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The very fetters which his arm broke through,
And crushed the rights of Europe and his own,
To fit between a dungeon and a throne ?
There sank the greatest, nor the worst of men,
Whose spirit antithetically mixt
One moment of the mightiest, and again
On little objects with like firmness fixt,
Extreme in all things ! hadst thou been betwixt,
Thy throne had still been thine, or never been;
For daring made thy rise as fall: thou seek'st
Even now to re-assume the imperial mien,
And shake again the world, the thunderer of the scene !
Conqueror and captive of the earth art thou !
She trembles at thee still, and thy wild name
Was ne'er more bruited in men's minds than now
That thou art nothing, save the jest of Fame,
Who woo'd thee once, thy vassal, and became
The flatterer of thy fierceness, till thou wert
A god unto thyself ; nor less the same
To the astounded kingdoms all inert,
Who deemed thee for a time whate'er thou didst assert.
Oh, more or less than man-in high or low,
Battling with nations, flying from the field;
Now making monarchs' necks thy footstool, now
More than thy meanest soldier taught to yield;
An empire thou couldst crush, command, rebuild,
govern not thy pettiest passion, nor,
However deeply in men's spirits skill'd,
Look through thine own, nor curb the lust of war, Nor learn that tempted Fate will leave the loftiest star.
Yet well thy soul hath brooked the turning tide
With that untaught innate philosophy,
Which, be it wisdom, coldness, or deep pride,
Is gall and wormwood to an enemy.
When the whole host of hatred stood hard by,
To watch and mock thee shrinking, thou hast smiled
With a sedate and all-enduring eye;
When Fortune fled her spoil'd and favourite child, He stood unbow'd beneath the ills upon him piled !
Sager than in thy fortunes; for in them
Ambition steel'd thee on too far to show
That just habitual scorn which could contemn
Men and their thoughts; 'twas wise to feel, not so
To wear it ever on thy lip and brow,
And spurn the instruments thou wert to use
Till they were turned unto thine overthrow :
'Tis but a worthless world to win or lose; So hath it proved to thee, and all such lot who choose.
If, like a tower upon a headlong rock,
Thou hadst been made to stand or fall alone,
Such scorn of man had help'd to brave the shock;
But men's thoughts were the steps which paved thy
Their admiration thy best weapon shone;
The part of Philip's son was thine, not then
(Unless aside thy purple had been thrown)
Like stern Diogenes to mock at men;
For sceptred cynics earth were far too wide a den.
But quiet to quick bosoms is a hell,
And there hath been thy bane; there is a fire
And motion of the soul which will not dwell
In its own narrow being, but aspire
Beyond the fitting medium of desire;
And, but once kindled, quenchless evermore,
Preys upon high adventure, nor can tire
Of aught but rest; a fever at the core, Fatal to him who bears, to all who ever bore.
This makes the madmen who have made men mad By their contagion ; Conquerors and Kings, Founders of sects and systems, to whom add Sophists, Bards, Statesmen, all unquiet things Which stir too strongly the soul's secret springs, And are themselves the fools to those they fool; Envied, yet how unenviable ! what stings
Are theirs ! One breast laid open were a school Which would unteach mankind the lust to shine or
Their breath is agitation, and their life
A storm whereon they ride, to sink at last,
And yet so nursed and bigoted to strife,
That, should their days, surviving perils past,
Melt to calm twilight, they feel overcast
With sorrow and supineness, and so die;
Even as a flame unfed, which runs to waste
With its own flickerings, or a sword laid by
Which eats into itself, and rusts ingloriously.
And thou, who never yet of human wrong
Lost the unbalanced scale, great Nemesis !
Here where the ancient paid thee homage long-
Thou, who didst call the Furies from the abyss,
And round Orestes bade them howl and hiss
For that unnatural retribution-just,
Had it but been from hands less near-in this
Thy former realm, I call thee from the dust!
Dost thou not hear my heart ?-Awake! thou shalt,
It is not that I may not have incurred
For my ancestral faults or mine the wound
I bleed withal ; and, had it been conferred
With a just weapon, it had flow'd unbound;
But now my blood shall not sink in the ground;
To thee I do devote it—thou shalt take
The vengeance which shall yet be sought and found,
Which if I have not taken for the sake-
But let that pass—I sleep, but thou shalt yet awake.
And if my voice break forth, 'tis not that now
I shrink from what is suffer'd: let him speak
Who hath beheld decline upon my brow,
Or seen my mind's convulsion leave it weak;
But in this page a record will I seek.
Not in the air shall these my words disperse,
Though I be ashes ; a far hour shall wreak
The deep prophetic fulness of this verse,
And pile on human heads the mountain of my curse!
That curse shall be Forgiveness. Have I not
Hear me, my mother Earth! behold it, Heaven! -
Have I not had to wrestle with my lot?
Have I not suffer'd things to be forgiven ?
Have I not had my brain sear’d, my heart riven,
Hope snapped, name blighted, Life's life lied
And only not to desperation driven, [away?
Because not altogether of such clay
As rots into the souls of those whom I survey.
From mighty wrongs to petty perfidy
Have I not seen what human things could do ?
From the loud roar of foaming calumny
To the small whisper of the as paltry few,
And subtler venom of the reptile crew,
The Janus' glance of whose significant eye,
Learning to lie with silence, would seem true,
And without utterance, save the shrug or sigh, Deal round to happy fools its speechless obloquy.
But I have lived, and have not lived in vain :
My mind may lose its force, my blood its fire,
And my frame perish even in conquering pain,
But there is that within me which shall tire
Torture and Time, and breathe when I expire ;
Something unearthly, which they dream not of,
Like the remembered tone of a mute lyre,
Shall on their soften'd spirits sink, and move
In hearts all rocky now the late remorse of love.
NIGHT. It was the night_and Lara's glassy stream The stars are studding, each with imaged beam : So calm, the waters scarcely seem'd to stray, And yet they glide like happiness away ; Reflecting far and fairy-like from high The immortal lights that live along the sky ! Its banks are fringed with many a goodly tree, And flowers the fairest that may feast the bee; Such in her chaplet infant Dian wove, And Innocence would offer to her love. These deck the shore, the waves their channel make In windings bright and mazy like the snake. AU was so still, so soft in earth and air, You scarce would start to meet a spirit there; Secure that nought of evil could delight To walk in such a scene, on such a night!