« AnteriorContinuar »
Yet Kkest evening's vault, that fairy IJall!
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
Looked 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 rolled 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 leaned,
And, for the varied bliss that pressed 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 resigned
To pleasurable impulses, immured
Within the prison of itself, the will
Of changeless nature would be unfulfilled.
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
Approached the overhanging battlement
Below lay stretched the universe 1
There, far as the remotest line
That bounds imagination's flight,
Countless and unending orbs
In mazy motion intermingled,
Yet still fulfilled immutably
Eternal Nature's law.
Above, below, around
The circling systems formed
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 mansions cease to act;
And all-prevailing wisdom, when it reaps
The harvest of its excellence, o'erboundB
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 recognized.
The thronging thousands, to a passing view,
Seemed 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 frowned;
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
Reared 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
Howled hideous praises to their Demon-God;
They rushed to war, tore from the mother's womb
The unborn child,—old age and infancy
Promiscuous perished ; 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,
Remembered 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 cowled and hypocritical monk
Prays, curses, and deceives.
Spirit ! ten thousand years Have scarcely passed 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 appeared to brave All, save its country's ruin; There the wide forest scene, Rode in the uncultivated loveliness
Of gardens long run wild,
Seems, to the unwilling sojourner, whose steps
Chance in that desert has delayed,
Thus to have stood since earth was what it is.
Yet once it was the busiest haunt,
Whither, as to a common centre, flocked
Strangers, and ships, and merchandize:
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
WTortby 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 flowed 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 ecstacy 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 seemed 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.
Faikv ! the Spirit said,
And on the Queen of Spells
Fixed her ethereal eyes,
I thank thee. Thou hast given
A boon which I will not resign, and taught
A lesson not to be unlearned. 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 unscanned.
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 sliame, 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 faggot meets again Her welcome for whom all his toil is sped, Tastes not a Bweeter 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 1 oh I mark that frenzied eye— Oh I mark that deadly visage.
No cessation! Oh! must this last for ever! Awful death, I wish yet fear to clasp thee! Not one moment Of dreamless sleep! 0 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
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 I hat this poor wretch should pride him in his woel Take pleasure in his abjectness, and hug The scorpion that consumes him? Is it strange That, placed on a conspicuous throne of thorns, Gr.is|,ing an iron sceptre, and immured Within a splendid prison, whose stern bounds hhut 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 Uvea
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 woe of sloth.
Whence, thinkest 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
Is peace, 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.
Where is the fame
Which the vain-glorious mighty of the earth
Seek to eternize? Oh! the faintest sound
From time's light foot-fall, the minutest wave
That swells the flood of ages, whelms in nothin»
The unsubstantial bubble. Aye! to-day
Stern is the tyrant's mandate, red the gaze
That Hashes desolation, strong the arm
That scatters multitudes. To-morrow comes!
That mandate is a thunder-peal that died
In ages past; that gaze, a transient flash
On which the midnight closed, and on that arm
The worm has made his meal.
The virtuous man Who, great in his humility, as kings Are little in their grandeur; he who leads Invincibly a life of resolute good, And Btauds amid the silent dungeon-depths More free and fearless than the trembling judge, Who, clothed in venal power, vainly strove To bind the impassive spirit;—when he falls, His mild eye beams benevolence no more:
Withered the hand outstretched but to relieve;
Sunk reason's simple eloquence, that rolled
But to appal the guilty. Yes! the grave [frost
Hath quenched that eye, and death's relentless
Withered that arm: but the unfading fame
Which virtue hangs npon its votary's tomb;
The deathless memory of that man, whom kings
Call to their mind and tremble; the remembrance
With which the happy spirit contemplates
Its well-spent pilgrimage on earth,
Shall never pass away.
Nature rejects the monarch, not the man;
The subject, not the citizen: for kings
And subject.*, mutual foes, for ever play
A losing game into each other's hands,
Whose stakes are vice and misery. The man
Of virtuous soul commands not, nor obeys.
Power, like a desolating pestilence,
Pollutes whatever it touches; and obedience,
Bane of all genius, virtue, freedom, truth,
Makes slaves of men, and of the human frame
A mechanized automaton.
High over flaming Rome, with savage joy
Lowered like a fiend, drank with enraptured ear
The shrieks of agonising death, beheld
The frightful desolation spread, and felt
A new-created sense within his soul
Thrill to the sight, and vibrate to the sound;
Thinkest thou his grandeur had not overcome
The force of human kindness t and, when Rome,
With one stern blow, hurled not the tyrant down,
Crushed not the arm, red with her dearest blood,
Had not submissive abjectness destroyed
Look on yonder earth:
The golden harvests spring; the unfailing sun
Sheds light and life; the fruits, the flowers, the
Arise in due succession; all things speak [trees,
Peace, harmony, and love. The universe,
In nature's silent eloquence, declares
That all fulfil the works of love and joy,—
All but the outcast, Man. He fabricates
The sword which stabs his peace; he cherisheth
The snakes that gnaw his heart; he raiseth up
The tyrant, whose delight is in his woe,
Whose sport is in his agony. Yon son,
Lights it the great alone t Yon silver beams,
Sleep they less sweetly on the cottage thatch,
Than on the dome of kings) Is mother earth
A step-dame to her nnmerous sons, who earn
Her unshared gifts with unremitting toil;
A mother only to those puling babes
Who, nursed in ease and luxury, make men
The playthings of their babyhood, and mar,
In self-important childishness, that peace
Which men alone appreciate!
Spirit of Nature! no!
The pure diffusion of thy essence throbs
Alike in every human heart.
Thou, aye, erectest there
Thy throne of power unappealable:
Thou art the judge beneath whose nod
Man's brief and frail authority
Is powerless as the wind
That passeth idly by.
Thine the tribunal which surpasseth
The show of human justice,
As God surpasses man.
Spirit of Nature! thou
Life of interminable multitudes;
Soul of those mighty spheres
Whose changeless paths through Heaven's deep
Soul of that smallest being, [silence lie;
The dwelling of whose life Is one faint April sun-gleam;— Man, like these passive things, Thy will unconsciously fulfilleth: Like theirs, his age of endless peace, Which time is fast maturing, Will swiftly, surely, come; And the unbounded frame, which thou pervadest Will be without a flaw Marring its perfect symmetry.
How beautiful this night! the balmiest sigh,
Which vernal zephyrs breathe in evening's ear,
Were discord to the speaking quietude
That wraps this moveless scene. Heaven's ebon
Studded with stars unutterably bright, [vault,
Through which the moon's unclouded grandeur
Seems like a canopy which love has spread [rolls,
To curtain her sleeping world. Yon gentle hills,
Robed in a garment of untrodden snow;
Yon darksome rocks, whence icicles depend,
So stainless that their white and glittering spires
Tinge not the moon's pure beam; yon castled steep,
Whose banner hangeth o'er the time-worn tower
So idly, that rapt fancy deemeth it
A metaphor of peace;—all form a scene
Where musing solitude might love to lift
Her soul above this sphere of earthliness;
Where silence undisturbed might watch alone,
So cold, so bright, so still.
The orb of day,
In southern climes, o'er ocean's waveless field
Sinks sweetly smiling: not the faintest breath
Steals o'er the unruffled deep; the clouds of eve
Reflect unmoved the lingering beam of day;
And vesper's image on the western main
Is beautifully still. To-morrow comes:
Cloud upon cloud, in dark and deepening mass,
Roll o'er the blackened waters; the deep roar
Of distant thunder mutters awfully;
Tempest unfolds its pinion o'er the gloom
That shrouds the boiling surge; the pitiless fiend,
With all his winds and lightnings, tracks his prey;
The torn deep yawns,—the vessel finds a grave
Beneath its jagged gulf.
Ah! whence yon glare That fires the arch of heaven I —that dark red smoke Blotting the silver moon! The stars are quenched In darkness, and the pure and spangling snow Gleamsfaintlythrough the gloom that gathers round. Hark to that roar, whose swift and deafening peals In countless echoes through the mountains ring, Startling pale midnight on her starry throne! Now swells the intermingling din; the jar Frequent and frightful of the bursting bomb; The falling beam, the shriek, the groan, the shout, The ceaseless clangor, and the rush of men