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The murderer's cell, or see with helpless groan The priests his children drag for slaves to serve their own.
He dared not kill the infidels with fire
Or steel, in Europe; the slow
Of legal torture mocked his keen
A jealous hate of man, an unreposing need.
"Peace, peace!" he cried. "When
The errors of his faith in endless woe!
But there is sent a mortal venge
It walks upon the earth to judge his foes;
And what are thou and I, that he should deign
To curb his ghastly minister, or close
The gates of death ere they receive the twain
So he made truce with those who Who shook with mortal spells his unde-
The expiation and the sacrifice,
Might crush for him those deadlier
For fear of God did in his bosom
On earth, because an impious race had spurned
Him whom we all adore,-a subtle foe,
By whom for ye this dread reward was earned,
And kingly thrones, which rest on faith, nigh overturned.
"Think ye, because ye weep and
That God will lull the pestilence?
Even from beneath his throne, where, many a day,
His mercy soothed it to a dark
"Ay, there is famine in the gulf of hell,
Its giant worms of fire for ever
Their lurid eyes are on us! Those who fell
By the swift shafts of pestilence ere dawn
Are in their jaws! They hunger for the spawn
Of Satan, their own brethren who were sent
To make our souls their spoil.
And Heaven above seemed cloven, where, on a throne
Girt round with storms and shadows, sate alone
Their King and Judge-fear killed in every breast
All natural pity then, a fear unknown
Before, and, with an inward fire possest,
They raged like homeless beasts whom burning woods invest.
'Twas morn. At noon the public crier went forth,
Proclaiming through the living and the dead,
"The Monarch saith that his great empire's worth
Is set on Laon and Laone's head: He who but one yet living here can lead,
Or who the life from both their hearts can wring,
Shall be the kingdom's heir-a glorious meed!
But he who both alive can hither bring
The Princess shall espouse, and reign an equal King."
Ere night the pyre was piled, the net of iron
Was spread above, the fearful couch below;
It overtopped the towers that did environ
That spacious square, for Fear is never slow
To build the thrones of Hate, her mate and foe,
So she scourged forth the maniac multitude
To rear this pyramid-tottering and slow,
Plague-stricken, foodless, like lean herds pursued
By gadflies, they have piled the heath and gums and wood.
And that, till then, the snakes of hell had need
Soon blazed through the wide City, where, with speed,
Men brought their infidel kindred to appease
Two gentle sisters mourn their God's wrath, and, while they burned, knelt round on quivering knees.
And in the silence of that expecta-
Was heard on high the reptiles' hiss
It was so deep-save when the
Night came, a starless and a moonless gloom.
Until the dawn, those hosts of
Stood round that pile, as near one
To see his enemies writhe and burn and bleed,
And priests rushed through their
With their own lies; they said their
The noontide sun was darkened with that smoke,
The winds of eve dispersed those ashes gray.
The madness which these rites had lulled awoke
Again at sunset.-Who shall dare to say
The deeds which night and fear brought forth, or weigh
In balance just the good and evil
He might man's deep and searchless heart display,
And cast a light on those dim labyrinths where
Hope near imagined chasms is struggling with despair.
'Tis said, a mother dragged three children then
To those fierce flames which roast the eyes in the head,
And laughed and died; and that
Feasting like fiends upon the infidel dead,
Looked from their meal, and saw an Angel tread
The visible floor of heaven, and it was she!
And on that night one without doubt or dread
Came to the fire, and said, “Stop, I am he!
Kill me!"-They burned them both with hellish mockery.
And one by one, that night, young maidens came, Beauteous and calm, like shapes of living stone
Clothed in the light of dreams, and by the flame,
Which shrank as overgorged, they laid them down,
And that some kissed their marble feet, with moan
Like love, and died; and then that they did die
With happy smiles, which sunk in white tranquillity.
And sung a low sweet song, of In the red Heaven, like wrecks in a which alone
One word was heard, and that was
Before its blue and moveless depth were flying
Gray mists poured forth from the unresting fountains
A cloud was hanging o'er the western mountains;
Of darkness in the north :-the day was dying :
Sudden, the sun shone forth, its beams were lying
Like boiling gold on ocean, strange
And on the shattered vapours which, defying
The power of light in vain, tossed restlessly
It was a stream of living beams, whose bank
On either side by the cloud's cleft was made;
And, where its chasms that flood of glory drank,
Its waves gushed forth like fire, and, as if swayed
By some mute tempest, rolled on her; the shade
Of her bright image floated on the river
Of liquid light, which then did end and fade
Her radiant shape upon its verge did shiver ; Aloft,
her flowing hair like strings of flame did quiver.
I stood beside her, but she saw me
She looked upon the sea, and skies, and earth;
Rapture and love and admiration wrought
A passion deeper far than tears or mirth,
Or speech or gesture, or whate'er
From common joy; which with the
That led her there united, and shot
From her far eyes a light of deep
All but her dearest self from my regard concealing.
Her lips were parted, and the measured breath
Was now heard there ;-her dark
Orb within orb, deeper than sleep or
Which now the cold winds stole ;-
Upon my languid heart her dearest
I might have heard her voice, tender and sweet;
Never but once to meet on Earth again!
Her eyes, mingling with mine, might
My soul with their own joy.--One
I gazed-we parted then, never again
to meet !
Sunk on my heart, and almost wove a chain
Around my will to link it with her
Absorbed the glories of the burn- On which those accents died, faint, far,
Which, mingling with her heart's
Burst from her looks and gestures ;—
Of liquid tenderness, like love, did
From her whole frame,-an atmos-
Return, ah me! return!" The wind passed by
Woe! Woe! that moonless midnight!
She would have clasped me to her glowing frame;
Those warm and odorous lips might
circling coals of fire; but still
On mine the fragrance and the invisible One hope, like a keen sword on starting flame threads uphung
As in a hydra's swarming lair, its crest Eminent among those victims-even the Fear
Of Hell: each girt by the hot atmosphere
Of his blind agony, like a scorpion stung
By his own rage upon his burning bier
Not death-death was no more refuge or rest;
Not life--it was despair to be !not sleep,
For fiends and chasms of fire had dis
All natural dreams; to wake was not to weep,
But to gaze, mad and pallid, at the leap