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By George Gordon, Lord Byron

Act I

SCENE I. MANFRED alone -- Scene, a Gothic gallery -- Time, Midnight.

	The lamp must be replenish'd, but even then 
	It will not burn so long as I must watch: 
	My slumbers -- if I slumber -- are not sleep, 
	But a continuance of enduring thought, 
	Which then I can resist not: in my heart 
	There is a vigil, and these eyes but close
	To look within; and yet I live, and bear 
	The aspect and the form of breathing men. 
	But grief should be the instructor of the wise; 
	Sorrow is knowledge: they who know the most			10
	Must mourn the deepest o'er the fatal truth, 
	The Tree of Knowledge is not that of Life. 
	Philosophy and science, and the springs 
	Of wonder, and the wisdom of the world, 
	I have essayed, and in my mind there is 
	A power to make these subject to itself-- 
	But they avail not: I have done men good, 
	And I have met with good even among men-- 
	But this avail'd not: I have had my foes, 
	And none have baffled, many fallen before me-- 			20
	But this avail'd not: -- Good, or evil, life, 
	Powers, passions, all I see in other beings, 
	Have been to me as rain unto the sands, 
	Since that all-nameless hour. I have no dread, 
	And feel the curse to have no natural fear, 
	Nor fluttering throb, that beats with hopes or wishes, 
	Or lurking love of something on the earth.-- 
	Now to my task.--
			Mysterious Agency! 
	Ye spirits of the unbounded Universe!
	Whom I have sought in darkness and in light--			30
	Ye, who do compass earth about, and dwell
	In subtler essence -- ye, to whom the tops
	Of mountains inaccessible are haunts,
	And earth's and ocean's caves familiar things--
	I call upon ye by the written charm
	Which gives me power upon you -- Rise! appear! [A pause
	They come not yet. -- Now by the voice of him
	Who is the first among you -- by this sign,
	Which makes you tremble -- by the claims of him
	Who is undying, -- Rise! appear! Appear!	[A pause 40
	If it he so. -- Spirits of earth and air,
	Ye shall not thus elude me: by a power,
	Deeper than all yet urged, a tyrant-spell,
	Which had its birth-place in a star condemn'd,
	The burning wreck of a demolish'd world,
	A wandering hell in the eternal space;
	By the strong curse which is upon my soul,
	The thought which is within me and around me,
	I do compel ye to my will. -- Appear!

[A star is seen at the darker end of the gallery; it is stationary; and a voice 
	is heard singing]

	Mortal! to thy bidding bow'd,					50
	From my mansion in the cloud,
	Which the breath of twilight builds,
	And the summer's sun-set gilds
	With the azure and vermilion,
	Which is mix'd for my pavilion;
	Though thy quest may be forbidden,
	On a star-beam I have ridden;
	To thine adjuration bow'd,
	Mortal -- be thy wish avow'd!

Voice of the SECOND SPIRIT
	Mont Blanc is the monarch of mountains,				60
	  They crowned him long ago
	On a throne of rocks, in a robe of clouds,
	  With a diadem of snow.
	Around his waist are forests braced,
	  The Avalanche in his hand;
	But ere it fall, that thundering ball
	  Must pause for my command.
	The Glacier's cold and restless mass
	  Moves onward day by day;
	But I am he who bids it pass,					70
	  Or with its ice delay.
	I am the spirit of the place,
	  Could make the mountain bow
	And quiver to his cavern'd base--
	  And what with me wouldst Thou?

Voice of the THIRD SPIRIT
	In the blue depth of the waters,
	  Where the wave hath no strife,
	Where the wind is a stranger,
	  And the sea-snake hath life,
	Where the Mermaid is decking					80
	  Her green hair with shells;
	Like the storm on the surface
	  Came the sound of thy spells;
	O'er my calm Hall of Coral
	  The deep echo roll'd--
	To the Spirit of Ocean
	  Thy wishes unfold

	Where the slumbering earthquake
	  Lies pillow'd on fire,
	And the lakes of bitumen					90
	  Rise boilingly higher;
	Where the roots of the Andes
	  Strike deep in the earth,
	As their summits to heaven
	  Shoot soaringly forth;
	I have quitted my birth-place,
	  Thy bidding to bide--
	Thy spell hath subdued me,
	Thy will be my guide!

	I am the Rider of the wind,					100
	  The Stirrer of the storm;
	The hurricane I left behind
	  Is yet with lightning warm;
	To speed to thee, o'er shore and sea
	  I swept upon the blast:
	The fleet I met sailed well, and yet
	  'Twill sink ere night be past.

	My dwelling is the shadow of the night,
	Why doth thy magic torture me with light?

	The star which rules thy destiny,				110
	Was ruled, ere earth began, by me:
	It was a world as fresh and fair
	As e'er revolved round sun in air;
	Its course was free and regular,
	Space bosom'd not a lovelier star.
	The hour arrived -- and it became
	A wandering mass of shapeless flame,
	A pathless comet, -- and a curse,
	The menace of the universe;
	Still rolling on with innate force,				120
	Without a sphere, without a course,
	A bright deformity on high,
	The monster of the upper sky!
	And thou! beneath its influence born--
	Thou worm! whom I obey and scorn--
	Forced by a power (which is not thine,
	And lent thee but to make thee mine)
	For this brief moment to descend,
	Where these weak spirits round thee bend
	And parley with a thing like thee--				130
	What wouldst thou, Child of Clay! with me?

	Earth, ocean, air, night, mountains, winds, thy star,
	  Are at thy beck and bidding, Child of Clay!
	Before thee at thy quest their spirits are--
	What wouldst thou with us, son of mortals -- say?


	Of what -- of whom -- and why?

	Of that which is within me; read it there--
	Ye know it, and I cannot utter it.

	We can but give thee that which we possess:
	Ask of us subjects, sovereignty, the power			140
	O'er earth, the whole, or portion, or a sign
	Which shall control the elements, whereof
	We are the dominators, each and all,
	These shall be thine.

				Oblivion, self-oblivion--
	Can ye not wring from out the hidden realms
	Ye offer so profusely what I ask?

	It is not in our essence, in our skill;
	But -- thou mayst die.

				Will death bestow it on me?

	We are immortal, and do not forget;
	We are eternal; and to us the past				150
	Is, as the future, present. Art thou answered?

	Ye mock me -- but the power which brought ye here
	Hath made you mine. Slaves, scoff not at my will!
	The mind, the spirit, the Promethean spark,
	The lightning of my being, is as bright,
	Pervading, and far-darting as your own,
	And shall not yield to yours, though coop'd in clay!
	Answer, or I will teach ye what I am.

	We answer as we answered; our reply
	Is even in thine own words.

					Why say ye so?			160

	If, as thou say'st, thine essence be as ours,
	We have replied in telling thee, the thing
	Mortals call death hath nought to do with us.
	I then have call'd ye from your realms in vain;
	Ye cannot, or ye will not, aid me.
	What we possess we offer; it is thine:
	Bethink ere thou dismiss us, ask again--
	Kingdom, and sway, and strength, and length of days--

	Accursed! what have I to do with days?
	They are too long already. -- Hence -- begone!			170

	Yet pause: being here, our will would do thee service;
	Bethink thee, is there then no other gift
	Which we can make not worthless in thine eyes?

	No, none: yet stay -- one moment, ere we part--
	I would behold ye face to face. I hear
	Your voices, sweet and melancholy sounds,
	As music on the waters; and I see
	The steady aspect of a clear large star;
	But nothing more. Approach me as ye are,
	Or one, or all, in your accustom'd forms.			180

	We have no forms beyond the elements
	Of which we are the mind and principle:
	But choose a form -- in that we will appear.

	I have no choice; there is no form on earth
	Hideous or beautiful to me. Let him,
	Who is most powerful of ye, take such aspect
	As unto him may seem most fitting. -- Come!

SEVENTH SPIRIT  [Appearing in the shape of a beautiful female figure] 

	Oh God! if it be thus, and thou
	Art not a madness and a mockery,
	I yet might be most happy. -- I will clasp thee,		190
	And we again will be-- 
		 					[The figure vanishes
				My heart is crush'd!
							[MANFRED falls senseless

		[A voice is heard in the Incantation which follows]

	When the moon is on the wave,
	  And the glow-worm in the grass,
	And the meteor on the grave,
	  And the wisp on the morass;
	When the falling stars are shooting,
	And the answer'd owls are hooting,
	And the silent leaves are still
	In the shadow of the hill,
	Shall my soul be upon thine,					200
	With a power and with a sign.

	Though thy slumber may be deep,
	Yet thy spirit shall not sleep,
	There are shades which will not vanish,
	There are thoughts thou canst not banish;
	By a power to thee unknown,
	Thou canst never be alone;
	Thou art wrapt as with a shroud,
	Thou art gathered in a cloud;
	And for ever shalt thou dwell					210
	In the spirit of this spell.

	Though thou seest me not pass by,
	Thou shalt feel me with thine eye
	As a thing that, though unseen,
	Must be near thee, and hath been;
	And when in that secret dread
	Thou hast turn'd around thy head,
	Thou shalt marvel I am not
	As thy shadow on the spot,
	And the power which thou dost feel				220
	Shall he what thou must conceal.

	And a magic voice and verse
	Hath baptized thee with a curse;
	And a spirit of the air
	Hath begirt thee with a snare;
	In the wind there is a voice
	Shall forbid thee to rejoice;
	And to thee shall Night deny
	All the quiet of her sky;
	And the day shall have a sun,					230
	Which shall make thee wish it done.

	From thy false tears I did distil
	An essence which hath strength to kill;
	From thy own heart I then did wring
	The black blood in its blackest spring;
	From thy own smile I snatch'd the snake,
	For there it coil'd as in a brake;
	From thy own lip I drew the charm
	Which gave all these their chiefest harm;
	In proving every poison known,					240
	I found the strongest was thine own.

	By thy cold breast and serpent smile,
	By thy unfathom'd gulfs of guile,
	By that most seeming virtuous eye,
	By thy shut soul's hypocrisy;
	By the perfection of thine art
	Which pass'd for human thine own heart;
	By thy delight in others' pain,
	And by thy brotherhood of Cain,
	I call upon thee! and compel					250
	Thyself to be thy proper Hell!

	And on thy head I pour the vial
	Which doth devote thee to this trial;
	Nor to slumber, nor to die
	Shall be in thy destiny;
	Though thy death shall still seem near
	To thy wish, but as a fear;
	Lo! the spell now works around thee,
	And the clankless chain hath bound thee;
	O'er thy heart and brain together				260
	Hath the word been pass'd -- now wither!

SCENE II. The Mountain of the Jungfrau. --Time, Morning. -- MANFRED alone upon the Cliffs.

	The spirits I have raised abandon me--
	The spells which I have studied baffle me--
	The remedy I reck'd of tortured me;
	I lean no more on super-human aid,
	It hath no power upon the past, and for
	The future, till the past be gulf'd in darkness,
	It is not of my search. -- My mother Earth!
	And thou fresh breaking Day, and you, ye Mountains,
	Why are ye beautiful? I cannot love ye.
	And thou, the bright eye of the universe,			10
	That openest over all, and unto all
	Art a delight -- thou shin'st not on my heart.
	And you, ye crags, upon whose extreme edge
	I stand, and on the torrent's brink beneath
	Behold the tall pines dwindled as to shrubs
	In dizziness of distance; when a leap,
	A stir, a motion, even a breath, would bring
	My breast upon its rocky bosom's bed
	To rest for ever -- wherefore do I pause?
	I feel the impulse -- yet I do not plunge			20
	I see the peril -- yet do not recede;
	And my brain reels -- and yet my foot is firm:
	There is a power upon me which withholds
	And makes it my fatality to live;
	If it be life to wear within myself
	This barrenness of spirit, and to be
	My own soul's sepulchre, for I have ceased
	To justify my deeds unto myself--
	The last infirmity of evil. Ay,
	Thou winged and cloud-cleaving minister		[an eagle passes
	Whose happy flight is highest into heaven			30
	Well mayst thou swoop so near me -- I should be
	Thy prey, and gorge thins eaglets; thou art gone
	Where the eye cannot follow thee; but thine
	Yet pierces downward, onward, or above
	With a pervading vision. -- Beautiful!
	How beautiful is all this visible world!
	How glorious in its action and itself;
	But we, who name ourselves its sovereigns, we,
	Half dust, half deity, alike unfit                              40
	To sink or soar, with our mix'd essence make
	A conflict of its elements, and breathe
	The breath of degradation and of pride,
	Contending with low wants and lofty will
	Till our mortality predominates,
	And men are -- what they name not to themselves
	And trust not to each other. Hark! the note,
				[The Shepherd's pipe in the distance is heard
	The natural music of the mountain reed--
	For here the patriarchal days are not
	A pastoral fable -- pipes in the liberal air,			50
	Mix'd with the sweet bells of the sauntering herd;
	My soul would drink those echoes.-Oh, that I were
	The viewless spirit of a lovely sound,
	A living voice, a breathing harmony
	A bodiless enjoyment--born and dying
	With the blest tone which made me!

		Enter from below a CHAMOIS HUNTER

					Even so
	This way the chamois leapt: her nimble feet
	Have baffled me; my gains to-day will scarce
	Repay my break-neck travail. -- What is here?
	Who seems not of my trade, and yet hath reach'd			60
	A height which none even of our mountaineers,
	Save our best hunters, may attain: his garb
	Is goodly, his mien manly, and his air
	Proud as a free-born peasant's, at this distance.--
	I will approach him nearer.

	[not perceiving the other] To be thus--
	Grey-hair'd with anguish, like these blasted pines,
	Wrecks of a single winter, barkless, branchless,
	A blighted trunk upon a cursed root,
	Which but supplies a feeling to decay--
	And to be thus, eternally but thus,				70
	Having been otherwise! Now furrow'd o'er
	With wrinkles, plough'd by moments, not by years;
	And hours -- all tortured into ages -- hours
	Which I outlive! -- Ye toppling crags of ice!
	Ye avalanches, whom a breath draws down
	In mountainous overwhelming, come and crush me--
	I hear ye momently above, beneath,
	Crash with a frequent conflict; but ye pass,
	And only fall on things which still would live;
	On the young flourishing forest, or the hut			80
	And hamlet of the harmless villager.

	The mists begin to rise from up the valley;
	I'll warn him to descend, or he may chance
	To lose at once his way and life together.

	The mists boil up around the glaciers; clouds
	Rise curling fast beneath me, white and sulphury,
	Like foam from the roused ocean of deep Hell,
	Whose every wave breaks on a living shore,
	Heaped with the damn'd like pebbles. -- I am giddy.

	I must approach him cautiously; if near,			90
	A sudden step will startle him, and he
	Seems tottering already.

				Mountains have fallen
	Leaving a gap in the clouds, and with the shock
	Rocking their Alpine brethren; filling up
	The ripe green valleys with destruction's splinters;
	Damming the rivers with a sudden dash,
	Which crush'd the waters into mist, and made
	Their fountains find another channel -- thus,
	Thus, in its old age, did Mount Rosenberg--
	Why stood I not beneath it?

					Friend! have a care,		100
	Your next step may be fatal! -- for the love
	Of him who made you, stand not on that brink!

	[not hearing him]. Such would have been for me a fitting tomb;
	My bones had then been quiet in their depth;
	They had not then been strewn upon the rocks
	For the wind's pastime -- as thus -- thus they shall be--
	In this one plunge. -- Farewell, ye opening heavens!
	Look not upon me thus reproachfully--
	Ye were not meant for me -- Earth! take these atoms!

		[As MANFRED is in act to spring from the cliff; the CHAMOIS HUNTER seizes 
	and retains him with a sudden grasp]

	Hold, madman! -- though aweary of thy life,			110
	Stain not our pure vales with thy guilty blood.--
	Away with me -- I will not quit my hold.

	I am most sick at heart -- nay, grasp me not--
	I am all feebleness -- the mountains whirl
	Spinning around me -- I grow blind -- What art thou?

	I'll answer that anon. -- Away with me --
	The clouds grow thicker -- there -- now lean on me --
	Place your foot here -- here, take this staff, and cling
	A moment to that shrub -- now give me your hand,
	And hold fast by my girdle -- softly -- well --			120
	The Chalet will be gained within an hour--
	Come on, we'll quickly find a surer footing,
	And something like a pathway, which the torrent
	Hath wash'd since winter. -- Come, 'tis bravely done--
	You should have been a hunter. -- Follow me.
			[As they descend the rocks with difficulty, the scene closes]