Prometheus Unbound

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32

SEMICHORUS I OF SPIRITS
The path through which that lovely twain

Have passed, by cedar, pine, and yew,

And each dark tree that ever grew,

Is curtained out from Heaven's wide blue;

Nor sun, nor moon, nor wind, nor rain,

Can pierce its interwoven bowers,

Nor aught, save where some cloud of dew,

Drifted along the earth-creeping breeze

Between the trunks of the hoar trees,

Hangs each a pearl in the pale flowers

Of the green laurel blown anew,

And bends, and then fades silently,

One frail and fair anemone;

Or when some star of many a one

That climbs and wanders through steep night,

Has found the cleft through which alone

Beams fall from high those depths upon,--

Ere it is borne away, away,

By the swift Heavens that cannot stay,

It scatters drops of golden light,

Like lines of rain that ne'er unite;

And the gloom divine is all around;

And underneath is the mossy ground.

SEMICHORUS II
There the voluptuous nightingales,

Are awake through all the broad noon day:

When one with bliss or sadness fails,

And through the windless ivy-boughs,

Sick with sweet love, droops dying away

On its mate's music-panting bosom;

Another from the swinging blossom,

Watching to catch the languid close

Of the last strain, then lifts on high

The wings of the weak melody,

Till some new strain of feeling bear

The song, and all the woods are mute;

When there is heard through the dim air

The rush of wings, and rising there,

Like many a lake-surrounded flute,

Sounds overflow the listener's brain

So sweet, that joy is almost pain.

33

SEMICHORUS I
There those enchanted eddies play

Of echoes, music-tongued, which draw,

By Demogorgon's mighty law,

With melting rapture, or sweet awe,

All spirits on that secret way,

As inland boats are driven to Ocean

Down streams made strong with mountain-thaw;

And first there comes a gentle sound

To those in talk or slumber bound,

And wakes the destined; soft emotion

Attracts, impels them; those who saw

Say from the breathing earth behind

There steams a plume-uplifting wind

Which drives them on their path, while they

Believe their own swift wings and feet

The sweet desires within obey;

And so they float upon their way,

Until, still sweet, but loud and strong,

The storm of sound is driven along,

Sucked up and hurrying; as they fleet

Behind, its gathering billows meet

And to the fatal mountain bear

Like clouds amid the yielding air.

FIRST FAUN
Canst thou imagine where those spirits live

Which make such delicate music in the woods?

We haunt within the least frequented caves

And closest coverts, and we know these wilds,

Yet never meet them, though we hear them oft:

Where may they hide themselves?

SECOND FAUN
'T is hard to tell;

I have heard those more skilled in spirits say,

The bubbles, which the enchantment of the sun

Sucks from the pale faint water-flowers that pave

The oozy bottom of clear lakes and pools,

Are the pavilions where such dwell and float

Under the green and golden atmosphere

Which noontide kindles through the woven leaves;

And when these burst, and the thin fiery air,

The which they breathed within those lucent domes,

Ascends to flow like meteors through the night,

They ride on them, and rein their headlong speed,

And bow their burning crests, and glide in fire

Under the waters of the earth again.

34

FIRST FAUN
If such live thus, have others other lives,

Under pink blossoms or within the bells

Of meadow flowers or folded violets deep,

Or on their dying odors, when they die,

Or in the sunlight of the spherèd dew?

SECOND FAUN
Ay, many more which we may well divine.

But should we stay to speak, noontide would come,

And thwart Silenus find his goats undrawn,

And grudge to sing those wise and lovely songs

Of Fate, and Chance, and God, and Chaos old,

And Love and the chained Titan's woful doom,

And how he shall be loosed, and make the earth

One brotherhood; delightful strains which cheer

Our solitary twilights, and which charm

To silence the unenvying nightingales.