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cnees, dooms to a slow and poisonous decay those meaner spirits tbat dare to abjure Its dominion. Tbelr destiny Is more abject and Inglorious as tbetr delinquency Is more contemptible and pernicious. They who, deluded by no generous error, instigated by no sacred thirst of doubtful knowledge, duped by no illustrious superstition, loving nothing on this earth, and cherishing no hopes l>eyond, yet keep aloof from sympathies with their kind, rejoicing neither in human Joy nor mourning with human grief; these, and such as they, have their apportioned curst'. They languish, because none feel with them their common nature. They are morally dead. They are neither friends, nor lovers, nor fathers, nor citizens of the world, nor Iwnefactors of their country. Among those who attempt to exist without human sympathy, the pure and tender-hearted perish through the Intensity and passion of their search after Its communities, when the vacancy of their spirit suddenly makes Itself felt. All else, selfish, blind, and torpid, are those unforeseelng multitudes who constitute, together with their own. the lasting misery and loneliness of the world. Those who love not their fellow-beings live unfruitful lives, and prepare for their old age a miserable grave.
"The good die first, And those whose hearts are dry as summer dust, Burn to the socket'." December J-l. 181r>.
Earth, ocean, air, beloved brotherhood!
I f our great Mother has imbued my soul
With aught of natural piety1 to feel
Your love, and recompense the boon with mine;
If dewy morn, and odorous noon, and even,
With sunset and its gorgeous ministers,
And solemn midnight's tingling silentness;
If autumn's hollow sighs in the sere wood.
And winter robing with pure snow and erowns
Of starry ice the gray grass and bare boughs;
If spring's voluptuous pantiugs when she
Her first sweet kisses,—have been dear to me;
If no bright bird, insect, or gentle beast
I consciously have injured, but still loved
And cherished these my kindred; then forgive
This boast, beloved brethren, and withdraw
No portion of your wonted favour now!
Mother of this unfathomable world! Favour my solemn song, for I have loved Thee ever, and thee only; I have watched 20 Thy shadow, and the darkness of thy steps. And my heart ever gazes on the depth Of thy deep mysteries. I have made my bed In charnels and on coffins,^ where black death Keeps record of the trophies won from thee. Hoping to still these obstinate questionings'! Of thee and thine, by forcing some lone ghost. Thy messenger, to render up the tale Of what we are. In lone and silent hours. When night makes a weird sound of its own stillness, 30
i Wordsworth's phrase: see his My Heart Leapt Up. p. 422.
- According to Hogg. Shelley had actuallv done | this.
Wordsworth's Orfr on Immortality, line 142.
Like an inspired and desperate alchemist
Staking his very life on some dark hope,
Have I mixed awful talk and asking looks
With my most innocent love, until strange
Uniting with those breathless kisses, made
Such magic as compels the charmed night
To render up thy charge: and, though ne'er
Thou hast unveiled thy inmost sanctuary,
Enough from incommunicable dream,
And twilight phantasms, and deep noonday
thought, 40 Has shone within me, that serenely now And moveless, as a long-forgotten lyre Suspended in the solitary dome Of some mysterious and deserted fane, I wait thy breath, Great Parent, that my
-May modulate with murmurs of the air,
And motions of the forests and the sea.
And voice of living beings, and woven hymns
Of night and day, and the deep heart of man.
There was a Poet whose untimely tomb 50
No human hands with pious reverence reared,
But the charmed eddies of autumnal winds
Built o'er his mouldering bones a pyramid
Of mouldering leaves in the waste wilderness: —
A lovely youth,—no mourning maiden decked
With weeping flowers, or votive cypress wreath,
The lone couch of his everlasting sleep:—
Oentle, and brave, and generous,—no lorn bard
Breathed o'er his dark fate one melodious sigh:
He lived, he died, he sung, in solitude. 60
Strangers have wept to hear his passionate
And virgins, as unknown he passed, have pined And wasted for fond love of his wild eyes. The fire of those soft orbs has ceased to burn, And Silence, too enamoured of that voice, Locks its mute music in her rugged cell.
By solemn vision, and bright silver dream,
His infancy was nurtured. Every sight
And sound from the vast earth ami ambient air
Sent to his heart its choicest impulses. 70
The fountains of divine philosophy
Fled not his thirsting lips, and all of great.
Or good, or lovely, which the saered past
In truth or fable consecrates, he felt
And knew. When early youth had passed, he
His cold fireside and alienated home
To seek strange truths in undiscovered lands.
Many a wide waste and tangled wilderness
Has lured his fearless steps; and he has bought
With bis sweet voice and eves, from savage
His rest and food. Nature's most secret steps
He like her shadow has pursued, where'er
The red volcano overeanopies
Its fields of snow and pinnacles of ice
With burning smoke, or where bitumen lakes
On black hare pointed islets ever beat
With sluggish surge, or where the secret caves
Rugged and dark, winding among the springs
Of fire and poison, inaccessible
To avarice or pride, their starry domes 90
Of diamond and of gold expand above
Numberless and immeasurable halls,
Frequent with crystal column, and clear shrines
Of pearl, and thrones radiant with chrysolite.
Nor had that scene of ampler majesty
Than gems or gold, the varying roof of heaven
And the green earth, lost in his heart its claims
To love and wonder; he would linger long
In lonesome vales, making the wild his home,
Vntil the doves and squirrels would partake 100
From his innocuous hand his bloodless food,
Lured by the gentle meaning of his looks.
And the wild antelope, that starts whene'er
The dry leaf rustles in the brake, suspend
Her timid steps to gaze upon a form
More graceful than ber own.
His wandering step,
Obedient to high thoughts, has visited
The awful ruins of the days of old:
Athens, and Tyre, and Balbec, and the waste
Where stood Jerusalem, the fallen towers 110
Of Babylon, the eternal pyramids,
Memphis and Thebes, and whatsoe'er of strange
Sculptured on alabaster obelisk.
Or jasper tomb, or mutilated sphinx,
Dark .Ethiopia in her desert hills
Conceals. Among the ruined temples there.
Stupendous columns, and wild images
Of more than man, where marble demons watch
The Zodiac's brazen mystery,i and dead men
Hang their mute thoughts on the mute walls
He lingered, poring on memorials
Of the world's youth, through the long burning
Mazed on those speechless shapes, nor, when the moon
Filled the mysterious halls with floating shades
Suspended he that task, but ever gazed
And gazed, till meaning on his vacant mind
Flashed like strong inspiration, and he saw
The thrilling secrets of the birth of time.
i Figures on the temple of Dendcrnh In T'pper
Meanwhile an Arab maiden brought his food.
Her daily portion, from her father's tent. HO
And spread her matting for his couch, ami stole
From duties and repose to tend his steps: —
Enamoured, yet not daring for deep awe
To speak her love:—and watched his nightly
Sleepless herself, to gaze upon his lips
Parted in slumber, whence the regular breath
Of innocent dreams arose: then, when red morn
Made paler the pale moon, to her cold home
Wildered, and wan, and panting, she returned.
The Poet wandering on, through Arabic Hfl
And Persia, and the wild Carmanian waste,'-
Aud o'er the aerial mountains which pour down
Indus and Oxus from their icy caves,
In joy and exultation held his way;
Till in the vale of Cashmire.3 far within
Its loneliest dell, where odorous plants entwine
Beneath the hollow rocks a natural bower,
Beside a sparkling rivulet he stretched
His languid limbs. A vision on his sleep H9
There came, a dream of hopes that never yet
Had flushed his cheek. He dreamed a veiled
Sate near him, talking in low solemn tones.
Her voice was like the voice of his own soul
Heard in the calm of thought; its music long.
Like woven sounds of streams and breezes, held
His inmost sense suspended in its web
Of many-coloured woof and shifting hues.
Knowledge and truth and virtue were her theme.
And lofty hopes of divine liberty,
Thoughts the most dear to him, and poesy, isn
Herself a poet. Soon the solemn mood
Of her pure mind kindled through all her frame
A permeating fire: wild numbers then
She raised, with voice stifled in tremulous sobs
Subdued by its own pathos: her fair hands
Were bare alone, sweeping from some strange
Strange symphony, and in their branching veins
The eloquent blood told an ineffable tale.
The beating of her heart was heard to fill
The pauses of her music, and her breath IT"
Tunmltuously accorded with those fits
Of intermitted song. Sudden she rose.
As if her heart impatiently endured
Its bursting burthen: at the sound he turned.
And saw by the warm light of their own life
Her glowing limbs beneath the sinuous veil
Of woven wind, her outspread arms now bare,
Her dark locks floating in the breath of night.
Her beamy bending eyes, her parted lips 170
•-■ The desert of Klrman. Persia.
:i In central Asia : poetically regarded as au enrthlj
Outstretched, and pale, and quivering eagerly.
His strong heart sunk and sickened with excess
Of love. He reared his shuddering limbs and
His gasping breath, and spread his arms to meet
Her panting bosom:—she drew back a while,
Then, yielding to the irresistible joy,
With frantic gesture and short breathless cry
Voided his frame in her dissolving arms.
Now blackness veiled his dizzy eyes, and night
Involved and swallowed up the vision; sleep,
Like a dark flood suspended in its course. 190
Rolled back its impulse on his vacant braiu.
Roused by the shock he started from his trance—
The cold white light of morning, the blue moon
Low in the west, the clear and garish hills,
The distinct valley and the vacant woods.
Spread round him where he stood. Whither have
The hues of heaven that canopied his bower
Of yesternight f The sounds that soothed his
The mystery and the majesty of Earth,
The joy, the exultation? His wan eyes 200
(lazed on the empty scene as vacantly
As ocean's moon looks on the moon in heaven.
The spirit of sweet human love has sent
A vision to the sleep of him who spurned
Her choicest gifts. He eagerly pursues
Beyond the realms of dream that fleeting shade;
He overleaps the bounds. Alas! alas!
Were limbs, and breath, and being intertwined
Thus treacherously f Lost, lost, for ever lost,
In the wide pathless desert of dim sleep, 210
That beautiful shape! Does the dark gate of
Conduct to thy mysterious paradise.
O Sleep? Does the bright arch of rainbow
And pendent mountains seen in the calm lake,
Lead only to a black and watery depth.
While death's bine vault, with loathliest vapours
Where every shade which the foul grave exhales
Hides its dead eye from the detested day.
Conducts, O Sleep, to thy delightful realms f
This doubt with sudden tide flowed on his
The insatiate hope which it awakened stung
His brain even like despair.
While daylight held
The sky. the Poet kept mute conference
With his still soul. At night the passion came,
Like the fierce fiend of a distempered dream.
And shook him from his rest, and led him forth
j Into the darkness.—As an eagle, grasped
In folds of the green serpent, feels her breast
Burn with the poison, and precipitates
Through night and day, tempest, and calm, and
Frantic with dizzying anguish, her blind flight
O'er the wide aery wilderness: thus driven
By the bright shadow of that lovely dream.
Beneath the cold glare of the desolate night,
Through tangled swamps and deep precipitous
Startling with careless step the moonlight snake,
He fled. Red morning dawned upon his flight,
Shedding the mockery of its vital hues
Upon his cheek of death. He wandered on
Till vast Aornos1 seen from Petra's steep, 2-10
Hung o 'er the low horizon like a cloud;
Through Balk, and where the desolated tombs
Of Parthian kings scatter to every wind
Their wasting dust, wildly he wandered on,
Day after day, a weary waste of hours,
Bearing within bis life the brooding care
That ever fed on its decaying flame.
And now his limbs were lean; his scattered hair
Sered by the autumn of strange suffering
Sung dirges in the wind: his listless hand 250
Hung like dead bone within its withered skin;
Life, and the lustre that consumed it, shone
As in a furnace burning secretly
From his dark eyes alone. The cottagers,
Who ministered with human charity
His human wants, beheld with wondering awe
Their fleeting visitant. The mountaineer,
Encountering on some dizzy precipice
That spectral form, deemed that the Spirit of
With lightning eyes, and eager breath, and feet
Disturbing not the drifted snow, had paused
In its career: the infant would conceal
His troubled visage in his mother's robe
In terror at the glare of those wild eyes,
To remember their strange light in many a
Of after-times; but youthful maidens, taught
By nature, would interpret half the woe
That wasted him, would call him with false
Brother, and friend, would press his pallid hand
At parting, and watch, dim through tears, the
Of his departure from their father's door.
At length upon the lone Chorasmian shore' He paused, a wide and melancholy waste Of putrid marshes. A strong impulse urged
I Aornos was a city in Bactrla (Balk). -'The Aral Sea: apparently meant for the Ca:; plan (Woodberry).
His steps to the sea-shore. A swim was there.
Beside a sluggish stream among the reeds.
It rose as he approached, and with strong wings
Scaling the upward sky, bent its bright course
High over the immeasurable main.
His eyes pursued its flight.—'' Thou hast a
home, 280 Beautiful bird; thou voyagest to thine home. Where thy sweet mate will twine her downy
With thine, and welcome thy return with eyes
Bright in the lustre of their own fond joy.
And what am I that I should linger here,
With voice far sweeter than thy dying notes,
Spirit more vast than thine, frame more attuned
To beauty, wasting these surpassing powers
In the deaf air, to the blind earth, and heaven
That echoes not my thoughts f" A gloomy
Of desperate hope wrinkled his quivering lips.
For sleep, he knew, kept most relentlessly
Its precious charge, and silent death exposed,
Faithless perhaps as sleep, a shadowy lure.
With doubtful smile mocking its own strange
Startled by his own thoughts he looked around.
There was no fair fiend near him, not a sight
Or sound of awe but in his own deep mind.
A little shallop floating near the shore
Caught the impatient wandering of his gaze.
It had been long abandoned, for its sides 301
(iaped wide with many a rift, and its frail joints
Swayed with the undulations of the tide.
A restless impulse urged him to embark
And meet lone Death on the drear ocean's
For well he knew that mighty Shadow loves
The slimy caverns of the populous deep.
The day was fair and sunny, sen and sky
Drank its inspiring radiance, and the wind
Swept strongly from the shore, blackening the
Following his eager soul, the wanderer
Leaped in the boat, he spread his cloak aloft
On the bare mast, and took his lonely seat,
And felt the boat speed o'er the tranquil sea
Like a torn cloud before the hurricane.
As one that in a silver vision floats Obedient to the sweep of odo/ous winds Upon resplendent clouds, Bo rapidly Along the dark and ruffled waters fled The straining boat.—A whirlwind swept it on. With fierce gusts and precipitating force, 321 Through the white ridges of the chafed sea.
The waves arose. Higher and higher still
Their fierce necks writhed beneath the tempest *s
Like serpents struggling in a vulture's grasp.
Calm and rejoicing in the fearful war
Of wave ruining on wave, and blast on blast
Descending, and black flood on whirlpool driven
With dark obliterating course, he sate:
As if their genii were the ministers 330
Appointed to conduct him to the light
Of those belovfid eyes, the Poet sate
Holding the steady helm. Evening came on.
The beams of sunset hung their rainbow hues
High 'mid the shifting domes of sheeted spray
That canopied his path o 'er the waste deep;
Twilight, ascending slowly from the east.
Entwined in duskier wreaths her braided locks
O'er the fair front and radiant eyes of day;
Night followed, clad with stars. On every side
More horribly the multitudinous streams 341
Of ocean's mountainous waste to mutual war
Rushed in dark tumult thundering, as to mock
The calm and spangled sky. The little boat
Still fled liefore the storm; still fled, like foam
Down the steep cataract of a wintry river;
Now pausing on the edge of the riven wave;
Now leaving far behind the bursting mass
That fell, convulsing ocean. Safely fled—
As if that frail and wasted human form, 360
Had been an elemental god.
The moon arose: and lo! the ethereal cliffs
Of Caucasus, whose icy summits shone
Among the stars like sunlight, and around
Whose caverned base the whirlpools and the
Bursting and eddying irresistibly
Rage and resound for ever.—Who shall save*—
The boat fled on,—the boiling torrent drove,—
The crags closed round with black and jagged
The shattered mountains overhung the sea, 3*0
And faster still, beyond all human speed,
Suspended on the sweep of the smooth wave.
The little boat was driven. A cavern there
Yawned, and amid its slant and winding depths
Ingulfed the rushing sea. The boat fled on
With unrelaxing speed.—"Vision and Love!"
The Poet cried aloud, '' I have beheld
The path of thy departure. Sleep and death
Shall not divide us long!''
The boat pursued
The windings of the cavern. Daylight shone
At length upon that gloomy river's flow; 371
Now, where the fiercest war among the waves
Ts calm, on the unfathomable stream
The boat moved slowly. Where the mountain, riven,
Exposed those black depths to the azure sky,
Ere yet the flood's enormous volume fell
Even to the base of Caucasus, with sound
That shook the everlasting rocks, the mass
Filled with one whirlpool all that ample clinsm;
Stair abo\e stair the eddying water rose, S*n
Circling immeasurably fast, and laved
With alternating dash the gnarled roots
Of mighty trees, that stretched their giant arms
In darkness over it. I' the midst was left,
Reflecting, yet distorting every cloud,
A pool of treacherous and tremendous calm.
Seized by the sway of the ascending stream.
With dizzy swiftness, round, and round, and
Ridge after ridge the straining boat arose.
Till on the verge of the extrcmest curve. S90
Where, through an opening of the rocky bank,
The waters overflow, and a smooth spot
Of glassy quiet mid those battling tides
Is left, the boat paused shuddering.—Shall it
Down the abyss? Shall the reverting stress
Of that resistless gulf embosom itf
Now shall it fall!—A wandering stream of wind.
Breathed from the nest, has caught the ex-
And, lo! with gentle motion, between banks
Of mossy slope, and on a placid stream, 400
Beneath a woven grove it sails, and hark!
The ghastly torrent mingles its far roar
With the breeze murmuring in the musical
Where the embowering trees recede, and leave
A little space of green expanse, the cove
Is closed by meeting banks, whose yellow flowers
For ever gaze on their own drooping eyes,
Reflected ir the crystal calm. The wave
Of the boat's motion marred their jiensivc task,
Which nought but vagrant bird, or wanton
wind, 410 Or falling spear-grass, or their own decay Had e'er disturbed before. The Poet longed To deck with their bright hues his withered hair. But on his heart its solitude returned, And he forebore. Not the strong impulse hid In those flushed cheeks, Itcnt eyes, and shadowy
Had yet performed its ministry: it hung
I'pon his life, as lightning in a cloud
Gleams, hovering ere it vanish, ere the floods
Of night close over it.
The noonday sun 420 Xow shone upon the forest, one vast mass Of mingling shade, whose brown magnificence
j A narrow vale embosoms. There, huge caves,
Scooped in the dark base of their aery rocks,
Mocking its moans, respond and roar for ever.
The meeting boughs and implicated leaves
Wove twilight o 'er the Poet 'a path, as led
By love, or dream, or god, or mightier Death.
He sought in Nature's dearest haunt some bank.
Her cradle, and his sepulchre. More dark
And dark the shinies accumulate. The oak,
Expanding its immense and knotty arms,
Embraces the light beech. The pyramids
Of the tall cedar overarching frame
Most solemn domes within, and far below,
Like clouds suspended in an emerald sky,
The ash and the acacia floating hang
Tremulous and pale. Like restless serpents,
In rainbow and in fire, the parasites.
Starred with ten thousand blossoms, flow around
The gray trunks, and, as gamesome infants'
eyes, 441 With gentle meanings, and most innocent wiles. Fold their beams round the hearts of those that
These twine their tendrils with the wedded boughs
Uniting their close union; the woven leaves
Make network of the dark blue light of day.
And the night's noontide clearness, mutable
As shapes in the weird clouds. Soft mossy
Beneath these canopies extend their swells,
Fragrant with perfumed herbs, and eyed with
blooms 450 Minute yet beautiful. One daikest glen Sends from its woods of musk-rose, twined with
A soul-dissolving odour, to invite
To some more lovely mystery. Through the dell,
Silence and Twilight here, twin-sisters, keep
Their noonday watch, and sail among the shades,
Like vaporous shajies half seen; beyond, a well.
Dark, gleamiug, and of most translucent wave,
Images all the woven boughs above,
And each depending leaf, and every speck 460
Of azure sky, darting between their chasms;
Nor aught else in the liquid mirror laves
Its portraiture, but some inconstant star
Between one foliaged lattice twinkling fair,
Or painted bird, sleeping beneath the moon,
Or gorgeous insect floating motionless,
Unconscious of the day, ere yet his wings
Have spread their glories to the gaze of noon.
Hither the Poet came. His eyes beheld 409
Their own wan light through the reflected lines
Of his thin hair, distinct in the dark depth
Of that still fountain: as the human heart.