Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

Like to the Pontic monarch of old days,
He fed on poisons, and they had no power,
But were a kind of nutriment; he lived
Through that which had been death to many mea,
And made him friends of mountains : with the stars
And the quick Spirit of the Universe
He held his dialogues ; and they did teach
To him the magic of their mysteries ;
To him the book of Night was open'd wide,
And voices from the deep abyss reveald
A marvel and a secret.-Be it so.

IX.
My dream is past ; it had no further change.
It was of a strange order, that the doom
Of these two creatures should be thus tracod out
Almost like a reality-the one
To end in madness-both in misery.

DARKNESS.
I HAD a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguish’d, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air ;
Morn came and went-and came, and brought no

day.
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation ; and all hearts
Were chill'd into a selfish prayer for light:
And they did live by watchfires—and the thrones,
The palaces of crowned kings—the huts,
The habitations of all things which dweld,
Were burnt for beacons ; cities were consumed,
And men were gather'd round their blazing homes
To look once more into each other's face;
Happy were those who dwelt within the eye
Of the volcanoes, and their mountain-torch:
A fearful hope was all the world contain’d;
Fowsts were set on fire—but hour by hour
They fell and faded-and the crackling trunks
Extinguish'd with a crash--and all was black.
The brows of men by the despairing light
Wore an unearthly aspect, as by fits
The flashes fell upon them ; core lay down
And hid their eyes and wept; and some did rest
Their chins upon their clenched hands, and smiled,
And others hurried to and fro, and
Their funeral piles with fuel, and look'd up
With iad disquietude on the dull sky,

The pall of a past world ; and then again
With curses cast them down upon the dust,
And gnash'd their teeth and howl'd: the wild birds sbriek
And, terrified, did flutter on the ground,
And flap their useless wings; the wildest bruten
Came tame and tremulous ; and vipers crawld
And twined themselves among the multitude,
Hissing, but stingless—they were slain for fond:
And War, which for a moment was no more,
Did glut himself again ;-a meal was bought
With blood, and each sate sullenly apart
Gorging himself in gloom : no love was left;
All earth was but one thought and that was death,
Immediate and inglorious ; and the pang
Of famine fed upon all entrails-men
Died, and their bones were tombless as their flesh;
The meagre by the meagre were devour'd,
Even dogs assail'd their masters, all save one,
And he was faithful to a corse, and kept
The birds and beasts and famish'd men at bay,
Till hunger clung them, or the dropping dead
Lured their lank jaws; himself sought out no food,
But with a piteous and perpetual moan,
And a quick desolate cry, licking the hand
Which answer'd not with a caress-he died.
The crowd was famish'd by degrees; but two
Of an enormous city did survive,
And they were enemies : they met beside
The dying embers of an altar-place
Where had been heap'd a mass of holy things
For an unholy usage; they raked up,
And shivering scraped with their cold skeleton handy
The feeble ashes, and their feeble breath
Blew for a little life, and made a flame
Which was a mockery; then they lifted up
Their eyes as it grow lighter, and beheld
Each other's aspects-saw, and shriek'd, and died
Even of their mutual hideousness they died,
Unknowing who he was upon whose brow
Famine had written Fiend. The world was void,
The populous and the powerful was a lump,
Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless-
A lump of death-a chaos of hard clay.
The rivers, lakes, and ocean all stood still,
And nothing stirr'd within their silent depths;
Ships sailorless lay rotting on the sea,
And their masts fell down piecemeal; as they dropp'd
They slept on the abyss without a surge-
The waves were dead; the tides were in their grave,
The Moon, their mistress, had expired before;
The winds were wither'd in the stagnant air,
And the clouds perish'd! Darkness had no need
Of aid from them-She was the Universe !

Diodati, July, 100

CHURCHILL'S GRAVE.

A FACT LITERALLY RENDERED

STOOD beside the grave of him who blazed

The comet of a season, and I saw
The humblest of all sepulchres, and gazed

With not the less of sorrow and of awe
On that neglected turf and quiet stone,
With name no clearer than the names unknowry
Which lay unread around it; and I ask'd

The Gardener of that ground, why it might bo
That for this plant strangers his memory task'd

Through the thick deaths of half a century? And thus he answer'd—“ Well, I do not know Why frequent travellers turn to pilgrims so; He died before my day of Sextonship,

And I had not the digging of this grave." And is this all? I thought, -and do we rip

The veil of Immortality ? and crave
I know not what of honour and of light
Through unborn ages, to endure this blight?
So soon, and so successless ? As I said,
The Architect of all on which we tread,
For Earth is but a tombstone, did essay
To extricate remembrance from the clay,
Whose minglings might confuse a Newton's thought

Were it not that aïl life must end in one,
Of which we are but dreamers ;-as he caught
As 'twere the twilight of a former Sun,
Thus spoke he,-" I believe the man of whom
You wot, who lies in this selected tomb,
Was a most famous writer in his day,
And therefore travellers step from out their way
To pay him honour,--and myself whate'er

Your honour pleases,”—then most pleased I shook
From out my pocket's avaricious nook
Some certain coins of silver, which as 'twere
Perforce I gave this man, though I could spare
So much but inconveniently :-Ye smile,
I see ye, ye profane ones ! all the while,
Because my homely phrase the truth would telle
You are the fools, not I-for I did dwell
With a deep thought, and with a soften'd eye,
On that Old Sexton's natural homily,
In which there was Obscurity and Famo,-
The Glory and the Nothing of a Name.

Diodati, 1876 PROMETHEUS.

TITAN! to whose immortal eyes

The sufferings of mortality,

Seen in their sad reality,
Were not as things that gods despiss :
What was thy pity's recompense ?
A silent suffering, and intense ;
The rock, the vulture, and the chain,
All that the proud can feel of pain,
The agony they do not show
The suffocating sense of woe,

Which speaks but in its loneliness,
And then is jealous lest the sky
Should have a listener, nor will sigh

Until its voice is echoless.

Titan! to thee the strife was given

Between the suffering and the will,

Which torture where they cannot kill;
And the inexorable Heaven,
And the deaf tyranny of Fate,
The ruling principle of Hate,
Which for its pleasure doth create
The things it may annihilate,
Refused thee even the boon to die;
The wretched gift eternity
Was thine-and thou hast borne it woll.
All that the Thunderer wrung from theo
Was but the menace which flung back
On him the torments of thy rack;
The fate thou didst so well foresee,
But would not to appease him tell ;
And in thy Silence was his Sentence,
And in his Soul a vain repentance,
And evil dread so ill dissembled,
That in his hand the lightnings trembled.
Thy Godlike crime was to be kind,

To render with thy precept less

The sum of human wretchedness,
And strengthen Man with his own mind ;
But baffled as thou wert from high,
Still in thy patient energy,
In the endurance, and resnlse

Of thine impenetralle Spirit,
Which Earth and Heaven could not convulse,

A mighty lesson we inherit :
Thou art a symbol and a sign

To Mortals of their fate and force; Like thee, Man is in part divine, å troubled stream from a pure source ;

And Man in portions can foreseo
His own funereal destiny ;
His wretchedness, and his resistance,
And his sad unallied existence :
To which his Spirit may oppose
Itself-and equal to all woes,

And a firm will, and a deep sensa,
Which even in torture can descry

Its own concenter'd recompense,
Triumphant where it dares defy,
And making Death a Victory!

Diouzu, aiz ..

A FRAGMENT.

COULD I remount the river of my years
To the first fountain of our smiles and tears,
1 would not trace again the stream of hours
Between their outworn banks of wither'd flowers,
But bid it flow as now-until it glides
Into the number of the nameless tides.

What is this Death ?—a quiet of the heart?
The whole of that of which we are a part ?
For life is but a vision--what I see
Of all which lives alone is life to me,
And being so—the absent are the dead,
Who haunt us from tranquillity, and spread
A dreary shroud around us, and invest
With sad remembrancers our hours of rest.

The absent are the dead, for they are cold,
And ne'er can be what once we did behold;
And they are changed, and cheerless,-

-or if yot
The unforgotten do not all forget,
Since thus divided-equal must it bo
If the deep barrier be of earth, or sea ;
It may be both—but one day end it raust
In the dark union of insensate dust.

The under-earth inhabitants--are they
But mingled millions decomposed to clay ?
The ashes of a thousand ages spread
Wherever man has trodden or shall tread!
Or do they in their silent cities dwell
Each in his incommunicative cell ?
Or have they their own language ? and a sense
Of breathless being ? darken'd

and intense
As midnight in her solitude ?- 0 Earth!
Where are the past ?–and wherefore had they birth?
The dead are thy inheritors--and we
But bubbles or thy surface; and the kez

« AnteriorContinuar »