Part 3 out of 5
(_drawing_.) Thus to the expiatory tomb,
Untimely sepulchre, I do devote thee
In the name of Lalage!
_Cas_. (_letting fall his sword and recoiling to the extremity of the
Hold off--thy sacred hand!--avaunt, I say!
Avaunt--I will not fight thee--indeed I dare not.
_Pol_. Thou wilt not fight with me didst say, Sir Count?
Shall I be baffled thus?--now this is well;
Didst say thou _darest_ not? Ha!
_Cas_. I dare not--dare not--
Hold off thy hand--with that beloved name
So fresh upon thy lips I will not fight thee--
I cannot--dare not.
_Pol_. Now, by my halidom,
I do believe thee!--coward, I do believe thee!
_Cas_. Ha!--coward!--this may not be!
(_clutches his sword and staggers towards Politian, but his purpose is
changed before reaching him, and he falls upon hia knee at the feet of
Alas! my lord,
It is--it is--most true. In such a cause
I am the veriest coward. Oh, pity me!
(greatly softened_). Alas!--I do--indeed I pity thee.
_Cas_. And Lalage--
_Pol_. _Scoundrel!--arise and die!_
_Cas_. It needeth not be--thus--thus--Oh, let me die
Thus on my bended knee. It were most fitting
That in this deep humiliation I perish.
For in the fight I will not raise a hand
Against thee, Earl of Leicester. Strike thou home--
(_baring his bosom_.)
Here is no let or hindrance to thy weapon--
Strike home. I _will not_ fight thee.
_Pol_. Now's Death and Hell!
Am I not--am I not sorely--grievously tempted
To take thee at thy word? But mark me, sir:
Think not to fly me thus. Do thou prepare
For public insult in the streets--before
The eyes of the citizens. I'll follow thee--
Like an avenging spirit I'll follow thee
Even unto death. Before those whom thou lovest--
Before all Rome I'll taunt thee, villain,--I'll taunt
Dost hear? with _cowardice_--thou _wilt not_ fight me?
Thou liest! thou _shalt_!
_Cas_. Now this indeed is just!
Most righteous, and most just, avenging Heaven!
[Footnote 1: By Sir Thomas Wyatt.--Ed.]
* * * * *
NOTE ON POLITIAN
20. Such portions of "Politian" as are known to the public first saw the
light of publicity in the 'Southern Literary Messenger' for December
1835 and January 1836, being styled "Scenes from Politian; an
unpublished drama." These scenes were included, unaltered, in the 1845
collection of Poems by Poe. The larger portion of the original draft
subsequently became the property of the present editor, but it is not
considered just to the poet's memory to publish it. The work is a hasty
and unrevised production of its author's earlier days of literary labor;
and, beyond the scenes already known, scarcely calculated to enhance his
reputation. As a specimen, however, of the parts unpublished, the
following fragment from the first scene of Act II. may be offered. The
Duke, it should be premised, is uncle to Alessandra, and father of
Castiglione her betrothed.
_Duke_. Why do you laugh?
I hardly know myself. Stay! Was it not
On yesterday we were speaking of the Earl?
Of the Earl Politian? Yes! it was yesterday.
Alessandra, you and I, you must remember!
We were walking in the garden.
I do remember it--what of it--what then?
_Cas_. O nothing--nothing at all.
_Duke_. Nothing at all!
It is most singular that you should laugh
At nothing at all!
_Cas_. Most singular--singular!
_Duke_. Look yon, Castiglione, be so kind
As tell me, sir, at once what 'tis you mean.
What are you talking of?
_Cas_. Was it not so?
We differed in opinion touching him.
_Cas_. Why, sir, the Earl Politian.
_Duke_. The Earl of Leicester! Yes!--is it he you mean?
We differed, indeed. If I now recollect
The words you used were that the Earl you knew
Was neither learned nor mirthful.
_Cas_. Ha! ha!--now did I?
_Duke_. That did you, sir, and well I knew at the time
You were wrong, it being not the character
Of the Earl--whom all the world allows to be
A most hilarious man. Be not, my son,
Too positive again.
_Cas_. 'Tis singular!
Most singular! I could not think it possible
So little time could so much alter one!
To say the truth about an hour ago,
As I was walking with the Count San Ozzo,
All arm in arm, we met this very man
The Earl--he, with his friend Baldazzar,
Having just arrived in Rome. Ha! ha! he _is_ altered!
Such an account he gave me of his journey!
'Twould have made you die with laughter--such tales he
Of his caprices and his merry freaks
Along the road--such oddity--such humor--
Such wit--such whim--such flashes of wild merriment
Set off too in such full relief by the grave
Demeanor of his friend--who, to speak the truth
Was gravity itself--
_Duke_. Did I not tell you?
_Cas_. You did--and yet 'tis strange! but true, as strange,
How much I was mistaken! I always thought
The Earl a gloomy man.
_Duke_. So, so, you see!
Be not too positive. Whom have we here?
It cannot be the Earl?
_Cas_. The Earl! Oh no!
Tis not the Earl--but yet it is--and leaning
Upon his friend Baldazzar. Ah! welcome, sir!
(_Enter Politian and Baldazzar_.)
My lord, a second welcome let me give you
To Rome--his Grace the Duke of Broglio.
Father! this is the Earl Politian, Earl
Of Leicester in Great Britain.
[_Politian bows haughtily_.]
That, his friend
Baldazzar, Duke of Surrey. The Earl has letters,
So please you, for Your Grace.
_Duke_. Ha! ha! Most welcome
To Rome and to our palace, Earl Politian!
And you, most noble Duke! I am glad to see you!
I knew your father well, my Lord Politian.
Castiglione! call your cousin hither,
And let me make the noble Earl acquainted
With your betrothed. You come, sir, at a time
Most seasonable. The wedding--
_Politian_. Touching those letters, sir,
Your son made mention of--your son, is he not?--
Touching those letters, sir, I wot not of them.
If such there be, my friend Baldazzar here--
Baldazzar! ah!--my friend Baldazzar here
Will hand them to Your Grace. I would retire.
_Duke_. Retire!--so soon?
_Cas_. What ho! Benito! Rupert!
His lordship's chambers--show his lordship to them!
His lordship is unwell.
_Ben_. This way, my lord!
(_Exit, followed by Politian_.)
_Duke_. Retire! Unwell!
_Bal_. So please you, sir. I fear me
'Tis as you say--his lordship is unwell.
The damp air of the evening--the fatigue
Of a long journey--the--indeed I had better
Follow his lordship. He must be unwell.
I will return anon.
_Duke_. Return anon!
Now this is very strange! Castiglione!
This way, my son, I wish to speak with thee.
You surely were mistaken in what you said
Of the Earl, mirthful, indeed!--which of us said
Politian was a melancholy man?
* * * * *
POEMS OF YOUTH
* * * * *
INTRODUCTION TO POEMS.--1831.
LETTER TO MR. B--.
"WEST POINT, 1831
Believing only a portion of my former volume to be worthy a second
edition--that small portion I thought it as well to include in the
present book as to republish by itself. I have therefore herein combined
'Al Aaraaf' and 'Tamerlane' with other poems hitherto unprinted. Nor
have I hesitated to insert from the 'Minor Poems,' now omitted, whole
lines, and even passages, to the end that being placed in a fairer
light, and the trash shaken from them in which they were imbedded, they
may have some chance of being seen by posterity.
"It has been said that a good critique on a poem may be written by one
who is no poet himself. This, according to _your_ idea and _mine_ of
poetry, I feel to be false--the less poetical the critic, the less just
the critique, and the converse. On this account, and because there are
but few B----s in the world, I would be as much ashamed of the world's
good opinion as proud of your own. Another than yourself might here
observe, 'Shakespeare is in possession of the world's good opinion, and
yet Shakespeare is the greatest of poets. It appears then that the world
judge correctly, why should you be ashamed of their favorable judgment?'
The difficulty lies in the interpretation of the word 'judgment' or
'opinion.' The opinion is the world's, truly, but it may be called
theirs as a man would call a book his, having bought it; he did not
write the book, but it is his; they did not originate the opinion, but
it is theirs. A fool, for example, thinks Shakespeare a great poet--yet
the fool has never read Shakespeare. But the fool's neighbor, who is a
step higher on the Andes of the mind, whose head (that is to say, his
more exalted thought) is too far above the fool to be seen or
understood, but whose feet (by which I mean his every-day actions) are
sufficiently near to be discerned, and by means of which that
superiority is ascertained, which _but_ for them would never have been
discovered--this neighbor asserts that Shakespeare is a great poet--the
fool believes him, and it is henceforward his _opinion_. This neighbor's
own opinion has, in like manner, been adopted from one above _him_, and
so, ascendingly, to a few gifted individuals who kneel around the
summit, beholding, face to face, the master spirit who stands upon the
"You are aware of the great barrier in the path of an American writer.
He is read, if at all, in preference to the combined and established wit
of the world. I say established; for it is with literature as with law
or empire--an established name is an estate in tenure, or a throne in
possession. Besides, one might suppose that books, like their authors,
improve by travel--their having crossed the sea is, with us, so great a
distinction. Our antiquaries abandon time for distance; our very fops
glance from the binding to the bottom of the title-page, where the
mystic characters which spell London, Paris, or Genoa, are precisely so
many letters of recommendation.
"I mentioned just now a vulgar error as regards criticism. I think the
notion that no poet can form a correct estimate of his own writings is
another. I remarked before that in proportion to the poetical talent
would be the justice of a critique upon poetry. Therefore a bad poet
would, I grant, make a false critique, and his self-love would
infallibly bias his little judgment in his favor; but a poet, who is
indeed a poet, could not, I think, fail of making a just critique;
whatever should be deducted on the score of self-love might be replaced
on account of his intimate acquaintance with the subject; in short, we
have more instances of false criticism than of just where one's own
writings are the test, simply because we have more bad poets than good.
There are, of course, many objections to what I say: Milton is a great
example of the contrary; but his opinion with respect to the 'Paradise
Regained' is by no means fairly ascertained. By what trivial
circumstances men are often led to assert what they do not really
believe! Perhaps an inadvertent word has descended to posterity. But, in
fact, the 'Paradise Regained' is little, if at all, inferior to the
'Paradise Lost,' and is only supposed so to be because men do not like
epics, whatever they may say to the contrary, and reading those of
Milton in their natural order, are too much wearied with the first to
derive any pleasure from the second.
"I dare say Milton preferred 'Comus' to either--if so--justly.
"As I am speaking of poetry, it will not be amiss to touch slightly upon
the most singular heresy in its modern history--the heresy of what is
called, very foolishly, the Lake School. Some years ago I might have
been induced, by an occasion like the present, to attempt a formal
refutation of their doctrine; at present it would be a work of
supererogation. The wise must bow to the wisdom of such men as Coleridge
and Southey, but being wise, have laughed at poetical theories so
"Aristotle, with singular assurance, has declared poetry the most
philosophical of all writings--but it required a Wordsworth to pronounce
it the most metaphysical. He seems to think that the end of poetry is,
or should be, instruction; yet it is a truism that the end of our
existence is happiness; if so, the end of every separate part of our
existence, everything connected with our existence, should be still
happiness. Therefore the end of instruction should be happiness; and
happiness is another name for pleasure;--therefore the end of
instruction should be pleasure: yet we see the above-mentioned opinion
implies precisely the reverse.
"To proceed: _ceteris paribus_, he who pleases is of more importance to
his fellow-men than he who instructs, since utility is happiness, and
pleasure is the end already obtained which instruction is merely the
means of obtaining.
"I see no reason, then, why our metaphysical poets should plume
themselves so much on the utility of their works, unless indeed they
refer to instruction with eternity in view; in which case, sincere
respect for their piety would not allow me to express my contempt for
their judgment; contempt which it would be difficult to conceal, since
their writings are professedly to be understood by the few, and it is
the many who stand in need of salvation. In such case I should no doubt
be tempted to think of the devil in 'Melmoth,' who labors indefatigably,
through three octavo volumes, to accomplish the destruction of one or
two souls, while any common devil would have demolished one or two
"Against the subtleties which would make poetry a study--not a
passion--it becomes the metaphysician to reason--but the poet to
protest. Yet Wordsworth and Coleridge are men in years; the one imbued
in contemplation from his childhood; the other a giant in intellect and
learning. The diffidence, then, with which I venture to dispute their
authority would be overwhelming did I not feel, from the bottom of my
heart, that learning has little to do with the imagination--intellect
with the passions--or age with poetry.
"'Trifles, like straws, upon the surface flow;
He who would search for pearls must dive below,'
"are lines which have done much mischief. As regards the greater truths,
men oftener err by seeking them at the bottom than at the top; Truth
lies in the huge abysses where wisdom is sought--not in the palpable
palaces where she is found. The ancients were not always right in hiding
the goddess in a well; witness the light which Bacon has thrown upon
philosophy; witness the principles of our divine faith--that moral
mechanism by which the simplicity of a child may overbalance the wisdom
of a man.
"We see an instance of Coleridge's liability to err, in his 'Biographia
Literaria'--professedly his literary life and opinions, but, in fact, a
treatise 'de omni scibili et quibusdam aliis'. He goes wrong by reason
of his very profundity, and of his error we have a natural type in the
contemplation of a star. He who regards it directly and intensely sees,
it is true, the star, but it is the star without a ray--while he who
surveys it less inquisitively is conscious of all for which the star is
useful to us below--its brilliancy and its beauty.
"As to Wordsworth, I have no faith in him. That he had in youth the
feelings of a poet I believe--for there are glimpses of extreme delicacy
in his writings--(and delicacy is the poet's own kingdom--his 'El
Dorado')--but they have the appearance of a better day recollected; and
glimpses, at best, are little evidence of present poetic fire; we know
that a few straggling flowers spring up daily in the crevices of the
"He was to blame in wearing away his youth in contemplation with the end
of poetizing in his manhood. With the increase of his judgment the light
which should make it apparent has faded away. His judgment consequently
is too correct. This may not be understood,--but the old Goths of
Germany would have understood it, who used to debate matters of
importance to their State twice, once when drunk, and once when
sober--sober that they might not be deficient in formality--drunk lest
they should be destitute of vigor.
"The long wordy discussions by which he tries to reason us into
admiration of his poetry, speak very little in his favor: they are full
of such assertions as this (I have opened one of his volumes at
random)--'Of genius the only proof is the act of doing well what is
worthy to be done, and what was never done before;'--indeed? then it
follows that in doing what is 'un'worthy to be done, or what 'has' been
done before, no genius can be evinced; yet the picking of pockets is an
unworthy act, pockets have been picked time immemorial, and Barrington,
the pick-pocket, in point of genius, would have thought hard of a
comparison with William Wordsworth, the poet.
"Again, in estimating the merit of certain poems, whether they be
Ossian's or Macpherson's can surely be of little consequence, yet, in
order to prove their worthlessness, Mr. W. has expended many pages in
the controversy. 'Tantaene animis?' Can great minds descend to such
absurdity? But worse still: that he may bear down every argument in
favor of these poems, he triumphantly drags forward a passage, in his
abomination with which he expects the reader to sympathise. It is the
beginning of the epic poem 'Temora.' 'The blue waves of Ullin roll in
light; the green hills are covered with day; trees shake their dusty
heads in the breeze.' And this--this gorgeous, yet simple imagery, where
all is alive and panting with immortality--this, William Wordsworth, the
author of 'Peter Bell,' has 'selected' for his contempt. We shall see
what better he, in his own person, has to offer. Imprimis:
"'And now she's at the pony's tail,
And now she's at the pony's head,
On that side now, and now on this;
And, almost stifled with her bliss,
A few sad tears does Betty shed....
She pats the pony, where or when
She knows not ... happy Betty Foy!
Oh, Johnny, never mind the doctor!'
"'The dew was falling fast, the--stars began to blink;
I heard a voice: it said,--"Drink, pretty creature, drink!"
And, looking o'er the hedge, before me I espied
A snow-white mountain lamb, with a maiden at its side.
No other sheep was near, the lamb was all alone,
And by a slender cord was tether'd to a stone.'
"Now, we have no doubt this is all true: we _will_ believe it,
indeed we will, Mr, W. Is it sympathy for the sheep you wish to excite?
I love a sheep from the bottom of my heart.
"But there are occasions, dear B----, there are occasions when even
Wordsworth is reasonable. Even Stamboul, it is said, shall have an end,
and the most unlucky blunders must come to a conclusion. Here is an
extract from his preface:
"'Those who have been accustomed to the phraseology of modern writers,
if they persist in reading this book to a conclusion (_impossible!_)
will, no doubt, have to struggle with feelings of awkwardness; (ha!
ha! ha!) they will look round for poetry (ha! ha! ha! ha!), and will
be induced to inquire by what species of courtesy these attempts have
been permitted to assume that title.' Ha! ha! ha! ha! ha!
"Yet, let not Mr. W. despair; he has given immortality to a wagon, and
the bee Sophocles has transmitted to eternity a sore toe, and dignified
a tragedy with a chorus of turkeys.
"Of Coleridge, I cannot speak but with reverence. His towering
intellect! his gigantic power! To use an author quoted by himself,
'_J'ai trouve souvent que la plupart des sectes ont raison dans une
bonne partie de ce qu'elles avancent, mais non pas en ce qu'elles
and to employ his own language, he has imprisoned his own conceptions by
the barrier he has erected against those of others. It is lamentable to
think that such a mind should be buried in metaphysics, and, like the
Nyctanthes, waste its perfume upon the night alone. In reading that
man's poetry, I tremble like one who stands upon a volcano, conscious
from the very darkness bursting from the crater, of the fire and the
light that are weltering below.
"What is Poetry?--Poetry! that Proteus-like idea, with as many
appellations as the nine-titled Corcyra! 'Give me,' I demanded of a
scholar some time ago, 'give me a definition of poetry.'
'_Tres-volontiers;_' and he proceeded to his library, brought me a Dr.
Johnson, and overwhelmed me with a definition. Shade of the immortal
Shakespeare! I imagine to myself the scowl of your spiritual eye upon
the profanity of that scurrilous Ursa Major. Think of poetry, dear
B----, think of poetry, and then think of Dr. Samuel Johnson! Think of
all that is airy and fairy-like, and then of all that is hideous and
unwieldy; think of his huge bulk, the Elephant! and then--and then think
of the 'Tempest'--the 'Midsummer Night's Dream'--Prospero--Oberon--and
"A poem, in my opinion, is opposed to a work of science by having, for
its _immediate_ object, pleasure, not truth; to romance, by having, for
its object, an _indefinite_ instead of a _definite_ pleasure, being a
poem only so far as this object is attained; romance presenting
perceptible images with definite, poetry with _in_definite sensations,
to which end music is an _essential_, since the comprehension of sweet
sound is our most indefinite conception. Music, when combined with a
pleasurable idea, is poetry; music, without the idea, is simply music;
the idea, without the music, is prose, from its very definitiveness.
"What was meant by the invective against him who had no music in his
"To sum up this long rigmarole, I have, dear B----, what you, no doubt,
perceive, for the metaphysical poets as poets, the most sovereign
contempt. That they have followers proves nothing:
"'No Indian prince has to his palace
More followers than a thief to the gallows.'"
* * * * *
SCIENCE! true daughter of Old Time thou art!
Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes.
Why preyest thou thus upon the poet's heart,
Vulture, whose wings are dull realities
How should he love thee? or how deem thee wise,
Who wouldst not leave him in his wandering
To seek for treasure in the jewelled skies,
Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing!
Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car?
And driven the Hamadryad from the wood
To seek a shelter in some happier star?
Hast thou not torn the Naiad from her flood,
The Elfin from the green grass, and from me
The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?
* * * * *
Private reasons--some of which have reference to the sin of plagiarism,
and others to the date of Tennyson's first poems --have induced me,
after some hesitation, to republish these, the crude compositions of my
earliest boyhood. They are printed 'verbatim'--without alteration from
the original edition--the date of which is too remote to be judiciously
acknowledged.--E. A. P. (1845).
[Footnote 1: This refers to the accusation brought against Edgar Poe
that he was a copyist of Tennyson.--Ed.]
* * * * *
AL AARAAF. 
O! nothing earthly save the ray
(Thrown back from flowers) of Beauty's eye,
As in those gardens where the day
Springs from the gems of Circassy--
O! nothing earthly save the thrill
Of melody in woodland rill--
Or (music of the passion-hearted)
Joy's voice so peacefully departed
That like the murmur in the shell,
Its echo dwelleth and will dwell--
O! nothing of the dross of ours--
Yet all the beauty--all the flowers
That list our Love, and deck our bowers--
Adorn yon world afar, afar--
The wandering star.
'Twas a sweet time for Nesace--for there
Her world lay lolling on the golden air,
Near four bright suns--a temporary rest--
An oasis in desert of the blest.
Away away--'mid seas of rays that roll
Empyrean splendor o'er th' unchained soul--
The soul that scarce (the billows are so dense)
Can struggle to its destin'd eminence--
To distant spheres, from time to time, she rode,
And late to ours, the favour'd one of God--
But, now, the ruler of an anchor'd realm,
She throws aside the sceptre--leaves the helm,
And, amid incense and high spiritual hymns,
Laves in quadruple light her angel limbs.
Now happiest, loveliest in yon lovely Earth,
Whence sprang the "Idea of Beauty" into birth,
(Falling in wreaths thro' many a startled star,
Like woman's hair 'mid pearls, until, afar,
It lit on hills Achaian, and there dwelt),
She look'd into Infinity--and knelt.
Rich clouds, for canopies, about her curled--
Fit emblems of the model of her world--
Seen but in beauty--not impeding sight--
Of other beauty glittering thro' the light--
A wreath that twined each starry form around,
And all the opal'd air in color bound.
All hurriedly she knelt upon a bed
Of flowers: of lilies such as rear'd the head
On the fair Capo Deucato , and sprang
So eagerly around about to hang
Upon the flying footsteps of--deep pride--
Of her who lov'd a mortal--and so died .
The Sephalica, budding with young bees,
Uprear'd its purple stem around her knees:
And gemmy flower, of Trebizond misnam'd --
Inmate of highest stars, where erst it sham'd
All other loveliness: its honied dew
(The fabled nectar that the heathen knew)
Deliriously sweet, was dropp'd from Heaven,
And fell on gardens of the unforgiven
In Trebizond--and on a sunny flower
So like its own above that, to this hour,
It still remaineth, torturing the bee
With madness, and unwonted reverie:
In Heaven, and all its environs, the leaf
And blossom of the fairy plant, in grief
Disconsolate linger--grief that hangs her head,
Repenting follies that full long have fled,
Heaving her white breast to the balmy air,
Like guilty beauty, chasten'd, and more fair:
Nyctanthes too, as sacred as the light
She fears to perfume, perfuming the night:
And Clytia  pondering between many a sun,
While pettish tears adown her petals run:
And that aspiring flower that sprang on Earth --
And died, ere scarce exalted into birth,
Bursting its odorous heart in spirit to wing
Its way to Heaven, from garden of a king:
And Valisnerian lotus thither flown 
From struggling with the waters of the Rhone:
And thy most lovely purple perfume, Zante !
Isola d'oro!--Fior di Levante!
And the Nelumbo bud that floats for ever 
With Indian Cupid down the holy river--
Fair flowers, and fairy! to whose care is given
To bear the Goddess' song, in odors, up to Heaven :
"Spirit! that dwellest where,
In the deep sky,
The terrible and fair,
In beauty vie!
Beyond the line of blue--
The boundary of the star
Which turneth at the view
Of thy barrier and thy bar--
Of the barrier overgone
By the comets who were cast
From their pride, and from their throne
To be drudges till the last--
To be carriers of fire
(The red fire of their heart)
With speed that may not tire
And with pain that shall not part--
Who livest--_that_ we know--
In Eternity--we feel--
But the shadow of whose brow
What spirit shall reveal?
Tho' the beings whom thy Nesace,
Thy messenger hath known
Have dream'd for thy Infinity
A model of their own --
Thy will is done, O God!
The star hath ridden high
Thro' many a tempest, but she rode
Beneath thy burning eye;
And here, in thought, to thee--
In thought that can alone
Ascend thy empire and so be
A partner of thy throne--
By winged Fantasy ,
My embassy is given,
Till secrecy shall knowledge be
In the environs of Heaven."
She ceas'd--and buried then her burning cheek
Abash'd, amid the lilies there, to seek
A shelter from the fervor of His eye;
For the stars trembled at the Deity.
She stirr'd not--breath'd not--for a voice was there
How solemnly pervading the calm air!
A sound of silence on the startled ear
Which dreamy poets name "the music of the sphere."
Ours is a world of words: Quiet we call
"Silence"--which is the merest word of all.
All Nature speaks, and ev'n ideal things
Flap shadowy sounds from the visionary wings--
But ah! not so when, thus, in realms on high
The eternal voice of God is passing by,
And the red winds are withering in the sky!
"What tho' in worlds which sightless cycles run ,
Link'd to a little system, and one sun--
Where all my love is folly, and the crowd
Still think my terrors but the thunder cloud,
The storm, the earthquake, and the ocean-wrath
(Ah! will they cross me in my angrier path?)
What tho' in worlds which own a single sun
The sands of time grow dimmer as they run,
Yet thine is my resplendency, so given
To bear my secrets thro' the upper Heaven.
Leave tenantless thy crystal home, and fly,
With all thy train, athwart the moony sky--
Apart--like fire-flies in Sicilian night ,
And wing to other worlds another light!
Divulge the secrets of thy embassy
To the proud orbs that twinkle--and so be
To ev'ry heart a barrier and a ban
Lest the stars totter in the guilt of man!"
Up rose the maiden in the yellow night,
The single-mooned eve!-on earth we plight
Our faith to one love--and one moon adore--
The birth-place of young Beauty had no more.
As sprang that yellow star from downy hours,
Up rose the maiden from her shrine of flowers,
And bent o'er sheeny mountain and dim plain
Her way--but left not yet her Therasaean reign .
High on a mountain of enamell'd head--
Such as the drowsy shepherd on his bed
Of giant pasturage lying at his ease,
Raising his heavy eyelid, starts and sees
With many a mutter'd "hope to be forgiven"
What time the moon is quadrated in Heaven--
Of rosy head, that towering far away
Into the sunlit ether, caught the ray
Of sunken suns at eve--at noon of night,
While the moon danc'd with the fair stranger light--
Uprear'd upon such height arose a pile
Of gorgeous columns on th' uuburthen'd air,
Flashing from Parian marble that twin smile
Far down upon the wave that sparkled there,
And nursled the young mountain in its lair.
Of molten stars their pavement, such as fall 
Thro' the ebon air, besilvering the pall
Of their own dissolution, while they die--
Adorning then the dwellings of the sky.
A dome, by linked light from Heaven let down,
Sat gently on these columns as a crown--
A window of one circular diamond, there,
Look'd out above into the purple air
And rays from God shot down that meteor chain
And hallow'd all the beauty twice again,
Save when, between th' Empyrean and that ring,
Some eager spirit flapp'd his dusky wing.
But on the pillars Seraph eyes have seen
The dimness of this world: that grayish green
That Nature loves the best for Beauty's grave
Lurk'd in each cornice, round each architrave--
And every sculptured cherub thereabout
That from his marble dwelling peered out,
Seem'd earthly in the shadow of his niche--
Achaian statues in a world so rich?
Friezes from Tadmor and Persepolis --
From Balbec, and the stilly, clear abyss
Of beautiful Gomorrah! Oh, the wave 
Is now upon thee--but too late to save!
Sound loves to revel in a summer night:
Witness the murmur of the gray twilight
That stole upon the ear, in Eyraco ,
Of many a wild star-gazer long ago--
That stealeth ever on the ear of him
Who, musing, gazeth on the distance dim,
And sees the darkness coming as a cloud--
Is not its form--its voice--most palpable and loud? 
But what is this?--it cometh--and it brings
A music with it--'tis the rush of wings--
A pause--and then a sweeping, falling strain,
And Nesace is in her halls again.
From the wild energy of wanton haste
Her cheeks were flushing, and her lips apart;
The zone that clung around her gentle waist
Had burst beneath the heaving of her heart.
Within the centre of that hall to breathe
She paus'd and panted, Zanthe! all beneath,
The fairy light that kiss'd her golden hair
And long'd to rest, yet could but sparkle there!
Young flowers were whispering in melody 
To happy flowers that night--and tree to tree;
Fountains were gushing music as they fell
In many a star-lit grove, or moon-light dell;
Yet silence came upon material things--
Fair flowers, bright waterfalls and angel wings--
And sound alone that from the spirit sprang
Bore burthen to the charm the maiden sang:
"Neath blue-bell or streamer--
Or tufted wild spray
That keeps, from the dreamer,
The moonbeam away--
Bright beings! that ponder,
With half-closing eyes,
On the stars which your wonder
Hath drawn from the skies,
Till they glance thro' the shade, and
Come down to your brow
Like--eyes of the maiden
Who calls on you now--
Arise! from your dreaming
In violet bowers,
To duty beseeming
These star-litten hours--
And shake from your tresses
Encumber'd with dew
The breath of those kisses
That cumber them too--
(O! how, without you, Love!
Could angels be blest?)
Those kisses of true love
That lull'd ye to rest!
Up! shake from your wing
Each hindering thing:
The dew of the night--
It would weigh down your flight;
And true love caresses--
O! leave them apart!
They are light on the tresses,
But lead on the heart.
My beautiful one!
Whose harshest idea
Will to melody run,
O! is it thy will
On the breezes to toss?
Or, capriciously still,
Like the lone Albatross, 
Incumbent on night
(As she on the air)
To keep watch with delight
On the harmony there?
Thy image may be,
No magic shall sever
Thy music from thee.
Thou hast bound many eyes
In a dreamy sleep--
But the strains still arise
Which _thy_ vigilance keep--
The sound of the rain
Which leaps down to the flower,
And dances again
In the rhythm of the shower--
The murmur that springs 
From the growing of grass
Are the music of things--
But are modell'd, alas!
Away, then, my dearest,
O! hie thee away
To springs that lie clearest
Beneath the moon-ray--
To lone lake that smiles,
In its dream of deep rest,
At the many star-isles
That enjewel its breast--
Where wild flowers, creeping,
Have mingled their shade,
On its margin is sleeping
Full many a maid--
Some have left the cool glade, and
Have slept with the bee--
Arouse them, my maiden,
On moorland and lea--
Go! breathe on their slumber,
All softly in ear,
The musical number
They slumber'd to hear--
For what can awaken
An angel so soon
Whose sleep hath been taken
Beneath the cold moon,
As the spell which no slumber
Of witchery may test,
The rhythmical number
Which lull'd him to rest?"
Spirits in wing, and angels to the view,
A thousand seraphs burst th' Empyrean thro',
Young dreams still hovering on their drowsy flight--
Seraphs in all but "Knowledge," the keen light
That fell, refracted, thro' thy bounds afar,
O death! from eye of God upon that star;
Sweet was that error--sweeter still that death--
Sweet was that error--ev'n with _us_ the breath
Of Science dims the mirror of our joy--
To them 'twere the Simoom, and would destroy--
For what (to them) availeth it to know
That Truth is Falsehood--or that Bliss is Woe?
Sweet was their death--with them to die was rife
With the last ecstasy of satiate life--
Beyond that death no immortality--
But sleep that pondereth and is not "to be"--
And there--oh! may my weary spirit dwell--
Apart from Heaven's Eternity--and yet how far from Hell! 
What guilty spirit, in what shrubbery dim
Heard not the stirring summons of that hymn?
But two: they fell: for heaven no grace imparts
To those who hear not for their beating hearts.
A maiden-angel and her seraph-lover--
O! where (and ye may seek the wide skies over)
Was Love, the blind, near sober Duty known?
Unguided Love hath fallen--'mid "tears of perfect moan." 
He was a goodly spirit--he who fell:
A wanderer by mossy-mantled well--
A gazer on the lights that shine above--
A dreamer in the moonbeam by his love:
What wonder? for each star is eye-like there,
And looks so sweetly down on Beauty's hair--
And they, and ev'ry mossy spring were holy
To his love-haunted heart and melancholy.
The night had found (to him a night of wo)
Upon a mountain crag, young Angelo--
Beetling it bends athwart the solemn sky,
And scowls on starry worlds that down beneath it lie.
Here sate he with his love--his dark eye bent
With eagle gaze along the firmament:
Now turn'd it upon her--but ever then
It trembled to the orb of EARTH again.
"Ianthe, dearest, see! how dim that ray!
How lovely 'tis to look so far away!
She seemed not thus upon that autumn eve
I left her gorgeous halls--nor mourned to leave,
That eve--that eve--I should remember well--
The sun-ray dropped, in Lemnos with a spell
On th' Arabesque carving of a gilded hall
Wherein I sate, and on the draperied wall--
And on my eyelids--O, the heavy light!
How drowsily it weighed them into night!
On flowers, before, and mist, and love they ran
With Persian Saadi in his Gulistan:
But O, that light!--I slumbered--Death, the while,
Stole o'er my senses in that lovely isle
So softly that no single silken hair
Awoke that slept--or knew that he was there.
"The last spot of Earth's orb I trod upon
Was a proud temple called the Parthenon; 
More beauty clung around her columned wall
Then even thy glowing bosom beats withal, 
And when old Time my wing did disenthral
Thence sprang I--as the eagle from his tower,
And years I left behind me in an hour.
What time upon her airy bounds I hung,
One half the garden of her globe was flung
Unrolling as a chart unto my view--
Tenantless cities of the desert too!
Ianthe, beauty crowded on me then,
And half I wished to be again of men."
"My Angelo! and why of them to be?
A brighter dwelling-place is here for thee--
And greener fields than in yon world above,
And woman's loveliness--and passionate love."
"But list, Ianthe! when the air so soft
Failed, as my pennoned spirit leapt aloft, 
Perhaps my brain grew dizzy--but the world
I left so late was into chaos hurled,
Sprang from her station, on the winds apart,
And rolled a flame, the fiery Heaven athwart.
Methought, my sweet one, then I ceased to soar,
And fell--not swiftly as I rose before,
But with a downward, tremulous motion thro'
Light, brazen rays, this golden star unto!
Nor long the measure of my falling hours,
For nearest of all stars was thine to ours--
Dread star! that came, amid a night of mirth,
A red Daedalion on the timid Earth."
"We came--and to thy Earth--but not to us
Be given our lady's bidding to discuss:
We came, my love; around, above, below,
Gay fire-fly of the night we come and go,
Nor ask a reason save the angel-nod
_She_ grants to us as granted by her God--
But, Angelo, than thine gray Time unfurled
Never his fairy wing o'er fairer world!
Dim was its little disk, and angel eyes
Alone could see the phantom in the skies,
When first Al Aaraaf knew her course to be
Headlong thitherward o'er the starry sea--
But when its glory swelled upon the sky,
As glowing Beauty's bust beneath man's eye,
We paused before the heritage of men,
And thy star trembled--as doth Beauty then!"
Thus in discourse, the lovers whiled away
The night that waned and waned and brought no day.
They fell: for Heaven to them no hope imparts
Who hear not for the beating of their hearts.
[Footnote 1: A star was discovered by Tycho Brahe which appeared
suddenly in the heavens--attained, in a few days, a brilliancy
surpassing that of Jupiter--then as suddenly disappeared, and has never
been seen since.]
[Footnote 2: On Santa Maura--olim Deucadia.]
[Footnote 3: Sappho.]
[Footnote 4: This flower is much noticed by Lewenhoeck and Tournefort.
The bee, feeding upon its blossom, becomes intoxicated.]
[Footnote: Clytia--the Chrysanthemum Peruvianum, or, to employ a
better-known term, the turnsol--which turns continually towards the sun,
covers itself, like Peru, the country from which it comes, with dewy
clouds which cool and refresh its flowers during the most violent heat
of the day.--'B. de St. Pierre.']
[Footnote 6: There is cultivated in the king's garden at Paris, a
species of serpentine aloe without prickles, whose large and beautiful
flower exhales a strong odor of the vanilla, during the time of its
expansion, which is very short. It does not blow till towards the month
of July--you then perceive it gradually open its petals--expand
them--fade and die.--'St. Pierre'.]
[Footnote 7: There is found, in the Rhone, a beautiful lily of the
Valisnerian kind. Its stem will stretch to the length of three or four
feet--thus preserving its head above water in the swellings of the
[Footnote 8: The Hyacinth.]
[Footnote 9: It is a fiction of the Indians, that Cupid was first seen
floating in one of these down the river Ganges, and that he still loves
the cradle of his childhood.]
[Footnote 10: And golden vials full of odors which are the prayers of
the saints.--'Rev. St. John.']
[Footnote 11: The Humanitarians held that God was to be understood as
having really a human form.--'Vide Clarke's Sermons', vol. I, page 26,
The drift of Milton's argument leads him to employ language which would
appear, at first sight, to verge upon their doctrine; but it will be
seen immediately, that he guards himself against the charge of having
adopted one of the most ignorant errors of the dark ages of the
Church.--'Dr. Sumner's Notes on Milton's Christian Doctrine'.
This opinion, in spite of many testimonies to the contrary, could never
have been very general. Andeus, a Syrian of Mesopotamia, was condemned
for the opinion, as heretical. He lived in the beginning of the fourth
century. His disciples were called Anthropomorphites.--'Vide du Pin'.
Among Milton's minor poems are these lines:
Dicite sacrorum praeesides nemorum Dese, etc.,
Quis ille primus cujus ex imagine
Natura solers finxit humanum genus?
Eternus, incorruptus, aequaevus polo,
Unusque et universus exemplar Dei.
Non cui profundum Caecitas lumen dedit
Dircaeus augur vidit hunc alto sinu, etc.]
Seltsamen Tochter Jovis
[Footnote 13: Sightless--too small to be seen.--'Legge'.]
[Footnote 14: I have often noticed a peculiar movement of the
fire-flies; they will collect in a body and fly off, from a common
centre, into innumerable radii.]
[Footnote 15: Therasaea, or Therasea, the island mentioned by Seneca,
which, in a moment, arose from the sea to the eyes of astonished
Some star which, from the ruin'd roof
Of shak'd Olympus, by mischance did fall.
[Footnote 17: Voltaire, in speaking of Persepolis, says,
"Je connais bien l'admiration qu'inspirent ces ruines--mais un palais
erige au pied d'une chaine de rochers steriles--peut-il etre un chef
d'oeuvre des arts!"]
[Footnote 18: "Oh, the wave"--Ula Deguisi is the Turkish appellation;
but, on its own shores, it is called Baliar Loth, or Al-motanah. There
were undoubtedly more than two cities engulphed in the "dead sea." In
the valley of Siddim were five--Adrah, Zeboin, Zoar, Sodom and Gomorrah.
Stephen of Byzantium mentions eight, and Strabo thirteen (engulphed)
--but the last is out of all reason. It is said (Tacitus, Strabo,
Josephus, Daniel of St. Saba, Nau, Maundrell, Troilo, D'Arvieux), that
after an excessive drought, the vestiges of columns, walls, etc., are
seen above the surface. At 'any' season, such remains may be discovered
by looking down into the transparent lake, and at such distance as would
argue the existence of many settlements in the space now usurped by the
[Footnote 19: Eyraco-Chaldea.]
[Footnote 20: I have often thought I could distinctly hear the sound of
the darkness as it stole over the horizon.]
Fairies use flowers for their charactery.
'Merry Wives of Windsor'.]
[Footnote 22: In Scripture is this passage:
"The sun shall not harm thee by day, nor the moon by night."
It is, perhaps, not generally known that the moon, in Egypt, has the
effect of producing blindness to those who sleep with the face exposed
to its rays, to which circumstances the passage evidently
[Footnote 23: The Albatross is said to sleep on the wing.]
[Footnote 24: I met with this idea in an old English tale, which I am
now unable to obtain and quote from memory:
"The verie essence and, as it were, springe heade and origine of all
musiche is the verie pleasaunte sounde which the trees of the forest
do make when they growe."]
[Footnote 25: The wild bee will not sleep in the shade if there be
moonlight. The rhyme in the verse, as in one about sixty lines before,
has an appearance of affectation. It is, however, imitated from Sir W.
Scott, or rather from Claud Halcro--in whose mouth I admired its effect:
O! were there an island,
Tho' ever so wild,
Where woman might smile, and
No man be beguil'd, etc. ]
[Footnote 26: With the Arabians there is a medium between Heaven and
Hell, where men suffer no punishment, but yet do not attain that
tranquil and even happiness which they suppose to be characteristic of
Un no rompido sueno--
Un dia puro--allegre--libre
Libre de amor--de zelo--
De odio--de esperanza--de rezelo.
'Luis Ponce de Leon.'
Sorrow is not excluded from "Al Aaraaf," but it is that sorrow which the
living love to cherish for the dead, and which, in some minds, resembles
the delirium of opium.
The passionate excitement of Love and the buoyancy of spirit attendant
upon intoxication are its less holy pleasures--the price of which, to
those souls who make choice of "Al Aaraaf" as their residence after
life, is final death and annihilation.]
There be tears of perfect moan
Wept for thee in Helicon.
[Footnote 28: It was entire in 1687--the most elevated spot in Athens.]
Shadowing more beauty in their airy brows
Than have the white breasts of the queen of love.
[Footnote 30: Pennon, for pinion.--'Milton'.]
* * * * *
Kind solace in a dying hour!
Such, father, is not (now) my theme--
I will not madly deem that power
Of Earth may shrive me of the sin
Unearthly pride hath revelled in--
I have no time to dote or dream:
You call it hope--that fire of fire!
It is but agony of desire:
If I _can_ hope--O God! I can--
Its fount is holier--more divine--
I would not call thee fool, old man,
But such is not a gift of thine.
Know thou the secret of a spirit
Bowed from its wild pride into shame
O yearning heart! I did inherit
Thy withering portion with the fame,
The searing glory which hath shone
Amid the Jewels of my throne,
Halo of Hell! and with a pain
Not Hell shall make me fear again--
O craving heart, for the lost flowers
And sunshine of my summer hours!
The undying voice of that dead time,
With its interminable chime,
Rings, in the spirit of a spell,
Upon thy emptiness--a knell.
I have not always been as now:
The fevered diadem on my brow
I claimed and won usurpingly--
Hath not the same fierce heirdom given
Rome to the Caesar--this to me?
The heritage of a kingly mind,
And a proud spirit which hath striven
Triumphantly with human kind.
On mountain soil I first drew life:
The mists of the Taglay have shed
Nightly their dews upon my head,
And, I believe, the winged strife
And tumult of the headlong air
Have nestled in my very hair.
So late from Heaven--that dew--it fell
('Mid dreams of an unholy night)
Upon me with the touch of Hell,
While the red flashing of the light
From clouds that hung, like banners, o'er,
Appeared to my half-closing eye
The pageantry of monarchy;
And the deep trumpet-thunder's roar
Came hurriedly upon me, telling
Of human battle, where my voice,
My own voice, silly child!--was swelling
(O! how my spirit would rejoice,
And leap within me at the cry)
The battle-cry of Victory!
The rain came down upon my head
Unsheltered--and the heavy wind
Rendered me mad and deaf and blind.
It was but man, I thought, who shed
Laurels upon me: and the rush--
The torrent of the chilly air
Gurgled within my ear the crush
Of empires--with the captive's prayer--
The hum of suitors--and the tone
Of flattery 'round a sovereign's throne.
My passions, from that hapless hour,
Usurped a tyranny which men
Have deemed since I have reached to power,
My innate nature--be it so:
But, father, there lived one who, then,
Then--in my boyhood--when their fire
Burned with a still intenser glow
(For passion must, with youth, expire)
E'en _then_ who knew this iron heart
In woman's weakness had a part.
I have no words--alas!--to tell
The loveliness of loving well!
Nor would I now attempt to trace
The more than beauty of a face
Whose lineaments, upon my mind,
Are--shadows on th' unstable wind:
Thus I remember having dwelt
Some page of early lore upon,
With loitering eye, till I have felt
The letters--with their meaning--melt
To fantasies--with none.
O, she was worthy of all love!
Love as in infancy was mine--
'Twas such as angel minds above
Might envy; her young heart the shrine
On which my every hope and thought
Were incense--then a goodly gift,
For they were childish and upright--
Pure--as her young example taught:
Why did I leave it, and, adrift,
Trust to the fire within, for light?
We grew in age--and love--together--
Roaming the forest, and the wild;
My breast her shield in wintry weather--
And, when the friendly sunshine smiled.
And she would mark the opening skies,
_I_ saw no Heaven--but in her eyes.
Young Love's first lesson is----the heart:
For 'mid that sunshine, and those smiles,
When, from our little cares apart,
And laughing at her girlish wiles,
I'd throw me on her throbbing breast,
And pour my spirit out in tears--
There was no need to speak the rest--
No need to quiet any fears
Of her--who asked no reason why,
But turned on me her quiet eye!
Yet _more_ than worthy of the love
My spirit struggled with, and strove
When, on the mountain peak, alone,
Ambition lent it a new tone--
I had no being--but in thee:
The world, and all it did contain
In the earth--the air--the sea--
Its joy--its little lot of pain
That was new pleasure--the ideal,
Dim, vanities of dreams by night--
And dimmer nothings which were real--
(Shadows--and a more shadowy light!)
Parted upon their misty wings,
And, so, confusedly, became
Thine image and--a name--a name!
Two separate--yet most intimate things.
I was ambitious--have you known
The passion, father? You have not:
A cottager, I marked a throne
Of half the world as all my own,
And murmured at such lowly lot--
But, just like any other dream,
Upon the vapor of the dew
My own had past, did not the beam
Of beauty which did while it thro'
The minute--the hour--the day--oppress
My mind with double loveliness.
We walked together on the crown
Of a high mountain which looked down
Afar from its proud natural towers
Of rock and forest, on the hills--
The dwindled hills! begirt with bowers
And shouting with a thousand rills.
I spoke to her of power and pride,
But mystically--in such guise
That she might deem it nought beside
The moment's converse; in her eyes
I read, perhaps too carelessly--
A mingled feeling with my own--
The flush on her bright cheek, to me
Seemed to become a queenly throne
Too well that I should let it be
Light in the wilderness alone.
I wrapped myself in grandeur then,
And donned a visionary crown--
Yet it was not that Fantasy
Had thrown her mantle over me--
But that, among the rabble--men,
Lion ambition is chained down--
And crouches to a keeper's hand--
Not so in deserts where the grand--
The wild--the terrible conspire
With their own breath to fan his fire.
Look 'round thee now on Samarcand!--
Is she not queen of Earth? her pride
Above all cities? in her hand
Their destinies? in all beside
Of glory which the world hath known
Stands she not nobly and alone?
Falling--her veriest stepping-stone
Shall form the pedestal of a throne--
And who her sovereign? Timour--he
Whom the astonished people saw
Striding o'er empires haughtily
A diademed outlaw!
O, human love! thou spirit given,
On Earth, of all we hope in Heaven!
Which fall'st into the soul like rain
Upon the Siroc-withered plain,
And, failing in thy power to bless,
But leav'st the heart a wilderness!
Idea! which bindest life around
With music of so strange a sound
And beauty of so wild a birth--
Farewell! for I have won the Earth.
When Hope, the eagle that towered, could see
No cliff beyond him in the sky,
His pinions were bent droopingly--
And homeward turned his softened eye.
'Twas sunset: When the sun will part
There comes a sullenness of heart
To him who still would look upon
The glory of the summer sun.
That soul will hate the ev'ning mist
So often lovely, and will list
To the sound of the coming darkness (known
To those whose spirits hearken) as one
Who, in a dream of night, _would_ fly,
But _cannot_, from a danger nigh.
What tho' the moon--tho' the white moon
Shed all the splendor of her noon,
_Her_ smile is chilly--and _her_ beam,
In that time of dreariness, will seem
(So like you gather in your breath)
A portrait taken after death.
And boyhood is a summer sun
Whose waning is the dreariest one--
For all we live to know is known,
And all we seek to keep hath flown--
Let life, then, as the day-flower, fall
With the noon-day beauty--which is all.
I reached my home--my home no more--
For all had flown who made it so.
I passed from out its mossy door,
And, tho' my tread was soft and low,
A voice came from the threshold stone
Of one whom I had earlier known--
O, I defy thee, Hell, to show
On beds of fire that burn below,
An humbler heart--a deeper woe.
Father, I firmly do believe--
I _know_--for Death who comes for me
From regions of the blest afar,
Where there is nothing to deceive,
Hath left his iron gate ajar.
And rays of truth you cannot see
Are flashing thro' Eternity----
I do believe that Eblis hath
A snare in every human path--
Else how, when in the holy grove
I wandered of the idol, Love,--
Who daily scents his snowy wings
With incense of burnt-offerings
From the most unpolluted things,
Whose pleasant bowers are yet so riven
Above with trellised rays from Heaven
No mote may shun--no tiniest fly--
The light'ning of his eagle eye--
How was it that Ambition crept,
Unseen, amid the revels there,
Till growing bold, he laughed and leapt
In the tangles of Love's very hair!
* * * * *
Helen, thy beauty is to me
Like those Nicean barks of yore,
That gently, o'er a perfumed sea,
The weary, wayworn wanderer bore
To his own native shore.
On desperate seas long wont to roam,
Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face,
Thy Naiad airs have brought me home
To the glory that was Greece,
To the grandeur that was Rome.
Lo! in yon brilliant window niche,
How statue-like I see thee stand,
The agate lamp within thy hand!
Ah, Psyche, from the regions which
Are Holy Land!
* * * * *
THE VALLEY OF UNREST.
_Once_ it smiled a silent dell
Where the people did not dwell;
They had gone unto the wars,
Trusting to the mild-eyed stars,
Nightly, from their azure towers,
To keep watch above the flowers,
In the midst of which all day
The red sun-light lazily lay,
_Now_ each visitor shall confess
The sad valley's restlessness.
Nothing there is motionless--
Nothing save the airs that brood
Over the magic solitude.
Ah, by no wind are stirred those trees
That palpitate like the chill seas
Around the misty Hebrides!
Ah, by no wind those clouds are driven
That rustle through the unquiet Heaven
Unceasingly, from morn till even,
Over the violets there that lie
In myriad types of the human eye--
Over the lilies that wave
And weep above a nameless grave!
They wave:--from out their fragrant tops
Eternal dews come down in drops.
They weep:--from off their delicate stems
Perennial tears descend in gems.
* * * * *
In Heaven a spirit doth dwell
"Whose heart-strings are a lute;"
None sing so wildly well
As the angel Israfel,
And the giddy Stars (so legends tell),
Ceasing their hymns, attend the spell
Of his voice, all mute.
In her highest noon,
The enamoured Moon
Blushes with love,
While, to listen, the red levin
(With the rapid Pleiads, even,
Which were seven),
Pauses in Heaven.
And they say (the starry choir
And the other listening things)
That Israfeli's fire
Is owing to that lyre
By which he sits and sings--
The trembling living wire
Of those unusual strings.
But the skies that angel trod,
Where deep thoughts are a duty--
Where Love's a grow-up God--
Where the Houri glances are
Imbued with all the beauty
Which we worship in a star.
Therefore, thou art not wrong,
Israfeli, who despisest
An unimpassioned song;
To thee the laurels belong,
Best bard, because the wisest!
Merrily live and long!
The ecstasies above
With thy burning measures suit--
Thy grief, thy joy, thy hate, thy love,
With the fervor of thy lute--
Well may the stars be mute!
Yes, Heaven is thine; but this
Is a world of sweets and sours;
Our flowers are merely--flowers,
And the shadow of thy perfect bliss
Is the sunshine of ours.
If I could dwell
Hath dwelt, and he where I,
He might not sing so wildly well
A mortal melody,
While a bolder note than this might swell
From my lyre within the sky.
And the angel Israfel, whose heart-strings are a lute, and who has the
sweetest voice of all God's creatures.
* * * * *
I heed not that my earthly lot
Hath--little of Earth in it--
That years of love have been forgot
In the hatred of a minute:--
I mourn not that the desolate
Are happier, sweet, than I,
But that _you_ sorrow for _my_ fate
Who am a passer-by.
* * * * *
The bowers whereat, in dreams, I see
The wantonest singing birds,
Are lips--and all thy melody
Of lip-begotten words--
Thine eyes, in Heaven of heart enshrined
Then desolately fall,
O God! on my funereal mind
Like starlight on a pall--
Thy heart--_thy_ heart!--I wake and sigh,
And sleep to dream till day
Of the truth that gold can never buy--
Of the baubles that it may.
* * * * *
TO THE RIVER
Fair river! in thy bright, clear flow
Of crystal, wandering water,
Thou art an emblem of the glow
Of beauty--the unhidden heart--
The playful maziness of art
In old Alberto's daughter;
But when within thy wave she looks--
Which glistens then, and trembles--
Why, then, the prettiest of brooks
Her worshipper resembles;
For in his heart, as in thy stream,
Her image deeply lies--
His heart which trembles at the beam
Of her soul-searching eyes.
* * * * *
I saw thee on thy bridal day--
When a burning blush came o'er thee,
Though happiness around thee lay,
The world all love before thee:
And in thine eye a kindling light
(Whatever it might be)
Was all on Earth my aching sight
Of Loveliness could see.
That blush, perhaps, was maiden shame--
As such it well may pass--
Though its glow hath raised a fiercer flame
In the breast of him, alas!
Who saw thee on that bridal day,
When that deep blush _would_ come o'er thee,
Though happiness around thee lay,
The world all love before thee.
* * * * *
SPIRITS OF THE DEAD.
Thy soul shall find itself alone
'Mid dark thoughts of the gray tombstone
Not one, of all the crowd, to pry
Into thine hour of secrecy.
Be silent in that solitude
Which is not loneliness--for then
The spirits of the dead who stood
In life before thee are again
In death around thee--and their will
Shall overshadow thee: be still.
The night--tho' clear--shall frown--
And the stars shall not look down
From their high thrones in the Heaven,
With light like Hope to mortals given--
But their red orbs, without beam,
To thy weariness shall seem
As a burning and a fever
Which would cling to thee forever.
Now are thoughts thou shalt not banish--
Now are visions ne'er to vanish--
From thy spirit shall they pass
No more--like dew-drops from the grass.
The breeze--the breath of God--is still--
And the mist upon the hill
Is a symbol and a token--
How it hangs upon the trees,
A mystery of mysteries!
* * * * *
In visions of the dark night
I have dreamed of joy departed--
But a waking dream of life and light
Hath left me broken-hearted.
Ah! what is not a dream by day
To him whose eyes are cast
On things around him with a ray
Turned back upon the past?
That holy dream--that holy dream,
While all the world were chiding,
Hath cheered me as a lovely beam,
A lonely spirit guiding.
What though that light, thro' storm and night,
So trembled from afar--
What could there be more purely bright
In Truth's day star?
* * * * *
Romance, who loves to nod and sing,
With drowsy head and folded wing,
Among the green leaves as they shake
Far down within some shadowy lake,
To me a painted paroquet
Hath been--a most familiar bird--
Taught me my alphabet to say--
To lisp my very earliest word
While in the wild wood I did lie,
A child--with a most knowing eye.
Of late, eternal Condor years
So shake the very Heaven on high
With tumult as they thunder by,
I have no time for idle cares
Though gazing on the unquiet sky.
And when an hour with calmer wings
Its down upon my spirit flings--
That little time with lyre and rhyme
To while away--forbidden things!
My heart would feel to be a crime
Unless it trembled with the strings.
* * * * *
Dim vales--and shadowy floods--
And cloudy-looking woods,
Whose forms we can't discover
For the tears that drip all over
Huge moons there wax and wane--
Every moment of the night--
Forever changing places--
And they put out the star-light
With the breath from their pale faces.
About twelve by the moon-dial
One more filmy than the rest
(A kind which, upon trial,
They have found to be the best)
Comes down--still down--and down
With its centre on the crown
Of a mountain's eminence,
While its wide circumference
In easy drapery falls
Over hamlets, over halls,
Wherever they may be--
O'er the strange woods--o'er the sea--
Over spirits on the wing--
Over every drowsy thing--
And buries them up quite
In a labyrinth of light--
And then, how deep!--O, deep!
Is the passion of their sleep.