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That what we love shall ne'er be so.
I know not why
I could not die,
I had no earthly hope—but faith,
And that forbade a selfish death.
What next befell me then and there
I know not well—I never knew—
First came the loss of light, and air,
And then of darkness too:
I had no thought, no feeling—none—
Among the stones I stood a stone,
And was, scarce conscious what I wist,
As shrubless crags within the mist;
For all was blank, and bleak, and gray,
It was not night—it was not day,
It was not even the dungeon-light,
So hateful to my heavy sight,
But vacancy absorbing space,
And fixedness—without a place;
There were no stars—no earth—no time—
No check—no change—no good—no crime—
But silence, and a stirless breath
Which neither was of life nor death;
A sea of stagnant idleness,
Blind, boundless, mute, and motionless |
A light broke in upon my brain,_ It was the carol of a bird; It ceased, and then it came again, The sweetest song ear ever heard, And mine was thankful till my eyes Ran over with the glad surprise, And they that moment could not see I was the mate of misery; But then by dull degrees came back My senses to their wonted track. I saw the dungeon walls and floor Close slowly round me as before, I saw the glimmer of the sun Creeping as it before had done, But through the crevice where it came That bird was perch'd, as fond and tame, And tamer than upon the tree; A lovely bird, with azure wings, And song that said a thousand things, And seem'd to say them all for me! I never saw its like before, I ne'er shall see its likeness more: It seem’d like me to want a mate, But was not half so desolate, And it was come to love me when None lived to love me so again, And cheering from my dungeon's brink Had brought me back to feel and think. I know not if it late were free, Or broke its cage to perch on mine, But knowing well captivity, Sweet bird I could not wish for thine! Or if it were, in winged guise, A visitant from Paradise; For-Heaven forgive that thought: the while
Which made me both to weep and smile;
I sometimes deem'd that it might be
My brother's soul come down to me;
But then at last away it flew,
And then 'twas mortal—well I knew.
For he would never thus have flown,
And left me twice so doubly lone,—
Lone—as the corse within its shroud,
Lone—as a solitary cloud,
A single cloud on a sunny day.
While all the rest of heaven is clear,
A frown upon the atmosphere,
That hath no business to appear
When skies are blue, and earth is gay.
SCENES FROM MANFRED. MAN FRED INwokes THE WITCH OF THE ALP". A lower Valley in the Alps. As Cataract. Enter MANFRED. It is not noon—the sunbow's rays still arch The torrent with the many hues of heaven, And roll the sheeted silver's waving column O'er the crag's headlong perpendicular. And fling its lines of foaming light alongAnd to and fro, like the pale courser's tail, The giant steed, to be bestrode by death, As told in the Apocalypse. No eyes But mine now drink this sight of loveliness; I should be sole in this sweet solitude, And with the Spirit of the place divide The homage of these waters.-I will call her. (MANFRED takes some of the water into the reis of his hand, and flings it in the air, soring the adjuration. After a pease, the Witch of the Alps rises beneath the arts of the sunbeam of the torrent.) Man. Beautiful Spirit! with thy hair of light, And dazzling eyes of glory, in whose form The charms of earth's least-mortal daughter grew To an unearthly stature, in an essence Of purer elements; while the hues of youth, Carnation'd like a sleeping infant’s cheek, Rock'd by the beating of her mother's heart, Or the rose tints, which summer's twilight leaves Upon the lofty glacier's virgin snow, The blush of earth embracing with her heaven– Tinge thy celestial aspect, and make tame The beauties of the sunbow which bends o'er thee. Beautiful Spirit! in thy calm clear brow, Wherein is glass'd serenity of soul, Which of itself shows immortality, I read that thou wilt pardon to a son Of earth, whom the abstruser powers permit At times to commune with them—if that he Avail him of his spells—to call thee thus, And gaze on thee a moment. Witch. Son of earth! I know thee, and the powers which give thee power; I know thee for a man of many thoughts,
And deeds of good and ill, extreme in both,
Fatal and fated in thy sufferings. I have expected this—what wouldst thou with me? Man. To look upon thy beauty—nothing further. The face of the earth hath madden'd me, and I Take refuge in her mysteries, and pierce To the abodes of those who govern her— But they can nothing aid me. I have sought From them what they could not bestow, and now I search no further. Witch. What could be the quest Which is not in the power of the most powerful, The rulers of the invisible? * Man. A boon; But why should I repeat it? 'twere in vain. - Witch. I know not that; let thy lips utter it. Man. Well, though it torture me,’tis but the same; My pang shall find a voice. From my youth upwards My spirit walk'd not with the souls of men, Nor look’d upon the earth with human eyes; The thirst of their ambition was not mine, The aiin of their existence was not mine; My joys, my griefs, my passions, and my powers, Made me a stranger; though I wore the form, I had so sympathy with breathing flesh, Nor midst the creatures of clay that girded me Was there but one who—but of her anon. ! said, with men, and with the thoughts of men, I held but slight communion; but instead, My joy was in the wilderness, to breathe The difficult air of the iced mountain's top Where the birds dare not build, nor insect's wing Flit o'er the herbless granite; or to plunge Into the torrent, and to roll along On the swift whirl of the new breaking wave Of river-stream, or ocean, in their flow. In these my early strength exulted; or To follow through the night the roving moon, The stars and their developement; or catch The dazzling lightnings till my eyes grew dim; Or to look, list'ning, on the scatter'd leaves, While autumn winds were at their evening song. These were my pastimes, and to be alone; For if the beings, of whom I was one,— Hating to be so-cross'd me in my path, I felt myself degraded back to them, And was all clay again. And then I dived, In my lone wanderings, to the caves of death, Searching its cause in its effect; and drew From wither'd bones, and skulls, and heap'd up dust, Conclusions most forbidden. Then I pass'd The nights of years in sciences untaught, Save in the old-time; and with time and toil, And terrible ordeal, and such penance As in itself hath power upon the air, And spirits that do compass air and earth, Space, and the peopled infinite, I made Mine eyes familiar wit, eternity, Such as, before me, did the Magi, and He who from out their fountain dwellings raised Eros and Anteros, at Gadara, As I do thee;—and with my knowledge grew The thirst of knowledge, and the power and joy
Of this most bright intelligence, until—
Man. Oh! I but thus prolong'd my words,
Boasting these idle attributes, because
As I approach the core of my heart's grief—
But to my task. I have not named to thee
Father or mother, mistress, friend, or being,
With whom I wore the chain of human ties;
If I had such, they seem'd not such to me—
Yet there was one
Witch. Spare not thyself—proceed.
Man. She was like me in lineaments—her eyes,
Her hair, her features, all, to the very tone
Even of her voice, they said were like to mine;
But soften’d all, and temper'd into beauty.
She had the same lone thoughts and wanderings,
The quest of hidden knowledge, and a mind
To comprehend the universe: nor these
Alone, but with them gentler powers than mine,
Pity, and smiles, and tears—which I had not;
And tenderness—but that I had for her;
Humility—and that I never had.
Her faults were mine—her virtues were her own—
I loved her, and destroy'd her!
Witch. With thy hand?
Man. Not with my hand, but heart, which broke
It gazed on mine, and wither'd. I have shed
Blood, but not hers—and yet her blood was shed—
I saw—and could not stanch it.
Witch. And for this—
A being of the race thou dost despise,
The order which thine own would rise above,
Mingling with us and ours, thou dost forego
The gifts of our great knowledge, and shrink'st back
To recreant mortality—Away!
Man. Daughter of air! I tell thee, since that hour—
But words are breath—look on me in my sleep,
Or watch my watchings—Come and sit by me !
My solitude is solitude no more,
But peopled with the furies;–I have gnash'd
My teeth in darkness till returning morn,
Then cursed myself till sunset;—I have pray'd
For madness as a blessing—'tis denied me.
I have affronted death—but in the war
Of elements the waters shrank from me,
And fatal things pass'd harmless—the cold hand
Of an all-pitiless demon held me back, -
Back by a single hair, which would not break. . ;
In phantasy, imagination, all -
The affluence of my soul—which one day was
A Croesus in creation—I plunged deep;
But, like an ebbing wave, it dash'd me back
Into the gulph of my unfathom'd thought.
I plunged amidst mankind—Forgetfulness
I sought in all, save where 'tis to be found,
And that I have to learn—my sciences,
My long pursued and super-human art,
Is mortal here—I dwell in my despair-
And live—and live for ever.
That I can aid thee.
Man. To do this thy power
Must wake the dead, or lay me low with them.
Do so—in any shape—in any hour—
With any torture—so it be the last.
Witch. That is not in my province; but if thou
Wilt swear obedience to my will, and do
My bidding, it may help thee to thy wishes.
Man. I will not swear—Obey! and whom? the
Whose presence I command, and be the slave
Of those who served me—Never:
Witch. Is this all?
Hast thou no gentler answer?—Yet bethink thee,
And pause ere thou rejectest.
Man. I have said it.
Witch. Enough!—I may retire then—say!
[The Witch disappears. Man. (alone.) We are the fools of time and terror: days
Steal on us and steal from us; yet we live,
Loathing our life, and dreading still to die.
In all the days of this detested yoke—
This vital weight upon the struggling heart
Which sinks with sorrow, or beats quick with pain,
Or joy that ends in agony or faintness—
In all the days of past and future, for
In life there is no present, we can number
How few—how less than few—wherein the soul
Forbears to pant for death, and yet draws back
As from a stream in winter, though the chill
Be but a moment's. I have one resource
Still in my science—I can call the dead,
And ask them what it is we dread to be:
The sternest answer can but be the grave,
And that is nothing—if they answer not.—
The buried prophet answer'd to the Hag
Of Endor; and the Spartan monarch drew
From the Byzantine maid's unsleeping spirit
An answer and his destiny—he slew
That which he loved, unknowing what he slew,
And died unpardon'd—though he call'd in aid
The Phyxian Jove, and in Phigalia roused
The Arcadian Evocators to compel
The indignant shadow to depose her wrath,
Or fix her term of vengeance-she replied
In words of dubious import, but fulfill’d.
If I had never lived, that which I love
Had still been living; had I never loved,
That which I love would still be beautiful—
Happy and giving happiness. What is she?
What is she now?—a sufferer for my sins—
A thing I dare not think upon—or nothing.
Within few hours I shall not call in vain—
Yet in this hour I dread the thing I dare:
Until this hour I never shrank to gaze
On spirit, good or evil—now I tremble,
And feel a strange cold thaw upon my heart,
But I can act even what I most abhor,
And champion human fears.-The night ap-
MANFRED ADDRESSES THE SPIRIT OF Astarte
(The Phantom of Astarters
Man. Can this be death there's bloom upon hBut now I see it is no living hue, But a strange hectic—like the unnatural red Which autumn plants upon the perish'd leaf. It is the same! Oh, God! that I should dread To look upon the same—Astarte!—No, I cannot speak to her—but bid her speak— Forgive me or condemn me.
By the power which hath broken The grave which enthrall'd thee,
Speak to him who hath spoken, Or those who have call'd thee!
Man. She is silent. And in that silence I am more than answer'd.
Nem. My power extends no further. Prince ciso: It rests with thee alone—command her voice.
Ari. Spirit—obey this sceptre:
Nem. Silent still! She is not of our order, but belongs To the other powers. Mortal: thy quest is war. And we are baffled also.
Man. Hear me, hear me— Astarte! my beloved! speak to me: I have so much endured—so much endure— Look on me! the grave hath not changed thee more Than I am changed for thee. Thou loved'st me Too much, as I loved thee: we were not made To torture thus each other, though it were The deadliest sin to love as we have loved. Say that thou loath'st me not—that I do bear This punishment for both—that thou wilt be One of the blessed—and that I shall die; For hitherto all hateful things conspire To bind me in existence—in a life Which makes me shrink from immortality— A future like the past. I cannot rest. I know not what I ask, nor what I seek: I feel but what thou art—and what I am : And I would hear yet once before I perish The voice which was my music—Speak to me! For I have call’d on thee in the still night. Startled the slumbering birds from the hush'd
And woke the mountain wolves, and made the caves
Acquainted with thy vainly echoed name,
Which answer'd me—many things answer'd me—
Spirits and men—but thou wert silent all.
Yet speak to me! I have outwatch'd the stars,
And gaz'd o'er heaven in vain in search of thee.
Speak to me! I have wander'd o'er the earth
And never found thy likeness—Speak to me!
Look on the fiends around—they feel for me:
I fear them not, and feel for thee alone—
Speak to me! though it be in wrathi-but say—
I reck not what—but let me hear thee once—
This once—once more!
Phantom of Astarte, Manfred!
Man. Say on, say on— I live but in the sound—it is thy voice! Phan. Manfred! Tomorrow ends thine earthly ills. Farewell ? Man. Yet one word more—am I forgiven Phan. Farewell! Man. Say, shall we meet again? Phan. Farewell . Man. One word for mercy! Say thou lovest me. Phan. Manfred' [The Spirit of Astarte disappears.
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow'd to that tender light Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair'd the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling place.
And on that cheek, and o'er that brow, So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
The king was on his throne,
The satraps throng'd the hall;
A thousand bright lamps shone
O'er that high festival.
A thousand cups of gold,
In Judah deem'd divine—
Jehovah's vessels hold
The godless Heathen's wine!
In that same hour and hall,
The fingers of a hand
Came forth against the wall,
And wrote as if on sand:
The fingers of a man;–
A solitary hand
Along the letters ran,
And traced them like a wand.
The monarch saw, and shook,
And bade no more rejoice;
All bloodless wax’d his look,
And tremulous his voice.
“Let the men of lore appear,
The wisest of the earth,
And expound the words of fear,
Which mar our royal mirth.”
Chaldea's seers are good,
But here they have no skill;
And the unknown letters stood
Untold and awful still.
And Babel's men of age
Are wise and deep in lore;
But now they were not sage,
They saw—but knew no more.
A captive in the land,
A stranger and a youth,
He heard the king's command,
He saw that writing's truth.
The lamps around were bright,
The prophecy in view ;
He read it on that night-
The morrow proved it true.
“Belshazzar's grave is made,
His kingdom pass'd away,
He, in the balance weigh'd,
Is light and worthless clay.
The shroud his robe of state,
His canopy the stone;
The Mede is at his gate!
The Persian on his throne!”
THE LAMENT OF TASSO. Long years!—It tries the thrilling frame to bear, And eagle-spirit of a child of song— Long years of outrage, calumny, and wrong; Imputed madness, prison'd solitude, And the mind's canker in its savage mood, When the impatient thirst of light and air Parches the heart; and the abhorred grate, Marring the sunbeams with its hideous shade, Works through the throbbing eyeball to the brain With a hot sense of heaviness and pain; And bare, at once, captivity display'd Stands scoffing through the never-open'd gate, Which nothing through its bars admits, save day And tasteless food, which I have eat alone Till its unsocial bitterness is gone; And I can banquet like a beast of prey, Sullen and lonely, couching in the cave Which is my lair, and—it may be—my grave. All this hath somewhat worn me, and may wear, But must be borne. I stoop not to despair; For I have battled with mine agony, And made me wings wherewith to overfly The narrow circus of my dungeon wall, And freed the holy sepulchre from thrall, And revell'd among men and things divine, And pour'd my spirit over Palestine, In honour of the sacred war for him, The God who was on earth and is in heaven, For he hath strengthen'd me in heart and limb. That through this sufferance I might be forgiven, I have employ'd my penance to record How Salem's shrine was won, and how adored.
But this is o'er—my pleasant task is done:— My long-sustaining friend of many years!
If I do blot thy final page with tears,
Know, that my sorrows have wrung from me none.
But thou, my young creation my soul's child!
Which ever playing round me came and smiled,
And woo'd me from myself with thy sweet sight,
Thou too art gone—and so is my delight:
And therefore do I weep and inly bleed
With this last bruise upon a broken reed.
Thou too art ended—what is left me now?
For I have anguish yet to bear—and how
I know not that—but in the innate force
Of my own spirit shall be found resource.
I have not sunk, for I had no remorse,
Nor cause for such: they call'd me mad—and why?
Oh Leonora! wilt not thou reply?
I was indeed delirious in my heart
To lift my love so lofty as thou art;
But still my frenzy was not of the mind;
I knew my fault, and feel my punishment
Not less because I suffer it unbent.
That thou wert beautiful, and I not blind,
Hath been the sin which shuts me from mankind;
But let them go, or torture as they will,
My heart can multiply thine image still ;
Successful love may sate itself away,
The wretched are the faithful; 'tis their fate
To have all feeling save the one decay,
And every passion into one dilate,
As rapid rivers into ocean pour;
But ours is fathomless, and hath no shore.
Above me, hark! the long and maniac cry
Of minds and bodies in captivity.
And hark the lash and the increasing howl,
And the half-inarticulate blasphemy!
There be some here with worse than frenzy foul,
Some who do still goad on the o'er-labour'd mind,
And dim the little light that's left behind
With needless torture, as their tyrant will
Is wound up to the lust of doing ill:
With these and with their victims am I class'd,
Mid sounds and sights like these long years have
Mid sights and sounds like these my life may close:
So let it be—for then I shall repose.
I have been patient, let me be so yet;
I had forgotten half I would forget,
But it revives—oh would it were my lot
To be forgetful as I am forgot!—
Feel I not wroth with those who bade me dwell
In this vast lazar-house of many woes?
Where laughter is not mirth, nor thought the mind,
Nor words a language, nor ev'n men mankind;
Where cries reply to curses, shrieks to blows,
And each is tortured in his separate hell-
For we are crowded in our solitudes—
Many, but each divided by the wall,
Which echoes madness in her babbling moods;-
While all can hear, none heed his neighbour's call-
Nonel save that one, the veriest wretch of all,
Who was not made to be the mate of these,
Nor bound between distraction and disease-
Feel I not wroth with those who placed the here
Who have debased me in the minds of men,
Debarring me the usage of my own,
Blighting my life in best of its career,
Branding my thoughts as things to shun and fear
Would I not pay them back these pangs again,
And teach them inward sorrow's stifled groan:
The struggle to be calm, and cold distress.
Which undermines our Stoical success!
No!—still too proud to be vindictive—l
Have pardon'd princes' insults, and would die.
Yes, sister of my sovereign for thy sake
I weed all bitterness from out my breast,
It hath no business where thou art a guest:
Thy brother hates—but I can not detest;
Thou pitiest not—but I can not forsake.
Look on a love which knows not to despair,
But all unquench'd is still my better part,
Dwelling deep in my shut and silent heart
As dwells the gather'd lightning in its cloud.
Encompass'd with its dark and rolling shroud.
Till struck,-forth flies the all-ethereal dart:
And thus at the collision of thy name
The vivid thought still flashes through my frame,
And for a moment all things as they were
Flit by me;—they are gone—I am the same.
And yet my love without ambition grew ;
I knew thy state, my station, and I knew
A princess was no love-mate for a bard;
I told it not, I breathed it not, it was
Sufficient to itself, its own reward
And if my eyes reveal’d it, they, alas!
Were punish’d by the silentness of thine,
And yet I did not venture to repine.
Thou wert to me a crystal-girded shrine.
Worshipp'd at holy distance, and around
Hallow'd and meekly kiss'd the saintly ground;
Not for thou wert a princess, but that love
Had robed thee with a glory, and array'd
Thy lineaments in beauty that dismay’d—
Oh! not dismay’d—but awed, like one above;
And in that sweet severity there was
A something which all softness did surpass—
I know not how—thy genius master'd mine—
My star stood still before thee:—if it were
Presumptuous thus to love without design,
That sad fatality hath cost me dear;
But thou art dearest still, and I should be
Fit for this cell, which wrongs me, but for thee.
The very love which lock'd me to my chain
Hath lighten’d half its weight; and for the rest,
Though heavy, lent me vigour to sustain,
And look to thee with undivided breast,
And foil the ingenuity of pain.
It is no marvel—from my very birth
My soul was drunk with love, which did pervade
And mingle with whate'er I saw on earth;
Of objects all inanimate I made
Idols, and out of wild and lonely slowers,