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DEDICATION.

There is no danger to a Man, that knows
What life and death is : there's not any law
Exceeds his knowledge: neither is it lawful
That he should stoop to any other law.

Chapman.

TO MARY —. L. So now my summer-task is ended, Mary, And I return to thee, mine own heart's home; As to his Queen some victor Knight of Faëry, Earning bright spoils for her enchanted dome; Northou disdain, that ere my fame become A star among the stars of mortal night, If it indeed may cleave its natal gloom, Its doubtful promise thus I would unite With thy beloved name, thou Child of loveand light.

II. The toil which stole from thee so many an hour Is ended—and the fruit is at thy feet ! No longer where the woods to frame a bower With interlaced branches mix and meet, Or where with sound like many voices sweet, Water-falls leap among wild islands green, Which framed for my lone boat a lone retreat Of moss-grown trees and weeds, shall I be seen : But beside thee, where still my heart has ever been.

lin. Thoughts of great deeds were mine, dear Friend, when first [pass. The clouds which wrap this world from youth did I do remember well the hour which burst My spirit's sleep: a fresh May-dawn it was, When I walked forth upon the glittering grass, And wept, I knew not why: until there rose From the near school-room, voices, that, alas ! Were but one echo from a world of woes— The harsh andgrating strife of tyrants and of foes.

Iv. And then I clasped my hands and looked around, But none was near to mock my streaming eyes, Which poured their warm drops on the sunny ground— So without shame, I spake:-‘‘I will be wise, And just, and free, and mild, if in me lies Such power, for I grow weary to behold The selfish and the strong still tyrannise Without reproach or check.” I then controlled My tears, my heart grew calm, and I was meek and bold. v. And from that hour did I with earnest thought Heap knowledge from forbidden mines of lore, Yet nothing that my tyrants knew or taught I cared to learn, but from that secret store Wrought linked armour for my soul, before It might walk forth to war among mankind; Thus power and hope were strengthened more and Within me, till there came upon my mind [more A sense of loneliness, a thirst with which I pined.

vi. Alas, that love should be a blight and snare To those who seek all sympathies in one!— Such once I sought in vain; then black despair, The shadow of a starless night, was thrown Over the world in which I moved alone :— Yet never found I one not false to me, Hard hearts, and cold, like weights of icy stone Which crushed and withered mine, that could not be Aught but a lifeless clog, until revived by thee.

vii. Thou Friend, whose presence on my wintry heart Fell, like bright Spring upon some herbless plain, How beautiful and calm and free thou wert In thy young wisdom, when the mortal chain Of Custom thou didst burst and rend in twain, And walked as free as light the clouds among, Which many an envious slave then breathed in vain From his dim dungeon, and my spirit sprung To meet thee from the woes which had begirtit long.

viii. No more alone through the world's wilderness, Although I trod the paths of high intent, I journeyed now: no more companionless, Where solitude is like despair, I went.— There is the wisdom of a stern content When Poverty can blight the just and good, When Infany dares mock the innocent, And cherished friends turn with the multitude To trample: this was ours, and we unshaken stood

ix. Now has descended a serener hour, And with inconstant fortune, friends return ; Though suffering leaves the knowledge and the

power Which says:—Let scorn be not repaid with scorn. And from thy side two gentle babes are born To fill our home with smiles, and thus are we Most fortunate beneath life's beaming morn: And these delights, and thou, have been to me The parents of the Song I consecrate to thee.

x. Is it, that now my inexperienced fingers But strike the prelude of a loftier strain Or, must the lyre on which my spirit lingers Soon pause in silence, ne'er to sound again, Though it mightshake the Anarch Custom's reign, And charm the minds of men to Truth's own sway, Holier than was Amphion's I would fain Reply in hope—but I am worn away, And Death and Love are yet contending for their

prey.

xi. And what art thou? I know, but dare not speak: Time may interpret to his silent years. Yet in the paleness of thy thoughtful cheek, And in the light thine ample forehead wears, And in thy sweetest smiles, and in thy tears, And in thy gentle speech, a prophecy Is whispered, to subdue my fondest fears: And through thine eyes, even in thy soul I see

A lamp of vestal fire burning internally.

xii. They say that thou wert lovely from thy birth, Of glorious parents thou aspiring Child: I wonder not—for One then left this earth Whose life was like a setting planet mild, Which clothed thee in the radiance undefiled Of its departing glory; still her fame Shines on thee, through the tempests dark and wild Which shake these latter days; and thoucanstclaim

The shelter, from thy Sire, of an immortal name.

xiii. Qne voice came forth from many a mighty spirit, Which was the echo of three thousand years; And the tumultuous world stood mute to hear it, As some lone man who in a desert hears The music of his home:—unwonted fears Fell on the pale oppressors of our race, And Faith, and Custom, and low-thoughted cares, Like thunder-stricken dragons, for a space Left the torn human heart, their food and dwellingplace. xiv. Truth's deathless voice pauses among mankind If there must be no response to my cry— If men must rise and stamp with fury blind On his pure name who loves them,-thou and I, Sweet Friend can look from our tranquillity Like lamps into the world's tempestuous night, Two tranquil stars, while clouds are passing by Which wrap them from the foundering seaman's sight, [light. That burn from year to year with unextinguished

CANTO I.

1. When the last hope of trampled France had failed Like a brief dream of unremaining glory, From visions of despair I rose, and scaled The peak of an aerial promontory, [hoary; Whose caverned base with the vexed surge was And saw the golden dawn break forth, and waken Each cloud, and every wave:—but transitory The calm : for sudden, the firm earth was shaken,

As if by the last wreck its frame were overtaken.

ii.

So as I stood, one blast of muttering thunder
Burst in far peals along the waveless deep,
When, gathering fast, around, above, and under,
Long trains of tremulous mist began to creep,
Until their complicating lines did steep
The orient sun in shadow:—not a sound
Was heard; one horrible repose did keep
The forests and the floods, and all around

Darkness more dread than night was poured upon

the ground.

III. Hark! 'tis the rushing of a wind that sweeps Earth and the ocean. See the lightnings yawn Deluging Heaven with fire, and the lashed deeps Glitter and boil beneath: it rages on, One mighty stream, whirlwind and waves up

[thrown,

Lightning, and hail, and darkness eddying by, There is a pause—the sea-birds, that were gone Into their caves to shriek, come forth to spy

What calm has fall’nonearth, whatlight is in the sky.

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Calm as a cradled child in dreamless slumber

bound.

xvi. There was a Woman, beautiful as morning, Sitting beneath the rocks upon the sand Of the waste sea—fair as one flower adorning An icy wilderness—each delicate hand Lay crossed upon her bosom, and the band Of her dark hair had fallen, and so she sate Looking upon the waves; on the bare strand Upon the sea-mark a small boat did wait, Fair as herself, like Love by Hope left desolate.

xvii. It seemed that this fair Shape had looked upon That unimaginable fight, and now That her sweet eyes were weary of the sun, As brightly it illustrated her woe; For in the tears which silently to flow Paused not, its lustre hung: she watching aye The foam-wreaths which the faint tide wove below Upon the spangled sands, groaned heavily, And after every groan looked up over the sea.

xviii. And when she saw the wounded Serpent make His path between the waves, her lips grew pale, Parted, and quivered; the tears ceased to break From her immovable eyes; no voice of wail Escaped her; but she rose, and on the gale Loosening her star-bright robe and shadowy hair, Poured forth her voice; the caverns of the vale That opened to the ocean, caught it there, And filled with silver sounds the overflowing air.

xix. She spake in language whose strange melody Might not belong to earth. I heard, alone, What made its music more melodious be, The pity and the love of every tone; But to the Snake those accents sweet were known, His native tongue and hers: nor did he beat The hoar spray idly then, but winding on Through the greenshadows of the waves that meet Near to the shore, did pause beside her snowy feet.

xx. Then on the sands the Woman sate again, And wept and clasped her hands, and all between, Renewed the unintelligible strain Of her melodious voice and eloquent mien ; And she unveiled her bosom, and the green And glancing shadows of the sea did play O'er its marmoreal depth:—one moment seen, For ere the next, the Serpent did obey Her voice, and, coiled in rest, in her embrace it lay.

xxi. Then she arose, and smiled on me with eyes Serene yet sorrowing, like that planet fair, While yet the day-light lingereth in the skies Which cleaves with arrowy beams the dark-redair, And said: To grieve is wise, but the despair Was weak and vain which led thee here from sleep: This shalt thou know, and more, if thou dost dare With me and with this Serpent, o'er the deep,

A voyage divine and strange, companionship to

keep.

xxii. Her voice was like the wildest, saddest tone, Yet sweet, of some loved voice heard long ago. I wept. Shall this fair woman all alone Over the sea with that fierce Serpent go? His head is on her heart, and who can know How soon he may devour his feeble prey — Such were my thoughts, when the tide'gan to flow; And that strange boat, like the moon's shade did Amid reflected stars that in the waters lay. [sway

xxiii. A boat of rare device, which had no sail But its own curved prow of thin moonstone, Wrought like a web of texture fine and frail, To catch those gentlest winds which are not known To breathe, but by the steady speed alone With which it cleaves the sparkling sea; and now We are embarked, the mountains hang and frown Over the starry deep that gleams below A vast and dim expanse, as o'er the waves we go.

xxiv. And as we sailed, a strange and awful tale That Woman told, like such mysterious dream As makes the slumberer's cheek with wonder pale ! 'Twas midnight, and around, a shoreless stream, Wide ocean rolled, when that majestic theme Shrined in her heart found utterance, and she bent Her looks on mine ; those eyes a kindling beam Of love divine into my spirit sent, And, ere her lips could move, made the air eloquent.

xxv. Speak not to me, but hear! much shalt thou learn, Much must remain unthought, and more untold, In the dark Future's ever-flowing urn : Know then, that from the depth of ages old Two Powers o'er mortal things dominion hold, Ruling the world with a divided lot, Immortal, all-pervading, manifold, Twin Genii, equal Gods—when life and thought Sprang forth, they burst the womb of inessential Nought. xxvi. The earliest dweller of the world alone Stood on the verge of chaos : Lo afar O'er the wide wild abyss two meteors shone, Sprung from the depth of its tempestuous jar: A blood-red Comet and the Morning Star Mingling their beams in combat—as he stood All thoughts within his mind waged mutual war, In dreadful sympathy—when to the flood That fair star fell, he turned and shed his brother's blood. xxvii. Thus evil triumphed, and the Spirit of evil, One Power of many shapes which none may know, One Shape of many names; the Fiend did revel In victory, reigning o'er a world of woe, For the new race of man went to and fro, Famished and homeless, loathed and loathing, wild, And hating good—for his immortal foe, He changed from starry shape, beauteousand mild, To a dire Snake, with man and beast unreconciled.

xxviir

The darkness lingering o'er the dawn of things,
Was Evil's breath and life: this made him strong
To soar aloft with overshadowing wings;
And the great Spirit of Good did creep among
The nations of mankind, and every tongue
Cursed, and blasphemed him as he past; for none
Knew good from evil, though their names were hung
In mockery o'er the fane where many a groan,

As King, and Lord, and God, the conquering Fiend

did own.

xxix.

The fiend, whose name was Legion; Death, Decay,
Earthquake and Blight, and Want, and Madness
Winged and wan diseases, an array [pale,
Numerous as leaves that strew the autumnal gale;
Poison, a snake in flowers, beneath the veil
Of food and mirth, hiding his mortal head;
And, without whom all these might nought avail,
Fear, Hatred, Faith, and Tyranny, who spread

Those subtle nets which snare the living and the

dead.

xxx. His spirit is their power, and they his slaves In air, and light, and thought, and language dwell; And keep their state from palaces to graves, In all resorts of men—invisible, But when, in ebon mirror, Nightmare fell, To tyrant or impostor bids them rise, Black winged demon forms—whom, from the hell, His reign and dwelling beneath nether skies,

He loosens to their dark and blasting ministries.

xxxi. In the world's youth his empire was as firm As its foundations—soon the Spirit of Good, Though in the likeness of a loathsome worm, Sprang from the billows of the formless flood, Which shrank and fled; and with that fiend of blood Renewed the doubtful war—thrones then first shook, And earth's immense and trampled multitude, In hope on their own powers began to look, And Fear, the demon pale, his sanguine shrine forsook. xxxii. Then Greece arose, and to its bards and sages, In dream, the golden-pinioned Genii came, Even where they slept amid the night of ages Steeping their hearts in the divinest flame Which thy breath kindled, Power of holiest name! And oft in cycles since, when darkness gave New weapons to thy foe, their sunlike fame Upon the combat shone—a light to save, [grave. Like Paradise spread forth beyond the shadowy xxxiii. Such is this conflict—when mankind doth strive With its oppressors in a strife of blood, Or when free thoughts, like lightnings, are alive; And in each bosom of the multitude Justice and truth, with custom's hydra brood, Wage silent war;-when priests and kings dissemIn smiles or frowns their fierce disquietude, [ble When round pure hearts, a host of hopes assemble, The Snake and Eagle meet—the world's foundations tremble ! _

xxxiv. Thou hast beheld that fight—when to thy home Thou dost return, steep not its hearth in tears; Though thou may’st hear that earth is now become The tyrant's garbage, which to his compeers, The vile reward of their dishonoured years, He will dividing give.—The victor Fiend Omnipotent of yore, now quails, and fears His triumph dearly won, which soon will lend An impulse swift and sure to his approaching end.

xxxv. List, stranger, list! mine is a human form, now ! Like that thou wearest—touch me—shrink not My hand thou feel'st is not a ghost's, but warm With human blood.—"Twas many years ago, Since first my thirsting soul aspired to know The secrets of this wondrous world, when deep My heart was pierced with sympathy, for woe Which could not be mine own—and thought did keep In dream, unnatural watch beside an infant's sleep.

xxxvi. Woe could not be mine own, since far from men I dwelt, a free and happy orphan child, By the sea-shore, in a deep mountain glen; And near the waves, and through the forests wild, I roamed, to storm and darkness reconciled, For I was calm while tempest shook the sky: But, when the breathless heavens in beauty smiled, I wept sweet tears, yet too tumultuously

For peace, and clasped my hands aloft in ecstacy.

xxxvii. These were forebodings of my fate—Before A woman's heart beat in my virgin breast, It had been nurtured in divinest lore: A dying poet gave me books, and blest With wild but holy talk the sweet unrest In which I watched him as he died away— A youth with hoary hair—a fleeting guest Of our lone mountains—and this lore did sway My spirit like a storm, contending there alway.

xxxviii. Thus the dark tale which history doth unfold, I knew, but not, methinks, as others know, For they weep not; and Wisdom had unrolled The clouds which hide the gulf of mortal woe: To few can she that warning vision show, For I loved all things with intense devotion; So that when Hope's deep source in fullest flow, Like earthquake did uplift the stagnant ocean Of human thoughts—mine shook beneath the wide emotion.

xxxix.

When first the living blood through all these veins Kindled a thought in sense, great France sprang

forth And seized, as if to break, the ponderous chains Which bind in woe the nations of the earth. I saw, and started from my cottage hearth; And to the clouds and waves in tameless gladness Shrieked, till they caught immeasurable mirth— And laughed in light and music: soon, sweet

madness [sadness.

Was poured upon my heart, a soft and thriling

x L. Deep slumber fell on me;—my dreams were fire, Soft and delightful thoughts did rest and hover Like shadows o'er my brain ; and strange desire, The tempest of a passion, raging over My tranquil soul, its depths with light did cover, Which past ; and calm, and darkness, sweeter far Came—then I loved ; but not a human lover ! For when I rose from sleep, the Morning Star

Shone through the woodbine wreaths which round

my casement were.

XLI. 'Twas like an eye which seemed to smile on me. I watched till, by the sun made pale, it sank Under the billows of the heaving sea; But from its beams deep love my spirit drank, And to my brain the boundless world now shrank Into one thought—one image—yea, for ever ! Even like the day's-spring, poured on vapoursdank, The beams of that one star did shoot and quiver Through my benighted mind—and were extinguished never. xiii. The day past thus: at night, methought in dream A shape of speechless beauty did appear; It stood like light on a careering stream Of golden clouds which shook the atmosphere; A winged youth, his radiant brow did wear The Morning Star: a wild dissolving bliss Over my frame he breathed, approaching near, And bent his eyes of kindling tenderness Near mine, and on my lips impressed a lingering kiss, xliii. And said: A Spirit loves thee, mortal maiden, How wilt thou prove thy worth : Then joy and sleep Together fled; my soul was deeply laden, And to the shore I went to muse and weep; But as I moved over my heart did creep A joy less soft, but more profound and strong Than my sweet dream; and it forbade to keep The path of the sea-shore: that Spirit's tongue Seemed whispering in my heart, and bore my steps along. x Liv. How, to that vast and peopled city led, Which was a field of holy warfare then, I walked among the dying and the dead, And shared in fearless deeds with evil men, Calm as an angel in the dragon's den— How I braved death for liberty and truth, [when And spurned at peace, and power, and fame; and Those hopes had lost the glory of their youth, How sadly I returned—might move the hearer's ruth: xi.v. Warm tears throng fast! the tale may not be said— Know then, that when this grief had been subdued, I was not left, like others, cold and dead ; The Spirit whom I loved in solitude Sustained his child : the tempest-shaken wood, The waves, the fountains, and the hush of night— These were his voice, and well I understood His smile divine when the calm sea was bright With silent stars, and Heaven was breathless with delight.

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