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Those lines of rainbow light
Are like the moonbeams when they fall Through some cathedral window, but the teints
Are such as may not find
Comparison on earth.
Behold the chariot of the Fairy Queen!
Celestial coursers paw the unyielding air ;
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 wilder'd brain,
When every sight of lovely, wild and grand,
Astonishes, enraptures, elevates
When fancy at a glance combines
The wond'rous 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 sleeping maid.
The broad and yellow moon
Shone dimly through her form-
That form of faultless symmetry ;
The pearly and pellucid car
Moved not the moonlight's line:
'Twas 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,
Saw but the fairy pageant,
Heard but the heavenly strains
That fill’d 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,
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,
And the clear silver tones,
As thus she spoke, were such
As are unheard by all but gifted ear.
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
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
Vanquish'd earth's pride and meanness, burst the
The icy chains of custom, and have shone fchains,
The day-stars of their age ;-Soul of lanthe,
Awake! arise !
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 :
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 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,
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 a useless and worn-out machine,
Rots, perishes, and passes.
Spirit! who hast dived so deep;
Spirit! who hast soar'd so high;
Thou the fearless, thou the mild, Accept the boon thy worth hath earned,
Ascend the car with me.
Do I dream? Is this new feeling
But a vision'd ghost of slumber?
If indeed I am a soul,
A free, a disembodied soul, .
Speak again to me.
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,
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
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,
Beneath a waken'd giant's strength.
She knew her glorious change,
And felt, in apprehension uncontroll’d
New raptures opening round:
Each day-dream of her mortal life,
Each frenzied vision of the slumbers
That closed each well-spent day,
Seem'd now to meet reality.
The Fairy and the Soul proceeded;
The silver clouds disparted;
And as the car of magic they ascended,
Again the speechless music swell’d,
Again the coursers of the air
Unfurld their azure pennons, and the Queen,
Shaking the beamy reins,
Bade them pursue
The magic car moved on.
The night was fair, and countless stars
Studded heaven's dark-blue vault,
Just o'er the eastern wave
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 mountains 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
Lower'd 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 show'd
The pale and waning stars,
The chariot's fiery track,
And the gray light of morn
Tinging those fleecy clouds
That canopied the dawn.
Seem'd it, that the chariot's way
Lay through the midst of an immense concave,
Radiant with million constellations, tinged
With shades of infinite colour,
And semicircled with a belt
Flashing incessant meteors.
The magic car moved on.
As they approach'd their goal
The coursers seem'd to gather speed;
The sea no longer was distinguish'd ; earth
Appear'd a vast and shadowy sphere;
The sun's unclouded orb
Rollid through the black concave;
Its rays of rapid light
Parted around the chariot's swifter course,
And fell, like ocean's feathery spray
Dash'd from the boiling surge
Before a vessel's prow.
The magic car moved on.
Earth's distant orb appear'd
The smallest light that twinkles in the heaven;
Whilst round the chariot's way
Innumerable systems rolld,
And countless spheres diffused
An ever-varying glory.
It was a sight of wonder: some
Were horned like the crescent moon;
Some shed a mild and silver beam
Like Hesperus o'er the western sea;
Some dash'd athwart with trains of flame,
Like worlds to death and ruin driven;
Some shone like suns, and as the chariot pass’d
Eclipsed all other light.
Spirit of Nature, here !
In this interminable wilderness
Of worlds, at whose immensity
E'en soaring fancy staggers,
Here is thy fitting temple.
Yet not the lightest leaf
That quivers to the passing breeze
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 !
If solitude hath ever led thy steps
To the wild ocean's echoing shore,
And thou hast linger'd there
Until the sun's broad orb
Seem'd resting on the burnish'd wave,
Thou must have mark'd the lines
Of purple gold, that motionless
Hung o'er the sinking sphere:
Thou must have mark'd the billowy clouds
Edged with intolerable radiancy,
Towering like rocks of jet
Crown'd 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 soar'd above the earth,
And furl'd its wearied wing
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 burnish'd 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 fairy Hall !
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
Look'd o'er the immense of Heaven.
The magic car no longer moved.
The Fairy and the Spirit
Entered the Hall of Spells:
Those golden clouds
That roll'd 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.
Upon their passive swell the Spirit lean'd,
And, for the varied bliss that press'd 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 resign'd To pleasurable impulses, inmured Within the prison of itself, the will Of changeless nature would be unfulfill'd. 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
Approach'd the overhanging battlement.-
Below lay stretch'd the universe !
There, far as the remotest line
That bounds imagination's flight,
Countless and unending orbs
In mazy motion intermingled,
Yet still fulfill'd immutably
Eternal Nature's law.
Above, below, around
The circling systems form’d
A wilderness of harmony;
Each with undeviating aim,
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.
But matter, space, and time,
In those aerial inansions 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 recognised.
The thronging thousands, to a passing view,
Seem'd 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 ruin'd palaces !
Behold! where grandeur frown'd;
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.
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
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
Rear'd high to heaven its thousand golden domes,
And in the blushing face of day
Exposed its shameful glory.
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
Howl'd hideous praises to their Demon-God;
They rush'd to war, tore from the mother's womb
The unborn child, -old age and infancy
Promiscuous perish'd ; 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
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,
Which, in some dear scene we have loved to hear,
Remember'd 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 cowld and hypocritical monk
Prays, curses, and deceives.
Spirit! ten thousand years
Have scarcely pass'd 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,
Which once appear'd 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 delay'd,
Thus to have stood since earth was what it is.
Yet once it was the busiest haunt,
Whither, as to a common centre, flock'd
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.
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 flow'd in human veins:
And from the burning plains
Where Lybian monsters yell,
From the most gloomy glens
Of Greenland's sunless clime,
To where the golden fields
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 ;
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,
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;
Yet dim from their infinitude.
The Spirit seem'd 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.
Fairy! the Spirit said,
And on the Queen of Spells
Fix'd her ethereal eyes,
I thank thee. Thou hast given
A boon which I will not resign, and taught
A lesson not to be unlearn’d. 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 :
For, when the power of imparting joy
Is equal to the will, the human soul
Requires no other heaven.
Turn thee, surpassing Spirit! Much yet remains unscann'd. 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
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
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
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,
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,
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.
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
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 wo?
Take pleasure in his abiectness, and hug
The scorpion that consumes him? Is it strange
That, placed on a conspicuous throne of thorns,
Grasping an iron sceptre, and immured
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
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 labour; the starved hind
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 labour a protracted death,
To glut their grandeur; many faint with toil,
That few may know the cares and wo of sloth.
Whence, think'st thou, kings and parasites arose ?
Whence that unnatural line of drones, who heap
Toil and unvanquishable penury
On those who build their palaces, and bring (vice;
Their daily bread ?-From vice, black, loathsome
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
and happiness, and harmony;
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.
No cessation !
Oh! must this last for ever? Awful death,
I wish yet fear to clasp thee! Not one moment
Of dreamless sleep! O dear and blessed peace !
Why dost thou shroud thy vestal purity
In penury and dungeons! wherefore lurkest
With danger, death, and solitude: yet shunn'st
The palace I have built thee! Sacred peace !
Oh visit me but once, and pitying shed
One drop of balm upon my withered soul.
Vain man! that palace is the virtuous heart,
And peace defileth not her snowy robes