In fantasy, imagination, all
The affluence of my soul -- which one day was
A Crœsus in creation -- I plunged deep,
But, like an ebbing wave, it dash'd me back
Into the gulf of my unfathom'd thought.
I plunged amidst mankind -- Forgetfulness
I sought in all, save where 't is to be found,
And that I have to learn -- my sciences, 241 My long pursued and superhuman art,
Is mortal here; I dwell in my despair --
And live -- and live for ever.
Witch. It may be That I can aid thee.
Man. To do this thy power
Must wake the dead, or lay me low with
Do so -- in any shape -- in any hour -- With any torture -- so it be the last.
Witch. That is not in my province; but
Wilt swear obedience to my will, and do 250 My bidding, it may help thee to thy wishes.
Man. I will not swear -- Obey! and
whom? the spirits
Whose presence I command, and be the
Of those who gerved me -- Never!
Witch. Is this all?
Hast thou no gentler answer? -- Yet be-think thee,
And pause ere thou rejectest.
Man. I have said it.
Witch. Enough! -- I may retire then -- say!
Man. Retire! [The WITCH disappears.
Man. (alone). We are the fools of time
and terror: Days
Steal on us and steal from us; yet we live,
Loathing our life, and dreading still to die.
In all the days of this detested yoke -- 261 This vital weight upon the struggling heart,
Which sinks with sorrow, or beats quick with pain,
Or joy that ends in agony or faintness --
In all the days of past and future, for
In life there is no present, we can number
How few, how less than few, wherein the soul
Forbears to pant for death, and yet draws back
As from a stream in winter, though the chill
Be but a moment's. I have one resource 270 Still in my science -- I can call the dead,
And ask them what it is we dread to be:
The sternest answer can but be the Grave,
And that is nothing; -- if they answer not --
The buried Prophet answered to the Hag
Of Endor; and the Spartan Monarch drew
From the Byzantine maid's unsleeping spirit
An answer and his destiny -- he slew
That which he loved, unknowing what he slew,
And died unpardou'd -- though he call'd in
aid 280 The Phyxian Jove, and in Phigalia roused
The Arcadian Evocators to compel
The indignant shadow to depose her wrath,
Or fix her term of vengeance -- she replied
In words of dubious import, but fulfill'd.
If I had never lived, that which I love
Had still been living; had I never loved,
That which I love would still be beauti-ful --
Happy and giving happiness. What is she?
What is she now? -- a sufferer for my
sins -- 290 A thing I dare not think upon -- or nothing.
Within few hours I shall not call in vain --
Yet in this hour I dread the thing I dare:
Until this hour I never shrunk to gaze
On spirit, good or evil -- now I tremble,
And feel a strange cold thaw upon my heart.
But I can act even what I most abhor,
And champion human fears. -- The night approaches. [Exit.
The Summit of the Jungfrau Mountain.
Enter FIRST DESTINY.
The moon is rising broad, and round, and
And here on snows, where never human
foot 300 Of common mortal trod, we nightly tread,
And leave no traces; o'er the savage sea,
The glassy ocean of the mountain ice,
We skim its rugged breakers, which put on
The aspect of a tumbling tempest's foam,
Frozen in a moment -- a dead whirlpool's image.
And this most steep fantastic pinnacle,
The fretwork of some earthquake -- where the clouds
Pause to repose themselves in passing by --
Is sacred to our revels, or our vigils. 310 Here do I wait my sisters, on our way