THE CAR PAUSES WITHIN A CLOUD ON THE TOP OF A SNOWY MOUNTAIN.
ASIA, PANTHEA, AND THE SPIRIT OF THE HOUR.
SPIRIT: On the brink of the night and the morning My coursers are wont to respire; But the Earth has just whispered a warning That their flight must be swifter than fire: They shall drink the hot speed of desire!
ASIA: Thou breathest on their nostrils, but my breath Would give them swifter speed.
SPIRIT: Alas! it could not.
PANTHEA: Oh Spirit! pause, and tell whence is the light Which fills this cloud? the sun is yet unrisen.
SPIRIT: The sun will rise not until noon. Apollo Is held in heaven by wonder; and the light Which fills this vapour, as the aereal hue Of fountain-gazing roses fills the water, Flows from thy mighty sister.
PANTHEA: Yes, I feel—
ASIA: What is it with thee, sister? Thou art pale.
PANTHEA: How thou art changed! I dare not look on thee; I feel but see thee not. I scarce endure The radiance of thy beauty. Some good change Is working in the elements, which suffer Thy presence thus unveiled. The Nereids tell That on the day when the clear hyaline Was cloven at thine uprise, and thou didst stand Within a veined shell, which floated on Over the calm floor of the crystal sea, Among the Aegean isles, and by the shores Which bear thy name; love, like the atmosphere Of the sun's fire filling the living world, Burst from thee, and illumined earth and heaven And the deep ocean and the sunless caves And all that dwells within them; till grief cast Eclipse upon the soul from which it came: Such art thou now; nor is it I alone, Thy sister, thy companion, thine own chosen one, But the whole world which seeks thy sympathy. Hearest thou not sounds i' the air which speak the love Of all articulate beings? Feelest thou not The inanimate winds enamoured of thee? List!
ASIA: Thy words are sweeter than aught else but his Whose echoes they are; yet all love is sweet, Given or returned. Common as light is love, And its familiar voice wearies not ever. Like the wide heaven, the all-sustaining air, It makes the reptile equal to the God: They who inspire it most are fortunate, As I am now; but those who feel it most Are happier still, after long sufferings, As I shall soon become.
PANTHEA: List! Spirits speak.
VOICE IN THE AIR, SINGING: Life of Life! thy lips enkindle With their love the breath between them; And thy smiles before they dwindle Make the cold air fire; then screen them In those looks, where whoso gazes Faints, entangled in their mazes.
Child of Light! thy limbs are burning Through the vest which seems to hide them; As the radiant lines of morning Through the clouds ere they divide them; And this atmosphere divinest Shrouds thee wheresoe'er thou shinest.
Fair are others; none beholds thee, But thy voice sounds low and tender Like the fairest, for it folds thee From the sight, that liquid splendour, And all feel, yet see thee never, As I feel now, lost for ever!
Lamp of Earth! where'er thou movest Its dim shapes are clad with brightness, And the souls of whom thou lovest Walk upon the winds with lightness, Till they fail, as I am failing, Dizzy, lost, yet unbewailing!
ASIA: My soul is an enchanted boat, Which, like a sleeping swan, doth float Upon the silver waves of thy sweet singing; And thine doth like an angel sit Beside a helm conducting it, Whilst all the winds with melody are ringing. It seems to float ever, for ever, Upon that many-winding river, Between mountains, woods, abysses, A paradise of wildernesses! Till, like one in slumber bound, Borne to the ocean, I float down, around, Into a sea profound, of ever-spreading sound:
Meanwhile thy spirit lifts its pinions In music's most serene dominions; Catching the winds that fan that happy heaven. And we sail on, away, afar, Without a course, without a star, But, by the instinct of sweet music driven; Till through Elysian garden islets By thee most beautiful of pilots, Where never mortal pinnace glided, The boat of my desire is guided: Realms where the air we breathe is love, Which in the winds on the waves doth move, Harmonizing this earth with what we feel above.
We have passed Age's icy caves, And Manhood's dark and tossing waves, And Youth's smooth ocean, smiling to betray: Beyond the glassy gulfs we flee Of shadow-peopled Infancy, Through Death and Birth, to a diviner day; A paradise of vaulted bowers, Lit by downward-gazing flowers, And watery paths that wind between Wildernesses calm and green, Peopled by shapes too bright to see, And rest, having beheld; somewhat like thee; Which walk upon the sea, and chant melodiously!
END OF ACT 2.