Imatges de pàgina

"Others stood gazing, till within the shade Of the great mountain its light left them dim; Others outspeeded it; and others made

"Circles around it, like the clouds that swim
Round the high moon in a bright sea of air;
And more did follow, with exulting hymn,

"The chariot and the captives fettered there:
But all like bubbles on an eddying flood
Fled into the same track at last, and were

"Borne onward.—I among the multitude Was swept-me, sweetest flowers delayed not long; Me, not the shadow nor the solitude;

"Me, not that falling stream's Lethean song;
Me, not the phantom of that early form,
Which moved upon its motion--but among

"The thickest billows of that living storm
I plunged, and bared my bosom to the clime
Of that cold light, whose airs too soon deform.

"Before the chariot had begun to climb
The opposing steep of that mysterious dell,
Behold a wonder worthy of the rhyme

"Of him who from the lowest depths of hell, Through every paradise and through all glory, Love led serene, and who returned to tell

"The words of hate and care; the wondrous story How all things are transfigured except Love; For deaf as is a sea, which wrath makes hoary,

"The world can hear not the sweet notes that move The sphere whose light is melody to loversA wonder worthy of his rhyme--the grove

"Grew dense with shadows to its inmost covers, The earth was grey with phantoms, and the air Was peopled with dim forms, as when there hovers

"A flock of vampire-bats before the glare Of the tropic sun, bringing, ere evering,

Strange night upon some Indian vale;-thus were

"Phantoms diffused around; and some did fling Shadows of shadows, yet unlike themselves, Behind them; some like eaglets on the wing

"Were lost in the white day; others like elves Danced in a thousand unimagined shapes Upon the sunny streams and grassy shelves;

"And others sate chattering like restless apes On vulgar hands,

Some made a cradle of the ermined capes

"Of kingly mantles; some across the tire Of pontiffs rode, like demons; others played Under the crown which girt with empire

"A baby's or an idiot's brow, and made

Their nests in it. The old anatomies

Sate hatching their bare broods under the shade

"Of demon wings, and laughed from their dead eyes To reassume the delegated power,

Arrayed in which those worms did monarchize,

"Who make this earth their charnel. Humble, like falcons, sate upon the fist

Others more

Of common men, and round their heads did soar;

"Or like small gnats and flies, as thick as mist
On evening marshes, thronged about the brow
Of lawyers, statesmen, priest and theorist ;

"And others, like discoloured flakes of snow
On fairest bosoms and the sunniest hair,
Fell, and were melted by the youthful glow

"Which they extinguished; and, like tears, they were
A veil to those from whose faint lids they rained
In drops of sorrow. I became aware

"Of whence those forms proceeded which thus stained The track in which we moved. After brief space, From every form the beauty slowly waned;

"From every firmest limb and fairest face
The strength and freshness fell like dust, and left
The action and the shape without the grace

"Of life.

The marble brow of youth was cleft With care; and in those eyes where once hope shone, Desire, like a lioness bereft

"Of her last cub, glared ere it died; each one

Of that great crowd sent forth incessantly

These shadows, numerous as the dead leaves blown

"In autumn evening from a poplar tree.
Each like himself and like each other were
At first; but some distorted seemed to be

"Obscure clouds, moulded by the casual air;
And of this stuff the car's creative ray
Wrapt all the busy phantoms that were there,

"As the sun shapes the clouds; thus on the way
Mask after mask fell from the countenance

And form of all; and long before the day

"Was old, the joy which waked like heaven's glance

The sleepers in the oblivious valley, died;

And some grew weary of the ghastly dance,

"And fell, as I have fallen, by the way side; Those soonest from whose forms most shadows past, And least of strength and beauty did abide.

"Then, what is life? I cried."—



HE came like a dream in the dawn of life,
He fled like a shadow before its noon;
He is gone, and my peace is turned to strife,
And I wander and wane like the weary moon.
O sweet Echo wake,

And for my sake

Make answer the while my heart shall break!

But heart has a music which Echo's lips,

Though tender and true, yet can answer not, And the shadow that moves in the soul's eclipse Can return not the kiss by his now forgot; Sweet lips! he who hath

On my desolate path

Cast the darkness of absence worse than death!

Indian. And if my grief should still be dearer to me

Than all the pleasure in the world beside,

Why would you lighten it?


I offer only

That which I seek, some human sympathy
In this mysterious island.

Indian. Oh! my friend,

My sister, my beloved! What do I say?
My brain is dizzy and I scarce know whether
I speak to thee or her. Peace, perturbed heart!
I am to thee only as thou to mine,

The passing wind which heals the brow at noon,
And may strike cold into the breast at night,
Yet cannot linger where it soothes the most,
Or long soothe could it linger. But you said
You also loved?


Loved! Oh, I love. Methinks

This word of love is fit for all the world,

And that for gentle hearts another name

Would speak of gentler thoughts than the world owns. I have loved.

Indian. And thou lovest not? if so

Young as thou art thou canst afford to weep.
Lady. Oh! would that I could claim exemption
From all the bitterness of that sweet name.

I loved, I love, and when I love no more

Let joys and grief perish, and leave despair
To ring the knell of youth. He stood beside me,
The embodied vision of the brightest dream,
Which like a dawn heralds the day of life;

The shadow of his presence made my world
A paradise. All familiar things he touched,
All common words he spoke, became to me
Like forms and sounds of a diviner world.
He was as is the sun in his fierce youth,
As terrible and lovely as a tempest;
He came, and went, and left me what I am.
Alas! Why must I think how oft we two
Have sate together near the river springs,
Under the green pavilion which the willow
Spreads on the floor of the unbroken fountain,
Strewn by the nurslings that linger there,
Over that islet paved with flowers and moss,

While the musk-rose leaves, like flakes of crimson snow,
Showered on us, and the dove mourned in the pine,

Sad prophetess of sorrows not our own.

Indian. Your breath is like soft music, your words are The echoes of a voice which on my heart

Sleeps like a melody of early days.

But as you said—


He was so awful, yet

So beautiful in mystery and terror,

Calming me as the loveliness of heaven
Smooths the unquiet sca:-and yet not so,
For he seemed stormy, and would often seem
A quenchless sun masked in portentous clouds;
For such his thoughts, and even his actions were;
But he was not of them, nor they of him,
But as they hid his splendour from the earth.
Some said he was a man of blood and peril,
And steeped in bitter infamy to the lips.

More need was there I should be innocent,

More need that I should be most true and kind,

And much more need that there should be found one

To share remorse, and scorn and solitude,

And all the ills that wait on those who do

The tasks of ruin in the world of life.

He fled and I have followed him.

February, 1822.



IT lieth, gazing on the midnight sky,
Upon the cloudy mountain peak supine;
Below, far lands are seen tremblingly;
Its horror and its beauty are divine.
Upon its lips and eyelids seem to lie

Loveliness like a shadow, from which shrine,
Fiery and lurid, struggling underneath,
The agonies of anguish and of death.

Yet it is less the horror than the grace
Which turns the gazer's spirit into stone;
Whereon the lineaments of that dead face
Are graven, till the characters be grown

Into itself, and thought no more can trace;
"Tis the melodious hue of beauty thrown
Athwart the darkness and the glare of pain,
Which humanize and harmonize the strain.

And from its head as from one body grow,
As [
grass out of a watery rock,
Hairs which are vipers, and they curl and flow
And their long tangles in each other lock,
And with unending involutions show

Their mailed radiance, as it were to mock
The torture and the death within, and saw
The solid air with many a ragged jaw.

And from a stone beside a poisonous eft
Peeps idly into those Gorgonian eyes;
Whilst in the air a ghastly bat, bereft

Of sense, has flitted with a mad surprise
Out of the cave this hideous light had cleft,

And he comes hastening like a moth that hies
After a taper; and the midnight sky
Flares, a light more dread than obscurity.

"Tis the tempestuous loveliness of terror;

For from the serpents gleams a brazen glare
Kindled by that inextricable error,

Which makes a thrilling vapour of the air
Become a [
] and evershifting mirror

Of all the beauty and the terror there-
A woman's countenance, with serpent locks,
Gazing in death on heaven from those wet rocks.

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