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CAN TO WII.
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 disarm Time, though he wield the darts of death and sleep, And those thrice mortal barbs in his own poison steep.
ii. I told her of my sufferings and my madness, And how, awaken'd 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 pursued 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.
III. She told me a strange tale of strange endurance, Like broken memories of many a heart Woven into one: to which no firm assurance, 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 depart, Borne by those slaves across the Ocean's term, And that she reach'd the port without one fear infirm. iW. One was she among many there, the thralls of the cold Tyrant's cruel lust: and they Laugh'd 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 moment mute The evil thoughts it made, which did his breast pollute.
V. Even when he saw her wonderous loveliness, 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 her locks in agony, and her words of flame And mightier looks avail'd not; then he bore Again his load of slavery, and became A king, a heartless beast, a pageant and a name.
• And then," she said, - he laid me in a cave
was pierced with one round cleft through which the
• Below, the fountain's brink was richly paven
Of kingless throues, which Earth did in her heart create.
wiv. • The fiend of madness which had made its prey of my poor heart, was lull'd 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 jailor 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.
M.V. • The misery of a madness slow and creeping, 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 look"d a fiend, who bore Thy mangled limbs for food —thus all things were Transform d into the agony which I wore Even as a poison'd robe around my bosom's core.
XV i. • Again I knew the day and night fast fleeing, The eagle, and the fountain, and the air; Another frenzy came—there seem'd 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.
MVii. • Methought I was about to be a mother— Month after month went by, and still I dream'd That we should soon be all to one another, I and my child; and still new pulses seem'd To beat beside my heart, and still I deem'd There was a babe within—and when the rain of winter through the rifted cavern streamed, Methought, after a lapse of lingering pain, I saw that lovely shape, which near my heart had lain.
xxiv. • I was no longer mad, and yet methought My breasts were swoln and changed:—in every vein The blood stood still one moment, while that thought Was passing—with a gush of sickening pain It ebb'd even to its withered springs again : When Iny wan eyes in stern resolve I turn'd From that most strange delusion, which would fain Have waked the dream for which my spirit yearn'd With more than human love, -then left it unreturn'd.
XXV. • So, now my reason was restored to me, I struggled with that dream, which, like a beast Most fierce and beauteous, in my memory Had made its lair, and on my heart did feast; But all that cave and all its shapes possest By thoughts which could not fade, renew'd each one Some smile, some look, some gesture which had blest Me heretofore : 1, sitting there alone, Wex'd the inconstant waves with my perpetual moan.
XXVI. • Time past, I know not whether months or years; For day, nor night, nor change of seasons made Its note, but thoughts and unavailing tears: And I became at last even as a shade, A smoke, a cloud on which the winds have prey'd, Till it be thin as air; until, one even, A Nautilus upon the fountain play'd, Spreading his azure sail where breath of IIeaven Descended not, among the waves and whirlpools driven.
XXVII. • And when the Eagle came, that lovely thing, Oaring with rosy feet its silver boat, Fled near me as for shelter; on slow wing, The Eagle, hovering o'er his prey did float; But when he saw that I with fear did note His purpose, proffering my own food to him, The eager plumes subsided on his throat– He came where that bright child of sea did swim, And o'er it cast in peace his shadow broad and dim.
XXVIII. • This waken'd me, it gave me human strength; And hope, I know not whence or wherefore, rose, But I resumed my ancient powers at length; My spirit felt again like one of those Like thine, whose fate it is to make the woes Of humankind their prey—what was this cave? Its deep foundation no firm purpose knows Immutable, resistless, strong to save, Like mind while yet it mocks the all-devouring grave.
XXIX. • And where was Laon might my heart be dead, While that far dearer heart could move and be? Or whilst over the earth the pall was spread, Which I had sworn to rend? I might be free, Could I but win that friendly bird to me, To bring me ropes; and long in vain I sought By intercourse of mutual imagery Of objects, if such aid he could be taught; But fruit, and flowers, and boughs, yet never ropes he
xxx. • We live in our own world, and mine was made From glorious phantasies 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. XXXii. • 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 lone solitude I caught From mine own voice in dream, when thy dear eyes Shone through my sleep, and did that utterance har- | illonize. XXXIII. • Thy songs were winds whereon I fled at will, As in a winged chariot, o'er the plain Gf crystal youth; and thou wert there to fill My heart with joy, and there we sate again On the grey 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 subtile ministries; And oft from that bright fountain's shadowy waves They would make human throngs gather and rise To combat with my overtlowing eyes, And voice made deep with passion—thus I grew Familiar with the shock and the surprise 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 interspersed With undivided fields of ripening corn, And love made free,_a hope which we have nurst Even with our blood and tears, until its glory burst.
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 almost 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 row'd In awe through many a new and fearful jag Of overhanging rock, through which there flow'd The foam of streams that cannot make abode. They came and questioned me, but when they heard My voice, they became silent, and they stood And moved as men in whom new love had stirr'd Deep thoughts: so to the ship we past without a word.
CAN TO WIII.
1. * 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 Yon Cape alone does from the sight withhold; 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 sail'd, 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.
III. * We past the islets, borne by wind and stream, And as we sail'd, the Mariners came near And throng'd 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 all are human—yon broad moon gives light To millions who the self-same likeness wear, Even while I speak—beneath this very night, Their thoughts flow on like ours, in sadness or delight.
Dream ye some Power thus builds for man in solitude:
• What is that Power: ye mock yourselves, and give
Of hate and ill, and Pride, and Tear, and Tyranny.
Wi. “What is that Power? Some moon-struck sophiststood Watching the shade from his own soul upthrown Fill Heaven and darken Earth, and in such mood The Form he saw and worshipp'd 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.
Wii. • Men say that they themselves have heard and seen, Or known from others who have known such things, A Shade, a Form, which Earth and Heaven between Wields an invisible rod—that Priests and Kings, Custom, domestic sway, aye, all that brings Man's free-born soul beneath the oppressor's heel, Are his strong ministers, and that the stings Of death will make the wise his vengeance feel, Though truth and virtue arm their hearts with tenfold steel. Will. • 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 fix’d a stain, Which, like a plague, a burthen, and a bane, Clunt; to him while he lived;—for love and hate, Virtue and vice, they say are difference vain— The will of strength is right—this human 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 maketh holy All power—aye, 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 betray'd; And human love, is as the name well known Of a dear mother, whom the murderer laid In bloody grave, and into darkness thrown, Gather'd her wilder'd babes around him as his own.
xi. ... O love! who to the hearts of wandering men Art as the calm to Ocean's weary waves! Justice, or truth, or joy' thou 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 stain'd 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.
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 her mother, Above the Highest—and those fountain-cells, Whence love yet flow’d when faith had choked all
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 O, 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 chuse but drain the bitter dregs of woe, Which ever from the oppress'd to the oppressors 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 quench'd and die.—Yon promontory Even now eclipses the descending moon – Dungeons and palaces are transitory— High temples fade like vapour–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 cannot 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.