CONTENTS      BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD


Prometheus Unbound: A Lyrical Drama in Four Acts.



DRAMATIS PERSONÆ

                            _
      PROMETHEUS.   ASIA     |
      DEMOGORGON.   PANTHEA  |-  Oceanides.
      JUPITER.      IONE    _|
      THE EARTH.    THE PHANTASM OF JUPITER.
      OCEAN.        THE SPIRIT OF THE EARTH.
      APOLLO.       THE SPIRIT OF THE MOON.
      MERCURY.      SPIRITS OF THE HOURS.
      HERCULES.     SPIRITS. ECHOES. FAUNS.
                    FURIES.


Act II



SCENE I.--Morning. A lovely Vale in the Indian Caucasus. ASIA, alone.

ASIA
      FROM all the blasts of heaven thou hast descended;
      Yes, like a spirit, like a thought, which makes
      Unwonted tears throng to the horny eyes,
      And beatings haunt the desolated heart,
      Which should have learned repose; thou hast descended
      Cradled in tempests; thou dost wake, O Spring!
      O child of many winds! As suddenly
      Thou comest as the memory of a dream,
      Which now is sad because it hath been sweet;
      Like genius, or like joy which riseth up                        10
      As from the earth, clothing with golden clouds
      The desert of our life.
      This is the season, this the day, the hour;
      At sunrise thou shouldst come, sweet sister mine,
      Too long desired, too long delaying, come!
      How like death-worms the wingless moments crawl!
      The point of one white star is quivering still
      Deep in the orange light of widening morn
      Beyond the purple mountains; through a chasm
      Of wind-divided mist the darker lake                            20
      Reflects it; now it wanes; it gleams again
      As the waves fade, and as the burning threads
      Of woven cloud unravel in pale air;
      'T is lost! and through yon peaks of cloudlike snow
      The roseate sunlight quivers; hear I not
      The Æolian music of her sea-green plumes
      Winnowing the crimson dawn?

PANTHEA enters
                                   I feel, I see
      Those eyes which burn through smiles that fade in tears,
      Like stars half-quenched in mists of silver dew.
      Belovèd and most beautiful, who wearest                         30
      The shadow of that soul by which I live,
      How late thou art! the spherèd sun had climbed
      The sea; my heart was sick with hope, before
      The printless air felt thy belated plumes.

PANTHEA
      Pardon, great Sister! but my wings were faint
      With the delight of a remembered dream,
      As are the noontide plumes of summer winds
      Satiate with sweet flowers. I was wont to sleep
      Peacefully, and awake refreshed and calm,
      Before the sacred Titan's fall and thy                          40
      Unhappy love had made, through use and pity,
      Both love and woe familiar to my heart
      As they had grown to thine: erewhile I slept
      Under the glaucous caverns of old Ocean
      Within dim bowers of green and purple moss,
      Our young Ione's soft and milky arms
      Locked then, as now, behind my dark, moist hair,
      While my shut eyes and cheek were pressed within
      The folded depth of her life-breathing bosom:
      But not as now, since I am made the wind                        50
      Which fails beneath the music that I bear
      Of thy most wordless converse; since dissolved
      Into the sense with which love talks, my rest
      Was troubled and yet sweet; my waking hours
      Too full of care and pain.

ASIA
                                  Lift up thine eyes,
      And let me read thy dream.

PANTHEA
                                  As I have said,
      With our sea-sister at his feet I slept.
      The mountain mists, condensing at our voice
      Under the moon, had spread their snowy flakes,
      From the keen ice shielding our linkèd sleep.                   60
      Then two dreams came. One I remember not.
      But in the other his pale wound-worn limbs
      Fell from Prometheus, and the azure night
      Grew radiant with the glory of that form
      Which lives unchanged within, and his voice fell
      Like music which makes giddy the dim brain,
      Faint with intoxication of keen joy:
      'Sister of her whose footsteps pave the world
      With loveliness--more fair than aught but her,
      Whose shadow thou art--lift thine eyes on me.'                  70
      I lifted them; the overpowering light
      Of that immortal shape was shadowed o'er
      By love; which, from his soft and flowing limbs,
      And passion-parted lips, and keen, faint eyes,
      Steamed forth like vaporous fire; an atmosphere
      Which wrapped me in its all-dissolving power,
      As the warm ether of the morning sun
      Wraps ere it drinks some cloud of wandering dew.
      I saw not, heard not, moved not, only felt
      His presence flow and mingle through my blood                   80
      Till it became his life, and his grew mine,
      And I was thus absorbed, until it passed,
      And like the vapors when the sun sinks down,
      Gathering again in drops upon the pines,
      And tremulous as they, in the deep night
      My being was condensed; and as the rays
      Of thought were slowly gathered, I could hear
      His voice, whose accents lingered ere they died
      Like footsteps of weak melody; thy name
      Among the many sounds alone I heard                             90
      Of what might be articulate; though still
      I listened through the night when sound was none.
      Ione wakened then, and said to me:
      'Canst thou divine what troubles me tonight?
      I always knew what I desired before,
      Nor ever found delight to wish in vain.
      But now I cannot tell thee what I seek;
      I know not; something sweet, since it is sweet
      Even to desire; it is thy sport, false sister;
      Thou hast discovered some enchantment old,                     100
      Whose spells have stolen my spirit as I slept
      And mingled it with thine; for when just now
      We kissed, I felt within thy parted lips
      The sweet air that sustained me; and the warmth
      Of the life-blood, for loss of which I faint,
      Quivered between our intertwining arms.'
      I answered not, for the Eastern star grew pale,
      But fled to thee.

ASIA
                         Thou speakest, but thy words
      Are as the air; I feel them not. Oh, lift
      Thine eyes, that I may read his written soul!                  110

PANTHEA
      I lift them, though they droop beneath the load
      Of that they would express; what canst thou see
      But thine own fairest shadow imaged there?

ASIA
      Thine eyes are like the deep, blue, boundless heaven
      Contracted to two circles underneath
      Their long, fine lashes; dark, far, measureless,
      Orb within orb, and line through line inwoven.

PANTHEA
      Why lookest thou as if a spirit passed?

ASIA
      There is a change; beyond their inmost depth
      I see a shade, a shape: 't is He, arrayed                      120
      In the soft light of his own smiles, which spread
      Like radiance from the cloud-surrounded moon.
      Prometheus, it is thine! depart not yet!
      Say not those smiles that we shall meet again
      Within that bright pavilion which their beams
      Shall build on the waste world? The dream is told.
      What shape is that between us? Its rude hair
      Roughens the wind that lifts it, its regard
      Is wild and quick, yet 't is a thing of air,
      For through its gray robe gleams the golden dew                130
      Whose stars the noon has quenched not.

DREAM
                                              Follow! Follow!

PANTHEA
      It is mine other dream.

ASIA
                               It disappears.

PANTHEA
      It passes now into my mind. Methought
      As we sate here, the flower-infolding buds
      Burst on yon lightning-blasted almond tree;
      When swift from the white Scythian wilderness
      A wind swept forth wrinkling the Earth with frost;
      I looked, and all the blossoms were blown down;
      But on each leaf was stamped, as the blue bells
      Of Hyacinth tell Apollo's written grief,                       140
      OH, FOLLOW, FOLLOW!

ASIA
                           As you speak, your words
      Fill, pause by pause, my own forgotten sleep
      With shapes. Methought among the lawns together
      We wandered, underneath the young gray dawn,
      And multitudes of dense white fleecy clouds
      Were wandering in thick flocks along the mountains,
      Shepherded by the slow, unwilling wind;
      And the white dew on the new-bladed grass,
      Just piercing the dark earth, hung silently;
      And there was more which I remember not;                       150
      But on the shadows of the morning clouds,
      Athwart the purple mountain slope, was written
      FOLLOW, OH, FOLLOW! as they vanished by;
      And on each herb, from which Heaven's dew had fallen,
      The like was stamped, as with a withering fire;
      A wind arose among the pines; it shook
      The clinging music from their boughs, and then
      Low, sweet, faint sounds, like the farewell of ghosts,
      Were heard: OH, FOLLOW, FOLLOW, FOLLOW ME!
      And then I said, 'Panthea, look on me.'                        160
      But in the depth of those belovèd eyes
      Still I saw, FOLLOW, FOLLOW!

ECHO
                                    Follow, follow!

PANTHEA
      The crags, this clear spring morning, mock our voices,
      As they were spirit-tongued.

ASIA
                                    It is some being
      Around the crags. What fine clear sounds!
            Oh, list!

ECHOES, unseen
                Echoes we: listen!
                  We cannot stay:
                As dew-stars glisten
                  Then fade away--
                    Child of Ocean!                                  170

ASIA
      Hark! Spirits speak. The liquid responses
      Of their aërial tongues yet sound.

PANTHEA
                                         I hear.

ECHOES
            Oh, follow, follow,
              As our voice recedeth
            Through the caverns hollow,
              Where the forest spreadeth;
                  (More distant)
            Oh, follow, follow!
            Through the caverns hollow,
          As the song floats thou pursue,
          Where the wild bee never flew,                             180
          Through the noontide darkness deep,
          By the odor-breathing sleep
          Of faint night-flowers, and the waves
          At the fountain-lighted caves,
          While our music, wild and sweet,
          Mocks thy gently falling feet,
                Child of Ocean!

ASIA
      Shall we pursue the sound? It grows more faint
      And distant.

PANTHEA
                    List! the strain floats nearer now.

ECHOES
            In the world unknown                                     190
              Sleeps a voice unspoken;
            By thy step alone
              Can its rest be broken;
                Child of Ocean!

ASIA
      How the notes sink upon the ebbing wind!

ECHOES
            Oh, follow, follow!
            Through the caverns hollow,
          As the song floats thou pursue,
          By the woodland noontide dew;
          By the forests, lakes, and fountains,                      200
          Through the many-folded mountains;
          To the rents, and gulfs, and chasms,
          Where the Earth reposed from spasms,
          On the day when He and thou
          Parted, to commingle now;
                Child of Ocean!

ASIA
      Come, sweet Panthea, link thy hand in mine,
      And follow, ere the voices fade away.

SCENE II.--A Forest intermingled with Rocks and Caverns. ASIA and PANTHEA pass into it. Two young Fauns are sitting on a Rock, listening.

SEMICHORUS I OF SPIRITS
      The path through which that lovely twain
        Have passed, by cedar, pine, and yew,
        And each dark tree that ever grew,
        Is curtained out from Heaven's wide blue;
      Nor sun, nor moon, nor wind, nor rain,
          Can pierce its interwoven bowers,
      Nor aught, save where some cloud of dew,
      Drifted along the earth-creeping breeze
      Between the trunks of the hoar trees,
          Hangs each a pearl in the pale flowers                      10
        Of the green laurel blown anew,
      And bends, and then fades silently,
      One frail and fair anemone;
      Or when some star of many a one
      That climbs and wanders through steep night,
      Has found the cleft through which alone
      Beams fall from high those depths upon,--
      Ere it is borne away, away,
      By the swift Heavens that cannot stay,
      It scatters drops of golden light,                              20
      Like lines of rain that ne'er unite;
      And the gloom divine is all around;
      And underneath is the mossy ground.

SEMICHORUS II
      There the voluptuous nightingales,
        Are awake through all the broad noon day:
      When one with bliss or sadness fails,
          And through the windless ivy-boughs,
        Sick with sweet love, droops dying away
      On its mate's music-panting bosom;
      Another from the swinging blossom,                              30
          Watching to catch the languid close
        Of the last strain, then lifts on high
        The wings of the weak melody,
      Till some new strain of feeling bear
        The song, and all the woods are mute;
      When there is heard through the dim air
      The rush of wings, and rising there,
        Like many a lake-surrounded flute,
      Sounds overflow the listener's brain
      So sweet, that joy is almost pain.                              40

SEMICHORUS I
      There those enchanted eddies play
        Of echoes, music-tongued, which draw,
        By Demogorgon's mighty law,
        With melting rapture, or sweet awe,
      All spirits on that secret way,
          As inland boats are driven to Ocean
      Down streams made strong with mountain-thaw;
      And first there comes a gentle sound
      To those in talk or slumber bound,
          And wakes the destined; soft emotion                        50
      Attracts, impels them; those who saw
      Say from the breathing earth behind
      There steams a plume-uplifting wind
      Which drives them on their path, while they
        Believe their own swift wings and feet
      The sweet desires within obey;
      And so they float upon their way,
        Until, still sweet, but loud and strong,
        The storm of sound is driven along,
        Sucked up and hurrying; as they fleet                         60
        Behind, its gathering billows meet
      And to the fatal mountain bear
      Like clouds amid the yielding air.

FIRST FAUN
      Canst thou imagine where those spirits live
      Which make such delicate music in the woods?
      We haunt within the least frequented caves
      And closest coverts, and we know these wilds,
      Yet never meet them, though we hear them oft:
      Where may they hide themselves?

SECOND FAUN
                                       'T is hard to tell;
      I have heard those more skilled in spirits say,                 70
      The bubbles, which the enchantment of the sun
      Sucks from the pale faint water-flowers that pave
      The oozy bottom of clear lakes and pools,
      Are the pavilions where such dwell and float
      Under the green and golden atmosphere
      Which noontide kindles through the woven leaves;
      And when these burst, and the thin fiery air,
      The which they breathed within those lucent domes,
      Ascends to flow like meteors through the night,
      They ride on them, and rein their headlong speed,               80
      And bow their burning crests, and glide in fire
      Under the waters of the earth again.

FIRST FAUN
      If such live thus, have others other lives,
      Under pink blossoms or within the bells
      Of meadow flowers or folded violets deep,
      Or on their dying odors, when they die,
      Or in the sunlight of the spherèd dew?

SECOND FAUN
      Ay, many more which we may well divine.
      But should we stay to speak, noontide would come,
      And thwart Silenus find his goats undrawn,                      90
      And grudge to sing those wise and lovely songs
      Of Fate, and Chance, and God, and Chaos old,
      And Love and the chained Titan's woful doom,
      And how he shall be loosed, and make the earth
      One brotherhood; delightful strains which cheer
      Our solitary twilights, and which charm
      To silence the unenvying nightingales.

SCENE III.--A Pinnacle of Rock among Mountains. ASIA and PANTHEA.

PANTHEA
      Hither the sound has borne us--to the realm
      Of Demogorgon, and the mighty portal,
      Like a volcano's meteor-breathing chasm,
      Whence the oracular vapor is hurled up
      Which lonely men drink wandering in their youth,
      And call truth, virtue, love, genius, or joy,
      That maddening wine of life, whose dregs they drain
      To deep intoxication; and uplift,
      Like Mænads who cry loud, Evoe! Evoe!
      The voice which is contagion to the world.                      10

ASIA
      Fit throne for such a Power! Magnificent!
      How glorious art thou, Earth! and if thou be
      The shadow of some spirit lovelier still,
      Though evil stain its work, and it should be
      Like its creation, weak yet beautiful,
      I could fall down and worship that and thee.
      Even now my heart adoreth. Wonderful!
      Look, sister, ere the vapor dim thy brain:
      Beneath is a wide plain of billowy mist,
      As a lake, paving in the morning sky,                           20
      With azure waves which burst in silver light,
      Some Indian vale. Behold it, rolling on
      Under the curdling winds, and islanding
      The peak whereon we stand, midway, around,
      Encinctured by the dark and blooming forests,
      Dim twilight-lawns, and stream-illumined caves,
      And wind-enchanted shapes of wandering mist;
      And far on high the keen sky-cleaving mountains
      From icy spires of sunlike radiance fling
      The dawn, as lifted Ocean's dazzling spray,                     30
      From some Atlantic islet scattered up,
      Spangles the wind with lamp-like waterdrops.
      The vale is girdled with their walls, a howl
      Of cataracts from their thaw-cloven ravines
      Satiates the listening wind, continuous, vast,
      Awful as silence. Hark! the rushing snow!
      The sun-awakened avalanche! whose mass,
      Thrice sifted by the storm, had gathered there
      Flake after flake, in heaven-defying minds
      As thought by thought is piled, till some great truth           40
      Is loosened, and the nations echo round,
      Shaken to their roots, as do the mountains now.

PANTHEA
      Look how the gusty sea of mist is breaking
      In crimson foam, even at our feet! it rises
      As Ocean at the enchantment of the moon
      Round foodless men wrecked on some oozy isle.

ASIA
      The fragments of the cloud are scattered up;
      The wind that lifts them disentwines my hair;
      Its billows now sweep o'er mine eyes; my brain
      Grows dizzy; I see shapes within the mist.                      50

PANTHEA
      A countenance with beckoning smiles; there burns
      An azure fire within its golden locks!
      Another and another: hark! they speak!

SONG OF SPIRITS
        To the deep, to the deep,
                Down down!
        Through the shade of sleep,
        Through the cloudy strife
        Of Death and of Life;
        Through the veil and the bar
        Of things which seem and are,                                 60
        Even to the steps of the remotest throne,
                Down, down!

        While the sound whirls around,
                Down, down!
        As the fawn draws the hound,
        As the lightning the vapor,
        As a weak moth the taper;
        Death, despair; love, sorrow;
        Time, both; to-day, to-morrow;
        As steel obeys the spirit of the stone,                       70
                Down, down!

        Through the gray, void abysm,
                Down, down!
        Where the air is no prism,
        And the moon and stars are not,
        And the cavern-crags wear not
        The radiance of Heaven,
        Nor the gloom to Earth given,
        Where there is one pervading, one alone,
                Down, down!                                           80

        In the depth of the deep
                Down, down!
        Like veiled lightning asleep,
        Like the spark nursed in embers,
        The last look Love remembers,
        Like a diamond, which shines
        On the dark wealth of mines,
        A spell is treasured but for thee alone.
                Down, down!

        We have bound thee, we guide thee;                            90
                Down, down!
        With the bright form beside thee;
            Resist not the weakness,
        Such strength is in meekness
        That the Eternal, the Immortal,
        Must unloose through life's portal
        The snake-like Doom coiled underneath his throne
                By that alone.

SCENE IV.--The Cave of DEMOGORGON. ASIA and PANTHEA.

PANTHEA
      What veilèd form sits on that ebon throne?

ASIA
      The veil has fallen.

PANTHEA
                            I see a mighty darkness
      Filling the seat of power, and rays of gloom
      Dart round, as light from the meridian sun,
      Ungazed upon and shapeless; neither limb,
      Nor form, nor outline; yet we feel it is
      A living Spirit.

DEMOGORGON
                        Ask what thou wouldst know.

ASIA
      What canst thou tell?

DEMOGORGON
                             All things thou dar'st demand.

ASIA
      Who made the living world?

DEMOGORGON
                                  God.

ASIA
                                        Who made all
      That it contains? thought, passion, reason, will,               10
      Imagination?

DEMOGORGON
                    God: Almighty God.

ASIA
      Who made that sense which, when the winds of spring
      In rarest visitation, or the voice
      Of one belovèd heard in youth alone,
      Fills the faint eyes with falling tears which dim
      The radiant looks of unbewailing flowers,
      And leaves this peopled earth a solitude
      When it returns no more?

DEMOGORGON
                                Merciful God.

ASIA
      And who made terror, madness, crime, remorse,
      Which from the links of the great chain of things               20
      To every thought within the mind of man
      Sway and drag heavily, and each one reels
      Under the load towards the pit of death;
      Abandoned hope, and love that turns to hate;
      And self-contempt, bitterer to drink than blood;
      Pain, whose unheeded and familiar speech
      Is howling, and keen shrieks, day after day;
      And Hell, or the sharp fear of Hell?

DEMOGORGON
                                            He reigns.

ASIA
      Utter his name; a world pining in pain
      Asks but his name; curses shall drag him down.                  30

DEMOGORGON
      He reigns.

ASIA
                  I feel, I know it: who?

DEMOGORGON
                                           He reigns.

ASIA
      Who reigns? There was the Heaven and Earth at first,
      And Light and Love; then Saturn, from whose throne
      Time fell, an envious shadow; such the state
      Of the earth's primal spirits beneath his sway,
      As the calm joy of flowers and living leaves
      Before the wind or sun has withered them
      And semivital worms; but he refused
      The birthright of their being, knowledge, power,
      The skill which wields the elements, the thought                40
      Which pierces this dim universe like light,
      Self-empire, and the majesty of love;
      For thirst of which they fainted. Then Prometheus
      Gave wisdom, which is strength, to Jupiter,
      And with this law alone, 'Let man be free,'
      Clothed him with the dominion of wide Heaven.
      To know nor faith, nor love, nor law, to be
      Omnipotent but friendless, is to reign;
      And Jove now reigned; for on the race of man
      First famine, and then toil, and then disease,                  50
      Strife, wounds, and ghastly death unseen before,
      Fell; and the unseasonable seasons drove,
      With alternating shafts of frost and fire,
      Their shelterless, pale tribes to mountain caves;
      And in their desert hearts fierce wants he sent,
      And mad disquietudes, and shadows idle
      Of unreal good, which levied mutual war,
      So ruining the lair wherein they raged.
      Prometheus saw, and waked the legioned hopes
      Which sleep within folded Elysian flowers,                      60
      Nepenthe, Moly, Amaranth, fadeless blooms,
      That they might hide with thin and rainbow wings
      The shape of Death; and Love he sent to bind
      The disunited tendrils of that vine
      Which bears the wine of life, the human heart;
      And he tamed fire which, like some beast of prey,
      Most terrible, but lovely, played beneath
      The frown of man; and tortured to his will
      Iron and gold, the slaves and signs of power,
      And gems and poisons, and all subtlest forms                    70
      Hidden beneath the mountains and the waves.
      He gave man speech, and speech created thought,
      Which is the measure of the universe;
      And Science struck the thrones of earth and heaven,
      Which shook, but fell not; and the harmonious mind
      Poured itself forth in all-prophetic song;
      And music lifted up the listening spirit
      Until it walked, exempt from mortal care,
      Godlike, o'er the clear billows of sweet sound;
      And human hands first mimicked and then mocked,                 80
      With moulded limbs more lovely than its own,
      The human form, till marble grew divine;
      And mothers, gazing, drank the love men see
      Reflected in their race, behold, and perish.
      He told the hidden power of herbs and springs,
      And Disease drank and slept. Death grew like sleep.
      He taught the implicated orbits woven
      Of the wide-wandering stars; and how the sun
      Changes his lair, and by what secret spell
      The pale moon is transformed, when her broad eye                90
      Gazes not on the interlunar sea.
      He taught to rule, as life directs the limbs,
      The tempest-wingèd chariots of the Ocean,
      And the Celt knew the Indian. Cities then
      Were built, and through their snow-like columns flowed
      The warm winds, and the azure ether shone,
      And the blue sea and shadowy hills were seen.
      Such, the alleviations of his state,
      Prometheus gave to man, for which he hangs
      Withering in destined pain; but who rains down                 100
      Evil, the immedicable plague, which, while
      Man looks on his creation like a god
      And sees that it is glorious, drives him on,
      The wreck of his own will, the scorn of earth,
      The outcast, the abandoned, the alone?
      Not Jove: while yet his frown shook heaven ay, when
      His adversary from adamantine chains
      Cursed him, he trembled like a slave. Declare
      Who is his master? Is he too a slave?

DEMOGORGON
      All spirits are enslaved which serve things evil:              110
      Thou knowest if Jupiter be such or no.

ASIA
      Whom called'st thou God?

DEMOGORGON
                                I spoke but as ye speak,
      For Jove is the supreme of living things.

ASIA
      Who is the master of the slave?

DEMOGORGON
                                       If the abysm
      Could vomit forth its secrets--but a voice
      Is wanting, the deep truth is imageless;
      For what would it avail to bid thee gaze
      On the revolving world? What to bid speak
      Fate, Time, Occasion, Chance and Change? To these
      All things are subject but eternal Love.                       120

ASIA
      So much I asked before, and my heart gave
      The response thou hast given; and of such truths
      Each to itself must be the oracle.
      One more demand; and do thou answer me
      As my own soul would answer, did it know
      That which I ask. Prometheus shall arise
      Henceforth the sun of this rejoicing world:
      When shall the destined hour arrive?

DEMOGORGON
                                            Behold!

ASIA
      The rocks are cloven, and through the purple night
      I see cars drawn by rainbow-wingèd steeds                      130
      Which trample the dim winds; in each there stands
      A wild-eyed charioteer urging their flight.
      Some look behind, as fiends pursued them there,
      And yet I see no shapes but the keen stars;
      Others, with burning eyes, lean forth, and drink
      With eager lips the wind of their own speed,
      As if the thing they loved fled on before,
      And now, even now, they clasped it. Their bright locks
      Stream like a comet's flashing hair; they all
      Sweep onward.

DEMOGORGON
                     These are the immortal Hours,                   140
      Of whom thou didst demand. One waits for thee.

ASIA
      A Spirit with a dreadful countenance
      Checks its dark chariot by the craggy gulf.
      Unlike thy brethren, ghastly Charioteer,
      Who art thou? Whither wouldst thou bear me? Speak!

SPIRIT
      I am the Shadow of a destiny
      More dread than is my aspect; ere yon planet
      Has set, the darkness which ascends with me
      Shall wrap in lasting night heaven's kingless throne.

ASIA
      What meanest thou?

PANTHEA
                          That terrible Shadow floats                150
      Up from its throne, as may the lurid smoke
      Of earthquake-ruined cities o'er the sea.
      Lo! it ascends the car; the coursers fly
      Terrified; watch its path among the stars
      Blackening the night!

ASIA
                             Thus I am answered: strange!

PANTHEA
      See, near the verge, another chariot stays;
      An ivory shell inlaid with crimson fire,
      Which comes and goes within its sculptured rim
      Of delicate strange tracery; the young Spirit
      That guides it has the dove-like eyes of hope;                 160
      How it soft smiles attract the soul! as light
      Lures wingèd insects through the lampless air.

SPIRIT
      My coursers are fed with the lightning,
        They drink of the whirlwind's stream,
      And when the red morning is bright'ning
        They bathe in the fresh sunbeam.
        They have strength for their swiftness I deem;
      Then ascend with me, daughter of Ocean.

      I desire--and their speed makes night kindle;
        I fear--they outstrip the typhoon;                           170
      Ere the cloud piled on Atlas can dwindle
        We encircle the earth and the moon.
        We shall rest from long labors at noon;
      Then ascend with me, daughter of Ocean.

SCENE V.--The Car pauses within a Cloud on the Top of a snowy Mountain. ASIA, PANTHEA, and the SPIRIT OF THE HOUR.

SPIRIT
      On the brink of the night and the morning
        My coursers are wont to respire;
      But the Earth has just whispered a warning
        That their flight must be swifter than fire;
        They shall drink the hot speed of desire!

ASIA
      Thou breathest on their nostrils, but my breath
      Would give them swifter speed.

SPIRIT
                                      Alas! it could not

PANTHEA
      O Spirit! pause, and tell whence is the light
      Which fills the cloud? the sun is yet unrisen.

SPIRIT
      The sun will rise not until noon. Apollo                        10
      Is held in heaven by wonder; and the light
      Which fills this vapor, as the aërial hue
      Of fountain-gazing roses fills the water,
      Flows from thy mighty sister.

PANTHEA
                                     Yes, I feel--

ASIA
      What is it with thee, sister? Thou art pale.

PANTHEA
      How thou art changed! I dare not look on thee;
      I feel but see thee not. I scarce endure
      The radiance of thy beauty. Some good change
      Is working in the elements, which suffer
      Thy presence thus unveiled. The Nereids tell                    20
      That on the day when the clear hyaline
      Was cloven at thy uprise, and thou didst stand
      Within a veinèd shell, which floated on
      Over the calm floor of the crystal sea,
      Among the Ægean isles, and by the shores
      Which bear thy name,--love, like the atmosphere
      Of the sun's fire filling the living world,
      Burst from thee, and illumined earth and heaven
      And the deep ocean and the sunless caves
      And all that dwells within them; till grief cast                30
      Eclipse upon the soul from which it came.
      Such art thou now; nor is it I alone,
      Thy sister, thy companion, thine own chosen one,
      But the whole world which seeks thy sympathy.
      Hearest thou not sounds i' the air which speak the love
      Of all articulate beings? Feelest thou not
      The inanimate winds enamoured of thee? List!            [Music.

ASIA
      Thy words are sweeter than aught else but his
      Whose echoes they are; yet all love is sweet,
      Given or returned. Common as light is love,                     40
      And its familiar voice wearies not ever.
      Like the wide heaven, the all-sustaining air,
      It makes the reptile equal to the God;
      They who inspire it most are fortunate,
      As I am now; but those who feel it most
      Are happier still, after long sufferings,
      As I shall soon become.

PANTHEA
                               List! Spirits speak.

VOICE in the air, singing
      Life of Life, thy lips enkindle
        With their love the breath between them;
      And thy smiles before they dwindle                              50
        Make the cold air fire; then screen them
      In those looks, where whoso gazes
      Faints, entangled in their mazes.

      Child of Light! thy limbs are burning
        Through the vest which seems to hide them;
      As the radiant lines of morning
        Through the clouds, ere they divide them;
      And this atmosphere divinest
      Shrouds thee wheresoe'er thou shinest.

      Fair are others; none beholds thee,                             60
        But thy voice sounds low and tender
      Like the fairest, for it folds thee
        From the sight, that liquid splendor,
      And all feel, yet see thee never,
      As I feel now, lost forever!

      Lamp of Earth! where'er thou movest
        Its dim shapes are clad with brightness,
      And the souls of whom thou lovest
        Walk upon the winds with lightness,
      Till they fail, as I am failing,                                70
      Dizzy, lost, yet unbewailing!

ASIA
        My soul is an enchanted boat,
        Which, like a sleeping swan, doth float
      Upon the silver waves of thy sweet singing;
        And thine doth like an angel sit
        Beside a helm conducting it,
      Whilst all the winds with melody are ringing.
        It seems to float ever, forever,
        Upon that many-winding river,
        Between mountains, woods, abysses,                            80
        A paradise of wildernesses!
      Till, like one in slumber bound,
      Borne to the ocean, I float down, around,
      Into a sea profound of ever-spreading sound.

        Meanwhile thy spirit lifts its pinions
        In music's most serene dominions;
      Catching the winds that fan that happy heaven.
        And we sail on, away, afar,
        Without a course, without a star,
        But, by the instinct of sweet music driven;                   90
      Till through Elysian garden islets
        By thee most beautiful of pilots,
        Where never mortal pinnace glided,
        The boat of my desire is guided;
      Realms where the air we breathe is love,
      Which in the winds on the waves doth move,
      Harmonizing this earth with what we feel above.

        We have passed Age's icy caves,
        And Manhood's dark and tossing waves,
      And Youth's smooth ocean, smiling to betray;                   100
        Beyond the glassy gulfs we flee
        Of shadow-peopled Infancy,
      Through Death and Birth, to a diviner day;
        A paradise of vaulted bowers
        Lit by downward-gazing flowers,
        And watery paths that wind between
        Wildernesses calm and green,
      Peopled by shapes too bright to see,
      And rest, having beheld; somewhat like thee;
      Which walk upon the sea, and chant melodiously!                110


CONTENTS      BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD


 
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