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Tantissimi classici della letteratura e della cultura politica, economica e scientifica in lingua inglese con audio di ReadSpeaker e traduttore automatico interattivo FGA Translate

  1. Abbe Prevost - MANON LESCAUT
  2. Alcott, Louisa M. - AN OLDFASHIONED GIRL
  3. Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE MEN
  4. Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE WOMEN
  5. Alcott, Louisa May - JACK AND JILL
  6. Alcott, Louisa May - LIFE LETTERS AND JOURNALS
  7. Andersen, Hans Christian - FAIRY TALES
  8. Anonimo - BEOWULF
  9. Ariosto, Ludovico - ORLANDO ENRAGED
  10. Aurelius, Marcus - MEDITATIONS
  11. Austen, Jane - EMMA
  12. Austen, Jane - MANSFIELD PARK
  13. Austen, Jane - NORTHANGER ABBEY
  14. Austen, Jane - PERSUASION
  15. Austen, Jane - PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
  16. Austen, Jane - SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
  18. Authors, Various - SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS
  21. Balzac, Honore de - EUGENIE GRANDET
  22. Balzac, Honore de - FATHER GORIOT
  23. Baroness Orczy - THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
  24. Barrie, J. M. - PETER AND WENDY
  25. Barrie, James M. - PETER PAN
  26. Bierce, Ambrose - THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
  28. Boccaccio, Giovanni - DECAMERONE
  30. Bronte, Charlotte - JANE EYRE
  31. Bronte, Charlotte - VILLETTE
  32. Buchan, John - GREENMANTLE
  33. Buchan, John - MR STANDFAST
  34. Buchan, John - THE 39 STEPS
  35. Bunyan, John - THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
  37. Burnett, Frances H. - A LITTLE PRINCESS
  38. Burnett, Frances H. - LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY
  39. Burnett, Frances H. - THE SECRET GARDEN
  40. Butler, Samuel - EREWHON
  41. Carlyle, Thomas - PAST AND PRESENT
  42. Carlyle, Thomas - THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
  43. Cellini, Benvenuto - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  44. Cervantes - DON QUIXOTE
  45. Chaucer, Geoffrey - THE CANTERBURY TALES
  46. Chesterton, G. K. - A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLAND
  47. Chesterton, G. K. - THE BALLAD OF THE WHITE HORSE
  49. Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
  50. Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
  51. Chesterton, G. K. - THE WISDOM OF FATHER BROWN
  52. Chesterton, G. K. - TWELVE TYPES
  53. Chesterton, G. K. - WHAT I SAW IN AMERICA
  54. Chesterton, Gilbert K. - HERETICS
  55. Chopin, Kate - AT FAULT
  56. Chopin, Kate - BAYOU FOLK
  60. Clausewitz, Carl von - ON WAR
  62. Coleridge, S. T. - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
  65. Collins, Wilkie - THE MOONSTONE
  66. Collodi - PINOCCHIO
  67. Conan Doyle, Arthur - A STUDY IN SCARLET
  68. Conan Doyle, Arthur - MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
  69. Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
  70. Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
  71. Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE SIGN OF THE FOUR
  72. Conrad, Joseph - HEART OF DARKNESS
  73. Conrad, Joseph - LORD JIM
  74. Conrad, Joseph - NOSTROMO
  75. Conrad, Joseph - THE NIGGER OF THE NARCISSUS
  76. Conrad, Joseph - TYPHOON
  77. Crane, Stephen - LAST WORDS
  78. Crane, Stephen - MAGGIE
  79. Crane, Stephen - THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE
  80. Crane, Stephen - WOUNDS IN THE RAIN
  85. Darwin, Charles - THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
  87. Defoe, Daniel - A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR
  88. Defoe, Daniel - CAPTAIN SINGLETON
  89. Defoe, Daniel - MOLL FLANDERS
  90. Defoe, Daniel - ROBINSON CRUSOE
  93. Deledda, Grazia - AFTER THE DIVORCE
  94. Dickens, Charles - A CHRISTMAS CAROL
  95. Dickens, Charles - A TALE OF TWO CITIES
  96. Dickens, Charles - BLEAK HOUSE
  97. Dickens, Charles - DAVID COPPERFIELD
  98. Dickens, Charles - DONBEY AND SON
  99. Dickens, Charles - GREAT EXPECTATIONS
  100. Dickens, Charles - HARD TIMES
  101. Dickens, Charles - LETTERS VOLUME 1
  102. Dickens, Charles - LITTLE DORRIT
  103. Dickens, Charles - MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT
  104. Dickens, Charles - NICHOLAS NICKLEBY
  105. Dickens, Charles - OLIVER TWIST
  106. Dickens, Charles - OUR MUTUAL FRIEND
  107. Dickens, Charles - PICTURES FROM ITALY
  108. Dickens, Charles - THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
  109. Dickens, Charles - THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP
  110. Dickens, Charles - THE PICKWICK PAPERS
  111. Dickinson, Emily - POEMS
  112. Dostoevsky, Fyodor - CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
  113. Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
  114. Du Maurier, George - TRILBY
  115. Dumas, Alexandre - THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
  116. Dumas, Alexandre - THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
  117. Dumas, Alexandre - THE THREE MUSKETEERS
  118. Eliot, George - DANIEL DERONDA
  119. Eliot, George - MIDDLEMARCH
  120. Eliot, George - SILAS MARNER
  121. Eliot, George - THE MILL ON THE FLOSS
  123. Equiano - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  124. Esopo - FABLES
  125. Fenimore Cooper, James - THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
  126. Fielding, Henry - TOM JONES
  127. France, Anatole - THAIS
  128. France, Anatole - THE GODS ARE ATHIRST
  129. France, Anatole - THE LIFE OF JOAN OF ARC
  130. France, Anatole - THE SEVEN WIVES OF BLUEBEARD
  131. Frank Baum, L. - THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ
  132. Frank Baum, L. - THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ
  133. Franklin, Benjamin - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  134. Frazer, James George - THE GOLDEN BOUGH
  135. Freud, Sigmund - DREAM PSYCHOLOGY
  136. Galsworthy, John - COMPLETE PLAYS
  137. Galsworthy, John - STRIFE
  138. Galsworthy, John - STUDIES AND ESSAYS
  139. Galsworthy, John - THE FIRST AND THE LAST
  140. Galsworthy, John - THE FORSYTE SAGA
  141. Galsworthy, John - THE LITTLE MAN
  142. Galsworthy, John - THE SILVER BOX
  143. Galsworthy, John - THE SKIN GAME
  144. Gaskell, Elizabeth - CRANFORD
  145. Gaskell, Elizabeth - MARY BARTON
  146. Gaskell, Elizabeth - NORTH AND SOUTH
  147. Gaskell, Elizabeth - THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE
  148. Gay, John - THE BEGGAR'S OPERA
  149. Gentile, Maria - THE ITALIAN COOK BOOK
  150. Gilbert and Sullivan - PLAYS
  151. Goethe - FAUST
  152. Gogol - DEAD SOULS
  153. Goldsmith, Oliver - SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER
  154. Goldsmith, Oliver - THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD
  155. Grahame, Kenneth - THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
  156. Grimm, Brothers - FAIRY TALES
  158. Hardy, Thomas - A CHANGED MAN AND OTHER TALES
  159. Hardy, Thomas - FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
  160. Hardy, Thomas - JUDE THE OBSCURE
  161. Hardy, Thomas - TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES
  162. Hardy, Thomas - THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE
  164. Hawthorne, Nathaniel - LITTLE MASTERPIECES
  165. Hawthorne, Nathaniel - THE SCARLET LETTER
  167. Henry, O. - CABBAGES AND KINGS
  168. Henry, O. - SIXES AND SEVENS
  169. Henry, O. - THE FOUR MILLION
  170. Henry, O. - THE TRIMMED LAMP
  171. Henry, O. - WHIRLIGIGS
  172. Hindman Miller, Gustavus - TEN THOUSAND DREAMS INTERPRETED
  173. Hobbes, Thomas - LEVIATHAN
  174. Homer - THE ILIAD
  175. Homer - THE ODYSSEY
  180. Ibsen, Henrik - A DOLL'S HOUSE
  181. Ibsen, Henrik - AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
  182. Ibsen, Henrik - GHOSTS
  183. Ibsen, Henrik - HEDDA GABLER
  184. Ibsen, Henrik - JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN
  185. Ibsen, Henrik - ROSMERHOLM
  186. Ibsen, Henrik - THE LADY FROM THE SEA
  187. Ibsen, Henrik - THE MASTER BUILDER
  188. Ibsen, Henrik - WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN
  189. Irving, Washington - THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
  190. James, Henry - ITALIAN HOURS
  191. James, Henry - THE ASPERN PAPERS
  192. James, Henry - THE BOSTONIANS
  193. James, Henry - THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
  194. James, Henry - THE TURN OF THE SCREW
  195. James, Henry - WASHINGTON SQUARE
  196. Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN IN A BOAT
  197. Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN ON THE BUMMEL
  198. Jevons, Stanley - POLITICAL ECONOMY
  199. Johnson, Samuel - A GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH TONGUE
  200. Jonson, Ben - THE ALCHEMIST
  201. Jonson, Ben - VOLPONE
  203. Joyce, James - CHAMBER MUSIC
  204. Joyce, James - DUBLINERS
  205. Joyce, James - ULYSSES
  206. Keats, John - ENDYMION
  207. Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1817
  208. Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1820
  209. King James - THE BIBLE
  210. Kipling, Rudyard - CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS
  211. Kipling, Rudyard - INDIAN TALES
  212. Kipling, Rudyard - JUST SO STORIES
  213. Kipling, Rudyard - KIM
  214. Kipling, Rudyard - THE JUNGLE BOOK
  215. Kipling, Rudyard - THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
  216. Kipling, Rudyard - THE SECOND JUNGLE BOOK
  217. Lawrence, D. H - THE RAINBOW
  218. Lawrence, D. H - THE WHITE PEACOCK
  219. Lawrence, D. H - TWILIGHT IN ITALY
  220. Lawrence, D. H. - AARON'S ROD
  221. Lawrence, D. H. - SONS AND LOVERS
  222. Lawrence, D. H. - THE LOST GIRL
  223. Lawrence, D. H. - WOMEN IN LOVE
  224. Lear, Edward - BOOK OF NONSENSE
  225. Lear, Edward - LAUGHABLE LYRICS
  226. Lear, Edward - MORE NONSENSE
  227. Lear, Edward - NONSENSE SONG
  229. Leblanc, Maurice - THE ADVENTURES OF ARSENE LUPIN
  231. Leblanc, Maurice - THE HOLLOW NEEDLE
  232. Leblanc, Maurice - THE RETURN OF ARSENE LUPIN
  233. Lehmann, Lilli - HOW TO SING
  234. Leroux, Gaston - THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER
  235. Leroux, Gaston - THE MYSTERY OF THE YELLOW ROOM
  236. Leroux, Gaston - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
  237. London, Jack - MARTIN EDEN
  238. London, Jack - THE CALL OF THE WILD
  239. London, Jack - WHITE FANG
  240. Machiavelli, Nicolo' - THE PRINCE
  241. Malthus, Thomas - PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION
  242. Mansfield, Katherine - THE GARDEN PARTY AND OTHER STORIES
  243. Marlowe, Christopher - THE JEW OF MALTA
  244. Marryat, Captain - THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST
  245. Maupassant, Guy De - BEL AMI
  246. Melville, Hermann - MOBY DICK
  247. Melville, Hermann - TYPEE
  249. Milton, John - PARADISE LOST
  251. Montaigne, Michel de - ESSAYS
  252. Montgomery, Lucy Maud - ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
  253. More, Thomas - UTOPIA
  254. Nesbit, E. - FIVE CHILDREN AND IT
  256. Nesbit, E. - THE RAILWAY CHILDREN
  257. Nesbit, E. - THE STORY OF THE AMULET
  258. Newton, Isaac - OPTICKS
  259. Nietsche, Friedrich - BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
  260. Nietsche, Friedrich - THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA
  261. Nightingale, Florence - NOTES ON NURSING
  262. Owen, Wilfred - POEMS
  263. Ozaki, Yei Theodora - JAPANESE FAIRY TALES
  264. Pascal, Blaise - PENSEES
  265. Pellico, Silvio - MY TEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT
  266. Perrault, Charles - FAIRY TALES
  267. Pirandello, Luigi - THREE PLAYS
  268. Plato - THE REPUBLIC
  269. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 1
  270. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 2
  271. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 3
  272. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 4
  273. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 5
  274. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
  275. Potter, Beatrix - THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT
  276. Proust, Marcel - SWANN'S WAY
  277. Radcliffe, Ann - A SICILIAN ROMANCE
  279. Richardson, Samuel - PAMELA
  280. Rider Haggard, H. - ALLAN QUATERMAIN
  281. Rider Haggard, H. - KING SOLOMON'S MINES
  284. Schiller, Friedrich - THE DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN
  285. Schiller, Friedrich - THE PICCOLOMINI
  286. Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE ART OF CONTROVERSY
  287. Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE WISDOM OF LIFE
  288. Scott Fitzgerald, F. - FLAPPERS AND PHILOSOPHERS
  289. Scott Fitzgerald, F. - TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE
  290. Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED
  291. Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THIS SIDE OF PARADISE
  292. Scott, Walter - IVANHOE
  293. Scott, Walter - QUENTIN DURWARD
  294. Scott, Walter - ROB ROY
  295. Scott, Walter - THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR
  296. Scott, Walter - WAVERLEY
  297. Sedgwick, Anne Douglas - THE THIRD WINDOW
  298. Sewell, Anna - BLACK BEAUTY
  299. Shakespeare, William - COMPLETE WORKS
  300. Shakespeare, William - HAMLET
  301. Shakespeare, William - OTHELLO
  302. Shakespeare, William - ROMEO AND JULIET
  303. Shelley, Mary - FRANKENSTEIN
  304. Shelley, Percy Bysshe - A DEFENCE OF POETRY AND OTHER ESSAYS
  305. Shelley, Percy Bysshe - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
  306. Sheridan, Richard B. - THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL
  307. Sienkiewicz, Henryk - QUO VADIS
  308. Smith, Adam - THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
  311. Spyri, Johanna - HEIDI
  312. Sterne, Laurence - A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
  313. Sterne, Laurence - TRISTRAM SHANDY
  314. Stevenson, Robert Louis - A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES
  315. Stevenson, Robert Louis - ESSAYS IN THE ART OF WRITING
  316. Stevenson, Robert Louis - KIDNAPPED
  317. Stevenson, Robert Louis - NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS
  318. Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE BLACK ARROW
  319. Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
  320. Stevenson, Robert Louis - TREASURE ISLAND
  321. Stoker, Bram - DRACULA
  322. Strindberg, August - LUCKY PEHR
  323. Strindberg, August - MASTER OLOF
  324. Strindberg, August - THE RED ROOM
  325. Strindberg, August - THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS
  326. Strindberg, August - THERE ARE CRIMES AND CRIMES
  327. Swift, Jonathan - A MODEST PROPOSAL
  328. Swift, Jonathan - A TALE OF A TUB
  329. Swift, Jonathan - GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
  331. Tagore, Rabindranath - FRUIT GATHERING
  332. Tagore, Rabindranath - THE GARDENER
  333. Tagore, Rabindranath - THE HUNGRY STONES AND OTHER STORIES
  334. Thackeray, William - BARRY LYNDON
  335. Thackeray, William - VANITY FAIR
  336. Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE BOOK OF SNOBS
  337. Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE ROSE AND THE RING
  338. Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE VIRGINIANS
  339. Thoreau, Henry David - WALDEN
  340. Tolstoi, Leo - A LETTER TO A HINDU
  341. Tolstoy, Lev - ANNA KARENINA
  342. Tolstoy, Lev - WAR AND PEACE
  343. Trollope, Anthony - AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  344. Trollope, Anthony - BARCHESTER TOWERS
  345. Trollope, Anthony - FRAMLEY PARSONAGE
  346. Trollope, Anthony - THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS
  347. Trollope, Anthony - THE MAN WHO KEPT HIS MONEY IN A BOX
  348. Trollope, Anthony - THE WARDEN
  349. Trollope, Anthony - THE WAY WE LIVE NOW
  350. Twain, Mark - LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI
  351. Twain, Mark - SPEECHES
  354. Twain, Mark - THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER
  355. Vari, Autori - THE MAGNA CARTA
  356. Verga, Giovanni - SICILIAN STORIES
  357. Verne, Jules - 20000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS
  359. Verne, Jules - ALL AROUND THE MOON
  360. Verne, Jules - AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
  361. Verne, Jules - FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON
  362. Verne, Jules - FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
  363. Verne, Jules - MICHAEL STROGOFF
  364. Verne, Jules - THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
  366. Vyasa - MAHABHARATA
  367. Wallace, Edgar - SANDERS OF THE RIVER
  368. Wallace, Edgar - THE DAFFODIL MYSTERY
  369. Wallace, Lew - BEN HUR
  370. Webster, Jean - DADDY LONG LEGS
  371. Wedekind, Franz - THE AWAKENING OF SPRING
  372. Wells, H. G. - KIPPS
  373. Wells, H. G. - THE INVISIBLE MAN
  376. Wells, H. G. - THE TIME MACHINE
  377. Wells, H. G. - THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
  378. Wells, H. G. - WHAT IS COMING
  379. Wharton, Edith - THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
  380. White, Andrew Dickson - FIAT MONEY INFLATION IN FRANCE
  381. Wilde, Oscar - A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
  382. Wilde, Oscar - AN IDEAL HUSBAND
  383. Wilde, Oscar - DE PROFUNDIS
  384. Wilde, Oscar - LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN
  385. Wilde, Oscar - SALOME
  386. Wilde, Oscar - SELECTED POEMS
  387. Wilde, Oscar - THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL
  388. Wilde, Oscar - THE CANTERVILLE GHOST
  391. Wilde, Oscar - THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY
  392. Wilde, Oscar - THE SOUL OF MAN
  393. Wilson, Epiphanius - SACRED BOOKS OF THE EAST
  394. Wollstonecraft, Mary - A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN
  395. Woolf, Virgina - NIGHT AND DAY
  396. Woolf, Virgina - THE VOYAGE OUT
  397. Woolf, Virginia - JACOB'S ROOM
  398. Woolf, Virginia - MONDAY OR TUESDAY
  399. Wordsworth, William - POEMS
  400. Wordsworth, William - PROSE WORKS
  401. Zola, Emile - THERESE RAQUIN




Non si può dire di conoscere l'inglese se non si è in grado di capire le grandi opere che sono state scritte in questa lingua: i classici. E in questa sezione te ne offriamo una notevole selezione. Come strumenti ausiliari per la comprensione e la pronuncia trovi il dizionario di Babylon, il lettore automatico di ReadSpeaker e la traduzione interattiva di FGA Translate. Per attivarla basta selezionare una porzione qualsiasi di testo e, immediatamente, la traduzione in italiano comparirà in una finestrella. Qualora si desideri evitare la sovrapposizione della traduzione e dell'audio di ReadSpeaker è possibile deselezionare la casella della traduzione interattiva on/off. Dato che la pagina contiene tutta l'opera, per ascoltare le porzioni di testo successive a quelle iniziali anziché premere il pulsante Ascolta il testo si può selezionare la porzione di testo che si vuole ascoltare e poi cliccare sul simbolino di altoparlante che apparirà vicino alla porzione di testo selezionato.

Percy Bysshe Shelley
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Obstacles have long existed to my presenting the public with a perfect edition of Shelley's Poems. These being at last happily removed, I hasten to fulfil an important duty,--that of giving the productions of a sublime genius to the world, with all the correctness possible, and of, at the same time, detailing the history of those productions, as they sprang, living and warm, from his heart and brain. I abstain from any remark on the occurrences of his private life, except inasmuch as the passions which they engendered inspired his poetry. This is not the time to relate the truth; and I should reject any colouring of the truth. No account of these events has ever been given at all approaching reality in their details, either as regards himself or others; nor shall I further allude to them than to remark that the errors of action committed by a man as noble and generous as Shelley, may, as far as he only is concerned, be fearlessly avowed by those who loved him, in the firm conviction that, were they judged impartially, his character would stand in fairer and brighter light than that of any contemporary. Whatever faults he had ought to find extenuation among his fellows, since they prove him to be human; without them, the exalted nature of his soul would have raised him into something divine.

The qualities that struck any one newly introduced to Shelley were,--First, a gentle and cordial goodness that animated his intercourse with warm affection and helpful sympathy. The other, the eagerness and ardour with which he was attached to the cause of human happiness and improvement; and the fervent eloquence with which he discussed such subjects. His conversation was marked by its happy abundance, and the beautiful language in which he clothed his poetic ideas and philosophical notions. To defecate life of its misery and its evil was the ruling passion of his soul; he dedicated to it every power of his mind, every pulsation of his heart. He looked on political freedom as the direct agent to effect the happiness of mankind; and thus any new-sprung hope of liberty inspired a joy and an exultation more intense and wild than he could have felt for any personal advantage. Those who have never experienced the workings of passion on general and unselfish subjects cannot understand this; and it must be difficult of comprehension to the younger generation rising around, since they cannot remember the scorn and hatred with which the partisans of reform were regarded some few years ago, nor the persecutions to which they were exposed. He had been from youth the victim of the state of feeling inspired by the reaction of the French Revolution; and believing firmly in the justice and excellence of his views, it cannot be wondered that a nature as sensitive, as impetuous, and as generous as his, should put its whole force into the attempt to alleviate for others the evils of those systems from which he had himself suffered. Many advantages attended his birth; he spurned them all when balanced with what he considered his duties. He was generous to imprudence, devoted to heroism.

These characteristics breathe throughout his poetry. The struggle for human weal; the resolution firm to martyrdom; the impetuous pursuit, the glad triumph in good; the determination not to despair;--such were the features that marked those of his works which he regarded with most complacency, as sustained by a lofty subject and useful aim.

In addition to these, his poems may be divided into two classes,--the purely imaginative, and those which sprang from the emotions of his heart. Among the former may be classed the "Witch of Atlas", "Adonais", and his latest composition, left imperfect, the "Triumph of Life". In the first of these particularly he gave the reins to his fancy, and luxuriated in every idea as it rose; in all there is that sense of mystery which formed an essential portion of his perception of life--a clinging to the subtler inner spirit, rather than to the outward form--a curious and metaphysical anatomy of human passion and perception.

The second class is, of course, the more popular, as appealing at once to emotions common to us all; some of these rest on the passion of love; others on grief and despondency; others on the sentiments inspired by natural objects. Shelley's conception of love was exalted, absorbing, allied to all that is purest and noblest in our nature, and warmed by earnest passion; such it appears when he gave it a voice in verse. Yet he was usually averse to expressing these feelings, except when highly idealized; and many of his more beautiful effusions he had cast aside unfinished, and they were never seen by me till after I had lost him. Others, as for instance "Rosalind and Helen" and "Lines written among the Euganean Hills", I found among his papers by chance; and with some difficulty urged him to complete them. There are others, such as the "Ode to the Skylark and The Cloud", which, in the opinion of many critics, bear a purer poetical stamp than any other of his productions. They were written as his mind prompted: listening to the carolling of the bird, aloft in the azure sky of Italy; or marking the cloud as it sped across the heavens, while he floated in his boat on the Thames.

No poet was ever warmed by a more genuine and unforced inspiration. His extreme sensibility gave the intensity of passion to his intellectual pursuits; and rendered his mind keenly alive to every perception of outward objects, as well as to his internal sensations. Such a gift is, among the sad vicissitudes of human life, the disappointments we meet, and the galling sense of our own mistakes and errors, fraught with pain; to escape from such, he delivered up his soul to poetry, and felt happy when he sheltered himself, from the influence of human sympathies, in the wildest regions of fancy. His imagination has been termed too brilliant, his thoughts too subtle. He loved to idealize reality; and this is a taste shared by few. We are willing to have our passing whims exalted into passions, for this gratifies our vanity; but few of us understand or sympathize with the endeavour to ally the love of abstract beauty, and adoration of abstract good, the to agathon kai to kalon of the Socratic philosophers, with our sympathies with our kind. In this, Shelley resembled Plato; both taking more delight in the abstract and the ideal than in the special and tangible. This did not result from imitation; for it was not till Shelley resided in Italy that he made Plato his study. He then translated his "Symposium" and his "Ion"; and the English language boasts of no more brilliant composition than Plato's Praise of Love translated by Shelley. To return to his own poetry. The luxury of imagination, which sought nothing beyond itself (as a child burdens itself with spring flowers, thinking of no use beyond the enjoyment of gathering them), often showed itself in his verses: they will be only appreciated by minds which have resemblance to his own; and the mystic subtlety of many of his thoughts will share the same fate. The metaphysical strain that characterizes much of what he has written was, indeed, the portion of his works to which, apart from those whose scope was to awaken mankind to aspirations for what he considered the true and good, he was himself particularly attached. There is much, however, that speaks to the many. When he would consent to dismiss these huntings after the obscure (which, entwined with his nature as they were, he did with difficulty), no poet ever expressed in sweeter, more heart-reaching, or more passionate verse, the gentler or more forcible emotions of the soul.

A wise friend once wrote to Shelley: 'You are still very young, and in certain essential respects you do not yet sufficiently perceive that you are so.' It is seldom that the young know what youth is, till they have got beyond its period; and time was not given him to attain this knowledge. It must be remembered that there is the stamp of such inexperience on all he wrote; he had not completed his nine-and-twentieth year when he died. The calm of middle life did not add the seal of the virtues which adorn maturity to those generated by the vehement spirit of youth. Through life also he was a martyr to ill-health, and constant pain wound up his nerves to a pitch of susceptibility that rendered his views of life different from those of a man in the enjoyment of healthy sensations. Perfectly gentle and forbearing in manner, he suffered a good deal of internal irritability, or rather excitement, and his fortitude to bear was almost always on the stretch; and thus, during a short life, he had gone through more experience of sensation than many whose existence is protracted. 'If I die to-morrow,' he said, on the eve of his unanticipated death, 'I have lived to be older than my father.' The weight of thought and feeling burdened him heavily; you read his sufferings in his attenuated frame, while you perceived the mastery he held over them in his animated countenance and brilliant eyes.

He died, and the world showed no outward sign. But his influence over mankind, though slow in growth, is fast augmenting; and, in the ameliorations that have taken place in the political state of his country, we may trace in part the operation of his arduous struggles. His spirit gathers peace in its new state from the sense that, though late, his exertions were not made in vain, and in the progress of the liberty he so fondly loved.

He died, and his place, among those who knew him intimately, has never been filled up. He walked beside them like a spirit of good to comfort and benefit--to enlighten the darkness of life with irradiations of genius, to cheer it with his sympathy and love. Any one, once attached to Shelley, must feel all other affections, however true and fond, as wasted on barren soil in comparison. It is our best consolation to know that such a pure-minded and exalted being was once among us, and now exists where we hope one day to join him;--although the intolerant, in their blindness, poured down anathemas, the Spirit of Good, who can judge the heart, never rejected him.

In the notes appended to the poems I have endeavoured to narrate the origin and history of each. The loss of nearly all letters and papers which refer to his early life renders the execution more imperfect than it would otherwise have been. I have, however, the liveliest recollection of all that was done and said during the period of my knowing him. Every impression is as clear as if stamped yesterday, and I have no apprehension of any mistake in my statements as far as they go. In other respects I am indeed incompetent: but I feel the importance of the task, and regard it as my most sacred duty. I endeavour to fulfil it in a manner he would himself approve; and hope, in this publication, to lay the first stone of a monument due to Shelley's genius, his sufferings, and his virtues:--

Se al seguir son tarda, Forse avverra che 'l bel nome gentile Consacrero con questa stanca penna.


In revising this new edition, and carefully consulting Shelley's scattered and confused papers, I found a few fragments which had hitherto escaped me, and was enabled to complete a few poems hitherto left unfinished. What at one time escapes the searching eye, dimmed by its own earnestness, becomes clear at a future period. By the aid of a friend, I also present some poems complete and correct which hitherto have been defaced by various mistakes and omissions. It was suggested that the poem "To the Queen of my Heart" was falsely attributed to Shelley. I certainly find no trace of it among his papers; and, as those of his intimate friends whom I have consulted never heard of it, I omit it.

Two poems are added of some length, "Swellfoot the Tyrant" and "Peter Bell the Third". I have mentioned the circumstances under which they were written in the notes; and need only add that they are conceived in a very different spirit from Shelley's usual compositions. They are specimens of the burlesque and fanciful; but, although they adopt a familiar style and homely imagery, there shine through the radiance of the poet's imagination the earnest views and opinions of the politician and the moralist.

At my request the publisher has restored the omitted passages of "Queen Mab". I now present this edition as a complete collection of my husband's poetical works, and I do not foresee that I can hereafter add to or take away a word or line.

Putney, November 6, 1839.



In nobil sangue vita umile e queta, Ed in alto intelletto un puro core Frutto senile in sul giovenil fibre, E in aspetto pensoso anima lieta.--PETRARCA.

It had been my wish, on presenting the public with the Posthumous Poems of Mr. Shelley, to have accompanied them by a biographical notice; as it appeared to me that at this moment a narration of the events of my husband's life would come more gracefully from other hands than mine, I applied to Mr. Leigh Hunt. The distinguished friendship that Mr. Shelley felt for him, and the enthusiastic affection with which Mr. Leigh Hunt clings to his friend's memory, seemed to point him out as the person best calculated for such an undertaking. His absence from this country, which prevented our mutual explanation, has unfortunately rendered my scheme abortive. I do not doubt but that on some other occasion he will pay this tribute to his lost friend, and sincerely regret that the volume which I edit has not been honoured by its insertion.

The comparative solitude in which Mr. Shelley lived was the occasion that he was personally known to few; and his fearless enthusiasm in the cause which he considered the most sacred upon earth, the improvement of the moral and physical state of mankind, was the chief reason why he, like other illustrious reformers, was pursued by hatred and calumny. No man was ever more devoted than he to the endeavour of making those around him happy; no man ever possessed friends more unfeignedly attached to him. The ungrateful world did not feel his loss, and the gap it made seemed to close as quickly over his memory as the murderous sea above his living frame. Hereafter men will lament that his transcendent powers of intellect were extinguished before they had bestowed on them their choicest treasures. To his friends his loss is irremediable: the wise, the brave, the gentle, is gone for ever! He is to them as a bright vision, whose radiant track, left behind in the memory, is worth all the realities that society can afford. Before the critics contradict me, let them appeal to any one who had ever known him. To see him was to love him: and his presence, like Ithuriel's spear, was alone sufficient to disclose the falsehood of the tale which his enemies whispered in the ear of the ignorant world.

His life was spent in the contemplation of Nature, in arduous study, or in acts of kindness and affection. He was an elegant scholar and a profound metaphysician; without possessing much scientific knowledge, he was unrivalled in the justness and extent of his observations on natural objects; he knew every plant by its name, and was familiar with the history and habits of every production of the earth; he could interpret without a fault each appearance in the sky; and the varied phenomena of heaven and earth filled him with deep emotion. He made his study and reading-room of the shadowed copse, the stream, the lake, and the waterfall. Ill health and continual pain preyed upon his powers; and the solitude in which we lived, particularly on our first arrival in Italy, although congenial to his feelings, must frequently have weighed upon his spirits; those beautiful and affecting "Lines written in Dejection near Naples" were composed at such an interval; but, when in health, his spirits were buoyant and youthful to an extraordinary degree.

Such was his love for Nature that every page of his poetry is associated, in the minds of his friends, with the loveliest scenes of the countries which he inhabited. In early life he visited the most beautiful parts of this country and Ireland. Afterwards the Alps of Switzerland became his inspirers. "Prometheus Unbound" was written among the deserted and flower-grown ruins of Rome; and, when he made his home under the Pisan hills, their roofless recesses harboured him as he composed the "Witch of Atlas", "Adonais", and "Hellas". In the wild but beautiful Bay of Spezzia, the winds and waves which he loved became his playmates. His days were chiefly spent on the water; the management of his boat, its alterations and improvements, were his principal occupation. At night, when the unclouded moon shone on the calm sea, he often went alone in his little shallop to the rocky caves that bordered it, and, sitting beneath their shelter, wrote the "Triumph of Life", the last of his productions. The beauty but strangeness of this lonely place, the refined pleasure which he felt in the companionship of a few selected friends, our entire sequestration from the rest of the world, all contributed to render this period of his life one of continued enjoyment. I am convinced that the two months we passed there were the happiest which he had ever known: his health even rapidly improved, and he was never better than when I last saw him, full of spirits and joy, embark for Leghorn, that he might there welcome Leigh Hunt to Italy. I was to have accompanied him; but illness confined me to my room, and thus put the seal on my misfortune. His vessel bore out of sight with a favourable wind, and I remained awaiting his return by the breakers of that sea which was about to engulf him.

He spent a week at Pisa, employed in kind offices toward his friend, and enjoying with keen delight the renewal of their intercourse. He then embarked with Mr. Williams, the chosen and beloved sharer of his pleasures and of his fate, to return to us. We waited for them in vain; the sea by its restless moaning seemed to desire to inform us of what we would not learn:--but a veil may well be drawn over such misery. The real anguish of those moments transcended all the fictions that the most glowing imagination ever portrayed; our seclusion, the savage nature of the inhabitants of the surrounding villages, and our immediate vicinity to the troubled sea, combined to imbue with strange horror our days of uncertainty. The truth was at last known,--a truth that made our loved and lovely Italy appear a tomb, its sky a pall. Every heart echoed the deep lament, and my only consolation was in the praise and earnest love that each voice bestowed and each countenance demonstrated for him we had lost,--not, I fondly hope, for ever; his unearthly and elevated nature is a pledge of the continuation of his being, although in an altered form. Rome received his ashes; they are deposited beneath its weed-grown wall, and 'the world's sole monument' is enriched by his remains.

I must add a few words concerning the contents of this volume. "Julian and Maddalo", the "Witch of Atlas", and most of the "Translations", were written some years ago; and, with the exception of the "Cyclops", and the Scenes from the "Magico Prodigioso", may be considered as having received the author's ultimate corrections. The "Triumph of Life" was his last work, and was left in so unfinished a state that I arranged it in its present form with great difficulty. All his poems which were scattered in periodical works are collected in this volume, and I have added a reprint of "Alastor, or the Spirit of Solitude": the difficulty with which a copy can be obtained is the cause of its republication. Many of the Miscellaneous Poems, written on the spur of the occasion, and never retouched, I found among his manuscript books, and have carefully copied. I have subjoined, whenever I have been able, the date of their composition.

I do not know whether the critics will reprehend the insertion of some of the most imperfect among them; but I frankly own that I have been more actuated by the fear lest any monument of his genius should escape me than the wish of presenting nothing but what was complete to the fastidious reader. I feel secure that the lovers of Shelley's poetry (who know how, more than any poet of the present day, every line and word he wrote is instinct with peculiar beauty) will pardon and thank me: I consecrate this volume to them.

The size of this collection has prevented the insertion of any prose pieces. They will hereafter appear in a separate publication.


London, June 1, 1824.































[Sections 1 and 2 of "Queen Mab" rehandled, and published by Shelley in the "Alastor" volume, 1816. See "Bibliographical List", and the Editor's Introductory Note to "Queen Mab".]

Nec tantum prodere vati, Quantum scire licet. Venit aetas omnis in unam Congeriem, miserumque premunt tot saecula pectus. LUCAN, Phars. v. 176.

How wonderful is Death, Death and his brother Sleep! One pale as yonder wan and horned moon, With lips of lurid blue, The other glowing like the vital morn, "5 When throned on ocean's wave It breathes over the world: Yet both so passing strange and wonderful!

Hath then the iron-sceptred Skeleton, Whose reign is in the tainted sepulchres, "10 To the hell dogs that couch beneath his throne Cast that fair prey? Must that divinest form, Which love and admiration cannot view Without a beating heart, whose azure veins Steal like dark streams along a field of snow, "15 Whose outline is as fair as marble clothed In light of some sublimest mind, decay? Nor putrefaction's breath Leave aught of this pure spectacle But loathsomeness and ruin?-- "20 Spare aught but a dark theme, On which the lightest heart might moralize? Or is it but that downy-winged slumbers Have charmed their nurse coy Silence near her lids To watch their own repose? "25 Will they, when morning's beam Flows through those wells of light, Seek far from noise and day some western cave, Where woods and streams with soft and pausing winds A lulling murmur weave?-- "30 Ianthe doth not sleep The dreamless sleep of death: Nor in her moonlight chamber silently Doth Henry hear her regular pulses throb, Or mark her delicate cheek "35 With interchange of hues mock the broad moon, Outwatching weary night, Without assured reward. Her dewy eyes are closed; On their translucent lids, whose texture fine "40 Scarce hides the dark blue orbs that burn below With unapparent fire, The baby Sleep is pillowed: Her golden tresses shade The bosom's stainless pride, "45 Twining like tendrils of the parasite Around a marble column.

Hark! whence that rushing sound? 'Tis like a wondrous strain that sweeps Around a lonely ruin "50 When west winds sigh and evening waves respond In whispers from the shore: 'Tis wilder than the unmeasured notes Which from the unseen lyres of dells and groves The genii of the breezes sweep. "55 Floating on waves of music and of light, The chariot of the Daemon of the World Descends in silent power: Its shape reposed within: slight as some cloud That catches but the palest tinge of day "60 When evening yields to night, Bright as that fibrous woof when stars indue Its transitory robe. Four shapeless shadows bright and beautiful Draw that strange car of glory, reins of light "65 Check their unearthly speed; they stop and fold Their wings of braided air: The Daemon leaning from the ethereal car Gazed on the slumbering maid. Human eye hath ne'er beheld "70 A shape so wild, so bright, so beautiful, As that which o'er the maiden's charmed sleep Waving a starry wand, Hung like a mist of light. Such sounds as breathed around like odorous winds "75 Of wakening spring arose, Filling the chamber and the moonlight sky. Maiden, the world's supremest spirit Beneath the shadow of her wings Folds all thy memory doth inherit "80 From ruin of divinest things, Feelings that lure thee to betray, And light of thoughts that pass away. For thou hast earned a mighty boon, The truths which wisest poets see "85 Dimly, thy mind may make its own, Rewarding its own majesty, Entranced in some diviner mood Of self-oblivious solitude.

Custom, and Faith, and Power thou spurnest; "90 From hate and awe thy heart is free; Ardent and pure as day thou burnest, For dark and cold mortality A living light, to cheer it long, The watch-fires of the world among. "95

Therefore from nature's inner shrine, Where gods and fiends in worship bend, Majestic spirit, be it thine The flame to seize, the veil to rend, Where the vast snake Eternity "100 In charmed sleep doth ever lie.

All that inspires thy voice of love, Or speaks in thy unclosing eyes, Or through thy frame doth burn or move, Or think or feel, awake, arise! "105 Spirit, leave for mine and me Earth's unsubstantial mimicry!

It ceased, and from the mute and moveless frame A radiant spirit arose, All beautiful in naked purity. "110 Robed in its human hues it did ascend, Disparting as it went the silver clouds, It moved towards the car, and took its seat Beside the Daemon shape.

Obedient to the sweep of aery song, "115 The mighty ministers Unfurled their prismy wings. The magic car moved on; The night was fair, innumerable stars Studded heaven's dark blue vault; "120 The eastern wave grew pale With the first smile of morn. The magic car moved on. From the swift sweep of wings The atmosphere in flaming sparkles flew; "125 And where the burning wheels Eddied above the mountain's loftiest peak Was traced a line of lightning. Now far above a rock the utmost verge Of the wide earth it flew, "130 The rival of the Andes, whose dark brow Frowned o'er the silver sea. Far, far below the chariot's stormy path, Calm as a slumbering babe, Tremendous ocean lay. "135 Its broad and silent mirror gave to view The pale and waning stars, The chariot's fiery track, And the grey light of morn Tingeing those fleecy clouds "140 That cradled in their folds the infant dawn. The chariot seemed to fly Through the abyss of an immense concave, Radiant with million constellations, tinged With shades of infinite colour, "145 And semicircled with a belt Flashing incessant meteors.

As they approached their goal, The winged shadows seemed to gather speed. The sea no longer was distinguished; earth "150 Appeared a vast and shadowy sphere, suspended In the black concave of heaven With the sun's cloudless orb, Whose rays of rapid light Parted around the chariot's swifter course, "155 And fell like ocean's feathery spray Dashed from the boiling surge Before a vessel's prow.

The magic car moved on. Earth's distant orb appeared "160 The smallest light that twinkles in the heavens, Whilst round the chariot's way Innumerable systems widely rolled, And countless spheres diffused An ever varying glory. "165 It was a sight of wonder! Some were horned, And like the moon's argentine crescent hung In the dark dome of heaven; some did shed A clear mild beam like Hesperus, while the sea Yet glows with fading sunlight; others dashed "170 Athwart the night with trains of bickering fire, Like sphered worlds to death and ruin driven; Some shone like stars, and as the chariot passed Bedimmed all other light.

Spirit of Nature! here "175 In this interminable wilderness Of worlds, at whose involved immensity Even soaring fancy staggers, Here is thy fitting temple. Yet not the lightest leaf "180 That quivers to the passing breeze Is less instinct with thee,-- Yet not the meanest worm. That lurks in graves and fattens on the dead, Less shares thy eternal breath. "185 Spirit of Nature! thou Imperishable as this glorious scene, Here is thy fitting temple.

If solitude hath ever led thy steps To the shore of the immeasurable sea, "190 And thou hast lingered there Until the sun's broad orb Seemed resting on the fiery line of ocean, Thou must have marked the braided webs of gold That without motion hang "195 Over the sinking sphere: Thou must have marked the billowy mountain clouds, Edged with intolerable radiancy, Towering like rocks of jet Above the burning deep: "200 And yet there is a moment When the sun's highest point Peers like a star o'er ocean's western edge, When those far clouds of feathery purple gleam Like fairy lands girt by some heavenly sea: "205 Then has thy rapt imagination soared Where in the midst of all existing things The temple of the mightiest Daemon stands.

Yet not the golden islands That gleam amid yon flood of purple light, "210 Nor the feathery curtains That canopy the sun's resplendent couch, Nor the burnished ocean waves Paving that gorgeous dome, So fair, so wonderful a sight "215 As the eternal temple could afford. The elements of all that human thought Can frame of lovely or sublime, did join To rear the fabric of the fane, nor aught Of earth may image forth its majesty. "220 Yet likest evening's vault that faery hall, As heaven low resting on the wave it spread Its floors of flashing light, Its vast and azure dome; And on the verge of that obscure abyss "225 Where crystal battlements o'erhang the gulf Of the dark world, ten thousand spheres diffuse Their lustre through its adamantine gates.

The magic car no longer moved; The Daemon and the Spirit "230 Entered the eternal gates. Those clouds of aery gold That slept in glittering billows Beneath the azure canopy, With the ethereal footsteps trembled not; "235 While slight and odorous mists Floated to strains of thrilling melody Through the vast columns and the pearly shrines.

The Daemon and the Spirit Approached the overhanging battlement, "240 Below lay stretched the boundless universe! There, far as the remotest line That limits swift imagination's flight. Unending orbs mingled in mazy motion, Immutably fulfilling "245 Eternal Nature's law. Above, below, around, The circling systems formed A wilderness of harmony. Each with undeviating aim "250 In eloquent silence through the depths of space Pursued its wondrous way.--

Awhile the Spirit paused in ecstasy. Yet soon she saw, as the vast spheres swept by, Strange things within their belted orbs appear. "255 Like animated frenzies, dimly moved Shadows, and skeletons, and fiendly shapes, Thronging round human graves, and o'er the dead Sculpturing records for each memory In verse, such as malignant gods pronounce, "260 Blasting the hopes of men, when heaven and hell Confounded burst in ruin o'er the world: And they did build vast trophies, instruments Of murder, human bones, barbaric gold, Skins torn from living men, and towers of skulls "265 With sightless holes gazing on blinder heaven, Mitres, and crowns, and brazen chariots stained With blood, and scrolls of mystic wickedness, The sanguine codes of venerable crime. The likeness of a throned king came by. "270 When these had passed, bearing upon his brow A threefold crown; his countenance was calm. His eye severe and cold; but his right hand Was charged with bloody coin, and he did gnaw By fits, with secret smiles, a human heart "275 Concealed beneath his robe; and motley shapes, A multitudinous throng, around him knelt. With bosoms bare, and bowed heads, and false looks Of true submission, as the sphere rolled by. Brooking no eye to witness their foul shame, "280 Which human hearts must feel, while human tongues Tremble to speak, they did rage horribly, Breathing in self-contempt fierce blasphemies Against the Daemon of the World, and high Hurling their armed hands where the pure Spirit, "285 Serene and inaccessibly secure, Stood on an isolated pinnacle. The flood of ages combating below, The depth of the unbounded universe Above, and all around "290 Necessity's unchanging harmony.


[Sections 8 and 9 of "Queen Mab" rehandled by Shelley. First printed in 1876 by Mr. H. Buxton Forman, C.B., by whose kind permission it is here reproduced. See Editor's Introductory Note to "Queen Mab".]

O happy Earth! reality of Heaven! To which those restless powers that ceaselessly Throng through the human universe aspire; Thou consummation of all mortal hope! "295 Thou glorious prize of blindly-working will! Whose rays, diffused throughout all space and time, Verge to one point and blend for ever there: Of purest spirits thou pure dwelling-place! Where care and sorrow, impotence and crime, "300 Languor, disease, and ignorance dare not come: O happy Earth, reality of Heaven!

Genius has seen thee in her passionate dreams, And dim forebodings of thy loveliness, Haunting the human heart, have there entwined "305 Those rooted hopes, that the proud Power of Evil Shall not for ever on this fairest world Shake pestilence and war, or that his slaves With blasphemy for prayer, and human blood For sacrifice, before his shrine for ever "310 In adoration bend, or Erebus With all its banded fiends shall not uprise To overwhelm in envy and revenge The dauntless and the good, who dare to hurl Defiance at his throne, girt tho' it be "315 With Death's omnipotence. Thou hast beheld His empire, o'er the present and the past; It was a desolate sight--now gaze on mine, Futurity. Thou hoary giant Time, Render thou up thy half-devoured babes,-- "320 And from the cradles of eternity, Where millions lie lulled to their portioned sleep By the deep murmuring stream of passing things, Tear thou that gloomy shroud.--Spirit, behold Thy glorious destiny!

The Spirit saw "325 The vast frame of the renovated world Smile in the lap of Chaos, and the sense Of hope thro' her fine texture did suffuse Such varying glow, as summer evening casts On undulating clouds and deepening lakes. "330 Like the vague sighings of a wind at even, That wakes the wavelets of the slumbering sea And dies on the creation of its breath, And sinks and rises, fails and swells by fits, Was the sweet stream of thought that with wild motion "335 Flowed o'er the Spirit's human sympathies. The mighty tide of thought had paused awhile, Which from the Daemon now like Ocean's stream Again began to pour.--

To me is given The wonders of the human world to keep- "340 Space, matter, time and mind--let the sight Renew and strengthen all thy failing hope. All things are recreated, and the flame Of consentaneous love inspires all life: The fertile bosom of the earth gives suck "345 To myriads, who still grow beneath her care, Rewarding her with their pure perfectness: The balmy breathings of the wind inhale Her virtues, and diffuse them all abroad: Health floats amid the gentle atmosphere, "350 Glows in the fruits, and mantles on the stream; No storms deform the beaming brow of heaven, Nor scatter in the freshness of its pride The foliage of the undecaying trees; But fruits are ever ripe, flowers ever fair, "355 And Autumn proudly bears her matron grace, Kindling a flush on the fair cheek of Spring, Whose virgin bloom beneath the ruddy fruit Reflects its tint and blushes into love.

The habitable earth is full of bliss; "360 Those wastes of frozen billows that were hurled By everlasting snow-storms round the poles, Where matter dared not vegetate nor live, But ceaseless frost round the vast solitude Bound its broad zone of stillness, are unloosed; "365 And fragrant zephyrs there from spicy isles Ruffle the placid ocean-deep, that rolls Its broad, bright surges to the sloping sand, Whose roar is wakened into echoings sweet To murmur through the heaven-breathing groves "370 And melodise with man's blest nature there.

The vast tract of the parched and sandy waste Now teems with countless rills and shady woods, Corn-fields and pastures and white cottages; And where the startled wilderness did hear "375 A savage conqueror stained in kindred blood, Hymmng his victory, or the milder snake Crushing the bones of some frail antelope Within his brazen folds--the dewy lawn, Offering sweet incense to the sunrise, smiles "380 To see a babe before his mother's door, Share with the green and golden basilisk That comes to lick his feet, his morning's meal.

Those trackless deeps, where many a weary sail Has seen, above the illimitable plain, "385 Morning on night and night on morning rise, Whilst still no land to greet the wanderer spread Its shadowy mountains on the sunbright sea, Where the loud roarings of the tempest-waves So long have mingled with the gusty wind "390 In melancholy loneliness, and swept The desert of those ocean solitudes, But vocal to the sea-bird's harrowing shriek, The bellowing monster, and the rushing storm, Now to the sweet and many-mingling sounds "395 Of kindliest human impulses respond: Those lonely realms bright garden-isles begem, With lightsome clouds and shining seas between, And fertile valleys resonant with bliss, Whilst green woods overcanopy the wave, "400 Which like a toil-worn labourer leaps to shore, To meet the kisses of the flowerets there.

Man chief perceives the change, his being notes The gradual renovation, and defines Each movement of its progress on his mind. "405 Man, where the gloom of the long polar night Lowered o'er the snow-clad rocks and frozen soil, Where scarce the hardiest herb that braves the frost Basked in the moonlight's ineffectual glow, Shrank with the plants, and darkened with the night; "410 Nor where the tropics bound the realms of day With a broad belt of mingling cloud and flame, Where blue mists through the unmoving atmosphere Scattered the seeds of pestilence, and fed Unnatural vegetation, where the land "415 Teemed with all earthquake, tempest and disease, Was man a nobler being; slavery Had crushed him to his country's blood-stained dust.

Even where the milder zone afforded man A seeming shelter, yet contagion there, "420 Blighting his being with unnumbered ills, Spread like a quenchless fire; nor truth availed Till late to arrest its progress, or create That peace which first in bloodless victory waved Her snowy standard o'er this favoured clime: "425 There man was long the train-bearer of slaves, The mimic of surrounding misery, The jackal of ambition's lion-rage, The bloodhound of religion's hungry zeal.

Here now the human being stands adorning "430 This loveliest earth with taintless body and mind; Blest from his birth with all bland impulses, Which gently in his noble bosom wake All kindly passions and all pure desires. Him, still from hope to hope the bliss pursuing, "435 Which from the exhaustless lore of human weal Dawns on the virtuous mind, the thoughts that rise In time-destroying infiniteness gift With self-enshrined eternity, that mocks The unprevailing hoariness of age, "440 And man, once fleeting o'er the transient scene Swift as an unremembered vision, stands Immortal upon earth: no longer now He slays the beast that sports around his dwelling And horribly devours its mangled flesh, "445 Or drinks its vital blood, which like a stream Of poison thro' his fevered veins did flow Feeding a plague that secretly consumed His feeble frame, and kindling in his mind Hatred, despair, and fear and vain belief, "450 The germs of misery, death, disease and crime. No longer now the winged habitants, That in the woods their sweet lives sing away, Flee from the form of man; but gather round, And prune their sunny feathers on the hands "455 Which little children stretch in friendly sport Towards these dreadless partners of their play. All things are void of terror: man has lost His desolating privilege, and stands An equal amidst equals: happiness "460 And science dawn though late upon the earth; Peace cheers the mind, health renovates the frame; Disease and pleasure cease to mingle here, Reason and passion cease to combat there; Whilst mind unfettered o'er the earth extends "465 Its all-subduing energies, and wields The sceptre of a vast dominion there.

Mild is the slow necessity of death: The tranquil spirit fails beneath its grasp, Without a groan, almost without a fear, "470 Resigned in peace to the necessity, Calm as a voyager to some distant land, And full of wonder, full of hope as he. The deadly germs of languor and disease Waste in the human frame, and Nature gifts "475 With choicest boons her human worshippers. How vigorous now the athletic form of age! How clear its open and unwrinkled brow! Where neither avarice, cunning, pride, or care, Had stamped the seal of grey deformity "480 On all the mingling lineaments of time. How lovely the intrepid front of youth! How sweet the smiles of taintless infancy.

Within the massy prison's mouldering courts, Fearless and free the ruddy children play, "485 Weaving gay chaplets for their innocent brows With the green ivy and the red wall-flower, That mock the dungeon's unavailing gloom; The ponderous chains, and gratings of strong iron, There rust amid the accumulated ruins "490 Now mingling slowly with their native earth: There the broad beam of day, which feebly once Lighted the cheek of lean captivity With a pale and sickly glare, now freely shines On the pure smiles of infant playfulness: "495 No more the shuddering voice of hoarse despair Peals through the echoing vaults, but soothing notes Of ivy-fingered winds and gladsome birds And merriment are resonant around.

The fanes of Fear and Falsehood hear no more "500 The voice that once waked multitudes to war Thundering thro' all their aisles: but now respond To the death dirge of the melancholy wind: It were a sight of awfulness to see The works of faith and slavery, so vast, "505 So sumptuous, yet withal so perishing! Even as the corpse that rests beneath their wall. A thousand mourners deck the pomp of death To-day, the breathing marble glows above To decorate its memory, and tongues "510 Are busy of its life: to-morrow, worms In silence and in darkness seize their prey. These ruins soon leave not a wreck behind: Their elements, wide-scattered o'er the globe, To happier shapes are moulded, and become "515 Ministrant to all blissful impulses: Thus human things are perfected, and earth, Even as a child beneath its mother's love, Is strengthened in all excellence, and grows Fairer and nobler with each passing year. "520

Now Time his dusky pennons o'er the scene Closes in steadfast darkness, and the past Fades from our charmed sight. My task is done: Thy lore is learned. Earth's wonders are thine own, With all the fear and all the hope they bring. "525 My spells are past: the present now recurs. Ah me! a pathless wilderness remains Yet unsubdued by man's reclaiming hand.

Yet, human Spirit, bravely hold thy course, Let virtue teach thee firmly to pursue "530 The gradual paths of an aspiring change: For birth and life and death, and that strange state Before the naked powers that thro' the world Wander like winds have found a human home, All tend to perfect happiness, and urge "535 The restless wheels of being on their way, Whose flashing spokes, instinct with infinite life, Bicker and burn to gain their destined goal: For birth but wakes the universal mind Whose mighty streams might else in silence flow "540 Thro' the vast world, to individual sense Of outward shows, whose unexperienced shape New modes of passion to its frame may lend; Life is its state of action, and the store Of all events is aggregated there "545 That variegate the eternal universe; Death is a gate of dreariness and gloom, That leads to azure isles and beaming skies And happy regions of eternal hope. Therefore, O Spirit! fearlessly bear on: "550 Though storms may break the primrose on its stalk, Though frosts may blight the freshness of its bloom, Yet spring's awakening breath will woo the earth, To feed with kindliest dews its favourite flower, That blooms in mossy banks and darksome glens, "555 Lighting the green wood with its sunny smile.

Fear not then, Spirit, death's disrobing hand, So welcome when the tyrant is awake, So welcome when the bigot's hell-torch flares; 'Tis but the voyage of a darksome hour, "560 The transient gulf-dream of a startling sleep. For what thou art shall perish utterly, But what is thine may never cease to be; Death is no foe to virtue: earth has seen Love's brightest roses on the scaffold bloom, "565 Mingling with freedom's fadeless laurels there, And presaging the truth of visioned bliss. Are there not hopes within thee, which this scene Of linked and gradual being has confirmed? Hopes that not vainly thou, and living fires "570 Of mind as radiant and as pure as thou, Have shone upon the paths of men--return, Surpassing Spirit, to that world, where thou Art destined an eternal war to wage With tyranny and falsehood, and uproot "575 The germs of misery from the human heart. Thine is the hand whose piety would soothe The thorny pillow of unhappy crime, Whose impotence an easy pardon gains, Watching its wanderings as a friend's disease: "580 Thine is the brow whose mildness would defy Its fiercest rage, and brave its sternest will, When fenced by power and master of the world. Thou art sincere and good; of resolute mind, Free from heart-withering custom's cold control, "585 Of passion lofty, pure and unsubdued. Earth's pride and meanness could not vanquish thee, And therefore art thou worthy of the boon Which thou hast now received: virtue shall keep Thy footsteps in the path that thou hast trod, "590 And many days of beaming hope shall bless Thy spotless life of sweet and sacred love. Go, happy one, and give that bosom joy Whose sleepless spirit waits to catch Light, life and rapture from thy smile. "595

The Daemon called its winged ministers. Speechless with bliss the Spirit mounts the car, That rolled beside the crystal battlement, Bending her beamy eyes in thankfulness. The burning wheels inflame "600 The steep descent of Heaven's untrodden way. Fast and far the chariot flew: The mighty globes that rolled Around the gate of the Eternal Fane Lessened by slow degrees, and soon appeared "605 Such tiny twinklers as the planet orbs That ministering on the solar power With borrowed light pursued their narrower way. Earth floated then below: The chariot paused a moment; "610 The Spirit then descended: And from the earth departing The shadows with swift wings Speeded like thought upon the light of Heaven.

The Body and the Soul united then, "615 A gentle start convulsed Ianthe's frame: Her veiny eyelids quietly unclosed; Moveless awhile the dark blue orbs remained: She looked around in wonder and beheld Henry, who kneeled in silence by her couch, "620 Watching her sleep with looks of speechless love, And the bright beaming stars That through the casement shone.

Notes: "87 Regarding cj. A.C. Bradley.)



[Composed at Bishopsgate Heath, near Windsor Park, 1815 (autumn); published, as the title-piece of a slender volume containing other poems (see "Biographical List", by Baldwin, Cradock and Joy, London, 1816 (March). Reprinted--the first edition being sold out--amongst the "Posthumous Poems", 1824. Sources of the text are (1) the editio princeps, 1816; (2) "Posthumous Poems", 1824; (3) "Poetical Works", 1839, editions 1st and 2nd. For (2) and (3) Mrs. Shelley is responsible.]


The poem entitled "Alastor" may be considered as allegorical of one of the most interesting situations of the human mind. It represents a youth of uncorrupted feelings and adventurous genius led forth by an imagination inflamed and purified through familiarity with all that is excellent and majestic, to the contemplation of the universe. He drinks deep of the fountains of knowledge, and is still insatiate. The magnificence and beauty of the external world sinks profoundly into the frame of his conceptions, and affords to their modifications at variety not to be exhausted. so long as it is possible for his desires to point towards objects thus infinite and unmeasured, he is joyous, and tranquil, and self-possessed. But the period arrives when these objects cease to suffice. His mind is at length suddenly awakened and thirsts for intercourse with an intelligence similar to itself. He images to himself the Being whom he loves. Conversant with speculations of the sublimest and most perfect natures, the vision in which he embodies his own imaginations unites all of wonderful, or wise, or beautiful, which the poet, the philosopher, or the lover could depicture. The intellectual faculties, the imagination, the functions of sense, have their respective requisitions on the sympathy of corresponding powers in other human beings. The Poet is represented as uniting these requisitions, and attaching them to a single image. He seeks in vain for a prototype of his conception. Blasted by his disappointment, he descends to an untimely grave.

The picture is not barren of instruction to actual men. The Poet's self-centred seclusion was avenged by the furies of an irresistible passion pursuing him to speedy ruin. But that Power which strikes the luminaries of the world with sudden darkness and extinction, by awakening them to too exquisite a perception of its influences, dooms to a slow and poisonous decay those manner spirits that dare to abjure its dominion. Their destiny is more abject and inglorious as their 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 beyond, 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 curse. 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 benefactors 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 unforeseeing 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 14, 1815.


Earth, Ocean, Air, beloved brotherhood! If our great Mother has imbued my soul With aught of natural piety to feel Your love, and recompense the boon with mine; If dewy morn, and odorous noon, and even, "5 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 crowns Of starry ice the grey grass and bare boughs; "10 If spring's voluptuous pantings when she breathes 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 "15 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, "25 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 Like an inspired and desperate alchymist Staking his very life on some dark hope, Have I mixed awful talk and asking looks With my most innocent love, until strange tears, Uniting with those breathless kisses, made "35 Such magic as compels the charmed night To render up thy charge:...and, though ne'er yet Thou hast unveiled thy inmost sanctuary, Enough from incommunicable dream, And twilight phantasms, and deep noon-day 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 strain "45 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 "55 With weeping flowers, or votive cypress wreath, The lone couch of his everlasting sleep:-- Gentle, 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 notes, 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, "65 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 and 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 sacred past In truth or fable consecrates, he felt And knew. When early youth had passed, he left "75 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 his sweet voice and eyes, from savage men, "80 His rest and food. Nature's most secret steps He like her shadow has pursued, where'er The red volcano overcanopies Its fields of snow and pinnacles of ice With burning smoke, or where bitumen lakes "85 On black bare 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 "95 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, Until 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 her own. "105 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 sphynx, Dark Aethiopia in her desert hills "115 Conceals. Among the ruined temples there, Stupendous columns, and wild images Of more than man, where marble daemons watch The Zodiac's brazen mystery, and dead men Hang their mute thoughts on the mute walls around, "120 He lingered, poring on memorials Of the world's youth: through the long burning day Gazed on those speechless shapes; nor, when the moon Filled the mysterious halls with floating shades Suspended he that task, but ever gazed "125 And gazed, till meaning on his vacant mind Flashed like strong inspiration, and he saw The thrilling secrets of the birth of time.

Meanwhile an Arab maiden brought his food, Her daily portion, from her father's tent, "130 And spread her matting for his couch, and stole From duties and repose to tend his steps, Enamoured, yet not daring for deep awe To speak her love:--and watched his nightly sleep, Sleepless herself, to gaze upon his lips "135 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 Arabie, "140 And Persia, and the wild Carmanian waste, And 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, far within "145 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 There came, a dream of hopes that never yet "150 Had flushed his cheek. He dreamed a veiled maid 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 "155 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, "160 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 "165 Were bare alone, sweeping from some strange harp 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 "170 Tumultuously 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 "175 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 Outstretched, and pale, and quivering eagerly. "180 His strong heart sunk and sickened with excess Of love. He reared his shuddering limbs and quelled His gasping breath, and spread his arms to meet Her panting bosom:...she drew back a while, Then, yielding to the irresistible joy, "185 With frantic gesture and short breathless cry Folded 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 brain.

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, "195 Spread round him where he stood. Whither have fled The hues of heaven that canopied his bower Of yesternight? The sounds that soothed his sleep, The mystery and the majesty of Earth, The joy, the exultation? His wan eyes "200 Gaze 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 "205 Beyond the realms of dream that fleeting shade; He overleaps the bounds. Alas! Alas! Were limbs, and breath, and being intertwined Thus treacherously? Lost, lost, for ever lost In the wide pathless desert of dim sleep, "210 That beautiful shape! Does the dark gate of death Conduct to thy mysterious paradise, O Sleep? Does the bright arch of rainbow clouds And pendent mountains seen in the calm lake, Lead only to a black and watery depth, "215 While death's blue vault, with loathliest vapours hung, Where every shade which the foul grave exhales Hides its dead eye from the detested day, Conducts, O Sleep, to thy delightful realms? This doubt with sudden tide flowed on his heart; "220 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, "225 And shook him from his rest, and led him forth 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 cloud, "230 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 dells, "235 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 Aornos seen from Petra's steep "240 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, "245 Bearing within his 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 "255 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 wind With lightning eyes, and eager breath, and feet "260 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 dream "265 Of after-times; but youthful maidens, taught By nature, would interpret half the woe That wasted him, would call him with false names Brother and friend, would press his pallid hand At parting, and watch, dim through tears, the path "270 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 His steps to the sea-shore. A swan was there, "275 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 neck 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, "285 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?' A gloomy smile "290 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 charms. "295

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. "300 It had been long abandoned, for its sides Gaped 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 waste; "305 For well he knew that mighty Shadow loves The slimy caverns of the populous deep.

The day was fair and sunny; sea and sky Drank its inspiring radiance, and the wind Swept strongly from the shore, blackening the waves. "310 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. "315

As one that in a silver vision floats Obedient to the sweep of odorous winds Upon resplendent clouds, so rapidly Along the dark and ruffled waters fled The straining boat.--A whirlwind swept it on, "320 With fierce gusts and precipitating force, Through the white ridges of the chafed sea. The waves arose. Higher and higher still Their fierce necks writhed beneath the tempest's scourge Like serpents struggling in a vulture's grasp. "325 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 beloved 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 "335 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 "340 More horribly the multitudinous streams 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 before the storm; still fled, like foam "345 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, "350 Had been an elemental god.

At midnight 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 waves "355 Bursting and eddying irresistibly Rage and resound forever.--Who shall save?-- The boat fled on,--the boiling torrent drove,-- The crags closed round with black and jagged arms, The shattered mountain overhung the sea, "360 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 "365 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 "370 At length upon that gloomy river's flow; Now, where the fiercest war among the waves Is calm, on the unfathomable stream The boat moved slowly. Where the mountain, riven, Exposed those black depths to the azure sky, "375 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 chasm: Stair above stair the eddying waters rose, "380 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, "385 A pool of treacherous and tremendous calm. Seized by the sway of the ascending stream, With dizzy swiftness, round, and round, and round, Ridge after ridge the straining boat arose, Till on the verge of the extremest curve, "390 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 sink Down the abyss? Shall the reverting stress "395 Of that resistless gulf embosom it? Now shall it fall?--A wandering stream of wind, Breathed from the west, has caught the expanded sail, 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 woods. Where the embowering trees recede, and leave A little space of green expanse, the cove "405 Is closed by meeting banks, whose yellow flowers For ever gaze on their own drooping eyes, Reflected in the crystal calm. The wave Of the boat's motion marred their pensive task, Which naught 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 forbore. Not the strong impulse hid "415 In those flushed cheeks, bent eyes, and shadowy frame Had yet performed its ministry: it hung Upon his life, as lightning in a cloud Gleams, hovering ere it vanish, ere the floods Of night close over it. The noonday sun "420 Now shone upon the forest, one vast mass Of mingling shade, whose brown magnificence A narrow vale embosoms. There, huge caves, Scooped in the dark base of their aery rocks, Mocking its moans, respond and roar for ever. "425 The meeting boughs and implicated leaves Wove twilight o'er the Poet's 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 "430 And dark the shades 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, "435 Like clouds suspended in an emerald sky, The ash and the acacia floating hang Tremulous and pale. Like restless serpents, clothed In rainbow and in fire, the parasites, Starred with ten thousand blossoms, flow around "440 The grey trunks, and, as gamesome infants' eyes, With gentle meanings, and most innocent wiles, Fold their beams round the hearts of those that love, These twine their tendrils with the wedded boughs Uniting their close union; the woven leaves "445 Make net-work of the dark blue light of day, And the night's noontide clearness, mutable As shapes in the weird clouds. Soft mossy lawns Beneath these canopies extend their swells, Fragrant with perfumed herbs, and eyed with blooms "450 Minute yet beautiful. One darkest glen Sends from its woods of musk-rose, twined with jasmine, A soul-dissolving odour to invite To some more lovely mystery. Through the dell, Silence and Twilight here, twin-sisters, keep "455 Their noonday watch, and sail among the shades, Like vaporous shapes half-seen; beyond, a well, Dark, gleaming, 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, "465 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 Their own wan light through the reflected lines "470 Of his thin hair, distinct in the dark depth Of that still fountain; as the human heart, Gazing in dreams over the gloomy grave, Sees its own treacherous likeness there. He heard The motion of the leaves, the grass that sprung "475 Startled and glanced and trembled even to feel An unaccustomed presence, and the sound Of the sweet brook that from the secret springs Of that dark fountain rose. A Spirit seemed To stand beside him--clothed in no bright robes "480 Of shadowy silver or enshrining light, Borrowed from aught the visible world affords Of grace, or majesty, or mystery;-- But, undulating woods, and silent well, And leaping rivulet, and evening gloom "485 Now deepening the dark shades, for speech assuming, Held commune with him, as if he and it Were all that was,--only...when his regard Was raised by intense pensiveness,...two eyes, Two starry eyes, hung in the gloom of thought, "490 And seemed with their serene and azure smiles To beckon him.

Obedient to the light That shone within his soul, he went, pursuing The windings of the dell.--The rivulet, Wanton and wild, through many a green ravine "495 Beneath the forest flowed. Sometimes it fell Among the moss with hollow harmony Dark and profound. Now on the polished stones It danced; like childhood laughing as it went: Then, through the plain in tranquil wanderings crept, "500 Reflecting every herb and drooping bud That overhung its quietness.--'O stream! Whose source is inaccessibly profound, Whither do thy mysterious waters tend? Thou imagest my life. Thy darksome stillness, "505 Thy dazzling waves, thy loud and hollow gulfs, Thy searchless fountain, and invisible course Have each their type in me; and the wide sky. And measureless ocean may declare as soon What oozy cavern or what wandering cloud "510 Contains thy waters, as the universe Tell where these living thoughts reside, when stretched Upon thy flowers my bloodless limbs shall waste I' the passing wind!'

Beside the grassy shore Of the small stream he went; he did impress "515 On the green moss his tremulous step, that caught Strong shuddering from his burning limbs. As one Roused by some joyous madness from the couch Of fever, he did move; yet, not like him, Forgetful of the grave, where, when the flame "520 Of his frail exultation shall be spent, He must descend. With rapid steps he went Beneath the shade of trees, beside the flow Of the wild babbling rivulet; and now The forest's solemn canopies were changed "525 For the uniform and lightsome evening sky. Grey rocks did peep from the spare moss, and stemmed The struggling brook; tall spires of windlestrae Threw their thin shadows down the rugged slope, And nought but gnarled roots of ancient pines "530 Branchless and blasted, clenched with grasping roots The unwilling soil. A gradual change was here, Yet ghastly. For, as fast years flow away, The smooth brow gathers, and the hair grows thin And white, and where irradiate dewy eyes "535 Had shone, gleam stony orbs:--so from his steps Bright flowers departed, and the beautiful shade Of the green groves, with all their odorous winds And musical motions. Calm, he still pursued The stream, that with a larger volume now "540 Rolled through the labyrinthine dell; and there Fretted a path through its descending curves With its wintry speed. On every side now rose Rocks, which, in unimaginable forms, Lifted their black and barren pinnacles "545 In the light of evening, and its precipice Obscuring the ravine, disclosed above, Mid toppling stones, black gulfs and yawning caves, Whose windings gave ten thousand various tongues To the loud stream. Lo! where the pass expands "550 Its stony jaws, the abrupt mountain breaks, And seems, with its accumulated crags, To overhang the world: for wide expand Beneath the wan stars and descending moon Islanded seas, blue mountains, mighty streams, "555 Dim tracts and vast, robed in the lustrous gloom Of leaden-coloured even, and fiery hills Mingling their flames with twilight, on the verge Of the remote horizon. The near scene, In naked and severe simplicity, "560 Made contrast with the universe. A pine, Rock-rooted, stretched athwart the vacancy Its swinging boughs, to each inconstant blast Yielding one only response, at each pause In most familiar cadence, with the howl "565 The thunder and the hiss of homeless streams Mingling its solemn song, whilst the broad river Foaming and hurrying o'er its rugged path, Fell into that immeasurable void Scattering its waters to the passing winds. "570

Yet the grey precipice and solemn pine And torrent were not all;--one silent nook Was there. Even on the edge of that vast mountain, Upheld by knotty roots and fallen rocks, It overlooked in its serenity "575 The dark earth, and the bending vault of stars. It was a tranquil spot, that seemed to smile Even in the lap of horror. Ivy clasped The fissured stones with its entwining arms, And did embower with leaves for ever green, "580 And berries dark, the smooth and even space Of its inviolated floor, and here The children of the autumnal whirlwind bore, In wanton sport, those bright leaves, whose decay, Red, yellow, or ethereally pale, "585 Rivals the pride of summer. 'Tis the haunt Of every gentle wind, whose breath can teach The wilds to love tranquillity. One step, One human step alone, has ever broken The stillness of its solitude:--one voice "590 Alone inspired its echoes;--even that voice Which hither came, floating among the winds, And led the loveliest among human forms To make their wild haunts the depository Of all the grace and beauty that endued "595 Its motions, render up its majesty, Scatter its music on the unfeeling storm, And to the damp leaves and blue cavern mould, Nurses of rainbow flowers and branching moss, Commit the colours of that varying cheek, "600 That snowy breast, those dark and drooping eyes.

The dim and horned moon hung low, and poured A sea of lustre on the horizon's verge That overflowed its mountains. Yellow mist Filled the unbounded atmosphere, and drank "605 Wan moonlight even to fulness; not a star Shone, not a sound was heard; the very winds, Danger's grim playmates, on that precipice Slept, clasped in his embrace.--O, storm of death! Whose sightless speed divides this sullen night: 610 And thou, colossal Skeleton, that, still Guiding its irresistible career In thy devastating omnipotence, Art king of this frail world, from the red field Of slaughter, from the reeking hospital, "615 The patriot's sacred couch, the snowy bed Of innocence, the scaffold and the throne, A mighty voice invokes thee. Ruin calls His brother Death. A rare and regal prey He hath prepared, prowling around the world; "620 Glutted with which thou mayst repose, and men Go to their graves like flowers or creeping worms, Nor ever more offer at thy dark shrine The unheeded tribute of a broken heart.

When on the threshold of the green recess "625 The wanderer's footsteps fell, he knew that death Was on him. Yet a little, ere it fled, Did he resign his high and holy soul To images of the majestic past, That paused within his passive being now, "630 Like winds that bear sweet music, when they breathe Through some dim latticed chamber. He did place His pale lean hand upon the rugged trunk Of the old pine. Upon an ivied stone Reclined his languid head, his limbs did rest, "635 Diffused and motionless, on the smooth brink Of that obscurest chasm;--and thus he lay, Surrendering to their final impulses The hovering powers of life. Hope and despair, The torturers, slept; no mortal pain or fear "640 Marred his repose; the influxes of sense, And his own being unalloyed by pain, Yet feebler and more feeble, calmly fed The stream of thought, till he lay breathing there At peace, and faintly smiling:--his last sight "645 Was the great moon, which o'er the western line Of the wide world her mighty horn suspended, With whose dun beams inwoven darkness seemed To mingle. Now upon the jagged hills It rests; and still as the divided frame "650 Of the vast meteor sunk, the Poet's blood, That ever beat in mystic sympathy With nature's ebb and flow, grew feebler still: And when two lessening points of light alone Gleamed through the darkness, the alternate gasp "655 Of his faint respiration scarce did stir The stagnate night:--till the minutest ray Was quenched, the pulse yet lingered in his heart. It paused--it fluttered. But when heaven remained Utterly black, the murky shades involved "660 An image, silent, cold, and motionless, As their own voiceless earth and vacant air. Even as a vapour fed with golden beams That ministered on sunlight, ere the west Eclipses it, was now that wondrous frame-- "665 No sense, no motion, no divinity-- A fragile lute, on whose harmonious strings The breath of heaven did wander--a bright stream Once fed with many-voiced waves--a dream Of youth, which night and time have quenched for ever, "670 Still, dark, and dry, and unremembered now.

Oh, for Medea's wondrous alchemy, Which wheresoe'er it fell made the earth gleam With bright flowers, and the wintry boughs exhale From vernal blooms fresh fragrance! O, that God, "675 Profuse of poisons, would concede the chalice Which but one living man has drained, who now, Vessel of deathless wrath, a slave that feels No proud exemption in the blighting curse He bears, over the world wanders for ever, "680 Lone as incarnate death! O, that the dream Of dark magician in his visioned cave, Raking the cinders of a crucible For life and power, even when his feeble hand Shakes in its last decay, were the true law "685 Of this so lovely world! But thou art fled, Like some frail exhalation; which the dawn Robes in its golden beams,--ah! thou hast fled! The brave, the gentle and the beautiful, The child of grace and genius. Heartless things "690 Are done and said i' the world, and many worms And beasts and men live on, and mighty Earth From sea and mountain, city and wilderness, In vesper low or joyous orison, Lifts still its solemn voice:--but thou art fled-- "695 Thou canst no longer know or love the shapes Of this phantasmal scene, who have to thee Been purest ministers, who are, alas! Now thou art not. Upon those pallid lips So sweet even in their silence, on those eyes "700 That image sleep in death, upon that form Yet safe from the worm's outrage, let no tear Be shed--not even in thought. Nor, when those hues Are gone, and those divinest lineaments, Worn by the senseless wind, shall live alone "705 In the frail pauses of this simple strain, Let not high verse, mourning the memory Of that which is no more, or painting's woe Or sculpture, speak in feeble imagery Their own cold powers. Art and eloquence, "710 And all the shows o' the world are frail and vain To weep a loss that turns their lights to shade. It is a woe "too deep for tears," when all Is reft at once, when some surpassing Spirit, Whose light adorned the world around it, leaves "715 Those who remain behind, not sobs or groans, The passionate tumult of a clinging hope; But pale despair and cold tranquillity, Nature's vast frame, the web of human things, Birth and the grave, that are not as they were. "720

Notes: "219 Conduct edition 1816. See "Editor's Notes". "530 roots edition 1816: query stumps or trunks. See "Editor's Notes".


"Alastor" is written in a very different tone from "Queen Mab". In the latter, Shelley poured out all the cherished speculations of his youth--all the irrepressible emotions of sympathy, censure, and hope, to which the present suffering, and what he considers the proper destiny of his fellow-creatures, gave birth. "Alastor", on the contrary, contains an individual interest only. A very few years, with their attendant events, had checked the ardour of Shelley's hopes, though he still thought them well-grounded, and that to advance their fulfilment was the noblest task man could achieve.

This is neither the time nor place to speak of the misfortunes that chequered his life. It will be sufficient to say that, in all he did, he at the time of doing it believed himself justified to his own conscience; while the various ills of poverty and loss of friends brought home to him the sad realities of life. Physical suffering had also considerable influence in causing him to turn his eyes inward; inclining him rather to brood over the thoughts and emotions of his own soul than to glance abroad, and to make, as in "Queen Mab", the whole universe the object and subject of his song. In the Spring of 1815, an eminent physician pronounced that he was dying rapidly of a consumption; abscesses were formed on his lungs, and he suffered acute spasms. Suddenly a complete change took place; and though through life he was a martyr to pain and debility, every symptom of pulmonary disease vanished. His nerves, which nature had formed sensitive to an unexampled degree, were rendered still more susceptible by the state of his health.

As soon as the peace of 1814 had opened the Continent, he went abroad. He visited some of the more magnificent scenes of Switzerland, and returned to England from Lucerne, by the Reuss and the Rhine. This river-navigation enchanted him. In his favourite poem of "Thalaba", his imagination had been excited by a description of such a voyage. In the summer of 1815, after a tour along the southern coast of Devonshire and a visit to Clifton, he rented a house on Bishopgate Heath, on the borders of Windsor Forest, where he enjoyed several months of comparative health and tranquil happiness. The later summer months were warm and dry. Accompanied by a few friends, he visited the source of the Thames, making a voyage in a wherry from Windsor to Crichlade. His beautiful stanzas in the churchyard of Lechlade were written on that occasion. "Alastor" was composed on his return. He spent his days under the oak-shades of Windsor Great Park; and the magnificent woodland was a fitting study to inspire the various descriptions of forest scenery we find in the poem.

None of Shelley's poems is more characteristic than this. The solemn spirit that reigns throughout, the worship of the majesty of nature, the broodings of a poet's heart in solitude--the mingling of the exulting joy which the various aspects of the visible universe inspires with the sad and struggling pangs which human passion imparts--give a touching interest to the whole. The death which he had often contemplated during the last months as certain and near he here represented in such colours as had, in his lonely musings, soothed his soul to peace. The versification sustains the solemn spirit which breathes throughout: it is peculiarly melodious. The poem ought rather to be considered didactic than narrative: it was the outpouring of his own emotions, embodied in the purest form he could conceive, painted in the ideal hues which his brilliant imagination inspired, and softened by the recent anticipation of death.




Osais de Broton ethnos aglaiais aptomestha perainei pros eschaton ploon nausi d oute pezos ion an eurois es Uperboreon agona thaumatan odon.

Pind. Pyth. x.

[Composed in the neighbourhood of Bisham Wood, near Great Marlow, Bucks, 1817 (April-September 23); printed, with title (dated 1818), "Laon and Cythna; or, The Revolution of the Golden City: A Vision of the Nineteenth Century", October, November, 1817, but suppressed, pending revision, by the publishers, C & J. Ollier. (A few copies had got out, but these were recalled, and some recovered.) Published, with a fresh title-page and twenty-seven cancel-leaves, as "The Revolt of Islam", January 10, 1818. Sources of the text are (1) "Laon and Cythna", 1818; (2) "The Revolt of Islam", 1818; (3) "Poetical Works", 1839, editions 1st and 2nd--both edited by Mrs. Shelley. A copy, with several pages missing, of the "Preface", the Dedication", and "Canto 1" of "Laon and Cythna" is amongst the Shelley manuscripts at the Bodleian. For a full collation of this manuscript see Mr. C.D. Locock's "Examination of the Shelley Manuscripts at the Bodleian Library". Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1903. Two manuscript fragments from the Hunt papers are also extant: one (twenty-four lines) in the possession of Mr. W.M. Rossetti, another (9 23 9 to 29 6) in that of Mr. H. Buxton Forman, C.B. See "The Shelley Library", pages 83-86, for an account of the copy of "Laon" upon which Shelley worked in revising for publication.]


The Poem which I now present to the world is an attempt from which I scarcely dare to expect success, and in which a writer of established fame might fail without disgrace. It is an experiment on the temper of the public mind, as to how far a thirst for a happier condition of moral and political society survives, among the enlightened and refined, the tempests which have shaken the age in which we live. I have sought to enlist the harmony of metrical language, the ethereal combinations of the fancy, the rapid and subtle transitions of human passion, all those elements which essentially compose a Poem, in the cause of a liberal and comprehensive morality; and in the view of kindling within the bosoms of my readers a virtuous enthusiasm for those doctrines of liberty and justice, that faith and hope in something good, which neither violence nor misrepresentation nor prejudice can ever totally extinguish among mankind.

For this purpose I have chosen a story of human passion in its most universal character, diversified with moving and romantic adventures, and appealing, in contempt of all artificial opinions or institutions, to the common sympathies of every human breast. I have made no attempt to recommend the motives which I would substitute for those at present governing mankind, by methodical and systematic argument. I would only awaken the feelings, so that the reader should see the beauty of true virtue, and be incited to those inquiries which have led to my moral and political creed, and that of some of the sublimest intellects in the world. The Poem therefore (with the exception of the first canto, which is purely introductory) is narrative, not didactic. It is a succession of pictures illustrating the growth and progress of individual mind aspiring after excellence, and devoted to the love of mankind; its influence in refining and making pure the most daring and uncommon impulses of the imagination, the understanding, and the senses; its impatience at 'all the oppressions which are done under the sun;' its tendency to awaken public hope, and to enlighten and improve mankind; the rapid effects of the application of that tendency; the awakening of an immense nation from their slavery and degradation to a true sense of moral dignity and freedom; the bloodless dethronement of their oppressors, and the unveiling of the religious frauds by which they had been deluded into submission; the tranquillity of successful patriotism, and the universal toleration and benevolence of true philanthropy; the treachery and barbarity of hired soldiers; vice not the object of punishment and hatred, but kindness and pity; the faithlessness of tyrants; the confederacy of the Rulers of the World and the restoration of the expelled Dynasty by foreign arms; the massacre and extermination of the Patriots, and the victory of established power; the consequences of legitimate despotism,--civil war, famine, plague, superstition, and an utter extinction of the domestic affections; the judicial murder of the advocates of Liberty; the temporary triumph of oppression, that secure earnest of its final and inevitable fall; the transient nature of ignorance and error and the eternity of genius and virtue. Such is the series of delineations of which the Poem consists. And, if the lofty passions with which it has been my scope to distinguish this story shall not excite in the reader a generous impulse, an ardent thirst for excellence, an interest profound and strong such as belongs to no meaner desires, let not the failure be imputed to a natural unfitness for human sympathy in these sublime and animating themes. It is the business of the Poet to communicate to others the pleasure and the enthusiasm arising out of those images and feelings in the vivid presence of which within his own mind consists at once his inspiration and his reward.

The panic which, like an epidemic transport, seized upon all classes of men during the excesses consequent upon the French Revolution, is gradually giving place to sanity. It has ceased to be believed that whole generations of mankind ought to consign themselves to a hopeless inheritance of ignorance and misery, because a nation of men who had been dupes and slaves for centuries were incapable of conducting themselves with the wisdom and tranquillity of freemen so soon as some of their fetters were partially loosened. That their conduct could not have been marked by any other characters than ferocity and thoughtlessness is the historical fact from which liberty derives all its recommendations, and falsehood the worst features of its deformity. There is a reflux in the tide of human things which bears the shipwrecked hopes of men into a secure haven after the storms are past. Methinks, those who now live have survived an age of despair.

The French Revolution may be considered as one of those manifestations of a general state of feeling among civilised mankind produced by a defect of correspondence between the knowledge existing in society and the improvement or gradual abolition of political institutions. The year 1788 may be assumed as the epoch of one of the most important crises produced by this feeling. The sympathies connected with that event extended to every bosom. The most generous and amiable natures were those which participated the most extensively in these sympathies. But such a degree of unmingled good was expected as it was impossible to realise. If the Revolution had been in every respect prosperous, then misrule and superstition would lose half their claims to our abhorrence, as fetters which the captive can unlock with the slightest motion of his fingers, and which do not eat with poisonous rust into the soul. The revulsion occasioned by the atrocities of the demagogues, and the re-establishment of successive tyrannies in France, was terrible, and felt in the remotest corner of the civilised world. Could they listen to the plea of reason who had groaned under the calamities of a social state according to the provisions of which one man riots in luxury whilst another famishes for want of bread? Can he who the day before was a trampled slave suddenly become liberal-minded, forbearing, and independent? This is the consequence of the habits of a state of society to be produced by resolute perseverance and indefatigable hope, and long-suffering and long-believing courage, and the systematic efforts of generations of men of intellect and virtue. Such is the lesson which experience teaches now. But, on the first reverses of hope in the progress of French liberty, the sanguine eagerness for good overleaped the solution of these questions, and for a time extinguished itself in the unexpectedness of their result. Thus, many of the most ardent and tender-hearted of the worshippers of public good have been morally ruined by what a partial glimpse of the events they deplored appeared to show as the melancholy desolation of all their cherished hopes. Hence gloom and misanthropy have become the characteristics of the age in which we live, the solace of a disappointment that unconsciously finds relief only in the wilful exaggeration of its own despair. This influence has tainted the literature of the age with the hopelessness of the minds from which it flows. Metaphysics (I ought to except sir W. Drummond's "Academical Questions"; a volume of very acute and powerful metaphysical criticism.), and inquiries into moral and political science, have become little else than vain attempts to revive exploded superstitions, or sophisms like those of Mr. Malthus (It is remarkable, as a symptom of the revival of public hope, that Mr. Malthus has assigned, in the later editions of his work, an indefinite dominion to moral restraint over the principle of population. This concession answers all the inferences from his doctrine unfavourable to human improvement, and reduces the "Essay on Population" to a commentary illustrative of the unanswerableness of "Political Justice".), calculated to lull the oppressors of mankind into a security of everlasting triumph. Our works of fiction and poetry have been overshadowed by the same infectious gloom. But mankind appear to me to be emerging from their trance. I am aware, methinks, of a slow, gradual, silent change. In that belief I have composed the following Poem.

I do not presume to enter into competition with our greatest contemporary Poets. Yet I am unwilling to tread in the footsteps of any who have preceded me. I have sought to avoid the imitation of any style of language or versification peculiar to the original minds of which it is the character; designing that, even if what I have produced be worthless, it should still be properly my own. Nor have I permitted any system relating to mere words to divert the attention of the reader, from whatever interest I may have succeeded in creating, to my own ingenuity in contriving to disgust them according to the rules of criticism. I have simply clothed my thoughts in what appeared to me the most obvious and appropriate language. A person familiar with nature, and with the most celebrated productions of the human mind, can scarcely err in following the instinct, with respect to selection of language, produced by that familiarity.

There is an education peculiarly fitted for a Poet, without which genius and sensibility can hardly fill the circle of their capacities. No education, indeed, can entitle to this appellation a dull and unobservant mind, or one, though neither dull nor unobservant, in which the channels of communication between thought and expression have been obstructed or closed. How far it is my fortune to belong to either of the latter classes I cannot know. I aspire to be something better. The circumstances of my accidental education have been favourable to this ambition. I have been familiar from boyhood with mountains and lakes and the sea, and the solitude of forests: Danger, which sports upon the brink of precipices, has been my playmate. I have trodden the glaciers of the Alps, and lived under the eye of Mont Blanc. I have been a wanderer among distant fields. I have sailed down mighty rivers, and seen the sun rise and set, and the stars come forth, whilst I have sailed night and day down a rapid stream among mountains. I have seen populous cities, and have watched the passions which rise and spread, and sink and change, amongst assembled multitudes of men. I have seen the theatre of the more visible ravages of tyranny and war, cities and villages reduced to scattered groups of black and roofless houses, and the naked inhabitants sitting famished upon their desolated thresholds. I have conversed with living men of genius. The poetry of ancient Greece and Rome, and modern Italy, and our own country, has been to me, like external nature, a passion and an enjoyment. Such are the sources from which the materials for the imagery of my Poem have been drawn. I have considered Poetry in its most comprehensive sense; and have read the Poets and the Historians and the Metaphysicians (In this sense there may be such a thing as perfectibility in works of fiction, notwithstanding the concession often made by the advocates of human improvement, that perfectibility is a term applicable only to science.) whose writings have been accessible to me, and have looked upon the beautiful and majestic scenery of the earth, as common sources of those elements which it is the province of the Poet to embody and combine. Yet the experience and the feelings to which I refer do not in themselves constitute men Poets, but only prepares them to be the auditors of those who are. How far I shall be found to possess that more essential attribute of Poetry, the power of awakening in others sensations like those which animate my own bosom, is that which, to speak sincerely, I know not; and which, with an acquiescent and contented spirit, I expect to be taught by the effect which I shall produce upon those whom I now address.

I have avoided, as I have said before, the imitation of any contemporary style. But there must be a resemblance, which does not depend upon their own will, between all the writers of any particular age. They cannot escape from subjection to a common influence which arises out of an infinite combination of circumstances belonging to the times in which they live; though each is in a degree the author of the very influence by which his being is thus pervaded. Thus, the tragic poets of the age of Pericles; the Italian revivers of ancient learning; those mighty intellects of our own country that succeeded the Reformation, the translators of the Bible, Shakespeare, Spenser, the Dramatists of the reign of Elizabeth, and Lord Bacon (Milton stands alone in the age which he illumined.); the colder spirits of the interval that succeeded;--all resemble each other, and differ from every other in their several classes. In this view of things, Ford can no more be called the imitator of Shakespeare than Shakespeare the imitator of Ford. There were perhaps few other points of resemblance between these two men than that which the universal and inevitable influence of their age produced. And this is an influence which neither the meanest scribbler nor the sublimest genius of any era can escape; and which I have not attempted to escape.

I have adopted the stanza of Spenser (a measure inexpressibly beautiful), not because I consider it a finer model of poetical harmony than the blank verse of Shakespeare and Milton, but because in the latter there is no shelter for mediocrity; you must either succeed or fail. This perhaps an aspiring spirit should desire. But I was enticed also by the brilliancy and magnificence of sound which a mind that has been nourished upon musical thoughts can produce by a just and harmonious arrangement of the pauses of this measure. Yet there will be found some instances where I have completely failed in this attempt, and one, which I here request the reader to consider as an erratum, where there is left, most inadvertently, an alexandrine in the middle of a stanza.

But in this, as in every other respect, I have written fearlessly. It is the misfortune of this age that its Writers, too thoughtless of immortality, are exquisitely sensible to temporary praise or blame. They write with the fear of Reviews before their eyes. This system of criticism sprang up in that torpid interval when Poetry was not. Poetry, and the art which professes to regulate and limit its powers, cannot subsist together. Longinus could not have been the contemporary of Homer, nor Boileau of Horace. Yet this species of criticism never presumed to assert an understanding of its own; it has always, unlike true science, followed, not preceded, the opinion of mankind, and would even now bribe with worthless adulation some of our greatest Poets to impose gratuitous fetters on their own imaginations, and become unconscious accomplices in the daily murder of all genius either not so aspiring or not so fortunate as their own. I have sought therefore to write, as I believe that Homer, Shakespeare, and Milton wrote, with an utter disregard of anonymous censure. I am certain that calumny and misrepresentation, though it may move me to compassion, cannot disturb my peace. I shall understand the expressive silence of those sagacious enemies who dare not trust themselves to speak. I shall endeavour to extract, from the midst of insult and contempt and maledictions, those admonitions which may tend to correct whatever imperfections such censurers may discover in this my first serious appeal to the Public. If certain Critics were as clear-sighted as they are malignant, how great would be the benefit to be derived from their virulent writings! As it is, I fear I shall be malicious enough to be amused with their paltry tricks and lame invectives. Should the Public judge that my composition is worthless, I shall indeed bow before the tribunal from which Milton received his crown of immortality, and shall seek to gather, if I live, strength from that defeat, which may nerve me to some new enterprise of thought which may not be worthless. I cannot conceive that Lucretius, when he meditated that poem whose doctrines are yet the basis of our metaphysical knowledge, and whose eloquence has been the wonder of mankind, wrote in awe of such censure as the hired sophists of the impure and superstitious noblemen of Rome might affix to what he should produce. It was at the period when Greece was led captive and Asia made tributary to the Republic, fast verging itself to slavery and ruin, that a multitude of Syrian captives, bigoted to the worship of their obscene Ashtaroth, and the unworthy successors of Socrates and Zeno, found there a precarious subsistence by administering, under the name of freedmen, to the vices and vanities of the great. These wretched men were skilled to plead, with a superficial but plausible set of sophisms, in favour of that contempt for virtue which is the portion of slaves, and that faith in portents, the most fatal substitute for benevolence in the imaginations of men, which, arising from the enslaved communities of the East, then first began to overwhelm the western nations in its stream. Were these the kind of men whose disapprobation the wise and lofty-minded Lucretius should have regarded with a salutary awe? The latest and perhaps the meanest of those who follow in his footsteps would disdain to hold life on such conditions.

The Poem now presented to the Public occupied little more than six months in the composition. That period has been devoted to the task with unremitting ardour and enthusiasm. I have exercised a watchful and earnest criticism on my work as it grew under my hands. I would willingly have sent it forth to the world with that perfection which long labour and revision is said to bestow. But I found that, if I should gain something in exactness by this method, I might lose much of the newness and energy of imagery and language as it flowed fresh from my mind. And, although the mere composition occupied no more than six months, the thoughts thus arranged were slowly gathered in as many years.

I trust that the reader will carefully distinguish between those opinions which have a dramatic propriety in reference to the characters which they are designed to elucidate, and such as are properly my own. The erroneous and degrading idea which men have conceived of a Supreme Being, for instance, is spoken against, but not the Supreme Being itself. The belief which some superstitious persons whom I have brought upon the stage entertain of the Deity, as injurious to the character of his benevolence, is widely different from my own. In recommending also a great and important change in the spirit which animates the social institutions of mankind, I have avoided all flattery to those violent and malignant passions of our nature which are ever on the watch to mingle with and to alloy the most beneficial innovations. There is no quarter given to Revenge, or Envy, or Prejudice. Love is celebrated everywhere as the sole law which should govern the moral world.


There is no danger to a man that knows What life and death is: there's not any law Exceeds his knowledge; neither is it lawful That he should stoop to any other law.--CHAPMAN.

TO MARY -- --.

1. So now my summer-task is ended, Mary, And I return to thee, mine own heart's home; As to his Queen some victor Knight of Faery, Earning bright spoils for her enchanted dome; Nor thou disdain, that ere my fame become "5 A star among the stars of mortal night, If it indeed may cleave its natal gloom, Its doubtful promise thus I would unite With thy beloved name, thou Child of love and light.

2. The toil which stole from thee so many an hour, "10 Is ended,--and the fruit is at thy feet! No longer where the woods to frame a bower With interlaced branches mix and meet, Or where with sound like many voices sweet, Waterfalls leap among wild islands green, "15 Which framed for my lone boat a lone retreat Of moss-grown trees and weeds, shall I be seen; But beside thee, where still my heart has ever been.

3. Thoughts of great deeds were mine, dear Friend, when first The clouds which wrap this world from youth did pass. "20 I do remember well the hour which burst My spirit's sleep. A fresh May-dawn it was, When I walked forth upon the glittering grass, And wept, I knew not why; until there rose From the near schoolroom, voices that, alas! "25 Were but one echo from a world of woes-- The harsh and grating strife of tyrants and of foes.

4. And then I clasped my hands and looked around-- --But none was near to mock my streaming eyes, Which poured their warm drops on the sunny ground-- "30 So without shame I spake:--'I will be wise, And just, and free, and mild, if in me lies Such power, for I grow weary to behold The selfish and the strong still tyrannise Without reproach or check.' I then controlled "35 My tears, my heart grew calm, and I was meek and bold.

5. And from that hour did I with earnest thought Heap knowledge from forbidden mines of lore; Yet nothing that my tyrants knew or taught I cared to learn, but from that secret store "40 Wrought linked armour for my soul, before It might walk forth to war among mankind; Thus power and hope were strengthened more and more Within me, till there came upon my mind A sense of loneliness, a thirst with which I pined. "45

6. Alas, that love should be a blight and snare To those who seek all sympathies in one!-- Such once I sought in vain; then black despair, The shadow of a starless night, was thrown Over the world in which I moved alone:-- "50 Yet never found I one not false to me, Hard hearts, and cold, like weights of icy stone Which crushed and withered mine, that could not be Aught but a lifeless clod, until revived by thee.

7. Thou Friend, whose presence on my wintry heart "55 Fell, like bright Spring upon some herbless plain; How beautiful and calm and free thou wert In thy young wisdom, when the mortal chain Of Custom thou didst burst and rend in twain, And walked as free as light the clouds among, "60 Which many an envious slave then breathed in vain From his dim dungeon, and my spirit sprung To meet thee from the woes which had begirt it long!

8. No more alone through the world's wilderness, Although I trod the paths of high intent, "65 I journeyed now: no more companionless, Where solitude is like despair, I went.-- There is the wisdom of a stern content When Poverty can blight the just and good, When Infamy dares mock the innocent, "70 And cherished friends turn with the multitude To trample: this was ours, and we unshaken stood!

9. Now has descended a serener hour, And with inconstant fortune, friends return; Though suffering leaves the knowledge and the power "75 Which says:--Let scorn be not repaid with scorn. And from thy side two gentle babes are born To fill our home with smiles, and thus are we Most fortunate beneath life's beaming morn; And these delights, and thou, have been to me "80 The parents of the Song I consecrate to thee.

10. Is it that now my inexperienced fingers But strike the prelude of a loftier strain? Or, must the lyre on which my spirit lingers Soon pause in silence, ne'er to sound again, "85 Though it might shake the Anarch Custom's reign, And charm the minds of men to Truth's own sway Holier than was Amphion's? I would fain Reply in hope--but I am worn away, And Death and Love are yet contending for their prey. "90

11. And what art thou? I know, but dare not speak: Time may interpret to his silent years. Yet in the paleness of thy thoughtful cheek, And in the light thine ample forehead wears, And in thy sweetest smiles, and in thy tears, "95 And in thy gentle speech, a prophecy Is whispered, to subdue my fondest fears: And through thine eyes, even in thy soul I see A lamp of vestal fire burning internally.

12. They say that thou wert lovely from thy birth, "100 Of glorious parents thou aspiring Child. I wonder not--for One then left this earth Whose life was like a setting planet mild, Which clothed thee in the radiance undefiled Of its departing glory; still her fame "105 Shines on thee, through the tempests dark and wild Which shake these latter days; and thou canst claim The shelter, from thy Sire, of an immortal name.

13. One voice came forth from many a mighty spirit, Which was the echo of three thousand years; "110 And the tumultuous world stood mute to hear it, As some lone man who in a desert hears The music of his home:--unwonted fears Fell on the pale oppressors of our race, And Faith, and Custom, and low-thoughted cares, "115 Like thunder-stricken dragons, for a space Left the torn human heart, their food and dwelling-place.

14. Truth's deathless voice pauses among mankind! If there must be no response to my cry-- If men must rise and stamp with fury blind "120 On his pure name who loves them,--thou and I, Sweet friend! can look from our tranquillity Like lamps into the world's tempestuous night,-- Two tranquil stars, while clouds are passing by Which wrap them from the foundering seaman's sight, "125 That burn from year to year with unextinguished light.

NOTES. "54 cloaking edition 1818. See notes at end.


1. When the last hope of trampled France had failed Like a brief dream of unremaining glory, From visions of despair I rose, and scaled The peak of an aerial promontory, "130 Whose caverned base with the vexed surge was hoary; And saw the golden dawn break forth, and waken Each cloud, and every wave:--but transitory The calm; for sudden, the firm earth was shaken, As if by the last wreck its frame were overtaken. "135

2. So as I stood, one blast of muttering thunder Burst in far peals along the waveless deep, When, gathering fast, around, above, and under, Long trains of tremulous mist began to creep, Until their complicating lines did steep "140 The orient sun in shadow:--not a sound Was heard; one horrible repose did keep The forests and the floods, and all around Darkness more dread than night was poured upon the ground.

3. Hark! 'tis the rushing of a wind that sweeps "145 Earth and the ocean. See! the lightnings yawn Deluging Heaven with fire, and the lashed deeps Glitter and boil beneath: it rages on, One mighty stream, whirlwind and waves upthrown, Lightning, and hail, and darkness eddying by. "150 There is a pause--the sea-birds, that were gone Into their caves to shriek, come forth, to spy What calm has fall'n on earth, what light is in the sky.

4. For, where the irresistible storm had cloven That fearful darkness, the blue sky was seen "155 Fretted with many a fair cloud interwoven Most delicately, and the ocean green, Beneath that opening spot of blue serene, Quivered like burning emerald; calm was spread On all below; but far on high, between "160 Earth and the upper air, the vast clouds fled, Countless and swift as leaves on autumn's tempest shed.

5. For ever, as the war became more fierce Between the whirlwinds and the rack on high, That spot grew more serene; blue light did pierce "165 The woof of those white clouds, which seem to lie Far, deep, and motionless; while through the sky The pallid semicircle of the moon Passed on, in slow and moving majesty; Its upper horn arrayed in mists, which soon "170 But slowly fled, like dew beneath the beams of noon.

6. I could not choose but gaze; a fascination Dwelt in that moon, and sky, and clouds, which drew My fancy thither, and in expectation Of what I knew not, I remained:--the hue "175 Of the white moon, amid that heaven so blue, Suddenly stained with shadow did appear; A speck, a cloud, a shape, approaching grew, Like a great ship in the sun's sinking sphere Beheld afar at sea, and swift it came anear. "180

7. Even like a bark, which from a chasm of mountains, Dark, vast and overhanging, on a river Which there collects the strength of all its fountains, Comes forth, whilst with the speed its frame doth quiver, Sails, oars and stream, tending to one endeavour; "185 So, from that chasm of light a winged Form On all the winds of heaven approaching ever Floated, dilating as it came; the storm Pursued it with fierce blasts, and lightnings swift and warm.

8. A course precipitous, of dizzy speed, "190 Suspending thought and breath; a monstrous sight! For in the air do I behold indeed An Eagle and a Serpent wreathed in fight:-- And now, relaxing its impetuous flight, Before the aerial rock on which I stood, "195 The Eagle, hovering, wheeled to left and right, And hung with lingering wings over the flood, And startled with its yells the wide air's solitude.

9. A shaft of light upon its wings descended, And every golden feather gleamed therein-- "200 Feather and scale, inextricably blended. The Serpent's mailed and many-coloured skin Shone through the plumes its coils were twined within By many a swoln and knotted fold, and high And far, the neck, receding lithe and thin, "205 Sustained a crested head, which warily Shifted and glanced before the Eagle's steadfast eye.

10. Around, around, in ceaseless circles wheeling With clang of wings and scream, the Eagle sailed Incessantly--sometimes on high concealing "210 Its lessening orbs, sometimes as if it failed, Drooped through the air; and still it shrieked and wailed, And casting back its eager head, with beak And talon unremittingly assailed The wreathed Serpent, who did ever seek "215 Upon his enemy's heart a mortal wound to wreak.

11. What life, what power, was kindled and arose Within the sphere of that appalling fray! For, from the encounter of those wondrous foes, A vapour like the sea's suspended spray "220 Hung gathered; in the void air, far away, Floated the shattered plumes; bright scales did leap, Where'er the Eagle's talons made their way, Like sparks into the darkness;--as they sweep, Blood stains the snowy foam of the tumultuous deep. "225

12. Swift chances in that combat--many a check, And many a change, a dark and wild turmoil; Sometimes the Snake around his enemy's neck Locked in stiff rings his adamantine coil, Until the Eagle, faint with pain and toil, "230 Remitted his strong flight, and near the sea Languidly fluttered, hopeless so to foil His adversary, who then reared on high His red and burning crest, radiant with victory.

13. Then on the white edge of the bursting surge, "235 Where they had sunk together, would the Snake Relax his suffocating grasp, and scourge The wind with his wild writhings; for to break That chain of torment, the vast bird would shake The strength of his unconquerable wings "240 As in despair, and with his sinewy neck, Dissolve in sudden shock those linked rings-- Then soar, as swift as smoke from a volcano springs.

14. Wile baffled wile, and strength encountered strength, Thus long, but unprevailing:--the event "245 Of that portentous fight appeared at length: Until the lamp of day was almost spent It had endured, when lifeless, stark, and rent, Hung high that mighty Serpent, and at last Fell to the sea, while o'er the continent "250 With clang of wings and scream the Eagle passed, Heavily borne away on the exhausted blast.

15. And with it fled the tempest, so that ocean And earth and sky shone through the atmosphere-- Only, 'twas strange to see the red commotion "255 Of waves like mountains o'er the sinking sphere Of sunset sweep, and their fierce roar to hear Amid the calm: down the steep path I wound To the sea-shore--the evening was most clear And beautiful, and there the sea I found "260 Calm as a cradled child in dreamless slumber bound.

16. There was a Woman, beautiful as morning, Sitting beneath the rocks, upon the sand Of the waste sea--fair as one flower adorning An icy wilderness; each delicate hand "265 Lay crossed upon her bosom, and the band Of her dark hair had fall'n, and so she sate Looking upon the waves; on the bare strand Upon the sea-mark a small boat did wait, Fair as herself, like Love by Hope left desolate. "270

17. It seemed that this fair Shape had looked upon That unimaginable fight, and now That her sweet eyes were weary of the sun, As brightly it illustrated her woe; For in the tears which silently to flow "275 Paused not, its lustre hung: she watching aye The foam-wreaths which the faint tide wove below Upon the spangled sands, groaned heavily, And after every groan looked up over the sea.

18. And when she saw the wounded Serpent make "280 His path between the waves, her lips grew pale, Parted, and quivered; the tears ceased to break From her immovable eyes; no voice of wail Escaped her; but she rose, and on the gale Loosening her star-bright robe and shadowy hair "285 Poured forth her voice; the caverns of the vale That opened to the ocean, caught it there, And filled with silver sounds the overflowing air.

19. She spake in language whose strange melody Might not belong to earth. I heard alone, "290 What made its music more melodious be, The pity and the love of every tone; But to the Snake those accents sweet were known His native tongue and hers; nor did he beat The hoar spray idly then, but winding on "295 Through the green shadows of the waves that meet Near to the shore, did pause beside her snowy feet.

20. Then on the sands the Woman sate again, And wept and clasped her hands, and all between, Renewed the unintelligible strain "300 Of her melodious voice and eloquent mien; And she unveiled her bosom, and the green And glancing shadows of the sea did play O'er its marmoreal depth:--one moment seen, For ere the next, the Serpent did obey "305 Her voice, and, coiled in rest in her embrace it lay.

21. Then she arose, and smiled on me with eyes Serene yet sorrowing, like that planet fair, While yet the daylight lingereth in the skies Which cleaves with arrowy beams the dark-red air, "310 And said: 'To grieve is wise, but the despair Was weak and vain which led thee here from sleep: This shalt thou know, and more, if thou dost dare With me and with this Serpent, o'er the deep, A voyage divine and strange, companionship to keep.' "315

22. Her voice was like the wildest, saddest tone, Yet sweet, of some loved voice heard long ago. I wept. 'Shall this fair woman all alone, Over the sea with that fierce Serpent go? His head is on her heart, and who can know "320 How soon he may devour his feeble prey?'-- Such were my thoughts, when the tide gan to flow; And that strange boat like the moon's shade did sway Amid reflected stars that in the waters lay:--

23. A boat of rare device, which had no sail "325 But its own curved prow of thin moonstone, Wrought like a web of texture fine and frail, To catch those gentlest winds which are not known To breathe, but by the steady speed alone With which it cleaves the sparkling sea; and now "330 We are embarked--the mountains hang and frown Over the starry deep that gleams below, A vast and dim expanse, as o'er the waves we go.

24. And as we sailed, a strange and awful tale That Woman told, like such mysterious dream "335 As makes the slumberer's cheek with wonder pale! 'Twas midnight, and around, a shoreless stream, Wide ocean rolled, when that majestic theme Shrined in her heart found utterance, and she bent Her looks on mine; those eyes a kindling beam "340 Of love divine into my spirit sent, And ere her lips could move, made the air eloquent.

25. 'Speak not to me, but hear! Much shalt thou learn, Much must remain unthought, and more untold, In the dark Future's ever-flowing urn: "345 Know then, that from the depth of ages old Two Powers o'er mortal things dominion hold, Ruling the world with a divided lot, Immortal, all-pervading, manifold, Twin Genii, equal Gods--when life and thought "350 Sprang forth, they burst the womb of inessential Nought.

26. 'The earliest dweller of the world, alone, Stood on the verge of chaos. Lo! afar O'er the wide wild abyss two meteors shone, Sprung from the depth of its tempestuous jar: "355 A blood-red Comet and the Morning Star Mingling their beams in combat--as he stood, All thoughts within his mind waged mutual war, In dreadful sympathy--when to the flood That fair Star fell, he turned and shed his brother's blood. "360

27. 'Thus evil triumphed, and the Spirit of evil, One Power of many shapes which none may know, One Shape of many names; the Fiend did revel In victory, reigning o'er a world of woe, For the new race of man went to and fro, "365 Famished and homeless, loathed and loathing, wild, And hating good--for his immortal foe, He changed from starry shape, beauteous and mild, To a dire Snake, with man and beast unreconciled.

28. 'The darkness lingering o'er the dawn of things, "370 Was Evil's breath and life; this made him strong To soar aloft with overshadowing wings; And the great Spirit of Good did creep among The nations of mankind, and every tongue Cursed and blasphemed him as he passed; for none "375 Knew good from evil, though their names were hung In mockery o'er the fane where many a groan, As King, and Lord, and God, the conquering Fiend did own,--

29. 'The Fiend, whose name was Legion: Death, Decay, Earthquake and Blight, and Want, and Madness pale, "380 Winged and wan diseases, an array Numerous as leaves that strew the autumnal gale; Poison, a snake in flowers, beneath the veil Of food and mirth, hiding his mortal head; And, without whom all these might nought avail, "385 Fear, Hatred, Faith, and Tyranny, who spread Those subtle nets which snare the living and the dead.

30. 'His spirit is their power, and they his slaves In air, and light, and thought, and language, dwell; And keep their state from palaces to graves, "390 In all resorts of men--invisible, But when, in ebon mirror, Nightmare fell To tyrant or impostor bids them rise, Black winged demon forms--whom, from the hell, His reign and dwelling beneath nether skies, "395 He loosens to their dark and blasting ministries.

31. 'In the world's youth his empire was as firm As its foundations...Soon the Spirit of Good, Though in the likeness of a loathsome worm, Sprang from the billows of the formless flood, "400 Which shrank and fled; and with that Fiend of blood Renewed the doubtful war...Thrones then first shook, And earth's immense and trampled multitude In hope on their own powers began to look, And Fear, the demon pale, his sanguine shrine forsook. "405

32. 'Then Greece arose, and to its bards and sages, In dream, the golden-pinioned Genii came, Even where they slept amid the night of ages, Steeping their hearts in the divinest flame Which thy breath kindled, Power of holiest name! "410 And oft in cycles since, when darkness gave New weapons to thy foe, their sunlike fame Upon the combat shone--a light to save, Like Paradise spread forth beyond the shadowy grave.

33. 'Such is this conflict--when mankind doth strive "415 With its oppressors in a strife of blood, Or when free thoughts, like lightnings, are alive, And in each bosom of the multitude Justice and truth with Custom's hydra brood Wage silent war; when Priests and Kings dissemble "420 In smiles or frowns their fierce disquietude, When round pure hearts a host of hopes assemble, The Snake and Eagle meet--the world's foundations tremble!

34. 'Thou hast beheld that fight--when to thy home Thou dost return, steep not its hearth in tears; "425 Though thou may'st hear that earth is now become The tyrant's garbage, which to his compeers, The vile reward of their dishonoured years, He will dividing give.--The victor Fiend, Omnipotent of yore, now quails, and fears "430 His triumph dearly won, which soon will lend An impulse swift and sure to his approaching end.

35. 'List, stranger, list, mine is an human form, Like that thou wearest--touch me--shrink not now! My hand thou feel'st is not a ghost's, but warm "435 With human blood.--'Twas many years ago, Since first my thirsting soul aspired to know The secrets of this wondrous world, when deep My heart was pierced with sympathy, for woe Which could not be mine own, and thought did keep, "440 In dream, unnatural watch beside an infant's sleep.

36. 'Woe could not be mine own, since far from men I dwelt, a free and happy orphan child, By the sea-shore, in a deep mountain glen; And near the waves, and through the forests wild, "445 I roamed, to storm and darkness reconciled: For I was calm while tempest shook the sky: But when the breathless heavens in beauty smiled, I wept, sweet tears, yet too tumultuously For peace, and clasped my hands aloft in ecstasy. "450

37. 'These were forebodings of my fate--before A woman's heart beat in my virgin breast, It had been nurtured in divinest lore: A dying poet gave me books, and blessed With wild but holy talk the sweet unrest "455 In which I watched him as he died away-- A youth with hoary hair--a fleeting guest Of our lone mountains: and this lore did sway My spirit like a storm, contending there alway.

38. 'Thus the dark tale which history doth unfold "460 I knew, but not, methinks, as others know, For they weep not; and Wisdom had unrolled The clouds which hide the gulf of mortal woe,-- To few can she that warning vision show-- For I loved all things with intense devotion; "465 So that when Hope's deep source in fullest flow, Like earthquake did uplift the stagnant ocean Of human thoughts--mine shook beneath the wide emotion.

39. 'When first the living blood through all these veins Kindled a thought in sense, great France sprang forth, "470 And seized, as if to break, the ponderous chains Which bind in woe the nations of the earth. I saw, and started from my cottage-hearth; And to the clouds and waves in tameless gladness Shrieked, till they caught immeasurable mirth-- "475 And laughed in light and music: soon, sweet madness Was poured upon my heart, a soft and thrilling sadness.

40. 'Deep slumber fell on me:--my dreams were fire-- Soft and delightful thoughts did rest and hover Like shadows o'er my brain; and strange desire, "480 The tempest of a passion, raging over My tranquil soul, its depths with light did cover, Which passed; and calm, and darkness, sweeter far, Came--then I loved; but not a human lover! For when I rose from sleep, the Morning Star "485 Shone through the woodbine-wreaths which round my casement were.

41. ''Twas like an eye which seemed to smile on me. I watched, till by the sun made pale, it sank Under the billows of the heaving sea; But from its beams deep love my spirit drank, "490 And to my brain the boundless world now shrank Into one thought--one image--yes, for ever! Even like the dayspring, poured on vapours dank, The beams of that one Star did shoot and quiver Through my benighted mind--and were extinguished never. "495

42. 'The day passed thus: at night, methought, in dream A shape of speechless beauty did appear: It stood like light on a careering stream Of golden clouds which shook the atmosphere; A winged youth, his radiant brow did wear "500 The Morning Star: a wild dissolving bliss Over my frame he breathed, approaching near, And bent his eyes of kindling tenderness Near mine, and on my lips impressed a lingering kiss,--

43. 'And said: "A Spirit loves thee, mortal maiden, "505 How wilt thou prove thy worth?" Then joy and sleep Together fled; my soul was deeply laden, And to the shore I went to muse and weep; But as I moved, over my heart did creep A joy less soft, but more profound and strong "510 Than my sweet dream; and it forbade to keep The path of the sea-shore: that Spirit's tongue Seemed whispering in my heart, and bore my steps along.

44. 'How, to that vast and peopled city led, Which was a field of holy warfare then, "515 I walked among the dying and the dead, And shared in fearless deeds with evil men, Calm as an angel in the dragon's den-- How I braved death for liberty and truth, And spurned at peace, and power, and fame--and when "520 Those hopes had lost the glory of their youth, How sadly I returned--might move the hearer's ruth:

45. 'Warm tears throng fast! the tale may not be said-- Know then, that when this grief had been subdued, I was not left, like others, cold and dead; "525 The Spirit whom I loved, in solitude Sustained his child: the tempest-shaken wood, The waves, the fountains, and the hush of night-- These were his voice, and well I understood His smile divine, when the calm sea was bright "530 With silent stars, and Heaven was breathless with delight.

46. 'In lonely glens, amid the roar of rivers, When the dim nights were moonless, have I known Joys which no tongue can tell; my pale lip quivers When thought revisits them:--know thou alone, "535 That after many wondrous years were flown, I was awakened by a shriek of woe; And over me a mystic robe was thrown, By viewless hands, and a bright Star did glow Before my steps--the Snake then met his mortal foe.' "540

47. 'Thou fearest not then the Serpent on thy heart?' 'Fear it!' she said, with brief and passionate cry, And spake no more: that silence made me start-- I looked, and we were sailing pleasantly, Swift as a cloud between the sea and sky; "545 Beneath the rising moon seen far away, Mountains of ice, like sapphire, piled on high, Hemming the horizon round, in silence lay On the still waters--these we did approach alway.

48. And swift and swifter grew the vessel's motion, "550 So that a dizzy trance fell on my brain-- Wild music woke me; we had passed the ocean Which girds the pole, Nature's remotest reign-- And we glode fast o'er a pellucid plain Of waters, azure with the noontide day. "555 Ethereal mountains shone around--a Fane Stood in the midst, girt by green isles which lay On the blue sunny deep, resplendent far away.

49. It was a Temple, such as mortal hand Has never built, nor ecstasy, nor dream "560 Reared in the cities of enchanted land: 'Twas likest Heaven, ere yet day's purple stream Ebbs o'er the western forest, while the gleam Of the unrisen moon among the clouds Is gathering--when with many a golden beam "565 The thronging constellations rush in crowds, Paving with fire the sky and the marmoreal floods.

50. Like what may be conceived of this vast dome, When from the depths which thought can seldom pierce Genius beholds it rise, his native home, "570 Girt by the deserts of the Universe; Yet, nor in painting's light, or mightier verse, Or sculpture's marble language, can invest That shape to mortal sense--such glooms immerse That incommunicable sight, and rest "575 Upon the labouring brain and overburdened breast.

51. Winding among the lawny islands fair, Whose blosmy forests starred the shadowy deep, The wingless boat paused where an ivory stair Its fretwork in the crystal sea did steep, "580 Encircling that vast Fane's aerial heap: We disembarked, and through a portal wide We passed--whose roof of moonstone carved, did keep A glimmering o'er the forms on every side, Sculptures like life and thought, immovable, deep-eyed. "585

52. We came to a vast hall, whose glorious roof Was diamond, which had drunk the lightning's sheen In darkness, and now poured it through the woof Of spell-inwoven clouds hung there to screen Its blinding splendour--through such veil was seen "590 That work of subtlest power, divine and rare; Orb above orb, with starry shapes between, And horned moons, and meteors strange and fair, On night-black columns poised--one hollow hemisphere!

53. Ten thousand columns in that quivering light "595 Distinct--between whose shafts wound far away The long and labyrinthine aisles--more bright With their own radiance than the Heaven of Day; And on the jasper walls around, there lay Paintings, the poesy of mightiest thought, "600 Which did the Spirit's history display; A tale of passionate change, divinely taught, Which, in their winged dance, unconscious Genii wrought.

54. Beneath, there sate on many a sapphire throne, The Great, who had departed from mankind, "605 A mighty Senate;--some, whose white hair shone Like mountain snow, mild, beautiful, and blind; Some, female forms, whose gestures beamed with mind; And ardent youths, and children bright and fair; And some had lyres whose strings were intertwined "610 With pale and clinging flames, which ever there Waked faint yet thrilling sounds that pierced the crystal air.

55. One seat was vacant in the midst, a throne, Reared on a pyramid like sculptured flame, Distinct with circling steps which rested on "615 Their own deep fire--soon as the Woman came Into that hall, she shrieked the Spirit's name And fell; and vanished slowly from the sight. Darkness arose from her dissolving frame, Which gathering, filled that dome of woven light, "620 Blotting its sphered stars with supernatural night.

56. Then first, two glittering lights were seen to glide In circles on the amethystine floor, Small serpent eyes trailing from side to side, Like meteors on a river's grassy shore, "625 They round each other rolled, dilating more And more--then rose, commingling into one, One clear and mighty planet hanging o'er A cloud of deepest shadow, which was thrown Athwart the glowing steps and the crystalline throne. "630

57. The cloud which rested on that cone of flame Was cloven; beneath the planet sate a Form, Fairer than tongue can speak or thought may frame, The radiance of whose limbs rose-like and warm Flowed forth, and did with softest light inform "635 The shadowy dome, the sculptures, and the state Of those assembled shapes--with clinging charm Sinking upon their hearts and mine. He sate Majestic, yet most mild--calm, yet compassionate.

58. Wonder and joy a passing faintness threw "640 Over my brow--a hand supported me, Whose touch was magic strength; an eye of blue Looked into mine, like moonlight, soothingly; And a voice said:--'Thou must a listener be This day--two mighty Spirits now return, "645 Like birds of calm, from the world's raging sea, They pour fresh light from Hope's immortal urn; A tale of human power--despair not--list and learn!

59. I looked, and lo! one stood forth eloquently. His eyes were dark and deep, and the clear brow "650 Which shadowed them was like the morning sky, The cloudless Heaven of Spring, when in their flow Through the bright air, the soft winds as they blow Wake the green world--his gestures did obey The oracular mind that made his features glow, "655 And where his curved lips half-open lay, Passion's divinest stream had made impetuous way.

60. Beneath the darkness of his outspread hair He stood thus beautiful; but there was One Who sate beside him like his shadow there, "660 And held his hand--far lovelier; she was known To be thus fair, by the few lines alone Which through her floating locks and gathered cloak, Glances of soul-dissolving glory, shone:-- None else beheld her eyes--in him they woke "665 Memories which found a tongue as thus he silence broke.


1. The starlight smile of children, the sweet looks Of women, the fair breast from which I fed, The murmur of the unreposing brooks, And the green light which, shifting overhead, "670 Some tangled bower of vines around me shed, The shells on the sea-sand, and the wild flowers, The lamp-light through the rafters cheerly spread, And on the twining flax--in life's young hours These sights and sounds did nurse my spirit's folded powers. "675

2. In Argolis, beside the echoing sea, Such impulses within my mortal frame Arose, and they were dear to memory, Like tokens of the dead:--but others came Soon, in another shape: the wondrous fame "680 Of the past world, the vital words and deeds Of minds whom neither time nor change can tame, Traditions dark and old, whence evil creeds Start forth, and whose dim shade a stream of poison feeds.

3. I heard, as all have heard, the various story "685 Of human life, and wept unwilling tears. Feeble historians of its shame and glory, False disputants on all its hopes and fears, Victims who worshipped ruin, chroniclers Of daily scorn, and slaves who loathed their state "690 Yet, flattering power, had given its ministers A throne of judgement in the grave:--'twas fate, That among such as these my youth should seek its mate.

4. The land in which I lived, by a fell bane Was withered up. Tyrants dwelt side by side, "695 And stabled in our homes,--until the chain Stifled the captive's cry, and to abide That blasting curse men had no shame--all vied In evil, slave and despot; fear with lust Strange fellowship through mutual hate had tied, "700 Like two dark serpents tangled in the dust, Which on the paths of men their mingling poison thrust.

5. Earth, our bright home, its mountains and its waters, And the ethereal shapes which are suspended Over its green expanse, and those fair daughters, "705 The clouds, of Sun and Ocean, who have blended The colours of the air since first extended It cradled the young world, none wandered forth To see or feel; a darkness had descended On every heart; the light which shows its worth, "710 Must among gentle thoughts and fearless take its birth.

6. This vital world, this home of happy spirits, Was as a dungeon to my blasted kind; All that despair from murdered hope inherits They sought, and in their helpless misery blind, "715 A deeper prison and heavier chains did find, And stronger tyrants:--a dark gulf before, The realm of a stern Ruler, yawned; behind, Terror and Time conflicting drove, and bore On their tempestuous flood the shrieking wretch from shore. "720

7. Out of that Ocean's wrecks had Guilt and Woe Framed a dark dwelling for their homeless thought, And, starting at the ghosts which to and fro Glide o'er its dim and gloomy strand, had brought The worship thence which they each other taught. "725 Well might men loathe their life, well might they turn Even to the ills again from which they sought Such refuge after death!--well might they learn To gaze on this fair world with hopeless unconcern!

8. For they all pined in bondage; body and soul, "730 Tyrant and slave, victim and torturer, bent Before one Power, to which supreme control Over their will by their own weakness lent, Made all its many names omnipotent; All symbols of things evil, all divine; "735 And hymns of blood or mockery, which rent The air from all its fanes, did intertwine Imposture's impious toils round each discordant shrine.

9. I heard, as all have heard, life's various story, And in no careless heart transcribed the tale; "740 But, from the sneers of men who had grown hoary In shame and scorn, from groans of crowds made pale By famine, from a mother's desolate wail O'er her polluted child, from innocent blood Poured on the earth, and brows anxious and pale "745 With the heart's warfare, did I gather food To feed my many thoughts--a tameless multitude!

10. I wandered through the wrecks of days departed Far by the desolated shore, when even O'er the still sea and jagged islets darted "750 The light of moonrise; in the northern Heaven, Among the clouds near the horizon driven, The mountains lay beneath one planet pale; Around me, broken tombs and columns riven Looked vast in twilight, and the sorrowing gale "755 Waked in those ruins gray its everlasting wail!

11. I knew not who had framed these wonders then, Nor had I heard the story of their deeds; But dwellings of a race of mightier men, And monuments of less ungentle creeds "760 Tell their own tale to him who wisely heeds The language which they speak; and now, to me The moonlight making pale the blooming weeds, The bright stars shining in the breathless sea, Interpreted those scrolls of mortal mystery. "765

12. Such man has been, and such may yet become! Ay, wiser, greater, gentler even than they Who on the fragments of yon shattered dome Have stamped the sign of power--I felt the sway Of the vast stream of ages bear away "770 My floating thoughts--my heart beat loud and fast-- Even as a storm let loose beneath the ray Of the still moon, my spirit onward passed Beneath truth's steady beams upon its tumult cast.

13. It shall be thus no more! too long, too long, "775 Sons of the glorious dead, have ye lain bound In darkness and in ruin!--Hope is strong, Justice and Truth their winged child have found-- Awake! arise! until the mighty sound Of your career shall scatter in its gust "780 The thrones of the oppressor, and the ground Hide the last altar's unregarded dust, Whose Idol has so long betrayed your impious trust!

14. It must be so--I will arise and waken The multitude, and like a sulphurous hill, "785 Which on a sudden from its snows has shaken The swoon of ages, it shall burst and fill The world with cleansing fire; it must, it will-- It may not be restrained!--and who shall stand Amid the rocking earthquake steadfast still, "790 But Laon? on high Freedom's desert land A tower whose marble walls the leagued storms withstand!

15. One summer night, in commune with the hope Thus deeply fed, amid those ruins gray I watched, beneath the dark sky's starry cope; "795 And ever from that hour upon me lay The burden of this hope, and night or day, In vision or in dream, clove to my breast: Among mankind, or when gone far away To the lone shores and mountains, 'twas a guest "800 Which followed where I fled, and watched when I did rest.

16. These hopes found words through which my spirit sought To weave a bondage of such sympathy, As might create some response to the thought Which ruled me now--and as the vapours lie "805 Bright in the outspread morning's radiancy, So were these thoughts invested with the light Of language: and all bosoms made reply On which its lustre streamed, whene'er it might Through darkness wide and deep those tranced spirits smite. "810

17. Yes, many an eye with dizzy tears was dim, And oft I thought to clasp my own heart's brother, When I could feel the listener's senses swim, And hear his breath its own swift gaspings smother Even as my words evoked them--and another, "815 And yet another, I did fondly deem, Felt that we all were sons of one great mother; And the cold truth such sad reverse did seem As to awake in grief from some delightful dream.

18. Yes, oft beside the ruined labyrinth "820 Which skirts the hoary caves of the green deep, Did Laon and his friend, on one gray plinth, Round whose worn base the wild waves hiss and leap, Resting at eve, a lofty converse keep: And that this friend was false, may now be said "825 Calmly--that he like other men could weep Tears which are lies, and could betray and spread Snares for that guileless heart which for his own had bled.

19. Then, had no great aim recompensed my sorrow, I must have sought dark respite from its stress "830 In dreamless rest, in sleep that sees no morrow-- For to tread life's dismaying wilderness Without one smile to cheer, one voice to bless, Amid the snares and scoffs of human kind, Is hard--but I betrayed it not, nor less "835 With love that scorned return sought to unbind The interwoven clouds which make its wisdom blind.

20. With deathless minds which leave where they have passed A path of light, my soul communion knew; Till from that glorious intercourse, at last, "840 As from a mine of magic store, I drew Words which were weapons;--round my heart there grew The adamantine armour of their power; And from my fancy wings of golden hue Sprang forth--yet not alone from wisdom's tower, "845 A minister of truth, these plumes young Laon bore.

21. An orphan with my parents lived, whose eyes Were lodestars of delight, which drew me home When I might wander forth; nor did I prize Aught human thing beneath Heaven's mighty dome "850 Beyond this child; so when sad hours were come, And baffled hope like ice still clung to me, Since kin were cold, and friends had now become Heartless and false, I turned from all, to be, Cythna, the only source of tears and smiles to thee. "855

22. What wert thou then? A child most infantine, Yet wandering far beyond that innocent age In all but its sweet looks and mien divine; Even then, methought, with the world's tyrant rage A patient warfare thy young heart did wage, "860 When those soft eyes of scarcely conscious thought Some tale, or thine own fancies, would engage To overflow with tears, or converse fraught With passion, o'er their depths its fleeting light had wrought.

23. She moved upon this earth a shape of brightness, "865 A power, that from its objects scarcely drew One impulse of her being--in her lightness Most like some radiant cloud of morning dew, Which wanders through the waste air's pathless blue, To nourish some far desert; she did seem "870 Beside me, gathering beauty as she grew, Like the bright shade of some immortal dream Which walks, when tempest sleeps, the wave of life's dark stream.

24. As mine own shadow was this child to me, A second self, far dearer and more fair; "875 Which clothed in undissolving radiancy All those steep paths which languor and despair Of human things, had made so dark and bare, But which I trod alone--nor, till bereft Of friends, and overcome by lonely care, "880 Knew I what solace for that loss was left, Though by a bitter wound my trusting heart was cleft.

25. Once she was dear, now she was all I had To love in human life--this playmate sweet, This child of twelve years old--so she was made "885 My sole associate, and her willing feet Wandered with mine where earth and ocean meet, Beyond the aereal mountains whose vast cells The unreposing billows ever beat, Through forests wild and old, and lawny dells "890 Where boughs of incense droop over the emerald wells.

26. And warm and light I felt her clasping hand When twined in mine; she followed where I went, Through the lone paths of our immortal land. It had no waste but some memorial lent "895 Which strung me to my toil--some monument Vital with mind; then Cythna by my side, Until the bright and beaming day were spent, Would rest, with looks entreating to abide, Too earnest and too sweet ever to be denied. "900

27. And soon I could not have refused her--thus For ever, day and night, we two were ne'er Parted, but when brief sleep divided us: And when the pauses of the lulling air Of noon beside the sea had made a lair "905 For her soothed senses, in my arms she slept, And I kept watch over her slumbers there, While, as the shifting visions over her swept, Amid her innocent rest by turns she smiled and wept.

28. And, in the murmur of her dreams was heard "910 Sometimes the name of Laon:--suddenly She would arise, and, like the secret bird Whom sunset wakens, fill the shore and sky With her sweet accents, a wild melody! Hymns which my soul had woven to Freedom, strong "915 The source of passion, whence they rose, to be; Triumphant strains, which, like a spirit's tongue, To the enchanted waves that child of glory sung--

29. Her white arms lifted through the shadowy stream Of her loose hair. Oh, excellently great "920 Seemed to me then my purpose, the vast theme Of those impassioned songs, when Cythna sate Amid the calm which rapture doth create After its tumult, her heart vibrating, Her spirit o'er the Ocean's floating state "925 From her deep eyes far wandering, on the wing Of visions that were mine, beyond its utmost spring!

30. For, before Cythna loved it, had my song Peopled with thoughts the boundless universe, A mighty congregation, which were strong "930 Where'er they trod the darkness to disperse The cloud of that unutterable curse Which clings upon mankind:--all things became Slaves to my holy and heroic verse, Earth, sea and sky, the planets, life and fame "935 And fate, or whate'er else binds the world's wondrous frame.

31. And this beloved child thus felt the sway Of my conceptions, gathering like a cloud The very wind on which it rolls away: Hers too were all my thoughts, ere yet, endowed "940 With music and with light, their fountains flowed In poesy; and her still and earnest face, Pallid with feelings which intensely glowed Within, was turned on mine with speechless grace, Watching the hopes which there her heart had learned to trace. "945

32. In me, communion with this purest being Kindled intenser zeal, and made me wise In knowledge, which, in hers mine own mind seeing, Left in the human world few mysteries: How without fear of evil or disguise "950 Was Cythna!--what a spirit strong and mild, Which death, or pain or peril could despise, Yet melt in tenderness! what genius wild Yet mighty, was enclosed within one simple child!

33. New lore was this--old age with its gray hair, "955 And wrinkled legends of unworthy things, And icy sneers, is nought: it cannot dare To burst the chains which life for ever flings On the entangled soul's aspiring wings, So is it cold and cruel, and is made "960 The careless slave of that dark power which brings Evil, like blight, on man, who, still betrayed, Laughs o'er the grave in which his living hopes are laid.

34. Nor are the strong and the severe to keep The empire of the world: thus Cythna taught "965 Even in the visions of her eloquent sleep, Unconscious of the power through which she wrought The woof of such intelligible thought, As from the tranquil strength which cradled lay In her smile-peopled rest, my spirit sought "970 Why the deceiver and the slave has sway O'er heralds so divine of truth's arising day.

35. Within that fairest form, the female mind, Untainted by the poison clouds which rest On the dark world, a sacred home did find: "975 But else, from the wide earth's maternal breast, Victorious Evil, which had dispossessed All native power, had those fair children torn, And made them slaves to soothe his vile unrest, And minister to lust its joys forlorn, "980 Till they had learned to breathe the atmosphere of scorn.

36. This misery was but coldly felt, till she Became my only friend, who had endued My purpose with a wider sympathy; Thus, Cythna mourned with me the servitude "985 In which the half of humankind were mewed Victims of lust and hate, the slaves of slaves, She mourned that grace and power were thrown as food To the hyena lust, who, among graves, Over his loathed meal, laughing in agony, raves. "990

37. And I, still gazing on that glorious child, Even as these thoughts flushed o'er her:--'Cythna sweet, Well with the world art thou unreconciled; Never will peace and human nature meet Till free and equal man and woman greet "995 Domestic peace; and ere this power can make In human hearts its calm and holy seat, This slavery must be broken'--as I spake, From Cythna's eyes a light of exultation brake.

38. She replied earnestly:--'It shall be mine, "1000 This task,--mine, Laon!--thou hast much to gain; Nor wilt thou at poor Cythna's pride repine, If she should lead a happy female train To meet thee over the rejoicing plain, When myriads at thy call shall throng around "1005 The Golden City.'--Then the child did strain My arm upon her tremulous heart, and wound Her own about my neck, till some reply she found.

39. I smiled, and spake not.--'Wherefore dost thou smile At what I say? Laon, I am not weak, "1010 And, though my cheek might become pale the while, With thee, if thou desirest, will I seek Through their array of banded slaves to wreak Ruin upon the tyrants. I had thought It was more hard to turn my unpractised cheek "1015 To scorn and shame, and this beloved spot And thee, O dearest friend, to leave and murmur not.

40. 'Whence came I what I am? Thou, Laon, knowest How a young child should thus undaunted be; Methinks, it is a power which thou bestowest, "1020 Through which I seek, by most resembling thee, So to become most good and great and free; Yet far beyond this Ocean's utmost roar, In towers and huts are many like to me, Who, could they see thine eyes, or feel such lore "1025 As I have learnt from them, like me would fear no more.

41. 'Think'st thou that I shall speak unskilfully, And none will heed me? I remember now, How once, a slave in tortures doomed to die, Was saved, because in accents sweet and low "1030 He sung a song his Judge loved long ago, As he was led to death.--All shall relent Who hear me--tears, as mine have flowed, shall flow, Hearts beat as mine now beats, with such intent As renovates the world; a will omnipotent! "1035

42. 'Yes, I will tread Pride's golden palaces, Through Penury's roofless huts and squalid cells Will I descend, where'er in abjectness Woman with some vile slave her tyrant dwells, There with the music of thine own sweet spells "1040 Will disenchant the captives, and will pour For the despairing, from the crystal wells Of thy deep spirit, reason's mighty lore, And power shall then abound, and hope arise once more.

43. 'Can man be free if woman be a slave? "1045 Chain one who lives, and breathes this boundless air, To the corruption of a closed grave! Can they whose mates are beasts, condemned to bear Scorn, heavier far than toil or anguish, dare To trample their oppressors? in their home "1050 Among their babes, thou knowest a curse would wear The shape of woman--hoary Crime would come Behind, and Fraud rebuild religion's tottering dome.

44. 'I am a child:--I would not yet depart. When I go forth alone, bearing the lamp "1055 Aloft which thou hast kindled in my heart, Millions of slaves from many a dungeon damp Shall leap in joy, as the benumbing cramp Of ages leaves their limbs--no ill may harm Thy Cythna ever--truth its radiant stamp "1060 Has fixed, as an invulnerable charm, Upon her children's brow, dark Falsehood to disarm.

45. 'Wait yet awhile for the appointed day-- Thou wilt depart, and I with tears shall stand Watching thy dim sail skirt the ocean gray; "1065 Amid the dwellers of this lonely land I shall remain alone--and thy command Shall then dissolve the world's unquiet trance, And, multitudinous as the desert sand Borne on the storm, its millions shall advance, "1070 Thronging round thee, the light of their deliverance.

46. 'Then, like the forests of some pathless mountain, Which from remotest glens two warring winds Involve in fire which not the loosened fountain Of broadest floods might quench, shall all the kinds "1075 Of evil, catch from our uniting minds The spark which must consume them;--Cythna then Will have cast off the impotence that binds Her childhood now, and through the paths of men Will pass, as the charmed bird that haunts the serpent's den. "1080

47. 'We part!--O Laon, I must dare nor tremble, To meet those looks no more!--Oh, heavy stroke! Sweet brother of my soul! can I dissemble The agony of this thought?'--As thus she spoke The gathered sobs her quivering accents broke, "1085 And in my arms she hid her beating breast. I remained still for tears--sudden she woke As one awakes from sleep, and wildly pressed My bosom, her whole frame impetuously possessed.

48. 'We part to meet again--but yon blue waste, "1090 Yon desert wide and deep, holds no recess, Within whose happy silence, thus embraced We might survive all ills in one caress: Nor doth the grave--I fear 'tis passionless-- Nor yon cold vacant Heaven:--we meet again "1095 Within the minds of men, whose lips shall bless Our memory, and whose hopes its light retain When these dissevered bones are trodden in the plain.'

49. I could not speak, though she had ceased, for now The fountains of her feeling, swift and deep, "1100 Seemed to suspend the tumult of their flow; So we arose, and by the starlight steep Went homeward--neither did we speak nor weep, But, pale, were calm with passion--thus subdued Like evening shades that o'er the mountains creep, "1105 We moved towards our home; where, in this mood, Each from the other sought refuge in solitude.


1. What thoughts had sway o'er Cythna's lonely slumber That night, I know not; but my own did seem As if they might ten thousand years outnumber "1110 Of waking life, the visions of a dream Which hid in one dim gulf the troubled stream Of mind; a boundless chaos wild and vast, Whose limits yet were never memory's theme: And I lay struggling as its whirlwinds passed, "1115 Sometimes for rapture sick, sometimes for pain aghast.

2. Two hours, whose mighty circle did embrace More time than might make gray the infant world, Rolled thus, a weary and tumultuous space: When the third came, like mist on breezes curled, "1120 From my dim sleep a shadow was unfurled: Methought, upon the threshold of a cave I sate with Cythna; drooping briony, pearled With dew from the wild streamlet's shattered wave, Hung, where we sate to taste the joys which Nature gave. "1125

3. We lived a day as we were wont to live, But Nature had a robe of glory on, And the bright air o'er every shape did weave Intenser hues, so that the herbless stone, The leafless bough among the leaves alone, "1130 Had being clearer than its own could be, And Cythna's pure and radiant self was shown, In this strange vision, so divine to me, That if I loved before, now love was agony.

4. Morn fled, noon came, evening, then night descended, "1135 And we prolonged calm talk beneath the sphere Of the calm moon--when suddenly was blended With our repose a nameless sense of fear; And from the cave behind I seemed to hear Sounds gathering upwards!--accents incomplete, "1140 And stifled shrieks,--and now, more near and near, A tumult and a rush of thronging feet The cavern's secret depths beneath the earth did beat.

5. The scene was changed, and away, away, away! Through the air and over the sea we sped, "1145 And Cythna in my sheltering bosom lay, And the winds bore me--through the darkness spread Around, the gaping earth then vomited Legions of foul and ghastly shapes, which hung Upon my flight; and ever, as we fled, "1150 They plucked at Cythna--soon to me then clung A sense of actual things those monstrous dreams among.

6. And I lay struggling in the impotence Of sleep, while outward life had burst its bound, Though, still deluded, strove the tortured sense "1155 To its dire wanderings to adapt the sound Which in the light of morn was poured around Our dwelling; breathless, pale and unaware I rose, and all the cottage crowded found With armed men, whose glittering swords were bare, "1160 And whose degraded limbs the tyrant's garb did wear.

7. And, ere with rapid lips and gathered brow I could demand the cause--a feeble shriek-- It was a feeble shriek, faint, far and low, Arrested me--my mien grew calm and meek, "1165 And grasping a small knife, I went to seek That voice among the crowd--'twas Cythna's cry! Beneath most calm resolve did agony wreak Its whirlwind rage:--so I passed quietly Till I beheld, where bound, that dearest child did lie. "1170

8. I started to behold her, for delight And exultation, and a joyance free, Solemn, serene and lofty, filled the light Of the calm smile with which she looked on me: So that I feared some brainless ecstasy, "1175 Wrought from that bitter woe, had wildered her-- 'Farewell! farewell!' she said, as I drew nigh; 'At first my peace was marred by this strange stir, Now I am calm as truth--its chosen minister.

9. 'Look not so, Laon--say farewell in hope, "1180 These bloody men are but the slaves who bear Their mistress to her task--it was my scope The slavery where they drag me now, to share, And among captives willing chains to wear Awhile--the rest thou knowest--return, dear friend! "1185 Let our first triumph trample the despair Which would ensnare us now, for in the end, In victory or in death our hopes and fears must blend.'

10. These words had fallen on my unheeding ear, Whilst I had watched the motions of the crew "1190 With seeming-careless glance; not many were Around her, for their comrades just withdrew To guard some other victim--so I drew My knife, and with one impulse, suddenly All unaware three of their number slew, "1195 And grasped a fourth by the throat, and with loud cry My countrymen invoked to death or liberty!

11. What followed then, I know not--for a stroke On my raised arm and naked head, came down, Filling my eyes with blood.--When I awoke, "1200 I felt that they had bound me in my swoon, And up a rock which overhangs the town, By the steep path were bearing me; below, The plain was filled with slaughter,--overthrown The vineyards and the harvests, and the glow "1205 Of blazing roofs shone far o'er the white Ocean's flow.

12. Upon that rock a mighty column stood, Whose capital seemed sculptured in the sky, Which to the wanderers o'er the solitude Of distant seas, from ages long gone by, "1210 Had made a landmark; o'er its height to fly Scarcely the cloud, the vulture, or the blast, Has power--and when the shades of evening lie On Earth and Ocean, its carved summits cast The sunken daylight far through the aerial waste. "1215

13. They bore me to a cavern in the hill Beneath that column, and unbound me there; And one did strip me stark; and one did fill A vessel from the putrid pool; one bare A lighted torch, and four with friendless care "1220 Guided my steps the cavern-paths along, Then up a steep and dark and narrow stair We wound, until the torch's fiery tongue Amid the gushing day beamless and pallid hung.

14. They raised me to the platform of the pile, "1225 That column's dizzy height:--the grate of brass Through which they thrust me, open stood the while, As to its ponderous and suspended mass, With chains which eat into the flesh, alas! With brazen links, my naked limbs they bound: "1230 The grate, as they departed to repass, With horrid clangour fell, and the far sound Of their retiring steps in the dense gloom was drowned.

15. The noon was calm and bright:--around that column The overhanging sky and circling sea "1235 Spread forth in silentness profound and solemn The darkness of brief frenzy cast on me, So that I knew not my own misery: The islands and the mountains in the day Like clouds reposed afar; and I could see "1240 The town among the woods below that lay, And the dark rocks which bound the bright and glassy bay.

16. It was so calm, that scarce the feathery weed Sown by some eagle on the topmost stone Swayed in the air:--so bright, that noon did breed "1245 No shadow in the sky beside mine own-- Mine, and the shadow of my chain alone. Below, the smoke of roofs involved in flame Rested like night, all else was clearly shown In that broad glare; yet sound to me none came, "1250 But of the living blood that ran within my frame.

17. The peace of madness fled, and ah, too soon! A ship was lying on the sunny main, Its sails were flagging in the breathless noon-- Its shadow lay beyond--that sight again "1255 Waked, with its presence, in my tranced brain The stings of a known sorrow, keen and cold: I knew that ship bore Cythna o'er the plain Of waters, to her blighting slavery sold, And watched it with such thoughts as must remain untold. "1260

18. I watched until the shades of evening wrapped Earth like an exhalation--then the bark Moved, for that calm was by the sunset snapped. It moved a speck upon the Ocean dark: Soon the wan stars came forth, and I could mark "1265 Its path no more!--I sought to close mine eyes, But like the balls, their lids were stiff and stark; I would have risen, but ere that I could rise, My parched skin was split with piercing agonies.

19. I gnawed my brazen chain, and sought to sever "1270 Its adamantine links, that I might die: O Liberty! forgive the base endeavour, Forgive me, if, reserved for victory, The Champion of thy faith e'er sought to fly.-- That starry night, with its clear silence, sent "1275 Tameless resolve which laughed at misery Into my soul--linked remembrance lent To that such power, to me such a severe content.

20. To breathe, to be, to hope, or to despair And die, I questioned not; nor, though the Sun "1280 Its shafts of agony kindling through the air Moved over me, nor though in evening dun, Or when the stars their visible courses run, Or morning, the wide universe was spread In dreary calmness round me, did I shun "1285 Its presence, nor seek refuge with the dead From one faint hope whose flower a dropping poison shed.

21. Two days thus passed--I neither raved nor died-- Thirst raged within me, like a scorpion's nest Built in mine entrails; I had spurned aside "1290 The water-vessel, while despair possessed My thoughts, and now no drop remained! The uprest Of the third sun brought hunger--but the crust Which had been left, was to my craving breast Fuel, not food. I chewed the bitter dust, "1295 And bit my bloodless arm, and licked the brazen rust.

22. My brain began to fail when the fourth morn Burst o'er the golden isles--a fearful sleep, Which through the caverns dreary and forlorn Of the riven soul, sent its foul dreams to sweep "1300 With whirlwind swiftness--a fall far and deep,-- A gulf, a void, a sense of senselessness-- These things dwelt in me, even as shadows keep Their watch in some dim charnel's loneliness, A shoreless sea, a sky sunless and planetless! "1305

23. The forms which peopled this terrific trance I well remember--like a choir of devils, Around me they involved a giddy dance; Legions seemed gathering from the misty levels Of Ocean, to supply those ceaseless revels, "1310 Foul, ceaseless shadows:--thought could not divide The actual world from these entangling evils, Which so bemocked themselves, that I descried All shapes like mine own self, hideously multiplied.

24. The sense of day and night, of false and true, "1315 Was dead within me. Yet two visions burst That darkness--one, as since that hour I knew, Was not a phantom of the realms accursed, Where then my spirit dwelt--but of the first I know not yet, was it a dream or no. "1320 But both, though not distincter, were immersed In hues which, when through memory's waste they flow, Make their divided streams more bright and rapid now.

25. Methought that grate was lifted, and the seven Who brought me thither four stiff corpses bare, "1325 And from the frieze to the four winds of Heaven Hung them on high by the entangled hair; Swarthy were three--the fourth was very fair; As they retired, the golden moon upsprung, And eagerly, out in the giddy air, "1330 Leaning that I might eat, I stretched and clung Over the shapeless depth in which those corpses hung.

26. A woman's shape, now lank and cold and blue, The dwelling of the many-coloured worm, Hung there; the white and hollow cheek I drew "1335 To my dry lips--what radiance did inform Those horny eyes? whose was that withered form? Alas, alas! it seemed that Cythna's ghost Laughed in those looks, and that the flesh was warm Within my teeth!--a whirlwind keen as frost "1340 Then in its sinking gulfs my sickening spirit tossed.

27. Then seemed it that a tameless hurricane Arose, and bore me in its dark career Beyond the sun, beyond the stars that wane On the verge of formless space--it languished there, "1345 And dying, left a silence lone and drear, More horrible than famine:--in the deep The shape of an old man did then appear, Stately and beautiful; that dreadful sleep His heavenly smiles dispersed, and I could wake and weep. "1350

28. And, when the blinding tears had fallen, I saw That column, and those corpses, and the moon, And felt the poisonous tooth of hunger gnaw My vitals, I rejoiced, as if the boon Of senseless death would be accorded soon;-- "1355 When from that stony gloom a voice arose, Solemn and sweet as when low winds attune The midnight pines; the grate did then unclose, And on that reverend form the moonlight did repose.

29. He struck my chains, and gently spake and smiled; "1360 As they were loosened by that Hermit old, Mine eyes were of their madness half beguiled, To answer those kind looks; he did enfold His giant arms around me, to uphold My wretched frame; my scorched limbs he wound "1365 In linen moist and balmy, and as cold As dew to drooping leaves;--the chain, with sound Like earthquake, through the chasm of that steep stair did bound,

30. As, lifting me, it fell!--What next I heard, Were billows leaping on the harbour-bar, "1370 And the shrill sea-wind, whose breath idly stirred My hair;--I looked abroad, and saw a star Shining beside a sail, and distant far That mountain and its column, the known mark Of those who in the wide deep wandering are, "1375 So that I feared some Spirit, fell and dark, In trance had lain me thus within a fiendish bark.

31. For now indeed, over the salt sea-billow I sailed: yet dared not look upon the shape Of him who ruled the helm, although the pillow "1380 For my light head was hollowed in his lap, And my bare limbs his mantle did enwrap, Fearing it was a fiend: at last, he bent O'er me his aged face; as if to snap Those dreadful thoughts the gentle grandsire bent, "1385 And to my inmost soul his soothing looks he sent.

32. A soft and healing potion to my lips At intervals he raised--now looked on high, To mark if yet the starry giant dips His zone in the dim sea--now cheeringly, "1390 Though he said little, did he speak to me. 'It is a friend beside thee--take good cheer, Poor victim, thou art now at liberty!' I joyed as those a human tone to hear, Who in cells deep and lone have languished many a year. "1395

33. A dim and feeble joy, whose glimpses oft Were quenched in a relapse of wildering dreams; Yet still methought we sailed, until aloft The stars of night grew pallid, and the beams Of morn descended on the ocean-streams, "1400 And still that aged man, so grand and mild, Tended me, even as some sick mother seems To hang in hope over a dying child, Till in the azure East darkness again was piled.

34. And then the night-wind steaming from the shore, "1405 Sent odours dying sweet across the sea, And the swift boat the little waves which bore, Were cut by its keen keel, though slantingly; Soon I could hear the leaves sigh, and could see The myrtle-blossoms starring the dim grove, "1410 As past the pebbly beach the boat did flee On sidelong wing, into a silent cove, Where ebon pines a shade under the starlight wove.

NOTES: "1223 torches' editions 1818, 1839. "1385 bent]meant cj. J. Nettleship.


1. The old man took the oars, and soon the bark Smote on the beach beside a tower of stone; "1415 It was a crumbling heap, whose portal dark With blooming ivy-trails was overgrown; Upon whose floor the spangling sands were strown, And rarest sea-shells, which the eternal flood, Slave to the mother of the months, had thrown "1420 Within the walls of that gray tower, which stood A changeling of man's art nursed amid Nature's brood.

2. When the old man his boat had anchored, He wound me in his arms with tender care, And very few, but kindly words he said, "1425 And bore me through the tower adown a stair, Whose smooth descent some ceaseless step to wear For many a year had fallen.--We came at last To a small chamber, which with mosses rare Was tapestried, where me his soft hands placed "1430 Upon a couch of grass and oak-leaves interlaced.

3. The moon was darting through the lattices Its yellow light, warm as the beams of day-- So warm, that to admit the dewy breeze, The old man opened them; the moonlight lay "1435 Upon a lake whose waters wove their play Even to the threshold of that lonely home: Within was seen in the dim wavering ray The antique sculptured roof, and many a tome Whose lore had made that sage all that he had become. "1440

4. The rock-built barrier of the sea was past,-- And I was on the margin of a lake, A lonely lake, amid the forests vast And snowy mountains:--did my spirit wake From sleep as many-coloured as the snake "1445 That girds eternity? in life and truth, Might not my heart its cravings ever slake? Was Cythna then a dream, and all my youth, And all its hopes and fears, and all its joy and ruth?

5. Thus madness came again,--a milder madness, "1450 Which darkened nought but time's unquiet flow With supernatural shades of clinging sadness; That gentle Hermit, in my helpless woe, By my sick couch was busy to and fro, Like a strong spirit ministrant of good: "1455 When I was healed, he led me forth to show The wonders of his sylvan solitude, And we together sate by that isle-fretted flood.

6. He knew his soothing words to weave with skill From all my madness told; like mine own heart, "1460 Of Cythna would he question me, until That thrilling name had ceased to make me start, From his familiar lips--it was not art, Of wisdom and of justice when he spoke-- When mid soft looks of pity, there would dart "1465 A glance as keen as is the lightning's stroke When it doth rive the knots of some ancestral oak.

7. Thus slowly from my brain the darkness rolled, My thoughts their due array did re-assume Through the enchantments of that Hermit old; "1470 Then I bethought me of the glorious doom Of those who sternly struggle to relume The lamp of Hope o'er man's bewildered lot, And, sitting by the waters, in the gloom Of eve, to that friend's heart I told my thought-- "1475 That heart which had grown old, but had corrupted not.

8. That hoary man had spent his livelong age In converse with the dead, who leave the stamp Of ever-burning thoughts on many a page, When they are gone into the senseless damp "1480 Of graves;--his spirit thus became a lamp Of splendour, like to those on which it fed; Through peopled haunts, the City and the Camp, Deep thirst for knowledge had his footsteps led, And all the ways of men among mankind he read. "1485

9. But custom maketh blind and obdurate The loftiest hearts;--he had beheld the woe In which mankind was bound, but deemed that fate Which made them abject, would preserve them so; And in such faith, some steadfast joy to know, "1490 He sought this cell: but when fame went abroad That one in Argolis did undergo Torture for liberty, and that the crowd High truths from gifted lips had heard and understood;

10. And that the multitude was gathering wide,-- "1495 His spirit leaped within his aged frame; In lonely peace he could no more abide, But to the land on which the victor's flame Had fed, my native land, the Hermit came: Each heart was there a shield, and every tongue "1500 Was as a sword of truth--young Laon's name Rallied their secret hopes, though tyrants sung Hymns of triumphant joy our scattered tribes among.

11. He came to the lone column on the rock, And with his sweet and mighty eloquence "1505 The hearts of those who watched it did unlock, And made them melt in tears of penitence. They gave him entrance free to bear me thence. 'Since this,' the old man said, 'seven years are spent, While slowly truth on thy benighted sense "1510 Has crept; the hope which wildered it has lent Meanwhile, to me the power of a sublime intent.

12. 'Yes, from the records of my youthful state, And from the lore of bards and sages old, From whatsoe'er my wakened thoughts create "1515 Out of the hopes of thine aspirings bold, Have I collected language to unfold Truth to my countrymen; from shore to shore Doctrines of human power my words have told, They have been heard, and men aspire to more "1520 Than they have ever gained or ever lost of yore.

13. 'In secret chambers parents read, and weep, My writings to their babes, no longer blind; And young men gather when their tyrants sleep, And vows of faith each to the other bind; "1525 And marriageable maidens, who have pined With love, till life seemed melting through their look, A warmer zeal, a nobler hope, now find; And every bosom thus is rapt and shook, Like autumn's myriad leaves in one swoln mountain-brook. "1530

14. 'The tyrants of the Golden City tremble At voices which are heard about the streets; The ministers of fraud can scarce dissemble The lies of their own heart, but when one meets Another at the shrine, he inly weets, "1535 Though he says nothing, that the truth is known; Murderers are pale upon the judgement-seats, And gold grows vile even to the wealthy crone, And laughter fills the Fane, and curses shake the Throne.

15. 'Kind thoughts, and mighty hopes, and gentle deeds "1540 Abound, for fearless love, and the pure law Of mild equality and peace, succeeds To faiths which long have held the world in awe, Bloody and false, and cold:--as whirlpools draw All wrecks of Ocean to their chasm, the sway "1545 Of thy strong genius, Laon, which foresaw This hope, compels all spirits to obey, Which round thy secret strength now throng in wide array.

16. 'For I have been thy passive instrument'-- (As thus the old man spake, his countenance "1550 Gleamed on me like a spirit's)--'thou hast lent To me, to all, the power to advance Towards this unforeseen deliverance From our ancestral chains--ay, thou didst rear That lamp of hope on high, which time nor chance "1555 Nor change may not extinguish, and my share Of good, was o'er the world its gathered beams to bear.

17. 'But I, alas! am both unknown and old, And though the woof of wisdom I know well To dye in hues of language, I am cold "1560 In seeming, and the hopes which inly dwell, My manners note that I did long repel; But Laon's name to the tumultuous throng Were like the star whose beams the waves compel And tempests, and his soul-subduing tongue "1565 Were as a lance to quell the mailed crest of wrong.

18. 'Perchance blood need not flow, if thou at length Wouldst rise, perchance the very slaves would spare Their brethren and themselves; great is the strength Of words--for lately did a maiden fair, "1570 Who from her childhood has been taught to bear The Tyrant's heaviest yoke, arise, and make Her sex the law of truth and freedom hear, And with these quiet words--"for thine own sake I prithee spare me;"--did with ruth so take "1575

19. 'All hearts, that even the torturer who had bound Her meek calm frame, ere it was yet impaled, Loosened her, weeping then; nor could be found One human hand to harm her--unassailed Therefore she walks through the great City, veiled "1580 In virtue's adamantine eloquence, 'Gainst scorn, and death and pain thus trebly mailed, And blending, in the smiles of that defence, The Serpent and the Dove, Wisdom and Innocence.

20. 'The wild-eyed women throng around her path: "1585 From their luxurious dungeons, from the dust Of meaner thralls, from the oppressor's wrath, Or the caresses of his sated lust They congregate:--in her they put their trust; The tyrants send their armed slaves to quell "1590 Her power;--they, even like a thunder-gust Caught by some forest, bend beneath the spell Of that young maiden's speech, and to their chiefs rebel.

21. 'Thus she doth equal laws and justice teach To woman, outraged and polluted long; "1595 Gathering the sweetest fruit in human reach For those fair hands now free, while armed wrong Trembles before her look, though it be strong; Thousands thus dwell beside her, virgins bright, And matrons with their babes, a stately throng! "1600 Lovers renew the vows which they did plight In early faith, and hearts long parted now unite,

22. 'And homeless orphans find a home near her, And those poor victims of the proud, no less, Fair wrecks, on whom the smiling world with stir, "1605 Thrusts the redemption of its wickedness:-- In squalid huts, and in its palaces Sits Lust alone, while o'er the land is borne Her voice, whose awful sweetness doth repress All evil, and her foes relenting turn, "1610 And cast the vote of love in hope's abandoned urn.

23. 'So in the populous City, a young maiden Has baffled Havoc of the prey which he Marks as his own, whene'er with chains o'erladen Men make them arms to hurl down tyranny,-- "1615 False arbiter between the bound and free; And o'er the land, in hamlets and in towns The multitudes collect tumultuously, And throng in arms; but tyranny disowns Their claim, and gathers strength around its trembling thrones. "1620

24. 'Blood soon, although unwillingly, to shed The free cannot forbear--the Queen of Slaves, The hoodwinked Angel of the blind and dead, Custom, with iron mace points to the graves Where her own standard desolately waves "1625 Over the dust of Prophets and of Kings. Many yet stand in her array--"she paves Her path with human hearts," and o'er it flings The wildering gloom of her immeasurable wings.

25. 'There is a plain beneath the City's wall, "1630 Bounded by misty mountains, wide and vast, Millions there lift at Freedom's thrilling call Ten thousand standards wide, they load the blast Which bears one sound of many voices past, And startles on his throne their sceptred foe: "1635 He sits amid his idle pomp aghast, And that his power hath passed away, doth know-- Why pause the victor swords to seal his overthrow?

26. 'The tyrant's guards resistance yet maintain: Fearless, and fierce, and hard as beasts of blood, "1640 They stand a speck amid the peopled plain; Carnage and ruin have been made their food From infancy--ill has become their good, And for its hateful sake their will has wove The chains which eat their hearts. The multitude "1645 Surrounding them, with words of human love, Seek from their own decay their stubborn minds to move.

27. 'Over the land is felt a sudden pause, As night and day those ruthless bands around, The watch of love is kept:--a trance which awes "1650 The thoughts of men with hope; as when the sound Of whirlwind, whose fierce blasts the waves and clouds confound, Dies suddenly, the mariner in fear Feels silence sink upon his heart--thus bound, The conquerors pause, and oh! may freemen ne'er "1655 Clasp the relentless knees of Dread, the murderer!

28. 'If blood be shed, 'tis but a change and choice Of bonds,--from slavery to cowardice A wretched fall!--Uplift thy charmed voice! Pour on those evil men the love that lies "1660 Hovering within those spirit-soothing eyes-- Arise, my friend, farewell!'--As thus he spake, From the green earth lightly I did arise, As one out of dim dreams that doth awake, And looked upon the depth of that reposing lake. "1665

29. I saw my countenance reflected there;-- And then my youth fell on me like a wind Descending on still waters--my thin hair Was prematurely gray, my face was lined With channels, such as suffering leaves behind, "1670 Not age; my brow was pale, but in my cheek And lips a flush of gnawing fire did find Their food and dwelling; though mine eyes might speak A subtle mind and strong within a frame thus weak.

30. And though their lustre now was spent and faded, "1675 Yet in my hollow looks and withered mien The likeness of a shape for which was braided The brightest woof of genius, still was seen-- One who, methought, had gone from the world's scene, And left it vacant--'twas her lover's face-- "1680 It might resemble her--it once had been The mirror of her thoughts, and still the grace Which her mind's shadow cast, left there a lingering trace.

31. What then was I? She slumbered with the dead. Glory and joy and peace, had come and gone. "1685 Doth the cloud perish, when the beams are fled Which steeped its skirts in gold? or, dark and lone, Doth it not through the paths of night unknown, On outspread wings of its own wind upborne Pour rain upon the earth? The stars are shown, "1690 When the cold moon sharpens her silver horn Under the sea, and make the wide night not forlorn.

32. Strengthened in heart, yet sad, that aged man I left, with interchange of looks and tears, And lingering speech, and to the Camp began "1695 My war. O'er many a mountain-chain which rears Its hundred crests aloft, my spirit bears My frame; o'er many a dale and many a moor, And gaily now meseems serene earth wears The blosmy spring's star-bright investiture, "1700 A vision which aught sad from sadness might allure.

33. My powers revived within me, and I went, As one whom winds waft o'er the bending grass, Through many a vale of that broad continent. At night when I reposed, fair dreams did pass "1705 Before my pillow;--my own Cythna was, Not like a child of death, among them ever; When I arose from rest, a woful mass That gentlest sleep seemed from my life to sever, As if the light of youth were not withdrawn for ever. "1710

34. Aye as I went, that maiden who had reared The torch of Truth afar, of whose high deeds The Hermit in his pilgrimage had heard, Haunted my thoughts.--Ah, Hope its sickness feeds With whatsoe'er it finds, or flowers or weeds! "1715 Could she be Cythna?--Was that corpse a shade Such as self-torturing thought from madness breeds? Why was this hope not torture? Yet it made A light around my steps which would not ever fade.

NOTES: "1625 Where]When edition 1818.


1. Over the utmost hill at length I sped, "1720 A snowy steep:--the moon was hanging low Over the Asian mountains, and outspread The plain, the City, and the Camp below, Skirted the midnight Ocean's glimmering flow; The City's moonlit spires and myriad lamps, "1725 Like stars in a sublunar sky did glow, And fires blazed far amid the scattered camps, Like springs of flame, which burst where'er swift Earthquake stamps.

2. All slept but those in watchful arms who stood, And those who sate tending the beacon's light, "1730 And the few sounds from that vast multitude Made silence more profound.--Oh, what a might Of human thought was cradled in that night! How many hearts impenetrably veiled Beat underneath its shade, what secret fight "1735 Evil and good, in woven passions mailed, Waged through that silent throng--a war that never failed!

3. And now the Power of Good held victory. So, through the labyrinth of many a tent, Among the silent millions who did lie "1740 In innocent sleep, exultingly I went; The moon had left Heaven desert now, but lent From eastern morn the first faint lustre showed An armed youth--over his spear he bent His downward face.--'A friend!' I cried aloud, "1745 And quickly common hopes made freemen understood.

4. I sate beside him while the morning beam Crept slowly over Heaven, and talked with him Of those immortal hopes, a glorious theme! Which led us forth, until the stars grew dim: "1750 And all the while, methought, his voice did swim As if it drowned in remembrance were Of thoughts which make the moist eyes overbrim: At last, when daylight 'gan to fill the air, He looked on me, and cried in wonder--'Thou art here!' "1755

5. Then, suddenly, I knew it was the youth In whom its earliest hopes my spirit found; But envious tongues had stained his spotless truth, And thoughtless pride his love in silence bound, And shame and sorrow mine in toils had wound, "1760 Whilst he was innocent, and I deluded; The truth now came upon me, on the ground Tears of repenting joy, which fast intruded, Fell fast, and o'er its peace our mingling spirits brooded.

6. Thus, while with rapid lips and earnest eyes "1765 We talked, a sound of sweeping conflict spread As from the earth did suddenly arise; From every tent roused by that clamour dread, Our bands outsprung and seized their arms--we sped Towards the sound: our tribes were gathering far. "1770 Those sanguine slaves amid ten thousand dead Stabbed in their sleep, trampled in treacherous war The gentle hearts whose power their lives had sought to spare.

7. Like rabid snakes, that sting some gentle child Who brings them food, when winter false and fair "1775 Allures them forth with its cold smiles, so wild They rage among the camp;--they overbear The patriot hosts--confusion, then despair, Descends like night--when 'Laon!' one did cry; Like a bright ghost from Heaven that shout did scare "1780 The slaves, and widening through the vaulted sky, Seemed sent from Earth to Heaven in sign of victory.

8. In sudden panic those false murderers fled, Like insect tribes before the northern gale: But swifter still, our hosts encompassed "1785 Their shattered ranks, and in a craggy vale, Where even their fierce despair might nought avail, Hemmed them around!--and then revenge and fear Made the high virtue of the patriots fail: One pointed on his foe the mortal spear-- "1790 I rushed before its point, and cried 'Forbear, forbear!'

9. The spear transfixed my arm that was uplifted In swift expostulation, and the blood Gushed round its point: I smiled, and--'Oh! thou gifted With eloquence which shall not be withstood, "1795 Flow thus!' I cried in joy, 'thou vital flood, Until my heart be dry, ere thus the cause For which thou wert aught worthy be subdued-- Ah, ye are pale,--ye weep,--your passions pause,-- 'Tis well! ye feel the truth of love's benignant laws. "1800

10. 'Soldiers, our brethren and our friends are slain. Ye murdered them, I think, as they did sleep! Alas, what have ye done? the slightest pain Which ye might suffer, there were eyes to weep, But ye have quenched them--there were smiles to steep "1805 Your hearts in balm, but they are lost in woe; And those whom love did set his watch to keep Around your tents, truth's freedom to bestow, Ye stabbed as they did sleep--but they forgive ye now.

11. 'Oh wherefore should ill ever flow from ill, "1810 And pain still keener pain for ever breed? We all are brethren--even the slaves who kill For hire, are men; and to avenge misdeed On the misdoer, doth but Misery feed With her own broken heart! O Earth, O Heaven! "1815 And thou, dread Nature, which to every deed And all that lives, or is, to be hath given, Even as to thee have these done ill, and are forgiven!

12. 'Join then your hands and hearts, and let the past Be as a grave which gives not up its dead "1820 To evil thoughts.'--A film then overcast My sense with dimness, for the wound, which bled Freshly, swift shadows o'er mine eyes had shed. When I awoke, I lay mid friends and foes, And earnest countenances on me shed "1825 The light of questioning looks, whilst one did close My wound with balmiest herbs, and soothed me to repose;

13. And one whose spear had pierced me, leaned beside With quivering lips and humid eyes;--and all Seemed like some brothers on a journey wide "1830 Gone forth, whom now strange meeting did befall In a strange land, round one whom they might call Their friend, their chief, their father, for assay Of peril, which had saved them from the thrall Of death, now suffering. Thus the vast array "1835 Of those fraternal bands were reconciled that day.

14. Lifting the thunder of their acclamation, Towards the City then the multitude, And I among them, went in joy--a nation Made free by love;--a mighty brotherhood "1840 Linked by a jealous interchange of good; A glorious pageant, more magnificent Than kingly slaves arrayed in gold and blood, When they return from carnage, and are sent In triumph bright beneath the populous battlement. "1845

15. Afar, the city-walls were thronged on high, And myriads on each giddy turret clung, And to each spire far lessening in the sky Bright pennons on the idle winds were hung; As we approached, a shout of joyance sprung "1850 At once from all the crowd, as if the vast And peopled Earth its boundless skies among The sudden clamour of delight had cast, When from before its face some general wreck had passed.

16. Our armies through the City's hundred gates "1855 Were poured, like brooks which to the rocky lair Of some deep lake, whose silence them awaits, Throng from the mountains when the storms are there And, as we passed through the calm sunny air A thousand flower-inwoven crowns were shed, "1860 The token flowers of truth and freedom fair, And fairest hands bound them on many a head, Those angels of love's heaven that over all was spread.

17. I trod as one tranced in some rapturous vision: Those bloody bands so lately reconciled, "1865 Were, ever as they went, by the contrition Of anger turned to love, from ill beguiled, And every one on them more gently smiled, Because they had done evil:--the sweet awe Of such mild looks made their own hearts grow mild, "1870 And did with soft attraction ever draw Their spirits to the love of freedom's equal law.

18. And they, and all, in one loud symphony My name with Liberty commingling, lifted, 'The friend and the preserver of the free! "1875 The parent of this joy!' and fair eyes gifted With feelings, caught from one who had uplifted The light of a great spirit, round me shone; And all the shapes of this grand scenery shifted Like restless clouds before the steadfast sun,-- "1880 Where was that Maid? I asked, but it was known of none.

19. Laone was the name her love had chosen, For she was nameless, and her birth none knew: Where was Laone now?--The words were frozen Within my lips with fear; but to subdue "1885 Such dreadful hope, to my great task was due, And when at length one brought reply, that she To-morrow would appear, I then withdrew To judge what need for that great throng might be, For now the stars came thick over the twilight sea. "1890

20. Yet need was none for rest or food to care, Even though that multitude was passing great, Since each one for the other did prepare All kindly succour--Therefore to the gate Of the Imperial House, now desolate, "1895 I passed, and there was found aghast, alone, The fallen Tyrant!--Silently he sate Upon the footstool of his golden throne, Which, starred with sunny gems, in its own lustre shone.

21. Alone, but for one child, who led before him "1900 A graceful dance: the only living thing Of all the crowd, which thither to adore him Flocked yesterday, who solace sought to bring In his abandonment!--She knew the King Had praised her dance of yore, and now she wove "1905 Its circles, aye weeping and murmuring Mid her sad task of unregarded love, That to no smiles it might his speechless sadness move.

22. She fled to him, and wildly clasped his feet When human steps were heard:--he moved nor spoke, "1910 Nor changed his hue, nor raised his looks to meet The gaze of strangers--our loud entrance woke The echoes of the hall, which circling broke The calm of its recesses,--like a tomb Its sculptured walls vacantly to the stroke "1915 Of footfalls answered, and the twilight's gloom Lay like a charnel's mist within the radiant dome.

23. The little child stood up when we came nigh; Her lips and cheeks seemed very pale and wan, But on her forehead, and within her eye "1920 Lay beauty, which makes hearts that feed thereon Sick with excess of sweetness; on the throne She leaned;--the King, with gathered brow, and lips Wreathed by long scorn, did inly sneer and frown With hue like that when some great painter dips "1925 His pencil in the gloom of earthquake and eclipse.

24. She stood beside him like a rainbow braided Within some storm, when scarce its shadows vast From the blue paths of the swift sun have faded; A sweet and solemn smile, like Cythna's, cast "1930 One moment's light, which made my heart beat fast, O'er that child's parted lips--a gleam of bliss, A shade of vanished days,--as the tears passed Which wrapped it, even as with a father's kiss I pressed those softest eyes in trembling tenderness. "1935

25. The sceptred wretch then from that solitude I drew, and, of his change compassionate, With words of sadness soothed his rugged mood. But he, while pride and fear held deep debate, With sullen guile of ill-dissembled hate "1940 Glared on me as a toothless snake might glare: Pity, not scorn I felt, though desolate The desolator now, and unaware The curses which he mocked had caught him by the hair.

26. I led him forth from that which now might seem "1945 A gorgeous grave: through portals sculptured deep With imagery beautiful as dream We went, and left the shades which tend on sleep Over its unregarded gold to keep Their silent watch.--The child trod faintingly, "1950 And as she went, the tears which she did weep Glanced in the starlight; wildered seemed she, And, when I spake, for sobs she could not answer me.

27. At last the tyrant cried, 'She hungers, slave! Stab her, or give her bread!'--It was a tone "1955 Such as sick fancies in a new-made grave Might hear. I trembled, for the truth was known; He with this child had thus been left alone, And neither had gone forth for food,--but he In mingled pride and awe cowered near his throne, "1960 And she a nursling of captivity Knew nought beyond those walls, nor what such change might be.

28. And he was troubled at a charm withdrawn Thus suddenly; that sceptres ruled no more-- That even from gold the dreadful strength was gone, "1965 Which once made all things subject to its power-- Such wonder seized him, as if hour by hour The past had come again; and the swift fall Of one so great and terrible of yore, To desolateness, in the hearts of all "1970 Like wonder stirred, who saw such awful change befall.

29. A mighty crowd, such as the wide land pours Once in a thousand years, now gathered round The fallen tyrant;--like the rush of showers Of hail in spring, pattering along the ground, "1975 Their many footsteps fell, else came no sound From the wide multitude: that lonely man Then knew the burden of his change, and found, Concealing in the dust his visage wan, Refuge from the keen looks which through his bosom ran. "1980

30. And he was faint withal: I sate beside him Upon the earth, and took that child so fair From his weak arms, that ill might none betide him Or her;--when food was brought to them, her share To his averted lips the child did bear, "1985 But, when she saw he had enough, she ate And wept the while;--the lonely man's despair Hunger then overcame, and of his state Forgetful, on the dust as in a trance he sate.

31. Slowly the silence of the multitudes "1990 Passed, as when far is heard in some lone dell The gathering of a wind among the woods-- 'And he is fallen!' they cry, 'he who did dwell Like famine or the plague, or aught more fell Among our homes, is fallen! the murderer "1995 Who slaked his thirsting soul as from a well Of blood and tears with ruin! he is here! Sunk in a gulf of scorn from which none may him rear!'

32. Then was heard--'He who judged let him be brought To judgement! blood for blood cries from the soil "2000 On which his crimes have deep pollution wrought! Shall Othman only unavenged despoil? Shall they who by the stress of grinding toil Wrest from the unwilling earth his luxuries, Perish for crime, while his foul blood may boil, "2005 Or creep within his veins at will?--Arise! And to high justice make her chosen sacrifice!'

33. 'What do ye seek? what fear ye,' then I cried, Suddenly starting forth, 'that ye should shed The blood of Othman?--if your hearts are tried "2010 In the true love of freedom, cease to dread This one poor lonely man--beneath Heaven spread In purest light above us all, through earth-- Maternal earth, who doth her sweet smiles shed For all, let him go free; until the worth "2015 Of human nature win from these a second birth.

34. 'What call ye "justice"? Is there one who ne'er In secret thought has wished another's ill?-- Are ye all pure? Let those stand forth who hear And tremble not. Shall they insult and kill, "2020 If such they be? their mild eyes can they fill With the false anger of the hypocrite? Alas, such were not pure!--the chastened will Of virtue sees that justice is the light Of love, and not revenge, and terror and despite.' "2025

35. The murmur of the people, slowly dying, Paused as I spake, then those who near me were, Cast gentle looks where the lone man was lying Shrouding his head, which now that infant fair Clasped on her lap in silence;--through the air "2030 Sobs were then heard, and many kissed my feet In pity's madness, and to the despair Of him whom late they cursed, a solace sweet His very victims brought--soft looks and speeches meet.

36. Then to a home for his repose assigned, "2035 Accompanied by the still throng, he went In silence, where, to soothe his rankling mind, Some likeness of his ancient state was lent; And if his heart could have been innocent As those who pardoned him, he might have ended "2040 His days in peace; but his straight lips were bent, Men said, into a smile which guile portended, A sight with which that child like hope with fear was blended.

37. 'Twas midnight now, the eve of that great day Whereon the many nations at whose call "2045 The chains of earth like mist melted away, Decreed to hold a sacred Festival, A rite to attest the equality of all Who live. So to their homes, to dream or wake All went. The sleepless silence did recall "2050 Laone to my thoughts, with hopes that make The flood recede from which their thirst they seek to slake.

38. The dawn flowed forth, and from its purple fountains I drank those hopes which make the spirit quail, As to the plain between the misty mountains "2055 And the great City, with a countenance pale, I went:--it was a sight which might avail To make men weep exulting tears, for whom Now first from human power the reverend veil Was torn, to see Earth from her general womb "2060 Pour forth her swarming sons to a fraternal doom:

39. To see, far glancing in the misty morning, The signs of that innumerable host; To hear one sound of many made, the warning Of Earth to Heaven from its free children tossed, "2065 While the eternal hills, and the sea lost In wavering light, and, starring the blue sky The city's myriad spires of gold, almost With human joy made mute society-- Its witnesses with men who must hereafter be. "2070

40. To see, like some vast island from the Ocean, The Altar of the Federation rear Its pile i' the midst; a work, which the devotion Of millions in one night created there, Sudden as when the moonrise makes appear "2075 Strange clouds in the east; a marble pyramid Distinct with steps: that mighty shape did wear The light of genius; its still shadow hid Far ships: to know its height the morning mists forbid!

41. To hear the restless multitudes for ever "2080 Around the base of that great Altar flow, As on some mountain-islet burst and shiver Atlantic waves; and solemnly and slow As the wind bore that tumult to and fro, To feel the dreamlike music, which did swim "2085 Like beams through floating clouds on waves below Falling in pauses, from that Altar dim, As silver-sounding tongues breathed an aerial hymn.

42. To hear, to see, to live, was on that morn Lethean joy! so that all those assembled "2090 Cast off their memories of the past outworn; Two only bosoms with their own life trembled, And mine was one,--and we had both dissembled; So with a beating heart I went, and one, Who having much, covets yet more, resembled; "2095 A lost and dear possession, which not won, He walks in lonely gloom beneath the noonday sun.

43. To the great Pyramid I came: its stair With female choirs was thronged: the loveliest Among the free, grouped with its sculptures rare; "2100 As I approached, the morning's golden mist, Which now the wonder-stricken breezes kissed With their cold lips, fled, and the summit shone Like Athos seen from Samothracia, dressed In earliest light, by vintagers, and one "2105 Sate there, a female Shape upon an ivory throne:

44. A Form most like the imagined habitant Of silver exhalations sprung from dawn, By winds which feed on sunrise woven, to enchant The faiths of men: all mortal eyes were drawn, "2110 As famished mariners through strange seas gone Gaze on a burning watch-tower, by the light Of those divinest lineaments--alone With thoughts which none could share, from that fair sight I turned in sickness, for a veil shrouded her countenance bright. "2115

45. And neither did I hear the acclamations, Which from brief silence bursting, filled the air With her strange name and mine, from all the nations Which we, they said, in strength had gathered there From the sleep of bondage; nor the vision fair "2120 Of that bright pageantry beheld,--but blind And silent, as a breathing corpse did fare, Leaning upon my friend, till like a wind To fevered cheeks, a voice flowed o'er my troubled mind.

46. Like music of some minstrel heavenly gifted, "2125 To one whom fiends enthral, this voice to me; Scarce did I wish her veil to be uplifted, I was so calm and joyous.--I could see The platform where we stood, the statues three Which kept their marble watch on that high shrine, "2130 The multitudes, the mountains, and the sea; As when eclipse hath passed, things sudden shine To men's astonished eyes most clear and crystalline.

47. At first Laone spoke most tremulously: But soon her voice the calmness which it shed "2135 Gathered, and--'Thou art whom I sought to see, And thou art our first votary here,' she said: 'I had a dear friend once, but he is dead!-- And of all those on the wide earth who breathe, Thou dost resemble him alone--I spread "2140 This veil between us two that thou beneath Shouldst image one who may have been long lost in death.

48. 'For this wilt thou not henceforth pardon me? Yes, but those joys which silence well requite Forbid reply;--why men have chosen me "2145 To be the Priestess of this holiest rite I scarcely know, but that the floods of light Which flow over the world, have borne me hither To meet thee, long most dear; and now unite Thine hand with mine, and may all comfort wither "2150 From both the hearts whose pulse in joy now beat together,

49. 'If our own will as others' law we bind, If the foul worship trampled here we fear; If as ourselves we cease to love our kind!'-- She paused, and pointed upwards--sculptured there "2155 Three shapes around her ivory throne appear; One was a Giant, like a child asleep On a loose rock, whose grasp crushed, as it were In dream, sceptres and crowns; and one did keep Its watchful eyes in doubt whether to smile or weep; "2160

50. A Woman sitting on the sculptured disk Of the broad earth, and feeding from one breast A human babe and a young basilisk; Her looks were sweet as Heaven's when loveliest In Autumn eves. The third Image was dressed "2165 In white wings swift as clouds in winter skies; Beneath his feet, 'mongst ghastliest forms, repressed Lay Faith, an obscene worm, who sought to rise, While calmly on the Sun he turned his diamond eyes.

51. Beside that Image then I sate, while she "2170 Stood, mid the throngs which ever ebbed and flowed, Like light amid the shadows of the sea Cast from one cloudless star, and on the crowd That touch which none who feels forgets, bestowed; And whilst the sun returned the steadfast gaze "2175 Of the great Image, as o'er Heaven it glode, That rite had place; it ceased when sunset's blaze Burned o'er the isles. All stood in joy and deep amaze-- --When in the silence of all spirits there Laone's voice was felt, and through the air "2180 Her thrilling gestures spoke, most eloquently fair:--

51.1. 'Calm art thou as yon sunset! swift and strong As new-fledged Eagles, beautiful and young, That float among the blinding beams of morning; And underneath thy feet writhe Faith, and Folly, "2185 Custom, and Hell, and mortal Melancholy-- Hark! the Earth starts to hear the mighty warning Of thy voice sublime and holy; Its free spirits here assembled See thee, feel thee, know thee now,-- "2190 To thy voice their hearts have trembled Like ten thousand clouds which flow With one wide wind as it flies!-- Wisdom! thy irresistible children rise To hail thee, and the elements they chain "2195 And their own will, to swell the glory of thy train.

51.2. 'O Spirit vast and deep as Night and Heaven! Mother and soul of all to which is given The light of life, the loveliness of being, Lo! thou dost re-ascend the human heart, "2200 Thy throne of power, almighty as thou wert In dreams of Poets old grown pale by seeing The shade of thee;--now, millions start To feel thy lightnings through them burning: Nature, or God, or Love, or Pleasure, "2205 Or Sympathy the sad tears turning To mutual smiles, a drainless treasure, Descends amidst us;--Scorn and Hate, Revenge and Selfishness are desolate-- A hundred nations swear that there shall be "2210 Pity and Peace and Love, among the good and free!

51.3. 'Eldest of things, divine Equality! Wisdom and Love are but the slaves of thee, The Angels of thy sway, who pour around thee Treasures from all the cells of human thought, "2215 And from the Stars, and from the Ocean brought, And the last living heart whose beatings bound thee: The powerful and the wise had sought Thy coming, thou in light descending O'er the wide land which is thine own "2220 Like the Spring whose breath is blending All blasts of fragrance into one, Comest upon the paths of men!-- Earth bares her general bosom to thy ken, And all her children here in glory meet "2225 To feed upon thy smiles, and clasp thy sacred feet.

51.4 'My brethren, we are free! the plains and mountains, The gray sea-shore, the forests and the fountains, Are haunts of happiest dwellers;--man and woman, Their common bondage burst, may freely borrow "2230 From lawless love a solace for their sorrow; For oft we still must weep, since we are human. A stormy night's serenest morrow, Whose showers are pity's gentle tears, Whose clouds are smiles of those that die "2235 Like infants without hopes or fears, And whose beams are joys that lie In blended hearts, now holds dominion; The dawn of mind, which upwards on a pinion Borne, swift as sunrise, far illumines space, "2240 And clasps this barren world in its own bright embrace!

51.5 'My brethren, we are free! The fruits are glowing Beneath the stars, and the night-winds are flowing O'er the ripe corn, the birds and beasts are dreaming-- Never again may blood of bird or beast "2245 Stain with its venomous stream a human feast, To the pure skies in accusation steaming; Avenging poisons shall have ceased To feed disease and fear and madness, The dwellers of the earth and air "2250 Shall throng around our steps in gladness, Seeking their food or refuge there. Our toil from thought all glorious forms shall cull, To make this Earth, our home, more beautiful, And Science, and her sister Poesy, "2255 Shall clothe in light the fields and cities of the free!

51.6 'Victory, Victory to the prostrate nations! Bear witness Night, and ye mute Constellations Who gaze on us from your crystalline cars! Thoughts have gone forth whose powers can sleep no more! "2260 Victory! Victory! Earth's remotest shore, Regions which groan beneath the Antarctic stars, The green lands cradled in the roar Of western waves, and wildernesses Peopled and vast, which skirt the oceans "2265 Where morning dyes her golden tresses, Shall soon partake our high emotions: Kings shall turn pale! Almighty Fear, The Fiend-God, when our charmed name he hear, Shall fade like shadow from his thousand fanes, "2270 While Truth with Joy enthroned o'er his lost empire reigns!'

51.52. Ere she had ceased, the mists of night entwining Their dim woof, floated o'er the infinite throng; She, like a spirit through the darkness shining, In tones whose sweetness silence did prolong, "2275 As if to lingering winds they did belong, Poured forth her inmost soul: a passionate speech With wild and thrilling pauses woven among, Which whoso heard was mute, for it could teach To rapture like her own all listening hearts to reach. "2280

53. Her voice was as a mountain stream which sweeps The withered leaves of Autumn to the lake, And in some deep and narrow bay then sleeps In the shadow of the shores; as dead leaves wake, Under the wave, in flowers and herbs which make "2285 Those green depths beautiful when skies are blue, The multitude so moveless did partake Such living change, and kindling murmurs flew As o'er that speechless calm delight and wonder grew.

54. Over the plain the throngs were scattered then "2290 In groups around the fires, which from the sea Even to the gorge of the first mountain-glen Blazed wide and far: the banquet of the free Was spread beneath many a dark cypress-tree, Beneath whose spires, which swayed in the red flame, "2295 Reclining, as they ate, of Liberty, And Hope, and Justice, and Laone's name, Earth's children did a woof of happy converse frame.

55. Their feast was such as Earth, the general mother, Pours from her fairest bosom, when she smiles "2300 In the embrace of Autumn;--to each other As when some parent fondly reconciles Her warring children, she their wrath beguiles With her own sustenance, they relenting weep: Such was this Festival, which from their isles "2305 And continents, and winds, and oceans deep, All shapes might throng to share, that fly, or walk or creep,--

56. Might share in peace and innocence, for gore Or poison none this festal did pollute, But, piled on high, an overflowing store "2310 Of pomegranates and citrons, fairest fruit, Melons, and dates, and figs, and many a root Sweet and sustaining, and bright grapes ere yet Accursed fire their mild juice could transmute Into a mortal bane, and brown corn set "2315 In baskets; with pure streams their thirsting lips they wet.

57. Laone had descended from the shrine, And every deepest look and holiest mind Fed on her form, though now those tones divine Were silent as she passed; she did unwind "2320 Her veil, as with the crowds of her own kind She mixed; some impulse made my heart refrain From seeking her that night, so I reclined Amidst a group, where on the utmost plain A festal watchfire burned beside the dusky main. "2325

58. And joyous was our feast; pathetic talk, And wit, and harmony of choral strains, While far Orion o'er the waves did walk That flow among the isles, held us in chains Of sweet captivity which none disdains "2330 Who feels; but when his zone grew dim in mist Which clothes the Ocean's bosom, o'er the plains The multitudes went homeward, to their rest, Which that delightful day with its own shadow blessed.

NOTES: "2295 flame]light edition 1818.


1. Beside the dimness of the glimmering sea, "2335 Weaving swift language from impassioned themes, With that dear friend I lingered, who to me So late had been restored, beneath the gleams Of the silver stars; and ever in soft dreams Of future love and peace sweet converse lapped "2340 Our willing fancies, till the pallid beams Of the last watchfire fell, and darkness wrapped The waves, and each bright chain of floating fire was snapped;

2. And till we came even to the City's wall And the great gate; then, none knew whence or why, "2345 Disquiet on the multitudes did fall: And first, one pale and breathless passed us by, And stared and spoke not;--then with piercing cry A troop of wild-eyed women, by the shrieks Of their own terror driven,--tumultuously "2350 Hither and thither hurrying with pale cheeks, Each one from fear unknown a sudden refuge seeks--

3. Then, rallying cries of treason and of danger Resounded: and--'They come! to arms! to arms! The Tyrant is amongst us, and the stranger "2355 Comes to enslave us in his name! to arms!' In vain: for Panic, the pale fiend who charms Strength to forswear her right, those millions swept Like waves before the tempest--these alarms Came to me, as to know their cause I lept "2360 On the gate's turret, and in rage and grief and scorn I wept!

4. For to the North I saw the town on fire, And its red light made morning pallid now, Which burst over wide Asia;--louder, higher, The yells of victory and the screams of woe "2365 I heard approach, and saw the throng below Stream through the gates like foam-wrought waterfalls Fed from a thousand storms--the fearful glow Of bombs flares overhead--at intervals The red artillery's bolt mangling among them falls. "2370

5. And now the horsemen come--and all was done Swifter than I have spoken--I beheld Their red swords flash in the unrisen sun. I rushed among the rout, to have repelled That miserable flight--one moment quelled "2375 By voice and looks and eloquent despair, As if reproach from their own hearts withheld Their steps, they stood; but soon came pouring there New multitudes, and did those rallied bands o'erbear.

6. I strove, as, drifted on some cataract "2380 By irresistible streams, some wretch might strive Who hears its fatal roar:--the files compact Whelmed me, and from the gate availed to drive With quickening impulse, as each bolt did rive Their ranks with bloodier chasm:--into the plain "2385 Disgorged at length the dead and the alive In one dread mass, were parted, and the stain Of blood, from mortal steel fell o'er the fields like rain.

7. For now the despot's bloodhounds with their prey Unarmed and unaware, were gorging deep "2390 Their gluttony of death; the loose array Of horsemen o'er the wide fields murdering sweep, And with loud laughter for their tyrant reap A harvest sown with other hopes; the while, Far overhead, ships from Propontis keep "2395 A killing rain of fire:--when the waves smile As sudden earthquakes light many a volcano-isle,

8. Thus sudden, unexpected feast was spread For the carrion-fowls of Heaven.--I saw the sight-- I moved--I lived--as o'er the heaps of dead, "2400 Whose stony eyes glared in the morning light I trod;--to me there came no thought of flight, But with loud cries of scorn, which whoso heard That dreaded death, felt in his veins the might Of virtuous shame return, the crowd I stirred, "2405 And desperation's hope in many hearts recurred.

9. A band of brothers gathering round me, made, Although unarmed, a steadfast front, and still Retreating, with stern looks beneath the shade Of gathered eyebrows, did the victors fill "2410 With doubt even in success; deliberate will Inspired our growing troop; not overthrown It gained the shelter of a grassy hill, And ever still our comrades were hewn down, And their defenceless limbs beneath our footsteps strown. "2415

10. Immovably we stood--in joy I found, Beside me then, firm as a giant pine Among the mountain-vapours driven around, The old man whom I loved--his eyes divine With a mild look of courage answered mine, "2420 And my young friend was near, and ardently His hand grasped mine a moment--now the line Of war extended, to our rallying cry As myriads flocked in love and brotherhood to die.

11. For ever while the sun was climbing Heaven "2425 The horseman hewed our unarmed myriads down Safely, though when by thirst of carnage driven Too near, those slaves were swiftly overthrown By hundreds leaping on them:--flesh and bone Soon made our ghastly ramparts; then the shaft "2430 Of the artillery from the sea was thrown More fast and fiery, and the conquerors laughed In pride to hear the wind our screams of torment waft.

12. For on one side alone the hill gave shelter, So vast that phalanx of unconquered men, "2435 And there the living in the blood did welter Of the dead and dying, which in that green glen, Like stifled torrents, made a plashy fen Under the feet--thus was the butchery waged While the sun clomb Heaven's eastern steep--but when "2440 It 'gan to sink--a fiercer combat raged, For in more doubtful strife the armies were engaged.

13. Within a cave upon the hill were found A bundle of rude pikes, the instrument Of those who war but on their native ground "2445 For natural rights: a shout of joyance sent Even from our hearts the wide air pierced and rent, As those few arms the bravest and the best Seized, and each sixth, thus armed, did now present A line which covered and sustained the rest, "2450 A confident phalanx, which the foes on every side invest.

14. That onset turned the foes to flight almost; But soon they saw their present strength, and knew That coming night would to our resolute host Bring victory; so dismounting, close they drew "2455 Their glittering files, and then the combat grew Unequal but most horrible;--and ever Our myriads, whom the swift bolt overthrew, Or the red sword, failed like a mountain river Which rushes forth in foam to sink in sands for ever. "2460

15. Sorrow and shame, to see with their own kind Our human brethren mix, like beasts of blood, To mutual ruin armed by one behind Who sits and scoffs!--That friend so mild and good, Who like its shadow near my youth had stood, "2465 Was stabbed!--my old preserver's hoary hair With the flesh clinging to its roots, was strewed Under my feet!--I lost all sense or care, And like the rest I grew desperate and unaware.

16. The battle became ghastlier--in the midst "2470 I paused, and saw, how ugly and how fell O Hate! thou art, even when thy life thou shedd'st For love. The ground in many a little dell Was broken, up and down whose steeps befell Alternate victory and defeat, and there "2475 The combatants with rage most horrible Strove, and their eyes started with cracking stare, And impotent their tongues they lolled into the air,

17. Flaccid and foamy, like a mad dog's hanging; Want, and Moon-madness, and the pest's swift Bane "2480 When its shafts smite--while yet its bow is twanging-- Have each their mark and sign--some ghastly stain; And this was thine, O War! of hate and pain Thou loathed slave! I saw all shapes of death And ministered to many, o'er the plain "2485 While carnage in the sunbeam's warmth did seethe, Till twilight o'er the east wove her serenest wreath.

18. The few who yet survived, resolute and firm Around me fought. At the decline of day Winding above the mountain's snowy term "2490 New banners shone; they quivered in the ray Of the sun's unseen orb--ere night the array Of fresh troops hemmed us in--of those brave bands I soon survived alone--and now I lay Vanquished and faint, the grasp of bloody hands "2495 I felt, and saw on high the glare of falling brands,

19. When on my foes a sudden terror came, And they fled, scattering--lo! with reinless speed A black Tartarian horse of giant frame Comes trampling over the dead, the living bleed "2500 Beneath the hoofs of that tremendous steed, On which, like to an Angel, robed in white, Sate one waving a sword;--the hosts recede And fly, as through their ranks with awful might, Sweeps in the shadow of eve that Phantom swift and bright; "2505

20. And its path made a solitude.--I rose And marked its coming: it relaxed its course As it approached me, and the wind that flows Through night, bore accents to mine ear whose force Might create smiles in death--the Tartar horse "2510 Paused, and I saw the shape its might which swayed, And heard her musical pants, like the sweet source Of waters in the desert, as she said, 'Mount with me, Laon, now'--I rapidly obeyed.

21. Then: 'Away! away!' she cried, and stretched her sword "2515 As 'twere a scourge over the courser's head, And lightly shook the reins.--We spake no word, But like the vapour of the tempest fled Over the plain; her dark hair was dispread Like the pine's locks upon the lingering blast; "2520 Over mine eyes its shadowy strings it spread Fitfully, and the hills and streams fled fast, As o'er their glimmering forms the steed's broad shadow passed.

22. And his hoofs ground the rocks to fire and dust, His strong sides made the torrents rise in spray, "2525 And turbulence, as of a whirlwind's gust Surrounded us;--and still away! away! Through the desert night we sped, while she alway Gazed on a mountain which we neared, whose crest, Crowned with a marble ruin, in the ray "2530 Of the obscure stars gleamed;--its rugged breast The steed strained up, and then his impulse did arrest.

23. A rocky hill which overhung the Ocean:-- From that lone ruin, when the steed that panted Paused, might be heard the murmur of the motion "2535 Of waters, as in spots for ever haunted By the choicest winds of Heaven, which are enchanted To music, by the wand of Solitude, That wizard wild, and the far tents implanted Upon the plain, be seen by those who stood "2540 Thence marking the dark shore of Ocean's curved flood.

24. One moment these were heard and seen--another Passed; and the two who stood beneath that night, Each only heard, or saw, or felt the other; As from the lofty steed she did alight, "2545 Cythna, (for, from the eyes whose deepest light Of love and sadness made my lips feel pale With influence strange of mournfullest delight, My own sweet Cythna looked), with joy did quail, And felt her strength in tears of human weakness fail. "2550

25. And for a space in my embrace she rested, Her head on my unquiet heart reposing, While my faint arms her languid frame invested; At length she looked on me, and half unclosing Her tremulous lips, said, 'Friend, thy bands were losing "2555 The battle, as I stood before the King In bonds.--I burst them then, and swiftly choosing The time, did seize a Tartar's sword, and spring Upon his horse, and swift, as on the whirlwind's wing,

26. 'Have thou and I been borne beyond pursuer, "2560 And we are here.'--Then, turning to the steed, She pressed the white moon on his front with pure And rose-like lips, and many a fragrant weed From the green ruin plucked, that he might feed;-- But I to a stone seat that Maiden led, "2565 And, kissing her fair eyes, said, 'Thou hast need Of rest,' and I heaped up the courser's bed In a green mossy nook, with mountain flowers dispread.

27. Within that ruin, where a shattered portal Looks to the eastern stars, abandoned now "2570 By man, to be the home of things immortal, Memories, like awful ghosts which come and go, And must inherit all he builds below, When he is gone, a hall stood; o'er whose roof Fair clinging weeds with ivy pale did grow, "2575 Clasping its gray rents with a verdurous woof, A hanging dome of leaves, a canopy moon-proof.

28. The autumnal winds, as if spell-bound, had made A natural couch of leaves in that recess, Which seasons none disturbed, but, in the shade "2580 Of flowering parasites, did Spring love to dress With their sweet blooms the wintry loneliness Of those dead leaves, shedding their stars, whene'er The wandering wind her nurslings might caress; Whose intertwining fingers ever there "2585 Made music wild and soft that filled the listening air.

29. We know not where we go, or what sweet dream May pilot us through caverns strange and fair Of far and pathless passion, while the stream Of life, our bark doth on its whirlpools bear, "2590 Spreading swift wings as sails to the dim air; Nor should we seek to know, so the devotion Of love and gentle thoughts be heard still there Louder and louder from the utmost Ocean Of universal life, attuning its commotion. "2595

30. To the pure all things are pure! Oblivion wrapped Our spirits, and the fearful overthrow Of public hope was from our being snapped, Though linked years had bound it there; for now A power, a thirst, a knowledge, which below "2600 All thoughts, like light beyond the atmosphere, Clothing its clouds with grace, doth ever flow, Came on us, as we sate in silence there, Beneath the golden stars of the clear azure air;--

31. In silence which doth follow talk that causes "2605 The baffled heart to speak with sighs and tears, When wildering passion swalloweth up the pauses Of inexpressive speech:--the youthful years Which we together passed, their hopes and fears, The blood itself which ran within our frames, "2610 That likeness of the features which endears The thoughts expressed by them, our very names, And all the winged hours which speechless memory claims,

32. Had found a voice--and ere that voice did pass, The night grew damp and dim, and, through a rent "2615 Of the ruin where we sate, from the morass A wandering Meteor by some wild wind sent, Hung high in the green dome, to which it lent A faint and pallid lustre; while the song Of blasts, in which its blue hair quivering bent, "2620 Strewed strangest sounds the moving leaves among; A wondrous light, the sound as of a spirit's tongue.

33. The Meteor showed the leaves on which we sate, And Cythna's glowing arms, and the thick ties Of her soft hair, which bent with gathered weight "2625 My neck near hers; her dark and deepening eyes, Which, as twin phantoms of one star that lies O'er a dim well, move, though the star reposes, Swam in our mute and liquid ecstasies, Her marble brow, and eager lips, like roses, "2630 With their own fragrance pale, which Spring but half uncloses.

34. The Meteor to its far morass returned: The beating of our veins one interval Made still; and then I felt the blood that burned Within her frame, mingle with mine, and fall "2635 Around my heart like fire; and over all A mist was spread, the sickness of a deep And speechless swoon of joy, as might befall Two disunited spirits when they leap In union from this earth's obscure and fading sleep. "2640

35. Was it one moment that confounded thus All thought, all sense, all feeling, into one Unutterable power, which shielded us Even from our own cold looks, when we had gone Into a wide and wild oblivion "2645 Of tumult and of tenderness? or now Had ages, such as make the moon and sun, The seasons, and mankind their changes know, Left fear and time unfelt by us alone below?

36. I know not. What are kisses whose fire clasps "2650 The failing heart in languishment, or limb Twined within limb? or the quick dying gasps Of the life meeting, when the faint eyes swim Through tears of a wide mist boundless and dim, In one caress? What is the strong control "2655 Which leads the heart that dizzy steep to climb, Where far over the world those vapours roll Which blend two restless frames in one reposing soul? 37. It is the shadow which doth float unseen, But not unfelt, o'er blind mortality, "2660 Whose divine darkness fled not from that green And lone recess, where lapped in peace did lie Our linked frames, till, from the changing sky That night and still another day had fled; And then I saw and felt. The moon was high, "2665 And clouds, as of a coming storm, were spread Under its orb,--loud winds were gathering overhead.

38. Cythna's sweet lips seemed lurid in the moon, Her fairest limbs with the night wind were chill, And her dark tresses were all loosely strewn "2670 O'er her pale bosom:--all within was still, And the sweet peace of joy did almost fill The depth of her unfathomable look;-- And we sate calmly, though that rocky hill, The waves contending in its caverns strook, "2675 For they foreknew the storm, and the gray ruin shook.

39. There we unheeding sate, in the communion Of interchanged vows, which, with a rite Of faith most sweet and sacred, stamped our union.-- Few were the living hearts which could unite "2680 Like ours, or celebrate a bridal night With such close sympathies, for they had sprung From linked youth, and from the gentle might Of earliest love, delayed and cherished long, Which common hopes and fears made, like a tempest, strong. "2685

40. And such is Nature's law divine, that those Who grow together cannot choose but love, If faith or custom do not interpose, Or common slavery mar what else might move All gentlest thoughts; as in the sacred grove "2690 Which shades the springs of Ethiopian Nile, That living tree which, if the arrowy dove Strike with her shadow, shrinks in fear awhile, But its own kindred leaves clasps while the sunbeams smile;

41. And clings to them, when darkness may dissever "2695 The close caresses of all duller plants Which bloom on the wide earth--thus we for ever Were linked, for love had nursed us in the haunts Where knowledge, from its secret source enchants Young hearts with the fresh music of its springing, "2700 Ere yet its gathered flood feeds human wants, As the great Nile feeds Egypt; ever flinging Light on the woven boughs which o'er its waves are swinging.

42. The tones of Cythna's voice like echoes were Of those far murmuring streams; they rose and fell, "2705 Mixed with mine own in the tempestuous air,-- And so we sate, until our talk befell Of the late ruin, swift and horrible, And how those seeds of hope might yet be sown, Whose fruit is evil's mortal poison: well, "2710 For us, this ruin made a watch-tower lone, But Cythna's eyes looked faint, and now two days were gone

43. Since she had food:--therefore I did awaken The Tartar steed, who, from his ebon mane Soon as the clinging slumbers he had shaken, "2715 Bent his thin head to seek the brazen rein, Following me obediently; with pain Of heart, so deep and dread, that one caress, When lips and heart refuse to part again Till they have told their fill, could scarce express "2720 The anguish of her mute and fearful tenderness,

44. Cythna beheld me part, as I bestrode That willing steed--the tempest and the night, Which gave my path its safety as I rode Down the ravine of rocks, did soon unite "2725 The darkness and the tumult of their might Borne on all winds.--Far through the streaming rain Floating at intervals the garments white Of Cythna gleamed, and her voice once again Came to me on the gust, and soon I reached the plain. "2730

45. I dreaded not the tempest, nor did he Who bore me, but his eyeballs wide and red Turned on the lightning's cleft exultingly; And when the earth beneath his tameless tread, Shook with the sullen thunder, he would spread "2735 His nostrils to the blast, and joyously Mock the fierce peal with neighings;--thus we sped O'er the lit plain, and soon I could descry Where Death and Fire had gorged the spoil of victory.

46. There was a desolate village in a wood "2740 Whose bloom-inwoven leaves now scattering fed The hungry storm; it was a place of blood, A heap of hearthless walls;--the flames were dead Within those dwellings now,--the life had fled From all those corpses now,--but the wide sky "2745 Flooded with lightning was ribbed overhead By the black rafters, and around did lie Women, and babes, and men, slaughtered confusedly.

47. Beside the fountain in the market-place Dismounting, I beheld those corpses stare "2750 With horny eyes upon each other's face, And on the earth and on the vacant air, And upon me, close to the waters where I stooped to slake my thirst;--I shrank to taste, For the salt bitterness of blood was there; "2755 But tied the steed beside, and sought in haste If any yet survived amid that ghastly waste.

48. No living thing was there beside one woman, Whom I found wandering in the streets, and she Was withered from a likeness of aught human "2760 Into a fiend, by some strange misery: Soon as she heard my steps she leaped on me, And glued her burning lips to mine, and laughed With a loud, long, and frantic laugh of glee, And cried, 'Now, Mortal, thou hast deeply quaffed "2765 The Plague's blue kisses--soon millions shall pledge the draught!

49. 'My name is Pestilence--this bosom dry, Once fed two babes--a sister and a brother-- When I came home, one in the blood did lie Of three death-wounds--the flames had ate the other! "2770 Since then I have no longer been a mother, But I am Pestilence;--hither and thither I flit about, that I may slay and smother:-- All lips which I have kissed must surely wither, But Death's--if thou art he, we'll go to work together! "2775

50. 'What seek'st thou here? The moonlight comes in flashes,-- The dew is rising dankly from the dell-- 'Twill moisten her! and thou shalt see the gashes In my sweet boy, now full of worms--but tell First what thou seek'st.'--'I seek for food.'--''Tis well, "2780 Thou shalt have food. Famine, my paramour, Waits for us at the feast--cruel and fell Is Famine, but he drives not from his door Those whom these lips have kissed, alone. No more, no more!'

51. As thus she spake, she grasped me with the strength "2785 Of madness, and by many a ruined hearth She led, and over many a corpse:--at length We came to a lone hut where on the earth Which made its floor, she in her ghastly mirth, Gathering from all those homes now desolate, "2790 Had piled three heaps of loaves, making a dearth Among the dead--round which she set in state A ring of cold, stiff babes; silent and stark they sate.

52. She leaped upon a pile, and lifted high Her mad looks to the lightning, and cried: 'Eat! "2795 Share the great feast--to-morrow we must die!' And then she spurned the loaves with her pale feet, Towards her bloodless guests;--that sight to meet, Mine eyes and my heart ached, and but that she Who loved me, did with absent looks defeat "2800 Despair, I might have raved in sympathy; But now I took the food that woman offered me;

53. And vainly having with her madness striven If I might win her to return with me, Departed. In the eastern beams of Heaven "2805 The lightning now grew pallid--rapidly, As by the shore of the tempestuous sea The dark steed bore me; and the mountain gray Soon echoed to his hoofs, and I could see Cythna among the rocks, where she alway "2810 Had sate with anxious eyes fixed on the lingering day.

54. And joy was ours to meet: she was most pale, Famished, and wet and weary, so I cast My arms around her, lest her steps should fail As to our home we went, and thus embraced, "2815 Her full heart seemed a deeper joy to taste Than e'er the prosperous know; the steed behind Trod peacefully along the mountain waste; We reached our home ere morning could unbind Night's latest veil, and on our bridal-couch reclined. "2820

55. Her chilled heart having cherished in my bosom, And sweetest kisses past, we two did share Our peaceful meal:--as an autumnal blossom Which spreads its shrunk leaves in the sunny air, After cold showers, like rainbows woven there, "2825 Thus in her lips and cheeks the vital spirit Mantled, and in her eyes, an atmosphere Of health, and hope; and sorrow languished near it, And fear, and all that dark despondence doth inherit.

NOTES: "2397 -isle. Bradley, who cps. Marianne's Dream, St. 12. See note at end.


1. So we sate joyous as the morning ray "2830 Which fed upon the wrecks of night and storm Now lingering on the winds; light airs did play Among the dewy weeds, the sun was warm, And we sate linked in the inwoven charm Of converse and caresses sweet and deep, "2835 Speechless caresses, talk that might disarm Time, though he wield the darts of death and sleep, And those thrice mortal barbs in his own poison steep.

2. I told her of my sufferings and my madness, And how, awakened from that dreamy mood "2840 By Liberty's uprise, the strength of gladness Came to my spirit in my solitude; And all that now I was--while tears pursued Each other down her fair and listening cheek Fast as the thoughts which fed them, like a flood "2845 From sunbright dales; and when I ceased to speak, Her accents soft and sweet the pausing air did wake.

3. She told me a strange tale of strange endurance, Like broken memories of many a heart Woven into one; to which no firm assurance, "2850 So wild were they, could her own faith impart. She said that not a tear did dare to start From the swoln brain, and that her thoughts were firm When from all mortal hope she did depart, Borne by those slaves across the Ocean's term, "2855 And that she reached the port without one fear infirm.

4. One was she among many there, the thralls Of the cold Tyrant's cruel lust; and they Laughed mournfully in those polluted halls; But she was calm and sad, musing alway "2860 On loftiest enterprise, till on a day The Tyrant heard her singing to her lute A wild, and sad, and spirit-thrilling lay, Like winds that die in wastes--one moment mute The evil thoughts it made, which did his breast pollute. "2865

5. Even when he saw her wondrous loveliness, One moment to great Nature's sacred power He bent, and was no longer passionless; But when he bade her to his secret bower Be borne, a loveless victim, and she tore "2870 Her locks in agony, and her words of flame And mightier looks availed not; then he bore Again his load of slavery, and became A king, a heartless beast, a pageant and a name.

6. She told me what a loathsome agony "2875 Is that when selfishness mocks love's delight, Foul as in dream's most fearful imagery, To dally with the mowing dead--that night All torture, fear, or horror made seem light Which the soul dreams or knows, and when the day "2880 Shone on her awful frenzy, from the sight Where like a Spirit in fleshly chains she lay Struggling, aghast and pale the Tyrant fled away.

7. Her madness was a beam of light, a power Which dawned through the rent soul; and words it gave, "2885 Gestures and looks, such as in whirlwinds bore Which might not be withstood--whence none could save-- All who approached their sphere,--like some calm wave Vexed into whirlpools by the chasms beneath; And sympathy made each attendant slave "2890 Fearless and free, and they began to breathe Deep curses, like the voice of flames far underneath.

8. The King felt pale upon his noonday throne: At night two slaves he to her chamber sent,-- One was a green and wrinkled eunuch, grown "2895 From human shape into an instrument Of all things ill--distorted, bowed and bent. The other was a wretch from infancy Made dumb by poison; who nought knew or meant But to obey: from the fire isles came he, "2900 A diver lean and strong, of Oman's coral sea.

9. They bore her to a bark, and the swift stroke Of silent rowers clove the blue moonlight seas, Until upon their path the morning broke; They anchored then, where, be there calm or breeze, "2905 The gloomiest of the drear Symplegades Shakes with the sleepless surge;--the Ethiop there Wound his long arms around her, and with knees Like iron clasped her feet, and plunged with her Among the closing waves out of the boundless air. "2910

10. 'Swift as an eagle stooping from the plain Of morning light, into some shadowy wood, He plunged through the green silence of the main, Through many a cavern which the eternal flood Had scooped, as dark lairs for its monster brood; "2915 And among mighty shapes which fled in wonder, And among mightier shadows which pursued His heels, he wound: until the dark rocks under He touched a golden chain--a sound arose like thunder.

11. 'A stunning clang of massive bolts redoubling "2920 Beneath the deep--a burst of waters driven As from the roots of the sea, raging and bubbling: And in that roof of crags a space was riven Through which there shone the emerald beams of heaven, Shot through the lines of many waves inwoven, "2925 Like sunlight through acacia woods at even, Through which, his way the diver having cloven, Passed like a spark sent up out of a burning oven.

12. 'And then,' she said, 'he laid me in a cave Above the waters, by that chasm of sea, "2930 A fountain round and vast, in which the wave Imprisoned, boiled and leaped perpetually, Down which, one moment resting, he did flee, Winning the adverse depth; that spacious cell Like an hupaithric temple wide and high, "2935 Whose aery dome is inaccessible, Was pierced with one round cleft through which the sunbeams fell.

13. 'Below, the fountain's brink was richly paven With the deep's wealth, coral, and pearl, and sand Like spangling gold, and purple shells engraven "2940 With mystic legends by no mortal hand, Left there, when thronging to the moon's command, The gathering waves rent the Hesperian gate Of mountains, and on such bright floor did stand Columns, and shapes like statues, and the state "2945 Of kingless thrones, which Earth did in her heart create.

14. 'The fiend of madness which had made its prey Of my poor heart, was lulled to sleep awhile: There was an interval of many a day, And a sea-eagle brought me food the while, "2950 Whose nest was built in that untrodden isle, And who, to be the gaoler had been taught Of that strange dungeon; as a friend whose smile Like light and rest at morn and even is sought That wild bird was to me, till madness misery brought. "2955

15. 'The misery of a madness slow and creeping, Which made the earth seem fire, the sea seem air, And the white clouds of noon which oft were sleeping, In the blue heaven so beautiful and fair, Like hosts of ghastly shadows hovering there; "2960 And the sea-eagle looked a fiend, who bore Thy mangled limbs for food!--Thus all things were Transformed into the agony which I wore Even as a poisoned robe around my bosom's core.

16. 'Again I knew the day and night fast fleeing, "2965 The eagle, and the fountain, and the air; Another frenzy came--there seemed a being Within me--a strange load my heart did bear, As if some living thing had made its lair Even in the fountains of my life:--a long "2970 And wondrous vision wrought from my despair, Then grew, like sweet reality among Dim visionary woes, an unreposing throng.

17. 'Methought I was about to be a mother-- Month after month went by, and still I dreamed "2975 That we should soon be all to one another, I and my child; and still new pulses seemed To beat beside my heart, and still I deemed There was a babe within--and, when the rain Of winter through the rifted cavern streamed, "2980 Methought, after a lapse of lingering pain, I saw that lovely shape, which near my heart had lain.

18. 'It was a babe, beautiful from its birth,-- It was like thee, dear love, its eyes were thine, Its brow, its lips, and so upon the earth "2985 It laid its fingers, as now rest on mine Thine own, beloved!--'twas a dream divine; Even to remember how it fled, how swift, How utterly, might make the heart repine,-- Though 'twas a dream.'--Then Cythna did uplift "2990 Her looks on mine, as if some doubt she sought to shift:

19. A doubt which would not flee, a tenderness Of questioning grief, a source of thronging tears; Which having passed, as one whom sobs oppress She spoke: 'Yes, in the wilderness of years "2995 Her memory, aye, like a green home appears; She sucked her fill even at this breast, sweet love, For many months. I had no mortal fears; Methought I felt her lips and breath approve,-- It was a human thing which to my bosom clove. "3000

20. 'I watched the dawn of her first smiles; and soon When zenith stars were trembling on the wave, Or when the beams of the invisible moon, Or sun, from many a prism within the cave Their gem-born shadows to the water gave, "3005 Her looks would hunt them, and with outspread hand, From the swift lights which might that fountain pave, She would mark one, and laugh, when that command Slighting, it lingered there, and could not understand.

21. 'Methought her looks began to talk with me; "3010 And no articulate sounds, but something sweet Her lips would frame,--so sweet it could not be, That it was meaningless; her touch would meet Mine, and our pulses calmly flow and beat In response while we slept; and on a day "3015 When I was happiest in that strange retreat, With heaps of golden shells we two did play,-- Both infants, weaving wings for time's perpetual way.

22. 'Ere night, methought, her waning eyes were grown Weary with joy, and tired with our delight, "3020 We, on the earth, like sister twins lay down On one fair mother's bosom:--from that night She fled,--like those illusions clear and bright, Which dwell in lakes, when the red moon on high Pause ere it wakens tempest;--and her flight, "3025 Though 'twas the death of brainless fantasy, Yet smote my lonesome heart more than all misery.

23. 'It seemed that in the dreary night the diver Who brought me thither, came again, and bore My child away. I saw the waters quiver, "3030 When he so swiftly sunk, as once before: Then morning came--it shone even as of yore, But I was changed--the very life was gone Out of my heart--I wasted more and more, Day after day, and sitting there alone, "3035 Vexed the inconstant waves with my perpetual moan.

24. 'I was no longer mad, and yet methought My breasts were swoln and changed:--in every vein The blood stood still one moment, while that thought Was passing--with a gush of sickening pain "3040 It ebbed even to its withered springs again: When my wan eyes in stern resolve I turned From that most strange delusion, which would fain Have waked the dream for which my spirit yearned With more than human love,--then left it unreturned. "3045

25. 'So now my reason was restored to me I struggled with that dream, which, like a beast Most fierce and beauteous, in my memory Had made its lair, and on my heart did feast; But all that cave and all its shapes, possessed "3050 By thoughts which could not fade, renewed each one Some smile, some look, some gesture which had blessed Me heretofore: I, sitting there alone, Vexed the inconstant waves with my perpetual moan.

26. 'Time passed, I know not whether months or years; "3055 For day, nor night, nor change of seasons made Its note, but thoughts and unavailing tears: And I became at last even as a shade, A smoke, a cloud on which the winds have preyed, Till it be thin as air; until, one even, "3060 A Nautilus upon the fountain played, Spreading his azure sail where breath of Heaven Descended not, among the waves and whirlpools driven.

27. 'And, when the Eagle came, that lovely thing, Oaring with rosy feet its silver boat, "3065 Fled near me as for shelter; on slow wing, The Eagle, hovering o'er his prey did float; But when he saw that I with fear did note His purpose, proffering my own food to him, The eager plumes subsided on his throat-- "3070 He came where that bright child of sea did swim, And o'er it cast in peace his shadow broad and dim.

28. 'This wakened me, it gave me human strength; And hope, I know not whence or wherefore, rose, But I resumed my ancient powers at length; "3075 My spirit felt again like one of those Like thine, whose fate it is to make the woes Of humankind their prey--what was this cave? Its deep foundation no firm purpose knows Immutable, resistless, strong to save, "3080 Like mind while yet it mocks the all-devouring grave.

29. 'And where was Laon? might my heart be dead, While that far dearer heart could move and be? Or whilst over the earth the pall was spread, Which I had sworn to rend? I might be free, "3085 Could I but win that friendly bird to me, To bring me ropes; and long in vain I sought By intercourse of mutual imagery Of objects, if such aid he could be taught; But fruit, and flowers, and boughs, yet never ropes he brought. "3090

30. 'We live in our own world, and mine was made From glorious fantasies of hope departed: Aye we are darkened with their floating shade, Or cast a lustre on them--time imparted Such power to me--I became fearless-hearted, "3095 My eye and voice grew firm, calm was my mind, And piercing, like the morn, now it has darted Its lustre on all hidden things, behind Yon dim and fading clouds which load the weary wind.

31. 'My mind became the book through which I grew "3100 Wise in all human wisdom, and its cave, Which like a mine I rifled through and through, To me the keeping of its secrets gave-- One mind, the type of all, the moveless wave Whose calm reflects all moving things that are, "3105 Necessity, and love, and life, the grave, And sympathy, fountains of hope and fear, Justice, and truth, and time, and the world's natural sphere.

32. 'And on the sand would I make signs to range These woofs, as they were woven, of my thought; "3110 Clear, elemental shapes, whose smallest change A subtler language within language wrought: The key of truths which once were dimly taught In old Crotona;--and sweet melodies Of love, in that lorn solitude I caught "3115 From mine own voice in dream, when thy dear eyes Shone through my sleep, and did that utterance harmonize.

33. 'Thy songs were winds whereon I fled at will, As in a winged chariot, o'er the plain Of crystal youth; and thou wert there to fill "3120 My heart with joy, and there we sate again On the gray margin of the glimmering main, Happy as then but wiser far, for we Smiled on the flowery grave in which were lain Fear, Faith and Slavery; and mankind was free, "3125 Equal, and pure, and wise, in Wisdom's prophecy.

34. 'For to my will my fancies were as slaves To do their sweet and subtile ministries; And oft from that bright fountain's shadowy waves They would make human throngs gather and rise "3130 To combat with my overflowing eyes, And voice made deep with passion--thus I grew Familiar with the shock and the surprise And war of earthly minds, from which I drew The power which has been mine to frame their thoughts anew. "3135

35. 'And thus my prison was the populous earth-- Where I saw--even as misery dreams of morn Before the east has given its glory birth-- Religion's pomp made desolate by the scorn Of Wisdom's faintest smile, and thrones uptorn, "3140 And dwellings of mild people interspersed With undivided fields of ripening corn, And love made free,--a hope which we have nursed Even with our blood and tears,--until its glory burst.

36. 'All is not lost! There is some recompense "3145 For hope whose fountain can be thus profound, Even throned Evil's splendid impotence, Girt by its hell of power, the secret sound Of hymns to truth and freedom--the dread bound Of life and death passed fearlessly and well, "3150 Dungeons wherein the high resolve is found, Racks which degraded woman's greatness tell, And what may else be good and irresistible.

37. 'Such are the thoughts which, like the fires that flare In storm-encompassed isles, we cherish yet "3155 In this dark ruin--such were mine even there; As in its sleep some odorous violet, While yet its leaves with nightly dews are wet, Breathes in prophetic dreams of day's uprise, Or as, ere Scythian frost in fear has met "3160 Spring's messengers descending from the skies, The buds foreknow their life--this hope must ever rise.

38. 'So years had passed, when sudden earthquake rent The depth of ocean, and the cavern cracked With sound, as if the world's wide continent "3165 Had fallen in universal ruin wracked: And through the cleft streamed in one cataract The stifling waters--when I woke, the flood Whose banded waves that crystal cave had sacked Was ebbing round me, and my bright abode "3170 Before me yawned--a chasm desert, and bare, and broad.

39. 'Above me was the sky, beneath the sea: I stood upon a point of shattered stone, And heard loose rocks rushing tumultuously With splash and shock into the deep--anon "3175 All ceased, and there was silence wide and lone. I felt that I was free! The Ocean-spray Quivered beneath my feet, the broad Heaven shone Around, and in my hair the winds did play Lingering as they pursued their unimpeded way. "3180

40. 'My spirit moved upon the sea like wind Which round some thymy cape will lag and hover, Though it can wake the still cloud, and unbind The strength of tempest: day was almost over, When through the fading light I could discover "3185 A ship approaching--its white sails were fed With the north wind--its moving shade did cover The twilight deep; the mariners in dread Cast anchor when they saw new rocks around them spread.

41. 'And when they saw one sitting on a crag, "3190 They sent a boat to me;--the Sailors rowed In awe through many a new and fearful jag Of overhanging rock, through which there flowed The foam of streams that cannot make abode. They came and questioned me, but when they heard "3195 My voice, they became silent, and they stood And moved as men in whom new love had stirred Deep thoughts: so to the ship we passed without a word.

NOTES: "2877 dreams edition 1818. "2994 opprest edition 1818. "3115 lone solitude edition 1818.


1. 'I sate beside the Steersman then, and gazing Upon the west, cried, "Spread the sails! Behold! "3200 The sinking moon is like a watch-tower blazing Over the mountains yet;--the City of Gold Yon Cape alone does from the sight withhold; The stream is fleet--the north breathes steadily Beneath the stars; they tremble with the cold! "3205 Ye cannot rest upon the dreary sea!-- Haste, haste to the warm home of happier destiny!"

2. 'The Mariners obeyed--the Captain stood Aloof, and, whispering to the Pilot, said, "Alas, alas! I fear we are pursued "3210 By wicked ghosts; a Phantom of the Dead, The night before we sailed, came to my bed In dream, like that!" The Pilot then replied, "It cannot be--she is a human Maid-- Her low voice makes you weep--she is some bride, "3215 Or daughter of high birth--she can be nought beside."

3. 'We passed the islets, borne by wind and stream, And as we sailed, the Mariners came near And thronged around to listen;--in the gleam Of the pale moon I stood, as one whom fear "3220 May not attaint, and my calm voice did rear; "Ye are all human--yon broad moon gives light To millions who the selfsame likeness wear, Even while I speak--beneath this very night, Their thoughts flow on like ours, in sadness or delight. "3225

4. '"What dream ye? Your own hands have built an home, Even for yourselves on a beloved shore: For some, fond eyes are pining till they come, How they will greet him when his toils are o'er, And laughing babes rush from the well-known door! "3230 Is this your care? ye toil for your own good-- Ye feel and think--has some immortal power Such purposes? or in a human mood, Dream ye some Power thus builds for man in solitude?

5. '"What is that Power? Ye mock yourselves, and give "3235 A human heart to what ye cannot know: As if the cause of life could think and live! 'Twere as if man's own works should feel, and show The hopes, and fears, and thoughts from which they flow, And he be like to them! Lo! Plague is free "3240 To waste, Blight, Poison, Earthquake, Hail, and Snow, Disease, and Want, and worse Necessity Of hate and ill, and Pride, and Fear, and Tyranny!

6. '"What is that Power? Some moon-struck sophist stood Watching the shade from his own soul upthrown "3245 Fill Heaven and darken Earth, and in such mood The Form he saw and worshipped was his own, His likeness in the world's vast mirror shown; And 'twere an innocent dream, but that a faith Nursed by fear's dew of poison, grows thereon, "3250 And that men say, that Power has chosen Death On all who scorn its laws, to wreak immortal wrath.

7. '"Men say that they themselves have heard and seen, Or known from others who have known such things, A Shade, a Form, which Earth and Heaven between "3255 Wields an invisible rod--that Priests and Kings, Custom, domestic sway, ay, all that brings Man's freeborn soul beneath the oppressor's heel, Are his strong ministers, and that the stings Of death will make the wise his vengeance feel, "3260 Though truth and virtue arm their hearts with tenfold steel.

8. '"And it is said, this Power will punish wrong; Yes, add despair to crime, and pain to pain! And deepest hell, and deathless snakes among, Will bind the wretch on whom is fixed a stain, "3265 Which, like a plague, a burden, and a bane, Clung to him while he lived; for love and hate, Virtue and vice, they say are difference vain-- The will of strength is right--this human state Tyrants, that they may rule, with lies thus desolate. "3270

9. '"Alas, what strength? Opinion is more frail Than yon dim cloud now fading on the moon Even while we gaze, though it awhile avail To hide the orb of truth--and every throne Of Earth or Heaven, though shadow, rests thereon, "3275 One shape of many names:--for this ye plough The barren waves of ocean, hence each one Is slave or tyrant; all betray and bow, Command, or kill, or fear, or wreak, or suffer woe.

10. '"Its names are each a sign which maketh holy "3280 All power--ay, the ghost, the dream, the shade Of power--lust, falsehood, hate, and pride, and folly; The pattern whence all fraud and wrong is made, A law to which mankind has been betrayed; And human love, is as the name well known "3285 Of a dear mother, whom the murderer laid In bloody grave, and into darkness thrown, Gathered her wildered babes around him as his own.

11. '"O Love, who to the hearts of wandering men Art as the calm to Ocean's weary waves! "3290 Justice, or Truth, or Joy! those only can From slavery and religion's labyrinth caves Guide us, as one clear star the seaman saves. To give to all an equal share of good, To track the steps of Freedom, though through graves "3295 She pass, to suffer all in patient mood, To weep for crime, though stained with thy friend's dearest blood,--

12. '"To feel the peace of self-contentment's lot, To own all sympathies, and outrage none, And in the inmost bowers of sense and thought, "3300 Until life's sunny day is quite gone down, To sit and smile with Joy, or, not alone, To kiss salt tears from the worn cheek of Woe; To live, as if to love and live were one,-- This is not faith or law, nor those who bow "3305 To thrones on Heaven or Earth, such destiny may know.

13. '"But children near their parents tremble now, Because they must obey--one rules another, And as one Power rules both high and low, So man is made the captive of his brother, "3310 And Hate is throned on high with Fear her mother, Above the Highest--and those fountain-cells, Whence love yet flowed when faith had choked all other, Are darkened--Woman as the bond-slave dwells Of man, a slave; and life is poisoned in its wells. "3315

14. '"Man seeks for gold in mines, that he may weave A lasting chain for his own slavery;-- In fear and restless care that he may live He toils for others, who must ever be The joyless thralls of like captivity; "3320 He murders, for his chiefs delight in ruin; He builds the altar, that its idol's fee May be his very blood; he is pursuing-- O, blind and willing wretch!--his own obscure undoing.

15. '"Woman!--she is his slave, she has become "3325 A thing I weep to speak--the child of scorn, The outcast of a desolated home; Falsehood, and fear, and toil, like waves have worn Channels upon her cheek, which smiles adorn, As calm decks the false Ocean:--well ye know "3330 What Woman is, for none of Woman born Can choose but drain the bitter dregs of woe, Which ever from the oppressed to the oppressors flow.

16. '"This need not be; ye might arise, and will That gold should lose its power, and thrones their glory; "3335 That love, which none may bind, be free to fill The world, like light; and evil faith, grown hoary With crime, be quenched and die.--Yon promontory Even now eclipses the descending moon!-- Dungeons and palaces are transitory-- "3340 High temples fade like vapour--Man alone Remains, whose will has power when all beside is gone.

17. '"Let all be free and equal!--From your hearts I feel an echo; through my inmost frame Like sweetest sound, seeking its mate, it darts-- "3345 Whence come ye, friends? Alas, I cannot name All that I read of sorrow, toil, and shame, On your worn faces; as in legends old Which make immortal the disastrous fame Of conquerors and impostors false and bold, "3350 The discord of your hearts, I in your looks behold.

18. '"Whence come ye, friends? from pouring human blood Forth on the earth? Or bring ye steel and gold, That Kings may dupe and slay the multitude? Or from the famished poor, pale, weak and cold, "3355 Bear ye the earnings of their toil? Unfold! Speak! Are your hands in slaughter's sanguine hue Stained freshly? have your hearts in guile grown old? Know yourselves thus! ye shall be pure as dew, And I will be a friend and sister unto you. "3360

19. '"Disguise it not--we have one human heart-- All mortal thoughts confess a common home: Blush not for what may to thyself impart Stains of inevitable crime: the doom Is this, which has, or may, or must become "3365 Thine, and all humankind's. Ye are the spoil Which Time thus marks for the devouring tomb-- Thou and thy thoughts and they, and all the toil Wherewith ye twine the rings of life's perpetual coil.

20. '"Disguise it not--ye blush for what ye hate, "3370 And Enmity is sister unto Shame; Look on your mind--it is the book of fate-- Ah! it is dark with many a blazoned name Of misery--all are mirrors of the same; But the dark fiend who with his iron pen "3375 Dipped in scorn's fiery poison, makes his fame Enduring there, would o'er the heads of men Pass harmless, if they scorned to make their hearts his den.

21. '"Yes, it is Hate, that shapeless fiendly thing Of many names, all evil, some divine, "3380 Whom self-contempt arms with a mortal sting; Which, when the heart its snaky folds entwine Is wasted quite, and when it doth repine To gorge such bitter prey, on all beside It turns with ninefold rage, as with its twine "3385 When Amphisbaena some fair bird has tied, Soon o'er the putrid mass he threats on every side.

22. '"Reproach not thine own soul, but know thyself, Nor hate another's crime, nor loathe thine own. It is the dark idolatry of self, "3390 Which, when our thoughts and actions once are gone, Demands that man should weep, and bleed, and groan; Oh, vacant expiation! Be at rest.-- The past is Death's, the future is thine own; And love and joy can make the foulest breast "3395 A paradise of flowers, where peace might build her nest.

23. '"Speak thou! whence come ye?"--A Youth made reply: "Wearily, wearily o'er the boundless deep We sail;--thou readest well the misery Told in these faded eyes, but much doth sleep "3400 Within, which there the poor heart loves to keep, Or dare not write on the dishonoured brow; Even from our childhood have we learned to steep The bread of slavery in the tears of woe, And never dreamed of hope or refuge until now. "3405

24. '"Yes--I must speak--my secret should have perished Even with the heart it wasted, as a brand Fades in the dying flame whose life it cherished, But that no human bosom can withstand Thee, wondrous Lady, and the mild command "3410 Of thy keen eyes:--yes, we are wretched slaves, Who from their wonted loves and native land Are reft, and bear o'er the dividing waves The unregarded prey of calm and happy graves.

25. '"We drag afar from pastoral vales the fairest "3415 Among the daughters of those mountains lone, We drag them there, where all things best and rarest Are stained and trampled:--years have come and gone Since, like the ship which bears me, I have known No thought;--but now the eyes of one dear Maid "3420 On mine with light of mutual love have shone-- She is my life,--I am but as the shade Of her,--a smoke sent up from ashes, soon to fade.

26. '"For she must perish in the Tyrant's hall-- Alas, alas!"--He ceased, and by the sail "3425 Sate cowering--but his sobs were heard by all, And still before the ocean and the gale The ship fled fast till the stars 'gan to fail; And, round me gathered with mute countenance, The Seamen gazed, the Pilot, worn and pale "3430 With toil, the Captain with gray locks, whose glance Met mine in restless awe--they stood as in a trance.

27. '"Recede not! pause not now! Thou art grown old, But Hope will make thee young, for Hope and Youth Are children of one mother, even Love--behold! "3435 The eternal stars gaze on us!--is the truth Within your soul? care for your own, or ruth For others' sufferings? do ye thirst to bear A heart which not the serpent Custom's tooth May violate?--Be free! and even here, "3440 Swear to be firm till death!" They cried, "We swear! We swear!"

28. 'The very darkness shook, as with a blast Of subterranean thunder, at the cry; The hollow shore its thousand echoes cast Into the night, as if the sea and sky, "3445 And earth, rejoiced with new-born liberty, For in that name they swore! Bolts were undrawn, And on the deck, with unaccustomed eye The captives gazing stood, and every one Shrank as the inconstant torch upon her countenance shone. "3450

29. 'They were earth's purest children, young and fair, With eyes the shrines of unawakened thought, And brows as bright as Spring or Morning, ere Dark time had there its evil legend wrought In characters of cloud which wither not.-- "3455 The change was like a dream to them; but soon They knew the glory of their altered lot, In the bright wisdom of youth's breathless noon, Sweet talk, and smiles, and sighs, all bosoms did attune.

30. 'But one was mute; her cheeks and lips most fair, "3460 Changing their hue like lilies newly blown, Beneath a bright acacia's shadowy hair, Waved by the wind amid the sunny noon, Showed that her soul was quivering; and full soon That Youth arose, and breathlessly did look "3465 On her and me, as for some speechless boon: I smiled, and both their hands in mine I took, And felt a soft delight from what their spirits shook.


1. 'That night we anchored in a woody bay, And sleep no more around us dared to hover "3470 Than, when all doubt and fear has passed away, It shades the couch of some unresting lover, Whose heart is now at rest: thus night passed over In mutual joy:--around, a forest grew Of poplars and dark oaks, whose shade did cover "3475 The waning stars pranked in the waters blue, And trembled in the wind which from the morning flew.

2. 'The joyous Mariners, and each free Maiden Now brought from the deep forest many a bough, With woodland spoil most innocently laden; "3480 Soon wreaths of budding foliage seemed to flow Over the mast and sails, the stern and prow Were canopied with blooming boughs,--the while On the slant sun's path o'er the waves we go Rejoicing, like the dwellers of an isle "3485 Doomed to pursue those waves that cannot cease to smile.

3. 'The many ships spotting the dark blue deep With snowy sails, fled fast as ours came nigh, In fear and wonder; and on every steep Thousands did gaze, they heard the startling cry, "3490 Like Earth's own voice lifted unconquerably To all her children, the unbounded mirth, The glorious joy of thy name--Liberty! They heard!--As o'er the mountains of the earth From peak to peak leap on the beams of Morning's birth: "3495

4. 'So from that cry over the boundless hills Sudden was caught one universal sound, Like a volcano's voice, whose thunder fills Remotest skies,--such glorious madness found A path through human hearts with stream which drowned "3500 Its struggling fears and cares, dark Custom's brood; They knew not whence it came, but felt around A wide contagion poured--they called aloud On Liberty--that name lived on the sunny flood.

5. 'We reached the port.--Alas! from many spirits "3505 The wisdom which had waked that cry, was fled, Like the brief glory which dark Heaven inherits From the false dawn, which fades ere it is spread, Upon the night's devouring darkness shed: Yet soon bright day will burst--even like a chasm "3510 Of fire, to burn the shrouds outworn and dead, Which wrap the world; a wide enthusiasm, To cleanse the fevered world as with an earthquake's spasm!

6. 'I walked through the great City then, but free From shame or fear; those toil-worn Mariners "3515 And happy Maidens did encompass me; And like a subterranean wind that stirs Some forest among caves, the hopes and fears From every human soul, a murmur strange Made as I passed; and many wept, with tears "3520 Of joy and awe, and winged thoughts did range, And half-extinguished words, which prophesied of change.

7. 'For, with strong speech I tore the veil that hid Nature, and Truth, and Liberty, and Love,-- As one who from some mountain's pyramid "3525 Points to the unrisen sun!--the shades approve His truth, and flee from every stream and grove. Thus, gentle thoughts did many a bosom fill,-- Wisdom, the mail of tried affections wove For many a heart, and tameless scorn of ill, "3530 Thrice steeped in molten steel the unconquerable will.

8. 'Some said I was a maniac wild and lost; Some, that I scarce had risen from the grave, The Prophet's virgin bride, a heavenly ghost:-- Some said, I was a fiend from my weird cave, "3535 Who had stolen human shape, and o'er the wave, The forest, and the mountain, came;--some said I was the child of God, sent down to save Woman from bonds and death, and on my head The burden of their sins would frightfully be laid. "3540

9. 'But soon my human words found sympathy In human hearts: the purest and the best, As friend with friend, made common cause with me, And they were few, but resolute;--the rest, Ere yet success the enterprise had blessed, "3545 Leagued with me in their hearts;--their meals, their slumber, Their hourly occupations, were possessed By hopes which I had armed to overnumber Those hosts of meaner cares, which life's strong wings encumber.

10. 'But chiefly women, whom my voice did waken "3550 From their cold, careless, willing slavery, Sought me: one truth their dreary prison has shaken,-- They looked around, and lo! they became free! Their many tyrants sitting desolately In slave-deserted halls, could none restrain; "3555 For wrath's red fire had withered in the eye, Whose lightning once was death,--nor fear, nor gain Could tempt one captive now to lock another's chain.

11. 'Those who were sent to bind me, wept, and fel



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