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XV.

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,

XIX.

Frowning down on ye, like the Form of Death,
As, though the vapours drifted by the blast,
Its Shadow falls on the grey waste beneath!
Chaos of black crags wildly round are cast:
Mountains of lava, which, as here they past,
Wave-like, while floating, were transfixed to stone,
Stopped in full tide, yet scathing to the last!
Nor flower nor blade of grass hath ever grown

O'er the Life whelmed beneath—scorched—blasted—and unknown.

XX.
Nature! thy olden curse thou dost inherit
Here: withered—lightning-scathed—and earthquake

riven;
As if had passed God's ministering Spirit,
In his avenging hand the burning levin:
To mark with delegated fires from heaven
A Cain-like stamp upon yon mountain's brow!
As if it were the abode of souls unshriven
By fiery ordeal: the place of woe

Of the damned doomed to see the joys they must ibrego; XXI.

Beholding in their agony from far,
The Paradise they have for ever lost;
Even thus, appearing like a distant Star,
Rises, midst wreaths of azure vapour tossed,
The Cloud-like mountains round her like a host,
Yon Naples, shrined as in a nether sphere!
Here—pales around the Stygian coast:
The Anatomy of Earth stretched on her bier,

Torched by the Sun, whose rays through ghost-like vapours peer.

XXII.
Spirit of Desolation! here, thou art
A Presence, seen and felt all palpably:
Thy sternness to the mind thou dost impart,
Awed, though repelled by thy sublimity!
Thou, that stand'st here aloof, and draw'st a high
And thrilling grandeur from the sense impressed
Thou giv'st, that thou dost make a mockery
Of life, and death, and ruin:— oh! what rest,

What change could heal thy Mountain's thuiidcr-splitten breast?

XXIII.

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,

XXIV.

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.

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