Slike strani

Doth, as the herald of its coming, bear

The ghost of its dead mother, whose dim frown
Bends in dark ether from her infant's chair,--
So came a chariot on the silent storm
Of its own rushing splendour, and a Shape
So sate within, as one whom years deform,

Beneath a dusky hood and double cape,
Crouching within the shadow of a tomb,
And o'er what seem'd the head a cloud-like crape
Was bent,a dun and faint ethereal gloom
Tempering the light upon the chariot beam;
A Janus-visaged shadow did assume

The guidance of that wonder-winged team;
The shapes which drew [it] in thick lightnings
Were lost-I heard alone on the air's soft stream
The music of their ever-moving wings.

All the four faces of that charioteer

Had their eyes banded; little profit brings

Speed in the van and blindness in the rear,
Nor then avail the beams that quench the sun
Or that with banded eyes could pierce the sphere

Of all that is, has been, or will be done;
So ill was the car guided-but it past
With solemn speed majestically on.

The crowd gave way, and I arose aghast,
Or seem'd to rise, so mighty was the trance,
And saw, like clouds upon the thunder's blast,
The million with fierce song and maniac dance
Raging around-such seem'd the jubilee
As when to meet some conqueror's advance

Imperial Rome pour'd forth her living sea
From senate house, and forum, and theatre,
When [
] upon the free

Had bound a yoke, which soon they stoop'd to bear.
Nor wanted here the just similitude
Of a triumphal pageant, for where'er

The chariot roll'd, a captive multitude

Was driven;-all those who had grown old in power
Or misery, all who had their age subdued

By action or by suffering, and whose hour
Was drain'd to its last sand in weal or woe,

So that the trunk survived both fruit and flower;-
All those whose fame or infamy must grow
Till the great winter lay the form and name
Of this green earth with them for ever low;-
All but the sacred few who could not tame
Their spirits to the conquerors—but as soon
As they had touch'd the world with living flame,
Fled back like eagles to their native noon,
Or those who put aside the diadem
Of earthly thrones or gems [

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Were there, of Athens or Jerusalem,
Were neither mid the mighty captives seen,
Nor mid the ribald crowd that follow'd them,
Nor those who went before fierce and obscene.
The wild dance maddens in the van, and those
Who lead it-fleet as shadows on the green,

Outspeed the chariot, and without repose
Mix with each other in tempestuous measure
To savage music, wilder as it grows,

They, tortured by their agonizing pleasure,
Convulsed and on the rapid whirlwinds spun
Of that fierce spirit, whose unholy leisure

Was soothed by mischief since the world begun,
Throw back their heads and loose their streaming hair ;
And in their dance round her who dims the sun,

Maidens and youths fling their wild arms in air
As their feet twinkle; they recede, and now,
Bending within each other's atmosphere,
Kindle invisibly-and as they glow,
Like moths by light attracted and repell'd,
Oft to their bright destruction come and go,
Till like two clouds into one vale impell'd
That shake the mountains when their lightnings mingle
And die in rain-the fiery band which held
Their natures, snaps-the shock still may tingle;
One falls and then another in the path
Senseless-nor is the desolation single,

Yet ere I can say where-the chariot hath
Past over them-nor other trace I find
But as of foam after the ocean's wrath

Is spent upon the desert shore ;—behind,
Old men and women foully disarray'd,
Shake their grey hairs in the insulting wind,

To seek, to [ ], to strain with limbs decay'd,
Limping to reach the light which leaves them still
Farther behind and deeper in the shade.

But not the less with impotence of will
They wheel, though ghastly shadows interpose,
Round them and round each other, and fulfil

Their work, and in the dust from whence they rose
Sink, and corruption veils them as they lie,

And past in these performs what [

] in those.

Struck to the heart by this sad pageantry,
Half to myself I said-And what is this?
Whose shape is that within the car? And why
I would have added-is all here amiss ?-
But a voice answer'd-"Life !"-I turn'd, and knew
Oh Heaven, have mercy on such wretchedness!)

That what I thought was an old root which grew
To strange distortion out of the hill side,
Was indeed one of those deluded crew,

And that the grass, which methought hung so wide
And white, was but his thin discolour'd hair,
And that the holes it vainly sought to hide,

Were or had been eyes :-" If thou canst, forbear
To join the dance, which I had well forborne !"
Said the grim Feature of my thought: "Aware,
"I will unfold that which to this deep scorn
Led me and my companions, and relate
The progress of the pageant since the morn;
"If thirst of knowledge shall not then abate,
Follow it thou even to the night, but I

Am weary." Then like one who with the weight
Of his own words is stagger'd, wearily

He paused; and ere he could resume, I cried:
First, who art thou?"-" Before thy memory,


"I fear'd, loved, hated, suffer'd, did and died,
And if the spark with which Heaven lit my spirit
Had been with purer sentiment supplied,

16 Corruption would not now thus much inherit
Of what was once Rousseau, -nor this disguise
Stain'd that which ought to have disdain'd to wear it;

"If I have been extinguish'd, yet there rise

A thousand beacons from the spark I bore —"

"And who are those chain'd to the car?"-" The wise,

"The great, the unforgotten,-they who wore Mitres and helms and crowns, or wreaths of light, Signs of thought's empire over thought-their lore

"Taught them not this, to know themselves; their might Could not repress the mystery within,

And for the morn of truth they feign'd, deep night

"Caught them ere evening."—" Who is he with chin
Upon his breast, and hands crost on his chain ?"--
"The Child of a fierce hour; he sought to win
"The world, and lost all that it did contain
Of greatness, in its hope destroy'd; and more
Of fame and peace than virtue's self can gain
"Without the opportunity which bore

Him on its eagle pinions to the peak
From which a thousand climbers have before
"Fall'n, as Napoleon fell."-I felt my cheek
Alter, to see the shadow pass away
Whose grasp had left the giant world so weak,
That every pigmy kick'd it as it lay;

And much I grieved to think how power and will
In opposition rule our mortal day,

And why God made irreconcileable

Good and the means of good; and for despair
I half disdain'd mine eyes' desire to fill

With the spent vision of the times that were
And scarce have ceased to be.-" Dost thou behold,"
Said my guide, "those spoilers spoil'd, Voltaire,

Frederic, and Paul, Catherine, and Leopold, And hoary anarchs, demagogues, and sagename the world thinks always old,

"For in the battle, life and they did wage,
She remain'd conqueror. I was overcome
By my own heart alone, which neither age,
"Nor tears, nor infamy, nor now the tomb
Could temper to its object."-" Let them pass,"
I cried, "the world and its mysterious doom
"Is not so much more glorious than it was,
That I desire to worship those who drew
New figures on its false and fragile glass

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