Purgatory of Suicides: Book III.
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        HAIL, glorious Sun!   All hail the captive's friend!
    Giver of purest joys, where Sorrow fain
    Would enter and abide, and, traitorous, lend
    Her power to aggravate the tyrant's chain:
    Great Exorcist, that bringest up the train
    Of childhood's joyaunce, and youth's dazzling dreams
    From the heart's sepulchre, until, again,
    I live in ecstasy, 'mid woods, and streams,
And golden flowers that laugh while kissed by thy bright



    Ay, once more, mirrored in the silver Trent,
    Thy noon-tide majesty I think I view
    With boyish wonder; or, till drowsed and spent
    With eagerness, peer up the vaulted blue
    With shaded eyes, watching the lark pursue
    Her dizzy flight; then, on a fragrant bed
    Of meadow sweets still sprent with morning dew,
    Dream how the heavenly chambers overhead
With steps of grace and joy the holy angels tread.



    Of voices sweet, and harps with golden wires
    Touched by the fingers of the seraph throng;
    Of radiant vision which the cherub choirs
    Witness, with jubilee of rapturous song,
    And without weariness their joy prolong,
    I lie and dream, till, with a start, I wake,
    Thinking my mother's home is still among
    Earth's children, and her yearning heart will ache,
If, for those angel joys, her smile I should forsake.—



    O heart, now cold in the devouring grave,
    And torn; no more, by scorn and suffering,
    How fondly didst thou to thy darling cleave!
    Although thy tyrants but a worthless thing
    Esteemed him.   Rankled, deep, oppression's sting
    In thy recesses: still, in hardihood
    Of conscious right, stern challenge thou didst fling
    Back at thy foemen and their hireling brood;
And beat unto old age with free and youthful blood!



    Mother, thy wrongs, the common wrongs of all
    To labour doomed by proud and selfish drones,
    Enduringly have fixed the burning gall
    Deep in my veins—ay, in my very bones.
    I hate ye, things with surplices and crowns!
    Serpents that poison, tigers that devour
    Poor human kind, and fill the earth with groans,
    Through every clime!   Godsend ye were no more!
Ye'd have a merry requiem, from shore to shore!



    Taxes for king and priest a knave was wont
    To filch from my poor widowed mother's toil;
    And while the prowling jackal held his hunt,
    He battened on the offals of the spoil,
    And mocked the sufferers!   How my blood did boil
    When lately I beheld a gilded stone
    Raised to the memory of this vermin vile,
    And pious charity ascribed thereon
To him who gray beneath the Poor's grim curse had



    I laid my aged mother near the dust
    Of her oppressor; but no gilded verse
    Tells how she toiled to win her child a crust,
    And, fasting, still toiled on: no rhymes rehearse
    How tenderly she strove to be the nurse
    Of truth and nobleness in her loved boy,
    'Spite of his rags—
                                    O Sun! thou dost amerce
My mournful heart, for the poor fleeting joy
With which thy beams began my sadness to destroy.



    Bright Gazer on the wilderness of woe
    Called Earth, dost thou above in mockery smile
    Like human crowds thou look'st upon below?
    I fondly hoped thou wouldst, a little while,
    The captive of his cankerous care beguile;
    But, for one glimpse of childhood's cheerful bloom,
    Thou hast brought back upon my heart a pile
    Of achings kindred to the dreary tomb;
And mak'st me feel I hasten to that realm of gloom.



    What—when my torturers have had their fill
    Of vengeance—if I, once more, freely range,
    Beneath thy radiance, over vale and hill,
    Through tangled wood, by stream, and moated grange,
    And festooned castle wall?   Deep thoughts of change
    And sadness will the flowers of childhood bring:
    I shall be companied with voices strange
    To childhood's rapture, and unskilled to sing
The merry song with which we made the welkin ring:



    Sorrow will follow song of matin merle
    And vesper throstle where young joys I took:
    For, of the dead, where Lindsey's streamlets purl,
    Remembrances are writ, in Nature's book;
    The gentle violet may as sweetly look
    And heavenly blue as it was wont to glow:
    But, like that darling floret by the brook,
    'Twill breathe—'Forget-me-not!'—and I shall bow
In grief, remembering there that joyous hearts lie low.—



    Thou gorgeous lamp to light man to the home
    Appointed for all living!—though elate
    With throb of liberty regained I roam
    O'er paths to Life's glad morning consecrate,
    Will not thy flame foreshew that for me wait
    Death's prison-portals, and I do but stay
    At large on Sufferance?   For, the writ of Fate
    Will soon arrive, which not a breath's delay
Brooks, of their full surrender, from the forms of clay.



    Oh! couldst thou bare that dark captivity
    From whence, released, none ever yet returned
    To tell its secrets, how our dreams would flee!
    Was it to know Death's truths, in life, that yearned
    The hoary Kelt who on the cromlech burned
    His brother, hymning thee, the sky-throned god?
    For ages, Man thy huge gray shrines hath spurned,
    Mocking thy worship; but, like all who trod
Earth then, in dreams, still dream the children of the



    And thou, thyself, all glorious as thou art;
    Supernal Sun!—what art thou but a dream?
    A splendid vanity—a glittering part
    Of the vast aggregate of things that seem?
    How know I that with veritable beam
    Thou dost illume this earth and sister spheres?
    Or, whether they and thou, mere fictions, teem
    From Mind, and thy great glory but appears—
Not is—and will, with thy beholders, fade with years?



    Hath Mind, more truly, substance, then, than thou,
    Great Sun?—
                       Oh! how poor human thought doth mock
    Itself!   I think I see: I think I know!
    What further?   Nought—to worms!   Although ye knock
    At Truth's dark barriers, they will bear the shock
    Till doomsday—if it ever come!   If sleep
    Eternal comes, instead, then, at a stroke,
    Away, it will hope, faith, and doubting sweep:
And, if we cease to be; why—we shall cease to weep.



    Alas!—the soul doth seek to gather balm,
    In vain, from barrenness: alternative
    So frigid, blank, and bare, affords no calm
    To him whose heart desires for aye to live;
    And yet doth palpitate, despond, misgive,
    More than it hopes.—
                                         Resplendent light! now wanes
    Thy beam; yet, who the morrow shall survive
    To see, shall thee behold gilding the plains,
And hear thy gladdened birds rechant their joyous strains:



    And thus, my brother-worms, in days of eld,
    Looked on thy resurrection, and believed
    That since thy disentombment they beheld
    Each morn, thou hadst a symbol for them weaved
    Of glorious life to follow death: reprieved
    From fear of what I fear, they danced, they sung,
    And on the mountains where so late they grieved,
    And wailed their dead, gay trophies to thee hung,
And shouted thy high praise till hill and valley rung!



    Baal, whose mighty tabernacles rose,
    Roofed by the sky,—from Babel to Stonehenge;
    Whose Beltein fire her mountain child still shows
    On Caledonia's hills, 'spite of all change:
    Boodh, Veeshnu, Chrishna, of old shasters strange,
    Through ages hymned by Hindoo devotee:
    Osiris, whose dark murder to avenge
    Pale Isis nightly glowed o'er Mitzraim's sea—
Old priestly Nile that glads the land of mystery:



    Mithras, high deity of gorgeous Mede:
    Thammuz, or Adad, of Chaldaic seer,
    Or old Phœnician by the Hebrew's seed
    Supplanted: Titan, or Hyperion, fear
    Of new-fledged gods, assailed in cloudy sphere
    Olympic: Phœbus or Apollo, bright
    And young and fair, throughout the rolling year
    Circled with song, or from the Delphic height,
Breathing dim oracles, 'mid priest-enriching rite:



    God, claimed by regal Incas as their sire
    Beyond the wave Columbian, where upcone
    Earth's storehouses of silver: Sovereign fire!
    The young soul's natural god!   Visible throne
    Of holy Nature's Sovereignty unknown
    Invisible!—by whatsoever name
    Adored and deified throughout our zone,
    Thy worshippers all held thy risen flame
Did for the soul adumbrate some great after-drame!



     Their dreaming pilgrimage; and, lest I lean
    On shadows too—though thousand lights converge
    To deck with loveliness the Nazarene—
    I hesitate, demur, surmise, and glean,
    Daily, new grounds to doubt the Mythic dress—
    Phœnician woof, once more!—through which is seen,
    I fear, thy ancient face—bright Comeliness!—
Fabling with future life poor grave-doomed worms to



    He whom the Arimathean's tomb enclosed—
    The Toiler blest, who on the vile cross died—
    But, 'spite of guards, the bonds of death unloosed,
    Scattering the men of iron in their pride
    Convulsed to helplessness, and forth did ride
    Leading captivity captive!—Is he not—
    Magnific beam!—thy power personified—
    Night-tombed—and, then, pouring dismay and rout
On Darkness, while Earth's million morning-voices shout?



    I love the Galilean; Lord and Christ
    Such goodness I could own; and, though enshrined
    In flesh, could worship: If emparadised,
    Beyond the grave, no Eden I could find
    Restored, though all the good of humankind
    Were there, and not that yearning One, the Poor
    Who healed, and fed, and blest!   Nay, to my mind,
    Hell would be Heaven, with him!   Horror no more
Could fright, if such benignant beauty trod its shore!



    I love the sweet and simple narrative,
    With all its childlike earnestness—the page
    Of love-wrought wonders which in memory live:
    I would the tale were true: that heritage
    Of immortality it doth presage
    Would make me glad indeed.   But doubts becloud
    Truth's fountains as their depths I seek to gauge,—
    Till with this trustless reckoning I am bowed—
Man's heritage is but a cradle and a shroud!—



    Hark!—'tis the turnkey!—and those bars and bolts
    Jar their harsh summons to my nightly nook.
    Farewell, grand Sun!   How my weak heart revolts
    At that appalling thought—that my last look
    At thy great light must come!   Oh!   I could brook
    The dungeon, though eterne!—the Priests' own hell,
    Ay, or a thousand hells, in thought, unshook,
    Rather than Nothingness!   And yet the knell,
I fear, is near, that sounds—To consciousness farewell!



    After these day-dreams 'neath the summer's sun,
    The Soul—I mean, the something that doth think
    And dream:   Name it aright, thou knowing one
    Who kennst the Essence which doth ever shrink.
    From its own scrutiny!—began to link
    Night's images to forms she waking saw
    With the interior eye.—
                                            Upon the brink
    Of a wild lake I stood, and viewed with awe;
Again unveiled, the realm of suicidal woe!



    The spacious wave, before me, tempest-gloomed
    And bleak and storm-tost, howled; and I seemed frore
    With cold; and shuddering, felt as if foredoomed
    To sense of mortal hunger.   On the shore
    I wandered, while my thoughts, amid the roar
    Of winds and waters, dwelt on One who stilled
    The waves, and fed the hungry: and the more
    I seemed to be with sense of hunger thrilled
And cold, the more that Form my inward vision filled.



    And still I wandered by the howling lake,
    Imagining what joy succeeded fear
    In the poor fishers, when their Master spake
    From the night-wave, and said,—'Be of good cheer!
    'Tis I!'—while one sprang out to meet Him there,
    But would have sunk, had not the meek One's hand
    Him rescued.   'Who'—I cried-'would not revere
    'Such power and love?   Worship I, on this strand,
Would give the Nazarene—did He these waves command.'



    The soul, in her impassioned workings, seemed
    To have spoken audibly,—whereat, a sound,
    Or what was likest sound—came, as I dreamed,
    Forth from the caves that hemmed that lake around
    Appalling, as when one with mortal wound
    Is struck, and utters his last agony
    Of wild despair.   A face that did astound
    My spirit met me, as I turned to see
What form to wildly wail on that stern shore might be.



    Tongue cannot syllable the blighting curse
    To which that visage gave soul-utterance:
    For mastery—guilt, despair, wrath, shame, remorse,
    Contended, in each petrifying glance;
    And still their contest burning sustenance
    Drew evermore from the consuming blaze
    Within:—'My being's ceaseless heritance
    'Is agony!'—seemed written in that gaze,
In letters not a universe of joy could raze:



    It was a look unique in wretchedness:
    Such as, in land of penance, could be worn
    By none but him who, in his heart's excess
    Of ill, his gust for guilt, engrained, inborn,
    Betrayed to shameful death, and vilest scorn
    Of butchering priests, the Being who only sought
    To bless mankind and die!   The look of lorn
    Remediless woe with which that face was fraught
Needed no speech to tell—it marked Iscariot.



    The guilty spirit knew that he was known:
    So livingly the soul made manifest
    Her inmost workings, in that visioned zone.—
    "And who art thou?"—the spirit of unrest
    Exclaimed,—"that hither comest on prying quest
    To view Perdition's Son?   Let the dark sign
    Of thy self-murder, which these shades unblest
     Sternly reveal, restrain thy thought malign:
How knowst thou my soul’s deed more criminal
            than thine?



    "Worship to Him my treason brought to shame
    Thou talkst of rendering, did he here display
    His power and love,—feigning to shift the blame
    Of thy foul unbelief—(thy words bewray
    Thy atheist heart!)—on Him who bears high sway
    Above, and, in the chequered roll of time.
    Allots each paltry worm his little day.
    Away—dissembler!   Distant age and clime
Excuse not unbelief: 'tis the soul's self-spawned crime!



    "Depart, proud unbeliever!   Let suffice
    That thou hast spied the Traitor: now thine eye
    Fix on thine own earth-stains: plan new device
    Elsewhere, thy heart with doubt to petrify
    Tenfold,—but stay not here!   No sceptic spy
    Shall bide with me: my desolateness I'll share
    With none: these blasting shores,—the howling cry
    Of this wild lake, are my companions!   Dare
Not thou to offer fellowship with my despair!"



    He ceased, a while; but I no vigour felt
    To utter speech, or flee.   As if a spell
    Flowed from the spirit's eyes, and, entering, dwelt
    Within my being's fenceless citadel,
    I stood transfixt, and terror-frore!   Rebel
    Against this silent helplessness, or break
    The spell of dread, I could not; though, to tell
    My heart unto the fallen one, with ache
Unutterable, I yearned!   Again, Iscariot spake:—



    "Doth still delay?   Fearest thou to go alone?
    Take with thee, then, from out my serpent cave,
    For company, yon wretched, prostrate one.
    Come,—hear him, in his guilt-struck madness, rave,
    And cry he cannot the fierce scorn outbrave
    Of all he meets in Hell!—though in Earth's life,
    He outfaced cursings dread, until they clave
    Unto his coward soul; and, now, the strife
Of condign woe within, his face doth hieroglyph.



    "Come, see if thou canst read!   Thy frozen isle
    He lately fled.   Belike of brotherhood,
    The memory, may revive this thing of guile—
    This viper fell; that drained his country's blood,
    And then let out his own!   From his low mood
    Of infantile despair thy form may serve
    This cast-off sleuth-hound of the craven brood
    To rouse, once more.   Follow!—if thou hast nerve
Of soul to look on horror, nor from courage swerve!”



    I followed: for, albeit the spell of dread
    Forbade my utterance still,—desire prevailed,
    And power returned, to move.   The spirit led
    Where sterner horrors my rapt soul assailed:
    Crowds of huge snakes their coils innumerous trailed,
    Forming a labyrinthine cave, vast volve
    On volve, with scales impenetrable mailed,
    All seeming fierce the mandate to dissolve
That held them there their mighty folds to circumvolve.



    How achingly their eyes, amidst their wrath,
    Large pain expressed, and how my fear was blent
    With sympathetic pain, as on that path,
    Encompassed, thick, with torturous coils, I went
    Life's waking wave with Sleep's stream confluent
    Can never from my beating brain efface:
    Designed for deepest treason's chastisement
    That cavern seemed: goal for sin's fiercest race:
The bourne for Guilt too foul its footsteps to retrace!



    A livid, baleful light the serpents clothed,
    Or seemed to issue forth each burning throat
    The monsters ever showed.   The frayed soul loathed
    Her vision, with such shuddering horror fraught,
    And prayed for gloom.   At length, Iscariot raught
    A space circled with snakes in deathly array
    Upreared, pointing with forked tongues, where smote
    His breast, as on the rocky floor he lay
In speechless agony—the suicide of Cray!—



    "Arise, and see how curl thy brother snakes
    Around thee!"—cried the tortured Hebrew ghost:—
    "Look on the torment which at length o'ertakes
    The perjured traitor on that cursed coast
    He ploughed Life's sea to find!   Vile viper! lost,
    Abhorred! driven forth of all in Hell's own realm!
    Arise, I say, nor lie thus torn and tossed,—
    Tyrant, who swayed a triple nation's helm,
Erewhile, and mocked while suffering did the land



    By mortal images her dread describe
    Cannot the waking mind, recalling, sad,
    That dream, and memory of each horrid gibe
    Iscariot uttered, as if wildly glad
    To vent his rage, and pain to superadd
    Unto his fellow's pain!   Rackt, speechless, prone,
    While his curved spine the huge snakes cupolaed,
    And venomed anger from their eyes outshone,—
O'erwhelmed, soul-numbed with woe, remained the
            prostrate one.



    "Will no taunt rouse Hibernia's fallen child,—
    Her cut-throat and his own?"   Judas resumed;
    And swift, the snakes, the prone form leaving, coiled
    Around the Jew their frightful folds, and fumed
    More wildly as he raged:—"What hath be-rheumed
    "Thy courage, mighty parasite?   On earth
    A prince!   With worm-worn monarchs catacombed!
    How, after all thy greatness, can this dearth
Of pride enshroud thee?   Wilt thou wake old Hell to mirth!



    "Vile pandar to the pomp-blown, lust-swoln
    Rise, I adjure thee, and betake thee hence!
    I will be fellow to Hell's inmost self,
    Rather than unto thee, trickster prepense,
    And double-dealer in each mean pretence
    For forging fetters to thy fatherland!
    Her champion—first; and then—true subsequence
    Of falsehood—tool, her slavery that planned,
And for his guilty wages stretched his guilty hand!



    "Traitor, that sold his country for a price,
    And then—"
                       "Traitor!"—the prostrate shape outburst;—
    "A price!   Did I my Master, with device
    Of a false kiss betray, to foes athirst
    For his most precious blood, my heart endorsed,
    The while, with settlement of black receipt—
    The thirty silver pieces?"—
                                                "Snake accurst!"
    Retorted Judas,—"think not here to cheat
Thy soul: my deed was foretold by the Paraclete!



    "The Comforter on earth I never knew—
    But here I know Him!   'Tis my soul's support
    That He, who did of old the seers endue
    With mystic foresight, hath my being begirt
    With deep assurance that, though long the sport
    Of these strange tortures, yet, the hour will come
    When my freed essence shall her strength exert,
    And wing her way to that bright happy home
Where joys, for sinners purged of stain, perpetual, bloom!



    "My crime, in verity, belongs not me;
    And, therefore, penance, endless, cannot claim
    Me hers.   I am the child of Destiny!
    But thou—thou self-stained thing of scorn and shame!
    Thou torturer of millions! whose foul aim,
    Self-moved, self-nurtured, was thyself to steep
    In crime, thy kind in tears—enduring blame
    Thyself must bear; and o'er thy soul shall sweep
The tempest of His wrath—relentless, ceaseless, deep!"—



    "Speak'st thou of destiny, base Jewish churl!"
    Fiercely the tortured, maddened minion cried,—
    And sprang erect; for, now, the tempest-whirl
    Of old, mad dreams the fallen liberticide
    Revisited, and puffed with fumes of pride,
    As erst in mortal life:—"Of destiny
    "Talkst thou?"—he wildly said;—"Thinkst thou to hide
    Thy old arch-treason, thus?   How, then, may I,
Much more, by Fate's behests, my life-deeds justify?



    "Was I not beckoned, in my climbing path,
    By beaming visions supernatural?
    Shall I the sentence of eternal wrath
    Acknowledge just—since dreams, prophetical
    Of what I should be,—did my will enthral,—
    And bright angelic shapes, in gems and gold
    Bediademmed, with voice celestial,
    Nightly, me bade to grasp with seizure bold
"The prize, in, Fate's weird book, for Castlereagh



    "Hah! utter not thy name—that synonym
    Of Villany!"—exclaimed the self-destroy'd
    Betrayer of the Blest;—"it doth bedim
    "Darkness itself to utter it!   'Avoid
    'That sound accurst!'—the souls in air upbuoyed,
    New come from Earth, in dismallest accents, yell:
    'Forbear that guilty name to tell!'—the void
    Waste shore and caves re-echo.   Serpent fell,
I charge thee, name no more thy hated self, in Hell!—



    Elate still reared Cray's suicide, enwrapt
    In old life-dreams,—the soul's habiliment
    Of morrice-pomp, for holidays adapt
    At change and full of moon, on earth.   He lent
    No audience to this chiding; but, intent
    On telling his pride's dreams, began to spume,
    And struggle after phrase grandiloquent,—
    The soul's old habitude,—wherewith to exhume
His moon-struck visions vain from memory's pictured



    "'Twas in my manhood's youth,"—-he proudly said; [1]
    "I tarried, for one night, fast by the wave
    Atlantic, where, in lovely verdure spread,
    Old Erin laughs to hear the north wind rave.
    The hall that welcomed me was old, but brave
    And stately stood, as stands the forest oak
    After five hundred autumn tempests have
    Against his stalwart arms their fury broke,
And, eke, five hundred times stripped of his kingly cloak.



    "The sun was sinking in the gorgeous west,
    As I drew near.   The dark-hued ivy hung
    Its graceful tendrils, like a bridal vest,
    Around the aged walls,—while softly sung
    The minstrel evening breeze, with wanton tongue,
    That castle's marriage to King Time.   Bedight
    With rainbow tints the clouds resplendent flung
    On me, on towers, and leaves,—for magic sprite
Fit bower that seemed; and I some wand'ring love-
            spelled knight.



    "Around my steed the giddy flittermouse
    Sported, in whimsical ellipse, and passed,
    On leathern sails, with haste to tell his spouse,—
    Hung, by her crooked thumbs, in chimney vast,—
    While listed him the owl, that sage dynast
    Of ruin,—that a stranger marked by Fate
    For princely fortunes was approaching fast
    The moat, and soon beneath the old arched gate
Would bend, where, hoarsely croaking, the dark corven



    "Forbear, poor palterer, thy crazy tale
    Of bats and owls and ravens!"—cried the fierce
    And fallen Jew;—"Think of the bitter bale
    "Which doth in Hell thy doting soul amerce
    For mortal sins!   Let tortures real disperse
    Thy lingering dreams of mock beatitude!
    For pity sheer, I'll list thee misrehearse
    Thy ditty; but in strain at least, subdued
To common-sense, this false apocalypse conclude!”—



    "My host received his guest as well beseemed
    The lordly tenant of this feudal tower;—
    In vein ornate the patricide rethemed
    His air-built pride:—"His child, a peerless flower
    "Of loveliness, her eyes a brighter dower
    Than myriad pearls, drooped o'er her father's arm
    As droops a lily, after evening shower,
    Upon its parent stem.   Soft, chaste alarm
Her light-veiled bosom told with undulating charm.



    "Full lowly bowed the reverend seneschal,
    Girdled for state, with massive silver key,
    As on we pass'd into the banquet-hall:
    And, niched, among the antique carvery
    The hinds were seen on meekly bended knee,
    With perfumed cressets: evermore there met
    The ravished ear, from unseen minstrelsy,
    Hushed dulcet tones of harp and flageolette
Blent with rapt chaunt of madrigal and canzonette.



    "With festal revelry the banquet rang,
    Till tusk and antler, spear and hauberk shook,
    Around the baron's hall.   Anon, upsprang
    The younger guests: his ladye-love each took:
    The dovelets blushed, and yielded, with coy look:
    Then thrilled the rebecks, while the merry dance
    Sped on,—until, for mirth and wine, forsook
    Their dizzy sport the youngsters,—still, askaunce,
Eyeing each other, in their love's exuberance.



    "'Twas midnight: and, before they said 'farewell!'
    The revellers asked a boon of harper gray,—
    Who dipped his beard in the gold Rhenish bell
    With youthful zeal,—that he for them should say,
    Unto his harp's loud chime, a roundelay
    Of olden days, in Tara's hall once told,
    When high O'Connor sat in proud array
    Of crowned regality, and Erin old,
From sea to sea, with joy, bowed to the warrior bold. [2]



    "I cannot to thine ear the deeds recount
    Of old Milesian chieftains, a stern line,
    The Minstrel sang: in memory's transient fount
    So many streams of weal and bale combine,
    Through life,—and then the soul her anodyne
    Inevitable of death must taste,—and now
    We drink this bitter cup in Hell's confine,—
    That the mind shrinks, as if from mortal throe,
Her total journey, like a drudge, to overgo.



    "Suffice it that I say that aged man
    Wound up his lay with patriotic tears;
    While my heart raged, as if a hurricane
    Of joys, its current, with alternate fears,
    Had swoln.   I felt distraught as one who hears
    Himself pœan'd for victory ungained
    As yet, but certain to be won, though years
    Of hate before he reach the laurel stained
With blood be his: that victory's fruit—his country



    "With taper dim, through vault and thick-ribbed
    Six aged hinds, to light me to my sleep
    Stept gravely on, as if in funeral march:
    But, when alone, how my cold skin did creep
    To see grim eyes upon me scowl and peep
    From out the oaken panels round my couch!
    One painted warrior looked as he would leap
    And crush me, for a foreign scaramouch,—
Such frowning hatred did his portraiture avouch!



    "Plumed like a hearse, a lordly canopy
    Adorned my bed, in old baronial mode,
    Its cumbrous velvet folds on ebony
    Supported, and their drooping festooned load
    Burthened with gold and jet.   Breathless, I glode
    Into my downy nest, in darkness, while
    My throbbing heart 'gan thickly to forbode
    Some unknown ill; but struggling, I this pile
Of spectrous fears threw off, as fancies infantile.



    "Sleep fled; and soon the gray-haired harper's song
    Filled all my chamber, like a serenade
    Which some benign enchantment did prolong
    Until so heavenly melody it made
    That Darkness hasted to her nether shade,
    And Light held sceptre in that resting-place
    Of ancient pomp.   O'erjoyed, and yet afraid,
    I gazed around—when lo! a form of grace,
Haloed with glorious light, revealed its radiant face!



    "Resting my arm upon my silken pillow,
    But helplessly recumbent as a child,
    I lay, and gazed, while, like the heaving billow,
    My bosom swelled; yet, though with wonder wild
    My hair stood up, serene, that angel mild
    Stood pointing to a seat nigh to a throne
    Limned all in light, and, with high meaning, smiled—
    A moment—and that visioned form had flown;
But woke my soul—like warrior's at the clarion!



    "'Fame—fame!'—shouted my burning, bounding heart,
    Until my tongue made vocal its excess:
    'I will enact the splendid afterpart
    'Of life begun—this visioned beauteousness,—
    'This minstrelsy divine,—alike, confess
    'My destiny appoints!   They shall not weave
    'For me, in vain, that fair viceregal dress—
    'The Fatal Sisters three!   My soul shall cleave
'Unto its toil—until it doth the palm achieve!'



    "Next morn, unto my grave and lordly host
    I did these visions of the night reveal.
    With deeply troubled look his breast he crossed,
    And spake these words: 'Thy lips, I charge thee, seal
    'Upon this theme, if that thou wishest weal
    'To thine own soul: for signal woe or joy
    'Upon thy rest these midnight visions steal:
    'High destiny is thine, if thou destroy
'It not—thyself!   Know,—thou hast seen the Radiant



    "What followed on these visitations bright—"
    "Enough!"—the Palestinian suicide
    Exclaimed: "If longer ravings to indite
    "Thou dost attempt, these serpents that deride
    Thy tale already, sequel to such pride
    Run mad will bring with heavy emphasis.
    What followed?—why, thy guilty heart was dyed
    With blood: thy hand, for very cowardice,
Thou didst not stain—except to shorten thy life's lease



    "What followed?—Thou art here!—Thy race of guilt,
    And pride and madness is, on earth, outrun;
    By thine own hand thy life's vile current spilt,
    And Hell's eternal agony begun;
    Yet seekst thou, like a lunatic buffoon,
    To mock thyself and others with the dreams
    That haunt the brains of each mere child o' the moon,
    Beneath his natal star's pale borrowed beams
Sleeping, 'mid ruins gray,—or lost, by haunted streams.



    "The Radiant Boy—forsooth!   Some doating fool,
    Possessed with superstitious wonderment,
    And barbarous pride of fancied elvish rule
    Sway'd o'er his barbarous house, —a ready vent
    Found in thy crazy ear for ravings pent
    Too long within his heated mind.   How long
    Wilt mock thyself?   Forever thou art rent
    From peace; and on thy soul, with tortures strong
The poor's Avenger recompenseth, now, their wrong!"



    "I tell thee, fierce one!—that this radiant form"—
    Cried the fallen lunatic,—"again I saw,
    While sitting in the senate; there, no swarm
    The moon could raise of vaporous fancies raw
    To juggle and mislead my brain.   What law
    Of mind hast thou discovered, in this crypt
    Of horrors, that can warrant thee to draw
    Hope for thyself from old prophetic script—
And yet to slay my soul with Fate's strong shield equipt?



    "Shall I,—of mental liberty bereft
    In life;—my will, Mind's pilot, all enthralled;
    The soul's frail bark herself to fury left
    Of these tempestuous visions swift upcalled
    Without her own intent; shall I, appalled
    With fear of justice, from His sentence shrink
    The weakest worm on earth that ever crawled
    Would not, thus impulsed even to the brink
Of life, consent to its own curse, and, yielding, sink."—



    "Whether thy soul to its own curse consent,
    Or ape the rebel,"—said Iscariot,—
    "That curse waits not thy blind arbitrament:
    'Tis fixt—with mine: in vain we seek to blot
    The sentence from His book: our fatal lot
    Is cast,—and must be borne.   Thou hadst thy tide
    Of sanity: if, then, her antidote
    The sober soul, industrious, had applied
To thy disease, she would have purged this crazy pride.



    "Thou knowst this true: then, cease thy heart to chafe
    With these ill-masked deceits.   My soul dislodge
    From bulwark which Jehovah doth vouchsafe
    Thou canst not.   Good from Evil the Great judge
    Produceth: not delirious subterfuge
    Is this.   God did appoint my soul to sin:
    Unto His high decree I bow: His drudge
    I am: His purpose answered—I shall win
My seat in that bright realm where beam the seraphin!"—



    Evanished, now, his air of pomp superb,
    And shook with woe, the fallen thing of state:
    His frenzy fled.—
                                "Alas! how deep reverb
    These shades my curse!" he cried:—"in vain I prate
    "Of radiant dreams, with wish to palliate
    My conscious guilt: I feel my sentence just!
    And now, with trust devout, to mitigate
    My woe, I'll seek: I bow to His august
Decree: I, also, in His Providence will trust!



    "Son of Perdition;—if thou wert by Heaven
    Designed, mysteriously, a guilty aid
    Of holy purposes; if, thus, the leaven
    Of evils which His universe pervade,
    By God's permission, He decreed and made
    A source of blessing; may not I look up
    Beyond the scope of this dark, joyless shade,
    For dawn of bliss?   Unto the dregs, if hope
Be there, unmurmuring, will I drink my bitter cup."—



    "Know, humbled tyrant,—though my soul begins
    Thy miseries to condole, and half forget
    Her own,"—spake Judas;—"penalty for sins
    "Thou canst not choose but feel: a deep, dark debt
    Of woe thou hast to pay: for thee doth whet
    Her torturous beak a vulture more malign
    Than gnawed the fabled Titan: Conscience yet
    Must prey upon thee, till thou wail and pine;
And, still, for ages, must thou feel her fangs condign!



    "'Unmurmuring'—wilt thou drink of Torture's dregs?
    Why, thou hast not the courage of a worm
    When trouble truly comes: thy spirit begs
    For ease, ev'n now, while only in its germ
    Of misery, and ere the ever-countless term
    Of its desert of pain is, scarce, begun!
    How wilt thou murmur, then, against the storm
    Of penal wrath enhanced, and seek to shun
Thy cup,—'plaining the measure doth the brim o'errun!



    "Yet, to the bitter dregs it must be drunk!
    The Guelph loved fawning; but in Hell's domain,
    Thy power of courtier-cozenage is shrunk
    And withered: thou wouldst coax, and cant, and feign
    With torment's executioner, in vain:—
    Conscience—I mean.   Hah! even now the edge
    Of her fell tooth is sinking in thee!   Pain
    Unintermittent,—pain without assuage,—
That thou must suffer still will be the direful pledge!



    "Thou feelst thy portion just; but like a lithe
    And eager adder 'neath the planted hoof
    Of forest steed or ox, dost twist and writhe,
    With maddening agony.   Hah! how aloof
    Thou stoodst from mercy, while on earth!   Disproof
    That millions starved and suffered, thy false tongue
    Forged, daily: not a tear-drop in behoof
    Of suffering from thy stony eyes was wrung
For one of all the thousands that thy treachery stung!



    "Wilt thou deny that there is suffering—now?
    Now?—while the worm of conscience thou dost feel?
    The undying worm?   Why, what is the weak woe
    Thy coward soul can bear,—though Hell unseal
    Her quintessence of torture?   'Twill be weal,
    Compared with aggregate of woe thy heart,
    Remorseless, wrung from millions whose appeal
    To right was vain!—millions of sires whose part
Of woe though first, was least: they left an after-smart!



    "For whom?   For millions of their starveling sons
    And famished daughters, who still pine and moil
    By law: mere skin-and-bone automatons!
    Oh, serpent!—how my spirit's tide doth boil
    Against such viperousness as thine!   The coil
    Of mortal life is mine no more:—I would
    It were—but for one day!   How would I toil
    To lave my hands in some such viper's blood,—
And purge my mountain sin—by spilling the vile flood!



    "What breathe ye for, on earth,—such slime-born things?
    To suck your brethren's blood; and, while ye gorge,
    Mock your poor victims!   Thy dark revellings
    In human blood and human tears their verge
    Have reached;—but, how it swells—the ocean surge
    Of tears and blood—thou and thy teacher drew—
    A fresh-born stream—from anguished hearts!   'Twould
    Cain's sin and mine,—with patriot brand to hew
Into one heart like thine a festive avenue!



    "Hah! how they shouted while thy mangled clay
    Was borne unto its burial!—the few men
    Whom blood of their old fathers, for one day,
    Stirred into more than slaves!   Oh! it was then—
    While terror duelled even the iron ken
    Of thy stern fellow-lizard, who his claw.
    Held up, and breathed an idiot 'hush'—'twas then
    Thy waking victims should have filled Death's maw
With the whole vermin brood that human vitals gnaw!



    "Thou—'also, to His Providence wilt trust!'
    A hypocrite thou wert, in life; in death
    A coward: thou art both, in Hell!   Thy gust
    For meanest vice fled not with flight of breath:
    Thy soul, escaped from out her pampered sheath,
    Yet hugs her stain!   What wonder,—though the Guelph
    Oft spat upon thee,—that thou, still, the path
    Didst keep of fawning?   Meanest, vilest elf,
That ever played the tyrant,—loath thy abortive self!—"



    "Shall I from thee receive this foul rebuke?"—
    Re-spake the soul-stung, fallen sycophant;
    "Tamely, fierce gibe and dark contumely brook
    From one whom all men deem a miscreant,—
    An outcast vile,—and not hurl back each taunt,
    Each withering sneer, wherewith thou seekst to gall
    My wound?   Were my whole essence adamant
    The soul would strive herself to disenthrall
From force of gibes so fiercely, foully cynical.



    "From thine own mouth I will thy heart convict
    Of its inherent vileness.   Thou hast striven
    With unrelenting malice to afflict
    My soul; and thy foul game hath foully thriven,
    Chiefly by sarcasms 'gainst the prince now riven
    From all lust linked him with above the grave.
    Suppose thy censure forceful: grant him given
    A living prey to his heart's vice—a slave
To filth so abject that the worms, which now their brave



    "Carousal hold amidst his putrid clay,
    Find him not more uncleanly than in life;
    Grant that his kingly course affords no trait
    Of nobleness: that selfishness was rife
    As lust within him: that his soul a strife
    Perpetual showed the trampled human crowd
    To bruise more vilely still: that while the knife
    Was at their very throats his scoffs were loud,
And he could see them bleed and die,—unmoved,



    "Grant that he thirsted but for power to wring
    From out his subjects' hearts the last life-drop—
    If it would minister to his revelling
    One guilty hour: grant that a sot, a fop,
    He was by turns: a blackleg, then—to groupe
    Of swindlers fugleman!—becoming, soon,
    The god of earthly gauds, and to the top
    Of his vain bent fooled on, by each baboon,
Tinselled with titles, that beheld the holy spoon



    "Bestow its unctuous virtue on his head,
    And laughed to see the gew-gaw placed thereon,—
    The grown child's gew-gaw!—while, in pomp outspread,
    Peers, prostitutes, pimps, prelates, round his throne
    Knelt blasphemously homaging the o'ergrown
    Monster of vice,—their grandeur fed, the while,
    With tears of starving thousands!   Grant this known,—
    And then,—poor, silly Jew!—I can but smile
To hear thee thus my fallen soul taunt and revile!



    "For, if the royal Guelph my mirror were—
    Iscariot! who was thine?   Hah! how thine eye
    Bespeaks thy heart's deep shame!   Thy exemplar
    How worshipful, how holy, and how high
    In excellence!   His beams to purify
    Thy baseness did that sun of goodness pour
    Upon thee; but thy sin was of a dye
    Too deep-grained—and thy heart within its core,
Worshipped an earthen god, and there his image wore.



    "And thus it was in vain that to thy eyes,
    Within thy ears, His deeds and words of love
    Were present day by day.   Anatomize
    Thy heart, and thou wilt find that stain enwove,
    Entextured there, even now!   Yea, did here move
    The Blessed One before thee clad in light
    And loveliness, the vision would not prove
    Sufficient to o'erawe thee, if to sight
The silver bait were offered; that thou could'st not slight



    "Thou art accurst, and justly.   Vile and low
    Were thy desires through life: a groveller base
    Thou ever wert, and vainly from Hell's woe
    Thou dreamst to be set free.   Hell's thy own place,
    Mean barterer!   Unless thou canst erase
    From out thy sordid nature the low vice
    Of avarice, dream thou no more of grace!
    Before thou sittst in Jesu's Paradise,
Satan shall, re-enthroned in highest heaven rejoice!



    "How can it be, vile Traitor to the Blest!
    That after-knowledge by thy sinful soul
    Of God's foreknowledge can of guilt divest
    Thy mind?   His knowledge did not thee control
    Before thy act: it was thy treachery foul,—
    Thy itch for petty pelf,—base, sordid thing—
    That spiritual leprosy,—which daily stole
    Through thy foul heart, until its very spring
Was tainted, and thou fledd'st to bloody bartering!



    "Proclaimed He not thy treason while it germed
    Within thy heart shut up? yea, ere a word
    Forth budding from the hell-sown seed confirmed
    Thy foul intent?   Perditioned, curst, abhorred,
    Thou wast, before thy mother's womb was stored
    With embryon of thy being.   And 'twas decreed
    Of the Most High—witness His own record!—
    That thou shouldst breathe solely to do that deed,
And on thy traitorous soul the undying worm should feed!"—



    He spake no more; for speechless horror filled
    His soul to witness how the tortured ghost
    Of Judas writhed with rage,—and in what wild
    Distorted folds the scaly monsters tossed
    Their horrid hugeness,—with the Traitor lost
    A mystic sympathy evincing!   Hell
    Seemed Hell indeed, while I upon that coast
    Beheld those snakes round Judas coil and swell,
As if to wilder rage his soul they would impel!



    I trembled as I gazed.   But, as I dreamed,
    A wondrous change swift o'er my vision came.
    No more the serpents writhed: no more outgleamed
    From the Jew's eyes a wild demoniac flame:
    Calm and subdued, mingling with conscious shame
    A look of dignity, awhile he stood;
    And, when he speech resumed; how deep the blame
    His deed deserved—his treason 'gainst the Good—
Acknowledged;—and, forthwith, a mystic theme pursued.



    "More, far more than thou say'st, is mine, of guilt,"—
    He said:—"Deeper, far deeper, is my stain!
    "Not that I count it thus because they spilt
    The blood of Him I sold: they would have ta'en
    His precious life had no vile thought of gain
    E'er prompted me, or others, to betray
    The Blessed One.   What can the wolf restrain
    From the meek lamb?—the vulture from his prey?—
How shall the Good have peace, when Wickedness bears



    "Who that e'er dared to mock the tyrant's gaud,—
    The hypocrite's deceit,—could hope escape
    From Tyranny, and Avarice, and Fraud?—
    The demon-trinity knaves still bedrape
    With pomp and sanctity, till slaves, agape
    And palsied, see them wolve and victimise
    The best of human kind,—yea, tamely shape
    Their coward tongues to praise, when they should rise
And hurl to dust the things of pride, and greed, and lies!



    "My stain is deeper than thou knowst to tell.
    Not that I count it thus because I sought
    For glittering dust His precious life to sell:
    My poverty begat in me that thought,
    When I discerned the toils had nearly raught
    Their aim who laid them for his life.   False one!
    My spirit's crime thou foully dost misquote:
    The vision deep within no longer shun:
Behold thy soul with tide of pelfish love o'errun!



    "A sordid thing—thou saidst I was!   Is toy
    More precious to a child, than gaudy sheen
    Of baubles was to thee?   Wert thou e'er coy
    Of silver as the price of blood?   With mien
    Repentant didst thou restitute, and clean
    Confession make—before thy weasand-stroke,
    As I—before my rope?   Wert thou not keen
    Of gold and power until thy clutch was broke
With o'erstrained struggles to increase thy country's



    "Oh!   I might limn thy worthless effigy,—
    And with a truthful power, until thy heart
    Were rung to its vile core with agony!
    But the strong tempest leaves me: and the smart
    Wherewith thy soul would writhe would but impart
    A kindred woe to mine.   A sordid thing!—
    Saidst thou, I was?   Oh how old thoughts upstart
    At that tyrannic taunt!—old thoughts that wring
My soul until they well-nigh back the tempest bring!



    "Hah! tortured torturer!—while they moil unfed,
    If poor men sink in vice; if, 'midst their toil,
    So ill-requited, grovelling thoughts are bred
    In Labour's children; if the uncultured soil
    Of their neglected minds base weeds defile,—
    Whose is the crime?   The trampled toilers'? or
    Their lordlings'?—who, while they, as thou, revile
    And taunt the trampled ones, trample them more;
And hug, themselves, the vice they charge their slaves to



    "A groveller if I was, charge thine own tribe—
    The titled plunderers—with the guilt! or make
    Them share the censure with the knavish Scribe
    And canting Pharisee!   Each did partake
    The spoils of my hard toil upon the lake;
    But, while they feasted, left me to misfire
    With hunger, cold, and tempest, or the ache
    Of oft-impending death: disdaining care
Whether I did the brute's or human nature wear!



    "Unto their Judge I leave them!   He will mete
    Their sentence with the measure just, of woe,
    As now He measures thine.   Forbear deceit,
    Henceforth: thy guilt, in making grovellers low,
    Exceeds my guilt in grovelling.   Lowly bow
    In shame, till it be interpenetrant
    Through all thy crimeful soul.   My stain, I know,
    Is deep; no more of guiltlessness I vaunt:
That boast were vain for Hell's self-exiled habitant.



    "Ay, 'twas the sun of goodness on me shone:
    Goodness unmeasured, undescribed, untold:
    Goodness that strove its godlike benison
    To pour, alike, upon the ingrate cold
    As on the hearts its mercies manifold
    Made dance with thankfulness: Goodness unfelt,
    Unwitnessed, unconceived, in mortal mould,
    Before: Goodness that from its treasure dealt
So bounteously, as if it would the wide world melt



    Into a sea of bliss, and deluge heart
    Of man with joy!   Goodness that wept with those
    Whom grief constrained to weep: Goodness the smart
    In human bosoms torn by earthly throes
    That strove to medicate with love; to close
    The spirit's wounds with tenderness; and heal
    The mind bruised with the burthen of Life's woes
    Goodness that glowed with inexhaustless zeal
To spread, enhance, perfect, eternize human weal!



    "And I, amidst His radiance of love,
    Was dark and frozen still!   Curst be my doom
    To all eternity!   Never above
    May I behold that slighted One!   My gloom
    The heavenly beam of mercy failed to illume
    On earth; and I deserve not now to find
    The love I slighted then.   If, to consume
    My soul, Hell's stores of torments were combined—
Too lightly, even then, had Heaven my curse assigned.



    "Ten thousand hells hath merited—my sin
    Against Ineffable Goodness!—How I rave
    Amid my madness!   Remedy akin
    To the disease were tortures that deprave
    Still more the spiritual health: in torment's wave
    Were the soul steeped for ever, her guilt's grain
    Would only be more fixed: who scourge the slave
    On earth, but nurture, by his galling pain,
The rebel will they would by chastisement restrain.



    "Great judge of men and angels, 'tis not thus
    Thou governest! though I, i' the Hell I sought,
    Like fools on earth, such censure libellous
    Have oft pronounced upon thy rule, and thought
    My folly wisdom!   Human crime is caught
    In fatal net of its own consequence:
    Afflict Thou dost not: though our minds, mistaught,
    Oft represent Thy vast omnipotence
Bending to scourge poor worms for waywardness



    For waywardness that in the dust to crawl
    Inclines, beyond the track Thy wisdom hath
    Appointed!   Spirit, though Hell's shades enthrall
    Our essence, we are not of vengeful wrath
    The victims,—but have found, by self-made path,
    The suffering we pursued—of choice: not force.
    Evil, remedial of itself,—by death,
    Pain, suffering, grief, repentance, shame, remorse,—
God hath appointed: Evil breathes not endless curse.



    "Evil, for means of richest, greatest good
    The uncontrolled Controller hath devised:
    Such His peculiar scheme.   O what a flood
    Of beatific light hath now baptized
    Me!   All Life's discord shall be harmonised—
    For Woe, throughout all Life, shall be destroyed.
    Goodness Ineffable disnaturalised
    Would be, Jehovah's Deity be void,—
Unless from pain His universe were purified.



    "Spirit,—rejoice, even though the gnawing worm
    Enter thine inmost essence, and pain pierce
    Thy being to the core!   Maugre this storm
    Of torture, we shall reach repose: this fierce
    Consuming woe shall end; the Universe
    Shall be, through endless ages, resonant
    With voices tuned by joy: Love shall rehearse
    The Maker's wisdom, and His creatures chaunt,
Blissful, the everlasting chorus jubilant!



    "Why,—how I rave again!"—with visage changed
    The spirit called of old 'Perdition's Son'
    Exclaimed:—"Is not my tortured soul estranged"
    From happiness? Do I not hate mine own
    Existence?—for annihilation groan,—
    And hate all that partake this life unblest:
    Leave me, foul sprite, to my despair alone!
    Dost thou not know that sceptred ghosts make quest
For fawning things that will their robbers' right attest?



    "Such errand to my cavern, late, did bring
    Old gray Achitophel—the cast-off tool
    Of royalty, who, still, like thee, doth cling
    To tyrants, though they spurn him.   Kingly rule
    Grows problematical: on earth, the dull
    Tame slaves of toil sullenly fold their hands,
    Dreaming to starve their lords: Hell's self is full
    Of rebel thoughts 'gainst Thrones: brood of brigands
Quake 'mid their pictured pomps: their dread thy zeal



    "Haste, minion, to recruit the minished host
    Of their defenders—thou who didst so well
    Subserve their pride on earth!   Never more boast
    Of boundless loyalty, if thus rebel
    Thy fears 'gainst duty, till resolve they quell.
    Hah! pangs of shame thy spirit paralyse!
    Thy dread is just—Outcast of earth and hell!
    Hell's Thrones, to scout thee, would indignant rise,
Did they thy craven guilt-smit image recognise!



    "Base spawn of fear and guilt,—get hence, and cage
    Thy lunacy in some dark desert nook
    Where none may hear thee curse, and spume, and rage—
    For curse thou shalt!—Hence!—and again invoke
    The Radiant Boy!"—
                                          My soul such terror shook
    While Judas raged, and from the snake-cave fled,
    Shrieking, Cray's suicide,—that I awoke,
    Gladly, from that soul-quelling dream of dread,
And, joyous, blessed the morn, upon my prison-bed.


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