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When, gathering fast, around, above and
under, Long trains of tremulous mist began to creep, Until their complicating lines did steep 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.
III. Hark! 'tis the rushing of a wind that sweeps 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. 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
IV. For, where the irresistible storm had cloven That fearful darkness, the blue sky was seen 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
Earth and the upper air, the vast clouds fled, Countless and swift as leaves on autumn's
For ever, as the war became more fierce
seemed to lie
Its upper horn arrayed in mists, which soon
I could not choose but gaze; a fascination
Like a great ship in the sun's sinking sphere
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
Comes forth, whilst with the speed its frame
doth quiver, Sails, oars, and stream, tending to one en
deavour; So, from that chasm of light a wingèd 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. "
VIII. A course precipitous, of dizzy speed, 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 aërial rock on which I stood, The Eagle, hovering, wheeled to left and right, And hung with lingering wings over the
flood, And startled with its yells the wild air's solitude.
IX. A shaft of light upon its wings descended, And every golden feather gleamed therein. Feather and scale inextricably blendedThe Serpent's mailed and many-coloured skin Shone through the plumes its coils were
twined within By many a swollen and knotted fold, and
high And far, the neck receding lithe and thin,
Sustained a crested head, which warily Shifted and glanced before the Eagle's stead
Around, around, in ceaseless circles wheeling With clang of wings and scream, the Eagle
sailed Incessantly—sometimes on high concealing Its lessening orbs, sometimes as if it failed, Drooped thro' the air; and still it shrieked
and wailed And, casting back its eager head, with beak And talon unremittingly assailed
The wreathèd Serpent, who did ever seek Upon his enemy's heart a mortal wound to
What life, what power, was kindled and arose Within the sphere of that appalling fray ! For, from the encounter of those wondrous
A vapour like the sea's suspended spray 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.
Languidly fluttered, hopeless so to foil
His adversary, who then reared on high His red and burning crest, radiant with victory.
XIII. Then on the white edge of the bursting surge, Where they had sank 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 As in despair, and with his sinewy neck, Dissolve in sudden shock those linked rings, Then soar—as swift as smoke from a volcano
XIV. Wile baffled wile, and strength encountered
strength, Thus long, but unprevailing : the event 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, With clang of wings and scream the Eagle
passed, Heavily borne away on the exhausted blast.
i Not literally lifeless, as we find later on ; but the word is presumably used to mean without visible sign of life. -ED.