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Nor are the strong and the severe to keep
The empire of the world: thus Cythna taught
Even in the visions of her eloquent sleep,
Unconscious of the power thro' which she wrought
The woof of such intelligible thought,
As from the tranquil strength which cradled lay
In her smile-peopled rest, my spirit sought
Why the deceiver and the slave has sway
O'er heralds so divine of truth's arising day.
Within that fairest form, the female mind
Untainted by the poison clouds which rest
On the dark world, a sacred home did find:
But else, from the wide earth's maternal breast,
Victorious Evil, which had dispossest
All native power, had those fair children torn,
And made them slaves to soothe his vile unrest,
And minister to lust its joys forlorn,
Till they had learned to breathe the atmosphere of scorn.
This misery was but coldly felt, till she
Became my only friend, who had indued
My purpose with a wider sympathy;
Thus, Cythna mourned with me the servitude
In which the half of humankind were mewed
Victims of lust and hate, the slaves of slaves,
She mourned that grace and power were thrown as food
To the hyena lust, who, among graves,
Over his loathed meal, laughing in agony, raves.
And I, still gazing on that glorious child,
Even as these thoughts flushed o'er her:"Cythna sweet,
Well with the world art thou unreconciled ;
Never will peace and human nature meet
Till free and equal man and woman greet
Domestic peace; and ere this power can make
In human hearts its calm and holy seat;
This slavery must be broken”-as I spake, From Cythna's eyes a light of exultation brake.
She replied earnestly :-" It shall be mine,
This task, mine, Laon !—thou hast much to gain;
Nor wilt thou at poor Cythna's pride repine,
If she should lead a happy female train
To meet thee over the rejoicing plain,
When myriads at thy call shall throng around
The Golden City.”—Then the child did strain
My arm upon her tremulous heart, and wound
Her own about my neck, till some reply she found.
I smiled, and spake not—"wherefore dost thou smile
At what I say ? Laon, I am not weak,
And though my cheek might become pale the while,
With thee, if thou desirest, will I seek
Through their array of banded slaves to wreak
Ruin upon the tyrants. I had thought
It was more hard to turn my unpractised check
To scorn and shame, and this beloved spot
And thee, O dearest friend, to leave and murmur not.
“Whence came I what I am ? thou, Laon, knowest
How a young child should thus undaunted be;
Methinks, it is a power which thou bestowest,
Through which I seek, by most resembling thee,
So to become most good, and great and free,
Yet far beyond this Ocean's utmost roar
In towers and huts are many like to me,
Who, could they see thine eyes, or feel such lore
As I have learnt from them, like me would fear no more.
XLI. “Think'st thou that I shall speak unskilfully, And none will heed me? I remember now, How once, a slave in tortures doomed to die, Was saved, because in accents sweet and low He sung a song his Judge loved long ago, As he was led to death.-All shall relent Who hear me—tears as mine have flowed, shall flow,
Hearts beat as mine now beats, with such intent As renovates the world; a will omnipotent!
“Yes, I will tread Pride's golden palaces,
Thro' Penury's roofless huts and squalid cells
Will I descend, where'er in abjectness
Woman with some vile slave her tyrant dwells,
There with the music of thine own sweet spells
Will disinchant the captives, and will pour
For the despairing, from the crystal wells
Of thy deep spirit, reason's mighty lore, And power shall then abound, and hope arise once more
XLIII. “Can man be free if woman be a slave? Chain one who lives, and breathes this boundless air To the corruption of a closed grave! Can they whose mates are beasts, condemned to bear Scorn, heavier far than toil or anguish, dare To trample their oppressors ? in their home Among their babes, thou knowest a curse would wear
The shape of woman-hoary Crime would come
Behind, and Fraud rebuild religion's tottering dome.
"I am a child I would not yet depart.
When I go forth alone, bearing the lamp
Aloft which thou hast kindled in my heart,
Millions of slaves from many a dungeon damp
Shall leap in joy, as the benumbing cramp
Of ages leaves their limbs—no ill may harm
Thy Cythna ever-Truth its radiant stamp
Has fixed, as an invulnerable charm
Upon her children's brow, dark Falsehood to disarm.
Wait yet awhile for the appointed day-
Thou wilt depart, and I with tears shall stand
Watching thy dim sail skirt the ocean grey;
Amid the dwellers of this lonely land
I shall remain alone—and thy command
Shall then dissolve the world's unquiet trance,
And, multitudinous as the desart sand
Borne on the storm, its millions shall advance,
Thronging round thee, the light of their deliverance
XLVI. "Then, like the forests of some pathless mountain, Which from remotest glens two warring winds Involve in fire, which not the loosened fountain Of broadest floods might quench, shall all the kinds Of evil, catch from our uniting minds The spark which must consume them ;-Cythna then Will have cast off the impotence that binds
Her childhood now, and thro' the paths of men
Will pass, as the charmed bird that haunts the serpent's den.
"We part !—0 Laon, I must dare nor tremble
To meet those looks no more !-Oh, heavy stroke,
Sweet brother of my soul! can I dissemble
The agony of this thought?"-As thus she spoke
The gathered sobs her quivering accents broke,
And in my arms she hid her beating breast.
I remained still for tears—sudden she woke
As one awakes from sleep, and wildly prest
My bosom, her whole frame impetuously possest.
"We part to meet again—but yon blue waste,
Yon desart wide and deep holds no recess,
Within whose happy silence, thus embraced
We might survive all ills in one caress :
Nor doth the grave—I fear 'tis passionless-
Nor yon cold vacant Heaven :—we meet again
Within the minds of men, whose lips shall bless
Our memory, and whose hopes its light retain
When these dissevered bones are trodden in the plain."
I could not speak, tho' she had ceased, for now
The fountains of her feeling, swift and deep,
Seemed to suspend the tumult of their flow;
So we arose, and by the star-light steep
Went homeward-neither did we speak nor weep,
But pale, were calm with passion-thus subdued
Like evening shades that o'er the mountains creep,
We moved towards our home; where, in this mood, Each from the other sought refuge in solitude.
What thoughts had sway over my sister's slumber
That night, I know not; but my own did seem
As if they did ten thousand years outnumber
Of waking life, the visions of a dream,
Which hid in one dim gulph the troubled stream
Of mind; a boundless chaos wild and vast,
Whose limits yet were never memory's theme:
And I lay struggling as its whirlwinds past, Sometimes for rapture sick, sometimes for pain aghast.
Two hours, whose mighty circle did embrace
More time than might make grey the infant world,
Rolled thus, a weary and tumultuous space:
When the third came, like mist on breezes curled,
From my dim sleep a shadow was unfurled :
Methought, upon the threshold of a cave
I sate with Cythna; drooping briony, pearled
With dew from the wild streamlet's shattered wave, Hung, where we sate to taste the joys which Nature gave.
We lived a day as we were wont to live,
But Nature had a robe of glory on,
And the bright air o'er every shape did weave
Intenser hues, so that the herbless stone,
The leafless bough among the leaves alone,
Had being clearer than its own could be,
And Cythna's pure and radiant self was shewn
In this strange vision, so divine to me,
That if I loved before, now love was agony.