Imatges de pàgina

Of light, the Ocean's orison arose,

To which the birds tempered their matin lay.
All flowers in field or forest which unclose

Their trembling eyelids to the kiss of day,
Swinging their censers in the element,
With orient incense lit by the new ray

Burned slow and inconsumably, and sent
Their odorous sighs up to the smiling air;
And, in succession due, did continent,

Isle, ocean, and all things that in them wear
The form and character of mortal mould,
Rise as the sun their father rose, to bear

Their portion of the toil, which he of old
Took as his own and then imposed on them :
But I, whom thoughts which must remain untold
Had kept as wakeful as the stars that gem
The cone of night, now they were laid asleep
Stretched my faint limbs beneath the hoary stem
Which an old chestnut flung athwart the steep
Of a green Apennine: before me fled
The night; behind me rose the day; the deep

Was at my feet, and Heaven above my head,
When a strange trance over my fancy grew
Which was not slumber, for the shade it spread

Was so transparent, that the scene came through
As clear as when a veil of light is drawn
O'er evening hills they glimmer; and I knew

That I had felt the freshness of that dawn,
Bathed in the same cold dew my brow and hair,
And sate as thus upon that slope of lawn

Under the selfsame bough, and heard as there
The birds, the fountains and the ocean hold
Sweet talk in music through the enamoured air,
And then a vision on my brain was rolled.

As in that trance of wondrous thought I lay,
This was the tenour of my waking dream :-
Methought I sate beside a public way

Thick strewn with summer dust, and a great stream
Of people there was hurrying to and fro,
Numerous as gnats upon the evening gleam,

All hastening onward, yet none seemed to know
Whither he went, or whence he came, or why
He made one of the multitude, and so

Was borne amid the crowd, as through the sky
One of the million leaves of summer's bier;
Old age and youth, manhood and infancy

Mixed in one mighty torrent did appear,
Some flying from the thing they feared, and
Seeking the object of another's fear;

And others as with steps towards the tomb,


Pored on the trodden worms that crawled beneath, And others mournfully within the gloom

Of their own shadow walked and called it death; And some fled from it as it were a ghost,

Half fainting in the affliction of vain breath =

But more with motions, which each other Crost, Pursued or spurned the shadows the clouds threw, Or birds within the noon-day ether lost,

Upon that path where flowers never grew,
And weary with vain toil and faint for thirst,
Heard not the fountains, whose melodious dew

Out of their mossy cells for ever burst;
Nor felt the breeze which from the forest told
Of grassy paths and wood, lawn-interspersed,

With over-arching elms and caverns cold,
And violet banks where sweet dreams brood, but they
Pursued their serious folly as of old.

And as I gazed, methought that in the way
The throng grew wilder, as the woods of June
When the south wind shakes the extinguished day,

And a cold glare, intenser than the noon,
But icy cold, obscured with [blinding] light
The sun, as he the stars. Like the young moon

When on the sunlit limits of the night
Her white shell trembles amid crimson air,
And whilst the sleeping tempest gathers might,

Doth, as the herald of its coming, bear
The ghost of its dead mother, whose dim frown
Bends in dark ether from her infant's chair,

So came a chariot on the silent storm
Of its own rushing splendour, and a Shape
So sate within, as one whom years deform,

Beneath a dusky hood and double cape,
Crouching within the shadow of a tomb,
And o'er what seemed the head a cloud-like crape

Was bent, a dun and faint ethereal gloom
Tempering the light upon the chariot beam;
A Janus-visaged shadow did assume

The guidance of that wonder-winged team;
The shapes which drew it in thick lightnings
Were lost;-I heard alone on the air's soft stream

The music of their ever-moving wings.
All the four faces of that charioteer
Had their eyes banded; little profit brings

Speed in the van and blindness in the rear,
Nor then avail the beams that quench the sun
Or that with banded eyes could pierce the sphere

Of all that is, has been or will be done;
So ill was the car guided-but it past
With solemn speed majestically on.

The crowd gave way, and I rose aghast,
Or seemed to rise, so mighty was the trance,
And saw, like clouds upon the thunders blast,

The million with fierce song and maniac dance
Raging around-such seemed the jubilee
As when to meet some conqueror's advance

Imperial Rome poured forth her living sea
From senate house, and forum, and theatre,
When [
]upon the free

Had bound a yoke, which soon they stooped to bear.
Nor wanted here the just similitude

Of a triumphal pageant, for where'er

The chariot rolled, a captive multitude

Was driven;-all those who had grown old in power
Or misery, all who had their age subdued

By action or by suffering, and whose hour
Was drained to its last sand in weal or woe,
So that the trunk survived both fruit and flower;

All those whose fame or infamy must grow
Till the great winter lay the form and name
Of this green earth with them for ever low;

All but the sacred few who could not tame
Their spirits to the conquerors-but as soon
As they had touched the world with living flame,

Fled back like eagles to their native noon,

Or those who put aside the diadem

Of earthly thrones or gems [


Were there, of Athens or Jerusalem,
Were neither mid the mighty captives seen,
Nor mid the ribald crowd that followed them,

Nor those who went before fierce and obscene.
The wild dance maddens in the van, and those
Who lead it-fleet as shadows on the green,

Outspeed the chariot, and without repose
Mix with each other in tempestuous measure
To savage music, wilder as it grows,

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They, tortured by their agonizing pleasure,
Convulsed and on the rapid whirlwinds spun
Of that fierce spirit, whose unholy leisure

Was soothed by mischief since the world begun,
Throw back their heads and loose their streaming hair;
And in their dance round her who dims the sun,

Maidens and youths fling their wild arms in air
As their feet twinkle; they recede, and now
Bending within each other's atmosphere

Kindle invisibly-and as they glow,
Like moths by light attracted and repelled,
Oft to their bright destruction come and go,

Till like two clouds into one vale impelled

That shake the mountains when their lightnings mingle
And die in rain-the fiery band which held

Their natures, snaps-the shock still may tingle;
One falls and then another in the path
Senseless-nor is the desolation single,

Yet ere I can say where-the chariot hath
Past over them-nor other trace I find
But as of foam after the ocean's wrath

Is spent upon the desert shore;-behind,
Old men and women foully disarrayed,
Shake their grey hairs in the insulting wind,

To seek, to [ J. to strain with limbs decayed,
Limping to reach the light which leaves them still
Farther behind and deeper in the shade.

But not the less with impotence of will

They wheel, though ghastly shadows interpose

Round them and round each other, and fulfil

Their work, and in the dust from whence they rose
Sink, and corruption veils them as they lie,

And past in these performs what [

] in those.

Struck to the heart by this sad pageantry,

Half to myself I said-And what is this?
Whose shape is that within the car? And why-

I would have added-is all here amiss?
But a voice answered-" Life !"-I turned, and knew
(Oh Heaven, have mercy on such wretchedness!)

That what I thought was an old root which grew
To strange distortion out of the hill side,
Was indeed one of those deluded crew,

And that the grass, which methought hung so wide
And white, was but his thin discoloured hair,
And that the holes it vainly sought to hide,


Were or had been eyes:-" If thou canst, forbear
To join the dance, which I had well foreborne !"
Said the grim Feature; of my thought aware,

"I will unfold that which to this deep scorn
Led me and my companions, and relate
The progress of the pageant since the morn;

"If thirst of knowledge shall not then abate,
Follow it thou even to the night, but I
Am weary."-Then like one who with the weight

Of his own words is staggered, wearily

He paused; and ere he could resume, I cried:
"First, who art thou ?"-" Before thy memory,

"I feared, loved, hated, suffered, did and died,
And if the spark with which Heaven lit my spirit
Had been with purer sentiment supplied,

"Corruption would not now thus much inherit
Of what was once Rousseau, -nor this disguise
Stained that which ought to have disdained to wear it;

"If I have been extinguished, yet there rise
A thousand beacons from the spark I bore".
'And who are those chained to the car?"-"The wise,

"The great, the unforgotten,-they who wore Mitres and helms and crowns, or wreaths of light, Signs of thought's empire over thought-their lore

"Taught them not this, to know themselves; their might Could not repress the mystery within,

And for the morn of truth they feigned, deep night

"Caught them ere evening."

Who is he with chin Upon his breast, and hands crost on his chain ?"— "The Child of a fierce hour; he sought to win

"The world, and lost all that it did contain Of greatness, in its hope destroyed; and more Of fame and peace than virtue's self can gain

"Without the opportunity which bore Him on its eagle pinions to the peak

From which a thousand climbers have before

"Fall'n, as Napoleon fell."—I felt my cheek Alter, to see the shadow pass away

Whose grasp had left the giant world so weak,

That every pigmy kicked it as it lay;

And much I grieved to think how power and will
In opposition rule our mortal day,

And why God made irreconcilable

Good and the means of good; and for despair
I half disdained mine eyes' desire to fill

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