Imágenes de páginas


Swift as a spirit hastening to his task
Of glory and of good, the Sun sprang forth
Rejoicing in his splendour, and the mask

Of darkness fell from the awakened Earth—
The smokeless altars of the mountain snows
Flamed above crimson clouds, and at the birth

Of light, the Ocean's orison arose,

To which the birds tempered their matin lay.

All flowers in field or forest which unclose

Their trembling eyelids to the kiss of day,
Swinging their censers in the element,
With orient incense lit by the new ray

Burned slow and inconsumably, and sent
Their odorous sighs up to the smiling air;
And, in succession due, did continent,

Isle, ocean, and all things that in them wear
The form and character of mortal mould,
Rise as the sun their father rose, to bear

Their portion of the toil, which he of old
Took as his own and then imposed on them:
But I, whom thoughts which must remain untold

Had kept as wakeful as the stars that gem
The cone of night, now they were laid asleep
Stretched my faint limbs beneath the hoary stem

Which an old chesnut flung athwart the steep

Of a green Apennine: before me fled

The night; behind me rose the day; the deep

Was at my feet, and Heaven above my head,
When a strange trance over my fancy grew
Which was not slumber, for the shade it spread

Was so transparent that the scene came through
As clear as, when a veil of light is drawn
O'er evening hills, they glimmer; and I knew

That I had felt the freshness of that dawn
Bathe in the same cold dew my brow and hair,
And sate as thus upon that slope of lawn

Under the self-same bough, and heard as there
The birds, the fountains, and the ocean hold
Sweet talk in music through the enamoured air,
And then a vision on my brain was rolled.

As in that trance of wondrous thought I lay,
This was the tenour of my waking dream:—
Methought I sate beside a public way

Thick strewn with summer dust, and a great stream
Of people there was hurrying to and fro,
Numerous as gnats upon the evening gleam,

All hastening onward, yet none seemed to know
Whither he went, or whence he came, or why
He made one of the multitude, and so

Was borne amid the crowd, as through the sky
One of the million leaves of summer's bier;
Old age and youth, manhood and infancy,

Mixed in one mighty torrent did appear:

Some flying from the thing they feared, and some

Seeking the object of another's fear;

And others as with steps towards the tomb,
Pored on the trodden worms that crawled beneath,
And others mournfully within the gloom

Of their own shadow walked and called it death;
And some fled from it as it were a ghost,
Half fainting in the affliction of vain breath:

But more,with motions which each other crost,
Pursued or spurned the shadows the clouds threw,
Or birds within the noon-day ether lost,

Upon that path where flowers never grew,—
And weary with vain toil and faint for thirst,
Heard not the fountains, whose melodious dew

Out of their mossy cells for ever burst;

Nor felt the breeze which from the forest told

Of grassy paths and wood, lawn-interspersed,

With over-arching elms and caverns cold,

And violet banks where sweet dreams brood, but they

Pursued their serious folly as of old.

And as I gazed, methought that in the way
The throDg grew wilder, as the woods of Juno
When the south wind shakes the extinguished day,

And a cold glare intenser than the noon,
But icy cold, obscured with blinding light
The sun, as he the stars. Like the young moon
When on the sunlit limits of the night
Her white shell trembles amid crimson air,
And whilst the sleeping tempest gathers might,

Doth, as the herald of its coming, bear

The ghost of its dead mother, whose dim form

Bends in dark ether from her infant's chair,—

So came a chariot on the silent storm

Of its own rushing splendour, and a Shape

So sate within, as one whom years deform,

Beneath a dusky hood and double cape,

Crouching within the shadow of a tomb;

And o'er what seemed the head a cloud-like crape

Was bent, a dun and faint ethereal gloom
Tempering the light :upon the chariot beam
A Janus-visaged shadow did assume

The guidance of that wonder-winged team;
The shapes which drew it in thick lightnings
Were lost:—I heard alone on the air's soft

The music of their ever-moving wings.

All the four faces of that charioteer

Had their eyes banded; little profit brings

Speed in the van and blindness in the rear,
Nor then avail the beams that quench the sun
Or that with banded eyes could pierce the

Of all that is, has been, or will be done;
So ill was the car guided—but it past
With solemn speed majestically on.

The crowd gave way, and I arose aghast,
Or seemed to rise, so mighty was the trance,
And saw, like clouds upou the thunder's blast,

The million with fierce song and maniac dance
Raging around—such seemed the jubilee
As when, to meet some conqueror s advance,

Imperial Rome poured forth her living sea
From senate-house, and forum, and theatre,
When [ ] upon the free

Had bound a yoke, which soon they stooped to bear.
Nor wanted here the just similitude
Of a triumphal pageant, for where'er

The chariot rolled, a captive multitude

Was driven;—all those who had grown old in power

Or misery,—all who had then1 age subdued

By action or by suffering, and whose hour

Was drained to its last sand in weal or woe,

So that the trunk survived both fruit and flower;—

All those whose fame or infamy must grow
Till the great winter lay the form and name
Of this green earth with them for ever low;—

All but the sacred few who could not tame
Their spirits to the conquerors—but as soon
As they had touched the world with living flame,

Fled back like eagles to their native noon,
Or those who put aside the diadem
Of earthly thrones or gems [

Were there, of Athens or Jerusalem,

Were neither 'mid the mighty captives seen,

Nor 'mid the ribald crowd that followed them,

Nor those who went before fierce and obscene.
The wild dance maddens in the van, and those
Who lead it—fleet as shadows on the green,

Outspeed the chariot, and without repose
Mix with each other in tempestuous measure
To savage music, wilder as it grows,

They, tortured by their agonizing pleasure,
Convulsed and on the rapid whirlwinds spun
Of that fierce spirit whose unholy leisure

Was soothed by mischief since the world begun?—
Throw back their heads and loose their streimii::

hair; And in their dance round her who dims the sun,

Maidens and youths fling their wild arms in air; As their feet twinkle they recede, ajid now Bending within, each other's atmosphere

Kindle invisibly—and as they glow,

Like moths by light attracted and repelled,

Oft to their bright destruction come and go,

Till like two clouds into one vale impelled

That shake the mountains when their lightoiiar

And die in rain—the fiery band which held

Their natures, snaps—the shock still may tingle:
One falls and then another in the path
Senseless—nor is the desolation single,

Yet ere I can say where—the chariot hath
Past over them—nor other trace I find
But as of foam after the ocean's wrath

Is spent upon the desert shore;—behind,
Old men and women foully disarrayed,
Shake their grey hairs in the insulting wind,

And follow in the dance, with limbs decayed.
Seeking to reach the light which leaves them si
Farther behind and deeper in the shade.

But not the less with impotence of will

They wheel, though ghastly shadows interpose

Round them and round each other, and fulfil

Their part, and in the dust from whence they nw
Sink, and corruption veils them as they lie,
And past in these performs what [ ] in tbo»-

Struck to the heart by this sad pageantry,
Half to myself I said—And what is this!
Whose shape is that within the car! And way—

I would have added—is all here amiss!—

But a voice answered—"Life!"—I turned, and ks**

(0 Heaven, have mercy on such wretchedness!)

That what I thought was an old root which grew
To strange distortion out of the hill side,
Was indeed one of those deluded crew,

And that the grass, which methought hung so wide
And white, was but his thin discoloured hair,
And that the holes it vainly sought to hide,

Were or had been eyes:—" If thou canst, forbear
To join the dance, which I had well forborne!"
Said the grim Feature (of my thought aware 0

"I will unfold that which to this deep scorn
Led me and my companions, and relate
The progress of the pageant since the morn;

"If thirst of knowledge shall not then abate,

Follow it thou even to the night, but I

Am weary."—Then like one who with the weight

Of his own words is staggered, wearily

He paused ; and, ere he could resume, I cried,

"First, who art thou\"—" Before thy memory,

"I feared, loved, hated, suffered, did and died, And if the spark with which Heaven lit my spirit Had been with purer sentiment supplied,

■ Corruption would not now thus much inherit Of what was once Rousseau,—nor this disguise Stained that which ought to have disdained to wear it;

"If I have been extinguished, yet there rise A thousand beacons from the spark I bore"— "And who are those chained to the car V—" The

"The great, the unforgotten,—they who wore Mitres and helms and crowns, or wreaths of light, Signs of thought's empire over thought—their lore

"Taught them not this, to know themselves; their Could not repress the mystery within, [might

And for the morn of truth they feigned, deep night

■ Caught them ere evening."—" Who is he with chin Upon his breast, and hands crost on his chain!"— "The Child of a fierce hour; he sought to win

"The world, and lost all that it did contain
Of greatness, in its hope destroyed; and more
Of fame and peace than virtue's self can gain

"Without the opportunity which bore

Him on its eagle pinions to the peak

From which a thousand climbers have before

"Fallen, as Napoleon fell."—I felt my cheek

Alter to see the shadow pass away,

Whose grasp had left the giant world so weak,

That every pigmy kicked it as it lay;

And much I grieved to think how power and will

In opposition rule our mortal day,

And why God made irreconcilable

Good and the means of good; and for despair

I half disdained mine eyes' desire to fill

With the spent vision of the times that were
And scarce have ceased to be.—" Dost thou behold,"
Said my guide, " those spoilers spoiled, Voltaire,

"Frederick, and Paul, Catherine, and Leopold, And hoary anarchs, demagogues, and sage— names which the world thinks always old,

"For in the battle life and they did wage, She remained conqueror. I was overcome By my own heart alone, which neither age,

"Nor tears, nor infamy, nor now the tomb Could temper to its object."—" Let them pass," I cried, " the world and its mysterious doom

"Is not so much more glorious than it was,
That I desire to worship those who drew
New figures on its false and fragile glass

"As the old faded."—" Figures ever new
Rise on the bubble, paint them as you may;
We have but thrown, as those before us threw,

"Our shadows on it as it past away.

But mark how chained to the triumphal chair

The mighty phantoms of an elder day;

"All that is mortal of great Plato there Expiates the joy and woe his master knew not: The star that ruled his doom was far too fair,

"And life, where long that flower of Heaven

grew not, Conquered that heart by love, which gold, or pain, Or age, or sloth, or slavery, could subdue not.

"And near him walk the [ ] twain,

The tutor and his pupil, whom Dominion
Followed as tame as vulture in a chain.

"The world was darkened beneath either pinion
Of him whom from the flock of conquerors
Fame singled out for her thunder-bearing minion;

"The other long outlived both woes and wars, Throned in the thoughts of men, and still had kept The jealous key of truth's eternal doors,

"If Bacon's eagle spirit had not leapt

Like lightning out of darkness—he compelled

The Proteus shape of Nature as it slept

"To wake, and lead him to the caves that held

The treasure of the secrets of its reign.

See the great bards of elder time, who quelled

"The passions which they sung, as by their strain
May well be known: their living melody
Tempers its own contagion to the vein

"Of those who are infected with it—I
Have suffered what I wrote, or viler pain,
And so my words have seeds of misery I"

[Tbcre is a chasin here in the MS. which it is impossiblo to fill up. It appears from the context, that other shapes pass, and that Rousseau still stood beside the dreamer, as]

■ he pointed to a company,

'Midst whom I quickly recognised the heirs
Of Caesar's crime, from him to Constantine;
The anarch chiefs,whose force and murderous snares

Had founded many a sceptre-bearing line,

And spread the plague of gold and blood abroad:

And Gregory and John, and men divine,

Who rose like shadows between man and God;

Till that eclipse, still hanging over heaven,

Was worshipped by the world o'er which they strode,

For the true sun it quenched—" Their power was But to destroy," replied the leader:—" I [given Am one of those who have created, even

If it be but a world of agony."—

"Whence comest thou? and whither goest thou 1

How did thy course begin!" I said, " and why!

"Mine eyes are sick of this perpetual flow

Of people, and my heart sick of one sad thought—

Speak!"—" Whence I am, I partly seem to know,

"And how and by what paths I have been brought To this dread pass, methinks even thou may'st

Why this should be, my mind can compass not;

"Whither the conqueror hurries me, still less;— But follow thou, and from spectator turn Actor or victim in this wretchedness,

"And what thou wouldst be taught I then may learn From thee. Now listen:—In the April prime, When all the forest tips began to burn

"With kindling green, touched by the azure clime Of the young year's dawn, I was laid asleep Under a mountain, which from unknown time

"Had yawned into a cavern, high and deep;

And from it came a gentle rivulet,

Whose water, like clear air, in its calm sweep

** Bent the soft grass, and kept for ever wet The stems of the sweet flowers, and filled the

grove With sounds, which whoso hears must needs forget

"All pleasure and all pain, all hate and love, Which they had known before that hour of rest; A sleeping mother then would dream not of

"Her only child who died upon her breast
At eventide—a king would mourn no more
The crown of which his brows were disposscst

"When the sun lingered o'er his ocean floor,

To gild liis rival's new prosperity.

Thou wouldst forget thus vainly to deplore

"Ills, which if ills can find no cure from thee, The thought of which no other sleep will quell, Nor other music blot from memory,

"So sweet and deep is the oblivious spell; And whether life had been before that sleep The heaven which I imagine, or a hell

"Like this harsh world in which I wake to

weep, I know not. I arose, and for a space The scene of woods and waters seemed to keep,

•' Though it was now broad day, a gentle trace

Of light diviner than the common sun

Sheds on the common earth, and all the place

"Was filled with magic sounds woven into one

Oblivious melody, confusing sense

Amid the gliding waves and shadows dun;

"And, as I looked, the bright omnipresence Of morning through the orient cavern flowed, And the sun's image radiantly intense

"Burned on the waters of the well that glowed Like gold, and threaded all the forest's maze With winding paths of emerald fire; there stood

"Amid the sun,—as he amid the blaze

Of his own glory, on the vibrating

Floor of the fountain—paved with flashing rays,

"A Shape all light, which with one hand did fling
Dew on the earth, as if she were the dawn,
And the invisible rain did ever sing

"A silver music on the mossy lawn;
And still before me on the dusky grass,
Iris her many-coloured scarf had drawn:

"In her right hand she bore a crystal glass,
Mantling with bright Nepenthe; the fierce splen-
Fell from her as she moved under the i

"Out of the deep cavern, with palms so tender. Their tread broke not the mirror of its billow; She glided along the river, and did bend her

"Head under the dark boughs, till, like a willow, Her fair hair swept the bosom of the stream That whispered with delight to be its pillow.

"As one enamoured is upborne in dream

O'er lily-paven lakes 'mid silver mist,

To wondrous music, so this shape might seem

"Partly to tread the waves with feet which kissed The dancing foam; partly to glide along The air which roughened the moist amethyst,

"Or the faint morning beams that fell among The trees, or the soft shadows of the trees; And her feet, ever to the ceaseless song

"Of leaves, and winds, and waves, and birds, and

bees, And falling drops moved to a measure new, Yet sweet, as on the summer evening breeze,

"Up from the lake a shape of golden dew Between two rocks, athwart the rising moon. Dances i' the wind, where never eagle flew;

"And still her feet, no less than the sweet tune To which they moved, seemed as they moved to blot The thoughts of him who gazed on them; and soon

"All that was, seemed as if it had been not; And all the gazer's mind was strewn beneath Her feet like embers; and she, thought by thought,

"Trampled its sparks into the dust of death,

As day upon the threshold of the east

Treads out the lamps of night, until the breath

"Of darkness re-illumine even the least
Of heaven's living eyes ! like day she came,
Making the night a dream; and ere she ceased

"To move, as one between desire and shame
Suspended, I said—If, as it doth seem,
Thou contest from the realm without a name,

"Into this valley of perpetual dream,

Show whence I came, and where I am, and why—

Pass not away upon the passing stream.

"Arise and quench thy thirst, was her reply.
And as a shut lily, stricken by the wand
Of dewy morning's vital alchemy,

"I rose; and, bending at her sweet command,
Touched with faint lips the cup she raised,
And suddenly my brain became as sand,

"Where the first wave had more than half erased
The track of deer on desert Labrador;
Whilst the wolf, from which they fled amazed,

"Leaves his stamp visibly upon the shore, Until the second bursts;—so on my sight Burst a new vision, never seen before,

"And the fair shape waned in the coming light, As veil by veil the silent splendour drops From Lucifer, amid the chrysolite

"Of sun-rise, ere it tinge the mountain tops; And as the presence of that fairest planet, Although unseen, is felt by one who hopes

"That his day's path may end, as he began it, In that star's smile, whose light is like the scent Of a jonquil when evening breezes fan it,

'• Or the soft note in which his dear lament The Brescian shepherd breathes, or the caress That turned his weary slumber to content ;*

"So knew I in that light's severe excess

The presence of that shape which on the stream

Moved, as I moved along the wilderness,

"More dimly than a day-appearing dream,

The ghost of a forgotten form of sleep;

A light of heaven, whose half-extinguished beam

"Through the sick day in which we wake to weep, Glimmers, for ever sought, for ever lost; So did that shape its obscure tenour keep

• The favourite song, " Btanco di pascolar le pecorelle," is a Brescian national air.

"Beside my path, as silent as a ghost;
But the new Vision, and the cold bright car,
With solemn speed and stunning music, crost

"The forest, and as if from some dread war
Triumphantly returning, the loud million
Fiercely extolled the fortune of her star.

"A moving arch of victory, the vermilion
And green and azure plumes of Iris had
Built high over her wind-winged pavilion,

"And underneath ethereal glory clad
The wilderness, and far before her flew
The tempest of the splendour, which forbade

"Shadow to fall from leaf and stone; the crow
Seemed in that light, like atomies to dance
Within a sunbeam;—some upon the new

"Embroidery of flowers, that did enhance
The grassy vesture of the desert, played,
Forgetful of the chariot's swift advance;

"Others stood gazing, till within the shade
Of the great mountain its light left them dim;
Others outspeeded it; and others made

"Circles around it, like the clouds that swim
Round the high moon in a bright sea of air;
And more did follow, with exulting hymn,

"The chariot and the captives fettered there:— But all like bubbles on an eddying flood Fell into the same track at last, and were

"Borne onward. I among the multitude

Was swept—me, sweetest flowers delayed not long;

Me, not the shadow nor the solitude;

"Me, not that falling stream's Lethean song;
Me, not the phantom of that early form,
Winch moved upon its motion—but among

"The thickest billows of that living storm
I plunged, and bared my bosom to the clime
Of that cold light, whose airs too soon deform.

"Before the chariot had begun to climb
The opposing steep of that mysterious dell,
Behold a wonder worthy of the rhyme

"Of him who from the lowest depths of hell, Through every paradise and through all glory, Love led serene, and who returned to tell

"The words of hate and care; the wondrous story How all things are transfigured except Love; (For deaf as is a sea, which wrath makes hoary,

"The world can hear not the sweet notes that movo The sphere whose light is melody to lovers) A wonder worthy of his rhyme—the grove

"Grew dense with shadows to its inmost covers, The earth was grey with phantoms, and the air Was peopled with dim forms, as when there hovers

"A flock of vampire-bats before the glare Of the tropic sun, bringing, ere evening, Strange night upon some Indian vale;—thus were

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