Obrazy na stronie

It moved a speck upon the Ocean dark: Soon the wan stars came forth, and I could

mark 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.

I gnawed my brazen chain, and sought to

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

That starry night, with its clear silence, sent
Tameless resolve which laughed at misery

Into my soul-linked remembrance lent To that such power, to me such a severe content.

To breathe, to be, to hope, or to despair
And die, I questioned not; nor, though the

Its shafts of agony kindling thro' the air
Moved over me, nor though in evening dun,
Or when the stars their visible courses run,
Or inorning, the wide universe was spread
In dreary calmness round me, did I shun

Its presence, nor seek refuge with the dead From one faint hope whose flower a dropping

poison shed.

[ocr errors]

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 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, And bit my bloodless arm, and licked the brazen


XXII. 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 With whirlwind swiftness—a fall far and

deep,A gulph, a void, a sense of senselessnessThese things dwelt in me, even as shadows

keep Their watch in some dim charnel's loneliness, A shoreless sea, a sky sunless and planetless!


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,

Foul, ceaseless shadows :-thought could not

divide The actual world from these entangling evils, Which so bemocked themselves, that I de

scried All shapes like mine own self, hideously multi


XXIV. The sense of day and night, of false and true, 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. But both, though not distincter, were im

mersed In hues which, when through memory's

waste they flow, Make their divided streams more bright and

rapid now.

[ocr errors]

Methought that gate was lifted, and the seven Who brought me thither, four stiff corpses

bare, 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, Leaning that I might eat, I stretched and

clung Over the shapeless depth in which those corpses


XXVI. 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 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 Then in its sinking gulphs my sickening spirit



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


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.

XXVIII. 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 ;When from that stony gloom a voice arose, Solemn and sweet as when low winds attune

The midnight pines; the grate did then un

close, And on that reverend form the moonlight did repose.

XXIX. He struck my chains, and gently spake and

smiled: As they were loosened by that Hermit old, Mine eyes were of their madness half be

guiled, To answer those kind looks—he did enfold His giant arms around me, to uphold My wretched frame; my scorchèd limbs he

wound In linen moist and balmy, and as cold As dew to drooping leaves ;—the chain, with

sound Like earthquake, thro' the chasm of that steep

stair did bound,

[ocr errors]

As lifting me, it fell !—What next I heard, Were billows leaping on the harbour bar, 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


Of those who in the wide deep wandering are,

So that I feared some Spirit, fell and dark, In trance had lain me thus within a fiendish


[ocr errors]

For now, indeed, over the salt sea billow
I sailed, yet dared not look upon the shape

« PoprzedniaDalej »