Prometheus Unbound

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Hither the sound has borne us--to the realm

Of Demogorgon, and the mighty portal,

Like a volcano's meteor-breathing chasm,

Whence the oracular vapor is hurled up

Which lonely men drink wandering in their youth,

And call truth, virtue, love, genius, or joy,

That maddening wine of life, whose dregs they drain

To deep intoxication; and uplift,

Like Mænads who cry loud, Evoe! Evoe!

The voice which is contagion to the world.

Fit throne for such a Power! Magnificent!

How glorious art thou, Earth! and if thou be

The shadow of some spirit lovelier still,

Though evil stain its work, and it should be

Like its creation, weak yet beautiful,

I could fall down and worship that and thee.

Even now my heart adoreth. Wonderful!

Look, sister, ere the vapor dim thy brain:

Beneath is a wide plain of billowy mist,

As a lake, paving in the morning sky,

With azure waves which burst in silver light,

Some Indian vale. Behold it, rolling on

Under the curdling winds, and islanding

The peak whereon we stand, midway, around,

Encinctured by the dark and blooming forests,

Dim twilight-lawns, and stream-illumined caves,

And wind-enchanted shapes of wandering mist;

And far on high the keen sky-cleaving mountains

From icy spires of sunlike radiance fling

The dawn, as lifted Ocean's dazzling spray,

From some Atlantic islet scattered up,

Spangles the wind with lamp-like waterdrops.

The vale is girdled with their walls, a howl

Of cataracts from their thaw-cloven ravines

Satiates the listening wind, continuous, vast,

Awful as silence. Hark! the rushing snow!

The sun-awakened avalanche! whose mass,

Thrice sifted by the storm, had gathered there

Flake after flake, in heaven-defying minds

As thought by thought is piled, till some great truth

Is loosened, and the nations echo round,

Shaken to their roots, as do the mountains now.


Look how the gusty sea of mist is breaking

In crimson foam, even at our feet! it rises

As Ocean at the enchantment of the moon

Round foodless men wrecked on some oozy isle.

The fragments of the cloud are scattered up;

The wind that lifts them disentwines my hair;

Its billows now sweep o'er mine eyes; my brain

Grows dizzy; I see shapes within the mist.

A countenance with beckoning smiles; there burns

An azure fire within its golden locks!

Another and another: hark! they speak!

To the deep, to the deep,

Down down!

Through the shade of sleep,

Through the cloudy strife

Of Death and of Life;

Through the veil and the bar

Of things which seem and are,

Even to the steps of the remotest throne,

Down, down!

While the sound whirls around,

Down, down!

As the fawn draws the hound,

As the lightning the vapor,

As a weak moth the taper;

Death, despair; love, sorrow;

Time, both; to-day, to-morrow;

As steel obeys the spirit of the stone,

Down, down!

Through the gray, void abysm,

Down, down!

Where the air is no prism,

And the moon and stars are not,

And the cavern-crags wear not

The radiance of Heaven,

Nor the gloom to Earth given,

Where there is one pervading, one alone,

Down, down!


In the depth of the deep

Down, down!

Like veiled lightning asleep,

Like the spark nursed in embers,

The last look Love remembers,

Like a diamond, which shines

On the dark wealth of mines,

A spell is treasured but for thee alone.

Down, down!

We have bound thee, we guide thee;

Down, down!

With the bright form beside thee;

Resist not the weakness,

Such strength is in meekness

That the Eternal, the Immortal,

Must unloose through life's portal

The snake-like Doom coiled underneath his throne

By that alone.