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xlvi. “Then, like the forests of some pathless mountain, Which from remotest glens two warring winds Involve in fire, which not the loosened fountain Of broadest floods might quench, shall all the kinds Of evil catch from our uniting minds [then The spark which must consume them ;-Cythma Will have cast off the impotence that binds Her childhood now, and through the paths of men Will pass, as the charmed bird that haunts the serpent's den. xlvii. “We part —O Laon, I must dare, nor tremble, To meet those looks no more!—Oh, heavy stroke! Sweet brother of my soul; can I dissemble The agony of this thought?”—As thus she spoke The gathered sobs her quivering accents broke, And in my arms she hid her beating breast. I remained still for tears—sudden she woke As one awakes from sleep, and wildly prest My bosom, her whole frame impetuously possest.

x Lviri. “We part to meet again—but yon blue waste, Yon desert wide and deep, holds no recess Within whose happy silence, thus embraced We might survive all ills in one caress: Nor doth the grave—I fear ’tis passionless— Nor yon cold vacant Heaven:-we meet again Within the minds of men, whose lips shall bless Our memory, and whose hopes its light retain When these dissevered bones are trodden in the plain.” xlix. I could not speak, though she had ceased, for now The fountains of her feeling, swift and deep, Seemed to suspend the tumult of their flow; So we arose, and by the star-light steep Went homeward—neither did we speak nor weep, But pale, were calm.—With passion thus subdued, Like evening shades that o'er the mountains creep Wemoved towards our home; where, in this mood, Each from the other sought refuge in solitude.


I. [slumber What thoughts had sway o'er Cythna’s lonely That night, I know not; but my own did seem As if they might ten thousand years outnumber Of waking life, the visions of a dream, Which hid in one dim gulf the troubled stream Of mind; a boundless chaos wild and vast, Whose limits yet were never memory's theme: And I lay struggling as its whirlwinds past,

Sometimes for rapture sick, sometimes for pain



Two hours, whose mighty circle did embrace
More time than might make grey the infant world,
Rolled thus, a weary and tumultuous space:
When the third came, like mist on breezes curled,
From my dim sleep a shadow was unfurled:
Methought, upon the threshold of a cave
I sate with Cythna; drooping briony, pearled
With dew from the wild streamlet’s shattered wave,

Hung, where we sate, to taste the joys which Nature

tit. We lived a day as we were wont to live, But nature had a robe of glory on, And the bright air o'er every shape did weave Intenser hues, so that the herbless stone, The leafless bough among the leaves alone, Had being clearer than its own could be, And Cythna’s pure and radiant self was shown In this strange vision, so divine to me, That if I loved before, now love was agony.

rv. Mornfled, noon came,evening,then nightdescended, And we prolonged calm talk beneath the sphere Of the calm moon—when, suddenly was blended With our repose a nameless sense of fear; And from the cave behind I seemed to hear Sounds gathering upwards!—accents incomplete, And stifled shrieks,—and now, more near and A tumult and a rush of thronging feet [near, The cavern's secret depths beneath the earth did beat. v. The scene was changed, and away, away, away! Through the air and over the sea we sped, And Cythna in my sheltering bosom lay, And the winds boro me;—through the darkness spread Around, the gaping earth then vomited Legions of foul and ghastly shapes, which hung Upon my flight; and ever as we fled, They plucked at Cythna—soon to me then clung A sense of actual things those monstrous dreams among. vi. And I lay struggling in the impotence Of sleep, while outward life had burst its bound, Though, still deluded, strove the tortured sense To its dire wanderings to adapt the sound Which in the light of morn was poured around Our dwelling—breathless, pale, and unaware I rose, and all the cottage crowded found With armed men, whose glittering swords were bare, And whose degraded linibs the tyrant's garb did


vir. And ere with rapid lips and gathered brow I could demand the cause—a feeble shriek— It was a feeble shriek, faint, far, and low, Arrested me—my mien grew calm and meek, And, grasping a small knife, I went to seek That voice among the crowd—'t was Cythna's cry ! Beneath most calm resolve did agony wreak Its whirlwind rage:—so I past quietly Till I beheld, where bound, that dearest child did lie. viii. I started to behold her, for delight And exultation, and a joyance free, Solemn, serene, and lofty, filled the light Of the calm smile with which she looked on me : So that I feared some brainless ecstacy, Wrought from that bitter woe, had wildered her— “Farewell farewell l’” she said, as I drew nigh. “At first my peace was marred by this strangestir, Now I am calm as truth—its chosen minister.


“Look not so, Laon—say farewell in hope :
These bloody men are but the slaves who bear
Their mistress to her task—it was my scope
The slavery where they drag me now, to share,
And among captives willing chains to wear
Awhile—the rest thou knowest—return, dear
Let our first triumph trample the despair [friend!
Which would ensnare us now, for in the end,

In victory or in death our hopes and fears must


X. These words had fallen on my unheeding ear, Whilst I had watched the motions of the crew With seeming careless glance; not many were Around her, for their comrades just withdrew To guard some other victim—so I drew My knife, and with one impulse, suddenly All unaware three of their number slew, [cry And grasped a fourth by the throat, and with loud My countrymen invoked to death or liberty

XI. What followed then, I know not—for a stroke On my raised arm and naked head came down, Filling my eyes with blood—when I awoke, I felt that they had bound me in my swoon, And up a rock which overhangs the town, By the steep path were bearing me: below The plain was filled with slaughter, overthrown The vineyards and the harvests, and the glow

Of blazing roofs shone far o'er the white Ocean's


xii. Upon that rock a mighty column stood, Whose capital seemed sculptured in the sky, Which to the wanderers o'er the solitude Of distant seas, from ages long gone by, Had many a landmark ; o'er its height to fly Scarcely the cloud, the vulture, or the blast, Has power—and when the shades of evening lie On Earth and Ocean, its carved summits cast The sunken day-light far through the aërial waste.

xiii. They bore me to a cavern in the hill Beneath that column, and unbound me there : And one did strip me stark ; and one did fill A vessel from the putrid pool; one bare A lighted torch, and four with friendless care Guided my steps the cavern-paths along, Then up a steep and dark and narrow stair We wound, until the torches' fiery tongue

Amid the gushing day beamless and pallid hung.

xiv. They raised me to the platform of the pile, That column's dizzy height:—the grate of brass Through which they thrust me, open stood the As to its ponderous and suspended mass, [while, With chains which eat into the flesh, alas ! With brazen links, my naked limbs they bound: The grate, as they departed to repass, With horrid clangour fell, and the far sound

Of their retiring steps in the dense gloom was

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The noon was calm and bright:—around that

The overhanging sky and circling sea [column Spread forth in silentness profound and solemn The darkness of brief frenzy cast on me, So that I knew not my own misery: The islands and the mountains in the day Like clouds reposed afar ; and I could see The town among the woods below that lay, And the dark rocks which bound the bright and glassy bay. xvi. It was so calm, that scarce the feathery weed Sown by some eagle on the topmost stone Swayed in the air:-so bright, that noon did breed No shadow in the sky beside mine own— Mine, and the shadow of my chain alone. Below the smoke of roofs involved in flame Rested like night, all else was clearly shown In the broad glare, yet sound to me none came, But of the living blood that ran within my frame.

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To breathe, to be, to hope, or to despair
And die, I questioned not ; nor, though the Sun
Its shafts of agony kindling through the air
Moved over me, nor though in evening dun,
Or when the stars their visible courses run,
Or morning, the wide universe was spread
In dreary calmness round me, did I shun
Its presence, nor seek refuge with the dead

From one faint hope whose flower a dropping poison



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xxiv. The sense of day and night, of false and true, Was dead within me. Yet two visions burst That darkness—one, as since that hour I knew, Was not a phantom of the realms accurst, Where then my spirit dwelt—but of the first I know not yet, was it a dream or no. But both, though not distincter, were immersed In hues which, when through memory's waste they flow, Make their divided streams more bright and rapid In OW. xxv. Methought that gate was lifted, and the seven Who brought me thither, four stiff corpses bare, And from the frieze to the four winds of Heaven Hung them on high by the entangled hair : Swarthy were three—the fourth was very fair: As they retired, the golden moon upsprung, And eagerly, out in the giddy air, Leaning that I might eat, I stretched and clung Over the shapeless depth in which those corpses hung. xxvi. A woman's shape, now lank and cold and blue, The dwelling of the many-coloured worm, Hung there, the white and hollow cheek I drew To my dry lips—what radiance did inform Those horny eyes! whose was that withered form? Alas, alas ! it seemed that Cythna's ghost Laughed in those looks, and that the flesh was warm Within my teeth –a whirlwind keen as frost Then in its sinking gulfs my sickening spirit tost.


Then seemed it that a tameless hurricane
Arose, and bore me in its dark career
Beyond the sun, beyond the stars that wane
On the verge of formless space—it languished
And, dying, left a silence lone and drear, [there,
More horrible than famine –in the deep
The shape of an old man did then appear,
Stately and beautiful ; that dreadful sleep

His heavenly smiles dispersed, and I could wake

and weep.

xxviii. And, when the blinding tears had fallen, I saw That column, and those corpses, and the moon, And felt the poisonous tooth of hunger gnaw My vitals, I rejoiced, as if the boon Of senseless death would be accorded soon;– When from that stony gloom a voice arose, Solemn and sweet as when low minds attune The midnight pines; the grate did then unclose, And on that reverend form the moonlight did repose.


He struck my chains, and gently spake and smiled:
As they were loosened by that Hermit old,
Mine eyes were of their madness half beguiled,
To answer those kind looks.-He did enfold
His giant arms around me to uphold
My wretched frame, my scorched limbs he wound
In linen moist and balmy, and as cold
As dew to drooping leaves:—the chain, with sound

Like earthquake, through the chasm of that steep

stair did bound


As, lifting me, it fell —What next I heard,
Were billows leaping on the harbour bar,
And the shrill sea-wind, whose breath idly stirred
My hair; – I looked abroad, and saw a star
Shining beside a sail, and distant far
That mountain and its column, the known mark
Of those who in the wide deep wandering are,
So that I feared some Spirit, fell and dark,

In trance had lain me thus within a fiendish


xxxi. For now, indeed, over the salt sea billow I sailed: yet dared not look upon the shape Of him who ruled the helm, although the pillow For my light head was hollowed in his lap, And my bare limbs his mantle did enwrap, Fearing it was a fiend : at last, he bent O'er me his aged face; as if to snap Those dreadful thoughts the gentle grandsire bent,

And to my inmost soul his soothing looks he sent.

xxxii. A soft and healing potion to my lips At intervals he raised—now looked on high, To mark if yet the starry giant dips His zone in the dim sea—now cheeringly, Though he said little, did he speak to me. “It is a friend beside thee—take good cheer, Poor victim, thou art now at liberty!” I joyed as those a human tone to hear, Who in cells deep and lone have languished many a year.

xxxiii. A dim and feeble joy, whose glimpses oft Were quenched in a relapse of wildering dreams, Yet still methought we sailed, until aloft The stars of night grew pallid, and the beams Of morn descended on the ocean-streams, And still that aged man, so grand and mild, Tended me, even as some sick mother seems To hang in hope over a dying child, Till in the azure East darkness again was piled.

xxxiv. And then the night-wind, steaming from the shore, Sent odours dying sweet across the sea, And the swift boat the little waves which bore, Were cut by its keen keel, though slantingly; Soon I could hear the leaves sigh, and could see The myrtle-blossoms starring the dim grove, As past the pebbly beach the boat did flee On sidelong wing into a silent cove,

Where ebon pines a shade under the starlight wove.


I. The old man took the oars, and soon the bark Smote on the beach beside a tower of stone; It was a crumbling heap whose portal dark With blooming ivy trails was overgrown; Upon whose floor the spangling sands were strown, And rarest sea-shells, which the eternal flood, Slave to the mother of the months, had thrown Within the walls of that great tower, which stood A changeling of man's art, nursed amid Nature's brood. it. When the old man his boat had anchored, He wound me in his arms with tender care, And very few but kindly words he said, And bore me through the tower adown a stair, Whose smooth descent some ceaseless step to wear For many a year had fallen.—We came at last To a small chamber, which with mosses rare Was tapestried, where me his soft hands placed Upon a couch of grass and oak-leaves interlaced.

Ilf. The moon was darting through the lattices Its yellow light, warm as the beams of day— So warm, that to admit the dewy breeze, The old man opened them: the moonlight lay Upon a lake whose waters wove their play Even to the threshold of that lonely home: Within was seen in the dim wavering ray, The antique sculptured roof, and many a tome

Whose lore had made that sage all that he had


The rock-built barrier of the sea was past,-
And I was on the margin of a lake,
A lonely lake, amid the forests vast
And snowy mountains:–did my spirit wake
From sleep, as many-coloured as the snake
That girds eternity? in life and truth,
Might not my heart its cravings ever slake?
Was Cythna then a dream, and all my youth,

And all its hopes and fears, and all its joy and


v. Thus madness came again, a milder madness, Which darkened nought but time's unquiet flow With supernatural shades of clinging sadness; That gentle Hermit, in my helpless woe, By my sick couch was busy to and fro, Like a strong spirit ministrant of good: When I was healed, he led me forth to show The wonders of his sylvan solitude,

And we together sate by that isle-fretted flood.


He knew his soothing words to weave with

skill From all my madness told: like mine own heart, Of Cythna would he question me, until That thrilling name had ceased to make me

start, From his familiar lips—it was not art, Of wisdom and of justice when he spoke— When 'mid soft looks of pity, there would dart A glance as keen as is the lightning's stroke

When it doth rive the knots of some ancestral oak.


Thus slowly from my brain the darkness rolled, My thoughts their due array did re-assume Through the enchantments of that Hermit old; Then I bethought me of the glorious doom Of those who sternly struggle to relume The lamp of Hope o'er man's bewildered lot, And, sitting by the waters, in the gloom Of eve, to that friend's heart I told my thought— That heart which had grown old, but had corrupted Inot. viri. That hoary man had spent his livelong age In converse with the dead, who leave the stamp Of ever-burning thoughts on many a page, When they are gone into the senseless damp Of graves —his spirit thus became a lamp Of splendour, like to those on which it fed. Through peopled haunts, the City and the Camp, Deep thirst for knowledge had his footsteps led, And all the ways of men among mankind he read.

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xi. He came to the lone column on the rock, And with his sweet and mighty eloquence The hearts of those who watched it did unlock, And made them melt in tears of penitence. They gave him entrance free to bear me thence. “Since this,” the old man said, “seven years are While slowly truth on thy benighted sense [spent, Has crept; the hope which wildered it has lent,

Meanwhile, to me the power of a sublime intent.

xii. “Yes, from the records of my youthful state, And from the lore of bards and sages old, From whatsoe'er my wakened thoughts create Out of the hopes of thine aspirings bold, Have I collected language to unfold Truth to my countrymen ; from shore to shore Doctrines of human power my words have told; They have been heard, and men aspire to more

Than they have ever gained or ever lost of yore.

xiii. “In secret chambers parents read, and weep, My writings to their babes, no longer blind; And young men gather when their tyrants sleep, And vows of faith each to the other bind; And marriageable maidens, who have pined With love, till life seemed melting through their A warmer zeal, a nobler hope, now find; [look, And every bosom thus is wrapt and shook,

Like autumn's myriad leaves in one swoln moun

tain brook.


“The tyrants of the Golden City tremble
At voices which are heard about the streets;
The ministers of fraud can scarce dissemble
The lies of their own heart; but when one meets
Another at the shrine, he inly weets,
Though he says nothing, that the truth is known;
Murderers are pale upon the judgment-seats,
And gold grows vile even to the wealthy crone,

And laughter fills the Fane, and curses shake the



“Kind thoughts, and mighty hopes, and gentle
Abound, for fearless love, and the pure law [deeds
Of mild equality and peace succeeds
To faiths which long have held the world in awe,
Bloody, and false, and cold :—as whirlpools draw
All wrecks of Ocean to their chasm, the sway
Of thy strong genius, Laon, which foresaw
This hope, compels all spirits to obey,

Which round thy secret strength now throng in

wide array.

xvi. “For I have been thy passive instrument”— {}. thus the old man spake, his countenance

#leamed on me like a spirit's)—“thou hast lent

To me, to all, the power to advance
Towards this unforeseen deliverance
From our ancestral chains—ay, thou didst rear
That lamp of hope on high, which time, nor chance,
Nor change may not extinguish, and my share

Of *.was o'er the world its gathered beams to

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urn. F.

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