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XXVII.
“ The frightful silence of that altered mood,
The tortures of the dying clove alone,
Till one uprose among the multitude,
And said — The flood of time is rolling on,
We stand upon its brink, whilst they are gone
To glide in peace down death's mysterious stream.
Have ye done well ? They moulder flesh and bone,

Who might have made this life's envenomed dream
A sweeter draught than ye will ever taste, I deem.

XXVIII.
“These perish as the good and great of yore
Have perished, and their murderers will repent.
Yes, vain and barren tears shall flow before
Yon smoke has faded from the firmament
Even for this cause, that ye, who must lament
The death of those that made this world so fair,
Cannot recall them now; but then is lent

To man the wisdom of a high despair,
When such can die, and he live on and linger here.

XXIX.
“Ay, ye may fear not now the Pestilence,
From fabled hell as by a charm withdrawn;
All power and faith must pass, since calmly hence
In pain and fire have unbelievers gone;
And ye must sadly turn away, and moan
In secret, to his home each one returning;
And to long ages shall this hour be known;

And slowly shall its memory, ever burning,
Fill this dark night of things with an eternal morning.

XXX.
“For me the world is grown too void and cold,
Since hope pursues immortal destiny
With steps thus slow—therefore shall ye behold
How those who love, yet fear not, dare to die;
Tell to your children this !' then suddenly
He sheathed a dagger in his heart, and fell;
My brain grew dark in death, and yet to me

There came a murmur from the crowd to tell
Of deep and mighty change which suddenly befell

XXXI.
“ Then suddenly I stood a winged Thought
Before the immortal Sepate, and the seat
Of that star-shining spirit, whence is wrought
The strength of its dominion, good and great,
The better Genius of this world's estate.
His realm around one mighty Fane is spread,
Elysian isiauds bright and fortunate,

Calm dwellings of the free and happy dead,
Where I am sent to lead !” These winged words she said.

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XXXII.
And with the silence of her eloquent smile,
Bade us embark in her divine canoe;
Then at the helm we took our seat, the while
Above her head those plumes of dazzling hue
Into the wind's invisible stream she threw,
Sitting beside the prow: like gossamer,
On the swift breath of morn, the vessel flew

O'er the bright whirlpools of that fountain fair,
Whose shores receded fast, while we seemed lingering there;

XXXIII.
Till down that mighty stream dark, calm, and fleet,
Between a chasm of cedar mountains riven,
Chased by the thronging winds, whose viewless feet
As swift as twinkling beams, had, under Heaven,
From woods and waves wild sounds and odours driven,
The boat flew visibly-three nights and days,
Borne like a cloud through morn, and noon, and even,

We sailed along the winding watery ways
Of the vast stream, a long and labyrinthine maze.

XXXIV,
A scene of joy and wonder to behold
That river's shapes and shadows changing ever,
Where the broad sunrise filled with deepening gold
Its whirlpools, where all hues did spread and quiver,
And where melodious falls did burst and shiver
Among rocks clad with flowers, the foam and spray
Sparkled like stars upon the sunny river,

Or when the moonlight poured a holier day,
One vast and glittering lake around green islands lay.

Xxxv.

Morn, noon, and even, that boat of pearl outran
The streams which bore it, like the arrowy cloud
Of tempest, or the speedier thought of man,
Which flieth forth and cannot make abode;
Sometimes through forests, deep like night, we glode,
Between the walls of mighty mountains crowned
With Cyclopean piles, whose turrets proud,

The homes of the departed, dimly frowned
O'er the bright waves which girt their dark foundations round.

XXXVI.
Sometimes between the wide and flowering meadows,
Mile after mile we sailed, and 'twas delight
To see far off the sunbeams chase the shadows
Over the grass; sometimes beneath the night
Of wide and vaulted caves, whose roofs were bright
With starry gems, we fled, whilst from their deep
And dark green chasms, shades beautiful and white,

Amid sweet sounds across our path would sweep
Like swift and lovely dreams that walk the waves of sleep.

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XXXVII.
And ever as we sailed, our minds were full
Of love and wisdom, which would overflow
In converse wild, and sweet, and wonderful ;
And in quick smiles whose light would come and go,
Like music o'er wide waves, and in the flow
Of sudden tears, and in the mute caress-
For a deep shade was cleft, and we did know,

That virtue, though obscured on Earth, not less
Survives all mortal change in lasting loveliness.

XXXVIII.
Three days and nights we sailed, as thought and feeling
Number delightful hours--for through the sky
The sphered lamps of day and night, revealing
New changes and new glories, rolled on high,
Sun, Moon, and moonlike lamps, the progeny
Of a diviner Heaven, serene and fair :
On the fourth day, wild as a wind-wrought sea,

The stream became, and fast and faster bare
The spirit-winged boat, steadily speeding there.

XXXIX.
Steadily and swift, where the waves rolled like mountains
Within the vast ravine, whose rifts did pour
Tumultuous floods from their ten thousand fountains,
The thunder of whose earth-uplifting roar
Made the air sweep in whirlwinds from the shore,
Calm as a shade, the boat of that fair child
Securely fled, that rapid stress before,

Amid the topmost spray, and sunbows wild,
Wreathed in the silver mist : in joy and pride we smiled.

IL
The torrent of that wide and raging river
Is passed, and our aerial speed suspended.
We look behind; a golden mist did quiver
When its wild surges with the lake were blended
Our bark hung there, as one line suspended
Between two heavens, that windless waveless lake;
Which four great cataracts from four vales, attended

By mists, aye feed, from rocks and clouds they break,
And of that azure sea a silent refuge make.

XLL.
Motionless resting on the lake awhile
I saw its marge of snow-bright mountains rear
Their peaks aloft, I saw each radiant isle,
And in the midst, afar, even like a sphere
Hung in one hollow sky, did there appear
The Temple of the Spirit; on the sound
Which issued thence, drawn nearer and more near,

Like the swift moon this glorious earth around,
The charmed boat approached, and there its haven found.

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198

PROMETHEUS UNBOUND;

A LYRICAL DRAMA, IN Four Acts.

Audisne hæc Amphiarae, sub terram abdite?

PREFACE. THE Greek tragic writers, in selecting as their subject any portion of their national history or mythology, employed in their treatment of it a certain arbitrary discretion. They by no means conceived themselves bound to adhere to the common interpretation, or to imitate in story, as in title, their rivals and predecessors. Such a system would have amounted to a resignation of those claims to preference over their competitors which incited the composition. The Agamemnonian story was exhibited on the Athenian theatre with as many variations as dramas.

I have presumed to employ a similar license. The “Prometheus Unbound” of Æschylus supposed the reconciliation of Jupiter with his victim as the price of the disclosure of the danger threatened to his empire by the consummation of his marriage with Thetis. Thetis, according to this view of the subject, was given in marriage to Peleus, and Prometheus, by the permission of Jupiter, delivered from his captivity by Hercules. Had I framed my story on this model, I should have done no more than have attempted to restore the lost drama of Æschylus; an ambition, which, if my preference to this mode of treating the subject had incited me to cherish, the recollection of the high comparison such an attempt would challenge, might well abate. But, in truth, I was averse from a catastrophe so feeble as that of reconciling the Champion with the Oppressor of mankind. The moral interest of the fable, which is so powerfully sustained by the sufferings and endurance of Prometheus, would be annihilated if we could conceive of him as unsaying his high language and quailing before his successful and perfidious adversary. The only imaginary being resembling in any degree Prometheus, is Satan : and Prometheus is, in my judgment,

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a more poetical character than Satan, because, in addition to courage, and majesty, and firm and patient opposition to omnipotent force, he is susceptible of being described as exempt from the taints of ambition, envy, revenge, and a desire for personal aggrandisement, which, in the Hero of Paradise Lost, interfere with the interest. The character of Satan engenders in the mind a pernicious casuistry, which leads us to weigh his faults with his wrongs, and to excuse the former because the latter exceed all measure. In the minds of those who consider that magnificent fiction with a religious feeling, it engenders something worse. But Prometheus is, as it were, the type of the highest perfection of moral and intellectual nature, impelled by the purest and the truest motives to the best and noblest ends.

This Poem was chiefly written upon the mountainous ruins of the Baths of Caracalla, among the flowery glades, and thickets of odoriferous blossoming trees, which are extending in everwinding labyrinths upon its immense platforms and dizzy arches suspended in the air. The bright blue sky of Rome, and tbe effect of the vigorous awakening of spring in that divinest climate, and the new life with which it drenches the spirits even to intoxication, were the inspiration of this drama.

The imagery which I have employed will be found, in many instances, to have been drawn from the operations of the human mind, or from those external actions by which they are expressed. This is unusual in modern poetry, although Dante and Shakspeare are full of instances of the same kind : Dante indeed more than any other poet, and with greater success. But the Greek poets, as writers to whom no resource of awakening the sympathy of their contemporaries was unknown, were in the habitual use of this power; and it is the study of their works (since a higher merit would probably be donied me), to which I am willing that my readers should impute this singularity.

One word is due in candour to the degree in which the study of contemporary writings may have tinged my composition, for such has been a topic of censure with regard to poems far more popular, and, indeed, more deservedly popular, than mine. It is impossible that any one who inhabits the same age with such writers as those who stand in the foremost ranks of our own, can conscientiously assure himself that his language and tone of thought may not have been modified by the study of the productions of those extraordinary intellects. It is true, that, not the spirit of their genius, but the forms in which it has manifested itself, are due less to the peculiarities of their own minds than to the peculiarity of the moral and intellectual condition of the minds among which they have been produced. Thus a number of writers possess the form, whilst they want the spirit of those whom, it is alleged, they imitate : because the former is the endowment of the age in which they live, and the latter must be the uncommunicated lightning of their own mind.

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