The Revolt of Islam, by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Canto 5.

1.
1720

Over the utmost hill at length I sped,

A snowy steep:— the moon was hanging low

Over the Asian mountains, and outspread

The plain, the City, and the Camp below,

Skirted the midnight Ocean’s glimmering flow;

1725

The City’s moonlit spires and myriad lamps,

Like stars in a sublunar sky did glow,

And fires blazed far amid the scattered camps,

Like springs of flame, which burst where’er swift Earthquake stamps.

2.

All slept but those in watchful arms who stood,

1730

And those who sate tending the beacon’s light,

And the few sounds from that vast multitude

Made silence more profound. — Oh, what a might

Of human thought was cradled in that night!

How many hearts impenetrably veiled

1735

Beat underneath its shade, what secret fight

Evil and good, in woven passions mailed,

Waged through that silent throng — a war that never failed!

3.

And now the Power of Good held victory.

So, through the labyrinth of many a tent,

1740

Among the silent millions who did lie

In innocent sleep, exultingly I went;

The moon had left Heaven desert now, but lent

From eastern morn the first faint lustre showed

An armed youth — over his spear he bent

1745

His downward face. —‘A friend!’ I cried aloud,

And quickly common hopes made freemen understood.

4.

I sate beside him while the morning beam

Crept slowly over Heaven, and talked with him

Of those immortal hopes, a glorious theme!

1750

Which led us forth, until the stars grew dim:

And all the while, methought, his voice did swim

As if it drowned in remembrance were

Of thoughts which make the moist eyes overbrim:

At last, when daylight ‘gan to fill the air,

1755

He looked on me, and cried in wonder —‘Thou art here!’

5.

Then, suddenly, I knew it was the youth

In whom its earliest hopes my spirit found;

But envious tongues had stained his spotless truth,

And thoughtless pride his love in silence bound,

1760

And shame and sorrow mine in toils had wound,

Whilst he was innocent, and I deluded;

The truth now came upon me, on the ground

Tears of repenting joy, which fast intruded,

Fell fast, and o’er its peace our mingling spirits brooded.

6.
1765

Thus, while with rapid lips and earnest eyes

We talked, a sound of sweeping conflict spread

As from the earth did suddenly arise;

From every tent roused by that clamour dread,

Our bands outsprung and seized their arms — we sped

1770

Towards the sound: our tribes were gathering far.

Those sanguine slaves amid ten thousand dead

Stabbed in their sleep, trampled in treacherous war

The gentle hearts whose power their lives had sought to spare.

7.

Like rabid snakes, that sting some gentle child

1775

Who brings them food, when winter false and fair

Allures them forth with its cold smiles, so wild

They rage among the camp; — they overbear

The patriot hosts — confusion, then despair,

Descends like night — when ‘Laon!’ one did cry;

1780

Like a bright ghost from Heaven that shout did scare

The slaves, and widening through the vaulted sky,

Seemed sent from Earth to Heaven in sign of victory.

8.

In sudden panic those false murderers fled,

Like insect tribes before the northern gale:

1785

But swifter still, our hosts encompassed

Their shattered ranks, and in a craggy vale,

Where even their fierce despair might nought avail,

Hemmed them around! — and then revenge and fear

Made the high virtue of the patriots fail:

1790

One pointed on his foe the mortal spear —

I rushed before its point, and cried ‘Forbear, forbear!’

9.

The spear transfixed my arm that was uplifted

In swift expostulation, and the blood

Gushed round its point: I smiled, and —‘Oh! thou gifted

1795

With eloquence which shall not be withstood,

Flow thus!’ I cried in joy, ‘thou vital flood,

Until my heart be dry, ere thus the cause

For which thou wert aught worthy be subdued —

Ah, ye are pale — ye weep — your passions pause —

1800

’Tis well! ye feel the truth of love’s benignant laws.

10.

‘Soldiers, our brethren and our friends are slain.

Ye murdered them, I think, as they did sleep!

Alas, what have ye done? the slightest pain

Which ye might suffer, there were eyes to weep,

1805

But ye have quenched them — there were smiles to steep

Your hearts in balm, but they are lost in woe;

And those whom love did set his watch to keep

Around your tents, truth’s freedom to bestow,

Ye stabbed as they did sleep — but they forgive ye now.

11.
1810

‘Oh wherefore should ill ever flow from ill,

And pain still keener pain for ever breed?

We all are brethren — even the slaves who kill

For hire, are men; and to avenge misdeed

On the misdoer, doth but Misery feed

1815

With her own broken heart! O Earth, O Heaven!

And thou, dread Nature, which to every deed

And all that lives, or is, to be hath given,

Even as to thee have these done ill, and are forgiven!

12.

‘Join then your hands and hearts, and let the past

1820

Be as a grave which gives not up its dead

To evil thoughts.’— A film then overcast

My sense with dimness, for the wound, which bled

Freshly, swift shadows o’er mine eyes had shed.

When I awoke, I lay mid friends and foes,

1825

And earnest countenances on me shed

The light of questioning looks, whilst one did close

My wound with balmiest herbs, and soothed me to repose;

13.

And one whose spear had pierced me, leaned beside

With quivering lips and humid eyes; — and all

1830

Seemed like some brothers on a journey wide

Gone forth, whom now strange meeting did befall

In a strange land, round one whom they might call

Their friend, their chief, their father, for assay

Of peril, which had saved them from the thrall

1835

Of death, now suffering. Thus the vast array

Of those fraternal bands were reconciled that day.

14.

Lifting the thunder of their acclamation,

Towards the City then the multitude,

And I among them, went in joy — a nation

1840

Made free by love; — a mighty brotherhood

Linked by a jealous interchange of good;

A glorious pageant, more magnificent

Than kingly slaves arrayed in gold and blood,

When they return from carnage, and are sent

1845

In triumph bright beneath the populous battlement.

15.

Afar, the city-walls were thronged on high,

And myriads on each giddy turret clung,

And to each spire far lessening in the sky

Bright pennons on the idle winds were hung;

1850

As we approached, a shout of joyance sprung

At once from all the crowd, as if the vast

And peopled Earth its boundless skies among

The sudden clamour of delight had cast,

When from before its face some general wreck had passed.

16.
1855

Our armies through the City’s hundred gates

Were poured, like brooks which to the rocky lair

Of some deep lake, whose silence them awaits,

Throng from the mountains when the storms are there

And, as we passed through the calm sunny air

1860

A thousand flower-inwoven crowns were shed,

The token flowers of truth and freedom fair,

And fairest hands bound them on many a head,

Those angels of love’s heaven that over all was spread.

17.

I trod as one tranced in some rapturous vision:

1865

Those bloody bands so lately reconciled,

Were, ever as they went, by the contrition

Of anger turned to love, from ill beguiled,

And every one on them more gently smiled,

Because they had done evil:— the sweet awe

1870

Of such mild looks made their own hearts grow mild,

And did with soft attraction ever draw

Their spirits to the love of freedom’s equal law.

18.

And they, and all, in one loud symphony

My name with Liberty commingling, lifted,

1875

‘The friend and the preserver of the free!

The parent of this joy!’ and fair eyes gifted

With feelings, caught from one who had uplifted

The light of a great spirit, round me shone;

And all the shapes of this grand scenery shifted

1880

Like restless clouds before the steadfast sun —

Where was that Maid? I asked, but it was known of none.

19.

Laone was the name her love had chosen,

For she was nameless, and her birth none knew:

Where was Laone now? — The words were frozen

1885

Within my lips with fear; but to subdue

Such dreadful hope, to my great task was due,

And when at length one brought reply, that she

To-morrow would appear, I then withdrew

To judge what need for that great throng might be,

1890

For now the stars came thick over the twilight sea.

20.

Yet need was none for rest or food to care,

Even though that multitude was passing great,

Since each one for the other did prepare

All kindly succour — Therefore to the gate

1895

Of the Imperial House, now desolate,

I passed, and there was found aghast, alone,

The fallen Tyrant! — Silently he sate

Upon the footstool of his golden throne,

Which, starred with sunny gems, in its own lustre shone.

21.
1900

Alone, but for one child, who led before him

A graceful dance: the only living thing

Of all the crowd, which thither to adore him

Flocked yesterday, who solace sought to bring

In his abandonment! — She knew the King

1905

Had praised her dance of yore, and now she wove

Its circles, aye weeping and murmuring

Mid her sad task of unregarded love,

That to no smiles it might his speechless sadness move.

22.

She fled to him, and wildly clasped his feet

1910

When human steps were heard:— he moved nor spoke,

Nor changed his hue, nor raised his looks to meet

The gaze of strangers — our loud entrance woke

The echoes of the hall, which circling broke

The calm of its recesses — like a tomb

1915

Its sculptured walls vacantly to the stroke

Of footfalls answered, and the twilight’s gloom

Lay like a charnel’s mist within the radiant dome.

23.

The little child stood up when we came nigh;

Her lips and cheeks seemed very pale and wan,

1920

But on her forehead, and within her eye

Lay beauty, which makes hearts that feed thereon

Sick with excess of sweetness; on the throne

She leaned; — the King, with gathered brow, and lips

Wreathed by long scorn, did inly sneer and frown

1925

With hue like that when some great painter dips

His pencil in the gloom of earthquake and eclipse.

24.

She stood beside him like a rainbow braided

Within some storm, when scarce its shadows vast

From the blue paths of the swift sun have faded;

1930

A sweet and solemn smile, like Cythna’s, cast

One moment’s light, which made my heart beat fast,

O’er that child’s parted lips — a gleam of bliss,

A shade of vanished days — as the tears passed

Which wrapped it, even as with a father’s kiss

1935

I pressed those softest eyes in trembling tenderness.

25.

The sceptred wretch then from that solitude

I drew, and, of his change compassionate,

With words of sadness soothed his rugged mood.

But he, while pride and fear held deep debate,

1940

With sullen guile of ill-dissembled hate

Glared on me as a toothless snake might glare:

Pity, not scorn I felt, though desolate

The desolator now, and unaware

The curses which he mocked had caught him by the hair.

26.
1945

I led him forth from that which now might seem

A gorgeous grave: through portals sculptured deep

With imagery beautiful as dream

We went, and left the shades which tend on sleep

Over its unregarded gold to keep

1950

Their silent watch. — The child trod faintingly,

And as she went, the tears which she did weep

Glanced in the starlight; wildered seemed she,

And, when I spake, for sobs she could not answer me.

27.

At last the tyrant cried, ‘She hungers, slave!

1955

Stab her, or give her bread!’— It was a tone

Such as sick fancies in a new-made grave

Might hear. I trembled, for the truth was known;

He with this child had thus been left alone,

And neither had gone forth for food — but he

1960

In mingled pride and awe cowered near his throne,

And she a nursling of captivity

Knew nought beyond those walls, nor what such change might be.

28.

And he was troubled at a charm withdrawn

Thus suddenly; that sceptres ruled no more —

1965

That even from gold the dreadful strength was gone,

Which once made all things subject to its power —

Such wonder seized him, as if hour by hour

The past had come again; and the swift fall

Of one so great and terrible of yore,

1970

To desolateness, in the hearts of all

Like wonder stirred, who saw such awful change befall.

29.

A mighty crowd, such as the wide land pours

Once in a thousand years, now gathered round

The fallen tyrant; — like the rush of showers

1975

Of hail in spring, pattering along the ground,

Their many footsteps fell, else came no sound

From the wide multitude: that lonely man

Then knew the burden of his change, and found,

Concealing in the dust his visage wan,

1980

Refuge from the keen looks which through his bosom ran.

30.

And he was faint withal: I sate beside him

Upon the earth, and took that child so fair

From his weak arms, that ill might none betide him

Or her; — when food was brought to them, her share

1985

To his averted lips the child did bear,

But, when she saw he had enough, she ate

And wept the while; — the lonely man’s despair

Hunger then overcame, and of his state

Forgetful, on the dust as in a trance he sate.

31.
1990

Slowly the silence of the multitudes

Passed, as when far is heard in some lone dell

The gathering of a wind among the woods —

‘And he is fallen!’ they cry, ‘he who did dwell

Like famine or the plague, or aught more fell

1995

Among our homes, is fallen! the murderer

Who slaked his thirsting soul as from a well

Of blood and tears with ruin! he is here!

Sunk in a gulf of scorn from which none may him rear!’

32.

Then was heard —‘He who judged let him be brought

2000

To judgement! blood for blood cries from the soil

On which his crimes have deep pollution wrought!

Shall Othman only unavenged despoil?

Shall they who by the stress of grinding toil

Wrest from the unwilling earth his luxuries,

2005

Perish for crime, while his foul blood may boil,

Or creep within his veins at will? — Arise!

And to high justice make her chosen sacrifice!’

33.

‘What do ye seek? what fear ye,’ then I cried,

Suddenly starting forth, ‘that ye should shed

2010

The blood of Othman? — if your hearts are tried

In the true love of freedom, cease to dread

This one poor lonely man — beneath Heaven spread

In purest light above us all, through earth —

Maternal earth, who doth her sweet smiles shed

2015

For all, let him go free; until the worth

Of human nature win from these a second birth.

34.

‘What call ye “justice”? Is there one who ne’er

In secret thought has wished another’s ill? —

Are ye all pure? Let those stand forth who hear

2020

And tremble not. Shall they insult and kill,

If such they be? their mild eyes can they fill

With the false anger of the hypocrite?

Alas, such were not pure! — the chastened will

Of virtue sees that justice is the light

2025

Of love, and not revenge, and terror and despite.’

35.

The murmur of the people, slowly dying,

Paused as I spake, then those who near me were,

Cast gentle looks where the lone man was lying

Shrouding his head, which now that infant fair

2030

Clasped on her lap in silence; — through the air

Sobs were then heard, and many kissed my feet

In pity’s madness, and to the despair

Of him whom late they cursed, a solace sweet

His very victims brought — soft looks and speeches meet.

36.
2035

Then to a home for his repose assigned,

Accompanied by the still throng, he went

In silence, where, to soothe his rankling mind,

Some likeness of his ancient state was lent;

And if his heart could have been innocent

2040

As those who pardoned him, he might have ended

His days in peace; but his straight lips were bent,

Men said, into a smile which guile portended,

A sight with which that child like hope with fear was blended.

37.

’Twas midnight now, the eve of that great day

2045

Whereon the many nations at whose call

The chains of earth like mist melted away,

Decreed to hold a sacred Festival,

A rite to attest the equality of all

Who live. So to their homes, to dream or wake

2050

All went. The sleepless silence did recall

Laone to my thoughts, with hopes that make

The flood recede from which their thirst they seek to slake.

38.

The dawn flowed forth, and from its purple fountains

I drank those hopes which make the spirit quail,

2055

As to the plain between the misty mountains

And the great City, with a countenance pale,

I went:— it was a sight which might avail

To make men weep exulting tears, for whom

Now first from human power the reverend veil

2060

Was torn, to see Earth from her general womb

Pour forth her swarming sons to a fraternal doom:

39.

To see, far glancing in the misty morning,

The signs of that innumerable host;

To hear one sound of many made, the warning

2065

Of Earth to Heaven from its free children tossed,

While the eternal hills, and the sea lost

In wavering light, and, starring the blue sky

The city’s myriad spires of gold, almost

With human joy made mute society —

2070

Its witnesses with men who must hereafter be.

40.

To see, like some vast island from the Ocean,

The Altar of the Federation rear

Its pile i’ the midst; a work, which the devotion

Of millions in one night created there,

2075

Sudden as when the moonrise makes appear

Strange clouds in the east; a marble pyramid

Distinct with steps: that mighty shape did wear

The light of genius; its still shadow hid

Far ships: to know its height the morning mists forbid!

41.
2080

To hear the restless multitudes for ever

Around the base of that great Altar flow,

As on some mountain-islet burst and shiver

Atlantic waves; and solemnly and slow

As the wind bore that tumult to and fro,

2085

To feel the dreamlike music, which did swim

Like beams through floating clouds on waves below

Falling in pauses, from that Altar dim,

As silver-sounding tongues breathed an aerial hymn.

42.

To hear, to see, to live, was on that morn

2090

Lethean joy! so that all those assembled

Cast off their memories of the past outworn;

Two only bosoms with their own life trembled,

And mine was one — and we had both dissembled;

So with a beating heart I went, and one,

2095

Who having much, covets yet more, resembled;

A lost and dear possession, which not won,

He walks in lonely gloom beneath the noonday sun.

43.

To the great Pyramid I came: its stair

With female choirs was thronged: the loveliest

2100

Among the free, grouped with its sculptures rare;

As I approached, the morning’s golden mist,

Which now the wonder-stricken breezes kissed

With their cold lips, fled, and the summit shone

Like Athos seen from Samothracia, dressed

2105

In earliest light, by vintagers, and one

Sate there, a female Shape upon an ivory throne:

44.

A Form most like the imagined habitant

Of silver exhalations sprung from dawn,

By winds which feed on sunrise woven, to enchant

2110

The faiths of men: all mortal eyes were drawn,

As famished mariners through strange seas gone

Gaze on a burning watch-tower, by the light

Of those divinest lineaments — alone

With thoughts which none could share, from that fair sight

2115

I turned in sickness, for a veil shrouded her countenance bright.

45.

And neither did I hear the acclamations,

Which from brief silence bursting, filled the air

With her strange name and mine, from all the nations

Which we, they said, in strength had gathered there

2120

From the sleep of bondage; nor the vision fair

Of that bright pageantry beheld — but blind

And silent, as a breathing corpse did fare,

Leaning upon my friend, till like a wind

To fevered cheeks, a voice flowed o’er my troubled mind.

46.
2125

Like music of some minstrel heavenly gifted,

To one whom fiends enthral, this voice to me;

Scarce did I wish her veil to be uplifted,

I was so calm and joyous. — I could see

The platform where we stood, the statues three

2130

Which kept their marble watch on that high shrine,

The multitudes, the mountains, and the sea;

As when eclipse hath passed, things sudden shine

To men’s astonished eyes most clear and crystalline.

47.

At first Laone spoke most tremulously:

2135

But soon her voice the calmness which it shed

Gathered, and —‘Thou art whom I sought to see,

And thou art our first votary here,’ she said:

‘I had a dear friend once, but he is dead! —

And of all those on the wide earth who breathe,

2140

Thou dost resemble him alone — I spread

This veil between us two that thou beneath

Shouldst image one who may have been long lost in death.

48.

‘For this wilt thou not henceforth pardon me?

Yes, but those joys which silence well requite

2145

Forbid reply; — why men have chosen me

To be the Priestess of this holiest rite

I scarcely know, but that the floods of light

Which flow over the world, have borne me hither

To meet thee, long most dear; and now unite

2150

Thine hand with mine, and may all comfort wither

From both the hearts whose pulse in joy now beat together,

49.

‘If our own will as others’ law we bind,

If the foul worship trampled here we fear;

If as ourselves we cease to love our kind!’—

2155

She paused, and pointed upwards — sculptured there

Three shapes around her ivory throne appear;

One was a Giant, like a child asleep

On a loose rock, whose grasp crushed, as it were

In dream, sceptres and crowns; and one did keep

2160

Its watchful eyes in doubt whether to smile or weep;

50.

A Woman sitting on the sculptured disk

Of the broad earth, and feeding from one breast

A human babe and a young basilisk;

Her looks were sweet as Heaven’s when loveliest

2165

In Autumn eves. The third Image was dressed

In white wings swift as clouds in winter skies;

Beneath his feet, ‘mongst ghastliest forms, repressed

Lay Faith, an obscene worm, who sought to rise,

While calmly on the Sun he turned his diamond eyes.

51.
2170

Beside that Image then I sate, while she

Stood, mid the throngs which ever ebbed and flowed,

Like light amid the shadows of the sea

Cast from one cloudless star, and on the crowd

That touch which none who feels forgets, bestowed;

2175

And whilst the sun returned the steadfast gaze

Of the great Image, as o’er Heaven it glode,

That rite had place; it ceased when sunset’s blaze

Burned o’er the isles. All stood in joy and deep amaze —

— When in the silence of all spirits there

2180

Laone’s voice was felt, and through the air

Her thrilling gestures spoke, most eloquently fair:—

51.1.

‘Calm art thou as yon sunset! swift and strong

As new-fledged Eagles, beautiful and young,

That float among the blinding beams of morning;

2185

And underneath thy feet writhe Faith, and Folly,

Custom, and Hell, and mortal Melancholy —

Hark! the Earth starts to hear the mighty warning

Of thy voice sublime and holy;

Its free spirits here assembled

2190

See thee, feel thee, know thee now —

To thy voice their hearts have trembled

Like ten thousand clouds which flow

With one wide wind as it flies! —

Wisdom! thy irresistible children rise

2195

To hail thee, and the elements they chain

And their own will, to swell the glory of thy train.

51.2.

‘O Spirit vast and deep as Night and Heaven!

Mother and soul of all to which is given

The light of life, the loveliness of being,

2200

Lo! thou dost re-ascend the human heart,

Thy throne of power, almighty as thou wert

In dreams of Poets old grown pale by seeing

The shade of thee; — now, millions start

To feel thy lightnings through them burning:

2205

Nature, or God, or Love, or Pleasure,

Or Sympathy the sad tears turning

To mutual smiles, a drainless treasure,

Descends amidst us; — Scorn and Hate,

Revenge and Selfishness are desolate —

2210

A hundred nations swear that there shall be

Pity and Peace and Love, among the good and free!

51.3.

‘Eldest of things, divine Equality!

Wisdom and Love are but the slaves of thee,

The Angels of thy sway, who pour around thee

2215

Treasures from all the cells of human thought,

And from the Stars, and from the Ocean brought,

And the last living heart whose beatings bound thee:

The powerful and the wise had sought

Thy coming, thou in light descending

2220

O’er the wide land which is thine own

Like the Spring whose breath is blending

All blasts of fragrance into one,

Comest upon the paths of men! —

Earth bares her general bosom to thy ken,

2225

And all her children here in glory meet

To feed upon thy smiles, and clasp thy sacred feet.

51.4

‘My brethren, we are free! the plains and mountains,

The gray sea-shore, the forests and the fountains,

Are haunts of happiest dwellers; — man and woman,

2230

Their common bondage burst, may freely borrow

From lawless love a solace for their sorrow;

For oft we still must weep, since we are human.

A stormy night’s serenest morrow,

Whose showers are pity’s gentle tears,

2235

Whose clouds are smiles of those that die

Like infants without hopes or fears,

And whose beams are joys that lie

In blended hearts, now holds dominion;

The dawn of mind, which upwards on a pinion

2240

Borne, swift as sunrise, far illumines space,

And clasps this barren world in its own bright embrace!

51.5

‘My brethren, we are free! The fruits are glowing

Beneath the stars, and the night-winds are flowing

O’er the ripe corn, the birds and beasts are dreaming —

2245

Never again may blood of bird or beast

Stain with its venomous stream a human feast,

To the pure skies in accusation steaming;

Avenging poisons shall have ceased

To feed disease and fear and madness,

2250

The dwellers of the earth and air

Shall throng around our steps in gladness,

Seeking their food or refuge there.

Our toil from thought all glorious forms shall cull,

To make this Earth, our home, more beautiful,

2255

And Science, and her sister Poesy,

Shall clothe in light the fields and cities of the free!

51.6

‘Victory, Victory to the prostrate nations!

Bear witness Night, and ye mute Constellations

Who gaze on us from your crystalline cars!

2260

Thoughts have gone forth whose powers can sleep no more!

Victory! Victory! Earth’s remotest shore,

Regions which groan beneath the Antarctic stars,

The green lands cradled in the roar

Of western waves, and wildernesses

2265

Peopled and vast, which skirt the oceans

Where morning dyes her golden tresses,

Shall soon partake our high emotions:

Kings shall turn pale! Almighty Fear,

The Fiend-God, when our charmed name he hear,

2270

Shall fade like shadow from his thousand fanes,

While Truth with Joy enthroned o’er his lost empire reigns!’

51.52.

Ere she had ceased, the mists of night entwining

Their dim woof, floated o’er the infinite throng;

She, like a spirit through the darkness shining,

2275

In tones whose sweetness silence did prolong,

As if to lingering winds they did belong,

Poured forth her inmost soul: a passionate speech

With wild and thrilling pauses woven among,

Which whoso heard was mute, for it could teach

2280

To rapture like her own all listening hearts to reach.

53.

Her voice was as a mountain stream which sweeps

The withered leaves of Autumn to the lake,

And in some deep and narrow bay then sleeps

In the shadow of the shores; as dead leaves wake,

2285

Under the wave, in flowers and herbs which make

Those green depths beautiful when skies are blue,

The multitude so moveless did partake

Such living change, and kindling murmurs flew

As o’er that speechless calm delight and wonder grew.

54.
2290

Over the plain the throngs were scattered then

In groups around the fires, which from the sea

Even to the gorge of the first mountain-glen

Blazed wide and far: the banquet of the free

Was spread beneath many a dark cypress-tree,

2295

Beneath whose spires, which swayed in the red flame,

Reclining, as they ate, of Liberty,

And Hope, and Justice, and Laone’s name,

Earth’s children did a woof of happy converse frame.

55.

Their feast was such as Earth, the general mother,

2300

Pours from her fairest bosom, when she smiles

In the embrace of Autumn; — to each other

As when some parent fondly reconciles

Her warring children, she their wrath beguiles

With her own sustenance, they relenting weep:

2305

Such was this Festival, which from their isles

And continents, and winds, and oceans deep,

All shapes might throng to share, that fly, or walk or creep —

56.

Might share in peace and innocence, for gore

Or poison none this festal did pollute,

2310

But, piled on high, an overflowing store

Of pomegranates and citrons, fairest fruit,

Melons, and dates, and figs, and many a root

Sweet and sustaining, and bright grapes ere yet

Accursed fire their mild juice could transmute

2315

Into a mortal bane, and brown corn set

In baskets; with pure streams their thirsting lips they wet.

57.

Laone had descended from the shrine,

And every deepest look and holiest mind

Fed on her form, though now those tones divine

2320

Were silent as she passed; she did unwind

Her veil, as with the crowds of her own kind

She mixed; some impulse made my heart refrain

From seeking her that night, so I reclined

Amidst a group, where on the utmost plain

2325

A festal watchfire burned beside the dusky main.

58.

And joyous was our feast; pathetic talk,

And wit, and harmony of choral strains,

While far Orion o’er the waves did walk

That flow among the isles, held us in chains

2330

Of sweet captivity which none disdains

Who feels; but when his zone grew dim in mist

Which clothes the Ocean’s bosom, o’er the plains

The multitudes went homeward, to their rest,

Which that delightful day with its own shadow blessed.

_2295 flame]light edition 1818.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/s/shelley/percy_bysshe/revolt_of_islam/canto5.html

Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 22:30