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AHASUERTS, a Jero. CHORUS of Greek Captive Women. Messengers, Slaves, and Attendants.
SCENE, a Terrace, on the Seraglio.
MAHMUD (sleeping), an Indian slave sitting beside his Couch.
CHORUS OF GREEK CAPTIVE WOMEN.
WE strew these opiate flowers
On thy restless pillow,-
They were stript from Orient bowers,
By the Indian billow.
Be thy sleep
Calm and deep,
Like theirs who fell-not ours who weep
Away, unlovely dreams !
Away, false shapes of sleep!
Be his, as Heaven seems,
Clear, and bright, and deep !
Soft as love, and calm as death,
Sweet as a summer night without a breath.
Sleep, sleep ! our song is laden
With the soul of sluinber;
It was sung by a Samian maiden,
Whose lover was of the number
Who now keep
That calm sleep
Whence none may wake, where none shall weep.
I touch thy temples pale !
I breathe my soul on thee !
And could my prayers avail,
All my joy should be
Dead, and I would live to weep,
So thou might'st win one hour of quiet sleep.
Breathe low, low,
The spell of the mighty mistress now!
When Conscience lulls her sated snake,
And Tyrants sleep, let Freedom wake.
Breathe low, low,
The words, which, like secret fire, shall flow
Through the veins of the frozen earth-low, low!
Life may change, but it may fly not;
Hope may vanish, but can die not;
Truth be veiled, but still it burneth ;
Love repulsed, -but it returneth !
Yet were life a charnel, where
Hope lay coffined with Despair;
Yet were truth a sacred lie,
Love were lust-
Lent not life its soul of light,
Hope its iris of delight,
Truth its prophet's robe to wear,
Love its power to give and bear.
In the great morning of the world,
The spirit of God with might unfurled
The flag of Freedom over Chaos,
And all its band-d anarchs fled,
Like vultures frighted from Imaus,
Before an earthquake's tread.-
So from Time's tempestuous dawn
Freedoni's splendour burst and shone :-
Thermopylæ and Marathon
Caught, like mountains beacon-lighted,
The springing Fire.—The winged glory On Philippi half-alighted,
Like an eagle on a promontory.
Its unwearied wings could fan
The quenchless ashes of Milan.
From age to age, from man to man
It lived; and lit from land to land
Florence, Albion, Switzerland.
Then night fell; and, as from night,
Re-assuming fiery flight,
From the West swift Freedom came,
Against the course of heaven and doom, A second sun arrayed in flame,
To burn, to kindle, to illume.
From far Atlantis its young beams
Chased the shadows and the dreams.
France, with all her sanguine steams,
Hid, but quenched it not; again
Through clouds its shafts of glory rain
From utmost Germany to Spain.
As an eagle fed with morning
Scorns the embattled tempest's warning,
When she seeks her aerie banging
In the mountain.cedar's hair,
And her brood expect the clanging
Of her wings through the wild air,
Sick with famine;–Freedom, so
To what of Greece remaineth now
Returns; her hoary ruins glow
Like orient mountains lost in day;
Beneath the safety of her wings
Her renovated nurselings play,
And in the naked lightnings
Of truth they purge their dazzled eyes.
Let Freedom leave, where'er she flies,
A Desert, or a Paradise ;
Let the beautiful and the brave
Share her glory, or a grave.
With the gifts of gladness
Greece did thy cradle strew;
With the tears of sadness
Greece did thy shroud bedew :
With an orphan's affection
She followed thy bier through time !
And at thy resurrection
Re-appeareth, like thou, sublime !
If Heaven should resume thee,
To Heaven shall her spirit ascend;
If Hell should entomb thee,
To Hell shall her high hearts bend.
Dust let her glories be;
And a name and a nation
Be forgotten, Freedom with thee!
His brow grows darker-breathe not-move not !
He starts-he shudders ;-ye that love not,
Vith your panting loud and fast
Have awakened him at last.
Mahmud (starting from his sleep). Man the Seraglio-guard !
make fast the gate. What! from a cannonade of three short hours ? "Tis false! that breach towards the Bosphorus Cannot be practicable yet-Who stirs ?
Stand to the match; that when the foe prevails,
One spark may mix in reconciling ruin
The conqueror and the conquered! Heave the tower
Into the gap—wrench off the roof.
The truth of day lightens upon my dream,
And I am Mahmud still.
Your Sublime Highness
Is strangely moved.
The times do cast strange shadows
On those who watch and who must rule their course,
Lest they, being first in peril as in glory,
Be whelmed in the fierce ebb:-and these are of them.
Thrice has a gloomy vision hunted me
As thus from sleep into the troubled day;
It shakes me as the tempest shakes the sea,
Leaving no figure upon memory's glass.
Would that—no matter. Thou didst say thou knewest
A Jew, whose spirit is a chronicle
Of strange and secret and forgotten things.
I bade thee summon him :-'tis said his tribe
Dream, and are wise interpreters of dreams.
Hassan. The Jew of whom I spake is old,—80 old
He seems to have outlived a world's decay;
The hoary mountains and the wrinkled ocean
Seem younger still than he; his hair and beard
Are whiter than the tempest-sifted snow;
His cold pale limbs and pulseless arteries
Are like the fibres of a cloud instinct
With light, and to the soul that quickens them
Are as the atoms of the mountain-drift
To the winter wind :- but from his eye looks forth
A life of unconsumed thought, which pierces
The present, and the past, and the to-come.
Some say that this is he whom the great prophet
Jesus, the son of Joseph, for his mockery,
Mocked with the curse of immortality.
Some feign that he is Enoch ; others dream
He was pre-adamite, and has survived
Cycles of generation and of ruin.
The sage, in truth, by dreadfui abstinence,
And conquering penance of the mutinous flesh,
Deep contemplation, and unwearied study,
In years outstretched beyond the date of man,
May have attained to sovereignty and science
Over those strong and secret thing: and thoughts
Which others fear and know not.
I would talk
With this old Jew.
Thy will is even now
Made known to him, where he dwells in a sea-cavern
Mid the Demonesi, less accessible
Than thou or God! He who would question him
Must sail alone at sun-set, where the stream
Of ocean sleeps around those foamless isles
When the young moon is westering as now,
And evening airs wander upon the wave;
And when the pines of that bee-pasturing islo,
Green Erebinthus, quench the fiery shadow
Of his gilt prow within the sapphire water,
Then must the lonely helmsman cry aloud,
Ahasuerus ! and the caverns round
Will answer, Ahasuerus ! If his prayer
Be granted, a faint meteor will arise,
Lighting him over Marmora, and a wind
Will rush out of the sighing pine-forest,
And with the wind a storm of harmony
Unutterably sweet, and pilot him
Through the soft twilight to the Bosphorus:
Thence, at the hour and place and circumstance
Fit for the matter of their conference,
The Jew appears. Few dare, and few who dare,
Win the desired communion-but that shout
(A shout within.
Mahmud. Evil, doubtless ; like all human sounds.
Let me converse with spirits.
That shout again. Mahmud. This Jew whom thou hast summonedHassan.
Will be here-
Mahmud. When the omnipotent hour, to which are yoked
He, I, and all things, shall compel-enough.
Silence those mutineers-that drunken crew
That crowd about the pilot in the storm.
Ay! strike the foremost shorter by a head !
They weary me, and I have need of rest.
Kings are like stars—they rise and set, they have
The worship of the world, but no repose. [Exeunt severally
Worlds on worlds are rolling ever
From creation to decay,
Like the bubbles on a river,
Sparkling, bursting, borne away.
But they are still immortal
Who, through birth's orient portal, And death's dark chasm hurrying to and fro,
Clothe their unceasing flight
In the brief dust and light
Cathered around their chariots as they go ;
New shapes they still may weave,
New Gods, new laws receive,