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The noontide sun was darken'd with that smoke,
The deeds which night and fear brought forth, or weigh
He might man's deep and searchless heart display, And cast a light on those dim labyrinths, where Hope, near imagined chasms, is struggling with despair.
'Tis said, a mother dragg'd three children then, To those fierce flames which roast the eyes in the head, And laugh'd and died; and that unholy men, Feasting like fiends upon the infidel dead, Look'd from their meal, and saw an Angel tread The visible floor of Heaven, and it was she! And, on that night, one without doubt or dread Came to the fire, and said, Stop, I am he! Kill me!» they burn'd them both with hellish mockery.
And, one by one, that night, young maidens came, Beauteous and calm, like shapes of living stone Clothed in the light of dreams, and by the flame Which shrank as overgorged, they laid them down, And sung a slow sweet song, of which alone One word was heard, and that was Liberty; And that some kiss'd their marble feet, with moan Like love, and died, and then that they did die With happy smiles, which sunk in white tranquillity.
SHE saw me not-she heard me not-alone
She spake not, breathed not, moved not-there was thrown
Over her look, the shadow of a mood
A thought of voiceless depth;-she stood alone; Above, the Heavens were spread;-below, the flood Was murmuring in its caves;-the wind had blown Her hair apart, thro' which her eyes and forehead shone. II.
A cloud was hanging o'er the western mountains; Before its blue and moveless depth were flying Grey mists pour'd forth from the unresting fountains Of darkness in the North:-the day was dying:Sudden, the sun shone forth, its beams were lying Like boiling gold on Ocean, strange to see, And on the shatter'd vapours, which defying The power of light in vain, toss'd restlessly In the red Heaven, like wrecks in a tempestuous sea.
It was a stream of living beams, whose bank
Of liquid light, which then did end and fade-
I stood beside her, but she saw me notShe look'd upon the sea, and skies, and earth; Rapture, and love, and admiration wrought A passion deeper far than tears, or mirth, Or speech, or gesture, or whate'er has birth From common joy; which, with the speechless feeling That led her there united, and shot forth From her far eyes, a light of deep revealing, All but her dearest self from my regard concealing.
Her lips were parted, and the measured breath
From her whole frame, an atmosphere which quite Array'd her in its beams, tremulous and soft and bright.
She would have clasp'd me to her glowing frame;
I might have heard her voice, tender and sweet;
I gazed-we parted then, never again to meet!
Never but once to meet on Earth again!
<< I cannot reach thee! whither dost thou fly?
My steps are faint-Come back, thou dearest oneReturn, ah me! return»-the wind past by
On which those accents died, faint, far, and lingeringly.
Woe! woe! that moonless midnight-Want and Pest
Of circling coals of fire; but still there clung
Which none can gather yet, the distant crowd has stirred. Out of the fears and hate which vain desires have brought.
THE transport of a fierce and monstrous gladness
Just heard the happy tidings, and in hope
Its pale eyes then; and lo! the long array Of guards in golden arms, and priests beside, Singing their bloody hymns, whose garbs betray The blackness of the faith it seems to hide; And see, the tyrant's gem-wrought chariot glide Among the gloomy cowls and glittering spearsA shape of light is sitting by his side, A child most beautiful. I the midst appears Laon,- exempt alone from mortal hopes and fears.
His head and feet are bare, his hands are bound
Tumult was in the soul of all beside,
Is changed to a dim night by that unnatural glare.
And see! beneath a sun-bright canopy,
Upon a platform level with the pile,
The anxious Tyrant sit, enthroned on high,
I, Laon, led by mutes, ascend my bier
Of fire, and look around; each distant isle Is dark in the bright dawn; towers far and near Pierce like reposing flames the tremulous atmosphere.