HAIL, glorious Sun! All hail the
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
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,
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
Supplanted: Titan, or Hyperion, fear
Of new-fledged gods, assailed in cloudy sphere
Olympic: Phœbus or Apollo,
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
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
"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
"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,
"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?"—
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; 
"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-
"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. 
"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
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
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
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
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.