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endurance of Prometheus, would be anni- power ; and it is the study of their works hilated if we could conceive of him as (since a higher merit would probably be unsaying his high language and quailing denied me) to which I am willing that before his successful and perfidious adver- my readers should impute this singularity. sary. The only imaginary being resembling One word is due in candour to the in any degree Prometheus, is Satan; and degree in which the study of contemporary Prometheus is, in my judgment, a more writings may have tinged my composition, poetical character than Satan, because, in for such has been a topic of censure with addition to courage, and majesty, and firm regard to poems far more popular, and and patient opposition to omnipotent force, indeed more deservedly popular, than he is susceptible of being described as mine. It is impossible that any one who exempt from the taints of ambition, envy, inhabits the same age with such writers revenge, and a desire for personal aggran- as those who stand in the foremost ranks disement, which, in the Hero of Paradise of our own, can conscientiously assure Lost, interfere with the interest. The himself that his language and tone of character of Satan engenders in the mind thought may not have been modified by a pernicious casuistry which leads us to the study of the productions of those weigh his faults with his wrongs, and to extraordinary intellects. It is true, that, excuse the former because the latter exceed not the spirit of their genius, but the all measure. In the minds of those who forms in which it has manifested itself, consider that magnificent fiction with a are due less to the peculiarities of their religious feeling it engenders something own minds than to the peculiarity of the worse. But Prometheus is, as it were, moral and intellectual condition of the the type of the highest perfection of moral minds among which they have been proand intellectual nature, impelled by the duced. Thus a number of writers possess purest and the truest motives to the best the form, whilst they want the spirit of and noblest ends.

those whom, it is alleged, they imitate ; This Poem was chiefly written upon the because the former is the endowment of mountainous ruins of the Baths of Cara- the age in which they live, and the latter calla, among the flowery glades, and must be the uncommunicated lightning of thickets of odoriferous blossoming trees, their own mind. which are extended in ever winding laby- The peculiar style of intense and comrinths upon its immense platforms and prehensive imagery which distinguishes dizzy arches suspended in the air. The the modern literature of England, has not bright blue sky of Rome, and the effect of been, as a general power, the product of the vigorous awakening spring in that the imitation of any particular writer. divinest climate, and the new. life with The mass of capabilities remains at every which it drenches the spirits even to in- period materially the same; the circumtoxication, were the inspiration of this stances which awaken it to action perdrama.

petually change. If England were divided The imagery which I have employed into forty republics, each equal in populawill be found, in many instances, to have tion and extent to Athens, there is no been drawn from the operations of the reason to suppose but that, under instituhuman mind, or from those external tions not more perfect than those of actions by which they are expressed. Athens, each would produce philosophers This is unusual in modern poetry, al- and poets equal to those who (if we except though Dante and Shakespeare are full of Shakespeare) have never been surpassed. instances of the same kind : Dante indeed We owe the great writers of the golden more than any other poet, and with age of our literature to that fervid awakengreater success. But the Greek poets, as ing of the public mind which shook to writers to whom no resource of awakening dust the oldest and most oppressive form the sympathy of their contemporaries was of the Christian religion. We owe Milton unknown, were in the habitual use of this to the progress and development of the same spirit : the sacred Milton was, let it Virgil and Horace, between Dante and Peever be remembered, a republican, and a trarch, between Shakespeare and Fletcher, bold inquirer into morals and religion. between Dryden and Pope; each has a The great writers of our own age are, we generic resemblance under which their have reason to suppose, the companions specific distinctions are arranged. If this and forerunners of some unimagined similarity be the result of imitation, I am change in our social condition or the willing to confess that I have imitated. opinions which cement it. The cloud of Let this opportunity be conceded to mind is discharging its collected lightning, me of acknowledging that I have, what and the equilibrium between institutions a Scotch philosopher characteristically and opinions is now restoring, or is about terms, "a passion for reforming the to be restored.

world : what passion incited him to As to imitation, poetry is a mimetic write and publish his book, he omits to art. It creates, but it creates by combina- explain. For my part I had rather be tion and representation. Poetical abstrac- damned with Plato and Lord Bacon, than tions are beautiful and new, not because go to Heaven with Paley and Malthus. the portions of which they are composed But it is a mistake to suppose that I dedihad no previous existence in the mind of cate my poetical compositions solely to man or in nature, but because the whole the direct enforcement of reform, or that produced by their combination has some I consider them in any degree as containintelligible and beautiful analogy with ing a reasoned system on the theory of those sources of emotion and thought, human life. Didactic poetry is my abhorand with the contemporary condition of rence; nothing can be equally well exthem : one great poet is a masterpiece of pressed in prose that is not tedious and nature which another not only ought to supererogatory in verse. My purpose has study but must study. He might as hitherto been simply to familiarise the wisely and as easily determine that his highly refined imagination of the more mind should no longer be the mirror of select classes of poetical readers with all that is lovely in the visible universe, as beautiful idealisms of moral excellence ; exclude from his contemplation the beau- aware that until the mind can love, and tiful which exists in the writings of a great admire, and trust, and hope, and endure, contemporary. The pretence of doing it reasoned principles of moral conduct are would be a presumption in any but the seeds cast upon the highway of life which greatest; the effect, even in him, would the unconscious passenger tramples into be strained, unnatural, and ineffectual. dust, although they would bear the harA poet is the combined product of such vest of his happiness. Should I live to internal powers as modify the nature of accomplish what I purpose, that is, proothers; and of such external influences as duce a systematical history of what appear excite and sustain these powers; he is not to me to be the genuine elements of human one, but both. Every man's mind is, in society, let not the advocates of injustice this respect, modified by all the objects of and superstition flatter themselves that I nature and art; by every word and every should take Æschylus rather than Plato as suggestion which he ever admitted to act my model. upon his consciousness; it is the mirror The having spoken of myself with unupon which all forms are reflected, and in affected freedom will need little apology which they compose one form. Poets, with the candid; and let the uncandid not otherwise than philosophers, painters, consider that they injure me less than sculptors, and musicians, are, in one their own hearts and minds by misrepresense, the creators, and, in another, the sentation. Whatever talents a person creations, of their age. From this sub-may possess to amuse and instruct others, jection the loftiest do not escape. There be they ever so inconsiderable, he is yet is a similarity between Homer and Hesiod, bound to exert them : if his attempt be between Æschylus and Euripides, between ineffectual, let the punishment of an unaccomplished purpose have been sufficient; Three thousand years of sleep-unshellet none trouble themselves to heap the tered hours, dust of oblivion upon his efforts ; the pile And moments aye divided by keen pangs they raise will betray his grave which Till they seemed years, torture and solimight otherwise have been unknown.


Scorn and despair, — these are mine DRAMATIS PERSONA.


More glorious far than that which thou DEMOGORGON. HERCULES.

surveyest JUPITER. Asia

From thine unenvied throne, O, Mighty
PANTHEA Oceanides.


Almighty, had I deigned to share the APOLLO.


Of thine ill tyranny, and hung not here THE SPIRIT OF THE EARTH.

Nailed to this wall of eagle - baffling THE SPIRIT OF THE MOON. SPIRITS OF THE HOURs.

mountain, SPIRITS. ECHOES. FAUNS. FURIES. Black, wintry, dead, unmeasured; with

out herb, ACT I

Insect, or beast, or shape or sound of

life. Scene.—A RAVINE of Icy ROCKS IN Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, for ever!

THE INDIAN CAUCASUS. PROMETHEUS is discovered bound to the No change, no pause, no hope! Yet I Precipice. PANTHEA and Ione are

endure. seated at his feet. Time, night. I ask the Earth, have not the mountains During the Scene, morning slowly felt? breaks.

I ask yon Heaven, the all-beholding Sun,

Has it not seen ? The Sea, in storm or Prometheus. Monarch of Gods and

calm, Dæmons, and all Spirits Heaven's ever-changing Shadow, spread But One, who throng those bright and rolling worlds

Have its deaf waves not heard my agony? Which Thou and I alone of livings things Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, for ever! Behold with sleepless eyes! regard this Earth

The crawling glaciers pierce me with Made multitudinous with thy slaves, whom thou

of their moon-freezing crystals, the Requitest for knee-worship, prayer, and

bright chains praise,

Eat with their burning cold into my And toil, and hecatombs of broken bones. hearts,

Heaven's winged hound, polluting from With fear and self-contempt and barren thy lips hope.

His beak in poison not his own, tears up Whilst me, who am thy foe, eyeless in my heart; and shapeless sights come hate,

wandering by, Hast thou made reign and triumph, to The ghastly people of the realm of thy scorn

dream, O'er mine own misery and thy vain Mocking me: and the Earthquake-fiends revenge.

are charged


the spears

had power,

To wrench the rivets from my quivering Thro' which the Sun walks burning wounds

without beams ! When the rocks split and close again And ye swift Whirlwinds, who on poised behind :

wings While from their loud abysses howling Hung mute and moveless o'er yon hushed throng

abyss, The genii of the storm, urging the rage As thunder, louder than your own, made Of whirlwind, and afflict me with keen rock hail.

The orbèd world! If then my words And yet to me welcome is day and night, Whether one breaks the hoar frost of the Though I am changed so that aught morn,

evil wish Or starry, dim, and slow, the other is dead within; although no memory be climbs

Of what is hate, let them not lose it now! The leaden-coloured east; for then they What was that curse? for ye all heard lead

me speak. The wingless, crawling hours, one among First Voice ( from the Mountains). whom

Thrice three hundred thousand years -As some dark Priest hales the reluc

O'er the Earthquake's couch we tant victim

stood : Shall drag thee, cruel King, to kiss the Oft, as men convulsed with fears, blood

We trembled in our multitude. From these pale feet, which then might

Second Voice (from the Springs). trample thee

Thunderbolts had parched our water, If they disdained not such a prostrate

We had been stained with bitter slave.

blood, Disdain! Ah no! I pity thee. What

And had run mute, 'mid shrieks of ruin

slaughter, Will hunt thee undefended thro' the

Thro' a city and a solitude. wide Heaven! How will thy soul, cloven to its depth

Third Voice (from the Air). with terror,

I had clothed, since Earth uprose,

Its wastes in colours not their own, Gape like a hell within! I speak in

And oft had my serene repose grief, Not exultation, for I hate no more,

Been cloven by many a rending As then ere misery made me wise. The


Fourth Voice (from the Whirlwinds). Once breathed on thee I would recall. We had soared beneath these mounYe Mountains,

tains Whose many-voiced Echoes, through the Unresting ages; nor had thunder, mist

Nor yon volcano's flaming fountains, Of cataracts, flung the thunder of that Nor any power above or under spell!

Ever made us mute with wonder. Ye icy Springs, stagnant with wrinkling

First Voice. frost,

But never bowed our snowy crest Which vibrated to hear me, and then As at the voice of thine unrest. crept

Second Voice. Shuddering thro' India! Thou serenest Never such a sound before Air,

To the Indian waves we bore.


nesses :

A pilot asleep on the howling sea To commune with me? me alone, who Leaped up from the deck in agony,

checked, And heard, and cried, “Ah, woe is me!! As one who checks a fiend - drawn And died as mad as the wild waves be.

charioteer, Third Voice.

The falsehood and the force of him who By such dread words from Earth to reigns Heaven

Supreme, and with the groans of pining My still realm was never riven:

slaves When its wound was closed, there stood Fills your dim glens and liquid wilderDarkness o'er the day like blood. Fourth Voice,

Why answer ye not, still ? Brethren! And we shrank back: for dreams of ruin The Earth.

They dare not. To frozen caves our flight pursuing Prometheus, Who dares? for I would Made us keep silence — thus—and hear that curse again. thus

Ha, what an awful whisper rises up! Though silence is a hell to us. 'Tis scarce like sound : it tingles thro' The Earth. The tongueless Caverns

the frame of the craggy hills

As lightning tingles, hovering ere it Cried, Misery!” then; the hollow strike. Heaven replied,

Speak, Spirit! from thine inorganic Misery!” And the Ocean's purple

voice waves,

I only know that thou art moving near Climbing the land, howled to the lash- And love. How cursed I him ? ing winds,

The Earth. How canst thou hear And the pale nations heard it, "Misery!" | Who knowest not the language of the Prometheus. I hear a sound of

dead ? voices: not the voice

Prometheus. Thou art a living spirit : Which I gave forth. Mother, thy sons speak as they and thou

The Earth. I dare not speak like Scorn him, without whose all-enduring life, lest Heaven's fell King will

Should hear, and link me to some wheel Beneath the fierce omnipotence of Jove,

of pain Both they and thou had vanished, like More torturing than the one whereon I thin mist

roll. Unrolled on the morning wind. Know Subtle thou art and good, and tho' the ye not me,

Gods The Titan? He who made his agony Hear not this voice, yet thou art more The barrier to your else all-conquering than God foe?

Being wise and kind : earnestly hearken Oh, rock-embosomed lawns, and snowfed streams,

Prometheus. Obscurely thro' my Now seen athwart frore vapours, deep brain, like shadows dim, below,

Sweep awful thoughts, rapid and thick. Thro’ whose o'ershadowing woods I

I feel wandered once

Faint, like one mingled in entwining love; With Asia, drinking life from her loved Yet 'tis not pleasure. eyes ;

The Earth. No, thou canst not hear : Why scorns the spirit which informs ye, Thou art immortal, and this tongue is




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