Obrazy na stronie
PDF

XII.

Of rushing feet? laughter the shout, the scream, Of triumph not to be contained Seel hark They come, they come give way ! Alas, ye deem Falsely—’tis but a crowd of maniacs stark Driven, like a troop of spectres, through the dark From the choked well, whence a bright death-fire

sprung, A lurid earth-star, which dropped many a spark From its blue train, and spreading widely, clung

To their wild hair, like mist the topmost pines among.

xiii. And many, from the crowd collected there, Joined that strange dance in fearful sympathies; There was the silence of a long despair, When the last echo of those terrible cries Came from a distant street, like agonies Stifled afar.—Before the Tyrant's throne All night his aged Senate sate, their eyes In stony expectation fixed ; when one

Sudden before them stood, a Stranger and alone.

xiv. Dark Priests and haughty Warriors gazed on him With baffled wonder, for a hermit's vest Concealed his face; but when he spake, his tone, Ere yet the matter did their thoughts arrest, Earnest, benignant, calm, as from a breast Void of all hate or terror, made them start ; For as with gentle accents he addressed His speech to them, on each unwilling heart Unusual awe did fall—a spirit-quelling dart.

xv. “Ye Princes of the Earth, ye sit aghast Amid the ruin which yourselves have made ; Yes, desolation heard your trumpet's blast, And sprang from sleep –dark Terror has obeyed Your bidding—Oh that I, whom ye have made Your foe, could set my dearest enemy free From pain and fear! but evil casts a shade Which cannot pass so soon, and Hate must be The nurse and parent still of an ill progeny.

xvi.

“Ye turn to Heaven for aid in your distress;
Alas, that ye, the mighty and the wise,
Who, if he dared, might not aspire to less
Than ye conceive of power, should fear the lies
Which thou, and thou, didst frame for mysteries
To blind your slaves:—consider your own thought,
An empty and a cruel sacrifice
Ye now prepare, for a vain idol wrought

Out of the fears and hate which vain desires have

brought.

xvii. “Ye seek for happiness—alas the day ! Ye find it not in luxury nor in gold, Nor in the fame, nor in the envied sway For which, O willing slaves to Custom old, Severe task-mistress ye your hearts have sold. Ye seek for peace, and when ye die, to dream No evil dreams; all mortal things are cold And senseless then. If aught survive, I deem It must be love and joy, for they immortal seem.

xviii. “Fear not the future, weep not for the past. Oh, could I win your ears to dare be now Glorious, and great, and calml that ye would cast Into the dust those symbols of your woe, Purple, and gold, and steel ! that ye would go Proclaiming to the nations whence ye came, That Want, and Plague, and Fear, from slavery flow ; And that mankind is free, and that the shame Of royalty and faith is lost in freedom's fame.

2xix. “If thus 'tis well—if not, I come to say That Laon—.” While the Stranger spoke, among The Council sudden tumult and affray Arose, for many of those warriors young Had on his eloquent accents fed and hung Likebeeson mountain-flowers! they knew the truth, And from their thrones in vindication sprung ; The men of faith and law then without ruth

Drew forth their secret steel, and stabbed each

ardent youth.
xx.

They stabbed them in the back and sneered. A slave
Who stood behind the throne, those corpses drew
Each to its bloody, dark, and secret grave;
And one more daring raised his steel anew
To pierce the Stranger: “What hast thou to do
With me, poor wretch!”. Calm, solemn, and severe,
That voice unstrung his sinews, and he threw
His dagger on the ground, and pale with fear,

Sate silently—his voice then did the Stranger rear.

xxi. “It doth avail not that I weep for yeYe cannot change, since ye are old and grey, And ye have chosen your lot—your fame must be A book of blood, whence in a milder day Men shall learn truth, when ye are wrapt in clay: Now ye shall triumph. I am Laon's friend, And him to your revenge will I betray, So ye concede one easy boon. Attend For now I speak of things which ye can apprehend.

xxii. “There is a People mighty in its youth, A land beyond the Oceans of the West, [Truth Where, though with rudest rites, Freedom and Are worshipped ; from a glorious mother's breast Who, since high Athens fell, among the rest Sate like the Queen of Nations, but in woe, By inbred monsters outraged and oppressed, Turns to her chainless child for succour now, And draws the milk of power in Wisdom's fullest flow. xxiii. “This land is like an Eagle, whose young gaze Feeds on the noontide beam, whose golden plume Floats moveless on the storm, and in the blaze Qf sun-rise gleams when earth is wrapt in gloom; An epitaph of glory for the tomb Of murdered Europe may thy fame be made, Great People As the sands shalt thou become ; Thy growth isswift as morn, when night must fade; The multitudinous Earth shall sleep beneath thy shade.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

v.

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 atmo

sphere.

v1. 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 an aspen pale Among the gloomy pines of a Norwegian vale.

vii. What were his thoughts linked in the morning 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 obey— A thousand torches drop, and hark, the last Bursts on that awful silence. Far awa 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 womansits 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-lightwandering gone.

Ix. 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 gathering shout
Bursts like one sound from the tenthousandstreams
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 misdeems
That he is wise, whose wounds do only bleed

Inly for self; thus thought the Iberian Priest

indeed ;

[ocr errors]

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 Heaven has sent its other victim here.”

xii. “Were it not impious,” said the King, “to break Our holy oath "–“ Impious to keep it, say!” Shrieked the exulting Priest :-" Slaves, to the Bind her, and on my head the burthen lay [stake Qf her just torments:—at the Judgment Day Will I stand up before the golden throne Of Heaven, and cry, to thee I did betray An infidel ! 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 mooned 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.

xiv. 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, xv. She won them, though unwilling, her to bind Near me, among the snakes. When then 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 globed 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

xvii. And is this death The pyre has disappeared, The Pestilence, the Tyrant, and the throng ; The flames grow silent—slowly there is heard The music of a breath-suspending song, Which, like the kiss of love when life is young, Steeps the faint eyes in darkness sweet and deep ; With ever-changing notes it floats along, Till on my passive soul there seemed to creep A melody, like waves on wrinkled sands that leap.

xviii. The warm touch of a soft and tremulous hand Wakened me then ; lo, Cythna sate reclined Beside me, on the waved and golden sand Of a clear pool, upon a bank o'ertwined [wind With strange and star-bright flowers, which to the Breathed divine odour; high above, was spread The emerald heaven of trees of unknown kind, Whose moonlike blooms and bright fruit overhead A shadow, which was light, upon the waters shed.

xix. And round about sloped many a lawny mountain With incense-bearing forests, and vast caves Of marble radiance to that mighty fountain ; And where the flood its own bright margin laves, Their echoes talk with its eternal waves, Which, from the depths whose jagged caverns Their unreposing strife, it lifts and heaves, [breed Till through a chasm of hills they roll, and feed A river deep, which flies with smooth but arrowy speed. XX. As we sate gazing in a trance of wonder, A boat approached, borne by the musical air Along the waves, which sung and sparkled under Its rapid keel—a winged shape sate there, A child with silver-shining wings, so fair, That as her bark did through the waters glide, The shadow of the lingering waves did wear Light, as from starry beams; from side to side, While veering to the wind, her plumes the bark did guide. XXI. The boat was one curved shell of hollow pearl, Almost translucent with the light divine Of her within ; the prow and stern did curl, Horned on high, like the young moon supine, When, o'er dim twilight mountains dark with pine, It floats upon the sunset's sea of beams, Whose golden waves in many a purple line Fade fast, till, borne on sunlight's ebbing streams, Dilating, on earth's verge the sunken meteor gleams.

xxtr. Its keel has struck the sands beside our feet ;Then Cythna turned to me, and from her eyes Which swam with unshed tears, a look more sweet Than happy love, a wild and glad surprise, Glanced as she spake : “Aye, this is Paradise And not a dream, and we are all united 1 Lo, that is mine own child, who, in the guise Of madness, came like day to one benighted

Before his throne, subdued by some unseen In lonesome woods : my heart is now too well

emotion.

requited "

xxiii. And then she wept aloud, and in her arms Clasped that bright Shape, less marvellously fair Than her own human hues and living charms; Which, as she leaned in passion's silence there, Breathed warmth on the cold bosom of the air, Which seemed to blush and tremble with delight; The glossy darkness of her streaming hair Fell o'er that snowy child, and wrapt from sight The fond and long embrace which did their hearts unite. xxiv. Then the bright child, the plumed Seraph, came, And fixed its blue and beaming eyes on mine, And said, “I was disturbed by tremulous shame When once we met, yet knew that I was thine From the same hour in which thy lips divine Kindled a clinging dream within my brain, Which ever waked when I might sleep, to twine Thine image with her memory dear—again We meet; exempted now from mortal fear or pain.

xxv. “When the consuming flames had wrapt ye round, The hope which I had cherished went away; I fell in agony on the senseless ground, And hid mine eyes in dust, and far astray My mind was gone, when bright, like dawning day, The Spectre of the Plague before me flew, And breathed upon my lips, and seemed to say, “They wait for thee, beloved "-then I knew The death-mark on my breast, and became calm ancW. xxvi. “It was the calm of love—for I was dying. I saw the black and half-extinguished pyre In its own grey and shrunken ashes lying ; The pitchy smoke of the departed fire Still hung in many a hollow dome and spire Above the towers, like night; beneath whose shade, Awed by the ending of their own desire, The armies stood ; a vacancy was made In expectation's depth, and so they stood dismayed.

xxvii. “The frightful silence of that altered mood, The tortures of the dying clove alone, Till one uprose among the multitude, And said—“The flood of time is rolling on, We stand upon its brink, whilst they are gone To glide in peace down death's mysterious Stream. Have ye done well? They moulder flesh and bone, Who might have made this life's envenomed dream A sweeter draught than ye will ever taste, I deem.

xxviii. * “These perish as the good and great of yore Have perished, and their murderers will repent. Yes, vain and barren tears shall flow before Yon smoke has faded from the firmament Even for this cause, that ye, who must lament The death of those that made this world so fair, Cannot recall them now ; but then is lent To man the wisdom of a high despair, When such can die, and he live on and linger here.

xxix. “‘Aye, ye may fear not now the Pestilence, From fabled hell as by a charm withdrawn; All power and faith must pass, since calmly hence In pain and fire have unbelievers gone ; And ye must sadly turn away, and moan In secret, to his home each one returning ; And to long ages shall this hour be known ; And slowly shall its memory, ever burning, Fill this dark night of things with an eternal morning. Xxx. “‘For me the world is grown too void and cold, Since hope pursues immortal destiny With steps thus slow—therefore shall ye behold How those who love, yet fear not, dare to die; Tell to your children this!' then suddenly He sheathed a dagger in his heart, and fell; My brain grew dark in death, and yet to me There came a murmur from the crowd to tell Of deep and mighty change which suddenly befell.

xxxi. “Then suddenly I stood a winged Thought Before the immortal Senate, and the seat Of that star-shining spirit, whence is wrought The strength of its dominion, good and great, The better Genius of this world's estate. His realm around one mighty Fane is spread, Elysian islands bright and fortunate, Calm dwellings of the free and happy dead, Where I am sent to lead " These winged words she said, xxxii. And with the silence of her eloquent smile, Bade us embark in her divine canoe; Then at the helm we took our seat, the while Above her head those plumes of dazzling hue Into the winds' invisible stream she threw, Sitting beside the prow: like gossamer, On the swift breath of morn, the vessel flew O'er the bright whirlpools of that fountain fair, Whose shores receded fast, while we seemed lingering there; xxxiii. Till down that mighty stream dark, calm, and fleet, Between a chasm of cedar mountains riven, Chased by the thronging winds, whose viewlessfeet As swift as twinkling beams, had, under Heaven, From woods and waves wild sounds and odours driven, The boat flew visibly—three nights and days, Borne like a cloud through morn, and noon, and We sailed along the winding watery ways [even, Of the vast stream, a long and labyrinthine maze.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

xxxv. Morn, noon, and even, that boat of pearl outran The streams which bore it, like the arrowy cloud Of tempest, or the speedier thought of man, Which flieth forth and cannot make abode; Sometimes through forests, deep like night, we glode, Between the walls of mighty mountains crowned With Cyclopean piles, whose turrets proud, The homes of the departed, dimly frowned O'er the bright waves which girt their dark foundations round.

xxxvi.

Sometimes between the wide and flowering meadows,

Mile after mile we sailed, and ’twas delight
To see far off the sunbeams chase the shadows
Over the grass; sometimes beneath the night
Of wide and vaulted caves, whose roofs were bright
With starry gems, we fled, whilst from their deep
And darkgreen chasms, shades beautiful andwhite,
Amid sweet sounds across our path would sweep

Like swift and lovely dreams that walk the waves

of sleep.
xxxvii.

And ever as we sailed, our minds were full
Of love and wisdom, which would overflow
In converse wild, and sweet, and wonderful;
And in quick smiles whose light would come and
Like music o'er wide waves, and in the flow [go,
Of sudden tears, and in the mute caress—
For a deep shade was cleft, and we did know,
That virtue, though obscured on Earth, not less

Survives all mortal change in lasting loveliness.

xxxviii. Three days and nights we sailed, as thought and feeling Number delightful hours—for through the sky The sphered lamps of day and night, revealing New changes and new glories, rolled on high,

Sun, Moon, and moonlike lamps, the progeny Of a diviner Heaven, serene and fair: On the fourth day, wild as a wind-wrought sea, The stream became, and fast and faster bare The spirit-winged boat, steadily speeding there.

- XXXix.
Steadily and swift, where the waves rolled like
mountains
Within the vast ravine, whose rifts did pour
Tumultuous floods from their ten thousand foun-
The thunder of whose earth-uplifting roar [tains,
Made the air sweep in whirlwinds from the shore,
Calm as a shade, the boat of that fair child
Securely fled, that rapid stress before,
Amid the topmost spray, and sunbows wild,
Wreathed in the silver mist: in joy and pride we
smiled.

XL. The torrent of that wide and raging river Is passed, and our ačrial speed suspended. We look behind; a golden mist did quiver When its wild surges with the lake were blended: Our bark hung there, as one line suspended Between two heavens, that windless wavelesslake; Which four great cataracts from four vales, attended By mists, aye feed, from rocks and clouds they And of that azure sea a silent refuge make. [break,

XLI.

Motionless resting on the lake awhile,
I saw its marge of snow-bright mountains rear
Their peaks aloft, I saw each radiant isle,
And in the midst, afar, even like a sphere
Hung in one hollow sky, did there appear
The Temple of the Spirit; on the sound
Which issued thence, drawn nearerandmore near,
Like the swift moon this glorious earth around,

‘The o boat approached, and there its haven

Oulloi.

« PoprzedniaDalej »