Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A DRAMA OF EXILE, by ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING

Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

A DRAMA OF EXILE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Rejoice in the clefts of gehenna
Last Line: Falling tears of angel.]
Subject(s): Eden; Gabriel; Heaven; Devil; Paradise; Satan; Mephistopheles; Lucifer; Beelzebub


CHRIST, in a Vision.

SCENE. -- The outer side of the gate of Eden shut fast with
cloud, from the depth of which revolves a sword of fire self-moved.
ADAM and EVE are seen in the distance flying along the glare.

LUCIFER, alone.

REJOICE in the clefts of Gehenna,
My exiled, my host!
Earth has exiles as hopeless as when a
Heaven's empire was lost.
Through the seams of her shaken foundations,
Smoke up in great joy!
With the smoke of your fierce exultations
Deform and destroy!
Smoke up with your lurid revenges,
And darken the face
Of the white heavens and taunt them with changes
From glory and grace.
We, in falling, while destiny strangles,
Pull down with us all.
Let them look to the rest of their angels!
Who's safe from a fall?
HE saves not. Where's Adam? Can pardon
Requicken that sod?
Unkinged is the King of the Garden,
The image of God.
Other exiles are cast out of Eden, --
More curse has been hurled:
Come up, O my locusts, and feed in
The green of the world!
Come up! we have conquered by evil;
Good reigns not alone:
I prevail now, and, angel or devil,
Inherit a throne.

[In sudden apparition a watch of innumerable Angels, rank
above rank, slopes up from around the gate to the zenith.
The Angel GABRIEL descends.]

Lucifer. Hail, Gabriel, the keeper of the gate!
Now that the fruit is plucked, prince Gabriel,
I hold that Eden is impregnable
Under thy keeping.
Gabriel. Angel of the sin,
Such as thou standest, -- pale in the drear light
Which rounds the rebel's work with Maker's wrath, --
Thou shalt be an Idea to all souls,
A monumental melancholy gloom
Seen down all ages, whence to mark despair
And measure out the distances from good.
Go from us straightway!
Lucifer. Wherefore?
Gabriel. Lucifer,
Thy last step in this place trod sorrow up.
Recoil before that sorrow, if not this sword.
Lucifer. Angels are in the world -- wherefore not I?
Exiles are in the world -- wherefore not I?
The cursed are in the world -- wherefore not I?
Gabriel. Depart!
Lucifer. And where's the logic of 'depart'?
Our lady Eve had half been satisfied
To obey her Maker, if I had not learnt
To fix my postulate better. Dost thou dream
Of guarding some monopoly in heaven
Instead of earth? Why, I can dream with thee
To the length of thy wings.
Gabriel. I do not dream.
This is not heaven, even in a dream, nor earth,
As earth was once, first breathed among the stars,
Articulate glory from the mouth divine,
To which the myriad spheres thrilled audibly,
Touched like a lute-string, and the sons of God
Said AMEN, singing it. I know that this
Is earth not new created but new cursed --
This, Eden's gate not opened but built up
With a final cloud of sunset. Do I dream?
Alas, not so! this is the Eden lost
By Lucifer the serpent; this the sword
(This sword alive with justice and with fire)
That smote, upon the forehead, Lucifer
The angel. Wherefore, angel, go -- depart!
Enough is sinned and suffered.
Lucifer. By no means.
Here's a brave earth to sin and suffer on:
It holds fast still -- it cracks not under curse;
It holds like mine immortal. Presently
We'll sow it thick enough with graves as green
Or greener certes, than its knowledge-tree.
We'll have the cypress for the tree of life,
More eminent for shadow: for the rest,
We'll build it dark with towns and pyramids,
And temples, if it please you: -- we'll have feasts
And funerals also, merrymakes and wars,
Till blood and wine shall mix and run along
Right o'er the edges. And, good Gabriel
(Ye like that word in heaven), I too have strength --
Strength to behold Him and not worship Him,
Strength to fall from Him and not cry on Him,
Strength to be in the universe and yet
Neither God nor his servant. The red sign
Burnt on my forehead, which you taunt me with,
Is God's sign that it bows not unto God,
The potter's mark upon his work, to show
It rings well to the striker. I and the earth
Can bear more curse.
Gabriel. O miserable earth,
O ruined angel!
Lucifer. Well, and if it be!
I CHOSE this ruin; I elected it
Of my will, not of service. What I do,
I do volitient, not obedient,
And overtop thy crown with my despair.
My sorrow crowns me. Get thee back to heaven,
And leave me to the earth, which is mine own
In virtue of her ruin, as I hers
In virtue of my revolt! Turn thou from both
That bright, impassive, passive angelhood,
And spare to read us backward any more
Of the spent hallelujahs!
Gabriel. Spirit of scorn,
I might say, of unreason! I might say,
That who despairs, acts; that who acts, connives
With God's relations set in time and space;
That who elects, assumes a something good
Which God made possible; that who lives, obeys
The law of a Life-maker ...
Lucifer. Let it pass!
No more, thou Gabriel! What if I stand up
And strike my brow against the crystalline
Roofing the creatures, -- shall I say, for that,
My stature is too high for me to stand, --
Henceforward I must sit? Sit thou!
Gabriel. I kneel.
Lucifer. A heavenly answer. Get thee to thy heaven,
And leave my earth to me!
Gabriel. Through heaven and earth
God's will moves freely, and I follow it,
As color follows light. He overflows
The firmamental walls with deity,
Therefore with love; his lightnings go abroad,
His pity may do so, his angels must,
Whene'er He gives them charges.
Lucifer. Verily,
I and my demons, who are spirits of scorn,
Might hold this charge of standing with a sword
'Twixt man and his inheritance, as well
As the benignest angel of you all.
Gabriel. Thou speakest in the shadow of thy change.
If thou hadst gazed upon the face of God
This morning for a moment, thou hadst known
That only pity fitly can chastise:
Hate but avenges.
Lucifer. As it is, I know
Something of pity. When I reeled in heaven,
And my sword grew too heavy for my grasp,
Stabbing through matter, which it could not pierce
So much as the first shell of, -- toward the throne;
When I fell back, down, -- staring up as I fell, --
The lightnings holding open my scathed lids,
And that thought of the infinite of God,
Hurled after to precipitate descent;
When countless angel faces still and stern
Pressed out upon me from the level heavens
Adown the abysmal spaces, and I fell
Trampled down by your stillness, and struck blind
By the sight within your eyes, -- 't was then I knew
How ye could pity, my kind angelhood!
Gabriel. Alas, discrowned one, by the truth in me
Which God keeps in me, I would give away
All -- save that truth and his love keeping it --
To lead thee home again into the light
And hear thy voice chant with the morning stars,
When their rays tremble round them with much song
Sung in more gladness!
Lucifer. Sing, my Morning Star!
Last beautiful, last heavenly, that I loved!
If I could drench thy golden locks with tears,
What were it to this angel?
Gabriel. What love is.
And now I have named God.
Lucifer. Yet, Gabriel,
By the lie in me which I keep myself,
Thou 'rt a false swearer. Were it otherwise,
What dost thou here, vouchsafing tender thoughts
To that earth-angel or earth-demon -- which,
Thou and I have not solved the problem yet
Enough to argue, -- that fallen Adam there, --
That red-clay and a breath, -- who must, forsooth,
Live in a new apocalypse of sense,
With beauty and music waving in his trees
And running in his rivers, to make glad
His soul made perfect? -- is it not for hope,
A hope within thee deeper than thy truth,
Of finally conducting him and his
To fill the vacant thrones of me and mine,
Which affront heaven with their vacuity?
Gabriel. Angel, there are no vacant thrones in heaven
To suit thy empty words. Glory and life
Fulfil their own depletions; and if God
Sighed you far from Him, his next breath drew in
A compensative splendor up the vast,
Flushing the starry arteries.
Lucifer. What a change!
So, let the vacant thrones and gardens too
Fill as may please you! -- and be pitiful,
As ye translate that word, to the dethroned
And exiled, man or angel. The fact stands,
That I, the rebel, the cast out and down,
Am here and will not go; while there, along
The light to which ye flash the desert out,
Flies your adopted Adam, your red-clay
In two kinds, both being flawed. Why, what is this?
Whose work is this? Whose hand was in the work?
Against whose hand? In this last strife, methinks,
I am not a fallen angel!
Gabriel. Dost thou know
Aught of those exiles?
Lucifer. Ay: I know they have fled
Silent all day along the wilderness:
I know they wear, for burden on their backs,
The thought of a shut gate of Paradise,
And faces of the marshalled cherubim
Shining against, not for them; and I know
They dare not look in one another's face, --
As if each were a cherub!
Gabriel. Dost thou know
Aught of their future?
Lucifer. Only as much as this:
That evil will increase and multiply
Without a benediction.
Gabriel. Nothing more?
Lucifer. Why so the angels taunt!
What should be more?
Gabriel. God is more.
Lucifer. Proving what?
Gabriel. That he is God,
And capable of saving. Lucifer,
I charge thee by the solitude He kept
Ere He created, -- leave the earth to God!
Lucifer. My foot is on the earth, firm as my sin.
Gabriel. I charge thee by the memory of heaven
Ere any sin was done, -- leave earth to God!
Lucifer. My sin is on the earth, to reign thereon.
Gabriel. I charge thee by the choral song we sang,
When up against the white shore of our feet
The depths of the creation swelled and brake, --
And the new worlds, the beaded foam and flower
Of all that coil, roared outward into space
On thunder-edges, -- leave the earth to God!
Lucifer. My woe is on the earth, to curse thereby.
Gabriel. I charge thee by that mournful Morning Star
Which trembles ...
Lucifer. Enough spoken. As the pine
In norland forest drops its weight of snows
By a night's growth, so, growing toward my ends
I drop thy counsels. Farewell, Gabriel!
Watch out thy service; I achieve my will.
And peradventure in the after years,
When thoughtful men shall bend their spacious brows
Upon the storm and strife seen everywhere
To ruffle their smooth manhood and break up
with lurid lights of intermittent hope
Their human fear and wrong, -- they may discern
The heart of a lost angel in the earth.


Hearken, oh hearken! let your souls behind you
Turn, gently moved!
Our voices feel along the Dread to find you,
O lost, beloved!
Through the thick-shielded and strong-marshalled angels,
They press and pierce:
Our requiems follow fast on our evangels, --
Voice throbs in verse.
We are but orphaned spirits left in Eden
A time ago:
God gave us golden cups, and we were bidden
To feed you so.
But now our right hand hath no cup remaining,
No work to do,
The mystic hydromel is spilt, and staining
The whole earth through.
Most ineradicable stains, for showing
(Not interfused!)
That brighter colors were the world's foregoing,
Than shall be used.
Hearken, oh hearken! ye shall hearken surely
For years and years,
The noise beside you, dripping coldly, purely,
Of spirits' tears.
The yearning to a beautiful denied you
Shall strain your powers;
Ideal sweetnesses shall overglide you,
Resumed from ours.
In all your music, our pathetic minor
Your ears shall cross;
And all good gifts shall mind you of diviner,
With sense of loss.
We shall be near you in your poet-languors
And wild extremes,
What time ye vex the desert with vain angers,
Or mock with dreams.
And when upon you, weary after roaming,
Death's seal is put,
By the foregone ye shall discern the coming,
Through eyelids shut.
Spirits of the Trees.
Hark! the Eden trees are stirring,
Soft and solemn in your hearing!
Oak and linden, palm and fir,
Tamarisk and juniper,
Each still throbbing in vibration
Since that crowning of creation
When the God-breath spake abroad,
Let us make man like to God!
And the pine stood quivering
As the awful word went by,
Like a vibrant music-string
Stretched from mountain-peak to sky;
And the platan did expand
Slow and gradual, branch and head;
And the cedar's strong black shade
Fluttered brokenly and grand:
Grove and wood were swept aslant
In emotion jubilant.
Voice of the same, but softer.
Which divine impulsion cleaves
In dim movements to the leaves
Dropt and lifted, dropt and lifted,
In the sunlight greenly sifted, --
In the sunlight and the moonlight
Greenly sifted through the trees.
Ever wave the Eden trees
In the nightlight and the noonlight,
With a ruffling of green branches
Shaded off to resonances,
Never stirred by rain or breeze.
Fare ye well, farewell!
The sylvan sounds, no longer audible,
Expire at Eden's door.
Each footstep of your treading
Treads out some murmur which ye heard before.
Farewell! the trees of Eden
Ye shall hear nevermore.
River Spirits.
Hark! the flow of the four rivers --
Hark the flow!
How the silence round you shivers,
While our voices through it go,
Cold and clear.
A softer Voice.
Think a little, while ye hear,
Of the banks
Where the willows and the deer
Crowd in intermingled ranks,
As if all would drink at once
Where the living water runs! --
Of the fishes' golden edges
Flashing in and out the sedges;
Of the swans on silver thrones,
Floating down the winding streams
With impassive eyes turned shoreward
And a chant of undertones, --
And the lotos leaning forward
To help them into dreams!
Fare ye well, farewell!
The river-sounds, no longer audible,
Expire at Eden's door.
Each footstep of your treading
Treads out some murmur which ye heard before.
Farewell! the streams of Eden
Ye shall hear nevermore.
Bird Spirit.
I am the nearest nightingale
That singeth in Eden after you;
And I am singing loud and true,
And sweet, -- I do not fail.
I sit upon a cypress bough,
Close to the gate, and I fling my song
Over the gate and through the mail
Of the warden angels marshalled strong, --
Over the gate and after you.
And the warden angels let it pass,
Because the poor brown bird, alas,
Sings in the garden, sweet and true.
And I build my song of high pure notes,
Note over note, height over height,
Till I strike the arch of the Infinite,
And I bridge abysmal agonies
With strong, clear calms of harmonies, --
And something abides, and something floats,
In the song which I sing after you.
Fare ye well, farewell!
The creature-sounds, no longer audible,
Expire at Eden's door.
Each footstep of your treading
Treads out some cadence which ye heard before.
Farewell! the birds of Eden
Ye shall hear nevermore.
Flower Spirits.
We linger, we linger,
The last of the throng,
Like the tones of a singer
Who loves his own song.
We are spirit-aromas
Of blossom and bloom.
We call your thoughts home, -- as
Ye breathe our perfume, --
To the amaranth's splendor
Afire on the slopes;
To the lily-bells tender,
And gray heliotropes;
To the poppy-plains keeping
Such dream-breath and blee
That the angels there stepping
Grew whiter to see:
To the nook, set with moly,
Ye jested one day in,
Till your smile waxed too holy
And left your lips praying:
To the rose in the bower-place,
That dripped o'er you sleeping;
To the asphodel flower-place,
Ye walked ankle-deep in.
We pluck at your raiment,
We stroke down your hair,
We faint in our lament
And pine into air.
Fare ye well, farewell!
The Eden scents, no longer sensible,
Expire at Eden's door.
Each footstep of your treading
Treads out some fragrance which ye knew before.
Farewell! the flowers of Eden
Ye shall smell nevermore.
[There is silence. ADAM and EVE fly on, and never look back.
Only a colossal shadow, as of the dark Angel passing quickly, is
cast upon the Sword-glare.

SCENE. -- The extremity of the Sword-glare.

Adam. Pausing a moment on this outer edge
Where the supernal sword-glare cuts in light
The dark exterior desert, -- hast thou strength,
Beloved, to look behind us to the gate?
Eve. Have I not strength to look up to thy face?
Adam. We need be strong: yon spectacle of cloud
Which seals the gate up to the final doom,
Is God's seal manifest. There seem to lie
A hundred thunders in it, dark and dead;
The unmolten lightnings vein it motionless;
And, outward from its depth, the self-moved sword
Swings slow its awful gnomon of red fire
From side to side, in pendulous horror slow,
Across the stagnant ghastly glare thrown flat
On the intermediate ground from that to this.
The angelic hosts, the archangelic pomps,
Thrones, dominations, princedoms, rank on rank,
Rising sublimely to the feet of God,
On either side and overhead the gate,
Show like a glittering and sustained smoke
Drawn to an apex. That their faces shine
Betwixt the solemn clasping of their wings
Clasped high to a silver point above their heads, --
We only guess from hence, and not discern.
Eve. Though we were near enough to see them shine,
The shadow on thy face were awfuller,
To me, at least, -- to me -- than all their light.
Adam. What is this, Eve? thou drop-pest heavily
In a heap earthward, and thy body heaves
Under the golden floodings of thine hair!
Eve. O Adam, Adam! by that name of Eve --
Thine Eve, thy life -- which suits me little now,
Seeing that I now confess myself thy death
And thine undoer, as the snake was mine, --
I do adjure thee, put me straight away,
Together with my name! Sweet, punish me!
O Love, be just! and, ere we pass beyond
The light cast outward by the fiery sword,
Into the dark which earth must be to us,
Bruise my head with thy foot, -- as the curse said
My seed shall the first tempter's! strike with curse,
As God struck in the garden! and as HE,
Being satisfied with justice and with wrath,
Did roll his thunder gentler at the close, --
Thou, peradventure, mayst at last recoil
To some soft need of mercy. Strike, my lord!
I, also, after tempting, writhe on the ground,
And I would feed on ashes from thine hand,
As suits me, O my tempted!
Adam. My beloved,
Mine Eve and life -- I have no other name
For thee or for the sun than what ye are,
My utter life and light! If we have fallen,
It is that we have sinned, -- we: God is just;
And, since his curse doth comprehend us both,
It must be that his balance holds the weights
Of first and last sin on a level. What!
Shall I who had not virtue to stand straight
Among the hills of Eden, here assume
To mend the justice of the perfect God,
By piling up a curse upon his curse,
Against thee -- thee?
Eve. For so, perchance, thy God
Might take thee into grace for scorning me;
Thy wrath against the sinner giving proof
Of inward abrogation of the sin:
And so, the blessed angels might come down
And walk with thee as erst, -- I think they would, --
Because I was not near to make them sad
Or soil the rustling of their innocence.
Adam. They know me. I am deepest in the guilt,
If last in the transgression.
Eve. Thou!
Adam. If God,
Who gave the right and joyaunce of the world
Both unto thee and me, -- gave thee to me,
The best gift last, the last sin was the worst,
Which sinned against more complement of gifts
And grace of giving. God! I render back
Strong benediction and perpetual praise
From mortal feeble lips (as incense-smoke,
Out of a little censer, may fill heaven),
That thou, in striking my benumbed hands
And forcing them to drop all other boons
Of beauty and dominion and delight, --
Hast left this well-beloved Eve, this life
Within life, this best gift between their palms,
In gracious compensation!
Eve. Is it thy voice?
Or some saluting angel's -- calling home
My feet into the garden?
Adam. O my God!
I, standing here between the glory and dark, --
The glory of thy wrath projected forth
From Eden's wall, the dark of our distress
Which settles a step off in that drear world --
Lift up to Thee the hands from whence hath fallen
Only creation's sceptre, -- thanking Thee
That rather Thou hast cast me out with her
Than left me lorn of her in Paradise,
With angel looks and angel songs around
To show the absence of her eyes and voice,
And make society full desertness
Without her use in comfort!
Eve. Where is loss?
Am I in Eden? can another speak
Mine own love's tongue?
Adam. Because with her, I stand
Upright, as far as can be in this fall,
And look away from heaven which doth accuse,
And look away from earth which doth convict,
Into her face, and crown my discrowned brow
Out of her love, and put the thought of her
Around me, for an Eden full of birds,
And lift her body up -- thus -- to my heart,
And with my lips upon her lips, -- thus, thus, --
Do quicken and sublimate my mortal breath
Which cannot climb against the grave's steep sides
But overtops this grief.
Eve. I am renewed.
My eyes grow with the light which is in thine;
The silence of my heart is full of sound.
Hold me up -- so! Because I comprehend
This human love, I shall not be afraid
Of any human death; and yet because
I know this strength of love, I seem to know
Death's strength by that same sign. Kiss on my lips,
To shut the door close on my rising soul, --
Lest it pass outwards in astonishment
And leave thee lonely!
Adam. Yet thou liest, Eve,
Bent heavily on thyself across mine arm,
Thy face flat to the sky.
Eve. Ay, and the tears
Running, as it might seem, my life from me,
They run so fast and warm. Let me lie so,
And weep so, as if in a dream or prayer,
Unfastening, clasp by clasp, the hard tight thought
Which clipped my heart and showed me evermore
Loathed of thy justice as I loathe the snake,
And as the pure ones loathe our sin. Today,
All day, beloved, as we fled across
This desolating radiance cast by swords
Not suns, -- my lips prayed soundless to myself,
Striking against each other -- 'O Lord God!'
('T was so I prayed) 'I ask Thee by my sin,
And by thy curse, and by thy blameless heavens,
Make dreadful haste to hide me from thy face
And from the face of my beloved here
For whom I am no helpmeet, quick away
Into the new dark mystery of death!
I will lie still there, I will make no plaint,
I will not sigh, nor sob, nor speak a word,
Nor struggle to come back beneath the sun
Where peradventure I might sin anew
Against thy mercy and his pleasure Death,
O death, whate'er it be, is good enough
For such as I am: while for Adam here,
No voice shall say again, in heaven or earth,
It is not good for him to be alone.'
Adam. And was it good for such a prayer to pass,
My unkind Eve, betwixt our mutual lives?
If I am exiled, must I be bereaved?
Eve. 'T was an ill prayer: it shall be prayed no more;
And God did use it like a foolishness,
Giving no answer. Now my heart has grown
Too high and strong for such a foolish prayer;
Love makes it strong: and since I was the first
In the transgression, with a steady foot
I will be first to tread from this sword-glare
Into the outer darkness of the waste, --
And thus I do it.
Adam. Thus I follow thee,
As erewhile in the sin. -- What sounds! what sounds!
I feel a music which comes straight from heaven,
As tender as a watering dew.
Eve. I think
That angels -- not those guarding Paradise, --
But the love-angels, who came erst to us,
And when we said 'GOD,' fainted unawares
Back from our mortal presence unto God,
(As if He drew them inward in a breath)
His name being heard of them, -- I think that they
With sliding voices lean from heavenly towers,
Invisible but gracious. Hark -- how soft!


Faint and tender.

Mortal man and woman,
Go upon your travel!
Heaven assist the human
Smoothly to unravel
All that web of pain
Wherein ye are holden.
Do ye know our voices
Chanting down the Golden?
Do ye guess our choice is,
Being unbeholden,
To be hearkened by you yet again?

This pure door of opal
God hath shut between us, --
Us, his shining people,
You, who once have seen us
And are blinded new!
Yet, across the doorway,
Past the silence reaching,
Farewells evermore may,
Blessing in the teaching,
Glide from us to you.
First Semichorus.
Think how erst your Eden,
Day on day succeeding,
With our presence glowed.
We came as if the Heavens were bowed
To a milder music rare.
Ye saw us in our solemn treading,
Treading down the steps of cloud,
While our wings, outspreading
Double calms of whiteness,
Dropped superfluous brightness
Down from stair to stair.
Second Semichorus.
Or oft, abrupt though tender,
While ye gazed on space,
We flashed our angel-splendor
In either human face.
With mystic lilies in our hands,
From the atmospheric bands
Breaking with a sudden grace,
We took you unaware!
While our feet struck glories
Outward, smooth and fair,
Which we stood on floorwise,
Platformed in mid-air.
First Semichorus.
Or oft, when Heaven-descended,
Stood we in our wondering sight
In a mute apocalypse
With dumb vibrations on our lips
From hosannas ended,
And grand half-vanishings
Of the empyreal things
Within our eyes belated,
Till the heavenly Infinite
Falling off from the Created,
Left our inward contemplation
Opened into ministration.
Then upon our axle turning
Of great joy to sympathy,
We sang out the morning
Broadening up the sky.
Or we drew
Our music through
The noontide's hush and heat and shine,
Informed with our intense Divine:
Interrupted vital notes
Palpitating hither, thither,
Burning out into the aether,
Sensible like fiery motes.
Or, whenever twilight drifted
Through the cedar masses,
The globed sun we lifted,
Trailing purple, trailing gold
Out between the passes
Of the mountains manifold,
To anthems slowly sung:
While he, -- aweary, half in swoon
For joy to hear our climbing tune
Transpierce the stars' concentric rings, --
The burden of his glory flung
In broken lights upon our wings.
[The chant dies away confusedly, and LUCIFER appears.
Lucifer. Now may all fruits be pleasant to thy lips,
Beautiful Eve! The times have somewhat changed
Since thou and I had talk beneath a tree,
Albeit ye are not gods yet.
Eve. Adam! hold
My right hand strongly! It is Lucifer --
And we have love to lose.
Adam. I' the name of God,
Go apart from us, O thou Lucifer!
And leave us to the desert thou hast made
Out of thy treason. Bring no serpent-slime
Athwart this path kept holy to our tears!
Or we may curse thee with their bitterness.
Lucifer. Curse freely! curses thicken. Why, this Eve
Who thought me once part worthy of her ear
And somewhat wiser than the other beasts, --
Drawing together her large globes of eyes,
The light of which is throbbing in and out
Their steadfast continuity of gaze, --
Knots her fair eyebrows in so hard a knot,
And down from her white heights of womanhood
Looks on me so amazed, -- I scarce should fear
To wager such an apple as she plucked
Against one riper from the tree of life,
That she could curse too -- as a woman may --
Smooth in the vowels.
Eve. So -- speak wickedly!
I like it best so. Let thy words be wounds, --
For, so, I shall not fear thy power to hurt.
Trench on the forms of good by open ill --
For, so, I shall wax strong and grand with scorn,
Scorning myself for ever trusting thee
As far as thinking, era a snake ate dust,
He could speak wisdom.
Lucifer. Our new gods, it seems
Deal more in thunders than in courtesies.
And, sooth, mine own Olympus, which anon
I shall build up to loud-voiced imagery
From all the wandering visions of the world,
May show worse railing than our lady Eve
Pours o'er the rounding of her argent arm.
But why should this be? Adam pardoned Eve.
Adam. Adam loved Eve. Jehovah pardoned both!
Eve. Adam forgave Eve -- because loving Eve.
Lucifer. So, well. Yet Adam was undone of Eve,
As both were by the snake. Therefore forgive,
In like wise, fellow-temptress, the poor snake --
Who stung there, not so poorly! [Aside.
Eve. Hold thy wrath,
Beloved Adam! let me answer him;
For this time he speaks truth, which we should hear,
And asks for mercy, which I most should grant,
In like wise, as he tells us -- in like wise!
And therefore I thee pardon, Lucifer,
As freely as the streams of Eden flowed
When we were happy by them. So, depart;
Leave us to walk the remnant of our time
Out mildly in the desert. Do not seek
To harm us any more or scoff at us,
Or ere the dust be laid upon our face,
To find there the communion of the dust
And issue of the dust. -- Go!
Adam. At once, go!
Lucifer. Forgive! and go! Ye images of clay,
Shrunk somewhat in the mould, -- what jest is this?
What words are these to use? By what a thought
Conceive ye of me? Yesterday -- a snake!
To-day -- what?
Adam. A strong spirit.
Eve. A sad spirit.
Adam. Perhaps a fallen angel. -- Who shall say!
Lucifer. Who told thee, Adam?
Adam. Thou! The prodigy
Of thy vast brows and melancholy eyes
Which comprehend the heights of some great fall.
I think that thou hast one day worn a crown
Under the eyes of God.
Lucifer. And why of God?
Adam. It were no crown else. Verily, I think
Thou'rt fallen far. I had not yesterday
Said it so surely, but I know to-day
Grief by grief, sin by sin.
Lucifer. A crown, by a crown.
Adam. Ay, mock me! now I know more than I knew:
Now I know that thou art fallen below hope
Of final re-ascent.
Lucifer. Because?
Adam. Because
A spirit who expected to see God
Though at the last point of a million years,
Could dare no mockery of a ruined man
Such as this Adam.
Lucifer. Who is high and bold --
Be it said passing! -- of a good red clay
Discovered on some top of Lebanon,
Or haply of Aornus, beyond sweep
Of the black eagle's wing! A furlong lower
Had made a meeker king for Eden. Soh!
Is it not possible, by sin and grief
(To give the things your names) that spirits should rise
Instead of falling?
Adam. Most impossible.
The Highest being the Holy and the Glad,
Whoever rises must approach delight
And sanctity in the act.
Lucifer. Ha, my clay-king!
Thou wilt not rule by wisdom very long
The after generations. Earth, methinks,
Will disinherit thy philosophy
For a new doctrine suited to thine heirs,
And class these present dogmas with the rest
Of the old-world traditions, Eden fruits
And Saurian fossils.
Eve. Speak no more with him,
Beloved! it is not good to speak with him.
Go from us, Lucifer, and speak no more!
We have no pardon which thou dost not scorn,
Nor any bliss, thou seest, for coveting,
Nor innocence for staining. Being bereft,
We would be alone. -- Go!
Lucifer. Ah! ye talk the same,
All of you -- spirits and clay -- go, and depart!
In Heaven they said so, and at Eden's gate,
And here, reiterant, in the wilderness.
None saith, Stay with me, for thy face is fair!
None saith, Stay with me, for thy voice is sweet!
And yet I was not fashioned out of clay.
Look on me, woman! Am I beautiful?
Eve. Thou hast a glorious darkness.
Lucifer. Nothing more?
Eve. I think, no more.
Lucifer. False Heart -- thou thinkest more!
Thou canst not choose but think, as I praise God,
Unwillingly but fully, that I stand
Most absolute in beauty. As yourselves
Were fashioned very good at best, so we
Sprang very beauteous from the creant Word
Which thrilled behind us, God himself being moved
When that august work of a perfect shape,
His dignities of sovran angelhood,
Swept out into the universe, -- divine
With thunderous movements, earnest looks of gods,
And silver-solemn clash of cymbal wings.
Whereof was I, in motion and in form,
A part not poorest. And yet, -- yet, perhaps,
This beauty which I speak of, is not here,
As God's voice is not here, nor even my crown --
I do not know. What is this thought or thing
Which I call beauty? Is it thought, or thing?
Is it a thought accepted for a thing?
Or both? or neither? -- a pretext -- a word?
Its meaning flutters in me like a flame
Under my own breath: my perceptions reel
For evermore around it, and fall off,
As if it too were holy.
Eve. Which it is.
Adam. The essence of all beauty, I call love.
The attribute, the evidence, and end,
The consummation to the inward sense,
Of beauty apprehended from without,
I still call love. As form, when colorless,
Is nothing to the eye, -- that pine-tree there,
Without its black and green, being all a blank, --
So, without love, is beauty undiscerned
In man or angel. Angel! rather ask
What love is in thee, what love moves to thee,
And what collateral love moves on with thee;
Then shalt thou know if thou art beautiful.
Lucifer. Love! what is love? I lose it. Beauty and love
I darken to the image. Beauty -- love!
[He fades away, while a low music sounds.
Adam. Thou art pale, Eve.
Eve. The precipice of ill
Down this colossal nature, dizzies me:
And, hark! the starry harmony remote
Seems measuring the heights from whence he fell.
Adam. Think that we have not fallen so! By the hope
And aspiration, by the love and faith,
We do exceed the stature of this angel.
Eve. Happier we are than he is, by the death.
Adam. Or rather, by the life of the Lord God!
How dim the angel grows, as if that blast
Of music swept him back into the dark.
[The music is stronger, gathering itself into
uncertain articulation.
Eve. It throbs in on us like a plaintive heart,
Pressing, with slow pulsations, vibrative,
Its gradual sweetness through the yielding air,
To such expression as the stars may use,
Most starry-sweet and strange! With every note
That grows more loud, the angel grows more dim,
Receding in proportion to approach,
Until he stand afar, -- a shade.
Adam. Now, words.


He fades utterly away and vanishes, as it proceeds.

Mine orbed image sinks
Back from thee, back from thee,
As thou art fallen, methinks,
Back from me, back from me.
O my light-bearer,
Could another fairer
Lack to thee, lack to thee?
Ah, ah, Heosphoros!
I loved thee with the fiery love of stars
Who love by burning, and by loving move,
Too near the throned Jehovah not to love.
Ah, ah, Heosphoros!
Their brows flash fast on me from gliding cars,
Pale-passioned for my loss.
Ah, ah, Heosphoros!

Mine orbed heats drop cold
Down from thee, down from thee,
As fell thy grace of old
Down from me, down from me.
O my light-bearer,
Is another fairer
Won to thee, won to thee?
Ah, ah, Heosphoros,
Great love preceded loss,
Known to thee, known to thee.
Ah, ah!
Thou, breathing thy communicable grace
Of life into my light,
Mine astral faces, from thine angel face,
Hast inly fed,
And flooded me with radiance overmuch
From thy pure height.
Ah, ah!
Thou, with calm, floating pinions both ways spread,
Erect, irradiated,
Didst sting my wheel of glory
On, on before thee
Along the Godlight by a quickening touch!
Ha, ha!
Around, around the firmamental ocean
I swam expanding with delirious fire!
Around, around, around, in blind desire
To be drawn upward to the Infinite --
Ha, ha!

Until, the motion flinging out the motion
To a keen whirl of passion and avidity,
To a dim whirl of languor and delight,
I wound in gyrant orbits smooth and white
With that intense rapidity.
Around, around,
I wound and interwound,
While all the cyclic heavens about me spun.
Stars, planets, suns, and moons dilated broad,
Then flashed together into a single sun,
And wound, and wound in one:
And as they wound I wound, -- around, around,
In a great fire I almost took for God.
Ha, ha, Heosphoros!

Thine angel glory sinks
Down from me, down from me --
My beauty falls, methinks,
Down from thee, down from thee!
O my light-bearer,
O my path-preparer,
Gone from me, gone from me!
Ah, ah, Heosphoros!
I cannot kindle underneath the brow
Of this new angel here, who is not thou.
All things are altered since that time ago, --
And if I shine at eve, I shall not know.
I am strange -- I am slow.
Ah, ah, Heosphoros!
Henceforward, human eyes of lovers be
The only sweetest sight that I shall see,
With tears between the looks raised up to me.
Ah, ah!
When, having wept all night, at break of day
Above the folded hills they shall survey
My light, a little trembling, in the gray.
Ah, ah!
And gazing on me, such shall comprehend,
Through all my piteous pomp at morn or even,
And melancholy leaning out of heaven,
That love, their own divine, may change or end,
That love may close in loss!
Ah, ah, Heosphoros!

SCENE. -- Farther on. A wild open country seen vaguely in
the approaching night.

Adam. How doth the wide and melancholy earth
Gather her hills around us, gray and ghast,
And stare with blank significance of loss
Right in our faces! Is the wind up?
Eve. Nay.
Adam. And yet the cedars and the junipers
Rock slowly through the mist, without a sound,
And shapes which have no certainty of shape
Drift duskly in and out between the pines,
And loom along the edges of the hills,
And lie flat, curdling in the open ground --
Shadows without a body, which contract
And lengthen as we gaze on them.
Eve. O life
Which is not man's nor angel's! What is this?
Adam. No cause for fear. The circle of God's life
Contains all life beside.
Eve. I think the earth
Is crazed with curse, and wanders from the sense
Of those first laws affixed to form and space
Or ever she knew sin.
Adam. We will not fear:
We were brave sinning.
Eve. Yea, I plucked the fruit
With eyes upturned to heaven and seeing there
Our god-thrones, as the tempter said, -- not GOD.
My heart, which beat then, sinks. The sun hath sunk
Out of sight with our Eden.
Adam. Night is near.
Eve. And God's curse, nearest. Let us travel back
And stand within the sword-glare till we die,
Believing it is better to meet death
Than suffer desolation.
Adam. Nay, beloved!
We must not pluck death from the Maker's hand,
As erst we plucked the apple: we must wait
Until He gives death as he gave us life,
Nor murmur faintly o'er the primal gift
Because we spoilt its sweetness with our sin.
Eve. Ah, ah! dost thou discern what I behold?
Adam. I see all. How the spirits in thine eyes
From their dilated orbits bound before
To meet the spectral Dread!
Eve. I am afraid --
Ah, ah! the twilight bristles wild with shapes
Of intermittent motion, aspect vague
And mystic bearings, which o'ercreep the earth,
Keeping slow time with horrors in the blood.
How near they reach ... and far! How gray they move --
Treading upon the darkness without feet,
And fluttering on the darkness without wings!
Some run like dogs, with noses to the ground;
Some keep one path, like sheep; some rock like trees;
Some glide like a fallen leaf; and some flow on
Copious as rivers.
Adam. Some spring up like fire:
And some coil ...
Eve. Ah, ah! dost thou pause to say
Like what? -- coil like the serpent, when he fell
From all the emerald splendor of his height
And writhed, and could not climb against the curse,
Not a ring's length. I am afraid -- afraid --
I think it is God's will to make me afraid, --
Permitting THESE to haunt us in the place
Of his beloved angels -- gone from us
Because we are not pure. Dear Pity of God,
That didst permit the angels to go home
And live no more with us who are not pure,
Save us too from a loathly company --
Almost as loathly in our eyes, perhaps,
As we are in the purest! Pity us --
Us too! nor shut us in the dark, away
From verity and from stability,
Or what we name such through the precedence
Of earth's adjusted uses, -- leave us not
To doubt betwixt our senses and our souls,
Which are the more distraught and full of pain
And weak of apprehension!
Adam Courage, Sweet!
The mystic shapes ebb back from us, and drop
With slow concentric movement, each on each, --
Expressing wider spaces, -- and collapsed
In lines more definite for imagery
And clearer for relation, till the throng
Of shapeless spectra merge into a few
Distinguishable phantasms vague and grand
Which sweep out and around us vastily
And hold us in a circle and a calm.
Eve. Strange phantasms of pale shadow! there are twelve.
Thou who didst name all lives, hast names for these?
Adam. Methinks this is the zodiac of the earth,
Which rounds us with a visionary dread,
Responding with twelve shadowy signs of earth,
In fantasque opposition and approach,
To those celestial, constellated twelve
Which palpitate adown the silent nights
Under the pressure of the hand of God
Stretched wide in benediction. At this hour,
Not a star pricketh the flat gloom of heaven:
But, girdling close our nether wilderness,
The zodiac - figures of the earth loom slow, --
Drawn out, as suiteth with the place and time,
In twelve colossal shades instead of stars,
Through which the ecliptic line of mystery
Strikes bleakly with an unrelenting scope,
Foreshowing life and death.
Eve. By dream or sense,
Do we see this?
Adam. Our spirits have climbed high
By reason of the passion of our grief,
And, from the top of sense, looked over sense
To the significance and heart of things
Rather than things themselves.
Eve. And the dim twelve ...
Adam. Are dim exponents of the creature-life
As earth contains it. Gaze on them, beloved!
By stricter apprehension of the sight,
Suggestions of the creatures shall assuage
The terror of the shadows, -- what is known
Subduing the unknown and taming it
From all prodigious dread. That phantasm, there,
Presents a lion, albeit twenty times
As large as any lion -- with a roar
Set soundless in his vibratory jaws,
And a strange horror stirring in his mane.
And, there, a pendulous shadow seems to weigh --
Good against ill, perchance; and there, a crab
Puts coldly out its gradual shadow-claws,
Like a slow blot that spreads, -- till all the ground,
Crawled over by it, seems to crawl itself.
A bull stands horned here with gibbous glooms;
And a ram likewise: and a scorpion writhes
Its tail in ghastly slime and stings the dark.
This way a goat leaps with wild blank of beard;
And here, fantastic fishes duskly float,
Using the calm for waters, while their fins
Throb out quick rhythms along the shallow air.
While images more human --
Eve. How he stands,
That phantasm of a man -- who is not thou!
Two phantasms of two men!
Adam. One that sustains,
And one that strives, -- resuming, so, the ends
Of manhood's curse of labor. Dost thou see
That phantasm of a woman?
Eve. I have seen;
But look off to those small humanities
Which draw me tenderly across my fear, --
Lesser and fainter than my womanhood,
Or yet thy manhood -- with strange innocence
Set in the misty lines of head and hand.
They lean together! I would gaze on them
Longer and longer, till my watching eyes,
As the stars do in watching anything,
Should light them forward from their outline vague
To clear configuration.
[Two Spirits, of Organic and Inorganic Nature, arise
from the ground.
But what Shapes
Rise up between us in the open space,
And thrust me into horror, back from hope!
Adam. Colossal Shapes -- twin sovran images,
With a disconsolate, blank majesty
Set in their wondrous faces! with no look,
And yet an aspect -- a significance
Of individual life and passionate ends,
Which overcomes us gazing.
O bleak sound,
O shadow of sound, O phantasm of thin sound!
How it comes, wheeling as the pale moth wheels,
Wheeling and wheeling in continuous wail
Around the cyclic zodiac, and gains force,
And gathers, settling coldly like a moth,
On the wan faces of these images
We see before us, -- whereby modified,
It draws a straight line of articulate song
From out that spiral faintness of lament,
And, by one voice, expresses many griefs.
First Spirit.
I am the spirit of the harmless earth.
God spake me softly out among the stars,
As softly as a blessing of much worth;
And then his smile did follow unawares,
That all things fashioned so for use and duty
Might shine anointed with his chrism of beauty --
Yet I wail!
I drave on with the worlds exultingly,
Obliquely down the Godlight's gradual fall;
Individual aspect and complexity
Of gyratory orb and interval
Lost in the fluent motion of delight
Toward the high ends of Being beyond sight --
Yet I wail!
Second Spirit.
I am the spirit of the harmless beasts,
Of flying things, and creeping things, and swimming;
Of all the lives, erst set at silent feasts,
That found the love-kiss on the goblet brimming,
And tasted in each drop within the measure
The sweetest pleasure of their Lord's good pleasure --
Yet I wail!
What a full hum of life around his lips
Bore witness to the fulness of creation!
How all the grand words were full-laden ships
Each sailing onward from enunciation
To separate existence, -- and each bearing
The creature's power of joying, hoping, fearing!
Yet I wail!
Eve. They wail, beloved! they speak of glory and God,
And they wail -- wail. That burden of the song
Drops from it like its fruit, and heavily falls
Into the lap of silence.
Adam. Hark, again!
First Spirit.
I was so beautiful, so beautiful,
My joy stood up within me bold to add
A word to God's, -- and, when his work was full,
To 'very good' responded 'very glad!'
Filtered through roses did the light enclose me,
And bunches of the grape swam blue across me --
Yet I wail!
Second Spirit.
I bounded with my panthers: I rejoiced
In my young tumbling lions rolled together:
My stag, the river at his fetlocks, poised
Then dipped his antlers through the golden weather
In the same ripple which the alligator
Left, in his joyous troubling of the water --
Yet I wail!
First Spirit.
O my deep waters, cataract and flood,
What wordless triumph did your voices render!
O mountain-summits, where the angels stood
And shook from head and wing thick dews of splendor!
How, with a holy quiet, did your Earthy
Accept that Heavenly, knowing ye were worthy!
Yet I wail!
Second Spirit.
O my wild wood-dogs, with your listening eyes!
My horses -- my ground-eagles, for swift fleeing!
My birds, with viewless wings of harmonies,
My calm cold fishes of a silver being,
How happy were ye, living and possessing,
O fair half-souls capacious of full blessing!
Yet I wail!
First Spirit.
I wail, I wail! Now hear my charge today,
Thou man, thou woman, marked as the misdoers
By God's sword at your backs! I lent my clay
To make your bodies, which had grown more flowers:
And now, in change for what I lent, ye give me
The thorn to vex, the tempest-fire to cleave me --
And I wail!
Second Spirit.
I wail, I wail! Behold ye that I fasten
My sorrow's fang upon your souls dishonored?
Accursed transgressors! down the steep ye hasten, --
Your crown's weight on the world, to drag it downward
Unto your ruin. Lo! my lions, scenting
The blood of wars, roar hoarse and unrelenting --
And I wail!
First Spirit.
I wail, I wail! Do you hear that I wail?
I had no part in your transgression -- none.
My roses on the bough did bud not pale,
My rivers did not loiter in the sun;
I was obedient. Wherefore in my centre
Do I thrill at this curse of death and winter? --
Do I wail?
Second Spirit.
I wail, I wail! I wail in the assault
Ofundeserved perdition, sorely wounded!
My nightingale sang sweet without a fault,
My gentle leopards innocently bounded.
We were obedient. What is this convulses
Our blameless life with pangs and fever pulses?
And I wail!
Eve. I choose God's thunder and his angels' swords
To die by, Adam, rather than such words.
Let us pass out and flee.
Adam. We cannot flee.
This zodiac of the creatures' cruelty
Curls round us, like a river cold and drear,
And shuts us in, constraining us to hear.
First Spirit.
I feel your steps, O wandering sinners, strike
A sense of death to me, and undug graves!
The heart of earth, once calm, is trembling like
The ragged foam along the ocean-waves:
The restless earthquakes rock against each other;
The elements moan 'round me -- 'Mother, mother' --
And I wail!
Second Spirit.
Your melancholy looks do pierce me through;
Corruption swathes the paleness of your beauty.
Why have ye done this thing? What did we do
That we should fall from bliss as ye from duty?
Wild shriek the hawks, in waiting for their jesses,
Fierce howl the wolves along the wildernesses --
And I wail!
Adam. To thee, the Spirit of the harmless earth,
To thee, the Spirit of earth's harmless lives,
Inferior creatures but still innocent,
Be salutation from a guilty mouth
Yet worthy of some audience and respect
From you who are not guilty. If we have sinned,
God hath rebuked us, who is over us
To give rebuke or death, and if ye wail
Because of any suffering from our sin,
Ye who are under and not over us,
Be satisfied with God, if not with us,
And pass out from our presence in such peace
As we have left you, to enjoy revenge
Such as the heavens have made you. Verily,
There must be strife between us, large as sin.
Eve. No strife, mine Adam! Let us not stand high
Upon the wrong we did to reach disdain,
Who rather should be humbler evermore
Since self-made sadder. Adam! shall I speak
I who spake once to such a bitter end --
Shall I speak humbly now who once was proud?
I, schooled by sin to more humility
Than thou hast, O mine Adam, O my king --
My king, if not the world's?
Adam. Speak as thou wilt.
Eve. Thus, then -- my hand in thine --
... Sweet, dreadful Spirits!
I pray you humbly in the name of God,
Not to say of these tears, which are impure --
Grant me such pardoning grace as can go forth
From clean volitions toward a spotted will,
From the wronged to the wronger, this and no more!
I do not ask more. I am 'ware, indeed,
That absolute pardon is impossible
From you to me, by reason of my sin, --
And that I cannot evermore, as once,
With worthy acceptation of pure joy,
Behold the trances of the holy hills
Beneath the leaning stars, or watch the vales
Dew-pallid with their morning ecstasy, --
Or hear the winds make pastoral peace between
Two grassy uplands, -- and the river-wells
Work out their bubbling mysteries underground, --
And all the birds sing, till for joy of song
They lift their trembling wings as if to heave
The too-much weight of music from their heart
And float it up the aether. I am 'ware
That these things I can no more apprehend
With a pure organ into a full delight, --
The sense of beauty and of melody
Being no more aided in me by the sense
Of personal adjustment to those heights
Of what I see well-formed or hear well-tuned,
But rather coupled darkly and made ashamed
By my percipiency of sin and fall
In melancholy of humiliant thoughts.
But, oh! fair, dreadful Spirits -- albeit this
Your accusation must confront my soul,
And your pathetic utterance and full gaze
Must evermore subdue me, -- be content!
Conquer me gently -- as if pitying me,
Not to say loving! let my tears fall thick
As watering dews of Eden, unreproached;
And when your tongues reprove me, make me smooth,
Not ruffled -- smooth and still with your reproof,
And peradventure better while more sad!
For look to it, sweet Spirits, look well to it,
It will not be amiss in you who kept
The law of your own righteousness, and keep
The right of your own griefs to mourn themselves, --
To pity me twice fallen, from that, and this,
From joy of place, and also right of wail,
'I wail' being not for me -- only 'I sin.'
Look to it, O sweet Spirits!
For was I not,
At that last sunset seen in Paradise,
When all the westering clouds flashed out in throughs
Of sudden angel-faces, face by face,
All hushed and solemn, as a thought of God
Held them suspended, -- was I not, that hour,
The lady of the world, princess of life,
Mistress of feast and favor? Could I touch
A rose with my white hand, but it became
Redder at once? Could I walk leisurely
Along our swarded garden, but the grass
Tracked me with greenness? Could I stand aside
A moment underneath a cornel-tree,
But all the leaves did tremble as alive
With songs of fifty birds who were made glad
Because I stood there? Could I turn to look
With these twain eyes of mine, now weeping fast,
Now good for only weeping, -- upon man,
Angel, or beast, or bird, but each rejoiced
Because I looked on him? Alas, alas!
And is not this much woe, to cry 'alas!'
Speaking of joy? And is not this more shame,
To have made the woe myself, from all that joy?
To have stretched my hand, and plucked it from the tree,
And chosen it for fruit? Nay, is not this
Still most despair, -- to have halved that bitter fruit,
And ruined, so, the sweetest friend I have,
Turning the GREATEST to mine enemy?
Adam. I will not hear thee speak so. Hearken, Spirits!
Our God, who is the enemy of none
But only of their sin, hath set your hope
And my hope, in a promise, on this Head.
Show reverence, then, and never bruise her more
With unpermitted and extreme reproach, --
Lest, passionate in anguish, she fling down
Beneath your trampling feet, God's gift to us
Of sovranty by reason and freewill,
Sinning against the province of the Soul
To rule the soulless. Reverence her estate,
And pass out from her presence with no words!
Eve. O dearest Heart, have patience with my heart!
O Spirits, have patience, 'stead of reverence,
And let me speak, for, not being innocent,
It little doth become me to be proud,
And I am prescient by the very hope
And promise set upon me, that henceforth
Only my gentleness shall make me great,
My humbleness exalt me. Awful Spirits,
Be witness that I stand in your reproof
But one sun's length off from my happiness --
Happy, as I have said, to look around,
Clear to look up! -- And now! I need not speak --
Ye see me what I am; ye scorn me so,
Because ye see me what I have made myself
From God's best making! Alas, -- peace forgone,
Love wronged, and virtue forfeit, and tears wept
Upon all, vainly! Alas, me! alas,
Who have undone myself, from all that best,
Fairest and sweetest, to this wretchedest
Saddest and most defiled -- cast out, cast down --
What word metes absolute loss? let absolute loss
Suffice you for revenge. For I, who lived
Beneath the wings of angels yesterday,
Wander to-day beneath the roofless world:
I, reigning the earth's empress yesterday,
Put off from me, to-day, your hate with prayers:
I, yesterday, who answered the Lord God,
Composed and glad as singing-birds the sun,
Might shriek now from our dismal desert, 'God,'
And hear him make reply, 'What is thy need,
Thou whom I cursed to-day?'
Adam. Eve!
Eve. I, at last,
Who yesterday was helpmate and delight
Unto mine Adam, am to-day the grief
And curse-mete for him. And, so, pity us,
Ye gentle Spirits, and pardon him and me,
And let some tender peace, made of our pain,
Grow up betwixt us, as a tree might grow,
With boughs on both sides! In the shade of which,
When presently ye shall behold us dead, --
For the poor sake of our humility,
Breathe out your pardon on our breathless lips,
And drop your twilight dews against our brows,
And stroking with mild airs our harmless hands
Left empty of all fruit, perceive your love
Distilling through your pity over us,
And suffer it, self-reconciled, to pass!
LUCIFER rises in the circle.

Lucifer. Who talks here of a complement of grief?
Of expiation wrought by loss and fall?
Of hate subduable to pity? Eve?
Take counsel from thy counsellor the snake,
And boast no more in grief, nor hope from pain,
My docile Eve! I teach you to despond
Who taught you disobedience. Look around: --
Earth spirits and phantasms hear you talk unmoved,
As if ye were red clay again and talked!
What are your words to them -- your grief to them --
Your deaths, indeed, to them? Did the hand pause,
For their sake, in the plucking of the fruit,
That they should pause for you, in hating you?
Or will your grief or death, as did your sin,
Bring change upon their final doom? Behold,
Your grief is but your sin in the rebound,
And cannot expiate for it.
Adam. That is true.
Lucifer. Ay, that is true. The clay-king testifies
To the snake's counsel, -- hear him! -- very true.
Earth Spirits. I wail, I wail!
Lucifer. And certes, that is true.
Ye wail, ye all wail. Peradventure I
Could wail among you. O thou universe,
That holdest sin and woe, -- more room for wail!
Distant Starry Voice. Ah, ah, Heosphoros! Heosphoros!
Adam. Mark Lucifer! He changes awfully.
Eve. It seems as if he looked from grief to God
And could not see him. Wretched Lucifer!
Adam. How he stands -- yet an angel!
Earth Spirits. We all wail!
Lucifer (after a pause). Dost thou remember, Adam, when the curse
Took us in Eden? On a mountain-peak
Half-sheathed in primal woods and glittering
In spasms of awful sunshine at that hour,
A lion couched, part raised upon his paws,
With his calm massive face turned full on thine,
And his mane listening. When the ended curse
Left silence in the world, right suddenly
He sprang up rampant and stood straight and stiff,
As if the new reality of death
Were dashed against his eyes, and roared so fierce,
(Such thick carnivorous passion in his throat
Tearing a passage through the wrath and fear)
And roared so wild, and smote from all the hills
Such fast keen echoes crumbling down the vales
Precipitately, -- that the forest beasts,
One after one, did mutter a response
Of savage and of sorrowful complaint
Which trailed along the gorges. Then, at once,
He fell back, and rolled crashing from the height
Into the dusk of pines.
Adam. It might have been.
I heard the curse alone.
Earth Spirits. I wail, I wail!
Lucifer. That lion is the type of what I am.
And as he fixed thee with his full-faced hate,
And roared, O Adam, comprehending doom,
So, gazing on the face of the Unseen,
I cry out here between the Heavens and Earth
My conscience of this sin, this woe, this wrath,
Which damn me to this depth.
Earth Spirits. I wail, I wail!
Eve. I wail -- O God!
Lucifer. I scorn you that ye wail,
Who use your petty griefs for pedestals
To stand on, beckoning pity from without,
And deal in pathos of antithesis
Of what ye were forsooth, and what ye are; --
I scorn you like an angel! Yet, one cry
I, too, would drive up like a column erect,
Marble to marble, from my heart to heaven,
A monument of anguish to transpierce
And overtop your vapory complaints
Expressed from feeble woes.
Earth Spirits. I wail, I wail!
Lucifer. For, O ye heavens, ye are my witnesses,
That I, struck out from nature in a blot,
The outcast and the mildew of things good,
The leper of angels, the excepted dust
Under the common rain of daily gifts, --
I the snake, I the tempter, I the cursed, --
To whom the highest and the lowest alike
Say, Go from us -- we have no need of thee, --
Was made by God like others. Good and fair,
He did create me! -- ask him, if not fair!
Ask, if I caught not fair and silverly
His blessing for chief angels on my head
Until it grew there, a crown crystallized!
Ask, if he never called me by my name,
Lucifer -- kindly said as 'Gabriel' --
Lucifer -- soft as 'Michael!' while serene
I, standing in the glory of the lamps,
Answered 'my Father,' innocent of shame
And of the sense of thunder. Ha! ye think,
White angels in your niches, -- I repent,
And would tread down my own offences back
To service at the footstool? that's read wrong!
I cry as the beast did, that I may cry --
Expansive, not appealing! Fallen so deep,
Against the sides of this prodigious pit
I cry -- cry -- dashing out the hands of wail
On each side, to meet anguish everywhere,
And to attest it in the ecstasy
And exaltation of a woe sustained
Because provoked and chosen.
Pass along
Your wilderness, vain mortals! Puny griefs
In transitory shapes, be henceforth dwarfed
To your own conscience, by the dread extremes
Of what I am and have been. If ye have fallen,
It is but a step's fall, -- the whole ground beneath
Strewn woolly soft with promise! if ye have sinned,
Your prayers tread high as angels! if ye have grieved,
Ye are too mortal to be pitiable,
The power to die disproves the right to grieve.
Go to! ye call this ruin? I half-scorn
The ill I did you! Were ye wronged by me,
Hated and tempted and undone of me, --
Still, what's your hurt to mine of doing hurt,
Of hating, tempting, and so ruining?
This sword's hilt is the sharpest, and cuts through
The hand that wields it.
Go! I curse you all.
Hate one another -- feebly -- as ye can!
I would not certes cut you short in hate,
Far be it from me! hate on as ye can!
I breathe into your faces, spirits of earth,
As wintry blast may breathe on wintry leaves
And lifting up their brownness show beneath
The branches bare. Beseech you, spirits, give
To Eve who beggarly entreats your love
For her and Adam when they shall be dead,
An answer rather fitting to the sin
That to the sorrow -- as the heavens, I trow,
For justice' sake gave theirs.
I curse you both,
Adam and Eve. Say grace as after meat,
After my curses! May your tears fall hot
On all the hissing scorns o' the creatures here, --
And yet rejoice! Increase and multiply,
Ye in your generations, in all plagues,
Corruptions, melancholies, poverties,
And hideous forms of life and fears of death, --
The thought of death being alway imminent,
Immovable and dreadful in your life,
And deafly and dumbly insignificant
Of any hope beyond, -- as death itself,
Whichever of you lieth dead the first,
Shall seem to the survivor -- yet rejoice!
My curse catch at you strongly, body and soul,
And HE find no redemption -- nor the wing
Of seraph move your way; and yet rejoice!
Rejoice, -- because ye have not, set in you,
This hate which shall pursue you -- this fire-hate
Which glares without, because it burns within --
Which kills from ashes -- this potential hate,
Wherein I, angel, in antagonism
To God and his reflex beatitudes,
Moan ever, in the central universe,
With the great woe of striving against Love
And gasp for space amid the Infinite,
And toss for rest amid the Desertness,
Self-orphaned by my will, and self-elect
To kingship of resistant agony
Toward the Good round me -- hating good and love,
And willing to hate good and to hate love,
And willing to will on so evermore,
Scorning the past and damning the to-come --
Go and rejoice! I curse you.
[LUCIFER vanishes.
Earth Spirits.
And we scorn you! there's no pardon
Which can lean to you aright.
When your bodies take the guerdon
Of the death-curse in our sight,
Then the bee that hummeth lowest shall transcend you:
Then ye shall not move an eyelid
Though the stars look down your eyes;
And the earth which ye defiled
Shall expose you to the skies, --
'Lo! these kings of ours, who sought to comprehend you.'
First Spirit.
And the elements shall boldly
All your dust to dust constrain.
Unresistedly and coldly
I will smite you with my rain.
From the slowest of my frosts is no receding.
Second Spirit.
And my little worm, appointed
To assume a royal part,
He shall reign, crowned and anointed,
O'er the noble human heart.
Give him counsel against losing of that Eden!
Adam. Do ye scorn us? Back your scorn
Toward your faces gray and lorn,
As the wind drives back the rain,
Thus I drive with passion-strife,
I who stand beneath God's sun,
Made like God, and, though undone,
Not unmade for love and life.
Lo! ye utter threats in vain.
By my free will that chose sin,
By mine agony within
Round the passage of the fire,
By the pinings which disclose
That my native soul is higher
Than what it chose,
We are yet too high, O Spirits, for your disdain!
Eve. Nay, beloved! If these be low,
We confront them from no height.
We have stooped down to their level
By infecting them with evil,
And their scorn that meets our blow
Scathes aright.
Amen. Let it be so.
Earth Spirits.
We shall triumph -- triumph greatly
When ye lie beneath the sward.
There, our lily shall grow stately
Though ye answer not a word,
And her fragrance shall be scornful of your silence:
While your throne ascending calmly
We, in heirdom of your soul,
Flash the river, lift the palm-tree, The dilated ocean roll,
By the thoughts that throbbed within you, round the islands.

Alp and torrent shall inherit
Your significance of will,
And the grandeur of your spirit
Shall our broad savannahs fill;
In our winds, your exultations shall be springing!
Even your parlance which inveigles,
By our rudeness shall be won.
Hearts poetic in our eagles
Shall beat up against the sun
And strike downward in articulate clear singing.

Your bold speeches our Behemoth
With his thunderous jaw shall wield.
Your high fancies shall our Mammoth
Breathe sublimely up the shield
Of Saint Michael at God's throne, who waits to speed him:
Till the heavens' smooth-grooved thunder
Spinning back, shall leave them clear,
And the angels, smiling wonder,
With dropt looks from sphere to sphere,
Shall cry 'Ho, ye heirs of Adam! ye exceed him.'
Adam. Root out thine eyes, Sweet, from the dreary ground!
Beloved, we may be overcome by God,
But not by these.
Eve. By God, perhaps, in these.
Adam. I think, not so. Had God foredoomed despair
He had not spoken hope. He may destroy
Certes, but not deceive.
Eve. Behold this rose!
I plucked it in our bower of Paradise
This morning as I went forth, and my heart
Has beat against its petals all the day.
I thought it would be always red and full
As when I plucked it. Is it? -- ye may see!
I cast it down to you that ye may see,
All of you! -- count the petals lost of it,
And note the colors fainted! ye may see!
And I am as it is, who yesterday
Grew in the same place. O ye spirits of earth,
I almost, from my miserable heart,
Could here upbraid you for your cruel heart,
Which will not let me, down the slope of death,
Draw any of your pity after me,
Or lie still in the quiet of your looks,
As my flower, there, in mine.
[A bleak wind, quickened with indistinct Human Voices,
spins around
the Earthzodiac, filling the circle with its presence; and
then, wailing
off into the East, carries the rose away with it.
EVE falls upon her face. ADAM stands erect.
Adam. So, verily,
The last departs.
Eve. So Memory follows Hope,
And Life both. Love said to me, 'Do not die,'
And I replied, 'O Love, I will not die.
I exiled and I will not orphan Love.'
But now it is no choice of mine to die:
My heart throbs from me.
Adam. Call it straightway back!
Death's consummation crowns completed life,
Or comes too early. Hope being set on thee
For others, if for others then for thee, --
For thee and me.
[The wind revolves from the East, and round again to
the East, perfumed by the Eden rose,
and full of Voices which sweep out into articulation as they pass.
Let thy soul shake its leaves
To feel the mystic wind -- hark!
Eve. I hear life.
Infant Voices passing in the wind.
O we live, O we live --
And this life that we receive
Is a warm thing and a new,
Which we softly bud into
From the heart and from the brain, --
Something strange that overmuch is
Of the sound and of the sight,
Flowing round in trickling touches,
With a sorrow and delight, --
Yet is it all in vain?
Rock us softly,
Lest it be all in vain.
Youthful Voices passing.
O we live, O we live --
And this life that we achieve
Is a loud thing and a bold
Which with pulses manifold
Strikes the heart out full and fain --
Active doer, noble liver,
Strong to struggle, sure to conquer,
Though the vessel's prow will quiver
At the lifting of the anchor:
Yet do we strive in vain?
Infant Voices passing.
Rock us softly,
Lest it be all in vain.
Poet Voices passing.
O we live, O we live --
And this life that we conceive
Is a clear thing and a fair,
Which we set in crystal air
That its beauty may be plain!
With a breathing and a flooding
Of the heaven-life on the whole,
While we hear the forests budding
To the music of the soul --
Yet is it tuned in vain?
Infant Voices passing.
Rock us softly,
Lest it be all in vain.
Philosophic Voices passing.
O we live, O we live --
And this life that we perceive
Is a great thing and a grave
Which for others' use we have,
Duty-laden to remain.
We are helpers, fellow-creatures,
Of the right against the wrong;
We are earnest-hearted teachers
Of the truth which maketh strong --
Yet do we teach in vain?
Infant Voices passing.
Rock us softly,
Lest it be all in vain.
Revel Voices passing.
O we live, O we live --
And this life that we reprieve
Is a low thing and a light,
Which is jested out of sight
And made worthy of disdain!
Strike with bold electric laughter
The high tops of things divine --
Turn thy head, my brother, after,
Lest thy tears fall in my wine!
For is all laughed in vain?
Infant Voices passing.
Rock us softly,
Lest it be all in vain.
Eve. I hear a sound of life -- of life like ours --
Of laughter and of wailing, of grave speech,
Of little plaintive voices innocent,
Of life in separate courses flowing out
Like our four rivers to some outward main.
I hear life -- life!
Adam. And, so, thy cheeks have snatched
Scarlet to paleness, and thine eyes drink fast
Of glory from full cups, and thy moist lips
Seem trembling, both of them, with earnest doubts
Whether to utter words or only smile.
Eve. Shall I be mother of the coming life?
Hear the steep generations, how they fall
Adown the visionary stairs of Time
Like supernatural thunders -- far, yet near, --
Sowing their fiery echoes through the hills.
Am I a cloud to these -- mother to these?
Earth Spirits. And bringer of the curse upon all these.
[EVE sinks down again.
Poet Voices passing.
O we live, O we live --
And this life that we conceive
Is a noble thing and high,
Which we climb up loftily
To view God without a stain;
Till, recoiling where the shade is,
We retread our steps again,
And descend the gloomy Hades
To resume man's mortal pain.
Shall it be climbed in vain?
Infant Voices passing.
Rock us softly,
Lest it be all in vain.
Love Voices passing.
O we live, O we live --
And this life we would retrieve,
Is a faithful thing apart
Which we love in, heart to heart,
Until one heart fitteth twain.
'Wilt thou be one with me?'
'I will be one with thee.'
'Ha, ha! -- wo love and live!'
Alas! ye love and die.
Shriek -- who shall reply?
For is it not loved in vain?
Infant Voices passing.
Rock us softly,
Though it be all in vain.
Aged Voices passing.
O we live, O we live --
And this life we would survive,
Is a gloomy thing and brief,
Which consummated in grief,
Leaveth ashes for all gain.
Is it not all in vain?
Infant Voices passing.
Rock us softly,
Though it be all in vain.
[Voices die away.
Earth Spirits. And bringer of the curse upon all these.
Eve. The voices of foreshown Humanity
Die off; -- so let me die.
Adam. So let us die,
When God's will soundeth the right hour of death.
Earth Spirits. And bringer of the curse upon all these.
Eve. O Spirits! by the gentleness ye use
In winds at night, and floating clouds at noon,
In gliding waters under lily-leaves,
In chirp of crickets, and the settling hush
A bird makes in her nest with feet and wings, --
Fulfil your natures now!
Earth Spirits. Agreed, allowed!
We gather out our natures like a cloud,
And thus fulfil their lightnings! Thus, and thus!
Hearken, oh hearken to us!
First Spirit.
As the storm-wind blows bleakly from the norland,
As the snow-wind beats blindly on the moorland,
As the simoom drive shot across the desert,
As the thunder roars deep in the Unmeasured,
As the torrent tears the ocean-world to atoms,
As the whirlpool grinds it fathoms below fathoms,
Thus, -- and thus!
Second Spirit.
As the yellow toad, that spits its poison chilly,
As the tiger, in the jungle crouching stilly,
As the wild boar, with ragged tusks of anger,
As the wolf-dog, with teeth of glittering clangor,
As the vultures, that scream against the thunder,
As the owlets, that sit and moan asunder,
Thus, -- and thus!
Eve. Adam! God!
Adam. Cruel, unrelenting Spirits!
By the power in me of the sovran soul
Whose thoughts keep pace yet with the angel's march,
I charge you into silence -- trample you
Down to obedience. I am king of you!
Earth Spirits.
Ha, ha! thou art king!
With a sin for a crown,
And a soul undone!
Thou, the antagonized,
Tortured and agonized,
Held in the ring
Of the zodiac!
Now, king, beware!
We are many and strong
Whom thou standest among, --
And we press on the air,
And we stifle thee back,
And we multiply where
Thou wouldst trample us down
From rights of our own
To an utter wrong --
And, from under the feet of thy scorn,
O forlorn,
We shall spring up like corn,
And our stubble be strong.
Adam. God, there is power in thee! I make appeal
Unto thy kingship.
Eve. There is pity in THEE,
O sinned against, great God! -- My seed, my seed,
There is hope set on THEE -- I cry to thee,
Thou mystic Seed that shalt be! -- leave us not
In agony beyond what we can bear,
Fallen in debasement below thunder-mark,
A mark for scorning -- taunted and perplext
By all these creatures we ruled yesterday,
Whom thou, Lord, rulest alway! O my Seed,
Through the tempestuous years that rain so thick
Betwixt my ghostly vision and thy face,
Let me have token! for my soul is bruised
Before the serpent's head is.
[A vision of CHRIST appears in the midst of the Zodiac,
which pales before
the heavenly light. The Earth Spirits grow grayer and fainter.
Adam. This is God! -- Curse us not, God, any more!
Eve. But gazing so -- so -- with omnific eyes,
Lift my soul upward till it touch thy feet!
Or lift it only, -- not to seem too proud, --
To the low height of some good angel's feet,
For such to tread on when he walketh straight
And thy lips praise him!
CHRIST. Spirits of the earth,
I meet you with rebuke for the reproach
And cruel and unmitigated blame
Ye cast upon your masters. True, they have sinned;
And true their sin is reckoned into loss
For you the sinless. Yet, your innocence
Which of you praises? since God made your acts
Inherent in your lives, and bound your hands
With instincts and imperious sanctities
From self-defacement. Which of you disdains
These sinners who in falling proved their height
Above you by their liberty to fall?
And which of you complains of loss by them,
For whose delight and use ye have your life
And honor in creation? Ponder it!
This regent and sublime Humanity,
Though fallen, exceeds you! this shall film your sun,
Shall hunt your lightning to its lair of cloud,
Turn back your rivers, footpath all your seas,
Lay flat your forests, master with a look
Your lion at his fasting, and fetch down
Your eagle flying. Nay, without this law
Of mandom, ye would perish, -- beast by beast
Devouring, -- tree by tree, with strangling roots
And trunks set tuskwise. Ye would gaze on God
With imperceptive blankness up the stars,
And mutter, 'Why, God, hast thou made us thus?'
And pining to a sallow idiocy
Stagger up blindly against the ends of life,
Then stagnate into rottenness and drop
Heavily -- poor, dead matter -- piecemeal down
The abysmal spaces -- like a little stone
Let fall to chaos. Therefore over you
Receive man's sceptre! -- therefore be content
To minister with voluntary grace
And melancholy pardon, every rite
And function in you, to the human hand!
Be ye to man as angels are to God,
Servants in pleasure, singers of delight,
Suggesters to his soul of higher things
Than any of your highest! So at last,
He shall look round on you with lids too straight
To hold the grateful tears, and thank you well,
And bless you when he prays his secret prayers,
And praise you when he sings his open songs
For the clear song-note he has learnt in you
Of purifying sweetness, and extend
Across your head his golden fantasies
Which glorify you into soul from sense.
Go, serve him for such price! That not in vain
Nor yet ignobly ye shall serve, I place
My word here for an oath, mine oath for act
To be hereafter. In the name of which
Perfect redemption and perpetual grace,
I bless you through the hope and through the peace
Which are mine, -- to the Love, which is myself.
Eve. Speak on still, Christ! Albeit thou bless me not
In set words, I am blessed in hearkening thee --
Speak, Christ!
CHRIST. Speak, Adam! Bless the woman, man!
It is thine office.
Adam. Mother of the world,
Take heart before this Presence! Lo, my voice,
Which, naming erst the creatures, did express
(God breathing through my breath) the attributes
And instincts of each creature in its name,
Floats to the same afflatus, -- floats and heaves
Like a water-weed that opens to a wave, --
A full-leaved prophecy affecting thee,
Out fairly and wide. Henceforward, arise, aspire
To all the calms and magnanimities,
The lofty uses and the noble ends,
The sanctified devotion and full work,
To which thou art elect for evermore,
First woman, wife, and mother!
Eve. And first in sin.
Adam. And also the sole bearer of the Seed
Whereby sin dieth. Raise the majesties
Of thy disconsolate brows, O well-beloved,
And front with level eyelids the To-come,
And all the dark o' the world! Rise, woman, rise
To thy peculiar and best altitudes
Of doing good and of enduring ill,
Of comforting for ill, and teaching good,
And reconciling all that ill and good
Unto the patience of a constant hope, --
Rise with thy daughters! If sin came by thee,
And by sin, death, -- the ransom-righteousness,
The heavenly life and compensative rest
Shall come by means of thee. If woe by thee
Had issue to the world, thou shalt go forth
An angel of the woe thou didst achieve,
Found acceptable to the world instead
Of others of that name, of whose bright steps
Thy deed stripped bare the hills. Be satisfied;
Something thou hast to bear through womanhood,
Peculiar suffering answering to the sin, --
Some pang paid down for each new human life,
Some weariness in guarding such a life,
Some coldness from the guarded, some mistrust
From those thou hast too well served, from those beloved
Too loyally some treason; feebleness
Within thy heart, and cruelty without,
And pressures of an alien tyranny
With its dynastic reasons of larger bones
And stronger sinews. But, go to! thy love
Shall chant itself its own beatitudes
After its own life-working. A child's kiss
Set on thy sighing lips shall make thee glad;
A poor man served by thee shall make thee rich;
A sick man helped by thee shall make thee strong;
Thou shalt be served thyself by every sense
Of service which thou renderest. Such a crown
I set upon thy head, -- Christ witnessing
With looks of prompting love -- to keep thee clear
Of all reproach against the sin forgone,
From all the generations which succeed.
Thy hand which plucked the apple I clasp close,
Thy lips which spake wrong counsel I kiss close,
I bless thee in the name of Paradise
And by the memory of Edenic joys
Forfeit and lost, -- by that last cypress tree,
Green at the gate, which thrilled as we came out,
And by the blessed nightingale which threw
Its melancholy music after us, --
And by the flowers, whose spirits full of smells
Did follow softly, plucking us behind
Back to the gradual banks and vernal bowers
And fourfold river-courses. -- By all these,
I bless thee to the contraries of these,
I bless thee to the desert and the thorns,
To the elemental change and turbulence,
And to the roar of the estranged beasts,
And to the solemn dignities of grief, --
To each one of these ends, -- and to their END
Of Death and the hereafter.
Eve. I accept
For me and for my daughters this high part
Which lowly shall be counted. Noble work
Shall hold me in the place of garden-rest,
And in the place of Eden's lost delight
Worthy endurance of permitted pain;
While on my longest patience there shall wait
Death's speechless angel, smiling in the east,
Whence cometh the cold wind. I bow myself
Humbly henceforward on the ill I did,
That humbleness may keep it in the shade.
Shall it be so? shall I smile, saying so?
O Seed! O King! O God, who shalt be seed, --
What shall I say? As Eden's fountains swelled
Brightly betwixt their banks, so swells my soul
Betwixt thy love and power!
And, sweetest thoughts
Of forgone Eden! now, for the first time
Since God said 'Adam,' walking through the trees,
I dare to pluck you as I plucked erewhile
The lily or pink, the rose or heliotrope.
So pluck I you -- so largely -- with both hands,
And throw you forward on the outer earth,
Wherein we are cast out, to sweeten it.
Adam. As thou, Christ, to illume it, holdest Heaven
Broadly over our heads.
[The CHRIST is gradually transfigured, during the
following phrases
of dialogue, into humanity and suffering.
Eve. O Saviour Christ
Thou standest mute in glory, like the sun!
Adam. We worship in thy silence,
Saviour Christ!
Eve. Thy brows grow grander with a forecast woe, --
Diviner, with the possible of death.
We worship in thy sorrow, Saviour Christ!
Adam. How do thy clear, still eyes transpierce our souls,
As gazing through them toward the Father-throne
In a pathetical, full Deity,
Serenely as the stars gaze through the air
Straight on each other!
Eve. O pathetic Christ,
Thou standest mute in glory, like the moon!
CHRIST. Eternity stands alway fronting God;
A stern colossal image, with blind eyes
And grand dim lips that murmur evermore
God, God, God! while the rush of life and death,
The roar of act and thought, of evil and good,
The avalanches of the ruining worlds
Tolling down space, -- the new worlds genesis
Budding in fire, -- the gradual humming growth
Of the ancient atoms and first forms of earth,
The slow procession of the swathing seas
And firmamental waters, -- and the noise
Of the broad, fluent strata of pure airs, --
All these flow onward in the intervals
Of that reiterated sound of -- GOD!
Which WORD innumerous angels straightway lift
Wide on celestial altitudes of song
And choral adoration, and then drop
The burden softly, shutting the last notes
In silver wings. Howbeit in the noon of time
Eternity shall wax as dumb as Death,
While a new voice beneath the spheres shall cry,
'God! why hast thou forsaken me, my God?'
And not a voice in Heaven shall answer it.
[The transfiguration is complete in sadness.
Adam. Thy speech is of the Heavenlies, yet, O Christ,
Awfully human are thy voice and face!
Eve. My nature overcomes me from thine eyes.
CHRIST. In the set noon of time shall one from Heaven,
An angel fresh from looking upon God,
Descend before a woman, blessing her
With perfect benediction of pure love,
For all the world in all its elements,
For all the creatures of earth, air, and sea,
For all men in the body and in the soul,
Unto all ends of glory and sanctity.
Eve. O pale, pathetic Christ -- I worship thee!
I thank thee for that woman!
CHRIST. Then, at last,
I, wrapping round me your humanity,
Which, being sustained, shall neither break nor burn
Beneath the fire of Godhead, will tread earth,
And ransom you and it, and set strong peace
Betwixt you and its creatures. With my pangs
I will confront your sins; and since those sins
Have sunken to all Nature's heart from yours,
The tears of my clean soul shall follow them
And set a holy passion to work clear
Absolute consecration. In my brow
Of kingly whiteness shall be crowned anew
Your discrowned human nature. Look on me!
As I shall be uplifted on a cross
In darkness of eclipse and anguish dread,
So shall I lift up in my pierced hands,
Not into dark, but light -- not unto death,
But life, -- beyond the reach of guilt and grief,
The whole creation. Henceforth in my name
Take courage, O thou woman, -- man, take hope!
Your grave shall be as smooth as Eden's sward,
Beneath the steps of your prospective thoughts,
And, one step past it, a new Eden-gate
Shall open on a hinge of harmony
And let you through to mercy. Ye shall fall
No more, within that Eden, nor pass out
Any more from it. In which hope, move on,
First sinners and first mourners! Live and love, --
Doing both nobly because lowlily!
Live and work, strongly because patiently!
And, for the deed of death, trust it to God
That it be well done, unrepented of,
And not to loss! And thence, with constant prayers,
Fasten your souls so high, that constantly
The smile of your heroic cheer may float
Above all floods of earthly agonies,
Purification being the joy of pain!
[The vision of CHRIST vanishes. ADAM and EVE stand in
an ecstasy. The
Earth-zodiac pales away shade by shade, as the stars, star
by star, shine out in the
sky; and the following chant from the two Earth Spirits
(as they sweep back into
the Zodiac and disappear with it) accompanies the process of change.
Earth Spirits.
By the mighty word thus spoken
Both for living and for dying,
We our homage-oath, once broken,
Fasten back again in sighing,
And the creatures and the elements renew their covenanting.

Here, forgive us all our scorning;
Here, we promise milder duty:
And the evening and the morning
Shall re-organize in beauty
A sabbath day of sabbath joy, for universal chanting.

And if, still, this melancholy
May be strong to overcome us,
If this mortal and unholy
We still fail to cast out from us,
If we turn upon you, unaware, your own dark influences, --

If ye tremble when surrounded
By our forest pine and palm trees,
If we cannot cure the wounded
With our gum trees and our balm trees,
And if your souls all mournfully sit down among your senses, --

Yet, O mortals, do not fear us!
We are gentle in our languor;
Much more good ye shall have near us
Than any pain or anger,
And our God's refracted blessing in our blessing shall be given.

By the desert's endless vigil
We will solemnize your passions,
By the wheel of the black eagle
We will teach you exaltations,
When he sails against the wind, to the white spot up in heaven.

Ye shall find us tender nurses
To your weariness of nature,
And our hands shall stroke the curse's
Dreary furrows from the creature,
Till your bodies shall lie smooth in death and straight and

Then, a couch we will provide you
Where no summer heats shall dazzle,
Strewing on you and beside you
Thyme and rosemary and basil,
And the yew-tree shall grow overhead to keep all safe and cool.

Till the Holy Blood awaited
Shall be chrism around us running,
Whereby, newly-consecrated,
We shall leap up in God's sunning,
To join the spheric company which purer worlds assemble:

While, renewed by new evangels,
Soul-consummated, made glorious,
Ye shall brighten past the angels,
Ye shall kneel to Christ victorious,
And the rays around his feet beneath your sobbing lips shall tremble.
[The phantastic Vision has all passed; the Earth-zodiac
has broken like a belt,
and is dissolved from the Desert. The Earth Spirits
vanish, and the stars shine
out above.


Hear our heavenly promise
Through your mortal passion!
Love, ye shall have from us,
In a pure relation.
As a fish or bird
Swims or flies, if moving,
We unseen are heard
To live on by loving.
Far above the glances
Of your eager eyes,
Listen! we are loving.
Listen, through man's ignorances --
Listen, through God's mysteries --
Listen down the heart of things,
Ye shall hear our mystic wings
Murmurous with loving.
Through the opal door
Listen evermore
How we live by loving!
First Semichorus.
When your bodies therefore
Reach the grave their goal,
Softly will we care for
Each enfranchised soul.
Softly and unlothly
Through the door of opal
Toward the heavenly people,
Floated on a minor fine
Into the full chant divine,
We will draw you smoothly, --
While the human in the minor
Makes the harmony diviner.
Listen to our loving!
Second Semichorus.
There, a sough of glory
Shall breathe on you as you come,
Ruffling round the doorway
All the light of angeldom.
From the empyrean centre
Heavenly voices shall repeat,
'Souls redeemed and pardoned, enter,
For the chrism on you is sweet!'
And every angel in the place
Lowlily shall bow his face,
Folded fair on softened sounds,
Because upon your hands and feet
He images his Master's wounds.
Listen to our loving!
First Semichorus.
So, in the universe's
Consummated undoing,
Our seraphs of white mercies
Shall hover round the ruin.
Their wings shall stream upon the flame
As if incorporate of the same
In elemental fusion;
And calm their faces shall burn out
With a pale and mastering thought,
And a steadfast looking of desire
From out between the clefts of fire, --
While they cry, in the Holy's name,
To the final Restitution.
Listen to our loving!
Second Semichorus.
So, when the day of God is
To the thick graves accompted,
Awaking the dead bodies,
The angel of the trumpet
Shall split and shatter the earth
To the roots of the grave --
Which never before were slackened --
And quicken the charnel birth
With his blast so clear and brave
That the Dead shall start and stand erect
And every face of the burial-place
Shall the awful, single look reflect
Wherewith he them awakened.
Listen to our loving!
First Semichorus.
But wild is the horse of Death!
He will leap up wild at the clamor
Above and beneath.
And where is his Tamer
On that last day,
When he crieth Ha, ha!
To the trumpet's blare,
And paweth the earth's Aceldama?
When he tosseth his head,
The drear-white steed,
And ghastlily champeth the last moon-ray --
What angel there
Can lead him away,
That the living may rule for the Dead?
Second Semichorus.
Yet a TAMER shall be found!
One more bright than seraph crowned,
And more strong than cherub bold,
Elder, too, than angel old,
By his gray eternities.
He shall master and surprise
The steed of Death.
For He is strong, and He is fain.
He shall quell him with a breath,
And shall lead him where He will,
With a whisper in the ear,
Full of fear,
And a hand upon the mane,
Grand and still.
First Semichorus.
Through the flats of Hades where the souls assemble
He will guide the Death-steed calm between their ranks,
While, like beaten dogs, they a little moan and tremble
To see the darkness curdle from the horse's glittering flanks.
Through the flats of Hades where the dreary shade is,
Up the steep of heaven will the Tamer guide the steed, --
Up the spheric circles, circle above circle,
We who count the ages shall count the tolling tread --
Every hoof-fall striking a blinder blanker sparkle
From the stony orbs, which shall show as they were dead.
Second Semichorus.
All the way the Death-steed with tolling hoofs shall travel,
Ashen-gray the planets shall be motionless as stones,
Loosely shall the systems eject their parts coaeval,
Stagnant in the spaces shall float the pallid moons:
Suns that touch their apogees, reeling from their level,
Shall run back on their axles, in wild low broken tunes.
Up against the arches of the crystal ceiling,
From the horse's nostrils shall stream the blurting breath:
Up between the angels pale with silent feeling
Will the Tamer calmly lead the horse of Death.
Cleaving all that silence, cleaving all that glory,
Will the Tamer lead him straightway to the Throne;
'Look out, O Jehovah, to this I bring before Thee,
With a hand nail-pierced, I who am thy Son.'
Then the Eye Divinest, from the Deepest, flaming,
On the mystic courser shall look out in fire:
Blind the beast shall stagger where It overcame him,
Meek as lamb at pasture, bloodless in desire.
Down the beast shall shiver, -- slain amid the taming, --
And, by Life essential, the phantasm Death expire.
Listen, man, through life and death,
Through the dust and through the breath,
Listen down the heart of things!
Ye shall hear our mystic wings
Murmurous with loving.
A Voice from below. Gabriel, thou Gabriel!
A Voice from above. What wouldst thou with me?
First Voice. I heard thy voice sound in the angels' song,
And I would give thee question.
Second Voice. Question me!
First Voice. Why have I called thrice to my Morning Star
And had no answer? All the stars are out,
And answer in their places. Only in vain
I cast my voice against the outer rays
Of my star shut in light behind the sun.
No more reply than from a breaking string,
Breaking when touched. Or is she not my star?
Where is my Star -- my Star? Have ye cast down
Her glory like my glory? Has she waxed
Mortal, like Adam? Has she learnt to hate
Like any angel?
Second Voice. She is sad for thee.
All things grow sadder to thee, one by one.
Angel Chorus.
Live, work on, O Earthy!
By the Actual's tension,
Speed the arrow worthy
Of a pure ascension!
From the low earth round you,
Reach the heights above you:
From the stripes that wound you,
Seek the loves that love you!
God's divinest burneth plain
Through the crystal diaphane
Of our loves that love you.
First Voice. Gabriel, O Gabriel!
Second Voice. What wouldst thou with me?
First Voice. Is it true, O thou Gabriel, that the crown
Of sorrow which I claimed, another claims?
That HE claims THAT too?
Second Voice. Lost one, it is true.
First Voice. That HE will be an exile from his heaven,
To lead those exiles homeward?
Second Voice. It is true.
First Voice. That HE will be an exile by his will,
As I by mine election?
Second Voice. It is true.
First Voice. That I shall stand sole exile finally, --
Made desolate for fruition?
Second Voice. It is true.
First Voice. Gabriel!
Second Voice. I hearken.
First Voice. Is it true besides --
Aright true -- that mine orient Star will give
Her name of 'Bright and Morning-Star' to HIM, --
And take the fairness of his virtue back
To cover loss and sadness?
Second Voice. It is true.
First Voice. Untrue, Untrue! O Morning Star, O MINE,
Who sittest secret in a veil of light
Far up the starry spaces, say -- Untrue!
Speak but so loud as doth a wasted moon
To Tyrrhene waters. I am Lucifer.
[A pause. Silence in the stars.
All things grow sadder to me, one by one.
Angel Chorus.
Exiled human creatures,
Let your hope grow larger!
Larger grows the vision
Of the new delight.
From this chain of Nature's
God is the Discharger,
And the Actual's prison
Opens to your sight.
Calm the stars and golden
In a light exceeding:
What their rays have measured
Let your feet fulfil!
These are stars beholden
By your eyes in Eden,
Yet, across the desert,
See them shining still!
Future joy and far light
Working such relations,
Hear us singing gently
Exiled is not lost!
God, above the starlight,
God, above the patience,
Shall at last present ye
Guerdons worth the cost.
Patiently enduring,
Painfully surrounded,
Listen how we love you,
Hope the uttermost!
Waiting for that curing
Which exalts the wounded,
Hear us sing above you --
[The stars shine on brightly while ADAM and EVE pursue their way
into the far wildernness. There is a sound through the silence, as of the
falling tears of angel.]

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