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Out of their mossy cells for ever burst;
Nor felt the breeze which from the forest told
Of grassy paths and wood-lawns interspersed 70
With overarching elms and caverns cold,
And violet banks where sweet dreams brood;

but they
Pursued their serious folly as of old.
And, as I gazed, methought that in the way
The throng grew wilder, as the woods of June
When the south wind shakes the extinguished

day; And a cold glare, intenser than the noon, But icy cold, obscured with blinding light The sun, as he the stars. Like the young


When on the sunlit limits of the night 80 Her white shell trembles amid crimson air, And whilst the sleeping tempest gathers might

Doth, as the herald of its coming, bear
The ghost of its dead mother, whose dim form
Bends in dark æther from her infant's chair, —

So came a chariot on the silent storm
Of its own rushing splendour, and a Shape
So sate within, as one whom years deform,

Beneath a dusky hood and double cape, Crouching within the shadow of a tomb; 90 And o'er what seemed the head a cloud-like

crape Was bent, a dun and faint ætherial gloom Tempering the light. Upon the chariot-beam A Janus-visaged Shadow did assume

The guidance of that wonder-winged team; The shapes which drew it in thick lightnings Were lost: -I heard alone on the air's soft

stream The music of their ever-moving wings. All the four faces of that charioteer Had their eyes banded ; little profit brings 100

Speed in the van and blindness in the rear, Nor then avail the beams that quench the sun Or that with banded eyes could pierce the sphere

Of all that is, has been or will be done ;
So ill was the car guided—but it passed
With solemn speed majestically on.

The crowd gave way, and I arose aghast,
Or seemed to rise, so mighty was the trance,
And saw, like clouds upon the thunder-blast,

The million with fierce song and maniac dance Raging around—such seemed the jubilee III As.when to greet some conqueror's advance

Imperial Rome poured forth her living sea
From senate-house, and forum, and theatre,

upon the free

Had bound a yoke, which soon they stooped to

bear. Nor wanted here the just similitude Of a triumphal pageant, for where'er

The chariot rolled, a captive multitude Was driven ;-all those who had grown old in power

.: 120 Or misery,—all who had their age subdued

By action or by suffering, and whose hour
Was drained to its last sand in weal or woe,
So that the trunk survived both fruit and

flower ;-
All those whose fame or infamy must grow
Till the great winter lay the form and name
Of this green earth with them for ever low ;-

All but the sacred few who could not tame Their spirits to the conquerors—but, as soon As they had touched the world with living



Fled back like eagles to their native noon,
Or those who put aside the diadem
Of earthly thrones or gems ...

Were there, of Athens or Jerusalem,
Were neither 'mid the mighty captives seen,
Nor mid the ribald crowd that followed them,

Nor those who went before fierce and obscene. The wild dance maddens in the van, and those Who lead it-fleet as shadows on the green,

Outspeed the chariot, and without repose 140 Mix with each other in tempestuous measure To savage music; wilder as it grows,

They, tortured by their agonizing pleasure, Convulsed and on the rapid whirlwinds spun Of that fierce spirit, whose unholy leisure

Was soothed by mischief since the world begun, Throw back their heads and loose their streaming

hair: And, in their dance round her who dims the sun, Maidens and youths fling their wild arms in air As their feet twinkle; they recede, and now 150 Bending within each other's atmosphere,

Kindle invisibly—and as they glow,
Like moths by light attracted and repelled,
Oft to their bright destruction come and go,

Till like two clouds into one vale impelled
That shake the mountains when their lightnings

And die in rain--the fiery band which held

Their natures, snaps—while the shock still may

tingle; One falls and then another in the path Senseless—nor is the desolation single, 160

Yet ere I can say where--the chariot hath
Passed over them-nor other trace I find
But as of foam after the ocean's wrath

Is spent upon the desert shore;-behind,
Old men and women, foully disarrayed,
Shake their grey hairs in the insulting wind,

And follow in the dance, with limbs decayed, Seeking to reach the light which leaves them

still Farther behind and deeper in the shade.

But not the less with impotence of will 170 They wheel, though ghastly shadows interpose Round them and round each other, and fulfil

Their work, and in the dust from whence they Sink, and corruption veils them as they lie, And past in these performs what in those.


Struck to the heart by this sad pageantry,
Half to myself I said—“And what is this?
Whose shape is that within the car ? And

why-" I would have added—“ is all here amiss ? —But a voice answered—“ Life!”_I turned, and

knew (O Heaven, have mercy on such wretchedness !)

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That what I thought was an old root which

grew To strange distortion out of the hill-side, Was indeed one of those deluded crew,

And that the grass, which methought hung so

wide And white, was but his thin discoloured hair. And that the holes he vainly sought to hide

Were or had been eyes:—“If thou canst,

forbear To join the dance, which I had well forborne !" Said the grim Feature (of my thought aware).

“I will unfold that which to this deep scorn 191 Led me and my companions, and relate The progress of the pageant since the morn;

“If thirst of knowledge shall not then abate, Follow it thou even to the night, but I Am weary.”—Then like one who with the

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