A PART OF THE FOREST NEAR THE CAVE OF PROMETHEUS.
PANTHEA AND IONE ARE SLEEPING: THEY AWAKEN GRADUALLY DURING THE FIRST SONG.
VOICE OF UNSEEN SPIRITS: The pale stars are gone! For the sun, their swift shepherd, To their folds them compelling, In the depths of the dawn, Hastes, in meteor-eclipsing array, and the flee Beyond his blue dwelling, As fawns flee the leopard. But where are ye?
[A TRAIN OF DARK FORMS AND SHADOWS PASSES BY CONFUSEDLY, SINGING.]
Here, oh, here: We bear the bier Of the father of many a cancelled year! Spectres we Of the dead Hours be, We bear Time to his tomb in eternity.
Strew, oh, strew Hair, not yew! Wet the dusty pall with tears, not dew! Be the faded flowers Of Death's bare bowers Spread on the corpse of the King of Hours!
Haste, oh, haste! As shades are chased, Trembling, by day, from heaven's blue waste. We melt away, Like dissolving spray, From the children of a diviner day, With the lullaby Of winds that die On the bosom of their own harmony!
IONE: What dark forms were they?
PANTHEA: The past Hours weak and gray, With the spoil which their toil Raked together From the conquest but One could foil.
IONE: Have they passed?
PANTHEA: They have passed; They outspeeded the blast, While 'tis said, they are fled:
IONE: Whither, oh, whither?
PANTHEA: To the dark, to the past, to the dead.
VOICE OF UNSEEN SPIRITS: Bright clouds float in heaven, Dew-stars gleam on earth, Waves assemble on ocean, They are gathered and driven By the storm of delight, by the panic of glee! They shake with emotion, They dance in their mirth. But where are ye?
The pine boughs are singing Old songs with new gladness, The billows and fountains Fresh music are flinging, Like the notes of a spirit from land and from sea; The storms mock the mountains With the thunder of gladness. But where are ye?
IONE: What charioteers are these?
PANTHEA: Where are their chariots?
SEMICHORUS OF HOURS: The voice of the Spirits of Air and of Earth Has drawn back the figured curtain of sleep Which covered our being and darkened our birth In the deep.
A VOICE: In the deep?
SEMICHORUS 2: Oh, below the deep.
SEMICHORUS 1: An hundred ages we had been kept Cradled in visions of hate and care, And each one who waked as his brother slept, Found the truth—
SEMICHORUS 2: Worse than his visions were!
SEMICHORUS 1: We have heard the lute of Hope in sleep; We have known the voice of Love in dreams; We have felt the wand of Power, and leap—
SEMICHORUS 2: As the billows leap in the morning beams!
CHORUS: Weave the dance on the floor of the breeze, Pierce with song heaven's silent light, Enchant the day that too swiftly flees, To check its flight ere the cave of Night.
Once the hungry Hours were hounds Which chased the day like a bleeding deer, And it limped and stumbled with many wounds Through the nightly dells of the desert year.
But now, oh weave the mystic measure Of music, and dance, and shapes of light, Let the Hours, and the spirits of might and pleasure, Like the clouds and sunbeams, unite—
A VOICE: Unite!
PANTHEA: See, where the Spirits of the human mind Wrapped in sweet sounds, as in bright veils, approach.
CHORUS OF SPIRITS: We join the throng Of the dance and the song, By the whirlwind of gladness borne along; As the flying-fish leap From the Indian deep, And mix with the sea-birds, half-asleep.
CHORUS OF HOURS: Whence come ye, so wild and so fleet, For sandals of lightning are on your feet, And your wings are soft and swift as thought, And your eyes are as love which is veiled not?
CHORUS OF SPIRITS: We come from the mind Of human kind Which was late so dusk, and obscene, and blind, Now 'tis an ocean Of clear emotion, A heaven of serene and mighty motion.
From that deep abyss Of wonder and bliss, Whose caverns are crystal palaces; From those skiey towers Where Thought's crowned powers Sit watching your dance, ye happy Hours!
From the dim recesses Of woven caresses, Where lovers catch ye by your loose tresses; From the azure isles, Where sweet Wisdom smiles, Delaying your ships with her siren wiles.
From the temples high Of Man's ear and eye, Roofed over Sculpture and Poesy; From the murmurings Of the unsealed springs Where Science bedews her Daedal wings.
Years after years, Through blood, and tears, And a thick hell of hatreds, and hopes, and fears; We waded and flew, And the islets were few Where the bud-blighted flowers of happiness grew.
Our feet now, every palm, Are sandalled with calm, And the dew of our wings is a rain of balm; And, beyond our eyes, The human love lies Which makes all it gazes on Paradise.
CHORUS OF SPIRITS AND HOURS: Then weave the web of the mystic measure; From the depths of the sky and the ends of the earth, Come, swift Spirits of might and of pleasure, Fill the dance and the music of mirth, As the waves of a thousand streams rush by To an ocean of splendour and harmony!
CHORUS OF SPIRITS: Our spoil is won, Our task is done, We are free to dive, or soar, or run; Beyond and around, Or within the bound Which clips the world with darkness round.
We'll pass the eyes Of the starry skies Into the hoar deep to colonize; Death, Chaos, and Night, From the sound of our flight, Shall flee, like mist from a tempest's might.
And Earth, Air, and Light, And the Spirit of Might, Which drives round the stars in their fiery flight; And Love, Thought, and Breath, The powers that quell Death, Wherever we soar shall assemble beneath.
And our singing shall build In the void's loose field A world for the Spirit of Wisdom to wield; We will take our plan From the new world of man, And our work shall be called the Promethean.
CHORUS OF HOURS: Break the dance, and scatter the song; Let some depart, and some remain;
SEMICHORUS 1: We, beyond heaven, are driven along:
SEMICHORUS 2: Us the enchantments of earth retain:
SEMICHORUS 1: Ceaseless, and rapid, and fierce, and free, With the Spirits which build a new earth and sea, And a heaven where yet heaven could never be;
SEMICHORUS 2: Solemn, and slow, and serene, and bright, Leading the Day and outspeeding the Night, With the powers of a world of perfect light;
SEMICHORUS 1: We whirl, singing loud, round the gathering sphere, Till the trees, and the beasts, and the clouds appear From its chaos made calm by love, not fear.
SEMICHORUS 2: We encircle the ocean and mountains of earth, And the happy forms of its death and birth Change to the music of our sweet mirth.
CHORUS OF HOURS AND SPIRITS: Break the dance, and scatter the song; Let some depart, and some remain, Wherever we fly we lead along In leashes, like starbeams, soft yet strong, The clouds that are heavy with love's sweet rain.
PANTHEA: Ha! they are gone!
IONE: Yet feel you no delight From the past sweetness?
PANTHEA: As the bare green hill When some soft cloud vanishes into rain, Laughs with a thousand drops of sunny water To the unpavilioned sky!
IONE: Even whilst we speak New notes arise. What is that awful sound?
PANTHEA: 'Tis the deep music of the rolling world Kindling within the strings of the waved air Aeolian modulations.
IONE: Listen too, How every pause is filled with under-notes, Clear, silver, icy, keen awakening tones, Which pierce the sense, and live within the soul, As the sharp stars pierce winter's crystal air And gaze upon themselves within the sea.
PANTHEA: But see where through two openings in the forest Which hanging branches overcanopy, And where two runnels of a rivulet, Between the close moss violet-inwoven, Have made their path of melody, like sisters Who part with sighs that they may meet in smiles, Turning their dear disunion to an isle Of lovely grief, a wood of sweet sad thoughts; Two visions of strange radiance float upon The ocean-like enchantment of strong sound, Which flows intenser, keener, deeper yet Under the ground and through the windless air.
IONE: I see a chariot like that thinnest boat, In which the Mother of the Months is borne By ebbing light into her western cave, When she upsprings from interlunar dreams; O'er which is curved an orblike canopy Of gentle darkness, and the hills and woods, Distinctly seen through that dusk aery veil, Regard like shapes in an enchanter's glass; Its wheels are solid clouds, azure and gold, Such as the genii of the thunderstorm Pile on the floor of the illumined sea When the sun rushes under it; they roll And move and grow as with an inward wind; Within it sits a winged infant, white Its countenance, like the whiteness of bright snow, Its plumes are as feathers of sunny frost, Its limbs gleam white, through the wind-flowing folds Of its white robe, woof of ethereal pearl. Its hair is white, the brightness of white light Scattered in strings; yet its two eyes are heavens Of liquid darkness, which the Deity Within seems pouring, as a storm is poured From jagged clouds, out of their arrowy lashes, Tempering the cold and radiant air around, With fire that is not brightness; in its hand It sways a quivering moonbeam, from whose point A guiding power directs the chariot's prow Over its wheeled clouds, which as they roll Over the grass, and flowers, and waves, wake sounds, Sweet as a singing rain of silver dew.
PANTHEA: And from the other opening in the wood Rushes, with loud and whirlwind harmony, A sphere, which is as many thousand spheres, Solid as crystal, yet through all its mass Flow, as through empty space, music and light: Ten thousand orbs involving and involved, Purple and azure, white, and green, and golden, Sphere within sphere; and every space between Peopled with unimaginable shapes, Such as ghosts dream dwell in the lampless deep, Yet each inter-transpicuous, and they whirl Over each other with a thousand motions, Upon a thousand sightless axles spinning, And with the force of self-destroying swiftness, Intensely, slowly, solemnly, roll on, Kindling with mingled sounds, and many tones, Intelligible words and music wild. With mighty whirl the multitudinous orb Grinds the bright brook into an azure mist Of elemental subtlety, like light; And the wild odour of the forest flowers, The music of the living grass and air, The emerald light of leaf-entangled beams Round its intense yet self-conflicting speed, Seem kneaded into one aereal mass Which drowns the sense. Within the orb itself, Pillowed upon its alabaster arms, Like to a child o'erwearied with sweet toil, On its own folded wings, and wavy hair, The Spirit of the Earth is laid asleep, And you can see its little lips are moving, Amid the changing light of their own smiles, Like one who talks of what he loves in dream.
IONE: 'Tis only mocking the orb's harmony.
PANTHEA: And from a star upon its forehead, shoot, Like swords of azure fire, or golden spears With tyrant-quelling myrtle overtwined, Embleming heaven and earth united now, Vast beams like spokes of some invisible wheel Which whirl as the orb whirls, swifter than thought, Filling the abyss with sun-like lightenings, And perpendicular now, and now transverse, Pierce the dark soil, and as they pierce and pass, Make bare the secrets of the earth's deep heart; Infinite mine of adamant and gold, Valueless stones, and unimagined gems, And caverns on crystalline columns poised With vegetable silver overspread; Wells of unfathomed fire, and water springs Whence the great sea, even as a child is fed, Whose vapours clothe earth's monarch mountain-tops With kingly, ermine snow. The beams flash on And make appear the melancholy ruins Of cancelled cycles; anchors, beaks of ships; Planks turned to marble; quivers, helms, and spears, And gorgon-headed targes, and the wheels Of scythed chariots, and the emblazonry Of trophies, standards, and armorial beasts, Round which death laughed, sepulchred emblems Of dead destruction, ruin within ruin! The wrecks beside of many a city vast, Whose population which the earth grew over Was mortal, but not human; see, they lie, Their monstrous works, and uncouth skeletons, Their statues, homes and fanes; prodigious shapes Huddled in gray annihilation, split, Jammed in the hard, black deep; and over these, The anatomies of unknown winged things, And fishes which were isles of living scale, And serpents, bony chains, twisted around The iron crags, or within heaps of dust To which the tortuous strength of their last pangs Had crushed the iron crags; and over these The jagged alligator, and the might Of earth-convulsing behemoth, which once Were monarch beasts, and on the slimy shores, And weed-overgrown continents of earth, Increased and multiplied like summer worms On an abandoned corpse, till the blue globe Wrapped deluge round it like a cloak, and they Yelled, gasped, and were abolished; or some God Whose throne was in a comet, passed, and cried, 'Be not!' And like my words they were no more.
THE EARTH: The joy, the triumph, the delight, the madness! The boundless, overflowing, bursting gladness, The vaporous exultation not to be confined! Ha! ha! the animation of delight Which wraps me, like an atmosphere of light, And bears me as a cloud is borne by its own wind.
THE MOON: Brother mine, calm wanderer, Happy globe of land and air, Some Spirit is darted like a beam from thee, Which penetrates my frozen frame, And passes with the warmth of flame, With love, and odour, and deep melody Through me, through me!
THE EARTH: Ha! ha! the caverns of my hollow mountains, My cloven fire-crags, sound-exulting fountains Laugh with a vast and inextinguishable laughter. The oceans, and the deserts, and the abysses, And the deep air's unmeasured wildernesses, Answer from all their clouds and billows, echoing after.
They cry aloud as I do. Sceptred curse, Who all our green and azure universe Threatenedst to muffle round with black destruction, sending A solid cloud to rain hot thunderstones, And splinter and knead down my children's bones, All I bring forth, to one void mass battering and blending,—
Until each crag-like tower, and storied column, Palace, and obelisk, and temple solemn, My imperial mountains crowned with cloud, and snow, and fire, My sea-like forests, every blade and blossom Which finds a grave or cradle in my bosom, Were stamped by thy strong hate into a lifeless mire:
How art thou sunk, withdrawn, covered, drunk up By thirsty nothing, as the brackish cup Drained by a desert-troop, a little drop for all; And from beneath, around, within, above, Filling thy void annihilation, love Bursts in like light on caves cloven by the thunder-ball.
THE MOON: The snow upon my lifeless mountains Is loosened into living fountains, My solid oceans flow, and sing and shine: A spirit from my heart bursts forth, It clothes with unexpected birth My cold bare bosom: Oh! it must be thine On mine, on mine!
Gazing on thee I feel, I know Green stalks burst forth, and bright flowers grow, And living shapes upon my bosom move: Music is in the sea and air, Winged clouds soar here and there, Dark with the rain new buds are dreaming of: 'Tis love, all love!
THE EARTH: It interpenetrates my granite mass, Through tangled roots and trodden clay doth pass Into the utmost leaves and delicatest flowers; Upon the winds, among the clouds 'tis spread, It wakes a life in the forgotten dead, They breathe a spirit up from their obscurest bowers.
And like a storm bursting its cloudy prison With thunder, and with whirlwind, has arisen Out of the lampless caves of unimagined being: With earthquake shock and swiftness making shiver Thought's stagnant chaos, unremoved for ever, Till hate, and fear, and pain, light-vanquished shadows, fleeing,
Leave Man, who was a many-sided mirror, Which could distort to many a shape of error, This true fair world of things, a sea reflecting love; Which over all his kind, as the sun's heaven Gliding o'er ocean, smooth, serene, and even, Darting from starry depths radiance and life, doth move:
Leave Man, even as a leprous child is left, Who follows a sick beast to some warm cleft Of rocks, through which the might of healing springs is poured; Then when it wanders home with rosy smile, Unconscious, and its mother fears awhile It is a spirit, then, weeps on her child restored.
Man, oh, not men! a chain of linked thought, Of love and might to be divided not, Compelling the elements with adamantine stress; As the sun rules, even with a tyrant's gaze, The unquiet republic of the maze Of planets, struggling fierce towards heaven's free wilderness.
Man, one harmonious soul of many a soul, Whose nature is its own divine control, Where all things flow to all, as rivers to the sea; Familiar acts are beautiful through love; Labour, and pain, and grief, in life's green grove Sport like tame beasts, none knew how gentle they could be!
His will, with all mean passions, bad delights, And selfish cares, its trembling satellites, A spirit ill to guide, but mighty to obey, Is as a tempest-winged ship, whose helm Love rules, through waves which dare not overwhelm, Forcing life's wildest shores to own its sovereign sway.
All things confess his strength. Through the cold mass Of marble and of colour his dreams pass; Bright threads whence mothers weave the robes their children wear; Language is a perpetual Orphic song, Which rules with Daedal harmony a throng Of thoughts and forms, which else senseless and shapeless were.
The lightning is his slave; heaven's utmost deep Gives up her stars, and like a flock of sheep They pass before his eye, are numbered, and roll on! The tempest is his steed, he strides the air; And the abyss shouts from her depth laid bare, Heaven, hast thou secrets? Man unveils me; I have none.
THE MOON: The shadow of white death has passed From my path in heaven at last, A clinging shroud of solid frost and sleep; And through my newly-woven bowers, Wander happy paramours, Less mighty, but as mild as those who keep Thy vales more deep.
THE EARTH: As the dissolving warmth of dawn may fold A half unfrozen dew-globe, green, and gold, And crystalline, till it becomes a winged mist, And wanders up the vault of the blue day, Outlives the noon, and on the sun's last ray Hangs o'er the sea, a fleece of fire and amethyst.
THE MOON: Thou art folded, thou art lying In the light which is undying Of thine own joy, and heaven's smile divine; All suns and constellations shower On thee a light, a life, a power Which doth array thy sphere; thou pourest thine On mine, on mine!
THE EARTH: I spin beneath my pyramid of night, Which points into the heavens dreaming delight, Murmuring victorious joy in my enchanted sleep; As a youth lulled in love-dreams faintly sighing, Under the shadow of his beauty lying, Which round his rest a watch of light and warmth doth keep.
THE MOON: As in the soft and sweet eclipse, When soul meets soul on lovers' lips, High hearts are calm, and brightest eyes are dull; So when thy shadow falls on me, Then am I mute and still, by thee Covered; of thy love, Orb most beautiful, Full, oh, too full!
Thou art speeding round the sun Brightest world of many a one; Green and azure sphere which shinest With a light which is divinest Among all the lamps of Heaven To whom life and light is given; I, thy crystal paramour Borne beside thee by a power Like the polar Paradise, Magnet-like of lovers' eyes; I, a most enamoured maiden Whose weak brain is overladen With the pleasure of her love, Maniac-like around thee move Gazing, an insatiate bride, On thy form from every side Like a Maenad, round the cup Which Agave lifted up In the weird Cadmaean forest. Brother, wheresoe'er thou soarest I must hurry, whirl and follow Through the heavens wide and hollow, Sheltered by the warm embrace Of thy soul from hungry space, Drinking from thy sense and sight Beauty, majesty, and might, As a lover or a chameleon Grows like what it looks upon, As a violet's gentle eye Gazes on the azure sky Until its hue grows like what it beholds, As a gray and watery mist Glows like solid amethyst Athwart the western mountain it enfolds, When the sunset sleeps Upon its snow—
THE EARTH: And the weak day weeps That it should be so. Oh, gentle Moon, the voice of thy delight Falls on me like thy clear and tender light Soothing the seaman, borne the summer night, Through isles for ever calm; Oh, gentle Moon, thy crystal accents pierce The caverns of my pride's deep universe, Charming the tiger joy, whose tramplings fierce Made wounds which need thy balm.
PANTHEA: I rise as from a bath of sparkling water, A bath of azure light, among dark rocks, Out of the stream of sound.
IONE: Ah me! sweet sister, The stream of sound has ebbed away from us, And you pretend to rise out of its wave, Because your words fall like the clear, soft dew Shaken from a bathing wood-nymph's limbs and hair.
PANTHEA: Peace! peace! a mighty Power, which is as darkness, Is rising out of Earth, and from the sky Is showered like night, and from within the air Bursts, like eclipse which had been gathered up Into the pores of sunlight: the bright visions, Wherein the singing spirits rode and shone, Gleam like pale meteors through a watery night.
IONE: There is a sense of words upon mine ear.
PANTHEA: An universal sound like words: Oh, list!
DEMOGORGON: Thou, Earth, calm empire of a happy soul, Sphere of divinest shapes and harmonies, Beautiful orb! gathering as thou dost roll The love which paves thy path along the skies:
THE EARTH: I hear: I am as a drop of dew that dies.
DEMOGORGON: Thou, Moon, which gazest on the nightly Earth With wonder, as it gazes upon thee; Whilst each to men, and beasts, and the swift birth Of birds, is beauty, love, calm, harmony:
THE MOON: I hear: I am a leaf shaken by thee!
DEMOGORGON: Ye Kings of suns and stars, Daemons and Gods, Ethereal Dominations, who possess Elysian, windless, fortunate abodes Beyond Heaven's constellated wilderness:
A VOICE FROM ABOVE: Our great Republic hears: we are blest, and bless.
DEMOGORGON: Ye happy Dead, whom beams of brightest verse Are clouds to hide, not colours to portray, Whether your nature is that universe Which once ye saw and suffered—
A VOICE: FROM BENEATH: Or as they Whom we have left, we change and pass away.
DEMOGORGON: Ye elemental Genii, who have homes From man's high mind even to the central stone Of sullen lead; from heaven's star-fretted domes To the dull weed some sea-worm battens on:
A CONFUSED VOICE: We hear: thy words waken Oblivion.
DEMOGORGON: Spirits, whose homes are flesh; ye beasts and birds, Ye worms and fish; ye living leaves and buds; Lightning and wind; and ye untameable herds, Meteors and mists, which throng air's solitudes:—
A VOICE: Thy voice to us is wind among still woods.
DEMOGORGON: Man, who wert once a despot and a slave; A dupe and a deceiver; a decay; A traveller from the cradle to the grave Through the dim night of this immortal day:
ALL: Speak: thy strong words may never pass away.
DEMOGORGON: This is the day, which down the void abysm At the Earth-born's spell yawns for Heaven's despotism, And Conquest is dragged captive through the deep: Love, from its awful throne of patient power In the wise heart, from the last giddy hour Of dread endurance, from the slippery, steep, And narrow verge of crag-like agony, springs And folds over the world its healing wings.
Gentleness, Virtue, Wisdom, and Endurance, These are the seals of that most firm assurance Which bars the pit over Destruction's strength; And if, with infirm hand, Eternity, Mother of many acts and hours, should free The serpent that would clasp her with his length; These are the spells by which to reassume An empire o'er the disentangled doom.
To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite; To forgive wrongs darker than death or night; To defy Power, which seems omnipotent; To love, and bear; to hope till Hope creates From its own wreck the thing it contemplates; Neither to change, nor falter, nor repent; This, like thy glory, Titan, is to be Good, great and joyous, beautiful and free; This is alone Life, Joy, Empire, and Victory!