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Their tranquil victim pass felt wonder glide Into their brain, and became calm with awe.See, the slow pageant near the pile doth draw. A thousand torches in the spacious square, Borne by the ready slaves of ruthless law,

Await the signal round: the morning fair Is changed to a dim night by that unnatural

glare.

And see! beneath a sun-bright canopy,
Upon a platform level with the pile,
The anxious Tyrant sit, enthroned on high,
Girt by the chieftains of the host; all smile
In expectation, but one child: the while
I, Laon, led by mutes, ascend my bier
Of fire, and look around; each distant isle
Is dark in the bright dawn; towers far and

near Pierce like reposing flames the tremulous

atmosphere.

VI. There was such silence through the host as

when An earthquake, trampling on some populous

town, Has crushed ten thousand with one tread,

and men Expect the second; all were mute but one, That fairest child, who, bold with love, alone Stood up before the King, without avail, Pleading for Laon's life-her stifled groan

Was heard—she trembled like one aspen pale Among the gloomy pines of a Norwegian vale. VII. What were his thoughts linked in the morn

ing sun, Among those reptiles, stingless with delay, Even like a tyrant's wrath ?—the signal gun Roared—hark, again! in that dread pause

he lay As in a quiet dream-the slaves obeyA thousand torches drop,-and hark, the last Bursts on that awful silence; far away Millions, with hearts that beat both loud and

fast,

Watch for the springing flame expectant and

aghast.

VIII.

They fly—the torches fall—a cry of fear Has startled the triumphant! they recede! For ere the cannon's roar has died, they hear The tramp of hoofs like earthquake, and a

steed Dark and gigantic, with the tempest's speed, Bursts through their ranks : a woman sits

thereon, Fairer it seems than aught that earth can

breed, Calm, radiant, like the phantom of the dawn, A spirit from the caves of day-light wandering

gone.

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All thought it was God's Angel come to sweep The lingering guilty to their fiery grave; The Tyrant from his throne in dread did

leap,Her innocence his child from fear did save ;

Scared by the faith they feigned, each priestly

slave Knelt for his mercy whom they served with

blood, And, like the refluence of a mighty wave

Sucked into the loud sea, the multitude With crushing panic fled in terror's altered

mood.

X. They pause, they blush, they gaze,-a gather

ing shout Bursts like one sound from the ten thousand

streams Of a tempestuous sea :—that sudden rout One checked, who never in his mildest dreams Felt awe from grace or loveliness, the seams Of his rent heart so hard and cold a creed Had seared with blistering ice-but he mis

deems That he is wise, whose wounds do only bleed Inly for self, thus thought that Christian Priest indeed,

XI. And others too, thought he was wise to see, In pain, and fear, and hate, something divine; In love and beauty-no divinity.Now with a bitter smile, whose light did shine Like a fiend's hope upon his lips and eyne, He said, and the persuasion of that sneer Rallied his trembling comrades—“Is it mine

To stand alone, when kings and soldiers fear A woman? God has sent his other victim here."

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“Were it not impious,” said the King, “ to

break

Our holy oath ?”—“Impious to keep it, say!” Shrieked the exulting Priest-“ Slaves, to

the stake Bind her, and on my head the burthen lay Of her just torments :-at the Judgment Day Will I stand up before God's golden throne, And cry, O Lord, to thee did I betray An Atheist; but for me she would have

known Another moment's joy! the glory be thine own.”

XIII. They trembled, but replied not, nor obeyed, Pausing in breathless silence. Cythna sprung From her gigantic steed, who, like a shade Chased by the winds, those vacant streets

among Fled tameless, as the brazen rein she flung Upon his neck, and kissed his moonèd brow. A piteous sight, that one so fair and young,

The clasp of such a fearful death should woo With smiles of tender joy as beamed from

Cythna now.

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The warm tears burst in spite of faith and

fear, From many a tremulous eye, but like soft

dews Which feed spring's earliest buds, hung

gathered there, Frozen by doubt,--alas, they could not choose, But weep; for when her faint limbs did

refuse To climb the pyre, upon the mutes she smiled; And with her eloquent gestures, and the hues Of her quick lips, even as a weary child Wins sleep from some fond nurse with its

caresses mild,

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She won them, though unwilling, her to bind
Near me, among the snakes. When there

had fled? One soft reproach that was most thrilling

kind, She smiled on me, and nothing then we said, But each upon the other's countenance fed Looks of insatiate love; the mighty veil Which doth divide the living and the dead Was almost rent, the world grew dim and

pale, All light in Heaven or Earth beside our love did

fail.

XVI. Yet,-yet-one brief relapse, like the last

beam Of dying flames, the stainless air around Hung silent and serene-a blood-red gleam Burst upwards, hurling fiercely from the

ground The globèd smoke,–I heard the mighty

sound Of its uprise, like a tempestuous ocean ; And, through its chasms I saw, as in a swound,

The Tyrant's child fall without life or motion Before his throne, subdued by some unseen

emotion.

i Shelley's edition and those of his widow read When then had fled ; but I do not doubt that then was a misprint for there. -ED.

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