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ACT I. SCENE I.-MANFRED alone.-Scene, a Gothic Gallery.- Time,
Midnight. Man. THE lamp must be
replenish’d, but even then It will not burn so long as I must watch: My slumbers—if I slumber-are not sleep, But a continuance of enduring thought, Which then I can resist not: in my heart There is a vigil, and these eyes but close To look within; and yet I live, and bear The aspect and the form of breathing men. But grief should be the instructor of the wise ; Sorrow is knowledge: they who know the most Must mourn the deepest o'er the fatal truth, The Tree of Knowledge is not that of Life. Philosophy and science, and the springs Of wonder, and the wisdom of the world, I have essay'd, and in my mind there is A power to make these subject to itselfBut they avail not : I have done men good, And I have met with good even among menBut this avail'd not : I have had my foes, And none have baffled, many fallen before meBut this avail'd not :-Good, or evil, life, Powers, passions, all I see in other beings, Have been to me as rain unto the sands, Since that all-nameless hour. I have no dread,
And feel the curse to have no natural fear,
Mysterious Agency !
[A pause. If it be so-Spirits of earth and air, Ye shall not thus elude me : by a power, Deeper than all yet urged, a tyrant-spell, Which had its birthplace in a star condemn'd, The burning wreck of a demolish'd world, A wandering hell in the eternal space; By the strong curse which is upon my soul, The thought which is within me and around me, I do compel ye to my will.–Appear !
(A star is seen at the darker end of the gallery : it is stationary;
and a voice is heard singing.
Mortal ! to thy bidding bow'd,
l'oice of the SECOND SPIRIT.] Mont Blanc is the monarch of mountains ;
They crown'd him long ago
With a diadem of snow.
The Avalanche in his hand;
Must pause for my command.
Moves onward day by day;
Or with its ice delay.
Could make the mountain bow
And what with me would'st Thou?
Voice of the THIRD SPIRIT. In the blue depth of the waters,
Where the wave hath no strife, Where the wind is a stranger,
And the sea-snake hath life, Where the Mermaid is decking
Her green hair with shells, Like the storm on the surface
Came the sound of thy spells; O'er my calm Hall of Coral
The deep echo roll'd— To the Spirit of Ocean
Thy wishes unfold !
Where the slumbering earthquake
Lies pillow'd on fire, And the lakes of bitumen
Rise boilingly higher; Where the roots of the Andes
Strike deep in the earth, As their summits to heaven
Shoot soaringly forth ;
I have quitted my birthplace,
Thy bidding to bideThy spell hath subdued me,
Thy will be my guide !
FIFTI SPIRIT. I am the Rider of the wind,
The Stirrer of the storm ;
Is yet with lightning warm ;
I swept upon the blast :
'T will sink ere night be past.
SEVEXTII SPIRIT. The star which rules thy destiny Was ruled, ere earth began, by me : It was a world as fresh and fair As e'er revolved round sun in air; Its course was free and regular, Space bosom'd not a lovelier star. The hour arrived--and it became A wandering mass of shapeless flame, A pathless comet, and a curse, The menace of the universe; Still rolling on with innate force, Without a sphere, without a course, A bright deformity on high, The monster of the upper sky! And thou ! beneath its influence born Thou worm ! whom I obey and scornForced by a power (which is not thine, And lent thee but to make thee mine) For this brief moment to descend, Where these weak spirits round thee bend And parley with a thing like thee-What would'st thou, Child of Clay! with me ?
The SEVEN SPIRITS.
Earth, ocean, air, night, mountains, winds, thy star,
Are at thy beck and bidding, Child of Clay ! Before thee at thy quest their spirits are
What would'st thou with us, son of mortals--say ?
Man. Of that which is within me; read it there
Spirit. We can but give thee that which we possess :
Oblivion, self-oblivion !
Spirit. It is not in our essence, in our skill ;
Will death bestow it on me?
Man. Ye mock me--but the power which brought ye here
Spirit. We answer as we answer'd; our reply
Why say ye so?
Man. I then have call'd ye from your realms in vain ;