« AnteriorContinua »
The Sun and the serenest Moon sprang forth:
Was yet a chaos and a curse,
For thou wert not: but power from worst producing worse,
And of the birds, and of the watery forms,
The bosom of their violated nurse
Groaned, for beasts warred on beasts, and worms on worms,
Man, the imperial shape, then multiplied
Of the Sun's throne: palace and pyramid,
Temple and prison, to many a swarming million,
Was savage, cunning, blind, and rude,
Anarchs and priests who feed on gold and blood.
Drove the astonished herds of men from every side.
The nodding promontories, and blue isles,
And cloud-like mountains, and dividuous waves
Of Greece, basked glorious in the open smiles
Of favouring heaven: from their enchanted caves Prophetic echoes flung dim melody.
On the unapprehensive wild
The vine, the corn, the olive mild,
Grew savage yet, to human use unreconciled;
And, like unfolded flowers beneath the sea,
Like the man's thought dark in the infant's brain,
Like aught that is which wraps what is to be,
Of Parian stone; and yet a speechless child,
Athens arose: a city such as vision
Builds from the purple crags and silver towers
Of battlemented cloud, as in derision
Of kingliest masonry: the ocean-floors
Pave it; the evening sky pavilions it;
By thunder-zoned winds, each head
Within its cloudy wings with sunfire garlanded,
Gleamed with its crest of columns, on the will
For thou wert, and thine all-creative skill Peopled with forms that mock the eternal dead In marble immortality, that hill
Which was thine earliest throne and latest oracle.
Within the surface of Time's fleeting river
Its wrinkled image lies, as then it lay
Immovably unquiet, and for ever
It trembles, but it cannot pass away!
Religion veils her eyes; Oppression shrinks aghast:
One ocean feeds the clouds, and streams, and dew;
One sun illumines heaven; one spirit vast
With life and love makes chaos ever new,
As Athens doth the world with thy delight renew.
Then Rome was, and from thy deep bosom fairest,
By thy sweet love was sanctified;
But when tears stained thy robe of vestal whiteness,
Slaves of one tyrant: Palatinus sighed
Faint echoes of Ionian song: that tone
Thou didst delay to hear, lamenting to disown.
From what Hyrcanian glen or frozen hill,
Or utmost islet inaccessible
Didst thou lament the ruin of thy reign, Teaching the woods and waves, and desert rocks, And every Naiad's ice-cold urn,
To talk in echoes sad and stern,
Of that sublimest love which man had dared unlearn
* See the Baccha of Euripides.
For neither didst thou watch the wizard flocks
Of the Scald's dreams, nor haunt the Druid's sleep. What if the tears rained through thy shattered locks Were quickly dried? for thou didst groan, not weep, When from its sea of death to kill and burn,
The Galilean serpent forth did creep,
And made thy world an undistinguishable heap.
A thousand years the Earth cried, Where art thou?
Like rocks which fire lifts out of the flat deep,
Frowning o'er the tempestuous sea
Of kings, and priests, and slaves, in tower-crowned majesty;
And burst around their walls, like idle foam,
Thou huntress swifter than the Moon! thou terror
Luther caught thy wakening glance,
And England's prophets hailed thee as their queen, In songs whose music cannot pass away,
Though it must flow for ever: not unseen
Before the spirit-sighted countenance
Of Milton didst thou pass, from the sad scene
The eager hours and unreluctant years
As on a dawn-illumined mountain stood,
Death grew pale within the grave,
Like shadows: as if day had cloven the skies
Thou heaven of earth! what spells could pall thee then,
Round France, the ghastly vintage, stood
Rose: armies mingled in obscure array,
Like clouds with clouds, darkening the sacred bowers
Of serene heaven. He, by the past pursued,
Rests with those dead, but unforgotten hours,
Whose ghosts scare victor kings in their ancestral towers.
England yet sleeps: was she not called of old?
Spain calls her now, as with its thrilling thunder Vesuvius wakens Etna, and the cold
Snow-crags by its reply are cloven in sunder: O'er the lit waves every Eolian isle
From Pithecusa to Pelorus
Howls, and leaps, and glares in chorus:
They cry, Be dim! ye lamps of heaven suspended o'er us.
Twins of a single destiny! appeal
To the eternal years enthroned before us,
In the dim West, impress us from a seal,
All ye have thought and done! Time cannot dare conceal
Tomb of Arminius! render up thy dead,
Till, like a standard from a watch-tower's staff,
His soul may stream over the tyrant's head;
Thy victory shall be his epitaph,
Wild Bacchanal of truth's mysterious wine,
His dead spirit lives in thee.
Why do we fear or hope? thou art already free!
And glorious world! thou flowery wilderness!
Thou island of eternity! thou shrine
Where desolation clothed with loveliness,
Worships the thing thou wert! O Italy,
Gather thy blood into thy heart; repress
The beasts who make their dens thy sacred palaces
O, that the free would stamp the impious name into the dust! or write it there,
So that this blot upon the page of fame
Were as a serpent's path, which the light air
Erases, and the flat sands close behind!
Ye the oracle have heard:
Lift the victory-flashing sword,
And cut the snaky knots of this foul gordian word,
The axes and the rods which awe mankind;
To set thine armed heel on this reluctant worm.
O, that the wise from their bright minds would kindle
Till human thoughts might kneel alone
Of its own aweless soul, or of the power unknown!
They stand before their Lord, each to receive its due.
He who taught man to vanquish whatsoever
O vain endeavour!
If on his own high will a willing slave,
Amplest millions at their need,
And power in thought be as the tree within the seed?
Driving on fiery wings to Nature's throne,
Over all height and depth? if Life can breed
New wants, and wealth from those who toil and groan Rend of thy gifts and hers a thousand fold for one.
Come Thou, but lead out of the inmost cave
To judge, with solemn truth, life's ill-apportioned lot?