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In marble immortality, that hill
Which was thine earliest throne and latest oracle.
Within the surface of time's fleeting river
It trembles, but it cannot pass away.
Through the caverns of the past;
Religion veils her eyes, Oppression shrinks aghast :
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,
Thou didst desert, with spirit-winged lightness,
Slaves of one tyrant. Palatinus sighed
"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?
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:
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!"
Like shadows: as if day had cloven the skies
"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,
Round France, the ghastly vintage, stood
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,
Wild Bacchanal of truth's mysterious wine,
His dead spirit lives in thee!
Why do we fear or hope? Thou art already free!—
And glorious world! thou flowery wilderness!
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,
The axes and the rods which awe mankind.
"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
Of its own aweless soul, or of the Power unknown.
Were stripped of their thin masks and various hue,
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,
He has enthroned the oppression and the oppressor!
Amplest millions at their need,
And power in thought be as the tree within the seed,—
Diving on fiery wings to Nature's throne,
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,-
Of what has been, the Hope of what will be?