The child of grace and genius. Heartless things
Are done and said i' the world, and many worms
And beasts and men live on, and mighty Earth
From sea and mountain, city and wilderness,
In vesper low or joyous orison,
Lifts still its solemn voice : but thou art fled
Thou canst no longer know or love the shapes
Of this phantasmal scene, who have to thee
Been purest ministers, who are, alas !
Now thou art not. Upon those pallid lips
So sweet even in their silence, on those eyes
That image sleep in death, upon that form
Yet safe from the worm's outrage, let no tear
Be shed not even in thought. Nor, when those hues
Are gone, and those divinest lineaments,
30 ALASTOR ; OR, THE SPIRIT OF SOLITUDE.
Worn by the senseless wind, shall live alone
In the frail pauses of this simple strain,
Let not high verse, mourning the memory
Of that which is no more, or painting's woe
Or sculpture, speak in feeble imagery
Their own cold powers. Art and eloquence,
And all the shows o' the world are frail and vain
To weep a loss that turns their lights to shade.
It is a woe too " deep for tears," when all
Is reft at once, when some surpassing Spirit,
Whose light adorned the world around it, leaves
Those who remain behind, not sobs or groans,
The passionate tumult of a clinging hope :
But pale despair and cold tranquillity,
Nature's vast frame, the web of human things,
Birth and the grave, that are not as they were.
THE TWO SPIRITS. 31
THE TWO SPIRITS.
O THOU, who plumed with strong desire
Wouldst float above the earth, beware !
A Shadow tracks thy flight of fire
Night is coming !
Bright are the regions of the air,
And among the winds and beams
It were delight to wander there
Night is coming !
The deathless stars are bright above ;
If I would cross the shade of night,
Within my heart is the lamp of love,
And that is day !
And the moon will smile with gentle light
On my golden plumes where'er they move ;
The meteors will linger round my flight,
And make night day.
32 THE TWO SPIRITS.
But if the whirlwinds of darkness waken
Hail, and lightning, and stormy rain ;
See, the bounds of the air are shaken
Night is coming !
The red swift clouds of the hurricane
Yon declining sun have overtaken,
The clash of the hail sweeps over the plain-
Night is coming !
I see the light, and I hear the sound ;
I'll sail on the flood of the tempest dark,
With the calm within and the light around
Which makes night day :
And thou, when the gloom is deep and stark,
Look from thy dull earth, slumber-bound,
My moon-like flight thou then may'st mark
On high, far away.
Some say there is a precipice
Where one vast pine is frozen to ruin
O'er piles of snow and chasms of ice
'Mid Alpine mountains ;
And that the languid storm pursuing
That winged shape, for ever flies
Round those hoar branches, aye renewing
Its aery fountains.
Some say when nights are dry and clear,
And the death-dews sleep on the morass,
Sweet whispers are heard by the traveller,
Which make night day :
And a silver shape like his early love doth pass
Upborne by her wild and glittering hair,
And when he awakes on the fragrant grass,
He finds night day.
THE cold earth slept below ;
Above the cold sky shone ;
And all around,
With a chilling sound,
From caves of ice and fields of snow,
The breath of night like death did flow
Beneath the sinking moon.
The wintry hedge was black,
The green grass was not seen,
The birds did rest
On the bare thorn's breast,
Whose roots, beside the pathway track,
Had bound their folds o'er many a crack
Which the frost had made between.
Thine eyes glowed in the glare
Of the moon's dying light ;
As a fen-fire's beam,
On a sluggish stream,
Gleams dimly so the moon shone there,
And it yellowed the strings of thy tangled hair
That shook in the wind of night.
The moon made thy lips pale, beloved ;
The wind made thy bosom chill ;
The night did shed
On thy dear head
Its frozen dew, and thou didst lie
Where the bitter breath of the naked sky
Might visit thee at will.
Jioems on Jieatfj.
A SUMMER EVENING CHURCHYARD.
THE wind has swept from the wide atmosphere
Each vapour that obscured the sunset's ray ;
And pallid evening twines its beaming hair
In duskier braids around the languid eyes of day :
Silence and twilight, unbeloved of men,
Creep hand in hand from yon obscurest glen.
They breathe their spells towards the departing day,
Encompassing the earth, air, stars, and sea ;
Light, sound, and motion own the potent sway,
Responding to the charm with its own mystery.
The winds are still, or the dry church-tower grass
Knows not their gentle motions as they pass.
Thou too, aerial Pile ! whose pinnacles
Point from one shrine like pyramids of fire,
Obeyest in silence their sweet solemn spells,
Clothing in hues of heaven thy dim and distant spire,
Around whose lessening and invisible height
Gather among the stars the clouds of night.
The dead are sleeping in their sepulchres :
And, mouldering as they sleep, a thrilling sound
Half sense, half thought, among the darkness stirs,
36 POEMS ON DEATH.
Breathed from their wormy beds all livingthings around,
And mingling with the still night and mute sky
Its awful hush is felt inaudibly.
Thus solemnised and softened, death is mild
And terrorless as this serenest night :
Here could I hope, like some enquiring child
Sporting on graves, that death did hide from human
Sweet secrets, or beside its breathless sleep
That loveliest dreams perpetual watch did keep.
YE hasten to the dead ! What seek ye there,
Ye restless thoughts and busy purposes
Of the idle brain, which the world's livery wear ?
O thou quick Heart which pantest to possess
All that anticipation feigneth fair !
Thou vainly curious mind which wouldest guess
Whence thou didst come, and whither thou mayst go,
And that which never yet was known wouldst know
Oh, whither hasten ye that thus ye press
With such swift feet life's green and pleasant path,
Seeking alike from happiness and woe
A refuge in the cavern of grey death ?
O heart, and mind, and thoughts ! What thing do you
Hope to inherit in the grave below ?
POEMS ON DEATH. 37
LIFT not the painted veil which those who live
Call Life : though unreal shapes be pictured there,
And it but mimic all we would believe
With colours idly spread, behind, lurk Fear
And Hope, twin destinies ; who ever weave
Their shadows, o'er the chasm, sightless and drear.
I knew one who had lifted it he sought,
For his lost heart was tender, things to love,
But found them not, alas ! nor was there aught
The world contains, the which he could approve.
Through the unheeding many he did move,
A splendour among shadows, a bright blot
Upon this gloomy scene, a Spirit that strove
For truth, and like the Preacher found it not.
THE rude wind is singing
The dirge of the music dead,
The cold worms are clinging
Where kisses were lately fed.
THE babe is at peace within the womb,
The corpse is at rest within the tomb,
We begin in what we end.
38 POEMS ON DEATH.
THE DIRGE OF GINEVRA.
OLD winter was gone
In his weakness back to the mountains hoar,
And the spring came down
From the planet that hovers upon the shore
Where the sea of sunlight encroaches
On the limits of wintry night ;
If the land, and the air, and the sea
Rejoice not when spring approaches,
We did not rejoice in thee,
She is still, she is cold
On the bridal couch,
One step to the white death-bed,
And one to the bier,
And one to the charnel and one, O where ?
The dark arrow fled
In the noon.
Ere the sun through heaven once more has rolled,
The rats in her heart
Will have made their nest,
And the worms be alive in her golden hair,
While the spirit that guides the sun,
Sits throned in his flaming chair,
She shall sleep.
POEMS ON DEATH. 39
THE DIRGE OF BEATRICE.
FALSE friend, wilt thou smile or weep
When my life is laid asleep ?
Little cares for a smile or a tear,
The clay-cold corpse upon the bier !
Farewell ! Heigho !
What is this whispers low ?
There is a snake in thy smile, my dear ;
And bitter poison within thy tear.
Sweet sleep, were death like to thee,
Or if thou couldst mortal be,
I would close these eyes of pain ;
When to wake ? Never again.
O, World ! Farewell !
Listen to the passing bell !
It says, thou and I must part,
With a light and a heavy heart.
40 POEMS ON DEATH.
SLEEP AND DEATH.
They. WE strew these opiate flowers
On thy restless pillow,
They were stript from Orient bowers,
By the Indian billow.
Be thy sleep
Calm and deep,
Like their's who fell not ours who weep !
She. Away, unlovely dreams !
Away, false shapes of sleep !
Be his, as Heaven seems,
Clear, and bright, and deep !
Soft as love, and calm as death,
Sweet as a summer night without a breath.
They. Sleep, sleep ! our song is laden
With the soul of slumber ;
It was sung by a Samian maiden,
Whose lover was of the number
Who now keep
That calm sleep
Whence none may wake, where none shall weep.
She. I touch thy temples pale !
I breathe my soul on thee !
And could my prayers avail,
All my joy should be
Dead, and I would live to weep,
So thou might'st win one hour of quiet sleep.
Songs Consecrate to
POET of Nature, thou has wept to know
That things depart which never may return :
Childhood and youth, friendship and love's first glow,
Have fled like sweet dreams, leaving thee to mourn.
These common woes I feel. One loss is mine
Which thou too feel'st, yet I alone deplore.
Thou wert as a lone star, whose light did shine
On some frail bark in winter's midnight roar :
Thou hast like to a rock-built refuge stood
Above the blind and battling multitude :
In honoured poverty thy voice did weave
Songs consecrate to truth and liberty,
Deserting these, thou leavest me to grieve,
Thus having been, that thou shouldst cease to be.
42 SONGS CONSECRATE TO LIBERTY.
THE SNAKE AND EAGLE.
WHEN the last hope of trampled France had failed
Like a brief dream of unremaining glory,
From visions of despair I rose, and scaled
The peak of an aerial promontory,
Whose caverned base with the vext surge was hoary ;
And saw the golden dawn break forth, and waken
Each cloud, and every wave : but transitory
The calm : for sudden, the firm earth was shaken,
As if by the last wreck its frame were overtaken.
So as I stood, one blast of muttering thunder
Burst in far peals along the waveless deep,
When, gathering fast, around, above and under,
Long trains of tremulous mist began to creep,
Until their complicating lines did steep
The orient sun in shadow : not a sound
Was heard ; one horrible repose did keep
The forests and the floods, and all around
Darkness more dread than night was poured upon the
Hark ! 'tis the rushing of a wind that sweeps
Earth and the ocean. See ! the lightnings yawn
Deluging Heaven with fire, and the lashed deeps
Glitter and boil beneath : it rages on,
One mighty stream, whirlwind and waves upthrown,
Lightning, and hail, and darkness eddying by.
There is a pause the sea-birds, that were gone
Into their caves to shriek, come forth, to spy
What calm has fall'n on earth, what light is in the sky.
SONGS CONSECRATE TO LIBERTY. 43
For, where the irresistible storm had cloven
That fearful darkness, the blue sky was seen
Fretted with many a fair cloud interwoven
Most delicately, and the ocean green,
Beneath that opening spot of blue serene,
Quivered like burning emerald : calm was spread
On all below ; but far on high, between
Earth and the upper air, the vast clouds fled,
Countless and swift as leaves on autumn's tempest
For ever, as the war became more fierce
Between the whirlwinds and the rack on high,
That spot grew more serene ; blue light did pierce
The woof of those white clouds, which seemed to lie
Far, deep, and motionless ; while thro' the sky
The pallid semicircle of the moon
Past on, in slow and moving majesty ;
Its upper horn arrayed in mists, which soon
But slowly fled, like dew beneath the beams of
I could not choose but gaze ; a fascination
Dwelt in that moon, and sky, and clouds, which drew
My fancy thither, and in expectation
Of what I knew not, I remained : the hue
Of the white moon, amid that heaven so blue,
Suddenly stained with shadow did appear ;
A speck, a cloud, a shape, approaching grew,
Like a great ship in the sun's sinking sphere
Beheld afar at sea, and swift it came anear.
44 SONGS CONSECRATE TO LIBERTY.
Even like a bark, which from a chasm of mountains,
Dark, vast, and overhanging, on a river
Which there collects the strength of all its fountains,
Comes forth, whilst with the speed its frame doth
Sails, oars, and stream, tending to one endeavour ;
So, from that chasm of light a winged Form
On all the winds of heaven approaching ever
Floated, dilating as it came : the storm
Pursued it with fierce blasts, and lightnings swift and
A course precipitous, of dizzy speed,
Suspending thought and breath ; a monstrous sight !
For in the air do I behold indeed
An Eagle and a Serpent wreathed in fight :
And now relaxing its impetuous flight,
Before the aerial rock on which I stood,
The Eagle, hovering, wheeled to left and right,
And hung with lingering wings over the flood,
And startled with its yells the wide air's solitude.
A shaft of light upon its wings descended,
And every golden feather gleamed therein
Feather and scale inextricably blended.
The Serpent's mailed and many-coloured skin
Shone thro' the plumes its coils were twined within
By many a swollen and knotted fold, and high
And far, the neck receding lithe and thin,
Sustained a crested head, which warily
Shifted and glanced before the Eagle's stedfast eye.
SONGS CONSECRATE TO LIBERTY. 45
Around, around, in ceaseless circles wheeling
With clang of wings and scream, the Eagle sailed
Incessantly sometimes on high concealing
Its lessening orbs, sometimes as if it failed,
Drooped thro' the air; and still it shrieked and
And casting back its eager head, with beak
And talon unremittingly assailed
The wreathed Serpent, who did ever seek
Upon his enemy's heart a mortal wound to wreak.
What life what power was kindled and arose
Within the sphere of that appalling fray !
For, from the encounter of those wondrous foes,
A vapour like the sea's suspended spray
Hung gathered : in the void air, far away,
Floated the shattered plumes; bright scales did
Where'er the Eagle's talons made their way,
Like sparks into the darkness ; as they sweep,
Blood stains the snowy foam of the tumultuous deep.
Swift chances in that combat many a check,
And many a change, a dark and wild turmoil ;
Sometimes the Snake around his enemy's neck
Locked in stiff rings his adamantine coil,
Until the Eagle, faint with pain and toil,
Remitted his strong flight, and near the sea
Languidly fluttered, hopeless so to foil
His adversary, who then reared on high
His red and burning crest, radiant with victory.
46 SONGS CONSECRATE TO LIBERTY.
Then on the white edge of the bursting surge,
Where they had sank together, would the Snake
Relax his suffocating grasp, and scourge
The wind with his wild writhings ; for to break
That chain of torment, the vast bird would shake
The strength of his unconquerable wings
As in despair, and with his sinewy neck
Dissolve in sudden shock those linked rings,
Then soar as swift as smoke from a volcano springs.
Wile baffled wile, and strength encountered strength,
Thus long, but unprevailing : the event
Of that portentous fight appeared at length :
Until the lamp of day was almost spent
It had endured, when lifeless, stark, and rent,
Hung high that mighty Serpent, and at last
Fell to the sea, while o'er the continent,
With clang of wings and scream the Eagle past,
Heavily borne away on the exhausted blast.
Such is this conflict when mankind doth strive
With its oppressors in a strife of blood,
Or when free thoughts, like lightnings are alive ;
And in each bosom of the multitude
Justice and truth, with custom's hydra brood
Wage silent war ; when priests and kings dis-
In smiles or frowns their fierce disquietude,
When round pure hearts, a host of hopes assemble,
The Snake and Eagle meet the world's foundations
Revolt of Islam, canto i. 1817. .
SONGS CONSECRATE TO LIBERTY. 47
THE MASK OF ANARCHY.
WRITTEN ON THE OCCASION OF THE MASSACRE AT
As I lay asleep in Italy
There came a voice from over the Sea,
And with great power it forth led me
To walk in the visions of Poesy.
I met Murder on the way
He^ had_ a masklike Castlereagh
Very smooth he looked, yet grim ;
Seven blood-hounds followed him :
All were fat ; and well they might
Be in admirable plight,
For one by one, and two by two,
He tossed them human hearts to chew
Which from his wide cloak he drew.
Next came Fraud, and he had on,
Like Lord E., an ermined gown ;
His big tears, for he wept well,
Turned to mill-stones as they fell.
And the little children, who
Round his feet played to and fro,
Thinking every tear a gem,
their brains knocked out by them.
48 SONGS CONSECRATE TO LIBERTY.
Clothed with the Bible, as with light,
And the shadows of the night,
Like Sidmouth, next, Hypocrisy
On a crocodile rode by.
And many more Destructions played
In this ghastly masquerade,
All disguised, even to the eyes,
Like Bishops, lawyers, peers or spies.
Last came Anarchy : he rode
On a white horse, splashed with blood ;
He was pale even to the lips,
Like Death in the Apocalypse.
And he wore a kingly crown ;
And in his grasp a sceptre shone ;
On his brow this mark I saw
" I AM GOD, AND KING, AND LAW !"
With a pace stately and fast,
Over English land he past,
Trampling to a mire of blood
The adoring multitude.
And a mighty troop around,
With their trampling shook the ground,
Waving each a bloody sword,
For the service of their Lord.
And with glorious triumph, they
Rode thro' England proud and gay,
Drunk as with intoxication
Of the wine of desolation.
SONGS CONSECRATE TO LIBERTY. 49
O'er fields and towns, from sea to sea,
Past the Pageant swift and free,
Tearing up, and trampling down ;
Till they came to London town.
And each dweller, panic-stricken,
Felt his heart with terror sicken
Hearing the tempestuous cry
Of the triumph of Anarchy.
For with pomp to meet him came,
Clothed in arms like blood and flame,
The hired murderers, who did sing
" Thou art God, and Law, and King.
" We have waited, weak and lone
For thy coming, Mighty One !
Our purses are empty, our swords are cold,
Give us glory, and blood, and gold."
Lawyers and priests, a motley crowd,
To the earth their pale brows bowed ;
Like a bad prayer not over loud,
Whispering "Thou art Law and God."
Then all cried with one accord,
" Thou art King, and God, and Lord ;
Anarchy, to thee we bow,
Be thy name made holy now !"
And Anarchy, the Skeleton,
Bowed and grinned to ever)- one,
As well as if his education
Had cost ten millions to the nation.
50 SONGS CONSECRATE TO LIBERTY.
For he knew the Palaces
Of our Kings were nightly his ;
His the sceptre, crown, and globe,
And the gold-inwoven robe.
So he sent his slaves before
To seize upon the Bank and Tower,
And was proceeding with intent
To meet his pensioned Parliament
When one fled past, a maniac maid,
And her name was Hope, she said :
But she looked more like Despair,
And she cried out in the air :
" My father Time is weak and grey
With waiting for a better day ;
See how idiot-like he stands,
Fumbling with his palsied hands !
" He has had child after child,
And the dust of death is piled
Over every one but me
Misery, oh, Misery !"
Then she lay down in the street,
Right before the horses' feet,
Expecting, with a patient eye,
Murder, Fraud and Anarchy.
When between her and her foes
A mist, a light, an image rose,
Small at first, and weak, and frail
Like the vapour of a vale :
SONGS CONSECRATE TO LIBERTY. 51
Till as clouds grow on the blast,
Like tower-crowned giants striding fast,
And glare with lightnings as they fly,
And speak in thunder to the sky,
It grew a Shape arrayed in mail
Brighter than the viper's scale,
And upborne on wings whose grain
Was as the light of sunny rain.
On its helm, seen far away,
A planet, like the Morning's, lay ;
And those plumes its light rained thro'
Like a shower of crimson dew.
With step as soft as wind it past
O'er the heads of men so fast
That they knew the presence there,
And looked, and all was empty air.
As flowers beneath May's footstep waken,
As stars from Night's loose hair are shaken,
As waves arise when loud winds call,
Thoughts sprung where'er that step did fall.
And the prostrate multitude
Looked and ankle-deep in blood,
Hope, that maiden most serene,
Was walking with a quiet mien :
And Anarchy, the ghastly birth,
Lay dead earth upon the earth ;
The Horse of Death tameless as wind
Fled, and with his hoofs did grind
To dust, the murderers thronged behind.
52 SONGS CONSECRATE TO LIBERTY.
A rushing light of clouds and splendour,
A sense awakening and yet tender
Was heard and felt and at its close
These words of joy and fear arose
As if their own indignant Earth
Which gave the sons of England birth
Had felt their blood upon her brow,
And shuddering with a mother's throe
Had turned every drop of blood
By which her face had been bedewed
To an accent unwithstood,
As if her heart had cried aloud :
" Men of England, heirs of Glory,
Heroes of unwritten story,
Nurslings of one mighty Mother,
Hopes of her, and one another ;
" Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you
Ye are many they are few."
SONGS CONSECRATE TO LIBERTY. 53
TO THE MEN OF ENGLAND.
MEN of England, wherefore plough
For the lords who lay you low ?
Wherefore weave with toil and care
The rich robes your tyrants wear ?
Wherefore feed, and clothe, and save,
From the cradle to the grave,
Those ungrateful drones who would
Drain your sweat nay, drink your blood ?
Wherefore, Bees of England, forge
Many a weapon, chain and scourge,
That these stingless drones may spoil
The forced produce of your toil ?
Have ye leisure, comfort, calm,
Shelter, food, love's gentle balm ?
Or what is it ye buy so dear
With your pain and with your fear ?
The seed ye sow, another reaps ;
The wealth ye find, another keeps ;
The robes ye weave, another wears ;
The arms ye forge, another bears.
Sow seed, but let no tyrant reap ;
Find wealth, let no impostor heap ;
Weave robes, let not the idle wear ;
Forge arms, in your defence to bear.
54 SONGS CONSECRATE TO LIBERTY.
Shrink to your cellars, holes, and cells ;
In halls ye deck another dwells.
Why shake the chains ye wrought ? Ye see
The steel ye tempered glance on ye.
With plough and spade, and hoe and loom,
Trace your grave, and build your tomb,
And weave your winding sheet, till fair
England be your sepulchre.
ENGLAND IN 1819.
AN old, mad, blind, despised, and dying king,
Princes, the dregs of their dull race, who flow
Through public scorn, mud from a muddy spring, -
Rulers who neither see, nor feel, nor know,
But leech-like to their fainting country cling,
Till they drop, blind in blood, without a blow,
A people starved and stabbed in the untilled field,-
An army, which liberticide and prey
Makes as a two-edged sword to all who wield
Golden and sanguine laws which tempt and slay ;
Religion Christless, Godless a book sealed ;
A Senate, Time's worst statute unrepealed,
Are graves, from which a glorious Phantom may
Burst, to illumine our tempestuous day.
SONGS CONSECRATE TO LIBERTY. 55
NOR happiness, nor majesty, nor fame,
Nor peace, nor strength, nor skill in arms or arts,
Shepherd those herds whom tyranny makes tame ;
Verse echoes not one beating of their hearts,
History is but the shadow of their shame,
Art veils her glass, or from the pageant starts
As to oblivion their blind millions fleet,
Staining that Heaven with obscene imagery
Of their own likeness. What are numbers knit
By force or custom ? Man who man would be,
Must rule the empire of himself; in ft