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Heart of the Universe ! whose life is fire:
Whose pulse is earthquake, from whose breast are
rolled Those flames in which shall penal earth expire; Whose scathing robe, the Lava's burning fold, Whose armed hand the thunderbolt doth hold! Whose Voice is as the trump that wakes to doom; Creator and Destroyer ! who hath told What world of life lies buried in thy womb?
What Mammoth-wrecks are sunk in thy all-blasting tomb?
XVI. But now, while gazing on thee, I arrest One moment from the eternity of time, Thou, like Night's Altar visibly confessed, Risest, sad, savage, solemn, yet sublime! How vestal Nature even to thy cime, Hath sprinkled round thy breast, as she would hide, Thy desolation—flowers from every clime! As if she thus would soften, not deride,
Thy images of human death that speak to human pride. XVII.
On to the ascent; hark!—how the hollow ground Reverberates beneath the sullen tread: Tis Hekculaneum in her sleep profound! A City rises o'er her ashes' bed, All life—all joy—the living on the dead !— Perchance, to die like her;feels not thy heart The sudden life-blood quicker to it sped? Yea, for our fellow-men the tear doth start; We feel great Nature's ties, and own our natural part.
XVIII. But the Scene changes, and is left behind, Like an enchanting dream: the vine expires: Nature's faint hues have sicklily declined; Silent the voices of the birds, whose choirs The spirit of ever-living Joy inspires: The Silence tells that we are nearing now The subterranean Palace of the Fires! Lo—how above, its awful front doth show Yon far cloud-cleaving Cone its pale and wrathful brow,
Frowning down on ye, like the Form of Death,
O'er the Life whelmed beneath—scorched—blasted—and unknown.
Of the damned doomed to see the joys they must ibrego; XXI.
Beholding in their agony from far,
Torched by the Sun, whose rays through ghost-like vapours peer.
What change could heal thy Mountain's thuiidcr-splitten breast?
Sisyphian toil!—the ascent, at last, is crowned: How the Scene's stern sublimity appals! The wild, waste plain of ever blasted ground: The circling Crater's thunder-shivered walls: The Central Pit—the Portal to the Halls Of everlasting Fires: where, scathing o'er, In its first rage the shower volcanic falls; Lo—how it reeks from every burning pore! While, rapidly mounting from yon subterranean door,
Rushing up wildly from the depths beneath, Clouds, opening their enormous folds are curled In sulphurous masses, darkening the heath, As if Night's blackest banners were unfurled: Mountains of Vapour on each other hurled, Careering upwards—giant Forms of Air! Swept on the Wind's wings to the nether world, To burst in wrath, and storm, and darkness there, The Heralds they, sent forth to bid the earth prepare.