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MANFRED'S FAREWELL TO THE SUN.
(MANFRED, Act iii. Scene 2.)
GLORIOUS Orb! the idol
Of early nature, and the vigorous race
Of undiseased mankind, the giant sons
Of the embrace of angels, with a sex
More beautiful than they, which did draw down
The erring spirits who can ne'er return-
Most glorious orb ! that wert a worship, ere
The mystery of thy making was reveald !
Thou earliest minister of the Almighty,
Which gladden'd, on their mountain tops, the hearts
Of the Chaldean shepherds, till they pour'd
Themselves in orisons ! Thou material God,
And representative of the Unknown-
Who chose thee for His shadow! Thou chief star,
Centre of many stars ! which mak'st our earth
Endurable, and temperest the hues
And hearts of all who walk within thy rays !
Sire of the seasons ! Monarch of the climes,
And those who dwell in them! for near or far,
Our inborn spirits have a tint of thee
Even as our outward aspects ;—thou dost rise,
And shine, and set in glory. Fare thee well !
I ne'er shall see thee more. As my first glance
Of love and wonder was for thee, then take
My latest look : thou wilt not beam on one
To whom the gifts of life and warmth have been
Of a more fatal nature.
(MANFRED, Act iii. Scene 4.)
Interior of a Tower. MANFRED alone. The stars are forth, the moon above the tops Of the snow-shining mountains. Beautiful ! I linger yet with Nature, for the night Hath been to me a more familiar face Than that of man ; and in her starry shade Of dim and solitary loveliness, I learn’d the language of another world. I do remember me, that in my youth, When I was wandering, -upon such a night I stood within the Coliseum's wall, Midst the chief relics of almighty Rome ; The trees which grew along the broken arches Waved dark in the blue midnight, and the stars Shone through the rents of ruin ; from afar The watchdog bay'd beyond the Tiber; and More near from out the Cæsars' palace came The owl's long cry, and, interruptedly, Of distant sentinels the fitful song Begun and died upon the gentle wind. Some cypresses beyond the time-worn breach Appeard to skirt the horizon, yet they stood Within a bowshot.—Where the Cæsars dwelt, And dwell the tuneless birds of night, amidst A grove which springs through levell’d battlements, And twines its roots with the imperial hearths,
Ivy usurps the laurel's place of growth ;-
But the gladiators' bloody Circus stands,
A noble wreck in ruinous perfection !
While Cæsar's chambers, and the Augustan halls,
Grovel on earth in indistinct decay.
-And thou didst shine, thou rolling moon, upon
All this, and cast a wide and tender light,
Which soften'd down the hoar austerity
Of rugged desolation, and fill'd up,
As 'twere anew, the gaps of centuries ;
Leaving that beautiful which still was so,
And making that which was not, till the place
Became religion, and the heart ran o'er
With silent worship of the great of old !
The dead, but sceptred sovereigns, who still rule
Our spirits from their urns. —
'Twas such a night!
Tis strange that I recall it at this time ;
But I have found our thoughts take wildest Aight
Even at the moment when they should array
Themselves in pensive order.
Enter the ABBOT. Abbot.
My good lord ! I crave a second grace for this approach ; But yet let not my humble zeal offend By its abruptness—all it hath of ill Recoils on me; its good in the effect May light upon your head—could I say heartCould I touch that, with words or prayers, I should Recall a noble spirit which hath wanderd, But is not yet all lost. Man.
Thou know'st me not ; My days are number'd, and my deeds recorded : Retire, or 'twill be dangerous—Away !
Abbot. Thou dost not mean to menace me?
I simply tell thee peril is at hand,
And would preserve thee.
What dost thou mean?
What dost thou see?
Look there, I say,
And steadfastly ;—now tell me what thou seest ?
Abbot. That which should shake me,-but I fear it
I see a dusk and awful figure rise,
Like an infernal god, from out the earth ;
His face wrapt in a mantle, and his form
Robed as with angry clouds; he stands between
Thyself and me—but I do fear him not.
Man. Thou hast no cause- - he shall not harm thee-
His sight may shock thine old limbs into palsy.
I say to thee-Retire !
And I reply-
Never-till I have battled with this fiend :
What doth he here?
Why-ay—what doth he here ? —
I did not send for him,-he is unbidden.
Abbot. Alas ! lost mortal ! what with guests like these
Hast thou to do? I tremble for thy sake :
Why doth he gaze on thee, and thou on him?
Ah ! he unveils his aspect : on his brow
The thunder-scars are graven ; from his eye
Glares forth the immortality of hell —
Man. Pronounce—what is thy mission ?
Abbot. What art thou, unknown being ? answer!
speak! Spirit. The genius of this mortal.—Come! 'tis time.
Man. I am prepared for all things, but deny
The power which summons me. Who sent thee here?
Spirit. Thou'lt know anon-Come ! come !
I have commanded
Things of an essence greater far than thine,
And striven with thy masters. Get thee hence !
Spirit. Mortal ! thine hour is come-Away! I say.
Man. I knew, and know my hour is come, but not To render up my soul to such as thee : Away! I'll die as I have lived-alone. Spirit. Then I must summon up my brethren.— Rise !
[Other spirits rise up.
Abbot. Avaunt ! ye evil ones !-Avaunt ! I say, --
Ye have no power where piety hath power,
And I do charge ye in the name-
Old man !
We know ourselves, our mission, and thine order ;
Waste not thy holy words on idle uses,
It were in vain : this man is forfeited.
Once more I summon him-Away ! away!
Man. I do defy ye,—though I feel my
Is ebbing from me, yet I do defy ye;
Nor will I hence, while I have earthly breath
To breathe my scorn upon ye-earthly strength
To wrestle, though with spirits; what ye take
Shall be ta'en limb by limb.
Reluctant mortal !
Is this the Magian who would so pervade
The world invisible, and make himself
Almost our equal ?—Can it be that thou
Art thus in love with life? the very life
Which made thee wretched !