gaunt loins

Of the North-star, hath shrunk into

his den, Scared by the blithesome footsteps of

the Dawn, Whose blushing smile floods all the

Orient; And now bright Lucifer grows less and

less, Into the heaven's blue quiet deep-with

drawn. Sunless and starless all, the desert sky Arches above me, empty as this heart For ages hath been empty of all joy, Except to brood upon its silent hope, As o'er its hope of day the sky doth All night have I heard voices : deeper

yet The deep low breathing of the silence

grew, While all about, muffled in awe, there

stood Shadows, or forms, or both, clear-felt

at heart, But, when I turned to front them, fai

along Only a shudder through the midnight

ran, And the dense stillness walled me

closer round. But still I heard them wander up and

down That solitude, and flappings of dusk

wings Did mingle with them, whether of

those hags Let slip upon me once from Hades deep, Or of yet direr torments, if such be, I could but guess; and then toward me

came A shape as of a woman : very pale It was, and calm ; its cold eyes did not

move, And mine moved not, but only stared

on them. Their fixed awe went through my brain

like ice ; A skeleton hand seemed clutching at

my heart, And a sharp chill, as if a dank night Suddenly closed me in, was all I felt : And then, methought, I heard a freez

ing sigh,

A long, deep, shivering sigh, as from

blue lips Stiffening in death, close to mine ear

I thought Some doom was close upon me, and I

looked And saw the red moon through the

heavy mist, Just setting, and it seemed as it wer.

falling, Or reeling to its fall, so dim and dead And palsy-struck it looked. Then all

sounds merged Into the rising surges of the pines, Which, leagues below me, clothing the Of ancient Caucasus with hairy strength, Sent up, a murmur in the morning

wind, Sad as the wail that from the populous

earth All day and night to high Olympus

Fit incense to thy wicked throne,

Jove !
Thy hated name is tossed once more

in scorn From off my lips, for I will tell thy

doom. And are these tears ? Nay, do not tri

umph, Jove ! They are wrung from me but by the

agonies Of prophecy, like those sparse drops

which fall From clouds in travail of the lightning,

when The great wave of the storm high

curled and black Rolls steadily onward to its thunderous

break. Why art thou made a god of, thou poor

type Of anger, and revenge, and cunning

force ? True Power was never born of brutish

Streng h, Nor sweet Truth suckled at the shaggy

dugs Of that old she-wolf. Are thy thunder

bolts, That quell the darkness for a space, so




As the prevailing patience of meek

Light, Who, with the invincible tenderness

of peace, Wins it to be a portion of herself? Why art thou made a god of, thou, who

hast The never-sleeping terror at thy heart, That birthright of all tyrants, worse to

bear Than this thy ravening bird on which

I smile? Thou swear'st to free me, if I will un

fold What kind of doom it is whose omen

flits Across thy heart, as o'er a troop of

doves The fearful shadow of the kite. What

need To know that truth whose knowledge

cannot save? Evil its errand hath, as well as Good; When thine is finished, thou art known

no more: There is a higher purity than thou, And higher purity is greater strength; Thy nature is thy doom, at which thy

heart Trembles behind the thick wall of thy

might. Let man but hope, and thou art straightWith thought of that drear silence and

deep night Which, like a dream, shall swallow thee

and thine : Let man but will, and thou art god no

more, More capable of ruin than the gold And ivory that image thee on earth. He who hurled down the monstrous

Titan-brood Blinded with lightnings, with rough

thunders stunned, Is weaker than a simple human thought. My slender voice can shake thee, as the

breeze, That seems but apt to stir a maiden's

hair, Sways huge Oceanus from pole to pole : For I am still Prometheus, and fore

know In my wise heart the end and doom of all.

Yes, I am still Prometheus, wiser

grown By years of solitude, that holds apart The past and future, giving the soul

room To search into itself, and long comWith this eternal silence ; - more a

god, In my long-suffering and strength to

meet With equal front the direst shafts of

fate, Than thou in thy faint-hearted despot

ism, Girt with thy baby-toys of force and

wrath. Yes, I am that Prometheus who brought

down The light to man, which thou, in selfish

fear, Hadst to thyself usurped, - his by sole

right, For Man hath right to all save Tyr

anny, And which shall free him yet from thy

frail throne. Tyrants are but the spawn of Igno

rance, Begotten by the slaves they trample on, Who, could they win a glímmer of the

light, And see that Tyranny is always weak

ness, Or Fear with its own bosom ill at ease, Would laugh away in scorn the sand

wove chain Which their own blindness feigned for

adamant. Wrong ever builds on quicksands, but

the Right To the firm centre lays its moveless

base. The tyrant trembles, if the air but stirs The innocent ringlets of a child's free

hair, And crouches, when the thought of

some great spirit, With world-wide murmur, like a rising

gale, Over men's hearts, as over standing

corn, Rushes, and bends them to its own

strong will.

way chilled

bunches press

to see,

60 shall some thought of mine yet cir

cle earth, And puff away thy crumbling altars,

Jove ! And, wouldst thou know of my su

preme revenge, Poor tyrant, even now dethroned in

heart, Realmless in soul, as tyrants ever are, Listen ! and tell me if this bitter peak, This never-glutted vulture, and these

chains Shrink not before it ; for it shall befit A sorrow-taught, unconquered Titan

heart. Men, when their death is on them, seem

to stand On a precipitous crag that overhangs The abyss of doom, and in that depth As in a glass, the features dim and vast Of things to come, the shadows, as it

seems, Of what have been. Death ever fronts

the wise ; Not fearfully, but with clear promises Of larger life, on whose broad vans up

borne, Their outlook widens, and they see

beyond The horizon of the Present and the Past, Even to the very source and end of

things. Sucham I now: immortalwoe hath made My heart a seer, and my soul a judge Between the substance and the shadow

of Truth. The sure supremeness of the Beautiful, By all the martyrdoms made doubly

sure Of such as I am, this is my revenge, Which of my wrongs builds a trium

phal arch, Through which I see a sceptre and a

throne. The pipings of glad shepherds on the

hills, Tending the flocks no more to bleed for

thee, The songs of maidens pressing with

white seet The vintage on thine altars poured no more,

The murmurous bliss of lovers, under.

neath Dim grapevine bowers, whose rosy Not half so closely their warm cheeks,

unpaled By thoughts of thy brute lust, - the

hive-like hum Of peaceful commonwealths, where

sunburnt Toil Reaps for itself the rich earth made its

own By its own labor, lightened with glad

hymns To an omnipotence which thy mad bolts Would cope with as a spark with the

vast sea, Even the spirit of free love and peace, Duty's sure recompense through life

and death, These are such harvests as all master

spirits Reap, haply not on earth, but reapno less Because the sheaves are bound by hands

not theirs ; These are the bloodless daggers where

withal They stab fallen tyrants, this their high

revenge : For their best part of lifeon earth is when, Long after death, prisoned and pent no

more, Their thoughts, their wild dreams even,

have become Part of the necessary air men breathe : When, like the moon, herself behind a

cloud, They shed down light before us on life's

sea, That cheers us to steer onward still in

hope. Earth with her twining memories ivias

o'er Their holy sepulchres; the chainless

sea, In tempest or wide, calm, repeats their

thoughts ; The lightning and the thunder, all free

things, Have legends of them for the ears ofmen. All other glories are as falling stars, But universal Nature watches theirs : Such strength is won by love of human


Not that I feel that hunger after fame, Which souls of a half-greatness are

beset with ; But that the memory of noble deeds Cries shame upon the idle and the vile, And keeps the heart of Man forever up To the heroic level of old time. To be forgot at first is little pain To a heart conscious of such high intent As must be deathless on the lips of

men ; But, having been a name, to sink and be A something which the world can do

without, Which, having been or not, would

never change Thelightest pulse offate, - thisis indeed A cup of bitterness the worst to taste, And this thy heart shall empty to the

dregs. Endless despair shall be thy Caucasus, And memory thy vulture ; thou wilt find Oblivion far lonelier than this peak, Behold thy destiny! Thou think'st it

much That I should brave thee, miserable

god! But I have braved a mightier than

thou, Even the tempting of this soaring heart, Which might have made me, scarcely

less than thou, A god among my brethren weak and

blind, Scarce less than thou, a pitiable thing To be down-trodden into darkness

Thou and all strength shall crumble,

except Love, By whom, and for whose glory, ye shall

cease : And, when thou art but a dim moaning

heard From out the pitiless glooms of Chaos, I Shall be a power and a memory, A name to fright all tyrants with, a light Unsetting as the pole-star, a great voice Heardin the breathless pauses ofthe fight By truth and freedom ever waged with

wrong, Clear as a silver trumpet, to awake Huge echoes that from age to age live on In kindred spirits, giving them a sense Of boundless power from boundless

suffering wrung: And manya glazing eye shall smile to see The memory of my triumph (for to meet Wrong with endurance, and to overcome The present with a heart that looks

beyond, Aretriumph), like a prophet eagle, perch Upon the sacred banner of the Right. Evil springs up, and flowers, and bears

no seed, And feeds the green earth with its swift

decay, Leaving it richer for thegrowth of truth; But Good, once put in action or in

thought, Like a strong oak, doth from its boughs

shed down The ripe germs of a forest. Thou,

weak god, Shalt fade and be forgotten! but this soul, Fresh-living still in the serene abyss, Inevery heavingshall partake, thatgrows From heart to heart among the sons of

men, As the ominous hum before the earth

quake runs Far through the Ægean from roused

isle to isle, Foreboding wreck to palacesand shrines, And mighty rents in many a cavernous That darkens the free light to man:

This heart, Unscarred by thy grim vulture, as the

truth Grows but more lovely 'neath the heals

and claws

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(){ Harpies blind that fain would soil it,

shall In all the throbbing exultations share That wait on freedom's triumphs, and

in all Theglorious agoniesofmartyr-spirits, Sharp lightning-throes to split the

jagged clouds T'hat veil the future, showing them the

end, Pain's thorny crown for constancy and

truth, Girding the temples likea wreath of stars. This is a thought, that, like the fabled

laurel, Makes my faith thunder-proof; and thy

dread bolts Fall ou me like the silent flakes of snow On the hoar brows of aged Caucasus : But, O thought far more blissful, they

can rend This cloud of flesh, and make my soul

a star!

of man,

Unleash thy crouching thunders now,

O Jove ! Free this high heart, which, a poor

captive long, Doth knock to be let forth, this heart

which still, In its invincible manhood, overtops Thy puny godship, as this mountain

doth The pines that moss its roots. O, even

now, While from my peak of suffering I look

down, Beholding with a far-spread gush of

hope The sunrise of that Beauty, in whose

face, Shone all around with love, no man

shall look But straightway like a god he is uplift Unto the throne long empty for his

sake, And clearly oft foreshadowed in wide

dreams By his free inward nature, which nor

thou, Nor any anarch after thee, can bind From working its great doom, - now,

now set free This essence, not to die, but to become

Part of that awful Presence which doth

haunt The palaces of tyrants, to hunt off, With its grim eyes and fearful whisper

ings And hideous sense of utter loneliness, All hope of safety, all desire of peace, All but the loathed forefeeling of blank

death, Part of that spirit which doth ever brood In patient calm on the unpilfered nest Of man's deep heart, till mighty

thoughts grow fledged To sail with darkening shadow o'er

the world, Filling with dread such souls as dare

not trust In the unfailing energy of Good, Until they swoop, and their pale quarry

make Of some o'erbloated wrong, that

spirit which Scatters great hopes in the seed-field Like acorns among grain, to grow and

be A roof for freedom in all coming time !

But no, this cannot be ; for ages yet, In solitude unbroken, shall I hear The angry Caspian to the Euxine shout And Euxine answer with a muffled roar, On either side storming the giant walls Of Caucasus with leagues of climbing

foam (Less, from my height, than flakes of

downy snow), That draw back baffied but to hurl again, Snatched up in wrath and horrible tur.

moil, Mountain on mountain, as the Titans

erst, My brethren, scaling the high seat of

Jove, Heaved Pelion upon Ossa's shoulders

broad In vain emprise. The moon will come With her monotonous vicissitude ; Once beautiful, when I was free to walk Among my fellows, and to interchange The influence benign of loving eyes, But now by aged use grown weari.

and go

some :

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