Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
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Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
 
From Manfred
By Lord Byron (1788–1824)
 
(See full text.)

THE SPIRITS I have raised abandon me—
The spells which I have studied baffle me—
The remedy I recked of tortured me;
I lean no more on superhuman aid,
It hath no power upon the past, and for        5
The future, till the past be gulfed in darkness,
It is not of my search.—My mother earth!
And thou, fresh breaking day, and you, ye mountains,
Why are ye beautiful? I cannot love ye.
And thou, the bright eye of the universe,        10
That openest over all, and unto all
Art a delight,—thou shinest not on my heart.
And you, ye crags, upon whose extreme edge
I stand, and on the torrent’s brink beneath
Behold the tall pines dwindled as to shrubs        15
In dizziness of distance; when a leap,
A stir, a motion, even a breath, would bring
My breast upon its rocky bosom’s bed
To rest forever,—wherefore do I pause?
I feel the impulse—yet I do not plunge;        20
I see the peril—yet do not recede;
And my brain reels—and yet my foot is firm:
There is a power upon me which withholds,
And makes it my fatality to live;
If it be life to wear within myself        25
This barrenness of spirit, and to be
My own soul’s sepulchre, for I have ceased
To justify my deeds unto myself,—
The last infirmity of evil. Aye,
Thou winged and cloud-cleaving minister,        30
[An eagle passes.]
Whose happy flight is highest into heaven,
Well mayst thou swoop so near me;—I should be
Thy prey, and gorge thine eaglets; thou art gone
Where the eye cannot follow thee; but thine
Yet pierces downward, onward, or above,        35
With a pervading vision.—Beautiful!
How beautiful is all this visible world!
How glorious in its action and itself—
But we, who name ourselves its sovereigns, we,
Half dust, half deity, alike unfit        40
To sink or soar, with our mixed essence make
A conflict of its elements, and breathe
The breath of degradation and of pride,
Contending with low wants and lofty will
Till our mortality predominates,        45
And men are—what they name not to themselves,
And trust not to each other. Hark! the note,
[The shepherd’s pipe in the distance is heard.]
The natural music of the mountain reed,—
For here the patriarchal days are not
A pastoral fable,—pipes in the liberal air,        50
Mixed with the sweet bells of the sauntering herd;
My soul would drink those echoes.—Oh that I were
The viewless spirit of a lovely sound,
A living voice, a breathing harmony,
A bodiless enjoyment,—born and dying        55
With the blest tone which made me!
Ye toppling crags of ice!
Ye avalanches, whom a breath draws down
In mountainous o’erwhelming, come and crush me!
I hear ye momently above, beneath,        60
Crash with a frequent conflict; but ye pass,
And only fall on things that still would live;
On the young flourishing forest, or the hut,
And hamlet of the harmless villager.
The mists boil up around the glaciers; clouds        65
Rise curling fast beneath me, white and sulphury,
Like foam from the roused ocean of deep hell,
Whose every wave breaks on a living shore,
Heaped with the damned like pebbles.—I am giddy.
 
 
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