grace thou 

wearest, 
To hide thy heart, and clothe the shapes 

which rove 
Within the homeless Future's wintry 

grove ; 
For I now, sitting thus beside thee, 

seem 
Even with thy breath and blood to live 

and move, 
And violence and wrong are as a dream 
Which rolls from steadfast truth, — an un- 

returning stream. 

XXI 

*The blasts of Autumn drive the winged 

seeds 
Over the earth; next come the snows, 

and rain. 
And frosts, and storms, which dreary 

Winter leads 
Out of his Scythian cave, a savage train. 
Behold ! Spring sweeps over the world 

again, 
Shedding soft dews from her ethereal 

wings ; 
Flowers on the mountains, fruits over 

the plain. 
And music on the waves and woods she 

flings. 
And love on all that lives, and calm on life- 
less things. 

XXII 

* O Spring, of hope and love and youth and 

gladness 
Wind- winged emblem ! brightest, best 

and fairest ! 
Whence com est thou, when, with dark 

Winter's sadness 
The tears that fade in sunny smiles thou 

sharest ? 
Sister of joy ! thou art the child who 

wearest 
Thy mother's dying smile, tender and 

sweet; 



Thy mother Autumn, for whose grave 

thoii bearest 
Fresh flowers, and beams like flowers, 
with gentle feet. 
Disturbing not the leaves which are her 
winding sheet. 

XXIII 

' Virtue and Hope and Love, like light 

and Heaven, 
Surround the world. We are their chosen 

slaves. 
Has not the whirlwind of our spirit driven 
Truth's deathless germs to thought's re- 
motest caves ? 
Lo, Winter comes ! — the grief of many 

graves. 
The frost of death, the tempest of the 

sword. 
The flood of tyranny, whose sanguine 

waves 
Stagnate like ice at Faith the enchanter's 

word, 
And bind all human hearts in its repose 

abhorred. 

XXIV 

* The seeds are sleeping in the soil. Mean- 

while 
The Tyrant peoples dungeons with his 

prey; 
Pale victims on the guarded scaffold 

smile 
Because they cannot speak; and, day by 

day. 
The moon of wasting Science wanes 

away 
Among her stars, and in that darkness 

vast 
The sons of earth to their foul idols pray. 
And gray Priests triumph, and like 

blight or blast 
A shade of selfish care o'er human looks is 

cast. 

XXV 

* This is the Winter of the world ; and 

here 
We die, even as the winds of Autumn 

fade. 
Expiring in the frore and foggy air. 
Behold ! Spring comes, though we must 

pass who made 
The promise of its birth, — even as the 

shade 



ii6 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



Which from our death, as from a moun- 
tain, flings 

The future, a broad sunrise; thus ar- 
rayed 

As with the plumes of overshadowing 
wings, 
From its dark gulf of chains Earth like an 
eagle springs. 

XXVI 

* O dearest love ! we shall be dead and 

cold 
Before this morn may on the world arise. 
Wouldst thou the glory of its dawn be- 
hold ? 
Alas ! gaze not on me, but turn thine 

eyes 
On thine own heart — it is a Paradise 
Which everlasting spring has made its 

own, 
And while drear winter fills the naked 

skies, 
Sweet streams of sunny thought, and 

flowers fresh blown, 
Are there, and weave their sounds and odors 

into one. 

XXVII 

*In their own hearts the earnest of the 

hope 
Which made them great the good will 

ever find; 
And though some envious shade may 

interlope 
Between the effect and it. One comes 

behind, 
Who aye the future to the past will 

bind — 
Necessity, whose sightless strength for- 
ever 
Evil with evil, good with good, must 

wind 
In bands of union, which no power may 

sever; 
They must bring forth their kind, and be 

divided never ! 

XXVIII 

* The good and mighty of departed ages 
Are in their graves, the innocent and 

free. 
Heroes, and Poets, and prevailing Sages, 
Who leave the vesture of their majesty 
To adorn and clothe this naked world; 

— and we 



Are like to them — such perish, but they 

leave 
All hope, or love, or truth, or liberty, 
Whose forms their mighty spirits could 

conceive, 
To be a rule and law to ages that survive. 

XXIX 

' So be the turf heaped over our remains 
Even in our happy youth, and that 

strange lot, 
Whate'er it be, when in these mingling 

veins 
The blood is still, be ours; let sense aud 

thought 
Pass from our being, or be numbered 

not 
Among the things that are; let those 

who come 
Behind, for whom our steadfast will has 

bought 
A calm inheritance, a glorious doom, 
Insult with careless tread our undivided 

tomb. 

XXX 

' Our many thoughts and deeds, our life 

and love. 
Our happiness, and all that we have been. 
Immortally must live aud burn and 

move 
When we shall be no more; — the world 

has seen 
A type of peace; and as some most 

serene 
And lovely spot to a poor maniac's eye — 
After long years some sweet and moving 

scene 
Of youthful hope returning suddenly — 
Quells his long madness, thus Man shall 

remember thee. 

XXXI 

' And Calumny meanwhile shall feed on 

us 
As worms devour the dead, and near the 

throne 
And at the altar most accepted thus 
Shall sneers and curses be; — what we 

have done 
None shall dare vouch, though it be 

truly known; 
That record shall remain when they 

must pass 
Who built their pride on its oblivion, 



CANTO TENTH 



ii^ 



And fame, in human hope which sculp- 
tured was, 
Survive the perished scrolls of unenduring 
brass. 

XXXII 

* The while we two, beloved, must depart, 
And Sense and Reason, those enchanters 

fair. 
Whose wand of power is hope, would 

bid the heart 
That gazed beyond the wormy grave 

despair ; 
These eyes, these lips, this blood, seems 

darkly there 
To fade in hideous ruin ; no calm sleep, 
Peopling with golden dreams the stagnant 

air, 
Seems our obscure and rotting eyes to 

steep 
In joy ; — but senseless death — a ruin 

dark and deep ! 

XXXIII 

* These are blind fancies. Reason cannot 

know 
What sense can neither feel nor thought 

conceive; 
There is delusion in the world — and 

woe. 
And fear, and pain — we know not 

whence we live. 
Or why, or how, or what mute Power 

may give 
Their being to each plant, and star, and 

beast, 
Or even these thoughts. — Come near 

me ! I do weave 
A chain I cannot break — I am possessed 
With thoughts too swift and strong for one 

lone human breast. 

XXXIV 

'Yes, yes — thy kiss is sweet, thy lips 

are warm — 
Oh, willingly, beloved, would these eyes 
Might they no more drink being from 

thy form, 
Even as to sleep whence we again arise, 
Close their faint orbs in death. I fear 

nor prize 
Aught that can now betide, unshared by 

thee. 
Yes, Love when Wisdom fails makes 

Cythna wise; 



Darkness and death, if death be true, 
must be 
Dearer than life and hope if unenjoyed 
with thee. 

XXXV 

* Alas! our thoughts flow on with stream 

whose waters 
Return not to their fountain; Earth and 

Heaven, 
The Ocean and the Sun, the clouds their 

daughters. 
Winter, and Spring, and Morn, and 

Noon, and Even — 
All that we are or know, is darkly driven 
Towards one gulf. — Lo ! what a change 

is come 
Since I first spake — but time shall be for- 
given. 
Though it change all but thee ! ' She 

ceased — night's gloom 
Meanwhile had fallen on earth from the 

sky's sunless dome. 

XXXVI 

Though she had ceased, her countenance 

uplifted 
To Heaven still spake with solemn glory 

bright; 
Her dark deep eyes, her lips, whose mo- 
tions gifted 
The air they breathed with love, her 

locks undight; 
* Fair star of life and love,' I cried, * my 

soul's delight, 
Why lookest thou on the crystalline 

skies ? 
Oh, that my spirit were yon Heaven of 

night, 
Which gazes on thee with its thousand 

eyes ! ' 
She turned to me and smiled — that smile 

was Paradise ! 

CANTO TENTH 



Was there a human spirit in the steed 
That thus with his proud voice, ere night 

was gone. 
He broke our linked rest ? or do indeed 
All living things a common nature own, 
And thought erect an universal throne. 
Where many shapes one tribute evei 

"bear? 



Ii8 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



And Eartb, their mutual mother, does 

she groan 
To see her sous contend ? and makes she 

bare 
Her breast that all in peace its drainless 

stores may share ? 

II 

I have heard friendly sounds from many 

a tongue 
Which was not human ; the lone nightin- 
gale 
Has answered me with her most soothing 

song, 
Out of her ivy bower, when I sate pale 
With grief, and sighed beneath; from 

many a dale 
The antelopes who flocked for food have 

spoken 
With happy sounds and motions that 

avail 
Like man's own speech; and such was 

now the token 
Of waning night, whose calm by that proud 

neigh was broken. 

Ill 

Each night that mighty steed bore me 

abroad, 
And I returned with food to our retreat, 
And dark intelligence; the blood which 

flowed 
Over the fields had stained the courser's 

feet; 
Soon the dust drinks that bitter dew, — 

then meet 
The vulture, and the wild-dog, and the 

snake. 
The wolf, and the hyena gray, and eat 
The dead in horrid truce; their throngs 

did make 
Behind the steed a chasm like waves in a 

ship's wake. 

IV 

For from the utmost realms of earth 
came pouring 

The banded slaves whom every despot 
sent 

At that throned traitor's summons; like 
the roaring 

Of fire, whose floods the wild deer cir- 
cumvent 

In the scorched pastures of the south, so 
bent 



The armies of the leagued kings around 
Their files of steel and flame; the conti- 
nent 
Trembled, as with a zone of ruin bound, 
Beneath their feet — the sea shook with 
their Navies' sound. 



From every nation of the earth they 
came, 

The multitude of moving heartless things, 

Whom slaves call men; obediently they 
came. 

Like sheep whom from the fold the shep- 
herd brings 

To the stall, red with blood; their many 
kings 

Led them, thus erring, from their native 
land — 

Tartar and Frank, and millions whom 
the wings 

Of Indian breezes lull; and many a band 
The Arctic Anarch sent, and Idumea's sand 

VI 

Fertile in prodigies and lies. So there 

Strange natures made a brotherhood of 
ill. 

The desert savage ceased to grasp in fear 

His Asian shield and bow when, at the 
will 

Of Europe's subtler son, the bolt would 
kill 

Some shepherd sitting on a rock secure; 

But smiles of wondering joy his face 
would fill. 

And savage sympathy; those slaves im- 
pure 
Each one the other thus from ill to ill did 
lure. 

VII 

For traitorously did that foul Tyrant 
robe 

His countenance in lies; even at the hour 

When he was snatched from death, then 
o'er the globe, 

With secret signs from many a moun- 
tain tower, 

With smoke by day, and fire by night, 
the power 

Of Kings and Priests, those dark con- 
spirators. 

He called; they knew his cause theii 
own, and swore 



CANTO TENTH 



119 



Like wolves and serpents to their mu- 
tual wars 
Strange truce, with many a rite which 
Earth and Heaven abhors. 

VIII 

Myriads had come — millions were on 

their way; 
The Tyrant passed, surrounded by the 

steel 
Of hired assassins, through the public 

way, 
Choked with his country's dead; his foot- 
steps reel 
On the fresh blood — he smileSo ' Ay, 

now I feel 
I am a King in truth ! ' he said, and took 
His royal seat, and bade the torturing 

wheel 
Be brought, and fire, and pincers, and 

the hook, 
And scorpions, that his soul on its revenge 

might look. 

IX 

* But first, go slay the rebels — why return 
The victor bands ? ' he said, ' millions 

yet live, 

Of whom the weakest with one word 
might turn 

The scales of victory yet; let none sur- 
vive 

But those within the walls — each fifth 
shall give 

The expiation for his brethren here. 

Go forth, and waste and kill ! ' — * O 
king, forgive 

My speech,' a soldier answered, * but we 
fear 
The spirits of the night, and morn is draw- 
ing near; 

X 

* For we were slaying still without remorse, 
And now that dreadful chief beneath my 

hand 
Defenceless lay, when on a hell-black 

horse 
An Angel bright as day, waving a brand 
Which flashed among the stars, passed.' 

— ' Dost thou stand 
Parleying with me, thou wretch ? ' the 

king replied; 

* Slaves, bind him to the wheel; and of 

this band 



Whoso will drag that woman to his side 
That scared him thus may burn his dearest 
foe beside J 

XI 

*And gold and glory shall be his. Go 

forth ! ' 
They rushed into the plain. Loud was 

the roar 
Of their career; the horsemen shook the 

earth ; 
The wheeled artillery's speed the pave- 
ment tore; 
The infantry, file after file, did pour 
Their clouds on the utmost hills. Five 

days they slew 
Among the wasted fields; the sixth saw 

gore 
Stream through the City; on the seventh 

the dew 
Of slaughter became stiff, and there was 

peace anew: 

XII 

Peace in the desert fields and villages, 
Between the glutted beasts and mangled 

dead ! 
Peace in the silent streets ! save when 

the cries 
Of victims, to their fiery judgment led, 
Made pale their voiceless lips who seemed 

to dread. 
Even in their dearest kindred, lest some 

tongue 
Be faithless to the fear yet unbetrayed; 
Peace in the Tyrant's palace, where the 

throng 
Waste the triumphal hours in festival and 



song 



XIII 



Day after day the burning Sun rolled on 

Over the death-polluted land. It came 

Out of the east like fire, and fiercely 
shone 

A lamp of autumn, ripening with ite» 
flame 

The few lone ears of corn; the sky be- 
came 

Stagnate with heat, so that each cloud 
and blast 

Languished and died; the thirsting air 
did claim 

All moisture, and a rotting vapor passed 
From the unburied dead, invisible and fast. 



I20 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



XIV 

First Want, then Plague, came on the 

beasts; their food 
Failed, and they drew the breath of its 

decay. 
Millions on millions, whom the scent of 

blood 
Had lured, or who from regions far 

away 
Had tracked the hosts in festival array, 
From their dark deserts, gaunt and 

wasting now 
Stalked like fell shades among their 

perished prey; 
In their green eyes a strange disease did 

glow — 
They sank in hideous spasm, or pains severe 

and slow. 

XV 

The fish were poisoned in the streams; 

the birds 
In the green woods perished; the insect 

race 
Was withered up; the scattered flocks 

and herds 
Who had survived the wild beasts' hun- 

gr}^ chase 
Died moaning, each upon the other's face 
In helpless agony gazing; round the 

City 
All night, the lean hyenas their sad 

case 
Like starving infants wailed — a woful 

ditty; 
And many a mother wept, pierced with 

unnatural pity. 

XVI 

Amid the aerial minarets on high 
The Ethiopian vultures fluttering fell 
From their long line of brethren in the 

sky, 
Startling the concourse of mankind. 

Too well 
These signs the coming mischief did 

foretell. 
Strange panic first, a deep and sickening 

dread. 
Within each heart, like ice, did sink and 

dwell, 
A voiceless thought of evil, which did 

spread 
With the quick glance of eyes, like wither- 
ing lightnings shed. 



XVII 

Day after day, when the year wanes, the 

frosts 
Strip its green crown of leaves till all is 

bare; 
So on those strange and congregated 

hosts 
Came Famine, a swift shadow, and the 

air 
Groaned with the burden of a new de- 
spair; 
Famine, than whom Misrule no deadlier 

daughter 
Feeds from her thousand breasts, though 

sleeping there 
With lidless eyes lie Faith and Plague 

and Slaughter — 
A ghastly brood conceived of Lethe's sullen 

water. 

XVIII 

There was no food ; the corn was tram- 
pled down. 
The flocks and herds had perished; on 

the shore 
The dead and putrid fish were ever 

thrown ; 
The deeps were foodless, and the winds 

no more 
Creaked with the weight of birds, but as 

before 
Those winged things sprang forth, were 

void of shade; 
The vines and orchards, autumn's golden 

store, 
Were burned ; so that the meanest food 

was weighed 
With gold, and avarice died before the god 

it made. 

XIX 

There was no corn — in the wide market- 
place 
All loathliest things, even human flesh, 

was sold; 
They weighed it in small scales — and 

many a face 
Was fixed in eager horror then. His 

gold 
The miser brought; the tender maid. 

grown bold 
Through hunger, bared her scorned 

charms in vain; 
The mother brought her eldest born, 

controlled 



CANTO TENTH 



121 



By instinct blind as love, but turned again 
And bade her infant suck, and died in 
silent pain. 

XX 

Then fell blue Plague upon the race of 
man. 
* Oh, for the sheathed steel, so late which 
gave 

Oblivion to the dead when the streets ran 

With brothers' blood ! Oh, that the 
earthquake's grave 

Would gape, or Ocean lift its stifling 
wave ! ' 

Vain cries — throughout the streets thou- 
sands pursued 

Each by his fiery torture howl and rave 

Or sit in frenzy's unimagined mood 
Upon fresh heaps of dead — a ghastly 
multitude. 

XXI 

It was not hunger now, but thirst. 

Each well 
Was choked with rotting corpses, and 

became 
A caldron of green mist made visible 
At sunrise. Thither still the myriads 

came, 
Seeking to quench the agony of the flame 
Which raged like poison through their 

bursting veins; 
Naked they were from torture, without 

shame, 
Spotted with nameless scars and lurid 

blains — 
Childhood, and youth, and age, writhing in 

savage pains. 

XXII 

It was not thirst, but madness ! Many 

saw 
Their own lean image everywhere — it 

went 
A ghastlier self beside them, till the awe 
Of that dread sight to self-destruction 

sent 
Those shrieking victims; some, ere life 

was spent, 
Sought, with a horrid sympathy, to shed 
Contagion on the sound; and others rent 
Their matted hair, and cried aloud, * We 

tread 
On fire ! the avenging Power his hell on 

earth has spread.' 



XXIII 

Sometimes the living by the dead were 

hid. 
Near the great fountain in the public 

square. 
Where corpses made a crumbling pyra-^ 

mid 
Under the sun, was heard one stifled 

prayer 
For life, in the hot silence of the air; 
And strange 't was 'mid that hideous 

heap to see 
Some shrouded in their long and golden 

hair, 
As if not dead, but slumbering quietly, 
Like forms which sculptors carve, then 

love to agony. 

XXIV 

Famine had spared the palace of the 

King; 
He rioted in festival the while. 
He and his guards and Priests; but 

Plague did fling 
One shadow upon all. Famine can smile 
On him who brings it food, and pass, 

with guile 
Of thankful falsehood, like a courtier 

gray, 
The house-dog of the throne; but many 

a mile 
Comes Plague, a winged wolf, who 

loathes alway 
The garbage and the scum that strangers 

make her prey. 

XXV 

So, near the throne, amid the gorgeous 
feast, 

Sheathed in resplendent arms, or loosely 
dight 

To luxury, ere the mockery yet had 
ceased 

That lingered on his lips, the warrior's 
might 

Was loosened, and a new and ghastlier 
night 

In dreams of frenzy lapped his eyes; he 
fell 

Headlong, or with stiff eyeballs sate up- 
right 

Among the guests, or raving mad did 
tell 
Strange truths — a dying seer of dark op- 
pression's hell. 



122 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



XXVI 

The Princes and the Priests were pale 

with terror; 
That monstrous faith wherewith they 

ruled mankind 
Fell, like a shaft loosed by the bowman's 

error, 
On their own hearts; they sought and 

they could find 
No refuge — 't was the blind who led the 

blind ! 
So, through the desolate streets to the 

high fane, 
The many-tongued and endless armies 

wind 
In sad procession; each among the train 
To his own idol lifts his supplications 

vain. 

XXVII 

* God ! ' they cried, * we know our secret 

pride 
Has scorned thee, and thy worship, and 

thy name; 
Secure in human power, we have defied 
Thy fearful might; we bend in fear and 

shame 
Before thy presence; with the dust we 

claim 
Kindred; be merciful, O King of Heaven! 
Most justly have we suffered for thy 

fame 
Made dim, but be at length our sins for- 
given. 
Ere to despair and death thy worshippers 

be driven ! 

XXVIII 

* King of Glory ! Thou alone hast 

power ! 
Who can resist thy will? who can re- 
strain 
Thy wrath when on the guilty thou dost 

shower 
The shafts of thy revenge, a blistering 

rain ? 
Greatest and best, be merciful again ! 
Have we not stabbed thine enemies, and 

made 
The Earth an altar, and the Heavens a 

fane. 
Where thou wert worshipped with their 

blood, and laid 
Those hearts in dust which would thy 

searchless works have weighed ? 



XXIX 

' Well didst thou loosen on this impious 

City 
Thine angels of revenge ! recall them 

now; 
Thy worshippers abased here kneel for 

pity, 
And bind their souls by an immortal 

vow. 
We swear by thee — and to our oath do 

thou 
Give sanction from thine hell of fiends 

and flame — 
That we will kill with fire and torments 

slow 
The last of those who mocked thy holy 

name 
And scorned the sacred laws thy prophets 

did proclaim.' 

XXX 

Thus they with trembling limbs and 

pallid lips 
Worshipped their own hearts' image, 

dim and vast. 
Scared by the shade wherewith they 

would eclipse 
The light of other minds; troubled they 

passed 
From the great Temple; fiercely still 

and fast 
The arrows of the plague among them 

fell. 
And they on one another gazed aghast, 
And through the hosts contention wild 

befell. 
As each of his own god the wondrous works 

did tell. 

XXXI 

And Oromaze, Joshua, and Mahomet, 
Moses, and Buddh, Zerdusht, and Brahm, 

and Foil, 
A tumult of strange names, which never 

met 
Before, as watchwords of a single woe, 
Arose ; each raging votary 'gan to throw 
Aloft his armed hands, and each did 
howl 
* Our God alone is God ! ' and slaughter 
now 
Would have gone forth, when from be- 
neath a cowl 
A voice came forth which pierced like ice 
through every soul. 



CANTO TENTH 



123 



XXXII 

*T was an Iberian Priest from whom it 

came, 
A zealous man, who led the legioned 

West, 
With words which faith and pride had 

steeped in flame, 
To quell the unbelievers; a dire guest 
Even to his friends was he, for in his 

breast 
Did hate and guile lie watchful, inter- 
twined, 
Twin serpents in one deep and winding 

nest; 
He loathed all faith beside his own, and 

pined 
To wreak his fear of Heaven in vengeance 

on mankind. 

XXXIII 

But more he loathed and hated the clear 

light 
Of wisdom and free thought, and more 

did fear, 
Lest, kindled once, its beams might 

pierce the night, 
Even where his Idol stood; for far and 

near 
Did many a heart in Europe leap to hear 
That faith and tyranny were trampled 

down, — 
Many a pale victim, doomed for truth to 

share 
The murderer's cell, or see with helpless 

groan 
The Priests his children drag for slaves to 

serve their own. 

XXXIV 

He dared not kill the infidels with fire 
Or steel, in Europe; the slow agonies 
Of legal torture mocked his keen desire; 
So he made truce with those who did de- 
spise 
The expiation and the sacrifice, 
That, though detested, Islam's kindred 

creed 
Might crush for him those deadlier ene- 
mies; 
For fear of God did in his bosom breed 
A jealous hate of man, an unreposing need. 

XXXV 

* Peace ! Peace ! ' he cried, ' when we are 
dead, the Day 



Of Judgment comes, and all shall surely 

know 
Whose God is God; each fearfully shall 

pay 

The errors of his faith in endless woe ! 
But there is sent a mortal vengeance 

now 
On earth, because an impious race had 

spurned 
Him whom we all adore, — a subtle foe, 
By whom for ye this dread reward was 

earned, 
And kingly thrones, which rest on faith, 

nigh overturned. 

XXXVI 

* Think ye, because ye weep and kneel 

and pray. 

That God will lull the pestilence ? It 
rose 

Even from beneath his throne, where, 
many a day. 

His mercy soothed it to a dark repose; 

It walks upon the earth to judge his foes, 

And what art thou and I, that he should 
deign 

To curb his ghastly minister, or close 

The gates of death, ere they receive the 
twain 
Who shook with mortal spells his unde- 
fended reign ? 

XXXVII 

* Ay, there is famine in the gulf of hell, 
Its giant worms of fire forever yawn, — 
Their lurid eyes are on us ! those who fell 
By the swift shafts of pestilence ere 

dawn 

Are in their jaws ! they hunger for the 
spawn 

Of Satan, their own brethren, who were 
sent 

To make our souls their spoil. See, see ! 
they fawn 

Like dogs, and they will sleep, with lux- 
ury spent. 
When those detested hearts their iron fangs 
have rent ! 

XXXVIII 

' Our God may then lull Pestilence to 
sleep. 
Pile high the pyre of expiation now ! 
A forest's spoil of boughs; and on the 
heap 



124 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



Pour venomous gums, which sullenly and 

slow, 
When touched by flame, shall burn, and 

melt, and flow, 
A stream of clinging fire, — and fix on 

high 
A net of iron, and spread forth below 
A couch of snakes, and scorpions, and 

the fry 
Of centipedes and worms, earth's hellish 



progeny 



XXXIX 

* Let Laon and Laone on that pyre, 
Linked tight with burning brass, perish! 

— then pray 
That with this sacrifice the withering ire 
Of Heaven may be appeased.' He ceased, 

and they 
A space stood silent, as far, far away 
The echoes of his voice among them 

died; 
And he knelt down upon the dust, alway 
Muttering the curses of his speechless 

pride. 
Whilst shame, and fear, and awe, the armies 

did divide. 

XL 

His voice was like a blast that burst the 

portal 
Of fabled hell; and as he spake, each 

one 
Saw gape beneath the chasms of fire im- 
mortal. 
And Heaven above seemed cloven, where, 

on a throne 
Girt round with storms and shadows, sate 

alone 
Their King and Judge. Fear killed in 

every breast 
All natural pity then, a fear unknown 
Before, and with an inward fire possessed 
They raged like homeless beasts whom 

burning woods invest. 

XLI 

'T was morn, — At noon the public crier 
went forth. 

Proclaiming through the living and the 
dead, — 
' The Monarch saith that his great em- 
pire's worth 

Is set on Laon and Laone's head; 

He wbo but one yet living here can lead, 



Or who the life from both their hearts 

can wring. 
Shall be the kingdom's heir — a glorious 

meed ! 
But he who both alive can hither bring 
The Princess shall espouse, and reign an 

equal King.' 

XLII 

Ere night the pyre was piled, the net of 
iron 

Was spread above, the fearful couch be- 
low; 

It overtopped the towers that did environ 

That spacious square ; for Fear is never 
slow 

To build the thrones of Hate, her mate 
and foe; 

So she scourged forth the maniac mul- 
titude 

To rear this pyramid — tottering and 
slow. 

Plague-stricken, foodless, like lean herds 
pursued 
By gadflies, they have piled the heath and 
gums and wood. 

XLIII 

Night came, a starless and a moonless 
gloom. 

Until the dawn, those hosts of many a 
nation 

Stood round that pile, as near one lover's 
tomb 

Two gentle sisters mourn their desola- 
tion ; 

And in the silence of that expectation 

Was heard on high the reptiles' hiss and 
crawl — 

It was so deep, save when the devastation 

Of the swift pest with fearful interval, 
Marking its path with shrieks, among the 
crowd would fall. 

XLIV 

Morn came. — Among those sleepless 

multitudes, 
Madness, and Fear, and Plague, and 

Famine, still 
Heaped corpse on corpse, as in autumnal 

woods 
The frosts of many a wind with dead 

leaves fill 
Earth's cold and sullen brooks; in silence 

still. 



CANTO ELEVENTH 



125 



The pale survivors stood; ere noon the 

fear 
Of Hell became a panic, which did kill 
Like hunger or disease, with whispers 

drear, 
As * Hush ! hark ! come they yet ? — Just 

Heaven, thine hour is near ! ' 

XLV 

And Priests rushed through their ranks, 
some counterfeiting 

The rage they did inspire, some mad in- 
deed 

With their own lies. They said their 
god was waiting 

To see his enemies writhe, and burn, and 
bleed, — 

And that, till then, the snakes of Hell had 
need 

Of human souls; three hundred furnaces 

Soon blazed through the wide City, 
where, with speed. 

Men brought their infidel kindred to ap- 
pease 
God's wrath, and, while they burned, knelt 
round on quivering knees. 

XLVI 

The noontide sun was darkened with that 

smoke ; 
The winds of eve dispersed those ashes 

gray. 
The madness, which these rites had lulled, 

awoke 
Again at sunset. Who shall dare to say 
The deeds which night and fear brought 

forth, or weigh 
In balance just the good and evil there ? 
He might man's deep and searchless 

heart display. 
And cast a light on those dim labyrinths 

where 
Hope near imagined chasm?; is struggling 

with despair. 

XLVII 

'Tis said a mother dragged three chil- 
dren then 

To those fierce flames which roast the 
eyes in the head, 

And laughed, and died; and that unholy 
men. 

Feasting like fiends upon the infidel dead. 

Looked from their meal, and saw an 
angel tread 



The visible floor of Heaven, and it was 

she ! 
And, on that night, one without doubt or 

dread 
Came to the fire, and said, * Stop, I am 

he! 
Kill me ! ' — They burned them both with 

hellish mockery. 

XLVIII 

And, one by one, that night, young 

maidens came. 
Beauteous and calm, like shapes of living 

stone 
Clothed in the light of dreams, and by 

the flame. 
Which shrank as overgorged, they laid 

them down, 
And sung a low sweet song, of which 

alone 
One word was heard, and that was 

Liberty; 
And that some kissed their marble feet, 

with moan 
Like love, and died, and then that they 

did die 
With happy smiles, which sunk in white 

tranquillity. 



CANTO ELEVENTH 



She saw me not — she heard me not — 

alone 
Upon the mountain's dizzy brink she 

stood; 
She spake not, breathed not, moved not 

— there was thrown 
Over her look the shadow of a mood 
Which only clothes the heart in solitude, 
A thought of voiceless depth ; — she 

stood alone — 
Above, the Heavens were spread— be- 
low, the flood 
W^as murmuring in its caves — the wind 

had blown 
Her hair apart, through which her eyes 

and forehead shone. 

II 

A cloud was hanging o'er the western 

mountains; 
Before its blue and moveless depth were 

flying 



126 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



Gray mists poured forth from the un- 
resting fountains 

Of darkness in the North; the day was 
dying; 

Sudden, the sun shone forth — its beams 
were lying 

Like boiling gold on Ocean, strange to 
see, 

And on the shattered vapors which, 
defying 

The power of light in vain, tossed rest- 
lessly 
In the red Heaven, like wrecks in a tem- 
pestuous sea. 

Ill 

It was a stream of living beams, whose 

bank 
On either side by the cloud's cleft was 

made; 
And where its chasms that flood of glory 

drank, 
Its waves gushed forth like fire, and as 

if swayed 
By some mute tempest, rolled on her) 

the shade 
Of her bright image floated on the river 
Of liquid light, which then did end and 

fade — 
Her radiant shape upon its verge did 

shiver; 
Aloft, her flowing hair like strings of flame 

did quiver. 

IV 

I stood beside her, but she saw me not — 
She looked upon the sea, and skies, and 

earth. 
Rapture and love and admiration wrought 
A passion deeper far than tears, or mirth. 
Or speech, or gesture, or whate'er has 

birth 
From common joy; which with the 

speechless feeling 
That led her there united, and shot forth 
From her far eyes a light of deep re- 
vealing. 
All but her dearest self from my regard 
concealing. 



Her lips were parted, and the measured 
breath 

Was now heard there; her dark and in- 
tricate eyes, 



Orb within orb, deeper than sleep oi 

death, 
Absorbed the glories of the burning 

skies, 
Which, mingling with her heart's deep 

ecstasies, 
Burst from her looks and gestures; and 

a light 
Of liquid tenderness, like love, did rise 
From her whole frame — an atmosphere 

which quite 
Arrayed her in its beams, tremulous and 

soft and bright. 

VI 

She would have clasped me to her glow- 
ing frame; 

Those warm and odorous lips might soon 
have shed 

On mine the fragrance and the invisible 
flame 

Which now the cold winds stole; she 
would have laid 

Upon my languid heart her dearest head; 

I might have heard her voice, tender and 
sweet; 

Her eyes, mingling with mine, might 
soon have fed 

My soul with their own joy. — One mo- 
ment yet 
I gazed — we parted then, never again to 
meet ! 

VII 

Never but once to meet on earth again ! 
She heard me as I fled — her eager tone 
Sunk on my heart, and almost wove a 

chain 
Around my will to link it with her own. 
So that my stern resolve was almost 

gone. 
* I cannot reach thee ! whither dost thou 

fly? 
My steps are faint. — Come back, thou 

dearest one — 
Return, ah me ! return ! ' — the wind 

passed by 
On which those accents died, faint, far, and 

lingeringly. 

VIII 

Woe ! woe ! that moonless midnight J 

Want and Pest 
Were horrible, but one more fell doth 

rear. 



CANTO ELEVENTH 



127 



As in a hydra's swarming lair, its crest 
Eminent among those victims — even the 

Fear 
Of Hell; each girt by the hot atmosphere 
Of his blind agony, like a scorpion stung 
By his own rage upon his burning bier 
Of circling coals of fire. But still there 

clung 
One hope, like a keen sword on starting 

threads uphung: — 

IX 

Not death — death was no more refuge 

or rest; 
Not life — it was despair to be ! — not 

sleep. 
For fiends and chasms of fire had dis- 
possessed 
All natural dreams; to wake was not to 

weep. 
But to gaze, mad and pallid, at the leap 
To which the Future, like a snaky 

scourge, 
Or like some tyrant's eye which aye doth 

keep 
Its withering beam upon his slaves, did 

urge 
Their steps; they heard the roar of Hell's 

sulphureous surge. 



Each of that multitude, alone and lost 
To sense of outward things, one hope 

yet knew; 
As on a foam-girt eras: some seaman 

tossed 
Stares at the rising tide, or like the crew 
Whilst now the ship is splitting through 

and through; 
Each, if the tramp of a far steed was 

heard. 
Started from sick despair, or if there 

flew 
One murmur on the wind, or if some 

word 
Which none can gather yet the distant 

crowd has stirred. 

XI 

Why became cheeks, wan with the kiss 
of death. 

Paler from hope ? they had sustained 
despair. 

Why watched those myriads with sus- 
pended breath 



Sleepless a second night ? they are not 
here. 

The victims — and hour by hour, a vision 
drear, 

Warm corpses fall upon the clay-cold 
dead; 

And even in death their lips are wreathed 
with fear. 

The crowd is mute and moveless — over- 
head 
Silent Arcturus shines — ha ! hear'st thou 
not the tread 

XII 

Of rushing feet ? laughter ? the shout, 

the scream 
Of triumph not to be contained ? See ! 

hark ! 
They come, they come ! give way ! Alas, 

ye deem 
Falsely — 'tis but a crowd of maniacs 

stark 
Driven, like a troop of spectres, through 

the dark 
From the choked well, whence a bright 

death-fire sprung, 
A lurid earth-star, which dropped many 

a spark 
From its blue train, and, spreading 

widely, clung 
To their wild hair, like mist the topmost 

pines among. 

XIII 

And many, from the crowd collected 

there, 
Joined that strange dance in fearful 

sympathies ; 
There was the silence of a long despair, 
When the last echo of those terrible cries 
Came from a distant street, like agonies 
Stifled afar. — Before the Tyrant's 

throne 
All night his ag^d Senate sate, their 

eyes 
In stony expectation fixed; when one 
Sudden before them stood, a Stranger and 

alone. 

XIV 

Dark Priests and haughty Warriors 

gazed on him 
With baffled wonder, for a hermit's vest 
Concealed his face; but when he spake, 

his tone 



128 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



Ere yet the matter did their thoughts 

arrest — 
Earnest, benignant, calm, as from a 

breast 
Void of all hate or terror — made them 

start ; 
For as with gentle accents he addressed 
His speech to them, on each unwilling 

heart 
Unusual awe did fall — a spirit-quelling 

dart. 

XV 

* Ye Princes of the Earth, ye sit aghast 
Amid the ruin which yourselves have 

made; 
Yes, Desolation heard your trumpet's 

blast. 
And sprang from sleep ! — dark Terror 

has obeyed 
Your bidding. Oh, that I, whom ye have 

made 
Your foe, could set my dearest enemy 

free 
From pain and fear ! but evil casts a 

shade 
Which cannot pass so soon, and Hate 

must be 
The nurse and parent still of an ill progeny. 

XVI 

•Ye turn to Heaven for aid in your dis- 
tress; 

Alas, that ye, the mighty and the wise, 

Who, if ye dared, might not aspire to 
less 

Than ye conceive of power, should fear 
the lies 

Which thou, and thou, didst frame for 
mysteries 

To blind your slaves ! consider your own 
thought — 

An empty and a cruel sacrifice 

Ye now prepare for a vain idol wrought 
Out of the fears and hate which vain de- 
sires have brought. 

XVII 

* Ye seek for happiness — alas the day ! 
Ye find it not in luxury nor in gold, 
Nor in the fame, nor in the envied sway 
For which, O willing slaves to Custom 

old, 
Severe task - mistress, ye your hearts 
have sold. 



Ye seek for peace, and, when ye die, io 

dream 
No evil dreams ; — all mortal things are 

cold 
And senseless then; if aught survive, I 

deem 
It must be love and joy, for they immortal 

seem. 

XVIII 

* Fear not the future, weep not for the 

past. 
Oh, could I win your ears to dare be now 
Glorious, and great, and calm ! that ye 

would cast 
Into the dust those symbols of your woe, 
Purple, and gold, and steel ! that ye 

would go 
Proclaiming to the nations whence ye 

came 
That Want and Plague and Fear from 

slavery flow; 
And that mankind is free, and that the 

shame 
Of royalty and faith is lost in freedom's 

fame ! 

XIX 

' If thus 't is well — if not, I come to say 
That Laon — ' While the Stranger 

spoke, among 
The Council sudden tumult and affray 
Arose, for many of those warriors young 
Had on his eloquent accents fed and 

hung 
Like bees on mountain-flowers; they 

knew the truth, 
And from their thrones in vindication 

sprung; 
The men of faith and law then without 

ruth 
Drew forth their secret steel, and stabbed 

each ardent youth. 

XX 

They stabbed them in the back and 

sneered — a slave. 
Who stood behind the throne, those 

corpses drew 
Each to its bloody, dark and secret 

grave ; 
And one more daring raised his steel 

anew 
To pierce the Stranger: * What hast 

thou to do 



CANTO TWELFTH 



129 



With me, poor wretch ? ' — Calm, sol- 
emn and severe. 

That voice unstrung his sinews, and he 
threw 

His dagger on the ground, and, pale with 
fear. 
Sate silently — his voice then did the 
Stranger rear. 

XXI 

* It doth avail not that I weep for ye — 
Ye cannot change, since ye are old and 

gray, 
And ye have chosen your lot — your 

fame must be 
A book of blood, whence in a milder day 
Men shall learn truth, when ye are 

wrapped in clay; 
Now ye shall triumph. I am Laon's 

friend, 
And him to your revenge will I betray, 
So ye concede one easy boon. Attend ! 
For now I speak of things which ye can 

apprehend. 

XXII 

* There is a People mighty in its youth, 
A land beyond the Oceans of the West, 
Where, though with rudest rites. Free- 
dom and Truth 

Are worshipped; from a glorious Mo- 
ther's breast. 

Who, since high Athens fell, among the 
rest 

Sate like the Queen of Nations, but in 
woe, 

By inbred monsters outraged and op- 
pressed. 

Turns to her chainless child for succor 
now. 
It draws the milk of Power in Wisdom's 
fullest flow. 

XXIII 

* That land is like an Eagle, whose young 

gaze 
Feeds on the noontide beam, whose 

golden plume 
Floats moveless on the storm, and in the 

blaze 
Of sunrise gleams when earth is wrapped 

in gloom; 
An epitaph of glory for the tomb 
Of murdered Europe may thy fame be 

made, 



Great People ! as the sands shalt thou 

become ; 
Thy growth is swift as morn when night 
must fade; 
The multitudinous Earth shall sleep be- 
neath thy shade. 

XXIV 

* Yes, in the desert there is built a home 
For Freedom. Genius is made strong 

to rear 
The monuments of man beneath the 

dome 
Of a new Heaven; myriads assemble 

there, 
Whom the proud lords of man, in rage 

or fear. 
Drive from their wasted homes. The 

boon I pray 
Is this — that Cythna shall be convoyed 

there, — 
Nay, start not at the name — America ! 
And then to you this night Laon will I 

betray. 

XXV 

' With me do what ye will. I am your 

foe !' 
The light of such a joy as makes the 

stare 
Of hungry snakes like living emeralds 

glow 
Shone in a hundred human eyes, — 

' Where, where 
Is Laon ? haste ! fly ! drag him swiftly 

here ! 
We grant thy boon.' — * I put no trust 

in ye, 
Swear by the Power ye dread.' — 'We 

swear, we swear ! ' 
The Stranger threw his vest back sud- 
denly. 
And smiled in gentle pride, and said, ' Lo ! 

I am he ! ' 



CANTO TWELFTH 



The transport of a fierce and monstrous 

gladness 
Spread through the multitudinous streets, 

fast flying 
Upon the winds of fear; from his dull 

madness 



130 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



The starveling waked, and died in joy; 

the dying, 
Among the corpses in stark agony lying. 
Just heard the happy tidings, and in 

hope 
Closed their faint eyes; from house to 

house replying 
With loud acclaim, the living shook 

Heaven's cope, 
And filled the startled Earth with echoes. 

Morn did ope 

II 

Its pale eyes then ; and lo ! the long 

array 
Of guards in golden arms, and Priests 

beside, 
Singing their bloody hymns, whose garbs 

betray 
The blackness of the faith it seems to 

hide; 
And see the Tyrant's gem-wrought 

chariot glide 
Among the gloomy cowls and glittering 

spears — 
A Shape of light is sitting by his side, 
A child most beautiful. I' the midst 

appears 
Laon — exempt alone from mortal hopes 

and fears. 

Ill 
His head and feet are bare, his hands 

are bound 
Behind with heavy chains, yet none do 

wreak 
Their scoffs on him, though myriads 

throng around; 
There are no sneers upon his lip which 

speak 
That scorn or hate has made him bold; 

his cheek 
Resolve has not turned pale ; his eyes are 

mild 
^nd calm, and, like the morn about to 

break. 
Smile on mankind; his heart seems re- 
conciled 
To all things and itself, like a reposing 

child. 

IV 

Tumult was in the soul of all beside, 
111 joy, or doubt, or fear; but those who 
saw 



Their tranquil victim pass felt wonder 

glide 
Into their brain, and became calm with 

awe. — 
See, the slow pageant near the pile doth 

draw. 
A thousand torches in the spacious 

square. 
Borne by the ready slaves of ruthless law. 
Await the signal round ; the morning fair 
Is changed to a dim night by that unnat^ 

ural glare. 



And see ! beneath a sun-bright canopy, 
Upon a platform level with the pile. 
The anxious Tyrant sit, enthroned on 

high, 
Girt by the chieftains of the host; all 

smile 
In expectation but one child: the while 
I, Laon, led by mutes, ascend my bier 
Of fire, and look around ; — each distant 

isle 
Is dark in the bright dawn; towers far 

and near 
Pierce like reposing flames the tremulous 

atmosphere. 

VI 

There was such silence through the host 

as when 
An earthquake, trampling on some popu- 
lous town. 
Has crushed ten thousand with one tread, 

and men 
Expect the second; all were mute but 

one. 
That fairest child, who, bold with love, 

alone 
Stood up before the king, without avail. 
Pleading for Laou's life — her stifled 

groan 
Was heard — she trembled like one aspen 

pale 
Among the gloomy pines of a Norwegian 

vale. 

VII 

What were his thoughts linked in the 
morning sun. 

Among those reptiles, stingless with 
delay. 

Even like a tyrant's wrath ? — the sig- 
nal-gun 



CANTO TWELFTH 



131 



Roared — hark, agaiu ! in that dread 

pause he lay 
As in a quiet dream — the slaves obey — 
A thousand torches drop, — and hark, 

the last 
Bursts on that awful silence; far away 
Millions, with hearts that beat both loud 

and fast, 
Watch for the springing flame expectant 

and aghast. 

VIII 

They fly — the torches fall — a cry of 

fear 
Has startled the triumphant ! — they 

recede ! 
For, ere the cannon's roar has died, they 

hear 
The tramp of hoofs like earthquake, and 

a steed 
Dark and gigantic, with the tempest's 

speed, 
Bursts through their ranks; a woman 

sits thereon, 
Fairer it seems than aught that earth 

can breed, 
Calm, radiant, like the phantom of the 

dawn, 
A. spirit from the caves of daylight wan- 
dering gone. 

IX 

All thought it was God's Angel come to 

sweep 
The lingering guilty to their fiery grave ; 
The Tyrant from his throne in dread did 

leap, — 
Her innocence his child from fear did 

save; 
Scared by the faith they feigned, each 

priestly slave 
Knelt for His mercy whom they served 

with blood, 
And, like the refluence of a mighty 

wave 
Sucked into the loud sea, the multitude 
With crushing panic fled in terror's altered 

mood. 



They pause, they blush, they gaze; a 
gathering shout 

Bursts like one sound from the ten thou- 
sand streams 

Of a tempestuous sea; that sudden rout 



One checked who never in his mildest 

dreams 
Felt awe from grace or loveliness, the 

seams 
Of his rent heart so hard and cold a creed 
Had seared with blistering ice; but he 

misdeems 
That he is wise whose wounds do only 

bleed 
Inly for self, — thus thought the Iberian 

Priest indeed, 

XI 

And others, too, thought he was wise to 

see 
In pain, and fear, and hate, something 

divine — 
In love and beauty, no divinity. 
Now with a bitter smile, whose light did 

shine 
Like a fiend's hope upon his lips and 

eyne, 
He said, and the persuasion of that sneer 
Rallied his trembling comrades — * Is it 

mine 
To stand alone, when kings and soldiers 

fear 
A woman ? Heaven has sent its other 

victim here.' 

XII 

* Were it not impious,' said the King, * to 

break 
Our holy oath ? ' — ' Impious to keep it, 

say ! ' 
Shrieked the exulting Priest : — ' Slaves, 

to the stake 
Bind her, and on my head the burden lay 
Of her just torments; at the Judgment 

Day 
Will I stand up before the golden throne 
Of Heaven, and cry, — " To Thee did I 

betray 
An infidel ! but for me she would have 

known 
Another moment's joy ! " the glory be 

thine own.' 

XIII 
They trembled, but replied not, nor 

obeyed. 
Pausing in breathless silence. Cythna 

sprung 
From her gigantic steed, who, like a 

shade 



1$2 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



Chased by the winds, those vacant streets 

among 
Fled tameless, as the brazen rein she 

flung 
Upon his neck, and kissed his mooned 

brow. 
A piteous sight, that one so fair and 

young 
The clasp of such a fearful death should 

woo 
With smiles of tender joy as beamed from 

Cythna now. 

XIV 

The warm tears burst in spite of faith 

and fear 
From many a tremulous eye, but, like 

soft dews 
Which feed spring's earliest buds, hung 

gathered there, 
Frozen by doubt, — alas ! they could not 

choose 
But weep; for, when her faint limbs did 

refuse 
To climb the pyre, upon the mutes she 

smiled ; 
And with her eloquent gestures, and the 

hues 
Of her quick lips, even as a weary child 
Wins sleep from some fond nurse with its 

caresses mild, 

XV 

She won them, though unwilling, her to 

bind 
Near me, among the snakes. When then 

had fled 
One soft reproach that was most thrilling 

kind. 
She smiled on me, and nothing then we 

said. 
But each upon the other's countenance 

fed 
Looks of insatiate love; the mighty veil 
Which doth divide the living and the 

dead 
Was almost rent, the world grew dim 

and pale — 
A-U light in Heaven or Earth beside our 

love did fail. 

XVI 

Yet — yet — one brief relapse, like the 

last beam 
Of dying flames, the stainless air around 



Hung silent and serene — a blood-red 

gleam 
Burst upwards, hurling fiercely from the 

ground 
The globed smoke; I heard the mighty 

sound 
Of its uprise, like a tempestuous ocean; 
And, through its chasms I saw, as in a 

s wound, 
The Tyrant's child fall without life or 

motion 
Before his throne, subdued by some unseen 

emotion. — 

XVII 

And is this death ? — The pyre has dis- 
appeared. 
The Pestilence, the Tyrant, and the 

throng; 
The flames grow silent — slowly there is 

heard 
The music of a breath-suspending song, 
Which, like the kiss of love when life is 

young. 
Steeps the faint eyes in darkness sweet 

and deep; 
With ever-changing notes it floats along, 
Till on my passive soul there seemed to 

creep 
A melody, like waves on wrinkled sands 

that leap. 

XVIII 

The warm touch of a soft and tremulous 

hand 
Wakened me then; lo, Cythna sate re- 
clined 
Beside me, on the waved and golden sand 
Of a clear pool, upon a bank o'ertwined 
With strange and star-bright flowers 

which to the wind 
Breathed divine odor; high above was 

spread 
The emerald heaven of trees of unknown 

kind. 
Whose moonlike blooms and bright fruit 

overhead 
A shadow, which was light, upon the waters 

shed. 

XIX 

And round about sloped many a lawny 

mountain 
With incense-bearing forests and vast 

caves 



J 



CANTO TWELFTH 



133 



Of marble radiauce, to that mighty foun- 
tain; 
And, where the flood its own bright mar- 
gin laves, 
Their echoes talk with its eternal waves, 
Which from the depths whose jagged 

caverns breed 
Their unreposing strife it lifts and heaves, 
Till through a chasm of hills they roll, 
and feed 
A river deep, which flies with smooth but 
arrowy speed. 

XX 

As we sate gazing in a trance of wonder, 
A boat approached, borne by the musical 

air 
Along the waves which sung and sparkled 

under 
Its rapid keel. A winged Shape sate 

there, 
A child with silver-shining wings, so 

fair 
That, as her bark did through the waters 

glide. 
The shadow of the lingering waves did 

wear 
Light, as from starry beams; from side 

to side 
While veering to the wind her plumes the 

bark did guide. 

XXI 

The boat was one curved shell of hollow 

pearl, 
Almost translucent with the light divine 
Of her within; the prow and sterxi did 

curl. 
Horned on high, like the young moon 

supine. 
When o'er dim twilight mountains dark 

with pine 
It floats upon the sunset's sea of beams, 
Whose golden waves in many a purple 

line 
Fade fast, till, borne on sunlight's ebbing 

streams. 
Dilating, on earth's verge the sunken me- 
teor gleams. 

XXII 

Its keel has struck the sands beside our 

feet. 
Then Cythna turned to me, and from her 

eyes, 



Which swam with unshed tears, a look 
more sweet 

Than happy love, a wild and glad sur- 
prise, 

Glanced as she spake : ' Ay, this is Para- 
dise 

And not a dream, and we are all united I 

Lo, that is mine own child, who in the 
guise 

Of madness came, like day to one be- 
nighted 
In lonesome woods; my heart is now too 
well requited ! ' 

XXIII 

And then she wept aloud, and in her arms 
Clasped that bright Shape, less marvel- 
lously fair 
Than her own human hues and living 

charms. 
Which, as she leaned in passion's silence 

there, 
Breathed warmth on the cold bosom of 

the air, 
Which seemed to blush and tremble with 

delight; 
The glossy darkness of her streaming hair 
Fell o'er that snowy child, and wrapped 

from sight 
The fond and long embrace which did their 

hearts unitCo 

XXIV 

Then the bright child, the plumed 

Seraph, came, 
And fixed its blue and beaming eyes on 

mine, 
And said, ' I was disturbed by tremulous 

shame 
When once we met, yet knew that I was 

thine 
From the same hour in which thy lips 

divine 
Kindled a clinging dream within my 

brain, 
Which ever waked when I might sleep, 

to twine 
Thine image with her memory dear; 

again 
We meet, exempted now from mortal fear 

or pain. 

XXV 

* When the consuming flames had wrapped 
ye round, 



134 



THE REVOLT OF ISLAM 



The hope which I had cherished went 

away; 
I fell in agony on the senseless ground, 
And hid mine eyes in dust, and far astray 
My mind was gone, when bright, like 

dawning day. 
The Spectre of the Plague before me flew, 
And breathed upon my lips, and seemed 

to say, 
" They wait for thee, beloved ! " — then 

I knew 
Ihe death-mark on my breast, and became 

calm anew. 

XXVI 

* It was the calm of love — for I was 

dying. 
I saw the black and half-extinguished 

pyre 
In its own gray and shrunken ashes 

lying; 
The pitchy smoke of the departed fire 
Still hung in many a hollow dome and 

spire 
Above the towers, like night, — beneath 

whose shade, 
Awed by the ending of their own desire, 
The armies stood; a vacancy was made 
In expectation's depth, and so they stood 

dismayed. 

XXVII 

* The frightful silence of that altered mood 
The tortures of the dying clove alone. 
Till one uprose among the multitude, 
And said — " The flood of time is rolling 

on; 

We stand upon its brink, whilst they are 
gone 

To glide in peace down death's myste- 
rious stream. 

Have ye done well ? they moulder, flesh 
and bone, 

Who might have made this life's enven- 
omed dream 
A. sweeter draught than ye will ever taste, 
I deem. 

XXVIII 

* " These perish as the good and great of 

yore 
Have perished, and their murderers will 

repent; 
Yes, vain and barren tears shall flow 

before 



Yon smoke has faded from the firmai* 

ment. 
Even for this cause, that ye, who must 

lament 
The death of those that made this world 

so fair, 
Cannot recall them now; but then is lent 
To man the wisdom of a high despair. 
When such can die, and he live on and 

linger here. 

XXIX 

* " Ay, ye may fear not now the Pestilence, 

From fabled hell as by a charm with- 
drawn ; 

All power and faith must pass, since 
calmly hence 

In pain and fire have unbelievers gone; 

And ye must sadly turn away, and moan 

In secret, to his home each one returning; 

And to long ages shall this hour be 
known. 

And slowly shall its memory, ever burn- 
ing, 
Fill this dark night of things with an 
eternal morning. 

XXX 

' " For me that world is grown too void 

and cold. 
Since hope pursues immortal destiny 
With steps thus slow — therefore shall 

ye behold 
How those who love, yet fear not, dare 

to die; 
Tell to your children this! " then suddenly 
He sheathed a dagger in his heart, and 

fell; 
My brain grew dark in death, and yet to 

me 
There came a murmur from the crowd 

to tell 
Of deep and mighty change which suddenly 
befell. 

XXXI 

' Then suddenly I stood, a wingM Thought, 
Before the immortal Senate, and the seat 
Of that star-shining Spirit, whence is 

wrought 
The strength of its dominion, good and 

great, 
The Better Genius of this world's estate. 
His realm around one mighty Fane is 

spread. 



CANTO TWELFTH 



135 



Elysian islands bright and fortunate, 
Calm dwellings of the free and happy 

dead, 
Where I am sent to lead ! ' These winged 

words she said, 

XXXII 

And with the silence of her eloquent 

smile, 
Bade us embark in her divine canoe; 
Then at the helm we took our seat, the 

while 
Above her head those plumes of dazzling 

hue 
Into the winds' invisible stream she 

threw. 
Sitting beside the prow; like gossamer 
On the swift breath of morn the vessel 

flew 
O'er the bright whirlpools of that foun- 
tain fair. 
Whose shores receded fast while we seemed 

lingering there; 

XXXIII 

Till down that mighty stream dark, calm 

and fleet. 
Between a chasm of cedarn mountains 

riven. 
Chased by the thronging winds whose 

viewless feet, 
As swift as twinkling beams, had under 

Heaven 
From woods and waves wild sounds and 

odors driven, 
The boat fled visibly; three nights and 

days. 
Borne like a cloud through morn, and 

noon, and even. 
We sailed along the winding watery ways 
Of the vast stream, a long and labyrinthine 

maze. 

XXXIV 

A scene of joy and wonder to behold, — 

That river's shapes and shadows chang- 
ing ever. 

Where the broad sunrise filled with 
deepening gold 

Its whirlpools where all hues did spread 
and quiver; 

And where melodious falls did burst and 
shiver 

Among rocks clad with flowers, the foam 
and spray 



Sparkled like stars upon the sunny river; 
Or, when the moonlight poured a holier 

day, 
One vast and glittering lake around green 

islands lay. 

XXXV 

Morn, noon and even, that boat of pearl 

outran 
The streams which bore it, like the 

arrowy cloud 
Of tempest, or the speedier thought of 

man. 
Which flieth forth and cannot make 

abode ; 
Sometimes through forests, deep like 

night, we glode. 
Between the walls of mighty mountains 

crowned 
With Cyclopean piles, whose turrets 

proud, 
The homes of the departed, dimly 

frowned 
O'er the bright waves which girt their dark 

foundations round. 

XXXVI 

Sometimes between the wide and flow- 
ering meadows 
Mile after mile we sailed, and 't was 

delight 
To see far ofp the sunbeams chase the 

shadows 
Over the grass; sometimes beneath the 

night 
Of wide and vaulted caves, whose roofs 

were bright 
With starry gems, we fled, whilst from 

their deep 
And dark green chasms shades beautiful 

and white. 
Amid sweet sounds across our path would 

sweep, 
Like swift and lovely dreams that walk the 

waves of sleep. 

XXXVII 

And ever as we sailed, our minds were 
full 

Of love and wisdom, which would over- 
flow 

In converse wild, and sweet, and won- 
derful; 

And in quick smiles whose light would 
come and go, 



136 



ROSALIND AND HELEN 



Like music o'er wide waves, and in the 
flow 

Of sudden tears, and in the mute caress; 

For a deep shade was cleft, and we did 
know. 

That virtue, though obscured on Earth, 
not less 
Survives all mortal change in lasting love- 
liness. 

XXXVIII 

Three days and nights we sailed, as 
thought and feeling 

Number delightful hours — for through 
the sky 

The sphered lamps of day and night, re- 
vealing 

New changes and new glories, rolled on 
high. 

Sun, Moon and moonlike lamps, the 
progeny 

Of a diviner Heaven, serene and fair; 

On the fourth day, wild as a wind- 
wrought sea 

The stream became, and fast and faster 
bare 
The spirit-winged boat, steadily speeding 
there. 

XXXIX 

Steady and swift, where the waves rolled 
like mountains 

Within the vast ravine, whose rifts did 
pour 

Tumultuous floods from their ten thou- 
sand fountains. 

The thunder of whose earth-uplifting 
roar 

Made the air sweep in whirlwinds from 
the shore, 



Calm as a shade, the boat of that fair 

child 
Securely fled that rapid stress before, 
Amid the topmost spray and sunbowa 

wild 
Wreathed in the silver mist; in joy and 

pride we smiled. 

XL 

The torrent of that wide and raging river 

Is passed, and our aerial speed suspended. 

We look behind; a golden mist did quiver 

When its wild surges with the lake were 
blended ; 

Our bark hung there, as on a line sus- 
pended 

Between two heavens, — that windless, 
waveless lake. 

Which four great cataracts from four 
vales, attended 

By mists, aye feed; from rocks and 
clouds they break, 
And of that azure sea a silent refuge make. 

XLI 

Motionless resting on the lake awhile, 
I saw its marge of snow-bright moun- 
tains rear 
Their peaks aloft; I saw each radiant 

isle; 
And in the midst, afar, even like a sphere 
Hung in one hollow sky, did there ap- 
pear 
The Temple of the Spirit; on the sound 
Which issued thence drawn nearer and 

more near 
Like the swift moon this glorious earth 
around. 
The charmed boat approached, and there 
its haven found. 



ROSALIND AND HELEN 
A MODERN ECLOGUE 



Rosalind and Helen was begun at Marlow as 
early as the summer of 1817, and was suffi- 
ciently far advanced to lead Shelley to send 
copy to the publisher just before leaving 
England in March, 1818 ; it was finished in 
August, at the Baths of Lucca, and published 
in the spring of 1819. Shelley's original Ad- 
vertisement to the volume, dated Naples, De- 
cember 20, 1818, opens with the following : 

'The story of Rosalind and Helen is, un- 



doubtedly, not an attempt in the highest style 
of poetry. It is in no degree calculated to 
excite profound meditation ; and if, by inter- 
esting the affections and amusing the imagin- 
ation, it awaken a certain ideal melancholy 
favorable to the reception of more important 
impressions, it will produce in the reader all 
that the writer experienced in the composition. 
I resigned myself, as I wrote, to the impulse 
of the feelings which moulded the conception 



IlOSALIND AND HELEN 



137 



of the story ; and this impulse determined the 
pauses of a measure, which only pretends to 
be regular inasmuch as it corresponds with, 
and expresses, the irregularity of the imagin- 
ations which inspired it.' 

The feelings here spoken of ' which moulded 
the conception of the story ' were suggested, in 
part, by the relation of Mrs. Shelley with a 
friend of her girlhood, Isabel Baxter, who fell 
away from her early attachment in consequence 
of Mrs. Shelley's flight with Shelley in July, 
1814, and was afterward reconciled with her. 
(Dowden, Life, ii. 130, 131.) Forman (Type 
Facsimile of the original edition, Shelley Soci- 
ety's Publications, Second Series, No. 17, In- 
troduction) discusses the matter at length, 
together with the reflection of political events 
in England possibly to be detected in the 
poem. Shelley wrote to Peacock, ' I lay no 
stress on it one way or the other.' Mrs. 
Shelley's note develops the reason for this 
indifference : 

' Bosalind and Helen was begun at Marlow, 
and thrown aside, till I found it ; and, at my 



request, it was completed. Shelley had no 
care for any of his poems that did not ema- 
nate from the depths of his mind, and develop 
some high or abstruse truth. When he does 
touch on human life and the human heart, no 
pictures can be more faithful, more delicate, 
more subtle, or more pathetic. He never men- 
tioned Love, but he shed a grace, borrowed 
from his own nature, that scarcely any other 
poet has bestowed on that passion. When he 
spoke of it as the law of life, which inasmuch 
as we rebel against, we err and injure ourselves 
and others, he promulgated that which he con- 
sidered an irrefragable truth. In his eyes it 
was the essence of our being, and all woe and 
pain arose from the war made against it by 
selfishness, or insensibility, or mistake. By 
reverting in his mind to this first principle, he 
discovered the source of many emotions, and 
could disclose the secrets of all hearts, and his 
delineations of passion and emotion touch the 
finest chords in our nature. Rosalind and Helen 
was finished during the summer of 1818, while 
we were at the Baths of Lucca.' 



ROSALIND AND HELEN 

Rosalind, Helen, and her Child. 
Scene. The Shore of the Lake of Coma. 

HELEN 

Come hither, my sweet Rosalind. 

'T is long since thou and I have met; 

And yet methinks it were unkind 

Those moments to forget. 

Come, sit by me. I see thee stand 

By this lone lake, in this far land. 

Thy loose hair in the light wind flying. 

Thy sweet voice to each tone of even 

United, and thine eyes replying 

To the hues of yon fair heaven. 10 

Come, gentle friend ! wilt sit by me ? 

And be as thou wert wont to be 

Ere we were disunited ? 

None doth behold us now; the power 

That led us forth at this lone hour 

Will be but ill requited 

If thou depart in scorn. Oh, come, 

And talk of our abandoned home ! 

Remember, this is Italy, 

And we are exiles. Talk with me 20 

Of that our land, whose wilds and floods. 

Barren and dark although they be, 

Were dearer than these chestnut woods; 

Those heathy paths, that inland stream. 

And the blue mountains, shapes which seem 

Like wrecks of childhood's sunny dream; 



Which that we have abandoned now, 
Weighs on the heart like that remorse 
Which altered friendship leaves. I seek 
No more our youthful intercourse. 30 

That cannot be ! Rosalind, speak. 
Speak to me ! Leave me not ! When morn 

did come. 
When evening fell upon our common home, 
When for one hour we parted, — do not 

frown ; 
I would not chide thee, though thy faith is 

broken ; 
But turn to me. Oh ! by this cherished 

token 
Of woven hair, which thou wilt not disown. 
Turn, as 't were but the memory of me, 
And not my scornfed self who prayed to thee ! 

ROSALIND 

Is it a dream, or do I see 40 

And hear frail Helen ? I would flee 

Thy tainting touch; but former years 

Arise, and bring forbidden tears; 

And my o'erburdened memory 

Seeks yet its lost repose in thee. 

I share thy crime. I cannot choose 

But weep for thee; mine own strange grief 

But seldom stoops to such relief; 

Nor ever did I love thee less. 

Though mourning o'er thy wickedness ; 

Even with a sister's woe. I knew 

What to the evil world is due, 



138 



ROSALIND AND HELEN 



And therefore sternly did refuse 
To link me with the infamy 
Of one so lost as Helen. Now, 
Bewildered by my dire despair, 
Wondering I blush, and weep that thou 
Shouldst love me still — thou only ! — 

There, 
Let us sit on that gray stone 
Till our mournful talk be done. 60 

HELEN 

Alas ! not there; I cannot bear 

The murmur of this lake to hear. 

A sound from there, Rosalind dear. 

Which never yet I heard elsewhere 

But in our native land, recurs. 

Even here where now we meet. It stirs 

Too much of suffocating sorrow ! 

In the dell of yon dark chestnut wood 

Is a stone seat, a solitude 

Less like our own. The ghost of peace 70 

Will not desert this spot. To-morrow, 

If thy kind feelings should not cease, 

We may sit here. 

ROSALIND 

Thou lead, my sweet. 
And I will follow. 

HENRY 

'T is Fenici's seat 
Where you are going ? This is not the 

way. 
Mamma; it leads behind those trees that 

grow 
Close to the little river. 

HELEN 

Yes, I know; 
I was bewildered. Kiss me and be gay. 
Dear boy; why do you sob ? 

HENRY 

I do not know; 
But it might break any one's heart to see 80 
You and the lady cry so bitterly. 

HELEN 

It is a gentle child, my friend. Go home, 
Henry, and play with Lilla till I come. 
We only cried with joy to see each other; 
We are quite merry now. Good night. 

The boy 
Lifted a sudden look upon his mother, 



And, in the gleam of forced and hollow 

joy 

Which lightened o'er her face, laughed with 

the glee 
Of light and unsuspecting infancy. 
And whispered in her ear, 'Bring home 

with you 90 

That sweet strange lady-friend.' Then off 

he flew, 
But stopped, and beckoned with a meaning 

smile. 
Where the road turned. Pale Rosalind 

the while. 
Hiding her face, stood weeping silently. 

In silence then they took the way 

Beneath the forest's solitude. 

It was a vast and antique wood, 

Through which they took their way; 

And the gray shades of evening 

O'er that green wilderness did fling 100 

Still deeper solitude. 

Pursuing still the path that wound 

The vast and knotted trees around, 

Through which slow shades were wander- 

To a deep lawny dell they came, 
To a stone seat beside a spring, 
O'er which the columned wood did frame 
A roofless temple, like the fane 
Where, ere new creeds could faith ob- 
tain, 
Man's early race once knelt beneath u© 
The overhanging deity. 
O'er this fair fountain hung the sky, 
Now spangled with rare stars. The snake, 
The pale snake, that with eager breath 
Creeps here his noontide thirst to slake, 
Is beaming with many a mingled hue, 
Shed from yon dome's eternal blue. 
When he floats on that dark and lucid 

flood 
In the light of his own loveliness; 
And the birds, that in the fountain dip im 
Their plumes, with fearless fellowship 
Above and round him wheel and hover. 
The fitful wind is heard to stir 
One solitary leaf on high; 
The chirping of the grasshopper 
Fills every pause. There is emotion 
In all that dwells at noontide here; 
Then through the intricate wild wood 
A maze of life and light and motion 
Is woven. But there is stillness now — 12c 
Gloom, and the trance of Nature now. 



ROSALIND AND HELEN 



^39 



The snake is in his cave asleep; 

The birds are on the branches dreaming; 

Only the shadows creep; 

Only the glow-worm is gleaming; 

Only the owls and the nightingales 

Wake in this dell when daylight fails, 

And gray shades gatlier in the woods; 

And the owls have all fled far away 

In a merrier glen to hoot and play, 140 

For the moon is veiled and sleeping now. 

The accustomed nightingale still broods 

On her accustomed bough, 

But she is mute; for her false mate 

Has fled and left her desolate. 

This silent spot tradition old 
Had peopled with the spectral dead. 
For the roots of the speaker's hair felt cold 
And stiff, as with tremulous lips he told 
That a hellish shape at midnight led 150 
The ghost of a youth with hoary hair, 
And sate on the seat beside him there. 
Till a naked child came wandering by. 
When the fiend would change to a lady 

fair ! 
A fearful tale ! the truth was worse ; 
For here a sister and a brother 
Had solemnized a monstrous curse, 
Meeting in this fair solitude; 
For beneath yon very sky. 
Had they resigned to one another 160 

Body and soul. The multitude. 
Tracking them to the secret wood, 
Tore limb from limb their innocent child. 
And stabbed and trampled on its mother; 
But the youth, for God's most holy grace, 
A priest saved to burn in the market-place. 

Duly at evening Helen came 

To this lone silent spot, 

From the wrecks of a tale of wilder sorrow 

So much of sympathy to borrow 170 

As soothed her own dark lot. 

Duly each evening from her home, 

With her fair child would Helen come 

To sit upon that antique seat, 

While the hues of day were pale; 

And the bright boy beside her feet 

Now lay, lifting at intervals 

His broad blue eye« on her; 

Now, where some sudden impulse calls, 

Following. He was a gentle boy 180 

And in all gentle sports took joy. 

Oft in a dry leaf for a boat, 

With a small feather for a sail, 



His fancy on that spring would float, 

If some invisible breeze might stir 

Its marble calm; and Helen smiled 

Through tears of awe on the gay child, 

To think that a boy as fair as he, 

In years which never more may be. 

By that same fount, in that same wood, 190 

The like sweet fancies had pursued; 

And that a mother, lost like her, 

Had mournfully sate watching him. 

Then all the scene was wont to swim 

Through the mist of a burning tear. 

For many months had Helen known 

This scene ; and now she thither turned 

Her footsteps, not alone. 

The friend whose falsehood she had 

mourned 
Sate with her on that seat of stone. 200 

Silent they sate; for evening. 
And the power its glimpses bring. 
Had with one awful shadow quelled 
The passion of their grief. They sate 
With linked hands, for unrepelled 
Had Helen taken Rosalind's. 
Like the autumn wind, when it unbinds 
The tangled locks of the nightshade's hair 
Which is twined in the sultry summer air 
Round the walls of an outworn sepulchre. 
Did the voice of Helen, sad and sweet, an 
And the sound of her heart that ever beat 
As with sighs and words she breathed on 

her, 
Unbind the knots of her friend's despair. 
Till her thoughts were free to float and flow,* 
And from her laboring bosom now, 
Like the bursting of a prisoned flame. 
The voice of a long-pent sorrow came. 

ROSALIND 

I saw the dark earth fall upon . 
The coffin; and I saw the stone 220 

Laid over him whom this cold breast 
Had pillowed to his nightly rest ! 
Thou knowest not, thou canst not know 
My agony. Oh ! I could not weep. 
The sources whence such blessings flow 
Were not to be approached by me ! 
But I could smile, and I could sleep, 
Though with a self-accusing heart. 
In morning's light, in evening's gloom, 
I watched — and would not thence de- 
part — 230 
My husband's unlamented tomb. 
My children knew their sire wa« gone; 
But when I told them, ' He is dea4,* 



140 



ROSALIND AND HELEN 



They laughed aloud in frantic glee, 

They clapped their hands and leaped about, 

Answering each other's ecstasy 

With many a prank and merry shout. 

But I sate silent and alone. 

Wrapped in the mock of mourning weed. 

They laughed, for he was dead; but I 240 
Sate with a hard and tearless eye, 
And with a heart which would deny 
The secret joy it could not quell, 
Low muttering o'er his loathed name; 
Till from that self-contention came 
Remorse where sin was none; a hell 
Which in pure spirits should not dwell. 

I '11 tell thee truth. He was a man 

Hard, selfish, loving only gold. 

Yet full of guile; his pale eyes ran 250 

With tears which each some falsehood told. 

And oft his smooth and bridled tongue 

Would give the lie to his flushing cheek; 

He was a coward to the strong; 

He was a tyrant to the weak, 

On whom his vengeance he would wreak; 

For scorn, whose arrows search the heart. 

From many a stranger's eye would dart. 

And on his memory cling, and follow 

His soul to its home so cold and hollow. 260 

He was a tyrant to the weak. 

And we were such, alas the day ! 

Oft, when my little ones at play 

Were in youth's natural lightness gay, 

Or if they listened to some tale 

Of travellers, or of fairyland. 

When the light from the wood-fire's dying 

brand 
Flashed on their faces, — if they heard 
Or thought they heard upon the stair 
His footstep, the suspended word 270 

Died on my lips; we all grew pale; 
The babe at my bosom was hushed with 

fear 
If it thought it heard its father near; 
And my two wild boys would near my knee 
Cling, cowed and cowering fearfully. 

I '11 tell thee truth: I loved another. 
His name in my ear was ever ringing. 
His form to my brain was ever clinging; 
Yet, if some stranger breathed that name. 
My lips turned white, and my heart beat 

fast. 280 

My nights were once haunted by dreams of 

flame, 



My days were dim in the shadow cast 

By the memory of the same ! 

Day and night, day and night. 

He was my breath and life and light, 

For three short years, which soon were 

passed. 
On the fourth, my gentle mother 
Led me to the shrine, to be 
His sworn bride eternally. 
And now we stood on the altar stair, 290 
When my father came from a distant land, 
And with a loud and fearful cry 
Rushed between us suddenly. 
I saw the stream of his thin gray hair, 
I saw his lean and lifted hand. 
And heard his words — and live ! O God ! 
Wherefore do I live ? — * Hold, hold ! ' 
He cried, ' I tell thee 'tis her brother ! 
Thy mother, boy, beneath the sod 
Of yon churchyard rests in her shroud so 

cold ; 3o« 

I am now weak, and pale, and old; 
We were once dear to one another, 
I and that corpse ! Thou art our child ! ' 
Then with a laugh both long and wild 
The youth upon the pavement fell. 
They found him dead ! All looked on 

me. 
The spasms of my despair to see; 
But I was calm. I went away; 
I was clammy-cold like clay. 
I did not we'ep; I did not speak; 31c 

But day by day, week after week, 
I walked about like a corpse alive. 
Alas ! sweet friend, you must believe 
This heart is stone — it did not break. 

My father lived a little while, 

But all might see that he was dying, 

He smiled with such a woful smile. 

When he was in the churchyard lying 

Among the worms, we grew quite poor, 

So that no one would give us bread; 32c 

My mother looked at me, and said 

Faint words of cheer, which only meant 

That she could die and be content; 

So I went forth from the same church door 

To another husband's bed. 

And this was he who died at last. 

When weeks and months and years had 

passed. 
Through which I firmly did fulfil 
My duties, a devoted wnfe. 
With the stern step of vanquished will 330 
Walking beneath the night of life, 



ROSALIND AND HELEN 



141 



Whose hours extinguished, like slow rain 

Falling forever, pain by pain, 

The very hope of death's dear rest; 

Which, since the heart within my breast 

Of natural life was dispossessed, 

Its strange sustainer there had been. 

When flowers were dead, and grass was 

green 
Upon my mother's grave — that mother 
Whom to outlive, and cheer, and make 340 
My wan eyes glitter for her sake, 
Was my vowed task, the single care 
Which once gave life to my despair — 
When she was a thing that did not stir. 
And the crawling worms were cradling her 
To a sleep more deep and so more sweet 
Than a baby's rocked on its nurse's knee, 
I lived; a living pulse then beat 
Beneath my heart that awakened me. 
What was this pulse so warm and free ? 350 
Alas ! I knew it could not be 
My own dull blood. 'T was like a thought 
Of liquid love, that spread and wrought 
Under my bosom and in my brain, 
And crept with the blood through every 

vein, 
And hour by hour, day after day, 
The wonder could not charm away 
But laid in sleep my wakeful pain. 
Until I knew it was a child. 
And then I wept. For long, long years 360 
These frozen eyes had shed no tears; 
But now — 't was the season fair and mild 
When April has wept itself to May; 
I sate through the sweet sunny day 
By my window bowered round with leaves, 
And down my cheeks the quick tears ran 
Like twinkling rain-drops from the eaves, 
When warm spring showers are passing 

o'er. 

Helen, none can ever tell 

The joy it was to weep once more ! 370 

1 wept to think how hard it were 
To kill my babe, and take from it 
The sense of light, and the warm air. 
And my own fond and tender care. 
And love and smiles; ere I knew yet 
That these for it might, as for me, 
Be the masks of a grinning mockery. 
And haply, I would dream, 't were sweet 
To feed it from my faded breast. 

Or mark my own heart's restless beat 380 
Rock it to its untroubled rest, 



And watch the growing soul beneath 
Dawn in faint smiles; and hear its breath, 
Half interrupted by calm sighs. 
And search the depth of its fair eyes 
For long departed memories ! 
And so I lived till that sweet load 
Was lightened. Darkly forward flowed 
The stream of years, and on it bore 
Two shapes of gladness to my sight; 39c 
Two other babes, delightful more. 
In my lost soul's abandoned night. 
Than their own country ships may be 
Sailing towards wrecked mariners 
Who cling to the rock of a wintry sea. 
For each, as it came, brought soothing 

tears; 
And a loosening warmth, as each one lay 
Sucking the sullen milk away, 
About my frozen heart did play, 
And weaned it, oh, how painfully — 400 
As they themselves were weaned each one 
From that sweet food — even from the 

thirst 
Of death, and nothingntss, and rest, 
Strange inmate of a living breast. 
Which all that I had undergone 
Of grief and shame, since she who first 
The gates of that dark refuge closed 
Came to my sight, and almost burst 
The seal of that Lethean spring — 
But these fair shadows interposed. 41c 

For all delights are shadows now ! 
And from my brain to my dull brow 
The heavy tears gather and flow. 
I cannot speak — oh, let me weep ! 

The tears which fell from her wan eyes 
Glimmered among the moonlight dew. 
Her deep hard sobs and heavy sighs 
Their echoes in the darkness threw. 
When she grew calm, she thus did keep 
The tenor of her tale: — 

He died; 420 
I know not how; he was not old, 
If age be numbered by its years; 
But he was bowed and bent with fears. 
Pale with the quenchless thirst of gold. 
Which, like fierce fever, left him weak; 
And his strait lip and bloated cheek 
Were warped in spasms by hollow sneers; 
And selfish cares with barren plough, 
Not age, had lined his narrow brow, 
And foul and cruel thoughts, which feed 434 
Upon the withering life within. 



142 



ROSALIND AND HELEN 



Like vipers on some poisonous weed. 
Whether his ill were death or sin 
None knew, until he died indeed, 
And then men owned they were the same. 

Seven days within my chamber lay 

That corse, and my babes made holiday. 

At last, I told them what is death. 

The eldest, with a kind of shame. 

Came to my knees with silent breath, 440 

And sate awe-stricken at my feet; 

And soon the others left their play, 

And sate there too. It is unmeet 

To shed on the brief flower of youth 

The withering knowledge of the grave. 

From me remorse then wrung that truth. 

I could not bear the joy which gave 

Too just a response to mine own. 

In vain. I dared not feign a groan; 

And in their artless looks I saw, 450 

Between the mists of fear and awe. 

That my own thought was theirs ; and they 

Expressed it not in words, but said. 

Each in its heart, how every day 

Will pass in happy work and play, 

Now he is dead and gone away ! 

After the funeral all our kin 
Assembled, and the will was read. 
My friend, I tell thee, even the dead 
Have strength, their putrid shrouds within. 
To blast and torture. Those who live 461 
Still fear the living, but a corse 
Is merciless, and Power doth give 
To such pale tyrants half the spoil 
He rends from those who groan and toil, 
Because they blush not with remorse 
Among their crawling worms. Behold, 
I have no child ! my tale grows old 
With grief, and staggers; let it reach 
The limits of my feeble speech, 470 

And languidly at length recline 
On the brink of its own grave and mine. 

Thou knowest what a thing is Poverty 
Among the fallen on evil days. 
'T is Crime, and Fear, and Infamy, 
And houseless Want in frozen ways 
Wandering ungarmented, and Pain, 
And, worse than all, that inward stain. 
Foul Self-contempt, which drowns in sneers 
Youth's starlight smile, and makes its 
tears 480 

First like hot gall, then dry forever ! 
And well thou knowest a mother never 



Could doom her children to this ill. 

And well he knew the same. The will 

Imported that, if e'er again 

I sought my children to behold, 

Or in my birthplace did remain 

Beyond three days, whose hours were told, 

They should inherit nought; and he, 

To whom next came their patrimony, 490 

A sallow lawyer, cruel and cold. 

Aye watched me, as the will was read, 

With eyes askance, which sought to see 

The secrets of my agony; 

And with close lips and anxious brow 

Stood canvassing still to and fro 

The chance of my resolve, and all 

The dead man's caution just did call; 

For in that killing lie 't was said — 

' She is adulterous, and doth hold 500 

In secret that the Christian creed 

Is false, and therefore is much need 

That I should have a care to save 

My children from eternal fire.' 

Friend, he was sheltered by the grave, 

And therefore dared to be a liar ! 

In truth, the Indian on the pyre 

Of her dead husband, half consumed. 

As well might there be false as I 

To those abhorred embraces doomed, 510 

Far worse than fire's brief agony. 

As to the Christian creed, if true 

Or false, I never questioned it; 

I took it as the vulgar do; 

Nor my vexed soul had leisure yet 

To doubt the things men say, or deem 

That they are other than they seem. 

All present who those crimes did hear. 

In feigned or actual scorn and fear, 

Men, women, children, slunk away, S2c 

Whispering with self-contented pride 

Which half suspects its own base lie. 

I spoke to none, nor did abide, 

But silently I went my way, 

Nor noticed I where joyously 

Sate my two younger babes at play 

In the courtyard through which I passed* 

But went with footsteps firm and fast 

Till I came to the brink of the ocean 

green. 
And there, a woman with gray hairs, 53a 
Who had my mother's servant been. 
Kneeling, with many tears and prayers. 
Made me accept a purse of gold. 
Half of the earnings she had kept 
To refuge her when weak and old. 



ROSALIND AND HELEN 



143 



With woe, which never sleeps or slept, 
I wander now. 'T is a vain thought — 
But on yon Alp, whose snowy head 
'Mid the azure air is islanded, 
(We see it — o'er the flood of cloud, 540 
Which sunrise from its eastern caves 
Drives, wrinkling into golden waves, 
Hung with its precipices proud — 
From that gray stone where first we met) 
There — now who knows the dead feel 

nought ? — 
Should be my grave; for he who yet 
Is my soul's soul once said : ' 'T were sweet 
'Mid stars and lightnings to abide, 
And winds, and lulling snows that beat 
With their soft flakes the mountain wide, 
Where weary meteor lamps repose, 551 

And languid storms their pinions close. 
And all things strong and bright and pure. 
And ever during, aye endure. 
Who knows, if one were buried there. 
But these things might our spirits make, 
Amid the all-surrounding air. 
Their own eternity partake ? ' 
Then 't was a wild and playful saying 
At which I laughed or seemed to laugh. 560 
They were his words — now heed my pray- 
ing, 
And let them be my epitaph. 
Thy memory for a term may be 
My monument. Wilt remember me ? 
I know thou wilt; and canst forgive, 
Whilst in this erring world to live 
My soul disdained not, that I thought 
Its lying forms were worthy aught, 
And much less thee. 

HELEN 

Oh, speak not so ! 
But come to me and pour thy woe 570 

Into this heart, full though it be, 
Aye overflowing with its own. 
I thought that grief had severed me 
From all beside who weep and groan, 
Its likeness upon earth to be — 
Its express image; but thou art 
More wretched. Sweet, we will not part 
Henceforth, if death be not division; 
If so, the dead feel no contrition. 
But wilt thou hear, since last we parted, 580 
All that has left me broken-hearted ? 

ROSALIND 

Yes, speak. The faintest stars are scarcely 
shorn 



Of their thin beams by that delusive morn 
Which sinks again in darkness, like the 

light 
Of early love, soon lost in total night. 

HELEN 

Alas ! Italian winds are mild, 

But my bosom is cold — wintry cold; 

When the warm air weaves, among the 

fresh leaves. 
Soft music, my poor brain is wild. 
And I am weak like a nursling child, 590 
Though my soul with grief is gray and 

old. 

ROSALIND 

Weep not at thine own words, though they 

must make 
Me weep. What is thy tale ? 

HELEN 

I fear 't will shake 
Thy gentle heart with tears. Thou well 
Rememberest when we met no more; 
And, though I dwelt with Lionel, 
That friendless caution pierced me sore 
With grief; a wound my spirit bore 
Indignantly — but when he died, 
With him lay dead both hope and pride. 

Alas ! all hope is buried now. 601 

But then men dreamed the aged earth 
Was laboring in that mighty birth 
Which many a poet and a sage 
Has aye foreseen — the happy age 
When truth and love shall dwell below 
Among the works and ways of men; 
Which on this world not power but will 
Even now is wanting to fulfil. 

Among mankind what thence befell 610 

Of strife, liow vain, is known fno well; 
When Liberty's dear paean fell 
'Mid murderous howls. To Lionel, 
Though of great wealth and lineage high, 
Yet through those dungeon walls there 

came 
Thy thrilling light, O Liberty ! 
And as the meteor's midnight flame 
Startles the dreamer, sun-like truth 
Flashed on his visionary youth. 
And filled him, not with love, but faith, 62* 
And hope, and courage mute in death; 
For love and life in him were twins, 
Born at one birth. In every other 



144 



ROSALIND AND HELEN 



First life, then love, its course begins, 

Though they be children of one mother; 

And so through this dark world they fleet 

Divided, till in death they meet; 

But he loved all things ever. Then 

He passed amid the strife of men. 

And stood at the throne of armM power 

Pleading for a world of woe. 631 

Secure as one on a rock-built tower 

O'er the wrecks which the surge trails to 

and fro, 
'Mid the passions wild of humankind 
He stood, like a spirit calming them; 
For, it was said, his words could bind 
Like music the lulled crowd, and stem 
That torrent of unquiet dream 
Which mortals truth and reason deem, 
But is revenge and fear and pride. 640 

Joyous he was; and hope and peace 
On all who heard him did abide. 
Raining like dew from his sweet talk, 
As where the evening star may walk 
Along the brink of the gloomy seas, 
Liquid mists of splendor quiver. 
His very gestures touched to tears 
The unpersuaded tyrant, never 
So moved before; his presence stung 
The torturers with their victim's pain, 650 
And none knew how; and through their 

ears 
The subtle witchcraft of his tongue 
Unlocked the hearts of those who keep 
Gold, the world's bond of slavery. 
Men wondered, and some sneered to see 
One sow what he could never reap; 
For he is rich, they said, and young. 
And might drink from the depths of luxury. 
If he seeks fame, fame never crowned 
The champion of a trampled creed; 660 

If he seeks power, power is enthroned 
'Mid ancient rights and wrongs, to feed 
Which hungry wolves with praise and spoil 
Those who would sit near power must toil; 
And such, there sitting, all may see. 
What seeks he ? All that others seek 
He casts away, like a vile weed 
Which the sea casts unreturningly. 
That poor and hungry men should break 
The laws which wreak them toil and scorn 
We understand; but Lionel, 671 

We know, is rich and nobly born. 
So wondered they; yet all men loved 
Young Lionel, though few approved; 
All but the priests, whose hatred fell 
Like the unseen blight of a smiling day, 



The withering honey-dew which clings 
Under the bright green buds of May 
Whilst they unfold their emerald wings; 
For he made verses wild and queer 68« 

On the strange creeds priests hold so dear 
Because they bring them land and gold. 
Of devils and saints and all such gear 
He made tales which whoso heard or read 
Would laugh till he were almost dead. 
So this grew a proverb: ' Don't get old 
Till Lionel's Banquet in Hell you hear, 
And then you will laugh yourself young 

again.' 
So the priests hated him, and he 
Repaid their hate with cheerful glee. 690 

Ah, smiles and joyance quickly died. 
For public hope grew pale and dim 
In an altered time and tide. 
And in its wasting withered him, 
As a summer flower that blows too soon 
Droops in the smile of the waning moon, 
When it scatters through an April night 
The frozen dews of wrinkling blight. 
None now hoped more. Gray Power was 

seated 
Safely on her ancestral throne; 700 

And Faith, the Python, undefeated 
Even to its blood-stained steps dragged on 
Her foul and wounded train; and men 
Were trampled and deceived again, 
And words and shows again could bind 
The wailing tribes of humankind 
In scorn and famine. Fire and blood 
Raged round the raging multitude. 
To fields remote by tyrants sent 
To be the scorned instrument 710 

With which they drag from mines of gore 
The chains their slaves yet ever wore; 
And in the streets men met each other. 
And by old altars and in halls, 
And smiled again at festivals. 
But each man found in his heart's brother 
Cold cheer; for all, though half deceived, 
The outworn creeds again believed, 
And the same round anew began 
Which the weary world yet ever ran. 720 

Many then wept, not tears, but gall, 

Within their hearts, like drops which fall 

Wasting the fountain-stone away. 

And in that dark and evil day 

Did all desires and thoughts that claim 

Men's care — ambition, friendship, fame. 

Love, hope, though hope was now despair — ■ 



ROSALIND AND HELEN 



US 



Indue the colors of this change, 
As from the all-surrounding air 729 

The earth takes hues obscure and strange, 
When storm and earthquake linger there. 

And so, my friend, it then befell 

To many, — most to Lionel, 

Whose hope was like the life of youth 

Within him, and when dead became 

A spirit of unresting flame, 

Which goaded him in his distress 

Over the world's vast wilderness. 

Three years he left his native land, 

And on the fourth, when he returned, 740 

None knew him; he was stricken deep 

With some disease of mind, and turned 

Into aught unlike Lionel. 

On him — on whom, did he pause in sleep, 

Serenest smiles were wont to keep. 

And, did he wake, a winged band 

Of bright Persuasions, which had fed 

On his sweet lips and liquid eyes. 

Kept their swift pinions half outspread 

To do on men his least command — 750 

On him, whom once 't was paradise 

Even to behold, now misery lay. 

In his own heart 't was merciless — 

To all things else none may express 

Its innocence and tenderness. 

'T was said that he had refuge sought 

In love from his unquiet thought 

In distant lands, and been deceived 

By some strange show; for there were 

found. 
Blotted with tears — as those relieved 760 
By their own words are wont to do — 
These mournful verses on the ground. 
By all who read them blotted too. 

* How am I changed ! my hopes were once 

like fire; 
I loved, and I believed that life was love. 
How am I lost ! on wings of swift desire 
Among Heaven's winds my spirit once 
did move. 
I slept, and silver dreams did aye inspire 

My liquid sleep ; I woke, and did approve 
All Nature to my heart, and thought to 
make 770 

A paradise of earth for one sweet sake. 

* I love, but I believe in love no more. 

I feel desire, but hope not. Oh, from 
sleep 



Most vainly must my weary brain implore 
Its long lost flattery now ! I wake to 
weep. 

And sit through the long day gnawing the 
core 
Of my bitter heart, and, like a miser, 
keep — 

Since none in what I feel take pain or 
pleasure — 

To my own soul its self-consuming trea- 
sure.' 

He dwelt beside me near the sea; 780 

And oft in evening did we meet. 

When the waves, beneath the starlight, 

flee 
O'er the yellow sands with silver feet. 
And talked. Our talk was sad and sweet. 
Till slowly from his mien there passed 
The desolation which it spoke; 
And smiles — as when the lightning's blast 
Has parched some heaven-delighting oak, 
The next spring shows leaves pale and 

rare. 
But like flowers delicate and fair, 790 

On its rent boughs — again arrayed 
His countenance in tender light; 
His words grew subtle fire, which made 
The air his hearers breathed delight; 
His motions, like the winds, were free, 
Which bend the bright grass gracefully, 
Then fade away in circlets faint; 
And winged Hope — on which upborne 
His soul seemed hovering in his eyeSj 
Like some bright spirit newly born 80a 

Floating amid the sunny skies — 
Sprang forth from his rent heart anew. 
Yet o'er his talk, and looks, and mien, 
Tempering their loveliness too keen. 
Past woe its shadow backward threw; 
Till, like an exhalation spread 
From flowers half drunk with evening dew, 
They did become infectious — sweet 
And subtle mists of sense and thought, 
Which wrapped us soon, when we might 

meet, 810 

Almost from our own looks and aught 
The wild world holds. And so his mind 
Was healed, while mine grew sick with 

fear; 
For ever now his health declined. 
Like some frail bark which cannot bear 
The impulse of an altered wind, 
Though prosperous; and my heart grew 

full. 



146 



ROSALIND AND HELEN 



'Mid its new joy, of a new carej 

For his cheek became, not pale, but fair, 

As rose-o'ershadowed lilies are; 820 

And soon his deep and sunny hair. 

In this alone less beautiful. 

Like grass in tombs grew wild and rare. 

The blood in his translucent veins 

Beat, not like animal life, but love 

Seemed now its sullen springs to move. 

When life had failed, and all its pains; 

And sudden sleep would seize him oft 

Like death, so calm, — but that a tear. 

His pointed eye-lashes between, 830 

Would gather in the light serene 

Of smiles whose lustre bright and soft 

Beneath lay undulating there. 

His breath was like inconstant flame 

As eagerly it went and came; 

And I hung o'er him in his sleep, 

Till, like an image in the lake 

Which rains disturb, my tears would break 

The shadow of that slumber deep. 

Then he would bid me not to weep, 840 

And say, with flattery false yet sweet. 

That death and he could never meet, 

If I would never part with him. 

And so we loved, and did unite 

All that in us was yet divided; 

For when he said, that many a rite, 

By men to bind but once provided, 

Could not be shared by him and me. 

Or they would kill him in their glee, 

I shuddered, and then laughing said — 

* We will have rites our faith to bind, 851 

But our church shall be the starry night. 

Our altar the grassy earth outspread, 

And our priest the muttering wind.' 

'T was sunset as I spoke. One star 

Had scarce burst forth, when from afar 

The ministers of misrule sent 

Seized upon Lionel, and bore 

His chained limbs to a dreary tower. 

In the midst of a city vast and wide. 860 

For he, they said, from his mind had 

bent 
Against their gods keen blasphemy, 
For which, though his soul must roasted 

be 
In hell's red lakes immortally, 
Yet even on earth must he abide 
The vengeance of their slaves: a trial, 
I think, men call it. What avail 
Are prayers and tears, which chase de- 
nial 



From the fierce savage nursed in hate ? 
What the knit soul that pleading and 

pale 870 

Makes wan the quivering cheek which 

late 
It painted with its own delight ? 
We were divided. As I could, 
I stilled the tingling of my blood, 
And followed him in their despite, 
As a widow follows, pale and wild, 
The murderers and corse of her only child; 
And when we came to the prison door. 
And I prayed to share his dungeon floor 
With prayers which rarely have been 

spurned, 880 

And when men drove me forth, and I 
Stared with blank frenzy on the sky, — 
A farewell look of love he turned, 
Half calming me; then gazed awhile. 
As if through that black and massy pile. 
And through the crowd around him there, 
And through the dense and murky air, 
And the thronged streets, he did espy 
What poets know and prophesy ; 
And said, with voice that made them 

shiver 890 

And clung like music in my brain. 
And which the mute walls spoke again 
Prolonging it with deepened strain — 
' Fear not the tyrants shall rule forever, 
Or the priests of the bloody faith; 
They stand on the brink of that mighty 

river, 
Whose waves they have tainted with death; 
It is fed from the depths of a thousand 

dells. 
Around them it foams, and rages, and 

swells, 
And their swords and their sceptres I float- 
ing see, 900 
Like wrecks, in the surge of eternity.' 

I dwelt beside the prison gate; 

And the strange crowd that out and in 

Passed, some, no doubt, with mine own 

fate, 
Might have fretted me with its ceaseless 

din, 
But the fever of care was louder within. 
Soon but too late, in penitence 
Or fear, his foes released him thence. 
I saw his thin and languid form. 
As leaning on the jailor's arm, 910 

Whose hardened eyes grew moist the while 
To meet his mute and faded smile 



ROSALIND AND HELEN 



147 



And hear his words of kind farewell, 
He tottered forth from his damp cell. 
Many had never wept before, 
From whom fast tears then gushed and 

fell; 
Many will relent no more. 
Who sobbed like infants then; ay, all 
Who thronged the prison's stony hall. 
The rulers or the slaves of law, 920 

Felt with a new surprise and awe 
That they were human, till strong shame 
Made them again become the same. 
The prison bloodhounds, huge and grim. 
From human looks the infection caught, 
And fondly crouched and fawned on him; 
And men have heard the prisoners say. 
Who in their rotting dungeons lay, 
That from that hour, throughout one 

day. 
The fierce despair and hate which kept 930 
Their trampled bosoms almost slept. 
Where, like twin vultures, they hung feed- 
ing 
On each heart's wound, wide torn and 

bleeding, — 
Because their jailors' rule, they thought. 
Grew merciful, like a parent's sway. 

I know not how, but we were free; 

And Lionel sate alone with me, 

As the carriage drove through the streets 

apace ; 
And we looked upon each other's face; 
And the blood in our fingers intertwined 940 
Ran like the thoughts of a single mind. 
As the swift emotions went and came 
Through the veins of each united frame. 
So through the long, long streets we passed 
Of the million-peopled City vast; 
Which is that desert, where each one 
Seeks his mate yet is alone. 
Beloved and sought and mourned of none; 
Until the clear blue sky was seen. 
And the grassy meadows bright and 

green. 950 

And then I sunk in his embrace 
Enclosing there a mighty space 
Of love; and so we travelled on 
By woods, and fields of yellow flowers, 
And towns, and villages, and towers, 
Day after day of happy hours. 
It was the azure time of June, 
When the skies are deep in the stainless 

noon, 
And the warm and fitful breezes shake 



The fresh green leaves of the hedge-row 
briar ; 960 

And there were odors then to make 
The very breath we did respire 
A liquid element, whereon 
Our spirits, like delighted things 
That walk the air on subtle wings, 
Floated and mingled far away 
'Mid the warm winds of the sunny day. 
And when the evening star came forth 
Above the curve of the new bent moon, 
And light and sound ebbed from the 
earth, 970 

Like the tide of the full and the weary 

sea 
To the depths of its own tranquillity. 
Our natures to its own repose 
Did the earth's breathless sleep attune; 
Like flowers, which on each other close 
Their languid leaves when daylight 's gone, 
We lay, till new emotions came. 
Which seemed to make each mortal frame 
One soul of interwoven flame, 
A life in life, a second birth 980 

In worlds diviner far than earth; — 
Which, like two strains of harmony 
That mingle in the silent sky. 
Then slowly disunite, passed by 
And left the tenderness of tears, 
A soft oblivion of all fears, 
A sweet sleep : — so we travelled on 
Till we came to the home of Lionel, 
Among the mountains wild and lone, 
Beside the hoary western sea, 990 

Which near the verge of the echoing shore 
The massy forest shadowed o'er. 

The ancient steward with hair all hoar, 
As we alighted, wept to see 
His master changed so fearfully; 
And the old man's sobs did waken me 
From my dream of unremaining gladness; 
The truth flashed o'er me like quick mad- 
ness 
When I looked, and saw that there was 

death 
On Lionel. Yet day by day 1000 

He lived, till fear grew hope and faith. 
And in my soul I dared to say. 
Nothing so bright can pass away; 
Death is dark, and foul, and dull. 
But he is — oh, how beautiful ! 
Yet day by day he grew more weak, 
And his sweet voice, when he might 
speak, 



148 



ROSALIND AND HELEN 



Which ne'er was loud, became more low; 
And the light which flashed through his 

waxen cheek 
Grew faint, as the rose-like hues which 

flow loio 

From sunset o'er the Alpine snow; 
And death seemed not like death in him. 
For the spirit of life o'er every limb 
Lingered, a mist of sense and thought. 
When the summer wind faint odors 

brought 
From mountain flowers, even as it passed, 
His cheek would change, as the noonday 

sea 
Which the dying breeze sweeps fitfully. 
If but a cloud the sky o'ercast, 10 19 

You might see his color come and go, 
And the softest strain of music made 
Sweet smiles, yet sad, arise and fade 
Amid the dew of his tender eyes; 
And the breath, with intermitting flow, 
Made his pale lips quiver and part. 
You might hear the beatings of his heart. 
Quick but not strong ; and with my 

tresses 
When oft he playfully would bind 
In the bowers of mossy lonelinesses 
His neck, and win me so to mingle 1030 

In the sweet depth of woven caresses. 
And our faint limbs were intertwined, — 
Alas ! the unquiet life did tingle 
From mine own heart through every 

vein. 
Like a captive in dreams of liberty, 
Who beats the walls of his stony cell. 
But his, it seemed already free. 
Like the shadow of fire surrounding me ! 
On my faint eyes and limbs did dwell 
That spirit as it passed, till soon — 1040 
As a frail cloud wandering o'er the moon. 
Beneath its light invisible. 
Is seen when it folds its gray wings 

again 
To alight on midnight's dusky plain — 
I lived and saw, and the gathering soul 
Passed from beneath that strong control. 
And I fell on a life which was sick with 

fear 
Of all the woe that now I bear. 

Amid a bloomless myrtle wood, 

On a green and sea-girt promontory 1050 

Not far from where we dwelt, there 

stood. 
In record of a sweet sad story, 



An altar and a temple bright 

Circled by steps, and o'er the gate 

Was sculptured, ' To Fidelity; ' 

And in the shrine an image sate 

All veiled; but there was seen the light 

Of smiles which faintly could express 

A mingled pain and tenderness 

Through that ethereal drapery. 1060 

The left hand held the head, the right — 

Beyond the veil, beneath the skin. 

You might see the nerves quivering 

within — 
Was forcing the point of a barbed dart 
Into its side-convulsing heart. 
An unskilled hand, yet one informed 
With genius, had the marble warmed 
With that pathetic life. This tale 
It told: A dog had from the sea. 
When the tide was raging fearfully, 1070 
Dragged Lionel's mother, weak and pale, 
Then died beside her on the sand. 
And she that temple thence had planned; 
But it was Lionel's own hand 
Had wrought the image. Each new moon 
That lady did, in this lone fane, 
The rites of a religion sweet 
Whose god was in her heart and brain. 
The seasons' loveliest flowers were strewn 
On the marble floor beneath her feet, 1080 
And she brought crowns of sea -buds 

white 
Whose odor is so sweet and faint. 
And weeds, like branching chrysolite, 
Woven in devices fine and quaint; 
And tears from her brown eyes did stain 
The altar; need but look upon 
That dying statue, fair and wan, 
If tears should cease, to weep again; 
And rare Arabian odors came. 
Through the myrtle copses, steaming 

thence 1090 

From the hissing frankincense, 
Whose smoke, wool-white as ocean foam. 
Hung in dense flocks beneath the dome — 
That ivory dome, whose azure night 
With golden stars, like heaven, was bright 
O'er the split cedar's pointed flame; 
And the lady's harp would kindle there 
The melody of an old air. 
Softer than sleep; the villagers 
Mixed their religion up with hers, iio« 

And, as they listened round, shed tears. 

One eve he led me to this fane. 
Daylight on its last purple cloud 



ROSALIND AND HELEN 



149 



Was lingering gray, and soon her strain 

The nightingale began; now loud, 

Climbing in circles the windless sky, 

Now dying music; suddenly 

'Tis scattered in a thousand notes; 

And now to the hushed ear it floats 

Like field-smells known in infancy, mo 

Then, failing, soothes the air again. 

We sate within that temple lone. 

Pavilioned round with Parian stone; 

His mother's harp stood near, and oft 

I had awakened music soft 

Amid its wires; the nightingale 

Was pausing in her heaven-taught tale. 

' Now drain the cup,' said Lionel, 

' Which the poet-bird has crowned so 

well 
With the wine of her bright and liquid 

song ! II20 

Heard'st thou not sweet words among 
That heaven-resounding minstrelsy ? 
Heard'st thou not that those who die 
Awake in a world of ecstasy ? 
That love, when limbs are interwoven. 
And sleep, when the night of life is cl»ven, 
And thought, to the world's dim bound- 
aries clinging. 
And music, when one beloved is singing, 
Is death ? Let us drain right joyously 
The cup which the sweet bird fills for 

me.' 1130 

He paused, and to my lips he bent 
His own; like spirit his words went 
Through all my limbs with the speed of 

fire; 
And his keen eyes, glittering through 

mine. 
Filled me with the flame divine 
Which in their orbs was burning far. 
Like the light of an unmeasured star 
In the sky of midnight dark and deep; 
Yes, 't was his soul that did inspire 1139 
Sounds which my skill could ne'er awaken ; 
And first, I felt my fingers sweep 
The harp, and a long quivering cry 
Burst from my lips in symphony; 
The dusk and solid air was shaken. 
As swift and swifter the notes came 
From my touch, that wandered like quick 

flame. 
And from my bosom, laboring 
With some "uutterable thing. 
The awful sound of my own voice made 
My faint lips tremble; in some mood 1150 
Of wordless thought Lionel stood 



So pale, that even beside his cheek 
The snowy column from its shade 
Caught whiteness; yet his countenance, 
Raised upward, burned with radiance 
Of spirit-piercing joy whose light. 
Like the moon struggling through the night 
Of whirlwind-rifted clouds, did break 
With beams that might not be confined. 
I paused, but soon his gestures kindled 
New power, as by the moving wind ii6i 
The waves are lifted; and my song 
To low soft notes now changed and dwin- 
dled, 
And, from the twinkling wires among. 
My languid fingers drew and flung 
Circles of life-dissolving sound. 
Yet faint; in aery rings they bound 
My Lionel, who, as every strain 
Grew fainter but more sweet, his mien 
Sunk with the sound relaxedly; 117c 

And slowly now he turned to me, 
As slowly faded from his face 
That awful joy; with look serene 
He was soon drawn to my embrace. 
And my wild song then died away 
In murmurs; words I dare not say 
We mixed, and on his lips mine fed 
Till they methought felt still and cold. 
' What is it with thee, love ? ' I said; 
No word, no look, no motion ! yes, ii8« 

There was a change, but spare to guess, 
Nor let that moment's hope be told. 
I looked, — and knew that he was dead; 
And fell, as the eagle on the plain 
Falls when life deserts her brain. 
And the mortal lightning is veiled again. 

Oh, that I were now dead ! but such — 
Did they not, love, demand too much, 
Those dying murmurs ? — he forbade. 
Oh, that I once again were mad ! ago 

And yet, dear Rosalind, not so. 
For I would live to share thy woe. 
Sweet boy ! did I forget thee too ? 
Alas, we know not what we do 
When we speak words. 

No memory more 
Is in my mind of that sea-shore. 
Madness came on me, and a troop 
Of misty shapes did seem to sit 
Beside me, on a vessel's poop, 1199 

And the clear north wind was driving it. 
Then I heard strange tongues, and saw 
strange flowers. 



ISO 



ROSALIND AND HELEN 



And the stars metbought grew unlike ours, 

And the azure sky and the stormless sea 

Made me believe that I had died 

And waked in a world which was to me 

Drear hell, though heaven to all beside. 

Then a dead sleep fell on m}^ mind, 

Whilst animal life many long years 

Had rescued from a chasm of tears; 

And, when 1 woke, I wept to find 12 lo 

That the same lady, bright and wise, 

With silver locks and quick brown eyes, 

The mother of my Lionel, 

Had tended me in my distress. 

And died some months before. Nor less 

Wonder, but far more peace and joy. 

Brought in that hour my lovely boy. 

For through that trance my soul had well 

The impress of thy being kept; 

And if I waked or if I slept, 1220 

No doubt, though memory faithless be, 

Thy image ever dwelt on me; 

And thus, O Lionel, like thee 

Is our sweet child. 'Tis sure most strange 

I knew not of so great a change 

As that which gave him birth, who now 

Is all the solace of my woe. 

That Lionel great wealth had left 
By will to me, and that of all 
The ready lies of law bereft 1230 

My child and me, — might well befall. 
But let me think not of the scorn 
Which from the meanest I have borne. 
When, for my child's beloved sake, 
I mixed with slaves, to vindicate 
The very laws themselves do make; 
Let me not say scorn is my fate. 
Lest I be proud, suffering the same 
With those who live in deathless fame. 

She ceased. — ' Lo, where red morning 

through the woods 1240 

Is burning o'er the dew ! ' said Rosalind. 
And with these words they rose, and 

towards the flood 
Of the blue lake, beneath the leaves, now 

wind 
With equal steps and fingers intertwined. 
Thence to a lonely dwelling, where the 

shore 
Is shadowed with steep rocks, and cypresses 
Cleave with their dark green cones the 

silent skies 
And with their shadows the clear depths 

below. 



And where a little terrace from its bowers 
Of blooming myrtle and faint lemon 

flowers 125c 

Scatters its sense-dissolving fragrance o'er 
The liquid marble of the windless lake; 
And where the aged forest's limbs look 

hoar 
Under the leaves which their green gar- 
ments make, 
They come. 'T is Helen's home, and clean 

and white. 
Like one which tyrants spare on our own 

land 
In some such solitude; its casements bright 
Shone through their vine-leaves in the 

morning sun. 
And even within 't was scarce like Italy. 
And when she saw how all things there 

were planned 1260 

As in an English home, dim memory 
Disturbed poor Rosalind; she stood as one 
Whose mind is where his body cannot 

be. 
Till Helen led her where her child yet 

slept. 
And said, * Observe, that brow was Lionel's, 
Those lips were his, and so he ever kept 
One arm in sleep, pillowing his head with 

it. 
You cannot see his eyes — they are two 

wells 
Of liquid love. Let us not wake him yet.' 
But Rosalind could bear no more, and 

wept 127a 

A shower of burning tears which fell upon 
His face, and so his opening lashes shone 
With tears unlike his own, as he did leap 
In sudden wonder from his innocent sleep. 

So Rosalind and Helen lived together 
Thenceforth — changed in all else, yet 

friends again, 
Such as they were, when o'er the mountain 

heather 
They wandered in their youth through sun 

and rain. 
And after many years, for human things 
Change even like the ocean and the wind, 
Her daughter was restored to Rosalind, 1281 
And in their circle thence some visitings 
Of joy 'mid their new calm would inter- 
vene. 
A lovely child she was, of looks serene, 
And motions which o'er things indifferent 
shed 



JULIAN AND MADDALO 



151 



The grace and gentleness from whence 

they came. 
And Helen's boy grew with her, and they 

fed 
From the same flowers of thought, until 

each mind 
Like springs which mingle in one flood 

became; 1289 

And in their union soon their parents saw 
The shadow of the peace denied to them. 
And Rosalind — for when the living stem 
Is cankered in its heart, the tree must 

fall — 
Died ere her time; and with deep grief and 

awe 
The pale survivors followed her remains 
Beyond the region of dissolving rains, 
Up the cold mountain she was wont to 

call 
Her tomb; and on Chiavenna's precipice 
They raised a pyramid of lasting ice. 
Whose polished sides, ere day had yet 

begun, 1300 

Caught the first glow of the unrisen sun. 
The last, when it had sunk; and through 

the night 



The charioteers of Arctos wheeled round 
Its glittering point, as seen from Helen's 

home, 
Whose sad inhabitants each year would 

come. 
With willing steps climbing that rugged 

height, 
And hang long locks of hair, and garlands 

bound 
With amaranth flowers, which, in the 

clime's despite. 
Filled the frore air with unaccustomed 

light; 
Such flowers as in the wintry memory 

bloom 13 ic 

Of one friend left adorned that frozen 

tomb. 

Helen, whose spirit was of softer mould, 
Whose sufferings too were less, death slow- 

lier led 
Into the peace of his dominion cold. 
She died among her kindred, being old. 
And know, that if love die not in the dead 
As in the living, none of moi-tal kind 
Are blessed as now Helen and Rosalind. 



JULIAN AND MADDALO 
A CONVERSATION 



The meadows with fresh streams, the bees with thyme, 
The goats with the green leaves of budding Spring, 
Are saturated not — nor Love with tears. 

Virgil's Gallus. 



Jxdian and Maddalo is the fruit of Shelley's 
first visit to Venice in 1818, where he found 
Byron, and the poem is a reflection of their 
companionship, Julian standing for Shelley, 
Maddalo for Byron, and the child being- 
Byron's daug-hter, Allegra. It was written in 
the fall, at Este, and received its last revision 
in May, 1819, but was not published, notwith- 
standing- some efforts of Shelley to bring it 
out, until after his death, when it was included 
in the Posthumous Poems, 1824. Shelley had 
it in mind to write three other similar poems, 
laying- the scenes at Rome, Florence and 
Naples, but he did not carry out the plan. 
He once refers to the tale, or ' conversation ' 
as among ' his saddest verses ; ' but his impor- 
tant comment on it is contained in a letter to 
Hunt, August 15, 1819 : 

' I send you a little poem to give to Oilier 
for publication, but without my name. Peacock 
will correct the proofs. I wrote it with the 



idea of offering it to the Examiner, but I find 
it is too long. It was composed last year at 
Este ; two of the characters you will recog- 
nize ; and the third is also in some degree a 
painting- from nature, but, with respect to time 
and place, ideal. You will find the little piece, 
I think, in some degree consistent with your 
own ideas of tlie manner in which poetry oug-ht 
to be written. I have employed a certain 
familiar style of language to express the actual 
way in which people talk with each other, 
whom education and a certain refinement of 
sentiment have placed above the use of vulgar 
idioms. I use the word vulgar in its most ex- 
tensive sense. The vulgarity of rank and 
fashion is as gross in its way as that of pov- 
erty, and its cant terms equally expressive of 
base conceptions, and, therefore, equally unfit 
for poetry. Not that the familiar style is to 
be admitted in the treatment of a subject 
wholly ideal, or in that part of any subjec*; 



152 



JULIAN AND MADDALO 



which relates to common life, where the pas- 
sion, exceeding- a certain limit, touches the 
boundaries of that which is ideal. Strong- 
passion expresses itself in metaphor, borrowed 
from objects alike remote or near, and casts 
over all the shadow of its own greatness. But 
what am I about ? If my grandmother sucks 
eggs, was it I who taught her ? 

' If you would really correct the proof, I need 
not trouble Peacock, who, I suppose, has 
enough. Can you take it as a compliment 
that I prefer to trouble you ? 

' I do not particularly wish this poem to be 
known as mine ; but, at all events, I would not 
put my name to it. I leave you to judge 
whether it is best to throw it into the fire, or 
to publish it. So much for self — self, that 
burr that will stick to one.' 



PREFACE 

Count Maddalo is a Venetian nobleman of 
ancient family and of great fortune, who, 
without mixing much in the society of his 
countrymen, resides chiefly at his magnificent 
palace in that city. He is a person of the most 
consummate genius, and capable, if he would 
direct his energies to such an end, of becoming 
the redeemer of his degraded country. But it 
is his weakness to be proud. He derives, from 
a comparison of his own extraordinary mind 
with the dwarfish intellects that surround him, 
an intense apprehension of the nothingness of 
human life. His passions and his powers are 
incomparably greater than those of other men ; 
and, instead of the latter having been employed 
in curbing the former, they have mutually lent 
each other strength. His ambition preys upon 
itself, for want of objects which it can con- 

I RODE one evening with Count Maddalo 
Upon the bank of land which breaks the flow 
Of Adria towards Venice. A bare strand 
Of hillocks, heaped from ever-shifting 

sand, 
Matted with thistles and amphibious weeds, 
Such as from earth's embrace the salt ooze 

breeds, 
Is this; an uninhabited sea-side. 
Which the lone fisher, when his nets are 

dried. 
Abandons; and no other object breaks 
The waste but one dwarf tree and some few 

stakes lo 

Broken and unrepaired, and the tide makes 
A narrow space of level sand thereon, 
Where 't was our wont to ride whil-s day 

went down. 



sider worthy of exertion. I say that Mad- 
dalo is proud, because I can find no other word 
to express the concentred and impatient feel- 
ings which consume him ; but it is on his own 
hopes and affections only that he seems to 
trample, for in social life no human being can 
be more gentle, patient and unassuming than 
Maddalo. He is cheerful, frank and witty. 
His more serious conversation is a sort of in- 
toxication ; men are held by it as by a spell. 
He has travelled much ; and there is an inex- 
pressible charm in his relation of his adventures 
in different countries. 

Julian is an Englishman of good family, 
passionately attached to those philosophical 
notions which assert the power of man over 
his own mind, and the immense improvements 
of which, by the extinction of certain moral 
superstitions, human society may be yet sus- 
ceptible. Without concealing the evil in the 
world he is forever speculating how good may 
be made superior. He is a complete infidel 
and a scoffer at all things reputed holy ; and 
Maddalo takes a wicked pleasure in drawing 
out his taunts against religion. What Mad- 
dalo thinks on these matters is not exactly 
known. Julian, in spite of his heterodox opin- 
ions, is conjectured by his friends to possess 
some good qualities. How far this is possible 
the pious reader will determine. Julian is 
rather serious. 

Of the Maniac I can give no information. 
He seems, by his own account, to have been 
disappointed in love. He was evidently a very 
cultivated and amiable person when in his right 
senses. His story, told at length, might be like 
many other stories of the same kind. The un- 
connected exclamations of his agony will per- 
haps be found a sufficient comment for the text 
of every heart. 

This ride was my delight. I love all waste 
And solitary places; where we taste 
The pleasure of believing what we see 
Is boundless, as we wish our souls to be; 
And such was this wide ocean, and this shore 
More barren than its billows; and yet more 
Than all, with a remembered friend I 

love 20 

To ride as then I rode; — for the winds 

drove 
The living spray along the sunny air 
Into our faces ; the blue heavens were bare, 
Stripped to their depths by the awakening 

north; 
And from the waves sound like delight 

broke forth 
Harmonizing with solitude, and sent 
Into our hearts aerial merriment. 



JULIAN AND MADDALO 



iS3 



So, as we rode, we talked; and the swift 

thought, 
Winging itself with laughter, lingered not. 
But flew from brain to brain, — such glee 
was ours, 30 

Charged with light memories of remem- 
bered hours, 
None slow enough for sadness; till we came 
Homeward, which always makes the spirit 

tame. 
This day had been cheerful but cold, and 

now 
The sun was sinking, and the wind also. 
Our talk grew -somewhat serious, as may be 
Talk interrupted with such raillery 
As mocks itself, because it cannot scorn 
The thoughts it would extinguish. 'T was 

forlorn. 
Yet pleasing; such as once, so poets tell, 40 
The devils held within the dales of Hell, 
Concerning God, freewill and destiny; 
Of all that earth has been, or yet may be, 
All that vain men imagine or believe. 
Or hope can paint, or suffering may achieve, 
We descanted; and I (for ever still 
Is it not wise to make the best of ill ?) 
Argued against despondency, but pride 
Made my companion take the darker side. 
The sense that he was greater than his 
kind so 

Had struck, methinks, his eagle spirit blind 
By gazing on its own exceeding light. 
Meanwhile the sun paused ere it should 

alight, 
Over the horizon of the mountains. Oh, 
How beautiful is sunset, when the glow 
Of Heaven descends upon a land like thee, 
Thou Paradise of exiles, Italy ! 
Thy mountains, seas and vineyards and the 

towers 
Of cities they encircle ! — It was ours 
To stand on thee, beholding it; and then, 60 
Just where we had dismounted, the Count's 

men 
Were waiting for us with the gondola. 
As those who pause on some delightful way 
Though bent on pleasant pilgrimage, we 

stood 
Looking upon the evening, and the flood. 
Which lay between the city and the shore. 
Paved with the image of the sky. The 

hoar 
And aery Alps towards the north appeared, 
Through mist, an heaven-sustaining bul- 
wark reared 



Between the east and west; and half the 

sky 70 

Was roofed with clouds of rich emblazonry, 
Dark purple at the zenith, which still grew 
Down the steep west into a wondrous hue 
Brighter than burning gold, even to the rent 
Where the swift sun yet paused in his 

descent 
Among the many- folded hills. They were 
Those famous Euganean hills, which bear, 
As seen from Lido through the harbor piles, 
The likeness of a clump of peaked isles; 79 
And then, as if the earth and sea had been 
Dissolved into one lake of fire, were seen 
Those mountains towering as from waves 

of flame 
Around the vaporous sun, from which there 

came 
The inmost purple spirit of light, and made 
Their very peaks transparent. ' Ere it 

fade,' 
Said my companion, * I will show you soon 
A better station.' So, o'er the lagune 
We glided; and from that funereal bark 
I leaned, and saw the city, and could mark 
How from their many isles, in evening's 

gleam, 90 

Its temples and its palaces did seem 
Like fabrics of enchantment piled to 

Heaven. 
I was about to speak, when — * We are 

even 
Now at the point I meant,' said Maddalo, 
And bade the gondolieri cease to row. 
' Look, Julian, on the west, and listen well 
If you hear not a deep and heavy bell.' 
I looked, and saw between us and the sun 
A building on an island, — such a one 
As age to age might add, for uses vile, 100 
A windowless, deformed and dreary pile; 
And on the top an open tower, where hung 
A bell, which in the radiance swayed and 

swung; 
We could just hear its hoarse and iron 

tongue; 
The broad sun sunk behind it, and it tolled 
In strong and black relief. * What we 

behold 
Shall be the madhouse and its belfry 

tower,' 
Said Maddalo; ' and ever at this hour 
Those who may cross the water hear that 

bell. 
Which calls the maniacs each one from his 

cell no 



154 



JULIAN AND MADDALO 



Ti) vespers.' — * As much skill as need to 

praj 
In thanks or hope for their dark lot have 

they 
To their stern Maker,' I replied. ' O ho ! 
You talk as in years past,' said Maddalo. 

* 'T is strange men change not. You were 

ever still 
Among Christ's flock a perilous infidel, 
A wolf for the meek lambs — if you can't 

swim, 
Beware of Providence.' I looked on him, 
But the gay smile had faded in his eye, — 

* And such,' he cried, * is our mortality; 120 
And this must be the emblem and the sign 
Of what should be eternal and divine ! 
And, like that black and dreary bell, the 

soul. 
Hung in a heaven-illumined tower, must 

toll 
Our thoughts and our desires to meet below 
Kound the rent heart and pray — as mad- 
men do 
For what ? they know not, till the night of 

death. 
As sunset that strange vision, severeth 128 
Our memory from itself, and us from all 
We sought, and yet were baffled.' I recall 
The sense of what he said, although I mar 
The force of his expressions. The broad 

star 
Of day meanwhile had sunk behind the hill. 
And the black bell became invisible, 
And the red tower looked gray, and all 

between, 
The churches, ships and palaces were seen 
Huddled in gloom; into the purple sea 
The orange hues of heaven sunk silently. 
We hardly spoke, and soon the gondola 
Conveyed me to my lodgings by the way. 
The following morn was rainy, cold, and 

dim. 
Ere Maddalo arose, I called on him, 
And whilst I waited, with his child I played. 
A lovelier toy sweet Nature never made; 
A serious, subtle, wild, yet gentle being, 
Graceful without design, and unforeseeing, 
With eyes — oh, speak not of her eyes ! — 

which seem 
Twin mirrors of Italian heaven, yet gleam 
With such deep meaning as we never see 
But in the human countenance. With me 
She was a special favorite ; I had nursed 
Her fine and feeble limbs when she came 

first 152 



HI 



To this bleak world; and she yet seemed 

to know 
On second sight her ancient playfellow. 
Less changed than she was by six months or 

so; 
For, after her first shyness was worn out. 
We sate there, rolling billiard balls about. 
When the Count entered. Salutations 

past — 
' The words you spoke last night might well 

have cast 
A darkness on my spirit. If man be 160 
The passive thing you say, I should not see 
Much harm in the religions and old saws, 
(Though I may never own such leaden 

laws) 
Which break a teachless nature to the 

yoke. 
Mine is another faith.' Thus much I spoke, 
And noting he replied not, added: * See 
This lovely child, blithe, innocent and free; 
She spends a happy time with little care. 
While we to such sick thoughts subjected 

are 169 

As came on you last night. It is our will 
That thus enchains us to permitted ill. 
We might be otherwise; we might be all 
We dream of happy, high, majestical. 
Where is the love, beauty and truth we 

seek. 
But in our mind ? and if we were not weak, 
Should we be less in deed than in desire ? ' 
* Ay, if we were not weak — and we aspire 
How vainly to be strong ! ' said Maddalo; 
' You talk Utopia.' ' It remains to know,' 
I then rejoined, 'and those who try may 

find 180 

How strong the chains are which our spirit 

bind ; 
Brittle perchance as straw. We are assured 
Much may be conquered, much may be 

endured 
Of what degrades and crushes us. We 

know 
That we have power over ourselves to do 
And suffer — what, we know not till wq try; 
But something nobler than to live and die. 
So taught those kings of old philosophy. 
Who reigned before religion made men 

blind ; 
And those who suffer with their suffering 

kind 190 

Yet feel this faith religion.' * My dear 

friend,' 
Said Maddalo, * my judgment will not bend 



JULIAN AND MADDALO 



15s 



To your opinion, though I think you might 
Make such a system refutation-tiglit 
As far as words go. I knew one like you, 
Who to this city came some months ago. 
With whom I argued in this sort, and he 
[s now gone mad, — and so he answered 

me, — 
Poor fellow ! but if you would like to go. 
We '11 visit him, and his wild talk will 

show 200 

How vain are such aspiring theories.' 
* I hope to prove the induction otherwise, 
And that a want of that true theory'- still, 
Which seeks " a soul of goodness " in things 

ill. 
Or in himself or others, has thus bowed 
His being. There are some by nature 

proud, 
Who patient in all else demand but this — 
To love and be beloved with gentleness; 
And, being scorned, what wonder if they die 
Some living death? this is not destiny 210 
But man's own wilful ill.' 

As thus I spoke. 
Servants announced the gondola, and we 
Through the fast-falling rain and high- 
wrought sea 
Sailed to the island where the madhouse 

stands. 
We disembarked. The clap of tortured 

hands. 
Fierce yells and bowlings and lamentings 

keen. 
And laughter where complaint had merrier 

been. 
Moans, shrieks, and curses, and blasphem- 
ing prayers, 218 
Accosted us. We climbed the oozy stairs 
Into an old courtyard. I heard on high. 
Then, fragments of most touching melody. 
But looking up saw not the singer there. 
Through the black bars in the tempestuous 

air 
I saw, like weeds on a wrecked palace 

growing. 
Long tangled locks flung wildly forth, and 

flowing. 
Of those who on a sudden were beguiled 
Into strange silence, and looked forth and 

smiled 
Hearing sweet sounds. Then I: 'Methinks 

there were 
A cure of these with patience and kind 

CATQf 239 



If music can thus move. But what is he, 
Whom we seek here ? ' * Of his sad history 
I know but this,' said Maddalo: ' he came 
To Venice a dejected man, and fame 
Said he was wealthy, or he had been so. 
Some thought the loss of fortune wrought 

him woe; 
But he was ever talking in such sort 
As you do — far more sadly; he seemed 

hurt. 
Even as a man with his peculiar wrong. 
To hear but of the oppression of the strong. 
Or those absurd deceits (I think with you 
In some respects, you know) which carry 

through 241 

The excellent impostors of this earth 
When they outface detection. He had 

worth. 
Poor fellow ! but a humorist in his way.' 
' Alas, what drove him mad ? ' 'I cannot 

say; 
A lady came with him from France, and 

when 
She left him and returned, he wandered 

then 
About yon lonely isles of desert sand 
Till he grew wild. He had no cash or land 
Remaining; the police had brought him 

here ; 250 

Some fancy took him and he would not bear 
Removal; so I fitted up for him 
Those rooms beside the sea, to please his 

whim. 
And sent him busts and books and urns for 

flowers. 
Which had adorned his life in happier 

hours. 
And instruments of music. You may guess 
A stranger could do little more or less 
For one so gentle and mifortunate; 
And those are his sweet strains which 

charm the weight 
From madmen's chains, and make this Hell 

appear 260 

A heaven of sacred silence, hushed to hear.' 
'Nay, this was kind of you; he had no 

claim, 
As the world says.' ' None — but the very 

same 
Which I on all mankind, were I as he 
Fallen to such deep reverse. His melody 
Is interrupted; now we hear the din 
Of madmen, shriek on shriek, again begin 
Let us now visit him ; after this strain 
He ever communes with himself again, 



156 



JULIAN AND MADDALO 



And sees nor hears not any.' Having said 
These words, we called the keeper, and he 

led 371 

To an apartment opening on the sea. 
There the poor wretch was sitting mourn- 

fully 
Near a piano, his pale fingers twined 
One with the other, and the ooze and wind 
Rushed through an open casement, and did 

sway 
His hair, and starred it with the brackish 

spray; 
His head was leaning on a music-book. 
And he was muttering, and his lean limbs 

shook; 279 

His lips were pressed against a folded leaf. 
In hue too beautiful for health, and grief 
Smiled in their motions as they lay apart. 
As one who wrought from his own fervid 

heart 
The eloquence of passion, soon he raised 
His sad meek face, and eyes lustrous and 

glazed. 
And spoke — sometimes as one who wrote, 

and thought 
His words might move some heart that 

heeded not. 
If sent to distant lands; and then as one 
Reproaching deeds never to be undone 
With wondering self-compassion ; then his 

speech 290 

Was lost in grief, and then his words came 

each 
Unmodulated, cold, expressionless, 
But that from one jarred accent you might 

guess 
li was despair made them so uniform; 
And all the while the loud and gusty storm 
Hissed through the window, and we stood 

behind 
Stealing his accents from the envious wind 
Unseen. I yet remember what he said 
Distinctly ; such impression his words made. 

* Month after month,' he cried, ' to bear 
this load, 300 

And, as a jade urged by the whip and goad. 
To drag life on — which like a heavy chain 
Lengthens behind with many a link of 

pain ! — 
And not to speak my grief — oh, not to dare 
To give a human voice to my despair, 
But live, and move, and, wretched thing ! 

smile on 
As if I never went aside to groan; 



And wear this mask of falsehood even to 
those 

Who are most dear — not for my own re- 
pose — 

Alas, no scorn or pain or hate could be 310 

So heavy as that falsehood is to me ! 

But that I cannot bear more altered faces 

Than needs must be, more changed and 
cold embraces, 

More misery, disappointment and mistrust 

To own me for their father. Would the 
dust 

Were covered in upon my body now ! 

That the life ceased to toil within my brow ! 

And then these thoughts would at the least 
be fled; 

Let us not fear such pain can vex the dead. 

' What Power delights to torture us ? I 
know 320 

That to myself I do not wholly owe 
What now I suffer, though in part I may. 
Alas ! none strewed sweet flowers upon the 

way 
Where, wandering heedlessly, I met pale 

Pain, 
My shadow, which will leave me not 

again. 
If I have erred, there was no joy in error, 
But pain and insult and imrest and terror; 
I have not, as some do, bought penitence 
With pleasure, and a dark yet sweet of- 
fence ; 
For then — if love and tenderness and 
truth 330 

Had overlived hope's momentary youth. 
My creed should have redeemed me from 

repenting; 
But loathed scorn and outrage unrelenting 
Met love excited by far other seeming 
Until the end was gained; as one from 

dreaming 
Of sweetest peace, I woke, and found my 

state 
Such as it is — 

* O Thou my spirit's mate ! 
Who, for thou art compassionate and wise, 
Wouldst pity me from thy most gentle eyes 
If this sad writing thou shouldst ever 

see — 340 

My secret groans must be unheard by thee; 
Thou wouldst weep tears bitter as blood to 

know 
Thy lost friend's incommunicable woe- 



JULIAN AND MADDALO 



157 



»Ye few by whom my nature has been 

weighed 
In friendship, let me not that name de- 
grade 
By placing on your hearts the secret load 
Which crushes mine to dust. There is one 

road 
To peace, and that is truth, which follow 

ye! 
Love sometimes leads astray to misery. 
Yet think not, though subdued — and I may 

well 350 

Say that I am subdued — that the full 

hell 
Within me would infect the untainted 

breast 
Of sacred Nature with its own unrest; 
As some perverted beings think to find 
In scorn or hate a medicine for the mind 
Which scorn or hate have wounded — oh, 

how vain ! 
The dagger heals not, but may rend again ! 
Believe that I am ever still the same 
In creed as in resolve; and what may tame 
My heart must leave the understanding 

free, 360 

Or all would sink in this keen agony; 
Nor dream that I will join the vulgar cry; 
Or with my silence sanction tyranny; 
Or seek a moment's shelter from my pain 
In any madness which the world calls gain. 
Ambition or revenge or thoughts as stern 
As those which make me what I am; or 

turn 
To avarice or misanthropy or lust. 
Heap on me soon, O grave, thy welcome 

dust! 
Till then the dungeon may demand its 

prey, 370 

And Poverty and Shame may meet and 

say. 
Halting beside me on the public way, 
" That love-devoted youth is ours; let 's sit 
Beside him; he may live some six months 

yet." 
Or the red scaffold, as our country bends. 
May ask some willing victim ; or ye, friends, 
May fall under some sorrow, which this 

heart 
Or hand may share or vanquish or avert; 
I am prepared — in truth, with no proud 

joy, 

To do or suffer aught, as when a boy 380 
I did devote to justice and to love 
My nature, worthless now ! — 



* I must remove 
A veil from my pent mind. 'Tis torn 
aside ! 

pallid as Death's dedicated bride, 
Thou mockery which art sitting by my 

side. 
Am I not wan like thee ? at the grave's 
call 

1 haste, invited to thy wedding-ball. 

To greet the ghastly paramour for whom 
Thou hast deserted me — and made the 

tomb 
Thy bridal bed — but I beside your feet 390 
Will lie and watch ye from my winding- 
sheet — 
Thus — wide-awake though dead — yet 

stay, oh, stay ! 
Go not so soon — I know not what I say — 
Hear but my reasons — I am mad, I fear. 
My fancy is o'erwrought — thou art not 

here; 
Pale art thou, 't is most true — but thou 

art gone. 
Thy work is finished — I am left alone. 

' Nay, was it I who wooed thee to this 

breast. 
Which like a serpent thou envenomest 
As in repayment of the warmth it lent ? 400 
Didst thou not seek me for thine own con- 
tent ? 
Did not thy love awaken mine ? I thought 
That thou wert she who said " You kiss me 

not 
Ever; I fear you do not love me now " — 
In truth I loved even to my overthrow 
Her who would fain forget these words; 

but they 
Cling to her mind, and cannot pass away. 

' You say that I am proud — that when I 

speak 
My lip is tortured with the wrongs which 

break 
The spirit it expresses. — Never one 4i<i 
Humbled himself before, as I have done ! 
Even the instinctive worm on which we 

tread 
Turns, though it wound not — then with 

prostrate head 
Sinks in the dust and writhes like me — 

and dies ? 
No: wears a living death of agonies ! 
As the slow shadows of the pointed grass 
Mark the eternal periods, his pangs pass. 



158 



JULIAN AND MADDALO 



Slow, ever-moving, making moments be 
As mine seem, — each an immortality ! 

* That you had never seen me — never 
heard 420 

My voice, and more than all had ne'er en- 
dured 

The deep pollution of my loathed em- 
brace — 

That your eyes ne'er had lied love in my 
face — 

That, like some maniac monk, I had torn out 

The nerves of manhood by their bleeding 
root 

With mine own quivering fingers, so that 
ne'er 

Our hearts had for a moment mingled there 

To disunite in horror — these were not 

With thee like some suppressed and hideous 
thought 

Which flits athwart our musings but can 
find 430 

No rest within a pure and gentle mind; 

Thou sealedst them with many a liare 
broad word, 

And sear'dst my memory o'er them, — for 
I heard 

And can forget not; — they were ministered 

One after one, those curses. Mix them up 

Like self-destroying poisons in one cup. 

And they will make one blessing, which 
thou ne'er 

Didst imprecate for on me, — death. 

' It were 
A cruel punishment for one most cruel. 
If such can love, to make that love the 

fuel 440 

Of the mind's hell — hate, scorn, remorse, 

despair; 
But me, whose heart a stranger's tear might 

wear 
As water-drops the sandy fountain-stone, 
Who loved and pitied all things, and could 

moan 
For woes which others hear not, and could 

see 
The absent with the glance of fantasy, 
^nd with the poor and trampled sit and 

weep. 
Following the captive to his dungeon deep; 
Me — who am as a nerve o'er which do 

creep 449 

The else unfelt oppressions of this earth. 
And was to thee the flame upon thy hearth, 



When all beside was cold: — that thou on me 
Shouldst rain these plagues of blistering 

agony ! 
Such curses are from lips once eloquent 
With love's too partial praise ! Let none 

relent 
Who intend deeds too dreadful for a name 
Henceforth, if an example for the same 
They seek: — for thou on me look'dst so, 

and so — 
And didst speak thus — and thus. I live 

to show 459 

How much men bear and die not ! 

' Thou wilt tell 
With the grimace of hate how horrible 
It was to meet my love when thine grew 

less; 
Thou wilt admire how I could e'er, address 
Such features to love's work. This taunt, 

though true, 
(For indeed Nature nor in form nor hue 
Bestowed on me her choicest workmanship) 
Shall not be thy defence; for since thy lip 
Met mine first, years long past, — since 

thine eye kindled 
With soft fire under mine, — I have not 

dwindled. 
Nor changed in mind or body, or in aught 
But as love changes what it loveth not 47- 
After long years and many trials. 

' How vain 
Are words ! I thought never to speak 

again. 
Not even in secret, not to mine own heart; 
But from my lips the unwilling accents 

start, 
And from my pen the words flow as I write. 
Dazzling my eyes with scalding tears ; my 

sight 
Is dim to see that charactered in vain 
On this unfeeling leaf, which burns the 

brain 
And eats into it, blotting all things fair 480 
And wise and good which time had written 

there. 

Those who inflict must suflPer, for they see 
The work of their own hearts, and this 

must be 
Our chastisement or recompense. — O 

child ! 
I would that thine were like to be more 

mild 



JULIAN AND MADDALO 



159 



For both our wretched sakes, — for thine 

the most 
Who feelest already all that thou hast lost 
Without the power to wish it thine again; 
And as slow years pass, a funereal train, 
Each with the ghost of some lost hope or 

friend 490 

Following it like its shadow, wilt thou bend 
No thought on my dead memory ? 

* Alas, love ! 
Fear me not — against thee I would not 

move 
A finger in despite. Do I not live 
That thou mayst have less bitter cause to 

grieve ? 
I give thee tears for scorn, and love for 

hate; 
And that thy lot may be less desolate 
Than his on whom thou tramplest, I refrain 
From that sweet sleep which medicines all 

pain. 499 

Then, when thou speakest of me, never say 
" He could forgive not." Here I cast away 
All human passions, all revenge, all pride; 
I think, speak, act no ill; I do but hide 
Under these words, like embers, every 

spark 
Of that which has consumed me. Quick 

and dark 
The grave is yawning — as its roof shall 

cover 
My limbs with dust and worms under and 

over. 
So let Oblivion hide this grief — the air 
Closes upon my accents as despair 509 

Upon my heart — let death upon despair ! ' 

He ceased, and overcome leant back 

awhile ; 
Then rising, with a melancholy smile, 
Went to a sofa, and lay down, and slept 
Al heavy sleep, and in his dreams he wept, 
And muttered some familiar name, and we 
Wept without shame in his society. 
I think I never was impressed so much ; 
The man who were not must have lacked a 

touch 518 

Of human nature. — Then we lingered not, 
Although our argument was quite forgot; 
But, callhig the attendants, went to dine 
At Maddalo's; yet neither cheer nor wine 
Could give us spirits, for we talked of him 
And nothing else, till daylight made stars 

dim; 



And we agreed his was some dreadful ill 
Wrought on him boldly, yet unspeakable, 
By a dear friend; some deadly change in 

love 
Of one vowed deeply, which he dreamed 

not of; 
For whose sake he, it seemed, had fixed a 

blot 
Of falsehood on his mind which flourished 

not 530 

But in the light of all-beholding truth; 
And having stamped this canker on his 

youth 
She had abandoned him — and how much 

more 
Might be his woe, we guessed not; he had 

store 
Of friends and fortune once, as we could 

guess 
From his nice habits and his gentleness; 
These were now lost — it were a grief 

indeed 
If he had changed one unsustaining reed 
For all that such a man mig^ht else adorn. 
The colors of his mind seemed yet unworn; 
For the wild language of his grief was 

high — 541 

Such as in measure were called poetry. 
And I remember one remark which then 
Maddalo made. He said — ' Most wretched 

men 
Are cradled into poetry by wrong; 
They learn in suffering what they teach in 

song.' 

If I had been an unconnected man, 

I, from this moment, should have formed 

some plan 
Never to leave sweet Venice, — for to me 
It was delight to ride by the lone sea; 550 
And then the town is silent — one may 

write 
Or read in gondolas by day or night. 
Having the little brazen lamp alight, 
Unseen, uninterrupted; books are there. 
Pictures, and casts from all those statues 

fair 
Which were twin-born with poetry, and all 
We seek in towns, with little to recall 
Regrets for the green country. I might sit 
In Maddalo's great palace, and his wit 
And subtle talk would cheer the winter 
night 560 

And make me know myself, and the fire- 
light 



i6o 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



Would flash upon our faces, till the day 
Might dawn and make me wonder at my 

stay. 
But I had friends in London too. The 

chief 
Attraction here was that I sought relief 
From the deep tenderness that maniac 

wrought 
Within me — 't was perhaps an idle thought, 
But I imagined that if day by day 568 

I watched him, and but seldom went away, 
And studied all the beatings of his heart 
With zeal, as men study some stubborn art 
For their own good, and could by patience 

find 
An entrance to the caverns of his mind, 
I might reclaim him from this dark estate. 
In friendships I had been most fortunate, 
Yet never saw I one whom I would call 
More willingly my friend ; and this was all 
Accomplished not; such dreams of baseless 

good 
Oft come and go in crowds and solitude 
And leave no trace, — but what I now de- 
signed 580 
Made, for long years, impression on my 

mind. 
The following morning, urged by my 

affairs, 
I left bright Venice. 

After many years, 
And many changes, I returned; the name 
Of Venice, and its aspect, was the same; 
But Maddalo was travelling far away 
Among the mountains of Armenia. 
His dog was dead. His child had now be- 
come 588 
A woman; such as it has been my doom 
To meet with few, a wonder of this earth. 
Where there is little of transcendent worth, 



Kindly 



Like one of Shakespeare's women. 

she. 

And with a manner beyond courtesy, 
Received her father's friend; and, when I 

asked 
Of the lorn maniac, she her memory tasked. 
And told, as she had heard, the mournful 

tale: 

* That the poor sufferer's health began to 

fail 
Two years from my departure, but that 

then 
The lady, who had left him, came again. 
Her mien had been imperious, but she now 
Looked meek — perhaps remorse had 

brought her low. 601 

Her coming made him better, and they 

stayed 
Together at my father's — for I played 
As I remember with the lady's shawl; 
I might be six years old — but after all 
She left him.' * Why, her heart must have 

been tough. 
How did it end ? ' ' And was not this 

enough ? 
They met — they parted.' * Child, is there 

no more ? ' 

* Something within that interval which bore 
The stamp of why they parted, how they 

met; 610 

Yet if thine aged eyes disdain to wet 
Those wrinkled cheeks with youth's re- 
membered tears. 
Ask me no more, but let the silent years 
Be closed and cered over their memory. 
As yon mute marble where their corpses 

lie.' 
I urged and questioned still; she told me 

how 
All happened — but the cold world shall 
not know. 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



A LYRICAL DRAMA 



IN FOUR ACTS 

AUDXSNE VIJEC, AMPHIAR^, SUB TERRAM ABDITE ? 



Prometheus Unbound best combines the va- 
rious elements of Shelley's genius in their most 
complete expression, and unites harmoniously 
his lyrically creative power of imagination and 



his 'passion for reforming the world.' It ia 
the fruit of an outburst of poetic energy un- 
der the double stimulus of his enthusiastic 
Greek studies, begun under Peacock's influ- 



INTRODUCTORY NOTE 



i6i 



ence, and of his delight in the beauty of Italy, 
whither he had removed for health and rest. 
It marks his full mastery of his powers. It is, 
not less than Queen Mab and The Revolt of 
Islam, a poem of the moral perfection of man ; 
and, not less than Alastor and Epipsychidion, a 
poem of spiritual ideality. He was himself in 
love with it : 'a poem of a higher character 
than anything I have yet attempted and per- 
haps less an imitation of anything that has 
gone before it,' he writes to Oilier ; and again, 
' a poem in my best style, whatever that may 
amount to, . . . the most perfect of my pro- 
ductions,' and ' the best thing I ever wrote ; ' 
and finally he says, ' Prometheus Unbound, I 
must tell you, is my favorite poem ; I charge 
you, therefore, especially to pet him and feed 
him with fine ink and good paper. ... I think, 
if I can judge by its merits, the Prometheus 
cannot sell beyond twenty copies.' Nor did he 
lose his affection for it. Trelawny records 
him as saying, ' If that is not durable poetry, 
tried by the severest test, I do not know what 
is. It is a lofty subject, not inadequately 
treated, and should not perish with me.' . . . 
' My friends say my Prometheus is too wild, 
ideal, and perplexed with imagery. It may be 
so. It has no resemblance to the Greek drama. 
It is original ; and cost rae severe mental labor. 
Authors, like mothers, prefer the children who 
have given them most trouble.' 

The drama was begun in the summer-house 
of his garden at Este about September, 1818, 
and the first Act had been finished as early as 
October 8 ; it was apparently laid aside, and 
again taken up at Rome in the spring of 1819, 
where, under the circumstances described in 
the preface, the second and third Acts were 
added, and the work, in its first form, was thus 
completed by April 6. The fourth Act was 
an afterthought, and was composed at Florence 
toward the end of the year. The whole was 
published, with other poems, in the summer of 
1820. 

The following extracts from Mrs. Shelley's 
long and admirable note show the progress of 
the poem during its composition, the atmo- 
sphere of its creation, and its general scheme : 

' The first aspect of Italy enchanted Shelley ; 
it seemed a garden of delight placed beneath 
a clearer and brighter heaven than any he had 
lived under before. He wrote long descriptive 
letters during the first year of his residence in 
Italy, which, as compositions, are the most 
beautiful in the world, and show how truly he 
appreciated and studied the wonders of nature 
and art in that divine land. 

' The poetical spirit within him speedily re- 
vived with all the power and with more than 
all the beauty of his first attempts. He medi- 
tated three subjects as the groundwork for 



lyrical Dramas. One was the story of Tasso : 
of this a slight fragment of a song of Tasso 
remains. The other was one founded on the 
book of Job, which he never abandoned in 
idea, but of which no trace remains among his 
papers. The third was the Prometheus Un- 
bound. The Greek tragedians were now his 
most familiar companions in his wanderings, 
and the sublime majesty of JEschylus filled 
him with wonder and delight. The father of 
Greek tragedy does not possess the pathos of 
Sophocles, nor the variety and tenderness of 
Euripides ; the interest on which he founds his 
dramas is often elevated above human vicis- 
situdes into the mighty passions and throes of 
gods and demigods — such fascinated the ab- 
stract imagination of Shelley. 

' We spent a month at Milan, visiting the 
Lake of Como during that interval. Thence we 
passed in succession to Pisa, Leghorn, the Baths 
of Lucca, Venice, Este, Rome, Naples, and 
back again to Rome, whither we returned early 
in March, 1819. During all this time Shelley 
meditated the subject of his drama, and wi'ote 
portions of it. Other poems were composed 
during this interval, and while at the Bagni di 
Lucca he translated Plato's Symposium. But 
though he diversified his studies, his thoughts 
centred in the Prometheus. At last, when at 
Rome, during a bright and beautiful spring, 
he gave up his whole time to the composition. 
The spot selected for his study was, as he men- 
tions in his preface, the mountainous ruins of 
the Baths of Caracalla. These are little known 
to the ordinary visitor at Rome. He describes 
them in a letter, with that poetry, and delicacy, 
and truth of description, which rendered his 
narrated impressions of scenery of unequalled 
beauty and interest. 

' At first he completed the drama in three 
acts. It was not till several months after, 
when at Florence, that he conceived that a 
fourth act, a sort of hymn of rejoicing in the 
fulfilment of the prophecies with regard to 
Prometheus, ought to be added to complete the 
composition. 

' The prominent feature of Shelley's theory of 
the destiny of the human species was, that evil 
is not inherent in the system of the creation, 
but an accident that might be expelled. This 
also forms a portion of Christianity ; God made 
earth and man perfect, till he, by his fall, 

' " Brought death into the world and all our woe." 

Shelley believed that mankind had only to will 
that there should be no evil, and there would 
be none. It is not my part in these notes to 
notice the arguments that have been urged 
against this opinion, but to mention the fact 
that he entertained it, and was indeed attached 
to it with fervent enthusiasm. That man could- 



l62 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



be so perfectionized as to be able to expel evil 
from his own nature, and from the greater 
part of the creation, was the cardinal point of 
his system. And the subject he loved best to 
dwell on, was the image of One warring- with 
the Evil Principle, oppressed not only by it, 
but by all, even the good, who were deluded 
into considering- evil a necessary portion of hu- 
manity ; a victim full of fortitude and hope, 
and the spirit of triumph emanating from a 
reliance in the ultimate omnipotence of good. 
Such he had dej)icted in his last poem, when 
he made Laon the enemy and the victim of 
tyrants. He now took a more idealized image 
of the same subject. He followed certain 
classical authorities in figuring Saturn as the 
good principle, Jupiter the usurping evil one, 
and Prometheus as the regenerator, who, un- 
able to bring mankind back to primitive inno- 
cence, used knowledge as a weapon to defeat 
evil, by leading mankind beyond the state 
wherein they are sinless through ignorance, to 
that in which they are virtuous through wis- 
dom. Jupiter punished the temerity of the 
Titan by chaining him to a rock of Caucasus, 
and causing a vulture to devour his still-re- 
newed heart. There was a prophecy afloat in 
heaven portending the fall of Jove, the secret 
of averting which was known only to Prome- 
theus ; and the god offered freedom from tor- 
ture on condition of its being communicated 
to him. According to the mythological story, 
this referred to the offspring of Thetis, who 
was destined to be greater than his father. 
Prometheus at last bought pardon for his 
crime of enriching mankind with his gifts, by 
revealing the prophecy. Hercules killed the 
vulture and set him free, and Thetis was mar- 
ried to Peleus the father of Achilles. 

' Shelley adapted the catastrophe of this 
story to his peculiar views. The son, greater 
than his father, born of the nuptials of Jupiter 
and Thetis, was to dethrone Evil and bring 
back a happier reign than that of Saturn. 
Prometheus defies the power of his enemy, 
and endures centuries of torture, till the hour 
arrives when Jove, blind to the real event, but 
darkly guessing that some great good to him- 
self will flow, espouses Thetis. At the moment, 
the Primal Power of the world drives him from 
his usurped throne, and Strength, in the per- 
son of Hercules, liberates Humanity, typified 
in Prometheus, from the tortures generated by 
evil done or suffered. Asia, one of the Ocean- 
ides, is the wife of Prometheus — she was, 
according to other mythological interpreta- 
tions, the same as Venus and Nature. When 
the Benefactor of Mankind is liberated, Nature 
resumes the beauty of her prime, and is united 
to her husband, the emblem of the human 
race, in perfect and happy union. In the 



fourth Act, the poet gives further scope to his 
imagination, and idealizes the forms of crea- 
tion, such as we know them, instead of such 
as they appeared to the Greeks. Maternal 
Earth, the mighty Parent, is superseded by the 
Spirit of the Earth — the guide of our planet 
through the realms of sky — while his fair and 
weaker companion and attendant, the Spirit of 
the Moon, receives bliss from the annihilation 
of Evil in the superior sphere. 

' Shelley develops, more particularly in the 
lyrics of this drama, his abstruse and imagina- 
tive theories with regard to the Creation. It 
requires a mind as subtle and penetrating as 
his own to understand the mystic meanings 
scattered throughout the poem. They elude 
the ordinary reader by their abstraction and 
delicacy of distinction, but they are far from 
vague. It was his design to write prose meta- 
physical essays on the nature of Man, which 
would have served to explain much of what is 
obscure in his poetry ; a few scattered frag- 
ments of observations and remarks alone re- 
main. He considered these philosophical views 
of mind and nature to be instinct with the 
intensest spirit of poetry. 

' More popular poets clothe the ideal with 
familiar and sensible imagery. Shelley loved 
to idealize the real — to gift the mechanism of 
the material universe with a soul and a voice, 
and to bestow such also on the most delicate 
and abstract emotions and thoughts of the 
mind. . . . 

' Through the whole Poem there reigns a 
sort of calm and holy spirit of love ; it soothes 
the tortured, and is hope to the expectant, till 
the prophecy is fulfilled, and Love, untainted 
by any evil, becomes the law of the world. . . . 

' The charm of the Roman climate helped to 
clothe his thoughts in greater beauty than they 
had ever worn before ; and as he wandered 
among the ruins, made one with nature in 
their decay, or gazed on the Praxitelean shapes 
that throng the Vatican, the Capitol, and the 
palaces of Rome, his soul imbibed forms of 
loveliness which became a portion of itself. 
There are many passages in the Prometheus 
which show the intense delight he received 
from such studies, and give back the impression 
with a beauty of poetical description peculiarly 
his own.' 

PREFACE 

The Greek tragic writers, in selecting as 
their subject any portion of their national his- 
tory or mythology, employed in their treatment 
of it a certain arbitrary discretion. They by 
no means conceived themselves bound to ad- 
here to the common interpretation or to imitate 
in story as in title their rivals and predecessors. 



AUTHOR'S PREFACE 



163 



Such a system would have amounted to a 
resignation of those claims to preference over 
their competitors which incited the composition. 
The Agamemnonian story was exhibited on 
the Athenian theatre with as many variations 
as dramas. 

I have presumed to employ a similar license. 
The Prometheus Unbound of -^schylus sup- 
posed the reconciliation of Jupiter with his 
victim as the price of the disclosure of the 
danger threatened to his empire by the con- 
summation of his marriage with Thetis. 
Thetis, according to this view of the subject, 
was given in marriage to Peleus, and Prome- 
theus, by the permission of Jupiter, delivered 
from his captivity by Hercules. Had I framed 
my story on this model, I should have done no 
more than have attempted to restore the lost 
drama of vEschylus ; an ambition which, if 
my preference to this mode of treating the 
subject had incited me to cherish, the recollec- 
tion of the high comparison such an attempt 
would challenge might well abate. But, in 
truth, I was averse from a catastrophe so feeble 
as that of reconciling the Champion with the 
Oppressor of mankind. The moral interest of 
the fable, which is so powerfully sustained by 
the sufferings and endurance of Prometheus, 
would be annihilated if we could conceive of 
him as unsaying his high language and quailing 
before his successful and perfidious adversary. 
The only imaginary being, resembling in any 
degree Prometheus, is Satan ; and Prometheus 
is, in my judgment, a more poetical character 
than Satan, because, in addition to courage, 
and majesty, and firm and patient opposition 
to omnipotent force, he is susceptible of being 
described as exempt from the taints of ambi- 
tion, envy, revenge, and a desire for personal 
aggrandizement, which, in the hero of Paradise 
Lost, interfere Avith the interest. The charac- 
ter of Satan engenders in the mind a pernicious 
casuistry which leads us to weigh his faults 
with his wrongs, and to excuse the former be- 
cause the latter exceed all measure. In the 
minds of those who consider that magnificent 
fiction with a religious feeling it engenders 
something worse. But Prometheus is, as it 
were, the type of the highest perfection of 
moral and intellectiial nature impelled by the 
purest and the truest motives to the best and 
noblest ends. 

This Poem was chiefly written upon the 
mountainous ruins of the Baths of Caracalla, 
among the flowery glades and thickets of odor- 
iferous blossoming trees, which are extended 
in ever winding labyrinths upon its immense 
platforms and dizzy arches suspended in the 
air. The bright blue sky of Rome, and the 
effect of the vigorous awakening spring in that 
divinest climate, and the new life with which 



it drenches the spirits even to intoxication, "vrere 
the inspiration of this drama. 

The imagery which I have employed will be 
found, in many instances, to have been drawn 
from the operations of the human mind, or 
from those external actions by which they are 
expressed. This is unusual in modern poetry, 
although Dante and Shakespeare are full of 
instances of the same kind ; Dante indeed 
more than any other poet, and with greater 
success. But the Greek poets, as writers to 
whom no resource of awakening the sympathy 
of their contemporaries was unknown, were in 
the habitual use of this power ; and it is the 
study of their works (since a higher merit 
would probably be denied me) to which I am 
willing that nay readers should impute this 
singularity. 

One word is due in candor to the degree in 
which the study of contemporary writings may 
have tinged my composition, for such has been a 
topic of censure with regard to poems far more 
popular, and indeed more deservedly popular, 
than mine. It is impossible that any one, who 
inhabits the same age with such writers as 
those who stand in the foremost ranks of our 
own, can conscientiously assure himself that 
his language and tone of thought may not 
have been modified by the study of the pro- 
ductions of those extraordinary intellects. It 
is true that, not the spirit of their genius, but 
the forms in which it has manifested itself, 
are due less to the peculiarities of their own 
minds than to the peculiarity of the moral and 
intellectual condition of the minds among which 
they have been produced. Thus a number of 
writers possess the form, whilst they want the 
spirit of those whom, it is alleged, they imitate ; 
because the former is the endowment of the 
age in which they live, and the latter must be 
the uncommunicated lightning of their own 
mind. 

The peculiar style of intense and comprehen- 
sive imagery which distinguishes the modern 
literature of England has not been, as a general 
power, the product of the imitation of any par- 
ticular writer. The mass of capabilities re- 
mains at every period materially the same r 
the circumstances which awaken it to action 
perpetually change. If England were divided 
into forty republics, each equal in population 
and extent to Athens, there is no reason to 
suppose but that, under institutions not more 
perfect than those of Athens, each would pro- 
duce philosophers and poets equal to those who 
(if we except Shakespeare) have never been 
surpassed. We owe the great writers of the 
golden age of our literature to that fervid 
awakening of the public mind which shook to 
dust the oldest and most oppressive form of 
the Christian religion. We owe Milton to the 



j64 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



progress and development of the same spirit : 
the sacred Milton was, let it ever be remem- 
bered, a republican and a bold inquirer into 
morals and religion. The great writers of our 
own age are, we have reason to suppose, the 
companions and forerunners of some unima- 
gined change in our social condition or the opin- 
ions which cement it. The cloud of mind is 
discharging its collected lightning, and the 
equilibrium between institutions and opinions 
is now restoring or is about to be restored. 

As to imitation, poetry is a mimetic art. It 
creates, but it creates by combination and re- 
presentation. Poetical abstractions are beauti- 
ful and new, not because the portions of which 
they are composed had no previous existence 
in the mind of man or in Nature, but because 
the whole produced by their combination has 
some intelligible and beautiful analogy with 
those sources of emotion and thought and with 
the contemporary condition of them. One 
great poet is a masterpiece of Nature which 
another not only ought to study but must 
study. He might as wisely and as easily de- 
termine that his mind should no longer be the 
mirror of all that is lovely in the visible uni- 
verse as exclude from his contemplation the 
beautiful which exists in the writings of a 
great contemporary. The pretence of doing it 
would be a presumption in any but the greatest; 
the effect, even in him, would be strained, un- 
natural and ineffectual. A poet is the com- 
bined product of such internal powers as mod- 
ify the nature of others, and of such external 
influences as excite and sustain these powers ; 
he is not one, but both. Every man's mind is, 
in this respect, modified by all the objects of 
Nature and art ; by every word and every sug- 
gestion which he ever admitted to act upon his 
consciousness ; it is the mirror upon which all 
forms are reflected and in which they compose 
one form. Poets, not otherwise than philoso- 
phers, painters, sculptors and musicians, are, 
in one sense, the creators, and, in another, the 
creations, of tlieir age. From this subjection 
the loftiest do not escape. There is a similar- 
ity between Homer and Hesiod, between ^s- 
chylus and Euripides, between Virgil and Hor- 
ace, between Dante and Petrarch, between 
Shakespeare and Fletcher, between Dryden 



and Pope ; each has a generic resemblance 
under which their specific distinctions are ar- 
ranged. If this similarity be the result of imi- 
tation, I am willing to confess that I have 
imitated. 

Let this opportunity be conceded to me of 
acknowledging that I have what a Scotch 
philosopher characteristically terms a ' passion 
for reforming the world : ' what passion incited 
him to write and publish his book he omits to 
explain. For my part I had rather be damned 
with Plato and Lord Bacon than go to Heaven 
with Paley and Malthus. But it is a mistake 
to suppose that I dedicate my poetical compo- 
sitions solely to the direct enforcement of re- 
form, or that I consider them in any degree as 
containing a reasoned system on the theory of 
human life. Didactic poetry is my abhorrence ; 
nothing can be equally well expressed in prose 
that is not tedious and supererogatory in verse. 
My purpose has hitherto been simply to famil- 
iarize the highly refined imagination of the 
more select classes of poetical readers with 
beautiful idealisms of moral excellence ; aware 
that, until the mind can love, and admire, and 
trust, and hope, and endure, reasoned princi- 
ples of moral conduct are seeds cast upon the 
highway of life which the unconscious pas- 
senger tramples into dust, although they would 
bear the harvest of his happiness. Should I 
live to accomplish what I purpose, that is, 
produce a systematical history of what appear 
to me to be the genuine elements of human 
society, let not the advocates of injustice and 
superstition flatter themselves that I should 
take ^sehylus rather than Plato as my model. 

The having spoken of myself with unaffected 
freedom will need little apology with the can- 
did ; and let the uiicandid consider that they 
injure me less than their own hearts and minds 
by misrepresentation. Whatever talents a 
person may possess to amuse and instruct 
others, be they ever so inconsiderable, he is 
yet bound to exert them : if his attemjjt be 
ineffectual, let the punishment of an unaccom- 
plished purpose have been sufficient ; let none 
trouble themselves to heap the dust of oblivion 
upon his efforts ; the pile they raise will betray 
his grave which might otherwise have been 
unknown. 



ACT I 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



165 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 

DRAMATIS PERSONS 



Prometheus. 


Asia ] 


Demogorgon. 


Panthea >■ Oceanides 


Jupiter. 


lONE J 


The Earth. 


The Phantasm op Jupiter. 


Ocean. 


The Spirit of the Earth. 


Apollo. 


The Spirit of the Moon. 


Mercury. 


Spirits of the Hours. 


Hercules. 


Spirits. Echoes. Fauns. 




Furies. 



ACT I 

Scene, a Ravine of Icy Rocks in the Indian 
Caucasus. Prometheus is discovered bound 
10 the Precipice. Panthea and Ione are 
seated at his feet. Time, Night. During the 
Scene morning slowly breaks. 

PROMETHEUS 

Monarch of Gods and Daemons, and all 
Spirits 

But One, who throng those bright and roll- 
ing worlds 

Which Thou and I alone of living things 

Behold with sleepless eyes! regard this 
Earth 

Made multitudinous with thy slaves, whom 
thou 

Requitest for knee-worship, prayer, and 
praise, 

And toil, and hecatombs of broken hearts. 

With fear and self-contempt and barren 
hope; 

Whilst me, who am thy foe, eyeless in hate, 

Hast thou made reign and triumph, to thy 
scorn, 10 

O'er mine own misery and thy vain re- 
venge. 

Three thousand years of sleep-unsheltered 
hours, 

And moments aye divided by keen pangs 

Till they seemed years, torture and soli- 
tude, 

Scorn and despair — these are mine em- 
pire: 

More glorious far than that which thou 
surveyest 

From thine unenvied throne, O Mighty 
God! 

Almighty, had I deigned to share the shame 

Of thine ill tyranny, and hung not here 

Nailed to this wall of eagle-baffling moun- 
tain, 20 



Black, wintry, dead, unmeasured; without 

herb. 
Insect, or beast, or shape or sound of life. 
Ah me ! alas, pain, pain ever, forever ! 

No change, no pause, no hope ! Yet I 

endure. 
I ask the Earth, have not the mountains 

felt ? 
I ask yon Heaven, the all-beholding Sun, 
Has it not seen ? The Sea, in storm or 

calm. 
Heaven's ever-changing shadow, spread 

below. 
Have its deaf waves not heard my agony ? 
Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, foiever ! 30 

The crawling glaciers pierce me with the 

spears 
Of their moon-freezing crystals; the bright 

chains 
Eat with their burning cold into my bones. 
Heaven's winged hound, polluting from thy 

lips 
His beak in poison not his own, tears up 
My heart; and shapeless sights come wan- 
dering by. 
The ghastly people of the realm of dream. 
Mocking me; and the Earthquake-fiends 

are charged 
To wrench the rivets from my quivering 

wounds 
When the rocks split and close again be- 
hind; 40 
While from their loud abysses howling 

throng 
The genii of the storm, urging the rage 
Of whirlwind, and afflict me with keen 

hail. 
And yet to me welcome is day and night. 
Whether one breaks the hoar-frost of the 

morn. 
Or starry, dim, and slow, the other climbs 
The leaden-colored east; for then they 

lead 
The wingless, crawling hours, one among 

whom — 
As some dark Priest hales the reluctant 

victim — 
Shall drag thee, cruel King, to kiss the 

blood so 

From these pale feet, which then might 

trample thee 
If they disdained not such a prostrate 

slave. 



i66 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



ACT 1 



Disdain ! Ah, no ! I pity thee. What ruin 
Will hunt thee undefended through the 

wide Heaven! 
How will thy soul, cloven to its depth with 

terror. 
Gape like a hell within ! I speak in grief, 
Not exultation, for I hate no more, 
As then ere misery made me wise. The 

curse 
Once breathed on thee I would recall. Ye 

Mountains, 
Whose many-voiced Echoes, through the 

mist 60 

Of cataracts, flung the thunder of that 

spell ! 
Ye icy Springs, stagnant with wrinkling 

frost. 
Which vibrated to hear me, and then crept 
Shuddering through India ! Thou serenest 

Air 
Through which the Sun walks burning 

without beams ! 
And ye swift Whirlwinds, who on poised 

wings 
Hung mute and moveless o'er yon hushed 

abyss. 
As thunder, louder than your own, made 

rock 
The orbed world ! If then my words had 

power. 
Though I am changed so that aught evil 

wish 70 

Is dead within; although no memory be 
Of what is hate, let them not lose it now ! 
What was that curse ? for ye all heard me 

speak. 

FIRST VOICE : from the Mountains 
Thrice three hundred thousand years 

O'er the earthquake's couch we stood; 
Oft, as men convulsed with fears, 

We trembled in our multitude. 

SECOND VOICE : from, the Springs 
Thunderbolts had parched our water, 

We had been stained with bitter blood, 
And had run mute, 'mid shrieks of 
slaughter 80 

Through a city and a solitude. 

THIRD VOICE : from the Air 
t had clothed, since Earth uprose, 

Its wastes in colors not their own, 
And oft had my serene repose 

Been cloven by many a rending groan. 



FOURTH VOICE : fro7n the Whirlwinds 

We had soared beneath these mountains 
UnrestintT ages; nor had thunder, 

Nor yon volcano's flaming fountains, 
Nor any power above or under 
Ever made us mute with wonder. 9^ 

FIRST VOICE 

But never bowed our snowy crest 
As at the voice of thine unrest. 

SECOND VOICE 

Never such a sound before 
To the Indian waves we bore. 
A pilot asleep on the howling sea 
Leaped up from the deck in agony, 
And heard, and cried, ' Ah, woe is me ! * 
And died as mad as the wild waves be. 

THIRD VOICE 

By such dread words from Earth to Heaven 
My still realm was never riven ; 100 

When its wound was closed, there stood 
Darkness o'er the day like blood. 

FOURTH VOICE 

And we shrank back: for dreams of ruin 
To frozen caves our flight pursuing 
Made us keep silence — thus — and thus — 
Though silence is a hell to us. 

THE EARTH 

The tongueless caverns of the craggy hills 
Cried, 'Misery ! ' then; the hollow Heaven 

replied, 
* Misery ! ' And the Ocean's purple waves, 
Climbing the land, howled to the lashing 

winds, no 

And the pale nations heard it, ' Misery ! ' 

PROMETHEUS 

I hear a sound of voices; not the voice 
Which I gave forth. Mother, thy sons and 

thou 
Scorn him, without whose all-enduring will 
Beneath the fierce omnipotence of Jove, 
Both they and thou had vanished, like thin 

mist 
Unrolled on the morning wind. Know ye 

not me. 
The Titan ? He who made his agony 
The barrier to your else all-conquering foe ? 
O rock-embosomed lawns and snow-fed 

streams, 120 

Now seen athwart frore vapors, deep beloWi 



ACT I 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



i6^ 



Through whose o'ershadowing woods I 

wandered once 
With Asia, drinking life from her loved 

eyes; 
Why scorns the spirit, which informs ye, 

now 
To commune with me ? me alone who 

checked. 
As one who checks a fiend-drawn charioteer, 
The falsehood and the force of him who 

reigns 
Supreme, and with the groans of pining 

slaves 
Fills your dim glens and liquid wildernesses: 
Why answer ye not, still ? Brethren ! 

THE EARTH 

They dare not. 130 

PROMETHEUS 

Who dares ? for I would hear that curse 

again. 
Ha, what an awful whisper rises up ! 
'T is scarce like sound; it tingles through 

the frame 
As lightning tingles, hovering ere it strike. 
Speak, Spirit ! from thine inorganic voice 
I only know that thou art moving near 
And love. How cursed I him ? 

THE EARTH 

How canst thou hear 
Who knowest not the language of the dead ? 

PROMETHEUS 

Thou art a living spirit; speak as they. 

THE EARTH 

I dare not speak like life, lest Heaven's 

fell King 140 

Should hear, and link me to some wheel of 

pain 
More torturing than the one whereon I roll. 
Subtle thou art and good; and thouffh the 

Gods 
Hear not this voice, yet thou art more than 

God, 
Being wise and kind: earnestly hearken 

now. 

PROMETHEUS 

Obscurely through my brain, like shadows 

dim. 
Sweep awful thoughts, rapid and thick. 

I feel 



Faint, like one mingled in entwining love; 
Yet 't is not pleasure. 

THE EARTH 

No, thou canst not hear; 
Thou art immortal, and this tongue is 
known ,50 

Only to those who die. 

PROMETHEUS 

And what art thou, 
melancholy Voice ? 

THE EARTH 

I am the Earth, 
Thy mother; she within whose stony veins, 
To the last fibre of the loftiest tree 
Whose thin leaves trembled in the frozen 

air, 
Joy ran, as blood within a living frame, 
When thou didst from her bosom, like z 

cloud 
Of glory, arise, a spirit of keen joy ! 
And at thy voice her pining sons uplifted 
Their prostrate brows from the polluting 

dust, 160 

And our almighty Tyrant with fierce dread 
Grew pale, until his thunder chained thee 

here. 
Then — see those million worlds which burn 

and roll 
Around us — their inhabitants beheld 
My spherM light wane in wide Heaven; 

the sea 
Was lifted by strange tempest, and new fire 
From earthquake-rifted mountains of 

bright snow 
Shook its portentous hair beneath Heaven's 

frown; 
Lightning and Inundation vexed the plains; 
Blue thistles bloomed in cities; foodless 

toads 170 

Within voluptuous chambers panting 

crawled. 
When Plague had fallen on man and beast 

and worm, 
And Famine ; and black blight on herb and 

tree; 
And in the corn, and vines, and meadow- 
grass, 
Teemed ineradicable poisonous weeds 
Draining their growth, for my wan breasi 

was dry 
With grief, and the thin air, my breatL, 

was stained 



1 68 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



ACT I 



With the contagion of a mother's hate 
Breathed on her child's destroyer; ay, I 

heard 
Thy curse, the which, if thou rememberest 

not, i8o 

Yet my innumerable seas and streams. 
Mountains, and caves, and winds, and yon 

wide air. 
And the inarticulate people of the dead, 
Preserve, a treasured spell. We meditate 
In secret joy and hope those dreadful 

words, 
^ut dare not speak them. 

PROMETHEUS 

Venerable mother ! 
All else who live and suffer take from thee 
Some comfort; flowers, and fruits, and 

happy sounds. 
And love, though fleeting; these may not 

be mine. 
But mine own words, I pray, deny me 

not. 190 

THE EARTH 

They shall be told. Ere Babylon was dust, 
The Magus Zoroaster, my dead child. 
Met his own image walking in the gar- 
den. 
That apparition, sole of men, he saw. 
For know there are two worlds of life and 

death: 
One that which thou beholdest; but the 

other 
Is underneath the grave, where do inhabit 
The shadows of all forms that think and 

live. 
Till death unite them and they part no 

more; 199 

Dreams and the light imaginings of men. 
And all that faith creates or love desires. 
Terrible, strange, sublime and beauteous 

shapes. 
There thou art, and dost hang, a writhing 

shade, 
'Mid whirlwind-peopled mountains; all the 

gods 
Are there, and all the powers of nameless 

worlds, 
Vast, sceptred phantoms; heroes, men, and 

beasts; 
And Demogorgon, a tremendous gloom; 
And he, the supreme Tyrant, on his throne 
Of burning gold. Son, one of theSe shall 

utter 



The curse which all remember. Call at 

will 2ia 

Thine own ghost, or the ghost of Jupiter, 
Hades or Typlion, or what mightier Gods 
From all-prolific Evil, since thy ruin. 
Have sprung, and trampled on ray prostrate 

sons. 
Ask, and they must reply: so the revenge 
Of the Supreme may sweep through vacant 

shades, 
As rainy wind through the abandoned gate 
Of a fallen palace. 

PROMETHEUS 

Mother, let not aught 
Of that which may be evil pass again 
My lips, or those of aught resembling me. 
Phantasm of Jupiter, arise, appear ! 221 

lONB 

My wings are folded o'er mine ears; 

My wings are crossed o'er mine eyes; 
Yet through their silver shade appears, 

And through their lulling plumes arise, 
A Shape, a throng of sounds. 

May it be no ill to thee 
O thou of many wounds ! 
Near whom, for our sweet sister's sake, 
Ever thus we watch and wake. 234 

PANTHEA 

The sound is of whirlwind underground, 
Earthquake, and fire, and mountaina 
cloven ; 
The shape is awful, like the sound. 

Clothed in dark purple, star-inwoven, 
A sceptre of pale gold, 

To stay steps proud, o'er the slow 
cloud, 
His veined hand doth hold. 
Cruel he looks, but calm and strong. 
Like one who does, not suffers wrong. 

PHANTASM OF JUPITER 

Why have the secret powers of this strange 

world 24a 

Driven me, a frail and empty phantom, 

hither 
On direst storms ? What unaccustomed 

sounds 
Are hovering on my lips, unlike the voice 
With which our pallid race hold ghastly 

talk 
In darkness ? And, proud sufferer, whc 

art thou ? 



ACT I 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



169 



PROMETHEUS 

Tremendous Image ! as thou art must be 
He whom thou shadowest forth. I am his 

foe, 
The Titan. Speak the words which I would 

hear, 
Although no thought inform thine empty 

voice. 

THE EARTH 

Listen ! And though your echoes must be 
mute, 250 

Gray mountains, and old woods, and 
haunted springs, 

Prophetic caves, and isle - surrounding 
streams. 

Rejoice to hear what yet ye cannot speak. 

PHANTASM 

A spirit seizes me and speaks within; 
It tears me as fire tears a thunder-cloud. 

PANTHEA 

See how he lifts his mighty looks ! the 

Heaven 
Darkens above. 

lONE 

He speaks ! Oh, shelter me ! 

PROMETHEUS 

I see the curse on gestures proud and cold. 
And looks of firm defiance, and calm hate. 
And such despair as mocks itself with 

smiles, 260 

Written as on a scroll: yet speak ! Oh, 

speak ! 

PHANTASM 

Fiend, I defy thee ! with a calm, fixed 
mind. 
All that thou canst inflict I bid thee 
do; 

Foul tyrant both of Gods and human- 
kind, 
One only being shalt thou not sub- 
due. 

Rain then thy plagues upon me here, 
Ghastly disease, and frenzyiug fear ; 
And let alternate frost and fire 
Eat into me, and be thine ire 

Lightning, and cutting hail, ard legioned 
forms 270 

Of furies, driving by upon the wounding 
storms. 



Ay, do thy worst ! Thou art omnipotent. 
O'er all things but thyself I gave thee 
power. 
And my own will. Be thy swift mis- 
chiefs sent 
To blast mankind, from yon etheres*^ 
tower. 

Let thy malignant spirit move 
In darkness over those I love; 
On me and mine I imprecate 
The utmost torture of thy hate; 
And thus devote to sleepless agony, 280 
This undeclining head while thou must 
reign on high. 

But thou, who art the God and Lord: O 
thou 
Who fillest with thy soul this world of 
woe. 

To whom all things of Earth and Heaven 
do bow 
In fear and worship — all-prevailing 
foe! 

I curse thee ! let a sufferer's curse 
Clasp thee, his torturer, like remorse; 
Till thine Infinity shall be 
A robe of envenomed agony; 289 

And thine Omnipotence a crown of pain. 
To cling like burning gold round thy dis- 
solving brain! 

Heap on thy soul, by virtue of this Curse, 
111 deeds; then be thou damned, be- 
holding good; 
Both infinite as is the universe, 

And thou, and thy self-torturing soli- 
tude. 

An awful image of calm power 
Though now thou sittest, let the hour 
Come, when thou must appear to be 
That which thou art internally; 
And after many a false and fruitless 
crime, 30c 

Scorn track thy lagging fall through 
boundless space and time ! 

PROMETHEUS 

Were these my words, O Parent ? 

THE EARTH 

They were thine. 

PROMETHEUS 

It doth repent me; words are quick and 
vain; 



lyo 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



ACT 1 



Grief for awhile is blind, and so was mine. 


PANTHEA 


I wish no living thing to suffer pain. 


The Titan looks as ever, firm, not proud. 


THE EABTH 


FIRST FURY 


Misery, oh, misery to me, 


Ha ! I scent life ! 


That Jove at length should vanquish 




thee ! 


SECOND FURY 


Wail, howl aloud, Land and Sea, 308 


Let me but look into his eyes ! 


The Earth's rent heart shall answer ye ! 




Howl, Spirits of the living and the dead. 


THIRD FURY 


Tour refuge, your defence, lies fallen and 


The hope of torturing him smells like a 


vanquished ! 


heap 




Of corpses to a death-bird after battle. 340 


FIBST ECHO 




Lies fallen and vanquished ! 


FIRST FURY 




Darest thou delay, Herald ! take cheer, 


SECOND ECHO 


Hounds 


Fallen and vanquished ! 


Of Hell: what if the Son of Maia soon 




Should make us food and sport — who can 


lONK 


please long 


Fear not: 't is but some passing spasm. 


The Omnipotent ? 


The Titan is unvanquished still. 




But see, where through the azure chasm 


MERCURY 


Of yon forked and snowy hill, 


Back to your towers of iron, 


Trampling the slant winds on high 


And gnash, beside the streams of fire and 


With golden-sandalled feet, that glow 


wail, 


Under plumes of purple dye, 320 


Your food less teeth. Geryon, arise ! and 


Like rose-ensanguined ivory, 


Gorgon, 


A Shape comes now, 


Chimsera, and thou Sphinx, subtlest of 


Stretching on high from his right hand 


fiends. 


A serpent-cinctured wand. 


Who ministered to Thebes Heaven's poi- 




soned wine, 348 


PANTHEA 


Unnatural love, and more unnatural hate: 


'T is Jove's world-wandering herald, Mer- 


These shall perform your task. 


cury. 






FIRST FURY 


lONE 


Oh, mercy ! mercy ! 


And who are those with hydra tresses 


We die with our desire ! drive us not back ! 


And iron wings, that climb the wind, 




Whom the frowning God represses, — 


MERCURY 


Like vapors steaming up behind. 


Crouch then in silence. 


Clanging loud, an endless crowd ? 330 


Awful Sufferer ! 




To thee unwilling, most unwillingly 


PANTHEA 


I come, by the great Father's will driven 


These are Jove's tempest-walking 


down. 


hounds, 


To execute a doom of new revenge. 


Whom he gluts with groans and blood, 


Alas ! I pity thee, and hate myself 


When charioted on sulphurous cloud 


That I can do no more; aye from thy sight 


He bursts Heaven's bounds. 


Returning, for a season. Heaven seems 




Hell, 


lONE 


So thy worn form pursues me night and dayj 


Ire they now led from the thin dead 


Smiling reproach. Wise art thou, firm and 


On new pangs to be fed ? 


good, 36( 



ACT I 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



171 



But vainly wouldst stand forth alone in 

strife 
Against the Omnipotent; as yon clear 

lamps, 
That measure and divide the weary years 
From which there is no refuge, long have 

taught 
And long must teach. Even now thy Tor- 
turer arms 
With the strange might of unimagined 

pains 
The powers who scheme slow agonies in 

Hell, 
And my commission is to lead them here, 
Or what more subtle, foul, or savage fiends 
People the abyss, and leave them to their 

task. 370 

Be it not so ! there is a secret known 
To thee, and to none else of living things. 
Which may transfer the sceptre of wide 

Heaven, 
The fear of which perplexes the Supreme. 
Clothe it in words, and bid it clasp his 

throne 
In intercession ; bend thy soul in prayer. 
And like a suppliant in some gorgeous fane. 
Let the will kneel within thy haughty 

heart. 
For benefits and meek submission tame 
Tiie fiercest and the mightiest. 

PROMETHEUS 

Evil minds 

Change good to their own nature. I gave 
all 381 

He has; and in return he chains me here 

Years, ages, night and day; whether the 
Sun 

Split my parched skin, or in the moony 
night 

The crystal-winged snow cling round my 
hair ; 

Whilst my beloved race is trampled down 

By his thought-executing ministers. 

Such is the tyrant's recompense. 'T is just. 

He who is evil can receive no good; 

And for a world bestowed, or a friend 
lost. 

He can feel hate, fear, shame; not grati- 
tude. 391 

He but requites me for his own misdeed. 

Kindness to such is keen reproach, which 
breaks 

With bitter stings the light sleep of Re- 
venge. 



Submission thou dost know I cannot try. 
For what submission but that fatal word, 
The death-seal of mankind's captivity, 
Like the Sicilian's hair-suspended sword, 
Which trembles o'er his crown, would he 

accept. 
Or could I yield ? Which yet I will not 

yield. 400 

Let others flatter Crime where it sits 

throned 
In brief Omnipotence; secure are they; 
For Justice, when triumphant, will weep 

down 
Pity, not punishment, on her own wrongs. 
Too much avenged by those who err. I 

wait. 
Enduring thus, the retributive hour 
Which since we spake is even nearer 

now. 
But hark, the hell-hounds clamor: fear 

delay : 
Behold ! Heaven lowers under thy Fathe».*'s 

frown. 409 

MERCURY 

Oh, that we might be spared; I to inflict, 
And thou to suffer ! Once more answer 

me. 
Thou knowest not the period of Jove's 

power ? 

PROMETHEUS 

I know but this, that it must come. 

MERCURY 

Alas! 
Thou canst not count thy years to come of 
pain ! 

PROMETHEUS 

They last while Jove must reign; nor 

more, nor less 
Do I desire or fear. 

MERCURY 

Yet pause, and plunge 
Into Eternity, where recorded time, 
Even all that we imagine, age on age. 
Seems but a point, and the reluctant mind 
Flags wearily in its unending flight, 420 
Till it sink, dizzy, blind, lost, shelterless; 
Perchance it has not numbered the slow 

years 
Which thou must spend in torture, unre- 

prieved ? 



172 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



ACT f 



PKOMETHEUS 

Perchance no thought can count them, yet 
they pass. 

MERCURY 

If thou mightst dwell among the Gods the 

while, 
Lapped in voluptuous joy ? 

PROMETHEUS 

I would not quit 
This bleak ravine, these unrepentant pains. 

MERCURY 

Alas ! I wonder at, yet pity thee. 

PROMETHEUS 

Pity the self-despising slaves of Heaven, 
Not me, within whose mind sits peace 

serene, 430 

As light in the sun, throned. How vain is 

talk! 
Call up the fiends. 

lONE 

Oh, sister, look ! White fire 
Has cloven to the roots yon huge snow- 
loaded cedar; 
How fearfully God's thunder howls be- 
hind ! 

MERCURY 

I must obey his words and thine. Alas ! 
Most heavily remorse hangs at my heart ! 

PANTHEA 

See where the child of Heaven, with winged 

feet, 
Runs down the slanted sunlight of the 

dawn. 

lONE 

Dear sister, close thy plumes over thine 

eyes 
Lest thou behold and die; they come — 

they come — 440 

Blackening the birth of day with countless 

wings. 
And hollow underneath, like death. 



FIRST FURY 



SECOND FURY 

immortal Titan ! 



Prometheus ! 



THIRD FURY 

Champion of Heaven's slaves ! 

PROMETHEUS 

He whom some dreadful voice invokes is 
here, 

Prometheus, the chained Titan. Horrible 
forms. 

What and who are ye ? Never yet there 
came 

Phantasms so foul through monster-teeming 
Hell 

From the all-miscreative brain of Jove. 

Whilst I behold such execrable shapes, 

Methinks I grow like what I contemplate. 

And laugh and stare in loathsome sym- 
pathy. 451 

FIRST FURY 

We are the ministers of pain, and fear. 

And disappointment, and mistrust, and 
hate, 

And clinging crime; and as lean dogs pur- 
sue 

Through wood and lake some struck and 
sobbing fawn, 

We track all things that weep, and bleed, 
and live. 

When the great King betrays them to our 
will. 

PROMETHEUS 

many fearful natures in one name, 

1 know ye; and these lakes and echoes 

know 
The darkness and the clangor of your 

wings ! 460 

But why more hideous than your loathed 

selves 
Gather ye up in legions from the deep ? 

SECOKD FURY 

We knew not that. Sisters, rejoice, re- 



joice 



PROMETHEUS 

Can aught exult in its deformity ? 

SECOND FURY 

The beauty of delight makes lovers glad, 

Gazing on one another: so are we. 

As from the rose which the pale priestess 

kneels 
To gather for her festal crown of flowers 
The aerial crimson falls, flushing her cheek, 



ACT I 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



173 



So from our victim's destined agony 470 
The shade which is our form invests us 

round ; 
Else we are shapeless as our mother Night. 

PROMETHEUS 

I laugh your power, and his who sent you 

here, 
To lowest scorn. Pour forth the cup of 

pain. 

FIRST FURY 

Thou thinkest we will rend thee bone from 

bone 
And nerve from nerve, working like fire 

within ? 

PROMETHEUS 

Pain is my element, as hate is thine; 
Ye rend me now; I care not. 

SECOND FURY 

Dost imagine 
We will but laugh into thy lidless eyes ? 

PROMETHEUS 

I weigh not what ye do, but what ye 

suffer, 
Being evil. Cruel was the power which 

called 481 

You, or aught eke so wretched, into light. 

THIRD FURY 

Thou think'st we will live through thee, 

one by one, 
Like animal life, and though we can obscure 

not 
The soul which burns within, that we will 

dwell 
Beside it, like a vain loud multitude. 
Vexing the self-content of wisest men; 
That we will be dread thought beneath thy 

brain. 
And foul desire round thine astonished 

heart, 
And blood within thy labyrinthine veins 490 
Crawling like agony ? 

i PROMETHEUS 

Why, ye are thus now; 
Yet am I king over myself, and rule 
The torturing and conflicting throngs 

within. 
As Jove rules you when Hell grows muti- 
nous. 



CHORUS OF FURIES 

From the ends of the earth, from the ends 

of the earth. 
Where the night has its grave and the 
morning its birth. 
Come, come, come ! 
O ye who shake hills with the scream of 

your mirth 
When cities sink howling in ruin; and ye 
Who with wingless footsteps trample the 
sea, 500 

And close upon Shipwreck and Famine's 

track 
Sit chattering with joy on the foodless 
wreck; 

Come, come, come ! 
Leave the bed, low, cold, and red, 
Strewed beneath a nation dead; 
Leave the hatred, as in ashes 

Fire is left for future burning; 
It will burst in bloodier flashes 

When ye stir it, soon returning; 
Leave the self-contempt implanted 510 
In young spirits, sense-enchanted. 

Misery's yet unkindled fuel; 
Leave Hell's secrets half unchanted 

To the maniac dreamer; cruel 
More than ye can be with hate 
Is he with fear. 

Come, come, come ! 
We are steaming up from HelFs wide gate 
And we burden the blasts of the atmo- 
sphere. 
But vainly we toil till ye come here. 520 

lONE 

Sister, I hear the thunder of new wings. 

PANTHBA 

These solid mountains quiver with the sound 
Even as the tremulous air; their shadows 

make 
The space within my plumes more black 

than night. 

FIRST FURY 

Your call was as a winged car. 
Driven on whirlwinds fast and far; 
It rapt us from red gulfs of war. 

SECOND FURY 

From wide cities, famine-wasted; 

THIRD FURY 

Groans half heard, and blood untasted; 



174 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



ACT I 



FOURTH FURY 

Kingly conclaves stern and cold, 530 

Where blood with gold is bought and sold ; 

FIFTH FURY 

From the furnace, white and hot, 
In which — 

A FURY 

Speak not; whisper not; 
I know all that ye would tell, 

But to speak might break the spell 
Which must bend the Invincible, 
The stern of thought; 
He yet defies the deepest power of Hell. 



FURY 



Tear the veil ! 



ANOTHER FURY 

It is torn. 

CHORUS 

The pale stars of the morn 
Shine on a misery, dire to be borne. 540 
Dost thou faint, mighty Titan ? We 

laugh thee to scorn. 
Dost thou boast the clear knowledge thou 

waken'dst for man ? 
Then was kindled within him a thirst 

which outran 
Those perishing waters; a thirst of fierce 

fever, 
Hope, love, doubt, desire, which consume 
him forever. 
One came forth of gentle worth. 
Smiling on the sanguine earth; 
His words outlived him, like swift poison 

Withering up truth, peace, and pity. 
Look ! where round the wide horizon 550 

Many a million-peopled city 
Vomits smoke in the bright air ! 
Mark that outcry of despair ! 
'T is his mild and gentle ghost 

Wailing for the faith he kindled. 
Look again ! the flames almost 

To a glow-worm's lamp have dwindled; 
The survivors round the embers 
Gather in dread. 
Joy, joy, joy ! 560 

Past ages crowd on thee, but each one re- 
members. 
And the future is dark, and the present is 
spread 



Like a pillow of thorns for thy slumberlees 
head. 

SEMICHORUS I 

Drops of bloody agony flow 

From his white and quivering brow. 

Grant a little respite now. 

See ! a disenchanted nation 

Springs like day from desolation; 

To Truth its state is dedicate, 

And Freedom leads it forth, her mate; 

A legioned band of linked brothers, 571 

Whom Love calls children — 

SEMICHORUS II 

'Tis another's. 
See how kindred murder kin ! 
'T is the vintage-time for Death and Sin; 
Blood, like new wine, bubbles within; 
Till Despair smothers 
The struggling world, which slaves and 
tyrants win. 

[All the Furies vanish, except one. 

lONE 

Hark, sister ! what a low yet dreadful groan 
Quite unsuppressed is tearing up the heart 
Of the good Titan, as storms tear the deep. 
And beasts hear the sea moan in inland 

caves. 581 

Darest thou observe how the fiends torture 

him ? 

PANTHBA 

Alas ! I looked forth twice, but will no 
more. 

lONE 

What didst thou see ? 

PANTHEA 

A woful sight: a youth 
With patient looks nailed to a crucifix. 



What next ? 



lONE 



PANTHBA 



The heaven around, the earth below. 
Was peopled with thick shapes of human 

death. 
All horrible, and wrought by human hands; 
And some appeared the work of human 

hearts, 569 



ACT I 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



175 



F(Jr men were slowly killed by frowns and 

smiles; 
And other sights too foul to speak and live 
Were wandering by. Let us not tempt 

worse fear 
By looking forth; those groans are grief 

enough. 

FURY 

Behold an emblem: those who do endure 
Deep wrongs for man, and scorn, and chains, 

but heap 
Thousand-fold torment on themselves and 

him. 

PROMETHEUS 

Remit the anguish of that lighted stare; 
Close those wan lips; let that thorn- wounded 

brow 
Stream not with blood; it mingles with 

thy tears ! 
Fix, fix those tortured orbs in peace and 

death, 600 

So thy sick throes shake not that crucifix. 
So those pale fingers play not with thy 

gore. 
Oh, horrible ! Thy name I will not speak — 
It hath become a cursa. I see, I see 
The wise, the mild, the lofty, and the just, 
Whom thy slaves hate for being like to 

thee. 
Some hunted by foul lies from their heart's 

home, 
An early-chosen, late-lamented home. 
As hooded ounces cling to the driven hind; 
Some linked to corpses in unwholesome 

cells; 610 

Some — hear 1 not the multitude laugh 

loud? — 
Impaled in lingering fire; and mighty 

realms 
Float by my feet, like sea-uprooted isles, 
Whose sons are kneaded down in common 

blood 
By the red light of their own burning 

homes. 

FURY 

Blood thou canst see, and fire; and canst 
hear groans: 

Worse things unheard, unseen, remain be- 
hind. 



PROMETHIUS 



Worse ? 



FURY 

In each human heart terror survives 
The ruin it has gorged: the loftiest fear 
All that they would disdain to think were 
true. 620 

Hypocrisy and custom make their minds 
The fanes of many a worship, now outworn 
They dare not devise good for man's es- 
tate. 
And yet they know not that they do not 

dare. 
The good want power, but to weep barren 

tears. 
The powerful goodness want; worse need 

for them. 
The wise want love; and those who love 

want wisdom; 
And all best things are thus confused to- 
ill. 
Many are strong and rich, and would be 

just, 629 

But live among their suffering fellow-men 
As if none felt; they know not what they 
do. 

PROMETHEUS 

Thy words are like a cloud of winged 

snakes ; 
And yet I pity those they torture not. 

FURY 

Thou pitiest them ? I speak no more ! 

[ Vanishes^ 

PROMETHEUS 

Ah woe ! 
Ah woe ! Alas ! pain, pain ever, forever ! 
I close my tearless eyes, but see more clear 
Thy works within my woe-illumed mind. 
Thou subtle tyrant ! Peace is in the 

grave. 
The grave hides all things beautiful and 

good. 
I am a God and cannot find it there, 640 
Nor would I seek it ; for, though dread 

revenge. 
This is defeat, fierce king, not victory. 
The sights with which thou torturest gird 

my soul 
With new endurance, till the hour arrives 
When they shall be no types of things 

which are. 

PANTHBA 

Alas ! what sawest thou ? 



176 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



ACT I 



PROMETHEUS 

There are two woes — 

To speak and to behold; thou spare me 
one. 

Names are there, Nature's sacred watch- 
words, they 

Were borne aloft in bright emblazonry; 

The nations thronged around, and cried 
aloud, 650 

As with one voice, Truth, Liberty, and 
Love ! 

Suddenly fierce confusion fell from heaven 

Among them; there was strife, deceit, and 
fear; 

Tyrants rushed in, and did divide the spoil. 

This was the shadow of the truth I saw. 

THE EARTH 

I felt thy torture, son, with such mixed 

As pain and virtue give. To cheer thy 

state 
I hid ascend those subtle and fair spirits. 
Whose homes are the dim caves of human 

thought, 659 

And who inhabit, as birds wing the wind, 
Its worlu-surrounding ether; they behold 
Beyond that twilight realm, as in a glass, 
The future; may they speak comfort to 

thee! 

PANTHEA 

l^ok, sister, where a troop of spirits ga- 
ther. 

Like flocks of clouds in spring's delightful 
weather, 

Thronging in the blue air ! 

lONE 

And see ! more come. 
Like fountain-vapors when the winds are 

dumb, 
That climb up the ravine in scattered lines. 
And hark ! is it the music of the pines ? 
Is it the lake ? Is it the waterfall ? 670 

PANTHEA 

*Tis something sadder, sweeter far than 
all. 

CHORUS OF SPIRITS 

From unremembered ages we 
Gentle guides and guardians be 
Of heaven-oppressed mortality; 



And we breathe, and sicken not. 
The atmosphere of human thought: 
Be it dim, and dank, and gray. 
Like a storm-extinguished day, 
Travelled o'er by dying gleams; 

Be it bright as all between 68t 

Cloudless skies and windless streams. 

Silent, liquid, and serene ; 
As the birds within the wind. 

As the fish within the wave. 
As the thoughts of man's own mind 

Float through all above the grave; 
We make there our liquid lair. 
Voyaging cloudlike and unpent 
Through the boundless element: 
Thence we bear the prophecy 69* 

Which begins and ends in thee ! 

lONE 

More yet come, one by one; the air around 

them 
Looks radiant as the air around a star. 

FIRST SPIRIT 

On a battle-trumpet's blast 
I fled hither, fast, fast, fast, 
'Mid the darkness upward cast. 
From the dust of creeds outworn, 
From the tyrant's banner torn. 
Gathering round me, onward borne. 
There was mingled many a cry — 70c 
Freedom ! Hope ! Death ! Victory ! 
Till they faded through the sky; 
And one sound above, around. 
One sound beneath, around, above. 
Was moving; 't was the soul of love; 
'T was the hope, the prophecy. 
Which begins and ends in thee. 

SECOND SPIRIT 

A rainbow's arch stood on the sea, 

Which rocked beneath, immovably; 

And the triumphant storm did flee, 710 

Like a conqueror, swift and proud. 

Begirt with many a captive cloud, 

A shapeless, dark and rapid crowd. 

Each by lightning riven in half. 

I heard the thunder hoarsely laugh. 

Mighty fleets were strewn like chaff 

And spread beneath a hell of death 

O'er the white waters. I alit 

On a great ship lightning-split. 

And speeded hither on the sigh 721 

Of one who gave an enemy 

His plank, then plunged aside to die. 



ACT I 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



177 



THIRD SPIRIT 

I sat beside a sage's bed, 

And the lamp was burning red 

Near the book where he had fed, 

When a Dream with plumes of flame 

To his pillow hovering came, 

And I knew it was the same 

Which had kindled long ago 

Pity, eloquence, and woe; 730 

And the world awhile below 

Wore the shade its lustre made. 

It has borne me here as fleet 

As Desire's lightning feet; 

I must ride it back ere morrow, 

Or the sage will wake in sorrow. 

FOURTH SPIRIT 

On a poet's lips I slept 
Dreaming like a love-adept 
In the sound his breathing kept; 
Nor seeks nor finds he mortal blisses, 740 
But feeds on the aerial kisses 
Of shapes that haunt thought's wilder- 
nesses. 
He will watch from dawn to gloom 
The lake-reflected sun illume 
The yellow bees in the ivy-bloom. 
Nor heed nor see what things they be; 
But from these create he can 
Forms more real than living man, 
Nurslings of immortality ! 
One of these awakened me, 750 

And I sped to succor thee. 

lONE 

Behold'st thou not two shapes from the 

east and west 
Come, as two doves to one beloved nest. 
Twin nurslings of the all-sustaining air. 
On swift still wings glide down the at- 
mosphere ? 
And, hark ! their sweet sad voices ! 't is 

despair 
Mingled with love and then dissolved in 
sound. 

PANTHEA 

Canst thou speak, sister ? all my words are 
drowned. 

TONE 

Their beauty gives me voice. See how 

they float 
On their sustaining wings of skyey grain, 760 



Orange and azure deepening into gold ! 
Their soft smiles light the air like a star's 
fire. 

CHORUS OF SPIRITS 

Hast thou beheld the form of Love ? 

FIFTH SPIRIT 

As over wide dominions 
I sped, like some swift cloud that wings 

the wide air's wildernesses. 
That planet-crested Shape swept by on 

lightning-braided pinions, 
Scattering the liquid joy of life from his 

ambrosial tresses. 
His footsteps paved the world with light; 

but as I passed 't was fading. 
And hollow Ruin yawned behind; great 

sages bound in madness, 
And headless patriots, and pale youths who 

perished, unupbraiding. 
Gleamed in the night. I wandered o'er, 

till thou, O King of sadness, 770 

Turned by thy smile the worst I saw to 

recollected gladness. 

SIXTH SPIRIT 

Ah, sister ! Desolation is a delicate thing: 
It walks not on the earth, it floats not on 

the air. 
But treads with killing footstep, and fans 

with silent wing 
The tender hopes which in their hearts the 

best and gentlest bear; 
Who, soothed to false repose by the fan- 
ning plumes above 
And the music-stirring motion of its soft 

and busy feet, 
Dream visions of aerial joy, and call the 

monster, Love, 
And wake, and find the shadow Pain, as 

he whom now we greet. 

CHORUS 

Though Ruin now Love's shadow be, 78a 
Following him, destroyingly. 

On Death's white and winged steed. 
Which the fleetest cannot flee. 

Trampling down both flower and weed, 
Man and beast, and foul and fair, 
Like a tempest through the air; 
Thou shalt quell this horseman grim, 
Woundless though in heart or limbo 



178 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



ACT ii : sc. I 



PROMETHEUS 

Spirits ! how know ye this shall be ? 

CHORUS 

In the atmosphere we breathe, 790 

As buds grow red, when the snow-storms 
flee, 

From spring gathering up beneath, 
Whose mild winds shake the elder-brake. 
And the wandering herdsmen know 
That the white-thorn soon will blow: 
Wisdom, Justice, Love, and Peace, 
When they struggle to increase. 
Are to us as soft winds be 
To shepherd boys, the prophecy 
Which begins and ends in thee. 800 

lONE 

Where are the Spirits fled ? 

PANTHEA 

Only a sense 
Remains of them, like the omnipotence 
Of music, when the inspired voice and lute 
Languish, ere yet the responses are mute. 
Which through the deep and labyrinthine 

soul. 
Like echoes through long caverns, wind 

and roll. 

PROMETHEUS 

How fair these air-born shapes ! and yet I 

feel 
Most vain all hope but love; and thou art 

far, 
Asia ! who, when my being overflowed, 809 
Wert like a golden chalice to bright wine 
Which else had sunk into the thirsty dust. 
All things are still. Alas ! how heavily 
This quiet morning weighs upon my heart; 
Though I should dream I could even 

sleep with grief, 
If slumber were denied not. I would fain 
Be what it is my destiny to be. 
The saviour and the strength of suffering 

man. 
Or sink into the original gulf of things. 
There is no agony, and no solace left; 
Earth can console. Heaven can torment no 

820 



more. 



PANTHEA 



Hast thou forgotten one who watches thee 
The cold dark night, and never sleeps but 

when 
The shadow of thy spirit falls on her ? 



PROMETHEUS 

I said all hope was vain but love; thou 
lovest. 

PANTHEA 

Deeply in truth; but the eastern star looks 
white. 

And Asia waits in that far Indian vale. 

The scene of her sad exile; rugged once 

And desolate and frozen, like this ravine; 

But now invested with fair flowers and 
herbs, 

And haunted by sweet airs and sounds, 
which flow 830 

Among the woods and waters, from the 
ether 

Of her transforming presence, which would 
fade 

If it were mingled not with thine. Fare- 
well ! 

ACT II 

Scene I. — Morning. A lovely Vale in the 
Indian Caucasus. Asia, alone. 

ASIA 

From all the blasts of heaven thou hast 

descended; 
Yes, like a spirit, like a thought, which 

makes 
Unwonted tears throng to the horny eyes, 
And beatings haunt the desolated heart. 
Which should have learned repose; thou 

hast descended 
Cradled in tempests; thou dost wake, O 

Spring ! 
O child of many winds ! As suddenly 
Thou comest as the memory of a dream. 
Which now is sad because it hath been 

sweet; 
Like genius, or like joy which riseth up 10 
As from the earth, clothing with golden 

clouds 
The desert of our life. 
This is the season, this the day, the hour; 
At sunrise thou shouldst come, sweet sister 

mine. 
Too long desired, too long delaying, come ! 
How like death-worms the wingless mo- 
ments crawl ! 
The point of one white star is quivering 

still 
Deep in the orange light of widening morn 
Beyond the purple mountains; through a 

chasm 



ACT II: SC I 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



179 



Of wind-divided mist the darker lake 20 
Reflects it; now it wanes; it gleams again 
As the waves fade, and as the burning 

threads 
Of woven cloud unravel in pale air; 
'T is lost ! and through yon peaks of cloud- 
like snow 
The roseate sunlight quivers; hear I not 
The ^olian music of her sea-green plumes 
Winnowing the crimson dawn ? 

Panthea enters 

I feel, I see 
Those eyes which burn through smiles that 

fade in tears, 
Like stars half-quenched in mists of silver 

dew. 29 

Beloved and most beautiful, who wearest 
The shadow of that soul by which I live. 
How late thou art ! tbe sphered sun had 

climbed 
The sea; my heart was sick with hope, 

before 
The printless air felt thy belated plumes. 

PANTHEA 

Pardon, great Sister ! but my wings were 

faint 
With the delight of a remembered dream, 
As are the noontide plumes of summer 

winds 
Satiate with sweet flowers. I was wont to 

sleep 
Peacefully, and awake refreshed and calm, 
Before the sacred Titan's fall and thy 40 
Unhappy love had made, through use and 

pity, 

Both love and woe familiar to my heart 
As they had grown to thine: erewhile I 

slept 
Under the glaucous caverns of old Ocean 
Within dim bowers of green and purple 

moss, 
Our young lone's soft and milky arms 
Locked then, as now, behind my dark, 

moist hair. 
While my shut eyes and cheek were pressed 

within 
The folded depth of her life-breathing 

bosom: 49 

But not as now, since I am made the 

wind 
Which fails beneath the music that I hear 
Of thy most wordless converse ; since dis 

solved 



Into the sense with which love talks, my 

rest 
Was troubled and yet sweet; my waking 

hours 
Too full of care and pain. 

ASIA 

Lift up thine eyes, 
And let me read thy dream. 

PANTHEA 

As I have said, 
With our sea-sister at his feet I slept. 
The mountain mists, condensing at our 

voice 
Under the moon, had spread their snowy 

flakes. 
From the keen ice shielding our linked 

sleep. 60 

Then two dreams came. One I rememher 

not. 
But in the other his pale wound-worn limb» 
Fell from Prometheus, and the azure night 
Grew radiant with the glory of that form 
Which lives unchanged within, and his 

voice fell 
Like music which makes giddy the dim 

brain, 
Faint with intoxication of keen joy : 
* Sister of her whose footsteps pave tbe 

world 
With loveliness — more fair than aught 

but her. 
Whose shadow thou art — lift thine eyes 

on me.' 70 

I lifted them; the overpowering light 
Of that immortal shape was shadowed o'er 
By love; which, from his soft and flowing 

limbs. 
And passion-parted lips, and keen, faint 

eyes. 
Steamed forth like vaporous fire; an at- 
mosphere 
Which wrapped me in its all-dissolving 

power, 
As the warm ether of the morning sun 
Wraps ere it drinks some cloud of wander- 
ing dew. 
I saw not, heard not, moved not, only felt 
His presence flow and mingle through my 

blood 80 

Till it became his life, and his grew mine, 
And 1 was thus absorbed, until it passed, 
And like the vapors when the sun sinks 

down, 



i8o 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



ACT II : SC. I 



Gathering again in drops upon the pines, 
And tremulous as they, in the deep night 
My being was condensed; and as the rays 
Of thought were slowly gathered, I could 

hear 
His voice, whose accents lingered ere they 

died 
Like footsteps of weak melody; thy name 
Among the many sounds alone I heard 90 
Of what might be articulate; though still 
I listened through the night when sound 

was none, 
lone wakened then, and said to me: 
' Canst thou divine what troubles me to- 
night ? 
I always knew what I desired before, 
Nor ever found delight to wish in vain. 
But now I cannot tell thee what I seek; 
1 know not; something sweet, since it is 

sweet 
Even to desire ; it is thy sport, false sis- 
ter; 
Thou hast discovered some enchantment 
old, 100 

Whose spells have stolen my spirit as 1 

slept 
And mingled it with thine; for when just 

now 
We kissed, I felt within thy parted lips 
The sweet air that sustained me; and the 

warmth 
Of the life-blood, for loss of which I 

faint, 
Quivered between our intertwining arms.' 
I answered not, for the Eastern star grew 

pale, 
But fled to thee. 

ASIA 

Thou speakest, but thy words 
Are as the air; I feel them not. Oh, lift 
Thine eyes, that I may read his written 
soul ! no 

PANTHEA 

I lift them, though they droop beneath the 

load 
Of that they would express; what canst 

thou see 
But thine own fairest shadow imaged there ? 

ASIA 

Thine eyes are like the deep, blue, bound- 
less heaven 
Contracted to two circles underneath 



Their long, fine lashes; dark, far, measure- 
less, 

Orb within orb, and line through line in- 
woven. 

PANTHBA 

Why lookest thou as if a spirit passed ? 

ASIA 

There is a change; beyond their inmost 

depth 
I see a shade, a shape: 't is He, arrayed 120 
In the soft light of his own smiles, which 

spread 
Like radiance from the cloud-surrounded 

moon. 
Prometheus, it is thine ! depart not yet ! 
Say not those smiles that we shall meet 

again 
Within that bright pavilion which their 

beams 
Shall build on the waste world ? The dream 

is told. 
What shape is that between us ? Its rude 

hair 
Roughens the wind that lifts it, its regard 
Is wild and quick, yet 't is a thing of air. 
For through its gray robe gleams the golden 

dew 130 

Whose stars the noon has quenched not. 



DREAM 



Follow ! Follow ! 

PANTHEA 

It is mine other dream. 

ASIA 

It disappears. 

PANTHEA 

It passes now into my mind. Methought 

As we sate here, the flower-infolding buds 

Burst on yon lightning - blasted almond 
tree; 

When swift from the white Scythian wil- 
derness 

A wind swept forth wrinkling the Earth 
with frost; 

I looked, and all the blossoms were blown 
down; 

But on each leaf was stamped, as the blue 
bells 

Of Hyacinth tell Apollo's written grief, 140 
' Oh, follow, follow ', 



ACT II : SC. I 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



i8i 



ASIA 

As you speak, your words 
Fill, pause by pause, my own forgotten 

sleep 
With shapes. Methought among the lawns 

together 
We wandered, underneath the young gray 

dawn, 
And multitudes of dense white fleecy clouds 
Were wandering in thick flocks along the 

mountains, 
Shepherded by the slow, unwilling wind; 
And the white dew on the new-bladed 

grass, 
Just piercing the dark earth, hung silently; 
And there was more which I remember 

not*, 150 

But on the shadows of the morning clouds, 
Athwart the purple mountain slope, was 

written 
Follow, oh, follow ! as they vanished 

by; 
And on each herb, from which Heaven's 

dew had fallen, 
The like was stamped, as with a withering 

fire; 
A wind arose among the pines; it shook 
The clinging music from their boughs, and 

then 
Low, sweet, faint sounds, like the farewell 

of ghosts. 
Were heard : oh, follow, follow, follow 

ME ! 
And then I said, ' Panthea, look on me.' 160 
But in the depth of those beloved eyes 
Still I saw, follow, follow ! 



ECHO 



Follow, follow ! 



PANTHEA 

The crags, this clear spring morning, mock 

our voices. 
As they were spirit-tongued. 

ASIA 

It is some being 
Around the crags. What fine clear sounds ! 
Oh, list ! 

ECHOES, unseen 
Echoes we: listen ! 

We cannot stay: 
As dew-stars glisten 

Then fade away — 

Child of Ocean ! 170 



ASIA 



Hark ! Spirits speak. The liquid re- 
sponses 
Of their aerial tongues yet sound. 



PANTHEA 



ECHOES 



I hear. 



Oh, follow, follow, 

As our voice recedeth 
Through the caverns hollow, 
Where the forest spreadeth; 
(More distant) 
Oh, follow, follow ! 
Through the caverns hollow. 
As the song floats thou pursue, 
Where the wild bee never flew, rSo 
Through the noontide darkness deep. 
By the odor-breathing sleep 
Of faint night-flowers, and the waves 
At the fountain-lighted caves. 
While our music, wild and sweet, 
Mocks thy gently falling feet, 
Child of Ocean ! 

ASIA 

Shall we pursue the sound ? It grows 

more faint 
And distant. 

PANTHEA 

List ! the strain floats nearer now. 

ECHOES 

In the world unknown 190 

Sleeps a voice unspoken; 

By thy step alone 

Can its rest be broken; 
Child of Ocean ! 

ASIA 

How the notes sink upon the ebbing wind ! 

ECHOES 

Oh, follow, follow ! 

Through the caverns hollow, 
As the song floats thou pursue. 
By the woodland noontide dew; 
By the forests, lakes, and fountains, 200 
Through the many-folded mountains; 
To the rents, and gulfs, and chasms. 
Where the Earth reposed from spasms, 
On the day when He and thou 
Parted, to commingle now; 
Child of Ocean! 



l82 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



ACT II : sc. II 



ASIA 



Come, sweet Panthea, link thy hand in 

mine, 
And follow, ere the voices fade away. 

Scene II. — A Forest intermingled with Rocks 
and Caverns. Asia and Panthea pass into 
it. Two young Fauns are sitting on a Rock, 
listening. 

SEMICHORUS I OF SPIRITS 

The path through which that lovely twain 
Have passed, by cedar, pine, and yew. 
And each dark tree that ever grew, 
Is curtained out from Heaven's wide 
blue; 

Nor sun, nor moon, nor wind, nor rain, 
Can pierce its interwoven bowers, 
Nor aught, save where some cloud of 
dew, 

Drifted along the earth-creeping breeze 

Between the trunks of the hoar trees, 9 
Hangs each a pearl in the pale flowers 
Of the green laurel blown anew, 

And bends, and then fades silently, 

One frail and fair anemone ; 

Or when some star of many a one 

That climbs and wanders through steep 
night. 

Has found the cleft through which alone 

Beams fall from high those depths upon, — 

Ere it is borne away, away. 

By the swift Heavens that cannot stay. 

It scatters drops of golden light, 20 

Like lines of rain that ne'er unite; 

And the gloom divine is all around; 

And underneath is the mossy ground. 

SEMICHORUS II 

There the voluptuous nightingales. 

Are awake through all the broad noon- 
day: 

When one with bliss or sadness fails. 

And through the windless ivy-boughs, 
Sick with sweet love, droops dying away 

On its mate's music-panting bosom; 

Another from the swinging blossom, 30 

Watching to catch the languid close 
Of the last strain, then lifts on high 
The wings of the weak melody, 

Till some new strain of feeling bear 
The song, and all the woods are mute; 

When there is heard through the dim air 

The rush of wings, and rising there. 
Like many a lake-surrounded flute, 



Sounds overflow the listener's brain 
So sweet, that joy is almost pain. 



49 



SEMICHORUS I 

There those enchanted eddies play 

Of echoes, music-tongued, which draw. 
By Demogorgon's mighty law. 
With melting rapture, or sweet awe. 
All spirits on that secret way, 

As inland boats are driven to Ocean 
Down streams made strong with mountain- 
thaw; 
And first there comes a gentle sound 
To those in talk or slumber bound, 

And wakes the destined; soft emo- 
tion 5c 
Attracts, impels them; those who saw 
Say from the breathing earth behind 
There steams a plume-uplifting wind 
Which drives them on their path, while 
they 
Believe their own swift wings and feet 
The sweet desires within obey; 
And so they float upon their way, 

Until, still sweet, but loud and strong. 
The storm of sound is driven along. 
Sucked up and hurrying; as they fleet 6« 
Behind, its gathering billows meet 
And to the fatal mountain bear 
Like clouds amid the yielding air. 

FIRST FAUN 

Canst thou imagine where those spirits 

live 
Which make such delicate music in the 

woods ? 
We haunt within the least frequented caves 
And closest coverts, and we know these 

wilds, 
Yet never meet them, though we hear 

them oft: 
Where may they hide themselves ? 

SECOND FAUN 

'T is hard to tell; 
I have heard those more skilled in spirits 

say, 70 

The bubbles, which the enchantment of the 

sun 
Sucks from the pale faint water-flowers 

that pave 
The oozy bottom of clear lakes and pools. 
Are the pavilions where such dwell and 

float 
Under the green and golden atmosphere 



ACT II : SC. Ill 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



183 



Which noontide kindles through the woven 
leaves ; 

And when these burst, and the thin fiery 
air, 

The which they breathed within those lu- 
cent domes, 

Ascends to flow like meteors through the 
night. 

They ride on them, and rein their headlong 
speed, 80 

And bow their burning crests, and glide in 
fire 

Under the waters of the earth again. 

FIRST FAUN 

If such live thus, have others other lives. 
Under pink blossoms or within the bells 
Of meadow flowers or folded violets deep, 
Or on their dying odors, when they die, 
Or in the sunlight of the sphered dew ? 

SECOND FAUN 

Ay, many more which we may well divine. 
But should we stay to speak, noontide 

would come. 
And thwart Silenus find his goats un- 
drawn, 90 
And grudge to sing those wise and lovely 

songs 
Of Fate, and Chance, and God, and Chaos 

old, 
And Love and the chained Titan's woful 

doom. 
And how he shall be loosed, and make the 

earth 
One brotherhood; delightful strains which 

cheer 
Our solitary twilights, and which charm 
To silence the unenvying nightingales. 



Scene III. — A Pinnacle of Rock among 
Mountains. Asia and Panthea. 

PANTHEA 

Hither the sound has borne us — to the 

realm 
Of Demogorgon, and the mighty portal. 
Like a volcano's meteor-breathing chasm. 
Whence the oracular vapor is hurled up 
Which lonely men drink wandering in their 

youth. 
And call truth, virtue, love, genius, or joy, 
That maddening wine of life, whose dregs 

they drain 



To deep intoxication; and uplift. 
Like Maenads who cry loud, Evoe ! Evoe! 
The voice which is contagion to the 
world. 10 

ASIA 

Fit throne for such a Power ! Magnifi- 
cent ! 
How glorious art thou. Earth ! and if thou 

be 
The shadow of some spirit lovelier still. 
Though evil stain its work, and it should 

be 
Like its creation, weak yet beautiful, 
1 could fall down and worship that and 

thee. 
Even now my heart adoreth. Wonderful ! 
Look, sister, ere the vapor dim thy brain: 
Beneath is a wide plain of billowy mist, 
As a lake, paving in the morning sky, 29 
With azure waves which burst in silver 

light. 
Some Indian vale. Behold it, rolling on 
Under the curdling winds, and islanding 
The peak whereon we stand, midway, 

around, 
Encinctured by the dark and blooming 

forests. 
Dim twilight-lawns, and stream-illumined 

caves. 
And wind-enchanted shapes of wandering 

mist; 
And far on high the keen sky-cleaving 

mountains 
From icy spires of sunlike radiance fling 25 
The dawn, as lifted Ocean's dazzling spray, 
From some Atlantic islet scattered up. 
Spangles the wind with lamp-like water- 
drops. 
The vale is girdled with their walls, a 

howl 
Of cataracts from their thaw-cloven ra- 
vines 
Satiates the listening wind, continuous, vast, 
Awful as silence. Hark ! the rushing 

snow ! 
The sun-awakened avalanche ! whose mass. 
Thrice sifted by the storm, had gathered 

there 
Flake after flake, in heaven-defying minds 
As thought by thought is piled, till some 
great truth 40 

Is loosened, and the nations echo round, 
Shaken to their roots, as do the mount*iii8 
now. 



i84 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



ACT II : SC. IV 



PANTHEA 

Look how the gusty sea of mist is breaking 
In crimson foam, even at our feet ! it rises 
As Ocean at the enchantment of the moon 
Kound foodless men wrecked on some oozy 
isle. 

ASIA 

The fragments of the cloud are scattered 

up; 
The wind that lifts them disentwiues my 

hair; 
Its billows now sweep o'er mine eyes; my 

brain 49 

Grows dizzy; I see shapes within the mist. 

PANTHEA 

A countenance with beckoning smiles; 

there burns 
An azure lire within its golden locks ! 
Another and another: hark ! they speak ! 

SONG OF SPIRITS 

To the deep, to the deep, 

Down, down ! 
Through the shade of sleep, 
Through the cloudy strife 
Of Death and of Life; 
Throusfh the veil and the bar 
Of things which seem and are, 60 

Even to the steps of the remotest throne, 

Down, down ! 

While the sound whirls around, 

Down, down ! 
As the fawn draws the hound. 
As the lightning the vapor. 
As a weak moth the taper; 
Death, despair; love, sorrow; 
Time, both; to-day, to-morrow; 
As steel obeys the spirit of the stone, 70 

Down, down ! 

Through the gray, void abysm, 

Down, down ! 
Where the air is no prism. 
And the moon and stars are not. 
And the cavern-crags wear not 
The radiance of Heaven, 
Nor the gloom to Earth given. 
Where there is one pervading, one alone, 

Down, down ! 80 

In the depth of the deep 
Down, down ! 



Like veiled lightning asleep. 
Like the spark nursed in embers, 
The last look Love remembers, 
Like a diamond, which shines 
On the dark wealth of mines, 
A spell is treasured but for thee alone. 
Down, down ! 

We have bound thee, we guide thee; 90 

Down, down ! 
With the bright form beside thee; 

Resist not the weakness. 
Such strength is in meekness 
That the Eternal, the Immortal, 
Must unloose through life's portal 
The snake-like Doom coiled underneath 

his throne 

By that alone. 

Scene IV. — The Cave o/" Demogorgon. 
Asia and Panthea. 

PANTHEA 

What veiled form sits on that ebon throne ? 

ASIA 

The veil has fallen. 

PANTHEA 

I see a mighty darkness 
Filling the seat of power, and rays of gloom 
Dart round, as light from the meridian sun, 
Ungazed upon and shapeless; neither limb. 
Nor form, nor outline; yet we feel it is 
A living Spirit. 

DEMOGORGON 

Ask what thou wouldst know. 

ASIA 

What canst thou tell ? 

DEMOGORGON 

All things thou dar'st demand. 

ASIA 

Who made the living world ? 



DEMOGORGON 



God. 



ASIA 



Who made all 
That it contains ? thought, passion, reason, 
will, 10 

Imagination ? 



ACT 11 : SC. IV 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



185 



DEMOGORGON 

God ; Almighty God. 

ASIA 

Who made that sense which, when the 

winds of spring 
In rarest visitation, or the voice 
Of one beloved heard in youth alone, 
Fills the faint eyes with falling tears which 

dim 
The radiant looks of unbewailing flowers. 
And leaves this peopled earth a solitude 
When it returns no more ? 



DEMOGORGON 



Merciful God. 



ASIA 



And who made terror, madness, crime, re- 
morse, 

Which from the links of the great chain of 
things 20 

To every thought within the mind of man 

Sway and drag heavily, and each one reels 

Under the load towards the pit of death ; 

Abandoned hope, and love that turns to 
hate; 

And self-contempt, bitterer to drink than 
blood; 

Pain, whose unheeded and familiar speech 

Is howling, and keen shrieks, day after 
day; 

And Hell, or the sharp fear of Hell ? 



DEMOGORGON 



ASIA 



He reigns. 



Utter his name ; a world pining in pain 
Asks but his name; curses shall drag him 



down. 



30 



DEMOGORGON 



He reigns. 



ASIA 

I feel, I know it: who ? 



DEMOGORGON 



ASIA 



He reigns. 



Who reigns ? There was the Heaven and 
Earth at first, 



And Light and Love; then Saturn, from 

whose throne 
Time fell, an envious shadow; such the 

state 
Of the earth's primal spirits beneath his 

sway. 
As the calm joy of flowers and living 

leaves 
Before the wind or sun has withered them 
And semivital worms ; but he refused 
The birthright of their being, knowledge, 

power. 
The skill which wields the elements, the 

thought 40 

Which pierces this dim universe like light, 
Self-empire, and the majesty of love; 
For thirst of which they fainted. Then 

Prometheus 
Gave wisdom, which is strength, to Jupiter, 
And with this law alone, ' Let man be 

free,' 
Clothed him with the dominion of wide 

Heaven. 
To know nor faith, nor love, nor law, to be 
Omnipotent but friendless, is to reign; 
And Jove now reigned; for on the race of 

man 
First famine, and then toil, and then dis- 
ease, 50 
Strife, wounds, and ghastly death unseen 

before. 
Fell; and the unseasonable seasons drove. 
With alternating shafts of frost and fire. 
Their shelterless, pale tribes to mountain 

caves; 
And in their desert hearts fierce wants he 

sent. 
And mad disquietudes, and shadows idle 
Of unreal good, which levied mutual war. 
So ruining the lair wherein they raged. 
Prometheus saw, and waked the legioned 

hopes 59 

Which sleep within folded Elysian flowers. 
Nepenthe, Moly, Amaranth, fadeless 

blooms, 
That they might hide with thin and rain- 
bow wings 
The shape of Death; and Love he sent to 

bind 
The disunited tendrils of that vine 
Which bears the wine of life, the human 

heart; 
And he tamed fire which, like some beast 

of prey. 
Most terrible, but lovely, played beneath 



iS6 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



ACT II : SC. IV 



The frown of man; and tortured to his 

will 
Iron and gold, the slaves and signs of 

power, 
And gems and poisons, and all subtlest 

forms 70 

Hidden beneath the mountains and the 

waves. 
He gave man speech, and speech created 

thought, 
Which is the measure of the universe; 
And Science struck the thrones of earth 

and heaven, 
Which shook, but fell not; and the har- 
monious mind 
Poured itself forth in all-prophetic song; 
And music lifted up the listening spirit 
Until it walked, exempt from mortal care. 
Godlike, o'er the clear billows of sweet 

sound ; 
And human hands first mimicked and then 

mocked, 80 

With moulded limbs more lovely than its 

own. 
The human form, till marble grew divine; 
And mothers, gazing, drank the love men 

see 
Reflected in their race, behold, and perish. 
He told the hidden power of herbs and 

springs. 
And Disease drank and slept. Death grew 

like sleep. 
He taught the implicated orbits woven 
Of the wide- wandering stars; and how the 

sun 
Changes his lair, and by what secret spell 
The pale moon is transformed, when her 

broad eye 90 

Gazes not on the interlunar sea. 
He taught to rule, as life directs the limbs, 
The tempest-winged chariots of the Ocean, 
And the Celt knew the Indian. Cities then 
Were built, and throus^h their snow-like 

columns flowed 
The warm winds, and the azure ether shone. 
And the blue sea and shadowy hills were 

seen. 
Such, the alleviations of his state, 
Prometheus gave to man, for which he 

hangs 
Withering in destined pain; but who rains 

down 100 

Evil, the immedicable plague, which, while 
Man looks on his creation like a god 
And sees that it is glorious, drives him on. 



The wreck of his own will, the scorn of 
earth. 

The outcast, the abandoned, the alone ? 

Not Jove : while yet his frown shook heaven 
ay, when 

His adversary from adamantine chains 

Cursed him, he trembled like a slave. De- 
clare 

Who is his master ? Is he too a slave ? 

DEMOGORGON 

All spirits are enslaved which serve things 
evil: no 

Thou knowest if Jupiter be such or no. 

ASIA. 

Whom called'st thou God ? 

DEMOGORGON 

I spoke but as ye speak>. 
For Jove is the supreme of living things. 

ASIA 

Who is the master of the slave ? 

DEMOGORGON 

If the abysm 
Could voirit forth its secrets — but a voice 
Is wanting, the deep truth is imageless; 
For what would it avail to bid thee gaze 
On the revolving world ? What to bid 

speak 
Fate, Time, Occasion, Chance and Change ? 

To these 
All things are subject but eternal Love. 120 

ASIA 

So much I asked before, and my heart gave 
The response thou hast given; and of such 

truths 
Each to itself must be the oracle. 
One more demajid ; and do thou answer me 
As my own soul would answer, did it know 
That which I ask. Prometheus shall arise 
Henceforth the sun of this rejoicing world: 
When shall the destined hour arrive ? 



DEMOGORGON 



ASIA 



Behold f 



The rocks are cloven, and through the pur- 
ple night 

I see cars drawn by rainbow - winged 
steeds 13a 



ACT II : SC. V 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



187 



Which trample the dim winds; in each there 

stands 
A wild-eyed charioteer urging their flight. 
Some look behind, as fiends pursued them 

there, 
And yet I see no shapes but the keen stars; 
Others, with burning eyes, lean forth, and 

drink 
With eager lips the wind of their own 

speed. 
As if the thing they loved fled on before, 
And now, even now, they clasped it. Their 

bright locks 
Stream like a comet's flashing hair; they 

all 139 

Sweep onward. 

DEMOGORGON 

These are the immortal Hours, 
Of whom thou didst demand. One waits 
for thee. 

ASIA 

A Spirit with a dreadful countenance 
Checks its dark chariot by the craggy gulf. 
Unlike thy brethren, ghastly Charioteer, 
Who art thou ? Whither wouldst thou 
bear me ? Speak ! 

SPIRIT 

I am the Shadow of a destiny 

More dread than is my aspect; ere yon 

planet 
Has set, the darkness which ascends with 

me 
Shall wrap in lasting night heaven's kingless 

throne. 149 

ASIA 

What meanest thou ? 

PANTHEA 

That terrible Shadow floats 
Up from its throne, as may the lurid smoke 
Of earthquake-ruined cities o'er the sea. 
liO ! it ascends the car; the coursers fly 
Terrified ; watch its path among the stars 
Blackening the night ! 

ASIA 

Thus I am answered: strange ! 

PANTHEA 

See, near the verge, another chariot stays; 
An ivory shell inlaid with crimson fire. 



Which comes and goes within its sculptured 



rim 
Of delicate strange tracery; the young 

Spirit 
That guides it has the dove-like eyes of 

hope; 160 

How its soft smiles attract the soul ! as 

light 
Lures winged insects through the lampless 

air. 

SPIRIT 

My coursers are fed with the lightning, 
They drink of the whirlwind's stream. 

And when the red morning is bright'ning 
They bathe in the fresh sunbeam. 
They have strength for their swiftness I 
deem ; 

Then ascend with me, daughter of Ocean. 

I desire — and their speed makes night 
kindle ; 

I fear — they outstrip the typhoon ; 170 
Ere the cloud piled on Atlas can dwindle 

We encircle the earth and the moon. 

We shall rest from long labors at noon; 
Then ascend with me, daughter of Ocean. 



Scene V. — The Car pauses within a Cloud on 
the Top of a snowy Mountain. Asia, Pan- 
THEA, and the Spirit of the Hour. 

spirit 

On the brink of the night and the morning 

My coursers are wont to respire; 
But the Earth has just whispered a warn- 
ing 
That their flight must be swifter than 

fire; 
They shall drink the hot speed of desire ! 

ASIA 

Thou breathest on their nostrils, but my 

breath 
Would give them swifter speed. 

spirit 

Alas ! it could not 

PANTHEA 

O Spirit ! pause, and tell whence is the 

light 

Which fills the cloud ? the sun is yet un- 

risen. 9 



i88 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



ACT II : SC. V 



SPIRIT 

The sun will rise not until noon. Apollo 
Is held in heaven by wonder; and the light 
Which fills this vapor, as the aerial hue 
Of fountain-gazing roses fills the water, 
Flows from thy mighty sister. 



PANTHEA 



ASIA 



Yes, I feel — 



What is it with thee, sister ? Thou art 
pale. 

PAN THE A 

How thou art changed ! I dare not look 

on thee; 
1 feel but see thee not. I scarce endure 
The radiance of thy beauty. Some good 

change 
Is working in the elements, which suffer 
Thy presence thus unveiled. The Nereids 
tell 20 

That on the day when the clear hyaline 
Was cloven at thy uprise, and thou didst 

stand 
Within a veined shell, which floated on 
Over the calm floor of the crystal sea. 
Among the ^gean isles, and by the shores 
Which bear thy name, — love, like the at- 
mosphere 
Of the sun's fire filling the living world. 
Burst from thee, and illumined earth and 

heaven 
And the deep ocean and the sunless caves 
And all that dwells within them; till grief 
cast 30 

Eclipse upon the soul from which it came. 
Such art thou now; nor is it I alone. 
Thy sister, thy companion, thine own chosen 

one. 
But the whole world which seeks thy sym- 
pathy. 
Hearest thou not sounds i' the air which 

speak the love 
Of all articulate beings ? Feelest thou not 
The inanimate winds enamoured of thee ? 
List ! l^Music. 

ASIA 

Thy words are sweeter than aught else but 

his 
Whose echoes they are; yet all love is 

sweet, 
Given or returned. Common as light is 

love, 40 



And its familiar voice wearies not ever. 
Like the wide heaven, the all-sustaining air, 
It makes the reptile equal to the God; 
They who inspire it most are fortunate, 
As I am now; but those who feel it most 
Are happier still, after long sufferings. 
As I shall soon become. 

PANTHEA 

List ! Spirits speak. 

VOICE in the air, singing 

Life of Life, thy lips enkindle 

With their love the breath between them ; 
And thy smiles before they dwindle 50 

Make the cold air fire; then screen them 
In those looks, where whoso gazes 
Faints, entangled in their mazes. 

Child of Light ! thy limbs are burning 
Through the vest which seems to hide 
them; 
As the radiant lines of morning 

Through the clouds, ere they divide 
them ; 
And this atmosphere divinest 
Shrouds thee wheresoe'er thou shinest. 

Fair are others; none beholds thee, 60 

But thy voice sounds low and tender 

Like the fairest, for it folds thee 

From the sight, that liquid splendor, 

And all feel, yet see thee never. 

As I feel now, lost forever ! 

Lamp of Earth ! where'er thou movest 
Its dim shapes are clad with brightness. 

And the souls of whom thou lovest 
Walk upon the winds with lightness, 

Till they fail, as I am failing, 70 

Dizzy, lost, yet unbewailing ! 

ASIA 

My soul is an enchanted boat. 
Which, like a sleeping swan, doth float 

Upon the silver waves of thy sweet sing- 
ing; 
And thine doth like an angel sit 
Beside a helm conducting it. 

Whilst all the winds with melody are ring- 
ing. 
It seems to float ever, forever. 
Upon that many- winding river. 
Between mountains, woods, abysses, 80 
A paradise of wildernesses ! 



ACT III : SC. I 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



189 



Till, like one in slumber bound, 
Borne to the ocean, I float down, around, 
Into a sea profound of ever-spreading 
sound. 

Meanwhile thy spirit lifts its pinions 
In music's most serene dominions; 
Catching the winds that fan that happy 
heaven. 
And we sail on, away, afar, 
Without a course, without a star. 
But, by the instinct of sweet music 
driven; 90 

Till through Elysian garden islets 
By thee most beautiful of pilots. 
Where never mortal pinnace glided, 
The boat of my desire is guided; 
Realms where the air we breathe is love. 
Which in the winds on the waves doth 

move. 
Harmonizing this earth with what we feel 
above. 

We have passed Age's icy caves. 

And Manhood's dark and tossing waves. 

And Youth's smooth ocean, smiling to 
betray ; 100 

Beyond the glassy gulfs we flee 
Of shadow-peopled Infancy, 

Through Death and Birth, to a diviner day ; 
A paradise of vaulted bowers 
Lit by downward-gazing flowers. 
And watery paths that wind between 
Wildernesses calm and green. 

Peopled by shapes too bright to see. 

And rest, having beheld; somewhat like 
thee; 

Which walk upon the sea, and chant melo- 
diously ! no 

ACT III 

Scene I. — Heaven. Jupiter on Ms Throne ; 
Thetis and the other Deities assembled. 

JUPITER 

Ye congregated powers of heaven, who 

share 
The glory and the strength of him ye 

serve, 
Rejoice ! henceforth I am omnipotent. 
All else had been subdued to me ; alone 
The soul of man, like unextinguished fire. 
Yet bums towards heaven with fiprce re- 
proach, and doubt, 



And lamentation, and reluctant prayer, 
Hurling up insurrection, which might 

make 
Our antique empire insecure, though built 
On eldest faith, and hell's coeval, fear; 10 
And though my curses through the pendu- 
lous air. 
Like snow on herbless peaks, fall flake by 

flake, 
And cling to it; though under my wrath's 

night 
It climb the crags of life, step after step, 
Which wound it, as ice wounds unsaudalled 

feet. 
It yet remains supreme o'er misery. 
Aspiring, uurepressed, yet soon to fall; 
Even now have I begotten a strange won- 
der, 
That fatal child, the terror of the earth. 
Who waits but till the destined hour ar- 
rive, 20 
Bearing from Demogorgon's vacant throne 
The dreadful might of ever-living limbs 
Which clothed that awful spirit unbeheld, 
To redescend, and trample out the spark. 

Pour forth heaven's wine, Idsean Gany- 
mede, 
And let it fill the dsedal cups like fire. 
And from the flower-inwoven soil divine, 
Ye all-triumphant harmonies, arise, 
As dew from earth under the twilight 

stars. 
Drink ! be the nectar circling through your 

veins 3a 

The soul of joy, ye ever-living Gods, 
Till exultation burst in one wide voice 
Like music from Elysian winds. 

And thou 
Ascend beside me, veiled in the light 
Of the desire which makes thee one with 

me, 
Thetis, bright image of eternity ! 
When thou didst cry, * Insufferable might ! 
God ! spare me ! I sustain not the quick 

flames. 
The penetrating presence; all my being, 
Like him whom the Numidian seps did 

thaw 4a 

Into a dew with poison, is dissolved. 
Sinking through its foundations,' — even 

then 
Two mighty spirits, mingling, made a 

third 
Mightier than either, which, unbodied now» 



IQO 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



ACT III: sc. 11 



Between us floats, felt, although unbeheld, 
Waiting the incarnation, which ascends, 
(Hear ye the thunder of the fiery wheels 
Griding the winds ?) from Demogorgon's 

throne. 
Victory ! victory ! Feel'st thou not, O 

world. 
The earthquake of his chariot thundering 

up 50 

Olympus ? 

[The Car of the Hour arrives. Demo- 
GORGON descends and moves towards the 
Throne of Jupiter. 

Awful shape, what art thou ? Speak ! 

DEMOGORGON 

Eternity. Demand no direr name. 

Descend, and follow me down the abyss. 

I am thy child, as thou wert Saturn's 
child; 

Mightier than thee; and we must dwell to- 
gether 

Henceforth in darkness. Lift thy light- 
nings not. 

The tyranny of heaven none may retain. 

Or reassume, or hold, succeeding thee; 

Yet if thou wilt, as 't is the destiny 

Of trodden worms to writhe till they are 
dead, 60 

Put forth thy might. 

JUPITER 

Detested prodigy ! 
Even thus beneath the deep Titanian 

prisons 
I trample thee ! Thou lingerest ? 

Mercy ! mercy ! 
No pity, no release, no respite ! Oh, 
That thou wouldst make mine enemy my 

judge. 
Even where he hangs, seared by my long 

revenge. 
On Caucasus ! he would not doom me 

thus. 
Gentle, and just, and dreadless, is he not 
The monarch of the world ? What then 

art thou ? 69 

No refuge ! no appeal ! 

Sink with me then. 
We two will sink on the wide waves of 

ruin. 
Even as a vulture and a snake outspent 
Drop, twisted in inextricable fight. 
Into a shoreless sea ! Let hell unlock 



Its mounded oceans of tempestuous fire. 
And whelm on them into the bottomless 

void 
This desolated world, and thee, and me, 
The conqueror and the conquered, and the 

wreck 
Of that for which they combated ! 

Ai, Ai ! 
The elements obey rne not. I sink 80 

Dizzily down, ever, forever, down. 
And, like a cloud, mine enemy above 
Darkens my fall with victory ! Ai, Ai ! 



ScEKE II. — The Mouth of a great River in the 
Island Atlantis. Ocean is discovered reclin- 
ing near the shore; Apollo stands beside 
him. 

OCEAN 

He fell, thou sayest, beneath his conquer- 
or's frown ? 

APOLLO 

Ay, when the strife was ended which made 

dim 
The orb I rule, and shook the solid stars, 
The terrors of his eye illumined heaven 
With sanguine light, through the thick 

ragged skirts 
Of the victorious darkness, as he fell; 
Like the last glare of day's red agony, 
Which, from a rent among the fiery clouds, 
Burns far along the tempest-wrinkled deep. 

OCEAN 

He sunk to the abyss ? to the dark 
void ? 10 

APOLLO 

An eagle so caught in some bursting cloud 
On Caucasus, his thunder-baffled wings 
Entangled in the whirlwind, and his eyes. 
Which gazed on the undazzling sun, now 

blinded 
By the white lightning, while the ponder- 
ous hail 
Beats on his struggling form, which sinks 

at length 
Prone, and the aerial ice clings over it. 

OCEAN 

Henceforth the fields of Heaven-reflecting 

sea 
Which are my realm, will heave, unstained 

with blood. 



ACT III : SC. Ill 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



191 



Beneath the uplifting winds, like plains of 

corn 20 

Swayed by the summer air; my streams 

will flow 
Round many-peopled continents, and round 
Fortunate isles; and from their glassy 

thrones 
Blue Proteus and his humid nymphs shall 

mark 
The shadow of fair ships, as mortals see 
The floating bark of the light-laden moon 
With that white star, its sightless pilot's 

crest. 
Borne down the rapid sunset's ebbing sea ; 
Tracking their path no more by blood and 

groans. 
And desolation, and the mingled voice 30 
Of slavery and command; but by the light 
Of wave-reflected flowers, and floating 

odors, 
And music soft, and mild, free, gentle 

voices. 
That sweetest music, such as spirits love. 

APOLIiO 

And I shall gaze not on the deeds which 

make 
My mind obscure with sorrow, as eclipse 
Darkens the sphere I guide. But list, I hear 
The small, clear, silver lute of the young 

Spirit 
That sits i' the morning star. 

OCEAN 

Thou must away ; 

Thy steeds will pause at even, till when 
farewell. 40 

The loud deep calls me home even now to 
feed it 

With azure calm out of the emerald urns 

Which stand forever full beside my throne. 

Behold the Nereids under the green sea, 

Their wavering limbs borne on the wind- 
like stream, 

Their white arms lifted o'er their stream- 
ing hair, 

With garlands pied and starry sea-flower 
crowns, 

Hastening to grace their mighty sister's joy. 
[A sound of waves is heard. 

It is the unpastured sea hungering for calm. 

Peace, monster; I come now. Farewell. 



APOLLO 



Farewell. 50 



Scene III. — Caucasus. Prometheus, Her- 
cules, loNE, the Earth, Spirits, Asia, and 
Panthea, borne in the Car with the Spirit 
OF THE Hour. Hercules unbinds Pro- 
metheus, who descends. 

HERCULES 

Most glorious among spirits ! thus doth 

strength 
To wisdom, courage, and long-suffering 

love, 
And thee, who art the form they animate, 
Minister like a slave. 

PROMETHEUS 

Thy gentle words 
Are sweeter even than freedom long de- 
sired 
And long delayed. 

Asia, thou light of life, 
Shadow of beauty uubeheld; and ye. 
Fair sister nymphs, who made long years 

of pain 
Sweet to remember, through your love and 

care; 
Henceforth we will not part. There is a 

cave, 10 

All overgrown with trailing odorous plants, 
Which curtain out the day with leaves and 

flowers, 
And paved with veined emerald; and a 

fountain 
Leaps in the midst with an awakening 

sound. 
From its curved roof the mountain's frozen 

tears. 
Like snow, or silver, or long diamond spires, 
Hang downward, raining forth a doubtful 

light; 
And there is heard the ever-moving air 
Whispering without from tree to tree, and 

birds. 
And bees; and all around are mossy 

seats, 20 

And the rough walls are clothed with long 

soft grass; 
A simple dwelling, which shall be our 

own ; 
Where we will sit and talk of time and 

change. 
As the world ebbs and flows, ourselves un- 
changed. 
What can hide man from mutability ? 
And if ye sigh, then I will smile; and thou, 



192 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



ACT III'. SC. Ill 



lone, shalt chant fragments of sea-music, 
Until I weep, when ye shall smile away 
The tears she brought, which yet were 

sweet to shed. 
We will entangle buds and flowers and 

beams 30 

Which twinkle on the fountain's brim, and 

make 
Strange combinations out of common 

things. 
Like human babes in their brief innocence ; 
And we will search, with looks and words 

of love. 
For hidden thoughts, each lovelier than the 

last. 
Our unexhausted spirits; and, like lutes 
Touched by the skill of the enamoured wind, 
Weave harmonies divine, yet ever new. 
From difference sweet where discord can- 
not be; 
And hither come, sped on the charmM 

winds, 40 

Which meet from all the points of heaven 

— as bees 
From every flower aerial Enna feeds 
At their known island-homes in Himera — 
The echoes of the human world, which 

tell 
Of the low voice of love, almost unheard, 
And dove-eyed pity's murmured pain, and 

music. 
Itself the echo of the heart, and all 
That tempers or improves man's life, now 

free; 
And lovely apparitions, — dim at first. 
Then radiant, as the mind arising bright 50 
From the embrace of beauty (whence the 

forms 
Of which these are the phantoms) casts on 

them 
The gathered rays which are reality — 
Shall visit us, the progeny immortal 
Of Painting, Sculpture, and rapt Poesy, 
And arts, though unimagined, yet to be; 
The wandering voices and the shadows 

these 
Of all that man becomes, the mediators 
Of that best worship, love, by him and us 
Given and returned; swift shapes and 

sounds, which grow 60 

More fair and soft as man grows wise and 

kind. 
And, veil by veil, evil and error fall. 
Such virtue has the cave and place around. 
[Turning to the Spirit of the Hour. 



For thee, fair Spirit, one toil remains. 

lone. 
Give her that curved shell, which Proteus 

old 
Made Asia's nuptial boon, breathing within 

it 
A voice to be accomplished, and which thou 
Didst hide in grass under the hollow rock. 

lONE 

Thou most desired Hour, more loved and 

lovely 
Than all thy sisters, this is the mystic 

shell. 70 

See the pale azure fading into silver 
Lining it with a soft yet glowing light. 
Looks it not like lulled music sleeping 

there ? 

SPIRIT 

It seems in truth the fairest shell of Ocean: 
Its sound must be at once both sweet and 
strange. 

PROMETHEUS 

Go, borne over the cities of mankind 
On whirlwind-footed coursers; once again 
Outspeed the sun around the orb^d world ; 
And as thy chariot cleaves the kindling air, 
Thou breathe into the many-folded shell. 
Loosening its mighty music; it shall be 81 
As thunder mingled withclear echoes; then 
Return; and thou shalt dwell beside our 
cave. 

And thou, O Mother Earth ! — 

THE EARTH 

I hear, I feel; 
Thy lips are on me, and thy touch runs 

down 
Even to the adamantine central gloom 
Along these marble nerves; 'tis life, 'tis 

joy, 

And, through my withered, old, and icy 
frame 

The warmth of an immortal youth shoots 
down 

Circling. Henceforth the many children 
fair 90 

Folded in my sustaining arms; all plants. 

And creeping forms, and insects rainbow- 
winged, 

And birds, and beasts, and fish, and human 
shapes, 



ACT III : SC. Ill 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



193 



Which drew disease and pain from my 

wan bosom, 
Draining the poison of despair, shall take 
And interchange sweet nutriment; to me 
Shall they become like sister-antelopes 
By one fair dam, snow-white, and swift as 

wind, 
Nursed among lilies near a brimming 

stream. 
The dew-mists of my sunless sleep shall 

float 100 

Under the stars like balm; night-folded 

flowers 
Shall suck un withering hues in their repose; 
And men and beasts in happy dreams shall 

gather 
Strength for the coming day, and all its 

joy; 

And death shall be the last embrace of her 
Who takes the life she gave, even as a mo- 
ther, 
Folding her child, says, 'Leave me not 
again.' 

ASIA 

Oh, mother ! wherefore speak the name of 

death ? 
Cease they to love, and move, and breathe, 

and speak. 
Who die ? 

THE EARTH 

It would avail not to reply; no 
Thou art immortal and this tongue is known 
But to the uncoramunicating dead. 
Death is the veil which those who live call 

life; 
They sleep, and it is lifted; and meanwhile 
In mild variety the seasons mild 
With rainbow-skirted showers, and odorous 

winds, 
And long blue meteors cleansing the dull 

night. 
And the life-kindling shafts of the keen 

sun's 
All-piercing bow, and the dew-mingled rain 
Of the calm moonbeams, a soft influence 

mild, 120 

Shall clothe the forests and the fields, ay, 

even 
The crag-built deserts of the barren deep, 
With ever-living leaves, and fruits, and 

flowers. 
And thou ! there is a cavern where my 

spirit 



Was panted forth in anguish whilst thy 

pain 
Made my heart mad, and those who did 

inhale it 
Became mad too, and built a temple there, 
And spoke, and were oracular, and lured 
The erring nations round to mutual war, 
And faithless faith, such as Jove kept with 

thee ; 130 

Which breath now rises as amongst tall 

weeds 
A violet's exhalation, and it fills 
With a serener light and crimson air 
Intense, yet soft, the rocks and woods 

around; 
It feeds the quick growth of the serpent 

vine. 
And the dark linked ivy tangling wild, 
And budding, blown, or odor-faded blooms 
Which star the winds with points of col- 
ored light 
As they rain through them, and bright 

golden globes 
Of fruit suspended in their own green hea- 



ven, 



140 



And through their veined leaves and amber 

stems 
The flowers whose purple and translucid 

bowls 
Stand ever mantling with aerial dew, 
The drink of spirits; and it circles round, 
Like the soft waving wings of noonday 

dreams. 
Inspiring calm and happy thoughts, like 

mine. 
Now thou art thus restored. This cave is 

thine. 
Arise ! Appear ! 

[A Spirit rises in the likeness of a winged 
child. 

This is my torch-bearer; 
Who let his lamp out in old time with gazing 
On eyes from which he kindled it anew 150 
With love, which is as fire, sweet daughter 

mine. 
For such is that within thine own. Run, 

wayward, 
And guide this company beyond the peak 
Of Bacchic Nysa, Maenad-haunted moun- 
tain, 
And beyond Indus and its tribute rivers, 
Trampling the torrent streams and glassy 

lakes 
With feet unwet, unwearied, undelaying, 
And up the green ravine, across the vale, 



194 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



ACT III: SC. IV 



Beside the windless and crystalline pool, 
Where ever lies, on unerasing waves, i6o 
The image of a temple, built above, 
Distinct with column, arch, and architrave, 
And palm-like capital, and overwrought. 
And populous most with living imagery, 
Praxitelean shapes, whose marble smiles 
Fill the hushed air with everlasting love. 
It is deserted now, but once it bore 
Thy name, Prometheus; there the emulpus 

youths 
Bore to thy honor through the divine 

gloom 
The lamp which was thine emblem; even 
as those 170 

Who bear the untransmitted torch of hope 
Into the grave, across the night of life, 
As thou hast borne it most triumphantly 
To this far goal of Time. Depart, fare- 
well ! 
Beside that temple is the destined cave. 



Scene IV. — A Forest. In the background a 
Cave. Prometheus, Asia, Panthea, Ione, 
and the Spirit of the Earth. 

IONE 

Sister, it is not earthly; how it glides 
Under the leaves ! how on its head there 

burns 
A light, like a green star, whose emerald 

beams 
Are twined with its fair hair ! how, as it 

moves. 
The splendor drops in flakes upon the 

grass ! 
Knowest thou it ? 

panthea 

It is the delicate spirit 
That guides the earth through heaven. 

From afar 
The populous constellations call that light 
The loveliest of the planets; and sometimes 
It floats along the spray of the salt sea, 10 
Or makes its chariot of a foggy cloud. 
Or walks through fields or cities while men 

sleep, 
Or o'er the mountain tops, or down the 

rivers, 
Or through the green waste wilderness, as 

now. 
Wondering at all it sees. Before Jove 

reigned 
It loved our sister Asia, and it came 



Each leisure hour to drink the liquid light 
Out of her eyes, for which it said it thirsted 
As one bit by a dipsas, and with her 
It made its childish confidence, and told 

her 20 

All it had known or seen, for it saw much. 
Yet idly reasoned what it saw; and called 

her. 
For whence it sprung it knew not, nor 

do I, 
Mother, dear mother. 

the spirit of the earth, running to AsiA 
Mother, dearest mother ! 
May I then talk with thee as I was wont ? 
May I then hide my eyes in thy soft arms, 
After thy looks have made them tired of 

joy? 

May I then play beside thee the long 

noons. 
When work is none in the bright silent 

air ? 29 

ASIA 

I love thee, gentlest being, and henceforth 
Can cherish thee unenvied. Speak, I 

pr?y; 
Thy simple talk once solaced, now de- 
lights. 

SPIRIT OF THE EARTH 

Mother, I am grown wiser, though a child 
Cannot be wise like thee, within this day; 
And happier too; happier and wiser both. 
Thou knowest that toads, and snakes, and 

loathly worms. 
And venomous and malicious beasts, and 

boughs 
That bore ill berries in the woods, were 

ever 
An hindrance to my walks o'er the green 

world; 
And that, among the haunts of human- 
kind, 40 
Hard-featured men, or with proud, angry 

looks. 
Or cold, staid gait, or false and hollow 

smiles, 
Or the dull sneer of self-loved ignorance. 
Or other such foul masks, with which ill 

thoughts 
Hide that fair being whom we spirits call 

man; 
And women too, ugliest of all things evil, 
(Though fair, even in a world where thou 

art fair, 



ACT III : SC. IV 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



195 



When good and kind, free and sincere like 

thee) 
When false or frowning made me sick at 

heart 
To pass them, though they slept, and I un- 
seen. 50 
Well, my path lately lay through a great 

city 
Into the woody hills surrounding it; 
A sentinel was sleeping at the gate; 
When there was heard a sound, so loud, it 

shook 
The towers amid the moonlight, yet more 

sweet 
Than any voice but thine, sweetest of all; 
A long, long sound, as it would never end; 
And all the inhabitants leapt suddenly 
Out of their rest, and gathered in the 

streets, 
Looking in wonder up to Heaven, while 

yet 60 

The music pealed along. I hid myself 
Within a fountain in the public square. 
Where I lay like the reflex of the moon 
Seen in a wave under green leaves; and 

soon 
Those ugly human shapes and visages 
Of which I spoke as having wrought me 

pain. 
Passed floating through the air, and fading 

still 
Into the winds that scattered them; and 

those 
From whom they passed seemed mild and 

lovely forms 
After some foul disguise had fallen, and 

all 70 

Were somewhat changed, and after brief 

surprise 
And greetings of delighted wonder, all 
Went to their sleep again; and when the 

dawn 
Came, wouldst thou think that toads, and 

snakes, and efts, 
Could e'er be beautiful ? yet so they were. 
And that with little change of shape or 

hue; 
All things had put their evil nature off; 
I cannot tell my joy, when o'er a lake, 
Upon a drooping bough with nightshade 

twined, 
I saw two azure halcyons clinging down- 
ward 80 
And thinning one bright bunch of amber 

berries, 



With quick long beaks, and in the deep 

there lay 
Those lovely forms imaged as in a sky; 
So with my thoughts full of these happy 

changes. 
We meet again, the happiest change of all. 

ASIA 

And never will we part, till thy chaste 

sister. 
Who guides the frozen and inconstant 

moon. 
Will look on thy more warm and equal 

light 
Till her heart thaw like flakes of April 

snow, 89 

And love thee. 

SPIRIT OF THE EARTH 

What ! as Asia loves Prometheus ? 

ASIA 

Peace, wanton ! thou art yet not old 

enough. 
Think ye by gazing on each other's eyes 
To multiply your lovely selves, and fill 
With sphered fires the interlunar air ? 

SPIRIT OF THE EARTH 

Nay, mother, while my sister trims her 

lamp 
'T is hard I should go darkling. 

ASIA 

Listen; look ! 
The Spirit of the Hour enters 

PROMETHEUS 

We feel what thou hast heard and seen; 
yet speak. 

spirit of the HOUR 

Soon as the sound had ceased whose thunder 

filled 
The abysses of the sky and the wide earth. 
There was a change; the impalpable thin 
air 100 

And the all-circling sunlight were trans- 
formed. 
As if the sense of love, dissolved in them, 
Had folded itself round the sphered world. 
My vision then grew clear, and I could see 
Into the mysteries of the universe. 
Dizzy as with delight I floated down; 



196 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



ACT III : SC. IV 



Winnowing the lightsome air with languid 

plumes, 
My coursers sought their birthplace in the 

sun, 
Where they henceforth will live exempt 

from toil, 
Pasturing flowers of vegetable fire, no 

And where my moonlike car will stand 

within 
A temple, gazed upon by Phidian forms 
Of thee, and Asia, and the Earth, and me, 
And you, fair nymphs, looking the love we 

feel, — 
In memory of the tidings it has borne, — 
Beneath a dome fretted with graven 

flowers. 
Poised on twelve columns of resplendent 

stone. 
And open to the bright and liquid sky. 
Yoked to it by an amphisbenic snake 
The likeness of those winged steeds will 

mock 120 

The flight from which they find repose. 

Alas, 
Whither has wandered now my partial 

tongue 
When all remains untold which ye would 

hear ? 
As I have said, I floated to the earth; 
It was, as it is still, the pain of bliss 
To move, to breathe, to be. I wandering 

went 
Among the haunts and dwellings of man- 
kind. 
And first was disappointed not to see 
Such mighty change as I had felt within 
Expressed in outward things; but soon I 

looked, 130 

And behold, thrones were kingless, and men 

walked 
One with the other even as spirits do — 
None fawned, none trampled; hate, dis- 
dain, or fear. 
Self-love or self-contempt, on human brows 
No more inscribed, as o'er the gate of hell, 
* All hope abandon, ye who enter here.' 
None frowned, none trembled, none with 

eager fear 
Gazed on another's eye of cold command. 
Until the subject of a tyrant's will 139 

Became, worse fate, the abject of his own. 
Which spurred him, like an outspent horse, 

to death. 
None wrought his lips in truth-entangling 
lines 



Which smiled the lie his tongue disdained 

to speak. 
None, with firm sneer, trod out in his own 

heart 
The sparks of love and hope till there re- 
mained 
Those bitter ashes, a soul self-consumed, 
And the wretch crept a vampire among 

men. 
Infecting all with his own hideous ill. 
None talked that common, false, cold, hol- 
low talk 
Which makes the heart deny the yes it 

breathes, 150 

Yet question that unmeant hypocrisy 
With such a self-mistrust as has no name. 
And women, too, frank, beautiful, and kind. 
As the free heaven which rains fresh light 

and dew 
On the wide earth, passed; gentle, radiant 

forms, 
From custom's evil taint exempt and pure; 
Speaking the wisdom once they could not 

think. 
Looking emotions once they feared to feel. 
And changed to all which once they dared 

not be. 
Yet being now, made earth like heaven; 

nor pride, 160 

Nor jealousy, nor envy, nor ill shame, 
The bitterest of those drops of treasured 

gall, 
Spoiled the sweet taste of the nepenthe, 

love. 

Thrones, altars, judgment-seats, and pris- 
ons, wherein, 
And beside which, by wretched men were 

borne 
Sceptres, tiaras, swords, and chains, and 

tomes 
Of reasoned wrong, glozed on by ignorance, 
Were like those monstrous and barbaric 

shapes. 
The ghosts of a no-more-remembered fame 
Which from their unworn obelisks, look 
forth 170 

In triumph o'er the palaces and tombs 
Of those who were their conquerors ; mould- 
ering round. 
Those imaged to the pride of kings and 

priests 
A dark yet mighty faith, a power as wide 
As is the world it wasted, and are now 
But an astonishment; even so the tools 



ACT IV 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



197 



And emblems of its last captivity, 
Amid the dwellings of the peopled earth, 
Stand, not o'erthrown, but unregarded now. 
And those foul shapes, — abhorred by god 
and man, 180 

Which, under many a name and many a 

form 
Strange, savage, ghastly, dark, and ex- 
ecrable. 
Were Jupiter, the tyrant of the world. 
And which the nations, panic-stricken, 

served 
With blood, and hearts broken by long 

hope, and love 
Dragged to his altars soiled and garland- 
less. 
And slain among men's unreclaiming tears, 
Flattering the thing they feared, which fear 

was hate, — 
Frown, mouldering fast, o'er their aban- 
doned shrines. 
The painted veil, by those who were, called 
life, 190 

Which mimicked, as with colors idly spread. 
All men believed and hoped, is torn aside; 
The loathsome mask has fallen, the man 

remains 
Sceptreless, free, uncircumscribed, but man 
Equal, unclassed, tribeless, and nationless. 
Exempt from awe, worship, degree, the 

king 
Over himself; just, gentle, wise; but man 
Passionless — no, yet free from guilt or pain. 
Which were, for his will made or suffered 

them; 
Nor yet exempt, though ruling them like 
slaves, 200 

From chance, and death, and mutability, 
The clogs of that which else might over- 
soar 
The loftiest star of unascended heaven. 
Pinnacled dim in the intense inane. 



ACT IV 

Scene — A part of the Forest near the Cave 
of Prometheus. Panthea and Ione are 
sleeping : they awaken gradually during the 
first Song. 

VOICE OF unseen SPIRITS 

The pale stars are gone ! 
For the sun, their swift shepherd 
To their folds them compelling, 
In the depths of the dawn, 



Hastes, in meteor-eclipsing array, and they 

flee 
Beyond his blue dwelling. 
As fawns flee the leopard. 

But where are ye ? 

A Train of dark Forms and Shadows passes by 
confusedly, singing. 

Here, oh, here ! 

We bear the bier iq 

Of the father of many a cancelled year ! 

Spectres we 

Of the dead Hours be; 
We bear Time to his tomb in eternityo 

Strew, oh, strew 

Hair, not yew ! 
Wet the dusty pall with tears, not dew I 

Be the faded flowers 

Of Death's bare bowers 
Spread on the corpse of the King of 
Hours ! 20 

Haste, oh, haste ! 

As shades are chased, 
Trembling, by day, from heaven's blue 
waste. 

We melt away. 

Like dissolving spray. 
From the children of a diviner day. 

With the lullaby 

Of winds that die 
On the bosom of their own harmony ! 



tone 
What dark forms were they ? 



3« 



PANTHEA 



The past Hours weak and gray, 
With the spoil which their toil 

Baked together 
From the conquest but One could foil. 

IONE 

Have they passed ? 

PANTHEA 

They have passedj 
They outspeeded the blast, 
While 't is said, they are fled I 

IONE 

Whither, oh, whither ? 

PANTHSA 

To the dark, to the past, to the dead* 



198 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



ACT IV 



VOICE OF UNSEEN SPIRITS 

Bright clouds float in heaven, 40 

Dew-stars gleam on earth, 
Waves assemble on ocean. 
They are gathered and driven 
By the storm of delight, by the panic of 

glee ! 
They shake with emotion, 
They dance in their mirth. 

But where are ye ? 

The pine boughs are singing 
Old songs with new gladness. 
The billows and fountains 50 

Fresh music are flinging, 
Like the notes of a spirit from land and 

from sea; 
The storms mock the mountains 
With the thunder of gladness, 

But where are ye ? 

lONE 

What charioteers are these ? 

PANTHEA 

Where are their chariots ? 

SEMICHORUS OF HOURS 

The voice of the Spirits of Air and of 
Earth 
Has drawn back the figured curtain of 
sleep. 
Which covered our being and darkened 
our birth 59 

In the deep. 

A VOICE 

In the deep ? 

SEMICHORUS II 

Oh ! below the deep. 

SEMICHORUS I 

An hundred ages we had been kept 
Cradled in visions of hate and care. 

And each one who waked as his brother 
slept 
Found the truth — 

SEMICHORUS n 

Worse than his visions were ! 

SEMICHORUS I 

We have heard the lute of Hope in sleep; 



We have known the voice of Love in 
dreams ; 
We have felt the wand of Power, and 
leap — 

SEMICHORUS II 

As the billows leap in the morning beams ! 

CHORUS 

Weave the dance on the floor of the breeze, 
Pierce with song heaven's silent light, 70 

Enchant the day that too swiftly flees, 
To check its flight ere the cave of night. 

Once the hungry Hours were hounds 

Which chased the day like a bleeding 
deer. 
And it limped and stumbled with many 
wounds 
Through the nightly dells of the desert 
year. 

But now, oh, weave the mystic measure 
Of music, and dance, and shapes of light. 

Let the Hours, and the Spirits of might 
and pleasure, 79 

Like the clouds and sunbeams, unite — 



A VOICE 



PANTHEA 



Unite ! 



See, where the Spirits of the human mind. 
Wrapped in sweet sounds, as in bright veils, 
approach. 

CHORUS OF SPIRITS 

We join the throng 

Of the dance and the song, 
By the whirlwind of gladness borne along; 

As the flying-fish leap 

From the Indian deep 
And mix with the sea-birds half-asleep. 

CHORUS OF HOURS 

Whence come ye, so wild and so fleet, 8c, 
For sandals of lightning are on your feet. 
And your wings are soft and swift as 

thought, 
And your eyes are as love which is veiled 

not? 

CHORUS OF SPIRITS 

We come from the mind 
Of humankind. 



ACT IV 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



199 



Which was late so dusk, and obscene, and 
blind ; 

Now 't is an ocean 

Of clear emotion, 
A heaven of serene and mighty motion. 

From that deep abyss 

Of wonder and bliss, 100 

Whose caverns are crystal palaces; 

From those skyey towers 

Where Thought's crowned powers 
Sit watching your dance, ye happy Hours ! 

From the dim recesses 

Of woven caresses, 
Where lovers catch ye by your loose tresses; 

From the azure isles. 

Where sweet Wisdom smiles, 109 
Delaying your ships with her siren wiles. 

From the temples high 

Of Man's ear and eye, 
Roofed over Sculpture and Poesy ; 

From the murmurings 

Of the unsealed springs, 
Where Science bedews his daedal wings. 

Years after years. 
Through blood, and tears, 
And a thick hell of hatreds, and hopes, and 
fears, 
We waded and flew, 120 

And the islets were few 
Where the bud-blighted flowers of happi- 
ness grew. 

Our feet now, every palm. 

Are sandalled with calm. 
And the dew of our wings is a rain of 
balm; 

And, beyond our eyes. 

The human love lies, 
Which makes all it gazes on Paradise. 

CHORUS OF SPIRITS AND HOURS 

Then weave the web of the mystic mea- 
sure; 
From the depths of the sky and the ends 
of the earth, 130 

Come, swift Spirits of might and of plea- 
sure, 
Fill the dance and the music of mirth, 
As the waves of a thousand streams rush 

by 

To an ocean of splendor and harmony ! 



CHORUS OF SPIRITS 

Our spoil is won. 

Our task is done, 
We are free to dive, or soar, or run; 

Beyond and around, 

Or within the bound 139 

Which clips the world with darkness round. 

We '11 pass the eyes 

Of the starry skies 
Into the hoar deep to colonize; 

Death, Chaos and Night, 

From the sound of our flight. 
Shall flee, like mist from a tempest's might. 

And Earth, Air and Light, 

And the Spirit of Might, 
Which drives round the stars in their fiery 
flight; 

And Love, Thought and Breath, 150 

The powers that quell Death, 
Wherever we soar shall assemble beneath. 

And our singing shall build 

In the void's loose field 
A world for the Spirit of Wisdom to wield; 

We will take our plan 

From the new world of man. 
And our work shall be called the Prome- 
thean. 

CHORUS OF HOURS 

Break the dance, and scatter the song; 
Let some depart, and some remain; 160 

SEMICHORUS I 

We, beyond heaven, are driven along; 

SEMICHORUS n 

Us the enchantments of earth retain; 

SEMICHORUS I 

Ceaseless, and rapid, and fierce, and free. 
With the Spirits which build a new earth 

and sea. 
And a heaven where yet heaven could never 

be; 

SEMICHORUS II 

Solemn, and slow, and serene, and bright. 
Leading the Day, and outspeeding the 

Night, 
With the powers of a world of perfect 

light; 



200 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



ACT IV 



SEMICHORUS I 

We whirl, singing loud, round the gather- 
ing sphere, 

Till the trees, and the beasts, and the clouds 
appear 170 

From its chaos made calm by love, not 
fear; 

SEMICHORUS II 

We encircle the ocean and mountains of 

earth, 
And the happy forms of its death and birth 
Change to the music of our sweet mirth. 

CHORUS OF HOURS AND SPIRITS 

Break the dance, and scatter the song; 

Let some depart, and some remain; 
Wherever we fly we lead along 
In leashes, like star-beams, soft yet strong, 

The clouds that are heavy with love's 
sweet rain. 179 

PANTHEA 

Ha ! they are gone ! 

lONE 

Yet feel you no delight 
From the past sweetness ? 

PANTHEA 

As the bare green hill. 
When some soft cloud vanishes into rain. 
Laughs with a thousand drops of sunny 

water 
To the unpavilioned sky ! 

lONB 

Even whilst we speak 
New notes arise. What is that awful 
sound ? 

PANTHEA 

'T is the deep music of the rolling world. 
Kindling within the strings of the waved 

air 
iEolian modulations. 

lONE 

Listen too, 
How every pause is filled with under-notes. 
Clear, silver, icy, keen awakening tones, 
Which pierce the sense, and live within the 

soul, 191 

As the sharp stars pierce winter's crystal 

air 
And gaze upon themselves within the soa. 



PANTHEA 

But see where, through two openings in 

the forest 
Which hanging branches overcanopy, 
And where two runnels of a rivulet. 
Between the close moss violet-inwoven, 
Have made their path of melody, like sis- 
ters 
Who part with sighs that they may meet 

in smiles. 
Turning their dear disunion to an isle 200 
Of lovely grief, a wood of sweet sad 

thoughts; 
Two visions of strange radiance float upon 
The ocean-like enchantment of strong 

sound. 
Which flows intenser, keener, deeper yet, 
Under the ground and through the wind- 
less air. 

lONE 

I see a chariot like that thinnest boat 
In which the mother of the months is borne 
By ebbing night into her western cave. 
When she upsprings from interlunar 

dreams ; 209 

O'er which is curved an orb-like canopy 
Of gentle darkness, and the hills and woods. 
Distinctly seen through that dusk airy veil, 
Regard like shapes in an enchanter's glass; 
Its wheels are solid clouds, azure and gold, 
Such as the genii of the thunder-storm 
Pile on the floor of the illumined sea 
When the sun rushes under it; they roll 
And move and grow as with an inward 

wind; 
Within it sits a winged infant — white 
Its countenance, like the whiteness of bright 

snow, 220 

Its plumes are as feathers of sunny frost, 
Its limbs gleam white, through the wind- 
flowing folds 
Of its white robe, woof of ethereal pearl, 
Its hair is white, the brightness of white 

light 
Scattered in strings; yet its two eyes are 

heavens 
Of liquid darkness, which the Deity 
Within seems pouring, as a storm is poured 
From jagged clouds, out of their arrowy 

lashes, 
Tempering the cold and radiant air around 
With fire that is not brightness; in its hand 
It sways a quivering moonbeam, from whose 

point 23 1 



ACT IV 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



201 



A guiding power directs the chariot's prow 
Over its wheeled clouds, which as they roll 
Over the grass, and flowers, and waves, 

wake sounds, 
Sweet as a singing rain of silver dew. 

PANTHEA 

And from the other opening in the wood 
Rushes, with loud and whirlwind harmony, 
A sphere, which is as many thousand 

spheres; 
Solid as crystal, yet through all its mass 
Flow, as through empty space, music and 

light; 240 

Ten thousand orbs involving and involved, 
Purple and azure, white, green and golden. 
Sphere within sphere; and every space 

between 
Peopled with unimaginable shapes, 
Such as ghosts dream dwell in the lampless 

deep ; 
Yet each inter-transpicuous ; and they whirl 
Over each other with a thousand motions, 
Upon a thousand sightless axles spinning, 
And with the force of self -destroying swift- 
ness. 
Intensely, slowly, solemnly, roll on, 250 

Kindling with mingled sounds, and many 

tones. 
Intelligible words and music wild. 
With mighty whirl the multitudinous orb 
Grinds the bright brook into an azure mist 
Of elemental subtlety, like light; 
And the wild odor of the forest flowers. 
The music of the living grass and air. 
The emerald light of leaf-entangled beams. 
Round its intense yet self-conflicting speed 
Seem kneaded into one aerial mass 260 

Which drowns the sense. Within the orb 

itself. 
Pillowed upon its alabaster arms. 
Like to a child o'erwearied with sweet toil. 
On its own folded wings and wavy hair 
The Spirit of the Earth is laid asleep. 
And you can see its little lips are moving, 
Amid the changing light of their own smiles. 
Like one who talks of what he loves in 

dream. 

lOKE 

'T is only mocking the orb's harmony. 

PANTHEA 

And from a star upon its forehead shoot, 270 
Like swords of azure fire or golden spears 



With tyrant-quelling myrtle overtwined, 
Embleming heaven and earth united now, 
Vast beams like spokes of some invisible 

wheel 
Which whirl as the orb whirls, swifter than 

thought, 
Filling the abyss with sun-like lightnings, 
And perpendicular now, and now transverse. 
Pierce the dark soil, and as they pierce and 

pass 
Make bare the secrets of the earth's deep 

heart ; 
Infinite mine of adamant and gold, 280 

Valueless stones, and unimagined gems, 
And caverns on crystalline columns poised 
With vegetable silver overspread; 
Wells of unfathomed fire, and water-springs 
Whence the great sea even as a child is fed. 
Whose vapors clothe earth's monarch 

mountain-tops 
With kingly, ermine snow. The beams 

flash on 
And make appear the melancholy ruins 
Of cancelled cycles; anchors, beaks of 

ships; 
Planks turned to marble; quivers, helms, 

and spears, 290 

And gorgon-headed targes, and the wheels 
Of scythed chariots, and the emblazonrj'^ 
Of trophies, standards, and armorial beasts. 
Round which death laughed, sepulchred 

emblems 
Of dead destruction, ruin within ruin ! 
The wrecks beside of many a city vast. 
Whose population which the earth grew 

over 
Was mortal, but not human; see, they lie. 
Their monstrous works, and uncouth skele- 
tons. 
Their statues, homes and fanes; prodigious 

shapes 300 

Huddled in gray annihilation, split. 
Jammed in the hard, black deep; and over 

these. 
The anatomies of unknown winged things, 
And fishes which were isles of living scale. 
And serpents, bony chains, twisted around 
The iron crags, or within heaps of dust 
To which the tortuous strength of their last 

pangs 
Had crushed the iron crags; and over these 
The jagged alligator, and the might 309 
Of earth-convulsing behemoth, which once 
Were monarch beasts, and on the slimy 

shores, 



202 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



ACT IV 



And weed-overgrown continents of earth, 
Increased and multiplied like summer 

worms 
On an abandoned corpse, till the blue globe 
Wrapped deluge round it like a cloke, and 

they 
Yelled, gasped, and were abolished; or 

some God, 
Whose throne was in a comet, passed, and 

cried, 
Be not ! and like my words they were no 

more. 

THE EARTH 

The joy, the triumph, the delight, the mad- 
ness ! 

The boundless, overflowing, bursting glad- 
ness, 320 

The vaporous exultation not to be confined ! 
Ha ! ha ! the animation of delight 
Which wraps me, like an atmosphere of 
light. 

And bears me as a cloud is borne by its 
own wind. 

THE MOON 

Brother mine, calm wanderer, 
Happy globe of land and air. 
Some Spirit is darted like a beam from 
thee. 
Which penetrates my frozen frame. 
And passes with the warmth of flame. 
With love, and odor, and deep melody 330 
Through me, through me ! 

THE EARTH 

Ha ! ha ! the caverns of my hollow moun- 
tains. 

My cloven fire-crags, sound-exulting 
fountains. 
Laugh with a vast and inextinguishable 
laughter. 

The oceans, and the deserts, and the 
abysses, 

And the deep air's unmeasured wilder- 
nesses. 
Answer from all their clouds and billows, 
echoing after. 

They cry aloud as I do. Sceptred curse. 
Who all our green and azure universe 
Threatenedst to muffle round with black 
destruction, sending 340 

A solid cloud to rain hot thunder-stones 
And splinter and knead down my chil- 
dren's bones, 



All I bring forth, to one void mass batter- 
ing and blending. 

Until each crag-like tower, and storied 

column. 
Palace, and obelisk, and temple solemn, 
My imperial mountains crowned with cloud, 

and snow, and fire. 
My sea-like forests, every blade and 

blossom 
Which finds a grave or cradle in my 

bosom. 
Were stamped by thy strong hate into a 

lifeless mire: 

How art thou sunk, withdrawn, covered, 
drunk up 350 

By thirsty nothing, as the brackish cup 
Drained by a desert-troop, a little drop for 
all; 
And from beneath, around, within, above, 
Filling thy void annihilation, love 
Bursts in like light on caves cloven by the 
thunder-ball ! 

THE MOON 

The snow upon my lifeless mountains 
Is loosened into living fountains. 

My solid oceans flow, and sing and shine; 
A spirit from my heart bursts forth. 
It clothes with unexpected birth 360 

My cold bare bosom. Oh, it must be thine 
On mine, on mine ! 

Gazing on thee I feel, I know, 
Green stalks burst forth, and bright 
flowers grow. 
And living shapes upon my bosom move ; 
Music is in the sea and air. 
Winged clouds soar here and there 
Dark with the rain new buds are dream- 
ing of: 

'T is love, all love ! 

THE EARTH 

It interpenetrates my granite mass, 370 

Through tangled roots and trodden clay 
doth pass 
Into the utmost leaves and delicatest flow- 
ers; 

Upon the winds, among the clouds 't is 
spread. 

It wakes a life in the forgotten dead, — 
They breathe a spirit up from their obscur- 
est bowers; 



ACT IV 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



203 



And like a storm bursting its cloudy- 
prison 

With thunder, and with whirlwind, has 
arisen 
Out of the lampless caves of unimagined 
being; 

With earthquake shock and swiftness 
making shiver 

Thought's stagnant chaos, unremoved 
forever, 380 

Till hate, and fear, and pain, light-van- 
quished shadows, fleeing. 

Leave Man, who was a many-sided mir- 
ror 

Which could distort to many a shape of 
error 
' This true fair world of things, a sea re- 
flecting love; 

Which over all his kind, as the sun's hea- 
ven 

Gliding o'er ocean, smooth, serene, and 
even. 

Darting from starry depths radiance and 
life doth move: 



I 



¥ 



Leave Man even as a leprous child is 
left. 

Who follows a sick beast to some warm 
cleft 
Of rocks, through which the might of heal- 
ing springs is poured ; 390 

Then when it wanders home with rosy 
smile. 

Unconscious, and its mother fears awhile 
It is a spirit, then weeps on her child re- 
stored : 

Man, oh, not men ! a chain of linked 
thought. 

Of love and might to be divided not. 
Compelling the elements with adamantine 
stress; 

As the sun rules even with a tyrant's 
gaze 

The unquiet republic of the maze 
Of planets, struggling fierce towards hea- 
ven's free wilderness: 

Man, one harmonious soul of many a 

soul, 400 

Whose nature is its own divine control, 
Where all things flow to all, as rivers to the 
sea; 
Familiar acts are beautiful through love ; 



Labor, and pain, and grief, in life's green 
grove 
Sport like tame beasts; none knew how 
gentle they could be ! 

His will, with all mean passions, bad 

delights. 
And selfish cares, its trembling satellites, 
A spirit ill to guide, but mighty to obey. 
Is as a tempest-winged ship, whose helm 
Love rules, through waves which dare 
not overwhelm, 410 

Forcing life's wildest shores to own its sov- 
ereign sway. 

All things confess his strength. Through 

the cold mass 
Of marble and of color his dreams 

pass — 
Bright threads whence mothers weave the 

robes their children wear; 
Language is a perpetual Orphic song, 
Which rules with daedal harmony a 

throng 
Of thoughts and forms, which else senseless 

and shapeless were. 

The lightning is his slave; heaven's ut- 
most deep 

Gives up her stars, and like a flock of 
sheep 
They pass before his eye, are numbered, 
and roll on ! 420 

The tempest is his steed, he strides the 
air; 

And the abyss shouts from her depth 
laid bare, 
' Heaven, hast thou secrets ? Man unveils 
me; I have none.' 

TKK MOON 

The shadow of white death has passed 
From my path in heaven at last, 
A clinging shroud of solid frost and sleep ; 
And through my newly woven bowers, 
Wander happy paramours, 
Less mighty, but as mild as those who 
keep 

Thy vales more deep. 430 

THE EARTH 

As the dissolving warmth of dawn may 

fold 
A half unfrozen dew-globe, green, and 

gold. 



204 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



ACT IV 



And crystalline, till it becomes a winged 
mist, 
And wanders up the vault of the blue 

day, 
Outlives the noon, and on the sun's last 
ray 
Hangs o'er the sea, a fleece of fire and 
amethyst. 

THE MOON 

Thou art folded, thou art lying 
In the light which is undying 
Of thine own joy, and heaven's smile 
divine ; 
All suns and constellations shower 440 
On thee a light, a life, a power. 
Which doth array thy sphere ; thou pour- 
est thine 

On mine, on mine ! 

THE EARTH 

I spin beneath my pyramid of night 
Which points into the heavens, dreaming 

delight, 
Murmuring victorious joy in my enchanted 

sleep; 
As a youth lulled in love-dreams faintly 

sighing, 
Under the shadow of his beauty lying, 
Which round his rest a watch of light and 

warmth doth keep. 

THE MOON 

As in the soft and sweet eclipse, 450 
When soul meets soul on lovers' lips. 
High hearts are calm, and brightest eyes 
are dull; 
So when thy shadow falls on me. 
Then am I mute and still, by thee 
Covered; of thy love. Orb most beautiful. 
Full, oh, too full ! 

Thou art speeding round the sun. 
Brightest world of many a one; 
Green and azure sphere which shinest 
With a light which is divinest 460 

Among all the lamps of Heaven 
To whom life and light is given; 
I, thy crystal paramour, 
Borne beside thee by a power 
Like the polar Paradise, 
Magnet-like, of lovers' eyes; 
I, a most enamoured maiden. 
Whose weak brain is overladen 



With the pleasure of her love, 

Maniac-like around thee move, 47c 

Gazing, an insatiate bride. 

On thy form from every side. 

Like a Maenad round the cup 

Which Agave lifted up 

In the weird Cadmean forest. 

Brother, wheresoe'er thou soarest 

I must hurry, whirl and follow 

Through the heavens wide and hollow. 

Sheltered by the warm embrace 

Of thy soul from hungry space, 48a 

Drinking from thy sense and sight 

Beauty, majesty and might, ^ 

As a lover or a chameleon 

Grows like what it looks upon, 

As a violet's gentle eye 

Gazes on the azure sky 
Until its hue grows like what it beholds, 

As a gray and watery mist 

Glows like solid amethyst 
Athwart the western mountain it en- 
folds, 490 

When the sunset sleeps 
Upon its snow. 

THE EARTH 

And the weak day weeps 
That it should be so. 
O gentle Moon, the voice of thy delight 
Falls on me like thy clear and tender light 
Soothing the seaman borne the summer 
night 
Through isles forever calm; 

gentle Moon, thy crystal accents pierce 
The caverns of my pride's deep universe, 500 
Charming the tiger joy, whose tramplings 

fierce 
Made wounds which need thy balm. 

PANTHEA 

1 rise as from a bath of sparkling water, 
A bath of azure light, among dark rocks. 
Out of the stream of sound. 

lONE 

Ah me ! sweet sister. 
The stream of sound has ebbed away from 

us, 
And you pretend to rise out of its wave. 
Because your words fall like the clear soft 

dew 
Shaken from a bathing wood-nymph's limbc 

and hair. 



\CT JV 



PROMETHEUS UNBOUND 



205 



PANTHEA 

Peace, peace ! a mighty Power, which is as 

darkness, 510 

Is rising out of Earth, and from the sky 
Is showered like night, and from within 

the air 
Bursts, like eclipse which had been gathered 

up 
Into the pores of sunlight; the bright 

visions, 
Wherein the singing Spirits rode and shone. 
Gleam like pale meteors through a watery 

night. 

lONE 

There is a sense of words upon mine ear. 

PANTHEA 

An universal sound like words: Oh, list ! 

DEMOGORGON 

Thou, Earth, calm empire of a happy soul. 
Sphere of divinest shapes and harmo- 
nies, 520 
Beautiful orb ! gathering as thou dost roll 
The love which paves thy path along the 
skies: 

THE EARTH 

I hear: I am as a drop of dew that dies. 

DEMOGORGON 

Thou, Moon, which gazest on the nightly 

Earth 
With wonder, as it gazes upon thee ; 
Whilst each to men, and beasts, and the 

swift birth 
Of birds, is beauty, love, calm, harmony: 

THE MOON 

I hear: I am a leaf shaken by thee. 

DEMOGORGON 

Ye kings of suns and stars, Daemons and 
Gods, 
Ethereal Dominations, who possess 530 
Elysian, windless, fortunate abodes 

Beyond Heaven's constellated wilder- 
ness: 

A VOICE {from above) 
Our great Republic hears: we are blessed, 
and bless. 

DEMOGORGON 

ITe happy dead, whom beams of brightest 
verse 



Are clouds to hide, not colors to portray, 
Whether your nature is that universe 
Which once ye saw and suffered — 

A VOICE FROM BENEATH 

Or, as they 
Whom we have left, we change and pass 
away. 

DEMOGORGON 

Ye elemental Genii, who have homes 

From man's high mind even to the cen- 
tral stone 540 
Of sullen lead; from Heaven's star-fretted 
domes 
To the dull weed some sea-worm battens 
on: 

A CONFUSED VOICE 

We hear: thy words waken Oblivion. 

DEMOGORGON 

Spirits, whose homes are flesh; ye beasts 
and birds, 
Ye worms and fish; ye living leaves and 
buds ; 
Lightning and wind; and ye untamable 
herds. 
Meteors and mists, which throng air's 
solitudes: 

A VOICE 

Thy voice to us is wind among still woods. 

DEMOGORGON 

Man, who wert once a despot and a slave, 
A dupe and a deceiver, a decay, 55c 

A traveller from the cradle to the grave 
Through the dim night of this immortal 
day: 

ALI. 

Speak: thy strong words may never pass 
away. 

DEMOGORGON 

This is the day which down the void abysm 

At the Earth-born's spell yawns for Hea- 
ven's despotism, 
And Conquest is dragged captive through 
the deep; 

Love, from its awful throne of patient 
power 

In the wise heart, from the last giddy hour 
Of dread endurance, from the slippery, 
steep, 



2o6 



THE CENCI 



And narrow verge of crag-like agony, 

springs 560 

And folds over the world its healing wings. 

Gentleness, Virtue, Wisdom, and Endur- 
ance — 

These are the seals of that most firm assur- 
ance 
Which bars the pit over Destruction's 
strength; 

And if, with infirm hand. Eternity, 

Mother of many acts and hours, should 
free 
The serpent that would clasp her with 
his length, 



These are the spells by which to reassume 
An empire o'er the disentangled doom. 569 

To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite; 

To forgive wrongs darker than death or 
night; 
To defy Power, which seems omnipotent ; 

To love, and bear; to hope till Hope creates 

From its own wreck the thing it contem- 
plates; 
Neither to change, nor falter, nor repent; 

This, like thy glory, Titan, is to be 

Good, great and joyous, beautiful and free; 

This is alone Life, Joy, Empire, and Vic- 
tory ! 



THE CENCI 



A TRAGEDY 



IN FIVE ACTS 



The Cenci was Shelley's first attempt at writ- 
ing drama, a form of composition for which he 
had conceived himself to have no talent. It 
was executed with greater rapidity than any of 
his earlier works, being- beg-iin at Rome by May 
14, and finished at Leg-horn, August 8, 1819, 
though as usual Shelley continued to revise it 
till it left his hands. He printed two hundred 
and fifty copies at an Italian press, and these 
were issued in the spring of 1820, at London, 
as the first edition. A second edition was pub- 
lished the following year. Shelley desired 
that the play should be put upon the stage, 
and had it ofi"ered at Covent Garden by Pea- 
cock, but it was declined on account of the 
subject. He thought it was written in a way 
to make it popular, and that the repulsive ele- 
ment in the story had been eliminated by the 
delicacy of his treatment. His interest in it 
lessened after its refusal by the managers ; but 
their judgment was supported by the unfavor- 
able impression made by it when it was pri- 
vately played for the first time under the 
auspices of the Shelley Society, at London, in 
1886. 

Mrs. Shelley's note, as usual, gives nearly 
all that is essential to the history of the poem 
and of Shelley's interest in it : 

' When in Rome, in 1819, a friend put into 
our hands the old manuscript account of the 
story of The Cenci. We visited the Colonna 
and Doria palaces, where the portraits of Bea- 
trice were to be found ; and her beauty cast 
the reflection of its own grace over her appall- 
ing story. Shelley's imagination became 



strongly excited, and he urged the subject to 
me as one fitted for a tragedy. More than 
ever I felt my incompetence ; but I entreated 
him to write it instead ; and he began and pro- 
ceeded swiftly, urged on by intense sympa- 
thy with the sufferings of the human beings 
whose passions, so long cold in the tomb, he 
revived, and gifted with poetic language. This 
tragedy is the only one of his works that 
he communicated to me during its progress. 
We talked over the arrangement of the scenes 
together. . . . 

' We suffered a severe affliction in Rome by 
the loss of our eldest child, who was of such 
beauty and promise as to cause him deservedly 
to be the idol of our hearts. We left the cap- 
ital of the world, anxious for a time to escape 
a spot associated too intimately with his pre- 
sence and loss. Some friends of ours were 
residing in the neighborhood of Leghorn, and 
we took a small house, Villa Valsovano, about 
half-way between the town and Monte Nero, 
where we remained during the summer. Our 
villa was situated in the midst of a podere; the 
peasants sang as they worked beneath our 
windows, during the heats of a very hot sea- 
son, and at night the water-wheel creaked as 
the process of irrigation went on, and the fire- 
flies flashed from among the myrtle hedges : — 
nature was bright, sunshiny, and cheerful, or 
diversified by storms of a majestic terror, such 
as we had never before witnessed. 

' At the top of the house there was a sort of 
terrace. There is often such in Italy, gener- 
ally roofed. This one was very small, yet not 



INTRODUCTORY NOTE 



207 



only roofed but glazed ; this Shelley made his 
study ; it looked out on a wide prospect of fer- 
tile country, and commanded a view of the near 
sea. The storms that sometimes varied our 
day showed themselves most picturesquely as 
they were driven across the ocean ; sometimes 
the dark lurid clouds dipped towards the waves, 
and became water spouts, that churned up the 
waters beneath, as they were chased onward, 
and scattered by the tempest. At other times 
the dazzling- sunlight and heat made it almost 
intolerable to every other ; but Shelley basked 
in both, and his health and spirits revived under 
their influence. In this airy cell he wrote the 
principal part of The Cenci. He was making 
a study of Calderon at the time, reading his 
best tragedies with an accomplished lady [Mrs. 
Gisborne] living near us, to whom his letter 
from Leghorn was addressed during the fol- 
lowing year. He admired Calderon, both for 
his poetry and his dramatic genius ; but it 
shows his judgment and originality, that, 
though greatly struck by his first acquaintance 
with the Spanish poet, none of his peculiarities 
crept into the composition of The Cenci ; and 
there is no trace of his new studies, except in 
that passage to which he himself alludes, as 
suggested by one in El Purgatorio de San 
Patricio. 

' Shelley wished The Cenci to be acted. He 
was not a play-goer, being of such fastidious 
taste that he was easily disgusted by the bad 
filling up of the inferior parts. While pre- 
paring for our departure from England, how- 
ever, he saw Miss O'Neil several times ; she 
was then in the zenith of her glory, and Shelley 
was deeply moved by her impersonation of 
several parts, and by the gracef id sweetness, 
the intense pathos, and sublime vehemence of 
passion she displayed. She was often in his 
thoughts as he wrote, and when he had finished, 
he became anxious that his tragedy should be 
acted, and receive the advantage of having 
this accomplished actress to fill the part of the 
heroine. With this view he wrote the follow- 
ing letter to a friend [Peacock, July, 1819] in 
London : — 

' " The object of the present letter is to ask a 
favor of you. I have written a tragedy on the 
subject of a story well known in Italy, and, in 
my conception, eminently dramatic. I have 
taken some pains to make my play fit for re- 
presentation, and those who have already seen 
it judge favorably. It is written without any 
of the peculiar feelings and opinions which 
characterize my other compositions ; I having 
attended simply to the impartial development 
of such characters as it is probable the persons 
represented really were, together with the great- 
est degree of popular efPect to be produced by 
such a development. I send you a translation 



of the Italian MS. on which my play is founded ; 
the chief subject of which I have touched verj 
delicately ; for my principal doubt as to 
whether it would succeed, as an acting play, 
hangs entirely on the question, as to whether 
such a thing as incest in this shape, however 
treated, would be admitted on the stage. I 
think, however, it will form no objection, con- 
sidering, first, that the facts are matter of his- 
tory and, secondly, the peculiar delicacy with 
which I have treated it. 

' " I am exceedingly interested in the ques- 
tion of whether this attempt of mine will suc- 
ceed or no. I am strongly inclined to the 
affirmative at present ; founding my hopes on 
this, that as a composition it is certainly not 
inferior to any of the modern plays that have 
been acted, with the exception of Remorse; 
that the interest of its plot is incredibly greater 
and more real, and that there is nothing beyond 
what the multitude are contented to believe 
that they can understand, either in imagery, 
opinion, or sentiment. I wish to preserve a 
complete incognito, and can trust to you that, 
whatever else you do, you will at least favor 
me on this point. Indeed this is essential, 
deeply essential to its success. After it had 
been acted, and successfully (could I hope such 
a thing), I would own it if I pleased, and use 
the celebrity it might acquire, to my own pur- 
poses. 

' " What I want you to do, is to procure for 
me its presentation at Covent Garden. The 
principal character, Beatrice, is precisely fitted 
for Miss O'Neil, and it might even seem 
written for her, (God forbid that I should ever 
see her play it — it would tear my nerves to 
pieces,) and in all respects it is fitted only for 
Covent Garden. The chief male character I 
confess I should be very unwilling that any 
one but Kean should play — that is impossible, 
and I must be contented with an inferior ac- 
tor." 

' The play was accordingly sent to Mr. 
Harris. He pronounced the subject to be so 
objectionable that he could not even submit 
the part to Miss O'Neil for perusal, but ex- 
pressed his desire that the author would write 
a tragedy on some other subject, which he would 
gladly accept. Shelley printed a small edition 
at Leghorn, to insure its correctness ; as he was 
much annoyed by the many mistakes that crept 
into his text, when distance prevented him 
from correcting the press. 

' Universal approbation soon stamped The 
Cenci as the best tragedy of modern times. 
Writing concerning it, Shelley said : '' I have 
been cautious to avoid the introducing faults 
of youthful composition ; diffuseness, a profu- 
sion of inapplicable imagery, vagueness, gener- 
ality, and, as Hamlet says, words, words" 



208 



THE CENCI 



There is nothing that is not purely dramatic 
throughout ; and the character of Beatrice, 
proceeding from vehement struggle to horror, 
to deadly resolution, and lastly, to the eLe- 
vated dignity of calm suffering, joined to pas- 
sionate tenderness and pathos, is touched with 
hues so vivid and so beautiful, that the poet 
seems to have read intimately the secrets of 
the noble heart imaged in the lovely counte- 
nance of the unfortunate girl. The Fifth Act is 
a masterpiece. It is the finest thing he ever 
wrote, and may claim proud comparison not 
only with any contemporary, but- preceding 
poet. The varying feelings of Beatrice are 
expressed with passionate, heart-reaching elo- 
quence. Every character has a voice that 
echoes truth in its tones. It is curious, to one 
acquainted with the written story, to mark the 
success with which the poet has inwoven the 
real incidents of the tragedy into his scenes, 
and yet, through the power of poetry, has 
obliterated all that would otherwise have shown 
too harsh or too hideous in the picture. His 
success was a double triumph ; and often after 
he was earnestly entreated to write again in a 
style that commanded popular favor, while it 
was not less instinct with truth and genius. 
But the bent of his mind went the other way ; 
and even when employed on subjects whose 
interest depended on character and incident, 
he would start off in another direction, and 
leave the delineations of human passion, which 
he could depict in so able a manner, for fantas- 
tic creations of his fancy, or the expression of 
those opinions and sentiments with regard to 
human nature and its destiny, a desire to diffuse 
which was the master passion of his soul.' 

Though Shelley's references to the drama, in 
his correspondence, are many, they are rather 
concerned with the stage-production and publi- 
cation of it than with criticism. While still 
warm with its composition he wrote to Peacock, 
' My work on The Cenci, which was done in 
two months, was a fine antidote to nervous 
medicines and kept up, I tliink, the pain in my 
side as sticks do a fire. Since then I have ma- 
terially improved ; ' and in offering the dedica- 
tion to Leigh Hunt, he says, — ' I have written 
something and finished it, different from any- 
thing else, and a new attempt for me ; and I 
mean to dedicate it to you. I should not have 
done so without your approbation, but I asked 
your picture last night, and it smiled assent. 
If I did not think it in some degree worthy of 
you, I would not make you a public offering 
of it. I expect to have to write to you soon 
about it. If Oilier is not turned Christian, 
Jew, or become infected with the Murrain, he 
will publish it. Don't let him be frightened, 
for it is nothing which by any courtesy of lan- 
guage can be termed either moral or immoral,' 



In letters to Oilier he describes it as ' calcu 
lated to produce a very popular effect,' ' ex- 
pressly written for theatrical exhibition,' and 
' written for the multitude.' He doubtless 
had in mind, while using these phrases, its re- 
straint of style, in which it is unique among 
his longer works, and its freedom from abstract 
thought and the peculiar imagery in which he 
delighted. Its failure disapjDointed him, as it 
is the only one of his works from which he 
seems to have expected contemporary and 
popular success. ' The Cenci ought to have 
been popular,' he writes again to Oilier ; and 
the effect of continued neglect of his writings, 
in depressing his spirits, is shown in a letter the 
preceding day to Peacock, — ' Nothing is more 
difficult and unwelcome than to write without 
a confidence of finding readers ; and if my play 
of The Cenci found none or few, I despair of 
ever producing anything that shall merit them.' 
Byron was ' loud in censure,' and Keats was 
critical, in the very point where criticism was 
perhaps least needed ; he wrote, acknowledging 
a gift copy, — ' You, I am sure, will forgive me 
for sincerely remarking that you might curb 
your magnanimity, and be more of an artist, and 
load every rift of your subject with ore. The 
thought of such discipline must fall like cold 
chains upon yoix, who perhaps never sat wHh 
your wings furled for six months together. 
And is not this extraordinary talk for the 
writer of Endymion, whose mind was like a 
pack of scattered cards ? ' Trelawny records 
Shelley's last, and most condensed judgment : 
' In writing The Cenci my object was to see how 
I could succeed in describing passions I have 
never felt, and to tell the most dreadful story 
in pure and refined language. The image of 
Beatrice haunted me after seeing her portrait. 
The story is well authenticated, and the details 
far more horrible than I have painted thein. 
The Cenci is a work of art ; it is not colored by 
my feelings nor obscured by my metaphysics. 
I don't think much of it. It gave me less 
trouble than anything I have written of the 
same length.' 

DEDICATION 
TO LEIGH HUNT, ESQ. 

My dear Friend, — I inscribe with your 
name, from a distant country, and after an ab- 
sence whose months have seemed years, this 
the latest of my literary efforts. 

Those writings which I have hitherto pub- 
lished have been little else than visions which 
impersonate my own apprehensions of the beau- 
tiful and the just. I can also perceive in thein 
the literary defects incidental to youth and im 



AUTHOR'S PREFACE 



209 



patience ; they are dreams of what ought to 
be or may be. The drama which I now pre- 
sent to you is a sad reality. I lay aside the 
presumptuous attitude of an instructor and am 
content to paint, with such colors as my own 
heart furnishes, that which has been. 

Had I known a person more highly endowed 
than yourself with all that it becomes a man 
to possess, I had solicited for this work the 
ornament of his name. One more gentle, hon- 
orable, innocent and brave ; one of more ex- 
alted toleration for all who do and think evil, 
and yet himself more free from evil ; one who 
knows better how to receive and how to con- 
fer a benefit, though he must ever confer far 
more than he can receive ; one of simpler, and, 
in the highest sense of the word, of purer life 
and manners, I never knew ; and I had already 
been fortunate in friendships when your name 
was added to the list. 

In that patient and irreconcilable enmity 
with domestic and political tyranny and impos- 
ture which the tenor of your life has illus- 
trated, and which, had I health and talents, 
should illustrate mine, let us, comforting each 
other in our task, live and die. 

All happiness attend you ! 
Your affectionate friend, 

Percy B. Shelley. 

Rome, May 29, 1819. 

PREFACE 

A Manuscript was communicated to me 
during my travels in Italy, which was copied 
from the archives of the Cenci Palace at Rome 
and contains a detailed account of the horrors 
which ended in the extinction of one of the 
noblest and richest families of that city, during 
the Pontificate of Clement VIII., in the year 
1599. The story is that an old man, having 
spent his life in debauchery and wickedness, 
conceived at length an implacable hatred 
towards his children ; which showed itself 
towards one daughter under the form of an in- 
cestuous passion, aggravated by every circum- 
stance of cruelty and violence. This daughter, 
after long and vain attempts to escape from 
what she considered a perpetual contamination 
both of body and mind, at length plotted with 
her mother-in-law and brother to murder their 
common tyrant. The young maiden who was 
urged to this tremendous deed by an impulse 
which overpowered its horror was evidently a 
most gentle and amiable being, a creature 
formed to adorn and be admired, and thus vio- 
lently thwarted from her nature by the necessity 
of circumstance and opinion. The deed was 
quickly discovered, and, in spite of the most 
earnest prayers made to the Pope by the high- 
est persons in Rome, the criminals were put to 



death. The old man had during his life re- 
peatedly bought his pardon from the Pope for 
capital crimes of the most enormous and un- 
speakable kind at the price of a hundred thou- 
sand crowns; the death therefore of his vic- 
tims can scarcely be accounted for by the love 
of justice. The Pope, among other motives 
for severity, probably felt that whoever killed 
the Count Cenci deprived his treasury of a 
certain and copious source of revenue.^ Such 
a story, if told so as to present to the reader 
all the feelings of those who once acted it, 
their hopes and fears, their confidences and 
misgivings, their various interests, passions and 
opinions, acting upon and with each other yet 
all conspiring to one tremendous end, would be 
as a light to make apparent some of the most 
dark and secret caverns of the human heart. 

On my arrival at Rome I found that the 
story of the Cenci was a subject not to be 
mentioned in Italian society without awaken- 
ing a deep and breathless interest ; and that 
the feelings of the company never failed to in- 
cline to a romantic pity for the wrongs and a 
passionate exculpation of the horrible deed 
to which they urged her who has been mingled 
two centuries with the common dust. All 
ranks of people knew tlie outlines of this his- 
tory and participated in the overwhelming in- 
terest which it seems to have the magic of ex- 
citing in the human heart. I had a copy of 
Guido's picture of Beatrice which is preserved 
in the Colonna Palace, and my servant instantly 
recognized it as the portrait of La Cenci. 

This national and universal interest which 
tlie story produces and has produced for two 
centuries and among all ranks of people in a 
great. City, where the imagination is kept for- 
ever active and awake, first suggested to me 
the conception of its fitness for a dramatic 
purpose. In fact it is a tragedy which has al- 
ready received, from its capacity of awakening 
and sustaining the sympathy of men, appro- 
bation and success. Nothing remained as I im- 
agined but to clothe it to the apprehensions of 
my countrymen in such language and action as 
would bring it home to their hearts. The 
deepest and the sublimest tragic compositions. 
King Lear and the two plays in which the tale 
of CEdipus is told, were stories which already 
existed in tradition, as matters of popular 
belief and interest, before Shakespeare and 
Sophocles made them familiar to the sympa- 
thy of all succeeding generations of man- 
kind. 

This story of the Cenci is indeed eminently 

1 The Papal Government formerly took the most ex- 
traordinary precautions against tlie publicity of facts 
wliich offer so tragjical a demonstration of its own wick- 
e<lness and weakness ; so that the communication of 
the MS. had become, until very lately, a matter of 
some difficulty. 



210 



THE CENCI 



fearful and monstrous ; anything' like a dry 
exhibition of it on the stage would be insup- 
portable. The person who would treat such a 
subject must increase the ideal and diminish 
the actual horror of the events, so that the 
pleasure which arises from the poetry which 
exists in these tempestuous sufferings and 
crimes may mitigate the pain of the contem- 
plation of the moral deformity from which 
they spring. There must also be nothing at- 
tempted to make the exhibition subservient to 
what is vulgarly termed a moral purpose. The 
highest moral purpose aimed at in the highest 
species of the drama is the teaching the hu- 
man heart, through its sympathies and antipa- 
thies, the knowledge of itself ; in proportion to 
the possession of which knowledge every hu- 
man being is wise, just, sincere, tolerant and 
kind. If dogmas can do more, it is well : but 
a drama is no fit place for the enforcement of 
them. Undoubtedly no person can be truly 
dishonored by the act of another ; and tlie fit 
return to make to the most enormous injuries 
is kindness and forbearance and a resolution to 
convert the injurer from his dark passions by 
peace and love. Revenge, retaliation, atone- 
ment, are pernicious mistakes. If Beatrice 
had thought in this manner she would have 
been wiser and better ; but she would never 
have been a tragic character. The few whom 
such an exhibition would have interested could 
never have been sufficiently interested for a 
dramatic purpose, from the want of finding 
sympathy in their interest among the mass 
who surround them. It is in the restless and 
anatomizing casuistry with which men seek 
the justification of Beatrice, yet feel that she 
has done what needs justification ; it is in the 
superstitious horror with which they contem- 
plate alike her wrongs and their revenge, — 
that the dramatic character of what she did 
and suffered, consists. 

I have endeavored as nearly as possible to 
represent the characters as they probably were, 
and have sought to avoid the error of making 
them actuated by my own conceptions of right 
or wrong, false or true : thus under a thin veil 
converting names and actions of the sixteenth 
century into cold impersonations of my own 
mind. They are represented as Catholics, and 
as Catholics deeply tinged with religion. To 
a Protestant apprehension there will appear 
something unnatural in the earnest and per- 
petual sentiment of the relations between God 
and men which pervade the tragedy of the 
Cenci. It will especially be startled at the 
combination of an undoubting persuasion of 
the truth of the popular religion with a cool 
and determined perseverance in enormous guilt. 
But religion in Italy is not, as in Protestant 
countries, a cloak to be worn on particular 



days ; or a passport which those who do not 
wish to be railed at carry with them to exhibit ; 
or a gloomy passion for penetrating the im- 
penetrable mysteries of our being, which terri- 
fies its possessor at the darkness of the abyss 
to the brink of which it has conducted him. 
Religion coexists, as it were, in the mind of an 
Italian Catholic, with a faith in that of which 
all men have the most certain knowledge. It 
is interwoven with the whole fabric of life. It 
is adoration, faith, submission, penitence, blind 
admiration ; not a rule for moral conduct. It 
has no necessary connection with any one vir- 
tue. The most atrocious villain may be rigidly 
devout, and without any shock to established 
faith confess himself to be so. Religion per- 
vades intensely the whole frame of society, and 
is, according to the temper of the mind which 
it inhabits, a passion, a persuasion, an excuse, 
a refuge ; never a check. Cenci himself built 
a chapel in the court of his Palace, and dedi- 
cated it to St. Thomas the Apostle, and estab- 
lished masses for the peace of his soul. Thus 
in the first scene of the fourth act Lucre tia's 
design in exposing herself to the consequences 
of an expostulation with Cenci after having 
administered the opiate was to induce him by 
a feigned tale to confess himself before death, 
this being esteemed by Catholics as essential 
to salvation ; and she only relinquishes her 
purpose when she perceives that her persever- 
ance would expose Beatrice to new outrages. 

I have avoided with great care in writing 
this play the introduction of what is commonly 
called mere poetry, and I imagine there will 
scarcely be found a detached simile or a single 
isolated description, unless Beatrice's descrip- 
tion of the chasm appointed for her father's 
murder should be judged to be of that nature.^ 

In a dramatic composition the imagery and 
the passion should interpenetrate one another, 
the former being reserved simply for the full 
development and illustration of the latter. 
Imagination is as the immortal God which 
should assume flesh for the redemption of 
mortal passion. It is thus that the most re- 
mote and the most familiar imagery may alike 
be fit for dramatic purposes when employed in 
the illustration of strong feeling, which raises 
what is low and levels to the apprehension that 
which is lofty, casting over all the shadow of 
its OAvn greatness. In other respects I have 
written more carelessly ; that is, without an 
overfastidious and learned choice of words. 
In this respect I entirely agree with those 
modern critics who assert that in order to 
move men to true sympathy we must use the 

^ An idea in this speech was suggested by a most 
sublime passage in El Ptirgatorio de San Patricio of 
Calderon; the only plagiarism which I have intentioi>- 
ally committed in the whole piece. 



ACT I : SC. I 



THE CENCI 



211 



familiar language of men, and that our great 
ancestors the ancient English poets are the 
writers, a study of whom might incite us to do 
that for our own age which they have done for 
theirs. But it must be the real language of 
men in general and not that of any particular 
class to whose society the writer happens to 
belong. So much for what I have attempted ; 
I need not be assured that success is a very 
different matter ; particularly for one whose 
attention has but newly been awakened to the 
study of dramatic literature. 

I endeavored whilst at Rome to observe such 
monuments of this story as might be accessible 
to a stranger. The portrait of Beatrice at the 
Colonna Palace is admirable as a work of art ; 
it was taken by Guido during her confinement 
in prison. But it is most interesting as a just 
representation of one of the loveliest specimens 
of the workmanship of Nature. There is a 
fixed and pale composure upon the features ; 
she seems sad and stricken down in spirit, yet 
the despair thus expressed is lightened by the 
patience of gentleness. Her head is bound 
with folds of white drapery from which the 
yellow strings of her golden hair escape and 
fall about her neck. The moulding of her 
face is exquisitely delicate ; the eyebrows are 
distinct and arched ; the lips have that perma- 
nent meaning of imagination and sensibility 
which suffering has not repressed and which it 
seems as if death scarcely could extinguish. 
Her forehead is large and clear ; her eyes, 
which we are told were remarkable for their 
vivacity, are swollen with weeping and lustre- 



less, but beautifully tender and serene. In 
the whole mien there is a simplicity and dignity 
which, united with her exquisite loveliness and 
deep sorrow, are inexpressibly pathetic. Bea- 
trice Cenci appears to have been one of those 
rare persons in whom energy and gentleness 
dwell together without destroying one another ; 
her nature was simple and profound. The 
crimes and miseries in which she was an actor 
and a sufferer are as the mask and the mantle 
in which circumstances clothed her for her 
impersonation on the scene of the world. 

The Cenci Palace is of great extent ; and, 
though in part modernized, there yet remains 
a vast and gloomy pile of feudal architecture 
in the same state as during the dreadful scenes 
which are the subject of this tragedy. The 
Palace is situated in an obscure corner of 
Rome, near the quarter of the Jews, and from 
the upper windows you see the immense ruins 
of Mount Palatine half hidden under their 
profuse overgrowth of trees. There is a court 
in one part of the Palace (perhaps that in 
which Cenci built the Chapel to St. Thomas), 
supported by granite columns and adorned with 
antique friezes of fine workmanship, and built 
up, according to the ancient Italian fashion, 
with balcony over balcony of openwork. One 
of the gates of the Palace formed of immense 
stones and leading through a passage, dark 
and lofty and opening into gloomy subterra- 
nean chambers, struck me particularly. 

Of the Castle of Petrella, I could obtain no 
further information than that which is to be 
found in the manuscript. 



THE CENCI 



DRAMATIS PERSONS 



Count Francesco Cenci. Andrea, Servant to 

GiAcoMO, 1 , . g Cenci. 

Bernardo, ( ' Nobles. Judges. 

Cardinal Camillo. Guards. Servants. 

Prince Colonna. Lucretia, Wife of 

Orsino, a Prelate. Cenci and Stepino- 
Savella, the Pope's Legate. ther of his children. 

Olimpio, ) A<iqaa<»ina BEATRICE, his Daugh- 

Marzio, I Assassins. ^^^ 

The Scene lies principally in Rome, but changes dur- 
ing the fourth Act to Pretrella, a castle among the 
Apulian Apennines. 

Time. During the Pontificate of Clement VIII. 

ACT I 

Scene I. — An Apartment in the Cenci Palace. 
Enter Count Cenci and Cardinal Ca- 
millo. 

CAMILLO 

That matter of the murder is hushed up 
If you consent to yield his Holiness 



Your fi.ef that lies beyond the Pincian gate. 
It needed all my interest in the conclave 
To bend him to this point ; he said that you 
Bought perilous impunity with your gold; 
That crimes like yours if once or twice 

compounded 
Enriched the Church, and respited from hell 
An erring soul which might repent and live; 
But that the glory and the interest lo 

Of the high throne he fills little consist 
With making it a daily mart of guilt 
As manifold and hideous as the deeds 
Which you scarce hide from men's re- 
volted eyes. 

CENCI 

The third of my possessions — let it go ! 
Ay, I once heard the nephew of the Pope 
Had sent his architect to view the ground, 
Meaning to build a villa on my vines 
The next time I compounded with his uncle. 
I little thought he should outwit me so ! 20 



212 



THE CENCI 



ACT I : fee. I 



Henceforth no witness — not the lamp — 

shall see 
That which the vassal threatened to divulge, 
Whose throat is choked with dust for his 

reward. 
The deed he saw could not have rated 

higher 
Than his most worthless life — it angers 

me ! 
Respited me from Hell ! So may the 

Devil 
clespite their souls from Heaven ! No 

doubt Pope Clement, 
And his most charitable nephews, pray- 
That the Apostle Peter and the saints 
Will grant for their sake that I long 

enjoy 30 

Strength, wealth, and pride, and lust, and 

length of days 
Wherein to act the deeds which are the 

stewards 
Of their revenue. — But much yet remains 
To which they show no title. 

CAMILLO 

Oh, Count Cenci ! 
So much that thou mightst honorably live 
And reconcile thyself with thine own heart 
And with thy God and with the offended 

world. 
How hideously look deeds of lust and blood 
Through those snow-white and venerable 

hairs ! 
Your children should be sitting round you 

now 40 

But that you fear to read upon their looks 
The shame and misery you have written 

there. 
Where is your wife ? Where is your gentle 

daughter ? 
Methinks her sweet looks, which make all 

tilings else 
Beauteous and glad, might kill the fiend 

within you. 
Why is she barred from all society 
But her own strange and uncomplaining 

wrongs ? 
Talk with me, Count, — you know 1 mean 

you well. 
I stood beside your dark and fiery youth, 
Watching its bold and bad career, as men 50 
Watch meteors, but it vanished not; I 

marked 
Your desperate and remorseless manhood; 



Do I behold you in dishonored age 
Charged with a thousand unrepented 

crimes. 
Yet I have ever hoped you would amend. 
And in that hope have saved your life three 

times. 

CENCI 

For which Aldobrandino owes you now 
My fief beyond the Pincian. Cardinal, 
One thing, I pray you, recollect henceforth. 
And so we shall converse with less re- 
straint. 60 
A man you knew spoke of my wife and 

daughter; 
He was accustomed to frequent my house ; 
So the next day his wife and daughter came 
And asked if I had seen him; and I smiled. 
I think they never saw him any more. 

CAMILLO 

Thou execrable man, beware ! 

CENCI 

Of thee? 
Nay, this is idle. We should know each 

other. 
As to my character for what men call crime, 
Seeing I please my senses as I list, 
And vindicate that right with force or 

guile, 70 

It is a public matter, and I care not 
If I discuss it with you. I may speak 
Alike to you and my own conscious heart. 
For you give out that you have half re- 
formed me; 
Therefore strong vanity will keep you 

silent, 
If fear should not; both will, I do not 

doubt. 
All men delight in sensual luxury; 
All men enjoy revenge, and most exult 
Over the tortures they can never feel. 
Flattering their secret peace with others' 

pain. 80 

But I delight in nothing else. I love 
The sight of agony, and the sense of joy, 
When this shall be another's and that mine ; 
And I have no remorse and little fear. 
Which are, I think, the checks of other 

men. 
This mood has grown upon me, until now 
Any design my captious fancy makes 
The picture of its wish — and it forms 

none 



ACT I : SC. 1 



THE CENCI 



213 



But such as men like you would start to 

know — 
Is as my natural food and rest debarred 90 
Until it be accomplished. 



CAMIKLO 



Art thou not 



Most miserable ? 



CENCI 

Why miserable ? 
No. I am what your theologians call 
Hardened; which they must be in impu- 
dence, 
So to revile a man's peculiar taste. 
True, I was happier than I am, while yet 
Manhood remained to act the thing I 

thought, — 
While lust was sweeter than revenge; and 

now 
Invention palls. Ay, we must all grow old. 
And but that there remains a deed to act 
Whose horror might make sharp an appe- 
tite lOI 

Duller than mine — I 'd do, — I know not 

what. 
When I was young I thought of nothing 

else 
But pleasure; and I fed on honey sweets. 
Men, by St. Thomas ! cannot live like 

bees, — 
And I grew tired; yet, till I killed a foe. 
And heard his groans, and heard his chil- 
dren's groans. 
Knew I not what delight was else on 

earth, — 
Which now delights me little. I the rather 
Look on such pangs as terror ill conceals — 
The dry, fixed eyeball, the pale, quivering 

lip, III 

Which tell me that the spirit weeps within 
Tears bitterer than the bloody sweat of 

Christ. 
I rarely kill the body, which preserves, 
Like a strong prison, the soul within my 

power, 
Wherein I feed it with the breath of fear 
For hourly pain. 

CAMLLLO 

Hell's most abandoned fiend 
Did never, in the drunkenness of guilt, 
Speak to his heart as now you speak to 

me. 
I thank my God that I believe you not. 120 



Enter Andrea 

ANDREA 



My Lord, a gentleman from Salamanca 
Would speak with you. 



CENCI 



In the grand saloon. 



Bid him attend me 
[Exit Andrea. 



CAMILLO 

Farewell; and I will pray 
Almighty God that thy false, impious words 
Tempt not his spirit to abandon thee. 

[Exit Camillo. 

CENCI 

The third of my possessions ! I must use 
Close husbandry, or gold, the old man's 

sword, 
Falls from my withered hand. But yester- 
day 
There came an order from the Pope to make 
Fourfold provision for my cursed sons, 130 
Whom I had sent from Rome to Salamanca, 
Hoping some accident might cut them off, 
And meaning, if I could, to starve them 

there. 
I pray thee, God, send some quick death 

upon them ! 
Bernardo and my wife could not be worse 
If dead and damned. Then, as to Bea- 
trice — 

[Looking around him suspiciously. 
I think they cannot hear me at that door. 
What if they should ? And yet I need not 

speak, 
Though the heart triumphs with itself in 
words. 139 

O thou most silent air, that shalt not hear 
What now I think ! Thou pavement which 

I tread 
Towards her chamber, — let your echoes 

talk 
Of my imperious step, scorning surprise, 
But not of my intent ! — Andrea ! 

Enter Andrea 

ANDREA 

My Lord ? 

CENCI 

Bid Beatrice attend me in her chamber 
This evening: — no, at midnight and alone 

[Exeunt 



214 



THE CENCI 



ACT I ; SC. II 



Scene II. — A Garden of the Cenci Palace. 
Enter Beatkice and Ok&ino, as in conversa- 
tion. 

BEATRICE 

Pervert not truth, 
Orsiiio. You remember where we held 
That conversation; nay, we see the spot 
Even from this cypress; two long years are 

passed 
Since, on an April midnight, underneath 
The moonlight ruins of Mount Palatine, 
I did confess to you my secret mind. 

ORSINO 

You said you loved me then. 



BEATRICE 



Speak to me not of love. 



You are a priest. 



ORSINO 

I may obtain 
The dispensation of the Pope to marry. lo 
Because I am a priest do you believe 
Your image, as the hunter some struck 

deer. 
Follows me not whether I wake or sleep ? 

BEATRICE 

As I have said, speak to me not of love; 
Had you a dispensation, I have not; 
Nor will I leave this home of misery 
Whilst my poor Bernard, and that gentle 

lady 
To whom I owe life and these virtuous 

thoughts, 
Must suffer what I still have strength to 

share. 
Alas, Orsino ! All the love that once 20 
J felt for you is turned to bitter pain. 
Ours was a youthful contract, which you 

first 
Broke by assuming vows no Pope will 

loose. 
And thus I love you still, but holily, 
Even as a sister or a spirit might; 
And so I swear a cold fidelity. 
And it is well perhaps we shall not marry. 
You have a sly, equivocating vein 
That suits me not. — Ah, wretched that I 

am ! 
Where shall I turn ? Even now you look 

on me 30 

As you were not my friend, and as if you 



Discovered that I thought so, with false 

smiles 
Making my true suspicion seem your wrong. 
Ah, no, forgive me; sorrow makes me seem 
Sterner tlian else my nature might have 

been; 
I have a weight of melancholy thoughts. 
And they forebode, — but what can they 

forebode 
Worse than I now endure ? 

ORSINO 

All will be well 
Is the petition yet prepared V You know 
My zeal for all you wish, sweet Beatrice ; 40 
Doubt not but I will use my utmost skill 
So that the Pope attend to your complaint. 

BEATRICE 

Your zeal for all I wish. Ah me, you are 

cold! 
Your utmost skill — speak but one word — 

{Aside) Alas ! 
Weak and deserted creature that I am. 
Here I stand bickering with my only friend ! 

[To Orsino) 
This night my father gives a sumptuous 

feast, 
Orsino ; he has heard some happy news 
From Salamanca, from my brothers there. 
And with this outward show of love he 

mocks so 

His inward hate. 'T is bold hypocrisy. 
For he would gladlier celebrate their deaths, 
Which I have heard him pray for on his 

knees. 
Great God ! that such a father should be 

mine ! 
But there is mighty preparation made, 
And all our kin, the Cenci, will be there, 
And all the chief nobility of Rome. 
And he has bidden me and my pale mother 
Attire ourselves in festival array. 59 

Poor lady ! she expects some happy change 
In his dark spirit from this act; I none. 
At supper I will give you the petition; 
Till when — farewell. 

orsino 
Farewell. 

[Exit Beatrice. 
I know the Pope 
Will ne'er absolve me from my priestly vow 
But by absolving me from the revenue 



ACT I SC. Ill 



THE CENCI 



21$ 



Of many a wealthy see; and, Beatrice, 
I think to win thee at an easier rate. 
Nor shall he read her eloquent petition. 
He might bestow her on some poor relation 
Of his sixth cousin, as he did her sister, ^o 
And I should be debarred from all access. 
Then as to what she suffers from her 

father, 
In all this there is much exaggeration. 
Old men are testy, and will have their way. 
A man may stab his enemy, or his vassal. 
And live a free life as to wine or women, 
And with a peevish temper may return 
To a dull home, and rate his wife and chil- 
dren ; 
Daughters and wives call this foul tyranny. 
I shall be well content if on my conscience 
There rest no heavier sin than what they 
suffer 8 1 

From the devices of my love — a net 
From which she shall escape not. Yet I 

fear 
Her subtle mind, her awe-inspiring gaze, 
Whose beams anatomize me, nerve by 

nerve, 
And lay -me bare, and make me blush to 

see 
My hidden thoughts. — Ah, no ! a friend- 
less girl 
Who clings to me, as to her only hope ! 
I were a fool, not less than if a panther 8g 
Were panic-stricken by the antelope's eye, 
If she escape me. 

{^Exit. 

Scene III. — A magnificent Hall in the Cenci 
Palace. A Banquet. Enter Cenci, Lu- 
CBETiA, Beatrice, Orsino, Camillo, No- 
bles. 

CENCI 

Welcome, my friends and kinsmen; wel- 
come ye, 

Princes and Cardinals, pillars of the church, 

Whose presence honors our festivity. 

I have too long lived like an anchorite. 

And in my absence from your merry meet- 
ings 

An evil word is gone abroad of me; 

But I do hope that you, my noble friends. 

When you have shared the entertainment 
here. 

And heard the pious cause for which 't is 
given. 

And we have pledged a health or two to- 
gether, IQ 



Will think me flesh and blood as well SLi 

you; 
Sinful indeed, for Adam made all so, 
But tender-hearted, meek and pitiful. 

first guest 

In truth, my Lord, you seem too light of 

heart. 
Too sprightly and companionable a man, 
To act the deeds that rumor pins on you. 

[To his companion. 
1 never saw such blithe and open cheer 
In any eye ! 

second guest 

Some most desired event. 
In which we all demand a common joy, 
Has brought us hither; let us hear it. 
Count. 20 

cenci 

It is indeed a most desired event. 

If when a parent from a parent's heart 

Lifts from this earth to the great Father of 

all 
A prayer, both when he lays him down to 

sleep. 
And when he rises up from dreaming it; 
One supplication, one desire, one hope. 
That he would grant a wish for his two 

sons. 
Even all that he demands in their regard. 
And suddenly beyond his dearest hope 29 
It is accomplished, he should then rejoice, 
And call his friends and kinsmen to a feast. 
And task their love to grace his merri- 
ment, — 
Then honor me thus far, for I am he. 

BEATRICE (to LUCRETIA) 

Great God ! How horrible ! some dreadful 

ill 
Must have befallen my brothers. 



LUCRETIA 



He speaks too frankly. 



Fear not, child. 



BEATRICE 



Ah ! My blood runs cold. 
I fear that wicked laughter round his 

eye, 
Wliich wrinkles up the skin even to the 

bair. 



2l6 



THE CENCI 



ACT I : sc. Ill 



CENCI 

Here are the letters brought from Sala- 
manca. 39 

Beatrice, read them to your mother. God ! 

I thank thee ! In one night didst thou 
perform, 

By ways inscrutable, the thing I sought. 

My disobedient and rebellious sons 

Are dead ! — Why, dead ! — What means 
this change of cheer ? 

You hear me not — 1 tell you they are 
dead; 

And they will need no food or raiment 
more; 

The tapers that did light them the dark 
way 

Are their last cost. The Pope, I think, 
will not 

Expect I should maintain them in their 
coffins. 

Rejoice with me — my heart is wondrous 
glad. 50 

BEATRICE (lucretia sinks, half fainting ; 
BEATRICE supports her) 

It is not true ! — Dear Lady, pray look up. 

Had it been true — there is a God in Hea- 
ven — 

He would not live to boast of such a boon. 

Unnatural man, thou knowest that it is 
false. 

CENCI 

Ay, as the word of God; whom here I call 
To witness that I speak the sober truth; 
And whose most favoring providence was 

shown 
Even in the manner of their deaths. For 

Rocco 
Was kneeling at the mass, with sixteen 

others, 
When the church fell and crushed him to 

a mummy; 60 

The rest escaped unhurt. Cristofano 
Was stabbed in error by a jealous man, 
Whilst she he loved was slee})ing with his 

rival, 
All in the self-same hour of tlie same night; 
Which shows that Heaven has special care 

of me. 
I beg those friends who love me that they 

mark 
The day a feast upon their calendars. 
It was the twenty- seventh of December. 
Ay, read the letters if you doubt my oath. 



{The assembly appears confused ; several oj 
the guests rise. 

FIRST GUEST 

Oh, horrible ! I will depart. 

SECOND GUEST 

And I. 

THIRD GUEST 

No, stay ! 
I do believe it is some jest; though, faith ! 
'T is mocking us somewhat too solemnly. 72 
I think his son has married the Infanta, 
Or found a mine of gold in El Dorado. 
'Tis but to season some such news; stay, 

stay ! 
I see 't is only raillery by his smile. 

CENCI (filing a bowl of wine, and lifting 
it up) 

O thou bright wine, whose purple splendor 

leaps 
And bubbles gayly in this golden bowl 
Under the lamp-light, as my spirits do. 
To hear the death of my accursed sons ! 80 
Could I believe thou wert their mingled 

blood. 
Then would I taste thee like a sacrament, 
And pledge with thee tlie mighty Devil in 

Hell, 
Who, if a father's curses, as men say. 
Climb with swift wings after their chil- 
dren's souls. 
And drng them from the very throne ( f 

Heaven, 
Now triumphs in my triumph ! — But thou 

art 
Superfluous; I have drunken deep of joy, 
And I will taste no other wine to-night. 
Here, Andrea ! Bear the bowl around. 90 

A GUEST (rising) 

Thou wretch ! 
Will none nmong this noble company 
Check the abandoned villain ? 



CAMILLO 



For God's sake, 



Let me dismiss the guests ! You are in- 
sane. 
Some ill will come of this. 



SECOND GUEST 

Seize, silence him ! 



ACT 1 : sc. ill 



THE CENCI 



217 



I will ! 



FIRST GUEST 
THIRD GUEST 

And I ! 



GENCI (addressing those who rise with a threat- 
ening gesture) 

Who moves ? Who speaks ? 
[Turning to the company. 
'T is nothing, 
Enjoy yourselves. — Beware ! for my re- 
venge 
Is as the sealed commission of a king, 
That kills, and none dare name the mur- 
derer. 
[The Banquet is broken up; several of the 
Guests are departing. 

BEATRICE 

I do entreat you, go not, noble guests; 99 
What although tyranny and impious hate 
Stand sheltered by a father's hoary hair ? 
What if 't is he who clothed us in these 

limbs 
Who tortures them, and triumphs ? What, 

if we. 
The desolate and the dead, were his own 

flesh. 
His children and his wife, whom he is bound 
To love and shelter ? Shall we therefore 

find 
No refuge in this merciless wide world ? 
Oh, think what deep wrongs must have 

blotted out 
First love, then reverence, in a child's prone 

mind, 
Till it thus vanquish shame and fear ! Oh, 

think ! no 

I have borne much, and kissed the sacred 

hand 
Which crushed us to the earth, and thought 

its stroke 
Was perhaps some paternal chastisement ! 
Have excused much, doubted; and when 

no doubt 
Remained, have sought by patience, love 

and tears 
To soften him; and when this could not 

be, 
I have knelt down through the long sleep- 
less nights. 
And lifted up to God, the father of all, 
Passionate prayers; and when these were 

not heard, 119 

I have still borne, — until I meet you here. 



Princes and kinsmen, at this hideous feast 
Given at my brothers' deaths. Two yet 

remain ; 
His wife remains and I, whom if ye save 

not. 
Ye may soon share such merriment again 
As fathers make over their children's 

graves. 
Oh ! Prince Colonna, thou art our near 

kinsman; 
Cardinal, thou art the Pope's chamberlain j 
Camillo, thou art chief justiciary; 
Take us away ! 

CENCI {he Aas been conversing with camillo 
during the first j^art of Beatrice's speech; 
he hears the conclusion^ and now advances) 

I hope my good friends here 
Will think of their own daughters — or 

perhaps 130 

Of their own throats — before they lend an 

ear 
To this wild girl. 

BEATRICE {not noticing the words of cenci) 

Dare no one look on me ? 
None answer ? Can one tyrant overbear 
The sense of many best and wisest men ? 
Or is it that I sue not in some form 
Of scrupulous law that ye deny my suit ? 
Oh, God ! that I were buried with my 

brothers ! 
And that the flowers of this departed 

spring 
Were fading on my grave ! and that my 

father 
Were celebrating now one feast for all ! 140 

camillo 
A bitter wish for one so young and gentle. 
Can we do nothing ? — 

colonna 

Nothing that I see 
Count Cenci were a dangerous enemy; 
Yet I would second any one. 

A CARDINAL 

And I. 

CENCI 

Retire to your chamber, insolent girl ! 

BEATRICE 

Retire thou, impious man ! Ay, hide thyself 
Where never eye can look upon thee more f 



2l8 



THE CENCI 



ACT II: SC. i 



Wouldst thou have honor and obedience, 
Who art a torturer ? Father, never dream, 
Though thou mayst overbear this com- 
pany, 150 
But ill must come of ill. Frown not on 

me ! 
Haste, hide thyself, lest with avenging 

looks 
My brothers' ghosts should hunt thee from 

thy seat ! 
Cover thy face from every living eye. 
And start if thou but hear a human step; 
Seek out some dark and silent corner — 

there 
Bow thy white head before offended God, 
And we will kneel around, and fervently 
Pray that he pity both ourselves and thee. 

CENCI 

My friends, I do lament this insane girl 160 
Has spoiled the mirth of our festivity. 
Good night, farewell; I will not make you 

longer 
Spectators of our dull domestic quarrels. 
Another time. — 

[Exeunt all but Cenci and Beatrice. 
My brain is swimming round. 
Give me a bowl of wine ! 

{To Beatrice) 

Thou painted viper ! 
Beast that thou art ! Fair and yet terri- 
ble ! 
1 know a charm shall make thee meek and 

tame. 
Now get thee from my sight ! 

[Exit Beatrice. 

Here, Andrea, 

Fill up this goblet with Greek wine. I 

said 
I would not drink this evening, but I 

must; 170 

For, strange to say, I feel my spirits fail 
With thinking what I have decreed to 

do. 

(Drinking the wine) 
Be thou the resolution of quick youth 
Within my veins, and manhood's purpose 

stern, 
And age's firm, cold, subtle villainy; 
As if thou wert indeed my children's blood 
Which I did thirst to drink ! The charm 

works well. 
Lt must be done; it shall be done, I swear ! 

[Exit. 



ACT II 

Scene I. — An Apartment in the Cenci Palace 
Enter Lucrbtia and Bernardo. 

LUCRETIA 

Weep not, my gentle boy; he struck but 

me. 
Who have borne deeper wrongs. In truth, 

if he 
Had killed me, he had done a kinder deed. 

God Almighty, do thou look upon us, 
We have no other friend but only thee ! 
Yet weep not; though I love you as my 

own, 

1 am not your true mother. 

BERNARDO 

Oh, more, more 
Than ever mother was to any child, 
That have you been to me ! Had he not 

been 
My father, do you think that I should 

weep ? 10 

LUCRETIA 

Alas ! poor boy, what else couldst thou have 
done ! 

Enter Beatrice 

BEATRICE {in a hurried voice) 

Did he pass this way ? Have you seen him, 

brother ? 
Ah, no ! that is his step upon the stairs; 
'Tis nearer now; his hand is on the door; 
Mother, if I to thee have ever been 
A duteous child, now save me ! Thou, 

great God, 
Whose image upon earth a father is. 
Dost thou indeed abandon me ? He 

comes; 
The door is opening now; I see his face; 19 
He frowns on others, but he smiles on me, 
Even as he did after the feast last night. 

Enter a Servant 

Almighty God, how merciful thou art ! 
'Tis but Orsino's servant. — Well, what 



news 



SERVANT 



My master bids me say the Holy Father 
Has sent back your petition thus unopened. 

{Giving apaperi 



ACT II : SC. I 



THE CENCI 



219 



And he demands at what hour 'twere 

secure 
To visit you again ? 

LUCRETIA 

At the Ave Mary. 

[Exit Servant. 

So, daughter, our last hope has failed. 
Ah me, 

How pale you look ! you tremble, and you 
stand 

Wrapped in some fixed and fearful medita- 
tion, 30 

As if one thought were overstrong for yon; 

Your eyes have a chill glare; oh, dearest 
child ! 

Are you gone mad ? If not, pray speak to 
me. 

BEATRICE 

You see I am not mad; I speak to you. 

LUCRETIA 

You talked of something that your father 

did 
After that dreadful feast ? Could it be 

worse 
Than when he smiled, and cried, ' My sons 

are dead ! ' 
And every one looked in his neighbor's face 
To see if others were as white as he ? 39 
At the first word he spoke I felt the blood 
Rush to my heart, and fell into a trance; 
And when it passed I sat all weak and 

wild; 
Whilst you alone stood up, and with strong 

words 
Checked his unnatural pride; and I could 

see 
The devil was rebuked that lives in him. 
Until this hour thus you have ever stood 
Between us and your father's moody wrath 
Like a protecting presence ; your firm mind 
Has been our only refuge and defence. 
What can have thus subdued it ? What 

can now 50 

Have given you that cold melancholy look. 
Succeeding to your unaccustomed fear ? 

BEATRICE 

What is it that you say ? I was just think- 
ing 

'T were better not to struggle any more. 

Men, like my father, have been dark and 
bloody; 



Yet never — oh ! before worse comes of it, 
'T were wise to die ; it ends in that at last. 

LUCRETIA 

Oh, talk not so, dear child ! Tell me at 

once 
What did your father do or say to you ? 
He stayed not after that accursed feast 60 
One moment in your chamber. — Speak to 

me. 

BERNARDO 

Oh, sister, sister, prithee, speak to us ! 

BEATRICE (speaking very slowly, with a forced 

calmness) 
It was one word, mother, one little word; 
One look, one smile. 

( Wildly) 

Oh ! he has trampled me 

Under his feet, and made the blood stream 

down 
My pallid cheeks. And he has given us 

all 
Ditch-water, and the fever-stricken flesh 
Of buffaloes, and bade us eat or starve. 
And we have eaten. He has made me look 
On my beloved Bernardo, when the rust 70 
Of heavy chains has gangrened his sweet 

limbs ; 
And I have never yet despaired — but 

now ! 
What would I say? 

(Recovering herself) 

Ah, no ! 't is nothing new. 

The sufferings we all share have made me 

wild ; 
He only struck and cursed me as he 

passed; 
He said, he looked, he did, — nothing at 

all 
Beyond his wont, yet it disordered me. 
Alas ! I am forgetful of my duty; 
I should preserve my senses for your sake. 

LUCRETIA 

Nay, Beatrice; have courage, my sweet 
girl. 80 

If any one despairs it should be I, 

Who loved him once, and now must live 
with him 

Till God in pity call for him or me. 

For you may, like your sister, find some 
husband. 

And smile, years hence, with children round 
1 your knees: 



220 



THE CENCI 



ACT II : SC. I 



Whilst I, then dead, and all this hideous 

coil, 
Shall be remembered only as a dream. 



BEATRICE 



Talk not to me, dear Lady, of a husband. 
Did you not nurse me when my mother 

died? 
Did you not shield me and that dearest 



boy? 



90 



And had we any other friend but you 
In infancy, with gentle words and looks, 
To win our father not to murder us ? 
And shall I now desert you ? May the 

ghost 
Of my dead mother plead against my soul, 
If I abandon her who filled the place 
She left, with more, even, than a mother's 

love ! 

BERNARDO 

And I am of ray sister's mind. Indeed 

I would not leave you in this wretched- 
ness, 

Even though the Pope should make me 
free to live 100 

In some blithe place, like others of my 
age. 

With sports, and delicate food, and the 
fresh air. 

Oh, never think that I will leave you, mo- 
ther ! 

LUCRETIA 

My dear, dear children ! 

Enter Cenci, suddenly 

CENCI 

What ! Beatrice here ! 
Come hither ! 

[/SAe shrinks hack, and covers her face. 

Nay, hide not your face, 't is fair; 
Look up ! Why, yesternight you dared to 

look 
With disobedient insolence upon me. 
Bending a stern and an inquiring brow 
On what I meant; whilst I then sought to 

hide 
That which I came to tell you — but in 

vain. 1 10 

BEATRICE {wildly staggering towards the door) 

Oh, that the earth would gape ! Hide me, 
OGod! 



CENCI 

Then it was I whose inarticulate words 
Fell from my lips, and who with tottering 

steps 
Fled from your presence, as you now from 

mine. 
Stay, I command you ! From this day and 

hour 
Never again, I think, with fearless eye. 
And brow superior, and unaltered cheek. 
And that lip made for tenderness or scorn, 
Shalt thou strike dumb the meanest of 

mankind ; 
Me least of all. Now get thee to thy 

chamber! 120 

Thou too, loathed image of thy cursed 

mother, 

( To Bernardo) 
Thy milky, meek face makes me sick with 
hate ! 

[^Exeunt Beatrice and Bernardo. 
(Aside) So much has passed between us 

as must make 
Me bold, her fearful. — 'T is an awful 

thing 
To touch such miscliief as I now conceive; 
So men sit shivering on the dewy bank 
And try the chill stream with their feet; 

once in — 
How the delighted spirit pants for joy ! 

LUCRETIA {advancing timidly towards him) 

O husband ! pray forgive poor Beatrice. 
She meant not any ill. 

CENCI 

Nor you perhaps ? 

Nor that young imp, whom you have taught 
by rote 13 1 

Parricide with his alphabet ? nor Giacomo? 

Nor those two most unnatural sons who 
stirred 

Enmity up against me with the Pope ? 

Whom in one night merciful God cut off. 

Innocent lambs! They thought not any 
ill. 

You were not here conspiring ? you said 
nothing 

Of how I might be dungeoned as a mad- 
man ; 

Or be condemned to death for some offence, 

And you would be the witnesses ? This 
failing, 14c 



ACT II : SC. II 



THE CENCI 



221 



How just it were to hire assassins, or 
Put sudden poison in my evening- drink ? 
Or smother me when overcome by wine ? 
Seeing we had no other judge but God, 
And he had sentenced me, and there were 

none 
But you to be the executioners 
Of his decree enregistered in heaven ? 
Oh, no ! You said not this ? 

LUCRETIA 

So help me God, 

I never thought the things you charge me 

with ! 149 

CENCI 

If you dare to speak that wicked lie again, 
I '11 kill you. What ! it was not by your 

counsel 
That Beatrice disturbed the feast last 

night ? 
You did not hope to stir some enemies 
Against me, and escape, and laugh to scorn 
What every nerve of you now trembles at? 
You judged that men were bolder than 

they are; 
Few dare to stand between their grave and 

me. 

LUCBETIA 

Look not so dreadfully ! By my salvation 
I knew not aught that Beatrice designed; 
Nor do I think she designed anything 160 
Until she heard you talk of her dead bro- 
thers. 

CENCI 

Blaspheming liar ! you £.re damned for 

this ! 
But I will take you where you may per- 
suade 
The stones you tread on to deliver you; 
For men shall there be none but those who 

dare 
All things — not question that which I 

command. 
On Wednesday next I shall set out; you 

know 
That savage rock, the Castle of Petrella; 
'T is safely walled, and moated round 

about; 
Its dungeons under ground and its thick 

towers 170 

Never told tales; though they have heard 

and seen 



What might make dumb things speaks 
Why do you linger ? 

Make speediest preparation for the jour- 
ney ! 

[Exit LuCRETIAc 

The all-beholding sun yet shines ; I hear 

A busy stir of men about the streets; 

I see the bright sky through the window 

panes. 
It is a garish, broad, and peering day; 
Loud, light, suspicious, full of eyes and 

ears; 
And every little corner, nook, and hole. 
Is penetrated with the insolent light. 180 
Come, darkness ! Yet, what is the day to 

me? 
And wherefore should I wish for night, 

who do 
A deed which shall confound both night 

and day ? 
'T is she shall grope through a bewildering 

mist 
Of horror; if there be a sun in heaven, 
She shall not dare to look upon its beams; 
Nor feel its warmth. Let her, then, wish 

for night; 
The act I think shall soon extinguish all 
For me; I bear a darker, deadlier gloom 
Than the earth's shade, or interlunar air, 
Or constellations quenched in murkiest 

cloud, 191 

In which I walk secure and unbeheld 
Towards my purpose. — Would that it were 

done ! 

[Exit. 

Scene II. — A Chamber in the Vatican. Enter 
Camillo and Giacomo, in conversation. 

CAMILLO 

There is an obsolete and doubtful law 
By which you might obtain a bare provision 
Of food and clothing. 

giacomo 
Nothing more ? Alas ! 
Bare must be the provision which strict 

law 
Awards, and aged sullen avarice pays. 
Why did my father not apprentice me 
To some mechanic trade ? I should have 

then 
Been trained in no highborn necessities 
Which I could meet not by my daily toil. 
The eldest son of a rich nobleman 10 



222 



THE CENCI 



ACT II : SC. II 



Is heir to all his incapacities; 

He has wide wants, and narrow powers. 

If you, 
Cardinal Camillo, were reduced at once 
From thrice-driven beds of down, and deli- 
cate food. 
An hundred servants, and six palaces. 
To that which nature doth indeed re- 
quire ? — 

CAMILLO 

Nay, there is reason in your plea; 't were 
hard. 

GLA.COMO 

'T is hard for a firm man to bear ; but I 
Have a dear wife, a lady of high birth, 
Whose dowry in ill hour I lent my father. 
Without a bond or witness to the deed; 21 
And children, who inherit her fine senses, 
The fairest creatures in this breathing 

world ; 
And she and they reproach me not. Cardi- 
nal, 
Do you not think the Pope will interpose 
And stretch authority beyond the law ? 

CAMILLO 

Though your peculiar case is hard, I know 
The Pope will not divert the course of law. 
After that impious feast the other night 
I spoke with him, and urged him then to 
check 30 

Your father's cruel hand; he frowned and 

said, 
* Children are disobedient, and they sting 
Their fathers' hearts to madness and de- 
spair, 
Requiting years of care with contumely. 
I pity the Count Cenci from my heart; 
His outraged love perhaps awakened hate, 
And thus he is exasperated to ill. 
In the great war between the old and young, 
I, who have white hairs and a tottering 

body. 
Will keep at least blameless neutrality.' 40 

Enter Orsino 
You, my good lord Orsino, heard those 
words. 



What words ? 



orsino 



GIACOMO 



Alas, repeat them not again ! 
There then is no redress for me ; at least 



None but that which I may achieve myself, 
Since I am driven to the brink. — But, say, 
My innocent sister and my only brother 
Are dying underneath my father's eye. 
The memorable torturers of this land, 
Galeaz Visconti, Borgia, Ezzelin, 
Never inflicted on their meanest slave 50 
What these endure; shall they have no 
protection ? 

CAMILLO 

Why, if they would petition to the Pope, 
I see not how he could refuse it; yet 
He holds it of most dangerous example 
In aught to weaken the paternal power. 
Being, as 't were, the shadow of his own, 
I pray you now excuse me. I have busi- 
ness 
That vv^ill not bear delay. 

[Exit Camillo. 

GIACOMO 

But you, Orsino, 
Have the petition; wherefore not present it ? 

ORSINO 

I have presented it, and backed it with 60 
My earnest prayers and urgent interest; 
It was returned unanswered. I doubt not 
But that the strange and execrable deeds 
Alleged in it — in truth they might well 

baffle 
Any belief — have turned the Pope's dis- 
pleasure 
Upon the accusers from the criminal. 
Sol should guess from what Camillo said. 

GIACOMO 

My friend, that palace-walking devil, Gold, 
Has whispered silence to His Holiness; 
And we are left, as scorpions ringed with 

fire. 70 

What should we do but strike ourselves to 

death ? 
For he who is our murderous persecutor 
Is shielded by a father's holy name. 
Or I would — 

[Stops abruptly. 

ORSINO 

What ? Fear not to speak your thought. 

Words are but holy as the deeds the}' cover; 

A priest who has forsworn the God he 
serves, 

A judge who makes Truth weep at his de- 
cree. 



ACT II : SC. II 



THE CENCI 



223 



A friend who should weave counsel, as I 

now, 
But as the mantle of some selfish guile, 
A father who is all a tyrant seems, — 80 
Were the profaner for his sacred name. 

GIACOMO 

Ask me not what I think; the unwilling 

brain 
Feigns often what it would not; and we 

trust 
Imagination with such fantasies 
As the tongue dares not fashion into words — 
Which have no words, their horror makes 

them dim 
To the mind's eye. My heart denies itself 
To think what you demand. 

ORSINO 

But a friend's bosom 
Is as the inmost cave of our own mind. 
Where we sit shut from the wide gaze of 
day 90 

And from the all-communicating air. 
You look what I suspected — 

GIACOMO 

Spare me now ! 
I am as one lost in a midnight wood, 
Who dares not ask some harmless passen- 
ger 
The path across the wilderness, lest he. 
As my thoughts are, should be — a mur- 
derer. 
I know you are my friend, and all I dare 
Speak to my soul that will I trust with 

thee. 
But now my heart is heavy, and would take 
Lone counsel from a night of sleepless 
care. 100 

Pardon me that I say farewell — farewell ! 
I would that to my own suspected self 
I could address a word so full of peace. 

ORSINO 

Farewell ! — Be your thoughts better or 
more bold. 

[Exit GlACOMO, 

I had disposed the Cardinal Camillo 
To feed his hope with cold encouragement. 
It fortunately serves my close designs 
That 't is a trick of this same family 
To analyze their own and other minds. 
Such self-anatomy shall teach the v/ill no 



Dangerous secrets; for it tempts our 

powers, 
Knowing what must be thought, and may 

be done. 
Into the depth of darkest purposes. 
So Cenci fell into the pit; even I, 
Since Beatrice unveiled me to myself, 
And made me shrink from what I cannot 

shun, 
Show a poor figure to my own esteem. 
To which I grow half reconciled. I '11 do 
As little mischief as I can; that thought 
Shall fee the accuser conscience. 

{After a pause) 

Now what harm 

If Cenci should be murdered ? — Yet, if 

murdered, 121 

Wherefore by me ? And what if I could 

take 
The profit, yet omit the sin and peril 
In such an action ? Of all earthly things 
I fear a man whose blows outspeed his 

words ; 
And such is Cenci; and, while Cenci lives, 
His daughter's dowry were a secret grave 
If a priest wins her. — O fair Beatrice ! 
Would that I loved thee not, or, loving 

thee. 
Could but despise danger and gold and 

all 130 

That frowns between my wish and its 

effect, 
Or smiles beyond it! There is no escape; 
Her bright form kneels beside me at the 

altar, 
And follows me to the resort of men. 
And fills my slumber with tumultuous 

dreams. 
So when I wake my blood seems liquid 

fire; 
And if I strike my damp and dizzy head, 
My hot palm scorches it; her very name. 
But spoken by a stranger, makes my heart 
Sicken and pant; and thus unprofitably 140 
I clasp the phantom of unfelt delights 
Till weak imagination half possesses 
The self-created shadow. Yet much longer 
Will I not nurse this life of feverous hours. 
From the unravelled hopes of Giacomo 
I must work out my own dear purposes. 
I see, as from a tower, the end of all: 
Her father dead; her brother bound to 

me 
By a dark secret, surer than the grave; 
Her mother scared and unexpostulating 150 



224 



THE CENCI 



ACT III : sc. I 



From the dread manner of her wish 

achieved ; 
And she ! — Once more take courage, my 

faint heart; 
What dares a friendless maiden matched 

with thee ? 
I have such foresight as assures success. 
Some unbeheld divinity doth ever, 
When dread events are near, stir up men's 

minds 
To black suggestions; and he prospers 

best, 
Not who becomes the instrument of ill. 
But who can flatter the dark spirit that 

makes 
Its empire and its prey of other hearts i6o 
Till it become his slave — as I will do. 

[Exit 

ACT III 

Scene I. — An Apartment in the Cenci Palace. 
LucRETiA ; to her enter Beatrice. 

BEATRICE (she enters staggering and speaks 
wildly) 

Reach me that handkerchief ! — My brain 

is hurt; 
My eyes are full of blood; just wipe them 

for me — 
I see but indistinctly. 

LUCRETIA 

My sweet child, 
You have no wound; 't is only a cold dew 
That starts from your dear brow. — Alas, 

alas ! 
What has befallen ? 

BEATRICE 

How comes this hair undone ? 
Its wandering strings must be what blind 

me so, 
And yet I tied it fast. — Oh, horrible ! 
The pavement sinks under my feet ! The 

walls 
Spin round ! I see a woman weeping 

there, lo 

And standing calm and motionless, whilst I 
Slide giddily as the world reels. — My 

God! 
The beautiful blue heaven is flecked with 

blood ! 
The sunshine on the floor is black ! The 

air 



mg air 



Is changed to vapors such as the dead 

breathe 
In charnel-pits ! Pah ! I am choked ! 

There creeps 
A clinging, black, contaminating mist 
About me — 't is substantial, heavy, thick; 
I cannot pluck it from me, for it glues 
My fingers and my limbs to one another, 20 
And eats into my sinews, and dissolves 
My flesh to a pollution, poisoning 
The subtle, pure, and inmost spirit of life ! 
My God ! I never knew what the mad felt 
Before; for I am mad beyond all doubt ! 

{More wildly) 
No, I am dead ! These putrefying limbs 
Shut round and sepulchre the panting soul 
Which would burst forth into the wander- 
! 

(A pause) 
What hideous thought was that I had even 

now ? 29 

'Tis gone; and yet its burden remains here 
O'er these dull eyes — upon this weary 

heart ! 

world ! O life ! O day ! O misery ! 

LUCRETIA 

What ails thee, my poor child ? She an- 
swers not. 
Her spirit apprehends the sense of pain. 
But not its cause; sufPering has dried away 
The source from which it sprung. 

BEATRICE (frantically) 

Like Parricide — 
Misery has killed its father; yet its father 
Never like mine — O God ! what thing 
am I? 

LUCRETIA 

My dearest child, what has your father 
done ? 

BEATRICE (doubtfully) 

Who art thou, questioner ? I have no 
father. 40 

[Aside. 

She is the madhouse nurse who tends on 
me. 

It is a piteous office. 

(To LucRETiA, in a slow, subdued voice) 
Do you know, 

1 thought I was that wretched Beatrice 
Men speak of, whom her father sometimes 

hales 



ACT III: SC. I 



THE CENCI 



225 



From hall to hall by the entangled hair; 
At others, pens up naked in damp cells 
Where scaly reptiles crawl, and starves her 

there 
Till she will eat strange flesh. This woful 

story 
So did I overact in my sick dreams 
That I imagined — no, it cannot be ! 50 

Horrible things have been in this wild 

world. 
Prodigious mixtures, and confusions strange 
Of good and ill; and worse have been con- 
ceived 
Than ever there was found a heart to do. 
But never fancy imaged such a deed 
.\s — 

(Pauses, suddenly recollecting herself) 
Who art thou ? Swear to me, ere I die 
With fearful expectation, that indeed 
Thou art not what thou seemest — Mother ! 



Oh! 



liUCBBTIA 

My sweet child, know you — 

BEATRICE 

Yet speak it not; 
For then if this be truth, that other too 60 
Must be a truth, a firm enduring truth, 
Linked with each lasting circumstance of 

life, 
Never to change, never to pass away. 
Why so it is. This is the Cenci Palace; 
Thou art Lucretia; I am Beatrice. 
I have talked some wild words, but will 

no more. 
Mother, come near me; from this point of 

time, 
I am — 

(Her voice dies away faintly) 

liUCRETIA 

Alas ! what has befallen thee, child ? 
What has thy father done ? 

BEATRICE 

What have I done ? 
Am I not innocent ? Is it my crime 70 
Thatone with white hair and imperious brow. 
Who tortured me from my forgotten years 
As parents only dare, should call himself 
My father, yet should be ! — Oh, what am I? 
What name, what place, what memory 

shall be mine ? 
What retrospects, outliving even despair ? 



LUCRETIA 

He is a violent tyrant, surely, child; 

We know that death alone can make us 

free; 
His death or ours. But what can he have 

done 
Of deadlier outrage or worse injury ? 80 
Thou art unlike thyself; thine eyes shoot 

forth 
A wandering and strange spirit. Speak to 

me, 
Unlock those pallid hands whose fingers 

twine 
With one another. 

BEATRICE 

'T is the restless life 
Tortured within them. If I try to speak, 
I shall go mad. Ay, something must be 

done; 
What, yet I know not — something which 

shall make 
The thing that I have suffered but a shadow 
In the dread lightning which avenges it; 
Brief, rapid, irreversible, destroying 90 

The consequence of what it cannot cure. 
Some such thing is to be endured or done; 
When I know what, I shall be still and 

calm. 
And never anything will move me more. 
But now ! — O blood, which art my father's 

blood. 
Circling through these contaminated veins, 
If thou, poured forth on the polluted earth. 
Could wash away the crime and punish- 
ment 
By which I suffer — no, that cannot be ! 99 
Many might doubt there were a God above 
Who sees and permits evil, and so die; 
That faith no agony shall obscure in me. 

LUCRETIA 

It must indeed have been some bitter wrong; 
Yet what, I dare not guess. Oh, my lost 

child. 
Hide not in proud impenetrable grief 
Thy sufferings from my fear. 

BEATRICE 

I hide them not. 
What are the words which you would have 

me speak ? 
I, who can feign no image in my mind 
Of that which has transformed me; I, 

whose thought 



226 



THE CENCI 



ACT III : SC. I 



Is like a ghost shrouded and folded up no 
In its own formless horror — of all words, 
That minister to mortal intercourse, 
Which wouldst thou hear ? for there is 

none to tell 
My misery; if another ever knew 
Aught like to it, she died as I will die, 
And left it, as I must, without a name. 
Death, death ! our law and our religion 

call thee 
A punishment and a reward; oh, which 
Have I deserved ? 

LUCRETIA 

The peace of innocence, 
Till in your season you be called to heaven. 
Whate'er you may have suffered, you have 

done 121 

No evil. Death must be the punishment 
Of crime, or the reward of trampling down 
The thorns which God has strewed upon 

the path 
Which leads to immortality. 

BEATRICE 

Ay, death — 
The punishment of crime. I pray thee, 

God, 
Let me not be bewildered while I judge. 
If I must live day after day, and keep 
These limbs, the unworthy temple of thy 

spirit, 
As a foul den from which what thou abhor- 

rest 130 

May mock thee unavenged — it shall not 

be ! 
Self-murder — no, that might be no escape. 
For thy decree yawns like a Hell between 
Our will and it. — Oh ! in this mortal 

world 
There is no vindication and no law. 
Which can adjudge and execute the doom 
Of that through which I suffer. 

Enter Orsino 
{She approaches him solemnly) 

Welcome, friend ! 
I have to tell you that, since last we met, 
I have endured a wrong so great and 

strange 
That neither life nor death can give me 

rest. 140 

Ask me not what it is, for there are deeds 
Which have no form, sufferings which have 

no tongue. 



ORSINO 

And what is he who has thus injured you ? 

BEATRICE 

The man they call my father; a dread 



name. 



It cannot be 



ORSINO 



BEATRICE 



What it can be, or not. 
Forbear to think. It is, and it has been ; 
Advise me how it shall not be again. 
I thought to die; but a religious awe 
Restrains me, and the dread lest death 
itself 149 

Might be no refuge from the consciousness 
Of what is yet unexpiated. Oh, speak ! 

ORSINO 

Accuse him of the deed, and let the law 
Avenge thee. 

BEATRICE 

Oh, ice-hearted counsellor ! 
If I could find a word that might make 

known 
The crime of my destroyer; and that done. 
My tongue should like a knife tear out the 

secret 
Which cankers my heart's core; ay, lay all 

bare. 
So that my unpolluted fame should be 
With vilest gossips a stale mouthed story; 
A mock, a byword, an astonishment: — 160 
If this were done, which never shall be 

done, 
Think of the offender's gold, his dreaded 

hate. 
And the strange horror of the accuser's 

tale, 
Baffling belief, and overpowering speech; 
Scarce whispered, unimaginable, wrapped 
In hideous hints — Oh, most assured re- 
dress ! 

ORSINO 

You will endure it then ? 

BEATRICE 

Endure ! — Orsino, 
It seems your counsel is small profit. 

{Turns from him, and speaks half to herself) 

Ay, 
All must be suddenly reaolved and done. 



ACT III. SC. I 



THE CENCI 



227 



What is this undistinguishable mist 170 

Of thoughts, which rise, like shadow after 

shadow, 
Darkening each other ? 

ORSINO 

Should the offender live ? 
Triumph in his misdeed ? and make, by 

use, 
His crime, whate'er it is, dreadful no 

doubt. 
Thine element; until thou mayest become 
Utterly lost; subdued even to the hue 
Of tliat which thou permittest ? 

BEATRICE {to herself) 

Mighty death ! 
Thou double-visaged shadow ! only judge ! 
Rightfullest arbiter ! 

{She retires, absorbed in thought) 

liUCRETIA 

If the lightning 
Of God has e'er descended to avenge — 

ORSINO 

Blaspheme not ! His high Providence 
commits 18 1 

Its glory on this earth and their own 
wrongs 

Into the hands of men; if they neglect 

To punish crime — 

LUCRETIA 

But if one, like this wretch, 
Should mock with gold opinion, law and 

power ? 
If there be no appeal to that which makes 
The guiltiest tremble ? if, because our 

wrongs. 
For that they are unnatural, strange and 

monstrous. 
Exceed all measure of belief ? Oh, God ! 
If, for the very reasons which should make 
Redress most swift and sure, our injurer 
triumphs ? 191 

And we, the victims, bear worse punish- 
ment 
Than that appointed for their torturer ? 

ORSINO 

Think not 
But that there is redress where there is 

wrong. 
So we be bold enough to seize it. 



LUCRETIA 

How? 
If there were any way to make all sure, 
I know not — but I think it might be good 
To — 

ORSINO 

Why, his late outrage to Beatrice — 
For it is such, as I but faintly guess, 199 
As makes remorse dishonor, and leaves 

her 
Only one duty, how she may avenge; 
You, but one refuge from ills ill endured; 
Me, but one counsel — 

LUCRETIA 

For we cannot hope 
That aid, or retribution, or resource 
Will arise thence, where every other one 
Might find them with less need. 

[Beatrice advances. 

ORSINO 

Then — 

BEATRICE 

Peace, Orsino ! 
And, honored Lady, while I speak, I pray 
That you put off, as garments overworn, 
Forbearance and respect, remorse and fear, 
And all the fit restraints of daily life, 210 
Which have been borne from childhood, 

but which now 
Would be a mockery to my holier plea. 
As I have said, I have endured a wrong. 
Which, though it be expressionless, is such 
As asks atonement, both for what is passed, 
And lest I be reserved, day after day. 
To load with crimes an overburdened soul, 
And be — what ye can dream not. I have 

prayed 
To God, and I have talked with my own 

heart. 
And have unravelled my entangled will, 220 
And have at length determined what is 

right. 
Art thou my friend, Orsino ? False or 

true ? 
Pledge thy salvation ere I speak. 

ORSINO 

T swear 
To dedicate my cunning, and my strength, 
My silence, and whatever else is mine, 
To thy commands. 



228 



THE CENCI 



ACT III : sc. 1 



LUCRETIA 

You think we should devise 



His death ? 



BEATKICE 

And execute what is devised, 
And suddenly. We must be brief and 
bold. 

ORSINO 

And yet most cautious. 

LUCRETIA 

For the jealous laws 
Would punish us with death and infamy 230 
For that which it became themselves to do. 

BEATRICE 

Be cautious as ye may, but prompt. Or- 

sino, 
What are the means ? 

ORSINO 

I know two dull, fierce outlaws. 
Who think man's spirit as a worm's, and 

they 
Would trample out, for any slight caprice. 
The meanest or the noblest life. This 

mood 
Is marketable here in Rome. They sell 
What we now want. 

LUCRETIA 

To-morrow, before dawn, 
Cenci will take us to that lonely rock, 
Petrella, in the Apulian Apennines. 240 

If he arrive there — 

BEATRICE 

He must not arrive. 

ORSINO 

Will it be dark before you reach the 
tower ? 

LUCRETIA 

The sun will scarce be set. 

BEATRICE 

But I remember 
Two miles on this side of the fort the road 
Crosses a deep ravine; 't is rough and nar- 
row. 
And winds with short turns down the pre- 
cipice ; 



And in its depth there is a mighty rock, 
Which has, from unimaginable years. 
Sustained itself with terror and with toil 
Over a gulf, and with the agony 250 

With which it clings seems slowly coming 

down; 
Even as a wretched soul hour after hour 
Clings to the mass of life; yet, clinging, 

leans; 
And, leaning, makes more dark the dread 

abyss 
In which it fears to fall; beneath this 

crag 
Huge as despair, as if in weariness. 
The melancholy mountain yawns; below. 
You hear but see not an impetuous torrent 
Raging among the caverns, and a bridge 
Crosses the chasm; and high above there 

grow, 260 

With intersecting trunks, from crag to 

crag, 
Cedars, and yews, and pines; whose tan- 
gled hair 
Is matted in one solid roof of shade 
By the dark ivy's twine. At noonday here 
'T is twilight, and at sunset blackest night. 

ORSINO 

Before you reach that bridge make some 

excuse 
For spurring on your mules, or loitering 
Until — 

BEATRICE 

What sound is that ? 

LUCRETIA 

Hark ! No, it cannot be a servant's step; 
It must be Cenci, unexpectedly 270 

Returned — make some excuse for being 
here. 

BEATRICE {to ORSINO as she goes out) 

That step we hear approach must never 

pass 
The bridge of which we spoke. 

[Exeunt Lucretia and Beatrice. 

ORSINO 

What shall I do ? 
Cenci must find me here, and I must bear 
The imperious inquisition of his looks 
As to what brought me hither; let me 

mask 
Mine own in some inane and vacant smile. 



ACT III : SC. I 



THE CENCI 



229 



Enter Giacomo, in a hurried manner 
How ! have you ventured hither ? know 
you then 278 

That Cenci is from home ? 

GIACOMO 

I sought him here ; 
And now must wait till he returns. 

OKSINO 

Great God ! 
Weigh you the danger of this rashness ? 

GIACOMO 

Ay! 
Does my destroyer know his danger ? We 
Are now no more, as once, parent and 

child, 
But man to man; the oppressor to the op- 
pressed, 
The slanderer to the slandered; foe to foe. 
He has cast Nature off, which was his 

shield. 
And Nature casts him off, who is her 

shame; 
And I spurn both. Is it a father's throat 
Which I will shake, and say, I ask not 

gold; 
I ask not happy years ; nor memories 290 
Of tranquil childhood; nor home-sheltered 

love; 
Though all these hast thou torn from me, 

and more; 
But only my fair fame; only one hoard 
Of peace, which I thought hidden from thy 

hate 
Under the penury heaped on me by thee; 
Or I will — God can understand and pardon, 
Why should I speak with man ? 

ORSINO 

Be calm, dear friend. 

GIACOMO 

Well, I will calmly tell you what he did. 
This old Francesco Cenci, as you know. 
Borrowed the dowry of my wife from me. 
And then denied the loan; and left me so 
In poverty, the which I sought to mend 
By holding a poor office in the state. 303 
It had been promised to me, and already 
I bought new clothing for my ragged babes. 
And my wife smiled; and my heart knew 

repose; 
When Cenci's intercession, as I found, 



Conferred this office on a wretch, whom 

thus 
He paid for vilest service. I returned 
With this ill news, and we sate sad to= 

gether 310 

Solacing our despondency with tears 
Of such affection and unbroken faith 
As temper life's worst bitterness; when he, 
As he is wont, came to upbraid and curse, 
Mocking our poverty, and telling us 
Such was God's scourge for disobedient 

sons. 
And then, that I might strike him dumb 

with shame, 
I spoke of my wife's dowry; but he coined 
A brief yet specious tale, how I had wasted 
The sum in secret riot; and he saw 320 

My wife was touched, and he went smiling 

forth. 
And when I knew the impression he had 

made. 
And felt my wife insult with silent scorn 
My ardent truth, and look averse and cold, 
I went forth too; but soon returned again; 
Yet not so soon but that my wife had taught 
My children her harsh thoughts, and they 

all cried, 
' Give us clothes, father ! Give us better 

food! 
What you in one night squander were 

enough 
For months ! ' I looked, and saw that 

home was hell. 330 

And to that hell will I return no more. 
Until mine enemy has rendered up 
Atonement, or, as he gave life to me, 
I will, reversing Nature's law — 

ORSINO 

Trust me, 
The compensation which thou seekest here 
Will be denied. 

GIACOMO 

Then — Are you not my friend *? 
Did you not hint at the alternative. 
Upon the brink of which you see I stand, 
The other day when we conversed together ? 
My wrongs were then less. That word, 

parricide, 340 

Although I am resolved, haunts me like 

fear. 

ORSIKO 

It mtist be fear itself, for the bare word 
Is hollow mockery. Mark how wisest God 



230 



THE CENCI 



ACT III : SCc II 



Draws to one point the threads of a just 

doom, 
So sanctifying it; what you devise 
Is, as it were, accomplished. 



GIACOMO 



Is he dead ? 



ORSINO 

His grave is ready. Know that since we 

met 
Cenci has done an outrage to his daughter. 



What outrage ? 



GIACOMO 



ORSINO 



That she speaks not, but you may 
Conceive such half conjectures as I do 350 
From her fixed paleness, and the lofty 

grief 
Of her stern brow, bent on the idle air, 
And her severe unmodulated voice. 
Drowning both tenderness and dread; and 

last 
From this; that whilst her step-mother and I, 
Bewildered in our horror, talked together 
With obscure hints, both self-misunder- 
stood. 
And darkly guessing, stumbling, in our talk. 
Over the truth and yet to its revenge. 
She interrupted us, and with a look 360 

Which told, before she spoke it, he must 
die — 

GIACOMO 

It is enough. My doubts are well appeased ; 
There is a higher reason for the act 
Than mine; there is a holier judge than 

me, 
A more unblamed avenger. Beatrice, 
Who in the gentleness of thy sweet youth 
Hast never trodden on a worm, or bruised 
A living flower, but thou hast pitied it 
With needless tears ! fair sister, thou in 

whom 
Men wondered how such loveliness and wis- 
dom 370 
Did not destroy each other ! is there made 
Ravage of thee ? O heart, I ask no more 
Justification ! Shall I wait, Orsino, 
Till he return, and stab him at the door ? 

ORSINO 

Not so; some accident might interpose 
To rescue him from what is now most sure; 



And you are unprovided where to fly. 
How to excuse or to conceal. Nay, listen; 
All is contrived; success is so assured 
That — 

Enter Beatrice 

BEATRICE 

'T is my brother's voice ! You know me 
not ? 38a 

GIACOMO 

My sister, my lost sister ! 

BEATRICE 

Lost indeed ! 
I see Orsino has talked with you, and 
That you conjecture things too horrible 
To speak, yet far less than the truth. Now 

stay not, 
He might return; yet kiss me; I shall 

know 
That then thou hast consented to his death. 
Farewell, farewell ! Let piety to God, 
Brotherly love, justice and clemency. 
And all things that make tender hardest 

hearts. 
Make thine hard, brother. Answer not — 

farewell. zgr^ 

[Exeunt severally, 

Scene II. — A mean Apartment in Giacomo's 
House. GiACOMO alone. 

GIACOMO 

'T is midnight, and Orsino comes not yet. 

{Thunder, and the sound of a storm) 
What ! can the everlasting elements 
Feel with a worm like man ? If so, the 

shaft 
Of mercy-wingfed lightning would not fall 
On stones and trees. My wife and children 

sleep; 
They are now living in unmeaning dreams; 
But I must wake, still doubting if that 

deed 
Be just which was most necessary. Oh, 
Thou unreplenished lamp, whose narrow 

fire 9 

Is shaken by the wind, and on whose edge 
Devouring darkness hovers ! thou small 

flame. 
Which, as a dying pulse rises and falls. 
Still Hickerest up and down, how very 

soon. 
Did I not feed thee, wouldst thou fail and be 



ACT III : SC. II 



THE CENCI 



231 



As thou hadst never been ! So wastes and 

sinks 
]Even now, perhaps, the life that kindled 

mine; 
But that no power can fill with vital oil, — 
That broken lamp of flesh. Ha ! 't is the 

blood 
Which fed these veins that ebbs till all is 

cold; 
It is the form that moulded mine that 

sinks 20 

Into the white and yellow spasms of death; 
It is the soul by which mine was arrayed 
In God's immortal likeness which now 

stands 
Naked before Heaven's judgment-seat ! 

(A bell strikes) 

One ! Two ! 

The hours crawl on; and, when my hairs 

are white, 
My son will then perhaps be waiting thus. 
Tortured between just hate and vain re- 
morse; 
Chiding the tardy messenger of news 
Like those which I expect. I almost wish 
He be not dead, although my wrongs are 

great; ^ 30 

Yet — 't is Orsino's step. 

Enter Orsino 

Speak ! 

ORSINO 

I am come 
To say he has escaped. 

GIACOMO 

Escaped ! 

ORSINO 

And safe 
Within Petrella. He passed by the spot 
Appointed for the deed an hour too soon. 

GIACOMO 

Are we the fools of such contingencies ? 
And do we waste in blind misgivings thus 
The hours when we should act ? Then 

wind and thunder, 
Which seemed to howl his knell, is the 

loud laughter 
With which Heaven mocks our weakness ! 

I henceforth 
Will ne'er repent of aught designed or 

done, 40 

But my repentance. 



ORSINO 

See, the lamp is out. 

GIACOMO 

If no remorse is ours when the dim air 
Has drunk this innocent flame, why should 

we quail 
When Cenci's life, that light by which ill 

spirits 
See the worst deeds they prompt, shall sink 

forever ? 
No, I am hardened. 

ORSINO 

Why, what need of this ? 
Who feared the pale intrusion of remorse 
In a just deed ? Although our first plan 

failed, 
Doubt not but he will soon be laid to rest. 
But light the lamp; let us not talk i' the 

dark. 50 

GIACOMO (lighting the lamp) 

And yet, once quenched, I cannot thus re- 
lume 

My father's life; do you not think his 
ghost 

Might plead that argument with God ? 

ORSINO 

Once gone, 

You cannot now recall your sister's peace; 

Your own extinguished years of youth and 
hope ; 

Nor your wife's bitter words; nor all the 
taunts 

Which, from the prosperous, weak misfor- 
tune takes; 

Nor your dead mother; nor — 

GIACOMO 

Oh, speak no more ! 
I am resolved, although this very hand 
Must quench the life that animated it. 60 

ORSINO 

There is no need of that. Listen; you 

know 
Olimpio, the castellan of Petrella 
In old Colonna's time; him whom your 

father 
Degraded from his post ? And Marzio, 
That desperate wretch, whom he deprived 

last year 
Of a reward of blood, well earned and due ? 



232 



THE CENCI 



ACT IV : SC. 1 



GIACOMO 

I knew Olimpio ; and they say he hated 
Old Cenci so, that in his silent rage 
His lips grew white only to see him pass. 
Of Marzio I know nothing. 

OKSINO 

Marzio's hate 
Matches Olimpio's. I have sent these men, 
But in your name, and as at your request. 
To talk with Beatrice and Lucretia. 73 



GIACOMO 



Only to talk ? 



ORSINO 

The moments which even now 
Pass onward to to-morrow's midnight hour 
May memorize their flight with death; ere 

then 
They must have talked, and may perhaps 

have done, 
And made an end. 

GIACOMO 

Listen ! What sound is that ? 

ORSINO 

The house-dog moans, and the beams 
crack; nought else. 

GIACOMO 

It is my wife complaining in her sleep; 80 

I doubt not she is saying bitter things 

Of me; and all my children round her 

dreaming 
That I deny them sustenance. 

ORSINO 

Whilst he 
Who truly took it from them, and who 

fills 
Their hungry rest with bitterness, now 

sleeps 
Lapped in bad pleasures, and triumphantly 
Mocks thee in visions of successful hate 
Too like the truth of day. 

GIACOMO 

If e'er he wakes 
Again, I will not trust to hireling hands — 

ORSINO 

Why, that were well. I must be gone; 



good night 



When next we meet, may all be done ! 



90 



GIACOMO 

And all 
Forgotten ! Oh, that I had never been ! 

[Exeunt. 

ACT IV 

Scene I. — An Apartment in the Castle of Pe- 
trella. Enter Cenci. 

CENCI 

She comes not; yet I left her even now 

Vanquished and faint. She knows the 
penalty 

Of her delay; yet what if threats are vain? 

Am I not now within Petrella's moat ? 

Or fear I still the eyes and ears of Rome ? 

Might I not drag her by the golden hair ? 

Stamp on her ? keep her sleepless till her 
brain 

Be overworn ? tame her with chains and 
famine ? 

Less would suffice. Yet so to leave un- 
done 

What I most seek ! No, 't is her stubborn 
will, 10 

Which, by its own consent, shall stoop as 
low 

As that which drags it down. 

Enter Lucretia 

Thou loathed wretch ! 
Hide thee from my abhorrence; fly, be- 
gone ! 
Yet stay ! Bid Beatrice come hither. 

LUCRETIA 

Oh, 
Husband ! I pray, for thine own wretched 

sake. 
Heed what thou dost. A man who walks 

like thee 
Through crimes, and through the danger 

of his crimes. 
Each hour may stumble o'er a sudden 

grave. 
And thou art old; thy hairs are hoary gray; 
As thou wouldst save thyself from death 

and hell, 20 

Pity thy daughter; give her to some friend 
In marriage; so that she may tempt thee 

not 
To hatred, or worse thoughts, if worse 

there be. 



ACT IV : sc. I 



THE CENCI 



233 



CENCI 

What ! like her sister, who has found a 

home 
To mock my hate from with prosperity ? 
Strange ruin shall destroy both her and 

thee, 
And all that yet remain. My death may 

be 
Rapid, her destiny outspeeds it. Go, 
Bid her come hither, and before my mood 
Be changed, lest I should drag her by the 

hair. 30 

LUCRETIA 

She sent me to thee, husband. At thy pre- 
sence 

She fell, as thou dost know, into a trance; 

And in that trance she heard a voice which 
said, 

* Cenci must die ! Let him confess him- 
self ! 

Even now the accusing Angel waits to 
hear 

If God, to punish his enormous crimes, 

Harden his dying heart ! ' 

CENCI 

Why — such things are. 

No doubt divine revealings may be made. 

'T is plain I have been favored from above. 

For when I cursed my sons, they died. — 
Ay — so. 40 

As to the right or wrong, that 's talk. Re- 
pentance ? 

Repentance is an easy moment's work, 

And more depends on God than me. Well 
— well — 

I must give up the greater point, which was 

To poison and corrupt her soul. 

{A pause; Luckbtia approaches anxiously, 
and then shrinks back as he speaks) 

One, two; 
Ay — Rocco and Cristofano my curse 
Strangled; and Giacorao, I think, will find 
Life a worse Hell than that beyond the 

grave ; 
Beatrice shall, if there be skill in hate, 49 
Die in despair, blaspheming; to Bernardo, 
He is so innocent, I will bequeathe 
The memory of these deeds, and make his 

youth 
The sepulchre of hope, where evil thoughts 
Shall grow like weeds on a neglected tomb. 
When all is done, out in the wide Cam- 

pagna 



I will pile up my silver and my gold; 
My costly robes, paintings, and tapestries; 
My parchments, and all records of my 

wealth ; 
And make a bonfire in ray joy, and leave 
Of my possessions nothing but my name; 6a 
Which shall be an inheritance to strip 
Its wearer bare as infamy. That done. 
My soul, which is a scourge, will I resign 
Into the hands of Him who wielded it; 
Be it for its own punishment or theirs. 
He will not ask it of me till the lash 
Be broken in its last and deepest wound; 
Until its hate be all inflicted. Yet, 
Lest death outspeed my purpose, let me 

make 69 

Short work and sure. 

[Going. 
i/UCRETiA (stops him) 

Oh, stay ! it was a feint: 
She had no vision, and she heard no voice. 
I said it but to awe thee. 

CENCI 

That is well. 
Vile palterer with the sacred truth of God, 
Be thy soul choked with that blaspheming 

lie! 
For Beatrice worse terrors are in store 
To bend her to my will. 

LUCRETIA 

Oh, to what will ? 
What cruel sufferings more than she has 

known 
Canst thou inflict ? 

CENCI 

Andrea ! go, call my daughter 
And if she comes not, tell her that I come. 

[To Lucretia) 
What sufferings ? I will drag her, step by 

step, 8c 

Through infamies unheard of among men; 
She shall stand shelterless in the broad 

noon 
Of public scorn, for acts blazoned abroad. 
One among which shall be — what ? canst 

thou guess ? 
She shall become (for what she most abhors 
Shall have a fascination to entrap 
Her loathing will) to her own conscious self 
All she appears to others; and when dead. 
As she shall die unshrived and unforgiven. 



234 



THE CENCI 



ACT IV : SC. I 



A rebel to her father and her God, 90 

Her corpse shall be abandoned to the 

hounds ; 
Her name shall be the terror of the earth; 
Her spirit shall approach the throne of 

God 
Plague-spotted with my curses. I will 

make 
Body and soul a monstrous lump of ruin. 

Enter Andrea 

ANDREA 

The Lady Beatrice — 



Said she ? 



CENCI 

Speak, pale slave ! what 



ANDREA 

My Lord, 'twas what she looked; she 
said, 
* Go tell my father that I see the gulf 
Of Hell between us two, which he may 
pass ; 99 

I will not.' 

\_Exit Andrea. 

CENCI 

Go thou quick, Lucretia, 
Tell her to come ; yet let her understand 
Her coming is consent; and say, moreover. 
That if she come not I will curse her. 

\_Eont Lucretia. 

Ha! 
With what but with a father's curse doth 

God 
Panic-strike arm^d victory, and make pale 
Cities in their prosperity ? The world's 

Father 
Must grant a parent's prayer against his 

child, 
Be he who asks even what men call me. 
Will not the deaths of her rebellious 

brothers 
Awe her before I speak ? for I on them no 
Did imprecate quick ruin, and it came. 

Enter Lucretia 
Well; what ? Speak, wretch ! 

lucretia 

She said, * I cannot come; 
Go tell my father that I see a torrent 
Of hia own blood raging between us.' 



CENCI {kneeling) 

God, 
Hear me ! If this most specious mass of 

flesh, 
Which thou hast made my daughter; this 

my blood. 
This particle of my divided being; 
Or rather, this my bane and my disease, 
Whose sight infects and poisons me; thie 

devil. 
Which sprung from me as from a hell, was 

meant 12a 

To aught good use; if her bright loveliness 
Was kindled to illumine this dark world; 
If, nursed by thy selectest dew of love, 
Such virtues blossom in her as should make 
The peace of life, I pray thee for my sake, 
As thou the common God and Father art 
Of her, and me, and all ; reverse that doom ! 
Earth, in the name of God, let her food be 
Poison, until she be encrusted round 
With leprous stains ! Heaven, rain upon 

her head 130 

The blistering drops of the Maremma's 

dew 
Till she be speckled like a toad; parch up 
Those love-enkindled lips, warp those fine 

limbs 
To loathed lameness ! All-beholding sun. 
Strike in thine envy those life-darting eyes 
With thine own blinding beams ! 

lucretia 

Peace, peace ! 
For thine own sake unsay those dreadful 

words. 
When high God grants, he punishes such 
prayers. 138 

CBNCi {leaping up, and throwing his right hand 
towards Heaven) 

He does his will, I mine ! This in addition, 
That if she have a child — 

LUCRETIA 

Horrible thought ) 

CENCI 

That if she ever have a child — and thou, 
Quick Nature ! I adjure thee by thy God, 
That thou be fruitful in her, and increase 
And multiply, fulfilling his command. 
And my deep imprecation ! — may it be 
A hideous likeness of herself; that as 
From a distorting mirror she may see 



ACT IV : SC. II 



THE CENCI 



235 



Her image mixed with what she most ab- 
hors, 

Smiling upon her from her nursing breast ! 

And that the child may from its infancy 

Grow, day by day, more wicked and de- 
formed, 151 

Turning her mother's love to misery ! 

And that both she and it may live until 

It shall repay her care and pain with hate. 

Or what may else be more unnatural; 

So he may hunt her through the clamorous 
scoffs 

Of the loud world to a dishonored grave ! 

Shall I revoke this curse ? Go, bid her 
come. 

Before my words are chronicled in heaven. 

[Exit LUCRETIA. 

I do not feel as if I were a man, 160 

But like a fiend appointed to chastise 
The offences of some unremembered world. 
My blood is running up and down my veins; 
A fearful pleasure makes it prick and tin- 
gle; 
I feel a giddy sickness of strange awe; 
My heart is beating with an expectation 
Of horrid joy. 

Enter Lucketia 
What ? Speak ! 

liUCKETIA 

She bids thee curse; 
And if thy curses, as they cannot do, 
Could kill her soul — 

CENCI 

She would not come. 'T is well, 
I can do both; first take what I demand. 
And then extort concession. To thy 

chamber ! 171 

Fly ere I spurn thee; and beware this night 
That thou cross not my footsteps. It were 

safer 
To come between the tiger and his prey. 

[Exit LUCRETIA. 

It must be late; mine eyes grow weary dim 
With unaccustomed heaviness of sleep. 
Conscience ! O thou most insolent of lies ! 
They say that sleep, that healing dew of 

heaven, 
Steeps not in balm the foldings of the brain 
Which thinks thee an impostor. I will go. 
First to belie thee with an hour of rest, 18 x 
Which will be deep and calm, I feel; and 

then — 



O multitudinous Hell, the fiends will shake 
Thine arches with the laughter of their joy ! 
There shall be lamentation heard in Hea- 
ven 
As o'er an angel fallen ; and upon Earth 
All good shall droop and sicken, and ill 

things 
Shall, with a spirit of unnatural life, 
Stir and be quickened — even as I am now. 

[Exit. 

Scene II. — Before the Castle of Petrella. 
Enter Beatrice and Lucretia above on the 
ramparts. 

BEATRICE 

They come not yet. 

LUCRETIA 

'T is scarce midnight. 

BEATRICE 

How slow 
Behind the course of thought, even sick 

with speed. 
Lags leaden-footed Time ! 

LUCRETIA 

The minutes pass. 
If he should wake before the deed is done ? 

BEATRICE 

O mother ! he must never wake again. 
What thou hast said persuades me that our 

act 
Will but dislodge a spirit of deep hell 
Out of a human form. 

LUCRETIA 

'Tis true he spoke 
Of death and judgment with strange con-^ 

fidence 
For one so wicked; as a man believing 10 
In God, yet recking not of good or ill. 
And yet to die without confession ! — 

BEATRICE 

Oh! 
Believe that Heaven is merciful and just, 
And will not add our dread necessity 
To the amount of his offences. 

Enter Olimpio and Marzio below 

LUCRETIA 



They come. 



See, 



236 



THE CENCI 



ACT IV : SC. Ill 



BEATRICE 

All mortal things must hasten thus 
To their dark end. Let us go down. 
[Exeunt Lucretia and Beatrice /ro/n above. 


Which God extinguish ! But ye are re- 
solved ? 
Ye know it is a high and holy deed ? 

OLIMPIO 


OLIMPIO 

How feel you to this work ? 


We are resolved. 

MARZIO 


MARZIO 

As one who thinks 
A thousand crowns excellent market price 
For an old murderer's life. Your cheeks 
are pale. 20 

OLIMPIO 

It is the white reflection of your own, 
Which you call pale. 


As to the how this act 
Be warranted, it rests with you. 

BEATRICE 

Well, follow ! 

OLIMPIO 

Hush ! Hark ! what noise is that ? 

MARZIO 


MARZIO 


Ha ! some one comes ! 


Is that their natural hue ? 


BEATRICE 


OLIMPIO 


Ye conscience-stricken cravens, rock to 


Or 't is my hate, and the deferred desire 
To wreak it, which extinguishes their blood. 

MARZIO 

You are inclined then to this business ? 


rest 
Your baby hearts. It is the iron gate, 40 
Which ye left open, swinging to the 

wind. 
That enters whistling as in scorn. Come, 

follow ! 


OLIMPIO 

Ay, 
If one should bribe me with a thousand 


And be your steps like mine, light, quick 
and bold. 

[Exeunt. 


crowns 
To kill a serpent which had stung my 

child, 
I could not be more willing. 


Scene III. — An Apartment in the Castle. 
Enter Beatrice and Lucretia. 

LUCRETIA 


Enter Beatrice and Lucretia below 

Noble ladies ! 


They are about it now. 

BEATRICE 


BEATRICE 

Are ye resolved ? 


Nay, it is done. 

LUCRETIA 


OLIMPIO 

Is he asleep ? 

MARZIO 

Is all 
Quiet ? 

LUCRETIA 


I have not heard him groan. 

BEATRICE 

He will not groan. 

LUCRETIA 

What sound is that ? 


I mixed an opiate with his dri.-ik; 
He sleeps so soundly — 

BEATRICE 

That his death will be 
But as a change of sin-chastising dreaais, 32 
A dark continuance of the hell within him, 


BEATRICE 

List ! 't is the tread of feet 
About his bed. 

LUCRETIA 

My God ! 
If he be nojv a cold, stiff corpse — 



ACT IV : SC. Ill 



THE CENCI 



237 



BEATRICE 

Oh, fear not 
What may be done, but what is left un- 
done; 
The act seals all. 

Entei- Olimpio and Makzio 
Is it accomplished ? 



MARZIO 



What? 



OLIMPIO 



Did you not call ? 



BEATRICE 

When ? 

OLIMPIO 

Now. 

BEATRICE 

I ask if all is over ? 

OLIMPIO 

We dare not kill an old and sleeping man; 
His thin gray hair, his stern and reverent 

brow, 10 

His veined hands crossed on his heaving 

breast, 
And the calm innocent sleep in which he 

lay, 
Quelled me. Indeed, indeed, I cannot do 

it. 

MARZIO 

But I was bolder; for I chid Olimpio, 
And bade him bear his wrongs to his own 

grave. 
And leave me the reward. And now my 

knife 
Touched the loose wrinkled throat, when 

the old man 
Stirred in his sleep, and said, ' God ! hear, 

oh, hear 
A father's curse ! What, art thou not our 

father ? ' 
And then he laughed. I knew it was the 

ghost 20 

Of my dead father speaking through his 

lips. 
And could not kill him. 

BEATRICE 

Miserable slaves ! 
Where, if ye dare not kill a sleeping man. 
Found ye the boldness to return to me 



With such a deed undone ? Base palter- 
ers ! 

Cowards and traitors ! Why, the very 
conscience 

Which ye would sell for gold and for re- 
venge 

Is an equivocation; it sleeps over 

A thousand daily acts disgracing men; 

And when a deed, where mercy insults hea- 
ven — 30 

Why do I talk ? 

{Snatching a dagger from one of them, and 
raising it) 

Hadst thou a tongue to say, 

She murdered her own father, I must do 
it! 

But never dream ye shall outlive him long ! 

OLIMPIO 

Stop, for God's sake ! 

MARZIO 

I will go back and kill him. 

OLIMPIO 

Give me the weapon, we must do thy will. 

BEATRICE 

Take it ! Depart ! Return ! 

[Exeunt Olimpio and Marzio. 

How pale thou art ! 

We do but that which 't were a deadly 

crime 
To leave undone. 

LUCRETIA 

Would it were done ! 

BEATRICE 

Even whilst 
That doubt is passing through your mind, 

the world 
Is conscious of a change. Darkness and 

hell 40 

Have swallowed up the vapor they sent 

forth 
To blacken the sweet light of life. My 

breath 
Comes, methinks, lighter, and the jellied 

blood 
Runs freely through my veins. Hark ! 



Enter Olimpio and Marzio 



OLIMPIO 



He is — 
Dead! 



238 



THE CENCI 



ACT IV : SC. IV 



MARZIO 

We strangled him, that there might be no 

blood ; 
And then we threw his heavy corpse i' the 

garden 
Under the balcony ; 't will seem it fell. 

BEATRICE (giving them a hag of coin) 
Here take this gold and hasten to your 

homes. 
And, Marzio, because thou wast only awed 
By that which made me tremble, wear thou 

this ! 50 

{Clothes him in a rich mantle) 
It was the mantle which my grandfather 
Wore in his high prosperity, and men 
Envied his state; so may they envy thine. 
Thou wert a weapon in the hand of God 
To a just use. Live long and thrive ! And, 

mark. 
If thou hast crimes, repent; this deed is 

none. 

(A horn is sounded) 

LUCRETIA 

Hark, 'tis the castle horn: my God! it 

sounds 
Like the last trump. 

BEATRICE 

Some tedious guest is coming. 

LUCRETIA 

The drawbridge is let down; there is a 
tramp 

Of horses in the court; fly, hide your- 
selves ! 60 
[Exeunt Olempio and Marzio. 

BEATRICE 

Let US retire to counterfeit deep rsst; 
I scarcely need to counterfeit it now; 
The spirit which doth reign within these 

limbs 
Seems strangely undisturbed. I could even 

sleep 
Fearless and calm ; all ill is surely past. 

[Exeunt. 

Scene IV. — Another Apartment in the Castle. 
Enter on one side the Legate Savella, intro- 
duced by a Servant, and on the other LuCRE- 
tia and Bernardo. 

SAVELLA 

Lady, my duty to his Holiness 

Be my excuse that thus unseasonably 



I break upon your rest. I must speak 

with 
Count Cenci; doth he sleep ? 

LUCRETIA (in a hurried and confused manner) 

I think he sleeps; 
Yet, wake him not, I pray, spare me 

awhile. 
He is a wicked and a wrathful man; 
Should he be roused out of his sleep to- 
night. 
Which is, I know, a hell of angry dreams. 
It were not well ; indeed it were not 

well. 
Wait till day break. 

(^Aside) Oh, I am deadly sick ! 

SAVELLA 

I grieve thus to distress you, but the 
Count II 

Must answer charges of the gravest im- 
port. 

And suddenly; such my commission is. 

LUCRETIA (with increased agitation) 
I dare not rouse liim, I know none who 

dare; 
'T were perilous; you might as safely 

waken 
A serpent, or a corpse in which some fiend 
Were laid to sleep. 

SAVELLA 

Lady, my moments here 
Are counted. I must rouse him from his 
sleep, 18 

Since none else dare. 

LUCRETIA (aside) 

Oh, terror ! oh, despair ! 

( To Bernardo) 
Bernardo, conduct you the Lord Legate to 
Your father's chamber. 

[Exeunt Savella and Bernardo. 

Enter Beatrice 

BEATRICE 

'T is a messenger 
Come to arrest the culprit who now stands 
Before the throne of unappealable God. 
Both Earth and Heaven, consenting arbi- 
ters, 
Acquit our deed. 



ACT IV : SC. IV 



THE CENCI 



239 



liUCKETIA 

Oh, agony of fear ! 
Would that he yet might live ! Even now 

I heard 
The Legate's followers whisper as they 

passed 
They had a warrant for his instant death. 
All was prepared by unforbidden means, 
Which we must pay so dearly, having done. 
Even now they search the tower, and find 

the body; 31 

Now they suspect the truth; now they 

consult 
Before they come to tax us with the fact. 
Oh, horrible, 't is all discovered ! 

BEATRICE 

Mother, 
What is done wisely is done well. Be bold 
As thou art just. 'T is like a truant child, 
To fear that others know what thou hast 

done, 
Even from thine own strong consciousness, 

and thus 
Write on unsteady eyes and altered cheeks 
All thou wouldst hide. Be faithful to thy- 
self, 40 
And fear no other witness but thy fear. 
For if, as cannot be, some circumstance 
Should rise in accusation, we can blind 
Suspicion with such cheap astonishment. 
Or overbear it with such guiltless pride, 
As murderers cannot feign. The deed is 

done. 
And what may follow now regards not me. 
I am as universal as the light; 
Free as the earth-surrounding air; as firm 
As the world's centre. Consequence, to 
me, . , , .50 

Is as the wind which strikes the solid rock. 
But shakes it not. 

(A cry within and tumult) 

VOICES 

Murder ! Murder ! Murder ! 

Enter Bernardo and Savella 

SAVELLA {to his followers) 
Go, search the castle round; sound the 

alarm ; 
Look to the gates, that none escape ! 



BEATRICE 



BERNARDO 

I know not what to say — my father 's 
dead. 

BEATRICE 

How, dead ! he only sleeps; you mistake, 

brother. 
His sleep is very calm, very like death; 
'T is wonderful how well a tyrant sleeps. 
He is not dead ? 

BERNARDO 

Dead; murdered! 

LUCRETIA (with extreme agitation) 

Oh, no, no ! 
He is not murdered, though he may be 

dead ; 60 

I have alone the keys of those apartments. 



SAVELLA 



Ha ! is it so ? 



What now ? 



BEATRICE 

My Lord, I pray excuse us; 
We will retire; my mother is not well; 
She seems quite overcome with this strange 
horror. 

[Exeunt Lucretia and Beatrice. 

SAVELLA 

Can you suspect who may have murdered 
him? 

BERNARDO 

I know not what to think. 

SAVELLA 

Can you name any 
Who had an interest in his death ? 

BERNARDO 

Alas! 
I can name none who had not, and those 

most 
Who most lament that such a deed is donei; 
My mother, and my sister, and myself. 70 

SAVELLA 

'T is strange ! There were clear marks of 

violence. 
I found the old man's body in the moon- 

Hanging beneath the window of his cham- 
ber 

Among the branches of a pine; he could 
not 



240 



THE CENCI 



ACT IV : sc. IV 



Have fallen there, for all his limbs lay 

heaped 
And effortless; 't is true there was no blood. 
Favor me, sir — it much imports your 

house 
That all should be made clear — to tell the 

ladies 
That I request their presence. 

[Exit Bernardo. 

Enter Guards, bringing in Marzio 

GUARD 

We have one. 

OFFICER 

My Lord, we found this ruffian and another 
Lurking among the rocks; there is no 

doubt 81 

But that they are the murderers of Count 

Cenci ; 
Each had a bag of coin; this fellow wore 
A gold-inwoven robe, which, shining bright 
Under the dark rocks to the glimmering 

moon, 
Betrayed them to our notice ; the other fell 
Desperately fighting. 

SAVELLA 

What does he confess ? 

OFFICER 

He keeps firm silence ; but these lines found 
on him 88 

May speak. 

SAVELLA 

Their language is at least sincere. 

(Reads) 

" To THE Lady Beatrice. 
That the atonement of what my nature 
sickens to conjecture may soon arrive, I 
send thee, at thy brother's desire, those 
who will speak and do more than I dare 
write. 

Thy devoted servant, 

Orsino." 

Enter Lucretia, Beatrice, and Bernardo 
Knowest thou this writing, lady ? 



BEATRICE 



SAVELLA 



No. 



Nor thou ? 



LUCRETIA {her conduct throughout the scene is 
marked by extreme agitation) 

Where was it found ? What is it ? It 

should be 
Orsino's hand ! It speaks of that strange 

horror 
Which never jet found utterance, but 

which made 
Between that hapless child and her dead 

father 
A gulf of obscure hatred. 

SAVELLA 

Is it so, 100 
Is it true, Lady, that thy father did 
Such outrages as to awaken in thee 
Uufilial hate ? 

BEATRICE 

Not hate, 't was more than hate ; 
This is most true, yet wherefore question 
me? 

SAVELLA 

There is a deed demanding question done; 
Thou hast a secret which will answer not. 

BEATRICE 

What sayest ? My Lord, your words are 
bold and rash. 

SAVELLA 

I do arrest all present in the name 
Of the Pope's Holiness. You must to 
Rome. 109 

LUCRETIA 

Oh, not to Rome ! indeed we are not guilty. 

BEATRICE 

Guilty ! who dares talk of guilt ? My 

Lord, 
I am more innocent of parricide 
Than is a child born fatherless. Dear 

mother, 
Your gentleness and patience are no shield 
For this keen-judging world, this two- 
edged lie, 
Which seems, but is not. What ! will hu- 
man laws. 
Rather will ye who are their ministers, 
Bar all access to retribution first. 
And then, when Heaven doth interpose to do 
What ye neglect, arming familiar things 120 
To the redress of an unwonted crime. 
Make ye the victims who demanded it 



ACT IV : SC. IV 



THE CENCI 



241 



Culprits? 'Tis ye are culprits! That 
poor wretch 

Who stands so pale, and trembling, and 
amazed, 

If it be true he murdered Cenci, was 

A sword in the right hand of justest God. 

Wherefore should 1 have wielded it ? un- 
less 

The crimes which mortal tongue dare never 
name 128 

God therefore scruples to avenge. 



SAVELLA 



You own 



That you desired his death ? 



BEATRICE 

It would have been 
A crime no less than his, if for one moment 
That fierce desire had faded in my heart. 
'Tis true I did believe, and hope, and 

pray. 
Ay, I even knew — for God is wise and 

just — 
That some strange sudden death hung over 

him. 
'T is true that this did happen, and most 

true 
There was no other rest for me on earth, 
No other hope in Heaven. Now what of 

this ? 

SAVELLA 

Strange thoughts beget strange deeds ; and 
here are both; 139 

I judge thee not. 

BEATRICE 

And yet, if you arrest me. 
You are the judge and executioner 
Of that which is the life of life ; the breath 
Of accusation kills an innocent name. 
And leaves for lame acquittal the poor life 
Which is a mask without it. 'T is most 

false 
That I am guilty of foul parricide; 
Although I must rejoice, for justest cause, 
That other hands have sent my father's 

soul 
To ask the mercy he denied to me. 149 

Now leave us free; stain not a noble house 
With vague surmises of rejected crime ; 
Add to our sufferings and your own neglect 
No heavier sum ; let them have been enough ; 
Leave us the wreck we have. 



SAVELLA 

I dare not. Lady. 
I pray that you prepare yourselves for 

Rome. 
There the Pope's further pleasure will be 

known. 

LUCRETIA 

Oh, not to Rome ! Oh, take us not to Rome ! 

BEATRICE 

Why not to Rome, dear mother ? There 

as here 
Our innocence is as an arm^d heel 159 

To trample accusation. God is there, 
As here, and with his shadow ever clothes 
The innocent, the injured, and the weak; 
And such are we. Cheer up, dear Lady ! 

lean 
On me; collect your wandering thoughts. 

My Lord, 
As soon as you have taken some refresh- 
ment. 
And had all such examinations made 
Upon the spot as may be necessary 
To the full understanding of this matter. 
We shall be ready. Mother, will you come ? 

LUCRETIA 

Ha ! they will bind us to the rack, and 
wrest 170 

Self-accusation from our agony ! 

Will Giacomo be there ? Orsino ? Marzio ? 

All present; all confronted; all demanding 

Each from the other's countenance the 
thing 

Which is in every heart ! Oh, misery ! 

{She faints, and is borne out) 

SAVELLA 

She faints; an ill appearance this. 

BEATRICE 

My Lord, 
She knows not yet the uses of the world. 
She fears that power is as a beast which 

grasps 
And loosens not; a snake whose look trans- 
mutes 179 
All things to guilt which is its nutriment. 
She cannot know how well the supine slaves 
Of blind authority read the truth of things 
When written on a brow of gnilelessness; 
She sees not yet triumphant Innocence 
Stand at the judgment-seat of mortal man, 



242 



THE CENCI 



ACT V : SC. I 



A judge and an accuser of the wrong 
Which drags it there. Prepare yourself, 

my Lord. 
Our suite will join yours in the court below. 

[Exeunt. 

ACT V 

Scene I. — An Apartment in Orsino's Palace. 
Enter Orsino and Giacomo. 

GIACOMO 

Do evil deeds thus quickly come to end ? 
Oh, that the vain remorse which must chas- 
tise 
Crimes done had but as loud a voice to warn 
As its keen sting is mortal to avenge ! 
Oh, that the hour when present had cast off 
The mantle of its mystery, and shown 
The ghastly form with which it now returns 
When its scared game is roused, cheering 

the hounds 
Of conscience to their prey ! Alas, alas ! 
It was a wicked thought, a piteous deed, lo 
To kill an old and hoary-headed father. 

ORSINO 

It has turned out unluckily, in truth. 

GIACOMO 

To violate the sacred doors of sleep; 
To cheat kind nature of the placid death 
"Which she prepares for overwearied age; 
To drag from Heaven an unrepentant soul. 
Which might have quenched in reconciling 

prayers 
A life of burning crimes — 



ORSINO 



X urged you to the deed. 



You cannot say 



GIACOMO 

Oh, had I never 

Found in thy smooth and ready counte- 
nance 20 

The mirror of my darkest thoughts; hadst 
thou 

Never with hints and questions made me 
look 

Upon the monster of my thought, until 

It grew familiar to desire — 

ORSINO 

'T is thus 
Men cast the blame of their unprosperous 
acts 



Upon the abettors of their own resolve; 
Or anything but their weak, guilty selves. 
And yet, confess the truth, it is the peril 
In which you stand that gives you this pale 

sickness 
Of penitence; confess 't is fear disguised 30 
From its own shame that takes the mantle 

now 
Of thin remorse. What if we yet were 

safe? 

GIACOMO 

How can that be ? Already Beatrice, 
Lucretia and the murderer are in prison. 
I doubt not officers are, whilst we speak, 
Sent to arrest us. 

ORSINO 

I have all prepared 
For instant flight. We can escape even 

now. 
So we take fleet occasion by the hair. 

GIACOMO 

Rather expire in tortures, as I may. 

What ! will you cast by self-accusing 
flight 40 

Assured conviction upon Beatrice ? 

She who alone, in this unnatural work 

Stands like God's angel ministered upon 

By fiends ; avenging such a nameless 
wrong 

As turns black parricide to piety; 

Whilst we for basest ends — I fear, Or- 
sino, 

While I consider all your words and looks, 

Comparing them with your proposal now. 

That you must be a villain. For what end 

Could you engage in such a perilous 
crime, 5c 

Training me on with hints, and signs, and 
smiles, 

Even to this gulf ? Thou art no liar ? 
No, 

Thou art a lie ! Traitor and murderer ! 

Coward and slave ! But no — defend thy- 
self; 

(Drawing) 

Let the sword speak what the indignant 
tongue 

Disdains to brand thee with. 

ORSINO 

Put up your weapon. 
Is it the desperation of your fear 



ACT V : SC. II 



THE CENCI 



243 



Makes you thus rash and sudden with a 

friend, 
Now ruined for your sake ? If honest 

anger 
Have moved you, know, that what I just 

proposed 5o 

Was but to try you. As for me, I think 
Thankless affection led me to this point. 
From which, if my firm temper could re- 
pent, 
I cannot now recede. Even whilst we 

speak. 
The ministers of justice wait below; 
They grant me these brief moments. Now, 

if you 
Have any word of melancholy comfort 
To speak to your pale wife, 't were best to 

pass 
Out at the postern, and avoid them so. 

GIACOMO 

generous friend ! how canst thou pardon 

me ? 70 

Would that my life could purchase thine ! 

ORSINO 

That wish 
Now comes a day too late. Haste; fare 

thee well ! 
Hear'st thou not steps along the corridor ? 

[Exit GiAcoMO. 

1 'm sorry for it ; but the guards are wait- 

ing 
At his own gate, and such was my contriv- 
ance 
That I might rid me both of him and 

them. 
I thought to act a solemn comedy 
Upon the painted scene of this new world. 
And to attain my own peculiar ends 
By some such plot of mingled good and 

ill 80 

As others weave ; but there arose a Power 
Which grasped and snapped the threads of 

my device. 
And turned it to a net of ruin — Ha ! 

(A shout is heard) 
Is that my name I hear proclaimed abroad ? 
But I will pass, wrapped in a vile disguise, 
Rags on my back and a false innocence 
Upon my face, through the misdeeming 

crowd, 
Which judges by what seems. 'T is easy 

then, 
For a new name and for a country new, 



And a new life fashioned on old desires, 90 
To change the honors of abandoned Rome. 
And these must be the masks of that 

within, 
Which must remain unaltered. — Oh, I 

fear 
That what is past will never let me rest ! 
Why, when none else is conscious, but 

myself. 
Of my misdeeds, should my own heart's 

contempt 
Trouble me ? Have I not the power to 

fly 

My own reproaches ? Shall I be the 
slave 

Of — what ? A word ? which those of 
this false world 

Employ against each other, not them- 
selves, 100 

As men wear daggers not for self-offence. 

But if I am mistaken, where shall I 

Find the disguise to hide me from myself, 

As now I skulk from every other eye ? 

[Exit. 

Scene II. — A Hall of Justice. Camlllo, 
Judges, etc., are discovered seated ; Mabzio 
is led in. 

FIRST JUDGE 

Accused, do you persist in your denial ? 
I ask you, are you innocent, or guilty ? 
I demand who were the participators 
In your offence. Speak truth, and the 
whole truth. 

MARZIO 

My God ! I did not kill him; I know no- 
thing; 
Olimpio sold the robe to me from which 
You would infer my guilt. 

SECOND JUDGE 

Away with him ! 

FIRST JUDGE 

Dare you, with lips yet white from the 

rack's kiss, 
Speak false ? Is it so soft a questioner 9 
That you would bandy lover's talk with it, 
Till it wind out your life and soul ? Away ! 

alARZIO 

Spare me ! Oh, spare ! I will confess. 

FIRST JUDGE 

Then speak 



244 



THE CENCI 



ACT V : SC. II 



MARZIO 

I strangled him in his sleep. 

FIRST JUDGE 

Who urged you to it ? 

MAKZIO 

His own son Giacomo and the young pre- 
late 
Orsino sent me to Petrella; there 
The ladies Beatrice and Lucretia 
Tempted me with a thousand crowns, 

and I 
And my companion forthwith murdered 
him. i8 

Now let me die. 

FIRST JUDGE 

This sounds as bad as truth. 
Guards, there, lead forth the prisoners. 

Enter Lucretia, Beatrice, and Giacomo, 
guarded 

Look upon this man; 
When did you see him last ? 

BEATRICE 

We never saw him. 

MARZIO 

You know me too well. Lady Beatrice. 

BEATRICE 

I know thee ! how ? where ? when ? 

MARZIO 

You know 't was I 
Whom you did urge with menaces and 

bribes 
To kill your father. When the thing was 

done. 
You clothed me in a robe of woven gold, 
And bade me thrive; how I have thriven, 

you see. 
You, my Lord Giacomo, Lady Lucretia, 
You know that what I speak is true. 

[Beatrice advances towards him ; he 
covers his face, and shrinks hack. 

Oh, dart 
The terrible resentment of those eyes 30 
On the dead earth ! Turn them away from 

me ! 
They wound; 'twas torture forced the 

truth. My Lords, 
Having said this, let me be led to death. 



BEATRICE 

Poor wretch, I pity thee; yet stay awhile. 

CAMILLO 

Guards, lead him not away. 

BEATRICE 

Cardinal Camillo, 
You have a good repute for gentleness 
And wisdom ; can it be that you sit here 
To countenance a wicked farce like this ? 
When some obscure and trembling slave is 

dragged 
From sufferings which might shake the 

sternest heart 40 

And bade to answer, not as he believes. 
But as those may suspect or do desire 
Whose questions thence suggest their own 

reply; 
And that in peril of such hideous tor- 
ments 
As merciful God spares even the damned. 

Speak now 
The thing you surely know, which is, that 

you. 
If your fine frame were stretched upon 

that wheel. 
And you were told, ' Confess that you did 

poison 
Your little nephew; that fair blue-eyed 

child 
Who was the lodestar of your life;' and 

though 50 

All see, since his most swift and piteous 

death. 
That day and night, and heaven and earth, 

and time. 
And all the things hoped for or done 

therein, 
Are changed to you, through your exceed- 
ing grief. 
Yet you would say, * I confess anything,' 
And beg from your tormentors, like that 

slave. 
The refuge of dishonorable death, 
I pray thee, Cardinal, that thou assert 
My innocence. 

CAMILLO {much moved) 

What shall we think, my Lords ? 

Shame on these tears ! I thought the heart 

was frozen 60 

Which is their fountain. I would pledge 

my soul 
That she is guiltless. 



ACT V : SC. II 



THE CENCI 



245 



JUDGE 

Yet she must be tortured. 

CAMILLO 

1 would as soon have tortured mine own 

nephew 
(If he now lived, he would be just her age; 
His hair, too, was her color, and his eyes 
Like hers in shape, but blue and not so 

deep) 
As that most perfect image of God's love 
That ever came sorrowing upon the earth. 
She is as pure as speechless infancy ! 

JUDGE 

Well, be her purity on your head, my 
Lord, 70 

If you forbid the rack. His Holiness 
Enjoined us to pursue this monstrous crime 
By the severest forms of law; nay, even 
To stretch a point against the criminals. 
The prisoners stand accused of parricide 
Upon such evidence as justifies 
Torture. 

BEATRICE 

What evidence ? This man's ? 



JUDGE 



Even so. 



BEATRICE {to MARZIO) 

Come near. And who art thou, thus chosen 

forth 
Out of the multitude of living men, 
To kill the innocent ? 

MARZIO 

I am Marzio, 80 

Thy father's vassal. 

BEATRICE 

Fix thine eyes on mine ; 
Answer to what I ask. 

{Turning to the Judges) 
I prithee mark 
His countenance; unlike bold calumny. 
Which sometimes dares not speak the thing 

it looks. 
He dares not look the thing he speaks, but 

bends 
His gaze on the blind earth. 

{To Marzio) 

What ! wilt thou say 
That I did murder my own father ? 



marzio 

Oh! 
Spare me ! My brain swims round — I 

cannot speak — 
It was that horrid torture forced the truth 
Take me away ! Let her not look on me ! 
I am a guilty miserable wretch ! gt 

I have said all I know, now, let me die ! 

BEATRICE 

My Lords, if by my nature I had been 

So stern as to have planned the crime 

alleged. 
Which your suspicions dictate to this slave 
And the rack makes him utter, do you 

think 
I should have left this two-edged instru- 
ment 
Of my misdeed; this man, this bloody 

knife, 
With my own name engraven on the heft. 
Lying unsheathed amid a world of foes. 
For my own death ? that with such horri- 
ble need loi 
For deepest silence I should have neglected 
So trivial a precaution as the making 
His tomb the keeper of a secret written 
On a thief's memory ? What is his poor 

life? 
What are a thousand lives ? A parricide 
Had trampled them like dust; and see, he 
lives ! 

{Turning to Marzio) 
And thou — 

marzio 
Oh, spare me ! Speak to me no more ! 
That stern yet piteous look, those solemn 
tones, log 

Wound worse than torture 

{To the Judges)- 

I have told it all; 
For pity's sake lead me away to death. 

CAMILLO 

Guards, lead him nearer the Lady Bea- 
trice ; 

He shrinks from her regard like autumn's 
leaf 

From the keen breath of the serenes'; north. 

BEATRICE 

O thou who tremblest on the giddy verge 
Of life and death, pause ere thou answerest 
me; 



34^ 



THE CENCI 



ACT V : SC. II 



So mayst thou answer God with less dis- 
may. 
What evil have we done thee ? I, alas ! 
Have lived but on this earth a few sad 

years, 1 19 

And so my lot was ordered that a father 
First turned the moments of awakening life 
To drops, each poisoning youth's sweet 

hope; and then 
Stabbed with one blow my everlasting soul, 
And my untainted fame; and even thafc 

peace 
Which sleeps within the core of the heart's 

heart. 
But the wound was not mortal; so my hate 
Became the only worship I could lift 
To our great Father, who in pity and love 
Armed thee, as thou dost say, to cut him 

off; 129 

And thus his wrong becomes my accusa= 

tion. 
And art thou the accuser ? If thou hopest 
Mercy in heaven, show justice upon earth; 
Worse than a bloody hand is a hard heart 
If thou hast done murders, made thy life's 

path 
Over the trampled laws of God and man, 
Rush not before thy Judge, and say: * My 

Maker, 
I have done this and more; for there was 

one 
W^ho was most pure and innocent on earth; 
And because she endured what never any, 
Guilty or innocent, endured before, 140 

Because her wrongs could not be told, nor 

thought 
Because thy hand at length did rescue her, 
I with my words killed her and all her 

kin.' 
Think, I adjure you, what it is to slay 
The reverence living in the minds of men 
Towards our ancient house and stainless 

fame ! 
Think what it is to strangle infant pity. 
Cradled in the belief of guileless looks. 
Till it become a crime to suffer. Think 
What 't is to blot with infamy and blood 
All that which shows like innocence, and 

is — 151 

Hear me, great God ! — I swear, most in- 
nocent; 
So that the world lose all discrimination 
Between the sly, fierce, wild regard of 

guilt. 
And that which now compels thee to reply 



To what I ask: Am I, or am I not 
A parricide ? 

MARZIO 

Thou art not ! 



JUDGE 



What is this ? 



MARZIO 

I here declare those whom I did accuse 
Are innocent. 'T is I alone am guilty. 159 

JUDGE 

Drag him away to torments; let them be 
Subtle and long drawn out, to tear the 

folds 
Of the heart's inmost cell. Unbind him 

not 
Till he confess 

MARZIO 

Torture me as ye will; 
A keener pang has wrung a higher truth 
From my last breath. She is most inno- 
cent ! 
Bloodhounds, not men, glut yourselves well 

with me ! 
I will not give you that fine piece of nature 
To rend and ruin. 

[Exit Marzio, guarded. 

CAMILLO 

W^hat say ye now, my Lords ? 

JUDGE 

Let tortures strain the truth till it be 
white 169 

As snow thrice-sifted by the frozen wind. 

CAMILLO 

Yet stained with blood. 

JUDGE (to BEATRICE) 

Know you this paper. Lady ? 

BEATRICE 

Entrap me not with questionso Who stands 

here 
As my accuser? Ha ! wilt thou be he. 
Who art my judge ? Accuser, witness, 

judge, 
What, all in one ? Here is Orsino's name ; 
Where is Orsino ? Let his eye meet mine. 
What means this scrawl ? Alas ! ye know 

not what. 



ACT V : SC. Ill 



THE CENCI 



247 



And therefore on the chance that it may be 
Some evil, will ye kill us ? 



Enter an Officer 

OFFICER 



Marzio 's dead. 



JUDGE 



What did he say ? 



OFFICER 

Nothing. As soon as we 
Had bound him on the wheel, he smiled on 
us, 181 

As one who baffles a deep adversary; 
And holding his breath died. 

JUDGE 

There remains nothing 
But to apply the question to those prisoners 
Who yet remain stubborn, 

CAMILIiO 

I overrule 
Further proceedings, and in the behalf 
Of these most innocent and noble persons 
Will use my interest with the Holy Father. 

JUDGE 

Let the Pope's pleasure then be done. 

Meanwhile 
Conduct these culprits each to separate 

cells; 190 

And be the engines ready; for this night, 
If the Pope's resolution be as grave. 
Pious, and just as once, I '11 wring the 

truth 
Out of those nerves and sinews, groan by 

groan. 

[Exewit. 

Scene III. — The Cell of a Prison. Beatrice 
IS discovered asleep on a couch. 

Enter Bernardo 

BERNARDO 

How gently slumber rests upon her face. 
Like the last thoughts of some day sweetly 

spent, 
Closing in night and dreams, and so pro- 
longed. 
After such torments as she bore last night. 
How light and soft her breathing comes. 
Ay me ! 



Methinks that I shall never sleep again. 
But I must shake the heavenly dew of rest 
From this sweet folded flower, thus — 

wake, awake ! 
What, sister, canst thou sleep ? 

BEATRICE (awaking) 

I was just dreaming 
That we were all in Paradise. Thou 
knowest 10 

This cell seems like a kind of Paradise 
After our father's presence. 

BERNARDO 

Dear, dear sister. 
Would that thy dream were not a dream ! 

Oh, God, 
How shall I tell ? 

BEATRICE 

What wouldst thou tell, sweet brother ? 

BERNARDO 

Look not so calm and happy, or even whilst 
I stand considering wliat I have to say, 
My heart will break. 

BEATRICE 

See now, thou mak'st me weep; 
How very friendless thou wouldst be, dear 

child, 
If I were dead. Say what thou hast to 

say. 

BERNARDO 

They have confessed ; they could endure no 
more 2c 

The tortures — 

BEATRICE 

Ha ! what was there to confess ? 
They must have told some weak and wicked 

lie 
To flatter their tormentors. Have they 

said 
That they were guilty ? O white innocence, 
That thou shouldst wear the mask of guilt 

to hide 
Thine awful and serenest countenance 
From those who know thee not ! 

Enter Judge, with Lucretia and Giacomo, 

guarded 

Ignoble hearts ! 
For some brief spasms of pain, which are 
at least 



248 



THE CENCI 



ACT V : SC. Ill 



As mortal as the limbs through which they 

pass, 
Are centuries of high splendor laid in 

dust? 30 

And that eternal honor, which should live 
Sunlike, above the reek of mortal fame. 
Changed to a mockery and a byword ? 

What ! 
Will you give up these bodies to be 

dragged 
At horses' heels, so that our hair should 

sweep 
The footsteps of the vain and senseless 

crowd, 
Who, that they may make our calamity 
Their worship and their spectacle, will 

leave 
The churches and the theatres as void 
As their own hearts ? Shall the light 

multitude 40 

Fling, at their choice, curses or faded pity. 
Sad funeral flowers to deck a living corpse. 
Upon us as we pass to pass away. 
And leave — what memory of our having 

been ? 
Infamy, blood, terror, despair ? O thou 
Who wert a mother to the parentless. 
Kill not thy child ! let not her wrongs kill 

thee! 
Brother, lie down with me upon the rack, 
And let us each be silent as a corpse; 
It soon will be as soft as any grave. 50 

'T is but the falsehood it can wring from 

fear 
Makes the rack cruel. 

GIACOMO 

They will tear the truth 
Even from thee at last, those cruel pains; 
For pity's sake say thou art guilty now. 

LUCRETIA 

Oh, speak the truth ! Let us all quickly 

die; 
And after death, God is our judge, not 

they; 
He will have mercy on us. 

BERNARDO 

If indeed 
It can be true, say so, dear sister mine; 58 
And then the Pope will surely pardon 

yon, 
And all be well. 



JUDGE 

Confess, or I will warp 
Your limbs with such keen tortures — 

BEATRICE 

Tortures ! Turn 
The rack henceforth into a spinning-wheel ! 
Torture your dog, that he may tell when 

last 
He lapped the blood his master shed — 

not me ! 
My pangs are of the mind, and of the heart, 
And of the soul; ay, of the inmost soul. 
Which weeps within tears as of burning 

gall 
To see, in this ill world where none are 

true, 
My kindred false to their deserted selves; 
And with considering all the wretched life 
Which I have lived, and its now wretched 

end; 71 

And the small justice shown by Heaven 

and Earth 
To me or mine; and what a tyrant thou 

art, 
And what slaves these; and what a world 

we make. 
The oppressor and the oppressed — such 

pangs compel 
My answer. What is it thou wouldst with 

me ? 

JUDGE 

Art thou not guilty of thy father's death ? 

BEATRICE 

Or wilt thou rather tax high-judging God 
That he permitted such an act as that 
Which I have suffered, and which he be- 
held; 80 
Made it unutterable, and took from it 
All refuge, all revenge, all consequence, 
But that which thou hast called my father's 

death ? 
Which is or is not what men call a crime, 
Which either I have done, or have not done; 
Say what ye will. I shall deny no more. 
If ye desire it thus, thus let it be. 
And so an end of all. Now do your will; 
No other pains shall force another word. 

JUDGE 

She is convicted, but has not confessed. 90 
Be it enough. Until their final sentence 



ACT V : SC. IV 



THE CENCI 



249 



Let none have converse with them. 

young Lord, 
Linger not here ! 



You, 



BEATRICE 

Oh, tear him not away ! 

JUDGE 

Guards ! do your duty. 

BERNARDO (embracing Beatrice) 

Oh ! would ye divide 
Body from soul ? 

OFFICER 

That is the headsman's business. 
[Exeunt all but Lucretia, Beatrice, and 

GlACOMO. 

GIACOMO 

Have I confessed ? Is it all over now ? 
No hope ! no refuge ! O weak, wicked 

tongue, 
Which hast destroyed me, would that thou 

hadst been 
Cut out and thrown to dogs first ! To 

have killed 
My father first, and then betrayed my 

sister — 100 

Ay, thee ! the one thing innocent and pure 
In this black, guilty world — to that 

which I 
So well deserve ! My wife ! my little 

ones ! 
Destitute, helpless; and I — Father ! God ! 
Canst thou forgive even the unforgiving. 
When their full hearts break thus, thus ? 
(Covers his face and weeps) 

LUCRETIA 

O my child ! 
To what a dreadful end are we all come ! 
Why did I yield ? Why did I not sustain 
Those torments ? Oh, that I were all dis- 
solved 
Into these fast and unavailing tears, no 
Which flow and feel not ! 

BEATRICE 

What 't was weak to do, 
'Tis weaker to lament, once being done; 
Take cheer ! The God who knew my 

wrong, and made 
Our speedy act the angel of his wrath, 
Seems, and but seems, to have abandoned 

us. 



Let us not think that we shall die for this. 
Brother, sit near me; give me your firm 

hand. 
You had a manly heart. Bear up ! bear 

up ! 
O dearest Lady, put your gentle head 
Upon my lap, and try to sleep awhile; 120 
Your eyes look pale, hollow, and overworn. 
With heaviness of watching and slow grief. 
Come, I will sing you some low, sleepy 

tune, 
Not cheerful, nor yet sad; some dull old 

thing. 
Some outworn and unused monotony. 
Such as our country gossips sing and spin. 
Till they almost forget they live. Lie 

down — 
So, that will do. Have I forgot the words ? 
Faith ! they are sadder than I thought they 



were. 



SONG 



False friend, wilt thou smile or weep 130 
When my life is laid asleep ? 
Little cares for a smile or a tear, 
The clay-cold corpse upon the bier ! 

Farewell ! Heigh-ho ! 

What is this whispers low ? 
There is a snake in thy smile, my dear; 
And bitter poison within thy tear. 

Sweet sleep ! were death like to thee, 
Or if thou couldst mortal be, 
I would close these eyes of pain; 140 

When to wake ? Never again. 

O World ! farewell ! 

Listen to the passing bell ! 
It says, thou and I must part, 
With a light and a heavy heart. 

(The scene closes) 

Scene IV. — A Hall of the Prison. Enter 
Camillo atid Bernardo. 

CAMILLO 

The Pope is stern; not to be moved ot 
bent. 

He looked as calm and keen as is the en- 
gine 

Which tortures and which kills, exempt it- 
self 

From aught that it inflicts; a marble form, 

A rite, a law, a custom; not a man. 

He frowned, as if to frown had been the 
trick 



250 



THE CENCI 



ACT V : SC. IV 



Of his machinery, on the advocates 
Presenting the defences, which he tore 
And threw beliind, muttering with hoarse, 

harsh voice — 
* Which among ye defended their old fa- 
ther 10 
Killed in his sleep ? ' then to another — 

* Thou 
Dost this in virtue of thy place; 't is well.' 
He turned to me then, looking depreca- 
tion, 
And said these three words, coldly — * They 
must die.' 

BERNARDO 

And yet you left him not ? 

CAMILLO 

I urged him still; 
Pleading, as I could guess, the devilish 

wrong 
Which prompted your unnatural parent's 

death. 
And he replied — ' Paolo Santa Croce 
Murdered his mother yester evening, 
And he is fled. Parricide grows so rife, 20 
That soon, for some just cause no doubt, 

the young 
Will strangle us all, dozing in our chairs. 
Authority, and power, and hoary hair 
Are grown crimes capital. You are my 

nephew. 
You come to ask their pardon; stay a mo- 
ment; 
Here is their sentence; never see me more 
Till, to the letter, it be all fulfilled.' 

BERNARDO 

Oh, God, not so ! I did believe indeed 
That all you said was but sad prepara- 
tion 
For happy news. Oh, there are words and 

looks 30 

To bend the sternest purpose ! Once I 

knew them, 
Now I forget them at my dearest need. 
What think you if I seek him out, and 

bathe 
His feet and robe with hot and bitter 

tears ? 
Importune him with prayers, vexing his 

brain 
With my perpetual cries, until in rage 
He strike me with his pastoral cross, and 

trample 



Upon my prostrate head, so that my blood 
May stain the senseless dust on which he 
treads, 39 

And remorse waken mercy ? I will do it ! 
Oh, wait till I return J 

[Rushes out. 

CAMILLO 

Alas, poor boy ! 
A wreck-devoted seaman thus might pray 
To the deaf sea. 

Enter Lucretia, Beatrice, and Giacomo, 
guarded 

BEATRICE 

I hardly dare to fear 
That thou bring'st other news than a just 
pardon. 

CAMILLO 

May God in heaven be less inexorable 

To the Pope's prayers than he has been to 

mine. 
Here is the sentence and the warrant. 



BEATRICE (wildly) 



Oh, 



My God ! Can it be possible I have 
To die so suddenly ? so young to go 
Under the obscure, cold, rotting, wormy 

ground! 50 

To be nailed down into a narrow place; 
To see no more sweet sunshine; hear no 

more 
Blithe voice of living thing; muse not 

again 
Upon familiar thoughts, sad, yet thus lost! 
How fearful! to be nothing ! Or to be — 
What ? Oh, where am I ? Let me not 

go mad ! 
Sweet Heaven, forgive weak thoughts ! 

If there should be 
No God, no Heaven, no Earth in the void 

world — 
The wide, gray, lampless, deep, unpeopled 

world ! 
If all things then should be — my father's 

spirit, 60 

His eye, his voice, his touch surrounding 

me; 
The atmosphere and breath of my dead 

life! 
If sometimes, as a shape more like him- 
self. 
Even the form which tortured me on earth, 



ACT V : SC. IV 



THE CENCI 



251 



Masked in gray hairs and wrinkles, he 

should come, 
And wind me in his hellish arms, and fix 
His eyes on mine, and drag me down, 

down, down ! 
For was he not alone omnipotent 
On Earth, and ever present ? even though 

dead, 69 

Does not his spirit live in all that breathe, 
And work for me and mine still the same 

ruin. 
Scorn, pain, despair ? Who ever yet re- 
turned 
To teach the laws of death's untrodden 

realm ? 
Unjust perhaps as those which drive us 

now. 
Oh, whither, whither ? 

LUCRETIA 

Trust in God's sweet love, 
The tender promises of Christ; ere night. 
Think we shall be in Paradise. 

BEATRICE 

'T is past ! 
Whatever comes, my heart shall sink no 

more. 
And yet, I know not why, your words 

strike chill; 
How tedious, false, and cold seem all 

things ! I 80 

Have met with much injustice in this 

world ; 
No difference has been made by God or 

man. 
Or any power moulding my wretched lot, 
'Twixt good or evil, as regarded me. 
I am cut off from the only world I know, 
From light, and life, and love, in youth's 

sweet prime. 
You do well telling me to trust in God ; 
I hope I do trust in him. In whom else 
Can any trust ? And yet my heart is 

cold. 

(During the latter speeches Giacomo has re- 
tired conversing with Camillo, ivho now 
goes out ; Giacomo advances) 

GIACOMO 

Know you not, mother — sister, know you 
not ? 9c 

Bernardo even now is gone to implore 
The Pope to grant our pardon. 



LUCRETIA 

Child, perhaps 
It will be granted. We may all then live 
To make these woes a tale for distant years. 
Oh, what a thought ! It gushes to my 

heart 
Like the warm blood. 

BEATRICE 

Yet both will soon be cold. 
Oh, trample out that thought ! Worse than 

despair, 
Worse than the bitterness of death, is hope ; 
It is the only ill which can find place 99 
Upon the giddy, sharp, and narrow hour 
Tottering beneath us. Plead with the swift 

frost 
That it should spare the eldest flower of 

spring; 
Plead with awakening earthquake, o'er 

whose couch 
Even now a city stands, strong, fair, and 

free; 
Now stench and blackness yawn, like death. 

Oh, plead 
With famine, or wind-walking pestilence, 
Blind lightning, or the deaf sea, not with 

man — 
Cruel, cold, formal man; righteous in 

words. 
In deeds a Cain. No, mother, we mvist die; 
Since such is the reward of innocent lives. 
Such the alleviation of worst wrongs. m 
And whilst our murderers live, and hard, 

cold men. 
Smiling and slow, walk through a world of 

tears 
To death as to life's sleep ; 't were just the 

grave 
Were some strange joy for us. Come, ob- 
scure Death, 
And wind me in thine all-embracing arms ! 
Like a fond mother hide me in thy bosom. 
And rock me to the sleep from which none 

wake. 
Live ye, who live, subject to one another 
As we were once, who now — 

Bernardo rushes in 

BERNARDO 

Oh, horrible ! 
That tears, that looks, that hope poured 
forth in prayer, m 

Even till the heart is vacant and despairs, 



252 



THE MASK OF ANARCHY 



Sliould all be vain ! The ministers of death 
Are waiting round the doors. I thought I 

saw 
Blood on the face of one — what if 't were 

fancy ? 
Soon the heart's blood of all I love on earth 
Will sprinkle hiu], and he will wipe it off 
As if 't were only rain. O life ! O world ! 
Cover me ! let me be no more ! To see 
That perfect mirror of pure innocence 130 
Wherein I gazed, and grew happy and 

good, 
Shivered to dust ! To see thee, Beatrice, 
Who made all lovely thou didst look upon — 
Thee, light of life — dead, dark ! while I 

say, sister, 
To hear I have no sister; and thou, mother, 
Whose love was as a bond to all our loves — 
Dead ! the sweet bond broken ! 

Enter Camillo and Guards 

They come ! Let me 
Kiss those warm lips before their crimson 

leaves 
Are blighted — white — cold. Say fare- 
well, before 
Death chokes that gentle voice ! Oh, let 
me hear 140 

You speak ! 

BEATRICE 

Farewell, my tender brother. Think 
Of our sad fate with gentleness, as now; 
And let mild, pitying thoughts lighten for 

thee 
Thy sorrow's load. Err not in harsh de- 
spair. 



But tears and patience. One thing more, 

my child; 
For thine own sake be constant to the love 
Thou bearest us; and to the faith that I, 
Though wrapped in a strange cloud of 

crime and shame. 
Lived ever holy and unstained. And 

though 
111 tongues shall wound me, and our com- 
mon name 150 
Be as a mark stamped on thine innocent 

brow 
For men to point at as they pass, do thou 
Forbear, and never think a thought unkind 
Of those who perhaps love thee in their 

graves. 
So mayest thou die as I do; fear and pain 
Being subdued. Farewell ! Farewell ! 

Farewell ! 

BERNARDO 

I cannot say farewell ! 

CAMILLO 

O Lady Beatrice ! 

BEATRICE 

Give yourself no unnecessary pain, 

My dear Lord Cardinal. Here, mother, 

tie 
My girdle for me, and bind up this hair 160 
In any simple knot; ay, that does well. 
And yours I see is coming down. How 

often 
Have we done this for one another; now 
We shall not do it any more. My Lord, 
We are quite ready. Well — 't is very- 
well. 



THE MASK OF ANARCHY 



WRITTEN ON THE OCCASION OF THE MASSACRE AT MANCHESTER 



The Mask of Anarchy was composed in the 
fall of 1819, soon after the Manchester riot of 
that summer. The Manchester or ' Peterloo 
Massacre,' as it was called, was occasioned 
by an attempt to hold a mass meeting' on 
August 9, 1819, at St. Peter's Field, Man- 
chester, in behalf of parliamentary reform. 
It was declared illeg'al and forbidden by the 
magistrates, and was in consequence post- 
poned. It was held August 16, and attended 
by several thousands. The chief constable 
was ordered to arrest the ringleaders, and in 
particular the chairman, Henry Hunt, an agi- 
tator unconnected with Leigh Hunt. He asked 



military aid, and went accompanied by forty 
cavalrymen ; on the failure of the officer and 
his escort to penetrate the crowd which sur- 
rounded them, orders were given three hun- 
dred hussars to disperse the people ; in the 
charge six persons were killed, twenty or 
thirty received sabre wounds, and fifty or more 
were injured in other ways. Eldon was Lord 
High Chancellor, Sidmouth, Home Secretary, 
and Castlereagh, Foreign Secretary ; the gov- 
ernment supported the authorities and publicly 
approved their conduct. News of these events 
reached Shelley while still residing at the Villa 
Valsovano, near Leghorn, and employed in 



THE MASK OF ANARCHY 



253 



revising' The Cenci, and ' roused in him,' says 
Mrs. Shelley, ' violent emotions of indignation 
and compassion.' The nature of these emo- 
tions is shown in the letter he wrote to Oilier, 
from whom he heard of the affair : ' The same 
day that your letter came, came the news 
of the Manchester work, and the torrent of my 
indignation has not yet done boiling in my 
veins. I wait anxiously to hear how the coun- 
try will express its sense of this bloody, mur- 
derous oppression of its destroyers. " Some- 
thing must be done. What, yet I know not. " ' 
In a similar vein he addressed Peacock, who 
had forwarded newspaper accounts : ' Many 
thanks for your attention in sending the papers 
which contain the terrible and important news 
of Manchester. These are, as it were, the dis- 
tant thunders of the terrible storm which is 
approaching. The tyrants here, as in the 
French Revolution, have first shed blood. 
May their execrable lessons not be learned 
with equal docility ! I still think there will 
be no coming to close quarters until financial 
affairs bring the oppressors and the oppressed 
together. Pray let me have the earliest politi- 
cal news which you consider of importance at 
this crisis.' 



Shelley sent the poem to Leigh Hunt to be 
published in The Examiner, but it did not ap- 
pear. He wrote to Hunt on the subject in 
November. 

' You do not tell me whether you have re- 
ceived my lines on the Manchester affair. They 
are of the exoteric species, and are meant, not 
for the Indicator, but the Examiner. . . . The 
great thing to do is to hold the balance be- 
tween popular impatience and tyrannical ob- 
stinacy ; to inculcate with fervor both the 
right of resistance and the duty of forbearance. 
You know my principles incite me to take all 
the good I can get in politics, forever aspiring 
to something more. I am one of those whom 
nothing will fully satisfy, but who are ready 
to be partially satisfied by all that is practi- 
cable. We shall see.' 

The poem was at last issued, under Hunt's 
editorship, in 1832. He assigns, in his preface, 
as the reason for his failure to publish it when 
it was written, his own belief that ' the public 
at large had not become sufficiently discern- 
ing to do justice to the sincerity and kind- 
heartedness of his spirit, that walked in the 
flaming robe of verse.' 



As I lay asleep in Italy, 
There came a voice from over the sea, 
And with great power it forth led me 
To walk in the visions of Poesy. 



II 



I met Murder on the way — 
He had a mask like Castle reagh; 
Very smooth he looked, yet grim; 
Seven bloodhounds followed him. 



Ill 



All were fat; and well they might 

Be in admirable plight, 

For one by one, and two by two, 

He tossed them human hearts to chew. 

Which from his wide cloak he drew- 



IV 



Next came Fraud, and he had on, 
Like Eldon, an ermined gown; 
His big tears, for he wept well. 
Turned to mill-stones as they fell; 



V 



And the little children, who 

Round his feet played to and fro> 

Thinking every tear a gem. 

Had their brains knocked out by them. 



VI 



Clothed with the Bible as with light, 
And the shadows of the night. 
Like Sidmouth, next Hypocrisy 
On a crocodile rode by. 



VII 



And many more Destructions played 
In this ghastly masquerade. 
All disguised, even to the eyes. 
Like bishops, lawyers, peers or spies. 



VIII 



Last came Anarchy; he rode 

On a white horse splashed with blood; 

He was pale even to the lips. 

Like Death in the Apocalypse. 



IX 



And he wore a kingly crown; 

In his grasp a sceptre shone; 

On his brow this mark I saw — 

* I AM God, and King, and Law ! ' 



With a pace stately and fast, 
Over English land he passed, 
Trampling to a mire of blood 
The adoring multitude. 



254 



THE MASK OF ANARCHY 



XI 



And a mighty troop around 

With their trampling shook the ground, 

Waving each a bloody sword 

For the service of their Lord. 



XII 



And, with glorious triumph, they 
Rode through Englaud, proud and gay, 
Drunk as with intoxication 
Of the wine of desolation. 



XIII 



O'er fields and towns, from sea to sea, 
Passed that Pageant swift and free. 
Tearing up, and trampling down. 
Till they came to London town. 



XIV 



And each dweller, panic-stricken, 
Felt his heart with terror sicken, 
Hearing the tempestuous cry 
Of the triumph of Anarchy. 



XV 



For with pomp to meet him came, 
Clothed in arms like blood and flame. 
The hired murderers who did sing, 
* Thou art God, and Law, and King. 



XVI 



are 



* We have waited, weak and lone. 

For thy coming, Mighty One ! 

Our purses are empty, our swords 

cold, 
Give us glory, and blood, and gold.' 



XVII 

Lawyers and priests, a motley crowd. 
To the earth their pale brows bowed; 
Like a bad prayer not over loud. 
Whispering — ' Thou art Law and God ! ' 

XVIII 

Then all cried with one accord, 

' Thou art King, and God, and Lord; 

Anarchy, to thee we bow. 

Be thy name made holy now ! ' 

XIX 

And Anarchy, the Skeleton, 
Bowed and grinned to every one. 
As well as if liis education 
Had cost ten millions to the nation. 



XX 

For he knew the palaces 
Of our kings were rightly his; 
His the sceptre, crown, and globe, 
And the gold-inwoven robe. 

XXI 

So he sent his slaves before 
To seize upon the Bank and TowePp 
And was proceeding with intent 
To meet his pensioned parliament, 

XXII 

When one fled past, a maniac maid. 
And her name was Hope, she said; 
But she looked more like Despair, 
And she cried out in the air: 

XXIII 

* My father Time is weak and gray 
With waiting for a better day; 
See how idiot-like he stands. 
Fumbling with his palsied hands 

XXIV 

* He has had child after child. 
And the dust of death is piled 
Over every one but me. 
Misery ! oh, misery ! ' 

XXV 

Then she lay down in the street. 
Right before the horses' feet. 
Expecting with a patient eye 
Murder, Fraud, and Anarchyj 

XXVI 

When between her and her foes 
A mist, a light, an image rose, — 
Small at first, and weak, and frail, 
Like the vapor of a vale; 

XXVII 

Till as clouds grow on the blast, 
Like tower-crowned giants striding fast 
And glare with lightnings as they fly, 
And speak in thunder to the sky, 

XXVIII 

It grew — a Shape arrayed in mail 
Brighter than the viper's scale. 
And upborne on wings whose grain 
Was as the light of sunny rain. 



THE MASK OF ANARCHY 



^5S 



XXIX 



On its helm, seen far away, 

A planet, like the Morning's, lay; 

And those plumes its light rained through, 

Like a shower of crimson dew. 



XXX 

With step as soft as wind it passed 
O'er the heads of men — so fast 
That they knew the presence there, 
And looked — but all was empty air. 

XXXI 

As flowers beneath May's footstep waken, 
As stars from Night's loose hair are 

shaken, 
As waves arise when loud winds call. 
Thoughts sprung where'er that step did fall. 

XXXII 

And the prostrate multitude 
Looked — and ankle-deep in blood, 
Hope, that maiden most serene, 
Was walking with a quiet mien; 

XXXIII 

And Anarchy, the ghastly birth. 

Lay dead earth upon the earth; 

The Horse of Death, tameless as wind 

Fled, and with his hoofs did grind 

To dust the murderers thronged behind. 

XXXIV 

A rushing light of clouds and splendor, 
A sense, awakening and yet tender. 
Was heard and felt — and at its close 
These words of joy and fear arose, 

XXXV 

As if their own indignant earth. 
Which gave the sons of England birth. 
Had felt their blood upon her brow, 
And shuddering with a mother's throe 

XXXVI 

Had turned every drop of blood. 

By which her face had been bedewed. 

To an accent unwithstood, 

As if her heart cried out aloud: 

XXXVII 

' Men of England, heirs of glory, 
Heroes of unwritten story, 
Nurslings of one mighty Mother, 
Hopes of her, and one another: 



XXXVIII 

* Rise like lions after slumber, 
In unvanquishable number; 

Shake your chains to earth like dew 
Which in sleep had fallen on you — 
Ye are many, they are few. 

XXXIX 

* What is Freedom ? — Ye can tell 
That which Slavery is too well, 
For its very name has grown 

To an echo of your own. 

XL 

' 'T is to work, and have such pay 
As just keeps life from day to day 
In your limbs, as in a cell. 
For the tyrants' use to dwell, 

XLI 

' So that ye for them are made 
Loom, and plough, and sword, and spade 
With or without your own will bent 
To their defence and nourishment. 

XLII 

' 'T is to see your children weak 
With their mothers pine and peak, 
When the winter winds are bleak — 
They are dying whilst I speak. 

XLIII 

' 'T is to hunger for such diet, 
As the rich man in his riot 
Casts to the fat dogs that lie 
Surfeiting beneath his eye. 

XLIV 

' 'T is to let the Ghost of Gold 
Take from toil a thousand-fold 
More than e'er its substance could 
In the tyrannies of old ; 

XLV 

' Paper coin — that forgery 
Of the title deeds which ye 
Hold to something of the worth 
Of the inheritance of Earth. 

XLVI 

' 'T is to be a slave in soul. 
And to hold no strong control 
Over your own will, but be 
All that others make of ye. 



256 



THE MASK OF ANARCHY 



XLVII 

* And at length when ye complain 
With a murmur weak and vain, 
'T is to see the Tyrant's crew 
Ride over your wives and you — 
Blood is on the grass like dew ! 

XLVIII 

* Then it is to feel revenge, 
Fiercely thirsting to exchange 

Blood for blood — and wrong for wrong 
Do not thus when ye are strong ! 

XLIX 

* Birds find rest in narrow nest, 
When weary of their winged quest, 
Beasts find fare in woody lair. 
When storm and snow are in the air. 



* Horses, oxen, have a liome. 
When from daily toil they come ; 
Household dogs, when the wind roars, 
Find a home within warm doors. 

LI 

* Asses, swine, have litter spread. 
And with fitting food are fed ; 
All things have a home but one — 
Thou, O Englishman, hast none ! 

LII 

* This is Slavery; savage men, 
Or wild beasts within a den, 
Would endure not as ye do — 
But such ills they never knew. 

LIII 

* What art thou. Freedom ? Oh, could 

slaves 
Answer from their living graves 
This demand, tyrants would flee 
Like a dream's dim imagery. 

LIV 

' Thou art not, as impostors say, 
A shadow soon to pass away 
A superstition and a name 
Echoing from the cave of Fame. 

LV 

' For the laborer thou art bread 
And a comely table spread, 
From his daily labor come 
In a neat and happy home. 



LVI 

* Thou art clothes, and fire, and food. 
For the trampled multitude; 

No — in countries that are free 
Such starvation cannot be 
As in England now we see. 

LVII 

' To the rich thou art a check; 
When his foot is on the neck 
Of his victim, thou dost make 
That he treads upon a snake. 

LVill 

* Thou art Justice — ne'er for gold 
May thy righteous laws be sold. 
As laws are in England; thou 
Shield'st alike both high and low. 

LIX 

' Thou art Wisdom — freemen never 
Dream that God will damn forever 
All who think those things untrue 
Of which priests make such ado. 

LX 

* Thou art Peace — never by thee 
Would blood and treasure wasted be. 
As tyrants wasted them, when all 
Leagued to quench thy flame in Gaul. 

LXI 

' What if English toil and blood 
Was poured forth, even as a flood ? 
It availed, O Liberty ! 
To dim, but not extinguish thee. 

LXII 

' Thou art Love — the rich have kissed 
Thy feet, and, like him following Christ, 
Give their substance to the free 
And through the rough world follow thee ; 

LXIII 

* Or turn their wealth to arms, and make 
War for thy beloved sake 

On wealth and war and fraud, whence 

they 
Drew the power which is their prey. 

LXIV 

* Science, Poetry and Thought 
Are thy lamps; they make the lot 
Of the dwellers in a cot 

Such they curse their maker not. 



THE MASK OF ANARCHY 



257 



LXV 



'Spirit, Patience, Gentleness, 

All that can adorn and bless. 

Art thou — let deeds, not words, express 

Thine exceeding loveliness. 



LXVI 



* Let a great Assembly be 
Of the fearless and the free 

On some spot of English ground. 
Where the plains stretch wide around. 

LXVII 

* Let the blue sky overhead. 

The green earth on which ye tread. 
All that must eternal be, 
Witness the solemnity. 

LXVIII 

* From the corners uttermost 
Of the bounds of English coast; 
From every hut, village and town. 
Where those, who live and suffer, moan 
For others' misery or their own; 

LXIX 

* From the workhouse and the prison, 
Where pale as corpses newly risen, 
Women, children, young and old, 
Groan for pain, and weep for cold; 

LXX 

* From the haunts of daily life, 
Where is waged the daily strife 

With common wants and common cares. 
Which sows the human heart with tares; 

LXXI 

' Lastly, from the palaces 
Where the murmur of distress 
Echoes, like the distant sound 
Of a wind alive, around 

LXXII 

* Those prison-halls of wealth and fashion. 
Where some few feel such compassion 
For those who groan, and toil, and wail. 
As must make their brethren pale; — 

LXXIII 

' Ye who suffer woes untold. 
Or to feel or to behold 
Your lost country bought and sold 
With a price of blood and gold; 



LXXIV 



* Let a vast assembly be, 

And with great solemnity 

Declare with measured words that ye 

Are, as God has made ye, free 1 



LXXV 



* Be your strong and simple words 
Keen to wound as sharpened swords; 
And wide as targes let them be. 
With their shade to cover ye. 



LXXVI 



* Let the tyrants pour around 
With a quick and startling sound, 
Like the loosening of a sea, 
Troops of armed emblazonry. 



LXXVII 



* Let the charged artillery drive 
Till the dead air seems alive 
With the clash of clanging wheels 
And the tramp of horses' heels. 

LXXVIII 

* Let the fixed bayonet 
Gleam with sharp desire to wet 
Its bright point in English blood, 
Looking keen as one for food. 

LXXIX 

' Let the horsemen's scimitars 
Wheel and flash, like sphereless stars 
Thirsting to eclipse their burning 
In a sea of death and mourning. 

LXXX 

' Stand ye calm and resolute. 

Like a forest close and mute, 

With folded arms, and looks which are 

Weapons of un vanquished war. 

LXXXI 

* And let Panic, who outspeeds 
The career of arm^d steeds. 
Pass, a disregarded shade, 
Through your phalanx undismayed. 

LXXXII 

' Let the laws of your own land, 
Good or ill, between ye stand. 
Hand to hand, and foot to foQt, 
Arbiters of the dispute: — 



»S8 



PETER BELL THE THIRD 



LXXXIII 

' The old laws of England — they 
Whose reverend heads with age are gray, 
Children of a wiser day; 
And whose solemn voice must be 
Thine own echo — Liberty ! 

LXXXIV 

* On those who first should violate 
Such sacred heralds in their state 
Rest the blood that must ensue; 
And it will not rest on you. 

LXXXV 

* And if then the tyrants dare, 
Let them ride among you there, 
Slash, and stab, and maim, and hew; 
What they like, that let them do. 

LXXXVI 

* With folded arms and steady eyes, 
And little fear, and less surprise, 
Look upon them as they slay, 

Till their rage has died away. 

LXXXVII 

* Then they will return with shame 
To the place from which they came; 
And the blood thus shed will speak 
In hot blushes on their cheek. 



LXXXVIII 

' Every woman in the land 
Win point at them as they stand; 
They will liardly dare to greet 
Their acquaintance in the street. 

LXXXIX 

* And the bold true warriors. 
Who have hugged Danger in wars, 
Will turn to those who would be free, 
Ashamed of such base company. 

xc 

* And that slaughter to the Nation 
Shall steam up like inspiration, 
Eloquent, oracular; 

A volcano heard afar. 

XCI 

' And these words shall then become 
Like oppression's thmidered doom, 
Ringing through each heart and brain, 
Heard again — again — again ! 

XCII 

' Rise like lions after slumber 
In unvanquishable number ! 
Shake your chains to earth, like dew 
Which in sleep had fallen on you — 
Ye are many, they are few ! ' 



PETER BELL THE THIRD 

BY MICHING MALLECHO, ESQ. 

Is it a party in a parlor, 

Crammed just as they on earth were crammed, 
Some sipping punch — some sipping tea ; 
But, as you by their faces see, 

All silent, and all damned ! 

Peter Bell, by W. Wordsworth. 

Ophelia. — What means this, my lord? 

Hamlet. — Marry, this is Miching Mallecho ; it means mischief. 

Shakespeare. 



Peter Bell the Third was suggested by some 
reviews, in The Examiner, of Wordsworth's 
Peter Bell and of John Hamilton Reynolds's 
satire on Wordsworth of the same title. They 
amused Shelley, and he wrote the present poem 
in that vein of fun which seldom appeared 
in his verse, though it was a characteristic 
trait of his private life. ' I think Peter not 
bad in his way,' wrote Shelley to Oilier. ' but 
perhaps no one will believe in anything- in the 
shape of a joke from me.' Shelley's satire is 



meant pleasantly enough, as his admiration for 
Wordsworth's poetic powers is evident in many 
ways, and he was careful to chang-e the name 
Emma to Betty, having- inadvertently used the 
former, — ' Emma, I recollect, is the real name 
of the sister of a great poet who might be miis- 
taken for Peter.'' Mrs. Shelley in her note 
states tlie case frankly and fairly : 

' A critique on Wordsworth's Peter Bell 
reached us at Leghorn, which amused Shelley 
exceedingly and suggested this poem. I need 



PETER BELL THE THIRD 



259 



scarcely observe that nothing personal to the 
Author of Peter Bell is intended in this poem. 
No man ever admired Wordsworth's poetry 
more ; — he read it perpetually, and taug-ht 
others to appreciate its beauties. This jjoem 
is, like all others written by Shelley, ideal. 
He conceived the idealism of a poet — a man 
of lofty and creative genius — quitting- the 
g-lorious calling of discovering and announcing 
the beautiful and good, to support and propa- 
gate ignorant prejudices and pernicious errors ; 
imparting to the unenlightened, not that ardor 
for truth and spirit of toleration which Shelley 
looked on as the sources of the moral improve- 
ment and happiness of mankind ; but false and 
injurious opinions, that evil was good, and that 
ignorance and force were the best allies of 
purity and virtue. His idea was that a man 
gifted even as transcendently as the Author 
of Peter Bell, with the highest qualities of 
genius, must, if he fostered such errors, be in- 
fected with dulness. This poem was written, 
as a warning — not as a narration of the real- 
ity. He was unacquainted personally with 
Wordsworth or with Coleridge (to whom he 
alludes in the fifth part of the poem), and 
therefore, I repeat, his poem is purely ideal ; 
— it contains something of criticism on the 
compositions of these great poets, but nothing 
injurious to the men themselves. 

' No poem contains more of Shelley's peculiar 
views, with regard to the errors into which 
many of the wisest have fallen, and of the per- 
nicious effects of certain opinions on society. 
Much of it is beautifully written — and though, 
like the burlesque drama of Swellfoot, it must 
be looked on as a plaything, it has so much 
merit and poetry — so much of himself in it, 
that it cannot fail to interest greatly, and by 
right belongs to the world for whose instruc- 
tion and benefit it was written.' 

Shelley's own account of the burlesque is 
given in a letter to Hunt : 

' Now, I only send you a very heroic poem, 
which I wish you to give to Oilier, and desire 
him to print and publish immediately, you 
being kind enough to take upon yourself the 
correction of the press — not. however, Avith my 
name ; and you must tell Oilier that the author 
is to be kept a secret, and that I confide in him 
for this object as I would confide in a physician 
or lawyer, or any other man whose professional 
situation renders the betraying of what is en- 
trusted a dishonor. My motive in this is solely 
not to prejudge myself in the present moment, 
as I have only expended a few days in this 
party squib, and, of course, taken little pains. 
The verses and language I have let come as 
they would, and I am about to publish more 
serious things this winter ; afterwards, that is 
next year, if the thing should be remembered 



so long, I have no objection to the author being 
known, but not now. I should like well enough 
that it should both go to press and be printed 
very quickly ; as more serious things are on 
the eve of engaging both the public attention 
and mine.' 

The poem was written at Florence, in the 
latter part of October, 1819, and sent forward 
to Hunt at once for publication. It did not 
appear, however, until twenty years after, when 
it was included in Mrs. Shelley's second edition 
of the collected poems, 1839. 



DEDICATION 

TO THOMAS BROWN, ESQ., THE TOUNGER, H. F. 

Dear Tom, — Allow me to request you to 
introduce Mr. Peter Bell to the respectable 
family of the Fudges. Although he may fall 
short of those very considerable personages in 
the more active properties which characterize 
the Rat and the Apostate, I suspect that even 
you, their historian, will confess that he sur- 
passes them in the more peculiarly legitimate 
qualification of intolerable dulness. 

You know Mr. Examiner Hunt ; well — it 
was he who presented me to two of the Mr. 
Bells. My intimacy with the younger Mr. 
Bell naturally sprung from this introduction 
to his brothers. And in presenting him to you 
I have the satisfaction of being able to assure 
you that he is considerably the dullest of the 
three. 

There is this particular advantage in an ac- 
quaintance with any one of the Peter Bells 
that, if you know one Peter Bell, you know 
three Peter Bells ; they are not one, but three ; 
not three, but one. An awful mystery, which, 
after having caused torrents of blood and hav- 
ing been hymned by groans enough to deafen 
the music of the spheres, is at length illustrated 
to the satisfaction of all parties in the theo- 
logical world by the nature of Mr. Peter Bell. 

Peter is a polyhedric Peter, or a Peter with 
many sides. He changes colors like a chame- 
leon and his coat like a snake. He is a Pro- 
teus of a Peter. He was at first sublime, 
pathetic, impressive, profound ; then dull ; 
then prosy and dull ; and now dull — oh, so 
very dull ! it is an ultra-legitimate dulness. 

You will perceive that it is not necessary to 
consider Hell and the Devil as supernatural 
machinery. The whole scene of my epic is in 
' this world which is ' — so Peter informed us 
before his conversion to White Obi — 
The world of all of us, and where 
We find our happiness, or not at all. 

Let me observe that I have spent six or 
seven days in composing this sublime piece; 



26o 



PETER BELL THE THIRD 



the orb of my moon-like genius has made the 
fourth part of its reyolution round tlie dull 
earth which you inhabit, driving you mad, 
while it has retained its calmness and its 
splendor, and I have been fitting this its last 
phase ' to occupy a permanent station in the 
literature of my country.' 

Your works, indeed, dear Tom, sell better ; 
but mine are far superior. The public is no 
judge ; posterity sets all to rights. 

Allow me to observe that so much has been 
written of Peter Bell that the present history 
can be considered only, like the Iliad, as a 
continuation of that series of cyclic poems 
which have already been candidates for be- 
stowing immortality upon, at the same time 
that they receive it from, his character and 
adventures. In this point of view I have vio- 
lated no rule of syntax in beginning my com- 
position with a conjunction ; the full stop, 
which closes the poem continued by me, being, 
like the full stops at the end of the Iliad and 
Odyssey, a full stop of a very qualified import. 

PROLOGUE 

Peter Bells, one, two and three, 

O'er the wide world wandering be. 

First, the antenatal Peter, 

Wrapped in weeds of the same metre. 

The so long predestined raiment, 

Clothed in which to walk his way meant 

The second Peter ; whose ambition 

Is to link the proposition, 

As the mean of two extremes, 

(This was learned from Aldrich's themes). 

Shielding from the gnilt of schism 

The orthodoxal syllogism ; 

The First Peter — he who was 

Like the shadow in the glass 

Of the second, yet unripe. 

His substantial antitype. 

Then came Peter Bell the Second, 

Who henceforward must be reckoned 

The body of a double soul, 

And that portion of the whole 

Without which the rest would seem 

Ends of a disjointed dream. 

And the Third is he who has 

O'er the grave been forced to pass 

To the other side, which is — 

Go and try else — just like this. 

Peter Bell the First was Peter 

Smugger, milder, softer, neater, 

Like the soul before it is 

Born from that world into this. 

The next Peter Bell was he, 



Hoping that the immortality which you have 
given to the Fudges, you will receive from 
them ; and in the firm expectation that when 
London shall be an habitation of bitterns, when 
St. Paul's and Westminster Abbey shall stand, 
shapeless and nameless ruins, in the midst of 
an unpeopled marsh ; when the piers of Water- 
loo Bridge shall become the nuclei of islets of 
reeds and osiers, and cast the jagged shadows 
of their broken arches on the solitary stream, 
some transatlantic commentator will be weigh- 
ing in the scales of some new and now unim- 
agined system of criticism the respective 
merits of the Bells and the Fudges and their 
historians, 

I remain, dear Tom, 

Yours sincerely, 

December 1, 1819. Miching Mallecho. 

P. S. — Pray excuse the date of place ; so 
soon as the profits of the publication come in, 
I mean to hire lodgings in a more respectable 
street. 

Predevote, like you and me, 
To good or evil, as may come; 
His was the severer doom, — 
For he was an evil Cotter, 
And a polygamic Potter. 
And the last is Peter Bell, 
Damned since our first parents fell, 
Damned eternally to Hell — 
Surely he deserves it well ! 



PART THE FIRST 



DEATH 



And Peter Bell, when he had been 

With fresh-imported Hell-fire warmed, 

Grew serious — from his dress and mien 

'T was very plainly to be seen 
Peter was quite reformed. 



II 



His 



eyes turned up, his mouth turned 
down; 
His accent caught a nasal twang; 
He oiled his hair; there might be heard 
The grace of God in every word 
Which Peter said or sang. 

Ill 

But Peter now grew old, and had 
An ill no doctor could unravelj 



PETER BELL THE THIRD 



261 



His torments almost drove him mad; 
Some s?i,id it was a fever bad; 
Some swore it was the gravel. 



IV 



His holy friends then came about, 

And with long preaching and persuasion 

Convinced the patient that without 

The smallest shadow of a doubt 
He was predestined to damnation. 



They said — * Thy name is Peter Bell; 

Thy skin is of a brimstone hue; 
Alive or dead — ay, sick or well — 
The one God made to rhyme with hell; 

The other, I think, rhymes with you.' 

VI 

Then Peter set up such a yell ! 

The nurse, who with some water gruel 
Was climbing up the stairs, as well 
As her old legs could climb them — fell. 

And broke them both — the fall was 
cruel. 

VII 

The Parson from the casement leapt 

Into the lake of Windermere ; 
And many an eel — though no adept 
In God's right reason for it — kept 

Gnawing his kidneys half a year. 

VIII 

And all the rest rushed through the door, 

And tumbled over one another, 
And broke their skulls. — Upon the floor 
Meanwhile sat Peter Bell, and swore, 
And cursed his father and his mother; 

IX 

And raved of God, and sin, and death, 

Blaspheming like an infidel; 
And said that with his clenched teeth 
He 'd seize the earth from underneath 

And drag it with him down to hell. 



As he was speaking came a spasm 

And wrenched his gnashing teeth asun- 
der; 
Like one who sees a strange phantasm 
He lay, — there was a silent chasm 
Betwixt his upper jaw and under. 



XI 

And yellow death lay on his face; 

And a fixed smile that was not human 
Told, as I understand the case. 
That he was gone to the wrong place. 

I heard all this from the old woman. 

XII 

Then there came down from Lansrdale 
Pike ^ 

A cloud, with lightning, wind and hail; 
It swept over the mountains like 
An ocean, — and I heard it strike 

The woods and crags of Grasmere vale. 

XIII 

And I saw the black storm come 

Nearer, minute after minute; 
Its thunder made the cataracts dumb; 
With hiss, and clash, and hollow num, 

It neared as if the Devil was in it. 

XIV 

The Devil was in it ; he had bought 
Peter for half-a-crown; and when 

The storm which bore him vanished, 
nought 

That in the house that storm had caught 
Was ever seen again. 

XV 
The gaping neighbors came next day; 

They found all vanished from the shore; 
The Bible, whence he used to pray, 
Half scorched under a hen-coop lay; 

Smashed glass — and nothing more ! 



PART THE SECOND 

THE DEVIL 
I 

The Devil, I safely can aver, 

Has neither hoof, nor tail, nor sting; 
Nor is he, as some sages swear, 
A spirit, neither here nor there, 

In nothing — yet in everything. 

II 

He is — what we are ; for sometimes 

The Devil is a gentleman ; 
At others a bard bartering rhymes 
For sack; a statesman spinning crimes; 

A swindler, living as he can; 



262 



PETER BELL THE THIRD 



III 



A thief, who cometh in the night, 

With whole boots and net pantaloons, 
Like some one whom it were not right 
To mention, — or the luckless wight. 
From whom he steals nine silver spoons. 



IV 



But in this case he did appear 

Like a slop-merchant from Wapping, 
And with smug face and eye severe 
On every side did perk and peer 
Till he saw Peter dead or napping. 



He had on an upper Benjamin 

(For he was of the driving schism) 
In the which he wrapped his skin 
From the storm he travelled in, 
For fear of rheumatism. 

VI 

He called the ghost out of the corse, — 
It was exceedingly like Peter, 

Only its voice was hollow and hoarse; 

It had a queerish look, of course; 
Its dress too was a little neater. 

VII 

The Devil knew not his name and lot; 

Peter knew not that he was Bell ; 
Each had an upper stream of thought, 
Which made all seem as it was not. 

Fitting itself to all things well. 

VIII 

Peter thought he had parents dear. 
Brothers, sisters, cousins, cronies, 

In the fens of Lincolnshire; 

He perhaps had found them there 
Had he gone and boldly shown his 

IX 

Solemn phiz in his own village, 

Where he thought oft when a boy 
He 'd clonib the orchard walls to pillage 
The produce of his neighbor's tillage, 
With marvellous pride and joy. 



And the Devil thought he had, 

'Mid the misery and confusion 
Of an unjust war, just made 
A fortune by the gainful trade 



Of giving soldiers rations bad — 

The world is full of strange delusion; 



XI 



That he had a mansion planned 

In a square like Grosvenor-square, 
That he was aping fashion, and 
That he now came to Westmoreland 
To see what was romantic there. 



XII 



And all this, though quite ideal, 

Ready at a breath to vanish. 
Was a state not more unreal 
Than the peace he could not feel, 
Or the care he could not banish. 



XIII 

After a little conversation, 

The Devil told Peter, if he chose. 

He 'd bring him to the world of fashion 

By giving him a situation 

In his own service — and new clothes. 

XIV 

And Peter bowed, quite pleased and proud. 

And after waiting some few days 
For a new livery — dirty yellow 
Turned up with black — the wretched 
fellow 
Was bowled to Hell in the Devil's 
chaise. 



PART THE THIRD 



HELL 



Hell is a city much like London — 

A populous and a smoky city; 
There are all sorts of people undone. 
And there is little or no fun done; 

Small justice shown, and still less pity. 

II 

There is a Castles, and a Canning, 

A Cobbett, and a Castlereagh; 

All sorts of caitiff corpses planning 

All sorts of cozening for trepanning 

Corpses less corrupt than they. 



There is a 



III 
-, who has lost 



His wits, or sold them, none knows which; 



PETER BELL THE THIRD 



263 



He walks about a double ghost, 
And, though as thin as Fraud almost. 
Ever grows more grim and rich. 



IV 



There is a Chancery Court; a King; 

A manufacturing mob; a set 
Of thieves who by themselves are sent 
Similar thieves to represent; 

An army; and a public debt. 



Which last is a scheme of paper money, 

And means — being interpreted — 
* Bees, keep your wax — give us the honey. 
And we will plant, while skies are sunny. 
Flowers, which in winter serve instead.' 

VI 

There is great talk of revolution — 

And a great chance of despotism — 
German soldiers — camps — confusion — 
Tumults — lotteries — rage — delusion — 
Gin — suicide — and methodism; 

VII 

Taxes too, on wine and bread, 

And meat, and beer, and tea, and cheese. 
From which those patriots pure are fed. 
Who gorge before they reel to bed, 

The tenfold essence of all these. 

VIII 

There are mincing women, mewing 

(Like cats, who amant misere) 
Of their own virtue, and pursuing 
Their gentler sisters to that ruin 

Without which — what were chastity ? 

IX 

Lawyers — judges — old hobnobbers 

Are there — bailiJffs — chancellors — 
Bishops — great and little robbers — 
Rhymesters — pamphleteers — stock-job- 
bers — 
Men of glory in the wars; 



Things whose trade is, over ladies 

To lean, and flirt, and stare, and sim- 
per, 
Till all that is divine in woman 
Grows cruel, courteous,, smooth, inhuman, 
Crucified 'twixt a smile and whimper; 



XI 



Thrusting, toiling, wailing, moiling. 

Frowning, preaching — such a riot ! 
Each with never-ceasing labor, 
Whilst he thinks he cheats his neighbor, 
Cheating his own heart of quiet. 



XII 

And all these meet at levees; 

Dinners convivial and political; 
Suppers of epic poets; teas, 
Where small talk dies in agonies; 

Breakfasts professional and critical; 

XIII 

Lunches and snacks so aldermanic 

That one would furnish forth ten din- 
ners, 
Where reigns a Cretan-tongu^d panic. 
Lest news Russ, Dutch, or Alemannic 
Should make some losers, and some 
winners ; 

XIV 

At conversazioni — balls — 

Conventicles — and drawing-rooms — 
Courts of law — committees — calls 
Of a morning — clubs — book-stalls — 

Churches — masquerades — and tombs 

XV 

And this is Hell — and in this smother 
Are all damnable and damned; 

Each one, damning, damns the other; 

They are damned by one another. 
By none other are they damned. 

XVI 

'T is a lie to say, ' God damns ! ' 

Where was Heaven's Attorney-General 

When they first gave out such flams ? 

Let there be an end of shams; 

They are mines of poisonous mineral. 

XVII 

Statesmen damn themselves to be 

Cursed; and lawyers danm their souls 

To the auction of a fee ; 

Churchmen damn themselves to see 
God's sweet love in burning coals. 

XVIII 
The rich are damned, beyond all cure, 
To taunt, and starve, and trample on 



264 



PETER BELL THE THIRD 



The weak and wretched; and the poor 
Damn their broken hearts to endure 
Stripe on stripe, with groan on groan. 

XIX 

Sometimes the poor are damned indeed 
To take, not means for being blessed, 
But Cobbett's snuff, revenge; that weed 
From which the worms that it doth feed 
Squeeze less than they before pos- 
sessed. 

XX 

And some few, like we know who, 

Damned — but God alone knows why — 
To believe their minds are given 
To make this ugly Hell a Heaven; 
In which faith they live and die. 

XXI 

Thus, as in a town, plague-stricken, 

Each man, be he sound or no, 
Must indifferently sicken; 
As when day begins to thicken, 

None knows a pigeon from a crow; 

XXII 

So good and bad, sane and mad, 

The oppressor and the oppressed; 
Those who weep to see what others 
Smile to inflict upon their brothers; 
Lovers, haters, worst and best; 

XXIII 

All are damned — they breathe an air, 
Thick, infected, joy-dispelling; 

Each pursues what seems most fair. 

Mining, like moles, through mind, and 
there 

Scoop palace-caverns vast, where Care 
In throned state is ever dwelling. 



PART THE FOURTH 

SIN 

I 

Lo, Peter in Hell's Grosvenor-square, 

A footman in the Devil's service ! 
And the misjudging world would swear 
That every man in service there 
To virtue would prefer vice. 



II 



But Peter, though now damned, was not 

What Peter was before damnation. 
Men oftentimes prepare a lot 
Which, ere it finds them, is not what 
Suits with their genuine station. 



Ill 



All things that Peter saw and felt 

Had a peculiar aspect to him ; 
And when they came within the belt 
Of his own nature, seemed to melt, 
Like cloud to cloud, into him. 



IV 



And so the outward world uniting 
To that within him, he became 

Considerably uninviting 

To those, who meditation slighting, 
Were moulded in a different frame. 



And he scorned them, and they scorned 
him ; 

And he scorned all they did; and they 
Did all that men of their own trim 
Are wont to do to please their whim — 

Drinking, lying, swearing, play. 

VI 

Such were his fellow-servants; thus 
His virtue, like our own, was built 

Too much on that indignant fuss 

Hypocrite Pride stirs up in us 
To bully one another's guilt. 

VII 

He had a mind which was somehow 
At once circumference and centre 

Of all he might or feel or know; 

Nothing went ever out, although 
Something did ever enter. 

VIII 

He had as much imagination 
As a pint-pot; — he never could 

Fancy another situation. 

From which to dart his contemplation, 
Than that wherein he stood. 

IX 

Yet his was individual mind. 

And new-created all he saw 
In a new manner, and refined 



PETER BELL THE THIRD 



265 



Those new creations, and combined 
Them, by a master-spirit's law 



Thus — though unimaginative — 
An apprehension clear, intense, 
Of his mind's work, had made alive 
The things it wrought on; I believe 
Wakening a sort of thought in sense. 

XI 

But from the first 't was Peter's drift 

To be a kind of moral eunuch; 
He touched the hem of Nature's shift, 
Felt faint — and never dared uplift 
The closest, all-concealing tunic. 

XII 

She laughed the while, with an arch 
smile, 

And kissed him with a sister's kiss, 
And said — * My best Diogenes, 
1 love you well — but, if you please. 

Tempt tiot again my deepest bliss. 

XIII 

'T is you are cold — for I, not coy, 
Yield love for love, frank, warm and 
true; 
And Burns, a Scottish peasant boy — 
His errors prove it — knew my joy 
More, learned friend, than you. 

XIV 

* Bocca hacciata nonperde ventura 

A nzi rinnuova come fa la lima : — 
So thought Boccaccio, whose sweet words 

might cure a 
Male prude, like you, from what you now 
endure, a 
Low-tide in soul, like a stagnant laguna.' 

XV 
Then Peter rubbed his eyes severe. 

And smoothed his spacious forehead 
down, 
With his broad palm; 'twixt love and 

fear. 
He looked, as he no doubt felt, queer, 
And in his dream sate down. 

XVI 

The Devil was no uncommon creature; 

A leaden-witted thief — just huddled 
Out of the dross and scum of nature; 



A toad-like lump of limb and feature. 
With mind, and heart, and fancy mud- 
dled. 

XVII 

He was that heavy, dull, cold thing, 
The spirit of evil well may be; 

A drone too base to have a sting; 

Who gluts, and grimes his lazy wing, 
And calls lust luxury. 

XVIII 

Now he was quite the kind of wight 

Round whom collect, at a fixed era, 
Venison, turtle, hock, and claret, — 
Good cheer — and those who come to share 
it — 
And best East Indian madeira ! 

XIX 

It was his fancy to invite 

Men of science, wit, and learning, 
Who came to lend each other light; 
He proudly thought that his gold's might 

Had set those spirits burning. 

XX 

And men of learning, science, wit. 

Considered him as you and I 
Think of some rotten tree, and sit 
Lounging and dining under it, 

Exposed to the wide sky. 

XXI 

And all the while, with loose fat smile, 
The willing wretch sat winking there, 
Believing 't was his power that made 
That jovial scene — and that all paid 
Homage to his unnoticed chair; 

XXII 

Though to be sure this place was Hell; 

He was the Devil — and all they — 
What though the claret circled well. 
And wit, like ocean, rose and fell ? — 

Were damned eternally. 



PART THE FIFTH 

GRACE 



Among the guests who often stayed 
Till the Devil's petits-soupers, 



266 



PETER BELL THE THIRD 



A man there came, fair as a maid, 
Aud Peter noted what he said, 

Standing behind his master's chair. 



II 

He was a mighty poet — and 

A subtle-souled psychologist; 
All things he seemed to understand, 
Of old or new — of sea or land — 

But his own mind 7— which was a mist. 

Ill 

This was a man who might have turned 
Hell into Heaven — and so in gladness 

A Heaven unto himself have earned; 

But he in shadows undiscerned 

Trusted, — and damned himself to mad- 
ness. 

IV 

He spoke of poetry, and how 

' Divine it was — a light — a love — 

A spirit which like wind doth blow 

As it listeth, to and fro; 

A dew rained down from God above; 



* A power which comes and goes like 
dream, 
And which none can ever trace — 
Heaven's light on earth — Truth's brightest 

beam.' 
And when he ceased there lay the gleam 
Of those words upon his face. 

VI 

Now Peter, when he heard such talk. 
Would, heedless of a broken pate. 
Stand like a man asleep, or balk 
Some wishing guest of knife or fork, 
Or drop and break his master's plate. 

VII 

A.t night he oft would start and wake 

Like a lover, and began 
£n a wild measure songs to make 
On moor, and glen, and rocky lake, 

And on the heart of man, — 

VIII 

A.nd on the universal sky, 

And the wide earth's bosom green, 
And the sweet, strange mystery 
Df wliat beyond these things may lie, 

And yet remain unseen. 



IX 
For in his thought he visited 

The spots in which, ere dead and damned, 
He his wayward life had led; 
Yet knew not whence the thoughts were 
fed. 
Which thus his fancy crammed. 



And these obscure remembrances 
Stirred such harmony in Peter, 
That whensoever he should please, 
He could speak of rocks and trees 
In poetic metre. 

XI 

For though it was without a sense 
Of memory, yet he remembered well 

Many a ditch and quick-set fence; 

Of lakes he had intelligence; 

He knew something of heath and fell. 

XII 

He had also dim recollections 

Of pedlers tramping on their rounds; 
Milk-pans and pails; and odd collections 
Of saws and proverbs; and reflections 
Old parsons make in burying-grounds. 

XIII 

But Peter's verse was clear, and came 
Announcing from the frozen hearth 

Of a cold age, that none might tame 

The soul of that diviner flame 
It augured to the Earth; 

XIV 

Like gentle rains, on the dry plains. 

Making that green which late was gray, 
Or like the sudden moon, that stains 
Some gloomy chamber's window panes 
With a broad light like day. 

XV 

For language was in Peter's hand 

Like clay while he was yet a potter; 
And he made songs for all the land. 
Sweet, both to feel and understand. 
As pipkins late to mountain cotter. 



And Mr. 



XVI 

the bookseller. 



Gave twenty pounds for some; 
scorning 



then 



PETER BELL THE THIRD 



267 



A footman's yellow coat to wear, 
Peter, too proud of heart, I fear. 
Instantly gave the Devil warning. 

XVII 

Whereat the Devil took offence, 

And swore in his soul a great oath 
then, 
' That for his damned impertinence, 
He 'd bring him to a proper sense 
Of what was due to gentlemen ! ' 



PART THE SIXTH 

DAMNATION 

I 

* O THAT mine enemy had written 

A book ! ' — cried Job ; a fearful curse, 
If to the Arab, as the Briton, 
'T was galling to be critic-bitten; 

The Devil to Peter wished no worse. 

II 

When Peter's next new book found vent. 
The Devil to all the first Reviews 

A copy of it slyly sent. 

With five-pound note as compliment, 
And this short notice — ' Pray abuse.' 

Ill 

Then seriatim, month and quarter, 

Appeared such mad tirades. One said, — 
' Peter seduced Mrs. Foy's daughter, 
Then drowned the mother in Ullswater 
The last thing as he went to bed.' 

IV 

Another — ' Let him shave his head ! 

Where 's Dr. Willis ? — Or is he jok- 
ing ? 
What does the rascal mean or hope. 
No longer imitating Pope, 

In that barbarian Shakespeare poking ? ' 



One more, * Is incest not enough. 
And must there be adultery too ? 

Grace after meat ? Miscreant and Liar ! 

Thief ! Blackguard ! Scoundrel ! Fool ! 
Hell-fire 
Is twenty times too good for you. 



VI 

* By that last book of yours WE think 
You 've double damned yourself to 
scorn; 
We warned you whilst yet on the brink 
You stood. From your black name will 
shrink 
The babe that is unborn.' 

VII 

All these Reviews the Devil made 

Up in a parcel, which he had 
Safely to Peter's house conveyed. 
For carriage, tenpence Peter paid — 

Untied them — read them — went half- 
mad. 

VIII 

' What ! ' cried he, ' this is my reward 
For nights of thought, and days of 
toil? 
Do poets, but to be abhorred 
By men of whom they never heard, 
Consume their spirits' oil ? 



IX 

done 



to them ? — and 



' What have 
who 

Is Mrs, Foy ? 'T is very cruel 
To speak of me and Betty so ! 
Adultery ! God defend me ! Oh ! 

I 've half a mind to fight a duel. 



' Or,' cried he, a grave look collecting, 

* Is it my genius, like the moon, 
Sets those who stand her face inspecting. 
That face within their brain reflecting, 
Like a crazed bell-chime, out of tune ? 

XI 

For Peter did not know the town, 
But thought, as country readers do, 

For half a guinea or a crown 

He bought oblivion or renown 

From God's own voice in a Review. 

XII 

All Peter did on this occasion 

Was writing some sad stuff in prose. 
It is a dangerous invasion 
When poets criticise; their station 
Is to delight, not pose. 



268 



PETER BELL THE THIRD 



XIII 

The Devil then sent to Leipsic fair, 

For Bern's translation of Kant's book; 
A world of words, tail foremost, where 
Right, wrong, false, true, and foul, and 
fair 
As in a lottery- wheel are shook ; 

XIV 

Five thousand crammed octavo pages 

Of German psychologies, — he 
Who his furor verborum assuages 
Thereon deserves just seven months' wages 
More than will e'er be due to me. 

XV 

I looked on them nine several days. 

And then I saw that they were bad; 
A friend, too, spoke in their dispraise, — 
He never read them; with amaze 

I found Sir William Drummond had. 

XVI 

When the book came, the Devil sent 

It to P. Verbovale, Esquire, 
With a brief note of compliment. 
By that night's Carlisle mail. It went. 

And set his soul on fire — 

XVII 

Fire, which ex luce prcebens fumum, 
Made him beyond the bottom see 

Of truth's clear well — when I and you. 
Ma'am, 

Go, as we shall do, suhter humum, 
We may know more than he. 

XVIII 

Now Peter ran to seed in soul 

Into a walking paradox; 
For he was neither part nor whole, 
Nor good, nor bad, nor knave nor fool, — 

Among the woods and rocks. 

XIX 

Furious he rode, where late he ran, 
Lashing and spurring his tame hobby; 

Turned to a formal puritan, 

A solemn and unsexual man, — 
He half believed White Obi. 

XX 

This steed in vision he would ride. 
High trotting over nine-inch bridges, 



With Flibbertigibbet, imp of pride. 
Mocking and mowing by his side — 
A mad-brained goblin for a guide — 
Over cornfields, gates and hedges. 

XXI 

After these ghastly rides, he came 

Home to his heart, and found from 
thence 

Much stolen of its accustomed flame; 

His thoughts grew weak, drowsy, and lame 
Of their intelligence. 

XXII 

To Peter's view, all seemed one hue; 

He was no whig, he was no toryj 
No Deist and no Christian he; 
He got so subtle that to be 

Nothing was all his glory. 

XXIII 

One single point in his belief 

From his organization sprung. 
The heart-enrooted faith, the chief 
Ear in his doctrines' blighted sheaf, 
That ' happiness is wrong.' 

XXIV 

So thought Calvin and Dominic; 

So think their fierce successors, who 
Even now would neither stint nor stick 
Our flesh from off our bones to pick. 

If they might * do their do.' 

XXV 

His morals thus were undermined; 

The old Peter — the hard, old Potter 
Was born anew within his mind; 
He grew dull, harsh, sly, unrefined, 

As when he tramped beside the Otte: 

XXVI 

In the death hues of agony 

Lambently flashing from a fish. 
Now Peter felt amused to see 
Shades like a rainbow's rise and flee, 
Mixed with a certain hungry wish. 

XXVII 

So in his Country's dying face 

He looked — and lovely as she lay, 
Seeking in vain his last embrace. 
Wailing her own abandoned case. 

With hardened sneer he turned away; 



PETER BELL THE THIRD 



269 



XXVIII 

And coolly to his own soul said, — 

' Do you not think that we might make 

A poem on her when she 's dead; 

Or, no — a thought is in ray head — 
Her shroud for a new sheet I '11 take; 

XXIX 

* My wife wants one. Let who will bury 
This mangled corpse ! And I and you, 
My dearest Soul, will then make merry, 
As the Prince Regent did with Sherry, — 
Ay — and at last desert me too.' 

XXX 

And so his soul would not be gay, 

But moaned within him; like a fawn 
Moaning within a cave, it lay 
Wounded and wasting, day by day, 
Till all its life of life was gone. 

XXXI 

As troubled skies stain waters clear, 
The storm in Peter's heart and mind 

Now made his verses dark and queer; 

They were the ghosts of what they were. 
Shaking dim grave clothes in the wind. 

XXXII 

For he now raved enormous folly, 

Of Baptisms, Sunday-schools, and 
Graves; 
'T would make George Colman melancholy 
To have heard him, like a male Molly, 
Chanting those stupid staves. 

XXXIII 

Yet the Reviews, who heaped abuse 

On Peter while he wrote for freedom. 
So soon as in his song they spy 
The folly which soothes tyranny. 
Praise him, for those who feed 'em. 

XXXIV 

•He was a man, too great to scan; 

A planet lost in truth's keen rays; 
His virtue, awful and prodigious; 
He was the most sublime, religious. 

Pure-minded Poet of these days.' 

XXXV 

As soon as he read that, cried Peter, 

' Eureka ! I have found the way 
To make a better thing of metre 



Than e'er was made by living creature 
Up to this blessed day.' 

XXXVI 

Then Peter wrote odes to the Devil, 
In one of which he meekly said: 

* May Carnage and Slaughter, 
Thy niece and thy daughter, 
May Rapine and Famine, 
Thy gorge ever cramming, 

Glut thee with living and dead ! 

XXXVII 

' May death and damnation. 

And consternation, 
Flit up from hell with pure intent ! 

Slash them at Manchester, 

Glasgow, Leeds and Chester; 
Drench all with blood from Avon to Trent 

XXXVIII 

* Let thy body-guard yeomen 

Hew down babes and women 
And laugh with bold triumph till Heaven 
be rent ! 
When Moloch in Jewry 
Munched children with fury. 
It was thou. Devil, dining with pure in- 
tent.' 



PART THE SEVENTH 



DOUBLE DAMNATION 



The Devil now knew his proper cue. 

Soon as he read the ode, he drove 
To his friend Lord MacMurderchouse's, 
A man of interest in both houses, 

And said: — ' For money or for love, 

II 

' Pray find some cure or sinecure; 

To feed from the superfluous taxes, 
A friend of ours — a poet; fewer 
Have fluttered tamer to the lure 

Than he.' His lordship stands and racks 
his 

III 

Stupid brains, while one might count 
As many beads as he had boroughs, — 



270 



PETER BELL THE THIRD 



At length replies, from his mean front, 
Like one who rubs out an account, 

Smoothing away the unmeaning fur- 
rows: 



IV 



* It happens fortunately, dear Sir, 

I can. I hope I need require 
No pledge from you that he will stir 
In our affairs; — like Oliver, 

That he '11 be worthy of his hire.' 



These words exchanged, the news sent off 

To Peter, home the Devil hied, — 
Took to his bed ; he had no cough, 
No doctor, — meat and drink enough, — 
Yet that same night he died. 

VI 

The Devil's corpse was leaded down; 

His decent heirs enjoyed his pelf ; 
Mourning-coaches, many a one. 
Followed his hearse along the town; — 

Where was the Devil himself ? 

VII 

When Peter heard of his promotion, 

His eyes grew like two stars for bliss; 
There was a bow of sleek devotion, 
Engendering in his back; each motion 
Seemed a Lord's shoe to kiss. 

VIII 

He hired a house, bought plate, and 
made 

A genteel drive up to his door, 
With sifted gravel neatly laid, 
As if defying all who said, 

Peter was ever poor. 

IX 

But a disease soon struck into 

The very life and soul of Peter; 
He walked about — slept — had the hue 
Of health upon his cheeks — and few 
Dug better — none a heartier eater. 



And yet a strange and horrid curse 
Clung upon Peter, night and day; 
Month after month the thing grew worie, 
And deadlier than in this my verse 
I can find strength to say. 



XI 

Peter was dull — he was at first 

Dull — oh, so dull — so very dull ! 
Whether he talked, wrote, or rehearsed — 
Still with this dulness was he cursed — 
Dull — beyond all conception — dull. 

XII 

No one could read his books — no mortal. 
But a few natural friends, would hear 
him ; 
The parson came not near his portal; 
His state was like that of the immortal 
Described by Swift — no man could bear 
him. 

XIII 

His sister, wife, and children yawned. 
With a long, slow, and drear ennui. 

All human patience far beyond; 

Their hopes of Heaven each would have 
pawned 
Anywhere else to be. 

XIV 

But in his verse, and in his prose, 
The essence of his dulness was 
Concentred and compressed so close, 
'T would have made Guatimozin doze 
On his red gridiron of brass. 

XV 

A printer's boy, folding those pages. 
Fell slumbrously upon one side. 

Like those famed seven who slept three 
ages; 

To wakeful frenzy's vigil rages. 
As opiates, were the same applied. 

XVI 

Even the Reviewers who were hired 
To do the work of his reviewing, 

With adamantine nerves, grew tired; 

Gaping and torpid they retired 

To dream of what they should be do- 
ing. 

XVII 

And worse and worse the drowsy curse 
Yawned in him, till it grew a pest — 

A wide contagious atmosphere 

Creeping like cold through all things 
near, 
A power to infect and to infest 



THE WITCH OF ATLAS 



271 



XVIII 

flis servant-maids and dogs grew dull; 

His kitten, late a sportive elf ; 
The woods and lakes, so beautiful, 
Of dim stupidity were full ; 

All grew dull as Peter's self. 

XIX 

The earth under his feet — the springs 

Which lived within it a quick life, 
The air, the winds of many wings 
That fan it with new murmurings, 
Were dead to their harmonious strife. 

XX 

The birds and beasts within the wood, 
The insects, and each creeping thing, 

Were now a silent multitude; 

Love's work was left 
brood 
Near Peter's house took wing. 

XXI 

And every neighboring cottager 
Stupidly yawned upon the other ; 



un wrought 



no 



No jackass brayed; no little cur 
Cocked up his ears ; no man would stir 
To save a dying mother. 

XXII 

Yet all from that charmed district went 

But some half-idiot and half-knave, 
Who rather than pay any rent 
Would live with marvellous content 
Over his father's grave. 

XXIII 

No bailiff dared within that space, 

For fear of the dull charm, to enter; 
A man would bear upon his face. 
For fifteen months in any case, 
The yawn of such a venture. 

XXIV 

Seven miles above — below — around — 
This pest of dulness holds its sway; 

A ghastly life without a sound ; 

To Peter's soul the spell is bound — 
How should it ever pass away ? 



THE WITCH OF ATLAS 



The Witch of Atlas was conceived during a 
solitary walk from the Baths of San Giuliano, 
near Pisa, to the top of Monte San Pellegrino, 
August 12, 1820, and was written August 14, 
15, and 16. It was sent to Oilier to be pub- 
lished with Shelley's name, but was first issued 
in Mrs. Shelley's edition of the Posthumous 
Poems, 1824. Her own note gives all our in- 
formation concerning it, except Shelley's char- 
acteristic sigh ' if its merit be measured by the 
labor which it cost, [it] is worth nothing.' 
Mrs. Shelley writes : 

' We spent the summer at the Baths of San 
Giuliano, four miles from Pisa. These baths 
were of great use to Shelley in soothing his 
nervous irritability. We made several excur- 
sions in the neighborhood. The country around 
is fertile, and diversified and rendered pictur- 
esque by ranges of near hills and more distant 
mountains. The peasantry are a handsome, 
intelligent race, and there was a gladsome 
sunny heaven spread over us, that rendered 
home and every scene we visited cheerful and 
bright. During some of the hottest days of 
August, Shelley made a solitary journey on 
foot to the summit of Monte San Pelegrino — 
a mountain of some height, on the top of which 



there is a chapel, the object, during certain 
days in the year, of many pilgrimages. The 
excursion delighted him while it lasted, though 
he exerted himself too much, and the effect was 
considerable lassitude and weakness on his re- 
turn. During the expedition he conceived the 
idea and wrote, in the three days immediately 
succeeding to his return, The Witch of Atlas. 
This poem is peculiarly characteristic of his 
tastes — wildly fanciful, full of brilliant ima- 
gery, and discarding human interest and pas- 
sion, to revel in the fantastic ideas that his 
imagination suggested. 

' The surpassing excellence of The Cenci had 
made me greatly desire that Shelley should in- 
crease his popularity, by adopting subjects that 
would more suit the popular taste than a poem 
conceived in the abstract and dreamy spirit of 
The Witch of Atlas. It was not only that I 
wished him to acquire popularity as redound- 
ing to his fame ; but I believed that he would 
obtain a greater mastery over his own powers, 
and greater happiness in his mind, if public 
applause crowned his endeavors. The few 
stanzas that precede the poem were addressed 
to me on my representing these ideas to him. 
Even now I believe that I was in the right 



272 



THE WITCH OF ATLAS 



Shelley did not expect sympathy and approba- 
tion from the public ; but the want of it took 
away a portion of the ardor that oug-ht to have 
sustained him while writing. He was thrown on 
his own resources and on the inspiration of his 
own soul, and wrote because his mind over- 
flowed, without the hope of being- appreciated. 
I had not the most distant wish that he should 
truckle in opinion, or submit his lofty aspira- 
tions for the human race to the low ambition 
and pride of the many, but I felt sure that if his 
poems were more addressed to the common 
feeling's of men, his proper rank among- the 
writers of the day would be acknowledged ; 
and that popularity as a poet would enable 
his countrymen to do justice to his character 
and virtues ; which, in those days, it was the 
mode to attack with the most flagitious calum- 
nies and insulting abuse. That he felt these 
things deeply cannot be doubted, though he 
armed himself with the consciousness of acting 
from a lofty and heroic sense of right. The 
truth burst from his heart sometimes in solitude, 
and he would write a few unfinished verses 
that showed that he felt the sting. . . . 

TO MARY 

ON HER OBJECTING TO THE FOLLOWING 
POEM UPON THE SCORE OF ITS CON- 
TAINING NO HUMAN INTEREST 



How, my dear Mary, are yoii critic-bitten 
(For vipers kill, though dead) by some 
review, 
That you condemn these verses I have 
written. 
Because they tell no story, false or 
true ! 
What, though no mice are caught by a 
young kitten. 
May it not leap and play as grown cats 
do. 
Till its claws come ? Prithee, for this one 

time. 
Content thee with a visionary rhyme. 

II 
What hand would crush the silken-wingM 

fly' . 

The youngest of inconstant April's min- 
ions, 
Because it cannot climb the purest sky. 
Where the swan sings, amid the sun's 
dominions ? 
Not thine. Thou knowest 'tis its doom to 
die, 



' I believed that all this morbid feeling 
would vanish, if the chord of sympathy be- 
tween him and his countrymen were touched. 
But my persuasions were vain ; the mind could 
not be bent from its natural inclination. 
Shelley shrunk instinctively from portraying 
human passion, with its mixture of good and 
evil, of disappointment and disquiet. Such 
opened again the wounds of his own heart, and 
he loved to shelter himself rather in the airiest 
flights of fancy, forgetting love and hate and 
regret and lost hope, in such imaginations as 
borrowed their hues from sunrise or sunset, 
from the yellow moonshine or paly twilight, 
from the aspect of the far ocean or the shadows 
of the woods ; which celebrated the singing of 
the winds among the pines, the flow of a mur- 
muring stream, and the thousand harmonious 
sounds which nature creates in her solitudes. 
These are the materials which form The Witch 
of Atlas ; it is a brilliant congregation of 
ideas, such as his senses gathered, and his 
fancy colored, during his rambles in the sunny 
land he so much loved.' 



When day shall hide within her twilight 
pinions 
The lucent eyes, and the eternal smile, 
Serene as thine, which lent it life awhile. 

HI 

To thy fair feet a winged Vision came. 
Whose date should have been longer 
than a day. 
And o'er thy head did beat its wings for 
fame. 
And in thy sight its fading plumes dis- 
play; 
The watery bow burned in the evening 
flame, 
But the shower fell, the swift sun went 
his way — 
And that is dead. Oh, let me not believe 
That anything of mine is fit to live ! 

IV 

Wordsworth informs us he was nineteen 
years 
Considering and retouching Peter Bell; 
Watering his laurels with the killing 
tears 
Of slow, dull care, so that their roots to 
hell 
Might pierce, and their wide branches blot 
the spheres 
Of heaven, with dewy leaves and flowers; 
this well 



THE WITCH OF ATLAS 



273 



May be, for Heaven and Earth conspire to 

foil 
The over-busy gardener's blundering toil. 



My Witch indeed is not so sweet a creature 
As Ruth or Lucy, whom his graceful 
praise 
Clothes for our grandsons — but she 
matches Peter, 
Though he took nineteen years, and she 
three days, 
In dressing. Light the vest of flowing 
metre 
She wears; he, proud as dandy with his 
stays. 
Has hung upon his wiry limbs a dress 
Like King Lear's ' looped and windowed 
raggedness.' 

VI 

If you strip Peter, you will see a fellow 
Scorched by Hell's hyperequatorial cli- 
mate 
Into a kind of a sulphureous yellow: 

A lean mark, hardly fit to fling a rhyme 
at; 
In shape a Scaramouch, in hue Othello. 
If you unveil my Witch, no priest nor 
primate 
Can shrive you of that sin, — if sin there be 
In love, when it becomes idolatry. 



Before those cruel Twins, whom at one 
birth 
Incestuous Change bore to her father 
Time, 
Error and Truth, had hunted from tlie 
earth 
All those bright natures which adorned 
its prime, 
And left us nothing to believe in, worth 

The pains of putting into learned rhyme, 
A Lady-Witch there lived on Atlas' moun- 
tain 
Within a cavern by a secret fountain. 

II 

Her mother was one of the Atlantides ; 

The all-beholding Sun had ne'er beholden 
In his wide voyage o'er continents and seas 

So fair a creature, as she lay enfolden 
In the warm shadow of her loveliness; 



He kissed her with his beams, and made 
all golden 
The chamber of gray rock in which she lay; 
She, in that dream of joy, dissolved away. 

Ill 

'Tis said, she first was changed into a va- 
por. 
And then into a cloud, such clouds as flit, 
Like splendor-winged moths aJbout a taper, 
Round the red west when the sun dies 
in it; 
And then into a meteor, such as caper 

On hill-tops when the moon is in a fit; 
Then, into one of those mysterious stars 
Which hide themselves between the Earth 
and Mars. 

IV 

Ten times the Mother of the Months had 
bent 
Her bow beside the folding-star, and 
bidden 

With that bright sign the billows to in- 
dent 
The sea-deserted sand — like children 
chidden. 

At her command they ever came and weat — 
Since in that cave a dewy splendor hid- 
den 

Took shape and motion; with the living 
form 

Of this embodied Power the cave grew 
warm. 



A lovely lady garmented in light 

From her own beauty; deep her eyes as 
are 
Two openings of unfathomable night 

Seen through a temple's cloven roof; her 
hair 
Dark; the dim brain whirls dizzy with de- 
light, 
Picturing her form ; her soft smiles shone 
afar, 
And her low voice was heard like love, and 

drew 
All living things towards this wonder new. 

VI 

And first the spotted camelopard came. 

And then the wise and fearless elephant; 
Then the sly serpent, in the golden flame 



274 



THE WITCH OF ATLAS 



Of his own volumes inter vol ved. All 
gauut 
And sanguine beasts her gentle looks made 
tame ; 
They drank before her at her sacred 
fount; 
And every beast of beating heart grew bold, 
Such gentleness and power even to behold. 

VII 

The briuded lioness led forth her young, 
That she might teach them how they 
should forego 
Their inborn thirst of death; the pard un- 
strung 
His sinews at her feet, and sought to 
know, 
With looks whose motions spoke without a 
tongue. 
How he might be as gentle as the doe. 
The magic circle of her voice and eyes 
All savage natures did imparadise. 

VIII 

And old Silenus, shaking a green stick 
Of lilies, and the wood-gods in a crew 

Came, blithe, as in the olive copses thick 
Cicadse are, drunk with the noonday dew; 

And Dryope and Faunus followed quick, 
Teasing the god to sing them something 
new; 

Till in this cave they found the Lady lone, 

Sitting upon a seat of emerald stone. 

IX 

And universal Pan, 'tis said, was there; 
And — though none saw him — through 
the adamant 
Of the deep mountains, through the track- 
less air 
And through those living spirits, like a 
want, 
He passed out of his everlasting lair 

Where the quick heart of the great 
world doth pant. 
And felt that wondrous Lady all alone, — 
And she felt him upon her emerald throne. 



And every nymph of stream and spreading 

tree. 
And every shepherdess of Ocean's flocks, 
, Who drives her white waves over the green 

sea. 



And Ocean, with the brine on his gray 
locks. 
And quaint Priapus with his company. 
All came, much wondering how the en- 
womb^d rocks 
Could have brought forth so beautiful a 

birth ; 
Her love subdued their wonder and their 
mirth. 

XI 

The herdsman and the mountain maidens 

came. 

And the rude kings of pastoral Garamant; 

Their spirits shook within them, as a flame 

Stirred by the air under a cavern gaunt; 

Pygmies, and Polyphemes,by many a name. 

Centaurs and Satyrs, and such shapes as 

haunt 

Wet clefts, and lumps neither alive nor 

dead. 
Dog-headed, bosom-eyed, and bird-footed. 

XII 

For she was beautiful; her beauty made 
The bright world dim, and everything 
beside 

Seemed like the fleeting image of a shade; 
No thought of living spirit could abide. 

Which to her looks had ever been betrayed, 
On any object in the world so wide. 

On any hope within the circling skies. 

But on her form, and in her inmost eyes. 

XIII 

Which when the Lady knew, she took her 
spindle 
And twined three threads of fleecy mist, 
and three 
Long lines of light, such as the dawn may 
kindle 
The clouds and waves and mountains 
with; and she 
As many star-beams, ere their lamps could 
dwindle 
In the belated moon, wound skilfully; 
And with these threads a subtle veil she 

wove — 
A shadow for the splendor of her love. 

XIV 

The deep recesses of her odorous dwelling 
Were stored with magic treasures — • 
sounds of air 



THE WITCH OF ATLAS 



275 



Which had the power all spirits of com- 
pelling, 
Folded in cells of crystal silence there ; 
Such as we hear in youth, and think the 
feeling 
Will never die — yet ere we are aware, 
The feeling and the sound are fled and 

gone, 
And the regret they leave remains alone. 

XV 

And there lay Visions swift, and sweet, and 
quaint, 
Each in its thin sheath like a chrysalis; 
Some eager to burst forth, some weak and 
faint 
With the soft burden of intensest bliss 
It is its work to bear to many a saint 
Whose heart adores the shrine which 
holiest is. 
Even Love's ; and others white, green, gray, 

and black. 
And of all shapes — and each was at her 
beck. 

XVI 

And odors in a kind of aviary 

Of ever-blooming Eden-trees she kept, 
Clipped in a floating net a love-sick Fairy 
Had woven from dew-beams while the 
moon yet slept; 
As bats at the wired window of a dairy. 
They beat their vans; and each was an 
adept. 
When loosed and missioned, making wings 

of winds. 
To stir sweet thoughts or sad, in destined 
minds. 

XVII 

And liquors clear and sweet, whose health- 
ful might 
Could medicine the sick soul to happy 
sleep, 
And change eternal death into a night 
Of glorious dreams — or, if eyes needs 
must weep, 
Could make their tears all wonder and de- 
light — 
She in her crystal vials did closely 
keep; 
If men could drink of those clear vials, 't is 

said, 
The living were not envied of the dead. 



XVIII 

Her cave was stored with scrolls of strange 
device, 
The works of some Saturnian Archi- 
mage. 
Which taught the expiations at whose price 
Men from the gods might win that happy 
age 
Too lightly lost, redeeming native vice ; 
And which might quench the earth-con- 
suming rage 
Of gold and blood, till men should live and 

move 
Harmonious as the sacred stars above; 

XIX 

And how all things that seem untamable, 

Not to be checked and not to be confined, 
Obey the spells of wisdom's wizard skill; 
Time, earth and fire, the ocean and the 
wind. 
And all their shapes, and man's imperial 
will; 
And other scrolls whose writings did un- 
bind 
The inmost lore of Love — let the profane 
Tremble to ask what secrets they contain. 

XX 

And wondrous works of substances un- 
known, 
To which the enchantment of her father's 
power 
Had changed those ragged blocks of savage 
stone. 
Were heaped in the recesses of her bower; 
Carved lamps and chalices, and vials which 
shone 
In their own golden beams — each like a 
flower 
Out of whose depth a fire-fly shakes his 

light 
Under a cypress in a starless night. 

XXI 

At first she lived alone in this wild home, 
And her own thoughts were each a min- 
ister, 
Clothing themselves or with the ocean-foam, 
Or with the wind, or with the speed of 
fire, 
To work whatever purposes might come 
Into her mind; such power her mighty 
Sire 



276 



THE WITCH OF ATLAS 



Had girt them with, whether to fly or run, 
Through all the regions which he shines 
upon. 

XXII 

The Ocean-nymphs and Hamadryades, 
Oreads and Naiads with long weedy locks, 

Offered to do her bidding through the seas, 
Under the earth, and in the hollow rocks, 

And far beneath the matted roots of trees, 
And in the gnarled heart of stubborn oaks. 

So they might live forever in the light 

Of her sweet presence — each a satellite. • 

XXIII 

' This may not be,' the Wizard Maid re- 
plied; 
' The fountains where the Naiades bedew 
Their shining hair, at length are drained 
and dried; 
The solid oaks forget their strength, and 
strew 
Their latest leaf upon the mountains wide ; 
The boundless ocean, like a drop of dew, 
Will be consumed — the stubborn centre 

must 
Be scattered, like a cloud of summer dust; 

XXIV 

* And ye with them will perish one by one. 

If I must sigh to think that this shall be, 
If I must weep when the surviving Sun 

Shall smile on your decay, oh, ask not me 
To love you till your little race is run; 

I cannot die as ye must — over me 
Your leaves shall glance — the streams in 

which ye dwell 
Shall be my paths henceforth, and so — 
farewell ! ' 

XXV 

She spoke and wept; the dark and azure 
well 
Sparkled beneath the shower of her 
bright tears. 
And every little circlet where they fell 
Flung to the cavern-roof inconstant 
spheres 
And intertangled lines of light; a knell 
Of sobbing voices came upon her ears 
From those departing Forms, o'er the se- 
rene 
Of the white streams and of the forest 
green. 



XXVI 
All day the Wizard Lady sate aloof. 

Spelling out scrolls of dread antiquity, 
Under the cavern's fountain-lighted roof; 

Or broidering the pictured poesy 
Of some high tale upon her growing woof, 

Which the sweet splendor of her smiles 
could dye 
In hues outshining Heaven — and ever she 
Added some grace to the wrought poesy. 

XXVII 

While on her hearth lay blazing many a 
piece 

Of sandal- wood, rare gums and cinnamon; 
Men scarcely know how beautiful fire is; 

Each flame of it is as a precious stone 
Dissolved in ever-moving light, and this 

Belongs to each and all who gaze upon; 
The Witch beheld it not, for in her hand 
She held a woof that dimmed the burning 
brand. 

XXVIII 

This Lady never slept, but lay in trance 

All night within the fountain, as in sleep. 
Its emerald crags glowed in her beauty's 
glance; 
Through the green splendor of the water 
deep 
She saw the constellations reel and dance 
Like fire-flies, and withal did ever keep 
The tenor of her contemplations calm. 
With open eyes, closed feet, and folded 
palm. 

XXIX 

And when the whirlwinds and the clouds 
descended 

From the white pinnacles of that cold 
hill. 
She passed at dewfall to a space extended. 

Where, in a lawn of flowering asphodel 
Amid a wood of pines and cedars blended. 

There yawned an inextinguishable well 
Of crimson fire, full even to the brim, 
And overflowing all the margin trim; 

XXX 

Within the which she lay when the fierce 

war 
Of wintry winds shook that innocuous 

liquor 
In many a mimic moon and bejirded star, 



THE WITCH OF ATLAS 



277 



O'er woods and lawns; the serpent heard 

it flicker 

In sleep, and, dreaming still, he crept afar; 

And when the windless snow descended 

thicker 

Than autumn leaves, she watched it as it 

came 
Melt on the surface of the level flame. 

XXXI 

She had a boat which some say Vulcan 
wrought 

For Venus, as the chariot of her star; 
But it was found too feeble to be fraught 

With all the ardors in that sphere which 
are, 
And so she sold it, and Apollo bought 

And gave it to this daughter; from a car 
Changed to the fairest and the lightest boat 
Which ever upon mortal stream did float. 

XXXII 

And others say, that, when but three hours 
old. 
The first-born Love out of his cradle 
leapt. 
And clove dun Chaos with his wings of gold, 

And like a horticultural adept. 
Stole a strange seed, and wrapped it up in 
mould, 
And sowed it in his mother's star, and 
kept 
Watering it all the summer with sweet 

dew, 
And with his wings fanning it as it grew. 

XXXIII 

The plant grew strong and green; the 
snowy flower 
Fell, and the long and gourd-like fruit 
began 
To turn the light and dew by inward power 
To its own substance; woven tracery ran 
Of light firm texture, ribbed and branch- 
ing, o'er 
The solid rind, like a leaf's veined fan, 
Of which Love scooped this boat, and with 

soft motion 
Piloted it round the circumfluous ocean. 

XXXIV 

This boat she moored upon her fount, and 
lit 
A living spirit within all its frame. 
Breathing the soul of swiftness into it. 



Couched on the fountain, like a panther 
tame — 
One of the twain at Evan's feet that sit — 

Or as on Vesta's sceptre a swift flame. 
Or on blind Homer's heart a winged 

thought, — 
In joyous expectation lay the boat. 

XXXV 

Then by strange art she kneaded fire and 
snow 

Together, tempering the repugnant mass 
With liquid love — all things together grow 

Through which the harmony of love can 
pass: 
And a fair Shape out of her hands did flow, 

A living Image, which did far surpass 
In beauty that bright shape of vital stone 
Which drew the heart out of Pygmalion. 

XXXVI 

A sexless thing it was, and in its growth 
It seemed to have developed no defect 

Of either sex, yet all the grace of both; 
In gentleness and strength its limbs were 
decked; 

The bosom lightly swelled with its full 
youth, 
The countenance was such as might select 

Some artist that his skill should never die, 

Imaging forth such perfect purity. 

XXXVII 

From its smooth shoulders hung two rapid 
wings, 

Fit to have borne it to the seventh sphere, 
Tipped with the speed of liquid lightnings. 

Dyed in the ardors of the atmosphere. 
She led her creature to the boiling springs 

Where the light boat was moored, and 
said, ' Sit here ! ' 
And pointed to the prow and took her seat 
Beside the rudder with opposing feet. 

XXXVIII 

And down the streams which clove those 
mountains vast. 

Around their inland islets, and amid 
The panther-peopled forests, whose shade 
cast 

Darkness and odors, and a pleasure hid 
In melancholy gloom, the pinnace passed; 

By many a star-surrounded pyramid 
Of icy crag cleaving the purple sky. 
And caverns yawning round unfathomably 



278 



THE WITCH OF ATLAS 



XXXIX 

The silver noon into that winding dell, 
With slanted gleam athwart the forest 
tops, 
Tempered like golden evening, feebly 
fell; 
A green and glowing light, like that 
which drops 
From folded lilies in which glow-worms 
dwell. 
When earth over her face night's mantle 
wraps ; 
Between the severed mountains lay on 

high, 
Over the stream, a narrow rift of sky. 

XL 

And ever as she went, the Image lay 

With folded wings and unawakened eyes; 
And o'er its gentle countenance did play 
The busy dreams, as thick as summer 
flies.. 
Chasing the rapid smiles that would not 
stay. 
And drinking the warm tears, and the 
sweet sighs 
Inhaling, which, with busy murmur vain. 
They had aroused from that full heart and 
brain. 

XLI 

And ever down the prone vale, like a cloud 
Upon a stream of wind, the pinnace went; 
Now lingering on the pools, in which abode 
The calm and darkness of the deep con- 
tent 
In which they paused; now o'er the shallow 
road 
Of white and dancing waters, all besprent 
With sand and polished pebbles: mortal 

boat 
In such a shallow rapid could not float. 

XLII 

And down the earthquaking cataracts, 
which shiver 

Their snow-like waters into golden air. 
Or under chasms unfathomable ever 

Sepulchre them, till in their rage they 
tear 
A subterranean portal for the river, 

It fled — the circling sunbows did upbear 
Its fall down the hoar precipice of spray. 
Lighting it far upon its lampless way. 



XLIII 

And when the Wizard Lady would ascend 
The labyrinths of some many-winding 
vale. 
Which to the inmost mountain upward 
tend. 
She called ' Hermaphroditus ! ' and the 
pale 
And heavy hue which slumber could extend 

Over its lips and eyes, as on the gale 
A rapid shadow from a slope of grass, 
Into the darkness of the stream did pass. 

XLIV 

And it unfurled its heaven-colored pinions, 
With stars of fire spotting the stream 
below, 
And from above into the Sun's dominions 

Flinging a glory, like the golden glow 
In which Spring clothes her emerald-wingM 
minions. 
All interwoven with fine feathery snow 
And moonlight splendor of intensest rime 
With which frost paints the pines in winter 
time ; 

XLV 

And then it winnowed the Elysian air, 

Which ever hung about that lady bright, 
With its ethereal vans; and speeding 
there. 
Like a star up the torrent of the night, 
Or a swift eagle in the morning glare 
Breasting the whirlwind with impetuous 
flight, 
The pinnace, oared by those enchanted 

wings. 
Clove the fierce streams towards their up- 
per springs. 

XLVI 

The water flashed, like sunlight by the prow 
Of a noon-wandering meteor flung to 
Heaven; 
The still air seemed as if its waves did 
flow 
In tempest down the mountains; loosely 
driven 
The lady's radiant hair streamed to and 
fro; 
Beneath, the billows, having vainly 
striven 
Indignant and impetuous, roared to feel 
The swift and steady motion of the keel. 



THE WITCH OF ATLAS 



279 



XLVII 

Or, when the weary moon was in the wane, 
Or in the noon of interlunar night, 

The Lady-Witch in visions could not chain 
Her spirit; but sailed forth under the 
light 

Of shooting stars, and bade extend amain 
Its storm-outspeeding wings the Herma- 
phrodite ; 

She to the Austral waters took her way, 

Beyond the fabulous Thamandocaua, 

XLVIII 

Where, like a meadow which no scythe has 
shaven, 
Which rain could never bend, or whirl- 
blast shake, 
With the Antarctic constellations paven, 
Canopus and his crew, lay the Austral 
lake; 
There she would build herself a windless 
haven 
Out of the clouds whose moving turrets 
make 
The bastions of the storm, when through 

the sky 
The spirits of the tempest thundered by; 

XLIX 

A haven, beneath whose translucent floor 
The tremulous stars sparkled unfathom- 
ably. 

And around which the solid vapors hoar, 
Based on the level waters, to the sky 

Lifted their dreadful crags, and, like a 
shore 
Of wintry mountains, inaccessibly 

Hemmed in, with rifts and precipices gray 

And hanging crags, many a cove and bay. 



And whilst the outer lake beneath the lash 
Of the wind's scourge foamed like a 
wounded thing, 
And the incessant hail with stony clash 
Ploughed up the waters, and the flagging 
wing 
Of the roused cormorant in the lightning 
flash 
Looked like the wreck of some wind- 
wandering 
Fragment of inky thunder-smoke — this 

haven 
Was as a gem to copy Heaven engraven; 



LI 

On which that Lady played her many 
pranks, 
Circling the image of a shooting star, 
Even as a tiger on Hydaspes' banks 

Outspeeds the antelopes which speediest 
are. 
In her light boat; and many quips and 
cranks 
She played upon the water; till the car 
Of the late moon, like a sick matron wan, 
To journey from the misty east began. 

LII 

And then she called out of the hollow tur- 
rets 
Of those high clouds, white, golden and 
vermilion. 
The armies of her ministering spirits; 

In mighty legions, million after million. 
They came, each troop emblazoning its 
merits 
On meteor flags; and many a proud pa^ 
vilion 
Of the intertexture of the atmosphere 
They pitched upon the plain of the calm 
mere. 

LIII 

They framed the imperial tent of their 
great Queen 

Of woven exhalations, underlaid 
With lambent lightning-fire, as may be seen 

A dome of thin and open ivory inlaid 
With crimson silk; cressets from the serene 

Hung there, and on the water for her 
tread 
A tapestry of fleece-like mist was strewn. 
Dyed in the beams of the ascending moon, 

LIV 

And on a throne o'erlaid with starlight, 
caught 
Upon those wandering isles of aery dew 
Which highest shoals of mountain ship- 
wreck not, 
She sate, and heard all that had hap- 
pened new 
Between the earth and moon since they 
had brought 
The last intelligence; and now she grew 
Pale as that moon lost in the watery night. 
And now she wept, and now she laughed 
outright. 



2»0 



THE WITCH OF ATLAS 



LV 

These were tame pleasures. She would 
often climb 
The steepest ladder of the crudded rack 
Up to some beaked cape of cloud sublime, 

Aud like Arion on the dolphin's back 
Ride singing through the shoreless air; 
oft-time 
Following the serpent lightning's winding 
track, 
She ran upon the platforms of the wind, 
And laughed to hear the fire-balls roar be- 
hind. 

LVI 

Aud sometimes t© those streams of upper 

air, 
Which whirl the earth in its diurnal 

round. 
She would ascend, and win the spirits 

there 
To let her join their chorus. Mortals 

found 
That on those days the sky was calm and 

fair, 
And mystic snatches of harmonious sound 
Wandered upon the earth where'er she 

passed. 
And happy thoughts of hope, too sweet to 

last. 

LVII 

But her choice sport was, in the hours of 
sleep, 
To glide adown old Nilus, where he 
threads 
Egypt and Ethiopia, from the steep 

Of utmost Axume, until he spreads, 
Like a calm flock of silver-fleeced sheep, 
His waters on the plain, — and crested 
heads 
Of cities and proud temples gleam amid, 
And many a vapor-belted pyramid; 

LVIII 

By Mceris and the Mareotid lakes, 

Strewn with faint blooms, like bridal- 
chamber floors. 
Where naked boys bridling tame water- 
snakes. 
Or charioteering ghastly alligators. 
Had left on the sweet waters mighty wakes 
Of those huge forms — within the brazen 
doors 



Of the great Labyrinth slept both boy and 

beast 
Tired with the pomp of their Osirian feast; 

LIX 

And where within the surface of the river 

The shadows of the massy temples lie, 
And never are erased — but tremble ever 
Like things which every cloud can doom 
to die; 
Through lotus-paven canals, and whereso- 
ever 
The works of man pierced that serenest 
sky 
With tombs, and towers, and fanes, — 't was 

her delight 
To wander in the shadow of the night. 

LX 

With motion like the spirit of that wind 
Whose soft step deepens slumber, her 
light feet 
Passed through the peopled haunts of hu- 
mankind. 
Scattering sweet visions from her pre- 
sence sweet; 
Through fane and palace-court and laby- 
rinth mined 
With many a dark and subterranean 
street 
Under the Nile, through chambers high and 

deep 
She passed, observing mortals in their sleep. 

LXI 

A pleasure sweet doubtless it was to see 
Mortals subdued in all the shapes of 
sleep. 
Here lay two sister-twins in infancy; 

There a lone youth who in his dreams 
did weep; 
Within, two lovers linked innocently 

In their loose locks which over both did 
creep 
Like ivy from one stem; and there lay calm 
Old age with snow-bright hair and folded 
palm. 

LXII 

But other troubled forms of sleep she saw, 
Not to be mirrored in a holy song; 

Distortions foul of supernatural awe, 
And pale imaginings of visioned wrong. 

And all the code of custom's lawless law 



THE WITCH OF ATLAS 



281 



Written upon the brows of old and young; 
*This,* said the Wizard Maiden, * is the 

strife 
Which stirs the liquid surface of man's life.' 

LXIII 

And little did the sight disturb her soul. 

We, the weak mariners of that wide lake, 
Where'er its shores extend or billows roll, 

Our course unpiloted and starless make 
O'er its wild surface to an unknown goal; 

But she in the calm depths her way could 
take 
Where in bright bowers immortal forms 

abide, 
Beneath the weltering of the restless tide. 

LXIV 

And she saw princes couched under the 
glow 
Of sun-like gems; and round each tem- 
ple-court 
In dormitories ranged, row after row. 

She saw the priests asleep, all of one sort. 
For all were educated to be so. 

The peasants in their huts, and in the 
port 
The sailors she saw cradled on the waves. 
And the dead lulled within their dreamless 



graves. 



LXV 



And all the forms in which those spirits lay 

Were to her sight like the diaphanous 
Veils in which those sweet ladies oft array 
Their delicate limbs, who would conceal 
from us 
Only their scorn of all concealment; they 
Move in the light of their own beauty 
thus. 
But these and all now lay with sleep upon 

them. 
And little thought a Witch was looking on 
them. 

LXVI 

She all those human figures breathing there 

Beheld as living spirits; to her eyes 
The naked beauty of the soul lay bare; 
And often through a rude and worn dis- 
guise 
She saw the inner form most bright and 
fair; 
And then she had a charm of strange 
device, 



Which, murmured on mute lips with tender 

tone. 
Could make that spirit mingle with her 

own. 

LXVII 

Alas, Aurora ! what wouldst thou have 
given 
For such a charm, when Tithon became 
gray ? 
Or how much, Venus, of thy silver Heaven 
Wouldst thou have yielded, ere Proser- 
pina 
Had half (oh ! why not all ?) the debt for- 
given 
Which dear Adonis had been doomed to 

pay, 

To any witch who would have taught you 

it? 
The Heliad doth not know its value yet. 

LXVIII 

'T is said in after times her spirit free 
Knew what love was, and felt itself 
alone; 
But holy Dian could not chaster be 

Before she stooped to kiss Endymion, 
Than now this lady — like a sexless bee 

Tasting all blossoms and confined to none; 
Among those mortal forms the Wizard- 
Maiden 
Passed with an eye serene and heart un- 
laden. 

LXIX 

To those she saw most beautiful, she gave 

Strange panacea in a crystal bowl; 
They drank in their deep sleep of that 
sweet wave. 
And lived thenceforward as if some con- 
trol. 
Mightier than life, were in them; and the 
grave 
Of such, when death oppressed the weary 
soul, 
Was as a green and over-arching bower 
Lit by the gems of many a starry flower. 

LXX 
For on the night when they were buried, 
she 
Restored the embalmers' ruining and 
shook 
The light out of the funeral lamps, to be 
A mimic day within that deathy nook; 



282 



THE WITCH OF ATLAS 



And she unwound the woven imagery 
Of second childhood's swaddling bands, 
and took 
The coffin, its last cradle, from its niche, 
And threw it with contempt into a ditch, 

LXXI 

And there the body lay, age after age. 
Mute, breathing, beating, warm, and 
undecaying. 
Like one asleep in a green hermitage. 
With gentle smiles about its eyelids 
playing, 
And living in its dreams beyond the rage 
Of death or life, while they were still 
arraying 
In liveries ever new the rapid, blind. 
And fleeting generations of mankind. 

LXXII 

And she would write strange dreams upon 
the brain 
Of those who were less beautiful, and 
make 
All harsh and crooked purposes more vain 
Than in the desert is the serpent's wake 
Which the sand covers; all his evil gain 
The miser in such dreams would rise and 
shake 
Into a beggar's lap; the lying scribe 
Would his own lies betray without a bribe. 

LXXIII 

The priests would write an explanation 
full, 
Translating hieroglyphics into Greek, 
How the god Apis really was a bull, 

And nothing more; and bid the herald 
stick 
The same against the temple doors, and 
pull 
The old cant down; they licensed all to 
speak 
Whate'er they thought of hawks, and cats, 

and geese, 
By pastoral letters to each diocese. 

LXXIV 

The king would dress an ape up in his 
crown 
And robes, and seat him on his glorious 
seat, 
.^nd on the right hand of the sun-like throne 
Would place a gaudy uiock-bird to re- 
peat 



The chatterings of the monkey. Every 

one 
Of the prone courtiers crawled to kiss 

the feet 
Of their great emperor when the morning 

came. 
And kissed — alas, how many kiss the 

same ! 

LXXV 

The soldiers dreamed that they were black- 
smiths, and 
Walked out of quarters in somnambu- 
lism; 
Round the red anvils you might see them 
stand, 
Like Cyclopses in Vulcan's sooty abysm. 
Beating their swords to ploughshares; in a 
band 
The gaolers sent those of the liberal 
schism 
Free through the streets of Memphis, — 

much, I wis, 
To the annoyance of king Amasis. 

LXXVI 

And timid lovers who had been so coy 
They hardly knew whether they loved or 
not, 
Would rise out of their rest, and take sweet 

To the fulfilment of their inmost thought; 

And when next day the maiden and the 

boy 

Met one another, both, like sinners 

caught, 

Blushed at the thing which each believed 

was done 
Only in fancy — till the tenth moon shone; 

LXXVII 

And then the Witch would let them take 
no ill; 
Of many thousand schemes which lovers 
find 
The Witch found one, — and so they took 
their fill 
Of happiness in marriage warm and 
kind. 
Friends who, by practice of some envious 
skill, 
Were torn apart — a wide wound, mind 
from mind — 
She did unite again with visions clear 
Of deep affection and of truth sincere. 



lEDIPUS TYRANNUS OR SWELLFOOT THE TYRANT 283 



LXXVIII 

These were the pranks she played among 

the cities 
Of mortal men, and what she did to 

sprites 
And Gods, entangling them in her sweet 

ditties 



To do her will, and show their subtle 
slights, 
I will declare another time; for it is 

A tale more fit for the weird winter 



nights 



Than for these garish summer days, when 



we 



Scarcely believe much more than we can see. 



CEDIPUS TYRANNUS OR SWELLFOOT THE TYRANT 

A TRAGEDY 
IN TWO ACTS 



TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL DORIC 



Choose Reform or Civil War, 



When through thy streets, instead of hare with dogs, 
A Consort-Queen shall hunt a King with hogs, 
Riding on the IONIAN MINOTAUR. 



(Edipus Tyrannus, a piece of drollery like 
Peter Bell, was begun, under the circumstances 
described in Mrs. Shelley's Note, August 24, 
1819, at the Baths of San Giuliano, near Pisa. 
It was sent to Horace Smith, who had it pub- 
lished as a pamphlet without Shelley's name. 
It was threatened with prosecution by citizens 
of the ward, and some steps thereto seem to 
have been taken ; but at the sug-gestion of 
Alderman Rothwell the publisher gave up the 
whole edition, except seven copies, which had 
been sold, and also told the name of his em- 
ployer. The secret of the authorship was kept 
by Horace Smith, who said only that the work 
had been sent to him from Pisa. The drama 
was suggested by the affair of Queen Caroline. 
Of the characters Purganax stands for Lord 
Castlereagh, Dakry for Lord Eldon, and Laoc- 
tonos for the Duke of Wellington. Mrs. Shel- 
ley's Note completes the history of the poem : 

' In the brief journal I kept in those days, I 
find recorded in August [24], 1820, "Shelley 
begins Swellfoot the Tyrant, suggested by the 
pigs at the fair of San Giuliano." This was 
the period of Queen Caroline's landing in Eng- 
land, and the struggles made by George IV. 
to get rid of her claims ; which failing, Lord 
Castlereagh placed the " Green Bag" on the 
table of the House of Commons, demanding, 
in the King's name, that an inquiry should be 
instituted into his wife's conduct. These cir- 
cumstances were the theme of all conversation 
among the English. We were then at the 
Baths of San Giuliano ; a friend [Mrs. Mason] 



came to visit us on the day when a fair was 
held in the square, beneath our windows. 
Shelley read to us his Ode to Liberty ; and was 
riotously accompanied by the grunting of a 
quantity of pigs brought for sale to the fair. 
He compared it to the " chorus of frogs " in 
the satiric drama of Aristophanes ; and it being 
an hour of merriment, and one ludicrous asso- 
ciation suggesting another, he imagined a polit- 
ical satirical drama on the circumstances of the 
day, to which the pigs would serve as chorus 
— and Swellfoot was begun. When finished, 
.°t was transmitted to England, printed and 
published anonymously ; but stifled at the very 
dawn of its existence by the ' ' Society for the 
Suppression of Vice," who threatened to pro- 
secute it, if not immediately withdrawn. The 
friend who had taken the trouble of bringing 
it out, of course did not think it worth the 
annoyance and expense of a contest, and it was 
laid aside. 

' Hesitation of whether it would do honor to 
Shelley prevented my publishing it at first ; 
but I cannot bring myself to keep back any- 
thing he ever wrote, for each word is fraught 
with the peculiar views and sentiments which 
he believed to be beneficial to the human race, 
and the bright light of poetry irradiates every 
thought. The world has a right to the entire 
compositions of such a man ; for it does not 
live and thrive by the outworn lesson of the 
dullard or the hypocrite, but by the original 
free thoughts of men of genius, who aspire to 
pluck bright truth 



284 



CEDIPUS TYRANNUS 



ACT I : SC. I. 



' " from the pale-faced moon; 
Or dive into the bottom of the deep, 
Where fathom-line could never touch the ground, 
And pluck up drowned " 

truth. Even those who may dissent from his 
opinions will consider that he was a man of 
genius, and that the world will take more 
interest in his slightest word, than from the 
waters of Lethe, which are so eagerly pre- 
scribed as niedicinal for all its wrongs and woes. 
This drama, however, must not be judged for 
more than was meant. It is a mere plaything 
of the imagination, which even may not excite 
smiles among many, who will not see wit in 
those combinations of thought which were full 
of the ridiculous to the author. But, like 
everything he wrote, it breathes that deep 
sympathy for the sorrows of humanity, and 
indignation against its oppressors, which make 
it worthy of his name.' 



ADVERTISEMENT 

This Tragedy is one of a triad or system of 
three Plays (an arrangement according to which 
the Greeks were accustomed to connect their 



dramatic representations) elucidating the won- 
derful and appalling fortunes of the Swellfoot 
dynasty. It was evidently written by some 
learned Thehan ; and, from its characteristic 
dulness, apparently before the duties on the 
importation of Attic salt had been repealed by 
the Boeotarchs. The tenderness with which 
he treats the Pigs proves him to have been a 
sus Bceotice ; possibly Epicuri de grege porcus ; 
for, as the poet observes, 

' A fellow feeling makes us wondrous kind.' 

No liberty has been taken with the trans- 
lation of this remarkable piece of antiquity 
except the suppressing a seditious and blas- 
phemous Chorus of the Pigs and Bulls at the 
last act. The word Hoydipouse (or more 
properly (Edipus), has been rendered literally 
JSwellfoot without its having been conceived 
necessary to determine whether a swelling of 
the hind or the fore feet of the Swinish mon- 
arch is particularly indicated. 

Should the remaining portions of this Tra- 
gedy be found, entitled Swellfoot in Angaria and 
Charite, the Translator might be tempted to 
give them to the reading Public. 



CEDIPUS TYRANNUS 



DRAMATIS PERSONS 



Tyrant Swellfoot, King 

of Thebes. 
loNA Taurina, his 

Queen. 
Mammon, Arch-Priest of 

Famine. 



purganax 

L»akry 

Laoctonos 



Wizards, 

Ministers 

of SWELL- 

J foot. 



The Gadfly. 

The Leech. 

The Rat. 

The MiNOTAWR. 

Moses, the Sow-gelder. 

Solomon, the Porkman. 

Zephaniah, Pig-butcher. 



Chorus of the Swinish Multitude. 
Guards, Attendants, Priests, etc., etc. 

Scene. Thebes. 

ACT I 

Scene — A magnificent Temple, built of thigh- 
hones and death's-heads, and tiled ivith scalps. 
Over the Altar the statue of Famine, veiled ; 
a number of boars, sows and sucking-pigs, 
crowned with thistle, shamrock and oak, sitting 
on the steps and clinging round the Altar of 
the Temple. 

Enter Swellfoot, in his royal robes, without 
perceiving the Pigs. 

SWELLFOOT 

Chou supreme goddess ! by whose power 
divine 



These graceful limbs are clothed in proud 
array 
[He contemplates himself with satisfaction. 
Of gold and purple, and this kingly paunch 
Swells like a sail before a favoring breeze, 
And these most sacred nether promontories 
Lie satisfied with layers of fat; and these 
Boeotian cheeks, like Egypt's pyramid, 
(Nor with less toil were their foundations 

laid) 
Sustain the cone of my untroubled brain, 
That point, the emblem of a pointless 
nothing ! 10 

Thou to whom Kings and laurelled Em- 
perors, 
Radical-butchers, Paper-money-millers, 
Bishops and deacons, and the entire army 
Of those fat martyrs to the persecution 
Of stifling turtle-soup and brandy-devils, 
Offer their secret vows ! thou plenteous 

Ceres 
Of their Eleusis, hail ! 

SWINE 

Eigh ! eigh ! eigh ! eigh ! 

SWELLFOOT 

Ha ! what are ye, 
Who, crowned with leaves devoted to the 

Furies, 
Cling round this sacred shrine ? 



ACT I 



OR, SWELLFOOT THE TYRANT 



285 



SWINE 

Aigh ! aigh ! aigh ! 

SWELIiFOOT 

What ! ye that are 
The very beasts that, offered at her altar 20 
With blood and groans, salt-cake, and fat, 

and inwards. 
Ever propitiate her reluctant will 
When taxes are withheld ? 



SWINE 

Ugh ! ugh ! 



ugh ! 



SWELLFOOT 

What ! ye who grub 
With filthy snouts my red potatoes up 
In Allan's rushy bog ? who eat the oats 
Up, from my cavalry in the Hebrides ? 
Who swill the hog-wash soup my cooks 

digest 
From bones, and rags, and scraps of shoe- 
leather, 
Which should be given to cleaner Pigs 
than you ? 

SEMICHORUS I OF SWINE 

The same, alas ! the same; 30 

Though only now the name 
Of Pig remains to me. 

SEMICHORUS n OF SWINE 

If 't were your kingly will 
Us wretched Swine to kill, 

What should we yield to thee ? 

SWELLFOOT 

Why, skin and bones, and some few hairs 
for mortar. 

CHOKUS OF SWINE 

I have heard your Laureate sing 
That pity was a royal thing; 
Under your mighty ancestors we Pigs 
Were blessed as nightingales on myrtle 
sp