A PART OF THE FOREST NEAR THE CAVE OF PROMETHEUS.
PANTHEA AND IONE ARE SLEEPING: THEY AWAKEN GRADUALLY DURING THE FIRST SONG.
VOICE OF UNSEEN SPIRITS:
The pale stars are gone!
For the sun, their swift shepherd,
To their folds them compelling,
In the depths of the dawn,
Hastes, in meteor-eclipsing array, and the flee _5
Beyond his blue dwelling,
As fawns flee the leopard.
But where are ye?
[A TRAIN OF DARK FORMS AND SHADOWS PASSES BY CONFUSEDLY, SINGING.]
Here, oh, here:
We bear the bier _10
Of the father of many a cancelled year!
Of the dead Hours be,
We bear Time to his tomb in eternity.
Strew, oh, strew _15
Hair, not yew!
Wet the dusty pall with tears, not dew!
Be the faded flowers
Of Death's bare bowers
Spread on the corpse of the King of Hours! _20
Haste, oh, haste!
As shades are chased,
Trembling, by day, from heaven's blue waste.
We melt away,
Like dissolving spray, _25
From the children of a diviner day,
With the lullaby
Of winds that die
On the bosom of their own harmony!
What dark forms were they? _30
The past Hours weak and gray,
With the spoil which their toil
From the conquest but One could foil.
Have they passed?
They have passed; _35
They outspeeded the blast,
While 'tis said, they are fled:
Whither, oh, whither?
To the dark, to the past, to the dead.
VOICE OF UNSEEN SPIRITS:
Bright clouds float in heaven, _40
Dew-stars gleam on earth,
Waves assemble on ocean,
They are gathered and driven
By the storm of delight, by the panic of glee!
They shake with emotion, _45
They dance in their mirth.
But where are ye?
The pine boughs are singing
Old songs with new gladness,
The billows and fountains _50
Fresh music are flinging,
Like the notes of a spirit from land and from sea;
The storms mock the mountains
With the thunder of gladness.
But where are ye? _55
What charioteers are these?
Where are their chariots?
SEMICHORUS OF HOURS:
The voice of the Spirits of Air and of Earth
Has drawn back the figured curtain of sleep
Which covered our being and darkened our birth
In the deep.
In the deep?
Oh, below the deep. _60
An hundred ages we had been kept
Cradled in visions of hate and care,
And each one who waked as his brother slept,
Found the truth--
Worse than his visions were!
We have heard the lute of Hope in sleep; _65
We have known the voice of Love in dreams;
We have felt the wand of Power, and leap--
As the billows leap in the morning beams!
Weave the dance on the floor of the breeze,
Pierce with song heaven's silent light, _70
Enchant the day that too swiftly flees,
To check its flight ere the cave of Night.
Once the hungry Hours were hounds
Which chased the day like a bleeding deer,
And it limped and stumbled with many wounds _75
Through the nightly dells of the desert year.
But now, oh weave the mystic measure
Of music, and dance, and shapes of light,
Let the Hours, and the spirits of might and pleasure,
Like the clouds and sunbeams, unite--
See, where the Spirits of the human mind
Wrapped in sweet sounds, as in bright veils, approach.
CHORUS OF SPIRITS:
We join the throng
Of the dance and the song,
By the whirlwind of gladness borne along; _85
As the flying-fish leap
From the Indian deep,
And mix with the sea-birds, half-asleep.
CHORUS OF HOURS:
Whence come ye, so wild and so fleet,
For sandals of lightning are on your feet, _90
And your wings are soft and swift as thought,
And your eyes are as love which is veiled not?
CHORUS OF SPIRITS:
We come from the mind
Of human kind
Which was late so dusk, and obscene, and blind, _95
Now 'tis an ocean
Of clear emotion,
A heaven of serene and mighty motion.
From that deep abyss
Of wonder and bliss, _100
Whose caverns are crystal palaces;
From those skiey towers
Where Thought's crowned powers
Sit watching your dance, ye happy Hours!
From the dim recesses _105
Of woven caresses,
Where lovers catch ye by your loose tresses;
From the azure isles,
Where sweet Wisdom smiles,
Delaying your ships with her siren wiles. _110
From the temples high
Of Man's ear and eye,
Roofed over Sculpture and Poesy;
From the murmurings
Of the unsealed springs _115
Where Science bedews her Daedal wings.
Years after years,
Through blood, and tears,
And a thick hell of hatreds, and hopes, and fears;
We waded and flew, _120
And the islets were few
Where the bud-blighted flowers of happiness grew.
Our feet now, every palm,
Are sandalled with calm,
And the dew of our wings is a rain of balm; _125
And, beyond our eyes,
The human love lies
Which makes all it gazes on Paradise.
_116 her B; his 1820.
CHORUS OF SPIRITS AND HOURS:
Then weave the web of the mystic measure;
From the depths of the sky and the ends of the earth, _130
Come, swift Spirits of might and of pleasure,
Fill the dance and the music of mirth,
As the waves of a thousand streams rush by
To an ocean of splendour and harmony!
CHORUS OF SPIRITS:
Our spoil is won, _135
Our task is done,
We are free to dive, or soar, or run;
Beyond and around,
Or within the bound
Which clips the world with darkness round. _140
We'll pass the eyes
Of the starry skies
Into the hoar deep to colonize;
Death, Chaos, and Night,
From the sound of our flight, _145
Shall flee, like mist from a tempest's might.
And Earth, Air, and Light,
And the Spirit of Might,
Which drives round the stars in their fiery flight;
And Love, Thought, and Breath, _150
The powers that quell Death,
Wherever we soar shall assemble beneath.
And our singing shall build
In the void's loose field
A world for the Spirit of Wisdom to wield; _155
We will take our plan
From the new world of man,
And our work shall be called the Promethean.
CHORUS OF HOURS:
Break the dance, and scatter the song;
Let some depart, and some remain; _160
We, beyond heaven, are driven along:
Us the enchantments of earth retain:
Ceaseless, and rapid, and fierce, and free,
With the Spirits which build a new earth and sea,
And a heaven where yet heaven could never be; _165
Solemn, and slow, and serene, and bright,
Leading the Day and outspeeding the Night,
With the powers of a world of perfect light;
We whirl, singing loud, round the gathering sphere,
Till the trees, and the beasts, and the clouds appear _170
From its chaos made calm by love, not fear.
We encircle the ocean and mountains of earth,
And the happy forms of its death and birth
Change to the music of our sweet mirth.
CHORUS OF HOURS AND SPIRITS:
Break the dance, and scatter the song; _175
Let some depart, and some remain,
Wherever we fly we lead along
In leashes, like starbeams, soft yet strong,
The clouds that are heavy with love's sweet rain.
Ha! they are gone!
Yet feel you no delight _180
From the past sweetness?
As the bare green hill
When some soft cloud vanishes into rain,
Laughs with a thousand drops of sunny water
To the unpavilioned sky!
Even whilst we speak
New notes arise. What is that awful sound? _185
'Tis the deep music of the rolling world
Kindling within the strings of the waved air
How every pause is filled with under-notes,
Clear, silver, icy, keen awakening tones, _190
Which pierce the sense, and live within the soul,
As the sharp stars pierce winter's crystal air
And gaze upon themselves within the sea.
But see where through two openings in the forest
Which hanging branches overcanopy, _195
And where two runnels of a rivulet,
Between the close moss violet-inwoven,
Have made their path of melody, like sisters
Who part with sighs that they may meet in smiles,
Turning their dear disunion to an isle _200
Of lovely grief, a wood of sweet sad thoughts;
Two visions of strange radiance float upon
The ocean-like enchantment of strong sound,
Which flows intenser, keener, deeper yet
Under the ground and through the windless air. _205
I see a chariot like that thinnest boat,
In which the Mother of the Months is borne
By ebbing light into her western cave,
When she upsprings from interlunar dreams;
O'er which is curved an orblike canopy _210
Of gentle darkness, and the hills and woods,
Distinctly seen through that dusk aery veil,
Regard like shapes in an enchanter's glass;
Its wheels are solid clouds, azure and gold,
Such as the genii of the thunderstorm _215
Pile on the floor of the illumined sea
When the sun rushes under it; they roll
And move and grow as with an inward wind;
Within it sits a winged infant, white
Its countenance, like the whiteness of bright snow, _220
Its plumes are as feathers of sunny frost,
Its limbs gleam white, through the wind-flowing folds
Of its white robe, woof of ethereal pearl.
Its hair is white, the brightness of white light
Scattered in strings; yet its two eyes are heavens _225
Of liquid darkness, which the Deity
Within seems pouring, as a storm is poured
From jagged clouds, out of their arrowy lashes,
Tempering the cold and radiant air around,
With fire that is not brightness; in its hand _230
It sways a quivering moonbeam, from whose point
A guiding power directs the chariot's prow
Over its wheeled clouds, which as they roll
Over the grass, and flowers, and waves, wake sounds,
Sweet as a singing rain of silver dew. _235
_208 light B; night 1820.
_212 aery B; airy 1820.
_225 strings B, edition 1839; string 1820.
And from the other opening in the wood
Rushes, with loud and whirlwind harmony,
A sphere, which is as many thousand spheres,
Solid as crystal, yet through all its mass
Flow, as through empty space, music and light: _240
Ten thousand orbs involving and involved,
Purple and azure, white, and green, and golden,
Sphere within sphere; and every space between
Peopled with unimaginable shapes,
Such as ghosts dream dwell in the lampless deep, _245
Yet each inter-transpicuous, and they whirl
Over each other with a thousand motions,
Upon a thousand sightless axles spinning,
And with the force of self-destroying swiftness,
Intensely, slowly, solemnly, roll on, _250
Kindling with mingled sounds, and many tones,
Intelligible words and music wild.
With mighty whirl the multitudinous orb
Grinds the bright brook into an azure mist
Of elemental subtlety, like light; _255
And the wild odour of the forest flowers,
The music of the living grass and air,
The emerald light of leaf-entangled beams
Round its intense yet self-conflicting speed,
Seem kneaded into one aereal mass _260
Which drowns the sense. Within the orb itself,
Pillowed upon its alabaster arms,
Like to a child o'erwearied with sweet toil,
On its own folded wings, and wavy hair,
The Spirit of the Earth is laid asleep, _265
And you can see its little lips are moving,
Amid the changing light of their own smiles,
Like one who talks of what he loves in dream.
_242 white and green B; white, green 1820.
'Tis only mocking the orb's harmony.
And from a star upon its forehead, shoot, _270
Like swords of azure fire, or golden spears
With tyrant-quelling myrtle overtwined,
Embleming heaven and earth united now,
Vast beams like spokes of some invisible wheel
Which whirl as the orb whirls, swifter than thought, _275
Filling the abyss with sun-like lightenings,
And perpendicular now, and now transverse,
Pierce the dark soil, and as they pierce and pass,
Make bare the secrets of the earth's deep heart;
Infinite mine of adamant and gold, _280
Valueless stones, and unimagined gems,
And caverns on crystalline columns poised
With vegetable silver overspread;
Wells of unfathomed fire, and water springs
Whence the great sea, even as a child is fed, _285
Whose vapours clothe earth's monarch mountain-tops
With kingly, ermine snow. The beams flash on
And make appear the melancholy ruins
Of cancelled cycles; anchors, beaks of ships;
Planks turned to marble; quivers, helms, and spears, _290
And gorgon-headed targes, and the wheels
Of scythed chariots, and the emblazonry
Of trophies, standards, and armorial beasts,
Round which death laughed, sepulchred emblems
Of dead destruction, ruin within ruin! _295
The wrecks beside of many a city vast,
Whose population which the earth grew over
Was mortal, but not human; see, they lie,
Their monstrous works, and uncouth skeletons,
Their statues, homes and fanes; prodigious shapes _300
Huddled in gray annihilation, split,
Jammed in the hard, black deep; and over these,
The anatomies of unknown winged things,
And fishes which were isles of living scale,
And serpents, bony chains, twisted around _305
The iron crags, or within heaps of dust
To which the tortuous strength of their last pangs
Had crushed the iron crags; and over these
The jagged alligator, and the might
Of earth-convulsing behemoth, which once _310
Were monarch beasts, and on the slimy shores,
And weed-overgrown continents of earth,
Increased and multiplied like summer worms
On an abandoned corpse, till the blue globe
Wrapped deluge round it like a cloak, and they _315
Yelled, gasped, and were abolished; or some God
Whose throne was in a comet, passed, and cried,
'Be not!' And like my words they were no more.
_274 spokes B, edition 1839; spoke 1820.
_276 lightenings B; lightnings 1820.
_280 mines B; mine 1820.
_282 poised B; poized edition 1839; poured 1820.
The joy, the triumph, the delight, the madness!
The boundless, overflowing, bursting gladness, _320
The vaporous exultation not to be confined!
Ha! ha! the animation of delight
Which wraps me, like an atmosphere of light,
And bears me as a cloud is borne by its own wind.
Brother mine, calm wanderer, _325
Happy globe of land and air,
Some Spirit is darted like a beam from thee,
Which penetrates my frozen frame,
And passes with the warmth of flame,
With love, and odour, and deep melody _330
Through me, through me!
Ha! ha! the caverns of my hollow mountains,
My cloven fire-crags, sound-exulting fountains
Laugh with a vast and inextinguishable laughter.
The oceans, and the deserts, and the abysses, _335
And the deep air's unmeasured wildernesses,
Answer from all their clouds and billows, echoing after.
They cry aloud as I do. Sceptred curse,
Who all our green and azure universe
Threatenedst to muffle round with black destruction, sending _340
A solid cloud to rain hot thunderstones,
And splinter and knead down my children's bones,
All I bring forth, to one void mass battering and blending,--
Until each crag-like tower, and storied column,
Palace, and obelisk, and temple solemn, _345
My imperial mountains crowned with cloud, and snow, and fire,
My sea-like forests, every blade and blossom
Which finds a grave or cradle in my bosom,
Were stamped by thy strong hate into a lifeless mire:
How art thou sunk, withdrawn, covered, drunk up _350
By thirsty nothing, as the brackish cup
Drained by a desert-troop, a little drop for all;
And from beneath, around, within, above,
Filling thy void annihilation, love
Bursts in like light on caves cloven by the thunder-ball. _355
_335-_336 the abysses, And 1820, 1839; the abysses Of B.
_355 the omitted 1820.
The snow upon my lifeless mountains
Is loosened into living fountains,
My solid oceans flow, and sing and shine:
A spirit from my heart bursts forth,
It clothes with unexpected birth _360
My cold bare bosom: Oh! it must be thine
On mine, on mine!
Gazing on thee I feel, I know
Green stalks burst forth, and bright flowers grow,
And living shapes upon my bosom move: _365
Music is in the sea and air,
Winged clouds soar here and there,
Dark with the rain new buds are dreaming of:
'Tis love, all love!
It interpenetrates my granite mass, _370
Through tangled roots and trodden clay doth pass
Into the utmost leaves and delicatest flowers;
Upon the winds, among the clouds 'tis spread,
It wakes a life in the forgotten dead,
They breathe a spirit up from their obscurest bowers. _375
And like a storm bursting its cloudy prison
With thunder, and with whirlwind, has arisen
Out of the lampless caves of unimagined being:
With earthquake shock and swiftness making shiver
Thought's stagnant chaos, unremoved for ever, _380
Till hate, and fear, and pain, light-vanquished shadows, fleeing,
Leave Man, who was a many-sided mirror,
Which could distort to many a shape of error,
This true fair world of things, a sea reflecting love;
Which over all his kind, as the sun's heaven _385
Gliding o'er ocean, smooth, serene, and even,
Darting from starry depths radiance and life, doth move:
Leave Man, even as a leprous child is left,
Who follows a sick beast to some warm cleft
Of rocks, through which the might of healing springs is poured; _390
Then when it wanders home with rosy smile,
Unconscious, and its mother fears awhile
It is a spirit, then, weeps on her child restored.
Man, oh, not men! a chain of linked thought,
Of love and might to be divided not, _395
Compelling the elements with adamantine stress;
As the sun rules, even with a tyrant's gaze,
The unquiet republic of the maze
Of planets, struggling fierce towards heaven's free wilderness.
Man, one harmonious soul of many a soul, _400
Whose nature is its own divine control,
Where all things flow to all, as rivers to the sea;
Familiar acts are beautiful through love;
Labour, and pain, and grief, in life's green grove
Sport like tame beasts, none knew how gentle they could be! _405
His will, with all mean passions, bad delights,
And selfish cares, its trembling satellites,
A spirit ill to guide, but mighty to obey,
Is as a tempest-winged ship, whose helm
Love rules, through waves which dare not overwhelm, _410
Forcing life's wildest shores to own its sovereign sway.
All things confess his strength. Through the cold mass
Of marble and of colour his dreams pass;
Bright threads whence mothers weave the robes their children wear;
Language is a perpetual Orphic song, _415
Which rules with Daedal harmony a throng
Of thoughts and forms, which else senseless and shapeless were.
The lightning is his slave; heaven's utmost deep
Gives up her stars, and like a flock of sheep
They pass before his eye, are numbered, and roll on! _420
The tempest is his steed, he strides the air;
And the abyss shouts from her depth laid bare,
Heaven, hast thou secrets? Man unveils me; I have none.
_387 life B; light 1820.
The shadow of white death has passed
From my path in heaven at last, _425
A clinging shroud of solid frost and sleep;
And through my newly-woven bowers,
Wander happy paramours,
Less mighty, but as mild as those who keep
Thy vales more deep. _430
As the dissolving warmth of dawn may fold
A half unfrozen dew-globe, green, and gold,
And crystalline, till it becomes a winged mist,
And wanders up the vault of the blue day,
Outlives the noon, and on the sun's last ray _435
Hangs o'er the sea, a fleece of fire and amethyst.
_432 unfrozen B, edition 1839; infrozen 1820.
Thou art folded, thou art lying
In the light which is undying
Of thine own joy, and heaven's smile divine;
All suns and constellations shower _440
On thee a light, a life, a power
Which doth array thy sphere; thou pourest thine
On mine, on mine!
I spin beneath my pyramid of night,
Which points into the heavens dreaming delight, _445
Murmuring victorious joy in my enchanted sleep;
As a youth lulled in love-dreams faintly sighing,
Under the shadow of his beauty lying,
Which round his rest a watch of light and warmth doth keep.
As in the soft and sweet eclipse, _450
When soul meets soul on lovers' lips,
High hearts are calm, and brightest eyes are dull;
So when thy shadow falls on me,
Then am I mute and still, by thee
Covered; of thy love, Orb most beautiful, _455
Full, oh, too full!
Thou art speeding round the sun
Brightest world of many a one;
Green and azure sphere which shinest
With a light which is divinest _460
Among all the lamps of Heaven
To whom life and light is given;
I, thy crystal paramour
Borne beside thee by a power
Like the polar Paradise, _465
Magnet-like of lovers' eyes;
I, a most enamoured maiden
Whose weak brain is overladen
With the pleasure of her love,
Maniac-like around thee move
Gazing, an insatiate bride, _470
On thy form from every side
Like a Maenad, round the cup
Which Agave lifted up
In the weird Cadmaean forest. _475
Brother, wheresoe'er thou soarest
I must hurry, whirl and follow
Through the heavens wide and hollow,
Sheltered by the warm embrace
Of thy soul from hungry space, _480
Drinking from thy sense and sight
Beauty, majesty, and might,
As a lover or a chameleon
Grows like what it looks upon,
As a violet's gentle eye _485
Gazes on the azure sky
Until its hue grows like what it beholds,
As a gray and watery mist
Glows like solid amethyst
Athwart the western mountain it enfolds, _490
When the sunset sleeps
Upon its snow--
And the weak day weeps
That it should be so.
Oh, gentle Moon, the voice of thy delight _495
Falls on me like thy clear and tender light
Soothing the seaman, borne the summer night,
Through isles for ever calm;
Oh, gentle Moon, thy crystal accents pierce
The caverns of my pride's deep universe, _500
Charming the tiger joy, whose tramplings fierce
Made wounds which need thy balm.
I rise as from a bath of sparkling water,
A bath of azure light, among dark rocks,
Out of the stream of sound.
Ah me! sweet sister, _505
The stream of sound has ebbed away from us,
And you pretend to rise out of its wave,
Because your words fall like the clear, soft dew
Shaken from a bathing wood-nymph's limbs and hair.
Peace! peace! a mighty Power, which is as darkness, _510
Is rising out of Earth, and from the sky
Is showered like night, and from within the air
Bursts, like eclipse which had been gathered up
Into the pores of sunlight: the bright visions,
Wherein the singing spirits rode and shone, _515
Gleam like pale meteors through a watery night.
There is a sense of words upon mine ear.
An universal sound like words: Oh, list!
Thou, Earth, calm empire of a happy soul,
Sphere of divinest shapes and harmonies, _520
Beautiful orb! gathering as thou dost roll
The love which paves thy path along the skies:
I hear: I am as a drop of dew that dies.
Thou, Moon, which gazest on the nightly Earth
With wonder, as it gazes upon thee; _525
Whilst each to men, and beasts, and the swift birth
Of birds, is beauty, love, calm, harmony:
I hear: I am a leaf shaken by thee!
Ye Kings of suns and stars, Daemons and Gods,
Ethereal Dominations, who possess _530
Elysian, windless, fortunate abodes
Beyond Heaven's constellated wilderness:
A VOICE FROM ABOVE:
Our great Republic hears: we are blest, and bless.
Ye happy Dead, whom beams of brightest verse
Are clouds to hide, not colours to portray, _535
Whether your nature is that universe
Which once ye saw and suffered--
A VOICE: FROM BENEATH:
Or as they
Whom we have left, we change and pass away.
Ye elemental Genii, who have homes
From man's high mind even to the central stone _540
Of sullen lead; from heaven's star-fretted domes
To the dull weed some sea-worm battens on:
A CONFUSED VOICE:
We hear: thy words waken Oblivion.
Spirits, whose homes are flesh; ye beasts and birds,
Ye worms and fish; ye living leaves and buds; _545
Lightning and wind; and ye untameable herds,
Meteors and mists, which throng air's solitudes:--
_547 throng 1820, 1839; cancelled for feed B.
Thy voice to us is wind among still woods.
Man, who wert once a despot and a slave;
A dupe and a deceiver; a decay; _550
A traveller from the cradle to the grave
Through the dim night of this immortal day:
Speak: thy strong words may never pass away.
This is the day, which down the void abysm
At the Earth-born's spell yawns for Heaven's despotism, _555
And Conquest is dragged captive through the deep:
Love, from its awful throne of patient power
In the wise heart, from the last giddy hour
Of dread endurance, from the slippery, steep,
And narrow verge of crag-like agony, springs _560
And folds over the world its healing wings.
Gentleness, Virtue, Wisdom, and Endurance,
These are the seals of that most firm assurance
Which bars the pit over Destruction's strength;
And if, with infirm hand, Eternity, _565
Mother of many acts and hours, should free
The serpent that would clasp her with his length;
These are the spells by which to reassume
An empire o'er the disentangled doom.
To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite; _570
To forgive wrongs darker than death or night;
To defy Power, which seems omnipotent;
To love, and bear; to hope till Hope creates
From its own wreck the thing it contemplates;
Neither to change, nor falter, nor repent; _575
This, like thy glory, Titan, is to be
Good, great and joyous, beautiful and free;
This is alone Life, Joy, Empire, and Victory!
_559 dread B, edition 1839; dead 1820.
_575 falter B, edition 1839; flatter 1820.