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The air grew suddenly, and no man knew

Whether perchance his silent neighbour saw The dreadful thing which all were sure would rise To scare the strained lids wider from their eyes,


The incense trembled as it upward sent

Its slow, uncertain thread of wandering blue, As 'twere the only living element

In all the church so deep the stillness grew; It seemed one might have heard it, as it went,

Give out an audible rustle, curling through The midnight silence of that awe-struck air, More hushed than death, though so much life was there.


Nothing they saw, but a low voice was heard

Threading the ominous silence of that fear, Gentle and terrorless, as if a bird,

Wakened by some volcano's glare, should cher
The murk air with his song; yet every word

In the cathedral's farthest arch seemed near,
As if it spoke to every one apart,
Like the clear voice of conscience in each heart.


O Rest, to weary hearts thou art most dear!

O Silence, after life's bewildering din
Thou art most welcome, whether in the sear

Days of our age thou comest, or we win
Thy poppy-wreath in youth! then wherefore here

Linger I yet, once free to enter in
At that wished gate which gentle Death doth ope,
Into the boundless realm of strength and hope?


• Think not in death my love could ever cease ;

If thou wast false, more need there is for me
Still to be true; that slumber were not peace,

If 'twere unvisited with dreams of thee:
And thou hadst never heard such words as these,

Save that in Heaven I must erer be
Most comfortless and wretched, seeing this
Our unbaptized babe shut out from bliss.


• This little spirit with imploring eyes

Wanders alone the dreary wild of space; The shadow of his pain for ever lies

Upon my soul in this new dwelling-place

His loneliness makes me in Paradise

More lonely, and, unless I see his face, Even here for grief could I lie down and die, Save for my curse of immortality.


• World after world he sees around him swim

Crowded with happy souls, that take no heed Of the sad eyes that from the night's faint rim

Gaze sick with longing on them as they speed With golden gates, that only shut out him ;

And shapes sometimes from Hell's abysses freed Flap darkly by him, with enormous sweep Of wings that roughen wide the pitchy deep.


'I am a mother, -spirits do not shake

This much of earth from them,--and I must pine Till I can feel his little hands, and take

His weary head upon this heart of mine;
And, might it be, full gladly for his sake

Would I this solitude of bliss resign,
And be shut out of Heaven to dwell with him
For ever in that silence drear and dim.


•I strove to hush my soul, and would not speak

At first, for thy dear sake; a woman's love
Is mighty, but a mother's heart is weak,

And by its weakness overcomes; I strore
To smother bitter thoughts with patience meek,

But still in the abyss my soul would rore,
Seeking my child, and drove me here to claim
The rite that gives him peace in Christ's dear name.


•I sit and weep while blessed spirits sing;

I can but long and pine the while they praise, And, leaning o'er the wall of Heaven, I fling

My voice to where I deem my infant strays, Like a robbed bird that cries in vain to bring

Her nestlings back beneath her wings' embrace But still he answers not, and I but know That Heaven and earth are both alike in woe.'


Then the pale priests, with ceremony due,

Baptized the child within its dreadful tomb Beneath that mother's heart, whose instinct true

Star-like had battled down the triple gloom

Of sorrow, love, and death: young maidens, too,

Strewed the pale corpse with many a milkwhite bloom, And parted the bright hair, and on the breast Crossed the unconscious hands in sign of rest.


Some said, that, when the priest had sprinkled o’er

The consecrated drops, they seemed to hear A sigh, as of some heart from travail sore

Released, and then two voices singing clear, Misereatur Deus, more and more

Fading far upward, and their ghastly fear Fell from them with that sound, as bodies fall From souls upspringing to celestial hall.


ONE after one the stars have risen and set,
Sparkling upon the hoarfrost on my chain :
The Bear, that prowled all night about the fold
Of the North-star, had shrunk into his den,
Scared by the blithesome footsteps of the Dawn,
Whose blushing smile floods all the Orient;
And now bright Lucifer grows less and less,
Into the heaven's blue quiet deep-withdrawn.
Sunless and starless all, the desert sky
Arches above me, empty as this heart
For ages hath been empty of all joy,
Except to brood upon its silent hope,
As o'er its hope of day the sky doth now.
All night have I heard voices : deeper yet
The deep low breathing of the silence grew,
While all about, muffled in awe, there stood
Shadows, or forms, or both, clear-felt at heart;
But, when I turn to front them, far along
Only a shudder through the midnight ran,
And the dense stillness walled me closer round.
But still I heard them wander up and down
That solitude, and flappings of dusk wings
Did mingle with them, whether of those hags
Let slip upon me once from Hades deep,
Or of yet direr torments, if such be,
I could but guess; and then toward me came
A shape as of a woman: very pale
It was, and calm ; its cold eyes did not move,
And mine moved not, but only stared on them.


Their fixed awe went through my brain like ice;
A skeleton hand seemed clutching at my heart,
And a sharp chill, as if a dank night fog
Suddenly closed me in, was all I felt:
And then, methought, I heard a freezing sigh,
A long, deep, shivering sigh, as from blue lips
Stiffening in death, close to mine ear. I thought
Some doom was close upon me, and I looked
And saw the red moon through the heavy mist,
Just setting, and it seemed as it were falling,
Or reeling to its fall, so dim and dead
And palsy-struck it looked. Then all sounds merged
Into the rising surges of the pines,
Which, leagues below me, clothing the gaunt loins
Of ancient Caucasus with hairy strength,
Sent up a murmur in the morning wind,
Sad as the wail that from the populous earth
All day and night to high Olympus soars,
Fit incense to thy wicked throne, O Jore !

Thy hated nar.e is tossed once more in scorn
From off my lips, for I will tell thy doom.
And are these tears ? Nay, do not triumph, Jove !
They are wrung from me but by the agonies
Of prophecy, like those sparse drops which fall
From clouds in travanl with the lightning, when
The great wave of the storm high-curled and black
Rolls steadily onward to its thunderous break.
Why art thou made a god of, thou poor type
Of anger, and revenge, and cunning force ?
True Power was never born of brutish Strength,
Nor sweet Truth suckled at the shaggy dugs
Of that old she-wolf. Are thy thunderbolts,
That quell the darkness for a space, so strong
As the prevailing patience of meek Light,
Who, with the invincible tenderness of peace,
Wins it to be a portion of herself?
Why art thou made a god of, thou, who hast
The never-sleeping terror at thy heart,
That birthright of all tyrants, worse to bear
Than this thy ravening bird on which I smile ?
Thou swear'st to free me, if I will unfold
What kind of doom it is whose omen flits
Across thy heart, as o'er a troop of doves
The fearful shadow of the kite. What need
To know that truth whose knowledge cannot sare ?
Evil its errand hath, as well as Good;


When thine is finished, thou art known no more :
There is a higher purity than thou,
And higher purity is greater strength;
Thy nature is thy doom, at which thy heart
Trembles behind the thick wall of thy might.
Let man but hope, and thou art straightway chilled
With thought of that drear silence and deep night
Which, like a dream, shall swallow thee and thine :
Let man but will, and thou art god no more,
More capable of ruin than the gold
And ivory that image thee on earth.
He who hurled down the monstrous Titan-brood
Blinded with lightnings, with rough thunders stunned,
Is weaker than a simple human thought.
My slender voice can shake thee, as the breeze
That seems but apt to stir a maiden's hair,
Sways huge Oceanus from pole to pole :
For I am still Prometheus, and foreknow
In my wise heart the end and doom of all.

Yes, I am still Prometheus, wiser grown By years of solitude,—that holds apart The past and future, giving the soul room To search into itself, -and long commune With this eternal silence ;-more a god, In my long-suffering and strength to meet With equal front the direst shafts of fate, Than thou in thy faint-hearted despotism, Girt with thy baby-toys of force and wrath. Yes, I am that Prometheus who brought down The light to man, which thou, in selfish fear, Hadst to thyself usurped, -his by sole right, For Man hath right to all save Tyranny, And which shall free him yet from thy frail throne. Tyrants are but the spawn of Ignorance, Begotten by the slaves they trample on, Who, could they win a glimmer of the light, And see that Tyranny is always weakness, Or Fear with its own bosom ill at ease, Would laugh away in scorn the sand-wove chain Which their own blindness feigned for adamant. Wrong ever builds on quicksands, but the Right To the firm centre lays its moveless base. The tyrant trembles, if the air but stirs The innocent ringlets of a child's free hair, And crouches, when the thought of some great spirit, With world-wide murmur, like a rising gale,

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