Classics  
Edgar Allan Poe was an American writer, poet, editor and literary critic, and is considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is considered the inventor of the ... Read more
Edgar Allan Poe was an American writer, poet, editor and literary critic, and is considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is considered the inventor of the ... Read more

It was many and many a year ago,
  In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
  By the name of ANNABEL LEE;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
  Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
  In this kingdom by the sea:
But we loved with a love that was more than love—
  I and my ANNABEL LEE;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
  Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
  In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
  My beautiful ANNABEL LEE;
So that her highborn kinsmen came
  And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
  In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
  Went envying her and me—
Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know,
  In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
  Chilling and killing my ANNABEL LEE.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
  Of those who were older than we—
  Of many far wiser than we—
And neither the angels in heaven above,
  Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
  Of the beautiful ANNABEL LEE.

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
  Of the beautiful ANNABEL LEE;
And the stars never rise but I see the bright eyes
  Of the beautiful ANNABEL LEE;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling, my darling, my life and my bride,
  In her sepulchre there by the sea—
  In her tomb by the side of the sea.

The noon's greygolden meshes make
All night a veil,
The shorelamps in the sleeping lake
Laburnum tendrils trail.

The sly reeds whisper to the night
A name-- her name-
And all my soul is a delight,
A swoon of shame.

’Twas noontide of summer,
  And midtime of night,
And stars, in their orbits,
  Shone pale, through the light
Of the brighter, cold moon.
  ’Mid planets her slaves,
Herself in the Heavens,
  Her beam on the waves.

  I gazed awhile
  On her cold smile;
Too cold—too cold for me—
  There passed, as a shroud,
  A fleecy cloud,
And I turned away to thee,
  Proud Evening Star,
  In thy glory afar
And dearer thy beam shall be;
  For joy to my heart
  Is the proud part
Thou bearest in Heaven at night,
  And more I admire
  Thy distant fire,
Than that colder, lowly light.

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow—
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream:
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand—
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep
While I weep—while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping—rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
        Only this and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
        Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
“’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
    This it is and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping—tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door:—
      Darkness there and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering,
  fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore!”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”
      Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon I heard again a tapping, somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment, and this mystery explore;—
    ’Tis the wind and nothing more.”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he: not an instant stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
    Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no
  craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
      Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
      With such name as “Nevermore.”

But the Raven, sitting lonely on that placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
Till I scarcely more than muttered, “Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.”
      Then the bird said, “Nevermore.”

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope the melancholy burden bore
    Of ‘Never—nevermore.’”

But the Raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and
  door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
    Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
      She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath
  sent thee
Respite—respite aad nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!”
      Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
    Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
      Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked,
  upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
    Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
    Shall be lifted—nevermore!

AN UNPUBLISHED DRAMA.

I.

ROME.—A Hall in a Palace. ALESSANDRA and CASTIGLIONE

Alessandra.     Thou art sad, Castiglione.

Castiglione.    Sad!—not I.
                Oh, I’m the happiest, happiest man in Rome!
                A few days more, thou knowest, my Alessandra,
                Will make thee mine. Oh, I am very happy!

Aless.          Methinks thou hast a singular way of showing
                Thy happiness—what ails thee, cousin of mine?
                Why didst thou sigh so deeply?

Cas.            Did I sigh?
                I was not conscious of it. It is a fashion,
                A silly—a most silly fashion I have
                When I am very happy. Did I sigh? (sighing.)

Aless.          Thou didst. Thou art not well. Thou hast indulged
                Too much of late, and I am vexed to see it.
                Late hours and wine, Castiglione,—these
                Will ruin thee! thou art already altered—
                Thy looks are haggard—nothing so wears away
                The constitution as late hours and wine.

Cas. (musing ). Nothing, fair cousin, nothing—
                Not even deep sorrow—
                Wears it away like evil hours and wine.
                I will amend.

Aless.          Do it! I would have thee drop
                Thy riotous company, too—fellows low born
                Ill suit the like of old Di Broglio’s heir
                And Alessandra’s husband.

Cas.            I will drop them.

Aless.          Thou wilt—thou must. Attend thou also more
                To thy dress and equipage—they are over plain
                For thy lofty rank and fashion—much depends
                Upon appearances.

Cas.            I’ll see to it.

Aless.          Then see to it!—pay more attention, sir,
                To a becoming carriage—much thou wantest
                In dignity.

Cas.            Much, much, oh, much I want
                In proper dignity.

Aless.
(haughtily).     Thou mockest me, sir!

Cos.
(abstractedly).  Sweet, gentle Lalage!

Aless.          Heard I aright?
                I speak to him—he speaks of Lalage?
                Sir Count!
       (places her hand on his shoulder)
                           what art thou dreaming?
                He’s not well!
                What ails thee, sir?

Cas.(starting). Cousin! fair cousin!—madam!
                I crave thy pardon—indeed I am not well—
                Your hand from off my shoulder, if you please.
                This air is most oppressive!—Madam—the Duke!

Enter Di Broglio.

Di Broglio.     My son, I’ve news for thee!—hey!
              —what’s the matter?
        (observing Alessandra).
                I’ the pouts? Kiss her, Castiglione! kiss her,
                You dog! and make it up, I say, this minute!
                I’ve news for you both. Politian is expected
                Hourly in Rome—Politian, Earl of Leicester!
                We’ll have him at the wedding. ’Tis his first visit
                To the imperial city.

Aless.          What! Politian
                Of Britain, Earl of Leicester?

Di Brog.        The same, my love.
                We’ll have him at the wedding. A man quite young
                In years, but gray in fame. I have not seen him,
                But Rumor speaks of him as of a prodigy
                Pre-eminent in arts, and arms, and wealth,
                And high descent. We’ll have him at the wedding.

Aless.          I have heard much of this Politian.
                Gay, volatile and giddy—is he not,
                And little given to thinking?

Di Brog.        Far from it, love.
                No branch, they say, of all philosophy
                So deep abstruse he has not mastered it.
                Learned as few are learned.

Aless.          ’Tis very strange!
                I have known men have seen Politian
                And sought his company. They speak of him
                As of one who entered madly into life,
                Drinking the cup of pleasure to the dregs.

Cas.            Ridiculous! Now I have seen Politian
                And know him well—nor learned nor mirthful he.
                He is a dreamer, and shut out
                From common passions.

Di Brog.        Children, we disagree.
                Let us go forth and taste the fragrant air
                Of the garden. Did I dream, or did I hear
                Politian was a melancholy man?

                (Exeunt.)




II.

ROME.—A Lady’s Apartment, with a window open and looking into a garden.
LALAGE, in deep mourning, reading at a table on which lie some books and
a hand-mirror. In the background JACINTA (a servant maid) leans
carelessly upon a chair.


Lalage.         Jacinta! is it thou?

Jacinta
(pertly).        Yes, ma’am, I’m here.

Lal.            I did not know, Jacinta, you were in waiting.
                Sit down!—let not my presence trouble you—
                Sit down!—for I am humble, most humble.

Jac. (aside).   ’Tis time.

(Jacinta seats herself in a side-long manner upon the chair, resting
her elbows upon the back, and regarding her mistress with a contemptuous
look. Lalage continues to read.)

Lal.            “It in another climate, so he said,
                Bore a bright golden flower, but not i’ this soil!”

         (pauses—turns over some leaves and resumes.)

                “No lingering winters there, nor snow, nor shower—
                But Ocean ever to refresh mankind
                Breathes the shrill spirit of the western wind”
                Oh, beautiful!—most beautiful!—how like
                To what my fevered soul doth dream of Heaven!
                O happy land! (pauses) She died!—the maiden died!
                O still more happy maiden who couldst die!
                Jacinta!

        (Jacinta returns no answer, and Lalage presently resumes.)

                Again!—a similar tale
                Told of a beauteous dame beyond the sea!
                Thus speaketh one Ferdinand in the words of the play—
                “She died full young”—one Bossola answers him—
                “I think not so—her infelicity
                Seemed to have years too many”—Ah, luckless lady!
                Jacinta! (still no answer.)
                Here’s a far sterner story—
                But like—oh, very like in its despair—
                Of that Egyptian queen, winning so easily
                A thousand hearts—losing at length her own.
                She died. Thus endeth the history—and her maids
                Lean over her and keep—two gentle maids
                With gentle names—Eiros and Charmion!
                Rainbow and Dove!—Jacinta!

Jac.
(pettishly).    Madam, what is it?

Lal.            Wilt thou, my good Jacinta, be so kind
                As go down in the library and bring me
                The Holy Evangelists?

Jac.            Pshaw!

                (Exit)

Lal.            If there be balm
                For the wounded spirit in Gilead, it is there!
                Dew in the night time of my bitter trouble
                Will there be found—”dew sweeter far than that
                Which hangs like chains of pearl on Hermon hill.”

(re-enter Jacinta, and throws a volume on the table.)

                There, ma’am, ’s the book.
(aside.)     Indeed she is very troublesome.

Lal.
(astonished).   What didst thou say, Jacinta?
                Have I done aught
                To grieve thee or to vex thee?—I am sorry.
                For thou hast served me long and ever been
                Trustworthy and respectful.
            (resumes her reading.)

Jac. (aside.) I can’t believe
                She has any more jewels—no—no—she gave me all.

Lal.            What didst thou say, Jacinta? Now I bethink me
                Thou hast not spoken lately of thy wedding.
                How fares good Ugo?—and when is it to be?
                Can I do aught?—is there no further aid
                Thou needest, Jacinta?

Jac. (aside.) Is there no further aid!
                That’s meant for me.  I’m sure, madam, you need not
                Be always throwing those jewels in my teeth.

Lal.            Jewels! Jacinta,—now indeed, Jacinta,
                I thought not of the jewels.

Jac.            Oh, perhaps not!
                But then I might have sworn it. After all,
                There’s Ugo says the ring is only paste,
                For he’s sure the Count Castiglione never
                Would have given a real diamond to such as you;
                And at the best I’m certain, madam, you cannot
                Have use for jewels now. But I might have sworn it.

                (Exit)

(Lalage bursts into tears and leans her head upon the table—after a
short pause raises it.)

Lal.            Poor Lalage!—and is it come to this?
                Thy servant maid!—but courage!—’tis but a viper
                Whom thou hast cherished to sting thee to the soul!
                (taking up the mirror)
                Ha! here at least’s a friend—too much a friend
                In earlier days—a friend will not deceive thee.
                Fair mirror and true! now tell me (for thou canst)
                A tale—a pretty tale—and heed thou not
                Though it be rife with woe. It answers me.
                It speaks of sunken eyes, and wasted cheeks,
                And beauty long deceased—remembers me,
                Of Joy departed—Hope, the Seraph Hope,
                Inurned and entombed!—now, in a tone
                Low, sad, and solemn, but most audible,
                Whispers of early grave untimely yawning
                For ruined maid. Fair mirror and true!—thou liest not!
                Thou hast no end to gain—no heart to break—
                Castiglione lied who said he loved——
                Thou true—he false!—false!—false!

(While she speaks, a monk enters her apartment and approaches
unobserved)

Monk.           Refuge thou hast,
                Sweet daughter! in Heaven. Think of eternal things!
                Give up thy soul to penitence, and pray!

Lal.
(arising hurriedly). I cannot pray!—My soul is at war with God!
                The frightful sounds of merriment below;
                Disturb my senses—go! I cannot pray—
                The sweet airs from the garden worry me!
                Thy presence grieves me—go!—thy priestly raiment
                Fills me with dread—thy ebony crucifix
                With horror and awe!

Monk.           Think of thy precious soul!

Lal.            Think of my early days!—think of my father
                And mother in Heaven! think of our quiet home,
                And the rivulet that ran before the door!
                Think of my little sisters!—think of them!
                And think of me!—think of my trusting love
                And confidence—his vows—my ruin—think—think
                Of my unspeakable misery!——begone!
                Yet stay! yet stay!—what was it thou saidst of prayer
                And penitence? Didst thou not speak of faith
                And vows before the throne?

Monk.           I did.

Lal.            ’Tis well.
                There is a vow ’twere fitting should be made—
                A sacred vow, imperative and urgent,
                A solemn vow!

Monk.           Daughter, this zeal is well!

Lal.            Father, this zeal is anything but well!
                Hast thou a crucifix fit for this thing?
                A crucifix whereon to register
                This sacred vow? (he hands her his own.)
                Not that—Oh! no!—no!—no (shuddering.)
                Not that! Not that!—I tell thee, holy man,
                Thy raiments and thy ebony cross affright me!
                Stand back! I have a crucifix myself,—
                I have a crucifix! Methinks ’twere fitting
                The deed—the vow—the symbol of the deed—
                And the deed’s register should tally, father!
       (draws a cross-handled dagger and raises it on high.)
                Behold the cross wherewith a vow like mine
                Is written in heaven!

Monk.           Thy words are madness, daughter,
                And speak a purpose unholy—thy lips are livid—
                Thine eyes are wild—tempt not the wrath divine!
                Pause ere too late!—oh, be not—be not rash!
                Swear not the oath—oh, swear it not!

Lal.            ’Tis sworn!




III.

An Apartment in a Palace. POLITIAN and BALDAZZAR.


Baldazzar.      Arouse thee now, Politian!
                Thou must not—nay indeed, indeed, thou shalt not
                Give way unto these humors. Be thyself!
                Shake off the idle fancies that beset thee
                And live, for now thou diest!

Politian.       Not so, Baldazzar!
                Surely I live.

Bal.            Politian, it doth grieve me
                To see thee thus!

Pol.            Baldazzar, it doth grieve me
                To give thee cause for grief, my honored friend.
                Command me, sir! what wouldst thou have me do?
                At thy behest I will shake off that nature
                Which from my forefathers I did inherit,
                Which with my mother’s milk I did imbibe,
                And be no more Politian, but some other.
                Command me, sir!

Bal.            To the field then—to the field—
                To the senate or the field.

Pol.            Alas! alas!
                There is an imp would follow me even there!
                There is an imp hath followed me even there!
                There is—what voice was that?

Bal.            I heard it not.
                I heard not any voice except thine own,
                And the echo of thine own.

Pol.            Then I but dreamed.

Bal.            Give not thy soul to dreams: the camp—the court
                Befit thee—Fame awaits thee—Glory calls—
                And her the trumpet-tongued thou wilt not hear
                In hearkening to imaginary sounds
                And phantom voices.

Pol.            It is a phantom voice!
                Didst thou not hear it then?

Bal             I heard it not.

Pol.            Thou heardst it not!—Baldazzar, speak no more
                To me, Politian, of thy camps and courts.
                Oh! I am sick, sick, sick, even unto death,
                Of the hollow and high-sounding vanities
                Of the populous Earth! Bear with me yet awhile
                We have been boys together—school-fellows—
                And now are friends—yet shall not be so long—
                For in the Eternal City thou shalt do me
                A kind and gentle office, and a Power—
                A Power august, benignant, and supreme—
                Shall then absolve thee of all further duties
                Unto thy friend.

Bal.            Thou speakest a fearful riddle
                I will not understand.

Pol.            Yet now as Fate
                Approaches, and the Hours are breathing low,
                The sands of Time are changed to golden grains,
                And dazzle me, Baldazzar. Alas! alas!
                I cannot die, having within my heart
                So keen a relish for the beautiful
                As hath been kindled within it. Methinks the air
                Is balmier now than it was wont to be—
                Rich melodies are floating in the winds—
                A rarer loveliness bedecks the earth—
                And with a holier lustre the quiet moon
                Sitteth in Heaven.—Hist! hist! thou canst not say
                Thou hearest not now, Baldazzar?

Bal.            Indeed I hear not.

Pol.            Not hear it!—listen—now—listen!—the faintest sound
                And yet the sweetest that ear ever heard!
                A lady’s voice!—and sorrow in the tone!
                Baldazzar, it oppresses me like a spell!
                Again!—again!—how solemnly it falls
                Into my heart of hearts! that eloquent voice
                Surely I never heard—yet it were well
                Had I but heard it with its thrilling tones
                In earlier days!

Bal.            I myself hear it now.
                Be still!—the voice, if I mistake not greatly,
                Proceeds from younder lattice—which you may see
                Very plainly through the window—it belongs,
                Does it not? unto this palace of the Duke.
                The singer is undoubtedly beneath
                The roof of his Excellency—and perhaps
                Is even that Alessandra of whom he spoke
                As the betrothed of Castiglione,
                His son and heir.

Pol.            Be still!—it comes again!

Voice
(very faintly). “And is thy heart so strong
                As for to leave me thus,
                That have loved thee so long,
                In wealth and woe among?
                And is thy heart so strong
                As for to leave me thus?
                Say nay! say nay!”


Bal.            The song is English, and I oft have heard it
                In merry England—never so plaintively—
                Hist! hist! it comes again!

Voice
(more loudly).   “Is it so strong
                As for to leave me thus,
                That have loved thee so long,
                In wealth and woe among?
                And is thy heart so strong
                As for to leave me thus?
                Say nay! say nay!”

Bal.            ’Tis hushed and all is still!

Pol.            All is not still.

Bal.            Let us go down.

Pol.            Go down, Baldazzar, go!

Bal.            The hour is growing late—the Duke awaits us,—
                Thy presence is expected in the hall
                Below. What ails thee, Earl Politian?

Voice
(distinctly).   “Who have loved thee so long,
                In wealth and woe among,
                And is thy heart so strong?
                Say nay! say nay!”

Bal.            Let us descend!—’tis time. Politian, give
                These fancies to the wind. Remember, pray,
                Your bearing lately savored much of rudeness
                Unto the Duke. Arouse thee! and remember!

Pol.            Remember? I do. Lead on! I do remember.
             (going).
                Let us descend. Believe me I would give,
                Freely would give the broad lands of my earldom
                To look upon the face hidden by yon lattice—
                “To gaze upon that veiled face, and hear
                Once more that silent tongue.”

Bal.            Let me beg you, sir,
                Descend with me—the Duke may be offended.
                Let us go down, I pray you.

Voice (loudly). Say nay!—say nay!

Pol. (aside). ’Tis strange!—’tis very strange—methought
                   the voice
                Chimed in with my desires and bade me stay!
           (Approaching the window)
                Sweet voice! I heed thee, and will surely stay.
                Now be this fancy, by heaven, or be it Fate,
                Still will I not descend. Baldazzar, make
                Apology unto the Duke for me;
                I go not down to-night.

Bal.            Your lordship’s pleasure
                Shall be attended to. Good-night, Politian.

Pol.            Good-night, my friend, good-night.




IV.

The Gardens of a Palace—Moonlight. LALAGE and POLITIAN.


Lalage.         And dost thou speak of love
                To me, Politian?—dost thou speak of love
                To Lalage?—ah woe—ah woe is me!
                This mockery is most cruel—most cruel indeed!

Politian.       Weep not! oh, sob not thus!—thy bitter tears
                Will madden me. Oh, mourn not, Lalage—
                Be comforted! I know—I know it all,
                And still I speak of love. Look at me, brightest,
                And beautiful Lalage!—turn here thine eyes!
                Thou askest me if I could speak of love,
                Knowing what I know, and seeing what I have seen
                Thou askest me that—and thus I answer thee—
                Thus on my bended knee I answer thee. (kneeling.)
                Sweet Lalage, I love thee—love thee—love thee;
                Thro’ good and ill—thro’ weal and woe, I love thee.
                Not mother, with her first-born on her knee,
                Thrills with intenser love than I for thee.
                Not on God’s altar, in any time or clime,
                Burned there a holier fire than burneth now
                Within my spirit for thee. And do I love?
             (arising.)
                Even for thy woes I love thee—even for thy woes—
                Thy beauty and thy woes.

Lal.            Alas, proud Earl,
                Thou dost forget thyself, remembering me!
                How, in thy father’s halls, among the maidens
                Pure and reproachless of thy princely line,
                Could the dishonored Lalage abide?
                Thy wife, and with a tainted memory—
                My seared and blighted name, how would it tally
                With the ancestral honors of thy house,
                And with thy glory?

Pol.            Speak not to me of glory!
                I hate—I loathe the name; I do abhor
                The unsatisfactory and ideal thing.
                Art thou not Lalage, and I Politian?
                Do I not love—art thou not beautiful—
                What need we more? Ha! glory! now speak not of it:
                By all I hold most sacred and most solemn—
                By all my wishes now—my fears hereafter—
                By all I scorn on earth and hope in heaven—
                There is no deed I would more glory in,
                Than in thy cause to scoff at this same glory
                And trample it under foot. What matters it—
                What matters it, my fairest, and my best,
                That we go down unhonored and forgotten
                Into the dust—so we descend together?
                Descend together—and then—and then perchance—

Lal.            Why dost thou pause, Politian?

Pol.            And then perchance
                Arise together, Lalage, and roam
                The starry and quiet dwellings of the blest,
                And still—

Lal.            Why dost thou pause, Politian?

Pol.            And still together—together.

Lal.            Now, Earl of Leicester!
                Thou lovest me, and in my heart of hearts
                I feel thou lovest me truly.

Pol.            O Lalage!
             (throwing himself upon his knee.)
                And lovest thou me?

Lal.            Hist! hush! within the gloom
                Of yonder trees methought a figure passed—
                A spectral figure, solemn, and slow, and noiseless—
                Like the grim shadow Conscience, solemn and noiseless.
             (walks across and returns.)
                I was mistaken—’twas but a giant bough
                Stirred by the autumn wind. Politian!

Pol.            My Lalage—my love! why art thou moved?
                Why dost thou turn so pale? Not Conscience self,
                Far less a shadow which thou likenest to it,
                Should shake the firm spirit thus. But the night wind
                Is chilly—and these melancholy boughs
                Throw over all things a gloom.

Lal.            Politian!
                Thou speakest to me of love. Knowest thou the land
                With which all tongues are busy—a land new found—
                Miraculously found by one of Genoa—
                A thousand leagues within the golden west?
                A fairy land of flowers, and fruit, and sunshine,—
                And crystal lakes, and over-arching forests,
                And mountains, around whose towering summits the winds
                Of Heaven untrammelled flow—which air to breathe
                Is Happiness now, and will be Freedom hereafter
                In days that are to come?

Pol.            Oh, wilt thou—wilt thou
                Fly to that Paradise—my Lalage, wilt thou
                Fly thither with me? There Care shall be forgotten,
                And Sorrow shall be no more, and Eros be all.
                And life shall then be mine, for I will live
                For thee, and in thine eyes—and thou shalt be
                No more a mourner—but the radiant Joys
                Shall wait upon thee, and the angel Hope
                Attend thee ever; and I will kneel to thee
                And worship thee, and call thee my beloved,
                My own, my beautiful, my love, my wife,
                My all;—oh, wilt thou—wilt thou, Lalage,
                Fly thither with me?

Lal.            A deed is to be done—
                Castiglione lives!

Pol.            And he shall die!

                (Exit.)

Lal.
(after a pause). And—he—shall—die!—alas!
                Castiglione die? Who spoke the words?
                Where am I?—what was it he said?—Politian!
                Thou art not gone—thou art not gone, Politian!
                I feel thou art not gone—yet dare not look,
                Lest I behold thee not—thou couldst not go
                With those words upon thy lips—oh, speak to me!
                And let me hear thy voice—one word—one word,
                To say thou art not gone,—one little sentence,
                To say how thou dost scorn—how thou dost hate
                My womanly weakness. Ha! ha! thou art not gone—
                Oh, speak to me! I knew thou wouldst not go!
                I knew thou wouldst not, couldst not, durst not go.
                Villain, thou art not gone—thou mockest me!
                And thus I clutch thee—thus!—He is gone, he is gone—
                Gone—gone. Where am I?—’tis well—’tis very well!
                So that the blade be keen—the blow be sure,
                ’Tis well, ’tis very well—alas! alas!




V.

The Suburbs. POLITIAN alone.


Politian.       This weakness grows upon me. I am fain
                And much I fear me ill—it will not do
                To die ere I have lived!—Stay—stay thy hand,
                O Azrael, yet awhile!—Prince of the Powers
                Of Darkness and the Tomb, oh, pity me!
                Oh, pity me! let me not perish now,
                In the budding of my Paradisal Hope!
                Give me to live yet—yet a little while:
                ’Tis I who pray for life—I who so late
                Demanded but to die!—What sayeth the Count?

            Enter Baldazzar.

Baldazzar.      That, knowing no cause of quarrel or of feud
                Between the Earl Politian and himself,
                He doth decline your cartel.

Pol.            What didst thou say?
                What answer was it you brought me, good Baldazzar?
                With what excessive fragrance the zephyr comes
                Laden from yonder bowers!—a fairer day,
                Or one more worthy Italy, methinks
                No mortal eyes have seen!—what said the Count?

Bal.            That he, Castiglione, not being aware
                Of any feud existing, or any cause
                Of quarrel between your lordship and himself,
                Cannot accept the challenge.

Pol.            It is most true—
                All this is very true. When saw you, sir,
                When saw you now, Baldazzar, in the frigid
                Ungenial Britain which we left so lately,
                A heaven so calm as this—so utterly free
                From the evil taint of clouds?—and he did say?

Bal.            No more, my lord, than I have told you:
                The Count Castiglione will not fight.
                Having no cause for quarrel.

Pol.            Now this is true—
                All very true. Thou art my friend, Baldazzar,
                And I have not forgotten it—thou’lt do me
                A piece of service: wilt thou go back and say
                Unto this man, that I, the Earl of Leicester,
                Hold him a villain?—thus much, I pr’ythee, say
                Unto the Count—it is exceeding just
                He should have cause for quarrel.

Bal.            My lord!—my friend!—

Pol. (aside). ’Tis he—he comes himself!
     (aloud.) Thou reasonest well.
                I know what thou wouldst say—not send the message—
                Well!—I will think of it—I will not send it.
                Now pr’ythee, leave me—hither doth come a person
                With whom affairs of a most private nature
                I would adjust.

Bal.            I go—to-morrow we meet,
                Do we not?—at the Vatican.

Pol.            At the Vatican.

                (Exit Bal.)

                Enter Castiglione.

Cas.            The Earl of Leicester here!

Pol.            I am the Earl of Leicester, and thou seest,
                Dost thou not, that I am here?

Cas.            My lord, some strange,
                Some singular mistake—misunderstanding—
                Hath without doubt arisen: thou hast been urged
                Thereby, in heat of anger, to address
                Some words most unaccountable, in writing,
                To me, Castiglione; the bearer being
                Baldazzar, Duke of Surrey. I am aware
                Of nothing which might warrant thee in this thing,
                Having given thee no offence. Ha!—am I right?
                ’Twas a mistake?—undoubtedly—we all
                Do err at times.

Pol.            Draw, villain, and prate no more!

Cas.            Ha!—draw?—and villain? have at thee then at once,
                Proud Earl!
             (Draws.)

Pol.
(drawing.)      Thus to the expiatory tomb,
                Untimely sepulchre, I do devote thee
                In the name of Lalage!

Cas. (letting fall his sword and recoiling to the extremity of the
       stage.)
                Of Lalage!
                Hold off—thy sacred hand!—avaunt, I say!
                Avaunt—I will not fight thee—indeed I dare not.

Pol.            Thou wilt not fight with me didst say, Sir Count?
                Shall I be baffled thus?—now this is well;
                Didst say thou darest not? Ha!

Cas.            I dare not—dare not—
                Hold off thy hand—with that beloved name
                So fresh upon thy lips I will not fight thee—
                I cannot—dare not.

Pol.            Now, by my halidom,
                I do believe thee!—coward, I do believe thee!

Cas.            Ha!—coward!—this may not be!
(clutches his sword and staggers towards Politian, but his purpose is
changed before reaching him, and he falls upon hia knee at the feet of
the Earl.)
                Alas! my lord,
                It is—it is—most true. In such a cause
                I am the veriest coward. Oh, pity me!

Pol.
(greatly softened). Alas!—I do—indeed I pity thee.

Cas.            And Lalage—

Pol.            Scoundrel!—arise and die!

Cas.            It needeth not be—thus—thus—Oh, let me die
                Thus on my bended knee. It were most fitting
                That in this deep humiliation I perish.
                For in the fight I will not raise a hand
                Against thee, Earl of Leicester. Strike thou home—
             (baring his bosom.)
                Here is no let or hindrance to thy weapon—
                Strike home. I will not fight thee.

Pol.            Now’s Death and Hell!
                Am I not—am I not sorely—grievously tempted
                To take thee at thy word? But mark me, sir:
                Think not to fly me thus. Do thou prepare
                For public insult in the streets—before
                The eyes of the citizens. I’ll follow thee—
                Like an avenging spirit I’ll follow thee
                Even unto death. Before those whom thou lovest—
                Before all Rome I’ll taunt thee, villain,—I’ll taunt
                  thee,
                Dost hear? with cowardice—thou wilt not fight me?
                Thou liest! thou shalt!

                (Exit.)

Cas.            Now this indeed is just!
                Most righteous, and most just, avenging Heaven!

Duke.           Why do you laugh?

Castiglione.    Indeed.
                I hardly know myself. Stay! Was it not
                On yesterday we were speaking of the Earl?
                Of the Earl Politian? Yes! it was yesterday.
                Alessandra, you and I, you must remember!
                We were walking in the garden.

Duke.           Perfectly.
                I do remember it—what of it—what then?

Cas.            O nothing—nothing at all.

Duke.           Nothing at all!
                It is most singular that you should laugh
                At nothing at all!

Cas.            Most singular—singular!

Duke.           Look yon, Castiglione, be so kind
                As tell me, sir, at once what ’tis you mean.
                What are you talking of?

Cas.            Was it not so?
                We differed in opinion touching him.

Duke.           Him!—Whom?

Cas.            Why, sir, the Earl Politian.

Duke.           The Earl of Leicester! Yes!—is it he you mean?
                We differed, indeed. If I now recollect
                The words you used were that the Earl you knew
                Was neither learned nor mirthful.

Cas.            Ha! ha!—now did I?

Duke.           That did you, sir, and well I knew at the time
                You were wrong, it being not the character
                Of the Earl—whom all the world allows to be
                A most hilarious man. Be not, my son,
                Too positive again.

Cas.            ’Tis singular!
                Most singular! I could not think it possible
                So little time could so much alter one!
                To say the truth about an hour ago,
                As I was walking with the Count San Ozzo,
                All arm in arm, we met this very man
                The Earl—he, with his friend Baldazzar,
                Having just arrived in Rome. Ha! ha! he is altered!
                Such an account he gave me of his journey!
                ’Twould have made you die with laughter—such tales he
                  told
                Of his caprices and his merry freaks
                Along the road—such oddity—such humor—
                Such wit—such whim—such flashes of wild merriment
                Set off too in such full relief by the grave
                Demeanor of his friend—who, to speak the truth
                Was gravity itself—

Duke.           Did I not tell you?

Cas.            You did—and yet ’tis strange! but true, as strange,
                How much I was mistaken! I always thought
                The Earl a gloomy man.

Duke.           So, so, you see!
                Be not too positive. Whom have we here?
                It cannot be the Earl?

Cas.            The Earl! Oh no!
                Tis not the Earl—but yet it is—and leaning
                Upon his friend Baldazzar. Ah! welcome, sir!
                (Enter Politian and Baldazzar.)
                My lord, a second welcome let me give you
                To Rome—his Grace the Duke of Broglio.
                Father! this is the Earl Politian, Earl
                Of Leicester in Great Britain.
                [Politian bows haughtily.]
                That, his friend
                Baldazzar, Duke of Surrey. The Earl has letters,
                So please you, for Your Grace.

Duke.           Ha! ha! Most welcome
                To Rome and to our palace, Earl Politian!
                And you, most noble Duke! I am glad to see you!
                I knew your father well, my Lord Politian.
                Castiglione! call your cousin hither,
                And let me make the noble Earl acquainted
                With your betrothed. You come, sir, at a time
                Most seasonable. The wedding—

Politian.       Touching those letters, sir,
                Your son made mention of—your son, is he not?—
                Touching those letters, sir, I wot not of them.
                If such there be, my friend Baldazzar here—
                Baldazzar! ah!—my friend Baldazzar here
                Will hand them to Your Grace. I would retire.

Duke.           Retire!—so soon?

Cas.            What ho! Benito! Rupert!
                His lordship’s chambers—show his lordship to them!
                His lordship is unwell.

           (Enter Benito.)

Ben.            This way, my lord!

           (Exit, followed by Politian.)

Duke.           Retire! Unwell!

Bal.            So please you, sir. I fear me
                ’Tis as you say—his lordship is unwell.
                The damp air of the evening—the fatigue
                Of a long journey—the—indeed I had better
                Follow his lordship. He must be unwell.
                I will return anon.

Duke.           Return anon!
                Now this is very strange! Castiglione!
                This way, my son, I wish to speak with thee.
                You surely were mistaken in what you said
                Of the Earl, mirthful, indeed!—which of us said
                Politian was a melancholy man?

               (Exeunt.)

Dim vales—and shadowy floods—
And cloudy-looking woods,
Whose forms we can’t discover
For the tears that drip all over
Huge moons there wax and wane—
Again—again—again—
Every moment of the night—
Forever changing places—
And they put out the star-light
With the breath from their pale faces.
About twelve by the moon-dial
One more filmy than the rest
(A kind which, upon trial,
They have found to be the best)
Comes down—still down—and down
With its centre on the crown
Of a mountain’s eminence,
While its wide circumference
In easy drapery falls
Over hamlets, over halls,
Wherever they may be—
O’er the strange woods—o’er the sea—
Over spirits on the wing—
Over every drowsy thing—
And buries them up quite
In a labyrinth of light—
And then, how deep!—O, deep!
Is the passion of their sleep.
In the morning they arise,
And their moony covering
Is soaring in the skies,
With the tempests as they toss,
Like—almost any thing—
Or a yellow Albatross.
They use that moon no more
For the same end as before—
Videlicet a tent—
Which I think extravagant:
Its atomies, however,
Into a shower dissever,
Of which those butterflies,
Of Earth, who seek the skies,
And so come down again
(Never-contented thing!)
Have brought a specimen
Upon their quivering wings.

In visions of the dark night
  I have dreamed of joy departed—
But a waking dream of life and light
  Hath left me broken-hearted.

Ah! what is not a dream by day
  To him whose eyes are cast
On things around him with a ray
  Turned back upon the past?

That holy dream—that holy dream,
  While all the world were chiding,
Hath cheered me as a lovely beam,
  A lonely spirit guiding.

What though that light, thro’ storm and night,
  So trembled from afar—
What could there be more purely bright
  In Truth’s day star?

The bowers whereat, in dreams, I see
  The wantonest singing birds,

Are lips—and all thy melody
  Of lip-begotten words—

Thine eyes, in Heaven of heart enshrined
  Then desolately fall,
O God! on my funereal mind
  Like starlight on a pall—

Thy heart—thy heart!—I wake and sigh,
  And sleep to dream till day
Of the truth that gold can never buy—
  Of the baubles that it may.

I.

Hear the sledges with the bells—
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In their icy air of night!
While the stars, that oversprinkle
All the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells—
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

II.

Hear the mellow wedding bells,
Golden bells!
What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!
Through the balmy air of night
How they ring out their delight!
From the molten golden-notes,
And all in tune,
What a liquid ditty floats
To the turtle-dove that listens, while she gloats
On the moon!
Oh, from out the sounding cells,
What a gush of euphony voluminously wells!
How it swells!
How it dwells
On the future! how it tells
Of the rapture that impels
To the swinging and the ringing
Of the bells, bells, bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells—
To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells!

III.

Hear the loud alarum bells—
Brazen bells!
What a tale of terror now their turbulency tells!
In the startled ear of night
How they scream out their affright!
Too much horrified to speak,
They can only shriek, shriek,
Out of tune,
In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,
In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire
Leaping higher, higher, higher,
With a desperate desire,
And a resolute endeavor
Now—now to sit or never,
By the side of the pale-faced moon.
Oh, the bells, bells, bells!
What a tale their terror tells
Of Despair!
How they clang, and clash, and roar!
What a horror they outpour
On the bosom of the palpitating air!
Yet the ear it fully knows,
By the twanging,
And the clanging,
How the danger ebbs and flows;
Yet the ear distinctly tells,
In the jangling,
And the wrangling,
How the danger sinks and swells,
By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells—
Of the bells—
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells—
In the clamor and the clangor of the bells!

IV.

Hear the tolling of the bells—
Iron bells!
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!
In the silence of the night,
How we shiver with affright
At the melancholy menace of their tone!
For every sound that floats
From the rust within their throats
   Is a groan.
And the people—ah, the people—
They that dwell up in the steeple.
    All alone,
And who toiling, toiling, toiling,
  In that muffled monotone,
Feel a glory in so rolling
  On the human heart a stone—
They are neither man nor woman—
They are neither brute nor human—
    They are Ghouls:
And their king it is who tolls;
And he rolls, rolls, rolls,
         Rolls
A paean from the bells!
And his merry bosom swells
With the paean of the bells!
And he dances, and he yells;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the paean of the bells—
    Of the bells:
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
  To the throbbing of the bells—
Of the bells, bells, bells—
  To the sobbing of the bells;
Keeping time, time, time,
  As he knells, knells, knells,
In a happy Runic rhyme,
To the rolling of the bells—
Of the bells, bells, bells—
To the tolling of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
  Bells, bells, bells—
To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.

‘Oinos.’

Pardon, Agathos, the weakness of a spirit new-fledged with
immortality!

‘Agathos.’

You have spoken nothing, my Oinos, for which pardon is to be
demanded. Not even here is knowledge a thing of intuition.
For wisdom, ask of the angels freely, that it may be given!

‘Oinos.’

But in this existence I dreamed that I should be at once
cognizant of all things, and thus at once happy in being
cognizant of all.

‘Agathos.’

Ah, not in knowledge is happiness, but in the acquisition of
knowledge! In forever knowing, we are forever blessed; but
to know all, were the curse of a fiend.

‘Oinos.’

But does not The Most High know all?

‘Agathos’.

That (since he is The Most Happy) must be still the
one thing unknown even to HIM.

‘Oinos.’

But, since we grow hourly in knowledge, must not at last
all things be known?

‘Agathos.’

Look down into the abysmal distances!—attempt to force
the gaze down the multitudinous vistas of the stars, as we
sweep slowly through them thus—and thus—and
thus! Even the spiritual vision, is it not at all points
arrested by the continuous golden walls of the
universe?—the walls of the myriads of the shining
bodies that mere number has appeared to blend into unity?

‘Oinos’.

I clearly perceive that the infinity of matter is no dream.

‘Agathos’.

There are no dreams in Aidenn—but it is here whispered
that, of this infinity of matter, the sole purpose is
to afford infinite springs at which the soul may allay the
thirst to know which is forever unquenchable within
it—since to quench it would be to extinguish the
soul’s self. Question me then, my Oinos, freely and without
fear. Come! we will leave to the left the loud harmony of
the Pleiades, and swoop outward from the throne into the
starry meadows beyond Orion, where, for pansies and violets,
and heart’s-ease, are the beds of the triplicate and triple-
tinted suns.

‘Oinos’.

And now, Agathos, as we proceed, instruct me!—speak to
me in the earth’s familiar tones! I understand not what you
hinted to me just now of the modes or of the methods of what
during mortality, we were accustomed to call Creation. Do
you mean to say that the Creator is not God?

‘Agathos’.

I mean to say that the Deity does not create.

‘Oinos’.

Explain!

‘Agathos’.

In the beginning only, he created. The seeming creatures
which are now throughout the universe so perpetually
springing into being can only be considered as the mediate
or indirect, not as the direct or immediate results of the
Divine creative power.

‘Oinos.’

Among men, my Agathos, this idea would be considered
heretical in the extreme.

‘Agathos.’

Among the angels, my Oinos, it is seen to be simply true.

‘Oinos.’

I can comprehend you thus far—that certain operations
of what we term Nature, or the natural laws, will, under
certain conditions, give rise to that which has all the
appearance of creation. Shortly before the final
overthrow of the earth, there were, I well remember, many
very successful experiments in what some philosophers were
weak enough to denominate the creation of animalculae.

‘Agathos.’

The cases of which you speak were, in fact, instances of the
secondary creation, and of the only species of
creation which has ever been since the first word spoke into
existence the first law.

‘Oinos.’

Are not the starry worlds that, from the abyss of nonentity,
burst hourly forth into the heavens—are not these
stars, Agathos, the immediate handiwork of the King?

‘Agathos.’

Let me endeavor, my Oinos, to lead you, step by step, to the
conception I intend. You are well aware that, as no thought
can perish, so no act is without infinite result. We moved
our hands, for example, when we were dwellers on the earth,
and in so doing we gave vibration to the atmosphere which
engirdled it. This vibration was indefinitely extended till
it gave impulse to every particle of the earth’s air, which
thenceforward, and forever, was actuated by the one
movement of the hand. This fact the mathematicians of our
globe well knew. They made the special effects, indeed,
wrought in the fluid by special impulses, the subject of
exact calculation—so that it became easy to determine
in what precise period an impulse of given extent would
engirdle the orb, and impress (forever) every atom of the
atmosphere circumambient. Retrograding, they found no
difficulty; from a given effect, under given conditions, in
determining the value of the original impulse. Now the
mathematicians who saw that the results of any given impulse
were absolutely endless—and who saw that a portion of
these results were accurately traceable through the agency
of algebraic analysis—who saw, too, the facility of
the retrogradation—these men saw, at the same time,
that this species of analysis itself had within itself a
capacity for indefinite progress—that there were no
bounds conceivable to its advancement and applicability,
except within the intellect of him who advanced or applied
it. But at this point our mathematicians paused.

‘Oinos.’

And why, Agathos, should they have proceeded?

‘Agathos.’

Because there were some considerations of deep interest
beyond. It was deducible from what they knew, that to a
being of infinite understanding—one to whom the
perfection of the algebraic analysis lay unfolded—
there could be no difficulty in tracing every impulse given
the air—and the ether through the air—to the
remotest consequences at any even infinitely remote epoch of
time. It is indeed demonstrable that every such impulse
given the air, must in the end impress every
individual thing that exists within the
universe;—and the being of infinite
understanding—the being whom we have imagined—
might trace the remote undulations of the impulse—
trace them upward and onward in their influences upon all
particles of all matter—upward and onward forever in
their modifications of old forms—or, in other words,
in their creation of new—until he found them
reflected—unimpressive at last—back from
the throne of the Godhead. And not only could such a being
do this, but at any epoch, should a given result be afforded
him—should one of these numberless comets, for
example, be presented to his inspection—he could have
no difficulty in determining, by the analytic
retrogradation, to what original impulse it was due. This
power of retrogradation in its absolute fulness and
perfection—this faculty of referring at all
epochs, all effects to all causes—is of
course the prerogative of the Deity alone—but in every
variety of degree, short of the absolute perfection, is the
power itself exercised by the whole host of the Angelic
Intelligences.

‘Oinos’.

But you speak merely of impulses upon the air.

‘Agathos’.

In speaking of the air, I referred only to the earth: but
the general proposition has reference to impulses upon the
ether—which, since it pervades, and alone pervades all
space, is thus the great medium of creation.

‘Oinos’.

Then all motion, of whatever nature, creates?

‘Agathos’.

It must: but a true philosophy has long taught that the
source of all motion is thought—and the source of all
thought is—

‘Oinos’.

God.

‘Agathos’.

I have spoken to you, Oinos, as to a child, of the fair
Earth which lately perished—of impulses upon the
atmosphere of the earth.

‘Oinos’.

You did.

‘Agathos’.

And while I thus spoke, did there not cross your mind some
thought of the physical power of words? Is not every
word an impulse on the air?

‘Oinos’.

But why, Agathos, do you weep—and why, oh, why do your
wings droop as we hover above this fair star—which is
the greenest and yet most terrible of all we have
encountered in our flight? Its brilliant flowers look like a
fairy dream—but its fierce volcanoes like the passions
of a turbulent heart.

‘Agathos’.

They are!—they are!—This wild
star—it is now three centuries since, with clasped
hands, and with streaming eyes, at the feet of my
beloved—I spoke it—with a few passionate
sentences—into birth. Its brilliant flowers are
the dearest of all unfulfilled dreams, and its raging
volcanoes are the passions of the most turbulent and
unhallowed of hearts!

The mountain pinnacles slumber; valleys, crags, and caves
are silent.

“LISTEN to me,” said the Demon, as he placed his hand
upon my head. “The region of which I speak is a dreary
region in Libya, by the borders of the river Zaeire. And
there is no quiet there, nor silence.

“The waters of the river have a saffron and sickly hue; and
they flow not onward to the sea, but palpitate forever and
forever beneath the red eye of the sun with a tumultuous and
convulsive motion. For many miles on either side of the
river’s oozy bed is a pale desert of gigantic water-lilies.
They sigh one unto the other in that solitude, and stretch
towards the heaven their long and ghastly necks, and nod to
and fro their everlasting heads. And there is an indistinct
murmur which cometh out from among them like the rushing of
subterrene water. And they sigh one unto the other.

“But there is a boundary to their realm—the boundary
of the dark, horrible, lofty forest. There, like the waves
about the Hebrides, the low underwood is agitated
continually. But there is no wind throughout the heaven. And
the tall primeval trees rock eternally hither and thither
with a crashing and mighty sound. And from their high
summits, one by one, drop everlasting dews. And at the
roots, strange poisonous flowers lie writhing in perturbed
slumber. And overhead, with a rustling and loud noise, the
gray clouds rush westwardly forever until they roll, a
cataract, over the fiery wall of the horizon. But there is
no wind throughout the heaven. And by the shores of the
river Zaeire there is neither quiet nor silence.

“It was night, and the rain fell; and, falling, it was rain,
but, having fallen, it was blood. And I stood in the morass
among the tall lilies, and the rain fell upon my head—
and the lilies sighed one unto the other in the solemnity of
their desolation.

“And, all at once, the moon arose through the thin ghastly
mist, and was crimson in color. And mine eyes fell upon a
huge gray rock which stood by the shore of the river and was
lighted by the light of the moon. And the rock was gray and
ghastly, and tall,—and the rock was gray. Upon its
front were characters engraven in the stones; and I walked
through the morass of water-lilies, until I came close unto
the shore, that I might read the characters upon the stone.
But I could not decipher them. And I was going back into the
morass when the moon shone with a fuller red, and I turned
and looked again upon the rock and upon the
characters;—and the characters were DESOLATION.

“And I looked upwards, and there stood a man upon the summit
of the rock; and I hid myself among the water-lilies that I
might discover the action of the man. And the man was tall
and stately in form, and wrapped up from his shoulders to
his feet in the toga of old Rome. And the outlines of his
figure were indistinct—but his features were the
features of a deity; for the mantle of the night, and of the
mist, and of the moon, and of the dew, had left uncovered
the features of his face. And his brow was lofty with
thought, and his eye wild with care; and in the few furrows
upon his cheek, I read the fables of sorrow, and weariness,
and disgust with mankind, and a longing after solitude.

“And the man sat upon the rock, and leaned his head upon his
hand, and looked out upon the desolation. He looked down
into the low unquiet shrubbery, and up into the tall
primeval trees, and up higher at the rustling heaven, and
into the crimson moon. And I lay close within shelter of the
lilies, and observed the actions of the man. And the man
trembled in the solitude;—but the night waned, and he
sat upon the rock.

“And the man turned his attention from the heaven, and
looked out upon the dreary river Zaeire, and upon the yellow
ghastly waters, and upon the pale legions of the water-lilies.
And the man listened to the sighs of the water-lilies,
and to the murmur that came up from among them. And
I lay close within my covert and observed the actions of the
man. And the man trembled in the solitude;—but the
night waned, and he sat upon the rock.

“Then I went down into the recesses of the morass, and waded
afar in among the wilderness of the lilies, and called unto
the hippopotami which dwelt among the fens in the recesses
of the morass. And the hippopotami heard my call, and came,
with the behemoth, unto the foot of the rock, and roared
loudly and fearfully beneath the moon. And I lay close
within my covert and observed the actions of the man. And
the man trembled in the solitude;—but the night waned,
and he sat upon the rock.

“Then I cursed the elements with the curse of tumult; and a
frightful tempest gathered in the heaven, where before there
had been no wind. And the heaven became livid with the
violence of the tempest—and the rain beat upon the
head of the man—and the floods of the river came
down—and the river was tormented into foam—and
the water-lilies shrieked within their beds—and the
forest crumbled before the wind—and the thunder
rolled—and the lightning fell—and the rock
rocked to its foundation. And I lay close within my covert
and observed the actions of the man. And the man trembled in
the solitude;—but the night waned, and he sat upon the
rock.

“Then I grew angry and cursed, with the curse of silence,
the river, and the lilies, and the wind, and the forest, and
the heaven, and the thunder, and the sighs of the water-lilies.
And they became accursed, and were still. And
the moon ceased to totter up its pathway to heaven—and
the thunder died away—and the lightning did not
flash—and the clouds hung motionless—and the
waters sunk to their level and remained—and the trees
ceased to rock—and the water-lilies sighed no
more—and the murmur was heard no longer from among
them, nor any shadow of sound throughout the vast
illimitable desert. And I looked upon the characters of the
rock, and they were changed;—and the characters were
SILENCE.

“And mine eyes fell upon the countenance of the man, and his
countenance was wan with terror. And, hurriedly, he raised
his head from his hand, and stood forth upon the rock and
listened. But there was no voice throughout the vast
illimitable desert, and the characters upon the rock were
SILENCE. And the man shuddered, and turned his face away,
and fled afar off, in haste, so that I beheld him no more.”



Now there are fine tales in the volumes of the Magi—in
the iron-bound, melancholy volumes of the Magi. Therein, I
say, are glorious histories of the Heaven, and of the Earth,
and of the mighty Sea—and of the Genii that overruled
the sea, and the earth, and the lofty heaven. There was much
lore, too, in the sayings which were said by the sybils; and
holy, holy things were heard of old by the dim leaves that
trembled around Dodona—but, as Allah liveth, that
fable which the demon told me as he sat by my side in the
shadow of the tomb, I hold to be the most wonderful of all!
And as the Demon made an end of his story, he fell back
within the cavity of the tomb and laughed. And I could not
laugh with the Demon, and he cursed me because I could not
laugh. And the lynx which dwelleth forever in the tomb, came
out therefrom, and lay down at the feet of the Demon, and
looked at him steadily in the face.

Thy soul shall find itself alone
’Mid dark thoughts of the gray tombstone
Not one, of all the crowd, to pry
Into thine hour of secrecy.
Be silent in that solitude
  Which is not loneliness—for then
The spirits of the dead who stood
  In life before thee are again
In death around thee—and their will
Shall overshadow thee: be still.
The night—tho’ clear—shall frown—
And the stars shall not look down
From their high thrones in the Heaven,
With light like Hope to mortals given—
But their red orbs, without beam,
To thy weariness shall seem
As a burning and a fever
Which would cling to thee forever.
Now are thoughts thou shalt not banish—
Now are visions ne’er to vanish—
From thy spirit shall they pass
No more—like dew-drops from the grass.
The breeze—the breath of God—is still—
And the mist upon the hill
Shadowy—shadowy—yet unbroken,
  Is a symbol and a token—
  How it hangs upon the trees,
  A mystery of mysteries!

In the greenest of our valleys
  By good angels tenanted,
Once a fair and stately palace—
  Radiant palace—reared its head.
In the monarch Thought’s dominion—
  It stood there!
Never seraph spread a pinion
  Over fabric half so fair!

Banners yellow, glorious, golden,
  On its roof did float and flow,
(This—all this—was in the olden
  Time long ago),
And every gentle air that dallied,
  In that sweet day,
Along the ramparts plumed and pallid,
  A winged odor went away.

Wanderers in that happy valley,
  Through two luminous windows, saw
Spirits moving musically,
  To a lute’s well-tuned law,
Bound about a throne where, sitting
  (Porphyrogene!)
In state his glory well befitting,
  The ruler of the realm was seen.

And all with pearl and ruby glowing
  Was the fair palace door,
Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing,
  And sparkling evermore,
A troop of Echoes, whose sweet duty
  Was but to sing,
In voices of surpassing beauty,
  The wit and wisdom of their king.

But evil things, in robes of sorrow,
  Assailed the monarch’s high estate.
(Ah, let us mourn!—for never morrow
  Shall dawn upon him desolate !)
And round about his home the glory
  That blushed and bloomed,
Is but a dim-remembered story
  Of the old time entombed.

And travellers, now, within that valley,
  Through the red-litten windows see
Vast forms, that move fantastically
  To a discordant melody,
  While, like a ghastly rapid river,
  Through the pale door
A hideous throng rush out forever
  And laugh—but smile no more.

I.

The happiest day—the happiest hour
    My seared and blighted heart hath known,
  The highest hope of pride and power,
    I feel hath flown.


II.

Of power! said I? Yes! such I ween
    But they have vanished long, alas!
  The visions of my youth have been—
    But let them pass.


III.

And pride, what have I now with thee?
    Another brow may ev’n inherit
  The venom thou hast poured on me—
    Be still my spirit!


IV.

The happiest day—the happiest hour
    Mine eyes shall see—have ever seen
  The brightest glance of pride and power
    I feel have been:


V.

But were that hope of pride and power
    Now offered with the pain
  Ev’n then I felt—that brightest hour
    I would not live again:

VI.

For on its wing was dark alloy
    And as it fluttered—fell
  An essence—powerful to destroy
    A soul that knew it well.

Lo! ’tis a gala night
  Within the lonesome latter years!
An angel throng, bewinged, bedight
  In veils, and drowned in tears,
Sit in a theatre, to see
  A play of hopes and fears,
While the orchestra breathes fitfully
  The music of the spheres.

Mimes, in the form of God on high,
  Mutter and mumble low,
And hither and thither fly—
  Mere puppets they, who come and go
At bidding of vast formless things
  That shift the scenery to and fro,
Flapping from out their Condor wings
  Invisible Wo!

That motley drama—oh, be sure
  It shall not be forgot!
With its Phantom chased for evermore,
  By a crowd that seize it not,
Through a circle that ever returneth in
  To the self-same spot,
And much of Madness, and more of Sin,
  And Horror the soul of the plot.

But see, amid the mimic rout
  A crawling shape intrude!
A blood-red thing that writhes from out
  The scenic solitude!
It writhes!—it writhes!—with mortal pangs
  The mimes become its food,
And the angels sob at vermin fangs
  In human gore imbued.

Out—out are the lights—out all!
  And, over each quivering form,
The curtain, a funeral pall,
  Comes down with the rush of a storm,
And the angels, all pallid and wan,
  Uprising, unveiling, affirm
That the play is the tragedy, “Man,”
  And its hero the Conqueror Worm.

Romance, who loves to nod and sing,
With drowsy head and folded wing,
Among the green leaves as they shake
Far down within some shadowy lake,
To me a painted paroquet
Hath been—a most familiar bird—
Taught me my alphabet to say—
To lisp my very earliest word
While in the wild wood I did lie,
A child—with a most knowing eye.

Of late, eternal Condor years
So shake the very Heaven on high
With tumult as they thunder by,
I have no time for idle cares
Though gazing on the unquiet sky.
And when an hour with calmer wings
Its down upon my spirit flings—
That little time with lyre and rhyme
To while away—forbidden things!
My heart would feel to be a crime
Unless it trembled with the strings.

Sent to a friend who had complained that I was glad enough to see
him when he came, but didn't seem to miss him if he stayed away.

And cannot pleasures, while they last,
Be actual unless, when past,
They leave us shuddering and aghast,
With anguish smarting?
And cannot friends be firm and fast,
And yet bear parting?

And must I then, at Friendship's call,
Calmly resign the little all
(Trifling, I grant, it is and small)
I have of gladness,
And lend my being to the thrall
Of gloom and sadness?

And think you that I should be dumb,
And full DOLORUM OMNIUM,
Excepting when YOU choose to come
And share my dinner?
At other times be sour and glum
And daily thinner?

Must he then only live to weep,
Who'd prove his friendship true and deep
By day a lonely shadow creep,
At night-time languish,
Oft raising in his broken sleep
The moan of anguish?

The lover, if for certain days
His fair one be denied his gaze,
Sinks not in grief and wild amaze,
But, wiser wooer,
He spends the time in writing lays,
And posts them to her.

And if the verse flow free and fast,
Till even the poet is aghast,
A touching Valentine at last
The post shall carry,
When thirteen days are gone and past
Of February.

Farewell, dear friend, and when we meet,
In desert waste or crowded street,
Perhaps before this week shall fleet,
Perhaps to-morrow.
I trust to find YOUR heart the seat
Of wasting sorrow.

There are some qualities—some incorporate things,
  That have a double life, which thus is made
A type of that twin entity which springs
  From matter and light, evinced in solid and shade.
There is a twofold Silence—sea and shore—
  Body and soul. One dwells in lonely places,
  Newly with grass o’ergrown; some solemn graces,
Some human memories and tearful lore,
Render him terrorless: his name’s “No More.”
He is the corporate Silence: dread him not!
  No power hath he of evil in himself;
But should some urgent fate (untimely lot!)
  Bring thee to meet his shadow (nameless elf,
That haunteth the lone regions where hath trod
No foot of man), commend thyself to God!

In Heaven a spirit doth dwell
  “Whose heart-strings are a lute;”
None sing so wildly well
As the angel Israfel,
And the giddy Stars (so legends tell),
Ceasing their hymns, attend the spell
  Of his voice, all mute.

Tottering above
  In her highest noon,
  The enamoured Moon
Blushes with love,
  While, to listen, the red levin
  (With the rapid Pleiads, even,
  Which were seven),
  Pauses in Heaven.

And they say (the starry choir
  And the other listening things)
That Israfeli’s fire
Is owing to that lyre
  By which he sits and sings—
The trembling living wire
Of those unusual strings.

But the skies that angel trod,
  Where deep thoughts are a duty—
Where Love’s a grow-up God—
  Where the Houri glances are
Imbued with all the beauty
  Which we worship in a star.

Therefore, thou art not wrong,
  Israfeli, who despisest
An unimpassioned song;
To thee the laurels belong,
  Best bard, because the wisest!
Merrily live and long!

The ecstasies above
  With thy burning measures suit—
Thy grief, thy joy, thy hate, thy love,
  With the fervor of thy lute—
  Well may the stars be mute!

Yes, Heaven is thine; but this
  Is a world of sweets and sours;
  Our flowers are merely—flowers,
And the shadow of thy perfect bliss
  Is the sunshine of ours.

If I could dwell
Where Israfel
  Hath dwelt, and he where I,
He might not sing so wildly well
  A mortal melody,
While a bolder note than this might swell
  From my lyre within the sky.

 
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