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It was so calm, that scarce the feathery weed Sown by some eagle on the topmost stone Sway'd in the air :-so bright, that noon did breed No shadow in the sky beside mine ownMine, and the shadow of my chain alone. Below the smoke of roofs involved in flame Rested like night, all else was clearly shown In that broad glare, yet sound to me none came, But of the living blood that ran within my frame.
The peace of madness fled, and ah, too soon!
I knew that ship bore Cythna o'er the plain
Of waters, to her blighting slavery sold,
My brain began to fail when the fourth morn Burst o'er the golden isles—a fearful sleep, Which through the caverns dreary and forlorn Of the riven soul, sent its foul dreams to sweep With whirlwind swiftness-a fall far and deep,A gulf, a void, a sense of senselessnessThese things dwelt in me, even as shadows keep Their watch in some dim charnel's loneliness, A shoreless sea, a sky sunless and planetless!
The forms which peopled this terrific trance
Foul, ceaseless shadows :-thought could not divide
And watch'd it with such thoughts as must remain untold. All shapes like mine own self, hideously multiplied.
I watch'd, until the shades of evening wrapt Earth like an exhalation-then the bark Moved, for that calm was by the sunset snapt. It moved a speck upon the Ocean dark : Soon the wan stars came forth, and I could mark Its path no more!-I sought to close mine eyes, But like the balls, their lids were stiff and stark; I would have risen, but ere that I could rise, My parched skin was split with piercing agonies.
I gnaw'd my brazen chain, and sought to sever
The Champion of thy faith e'er sought to fly.—
To breathe, to be, to hope, or to despair
The sense of day and night, of false and true,
I know not yet, was it a dream or no.
But both, though not distincter, were immersed
Made their divided streams more bright and rapid now.
Methought that gate was lifted, and the seven
Leaning that I might eat, I stretch'd and clung
A woman's shape, now lank and cold and blue,
Those horny eyes? whose was that wither'd form?
Laugh'd in those looks, and that the flesh was warm Within my teeth!-a whirlwind keen as frost
From one faint hope whose flower a dropping poison shed. Then in its sinking gulfs my sickening spirit tost.
Two days thus past-I neither raved nor died-
My thoughts, and now no drop remain'd! the uprest
And bit my bloodless arm, and lick'd the brazen rust.
Then seem'd it that a tameless hurricane
His heavenly smiles dispersed, and I could wake and weep.
And when the blinding tears had fallen, I saw That column, and those corpses, and the moon, And felt the poisonous tooth of hunger gnaw My vitals, I rejoiced, as if the boon
Of senseless death would be accorded soon;When from that stony gloom a voice arose, Solemn and sweet as when low winds attune The midnight pines, the grate did then unclose, And on that reverend form the moonlight did repose.
He struck my chains, and gently spake and smiled:
To answer those kind looks-he did infold
His giant arms around me, to uphold
My wretched frame, my scorched limbs he wound
In linen moist and balmy, and as cold
As dew to drooping leaves:-the chain, with sound Like earthquake, througl. the chasm of that steep stair
As lifting me, it fell!-What next I heard,
And the shrill sea-wind, whose breath idly stirr'd
That mountain and its column, the known mark Of those who in the wide deep wandering are, So that I fear'd some Spirit, fell and dark, In trance had lain me thus within a fiendish bark.
For now indeed, over the salt sea billow
I sail'd: yet dared not look upon the shape Of him who ruled the helm, although the pillow For my light head was hollow'd in his lap, And my bare limbs his mantle did enwrap, "Fearing it was a fiend: at last, he bent O'er me his aged face, as if to snap Those dreadful thoughts the gentle grandsire bent, And to my inmost soul his soothing looks he sent.
A soft and healing potion to my lips
« It is a friend beside thee-take good cheer, Poor victim, thou art now at liberty!»
I joy'd as those a human tone to hear,
And then the night-wind steaming from the shore,
And the swift boat the little waves which bore,
Where ebon pines a shade under the starlight wove.
THE old man took the oars, and soon the bark Smote on the beach beside a tower of stone; It was a crumbling heap, whose portal dark With blooming ivy trails was overgrown ; Upon whose floor the spangling sands were strown, And rarest sea-shells, which the eternal flood, Slave to the mother of the months, had thrown Within the walls of that grey tower, which stood A changeling of man's art, nursed amid Nature's brood.
When the old man his boat had anchored, He wound me in his arms with tender care, And very few, but kindly words he said, And bore me through the tower adown a stair, Whose smooth descent some ceaseless step to wear For many a year had fall'n-We came at last To a small chamber, which with mosses rare Was tapestried, where me his soft hands placed Upon a couch of grass and oak-leaves interlaced.
The moon was darting through the lattices
Who in cells deep and lone have languish'd many a year. Whose lore had made that sage all that he had become.
A dim and feeble joy, whose glimpses oft Were quench'd in a relapse of wildering dreams, Yet still methonght we sail'd, until aloft The stars of night grew pallid, and the beams Of morn descended on the ocean-streams, And still that aged man, so grand and mild, Tended me, even as some sick mother seems To hang in hope over a dying child, Till in the azure East darkness again was piled.
The rock-built barrier of the sea was past,-
A lonely lake, amid the forests vast