Obrazy na stronie

Legions of foul and ghastly shapes, which

hung Upon my flight; and ever as we fled, They plucked at Cythna—soon to me then

clung A sense of actual things those monstrous

dreams among

VI. And I lay struggling in the impotence Of sleep, while outward life had burst its

bound. Though, still deluded, strove the tortured

sense 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 armèd men, whose glittering swords

were bare, And whose degraded limbs the tyrant's garb

did wear.

VII. And ere with rapid lips and gathered brow I could demand the cause—a feeble shriekIt was a feeble shriek, faint, far and low, Arrested me—my mien grew calm and meek, 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 :-80 I passed quietly Till I beheld where, bound, that dearest child

did lie.

VIII. 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, 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.

[ocr errors]

“Look not so, Laon—say farewell in hope, 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 ! 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


[ocr errors]

These words bad fallen on my unheeding ear, Whilst I had watched the motions of the

crew With seeming careless glance; not many

were. Around her, for their comrades just with


To guard some other victim—so I drew
My knife, and with one impulse, suddenly
All unaware three of their number slew,
And grasped a fourth by the throat, and

with loud cry
My countrymen invoked to death or liberty !

[ocr errors]

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, 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,-over

thrown The vineyards and the harvests, and the glow Of blazing roofs shone far o'er the white Ocean's


[ocr errors]

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,
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

On Earth and Ocean, its carved summits

cast The sunken daylight farthrough the aërial waste.


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
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.


They raised me to the platform of the pile, 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: The grate, as they departed to repass,

With horrid clangour fell, and the far sound Of their retiring steps in the dense gloom were


[ocr errors]

The noon was calm and bright:-around

that column The overhanging sky and circling sea Spread forth in silentness profound and

solemn The darkness of brief frenzy cast on me, i This is the right reading, concord having perhaps been sacrificed to sound. -ED.

? Here the reading has been disputed and the change of cast to past has been suggested ; but Shelley's text (that adopted above) clearly means that the surrounding stillness so oppressed the mind of Laon as to cast on it the darkness of frenzy. -ED.

So that I knew not my own misery :
The islands and the mountains in the day
Like clouds reposed afar; and I could see

The town among the woods below that lay, And the dark rocks which bound the bright and glassy bay.

XVI. 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 No shadow in the sky beside mine ownMine, 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, But of the living blood that ran within my frame.

XVII. The peace of madness fled, and ah, too soon! A ship was lying on the sunny main, Its sails were flagging in the breathless noonIts shadow lay beyond—that sight again Waked, with its presence, in my trancèd 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.


I watched, until the shades of evening

wrapped Earth like an exhalation—then the bark Moved, for that calm was by the sunset


« PoprzedniaDalej »