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By greater things, and they themselves far more
In number than the dust of thy dull earth,
Though multiplied to animated atoms,
All living, and all doom'd to death, and wretched,
What wouldst thou think?
I should be proud of thought
Which knew such things,
But if that high thought were
Link'd to a servile mass of matter, and,
Knowing such things, aspiring to such things,
And science still beyond them, were chain'd down
To the most gross and petty paltry wants,
All foul and fulsome, and the very
Of thine enjoyments a sweet degradation,
A most enervating and filthy cheat
To lure thee on to the renewal of
Fresh souls and bodies, all foredoom'd to be
As frail, and few so happy-
Spirit ! I
Know nought of death, save as a dreadful thing
Of which I have heard my parents speak, as of
A hideous heritage I owe to them
No less than life ; a heritage not happy,
If I may judge, till now. But, spirit ! if
It be as thou hast said (and I within
Feel the prophetic torture of its truth),
Here let me die : for to give birth to those
Who can but suffer many years, and die,
Methinks is merely propagating death,
And multiplying murder.
Thou canst not
All die—there is what must survive.
Spake not of this unto my father, when
He shut him forth from Paradise, with death
Written upon his forehead. But at least
Let what is mortal of me perish, that
I may be in the rest as angels are.
Lucifer. I am angelic : wouldst thou be as I am ?
Cain. I know not what thou art : I see thy power,
And see thou show'st me things beyond my power,
Beyond all power of my born faculties,
Although inferior still to my desires
And my conceptions,
What are they which dwell
So humbly in their pride, as to sojourn
With worms in clay ?
And what art thou who dwellest
So haughtily in spirit, and canst range
Nature and immortality-and yet
Seem'st sorrowful ?
I seem that which I am ;
And therefore do I ask of thee, if thou
Wouldst be immortal!
Thou hast said, I must be
Immortal in despite of me. I knew not
This until lately—but since it must be,
Let me, or happy or unhappy, learn
To anticipate my immortality.
Lucifer. Thou didst before I came upon thee,
Lucifer. By suffering.
And must torture be immortal ?
Lucifer. We and thy sons will try. But now behold !
Is it not glorious ?
Oh, thou beautiful
And unimaginable ether ! and
Ye multiplying masses of increased
And still increasing lights ! what are ye? what
Is this blue wilderness of interminable
Air, where ye roll along, as I have seen
The leaves along the limpid streams of Eden ?
Is your course measured for ye? Or do ye
Sweep on in your unbounded revelry
Through an aërial universe of endless
Expansion—at which my soul aches to think-
Intoxicated with eternity ?
Oh God! Oh Gods ! or whatsoe'er ye are !
How beautiful ye are ! how beautiful
Your works, or accidents, or whatsoe'er
They may be ! Let me die, as atoms die,
(If that they die) or know ye in your might
And knowledge! My thoughts are not in this hour
Unworthy what I see, though my dust is;
Spirit ! let me expire, or see them nearer.
Lucifer. Art thou not nearer ? look back to thine
Cain. Where is it? I see nothing save a mass
Of most innumerable lights.
Look there !
Cain. I cannot see it.
Yet it sparkles still.
Cain. That !-yonder !
And wilt thou tell me so ?
Why, I have see the fire-flies and fire-worms
Sprinkle the dusky groves and the green banks
In the dim twilight, brighter than yon world
Which bears them.
Lucifer. Thou hast seen both worms and worlds, Each bright and sparkling—what dost think of them ?
Cain. That they are beautiful in their own sphere, And that the night, which makes both beautiful, The little shining fire-fly in its flight, And the immortal star in its great course, Must both be guided.
But by whom or what?
Cain. Show me.
Dar'st thou behold ?
How know I what
I dare behold? As yet, thou hast shown nought
I dare not gaze on further.
On, then, with me.
Adah. Hush! tread softly, Cain.
I will ; but wherefore ?
Adah. Our little Enoch sleeps upon yon bed
Of leaves, beneath the cypress.
Cypress ! 'tis
A gloomy tree, which looks as if it mourn'd
O'er what it shadows; wherefore didst thou choose it
For our child's canopy?
Because its branches
Shut out the sun like night, and therefore seem'd
Fitting to shadow slumber.
Ay, the last-
And longest ; but no matter—lead me to him.
[They go up to the child.
How lovely he appears ! his little cheeks,
In their pure incarnation, vying with
The rose leaves strewn beneath them.
And his lips, too.
How beautifully parted ! No; you shall not
Kiss him, at least not now : he will awake soon-
His hour of mid-day rest is nearly over ;
But it were pity to disturb him till
Cain. You have said well ; I will contain
My heart till then. He smiles, and sleeps !-Sleep on
And smile, thou little, young inheritor
Of a world scarce less young : sleep on, and smile !
Thine are the hours and days when both are cheering
And innocent ! thou hast not pluck'd the fruit-
Thou know'st not thou art naked ! Must the time
Come thou shalt be amerced for sins unknown,
Which were not thine nor mine? But now sleep on !
His cheeks are reddening into deeper smiles,
And shining lids are trembling o'er his long
Lashes, dark as the cypress which waves o'er them ;
Half open, from beneath them the clear blue
Laughs out, although in slumber. He must dream
Of what? Of Paradise !-Ay! dream of it,
My disinherited boy ! 'Tis but a dream ;
For never more thyself, thy sons, nor fathers,
Shall walk in that forbidden place of joy !
Adah. Dear Cain ! Nay, do not whisper o'er our son Such melancholy yearnings o'er the past : Why wilt thou always mourn for Paradise ? Can we not make another ? Cain.
Where'er thou wilt : where'er thou art, I feel not
The want of this so much regretted Eden.
Have I not thee, our boy, our sire, and brother,
And Zillah-our sweet sister, and our Eve,
To whom we owe so much besides our birth ?
Cain. Yes-death, too, is amongst the debts we owe