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Thus madness came again,—a milder madness,
Which darkened naught but time's unquiet 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.
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 ancestral oak.
Thus slowly from my brain the darkness rolled,
My thoughts their due array did reassume
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.
Inconverse with the dead, who leave the stamp
Of ever-burning thoughts on many a page,
man had spent his livelong age
Of graves;-his spirit thus became a lamp
Of splendour, like to those on which it fed.
Through peopled haunts, the City and the Camp,
And all the ways of men among mankind he read.
Deep thirst for knowledge had his footsteps led,
are gone into the senseless damp
But custom maketh blind and obdurate
The loftiest hearts :-he had beheld the woe
Which made them abject, would preserve them so;
In which mankind was bound, but deemed that fate
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.
He came to the lone column on the rock,
And with his sweet and mighty eloquence
The hearts of those who watched it did unlock,
And made them melt in tears of penitence.
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.
"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 to 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.
"In secret chambers parents read, and weep, My writings to their babes, no longer blind; And young men gather when their tyrants 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 swollen mountain brook.
"The tyrants of the Golden City tremble
At voices which are heard about the streets,
The ministers of fraud can scarce dissemble
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.
"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 whirlpools draw
All wrecks of Ocean to their chasm, the sway
Of thy strong genius, Laon, which foresaw
This hope, compels all spirits to obey
Which round thy secret strength now throng in wild array.
"For I have been thy passive instrument”-
(As thus the old man spake, his countenance
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.
"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 Laon'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.
"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 prit hee spare me ;'-did with ruth so take
Her meek calm frame, ere it was yet impaled,
"All hearts, that even the torturer who had bound
One human hand to harm her- unassailed
Loosened her weeping then; nor could be found
Therefore she walks through the great City, veiled
In virtue's adamantine eloquence,
And blending in the smiles of that defence,
'Gainst scorn and death and pain thus trebly mailed,
The Serpent and the Dove, Wisdom and Innocence.
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 armed 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.
"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 armed wrong
Trembles before her look, though it be strong;
Thousands thus dwell beside her, virgins bright,
And matrons with their babes, a stately throng!
Lovers renew the vows which they did plight
In early faith, and hearts long parted now unite,
"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 wickedness:-
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,
And cast the vote of love in hope's abandoned urn.
"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 tyranny,
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 disowns
Their claim, and gathers strength around its trembling thrones.
'Blood soon, although unwillingly to shed,
The free cannot forbear-the Queen of Slaves,
The hoodwinked Angel of the blind and dead,
Custom, with iron mace points to the graves
Where her own standard desolately waves
Over the dust 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.
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 past away, doth know-
Why pause the victor swords to seal his overthrow ?
"The tyrant's guards resistance yet maintain :
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.
"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
Dies suddenly, the mariner in fear
Feels silence sink upon his heart-thus bound
The conquerors pause, and oh! may freemen ne'er
Clasp the relentless knees of Dread the murderer !
"If blood be shed, 'tis but a change and choice
Of bonds,-from slavery to cowardice
A wretched fall!-uplift thy charmed voice,
Pour on those evil men the love that lies
Hovering within those spirit-soothing eyes-
Arise, my friend, farewell !"-As thus he spake,
As one out of dim dreams that doth awake,
From the green earth lightly I did arise,
And looked upon the depth of that reposing lake.
I saw my countenance reflected there ;-
And then my youth fell on me like a wind
With channels, such as suffering leaves behind,
Was prematurely grey, my face was lined
Not age; my brow was pale, but in my cheek
And lips a flush of gnawing fire did find
on still waters-my thin hair
Their food and dwelling; though mine eyes might speak
A subtle mind and strong within a frame thus weak.