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Ahasuerus. Disdain thee?—not the worm beneath my feet! The Fathomless has care for meaner things
Than thou canst dream, and has made pride for those
Who would be what they may not, or would seem
That which they are not. Sultan talk no more
Of thee and me, the future and the past;
But look on that which cannot change-the One,
Against the escape of boldest thoughts, repels them
Of suns and worlds and men and beasts and flowers,
By which they have been, are, or cease to be,
Is but a vision;-all that it inherits
Are motes of a sick eye, bubbles and dreams:
Of thought's eternal flight-they have no being;
Mahmud. What meanest thou? thy words stream like a tempest
The earth on which I stand, and hang like night
Ahasuerus. Mistake me not!
All is contained in each.
Is that which has been, or will be, to that
They are what that which they regard appears,
As on a glass.
Wild, wilder thoughts convulse
My spirit !-Did not Mahomet the Second
The written fortunes of thy house and faith.
Thou wouldst cite one out of the grave to tell
Thou wouldst ask that giant spirit
As of the assault of an imperial city;
The roar of giant cannon; the earthquaking
And shrieks of women whose thrill jars the blood;
As of a joyous infant waked, and playing
With its dead mother's breast, and now more loud
The mingled battle-cry-ha! hear I not
• Ἐν τούτῳ νίκη ! " Allah-illa-Allah?"
Ahasuerus. The sulphurous mist is raised-thou seest-
As of two mountains, in the wall of Stamboul;
Like giants on the ruins of a world,
In the dust
Glimmers a kingle ss diadem, and one
What thou seest
Is but the ghost of thy forgotten dream. less, perhaps, than that
A dream itself, yet
Thou call'st reality. Thou mayst behold
How cities on which Empire sleeps enthroned
Bow their towered crests to mutability.
Poised by the flood, e'en on the height thou holdest,
Thou mayst now learn how the full tide of power
Ebbs to its depths.-In heritor of glory,
Conceived in darkness, born in blood, and nourished
THE PHANTOM OF MAHOMET THE SECOND
Thence whither thou must go. The grave is fitter
When I arose, like shapeless crags and clouds,
A later Empire nods in its decay;
The autumn of a greener faith is come;
The anarchs of the world of darkness keep
Over its ruins in the world of death:
And if the trunk be dry, yet shall the seed
Which gathers birth in its decay. Woe! woe!
Of its last spasms.
Spirit, woe to all!
Woe to the wronged and the avenger! woe
To the destroyer, woe to the destroyed!
Woe to the dupe, and woe to the deceiver !
Woe to the oppressed, and woe to the oppressor!
Those who are born, and those who die! But say,
When, how, by whom, Destruction must accomplish
Ask the cold pale Hour,
Rich in reversion of impending death,
When he shall fall upon whose ripe grey hairs
Sit care and sorrow and infirmity
The weight which Crime, whose wings are plumed with years,
Leaves in his flight from ravaged heart to heart
Over the heads of men, under which burden
They bow themselves unto the grave: fond wretch !
He leans upon his crutch, and talks of years
To come, and how in hours of youth renewed
He will renew lost joys, and
Victory! victory! [THE PHANTOM vanishes
Mahmud. What sound of the importunate earth has broken My mighty trance?
Voice without. Victory! victory!
Mahmud. Weak lightning before darkness! poor faint smile
Of dying Islam! voice which art the response
Of hollow weakness !- Do I wake and live?
Were there such things, or may the unquiet brain,
Vexed by the wise mad talk of the old Jew,
Have shaped itself these shadows of its fear?
And, dying, bring despair.-Victory !-Poor slaves!
Voice without. Shout in the jubilee of death!
Are as a brood of lions in the net,
Round which the kingly hunters of the earth
From Thule to the girdle of the world,
[Exit MAHMUD. The Greeks
Come, feast! The board groans with the flesh of men;
Victorious Wrong with vulture scream
Beneath which earth and all her realms pavilioned lay
Who shall impede her flight?
Who rob her of her prey?
Voice without. Victory! victory! Russia's famished eagles
Thou voice which art
The herald of the ill in splendour hid!
When desolation flashes o'er a world destroyed.
The momentary oceans of the lightning,
Or to some toppling promontory proud
Of solid tempest, whose black pyramid,
Riven, overhangs the founts intensely brightening Of those dawn-tinted deluges of fire,
Before their waves expire,
When heaven and earth are light, and only light
Voice without. Victory! victory! Austria, Russia, England,
And that tame serpent, that poor shadow, France,
Cry peace; and that means death when monarchs speak.
Ho there! bring torches, sharpen those red stakes;
These chains are light, fitter for slaves and poisoners Than Greeks!-Kill! plunder! burn! let none remain !
Alas for Liberty,
If numbers, wealth, or unfulfilling years,
Or fate, can quell the free !
Torments, or contumely, or the sneers
Can break the heart where it abides.
Alas! if Love, whose smile makes this obscure world splendid,
Alas for Love!
And Truth, who wanderest lone and unbefriended,
Repulse, with plumes from Conquest torn, Led the Ten-thousand from the limits of the morn Through many a hostile anarchy:
At length they wept aloud and cried "The sea! the sea!"
Rome was, and young Atlantis shall become,
Of all whose step wakes Power lulled in her savage lair.
Whose fairest thoughts and limbs were built
She knew not pain or guilt.
And now... O Victory, blush! and Empire, tremble!
If Greece must be
A wreck, yet shall its fragments re-assemble,
To Amphionic music, or some cape sublime
Let the tyrants rule the desert they have made;
Our dead shall be the seed of their decay,
Our survivors be the shadows of their pride;
Our adversity a dream to pass away
Their dishonour a remembrance to abide.
Voice without. Victory! victory! The bought Briton sends The keys of ocean to the Islamite.