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And then there was a little isle,
Which in my very face did smile,
The only one in view :
A small green isle, it seem'd no more,
Scarce broader than my dungeon floor;
But in it there were three tall trees,
And o'er it blew the mountain breeze,
And by it there were waters flowing,
And on it there were young flowers growing,
Of gentle breath and hue.
The fish swam by the castle wall,
And they seem'd joyous, each and all;
The eagle rode the rising blast,
Methought he never flew so fast
As then to me he seem'd to fly,
And then new tears came in my eye,
And I felt troubled-and would fain
I had not left my recent chain;
And when I did descend again,
The darkness of my dim abode
Fell on me as a heavy load;
It was as is a new-dug grave,
Closing o'er one we sought to save.
And yet my glance, too much opprest,
Had almost need of such a rest.
It might be months, or years, or days,
I kept no count-I took no note,
I had no hope my eyes to raise,
And clear them of their dreary mote;
At last men came to set me free,
I ask'd not why, and reck'd not where ;
It was at length the same to me,
Fetter'd or fetterless to be,
I learn'd to love despair.
And thus, when they appear'd at last,
And all my bonds aside were cast,
These heavy walls to me had grown
A hermitage and all my own!
And half I felt as they were come
To tear me from a second home:
With spiders I had friendship made,
And watch'd them in their sullen trade,
Had seen the mice by moonlight play,
And why should I feel less than they?
We were all inmates of one place,
And I, the monarch of each race,
Had power to kill-yet, strange to tell!
In quiet we had learn'd to dwell-
My very chains and I grew friends,
So much a long communion tends
To make us what we are:-even I
Regain'd my freedom with a sigh.
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
The scene of the Drama is amongst the Higher Alps— partly in the Castle of Manfred, and partly in the
SCENE I.-MANFRED alone.-Scene, a Gothic Gallery.-
Man. The lamp must be replenish'd, but even then
It will not burn so long as I must watch:
My slumbers-if I slumber—are not sleep,
But a continuance of enduring thought,
Which then I can resist not in my heart
There is a vigil, and these eyes but close
To look within; and yet I live, and bear
The aspect and the form of breathing men.
But grief should be the instructor of the wise;
Sorrow is knowledge: they who know the most
Must mourn the deepest o'er the fatal truth,
The Tree of Knowledge is not that of Life.
Philosophy and science, and the springs
Of wonder, and the wisdom of the world,
I have essay'd, and in my mind there is
A power to make these subject to itself—
But they avail not: I have done men good,
And I have met with good even among men-
But this avail'd not: I have had my foes,
And none have baffled, many fallen before me—
But this avail'd not :-Good, or evil, life,
Powers, passions, all I see in other beings,
Have been to me as rain unto the sands,
Since that all-nameless hour. I have no dread,
And feel the curse to have no natural fear,
Nor fluttering throb, that beats with hopes or wishes,
Or lurking love of something on the earth.--
Now to my task.-
Ye spirits of the unbounded Universe!
Whom I have sought in darkness and in light
Ye, who do compass earth about, and dwell
In subtler essence-ye, to whom the tops
Of mountains inaccessible are haunts,
And earth's and ocean's caves familiar things
I call upon ye by the written charm
Which gives me power upon you-Rise! appear!
They come not yet.-Now by the voice of him
Who is the first among you-by this sign,
Which makes you tremble-by the claims of him
Who is undying,-Rise! appear!-Appear!
If it be so,-Spirits of earth and air,
Ye shall not thus elude me: by a power,
Deeper than all yet urged, a tyrant-spell,
Which had its birth-place in a star condemn'd,
The burning wreck of a demolish'd world,
A wandering hell in the eternal space!
By the strong curse which is upon my soul,
The thought which is within me and around me,
I do compel ye to my will.-Appear!
[A star is seen at the darker end of the gallery: it is stationary: and a voice is heard sing ing.
Mortal! to thy bidding bow'd,
From my mansion in the cloud,
Which the breath of twilight builds,
And the summer's sunset gilds
With the azure and vermilion,
Which is mix'd for my pavilion ;
Though thy quest may be forbidden,
On a star-beam I have ridden;
To thine adjuration bow'd,
Mortal-be thy wish avow'd!
Voice of the SECOND SPIRIT.
Mont Blanc is the monarch of mountains:
They crown'd him long ago
On a throne of rocks, in a robe of clouds,
With a diadem of snow.
Around his waist are forests braced,
The Avalanche in his hand;
But ere it fall, that thundering ball
Must pause for my command.
The Glacier's cold and restless mass
Moves onward day by day;
But I am he who bids it pass,
Or with its ice delay.