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MANFRED ON THE CLIFFS.
(MANFRED, Act i. Scene 2.)
The Mountain of the Jungfrau.-Time, Morning.–
MANFRĖD alone upon the Cliffs.
Man. The spirits I have raised abandon meThe spells which I have studied baffle meThe remedy I reck'd of tortured me. I lean no more on super-human aid ; It hath no power upon the past, and for The future, till the past be gulf'd in darkness, It is not of my search.-My mother Earth ! And thou fresh breaking Day, and you, ye Mountains, Why are ye beautiful ? I cannot love ye. And thou, the bright eye of the universe, That openest over all, and unto all Art a delight—thou shin'st not on my heart. And you, ye crags, upon whose extreme edge I stand, and on the torrent's brink beneath Behold the tall pines dwindled as to shrubs In dizziness of distance ; when a leap, A stir, a motion, even a breath, would bring My breast upon its rocky bosom's bed To rest for ever—wherefore do I pause ? I feel the impulse-yet I do not plunge ; I see the peril—yet do not recede; And my brain reels—and yet my foot is firm : There is a power upon me which withholds,
And makes it my fatality to live ;
(An eagle passes.
[The Shepherd's pipe in the distance is heard. The natural music of the mountain reedFor here the patriarchal days are not A pastoral fable--pipes in the liberal air, Mix'd with the sweet bells of the sauntering herd ; My soul would drink those echoes. -Oh, that I were The viewless spirit of a lovely sound. A living voice, a breathing harmony, A bodiless enjoyment—born and dying With the blest tone which made me !
Enter from below a CHAMOIS HUNTER.
Man. (not perceiving the other.) To be thus-
C. Hun. The mists begin to rise from up the valley ;
Man. The mists boil up around the glaciers ; clouds Rise curling fast beneath me, white and sulphury, Like foam from the roused ocean of deep Hell,
Whose every wave breaks on a living shore,
C. Hun. I must approach him cautiously ; if near,
Mountains have fallen,
Friend ! have a care,
me a fitting tomb ; My bones had then been quiet in their depth ; They had not then been strewn upon the rocks For the wind's pastime—as thus—thus they shall beIn this one plunge.-Farewell, ye opening heavens ! Look not upon me thus reproachfullyYe were not meant for me -Earth! take these atoms !
[As MANFRED is in act to spring from the cliff,
the CHAMOIS HUNTER seizes and retains him
with a sudden grasp. C. Hun. Hold, madman !-though aweary of thy life, Stain not our pure vales with thy guilty blood. Away with me--- -I will not quit my hold.
Man. I am most sick at heart—nay, grasp me notI am all feebleness, the mountains whirl Spinning around me-- - I grow blind-What art
C. Hun. I'll answer that anon. --Away with me-The clouds grow thicker- there—now lean on mePlace your foot here—here, take this staff, and cling A moment to that shrub—now give me your hand, And hold fast by my girdle—softly-wellThe Chalet will be gain'd within an hourCome on, we'll quickly find a surer footing, And something like a pathway, which the torrent Hath wash'd since winter.—Come, tis bravely doneYou should have been a hunter.- Follow me.
[They descend the rocks.