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Who mourns for Adonais? Oh! come forth,
Fond wretch, and know thyself and him aright. Clasp with thy panting soul the pendulous earth; As from a centre, dart thy spirit's light
Beyond all worlds, until its spacious might Satiate the void circumference: then shrink
Even to a point within our day and night; And keep thy heart light, lest it make thee sink, When hope has kindled hope, and lured thee to the brink.
Or go to Rome, which is the sepulchre,
Oh not of him, but of our joy. 'Tis nought That ages, empires, and religions, there
Lie buried in the ravage they have wrought; For such as he can lend-they borrow not Glory from those who made the world their prey; And he is gathered to the kings of thought Who waged contention with their time's decay, And of the past are all that cannot pass away.
Go thou to Rome,-at once the paradise,
Pass, till the Spirit of the spot shall lead
Thy footsteps to a slope of green access,
Where, like an infant's smile, over the dead
A light of laughing flowers along the grass is spread.
And grey walls moulder round, on which dull Time Feeds, like slow fire upon a hoary brand; And one keen pyramid with wedge sublime, Pavilioning the dust of him who planned This refuge for his memory, doth stand Like flame transformed to marble; and beneath A field is spread, on which a newer band Have pitched in heaven's smile their camp of death, Welcoming him we lose with scarce extinguished breath.
Here pause. These graves are all too young as yet To have outgrown the sorrow which consigned Its charge to each; and, if the seal is set
Here on one fountain of a mourning mind, Break it not thou! too surely shalt thou find Thine own well full, if thou returnest home, Of tears and gall. From the world's bitter wind Seek shelter in the shadow of the tomb.
What Adonais is why fear we to become?
The One remains, the many change and pass; Heaven's light for ever shines, earth's shadows fly; Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass,
Stains the white radiance of eternity,
Until Death tramples it to fragments.- Die,
If thou wouldst be with that which thou dost seek! Follow where all is fled !-Rome's azure sky, Flowers, ruins, statues, music,-words are weak The glory they transfuse with fitting truth to speak.
Why linger, why turn back, why shrink, my heart?
And man and woman; and what still is dear
The soft sky smiles, the low wind whispers near: 'Tis Adonais calls! Oh! hasten thither!
No more let life divide what death can join together.
That light whose smile kindles the universe,
That beauty in which all things work and move, That benediction which the eclipsing curse
Of birth can quench not, that sustaining Love Which, through the web of being blindly wove By man and beast and earth and air and sea,
Burns bright or dim, as each are mirrors of The fire for which all thirst, now beams on me, Consuming the last clouds of cold mortality.
The breath whose might I have invoked in song
Whilst, burning through the inmost veil of heaven,
Beacons from the abode where the Eternal are.
A LYRICAL DRAMA.
ΜΑΝΤΙΣ ΕΙΜ ̓ ΕΣΘΛΩΝ ΑΓΩΝΩΝ.
TO HIS EXCELLENCY
PRINCE ALEXANDER MAVROCORDATO,
LATE SECRETARY FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS TO THE HOSPODAR OF
THE DRAMA OF HELLAS IS INSCRIBED,
AS AN IMPERFECT TOKEN OF THE ADMIRATION, SYMPATHY,
AND FRIENDSHIP, OF THE AUTHOR.
PISA, November 1, 1821.
THE poem of Hellas, written at the suggestion of the events of the moment, is a mere improvise, and derives its interest (should it be found to possess any) solely from the intense sympathy which the author feels with the cause he would celebrate. The subject, in its present state, is insusceptible of being treated otherwise than lyrically; and, if I have called this poem a drama from the circumstance of its being composed in dialogue, the license is not greater than that which has been assumed by other poets who have called their productions epics only because they have been divided into twelve or twenty-four books.
The Perse of Eschylus afforded me the first model of my conception, although
the decision of the glorious contest now waging in Greece being yet suspended forbids a catastrophe parallel to the return of Xerxes and the desolation of the Persians. I have therefore contented myself with exhibiting a series of lyric pictures, and with having wrought upon the curtain of futurity, which falls upon the unfinished scene, such figures of indistinct and visionary delineation as suggest the final triumph of the Greek cause, as a portion of the cause of civilization and social improvement. The drama (if drama it must be called) is, however, so inartificial that I doubt whether, if recited on the Thespian waggon to an Athenian village at the Dionysiaca, it would have obtained the prize of the goat. I shall bear with equanimity any punishment, greater than the loss of such a reward, which the Aristarchi of the hour may think fit to inflict.
The only goat-song which I have yet attempted has, I confess, in spite of the unfavourable nature of the subject, received a greater and a more valuable portion of applause than I expected, or than it deserved.
Common fame is the only authority which I can allege for the details which form the basis of the poem, and I must trespass upon the forgiveness of my readers for the display of newspaper erudition to which I have been reduced. Undoubtedly, until the conclusion of the war, it will be impossible to obtain an account of it sufficiently authentic for historical materials; but poets have their privilege, and it is unquestionable that actions of the most exalted courage have been performed by the Greeks that they have gained more than one naval victory-and that their defeat in Wallachia was signalized by circumstances of heroism more glorious even than victory.
The apathy of the rulers of the civilized world to the astonishing circumstance of the descendants of that nation to which they owe their civilization rising as it were from the ashes of their ruin is something perfectly inexplicable to a mere spectator of the shows of this mortal scene. We are all Greeks. Our laws, our literature, our religion, our arts, have their root in Greece. But for Greece-Rome, the instructor, the conqueror, or the metropolis, of our ancestors, would have spread no illumination with her arms, and we might still have been savages and idolaters; or, what is worse, might have arrived at such a stagnant and miserable state of social institutions as China and Japan possess.
The human form and the human mind attained to a perfection in Greece which has impressed its image on those faultless productions whose very fragments are the despair of modern art; and has propagated impulses which cannot cease, through a thousand channels of manifest or imperceptible operation, to ennoble and delight mankind until the extinction of the race.
The modern Greek is the descendant of those glorious beings whom the imagination almost refuses to figure to itself as belonging to our kind; and he inherits much of their sensibility, their rapidity of conception, their enthusiasm, and their courage. If in many instances he is degraded by moral and political slavery to the practice of the basest vices it engenders, and that below the level of ordinary degradation; let us reflect that the corruption of the best produces the worst, and that habits which subsist only in relation to a peculiar state of social institution may be expected to cease as soon as that relation is dissolved. In fact, the Greeks, since the admirable novel of Anastatius could have been a faithful picture of their manners, have undergone most important changes; the flower of their youth, returning to their country from the universities of Italy, Germany, and France, have communicated to their fellow-citizens the latest results of that social perfection of which their ancestors were the original source. The university of Chios contained, before the breaking-out of the revolution, eight hundred students, and among them several Germans and Americans. The munificence and energy of many of the Greek princes and merchants, directed to the renovation of their country with a spirit and a wisdom which have few examples, are above all praise.
The English permit their own oppressors to act according to their natural sympathy with the Turkish tyrant, and to brand upon their name the indelible blot of an alliance with the enemies of domestic happiness, of Christianity, and civilization.
Russia desires to possess, not to liberate, Greece; and is contented to see the Turks, its natural enemies, and the Greeks, its intended slaves, enfeeble each other, until one or both fall into its net. The wise and generous policy of England would have consisted in establishing the independence of Greece, and in maintaining it both against Russia and the Turk;-but when was the oppressor generous or just?
The Spanish Peninsula is already free. France is tranquil in the enjoyment of a partial exemption from the abuses which its unnatural and feeble government is vainly attempting to revive. The seed of blood and misery has been sown in Italy, and a more vigorous race is arising to go forth to the harvest. The world waits only the news of a revolution of Germany, to see the tyrants who have pinnacled themselves on its supineness precipitated into the ruin from which they shall never arise. Well do these destroyers of mankind know their enemy, when they impute the insurrection in Greece to the same spirit before which they tremble throughout the rest of Europe; and that enemy well knows the power and the cunning of its opponents, and watches the moment of their approaching weakness and inevitable division, to wrest the bloody sceptres from their grasp.
AHASUERUS, a Jew.
CHORUS of Greek Captive Women. The Phantom of Mahomet the Second. Messengers, Slaves, and Attendants.
SCENE, a Terrace on the Seraglio.
MAHMUD, sleeping; an Indian Slave sitting beside his Couch.
CHORUS OF GREEK CAPTIVE WOMEN.
WE strew these opiate flowers
On thy restless pillow,
They were stripped from orient bowers,
By the Indian billow.
Be thy sleep
Calm and deep,
Like theirs who fell-not ours who weep!
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!