O'er earth, the whole, or portion, or a sign
Which shall control the elements, whereof
We are the dominators, each and all,

These shall be thine.

[ocr errors]


Oblivion, self-oblivion Can ye not wring from out the hidden realms Ye offer so profusely what I ask?

Spirit. It is not in our essence, in our skill; But-thou mayst die.


Will death bestow it on me?

Spirit. We are immortal, and do not forget; We are eternal; and to us the past

Is, as the future, present. Art thou answer'd?

Man. Ye mock me- - but the power which brought ye



Hath made you mine. Slaves, scoff not at
The mind, the spirit, the Promethean spark,
The lightning of my being, is as bright,
Pervading, and far-darting as your own,

And shall not yield to yours, though coop'd in clay!
Answer, or I will teach what I am.


Spirit. We answer as we answer'd; our reply Is even in thine own words.


Why say ye so?

Spirit. If, as thou say'st, thine essence be as ours
We have replied in telling thee, the thing
Mortals call death hath nought to do with us.

Man. I then have call'd ye from your realms in vain ; Ye cannot, or ye will not, aid me.



What we possess we offer; it is thine :
Bethink ere thou dismiss us, ask again


Kingdom, and sway, and strength, and length of days Man. Accursed! what have I to do with days?

They are too long already. Hence - begone!

Spirit. Yet pause: being here, our will would do thee


Bethink thee, is there then no other gift

Which we can make not worthless in thine eyes?

Man. No, none: yet stay one moment, ere we part – I would behold ye face to face. I hear Your voices, sweet and melancholy sounds, As music on the waters; and I see

The steady aspect of a clear large star;
But nothing more. Approach me as ye are,
Or one, or all, in your accustom'd forms.

Spirit. We have no forms, beyond the elements
Of which we are the mind and principle :
But choose a form in that we will appear.

Man. I have no choice; there is no form on earth
Hideous or beautiful to me. Let him,

Who is most powerful of ye, take such aspect
As unto him may seem most fitting- Come!
Seventh Spirit. (Appearing in the shape of a beautiful
female figure.) Behold!

Man. Oh God! if it be thus, and thou
Art not a madness and a mockery,
I yet might be most happy.
And we again will be

[ocr errors]

I will clasp thee,

[The figure vanishes. My heart is crush'd! [MANFRED falls senseless.

(A voice is heard in the Incantation which follows.)

When the moon is on the wave,
And the glow-worm in the grass,
And the meteor on the grave,

And the wisp on the morass;
When the falling stars are shooting,
And the answer'd owls are hooting,
And the silent leaves are still
In the shadow of the hill,
Shall my soul be upon thine,
With a power and with a sign.

Though thy slumber may be deep,
Yet thy spirit shall not sleep;
There are shades which will not vanish,
There are thoughts thou canst not banish;
By a power to thee unknown,

Thou canst never be alone;
Thou art wrapt as with a shroud,
Thou art gather'd in a cloud;
And for ever shalt thou dwell
In the spirit of this spell.

Though thou seest me not pass by,
Thou shalt feel me with thine eye
As a thing that, though unseen,
Must be near thee, and hath been;
And when in that secret dread
Thou hast turn'd around thy head,

Thou shalt marvel I am not
As thy shadow on the spot,
And the power which thou dost feel
Shall be what thou must conceal.

And a magic voice and verse
Hath baptized thee with a curse;
And a spirit of the air
Hath begirt thee with a snare;
In the wind there is a voice
Shall forbid thee to rejoice;
And to thee shall Night deny
All the quiet of her sky;
And the day shall have a sun,
Which shall make thee wish it done.

From thy false tears I did distil
An essence which hath strength to kill ;
From thy own heart I then did wring
The black blood in its blackest spring;
From thy own smile I snatch'd the snake,
For there it coil'd as in a brake;
From thy own lip I drew the charm
Which gave all these their chiefest harm;
In proving every poison known,
I found the strongest was thine own.

By thy cold breast and serpent smile,
By thy unfathom'd gulfs of guile,
By that most seeming virtuous eye,
By thy shut soul's hypocrisy ;
By the perfection of thine art
Which pass'd for human thine own heart;
By thy delight in others' pain,
And by thy brotherhood of Cain,
I call upon thee! and compel
Thyself to be thy proper Hell!

And on thy head I pour the vial
Which doth devote thee to this trial
Nor to slumber, nor to die,
Shall be in thy destiny;

Though thy death shall still seem near
To thy wish, but as a fear;

Lo! the spell now works around thee,
And the clankless chain hath bound thee;
O'er thy heart and brain together
Hath the word been pass'd ·


now wither!


The Mountain of the Jungfrau.-Time, Morning. — MANFRED alone upon the Cliffs.

Man. The spirits I have raised abandon me The spells which I have studied baffle me —

The remedy I reck'd of tortured me ;

I lean no more on super-human aid,
It hath no power upon the past, and for

The future, till the past be gulf'd in darkness,
It is not of my search. My mother Earth!
And thou fresh breaking Day, and you, ye Mountains,
Why are ye beautiful? I cannot love ye.
And thou, the bright eye of the universe,
That openest over all, and unto all

Art a delight thou shin'st not on my heart.
And you, ye crags, upon whose extreme edge
I stand, and on the torrent's brink beneath
Behold the tall pines dwindled as to shrubs
In dizziness of distance; when a leap,
A stir, a motion, even a breath, would bring
My breast upon its rocky bosom's bed
To rest for ever wherefore do I pause?
I feel the impulse-yet I do not plunge;
I see the peril yet do not recede

[ocr errors]

And brain reels
and yet my foot is firm :
There is a power upon me which withholds,
And makes it my fatality to live;
If it be life to wear within myself
This barrenness of spirit, and to be
My own soul's sepulchre, for I have ceased
To justify my deeds unto myself—
The last infirmity of evil. Ay,
Thou winged and cloud-cleaving minister,

[An eagle passes.

Whose happy flight is highest into heaven,
Well may'st thou swoop so near me - I should be
Thy prey, and gorge thine eaglets; thou art gone
Where the eye cannot follow thee; but thine
Yet pierces downward, onward, or above,


With a pervading vision.
How beautiful is all this visible world!
How glorious in its action and itself!

But we, who name ourselves its sovereigns, we,
Half dust, half deity, alike unfit

To sink or soar, with mix'd essence make
A conflict of its elements, and breathe
The breath of degradation and of pride,
Contending with low wants and lofty will,
Till our mortality predominates,

And men are what they name not to themselves,
And trust not to each other. Hark! the note,

[The Shepherd's pipe in the distance is heard
The natural music of the mountain reed-
For here the patriarchal days are not
A pastoral fable-pipes in the liberal air,
Mix'd with the sweet bells of the sauntering herd
My soul would drink those echoes. — Oh, that I were
The viewless spirit of a lovely sound,
A living voice, a breathing harmony,
A bodiless enjoyment-born and dying
With the blest tone which made me !


Enter from below a CHAMOIS Hunter.
Chamois Hunter.

Even so

This way the chamois leapt her nimble feet
Have baffled me; my gains to-day will scarce
Repay my break-neck travail. - What is here?
Who seems not of my trade, and yet hath reach'd
A height which none even of our mountaineers,
Save our best hunters, may attain: his garb
Is goodly, his mien manly, and his air
Proud as a free-born peasant's, at this distance ·
I will approach him nearer.

Man. (not perceiving the other.) To be thus
Gray-hair'd with anguish, like these blasted pines,
Wrecks of a single winter, barkless, branchless,
A blighted trunk upon a cursed root,
Which but supplies a feeling to decay-
And to be thus, eternally but thus,
Having been otherwise! Now furrow'd o'er
With wrinkles, plough'd by moments, not by years
And hours - all tortured into ages — hours
Which I outlive! · Ye toppling crags of ice!
Ye avalanches, whom a breath draws down

« VorigeDoorgaan »