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Within the massy prison's mouldering courts Fearless and free the ruddy children play, Weaving gay chaplets for their innocent brows With the green ivy and the red wall-flower, That mock the dungeon's unavailing gloom; The ponderous chains, and gratings of strong iron,
There rust amid the accumulated ruins
Now mingling slowly with their native earth;
With a pale and sickly glare, now freely shines
Of ivy-fingered winds and gladsome birds
The fanes of Fear and Falsehood hear no
The voice that once waked multitudes to war Thundering through all their aisles, but now respond
To the death dirge of the melancholy wind.
The works of faith and slavery, so vast,
So sumptuous, yet withal so perishing,
209 Temples once stained with falsehood hear no more ...
To decorate its memory, and tongues
Now Time his dusky pennons o'er the scene Closes in steadfast darkness, and the past Fades from our charmed sight. My task is done; Thy lore is learned. Earth's wonders are thine
With all the fear and all the hope they bring.
Yet, human Spirit, bravely hold thy course. Let virtue teach thee firmly to pursue The gradual paths of an aspiring change. For birth and life and death, and that strange
Before the naked powers, that through the world
For birth but wakes the universal mind,
Yet spring's awakening breath will woo the earth To feed with kindliest dews its favorite flower, That blooms in mossy banks and darksome glens, Lighting the green wood with its sunny smile.
Fear not then, Spirit, death's disrobing hand, So welcome when the tyrant is awake, So welcome when the bigot's hell-torch flares; 'Tis but the voyage of a darksome hour, The transient gulf-dream of a startling sleep. For what thou art shall perish utterly, But what is thine may never cease to be; Death is no foe to virtue; earth has seen Love's brightest roses on the scaffold bloom, Mingling with freedom's fadeless laurels there, And presaging the truth of visioned bliss. Are there not hopes within thee, which this scene Of linked and gradual being has confirmed?
Hopes that not vainly thou, and living fires
Earth's pride and meanness could not vanquish thee,
And therefore art thou worthy of the boon
Whose sleepless spirit waits to catch
The Dæmon called its wingèd ministers. Speechless with bliss the Spirit mounts the car, That rolled beside the crystal battlement, Bending her beamy eyes in thankfulness.
305 ministers || messengers, MS. cancelled.
The burning wheels inflame
The steep descent of Heaven's untrodden way.
Lessened by slow degrees, and soon appeared
That, ministering on the solar power,
With borrowed light, pursued their narrower way.
Earth floated then below.
The chariot paused a moment; The Spirit then descended; And from the earth departing The shadows with swift wings Speeded like thought upon the light of Heaven.
The Body and the Soul united then; A gentle start convulsed Ianthe's frame; Her veiny eyelids quietly unclosed; Moveless awhile the dark blue orbs remained. She looked around in wonder and beheld Henry, who kneeled in silence by her couch, Watching her sleep with looks of speechless love, And the bright beaming stars
That through the casement shone.