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Thy spirit is present in the past, and sees
Disdain thee?—not the worm beneath my feet! The Fathomless has care for meaner things Than thou canst dream, and has made pride for
those Who would be what they may not, or would
seem That which they are not. Sultan ! talk no more Of thee and me, the future and the past; But look on that which cannot change—the One, The unborn and the undying. Earth and ocean, Space, and the isles of life or light that gem 770 The sapphire floods of interstellar air, This firmament pavilioned upon chaos, With all its cressets of immortal fire, Whose outwall, bastioned impregnably Against the escape of boidest thoughts, repels
them As Calpe the Atlantic cļouds—this Whole
Of suns, and worlds, and men, and beasts, and
flowers, With all the silent or tempestuous workings By which they have been, are, or cease to be, Is but a vision ;--all that it inherits 780 Are motes of a sick eye, bubbles and dreams; Thought is its cradle and its grave, nor less The future and the past are idle shadows Of thought's eternal flight—they have no being: Naught is but that which feels itself to be.
MAHMUD. What meanest thou? Thy words stream like a
tempest Of dazzling mist within my brain—they shake The earth on which I stand, and hang like night On Heaven above me. What can they avail ? They cast on all things surest, brightest, best, 790 Doubt, insecurity, astonishment.
AHASUERUS. Mistake me not! All is contained in each. Dodona's forest to an acorn's cup Is that which has been, or will be, to that Which is—the absent to the present. Thought Alone, and its quick elements, Will, Passion, Reason, Imagination, cannot die; They are, what that which they regard appears, The stuff whence mutability can weave 799 All that it hath dominion o’er, worlds, worms, Empires, and superstitions. What has thought To do with time, or place, or circumstance ? Wouldst thou behold the future?-ask and
have! Knock and it shall be opened-look and, lo! The coming age is shadowed on the past As on a glass,
Wild, wilder thoughts convulse My spirit-Did not Mahomet the Second Win Stamboul ?
Thou wouldst ask that giant spirit The written fortunes of thy house and faith. Thou wouldst cite one out of the grave to tell 810 How what was born in blood must die. MAHMUD.
Thy words Have power on me! I see-
What hearest thou ?
The sound As of the assault of an imperial city, The hiss of inextinguishable fire, The roar of giant cannon; the earthquaking Fall of vast bastions and precipitous towers, The shock of crags shot from strange enginery, The clash of wheels, and clang of armèd hoofs, And crash of brazen mail as of the wreck 821 Of adamantine mountains—the mad blast Of trumpets, and the neigh of raging steeds, And shrieks of women whose thrill jars the
blood, And one sweet laugh, most horrible to hear,
As of a joyous infant waked and playing
A chasm, 830 As of two mountains in the wall of Stamboul; And in that ghastly breach the Islamites, Like giants on the ruins of a world, Stand in the light of sunrise. In the dust Glimmers a kingless diadem, and one Of regal port has cast himself beneath The stream of war. Another proudly clad In golden arms spurs a Tartarian barb Into the gap, and with his iron mace Directs the torrent of that tide of men, 840 And seems—he is—Mahomet!
What thou seest Is but the ghost of thy forgotten dream,A dream itself, yet less, perhaps, than that Thou call'st reality. Thou mayst behold How cities, on which Empire sleeps enthroned, Bow their towered crests to mutability. Poised by the flood, e'en on the height thou
holdest, Thou mayst now learn how the full tide of power Ebbs to its depths.-Inheritor of glory, Conceived in darkness, born in blood, and nourished
.850 With tears and toil, thou seest the mortal throes
Of that whose birth was but the same. The
Past Now stands before thee like an Incarnation Of the To-come; yet wouldst thou commune
with That portion of thyself which was ere thou Didst start for this brief race whose crown is
death, Dissolve with that strong faith and fervent
passion Which called it from the uncreated deep, Yon cloud of war, with its tempestuous
phantoms Of raging death ; and draw with mighty will 860 The imperial shade hither. [Exit AHASUERUS.
I come Thence whither thou must go! The grave is
fitter To take the living than give up the dead;' . Yet has thy faith prevailed, and I am here. The heavy fragments of the power which fell When I arose, like shapeless crags and clouds, Hang round my throne on the abyss, and voices Of strange lament soothe my supreme repose, Wailing for glory never to return.A later Empire nods in its decay:
870 The autumn of a greener faith is come, And wolfish change, like winter, howls to strip The foliage in which Fame, the eagle, built | Compare the Persæ again (verses 685-6) :
άλλως τε πάντως χοι κατά χθονός θεοί