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Nec tantum prodere vati,
Quantum scire licet. Venit ætas omnis in unam
Congeriem, miserumque premunt tot sæcula pectus.
LUCAN, PHARS. v. 176-178.


How wonderful is Death,

Death and his brother Sleep!

One, pale as yonder wan and hornèd moon,

With lips of lurid blue;

The other, glowing like the vital morn

When throned on ocean's wave
It breathes over the world;

Yet both so passing strange and wonderful!

Hath then the iron-sceptred Skeleton,
Whose reign is in the tainted sepulchres,
To the hell dogs that couch beneath his throne
Cast that fair prey? Must that divinest form,
Which love and admiration cannot view
Without a beating heart, whose azure veins
Steal like dark streams along a field of snow,
Whose outline is as fair as marble clothed
In light of some sublimest mind, decay?
Nor putrefaction's breath
Leave aught of this pure spectacle
But loathsomeness and ruin?
Spare aught but a dark theme,

The Damon of the World. Published with Alastor, 1816.

On which the lightest heart might moralize?
Or is it but that downy-winged slumbers
Have charmed their nurse, coy Silence, near her


To watch their own repose?

Will they, when morning's beam
Flows through those wells of light,

Seek far from noise and day some western cave,
Where woods and streams with soft and pausing


A lulling murmur weave?

Ianthe doth not sleep
The dreamless sleep of death;

Nor in her moonlight chamber silently

Doth Henry hear her regular pulses throb,
Or mark her delicate cheek

With interchange of hues mock the broad moon, Outwatching weary night,

Without assured reward.

Her dewy eyes are closed;

On their translucent lids, whose texture fine

Scarce hides the dark blue orbs that burn below

With unapparent fire,

The baby Sleep is pillowed;
Her golden tresses shade
The bosom's stainless pride,

Twining like tendrils of the parasite
Around a marble column.

Hark! whence that rushing sound?
'Tis like a wondrous strain that
Around a lonely ruin

When west winds sigh and evening waves respond
In whispers from the shore:
"Tis wilder than the unmeasured notes
Which from the unseen lyres of dells and
The genii of the breezes sweep.


Floating on waves of music and of light
The chariot of the Dæmon of the World
Descends in silent power.

Its shape reposed within; slight as some cloud
That catches but the palest tinge of day
When evening yields to night;

Bright as that fibrous woof when stars endue
Its transitory robe.

Four shapeless shadows bright and beautiful
Draw that strange car of glory; reins of light
Check their unearthly speed; they stop and fold
Their wings of braided air.

The Dæmon, leaning from the ethereal car,
Gazed on the slumbering maid.

Human eye hath ne'er beheld

A shape so wild, so bright, so beautiful,

As that which o'er the maiden's charmèd sleep,
Waving a starry wand,

Hung like a mist of light.

Such sounds as breathed around like odorous winds

Of wakening spring arose,

Filling the chamber and the moonlight sky.

"Maiden, the world's supremest spirit Beneath the shadow of her wings Folds all thy memory doth inherit

From ruin of divinest things,

Feelings that lure thee to betray,
And light of thoughts that pass away.

"For thou hast earned a mighty boon;
The truths, which wisest poets see
Dimly, thy mind may make its own,
Rewarding its own majesty,

Entranced in some diviner mood
Of self-oblivious solitude.

"Custom and Faith and Power thou spurnest;
From hate and awe thy heart is free;
Ardent and pure as day thou burnest,
For dark and cold mortality

A living light, to cheer it long,
The watch-fires of the world among.

"Therefore from Nature's inner shrine,

Where gods and fiends in worship bend,
Majestic spirit, be it thine

The flame to seize, the veil to rend,
Where the vast snake Eternity
In charmed sleep doth ever lie.

"All that inspires thy voice of love,
Or speaks in thy unclosing eyes,
Or through thy frame doth burn or move,
Or think or feel, awake, arise!

Spirit, leave for mine and me
Earth's unsubstantial mimicry!

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It ceased, and from the mute and moveless frame A radiant spirit arose,

All beautiful in naked purity.

Robed in its human hues it did ascend,
Disparting as it went the silver clouds
It moved towards the car, and took its seat
Beside the Dæmon shape.

Obedient to the sweep of aëry song,
The mighty ministers
Unfurled their prismy wings.

The magic car moved on.
The night was fair - innumerable stars
Studded heaven's dark blue vault;
The eastern wave grew pale
With the first smile of morn.

The magic car moved on. From the swift sweep of wings The atmosphere in flaming sparkles flew ; And where the burning wheels Eddied above the mountain's loftiest peak Was traced a line of lightning. Now far above a rock, the utmost verge Of the wide earth, it flew,

The rival of the Andes, whose dark brow Frowned o'er the silver sea.

Far, far below the chariot's stormy path,
Calm as a slumbering babe,
Tremendous ocean lay.

Its broad and silent mirror gave to view
The pale and waning stars,
The chariot's fiery track,
And the gray light of morn

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