Appendix Two - 4
Spirits of thought, where is your dwelling-place?
Are ye pavilioned among the stars
That glow in mystic beauty? Do ye not,
In robes ethereal, tread the milky way -
Breathing forth heaven's unbroken harmonies;
Or do ye, with the living thunder, leap
In horrid crash; or wrapt within the blaze
Of fiercest lightning, rend the sable clouds,
And awe the shrinking earth to solemn dread?
Do ye repose in some luxuriant dale,
Upon enamelled carpet, ‘neath the shade
Of grateful trees, whose intertwisted arms
Present a golden arch of symmetry,
With vistas exquisite, through which you gaze
Upon the blue serene of cloudless skies?
Or do ye ride upon the cataract
That rushes on in its progressive might,
And thunders o'er terrific precipice
Into the jagged ravine, deep below,
Where furious chafes the foam of ebon hue?
Come from your azure palaces. O, come
From thrones of light cerulean; quickly come,
With all your spirit-stirring ministries.
Come in your cars effulgent. Come, and I
Will follow safely in the lighted track.
While meditating on the violence
Of man to man, I heard, or seemed to hear,
An aged warrior relate a dream,
Which in its issues led him into peace,
Far from huge slaughter's red volcanic stream.
With chastened lineaments and tearful eye,
He thus began: - "We had been loudly hailed
Triumphant victors on the crimson field;
And I, a leader in the conquering host,
Wounded and weak, long courted deep repose,
Until it shed its sweet, oblivious balm.
But soon deep visions crowded on my soul,
In vividness appalling. Lo! I stood
Upon a giant rock, that overhung
The ocean, swelling in colossal might;
And as each billow black and hideous rose,
Faces of blood and eyes of flame appeared,
And glared on me with agonizing spell;
While shattered limbs in dreadful levity,
Careered and reeled upon the crested wave!
In solemn fitfulness, the charmed winds
Were moaning in each arched cavern, where
Old Time had stamped the impress of his march.
They seemed like orphans' curses, widows' groans,
Love's frantic shrieks, and friendship's rending sighs,
Mingled in tones of withering emphasis.
From my youth upward I had always loved
Nature in her sublime and awful modes;
And drunk in rapture from her glorious face,
Whether ‘twas mantled round with stormy cloud,
Or bright in scathing fire; but these were not
Her free and natural tones; or if they were,
My conscience added myst'ry to each tone,
And wrath vindictive to each blasting sight!
I would have plunged into the foaming deep,
And grappled desperately with the shapes
That hissed at me with crushing mockery,
But was arrested on the very verge,
And led resistlessly by arm unseen,
Unto the field of slaughter, where of late
Enthusiastic shouts of glory rose.
The orb of night, erewhile obscured with clouds,
Shone out with wan and melancholy glare,
.And all around me ghastly corpses lay,
Unutterably terrible in death.
Each clotted gash a mouth of thunder seemed
To roll my guilt o'er every listening land.
Anon, a mournful train appeared, - while tones
Of wildest anguish fell upon mine ear,
Hope and despair alternate flitted o'er
Their faces, eloquent in passion's mood.
A maiden with an eye serenely blue,
Her auburn ringlets waving in the breeze,
Was bending o'er a youth of manly form,
In his cold pallid face there was a look
Of unimaginable tenderness.
Her image had been treasured in his soul,
Which fled-and left its utterance behind.
She wept and fondled him, and kissed each wound,
Seeming as if she'd breathe her very soul,
To animate again the lifeless clay.
She lift her eyes to heaven in mental prayer,
Embraced him, shook in agony, and died.
Another, like a virgin of romance,
Stood pale and breathless; neither sighs nor tear
Escaped her; but her black and lustrous eye
Rolled in mysterious frenzy - making known
That fading Reason, tottered from his throne.
‘Twas even so; - she vaulted by the side
Of one, whose best hand grasped a shivered sword,
Crying, "My Henry, why dost thou sleep?
Awake, awake! - for know whilst I did watch
Thy gentle slumbers, wolves were prowling round;
I heard the screech owl and the vulture cry;
Spectres in grim derision hurried past,
Crying, ‘Thy Henry shall wake no more!'
Awake thee, then, my love, and we will go
Far from this place where desolation frowns."
In wasting wretchedness a father stood.
Age had imprinted furrows on his brow,
And silvered o'er the few and scattered hairs,
That played around his venerable head.
Amid the dying and disfigured dead,
He sought his only, his beloved son.
Oh, it was fearful to behold this man,
Turning each lacerated carcase o'er;
And, by the glimmer of the conscious moon,
Eagerly tracing every lineament!
Within my bosom all was tumult wild.
A host of furies were contending there;
Conflicting passions met in furious shock,
And I awoke. Again I courted rest;
Again the visions of the night returned.
Disease was fiercely preying on my frame;
The arms that dashed the sword through hostile ranks,
Hung powerless; the eyes that flashed revenge,
Were dim and sunk - of all their lustre shorn.
Then vagrant memory did conjure up
The green and sunny hills of infancy,
Where I was wont to bask each summer's day,
Revelling in uncontaminating joys;
Then I could pray. Devotion, fervent, pure,
Arose and blended with each cheering gale.
I saw the surly monster of the shades,
Holding above mine head his fatal dart,
And, oft invoked, at last he struck the blow!
No verdant fields appeared in glowing hues;
No flowery grottos, nor Elysian plains,
Fabled by poets as the great reward,
In bright reversion for the noble brave!
I found myself upon a barren waste,
Which I had stained with gore and scorched with fire.
No trees arose in grace; no verdure bloomed;
No waters murmured joy. ‘Twas solitude
Of bleak and stern abiding wretchedness.
But in the midst a ponderous mirror rose,
In which the dreadful scenery of my life
Was pictured as the evidence of guilt.
There was a capital on fire: - in terror
The citizens were bounding from the flame;
But as they rushed, my soldiers, at the point
Of bayonet, forced the wretches back again,
Into the all-devouring element.
There was a festive hall, where friends were met
To celebrate an ancient festival.
Many an aged patriot was there -
Many a youth of towering intellect;
Maidens, whose laughing eyes shed lustre round,
Untarnished by a breath of evil fame;
When, like a demon, I amongst them rushed,
Changing the scene of social happiness,
To carnage, horror, blood, and violation.
There was a town, before whose gates I raged,
Until ‘twas filled with living skeletons,
That prayed upon each other's shrivelled flesh,
And sucked their garments till they hung in rags.
And there were myriad souls, who deep in crime,
Were hurried to a retributive state,
Where mercy never more could shed a tear;
But as I gazed on such terrific scenes,
I woke and found it but a troubled dream.
Since then I have perused the sacred word,
Where principles of action all are traced
Unto their fountain - holy or impure;
And I have ranged the world of action o'er,
Where principles are bodied forth in fact;
And if a painter, large of soul, should ask
For some creative theme to realise
His spiritual grasp, I'd bid him sketch
History in mood of frenzied mockery -
Raving about the dignity of war;
While meek Philanthropy, piercing the guise,
Is shedding tears of agony upon
The blackened, crimsoned column where she rests.
What can we do but mourn, while in a world
Where evil spirits stalk in wasting ire;
And yet their pining victims, struggling, raise
For them triumphal arch, and lauding song.
Even now, before mine eye a gorgeous dome
Is reared in gothic strength; the organ peals
In tones of solemnizing melody,
Preluding rites of pomp and mystery.
I will not enter there; for lo! I see
The genius of the system urging on
Her furious steeds; and now she pants above
The tall and massive columns. See! how wild
She stretches out her time bewasted arms,
Strong, though decrepid with the frosts of age
And buffeting of foes, and madly shakes
The dreadful keys of mystic potency!
Hark! for a dedication or lament.
"O, streams of glory - bright effulgent rays;
Revealing grandeur, giving genial warmth,
Melting the icy shapes that chilled my heart;
Welcome are ye, though blended with much pain;
For ye recal the beauteous days of yore,
When I was throned on Rome's eternal hills,
And issued laws to regulate the world.
O let me take a retrospective glance
At centuries that crowd upon my soul,
In imagery terribly sublime.
The Prince who bled to save a guilty world,
Ere he ascended to the heav'n of heavens,
Leading captivity in captive chains,
Commissioned his apostles to declare
His mission, death, and victory o'er the grave,
Unto the denizens of every land,
As the firm basement of eternal hope.
All who received their glorious evidence
Were justified, were reconciled to God.
They sprang from putrid death to glowing life;
From brooding darkness to meridian light;
From galling chains, to cheering liberty;
From loathsomeness to purity of heart;
From dark despair to ever-living hope.
The dreaming drivellers of heathen fame
Beheld with malice, and with strange dismay,
Their varied systems crumbling into dust,
All demonstrated rotten at the core,
Their tortuous speculations had perplexed
With labyrinthine subtleties; but now
Strong principles of action were supplied,
Producing practical congruity
In sanctity of thought, and word and deed.
Dark era for the truth, but bright for me,
Was when that potent prince, that man of blood,
With daring policy called on the sons
Of Christ, to leave their lofty altitude,
For fading honours, and corrupting gold.
Then I was born! - a rampant monster sprung
From intercourse, unnatural and vile.
The vesture which they wrapt around my limbs,
Was crimson-stained, and studded gorgeously
With gems of brilliancy from every clime.
My nurses nourished me with human gore,
And gave me skeletons to gambol with;
And when I craved for music, ‘twas the groans
Of wasted victims, deep in dungeon gloom,
Gnawing the cold and heavy manacles
That sunk them to the damp and rotting earth!
And I was throned! - oh the ecstatic pomp;
The blaze of glory radiating there,
Thrones, dynasties, and princes, prostrate lay.
Kings kissed my feet, and all their wealth was showered
Around my seat of spiritual power.
I looked around the world with flashing eye
And thought, how shall I make this permanent
How shall I give my throne stability?
Short was the process till I hid that lamp,
Lit by Omnipotence, to guide mankind
Through the dark wilderness of stormy time
Into the region of unbroken light;
And gave them in return, a flickering ray,
Delusive spirit of a marsh, that led
The wretches on; till from the horrent brow
Of jagged precipice, they staggered o'er
Into the jaws of ruin! Yes; I sealed
Up Revelation's all-enlightning page,
With bloody signet, threatened all who dared
To question or to limit my decrees,
With fiery torments now and evermore.
Was there not grandeur in my turpitude,
When I usurped the attributes of God,
And strove to crush the pillars of his might?
When trembling myriads crouching to the dust,
Reeking with every crime, devoutly craved
License to tread anew the paths of guilt,
And ride on Mammon's shoulders into heaven;
And when I bid the darkest frowns of hell
Awe into slavish dread, the few who held
Their hoarded wealth as precious as their souls!
Yet, even ‘mid this slumber so profound,
My exultation was not free from pain;
For there were many would not bend the knee,
Nor stoop, their radiant foreheads, to receive
The branding of my iron; - all in vain
The ocean deep disclosed its horrid womb;
The scorching fires arose in volumed blaze;
The furious beast oped wide his bloody jaws;
And death in every mode of terror frowned.
‘Twas futile all; I might as well have tried
To shatter rocks with moral evidence!
They smiled with undisturbed serenity,
With tranquil peace, and with seraphic joy,
Their mildness adding fuel to my rage;
And they who lived, still unappalled, went on
In firm rebellion against my laws.
Yes; by the roar of foaming cataracts;
By the wild music of the swelling wave -
Where the winds sighed in fitful melody,
Or sheeted lightnings moved in awful flame,
In dreary desert, or on sterile waste;
In mountain fastness or secluded glen;
Under the cover of the rugged rock;
Or deep within the cavernous recess,
Where slimy things crawled on in hideous track;
In scenes of splendour, peril, barrenness,
Wherever I had driven, - there thrilling burst
The loud "Hosannahs" to Immanuel God.
Their prayers and anthems rose in fervency,
To Him who never slumbers in his watch!
Ye Architects, that spread the mighty arch,
And reared the stately column to the clouds:
Ye cunning workmen of the fretted roof,
The Golden altar, and the marble shrine;
Ye sculpturers, that bid the marble start
From indurated coldness into life,
And every mood of passion, from the glow
Of infant love seraphic, to the dark
And stern resolves of fierce and mailed wrath;
And ye, at whose command the canvas lived
In all the beauties and sublimities
Of heaven and earth, of ocean and of sky,
Where intellectual fires, that flickered in
The ages of the past, again relumed,
Kindled in pristine warmth and energy;
And ye, with souls of melody, that wrapt
The worshippers in musing ecstacy,
Or, with your tones of thunder, thrilled through all
The deep recesses of the chorded mind,
Waking the slumbering passions into play; -
Oh, mighty host! come in your magic powers;
Let science, genius, hoar antiquity,
Unite in resting temples to my name,
But how were ye deluded, when ye thought
That I delighted in communion
With human genius in her brilliant forms.
Ye were but instruments, by which I scared
The simple spirit of the Christian truth,
Until she fled indignantly to heaven,
Leaving the system but a painted tomb,
Which I took care to fill with dead men's bones!
I tremble yet, to think upon the time
When Luther and his brethren awoke,
And shook the pillars of my citadel.
Had they but come on fair and equal terms,
With tortures, fire, and sword, I would have strode
With legions, fierce and dreadful in array,
And given the earth their rebel blood to drink,
And given the winds their dust to wanton with.
But they grasped armour which I had not proved,
Weapons etherial, which I could not wield.
The horribly delusive glass, through which
Mankind had gazed upon my works of death,
Was shivered into fragments! - ruthlessly
They tore aside the ornate drapery,
With which I veiled the seat of my repose,
And I was dragged into the blaze of day!
But all their exhortations to the world,
To spurn the trammels of implicit faith,
And listen to the pleading of the spirit,
Scowling indignantly on mental bonds,
And parting for a more excursive range,
Would have been fruitless, had they not unsealed
The treasury of knowledge and of power,
Bright with the impress of divinity.
The vulgar grasped the sacred mysteries,
And lo! the darkness which they long had felt,
Was chased away; and from their heavy eyes
The dimness vanished, and their chainless hands
Were lifted up in adoration pure.
Oft I have laughed in scornful mockery,
At those sagacious thinkers, who maintain
That I have changed my nature, and am now
Striving for peace, and purity, and love.
The torrent may be placid; but remove
The strong embankments which my foes have reared,
And it will foam in pristine turbulence;
Hissing o'er scenes of ravage and of death!
I agonize for power - I pant to see
The true, infallible, and mother church,
Arrayed in ancient splendour, hold the world
In spell of terrible malignancy,
Deposing monarchs, and destroying law,
By grinding into ashes every foe;
By deluging the earth with crimson floods;
By cloudy columns rising to the skies,
Bearing the groans of those that hug the stake.
But never will such period dawn again,
With such reviving issues; - for this age
Is ripe with portents ominous and dread,
Presaging gathering, retributive wrath,
About to burst on my devoted head.
But why exchange the hero's lofty mood,
For prophet's visioned terror? I will rise
And shake myself, and put forth all my might:
The struggle shall be fearfully sublime.
I will awake my slumbering energies -
Concentrate all the powers that I possess;
And, in my fall, convulse the universe,
And, if I perish, perish gloriously!"
The dome august, the melody, the voice,
The giant arm, the wild and haggard mien,
The garments with their dark emblazonry,
The steeds, fleet, wasting as the hurricane,
Are passing quick; all, but the moral, fades
In darkness and in silence; it remains
Engraven on my heart; - and if on yours,
I have not woo'd the solemn muse in vain.