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The monarch and the slave of this low sphere,
And all its narrow circles—it is much.
I honour thee, and would be what thou art
Were I not what I am ; but the unborn hour,
Cradled in fear and hope, conflicting storms,
Who shall up veil? Nor thou, nor I, nor any
Mighty or wise. I apprehend not
What thou hast taught me, but I now perceive
That thou art no interpreter of dreams;
Thou dost not own that art, device, or God,
Can make the future present-let it come!
Moreover thou disdainest us and ours !
Thou art as God, whom thou contemplatest.
Ahasuerus. Disdain thee ?-not the worm beneath my
The Fathomless has care for meaner things
Than thou canst dream, and has made pride for those
Who would be what they may not, or would seem
That which they are not. Sultan ! talk no more
Of thee and me, the future and the past;
But look on that which cannot change—the One
The unborn, and the undying. Earth and ocean,
Space, and the isles of life or light that gem
The sapphire floods of interstellar air,
This firmament pavilioned upon chaos,
With all its cressets of immortal fire,
Whose outwall, bastioned impregnably
Against the escape of boldest thoughts, repels them
As Calpe the Atlantic clouds—this whole
Of suns, and worlds, and men, and beasts, and flowers,
With all the silent or tempestuous workings
By which they have been, are, or cease to be,
Is but a vision ;-all that it inherits
Are motes of a sick eye, bubbles, and dreams;
Thought is its cradle and its grave, nor less
The future and the past are idle shadows
Of thought's eternal flight—they have no being ;
Nought is but that it feels itself to be.
Mahmud. What meanest thou? thy words stream like a
Of dazzling mist within my brain-they shake
The earth on which I stand, and hang like night
On Heaven above me. What can they avail?
They cast on all things, surest, brightest, best,
Doubt, insecurity, astonishment.
Ahasuerus. Mistake me not ! All is contained in each.
Dodona's forest to an acorn's cup
Is that which has been or will be, to that
Which is the absent to the present. Thought
Alone, and its quick elements, Will, Passion,
Reason, Imagination, cannot die;
They are what that which they regard appears,
The stuff whence mutability can weave
All that it hath dominion o'er,—worlds, worms,
Empires, and superstitions. What has thought
To do with time, or place, or circumstance?
Wouldst thou behold the future?-ask and have!
Knock and it shall be opened-look, and lo!
The coming age is shadowed on the past,
As on a glass.
Mahmud. Wild, wilder thoughts convulse
My spirit-Did not Mahomet the Second
Ahasuerus. Thou wouldst ask that giant spirit
The written fortunes of thy house and faith.
Thou wouldst cite one out of the grave to tell
How what was born in blood must die.
Have power on me! I see
What hearest thou?
Mahmud. A far whisper
Ahasuerus. What succeeds ?
As of the assault of an imperial city,
The hiss of inextinguishable fire,
The roar of giant cannon ;—the earthquaking
Fall of vast bastions and precipitous towers,
The shock of crags shot from strange engin'ry,
The clash of wheels, and clang of armed hoofs,
And crash of brazen mail, as of the wreck
Of adamantine mountains—the mad blast
Of trumpets, and the neigh of raging steeds,
And shrieks of women whose thrill jars the blood,
And one sweet laugh, most horrible to hear,
As of a joyous infant waked, and playing
With its dead mother's breast; and now more loud
The mingled battle-cry-ha! hear I not
'Ev TOUTW vian. Allah-illah-Allah!
Ahasuerus. The sulphureous mist is raised—thou seest
As of two mountains, in the wall of Stamboul;
And in that ghastly breach the Islamites,
Like giants on the ruins of a world,
Stand in the light of sunrise. In the dust
Glimmers a kingless diadem, and one
Of regal port has cast himself beneath
The stream of war. Another, proudly clad
In golden arms, spurs a tartarian barb
Into the gap, and with his iron mace
Directs the torrent of that tide of men,
And seems-he is–Mahomet ..
What thou see'st
Is but the ghost of thy forgotten dream;
A dream itself, yet less, perhaps than that
Thou call'st reality. Thou mayst behold
How cities, on which empire sleeps enthroned,
Bow their towered crests to mutability,
Poised by the food, e'en on the height thou holdest,
Thou mayst now learn how the full tide of power
Ebbs to its depths.-Inheritor of glory,
Conceived in darkness, born in blood, and nourished
With tears and toil, thou see'st the mortal throes
Of that whose birth was but the same. The Past
Now stands before thee like an Incarnation
Of the To-come; yet wouldst thou commune with
That portion of thyself which was ere thou
Didst start for this brief race whose crown is death;
Dissolve with that strong faith and fervent passion
Which called it from the uncreated deep,
Yon cloud of war with its tempestuous phantoms
Of raging death ; and draw with mighty will
The imperial shade hither.
[Exit AHASUEBUS Mahmud.
Thence whither thou must go! The grave is fitter
To take the living, than give up the dead;
Yet has thy faith prevailed, and I am here.
The heavy fragments of the power which fell
When I arose, like shapeless crags and clouds,
Hang round my throne on the abyss, and voices
Of strange lament soothe my supreme repose,
Wailing for glory never to return.-
A later Empire nods in its decay;
The autumn of a greener faith is come,
And wolfish change, like winter, howls to strip
The foliage in which Fame, the eagle, built
Her aërie, while Dominion whelped below.
The storm is in its branches, and the frost
Is on its leaves, and the blank deep expects
Oblivion on oblivion, spoil on spoil,
Ruin on ruin: thou art slow, my son;
The Anarchs of the world of darkness keep
A throne for thee, round which thine empire lies
Boundless and mute; and for thy subjects thou,
Like us, shall rule the ghosts of murdered life,
The phantoms of the powers who rule thee now-
Mutinous passions and conflicting fears,
And hopes that sate themselves on dust and die !
Stript of their moutal strength, as thou of thine.
Islam must fall, but we will reign together
Over its ruins in the world of death :-
And if the trunk be dry, yet shall the seed
Unfold itself even in the shape of that
Which gathers birth in its decay. Woe! woe!
To the weak people tangled in the grasp
Of its last spasms.
Mahmud. Spirit, woe to all !
Woe to the wronged and the avenger ! Woe
To the destroyer, woe to the destroyed !
Woe to the dupe, and woe to the deceiver !
Woe to the oppressed and woe to the oppressor !
Woe both to those that suffer and inflict;
Those who are born, and those who die! But say,
Imperial shadow of the thing I am,
When, how, by whom, Destruction must accomplish
Phantom. Ask the cold pale Hour,
Rich in reversion of impending death,
When he shall fall upon whose ripe grey hairs
Sit care, and sorrow, and infirmity-
The weight which Crime, whose wings are plumed with years,
Leaves in his flight from ravaged heart to heart
Over the heads of men, under which burthen
They bow themselves unto the grave : fond wretch !
He leans upon his crutch, and talks of years
To come, and how in hours of youth renewed
He will renew lost joys, and
[The Phantom vanishes.
Mahmud. What sound of the importunate earth has broken
My mighty trance ?
Mahmud. Weak lightning before darkness ! poor faint smile
Of dying Islam ! Voice which art the response
Of hollow weakness! Do I wake and live?
Were there such things? or may the unquiet brain,
Vexed by the wise mad talk of the old Jew,
Have shaped itself these shadows of its fear ?
It matters not !—for nought we see or dream,
Possess, or lose, or grasp at, can be worth
More than it gives or teaches. Come what may,
The future must become the past, and I
As they were, to whom once this present hour,
This gloomy crag of time to which I cling,
Seemed an Elysian isle of peace and joy
Never to be attained.--I must rebuke
This drunkenness of triumph ere it die,
And dying, bring despair.- Victory!- poor slaves !
Voice without Shout in the jubilee of death! The Greeks
Are as a brood of lions in the net,
Round which the kingly hunters of the earth
Staud smiling. Anarchs, ye whose daily food
Are curses, groans, and gold, the fruit of death,
From Thule to the girdle of the world,
Come, feast ! the board groans with the flesh of men,
The cup is foaming with a nation's blood,
Famine and thirst await: eat, drink, and die !
Victorious Wrong, with vulture scream,
Salutes the risen sun, pursues the flying day!
I saw her ghastly as a tyrant's dream,
Perch on the trembling pyramid of night,
Beneath which earth and all her realms pavilioned lay
In visions of the dawning undelight.
Who shall impede ber flight?
Who rob her of her prey?
Voice without. Victory! victory! Russia's famished eagles
Dare not to prey beneath the crescent's light.
Impale the remnant of the Greeks ! despoil !
Violate ! make their flesh cheaper than dust!
Thou voice which art
The herald of the ill in splendour hid !
Thou echo of the hollow heart
Of monarchy, bear me to thine abode
When desolation flashes o'er a world destroyed.
Oh bear me to those isles of jagged cloud
Which float like mountains on the earthquakes, 'mid
The momentary oceans of the lightning;
Or to some toppling promontory proud
Of solid tempest, whose black pyramid,
Riven, overhangs the founts intensely brightening
Of those dawn-tinted deluges of fire
Before their waves expire,
When heaven and earth are light, and only light
In the thunder-night!
Voice without. Victory! victory! Austria, Russia, England,
And that tame serpent, that poor shadow, France,
Cry peace, and that means death when monarchs speak.
Ho, there ! bring torches, sharpen those red stakes!
These chains are light, fitter for slaves and poisoners
Tban Greeks. Kill! plunder ! burn ! let none remain.
Alas for Liberty !
If numbers, wealth, or unfulfilling years,
Or fate, can quell the free;
Alas for Virtue! when