Queen Mab: A Philosophical Poem. With Notes.
I HOW wonderful is Death, Death, and his brother Sleep! One, pale as yonder waning moon With lips of lurid blue; The other, rosy as the morn When throned on ocean's wave It blushes o'er the world; Yet both so passing wonderful! Hath then the gloomy Power Whose reign is in the tainted sepulchres 10 Seized on her sinless soul? Must then that peerless form Which love and admiration cannot view Without a beating heart, those azure veins Which steal like streams along a field of snow, That lovely outline which is fair As breathing marble, perish? Must putrefaction's breath Leave nothing of this heavenly sight But loathsomeness and ruin? 20 Spare nothing but a gloomy theme, On which the lightest heart might moralize? Or is it only a sweet slumber Stealing o'er sensation, Which the breath of roseate morning Chaseth into darkness? Will Ianthe wake again, And give that faithful bosom joy Whose sleepless spirit waits to catch Light, life and rapture, from her smile? 30 Yes! she will wake again, Although her glowing limbs are motionless, And silent those sweet lips, Once breathing eloquence That might have soothed a tiger's rage Or thawed the cold heart of a conqueror. Her dewy eyes are closed, And on their lids, whose texture fine Scarce hides the dark blue orbs beneath, The baby Sleep is pillowed; 40 Her golden tresses shade The bosom's stainless pride, Curling like tendrils of the parasite Around a marble column. Hark! whence that rushing sound? 'T is like the wondrous strain That round a lonely ruin swells, Which, wandering on the echoing shore, The enthusiast hears at evening; 'T is softer than the west wind's sigh; 50 'T is wilder than the unmeasured notes Of that strange lyre whose strings The genii of the breezes sweep; Those lines of rainbow light Are like the moonbeams when they fall Through some cathedral window, but the tints Are such as may not find Comparison on earth. Behold the chariot of the Fairy Queen! Celestial coursers paw the unyielding air; 60 Their filmy pennons at her word they furl, And stop obedient to the reins of light; These the Queen of Spells drew in; She spread a charm around the spot, And, leaning graceful from the ethereal car, Long did she gaze, and silently, Upon the slumbering maid. Oh! not the visioned poet in his dreams, When silvery clouds float through the wildered brain, When every sight of lovely, wild and grand 70 Astonishes, enraptures, elevates, When fancy at a glance combines The wondrous and the beautiful,-- So bright, so fair, so wild a shape Hath ever yet beheld, As that which reined the coursers of the air And poured the magic of her gaze Upon the maiden's sleep. The broad and yellow moon Shone dimly through her form-- 80 That form of faultless symmetry; The pearly and pellucid car Moved not the moonlight's line. 'T was not an earthly pageant. Those, who had looked upon the sight Passing all human glory, Saw not the yellow moon, Saw not the mortal scene, Heard not the night-wind's rush, Heard not an earthly sound, 90 Saw but the fairy pageant, Heard but the heavenly strains That filled the lonely dwelling. The Fairy's frame was slight--yon fibrous cloud, That catches but the palest tinge of even, And which the straining eye can hardly seize When melting into eastern twilight's shadow, Were scarce so thin, so slight; but the fair star That gems the glittering coronet of morn, Sheds not a light so mild, so powerful, 100 As that which, bursting from the Fairy's form, Spread a purpureal halo round the scene, Yet with an undulating motion, Swayed to her outline gracefully. From her celestial car The Fairy Queen descended, And thrice she waved her wand Circled with wreaths of amaranth; Her thin and misty form Moved with the moving air, 110 And the clear silver tones, As thus she spoke, were such As are unheard by all but gifted ear. FAIRY 'Stars! your balmiest influence shed! Elements! your wrath suspend! Sleep, Ocean, in the rocky bounds That circle thy domain! Let not a breath be seen to stir Around yon grass-grown ruin's height! Let even the restless gossamer 120 Sleep on the moveless air! Soul of Ianthe! thou, Judged alone worthy of the envied boon That waits the good and the sincere; that waits Those who have struggled, and with resolute will Vanquished earth's pride and meanness, burst the chains, The icy chains of custom, and have shone The day-stars of their age;--Soul of Ianthe! Awake! arise!' Sudden arose 130 Ianthe's Soul; it stood All beautiful in naked purity, The perfect semblance of its bodily frame; Instinct with inexpressible beauty and grace-- Each stain of earthliness Had passed away--it reassumed Its native dignity and stood Immortal amid ruin. Upon the couch the body lay, Wrapt in the depth of slumber; 140 Its features were fixed and meaningless, Yet animal life was there, And every organ yet performed Its natural functions; 'twas a sight Of wonder to behold the body and the soul. The self-same lineaments, the same Marks of identity were there; Yet, oh, how different! One aspires to Heaven, Pants for its sempiternal heritage, And, ever changing, ever rising still, 150 Wantons in endless being: The other, for a time the unwilling sport Of circumstance and passion, struggles on; Fleets through its sad duration rapidly; Then like an useless and worn-out machine, Rots, perishes, and passes. FAIRY 'Spirit! who hast dived so deep; Spirit! who hast soared so high; Thou the fearless, thou the mild, Accept the boon thy worth hath earned, 160 Ascend the car with me!' SPIRIT 'Do I dream? Is this new feeling But a visioned ghost of slumber? If indeed I am a soul, A free, a disembodied soul, Speak again to me.' FAIRY 'I am the Fairy MAB: to me 'tis given The wonders of the human world to keep; The secrets of the immeasurable past, In the unfailing consciences of men, 170 Those stern, unflattering chroniclers, I find; The future, from the causes which arise In each event, I gather; not the sting Which retributive memory implants In the hard bosom of the selfish man, Nor that ecstatic and exulting throb Which virtue's votary feels when he sums up The thoughts and actions of a well-spent day, Are unforeseen, unregistered by me; And it is yet permitted me to rend 180 The veil of mortal frailty, that the spirit, Clothed in its changeless purity, may know How soonest to accomplish the great end For which it hath its being, and may taste That peace which in the end all life will share. This is the meed of virtue; happy Soul, Ascend the car with me!' The chains of earth's immurement Fell from Ianthe's spirit; They shrank and brake like bandages of straw 190 Beneath a wakened giant's strength. She knew her glorious change, And felt in apprehension uncontrolled New raptures opening round; Each day-dream of her mortal life, Each frenzied vision of the slumbers That closed each well-spent day, Seemed now to meet reality. The Fairy and the Soul proceeded; The silver clouds disparted; 200 And as the car of magic they ascended, Again the speechless music swelled, Again the coursers of the air Unfurled their azure pennons, and the Queen, Shaking the beamy reins, Bade them pursue their way. The magic car moved on. The night was fair, and countless stars Studded heaven's dark blue vault; Just o'er the eastern wave 210 Peeped the first faint smile of morn. The magic car moved on-- From the celestial hoofs The atmosphere in flaming sparkles flew, And where the burning wheels Eddied above the mountain's loftiest peak, Was traced a line of lightning. Now it flew far above a rock, The utmost verge of earth, The rival of the Andes, whose dark brow 220 Lowered o'er the silver sea. Far, far below the chariot's path, Calm as a slumbering babe, Tremendous Ocean lay. The mirror of its stillness showed The pale and waning stars, The chariot's fiery track, And the gray light of morn Tinging those fleecy clouds That canopied the dawn. 230 Seemed it that the chariot's way Lay through the midst of an immense concave Radiant with million constellations, tinged With shades of infinite color, And semicircled with a belt Flashing incessant meteors. The magic car moved on. As they approached their goal, The coursers seemed to gather speed; The sea no longer was distinguished; earth 240 Appeared a vast and shadowy sphere; The sun's unclouded orb Rolled through the black concave; Its rays of rapid light Parted around the chariot's swifter course, And fell, like ocean's feathery spray Dashed from the boiling surge Before a vessel's prow. The magic car moved on. Earth's distant orb appeared 250 The smallest light that twinkles in the heaven; Whilst round the chariot's way Innumerable systems rolled And countless spheres diffused An ever-varying glory. It was a sight of wonder: some Were hornèd like the crescent moon; Some shed a mild and silver beam Like Hesperus o'er the western sea; Some dashed athwart with trains of flame, 260 Like worlds to death and ruin driven; Some shone like suns, and as the chariot passed, Eclipsed all other light. Spirit of Nature! here-- In this interminable wilderness Of worlds, at whose immensity Even soaring fancy staggers, Here is thy fitting temple! Yet not the lightest leaf That quivers to the passing breeze 270 Is less instinct with thee; Yet not the meanest worm That lurks in graves and fattens on the dead, Less shares thy eternal breath! Spirit of Nature! thou, Imperishable as this scene-- Here is thy fitting temple! II If solitude hath ever led thy steps To the wild ocean's echoing shore, And thou hast lingered there, Until the sun's broad orb Seemed resting on the burnished wave, Thou must have marked the lines Of purple gold that motionless Hung o'er the sinking sphere; Thou must have marked the billowy clouds, Edged with intolerable radiancy, 10 Towering like rocks of jet Crowned with a diamond wreath; And yet there is a moment, When the sun's highest point Peeps like a star o'er ocean's western edge, When those far clouds of feathery gold, Shaded with deepest purple, gleam Like islands on a dark blue sea; Then has thy fancy soared above the earth And furled its wearied wing 20 Within the Fairy's fane. Yet not the golden islands Gleaming in yon flood of light, Nor the feathery curtains Stretching o'er the sun's bright couch, Nor the burnished ocean-waves Paving that gorgeous dome, So fair, so wonderful a sight As Mab's ethereal palace could afford. Yet likest evening's vault, that faëry Hall! 30 As Heaven, low resting on the wave, it spread Its floors of flashing light, Its vast and azure dome, Its fertile golden islands Floating on a silver sea; Whilst suns their mingling beamings darted Through clouds of circumambient darkness, And pearly battlements around Looked o'er the immense of Heaven. The magic car no longer moved. 40 The Fairy and the Spirit Entered the Hall of Spells. Those golden clouds That rolled in glittering billows Beneath the azure canopy, With the ethereal footsteps trembled not; The light and crimson mists, Floating to strains of thrilling melody Through that unearthly dwelling, Yielded to every movement of the will; 50 Upon their passive swell the Spirit leaned, And, for the varied bliss that pressed around, Used not the glorious privilege Of virtue and of wisdom. 'Spirit!' the Fairy said, And pointed to the gorgeous dome, 'This is a wondrous sight And mocks all human grandeur; But, were it virtue's only meed to dwell In a celestial palace, all resigned 60 To pleasurable impulses, immured Within the prison of itself, the will Of changeless Nature would be unfulfilled. Learn to make others happy. Spirit, come! This is thine high reward:--the past shall rise; Thou shalt behold the present; I will teach The secrets of the future.' The Fairy and the Spirit Approached the overhanging battlement. Below lay stretched the universe! 70 There, far as the remotest line That bounds imagination's flight, Countless and unending orbs In mazy motion intermingled, Yet still fulfilled immutably Eternal Nature's law. Above, below, around, The circling systems formed A wilderness of harmony; Each with undeviating aim, 80 In eloquent silence, through the depths of space Pursued its wondrous way. There was a little light That twinkled in the misty distance. None but a spirit's eye Might ken that rolling orb. None but a spirit's eye, And in no other place But that celestial dwelling, might behold Each action of this earth's inhabitants. 90 But matter, space, and time, In those aërial mansions cease to act; And all-prevailing wisdom, when it reaps The harvest of its excellence, o'erbounds Those obstacles of which an earthly soul Fears to attempt the conquest. The Fairy pointed to the earth. The Spirit's intellectual eye Its kindred beings recognized. The thronging thousands, to a passing view, 100 Seemed like an ant-hill's citizens. How wonderful! that even The passions, prejudices, interests, That sway the meanest being--the weak touch That moves the finest nerve And in one human brain Causes the faintest thought, becomes a link In the great chain of Nature! 'Behold,' the Fairy cried, 'Palmyra's ruined palaces! 110 Behold where grandeur frowned! Behold where pleasure smiled! What now remains?--the memory Of senselessness and shame. What is immortal there? Nothing--it stands to tell A melancholy tale, to give An awful warning; soon Oblivion will steal silently The remnant of its fame. 120 Monarchs and conquerors there Proud o'er prostrate millions trod-- The earthquakes of the human race; Like them, forgotten when the ruin That marks their shock is past. 'Beside the eternal Nile The Pyramids have risen. Nile shall pursue his changeless way; Those Pyramids shall fall. Yea! not a stone shall stand to tell 130 The spot whereon they stood; Their very site shall be forgotten, As is their builder's name! 'Behold yon sterile spot, Where now the wandering Arab's tent Flaps in the desert blast! There once old Salem's haughty fane Reared high to heaven its thousand golden domes, And in the blushing face of day Exposed its shameful glory. 140 Oh! many a widow, many an orphan cursed The building of that fane; and many a father, Worn out with toil and slavery, implored The poor man's God to sweep it from the earth And spare his children the detested task Of piling stone on stone and poisoning The choicest days of life To soothe a dotard's vanity. There an inhuman and uncultured race Howled hideous praises to their Demon-God; 150 They rushed to war, tore from the mother's womb The unborn child--old age and infancy Promiscuous perished; their victorious arms Left not a soul to breathe. Oh! they were fiends! But what was he who taught them that the God Of Nature and benevolence had given A special sanction to the trade of blood? His name and theirs are fading, and the tales Of this barbarian nation, which imposture Recites till terror credits, are pursuing 160 Itself into forgetfulness. 'Where Athens, Rome, and Sparta stood, There is a moral desert now. The mean and miserable huts, The yet more wretched palaces, Contrasted with those ancient fanes Now crumbling to oblivion,-- The long and lonely colonnades Through which the ghost of Freedom stalks,-- Seem like a well-known tune, 170 Which in some dear scene we have loved to hear, Remembered now in sadness. But, oh! how much more changed, How gloomier is the contrast Of human nature there! Where Socrates expired, a tyrant's slave, A coward and a fool, spreads death around-- Then, shuddering, meets his own. Where Cicero and Antoninus lived, A cowled and hypocritical monk 180 Prays, curses and deceives. 'Spirit! ten thousand years Have scarcely passed away, Since in the waste, where now the savage drinks His enemy's blood, and, aping Europe's sons, Wakes the unholy song of war, Arose a stately city, Metropolis of the western continent. There, now, the mossy column-stone, Indented by time's unrelaxing grasp, 190 Which once appeared to brave All, save its country's ruin,-- There the wide forest scene, Rude in the uncultivated loveliness Of gardens long run wild,-- Seems, to the unwilling sojourner whose steps Chance in that desert has delayed, Thus to have stood since earth was what it is. Yet once it was the busiest haunt, Whither, as to a common centre, flocked 200 Strangers, and ships, and merchandise; Once peace and freedom blest The cultivated plain; But wealth, that curse of man, Blighted the bud of its prosperity; Virtue and wisdom, truth and liberty, Fled, to return not, until man shall know That they alone can give the bliss Worthy a soul that claims Its kindred with eternity. 210 'There 's not one atom of yon earth But once was living man; Nor the minutest drop of rain, That hangeth in its thinnest cloud, But flowed in human veins; And from the burning plains Where Libyan monsters yell, From the most gloomy glens Of Greenland's sunless clime, To where the golden fields 220 Of fertile England spread Their harvest to the day, Thou canst not find one spot Whereon no city stood. 'How strange is human pride! I tell thee that those living things, To whom the fragile blade of grass That springeth in the morn And perisheth ere noon, Is an unbounded world; 230 I tell thee that those viewless beings, Whose mansion is the smallest particle Of the impassive atmosphere, Think, feel and live like man; That their affections and antipathies, Like his, produce the laws Ruling their moral state; And the minutest throb That through their frame diffuses The slightest, faintest motion, 240 Is fixed and indispensable As the majestic laws That rule yon rolling orbs.' The Fairy paused. The Spirit, In ecstasy of admiration, felt All knowledge of the past revived; the events Of old and wondrous times, Which dim tradition interruptedly Teaches the credulous vulgar, were unfolded In just perspective to the view; 250 Yet dim from their infinitude. The Spirit seemed to stand High on an isolated pinnacle; The flood of ages combating below, The depth of the unbounded universe Above, and all around Nature's unchanging harmony. III 'Fairy!' the Spirit said, And on the Queen of Spells Fixed her ethereal eyes, 'I thank thee. Thou hast given A boon which I will not resign, and taught A lesson not to be unlearned. I know The past, and thence I will essay to glean A warning for the future, so that man May profit by his errors and derive Experience from his folly; 10 For, when the power of imparting joy Is equal to the will, the human soul Requires no other heaven.' MAB 'Turn thee, surpassing Spirit! Much yet remains unscanned. Thou knowest how great is man, Thou knowest his imbecility; Yet learn thou what he is; Yet learn the lofty destiny Which restless Time prepares 20 For every living soul. 'Behold a gorgeous palace that amid Yon populous city rears its thousand towers And seems itself a city. Gloomy troops Of sentinels in stern and silent ranks Encompass it around; the dweller there Cannot be free and happy; hearest thou not The curses of the fatherless, the groans Of those who have no friend? He passes on-- The King, the wearer of a gilded chain 30 That binds his soul to abjectness, the fool Whom courtiers nickname monarch, whilst a slave Even to the basest appetites--that man Heeds not the shriek of penury; he smiles At the deep curses which the destitute Mutter in secret, and a sullen joy Pervades his bloodless heart when thousands groan But for those morsels which his wantonness Wastes in unjoyous revelry, to save All that they love from famine; when he hears 40 The tale of horror, to some ready-made face Of hypocritical assent he turns, Smothering the glow of shame, that, spite of him, Flushes his bloated cheek. Now to the meal Of silence, grandeur and excess he drags His palled unwilling appetite. If gold, Gleaming around, and numerous viands culled From every clime could force the loathing sense To overcome satiety,--if wealth The spring it draws from poisons not,--or vice, 50 Unfeeling, stubborn vice, converteth not Its food to deadliest venom; then that king Is happy; and the peasant who fulfils His unforced task, when he returns at even And by the blazing fagot meets again Her welcome for whom all his toil is sped, Tastes not a sweeter meal. Behold him now Stretched on the gorgeous couch; his fevered brain Reels dizzily awhile; but ah! too soon The slumber of intemperance subsides, 60 And conscience, that undying serpent, calls Her venomous brood to their nocturnal task. Listen! he speaks! oh! mark that frenzied eye-- Oh! mark that deadly visage!' KING 'No cessation! Oh! must this last forever! Awful death, I wish, yet fear to clasp thee!--Not one moment Of dreamless sleep! O dear and blessèd Peace, Why dost thou shroud thy vestal purity In penury and dungeons? Wherefore lurkest With danger, death, and solitude; yet shun'st 70 The palace I have built thee? Sacred Peace! Oh, visit me but once,--but pitying shed One drop of balm upon my withered soul!' THE FAIRY 'Vain man! that palace is the virtuous heart, And Peace defileth not her snowy robes In such a shed as thine. Hark! yet he mutters; His slumbers are but varied agonies; They prey like scorpions on the springs of life. There needeth not the hell that bigots frame To punish those who err; earth in itself 80 Contains at once the evil and the cure; And all-sufficing Nature can chastise Those who transgress her law; she only knows How justly to proportion to the fault The punishment it merits. Is it strange That this poor wretch should pride him in his woe? Take pleasure in his abjectness, and hug The scorpion that consumes him? Is it strange That, placed on a conspicuous throne of thorns, Grasping an iron sceptre, and immured 90 Within a splendid prison whose stern bounds Shut him from all that's good or dear on earth, His soul asserts not its humanity? That man's mild nature rises not in war Against a king's employ? No--'tis not strange. He, like the vulgar, thinks, feels, acts, and lives Just as his father did; the unconquered powers Of precedent and custom interpose Between a king and virtue. Stranger yet, To those who know not Nature nor deduce 100 The future from the present, it may seem, That not one slave, who suffers from the crimes Of this unnatural being, not one wretch, Whose children famish and whose nuptial bed Is earth's unpitying bosom, rears an arm To dash him from his throne! Those gilded flies That, basking in the sunshine of a court, Fatten on its corruption! what are they?-- The drones of the community; they feed On the mechanic's labor; the starved hind 110 For them compels the stubborn glebe to yield Its unshared harvests; and yon squalid form, Leaner than fleshless misery, that wastes A sunless life in the unwholesome mine, Drags out in labor a protracted death To glut their grandeur; many faint with toil That few may know the cares and woe of sloth. Whence, thinkest thou, kings and parasites arose? Whence that unnatural line of drones who heap Toil and unvanquishable penury 120 On those who build their palaces and bring Their daily bread?--From vice, black loathsome vice; From rapine, madness, treachery, and wrong; From all that genders misery, and makes Of earth this thorny wilderness; from lust, Revenge, and murder.--And when reason's voice, Loud as the voice of Nature, shall have waked The nations; and mankind perceive that vice Is discord, war and misery; that virtue Is peace and happiness and harmony; 130 When man's maturer nature shall disdain The playthings of its childhood;--kingly glare Will lose its power to dazzle, its authority Will silently pass by; the gorgeous throne Shall stand unnoticed in the regal hall, Fast falling to decay; whilst falsehood's trade Shall be as hateful and unprofitable As that of truth is now. Where is the fame Which the vain-glorious mighty of the earth Seek to eternize? Oh! the faintest sound 140 From time's light footfall, the minutest wave That swells the flood of ages, whelms in nothing The unsubstantial bubble. Ay! to-day Stern is the tyrant's mandate, red the gaze That flashes desolation, strong the arm That scatters multitudes. To-morrow comes! That mandate is a thunder-peal that died In ages past; that gaze, a transient flash On which the midnight closed; and on that arm The worm has made his meal. The virtuous man, 150 Who, great in his humility as kings Are little in their grandeur; he who leads Invincibly a life of resolute good And stands amid the silent dungeon-depths More free and fearless than the trembling judge Who, clothed in venal power, vainly strove To bind the impassive spirit;--when he falls, His mild eye beams benevolence no more; Withered the hand outstretched but to relieve; Sunk reason's simple eloquence that rolled 160 But to appall the guilty. Yes! the grave Hath quenched that eye and death's relentless frost Withered that arm; but the unfading fame Which virtue hangs upon its votary's tomb, The deathless memory of that man whom kings Call to their minds and tremble, the remembrance With which the happy spirit contemplates Its well-spent pilgrimage on earth, Shall never pass away. 'Nature rejects the monarch, not the man; 170 The subject, not the citizen; for kings And subjects, mutual foes, forever play A losing game into each other's hands, Whose stakes are vice and misery. The man Of virtuous soul commands not, nor obeys. Power, like a desolating pestilence, Pollutes whate'er it touches; and obedience, Bane of all genius, virtue, freedom, truth, Makes slaves of men, and of the human frame A mechanized automaton. When Nero 180 High over flaming Rome with savage joy Lowered like a fiend, drank with enraptured ear The shrieks of agonizing death, beheld The frightful desolation spread, and felt A new-created sense within his soul Thrill to the sight and vibrate to the sound,-- Thinkest thou his grandeur had not overcome The force of human kindness? And when Rome With one stern blow hurled not the tyrant down, Crushed not the arm red with her dearest blood, 190 Had not submissive abjectness destroyed Nature's suggestions? Look on yonder earth: The golden harvests spring; the unfailing sun Sheds light and life; the fruits, the flowers, the trees, Arise in due succession; all things speak Peace, harmony and love. The universe, In Nature's silent eloquence, declares That all fulfil the works of love and joy,-- All but the outcast, Man. He fabricates The sword which stabs his peace; he cherisheth 200 The snakes that gnaw his heart; he raiseth up The tyrant whose delight is in his woe, Whose sport is in his agony. Yon sun, Lights it the great alone? Yon silver beams, Sleep they less sweetly on the cottage thatch Than on the dome of kings? Is mother earth A step-dame to her numerous sons who earn Her unshared gifts with unremitting toil; A mother only to those puling babes Who, nursed in ease and luxury, make men 210 The playthings of their babyhood and mar In self-important childishness that peace Which men alone appreciate? 'Spirit of Nature, no! The pure diffusion of thy essence throbs Alike in every human heart. Thou aye erectest there Thy throne of power unappealable; Thou art the judge beneath whose nod Man's brief and frail authority 220 Is powerless as the wind That passeth idly by; Thine the tribunal which surpasseth The show of human justice As God surpasses man! 'Spirit of Nature! thou Life of interminable multitudes; Soul of those mighty spheres Whose changeless paths through Heaven's deep silence lie; Soul of that smallest being, 230 The dwelling of whose life Is one faint April sun-gleam;-- Man, like these passive things, Thy will unconsciously fulfilleth; Like theirs, his age of endless peace, Which time is fast maturing, Will swiftly, surely, come; And the unbounded frame which thou pervadest, Will be without a flaw Marring its perfect symmetry! 240 IV 'How beautiful this night! the balmiest sigh, Which vernal zephyrs breathe in evening's ear, Were discord to the speaking quietude That wraps this moveless scene. Heaven's ebon vault, Studded with stars unutterably bright, Through which the moon's unclouded grandeur rolls, Seems like a canopy which love had spread To curtain her sleeping world. Yon gentle hills. Robed in a garment of untrodden snow; Yon darksome rocks, whence icicles depend 10 So stainless that their white and glittering spires Tinge not the moon's pure beam; yon castled steep Whose banner hangeth o'er the time-worn tower So idly that rapt fancy deemeth it A metaphor of peace;--all form a scene Where musing solitude might love to lift Her soul above this sphere of earthliness; Where silence undisturbed might watch alone-- So cold, so bright, so still. The orb of day In southern climes o'er ocean's waveless field 20 Sinks sweetly smiling; not the faintest breath Steals o'er the unruffled deep; the clouds of eve Reflect unmoved the lingering beam of day; And Vesper's image on the western main Is beautifully still. To-morrow comes: Cloud upon cloud, in dark and deepening mass, Roll o'er the blackened waters; the deep roar Of distant thunder mutters awfully; Tempest unfolds its pinion o'er the gloom That shrouds the boiling surge; the pitiless fiend, 30 With all his winds and lightnings, tracks his prey; The torn deep yawns,--the vessel finds a grave Beneath its jagged gulf. Ah! whence yon glare That fires the arch of heaven? that dark red smoke Blotting the silver moon? The stars are quenched In darkness, and the pure and spangling snow Gleams faintly through the gloom that gathers round. Hark to that roar whose swift and deafening peals In countless echoes through the mountains ring, Startling pale Midnight on her starry throne! 40 Now swells the intermingling din; the jar Frequent and frightful of the bursting bomb; The falling beam, the shriek, the groan, the shout, The ceaseless clangor, and the rush of men Inebriate with rage:--loud and more loud The discord grows; till pale Death shuts the scene And o'er the conqueror and the conquered draws His cold and bloody shroud.--Of all the men Whom day's departing beam saw blooming there In proud and vigorous health; of all the hearts 50 That beat with anxious life at sunset there; How few survive, how few are beating now! All is deep silence, like the fearful calm That slumbers in the storm's portentous pause; Save when the frantic wail of widowed love Comes shuddering on the blast, or the faint moan With which some soul bursts from the frame of clay Wrapt round its struggling powers. The gray morn Dawns on the mournful scene; the sulphurous smoke Before the icy wind slow rolls away, 60 And the bright beams of frosty morning dance Along the spangling snow. There tracks of blood Even to the forest's depth, and scattered arms, And lifeless warriors, whose hard lineaments Death's self could change not, mark the dreadful path Of the outsallying victors; far behind Black ashes note where their proud city stood. Within yon forest is a gloomy glen-- Each tree which guards its darkness from the day, Waves o'er a warrior's tomb. I see thee shrink, 70 Surpassing Spirit!--wert thou human else? I see a shade of doubt and horror fleet Across thy stainless features; yet fear not; This is no unconnected misery, Nor stands uncaused and irretrievable. Man's evil nature, that apology Which kings who rule, and cowards who crouch, set up For their unnumbered crimes, sheds not the blood Which desolates the discord-wasted land. From kings and priests and statesmen war arose, 80 Whose safety is man's deep unbettered woe, Whose grandeur his debasement. Let the axe Strike at the root, the poison-tree will fall; And where its venomed exhalations spread Ruin, and death, and woe, where millions lay Quenching the serpent's famine, and their bones Bleaching unburied in the putrid blast, A garden shall arise, in loveliness Surpassing fabled Eden. Hath Nature's soul,-- That formed this world so beautiful, that spread 90 Earth's lap with plenty, and life's smallest chord Strung to unchanging unison, that gave The happy birds their dwelling in the grove, That yielded to the wanderers of the deep The lovely silence of the unfathomed main, And filled the meanest worm that crawls in dust With spirit, thought and love,--on Man alone, Partial in causeless malice, wantonly Heaped ruin, vice, and slavery; his soul Blasted with withering curses; placed afar 100 The meteor-happiness, that shuns his grasp, But serving on the frightful gulf to glare Rent wide beneath his footsteps? Nature!--no! Kings, priests and statesmen blast the human flower Even in its tender bud; their influence darts Like subtle poison through the bloodless veins Of desolate society. The child, Ere he can lisp his mother's sacred name, Swells with the unnatural pride of crime, and lifts His baby-sword even in a hero's mood. 110 This infant arm becomes the bloodiest scourge Of devastated earth; whilst specious names, Learnt in soft childhood's unsuspecting hour, Serve as the sophisms with which manhood dims Bright reason's ray and sanctifies the sword Upraised to shed a brother's innocent blood. Let priest-led slaves cease to proclaim that man Inherits vice and misery, when force And falsehood hang even o'er the cradled babe, Stifling with rudest grasp all natural good. 120 'Ah! to the stranger-soul, when first it peeps From its new tenement and looks abroad For happiness and sympathy, how stern And desolate a tract is this wide world! How withered all the buds of natural good! No shade, no shelter from the sweeping storms Of pitiless power! On its wretched frame Poisoned, perchance, by the disease and woe Heaped on the wretched parent whence it sprung By morals, law and custom, the pure winds 130 Of heaven, that renovate the insect tribes, May breathe not. The untainting light of day May visit not its longings. It is bound Ere it has life; yea, all the chains are forged Long ere its being; all liberty and love And peace is torn from its defencelessness; Cursed from its birth, even from its cradle doomed To abjectness and bondage! 'Throughout this varied and eternal world Soul is the only element, the block 140 That for uncounted ages has remained. The moveless pillar of a mountain's weight Is active living spirit. Every grain Is sentient both in unity and part, And the minutest atom comprehends A world of loves and hatreds; these beget Evil and good; hence truth and falsehood spring; Hence will and thought and action, all the germs Of pain or pleasure, sympathy or hate, That variegate the eternal universe. 150 Soul is not more polluted than the beams Of heaven's pure orb ere round their rapid lines The taint of earth-born atmospheres arise. 'Man is of soul and body, formed for deeds Of high resolve; on fancy's boldest wing To soar unwearied, fearlessly to turn The keenest pangs to peacefulness, and taste The joys which mingled sense and spirit yield; Or he is formed for abjectness and woe, To grovel on the dunghill of his fears, 160 To shrink at every sound, to quench the flame Of natural love in sensualism, to know That hour as blest when on his worthless days The frozen hand of death shall set its seal, Yet fear the cure, though hating the disease. The one is man that shall hereafter be; The other, man as vice has made him now. 'War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade, And to those royal murderers whose mean thrones 170 Are bought by crimes of treachery and gore, The bread they eat, the staff on which they lean. Guards, garbed in blood-red livery, surround Their palaces, participate the crimes That force defends and from a nation's rage Secures the crown, which all the curses reach That famine, frenzy, woe and penury breathe. These are the hired bravos who defend The tyrant's throne--the bullies of his fear; These are the sinks and channels of worst vice, 180 The refuse of society, the dregs Of all that is most vile; their cold hearts blend Deceit with sternness, ignorance with pride, All that is mean and villainous with rage Which hopelessness of good and self-contempt Alone might kindle; they are decked in wealth, Honor and power, then are sent abroad To do their work. The pestilence that stalks In gloomy triumph through some eastern land Is less destroying. They cajole with gold 190 And promises of fame the thoughtless youth Already crushed with servitude; he knows His wretchedness too late, and cherishes Repentance for his ruin, when his doom Is sealed in gold and blood! Those too the tyrant serve, who, skilled to snare The feet of justice in the toils of law, Stand ready to oppress the weaker still, And right or wrong will vindicate for gold, Sneering at public virtue, which beneath 200 Their pitiless tread lies torn and trampled where Honor sits smiling at the sale of truth. 'Then grave and hoary-headed hypocrites, Without a hope, a passion or a love, Who through a life of luxury and lies Have crept by flattery to the seats of power, Support the system whence their honors flow. They have three words--well tyrants know their use, Well pay them for the loan with usury Torn from a bleeding world!--God, Hell and Heaven: 210 A vengeful, pitiless, and almighty fiend, Whose mercy is a nickname for the rage Of tameless tigers hungering for blood; Hell, a red gulf of everlasting fire, Where poisonous and undying worms prolong Eternal misery to those hapless slaves Whose life has been a penance for its crimes; And Heaven, a meed for those who dare belie Their human nature, quake, believe and cringe Before the mockeries of earthly power. 220 'These tools the tyrant tempers to his work, Wields in his wrath, and as he wills destroys, Omnipotent in wickedness; the while Youth springs, age moulders, manhood tamely does His bidding, bribed by short-lived joys to lend Force to the weakness of his trembling arm. They rise, they fall; one generation comes Yielding its harvest to destruction's scythe. It fades, another blossoms; yet behold! Red glows the tyrant's stamp-mark on its bloom, 230 Withering and cankering deep its passive prime. He has invented lying words and modes, Empty and vain as his own coreless heart; Evasive meanings, nothings of much sound, To lure the heedless victim to the toils Spread round the valley of its paradise. 'Look to thyself, priest, conqueror or prince! Whether thy trade is falsehood, and thy lusts Deep wallow in the earnings of the poor, With whom thy master was; or thou delight'st 240 In numbering o'er the myriads of thy slain, All misery weighing nothing in the scale Against thy short-lived fame; or thou dost load With cowardice and crime the groaning land, A pomp-fed king. Look to thy wretched self! Ay, art thou not the veriest slave that e'er Crawled on the loathing earth? Are not thy days Days of unsatisfying listlessness? Dost thou not cry, ere night's long rack is o'er, "When will the morning come?" Is not thy youth 250 A vain and feverish dream of sensualism? Thy manhood blighted with unripe disease? Are not thy views of unregretted death Drear, comfortless and horrible? Thy mind, Is it not morbid as thy nerveless frame, Incapable of judgment, hope or love? And dost thou wish the errors to survive, That bar thee from all sympathies of good, After the miserable interest Thou hold'st in their protraction? When the grave 260 Has swallowed up thy memory and thyself, Dost thou desire the bane that poisons earth To twine its roots around thy coffined clay, Spring from thy bones, and blossom on thy tomb, That of its fruit thy babes may eat and die? V 'Thus do the generations of the earth Go to the grave and issue from the womb, Surviving still the imperishable change That renovates the world; even as the leaves Which the keen frost-wind of the waning year Has scattered on the forest-soil and heaped For many seasons there--though long they choke, Loading with loathsome rottenness the land, All germs of promise, yet when the tall trees From which they fell, shorn of their lovely shapes, 10 Lie level with the earth to moulder there, They fertilize the land they long deformed; Till from the breathing lawn a forest springs Of youth, integrity and loveliness, Like that which gave it life, to spring and die. Thus suicidal selfishness, that blights The fairest feelings of the opening heart, Is destined to decay, whilst from the soil Shall spring all virtue, all delight, all love, And judgment cease to wage unnatural war 20 With passion's unsubduable array. Twin-sister of Religion, Selfishness! Rival in crime and falsehood, aping all The wanton horrors of her bloody play; Yet frozen, unimpassioned, spiritless, Shunning the light, and owning not its name, Compelled by its deformity to screen With flimsy veil of justice and of right Its unattractive lineaments that scare All save the brood of ignorance; at once 30 The cause and the effect of tyranny; Unblushing, hardened, sensual and vile; Dead to all love but of its abjectness; With heart impassive by more noble powers Than unshared pleasure, sordid gain, or fame; Despising its own miserable being, Which still it longs, yet fears, to disenthrall. 'Hence commerce springs, the venal interchange Of all that human art or Nature yield; Which wealth should purchase not, but want demand, 40 And natural kindness hasten to supply From the full fountain of its boundless love, Forever stifled, drained and tainted now. Commerce! beneath whose poison-breathing shade No solitary virtue dares to spring, But poverty and wealth with equal hand Scatter their withering curses, and unfold The doors of premature and violent death To pining famine and full-fed disease, To all that shares the lot of human life, 50 Which, poisoned body and soul, scarce drags the chain That lengthens as it goes and clanks behind. 'Commerce has set the mark of selfishness, The signet of its all-enslaving power, Upon a shining ore, and called it gold; Before whose image bow the vulgar great, The vainly rich, the miserable proud, The mob of peasants, nobles, priests and kings, And with blind feelings reverence the power That grinds them to the dust of misery. 60 But in the temple of their hireling hearts Gold is a living god and rules in scorn All earthly things but virtue. 'Since tyrants by the sale of human life Heap luxuries to their sensualism, and fame To their wide-wasting and insatiate pride, Success has sanctioned to a credulous world The ruin, the disgrace, the woe of war. His hosts of blind and unresisting dupes The despot numbers; from his cabinet 70 These puppets of his schemes he moves at will, Even as the slaves by force or famine driven, Beneath a vulgar master, to perform A task of cold and brutal drudgery;-- Hardened to hope, insensible to fear, Scarce living pulleys of a dead machine, Mere wheels of work and articles of trade, That grace the proud and noisy pomp of wealth! 'The harmony and happiness of man Yields to the wealth of nations; that which lifts 80 His nature to the heaven of its pride, Is bartered for the poison of his soul; The weight that drags to earth his towering hopes, Blighting all prospect but of selfish gain, Withering all passion but of slavish fear, Extinguishing all free and generous love Of enterprise and daring, even the pulse That fancy kindles in the beating heart To mingle with sensation, it destroys,-- Leaves nothing but the sordid lust of self, 90 The grovelling hope of interest and gold, Unqualified, unmingled, unredeemed Even by hypocrisy. And statesmen boast Of wealth! The wordy eloquence that lives After the ruin of their hearts, can gild The bitter poison of a nation's woe; Can turn the worship of the servile mob To their corrupt and glaring idol, fame, From virtue, trampled by its iron tread,-- Although its dazzling pedestal be raised 100 Amid the horrors of a limb-strewn field, With desolated dwellings smoking round. The man of ease, who, by his warm fireside, To deeds of charitable intercourse And bare fulfilment of the common laws Of decency and prejudice confines The struggling nature of his human heart, Is duped by their cold sophistry; he sheds A passing tear perchance upon the wreck Of earthly peace, when near his dwelling's door 110 The frightful waves are driven,--when his son Is murdered by the tyrant, or religion Drives his wife raving mad. But the poor man Whose life is misery, and fear and care; Whom the morn wakens but to fruitless toil; Who ever hears his famished offspring's scream; Whom their pale mother's uncomplaining gaze Forever meets, and the proud rich man's eye Flashing command, and the heart-breaking scene Of thousands like himself;--he little heeds 120 The rhetoric of tyranny; his hate Is quenchless as his wrongs; he laughs to scorn The vain and bitter mockery of words, Feeling the horror of the tyrant's deeds, And unrestrained but by the arm of power, That knows and dreads his enmity. 'The iron rod of penury still compels Her wretched slave to bow the knee to wealth, And poison, with unprofitable toil, A life too void of solace to confirm 130 The very chains that bind him to his doom. Nature, impartial in munificence, Has gifted man with all-subduing will. Matter, with all its transitory shapes, Lies subjected and plastic at his feet, That, weak from bondage, tremble as they tread. How many a rustic Milton has passed by, Stifling the speechless longings of his heart, In unremitting drudgery and care! How many a vulgar Cato has compelled 140 His energies, no longer tameless then, To mould a pin or fabricate a nail! How many a Newton, to whose passive ken Those mighty spheres that gem infinity Were only specks of tinsel fixed in heaven To light the midnights of his native town! 'Yet every heart contains perfection's germ. The wisest of the sages of the earth, That ever from the stores of reason drew Science and truth, and virtue's dreadless tone, 150 Were but a weak and inexperienced boy, Proud, sensual, unimpassioned, unimbued With pure desire and universal love, Compared to that high being, of cloudless brain, Untainted passion, elevated will, Which death (who even would linger long in awe Within his noble presence and beneath His changeless eye-beam) might alone subdue. Him, every slave now dragging through the filth Of some corrupted city his sad life, 160 Pining with famine, swoln with luxury, Blunting the keenness of his spiritual sense With narrow schemings and unworthy cares, Or madly rushing through all violent crime To move the deep stagnation of his soul,-- Might imitate and equal. But mean lust Has bound its chains so tight about the earth That all within it but the virtuous man Is venal; gold or fame will surely reach The price prefixed by Selfishness to all 170 But him of resolute and unchanging will; Whom nor the plaudits of a servile crowd, Nor the vile joys of tainting luxury, Can bribe to yield his elevated soul To Tyranny or Falsehood, though they wield With blood-red hand the sceptre of the world. 'All things are sold: the very light of heaven Is venal; earth's unsparing gifts of love, The smallest and most despicable things That lurk in the abysses of the deep, 180 All objects of our life, even life itself, And the poor pittance which the laws allow Of liberty, the fellowship of man, Those duties which his heart of human love Should urge him to perform instinctively, Are bought and sold as in a public mart Of undisguising Selfishness, that sets On each its price, the stamp-mark of her reign. Even love is sold; the solace of all woe Is turned to deadliest agony, old age 190 Shivers in selfish beauty's loathing arms, And youth's corrupted impulses prepare A life of horror from the blighting bane Of commerce; whilst the pestilence that springs From unenjoying sensualism, has filled All human life with hydra-headed woes. 'Falsehood demands but gold to pay the pangs Of outraged conscience; for the slavish priest Sets no great value on his hireling faith; A little passing pomp, some servile souls, 200 Whom cowardice itself might safely chain Or the spare mite of avarice could bribe To deck the triumph of their languid zeal, Can make him minister to tyranny. More daring crime requires a loftier meed. Without a shudder the slave-soldier lends His arm to murderous deeds, and steels his heart, When the dread eloquence of dying men, Low mingling on the lonely field of fame, Assails that nature whose applause he sells 210 For the gross blessings of the patriot mob, For the vile gratitude of heartless kings, And for a cold world's good word,--viler still! 'There is a nobler glory which survives Until our being fades, and, solacing All human care, accompanies its change; Deserts not virtue in the dungeon's gloom, And in the precincts of the palace guides Its footsteps through that labyrinth of crime; Imbues his lineaments with dauntlessness, 220 Even when from power's avenging hand he takes Its sweetest, last and noblest title--death; --The consciousness of good, which neither gold, Nor sordid fame, nor hope of heavenly bliss, Can purchase; but a life of resolute good, Unalterable will, quenchless desire Of universal happiness, the heart That beats with it in unison, the brain Whose ever-wakeful wisdom toils to change Reason's rich stores for its eternal weal. 230 'This commerce of sincerest virtue needs No meditative signs of selfishness, No jealous intercourse of wretched gain, No balancings of prudence, cold and long; In just and equal measure all is weighed, One scale contains the sum of human weal, And one, the good man's heart. How vainly seek The selfish for that happiness denied To aught but virtue! Blind and hardened, they, Who hope for peace amid the storms of care, 240 Who covet power they know not how to use, And sigh for pleasure they refuse to give,-- Madly they frustrate still their own designs; And, where they hope that quiet to enjoy Which virtue pictures, bitterness of soul, Pining regrets, and vain repentances, Disease, disgust and lassitude pervade Their valueless and miserable lives. 'But hoary-headed selfishness has felt Its death-blow and is tottering to the grave; 250 A brighter morn awaits the human day, When every transfer of earth's natural gifts Shall be a commerce of good words and works; When poverty and wealth, the thirst of fame, The fear of infamy, disease and woe, War with its million horrors, and fierce hell, Shall live but in the memory of time, Who, like a penitent libertine, shall start, Look back, and shudder at his younger years.' VI All touch, all eye, all ear, The Spirit felt the Fairy's burning speech. O'er the thin texture of its frame The varying periods painted changing glows, As on a summer even, When soul-enfolding music floats around, The stainless mirror of the lake Re-images the eastern gloom, Mingling convulsively its purple hues With sunset's burnished gold. 10 Then thus the Spirit spoke: 'It is a wild and miserable world! Thorny, and full of care, Which every fiend can make his prey at will! O Fairy! in the lapse of years, Is there no hope in store? Will yon vast suns roll on Interminably, still illuming The night of so many wretched souls, And see no hope for them? 20 Will not the universal Spirit e'er Revivify this withered limb of Heaven?' The Fairy calmly smiled In comfort, and a kindling gleam of hope Suffused the Spirit's lineaments. 'Oh! rest thee tranquil; chase those fearful doubts Which ne'er could rack an everlasting soul That sees the chains which bind it to its doom. Yes! crime and misery are in yonder earth, Falsehood, mistake and lust; 30 But the eternal world Contains at once the evil and the cure. Some eminent in virtue shall start up, Even in perversest time; The truths of their pure lips, that never die, Shall bind the scorpion falsehood with a wreath Of ever-living flame, Until the monster sting itself to death. 'How sweet a scene will earth become! Of purest spirits a pure dwelling-place, 40 Symphonious with the planetary spheres; When man, with changeless Nature coalescing, Will undertake regeneration's work, When its ungenial poles no longer point To the red and baleful sun That faintly twinkles there! 'Spirit, on yonder earth, Falsehood now triumphs; deadly power Has fixed its seal upon the lip of truth! Madness and misery are there! 50 The happiest is most wretched! Yet confide Until pure health-drops from the cup of joy Fall like a dew of balm upon the world. Now, to the scene I show, in silence turn, And read the blood-stained charter of all woe, Which Nature soon with recreating hand Will blot in mercy from the book of earth. How bold the flight of passion's wandering wing, How swift the step of reason's firmer tread, How calm and sweet the victories of life, 60 How terrorless the triumph of the grave! How powerless were the mightiest monarch's arm, Vain his loud threat, and impotent his frown! How ludicrous the priest's dogmatic roar! The weight of his exterminating curse How light! and his affected charity, To suit the pressure of the changing times, What palpable deceit!--but for thy aid, Religion! but for thee, prolific fiend, Who peoplest earth with demons, hell with men, 70 And heaven with slaves! 'Thou taintest all thou lookest upon!--the stars, Which on thy cradle beamed so brightly sweet, Were gods to the distempered playfulness Of thy untutored infancy; the trees, The grass, the clouds, the mountains and the sea, All living things that walk, swim, creep or fly, Were gods; the sun had homage, and the moon Her worshipper. Then thou becamest, a boy, More daring in thy frenzies; every shape, 80 Monstrous or vast, or beautifully wild, Which from sensation's relics fancy culls; The spirits of the air, the shuddering ghost, The genii of the elements, the powers That give a shape to Nature's varied works, Had life and place in the corrupt belief Of thy blind heart; yet still thy youthful hands Were pure of human blood. Then manhood gave Its strength and ardor to thy frenzied brain; Thine eager gaze scanned the stupendous scene, 90 Whose wonders mocked the knowledge of thy pride; Their everlasting and unchanging laws Reproached thine ignorance. Awhile thou stood'st Baffled and gloomy; then thou didst sum up The elements of all that thou didst know; The changing seasons, winter's leafless reign, The budding of the heaven-breathing trees, The eternal orbs that beautify the night, The sunrise, and the setting of the moon, Earthquakes and wars, and poisons and disease, 100 And all their causes, to an abstract point Converging thou didst bend, and called it God! The self-sufficing, the omnipotent, The merciful, and the avenging God! Who, prototype of human misrule, sits High in heaven's realm, upon a golden throne, Even like an earthly king; and whose dread work, Hell, gapes forever for the unhappy slaves Of fate, whom he created in his sport To triumph in their torments when they fell! 110 Earth heard the name; earth trembled as the smoke Of his revenge ascended up to heaven, Blotting the constellations; and the cries Of millions butchered in sweet confidence And unsuspecting peace, even when the bonds Of safety were confirmed by wordy oaths Sworn in his dreadful name, rung through the land; Whilst innocent babes writhed on thy stubborn spear, And thou didst laugh to hear the mother's shriek Of maniac gladness, as the sacred steel 120 Felt cold in her torn entrails! 'Religion! thou wert then in manhood's prime; But age crept on; one God would not suffice For senile puerility; thou framedst A tale to suit thy dotage and to glut Thy misery-thirsting soul, that the mad fiend Thy wickedness had pictured might afford A plea for sating the unnatural thirst For murder, rapine, violence and crime, That still consumed thy being, even when 130 Thou heard'st the step of fate; that flames might light Thy funeral scene; and the shrill horrent shrieks Of parents dying on the pile that burned To light their children to thy paths, the roar Of the encircling flames, the exulting cries Of thine apostles loud commingling there, Might sate thine hungry ear Even on the bed of death! 'But now contempt is mocking thy gray hairs; Thou art descending to the darksome grave, 140 Unhonored and unpitied but by those Whose pride is passing by like thine, and sheds, Like thine, a glare that fades before the sun Of truth, and shines but in the dreadful night That long has lowered above the ruined world. 'Throughout these infinite orbs of mingling light Of which yon earth is one, is wide diffused A Spirit of activity and life, That knows no term, cessation or decay; That fades not when the lamp of earthly life, 150 Extinguished in the dampness of the grave, Awhile there slumbers, more than when the babe In the dim newness of its being feels The impulses of sublunary things, And all is wonder to unpractised sense; But, active, steadfast and eternal, still Guides the fierce whirlwind, in the tempest roars, Cheers in the day, breathes in the balmy groves, Strengthens in health, and poisons in disease; And in the storm of change, that ceaselessly 160 Rolls round the eternal universe and shakes Its undecaying battlement, presides, Apportioning with irresistible law The place each spring of its machine shall fill; So that, when waves on waves tumultuous heap Confusion to the clouds, and fiercely driven Heaven's lightnings scorch the uprooted ocean-fords-- Whilst, to the eye of shipwrecked mariner, Lone sitting on the bare and shuddering rock, All seems unlinked contingency and chance-- 170 No atom of this turbulence fulfils A vague and unnecessitated task Or acts but as it must and ought to act. Even the minutest molecule of light, That in an April sunbeam's fleeting glow Fulfils its destined though invisible work, The universal Spirit guides; nor less When merciless ambition, or mad zeal, Has led two hosts of dupes to battle-field, That, blind, they there may dig each other's graves 180 And call the sad work glory, does it rule All passions; not a thought, a will, an act, No working of the tyrant's moody mind, Nor one misgiving of the slaves who boast Their servitude to hide the shame they feel, Nor the events enchaining every will, That from the depths of unrecorded time Have drawn all-influencing virtue, pass Unrecognized or unforeseen by thee, Soul of the Universe! eternal spring 190 Of life and death, of happiness and woe, Of all that chequers the phantasmal scene That floats before our eyes in wavering light, Which gleams but on the darkness of our prison Whose chains and massy walls We feel but cannot see. 'Spirit of Nature! all-sufficing Power, Necessity! thou mother of the world! Unlike the God of human error, thou Requirest no prayers or praises; the caprice 200 Of man's weak will belongs no more to thee Than do the changeful passions of his breast To thy unvarying harmony; the slave, Whose horrible lusts spread misery o'er the world, And the good man, who lifts with virtuous pride His being in the sight of happiness That springs from his own works; the poison-tree, Beneath whose shade all life is withered up, And the fair oak, whose leafy dome affords A temple where the vows of happy love 210 Are registered, are equal in thy sight; No love, no hate thou cherishest; revenge And favoritism, and worst desire of fame Thou knowest not; all that the wide world contains Are but thy passive instruments, and thou Regard'st them all with an impartial eye, Whose joy or pain thy nature cannot feel, Because thou hast not human sense, Because thou art not human mind. 'Yes! when the sweeping storm of time 220 Has sung its death-dirge o'er the ruined fanes And broken altars of the almighty fiend, Whose name usurps thy honors, and the blood Through centuries clotted there has floated down The tainted flood of ages, shalt thou live Unchangeable! A shrine is raised to thee, Which nor the tempest breath of time, Nor the interminable flood Over earth's slight pageant rolling, Availeth to destroy,-- 230 The sensitive extension of the world; That wondrous and eternal fane, Where pain and pleasure, good and evil join, To do the will of strong necessity, And life, in multitudinous shapes, Still pressing forward where no term can be, Like hungry and unresting flame Curls round the eternal columns of its strength.' VII SPIRIT 'I was an infant when my mother went To see an atheist burned. She took me there. The dark-robed priests were met around the pile; The multitude was gazing silently; And as the culprit passed with dauntless mien, Tempered disdain in his unaltering eye, Mixed with a quiet smile, shone calmly forth; The thirsty fire crept round his manly limbs; His resolute eyes were scorched to blindness soon; His death-pang rent my heart! the insensate mob 10 Uttered a cry of triumph, and I wept. "Weep not, child!" cried my mother, "for that man Has said, There is no God."' FAIRY 'There is no God! Nature confirms the faith his death-groan sealed. Let heaven and earth, let man's revolving race, His ceaseless generations, tell their tale; Let every part depending on the chain That links it to the whole, point to the hand That grasps its term! Let every seed that falls In silent eloquence unfold its store 20 Of argument; infinity within, Infinity without, belie creation; The exterminable spirit it contains Is Nature's only God; but human pride Is skilful to invent most serious names To hide its ignorance. 'The name of God Has fenced about all crime with holiness, Himself the creature of his worshippers, Whose names and attributes and passions change, Seeva, Buddh, Foh, Jehovah, God, or Lord, 30 Even with the human dupes who build his shrines, Still serving o'er the war-polluted world For desolation's watchword; whether hosts Stain his death-blushing chariot-wheels, as on Triumphantly they roll, whilst Brahmins raise A sacred hymn to mingle with the groans; Or countless partners of his power divide His tyranny to weakness; or the smoke Of burning towns, the cries of female helplessness, Unarmed old age, and youth, and infancy, 40 Horribly massacred, ascend to heaven In honor of his name; or, last and worst, Earth groans beneath religion's iron age, And priests dare babble of a God of peace, Even whilst their hands are red with guiltless blood, Murdering the while, uprooting every germ Of truth, exterminating, spoiling all, Making the earth a slaughter-house! 'O Spirit! through the sense By which thy inner nature was apprised 50 Of outward shows, vague dreams have rolled, And varied reminiscences have waked Tablets that never fade; All things have been imprinted there, The stars, the sea, the earth, the sky, Even the unshapeliest lineaments Of wild and fleeting visions Have left a record there To testify of earth. 'These are my empire, for to me is given 60 The wonders of the human world to keep, And fancy's thin creations to endow With manner, being and reality; Therefore a wondrous phantom from the dreams Of human error's dense and purblind faith I will evoke, to meet thy questioning. Ahasuerus, rise!' A strange and woe-worn wight Arose beside the battlement, And stood unmoving there. 70 His inessential figure cast no shade Upon the golden floor; His port and mien bore mark of many years, And chronicles of untold ancientness Were legible within his beamless eye; Yet his cheek bore the mark of youth; Freshness and vigor knit his manly frame; The wisdom of old age was mingled there With youth's primeval dauntlessness; And inexpressible woe, 80 Chastened by fearless resignation, gave An awful grace to his all-speaking brow. SPIRIT 'Is there a God?' AHASUERUS 'Is there a God!--ay, an almighty God, And vengeful as almighty! Once his voice Was heard on earth; earth shuddered at the sound; The fiery-visaged firmament expressed Abhorrence, and the grave of Nature yawned To swallow all the dauntless and the good That dared to hurl defiance at his throne, 90 Girt as it was with power. None but slaves Survived,--cold-blooded slaves, who did the work Of tyrannous omnipotence; whose souls No honest indignation ever urged To elevated daring, to one deed Which gross and sensual self did not pollute. These slaves built temples for the omnipotent fiend, Gorgeous and vast; the costly altars smoked With human blood, and hideous pæans rung Through all the long-drawn aisles. A murderer heard 100 His voice in Egypt, one whose gifts and arts Had raised him to his eminence in power, Accomplice of omnipotence in crime And confidant of the all-knowing one. These were Jehovah's words. '"From an eternity of idleness I, God, awoke; in seven days' toil made earth From nothing; rested, and created man; I placed him in a paradise, and there Planted the tree of evil, so that he 110 Might eat and perish, and my soul procure Wherewith to sate its malice and to turn, Even like a heartless conqueror of the earth, All misery to my fame. The race of men, Chosen to my honor, with impunity May sate the lusts I planted in their heart. Here I command thee hence to lead them on, Until with hardened feet their conquering troops Wade on the promised soil through woman's blood, And make my name be dreaded through the land. 120 Yet ever-burning flame and ceaseless woe Shall be the doom of their eternal souls, With every soul on this ungrateful earth, Virtuous or vicious, weak or strong,--even all Shall perish, to fulfil the blind revenge (Which you, to men, call justice) of their God." 'The murderer's brow Quivered with horror. '"God omnipotent, Is there no mercy? must our punishment Be endless? will long ages roll away, 130 And see no term? Oh! wherefore hast thou made In mockery and wrath this evil earth? Mercy becomes the powerful--be but just! O God! repent and save!" '"One way remains: I will beget a son and he shall bear The sins of all the world; he shall arise In an unnoticed corner of the earth, And there shall die upon a cross, and purge The universal crime; so that the few On whom my grace descends, those who are marked 140 As vessels to the honor of their God, May credit this strange sacrifice and save Their souls alive. Millions shall live and die, Who ne'er shall call upon their Saviour's name, But, unredeemed, go to the gaping grave, Thousands shall deem it an old woman's tale, Such as the nurses frighten babes withal; These in a gulf of anguish and of flame Shall curse their reprobation endlessly, Yet tenfold pangs shall force them to avow, 150 Even on their beds of torment where they howl, My honor and the justice of their doom. What then avail their virtuous deeds, their thoughts Of purity, with radiant genius bright Or lit with human reason's earthly ray? Many are called, but few will I elect. Do thou my bidding, Moses!" 'Even the murderer's cheek Was blanched with horror, and his quivering lips Scarce faintly uttered--"O almighty one, I tremble and obey!" 160 'O Spirit! centuries have set their seal On this heart of many wounds, and loaded brain, Since the Incarnate came; humbly he came, Veiling his horrible Godhead in the shape Of man, scorned by the world, his name unheard Save by the rabble of his native town, Even as a parish demagogue. He led The crowd; he taught them justice, truth and peace, In semblance; but he lit within their souls The quenchless flames of zeal, and blessed the sword 170 He brought on earth to satiate with the blood Of truth and freedom his malignant soul At length his mortal frame was led to death. I stood beside him; on the torturing cross No pain assailed his unterrestrial sense; And yet he groaned. Indignantly I summed The massacres and miseries which his name Had sanctioned in my country, and I cried, "Go! go!" in mockery. A smile of godlike malice reillumined 180 His fading lineaments. "I go," he cried, "But thou shalt wander o'er the unquiet earth Eternally." The dampness of the grave Bathed my imperishable front. I fell, And long lay tranced upon the charmèd soil. When I awoke hell burned within my brain Which staggered on its seat; for all around The mouldering relics of my kindred lay, Even as the Almighty's ire arrested them, And in their various attitudes of death 190 My murdered children's mute and eyeless skulls Glared ghastily upon me. But my soul, From sight and sense of the polluting woe Of tyranny, had long learned to prefer Hell's freedom to the servitude of heaven. Therefore I rose, and dauntlessly began My lonely and unending pilgrimage, Resolved to wage unweariable war With my almighty tyrant and to hurl Defiance at his impotence to harm 200 Beyond the curse I bore. The very hand, That barred my passage to the peaceful grave, Has crushed the earth to misery, and given Its empire to the chosen of his slaves. These I have seen, even from the earliest dawn Of weak, unstable and precarious power, Then preaching peace, as now they practise war; So, when they turned but from the massacre Of unoffending infidels to quench Their thirst for ruin in the very blood 210 That flowed in their own veins, and pitiless zeal Froze every human feeling as the wife Sheathed in her husband's heart the sacred steel, Even whilst its hopes were dreaming of her love; And friends to friends, brothers to brothers stood Opposed in bloodiest battle-field, and war, Scarce satiable by fate's last death-draught, waged, Drunk from the wine-press of the Almighty's wrath; Whilst the red cross, in mockery of peace, Pointed to victory! When the fray was done, 220 No remnant of the exterminated faith Survived to tell its ruin, but the flesh, With putrid smoke poisoning the atmosphere, That rotted on the half-extinguished pile. 'Yes! I have seen God's worshippers unsheathe The sword of his revenge, when grace descended, Confirming all unnatural impulses, To sanctify their desolating deeds; And frantic priests waved the ill-omened cross O'er the unhappy earth; then shone the sun 230 On showers of gore from the upflashing steel Of safe assassination, and all crime Made stingless by the spirits of the Lord, And blood-red rainbows canopied the land. 'Spirit! no year of my eventful being Has passed unstained by crime and misery, Which flows from God's own faith. I 've marked his slaves With tongues, whose lies are venomous, beguile The insensate mob, and, whilst one hand was red With murder, feign to stretch the other out 240 For brotherhood and peace; and that they now Babble of love and mercy, whilst their deeds Are marked with all the narrowness and crime That freedom's young arm dare not yet chastise, Reason may claim our gratitude, who now, Establishing the imperishable throne Of truth and stubborn virtue, maketh vain The unprevailing malice of my foe, Whose bootless rage heaps torments for the brave, Adds impotent eternities to pain, 250 Whilst keenest disappointment racks his breast To see the smiles of peace around them play, To frustrate or to sanctify their doom. 'Thus have I stood,--through a wild waste of years Struggling with whirlwinds of mad agony, Yet peaceful, and serene, and self-enshrined, Mocking my powerless tyrant's horrible curse With stubborn and unalterable will, Even as a giant oak, which heaven's fierce flame Had scathèd in the wilderness, to stand 260 A monument of fadeless ruin there; Yet peacefully and movelessly it braves The midnight conflict of the wintry storm, As in the sunlight's calm it spreads Its worn and withered arms on high To meet the quiet of a summer's noon.' The Fairy waved her wand; Ahasuerus fled Fast as the shapes of mingled shade and mist, That lurk in the glens of a twilight grove, 270 Flee from the morning beam;-- The matter of which dreams are made Not more endowed with actual life Than this phantasmal portraiture Of wandering human thought. VIII THE FAIRY 'The present and the past thou hast beheld. It was a desolate sight. Now, Spirit, learn, The secrets of the future.--Time! Unfold the brooding pinion of thy gloom, Render thou up thy half-devoured babes, And from the cradles of eternity, Where millions lie lulled to their portioned sleep By the deep murmuring stream of passing things, Tear thou that gloomy shroud.--Spirit, behold Thy glorious destiny!' 10 Joy to the Spirit came. Through the wide rent in Time's eternal veil, Hope was seen beaming through the mists of fear; Earth was no longer hell; Love, freedom, health had given Their ripeness to the manhood of its prime, And all its pulses beat Symphonious to the planetary spheres; Then dulcet music swelled Concordant with the life-strings of the soul; 20 It throbbed in sweet and languid beatings there, Catching new life from transitory death; Like the vague sighings of a wind at even That wakes the wavelets of the slumbering sea And dies on the creation of its breath, And sinks and rises, falls and swells by fits, Was the pure stream of feeling That sprung from these sweet notes, And o'er the Spirit's human sympathies With mild and gentle motion calmly flowed. 30 Joy to the Spirit came,-- Such joy as when a lover sees The chosen of his soul in happiness And witnesses her peace Whose woe to him were bitterer than death; Sees her unfaded cheek Glow mantling in first luxury of health, Thrills with her lovely eyes, Which like two stars amid the heaving main Sparkle through liquid bliss. 40 Then in her triumph spoke the Fairy Queen: 'I will not call the ghost of ages gone To unfold the frightful secrets of its lore; The present now is past, And those events that desolate the earth Have faded from the memory of Time, Who dares not give reality to that Whose being I annul. To me is given The wonders of the human world to keep, Space, matter, time and mind. Futurity 50 Exposes now its treasure; let the sight Renew and strengthen all thy failing hope. O human Spirit! spur thee to the goal Where virtue fixes universal peace, And, 'midst the ebb and flow of human things, Show somewhat stable, somewhat certain still, A light-house o'er the wild of dreary waves. 'The habitable earth is full of bliss; Those wastes of frozen billows that were hurled By everlasting snow-storms round the poles, 60 Where matter dared not vegetate or live, But ceaseless frost round the vast solitude Bound its broad zone of stillness, are unloosed; And fragrant zephyrs there from spicy isles Ruffle the placid ocean-deep, that rolls Its broad, bright surges to the sloping sand, Whose roar is wakened into echoings sweet To murmur through the heaven-breathing groves And melodize with man's blest nature there. 'Those deserts of immeasurable sand, 70 Whose age-collected fervors scarce allowed A bird to live, a blade of grass to spring, Where the shrill chirp of the green lizard's love Broke on the sultry silentness alone, Now teem with countless rills and shady woods, Cornfields and pastures and white cottages; And where the startled wilderness beheld A savage conqueror stained in kindred blood, A tigress sating with the flesh of lambs The unnatural famine of her toothless cubs, 80 Whilst shouts and howlings through the desert rang,-- Sloping and smooth the daisy-spangled lawn, Offering sweet incense to the sunrise, smiles To see a babe before his mother's door, Sharing his morning's meal With the green and golden basilisk That comes to lick his feet. 'Those trackless deeps, where many a weary sail Has seen above the illimitable plain Morning on night and night on morning rise, 90 Whilst still no land to greet the wanderer spread Its shadowy mountains on the sun-bright sea, Where the loud roarings of the tempest-waves So long have mingled with the gusty wind In melancholy loneliness, and swept The desert of those ocean solitudes But vocal to the sea-bird's harrowing shriek, The bellowing monster, and the rushing storm; Now to the sweet and many-mingling sounds Of kindliest human impulses respond. 100 Those lonely realms bright garden-isles begem, With lightsome clouds and shining seas between, And fertile valleys, resonant with bliss, Whilst green woods overcanopy the wave, Which like a toil-worn laborer leaps to shore To meet the kisses of the flowrets there. 'All things are recreated, and the flame Of consentaneous love inspires all life. The fertile bosom of the earth gives suck To myriads, who still grow beneath her care, 110 Rewarding her with their pure perfectness; The balmy breathings of the wind inhale Her virtues and diffuse them all abroad; Health floats amid the gentle atmosphere, Glows in the fruits and mantles on the stream; No storms deform the beaming brow of heaven, Nor scatter in the freshness of its pride The foliage of the ever-verdant trees; But fruits are ever ripe, flowers ever fair, And autumn proudly bears her matron grace, 120 Kindling a flush on the fair cheek of spring, Whose virgin bloom beneath the ruddy fruit Reflects its tint and blushes into love. 'The lion now forgets to thirst for blood; There might you see him sporting in the sun Beside the dreadless kid; his claws are sheathed, His teeth are harmless, custom's force has made His nature as the nature of a lamb. Like passion's fruit, the nightshade's tempting bane Poisons no more the pleasure it bestows; 130 All bitterness is past; the cup of joy Unmingled mantles to the goblet's brim And courts the thirsty lips it fled before. But chief, ambiguous man, he that can know More misery, and dream more joy than all; Whose keen sensations thrill within his breast To mingle with a loftier instinct there, Lending their power to pleasure and to pain, Yet raising, sharpening, and refining each; Who stands amid the ever-varying world, 140 The burden or the glory of the earth; He chief perceives the change; his being notes The gradual renovation and defines Each movement of its progress on his mind. 'Man, where the gloom of the long polar night Lowers o'er the snow-clad rocks and frozen soil, Where scarce the hardiest herb that braves the frost Basks in the moonlight's ineffectual glow, Shrank with the plants, and darkened with the night; His chilled and narrow energies, his heart 150 Insensible to courage, truth or love, His stunted stature and imbecile frame, Marked him for some abortion of the earth, Fit compeer of the bears that roamed around, Whose habits and enjoyments were his own; His life a feverish dream of stagnant woe, Whose meagre wants, but scantily fulfilled, Apprised him ever of the joyless length Which his short being's wretchedness had reached; His death a pang which famine, cold and toil 160 Long on the mind, whilst yet the vital spark Clung to the body stubbornly, had brought: All was inflicted here that earth's revenge Could wreak on the infringers of her law; One curse alone was spared--the name of God. 'Nor, where the tropics bound the realms of day With a broad belt of mingling cloud and flame, Where blue mists through the unmoving atmosphere Scattered the seeds of pestilence and fed Unnatural vegetation, where the land 170 Teemed with all earthquake, tempest and disease, Was man a nobler being; slavery Had crushed him to his country's blood-stained dust; Or he was bartered for the fame of power, Which, all internal impulses destroying, Makes human will an article of trade; Or he was changed with Christians for their gold And dragged to distant isles, where to the sound Of the flesh-mangling scourge he does the work Of all-polluting luxury and wealth, 180 Which doubly visits on the tyrants' heads The long-protracted fulness of their woe; Or he was led to legal butchery, To turn to worms beneath that burning sun Where kings first leagued against the rights of men And priests first traded with the name of God. 'Even where the milder zone afforded man A seeming shelter, yet contagion there, Blighting his being with unnumbered ills, Spread like a quenchless fire; nor truth till late 190 Availed to arrest its progress or create That peace which first in bloodless victory waved Her snowy standard o'er this favored clime; There man was long the train-bearer of slaves, The mimic of surrounding misery, The jackal of ambition's lion-rage, The bloodhound of religion's hungry zeal. 'Here now the human being stands adorning This loveliest earth with taintless body and mind; Blest from his birth with all bland impulses, 200 Which gently in his noble bosom wake All kindly passions and all pure desires. Him, still from hope to hope the bliss pursuing Which from the exhaustless store of human weal Draws on the virtuous mind, the thoughts that rise In time-destroying infiniteness gift With self-enshrined eternity, that mocks The unprevailing hoariness of age; And man, once fleeting o'er the transient scene Swift as an unremembered vision, stands 210 Immortal upon earth; no longer now He slays the lamb that looks him in the face, And horribly devours his mangled flesh, Which, still avenging Nature's broken law, Kindled all putrid humors in his frame, All evil passions and all vain belief, Hatred, despair and loathing in his mind, The germs of misery, death, disease and crime. No longer now the wingèd habitants, That in the woods their sweet lives sing away, 220 Flee from the form of man; but gather round, And prune their sunny feathers on the hands Which little children stretch in friendly sport Towards these dreadless partners of their play. All things are void of terror; man has lost His terrible prerogative, and stands An equal amidst equals; happiness And science dawn, though late, upon the earth; Peace cheers the mind, health renovates the frame; Disease and pleasure cease to mingle here, 230 Reason and passion cease to combat there; Whilst each unfettered o'er the earth extend Their all-subduing energies, and wield The sceptre of a vast dominion there; Whilst every shape and mode of matter lends Its force to the omnipotence of mind, Which from its dark mine drags the gem of truth To decorate its paradise of peace.' IX 'O happy Earth, reality of Heaven! To which those restless souls that ceaselessly Throng through the human universe, aspire! Thou consummation of all mortal hope! Thou glorious prize of blindly working will, Whose rays, diffused throughout all space and time, Verge to one point and blend forever there! Of purest spirits thou pure dwelling-place Where care and sorrow, impotence and crime, Languor, disease and ignorance dare not come! 10 O happy Earth, reality of Heaven! 'Genius has seen thee in her passionate dreams; And dim forebodings of thy loveliness, Haunting the human heart, have there entwined Those rooted hopes of some sweet place of bliss, Where friends and lovers meet to part no more. Thou art the end of all desire and will, The product of all action; and the souls, That by the paths of an aspiring change Have reached thy haven of perpetual peace, 20 There rest from the eternity of toil That framed the fabric of thy perfectness. 'Even Time, the conqueror, fled thee in his fear; That hoary giant, who in lonely pride So long had ruled the world that nations fell Beneath his silent footstep. Pyramids, That for millenniums had withstood the tide Of human things, his storm-breath drove in sand Across that desert where their stones survived The name of him whose pride had heaped them there. 30 Yon monarch, in his solitary pomp, Was but the mushroom of a summer day, That his light-wingèd footstep pressed to dust; Time was the king of earth; all things gave way Before him but the fixed and virtuous will, The sacred sympathies of soul and sense, That mocked his fury and prepared his fall. 'Yet slow and gradual dawned the morn of love; Long lay the clouds of darkness o'er the scene, Till from its native heaven they rolled away: 40 First, crime triumphant o'er all hope careered Unblushing, undisguising, bold and strong, Whilst falsehood, tricked in virtue's attributes, Long sanctified all deeds of vice and woe, Till, done by her own venomous sting to death, She left the moral world without a law, No longer fettering passion's fearless wing, Nor searing reason with the brand of God. Then steadily the happy ferment worked; Reason was free; and wild though passion went 50 Through tangled glens and wood-embosomed meads, Gathering a garland of the strangest flowers, Yet, like the bee returning to her queen, She bound the sweetest on her sister's brow, Who meek and sober kissed the sportive child, No longer trembling at the broken rod. 'Mild was the slow necessity of death. The tranquil spirit failed beneath its grasp, Without a groan, almost without a fear, Calm as a voyager to some distant land, 60 And full of wonder, full of hope as he. The deadly germs of languor and disease Died in the human frame, and purity Blessed with all gifts her earthly worshippers. How vigorous then the athletic form of age! How clear its open and unwrinkled brow! Where neither avarice, cunning, pride or care Had stamped the seal of gray deformity On all the mingling lineaments of time. How lovely the intrepid front of youth, 70 Which meek-eyed courage decked with freshest grace; Courage of soul, that dreaded not a name, And elevated will, that journeyed on Through life's phantasmal scene in fearlessness, With virtue, love and pleasure, hand in hand! 'Then, that sweet bondage which is freedom's self, And rivets with sensation's softest tie The kindred sympathies of human souls, Needed no fetters of tyrannic law. Those delicate and timid impulses 80 In Nature's primal modesty arose, And with undoubting confidence disclosed The growing longings of its dawning love, Unchecked by dull and selfish chastity, That virtue of the cheaply virtuous, Who pride themselves in senselessness and frost. No longer prostitution's venomed bane Poisoned the springs of happiness and life; Woman and man, in confidence and love, Equal and free and pure together trod 90 The mountain-paths of virtue, which no more Were stained with blood from many a pilgrim's feet. 'Then, where, through distant ages, long in pride The palace of the monarch-slave had mocked Famine's faint groan and penury's silent tear, A heap of crumbling ruins stood, and threw Year after year their stones upon the field, Wakening a lonely echo; and the leaves Of the old thorn, that on the topmost tower Usurped the royal ensign's grandeur, shook 100 In the stern storm that swayed the topmost tower, And whispered strange tales in the whirlwind's ear. 'Low through the lone cathedral's roofless aisles The melancholy winds a death-dirge sung. It were a sight of awfulness to see The works of faith and slavery, so vast, So sumptuous, yet so perishing withal, Even as the corpse that rests beneath its wall! A thousand mourners deck the pomp of death To-day, the breathing marble glows above 110 To decorate its memory, and tongues Are busy of its life; to-morrow, worms In silence and in darkness seize their prey. 'Within the massy prison's mouldering courts, Fearless and free the ruddy children played, Weaving gay chaplets for their innocent brows With the green ivy and the red wall-flower That mock the dungeon's unavailing gloom; The ponderous chains and gratings of strong iron There rusted amid heaps of broken stone 120 That mingled slowly with their native earth; There the broad beam of day, which feebly once Lighted the cheek of lean captivity With a pale and sickly glare, then freely shone On the pure smiles of infant playfulness; No more the shuddering voice of hoarse despair Pealed through the echoing vaults, but soothing notes Of ivy-fingered winds and gladsome birds And merriment were resonant around. 'These ruins soon left not a wreck behind; 130 Their elements, wide-scattered o'er the globe, To happier shapes were moulded, and became Ministrant to all blissful impulses; Thus human things were perfected, and earth, Even as a child beneath its mother's love, Was strengthened in all excellence, and grew Fairer and nobler with each passing year. 'Now Time his dusky pennons o'er the scene Closes in steadfast darkness, and the past Fades from our charmèd sight. My task is done; 140 Thy lore is learned. Earth's wonders are thine own With all the fear and all the hope they bring. My spells are passed; the present now recurs. Ah me! a pathless wilderness remains Yet unsubdued by man's reclaiming hand. 'Yet, human Spirit! bravely hold thy course; Let virtue teach thee firmly to pursue The gradual paths of an aspiring change; For birth and life and death, and that strange state Before the naked soul has found its home, 150 All tend to perfect happiness, and urge The restless wheels of being on their way, Whose flashing spokes, instinct with infinite life, Bicker and burn to gain their destined goal; For birth but wakes the spirit to the sense Of outward shows, whose unexperienced shape New modes of passion to its frame may lend; Life is its state of action, and the store Of all events is aggregated there That variegate the eternal universe; 160 Death is a gate of dreariness and gloom, That leads to azure isles and beaming skies And happy regions of eternal hope. Therefore, O Spirit! fearlessly bear on. Though storms may break the primrose on its stalk, Though frosts may blight the freshness of its bloom, Yet spring's awakening breath will woo the earth To feed with kindliest dews its favorite flower, That blooms in mossy bank and darksome glens, Lighting the greenwood with its sunny smile. 170 'Fear not then, Spirit, death's disrobing hand, So welcome when the tyrant is awake, So welcome when the bigot's hell-torch burns; 'T is but the voyage of a darksome hour, The transient gulf-dream of a startling sleep. Death is no foe to virtue; earth has seen Love's brightest roses on the scaffold bloom, Mingling with freedom's fadeless laurels there, And presaging the truth of visioned bliss. Are there not hopes within thee, which this scene 180 Of linked and gradual being has confirmed? Whose stingings bade thy heart look further still, When, to the moonlight walk by Henry led, Sweetly and sadly thou didst talk of death? And wilt thou rudely tear them from thy breast, Listening supinely to a bigot's creed, Or tamely crouching to the tyrant's rod, Whose iron thongs are red with human gore? Never: but bravely bearing on, thy will Is destined an eternal war to wage 190 With tyranny and falsehood, and uproot The germs of misery from the human heart. Thine is the hand whose piety would soothe The thorny pillow of unhappy crime, Whose impotence an easy pardon gains, Watching its wanderings as a friend's disease; Thine is the brow whose mildness would defy Its fiercest rage, and brave its sternest will, When fenced by power and master of the world. Thou art sincere and good; of resolute mind, 200 Free from heart-withering custom's cold control, Of passion lofty, pure and unsubdued. Earth's pride and meanness could not vanquish thee, And therefore art thou worthy of the boon Which thou hast now received; virtue shall keep Thy footsteps in the path that thou hast trod, And many days of beaming hope shall bless Thy spotless life of sweet and sacred love. Go, happy one, and give that bosom joy, Whose sleepless spirit waits to catch 210 Light, life and rapture from thy smile!' The Fairy waves her wand of charm. Speechless with bliss the Spirit mounts the car, That rolled beside the battlement, Bending her beamy eyes in thankfulness. Again the enchanted steeds were yoked; Again the burning wheels inflame The steep descent of heaven's untrodden way. Fast and far the chariot flew; The vast and fiery globes that rolled 220 Around the Fairy's palace-gate Lessened by slow degrees, and soon appeared Such tiny twinklers as the planet orbs That there attendant on the solar power With borrowed light pursued their narrower way. Earth floated then below; The chariot paused a moment there; The Spirit then descended; The restless coursers pawed the ungenial soil, Snuffed the gross air, and then, their errand done, 230 Unfurled their pinions to the winds of heaven. The Body and the Soul united then. A gentle start convulsed Ianthe's frame; Her veiny eyelids quietly unclosed; Moveless awhile the dark blue orbs remained. She looked around in wonder, and beheld Henry, who kneeled in silence by her couch, Watching her sleep with looks of speechless love, And the bright beaming stars That through the casement shone. 240