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Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage


Canto the Third


I
Is thy face like thy mother’s, my fair child!
ADA! sole daughter of my house and heart?
When last I saw thy young blue eyes they smil’d,
And then we parted — not as now we part,
But with a hope. —
Awaking with a start,
The waters heave around me; and on high
The winds lift up their voices: I depart,
Whither I know not; but the hour’s gone by,
When Albion’s lessening shores could grieve or glad mine eye.


II
Once more upon the waters! yet once more!
And the waves bound beneath me as a steed
That knows his rider. Welcome to their roar!
Swift be their guidance, wheresoe’er it lead!
Though the strain’d mast should quiver as a reed,
And the rent canvas fluttering strew the gale,
Still must I on; for I am as a weed,
Flung from the rock, on Ocean’s foam to sail
Where’er the surge may sweep, the tempest’s breath prevail.


III
In my youth’s summer I did sing of One,
The wandering outlaw of his own dark mind;
Again I seize the theme, then but begun,
And bear it with me, as the rushing wind
Bears the cloud onwards: in that Tale I find
The furrows of long thought, and dried-up tears,
Which, ebbing, leave a sterile track behind,
O’er which all heavily the journeying years
Plod the last sands of life — where not a flower appears.


IV
Since my young days of passion — joy, or pain —
Perchance my heart and harp have lost a string,
And both may jar: it may be, that in vain
I would essay as I have sung to sing.
Yet, though a dreary strain, to this I cling;
So that it wean me from the weary dream
Of selfish grief or gladness — so it fling
Forgetfulness around me — it shall seem
To me, though to none else, a not ungrateful theme.


V
He, who grown aged in this world of woe,
In deeds, not years, piercing the depths of life,
So that no wonder waits him; nor below
Can love or sorrow, fame, ambition, strife,
Cut to his heart again with the keen knife
Of silent, sharp endurance: he can tell
Why thought seeks refuge in lone caves, yet rife
With airy images, and shapes which dwell
Still unimpair’d, though old, in the soul’s haunted cell.


VI
‘Tis to create, and in creating live
A being more intense, that we endow
With form our fancy, gaining as we give
The life we image, even as I do now.
What am I? Nothing: but not so art thou,
Soul of my thought! with whom I traverse earth,
Invisible but gazing, as I glow
Mix’d with thy spirit, blended with thy birth,
And feeling still with thee in my crush’d feelings’ dearth.


VII
Yet must I think less wildly: I have thought
Too long and darkly, till my brain became,
In its own eddy boiling and o’er-wrought,
A whirling gulf of fantasy and flame:
And thus, untaught in youth my heart to tame,
My springs of life were poison’d. ‘Tis too late!
Yet am I chang’d; though still enough the same
In strength to bear what time cannot abate,
And feed on bitter fruits without accusing Fate.


VIII
Something too much of this — but now ’tis past,
And the spell closes with its silent seal.
Long absent HAROLD re-appears at last;
He of the breast which fain no more would feel,
Wrung with the wounds which kill not, but ne’er heal,
Yet Time, who changes all, had alter’d him
In soul and aspect as in age: years steal
Fire from the mind as vigour from the limb;
And life’s enchanted cup but sparkles near the brim.


IX
His had been quaff’d too quickly, and he found
The dregs were wormwood; but he fill’d again,
And from a purer fount, on holier ground,
And deem’d its spring perpetual; but in vain!
Still round him clung invisibly a chain
Which gall’d for ever, fettering though unseen,
And heavy though it clank’d not; worn with pain,
Which pin’d although it spoke not, and grew keen,
Entering with every step he took through many a scene.


X
Secure in guarded coldness, he had mix’d
Again in fancied safety with his kind,
And deem’d his spirit now so firmly fix’d
And sheath’d with an invulnerable mind,
That, if no joy, no sorrow lurk’d behind;
And he, as one, might ‘midst the many stand
Unheeded, searching through the crowd to find
Fit speculation; such as in strange land
He found in wonder-works of God and Nature’s hand.


XI
But who can view the ripen’d rose, nor seek
To wear it? who can curiously behold
The smoothness and the sheen of beauty’s cheek,
Nor feel the heart can never all grow old?
Who can contemplate Fame through clouds unfold
The star which rises o’er her steep, nor climb?
Harold, once more within the vortex, roll’d
On with the giddy circle, chasing Time,
Yet with a nobler aim than in his youth’s fond prime.


XII
But soon he knew himself the most unfit
Of men to herd with Man; with whom he held
Little in common; untaught to submit
His thoughts to others, though his soul was quell’d
In youth by his own thoughts; still uncompell’d,
He would not yield dominion of his mind
To spirits against whom his own rebell’d;
Proud though in desolation; which could find
A life within itself, to breathe without mankind.


XIII
Where rose the mountains, there to him were friends;
Where roll’d the ocean, thereon was his home;
Where a blue sky, and glowing clime, extends,
He had the passion and the power to roam;
The desert, forest, cavern, breaker’s foam,
Were unto him companionship; they spake
A mutual language, clearer than the tome
Of his land’s tongue, which he would oft forsake
For Nature’s pages glass’d by sunbeams on the lake.


XIV
Like the Chaldean, he could watch the stars,
Till he had peopled them with beings bright
As their own beams; and earth, and earthborn jars,
And human frailties, were forgotten quite:
Could he have kept his spirit to that flight
He had been happy; but this clay will sink
Its spark immortal, envying it the light
To which it mounts, as if to break the link
That keeps us from yon heaven which woos us to its brink.


XV
But in Man’s dwellings he became a thing
Restless and worn, and stern and wearisome,
Droop’d as a wild-born falcon with clipp’d wing,
To whom the boundless air alone were home:
Then came his fit again, which to o’ercome,
As eagerly the barr’d-up bird will beat
His breast and beak against his wiry dome
Till the blood tinge his plumage, so the heat
Of his impeded soul would through his bosom eat.


XVI
Self-exil’d Harold wanders forth again,
With nought of hope left, but with less of gloom;
The very knowledge that he lived in vain,
That all was over on this side the tomb,
Had made Despair a smilingness assume,
Which, though ’twere wild — as on the plunder’d wreck
When mariners would madly meet their doom
With draughts intemperate on the sinking deck — ,
Did yet inspire a cheer, which he forbore to check.


XVII
Stop! — for thy tread is on an Empire’s dust!
An Earthquake’s spoil is sepulchred below!
Is the spot mark’d with no colossal bust?
Nor column trophied for triumphal show?
None; but the moral’s truth tells simpler so:
As the ground was before, thus let it be;
How that red rain hath made the harvest grow!
And is this all the world has gain’d by thee,
Thou first and last of fields! king-making Victory?


XVIII
And Harold stands upon this place of skulls,
The grave of France, the deadly Waterloo!
How in an hour the power which gave annuls
Its gifts, transferring fame as fleeting too!
In “pride of place” here last the Eagle flew,
Then tore with bloody talon the rent plain,
Pierc’d by the shaft of banded nations through;
Ambition’s life and labours all were vain;
He wears the shatter’d links of the world’s broken chain.


XIX
Fit retribution! Gaul may champ the bit
And foam in fetters — but is Earth more free?
Did nations combat to make One submit;
Or league to teach all kings true sovereignty?
What! shall reviving Thraldom again be
The patch’d-up idol of enlighten’d days?
Shall we, who struck the Lion down, shall we
Pay the Wolf homage? proffering lowly gaze
And servile knees to thrones? No; prove before ye praise!


XX
If not, o’er one fallen despot boast no more!
In vain fair cheeks were furrow’d with hot tears
For Europe’s flowers long rooted up before
The trampler of her vineyards; in vain years
Of death, depopulation, bondage, fears,
Have all been borne, and broken by the accord
Of rous’d-up millions; all that most endears
Glory, is when the myrtle wreathes a sword
Such as Harmodius drew on Athens’ tyrant lord.


XXI
There was a sound of revelry by night,
And Belgium’s capital had gather’d then
Her Beauty and her Chivalry, and bright
The lamps shone o’er fair women and brave men;
A thousand hearts beat happily; and when
Music arose with its voluptuous swell,
Soft eyes look’d love to eyes which spake again,
And all went merry as a marriage bell;
But hush! hark! a deep sound strikes like a rising knell!


XXII
Did ye not hear it? — No; ’twas but the wind,
Or the car rattling o’er the stony street;
On with the dance! let joy be unconfin’d;
No sleep till morn, when Youth and Pleasure meet
To chase the glowing Hours with flying feet —
But hark! — that heavy sound breaks in once more,
As if the clouds its echo would repeat;
And nearer, clearer, deadlier than before!
Arm! Arm! it is — it is — the cannon’s opening roar!


XXIII
Within a window’d niche of that high hall
Sate Brunswick’s fated chieftain; he did hear
That sound the first amidst the festival,
And caught its tone with Death’s prophetic ear;
And when they smil’d because he deem’d it near,
His heart more truly knew that peal too well
Which stretch’d his father on a bloody bier,
And rous’d the vengeance blood alone could quell:
He rush’d into the field, and, foremost fighting, fell.


XXIV
Ah! then and there was hurrying to and fro,
And gathering tears, and tremblings of distress,
And cheeks all pale, which but an hour ago
Blush’d at the praise of their own loveliness;
And there were sudden partings, such as press
The life from out young hearts, and choking sighs
Which ne’er might be repeated; who could guess
If ever more should meet those mutual eyes,
Since upon night so sweet such awful morn could rise!


XXV
And there was mounting in hot haste: the steed,
The mustering squadron, and the clattering car,
Went pouring forward with impetuous speed,
And swiftly forming in the ranks of war;
And the deep thunder peal on peal afar;
And near, the beat of the alarming drum
Rous’d up the soldier ere the morning star;
While throng’d the citizens with terror dumb,
Or whispering, with white lips — “The foe! they come! they come!’


XXVI
And wild and high the “Cameron’s gathering” rose!
The war-note of Lochiel, which Albyn’s hills
Have heard, and heard, too, have her Saxon foes.
How in the noon of night that pibroch thrills,
Savage and shrill! But with the breath which fills
Their mountain-pipe, so fill the mountaineers
With the fierce native daring which instils
The stirring memory of a thousand years,
And Evan’s, Donald’s fame rings in each clansman’s ears!


XXVII
And Ardennes waves above them her green leaves,
Dewy with nature’s tear-drops as they pass,
Grieving, if aught inanimate e’er grieves,
Over the unreturning brave — alas!
Ere evening to be trodden like the grass
Which now beneath them, but above shall grow
In its next verdure, when this fiery mass
Of living valour, rolling on the foe
And burning with high hope, shall moulder cold and low.


XXVIII
Last noon beheld them full of lusty life,
Last eve in Beauty’s circle proudly gay,
The midnight brought the signal-sound of strife,
The morn the marshalling in arms, the day
Battle’s magnificently stern array!
The thunder-clouds close o’er it, which when rent
The earth is cover’d thick with other clay,
Which her own clay shall cover, heap’d and pent,
Rider and horse — friend, foe — in one red burial blent!


XXIX
Their praise is hymn’d by loftier harps than mine:
Yet one I would select from that proud throng,
Partly because they blend me with his line,
And partly that I did his sire some wrong,
And partly that bright names will hallow song;
And his was of the bravest, and when shower’d
The death-bolts deadliest the thinn’d files along,
Even where the thickest of war’s tempest lower’d,
They reach’d no nobler breast than thine, young gallant Howard!


XXX
There have been tears and breaking hearts for thee,
And mine were nothing had I such to give;
But when I stood beneath the fresh green tree,
Which living waves where thou didst cease to live,
And saw around me the wide field revive
With fruits and fertile promise, and the Spring
Came forth her work of gladness to contrive,
With all her reckless birds upon the wing,
I turn’d from all she brought to those she could not bring.


XXXI
I turn’d to thee, to thousands, of whom each
And one as all a ghastly gap did make
In his own kind and kindred, whom to teach
Forgetfulness were mercy for their sake;
The Archangel’s trump, not Glory’s, must awake
Those whom they thirst for; though the sound of Fame
May for a moment soothe, it cannot slake
The fever of vain longing, and the name
So honour’d but assumes a stronger, bitterer claim.


XXXII
They mourn, but smile at length; and, smiling, mourn;
The tree will whither long before it fall;
The hull drives on, though mast and sail be torn;
The roof-tree sinks, but moulders on the hall
In massy hoariness; the ruin’d wall
Stands when its wind-worn battlements are gone;
The bars survive the captive they enthral;
The day drags through, though storms keep out the sun;
And thus the heart will break, yet brokenly live on


XXXIII
Even as a broken mirror, which the glass
In every fragment multiplies; and makes
A thousand images of one that was,
The same, and still the more, the more it breaks;
And thus the heart will do which not forsakes,
Living in shatter’d guise; and still, and cold,
And bloodless, with its sleepless sorrow aches,
Yet withers on till all without is old,
Showing no visible sign, for such things are untold.


XXXIV
There is a very life in our despair,
Vitality of poison, — a quick root
Which feeds these deadly branches; for it were
As nothing did we die; but Life will suit
Itself to Sorrow’s most detested fruit,
Like to the apples on the Dead Sea’s shore,
All ashes to the taste: Did man compute
Existence by enjoyment, and count o’er
Such hours ‘gainst years of life, — say, would he name threescore?


XXXV
The Psalmist number’d out the years of man:
They are enough: and if thy tale be true,
Thou, who didst grudge him even that fleeting span,
More than enough, thou fatal Waterloo!
Millions of tongues record thee, and anew
Their children’s lips shall echo them, and say —
‘Here, where the sword united nations drew,
Our countrymen were warring on that day!’
And this is much, and all which will not pass away.


XXXVI
There sunk the greatest, nor the worst of men,
Whose spirit, antithetically mixt,
One moment of the mightiest, and again
On little objects with like firmness fixt;
Extreme in all things! hadst thou been betwixt,
Thy throne had still been thine, or never been;
For daring made thy rise as fall: thou seek’st
Even now to re-assume the imperial mien,
And shake again the world, the Thunderer of the scene!


XXXVII
Conqueror and captive of the earth art thou!
She trembles at thee still, and thy wild name
Was ne’er more bruited in men’s minds than now
That thou art nothing, save the jest of Fame,
Who woo’d thee once, thy vassal, and became
The flatterer of thy fierceness, till thou wert
A god unto thyself; nor less the same
To the astounded kingdoms all inert,
Who deem’d thee for a time whate’er thou didst assert.


XXXVIII
Oh, more or less than man — in high or low,
Battling with nations, flying from the field;
Now making monarchs’ necks thy footstool, now
More than thy meanest soldier taught to yield;
An empire thou couldst crush, command, rebuild,
But govern not thy pettiest passion, nor,
However deeply in men’s spirits skill’d,
Look through thine own, nor curb the lust of war,
Nor learn that tempted Fate will leave the loftiest star.


XXXIX
Yet well thy soul hath brook’d the turning tide
With that untaught innate philosophy,
Which, be it wisdom, coldness, or deep pride,
Is gall and wormwood to an enemy.
When the whole host of hatred stood hard by,
To watch and mock thee shrinking, thou hast smil’d
With a sedate and all-enduring eye;
When Fortune fled her spoil’d and favourite child,
He stood unbow’d beneath the ills upon him pil’d.


XL
Sager than in thy fortunes; for in them
Ambition steel’d thee on too far to show
That just habitual scorn, which could contemn
Men and their thoughts; ’twas wise to feel, not so
To wear it ever on thy lip and brow,
And spurn the instruments thou wert to use
Till they were turn’d unto thine overthrow;
‘Tis but a worthless world to win or lose;
So hath it prov’d to thee, and all such lot who choose.


XLI
If, like a tower upon a headland rock,
Thou hadst been made to stand or fall alone,
Such scorn of man had help’d to brave the shock;
But men’s thoughts were the steps which pav’d thy throne,
Their admiration thy best weapon shone;
The part of Philip’s son was thine, not then
(Unless aside thy purple had been thrown)
Like stern Diogenes to mock at men;
For sceptred cynics earth were far too wide a den.


XLII
But quiet to quick bosoms is a hell,
And there hath been thy bane; there is a fire
And motion of the soul which will not dwell
In its own narrow being, but aspire
Beyond the fitting medium of desire;
And, but once kindled, quenchless evermore,
Preys upon high adventure, nor can tire
Of aught but rest; a fever at the core,
Fatal to him who bears, to all who ever bore.


XLIII
This makes the madmen who have made men mad
By their contagion; Conquerors and Kings,
Founders of sects and systems, to whom add
Sophists, Bards, Statesmen, all unquiet things
Which stir too strongly the soul’s secret springs,
And are themselves the fools to those they fool;
Envied, yet how unenviable! what stings
Are theirs! One breast laid open were a school
Which would unteach mankind the lust to shine or rule:


XLIV
Their breath is agitation, and their life
A storm whereon they ride, to sink at last,
And yet so nurs’d and bigoted to strife,
That should their days, surviving perils past,
Melt to calm twilight, they feel overcast
With sorrow and supineness, and so die;
Even as a flame unfed, which runs to waste
With its own flickering, or a sword laid by,
Which eats into itself, and rusts ingloriously.


XLV
He who ascends to mountain-tops, shall find
The loftiest peaks most wrapt in clouds and snow;
He who surpasses or subdues mankind,
Must look down on the hate of those below.
Though high above the sun of glory glow,
And far beneath the earth and ocean spread,
Round him are icy rocks, and loudly blow
Contending tempests on his naked head,
And thus reward the toils which to those summits led.


XLVI
Away with these! true Wisdom’s world will be
Within its own creation, or in thine,
Maternal Nature! for who teems like thee,
Thus on the banks of thy majestic Rhine?
There Harold gazes on a work divine,
A blending of all beauties; streams and dells,
Fruit, foliage, crag, wood, cornfield, mountain, vine,
And chiefless castles breathing stern farewells
From gray but leafy walls, where Ruin greenly dwells.


XLVII
And there they stand, as stands a lofty mind,
Worn, but unstooping to the baser crowd,
All tenantless, save to the crannying wind,
Or holding dark communion with the cloud.
There was a day when they were young and proud;
Banners on high, and battles pass’d below;
But they who fought are in a bloody shroud,
And those which waved are shredless dust ere now,
And the bleak battlements shall bear no future blow.


XLVIII
Beneath these battlements, within those walls,
Power dwelt amidst her passions; in proud state
Each robber chief upheld his armed halls,
Doing his evil will, nor less elate
Than mightier heroes of a longer date.
What want these outlaws conquerers should have
But history’s purchased page to call them great?
A wider space, an ornamented grave?
Their hopes were not less warm, their souls were full as brave.


XLIX
In their baronial feuds and single fields,
What deeds of prowess unrecorded died!
And Love, which lent a blazon to their shields,
With emblems well devised by amorous pride,
Through all the mail of iron hearts would glide;
But still their flame was fierceness, and drew on
Keen contest and destruction near allied,
And many a tower for some fair mischief won,
Saw the discolour’d Rhine beneath its ruin run.


L
But Thou, exulting and abounding river!
Making thy waves a blessing as they flow
Through banks whose beauty would endure forever
Could man but leave thy bright creation so,
Nor its fair promise from the surface mow
With the sharp scythe of conflict, — then to see
Thy valley of sweet waters, were to know
Earth paved like Heaven; and to seem such to me,
Even now what wants thy stream? — that it should Lethe be.


LI
A thousand battles have assail’d thy banks,
But these and half their fame have pass’d away,
And Slaughter, heap’d on high his weltering ranks;
Their very graves are gone, and what are they?
Thy tide wash’d down the blood of yesterday,
And all was stainless, and on thy clear stream
Glass’d, with its dancing light, the sunny ray;
But o’er the blacken’d memory’s blighting dream
Thy waves would vainly roll, all sweeping as they seem.


LII
Thus Harold inly said, and pass’d along,
Yet not insensible to all which here
Awoke the jocund birds to early song
In glens which might have made even exile dear:
Though on his brow were graven lines austere,
And tranquil sternness, which had ta’en the place
Of feelings fierier far but less severe,
Joy was not always absent from his face,
But o’er it in such scenes would steal with transient trace.


LIII
Nor was all love shut from him, though his days
Of passion had consumed themselves to dust.
It is vain that we would coldly gaze
On such as smile upon us; the heart must
Leap kindly back to kindness, though disgust
Hath wean’d it from all worldlings: thus he felt,
For there was soft remembrance, and sweet trust
In one fond breast, to which his own would melt,
And in its tenderer hour on that his bosom dwelt.


LIV
And he had learn’d to love, — I know not why,
For this in such as him seems strange of mood, —
The helpless looks of blooming infancy,
Even in its earliest nurture; what subdued,
To change like this, a mind so far imbued
With scorn of man, it little boots to know;
But thus it was; and though in solitude
Small power the nipp’d affections have to grow,
In him this glow’d when all beside had ceased to glow.


LV
And there was one soft breast, as hath been said,
Which unto his was bound by stronger ties
Than the church links withal; and, though unwed,
That love was pure, and, far above disguise,
Had stood the test of mortal enmities
Still undivided, and cemented more
By peril, dreaded most in female eyes;
But this was firm, and from a foreign shore
Well to that heart might his these absent greeting pour!





    1
    The castle crag of Drachenfels
    Frowns o’er the wide and winding Rhine,
    Whose breast of waters broadly swells
    Between the banks that bear the vine,
    And hills all rich with blossom’d trees,
    And fields which promise corn and wine,
    And scatter’d cities crowning these,
    Whose far white walls along them shine,
    Have strew’d a scene, which I should see
    With double joy wert thou with me.


    2
    And peasant girls, with deep blue eyes,
    And hands which offer early flowers,
    Walk smiling o’er this paradise;
    Above, the frequent feudal towers
    Through green leaves lift their walls of gray;
    And many a rock which steeply lowers,
    And noble arch in proud decay,
    Look o’er the vale of vintage-bowers;
    But one thing want these banks of Rhine, —
    Thy gentle hand to clasp in mine!


    3
    I send the lilies given to me;
    Though long before thy hand they touch,
    I know that they must wither’d be,
    But yet reject them not as such;
    For I have cherish’d them as dear,
    Because they yet may meet thine eye,
    And guide thy soul to mine even here,
    When thou behold’st them drooping nigh,
    And know’st them gather’d by the Rhine,
    And offer’d from my heart to thine!


    4
    The river nobly foams and flows,
    The charm of this enchanted ground,
    And all its thousand turns disclose
    Some fresher beauty varying round:
    The haughtiest breast its wish might bound
    Through life to dwell delighted here;
    Nor could on earth a spot be found
    To nature and to me so dear,
    Could thy dear eyes in following mine
    Still sweeten more these banks of Rhine!



LVI
By Coblentz, on a rise of gentle ground,
There is a small and simple pyramid,
Crowning the summit of the verdant mound;
Beneath its base are heros’ ashes hid,
Our enemy’s — but let not that forbid
Honour to Marceau! o’er whose early tomb
Tears, big tears, gush’d from the rough soldier’s lid,
Lamenting and yet envying such a doom,
Falling for France, whose rights he battled to resume.


LVII
Brief, brave, and glorious was his young career, —
His mourners were two hosts, his friends and foes;
And fitly may the stranger lingering here
Pray for his gallant spirit’s bright repose;
For he was Freedom’s champion, one of those,
The few in number, who had not o’erstept
The charter to chastise which she bestows
On such as wield her weapons; he had kept
The whiteness of his soul, and thus men o’er him wept.


LVIII
Here Ehrenbreitstein, with her shatter’d wall
Black with the miner’s blast, upon her height
Yet shows of what she was, when shell and ball
Rebounding idly on her strength did light:
A tower of victory! from whence the flight
Of baffled foes was watch’d along the plain:
But Peace destroy’d what War could never blight,
And laid those proud roofs bare to Summer’s rain —
On which the iron shower for years had pour’d in vain.


LIX
Adieu to thee, fair Rhine! How long delighted
The stranger fain would linger on his way!
Thine is a scene alike where souls united
Or lonely Contemplation thus might stray;
And could the ceaseless vultures cease to prey
On self-condemning bosoms, it were here,
Where Nature, nor too sombre not too gay,
Wild but not rude, awful yet not austere,
Is to the mellow Earth as Autumn to the year.


LX
Adieu to thee again! a vain adieu!
There can be no farewell to scene like thine;
The mind is colour’d by thy every hue;
And if reluctantly the eyes resign
Their cherish’d gaze upon thee, lovely Rhine!
‘Tis with the thankful glance of parting praise;
More mighty spots may rise, more glaring shine,
But none unite in one attaching maze
The brilliant, fair, and soft, — the glories of old days.


LXI
The negligently grand, the fruitful bloom
Of coming ripeness, the white city’s sheen,
The rolling stream, the precipice’s gloom,
The forest’s growth, and Gothic walls between,
The wild rocks shaped as they had turrets been,
In mockery of man’s art; and there withal
A race of faces happy as the scene,
Whose fertile bounties here extend to all,
Still springing o’er they banks, though Empires near them fall.


LXII
But these recede. Above me are the Alps,
The palaces of Nature, whose vast walls
Have pinnacled in clouds their snowy scalps,
And throned Eternity in icy halls
Of cold sublimity, where forms and falls
The avalanche — the thunderbolt of snow!
All that expands the spirit, yet appals,
Gather around these summits, as to show
How Earth may pierce to Heaven, yet leave vain man below.


LXIII
But ere these matchless heights I dare to scan,
There is a spot should not be pass’d in vain, —
Morat! the proud, the patriot field! where man
May gaze on ghastly trophies of the slain,
Nor blush for those who conquer’d on that plain;
Here Burgundy bequeath’d his tombless host,
A bony heap, through ages to remain,
Themselves their monument; — the Stygian coast
Unsepulchred they roam’d, and shriek’d each wandering ghost.


LXIV
While Waterloo with Cannæ’s carnage vies,
Morat and Marathon twin names shall stand;
They were true Glory’s stainless victories,
Won by the unambitious heart and hand
Of a proud, brotherly, and civic band,
All unbought champions in no princely cause
Of vice-entail’d Corruption; they no land
Doom’d to bewail the blasphemy of laws
Making kings’ rights divine, by some Draconic clause.


LXV
By a lone wall a lonelier column rears
A gray and grief-worn aspect of old days;
‘Tis the last remnant of the wreck of years,
And looks as with the wild-bewilder’d gaze
Of one to stone converted by amaze,
Yet still with consciousness; and there it stands
Making a marvel that it not decays,
When the coeval pride of human hands,
Levell’d Adventicum, hath strew’d her subject lands.


LXVI
And there — oh! sweet and sacred be the name! —
Julia — the daughter, the devoted — gave
Her youth to Heaven; her heart, beneath a claim
Nearest to Heaven’s, broke o’er a father’s grave.
Justice is sworn ‘gainst tears, and hers would crave
The life she lived in; but judge was just,
And then she died on him she could not save.
Their tomb was simple, and without a bust,
And held within their urn one mind, one heart, one dust.


LXVII
But these are deeds which should not pass away,
And names that must not wither, though the earth
Forgets her empires with a just decay,
The enslavers and the enslaved, their death and birth;
The high, the mountain-majesty of worth
Should be, and shall, survivor of its woe,
And from its immortality look forth
In the sun’s face, like yonder Alpine snow,
Imperishably pure beyond all things below.


LXVIII
Lake Leman woos me with its crystal face,
The mirror where the stars and mountains view
The stillness of their aspect in each trace
Its clear depth yields of their far height and hue:
There is too much of man here, to look through
With a fit mind the might which I behold;
But soon in me shall loneliness renew
Thoughts hid, but not less cherish’d than of old,
Ere mingling with the herd had penn’d me in their fold.


LXIX
To fly from, need not be to hate, mankind:
All are not fit with them to stir and toil,
Nor is it discontent to keep the mind
Deep in its fountain, lest it over boil
In the hot throng, where we become the spoil
Of our infection, till too late and long
We may deplore and struggle with the coil,
In wretched interchange of wrong for wrong
Midst a contentious world, striving where none are strong.


LXX
There, in a moment we may plunge our years
In fatal penitence, and in the blight
Of our own soul turn all our blood to tears,
And colour things to come with hues of Night;
The race of life becomes a hopeless flight
To those that walk in darkness: on the sea
The boldest steer but where their ports invite;
But there are wanderers o’er Eternity
Whose bark drives on and on, and anchor’d ne’er shall be.


LXXI
Is it not better, then, to be alone,
And love Earth only for its earthly sake?
By the blue rushing of the arrowy Rhone,
Or the pure bosom of its nursing lake,
Which feeds it as a mother who doth make
A fair but froward infant her own care,
Kissing its cries away as these awake —
Is it not better thus our lives to wear,
Than join the crushing crowd, doom’d to inflict or bear?


LXXII
I live not in myself, but I become
Portion of that around me; and to me
High mountains are a feeling, but the hum
Of human cities torture: I can see
Nothing to loathe in nature, save to be
A link reluctant in a fleshly chain,
Class’d among creatures, when the soul can flee,
And with the sky — the peak — the heaving plain
Of ocean, or the stars, mingle — and not in vain.


LXXIII
And thus I am absorb’d, and this is life:
I look upon the peopled desert past,
As on a place of agony and strife,
Where, for some sin, to sorrow I was cast,
To act and suffer, but remount at last
With a fresh pinion; which I feel to spring,
Though young, yet waxing vigorous as the blast
Which it would cope with, on delighted wing,
Spurning the clay-cold bonds which round our being cling.


LXXIV
And when, at length, the mind shall be all free
From what it hates in this degraded form,
Reft of its carnal life, save what shall be
Existent happier in the fly and worm,
When elements to elements conform,
And dust is as it should be, shall I not
Feel all I see, less dazzling, but more warm?
The bodiless thought? the Spirit of each spot?
Of which, even now, I share at times the immortal lot?


LXXV
Are not the mountains, waves and skies a part
Of me and of my soul, as I of them?
Is not the love of these deep in my heart
With a pure passion? should I not contemn
All objects, if compar’d with these? and stem
A tide of suffering, rather than forego
Such feelings for the hard and worldly phlegm
Of those whose eyes are only turn’d below,
Gazing upon the ground, with thoughts which dare not glow?


LXXVI
But this is not my theme; and I return
To that which is immediate, and require
Those who find contemplation in the urn
To look on One, whose dust was once all fire,
A native of the land where I respire
The clear air for a while — a passing guest,
Where he became a being — whose desire
Was to be glorious; ’twas a foolish quest,
The which to gain and keep, he sacrific’d all rest.


LXXVII
Here the self-torturing sophist, wild Rousseau,
The apostle of affliction, he who threw
Enchantment over passion, and from woe
Wrung overwhelming eloquence, first drew
The breath which made him wretched; yet he knew
How to make madness beautiful, and cast
O’er erring deeds and thoughts a heavenly hue
Of words, like sunbeams, dazzling as they past
The eyes, which o’er them shed tears feelingly and fast.


LXXVIII
His love was passion’s essence — as a tree
On fire by lightning, with ethereal flame
Kindled he was, and blasted; for to be
Thus, and enamour’d, were in him the same.
But his was not the love of living dame,
Nor of the dead who rise upon our dreams,
But of ideal beauty, which became
In him existence, and o’erflowing teems
Along his burning page, distemper’d though it seems.


LXXLX
This breathed itself to life in Julie, this
Invested her with all that’s wild and sweet;
This hallow’d, too, the memorable kiss
Which every morn his fever’d lip would greet
From hers, who but with friendship his would meet;
But to that gentle touch through brain and breast
Flash’d the thrill’d spirit’s love-devouring heat;
In that absorbing sigh perchance more blest
Than vulgar minds may be with all they seek possest.


LXXX
His life was one long war with self-sought foes,
Or friends by him self-banish’d; for his mind
Had grown Suspicion’s sanctuary, and chose,
For its own cruel sacrifice, the kind,
‘Gainst whom he rag’d with fury strange and blind.
But he was frenzied — wherefore, who may know?
Since cause might be which skill could never find;
But he was frenzied by disease or woe,
To that worst pitch of all, which wears a reasoning show.


LXXXI
For then he was inspir’d, and from him came,
As from the Pythian’s mystic cave of yore,
Those oracles which set the world in flame,
Nor ceas’d to burn till kingdoms were no more:
Did he not this for France? which lay before
Bow’d to the inborn tyranny of years?
Broken and trembling to the yoke she bore,
Till by the voice of him and his compeers
Rous’d up to too much wrath, which follows o’ergrown fears?


LXXXII
They made themselves a fearful monument!
The wreck of old opinions — things which grew,
Breath’d from the birth of Time: the veil they rent,
And what behind it lay, all earth shall view.
But good with ill they also overthrew,
Leaving but ruins, wherewith to rebuild
Upon the same foundation, and renew
Dungeons and thrones, which the same hour refill’d
As heretofore, because ambition was self-will’d.


LXXXIII
But this will not endure, nor be endur’d!
Mankind have felt their strength and made it felt.
They might have used it better, but, allur’d
By their new vigour, sternly have they dealt
On one another; pity ceas’d to melt
With her once natural charities. But they,
Who in oppression’s darkness caved had dwelt,
They were not eagles, nourish’d with the day;
What marvel then, at times, if they mistook their prey?


LXXXIV
What deep wounds ever clos’d without a scar?
The heart’s bleed longest, and but heal to wear
That which disfigures it; and they who war
With their own hopes, and have been vanquish’d, bear
Silence, but not submission: in his lair
Fix’d Passion holds his breath, until the hour
Which shall atone for years; none need despair:
It came — it cometh — and will come — the power
To punish or forgive — in one we shall be slower.

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