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Canto Twelfth.

1. The transport of a fierce and monstrous gladness Spread thro' the multitudinous streets, fast flying Upon the winds of fear; from his dull madness The starveling waked, and died in joy; the dying, Among the corpses in stark agony lying, Just heard the happy tidings, and in hope Closed their faint eyes; from house to house replying

With loud acclaim, the living shook Heaven's cope, And filled the startled Earth with echoes: morn did ope

II.

Its pale eyes then; and lo! the long array
Of guards in golden arms, and Priests beside,
Singing their bloody hymns, whose garbs betray
The blackness of the faith it seems to hide;
And see, the Tyrant's gem-wrought chariot glide
Among the gloomy cowls and glittering spears-
A Shape of light is sitting by his side,

A child most beautiful. I'the midst appears
Laon,-exempt alone from mortal hopes and fears.

III.
His head and feet are bare, his hands are bound
Behind with heavy chains, yet none do wreak
Their scoffs on him, tho' myriads throng around;
There are no sneers upon his lip which speak
That scorn or hate has made him bold; his cheek
Resolve has not turned pale,-his eyes are mild
And calm, and like the morn about to break,

Smile on mankind-his heart seems reconciled
To all things and itself, like a reposing child.

iv.
Tumult was in the soul of all beside,
Ill joy, or doubt, or fear; but those who saw
Their tranquil victim pass, felt wonder glide
Into their brain, and becam; calm with awe.-
See, the slow pageant near the pile doth draw.
A thousand torches in the spacious square,
Borne by the ready slaves of ruthless law,

Await the signal round: the morning fair
Is changed to a dim night by that unnatural glare.

V.
And see! beneath a sun-bright canopy,
Upon a platform level with the pile,
The anxious Tyrant sit, enthroned on high,
Girt by the chieftains of the host; all smile
In expectation, but one child: the while
I, Laon, led by mutes, ascend my bier
Of fire, and look around; each distant isle

Is dark in the bright dawn; towers far and near, Pierce like reposing flames the tremulous atmosphere.

VI. There was such silence through the host, as when An earthquake trampling on some populous town, Has crushed ten thousand with one tread, and men Expect the second ; all were mute but one, That fairest child, who, bold with love, alone Stood up before the King, without avail, Pleading for Laon's life-her stifled groan

Was heard—she trembled like one aspen pale
Among the gloomy pines of a Norwegian vale.

VII.
What were his thoughts linked in the morning sun,
Among those reptiles, stingless with delay,
Even like a tyrant's wrath ?—the signal gun
Roared-hark, again ! in that dread pause he lay
As in a quiet dream—the slaves obey-
A thousand torches drop,—and hark, the last
Bursts on that awful silence ; far

away Millions, with hearts that beat both loud and fast, Watch for the springing flame expectant and aghast.

VIII.
They ily—the torches fall—a cry of fear
Has startled the triumphant! they recede!
For ere the cannon's roar has died, they hear
The tramp of hoofs like earthquake, and a steed
Dark and gigantic, with the tempest's speed,
Bursts thro' their ranks : a woman sits thereon,
Fairer it seems than aught that earth can breed,

Calm, radiant, like the phantom of the dawn,
A spirit from the caves of day-light wandering gone.

IX.
All thought it was God's Angel come to sweep
The lingering guilty to their fiery grave;
The Tyrant from his throne in dread did leap,
Her innocence his child from fear did save;
Scared by the faith they feigned, each priestly slave
Knelt for his mercy whom they served with blood,
And, like the refluence of a mighty wave

Sucked into the loud sea, the multitude
With crushing panic, fled in terror's altered mood.

X.
They pause, they blush, they gaze,-a gathering shout
Bursts like one sound froin the ten thousand streams
Of a tempestuous sea :—that sudden rout
One checked, who, never in his mildest dreams
Felt awe from grace or loveliness, the seams
Of his rent heart so hard and cold a creed
Had seared with blistering ice-but he misdeems

That he is wise, whose wounds do only bleed
Inly for self, thus thought that Christian Priest indeed,

XI.
And others too, thought he was wise to see,
In pain, and fear, and hate, something divine;
In love and beauty-no divinity.-
Now with a bitter smile, whose light did shine
Like a fiend's hope upon his lips and eyne,
He said, and the persuasion of that sneer
Rallied his trembling comrades—"Is it mine

To stand alone, when kings and soldiers fear
A woman? God has sent his other victim here."

XII.
"Were it not impious,” said the King, “to break
Our holy oath?"_“Impious to keep it, say!”
Shrieked the exulting Priest—"Slaves, to the stake
Bind her, and on my head the burthen lay
Of her just torments :-at the Judgment Day
Will I stand up before God's golden throne,
And cry, O Lord, to thee did I betray

An Atheist; but for me she would have known
Another moment's joy! the glory be thine own.”

XIII.
They trembled, but replied not, nor obeyed,
Pausing in breathless silence. Cythna sprung
From her gigantic steed, who, like a shade
Chased by the winds, those vacant streets among
Fled tameless, as the brazen rein she flung
Upon his neck, and kissed his moonèd brow.
A piteous sight, that one so fair and young,

The clasp of such a fearful death should woo
With smiles of tender joy as beamed from Cythna now.

XIV. The warm tears burst in spite of faith and fear, From many a tremulous eye, but like soft dews Which feed spring's earliest buds, hung gathered there, Frozen by doubt, -alas, they could not chuse, But weep; for when her faint limbs did refuse To climb the pyre, upon the mutes she smiled; And with her eloquent gestures, and the hues

Of her quick lips, even as a weary child
Wins sleep from some fond nurse with its caresses mild,

XV.
She won them, tho' unwilling, her to bind
Near me, among the snakes. When there had fled
One soft reproach that was most thrilling kind,
She smiled on me, and nothing then we said,
But each upon the other's countenance fed
Looks of insatiate love; the mighty veil
Which doth divide the living and the dead

Was almost rent, the world grew dim and pale,--
All light in Heaven or Earth beside our love did fail.

VOL. I.

N

XVI.
Yet,-yet-one brief relapse, like the last beam
Of dying flames, the stainless air around
Hung silent and serene-a blood-red gleam
Burst upwards, hurling fiercely from the ground
The globèd smoke,-I heard the mighty sound
Of its uprise, like a tempestuous ocean ;
And, thro’ its chasms I saw, as in a swound,

The tyrant's child fall without life or motion
Before his throne, subdued by some unseen emotion.

XVII.
And is this death? the pyre has disappeared,
The Pestilence, the Tyrant, and the throng;
The flames grow silent-slowly there is heard
The music of a breath-suspending song,
Which, like the kiss of love when life is young,
Steeps the faint eyes in darkness sweet and deep;
With ever changing notes it floats along,

Till on my passive soul there seemed to creep
A melody, like waves on wrinkled sands that leap.

XVIII.
The warm touch of a soft and tremulous hand
Wakened me then; lo, Cythna sate reclined
Beside me, on the waved and golden sand
Of a clear pool, upon a bank o'ertwined
With strange and star-bright flowers, which to the wind
Breathed divine odour; high above, was spread
The emerald heaven of trees of unknown kind,

Whose moonlike blooms and bright fruit overhead
A shadow, which was light, upon the waters shed.

XIX.
And round about sloped many a lawny mountain
With incense-bearing forests, and vast caves
Of marble radiance to that mighty fountain;
And where the flood its own bright margin laves,
Their echoes talk with its eternal waves,
Which, from the depths whose jagged caverns breed
Their unreposing strife, it lifts and heaves,-

Till thro' a chasın of hills they roll, and feed
A river deep, which flies with smooth but arrowy speed.

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