THE FAIRY: 'The Present and the Past thou hast beheld: It was a desolate sight. Now, Spirit, learn The secrets of the Future.-Time! Unfold the brooding pinion of thy gloom, Render thou up thy half-devoured babes, And from the cradles of eternity, Where millions lie lulled to their portioned sleep By the deep murmuring stream of passing things, Tear thou that gloomy shroud.-Spirit, behold Thy glorious destiny!'
Joy to the Spirit came. Through the wide rent in Time's eternal veil, Hope was seen beaming through the mists of fear: Earth was no longer Hell; Love, freedom, health, had given Their ripeness to the manhood of its prime, And all its pulses beat Symphonious to the planetary spheres: Then dulcet music swelled Concordant with the life-strings of the soul; It throbbed in sweet and languid beatings there, Catching new life from transitory death,- Like the vague sighings of a wind at even, That wakes the wavelets of the slumbering sea And dies on the creation of its breath, And sinks and rises, fails and swells by fits: Was the pure stream of feeling That sprung from these sweet notes, And o'er the Spirit's human sympathies With mild and gentle motion calmly flowed.
Joy to the Spirit came,- Such joy as when a lover sees The chosen of his soul in happiness, And witnesses her peace Whose woe to him were bitterer than death, Sees her unfaded cheek Glow mantling in first luxury of health, Thrills with her lovely eyes, Which like two stars amid the heaving main Sparkle through liquid bliss.
Then in her triumph spoke the Fairy Queen: 'I will not call the ghost of ages gone To unfold the frightful secrets of its lore; The present now is past, And those events that desolate the earth Have faded from the memory of Time, Who dares not give reality to that Whose being I annul. To me is given The wonders of the human world to keep, Space, matter, time, and mind. Futurity Exposes now its treasure; let the sight Renew and strengthen all thy failing hope. O human Spirit! spur thee to the goal Where virtue fixes universal peace, And midst the ebb and flow of human things, Show somewhat stable, somewhat certain still, A lighthouse o'er the wild of dreary waves.
'The habitable earth is full of bliss; Those wastes of frozen billows that were hurled By everlasting snowstorms round the poles, Where matter dared not vegetate or live, But ceaseless frost round the vast solitude Bound its broad zone of stillness, are unloosed; And fragrant zephyrs there from spicy isles Ruffle the placid ocean-deep, that rolls Its broad, bright surges to the sloping sand, Whose roar is wakened into echoings sweet To murmur through the Heaven-breathing groves And melodize with man's blest nature there.
'Those deserts of immeasurable sand, Whose age-collected fervours scarce allowed A bird to live, a blade of grass to spring, Where the shrill chirp of the green lizard's love Broke on the sultry silentness alone, Now teem with countless rills and shady woods, Cornfields and pastures and white cottages; And where the startled wilderness beheld A savage conqueror stained in kindred blood, A tigress sating with the flesh of lambs The unnatural famine of her toothless cubs, Whilst shouts and howlings through the desert rang, Sloping and smooth the daisy-spangled lawn, Offering sweet incense to the sunrise, smiles To see a babe before his mother's door, Sharing his morning's meal With the green and golden basilisk That comes to lick his feet.
'Those trackless deeps, where many a weary sail Has seen above the illimitable plain, Morning on night, and night on morning rise, Whilst still no land to greet the wanderer spread Its shadowy mountains on the sun-bright sea, Where the loud roarings of the tempest-waves So long have mingled with the gusty wind In melancholy loneliness, and swept The desert of those ocean solitudes, But vocal to the sea-bird's harrowing shriek, The bellowing monster, and the rushing storm, Now to the sweet and many-mingling sounds Of kindliest human impulses respond. Those lonely realms bright garden-isles begem, With lightsome clouds and shining seas between, And fertile valleys, resonant with bliss, Whilst green woods overcanopy the wave, Which like a toil-worn labourer leaps to shore, To meet the kisses of the flow'rets there.
'All things are recreated, and the flame Of consentaneous love inspires all life: The fertile bosom of the earth gives suck To myriads, who still grow beneath her care, Rewarding her with their pure perfectness: The balmy breathings of the wind inhale Her virtues, and diffuse them all abroad: Health floats amid the gentle atmosphere, Glows in the fruits, and mantles on the stream: No storms deform the beaming brow of Heaven, Nor scatter in the freshness of its pride The foliage of the ever-verdant trees; But fruits are ever ripe, flowers ever fair, And Autumn proudly bears her matron grace, Kindling a flush on the fair cheek of Spring, Whose virgin bloom beneath the ruddy fruit Reflects its tint, and blushes into love.
'The lion now forgets to thirst for blood: There might you see him sporting in the sun Beside the dreadless kid; his claws are sheathed, His teeth are harmless, custom's force has made His nature as the nature of a lamb. Like passion's fruit, the nightshade's tempting bane Poisons no more the pleasure it bestows: All bitterness is past; the cup of joy Unmingled mantles to the goblet's brim, And courts the thirsty lips it fled before.
'But chief, ambiguous Man, he that can know More misery, and dream more joy than all; Whose keen sensations thrill within his breast To mingle with a loftier instinct there, Lending their power to pleasure and to pain, Yet raising, sharpening, and refining each; Who stands amid the ever-varying world, The burthen or the glory of the earth; He chief perceives the change, his being notes The gradual renovation, and defines Each movement of its progress on his mind.
'Man, where the gloom of the long polar night Lowers o'er the snow-clad rocks and frozen soil, Where scarce the hardiest herb that braves the frost Basks in the moonlight's ineffectual glow, Shrank with the plants, and darkened with the night; His chilled and narrow energies, his heart, Insensible to courage, truth, or love, His stunted stature and imbecile frame, Marked him for some abortion of the earth, Fit compeer of the bears that roamed around, Whose habits and enjoyments were his own: His life a feverish dream of stagnant woe, Whose meagre wants, but scantily fulfilled, Apprised him ever of the joyless length Which his short being's wretchedness had reached; His death a pang which famine, cold and toil Long on the mind, whilst yet the vital spark Clung to the body stubbornly, had brought: All was inflicted here that Earth's revenge Could wreak on the infringers of her law; One curse alone was spared-the name of God.
'Nor where the tropics bound the realms of day With a broad belt of mingling cloud and flame, Where blue mists through the unmoving atmosphere Scattered the seeds of pestilence, and fed Unnatural vegetation, where the land Teemed with all earthquake, tempest and disease, Was Man a nobler being; slavery Had crushed him to his country's bloodstained dust; Or he was bartered for the fame of power, Which all internal impulses destroying, Makes human will an article of trade; Or he was changed with Christians for their gold, And dragged to distant isles, where to the sound Of the flesh-mangling scourge, he does the work Of all-polluting luxury and wealth, Which doubly visits on the tyrants' heads The long-protracted fulness of their woe; Or he was led to legal butchery, To turn to worms beneath that burning sun, Where kings first leagued against the rights of men, And priests first traded with the name of God.
'Even where the milder zone afforded Man A seeming shelter, yet contagion there, Blighting his being with unnumbered ills, Spread like a quenchless fire; nor truth till late Availed to arrest its progress, or create That peace which first in bloodless victory waved Her snowy standard o'er this favoured clime: There man was long the train-bearer of slaves, The mimic of surrounding misery, The jackal of ambition's lion-rage, The bloodhound of religion's hungry zeal. 'Here now the human being stands adorning This loveliest earth with taintless body and mind; Blessed from his birth with all bland impulses, Which gently in his noble bosom wake All kindly passions and all pure desires. Him, still from hope to hope the bliss pursuing Which from the exhaustless lore of human weal Dawns on the virtuous mind, the thoughts that rise In time-destroying infiniteness, gift With self-enshrined eternity, that mocks The unprevailing hoariness of age, And man, once fleeting o'er the transient scene Swift as an unremembered vision, stands Immortal upon earth: no longer now He slays the lamb that looks him in the face, And horribly devours his mangled flesh, Which, still avenging Nature's broken law, Kindled all putrid humours in his frame, All evil passions, and all vain belief, Hatred, despair, and loathing in his mind, The germs of misery, death, disease, and crime. No longer now the winged habitants, That in the woods their sweet lives sing away,- Flee from the form of man; but gather round, And prune their sunny feathers on the hands Which little children stretch in friendly sport Towards these dreadless partners of their play. All things are void of terror: Man has lost His terrible prerogative, and stands An equal amidst equals: happiness And science dawn though late upon the earth; Peace cheers the mind, health renovates the frame; Disease and pleasure cease to mingle here, Reason and passion cease to combat there; Whilst each unfettered o'er the earth extend Their all-subduing energies, and wield The sceptre of a vast dominion there; Whilst every shape and mode of matter lends Its force to the omnipotence of mind, Which from its dark mine drags the gem of truth To decorate its Paradise of peace.'
NOTES: _204 exhaustless store edition 1813. _205 Draws edition 1813. See Editor's Note.