Images de page

In marble immortality, that hill

Which was thine earliest throne and latest oracle.


Within the surface of time's fleeting river
Its wrinkled image lies, as then it lay,
Immovably unquiet, and for ever

It trembles, but it cannot pass away.
The voices of thy bards and sages thunder
With an earth-awakening blast

Through the caverns of the past;

Religion veils her eyes, Oppression shrinks aghast :
A winged sound of joy and love and wonder,
Which soars where expectation never flew,
Rending the veil of space and time asunder.

One ocean feeds the clouds and streams and dew; One sun illumines heaven; one Spirit vast

With life and love makes chaos ever new ;As Athens doth the world with thy delight renew.


"Then Rome was, and from thy deep bosom fairest, Like a wolf-cub from a Cadmæan Mænad,

She drew the milk of greatness, though thy dearest From that elysian food was yet unweanèd ;

And many a deed of terrible uprightness

By thy sweet love was sanctified;

And in thy smile and by thy side

Saintly Camillus lived, and firm Attilius died.

But, when tears stained thy robe of vestal whiteness,
And gold profaned thy capitolian throne,

Thou didst desert, with spirit-winged lightness,
The senate of the tyrants: they sunk prone,

Slaves of one tyrant. Palatinus sighed
Faint echoes of Ionian song; that tone
Thou didst delay to hear, lamenting to disown.


"From what Hyrcanian glen or frozen hill, Or piny promontory of the Arctic main, Or utmost islet inaccessible,

Didst thou lament the ruin of thy reign,

Teaching the woods and waves, and desert rocks,

And every Naiad's ice-cold urn,

To talk in echoes sad and stern

Of that sublimest lore which man had dared unlearn?
For neither didst thou watch the wizard flocks

Of the Scald's dreams, nor haunt the Druid's sleep. What if the tears rained through thy shattered locks Were quickly dried? for thou didst groan, not weep, When from its sea of death, to kill and burn,

The Galilean serpent forth did creep,

And made thy world an undistinguishable heap.


"A thousand years the Earth cried 'Where art thou?' And then the shadow of thy coming fell

On Saxon Alfred's olive-cinctured brow:
And many a warrior-peopled citadel,
Like rocks which fire lifts out of the flat deep,
Arose in sacred Italy,

Frowning o'er the tempestuous sea

Of kings and priests and slaves, in tower-crowned majesty. That multitudinous anarchy did sweep

And burst around their walls like idle foam, Whilst from the human spirit's deepest deep Strange melody with love and awe struck dumb Dissonant arms; and Art, which cannot die,

With divine wand traced on our earthly home Fit imagery to pave heaven's everlasting dome.


"Thou Huntress swifter than the Moon! thou terror Of the world's wolves! thou bearer of the quiver Whose sunlike shafts pierce tempest-winged Error, As light may pierce the clouds when they dissever In the calm regions of the orient day!

Luther caught thy wakening glance:

Like lightning from his leaden lance Reflected, it dissolved the visions of the trance

In which, as in a tomb, the nations lay;

And England's prophets hailed thee as their queen,

In songs whose music cannot pass away

Though it must flow for ever. Not unseen,

Before the spirit-sighted countenance

Of Milton, didst thou pass from the sad scene Beyond whose night he saw, with a dejected mien.


"The eager Hours and unreluctant Years

As on a dawn-illumined mountain stood, Trampling to silence their loud hopes and fears, Darkening each other with their multitude,— And cried aloud "Liberty!" Indignation Answered Pity from her cave;

Death grew pale within the grave,

And Desolation howled to the destroyer "Save!"
When, like heaven's sun girt by the exhalation
Of its own glorious light, thou didst arise,
Chasing thy foes from nation unto nation

Like shadows: as if day had cloven the skies
At dreaming midnight o'er the western wave,
Men started, staggering with a glad surprise,
Under the lightnings of thine unfamiliar eyes.


"Thou heaven of earth! what spells could pall thee then In ominous eclipse? A thousand years

Bred from the slime of deep Oppression's den

Dyed all thy liquid light with blood and tears,
Till thy sweet stars could weep the stain away.
How, like Bacchanals of blood,

Round France, the ghastly vintage, stood
Destruction's sceptred slaves, and Folly's mitred brood!
When one, like them, but mightier far than they,
The Anarch of thine own bewildered powers,

Rose: armies mingled in obscure array,

Like clouds with clouds darkening the sacred bowers Of serene heaven. He, by the past pursued,

Rests with those dead but unforgotten hours

Whose ghosts scare victor kings in their ancestral towers.


"England yet sleeps: was she not called of old? Spain calls her now,-as with its thrilling thunder Vesuvius wakens Ætna, and the cold

Snow-crags by its reply are cloven in sunder:

O'er the lit waves every Æolian isle

From Pithecusa to Pelorus

Howls and leaps and glares in chorus:

They cry, 'Be dim, ye lamps of heaven suspended o'er us!' Her chains are threads of gold,-she need but smile,

And they dissolve; but Spain's were links of steel, Till bit to dust by virtue's keenest file.

Twins of a single destiny! appeal

To the eternal years enthroned before us

In the dim West! Impress us from a seal,

All ye have thought and done! Time cannot dare conceal.


"Tomb of Arminius! render up thy dead,

Till, like a standard from a watch-tower's staff,
His soul may stream over the tyrant's head!
Thy victory shall be his epitaph!

Wild Bacchanal of truth's mysterious wine,
King-deluded Germany,

His dead spirit lives in thee!

Why do we fear or hope? Thou art already free!—
And thou, lost paradise of this divine

And glorious world! thou flowery wilderness!
Thou island of eternity! thou shrine

Where Desolation, clothed with loveliness, Worships the thing thou wert! O Italy,

Gather thy blood into thy heart; repress

The beasts who make their dens thy sacred palaces!


"Oh that the free would stamp the impious name

Of 'King' into the dust; or write it there,

So that this blot upon the page of fame

Were as a serpent's path which the light air Erases, and the flat sands close behind!

Ye the oracle have heard:

Lift the victory-flashing sword,

And cut the snaky knots of this foul gordian word,
Which, weak itself as stubble, yet can bind
Into a mass irrefragably firm

The axes and the rods which awe mankind.
The sound has poison in it; 'tis the sperm
Of what makes life foul, cankerous, and abhorred.
Disdain not Thou, at thine appointed term,
To set thine armèd heel on this reluctant worm.


"Oh that the wise from their bright minds would kindle

Such lamps within the dome of this dim world

That the pale name of Priest might shrink and dwindle
Into the hell from which it first was hurled,
A scoff of impious pride from fiends impure!
Till human thoughts might kneel alone,
Each before the judgment-throne

Of its own aweless soul, or of the Power unknown.
Oh that the words which make the thoughts obscure
From which they spring, as clouds of glimmering dew
From a white lake blot heaven's blue portraiture,

Were stripped of their thin masks and various hue,
And frowns and smiles and splendours not their own,
Till in the nakedness of false and true

They stand before their lord, each to receive its due!


"He who taught man to vanquish whatsoever

Can be between the cradle and the grave

Crowned him the King of Life. Oh vain endeavour,
If on his own high will, a willing slave,

He has enthroned the oppression and the oppressor!
What if earth can clothe and feed

Amplest millions at their need,

And power in thought be as the tree within the seed,—
Or what if Art, an ardent intercessor,

Diving on fiery wings to Nature's throne,
Checks the great Mother stooping to caress her,
And cries, 'Give me, thy child, dominion

Over all height and depth'-if Life can breed

New wants, and Wealth, from those who toil and groan,

Rend, of thy gifts and hers, a thousandfold for one?


"Come Thou! But lead out of the inmost cave Of man's deep spirit-as the morning star Beckons the Sun from the Eoan wave

Wisdom. I hear the pennons of her car, Self-moving, like cloud charioted by flame! Comes she not? And come ye not,

Rulers of eternal thought,

To judge with solemn truth Life's ill-apportioned lot,-
Blind Love, and equal Justice, and the Fame

Of what has been, the Hope of what will be?
O Liberty-(if such could be thy name

« PrécédentContinuer »