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Into itself, and thought no more can trace;
'Tis the melodious hues of beauty, thrown
And from its head as from one body grow,
Hairs which are vipers; and they curl and flow,
And with unending involutions show
The torture and the death within, and saw
The solid air with many a ragged jaw.
Peeps idly into these Gorgonian eyes;
Of sense, has flitted with a mad surprise
And he comes hastening like a moth that hies
'Tis the tempestuous loveliness of terror;
For from the serpents gleams a brazen glare
Which makes a thrilling vapour of the air
Of all the beauty and the terror there—
I AM as a spirit who has dwelt
Is not to-day enough? Why do I peer
Is not to-morrow even as yesterday,
Few flowers grow upon thy wintry way;
Is it that in some brighter sphere
Wc part from friends wc meet with here?
Or do we see the Future pass
Over the Present's dusky glass?
Or what is it that makes us seem
To patch up fragments of a dream,
Part of which comes true, and part
Beats and trembles in the heart?
As the sunrise to the night,
As the earthquake's fiery flight
Ruining mountain solitudes,
Such hope as is the sick despair of good,
Such fear as is the certainty of ill,
Turned while she tastes to poison, when the will
A VISION OF THE SEA
'Tis the terror of tempest. The rags of the sail
Are flickering in ribbons within the fierce gale.
From the stark night of vapours the dim rain is driven;
And, when lightning is loosed, like a deluge from heaven,
She sees the black trunks of the waterspouts spin
And bend, as if heaven was ruining in,
Which they seemed to sustain with their terrible mass.
As if ocean had sunk from beneath them, they pass
To their graves in the deep with an earthquake of sound;
And the waves and the thunders, made silent around,
Leave the wind to its echo. The vessel, now tossed
Through the low-trailing rack of the tempest, is lost
In the skirts of the thunder-cloud. Now down the sweep
Of the wind-cloven wave to the chasm of the deep
It sinks, and the walls of the watery vale
Whose depths of dread calm are unmoved by the gale,
Dim mirrors of ruin, hang gleaming about;
While the surf, like a chaos of stars, like a rout
Of death-flames, like whirlpools of fire-flowing iron,
With splendour and terror the black ship environ;
Or, like sulphur-flakes hurled from a mine of pale fire,
In fountains spout o'er it. In many a spire
The great ships eems splitting! it cracks as a tree
While an earthquake is splintering its root, ere the blast
Of the whirlwind that stripped it of branches has passed.
The intense thunder-balls which are raining from heaven
Have shattered its mast, and it stands black and riven.
The chinks suck destruction. The heavy dead hulk
On the living sea rolls an inanimate bulk,
Like a corpse on the clay which is hungering to fold
Its corruption around it. Meanwhile, from the hold,
One deck is burst up from the waters below,
And it splits like the ice when the thaw-breezes blow
O'er the lakes of the desert. Who sit on the other?
Is that all the crew that lie burying each other,
Like the dead in a breach, round the foremast? are those
Twin tigers—who burst, when the waters arose,
In the agony of terror, their chains in the hold
(What now makes them tame is what then made them bold),
Who crouch side by side, and have driven like a crank
The deep grip of their claws through the vibrating plank—
Are these all?
Nine weeks the tall vessel had lain On the windless expanse of the watery plain, Where the death-darting sun cast no shadow at noon, And there seemed to be fire in the beams of the moon; Till a lead-coloured fog gathered up from the deep, Whose breath was quick pestilence. Then the cold sleep Crept, like blight through the ears of a thick field of corn, O'er the populous vessel. And even and morn, With their hammocks for coffins, the seamen aghast Like dead men the dead limbs of their comrades cast Down the deep, which closed on them above and around; And the sharks and the dogfish their grave-clothes unbound, And were glutted like Jews with this manna rained down From God on their wilderness. One after one The mariners died; on the eve of this day, When the tempest was gathering in cloudy array, But seven remained. Six the thunder has smitten,
And they lie black as mammies on which Time has written
No more? At the helm sits a woman, more fair
Than heaven when, unbinding its star-braided hair,
It sinks with the sun on the earth and the sea.
She clasps a bright child on her upgathered knee.
It laughs at the lightning, it mocks the mixed thunder
Of the air and the sea; with desire and with wonder
It is beckoning the tigers to rise and come near,—
It would play with those eyes where the radiance of fear
Is outshining the meteors. Its bosom beats high;
The heart-fire of pleasure has kindled its eye,
Whilst its mother's is lustreless. "Smile not, my child,
But sleep deeply and sweetly, and so be beguiled
Of the pang that awaits us, whatever that be,—
So dreadful since thou must divide it with me!
Dream, sleep! This pale bosom, thy cradle and bed,
Will it rock thee not, infant? 'Tis beating with dread!
Alas! what is life, what is death, what are we,
That when the ship sinks we no longer maybe?
What! to see thee no more, and to feel thee no more?
To be after life what we have been before?
Not to touch those sweet hands, not to look on those eyes,
Those lips, and that hair, all that smiling disguise
Thou yet wearest, sweet spirit,—which I, day by day,
Have so long called my child, but which now fades away
Like a rainbow, and I the fallen shower?"
Lo! the ship Is settling, it topples, the leeward ports dip. The tigers leap up when they feel the slow brine Crawling inch by inch on them; hair, ears, limbs, and eyne, Stand rigid with horror. A loud, long, hoarse cry Bursts at once from their vitals tremendously; And 'tis borne down the mountainous vale of the wave, Rebounding, like thunder from crag to cave, Mixed with the clash of the lashing rain, Hurried on by the might of the hurricane. The hurricane came from the west, and passed on By the path of the gate of the eastern sun,