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"A stunning clang of massive bolts redoubling
"And then," she said, " he laid me in a cave
"Below, the fountain's brink was richly paven With the deep's wealth, coral, and pearl, and sand Like spangling gold, and purple shells engraven With mystic legends by no mortal hand, [mand, Left there, when, thronging to the moon's comThe gathering waves rent the Hesperian gate Of mountains, and on such bright floor did stand Columns, and shapes like statues, and the state Of kingless thrones, which Earth did in her heart create.
"The fiend of madness which had made its prey Of my poor heart, was lulled to sleep awhile: There was an interval of many a day, And a sea-eagle brought me food the while, Whose nest was built in that untrodden isle, And who, to be the jailer, had been taught, Of that strange dungeon; as a friend whose smile Like light and rest at morn and even is sought, That wild bird was to me, till madness misery brought.
"The misery of a madness slow and creeping, Which made the earth seem fire, the sea seem air, And the white clouds of noon which oft were sleepIn the blue heaven so beautiful and fair, [ing Like hosts of ghastly shadows hovering there; And the sea-eagle looked a fiend who bore Thy mangled limbs for food!—Thusall things were Transformed into the agony which I wore, Even as a poisoned robe around my bosom's core.
"Again I knew the day and night fast fleeing, The eagle and the fountain and the air; Another frenzy came—there seemed a being Within me—a strange load my heart did bear, As if some living thing had made its lair Even in the fountains of my life:—a long And wondrous vision wrought from my despair, Then grew, like sweet reality among Dim visionary woes, an unreposing throng.
"Methought I was about to be a mother—
"It was a babe, beautiful from its birth,—
A doubt which would not flee, a tenderness Of questioning grief, a source of thronging tears; Which, having past, as one whom sobs oppress, She spoke: "Yes, in the wilderness of years Her memory, aye, like a green home appears. She sucked her fill even at this breast, sweet love, For many months I had no mortal fears; Methought I felt her lips and breath approve,— It was a human thing which to my bosom clove.
"I watched the dawn of her first smiles, and soon When zenith-stars were trembling on the wave, Or when the beams of the invisible moon, Or sun, from many a prism within the cave Their gem-born shadows to the water gave, Her looks would hunt them, and with outspread hand, [pave,
From the swift lights which might that fountain She would mark one, and laugh,when that command Slighting, it lingered there, and could not understand.
xxi. "Methought her looks began to talk with me; And no articulate sounds, but something sweet Her lips would frame,—so sweet it could not be, That it was meaningless; her touch would meet Mine, and our pulses calmly flow and beat In response while we slept; and on a day When I was happiest in that strange retreat, With heaps of golden shells we two did play,— Both infants, weaving wings for time's perpetual way.
xxn. "Ere night, methought, her waning eyes were Wearywithjoy,andtiredwithourdelight, [grown We, on the earth, like sister twins lay down On one fair mother's bosom:—from that night She fled;—like those illusions clear and bright, Which dwell in lakes, when the red moon on high Pause ere it wakens tempest;—and her flight, Though 'twas the death of brainless phantasy, Yet smote my lonesome heart more than all misery.
B It aetsned that in the dreary night, the diver
- I was no longer mad, and yet methought
The blood stood still one moment, while mat
'• So now my reason was restored to me,
Vexed the inconstant waves with my perpetual
"Time past, I know not whether months or years; For day, nor night, nor change of seasons made Its note, but thoughts and unavailing tears: And 1 became at last even as a shade, A smoke, a cloud on which the winds have preyed, Till it be thin as air ; until, one even, A Nautilus upon the fountain played, Spreading his azure sail where breath of Heaven Descended not, among the waves and whirlpools driven.
■ And when the Eagle came, that lovely thing, Oaring with rosy feet its silver boat, Fled near me as for shelter ; on Blow wing, The Eagle, hovering o'er his prey, did float; Bat when he saw that I with fear did note His purpose, proffering my own food to him, The eager plumes subsided on his throat— He came where that bright child of sea did swim, And o'er it cast in peace his shadow broad and dim.
■ This wakened me, it gave me human strength;
"And where was Laon! might my heart be dead, While that far dearer heart could move and be! Or whilst over the earth the pall was spread, Which I had sworn to rend! I might be free, Could I but win that friendly bird to me, To bring mc ropes ; and long in vain I sought By intercourse of mutual imagery Of objects, if such aid he could be taught; But fruit, and flowers, and boughs, yet never ropes he brought.
"We live in our own world, and mine was made
"My mind became the book through which I grew Wise in all human wisdom, and its cave, Which like a mine I rifled through and through, To me the keeping of its secrets gave— One mind, the type of all, the moveless wave Whose calm reflects all moving things that are, Necessity, and love, and life, the grave, And sympathy, fountains of hope and fear; Justice, and truth, and time, and the world's natural sphere.
"And on the sand would I make signs to range
From mine own voice in dream, when thy dear Shone through my sleep, and did that utterance harmonize.
"Thy songs were winds whereon I fled at will, As in a winged chariot, o'er the plain Of crystal youth ; and thou wert there to fill My heart with joy, and there we sate again On the grey margin of the glimmering main. Happy as then but wiser far, for we Smiled on the flowery grave in which were lain Fear, Faith, and Slavery; and mankind was free, Equal, and pure, and wise, in wisdom's prophecy.
"For to my will my fancies were as slaves
"And thus my prison was the populous earth— Where I saw—even as misery dreams of morn Before the east has given its glory birth— Religion's pomp made desolate by the scorn Of Wisdom's faintest smile, and thrones uptorn, And dwellings of mild people interspersed With undivided fields of ripening corn, And love made free,—a hope which we have nurst Even with our blood and tears,—until its glory burst.
"All is not lost! There is some recompense
"Such are the thoughts which, like the fires that
flare In storm-encompassed isles, we cherish yet In this dark ruin—such were mine even there; As in its sleep some odorous violet, While yet its leaves with nightly dews are wet, Breathes in prophetic dreams of day's uprise, Or, as ere Scythian frost in fear has met Spring's messengers descending from the skies, The buds foreknow their life—this hope must ever
"So years had past, when sudden earthquake rent
Before me yawned—a chasm desert, and bare, and broad.
xxxac "Above me was the sky, beneath the sea: I stood upon a point of shattered stone, And heard loose rocks rushing tumultuously With splash and shock into the deep—anon All ceased, and there was silence wide and lone. I felt that I was free 1 The Ocean-spray Quivered beneath my feet, the broad Heaven shone Around, and in my hair the winds did play,
Lingering as they pursued their unimpeded way.
"My spirit moved upon the sea like wind Which round some thvmy cape will lag and hover, Though it can wake the still cloud, and unbind The strength of tempest : day was almost over, When through the fading light I could discover A ship approaching—its white sails were fed With the north wind—its moving shade did cover The twilight deep;—the mariners in dread Cast anchor when they saw new rocks around them spread.
"And when they saw one sitting on a crag, They sent a boat to me ;—the sailors rowed In awe through many a new and fearful jag Of overhanging rock, through which there flowed The foam of streams that cannot make abode. They came and questioned me, but,when they heard My voice, they became silent, and they stood And moved as men in whom new love had stirred Deep thoughts: so to the ship we past without a word.
"I Sate beside the steersman then, and, gazing Upon the west, cried,' Spread the sails! behold! The sinking moon is like a watch-tower blazing Over the mountains yet;—the City of Gold Yon Cape alone does from the sight withhold; The stream is fleet—the north breathes steadily Beneath the stars ; they tremble with the cold I Ye cannot rest upon the dreary sea ;— Haste, haste to the warm home of happier destiny!'
"The Mariners obeyed—the Captain stood
Aloof, and, whispering to the Pilot, said,
'Alas, alas! I fear we are pursued
By wicked ghosts: a Phantom of the Dead,
The night before we sailed, came to my bed
In dream, like that!' The Pilot then replied,
'It cannot be—she is a human Maid—
Her low voice makes you weep—she is some bride,
Or daughter of high birth—she can be nought beside.'
m. "We past the islets, borne by wind and stream, And as we sailed, the Mariners came near And thronged around to listen ;—in the gleam Of the pale moon I stood, as one whom fear May not attaint, and my calm voice did rear: 'Ye arc all human—yon broad moon gives light To millions who the self-same likeness wear. Even while I speak—beneath this very night,
Their thoughts flow on like ours, in sadness or delight.
"' What dream ye! Your own hands have built a Even for yourselves on a beloved shore: [home, For some, fond eyes are pining till they come. How they will greet him when his toils are o'er. And laughing babes rush from the well-known door! Is this your care! ye toil for your own good— Ye feel and think—has some immortal power Such purposes! or in a human mood,
Dream ye some Power thus builds for man in solitude I
v. "' What is that Power \ Ye mock yourselves, and A human heart to what ye cannot know: [give As if the cause of life could think and live! 'Twere as if man's own works should feel, and show The hopes,and fears,and thoughts, from which tbey And he be liko to them. Lo! Plague is free [flow. To waste, Blight, Poison, Earthquake, Hail, and Disease, and Want, and worse Necessity [Snow,
Of hate and ill, and Pride, and Fear, and Tyranny. "'What is that Power t Some moon-struck sophist
stood Watching the shade from his own soul upthrown Fill Heaven and darken Earth, and in such mood The Form he saw and worshipped was his own, His likeness in the world's vast mirror shown; And 'twere an innocent dream, but that a faith Nursed by fear's dew of poison, grows thereon, And that men say, that Power has chosen Death On all who scorn its laws, to wreak immortal wrath.
"' Men say that they themselves have heard and
seen, Or known from others who have known such things, A Shade,a Form, which Earth and Heaven between Wields an invisible rod—that Priests and Kings, Custom, domestic sway, aye, all that brings Man's free-born soul beneath the oppressor's heel, Are his strong ministers, and that the stings Of death will make the wise his vengeance feel,
Though truth and virtue arm their hearts with tenfold steel.
vra. "' And it is said, this Power will punish wrong; Yes, add despair to crime, and pain to pain 1 And deepest hell, and deathless snakes among, Will bind the wretch on whom is fixed a stain, Which, like a plague, a burthen, and a bane, Clung to him while he lived ;—for love and hate, Virtue and vice, they say are difference vain— The will of strength is right—this human state
Tyrants, that they may rule, with lies thus desolate.
"* Alas, what strength 1 Opinion is more frail Than yon dim cloud now fading on the moon Even while we gaze, though it awhile avail To hide the orb of truth—and every throne Of Earth or Heaven, though shadow rests thereon, One shape of many names:—for this ye plough The barren waves of ocean; hence each one Is slave or tyrant; all betray and bow, Command, or kill, or fear, or wreak, or suffer woe.
"'Its names are each a sign which maketh holy All power—aye, the ghost, the dream, the shade, Of power—lust, falsehood, hate, and pride, and
folly; The pattern whence all fraud and wrong is made, A law to which mankind has been betrayed; And human love, is as the name well known Of a dear mother, whom the murderer laid In bloody grave, and, into darkness thrown, Gathered her wildered babes around him as his own.
■' O love! who to the hearts of wandering men Art as the calm to Ocean's weary waves! Justice, or truth, or joy! thou only can From slavery and religion's labyrinth caves Guide us, as one clear star the seaman saves. To give to all an equal share of good, To track the steps of freedom, though through She pass, to suffer all in patient mood, [graves To weep for crime, though stained with thy fnend'8 dearest blood.
"' To feel the peace of self-contentment's lot, To own all sympathies, and outrage none, And, in the inmost bowers of sense and thought, Until life's sunny day is quite gone down, To sit and smile with Joy, or, not alone, To kiss salt tears from the worn cheek of Woe; To live, as if to love and live were one,— This is not faith or law, nor those who bow To thrones on Heaven or Earth, such destiny may know.
"' But children near their parents tremble now,
all other, Are darkened—Woman, as the bond-slave, dwells Of man, a slave; and life is poisoned in its wells.
"'Man seeks for gold in mines, that he may weave
"' Woman!—she is his slave, she has become
xvi. "* This need not be; ye might arise, and will That gold should lose its power, and thrones their
glory; That love, which none may bind, be free to fill The world, like light; and evil faith, grown hoar}' With crime, be quenched and die.—Yon promonEven now eclipses the descending moon!— [tory Dungeons and palaces are transitory— High temples fade like vapour—Man alone Remains, whose will has power when all beside is
"' Let all be free and equal!—From your hearts
"' Whence come ye, friends! from ponring human
blood Forth on the earth! or bring ye steel and gold, That Kings may dupe and sky the multitude 1 Or from the famished poor, pale, weak, and cold, Bear ye the earnings of their toil! unfold 1 Speak! are your hands in slaughter's sanguine hue Stain'd freshly! have your hearts in guile grown old! Know yourselves thus! ye shall be pure aa dew, And I will be a friend and sister unto you.
"' Disguise it not—we have one human heart—
tomb, Thou and thy thoughts and they, and all the toil
Wherewith ye twine the rings of life's perpetual coil.
xz. "' Disguise it not—ye blush for what ye hate, And Enmity is sister unto Shame; Look on your mind—it is the book of fate— Ah! it is dark with many a blazoned name Of misery—all are mirrors of the same; But the dark fiend who with his iron pen, Dipped in scorn's fiery poison, makes his fame Enduring there, would o'er the heads of men
Pass harmless, if they scorned to make their hearts his den.
"' Yes, it is Hate, that shapeless fiendly thing Of many names, all evil, some divine, Whom self-contempt arms with a mortal sting; Which, when the heart its snaky folds entwine, Is wasted quite, and when it doth repine To gorge such bitter prey, on all beside It turns with ninefold rage, aa with its twine When Amphisbcena some fair bird has tied, Soon o'er the putrid mass he threats on every side.
"' Reproach not thine own soul, but know thyself, Nor hate another's crime, nor loathe thine own. It is the dark idolatry of self, [gone,
Which, whon our thoughts and actions once are
The past is Death's, the future is thine own;
A paradise of flowers, where peace might build her nest.'
Kxin. "' Speak thoul whence come ye!'—A Youth made 'Wearily, wearily o'er the boundless deep [reply, We sail;—thou readest well the misery Told in these faded eyes, but much doth sleep Within, which there the poor heart loves to keep, Or dare not write on the dishonoured brow; Even from our childhood have we learned to steep The bread of slavery in the tears of woo,
And never dreamed of hope or refuge until now.
"' Yes—I must speak—my secret would have
perished Even with the heart it wasted, as a brand Fades in the dying flame whose life it cherished. But that no human bosom can withstand Thee, wondrous Lady, and the mild command Of thy keen eyes:—yes, we are wretched slaves, Who from their wonted loves and native land Are reft, and bear o'er the dividing waves The unregarded prey of calm and happy graves.
"«We drag afar from pastoral vales the fairest Among the daughters of those mountains lone, We drag them there, where all things best and rarest [gone
Are stained and trampled:—years have come and Since, like the ship which bears me, I have known No thought;—but now the eyes of one dear Maid On mine with light of mutual love have shone— She is my life,—I am but as the shade Of her,—a smoke sent up from ashes, soon to fade.
"' For she must perish in the tyrant's hall— Alas, alas!'—He ceased, and by the sail Sate cowering—but his sobs were heard by all, And still before the ocean and the gale The ship fled fast till the stars 'gan to fail. All round me gathered with mute countenance, The Seamen gazed, the Pilot, worn and pale With toil, the Captain with grey locks, whose glance Met mine in restless awe—(hey stood as in a trance.
"'Recede not! pause not now! thou art grown old, But Hope will make thee young, for Hope and Youth Are children of one mother, even Love—behold! The eternal stars gaze on us 1—is the truth Within your soul! care for your own, or ruth For other's sufferings! do ye thirst to bear A heart which not the serpent custom's tooth May violate!—Be free I and even here, Sweartobefirmtilldeath!' They cried,'We swear! we swear!'
"The very darkness shook, as with a blast
Of subterranean thunder at the cry;
The hollow shore its thousand echoes cast
Into the night, as if the sea, and sky,
And earth, rejoiced with new-born liberty,
For in that name they swore! Bolts were undrawn.
And on the deck, with wiaccustomed eye
The captives gazing stood, and every one
Shrank as the inconstant torch upon her countenance shone.
xxix. "Thoy were earth's purest children, young and fair. With eyes the shrines of unawakencd thought. And brows as bright as spring or morning, ere Dark time had there its evil legend wrought In characters of eloud which wither not.— The change was like a dream to them ; but soon They knew the glory of their altered lot, In the bright wisdom of youth's breathless noon.
Sweet talk, and smiles, and sighs, all bosoms did attune.