« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
began to write a poem, in which is depicted the incongruous relation in which Prometheus stood to the new gods, inasmuch as he had formed men with his own hand, had animated them, with the aid of Minerva, and had founded a third dynasty. . . . In this strange composition appears, as Monologue, that poem which is become important in German poetry, as having furnished the occasion which led Lessing to declare his opposition to Jacobi on some weighty points of thought and feeling. But though, as it thus appeared, this poem may £ made the subject of moral and religious discussion, yet does it properly belong to the province of poetry alone. . . . . . . . . Milton's “Satan' has always the advantage of a subaltern position, inasmuch as his whole efforts are directed towards the destruction of the magnificent creature of a higher being. Prometheus, on the contrary, stands on a vantage-ground, from having the power to create and to model, in defiance of higher beings. It is a beautiful thought, too, and most consonant with poetry, to trace the creation of man, not to the highest rulers of the world, but to an intermediate being, who, however, as descendant of the elder dynasty, is majestic and important enough for such a work. And, indeed, the Greek mythology affords exhaustless riches of divine and human symbols. The Titanic, gigantic, heaven-storming character, however, afforded no material for my vein of poetry. Rather did it suit me to depict that peaceful, plastic, and £" resistance, which owns a superior power, but seeks to equal it.”— . M.]
Tell them, I will not
Once and for all, I will not! Their will 'gainst mine !
One against one, methinks, is equal match.
This message to thy father Jove? thy mother?
Canst tell me whence thou comest?
I stood, when first I noted consciously
My feet did stand—those hands of mine held out,
When first I knew that I had hands to feel,
And found my footsteps tended, watch'd by those
Whom thou call'st father, mother.
Found, too, all
The needful aids of infancy to thee
Were minister'd by them.
And therefore had they
My infancy's obedience-free to turn
And twist the puny twig, now here, now there,
With every shifting gust of their caprice.
They shielded thee.
From perils which they feared.
But did they guard the heart
From serpent fangs that gnaw'd it inwardly?
Steel'd they this breast, to bid
Defiance to the Titans?
Hath not almighty Time, my lord and yours,
Welded and forged me to the man I am?
Oh, miserable man! This to thy gods,
My gods? No god am I,
Yet can my spirit soar as high as theirs.
You infinite? almighty?
What can you do? Can you into my hand
Toss me the huge expanse of earth and sky?
Have you the power to part me from myself?
Have you the power to dilate my being,
And stretch its compass out into a world?
Dost thou its power acknowledge? So do I.
Away, I serve not vassals | [Erit MERCURY.
(Turning to his statues, which are distributed up and down throughout the grove.)
A moment squander'd, ne'er to be retrieved !
Torn, and by fools, from your society,
My children :
Whate'er it be that stirs within your breast, . [Turning to the figure of a
That breast should bound and leap to meet with mine ! girl.]
The eye speaks even now !
Oh, speak, dear lips—be voluble to me!
Oh, to inspire you with the conscious sense
Of what ye are! [Enter EPIMETHEUs.
Hermes has been complaining bitterly.
If thou hadst had no ear for his complaint,
Without complaint had he gone trooping back.
My brother, just is just !
This time the gods did proffer fair, methinks.
They are content to leave Olympus' heights,
For thee to fix thy habitation there,
And thence to rule the world!
To be their sentinel, and ward their heaven?
More fairly, much more fairly, proffer I.
They wish to share with me, and I opine,
That I have nothing I can share with them.
That which I have, they cannot wrest from me,
And what they have, that let themselves uphold.
Here mine, here thine; and so we stand apart.
How much is thine, then 2
The £ my energies have power to fill—
Nought less, and nothing more!
What right of sway have yonder stars o'er me,
That they do gape at me?
Thou stand'st alone!
Thy wayward spirit will not let thee know
The bliss must needs ensue, if thou, thy gods,
Thy kindred, earth, and universal heaven,
Were link'd in one close-knit and conscious whole.
All that I know !
I prithee, brother dear, pursue thy bent,
And leave me to myself. [Exit EPIMETHEUs.
Here is my world, my all!
Here do I feel myself! My every wish
Clothes itself here in a corporeal form,
My soul imparted to a thousand shapes,
And centered wholly in my children dear. [Enter MINERVA.
Thou venturest, dear goddess? Venturest
To visit thus thy father's enemy?
My father I revere;
Prometheus, I love thee!
And to my soul thou art
What he is to himself. Yea, from the first,
Thy words have been celestial light to me !
£ while thou fed'st mine ear with thy discourse,
'Twas as my soul held commune with herself,
As though she found a tongue, and harmonies,
Awaking to the magic of thy voice,
Rang forth response in golden cadences;
Yea, ’twas as though a deity discoursed,
The while I dream'd 'twas only I that spake-
And, dreamed I’twas a deity that spake,
Lo, ’twas myself discoursed ! And thus with thee
And me, so one, so blended soul with soul,
My love for thee burns everlastingly
MINERVA. And I am everlastingly with thee.
As doth the mellow roseate shine
Of the departed sun
Stream up behind yon dusky Caucasus,
Steeping my spirit in delightful calm,
Absent, yet with me everlastingly;
So have my powers gain'd strength with ev'ry breath
That I inhaled of thy celestial air.
And they presume,
These haughty dwellers on Olympus, they,
To school and lord it o'er my powers at will ?
No; they are mine, and mine shall be their use.
Not one step will I move, this way or that,
No, though the chief of all the gods command!
MINERVA. These are the fantasies of power.
I, goddess, too, have phantasies,
And power, as well as they !
Besides, hast thou not seen me oft and oft
In self-elected bondage, bear the load
They laid in solemn earnest on my back?
Day after day did I not moil and drudge,
Doing the letter of their stern command?
And why? Because I thought
They saw the Past, the Future, in the Present;
Because I deem'd their guidance, their behest,
Was pure, primeval, and unselfish wisdom.
*iiNEnVA. Thou wert content to serve, in order thus To make thee worthy of thy liberty.
Nor would I barter that
To be the bird of thunder,
And haughtily in servile talons clutch
My master's levin bolts.
Thy hate's unjust!
Unto the gods, as lot, Duration fell,
And Might, and Love, and Wisdom.
PROMETHEUs. All these they have, Yes, but not they alone. I, too, endure As well as they. We are immortal all! Of my beginning memory have I none, No impulse or desire have I to end, Nor do I see the end. Therefore am I immortal, for I am! And Wisdom- [Leading MINERVA round among the statues. Look on these brows! Hath not my finger stamp'd and moulded them? And the strong heart within this bosom swells, To £ with the dangers that besiege The children of my hand on every side. [Stops before the statue of a And thou, Pandora, woman.] Sacred receptacle of every gift That is to be desired Beneath the spacious heaven, Upon the boundless earth,
that of throbbing joy e'er gladden'd me,
Or in cool umbrage e'er
With freshness laved my soul.
Type of all soft and delicate desires,
Which love for the bright sun, spring's rapturous flush,
The low, soft music of the murmuring sea,
Have fed, and fann'd, and foster'd in my breast,
Reflex of all that ever I have known
Qf pure celestial radiance, and the calm
Delighted trances of a soul at peace-
The all—all-my Pandora!
Jove hath engaged to clothe them all with life,
So thou accept the tenders that he makes.
'Twas this alone that made me hesitate.
But– I should be a vassal—and, like all,
Avow the sway of yonder Thunderer!
No! By their lifelessness though fettered now,
Yet are they free, and I-I feel their freedom!
And they shall live!
To Fate, not to the gods, doth it belong
To give the gift of life, or take away.
Come, I will lead thee to the source of life,
From which not Jove himself can bar us back.
They shall live, and through thee!