Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

JONE,

arms

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

PANTHEA.

So thy worn form pursues me night and day,
Fear not : 'tis but some passing spasm,

Smiling reproach. Wise art thou, firm and good,

But vainly wouldst stand forth alone in strife
The Titan is unvanquished still.

Against the Omnipotent; as yon clear lamps
But see, where through the azure chasın

That measure and divide the weary years
Of yon forked and snowy hill

From which there is no refuge, long have taught,
Trampling the slant winds on high
With golden-sandalled feet, that glow

And long must teach. Even now thy Torturer
Under plumes of purple dye,
Like rose-ensanguined ivory,

With the strange might of unimagined pains

The powers who scheme slow agonies in Hell,
A Shape comes now,

And my commission is to lead them here,
Stretching on high from his right hand

Or what more subtle, foul or savage fiends
A serpent-cinctured wand.

People the abyss, and leave them to their task.
PANTHEA.

Be it not so ! there is a secret known 'Tis Jove's world-wandering herald, Mercury.

To thee, and to none else of living things,

Which may transfer the sceptre of wide Heaven,
IONE.

The fear of which perplexes the Supreme ;
And who are those with hydra tresses

Clothe it in words, and bid it clasp his throne
And iron wings that climb the wind,

In intercession ; bend thy soul in prayer,
Whom the frowning God represses

And like a suppliant in some gorgeous fane,
Like vapours steaming up behind,

Let the will kneel within thy haughty heart :
Clanging loud, an endless crowd-

For benefits and meek submission tame

The fiercest and the mightiest.
These are Jove's tempest-walking hounds,

PROMETHEUS.
Whom he gluts with groans and blood,

Evil minds
When charioted on sulphurous cloud

Change good to their own nature. I gave all
He bursts Heaven's bounds.

He has; and in return he chains me here
IONE.

Years, ages, night and day ; whether the Sun
Are they now led, from the thin dead

Split my parched skin, or in the moony night On new pangs to be fed ?

The crystal-winged snow cling round my hair:

Whilst my beloved race is trampled down
PANTHEA.

By his thought-executing ministers.
The Titan looks as ever, firm, not proud.

Such is the tyrant's recompense : 'tis just :

He who is evil can receive no good ;
FIRST FURY.

And for a world bestowed, or a friend lost,
Ha! I scent life!

He can feel hate, fear, shame ; not gratitude :
SECOND FURY.

He but requites me for his own misdeed.
Let me but look into his eyes ! Kindness to such is keen reproach, which breaks

With bitter stings the light sleep of Revenge.

Submission, thou dost know I cannot try; The hope of torturing him smells like a heap For what submission but that fatal word, Of corpses, to a death-bird after battle.

The death-seal of mankind's captivity,

Like the Sicilian's hair-suspended sword,
FIRST FURY.

Which trembles o'er his crown, would he accept, Darest thou delay, O Herald ! take cheer, Hounds

Or could I yield ? Which yet I will not yield.
Of Hell : what if the Son of Maia soon
Should make us food and sport—who can please long In brief Omnipotence ; secure are they :

Let others flatter Crime, where it sits 'throned
The Omnipotent ?

For Justice, when triumphant, will weep down

Pity, not punishment, on her own wrongs,
Back to your towers of iron, Too much avenged by those who err. I wait,
And gnash beside the streams of fire, and wail

Enduring thus, the retributive hour
Your foodless teeth. Geryon, arise ! and Gorgon, which since we spake is even nearer now.
Chimæra, and thou Sphinx, subtlest of fiends, But hark, the hell-hounds clamour. Fear delay !
Who ministered to Thebes Heaven's poisoned wine, Behold! Heaven lowers under thy Father's frown.
Unnatural love, and more unnatural hate :
These shall perform your task.

MERCURY.

Oh, that we might be spared : I to inflict,
FIRST FURY.

And thou to suffer ! once more answer me :

Oh, mercy! mercy! Thou knowest not the period of Jove's power ?
We die with our desire: drive us not back !

PROMETHEUS.
MERCURY
Crouch then in silence.

I know but this, that it must come.
Awful Sufferer;

MERCURY.
To thee unwilling, most unwillingly.

Alas!
I come, by the Great Father's will driven down, Thou canst not count thy years to come of pain?
To execute a doom of new revenge.
Alas ! I pity thee, and hate myself

PROMETHEUS.
That I can do no more ; aye from thy sight They last while Jove must reign; nor more, nor less
Returning, for a season, heaven seems hell, Do I desire or fear.

THIRD FURY.

MERCURY.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

Perchance no thought can count them, yet they pass. Can aught exult in its deformity ?

[blocks in formation]

PANTHEA.

PROMETHEUS.

THIRD FURY

FIRST FURY.

SECOND FURY.

THIRD FURY.

I must obey his words and thine : alas !

SECOND FURY. Most heavily remorse hangs at my heart !

Dost imagine

We will but laugh into thy lidless eyes?
See where the child of Heaven, with winged feet,
Runs down the slanted sunlight of the dawn. I weigh not what ye do, but what ye suffer,

Being evil. Cruel was the power which called
IONE.

You, or aught else so wretched, into light.
Dear sister, close thy plumes over thine eyes
Lest thou behold and die : they come : they come
Blackening the birth of day with countless wings, Thou think’st we will live through thee, one by one,
And hollow underneath, like death.

Like animal life, and though we can obscure not
The soul which burns within, that we will dwell

Beside it, like a vain loud multitude
Prometheus! Vexing the self-content of wisest men:

That we will be dread thought beneath thy brain, Immortal Titan!

And foul desire round thine astonished heart,

And blood within thy labyrinthine veins
Champion of Heaven's slaves ! Crawling like agony.
PROMETHEUS.

PROMETHEUS.
He whom some dreadful voice invokes is here,

Why, ye are thus now;
Prometheus, the chained Titan. Horrible forms, The torturing and conflicting throngs within,

Yet am I king over myself, and rule
What and who are ye? Never yet there came
Phantasms so foul through monster-teeming Hell As Jove rules you when Hell grows mutinous.
From the all-miscreative brain of Jove;
Whilst I behold such execrable shapes,
Methinks I grow like what I contemplate,

From the ends of the earth, from the ends of the

earth, And laugh and stare in loathsome sympathy.

Where the night has its grave and the morning its

birth, We are the ministers of pain and fear,

Come, come, come! And disappointment, and mistrust, and hate, Oh, ye who shake hills with the scream of your mirth, And clinging crime; and as lean dogs pursue (fawn, When cities sink howling in ruin; and ye Through wood and lake some struck and sobbing Who with wingless footsteps trample the sea, We track all things that weep, and bleed, and live, And close upon Shipwreck and Famine’s track, When the great King betrays them to our will. Sit chattering with joy on the foodless wreck;

CHORUS OF FURIES.

FIRST FURY.

IONE.

FIRST FURY.

Come, come, come!

His words outlived him, like swift poison Leave the bed, low, cold, and red,

Withering up truth, peace, and pity. Strewed beneath a nation dead;

Look! where round the wide horizon
Leave the hatred, as in ashes

Many a million-peopled city
Fire is left for future burning:

Vomits smoke in the bright air.
It will burst in bloodier flashes

Mark that outcry of despair !
When ye stir it, soon returning :

'Tis his mild and gentle ghost Leave the self-contempt implanted

Wailing for the faith he kindled :
In young spirits, sense enchanted,

Look again! the flames almost
Misery's yet unkindled fuel :

To a glow-worm's lamp have dwindled : Leave Hell's secrets half unchanted

The survivors round the embers
To the maniac dreamer: cruel

Gather in dread.
More than ye can be with hate

Joy, joy, joy!
Is he with fear.

Past ages crowd on thee, but each one remembers;
Come, come, come!

And the future is dark, and the present is spread We are steaming up from Hell's wide gate, Like a pillow of thorns for thy slumberless head.

And we burthen the blasts of the atmosphere,
But vainly we toil till ye come here.

SEMICHORUS I.
Drops of bloody agony flow

From his white and quivering brow.
Sister, I hear the thunder of new wings.

Grant a little respite now :

See a disenchanted nation
PANTHEA.

Springs like day from desolation ;
These solid mountains quiver with the sound

To truth its state is dedicate, Even as the tremulous air: their shadows make

And Freedom leads it forth, her mate; The space within my plumes more black than night.

A legioned band of linked brothers,

Whom Love calls children Your call was as a winged car,

SEMICHORUS II. Driven on whirlwinds fast and far;

"Tis another's It rapt us from red gulfs of war.

See how kindred murder kin!
SECOND PURY.

'Tis the vintage time for death and sin. From wide cities, famine-wasted;

Blood, like new wine, bubbles within :

Till Despair smothers
THIRD FURY.

The struggling world, which slaves and tyrants win. Groans half heard, and blood untasted;

[All the Furies vanish, except one. FOURTH FURY. Kingly conclaves, stern and cold,

Hark, sister! what a low yet dreadful groan Where blood with gold is bought and sold; Quite unsuppressed is tearing up the heart

Of the good Titan, as storms tear the deep,

And beasts hear the sea moan in inland caves. From the furnace, white and hot,

Darest thou observe how the fiends torture him?
In which
A FURY

PANTHEA.
Speak not; whisper not:

Alas! I looked forth twice, but will no more. I know all that ye would tell,

IONE. But to speak might break the spell

What didst thou see?
Which must bend the Invincible,

The stern of thought;
He yet defies the deepest power of Hell.

A woful sight: a youth

With patient looks nailed to a crucifix.
Tear the veil!

What next?
ANOTHER PURY.
It is torn.

PANTHEA.

The heaven around, the earth below

Was peopled with thick shapes of human death The pale stars of the morn All horrible, and wrought by human hands, Shine on a misery, dire to be borne.

And some appeared the work of human hearts. Dost thou faint, mighty Titan! We laugh thee to

For men were slowly killed by frowns and smiles :

And other sights too foul to speak and live Dost thou boast the clear knowledge thou waken’dst Were wandering by. Let us not tempt worse fear for man!

By looking forth: those groans are grief enough. Then was kindled within him a thirst which outran Those perishing waters; a thirst of fierce fever, Hope, love, doubt, desire, which consume him for Behold an emblem : those who do endure

Deep wrongs for man, and scorn, and chains, but One came forth of gentle worth,

heap Smiling on the sanguine earth:

Thousandfold torment on themselves and him.

IONE.

FIFTH FURY.

PANTHEA.

FURY.

IONE,

CHORUS.

scorn.

FURY.

ever.

PROMETHEUS.

PANTHEA.

FURY.

PROMETHEUS.

PANTHEA.

The nations thronged around, and cried aloud, Remit the anguish of that lighted stare;

As with one voice, Truth, liberty, and love! Close those wan lips: let that thorn-wounded brow Suddenly fierce confusion fell from heaven Stream not with blood; it mingles with thy tears !

Among them: there was strife, deceit, and fear : Fix, fix those tortured orbs in peace and death,

Tyrants rushed in, and did divide the spoil.

This was the shadow of the truth I saw.
So thy sick throes shake not that crucifix,
So those pale fingers play not with thy gore.

THE EARTH. 0, horrible! Thy name I will not speak,

I felt thy torture, son, with such mixed joy It hath become a curse. I see, I see

As pain and virtue give. To cheer thy state The wise, the mild, the lofty, and the just,

I bid ascend those subtle and fair spirits, Whom thy slaves hate for being like to thee, Whose homes are the dim caves of human thought, Some hunted by foul lies from their heart's home, And who inhabit, as birds wing the wind, An early-chosen, late-lamented home,

Its world-surrounding ether: they behold As hooded ounces cling to the driven hind; Beyond that twilight realm, as in a glass, Some linked to corpses in unwholesome cells :

The future: may they speak comfort to thee! Some-Hear I not the multitude laugh loud ?Impaled in lingering fire : and mighty realms Float by my feet, like sea-uprooted isles,

Look, sister, where a troop of spirits gather, Whose sons are kneaded down in common blood

Like flocks of clouds in spring's delightful weather, By the red light of their own burning homes.

Thronging in the blue air !

IONE.

And see! more come,
Blood thou canst see, and fire; and canst heargroans:
Worse things unheard, unseen, remain behind.

Like fountain-vapours when the winds are dumb,
That climb up the ravine in scattered lines.

And hark! is it the music of the pines ?
Worse?

Is it the lake? Is it the waterfall !
FURY.
In each human heart terror survives
The ravin it has gorged: the loftiest fear

'Tis something sadder, sweeter far than all. All that they would disdain to think were true:

CHORUS OF SPIRITS. Hypocrisy and custom make their minds

From unremembered ages we The fanes of many a worship, now outworn.

Gentle guides and guardians be
They dare not devise good for man's estate,

Of heaven-oppressed mortality!
And yet they know not that they do not dare. And we breathe, and sicken not,
The good want power, but to weep barren tears. The atmosphere of human thought :
The powerful goodness want: worse need for them. Be it dim, and dank, and grey,
The wise want love; and those who love want Like a storm-extinguished day,
And all best things are thus confused to ill. [wisdom; Travelled o'er by dying gleams :
Many are strong and rich, and would be just,

Be it bright as all between
But live among their suffering fellow-men

Cloudless skies and windless streams,
As if none felt: they know not what they do.

Silent, liquid, and serene;
As the birds within the wind,

As the fish within the wave,
Thy words are like a cloud of winged snakes ;
And yet I pity those they torture not.

As the thoughts of man's own mind

Float through all above the grave:
FURY.

We make there our liquid lair,
Thou pitiest them? I speak no more! [Vanishes.

Voyaging cloudlike and unpent
Through the boundless element:

Thence we bear the prophecy
Ah woe!

Which begins and ends in thee!
Ah woe! Alas! pain, pain ever, for ever!

IONE.
I close my tearless eyes, but see more clear
Thy works within my woe-illumined mind,

More yet come, one by one: the air around them Thou subtle tyrant! Peace is in the grave.

Looks radiant as the air around a star.
The grave hides all things beautiful and good :
I am a God and cannot find it there,

On a battle-trumpet's blast
Nor would I seek it: for, though dread revenge, I fled hither, fast, fast, fast,
This is defeat, fierce king ! not victory:

'Mid the darkness upward cast. The sights with which thou torturest gird my soul From the dust of creeds outworn, With new endurance, till the hour arrives

From the tyrant's banner torn, When they shall be no types of things which are. Gathering round me, onward borne,

There was mingled

many a cryPANTHEA.

Freedom! Hope! Death! Victory !
Alas! what sawest thou ?

Till they faded through the sky ;
PROMETHEUS.

And one sound above, around,
There are two woes :

One sound beneath, around, above,
To speak and to behold; thou spare me one.

Was moving ; 'twas the soul of love ;
Names are there, Nature's sacred watch-words, they, 'Twas the hope, the prophecy,
Were borne aloft in bright emblazonry ;

Which begins and ends in thee.

PROMETHEUS.

PROMETHEUS.

FIRST SPIRIT.

SECOND SPIRIT. A rainbow's arch stood on the sea, Which rocked beneath, immoveably ; And the triumphant storm did flee, Like a conqueror, swift and proud, Between with many a captive cloud A shapeless, dark and rapid crowd, Each by lightning riven in half : I heard the thunder hoarsely laugh : Mighty fleets were strewn like chaff And spread beneath a hell of death O'er the white waters. I alit On a great ship lightning-split, And speeded hither on the sigh Of one who gave an enemy His plank, then plunged aside to die.

FIFTH SPIRIT.

As over wide dominions I sped, like some swift cloud that wings the wide

air's wildernesses, That planet-crested shape swept by on lightning

braided pinions, Scattering the liquid joy of life from his ambrosial

tresses: His footsteps paved the world with light; but as I

past 'twas fading, And hollow Ruin yawned behind: great sages bound

in madness, And headless patriots, and pale youths who perished,

unupbraiding, Gleamed in the night. I wandered o'er, till thou,

0 King of sadness, Turned by thy smile the worst I saw to recollected

gladness.

SIXTH SPIRIT.

THIRD SPIRIT. I sate beside a ge's bed, And the lamp was burning red Near the book where he had fed, When a Dream with plumes of flame, To his pillow hovering came, And I knew it was the same Which had kindled long ago Pity, eloquence, and woe; And the world awhile below Wore the shade its lustre inade. It has borne me here as fleet As Desire's lightning feet : I must ride it back ere morrow, Or the sage will wake in sorrow.

Ah, sister ! Desolation is a delicate thing :
It walks not on the earth, it floats not on the air,
But treads with silent footstep, and fans with silent

wing The tender hopes which in their hearts the best

and gentlest bear; Who, soothed to false repose by the fanning plumes

above, And the music-stirring motion of its soft and

busy feet, Dream visions of aërial joy, and call the monster,

Love, And wake, and find the shadow Pain, as he whom

now we greet.

CHORUS.

FOURTH SPIRIT. On a poet's lips I slept Dreaming like a love-adept In the sound his breathing kept ; Nor seeks nor finds he mortal blisses, But feeds on the aërial kisses Of shapes that haunt thought's wildernesses. He will watch from dawn to gloom The lake-reflected sup illume The yellow bees in the ivy-bloom, Nor heed nor see, what things they be ; But from these create he can Forms more real than living man, Nurslings of immortality! One of these awakened me, And I sped to succour thee.

Though Ruin now Love's shadow be,
Following him, destroyingly,

On death's white and winged steed,
Which the fleetest cannot flee,

Trampling down both flower and weed, Man and beast, and foul and fair, Like a tempest through the air; Thou shalt quell this horseman grim, Woundless though in heart or limb.

PROMETHEUS.

IONE.

Behold'st thou not two shapes from the east and

west Come as two doves to one beloved nest, Twin nurslings of the all-sustaining air On swift still wings glide down the atmosphere ? And, hark! their sweet sad voices ! 'tis despair Mingled with love and then dissolved in sound.

Spirits ! how know ye this shall be ?

CHORUS.
In the atmosphere we breathe,
As buds grow red when the snow-storms flee,

From spring gathering up beneath,
Whose mild winds shake the elder-brake,
And the wandering herdsmen know
That the white-thorn soon will blow:
Wisdom, Justice, Love, and Peace,
When they struggle to increase,
Are to us as soft winds be
To shepherd boys, the prophecy
Which begins and ends in thee.

PANTHEA.

Canst thou speak, sister? all my words are drowned.

IONE.

Where are the Spirits fled?

[blocks in formation]
« PoprzedniaDalej »