Elizabeth Barrett Browning

A Drama of Exile

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University of Adelaide
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Table of Contents

  1. A Drama of Exile
  2. A Drama of Exile.

A Drama of Exile


Christ, in a Vision.





Angels, Eden Spirits, Earth Spirits, and Phantasms.

A Drama of Exile.

SceneThe outer side of the gate of Eden shut fast with cloud, from the depth of which revolves a sword of fire self-moved. Adam and Eve are seen, in the distance flying along the glare.

Lucifer, alone.

Rejoice in the clefts of Gehenna,

My exiled, my host!

Earth has exiles as hopeless as when a

Heaven’s empire was lost.

Through the seams of her shaken foundations,

Smoke up in great joy!

With the smoke of your fierce exultations

Deform and destroy!

Smoke up with your lurid revenges,

And darken the face

Of the white heavens and taunt them with changes

From glory and grace.

We, in falling, while destiny strangles,

Pull down with us all.

Let them look to the rest of their angels!

Who’s safe from a fall?

HE saves not. Where’s Adam? Can pardon

Requicken that sod?

Unkinged is the King of the Garden,

The image of God.

Other exiles are cast out of Eden,—

More curse has been hurled:

Come up, O my locusts, and feed in

The green of the world!

Come up! we have conquered by evil;

Good reigns not alone:

I prevail now, and, angel or devil,

Inherit a throne.

[In sudden apparition a watch of innumerable Angels, rank above rank, slopes up from around the gate to the zenith. The Angel Gabriel descends.

Lucifer. Hail, Gabriel, the keeper of the gate!

Now that the fruit is plucked, prince Gabriel,

I hold that Eden is impregnable

Under thy keeping.

Gabriel.Angel of the sin,

Such as thou standest,—pale in the drear light

Which rounds the rebel’s work with Maker’s wrath

Thou shalt be an Idea to all souls,

A monumental melancholy gloom

Seen down all ages, whence to mark despair

And measure out the distances from good.

Go from us straightway!



Thy last step in this place trod sorrow up.

Recoil before that sorrow, if not this sword.

Lucifer. Angels are in the world—wherefore not I?

Exiles are in the world—wherefore not I?

The cursed are in the world—wherefore not I?

Gabriel. Depart!

Lucifer.And where’s the logic of ‘depart’?

Our lady Eve had half been satisfied

To obey her Maker, if I had not learnt

To fix my postulate better. Dost thou dream

Of guarding some monopoly in heaven

Instead of earth? Why, I can dream with thee

To the length of thy wings.

Gabriel.I do not dream.

This is not heaven, even in a dream, nor earth,

As earth was once, first breathed among the stars,

Articulate glory from the mouth divine,

To which the myriad spheres thrilled audibly,

Touched like a lute-string, and the sons of God

Said Amen, singing it. I know that this

Is earth not new created but new cursed—

This, Eden’s gate not opened but built up

With a final cloud of sunset. Do I dream?

Alas, not so! this is the Eden lost

By Lucifer the serpent; this the sword

(This sword alive with justice and with fire)

That smote, upon the forehead, Lucifer

The angel. Wherefore, angel, go—depart!

Enough is sinned and suffered.

Lucifer.By no means.

Here’s a brave earth to sin and suffer on.

It holds fast still—it cracks not under curse;

It holds like mine immortal. Presently

We’ll sow it thick enough with graves as green

Or greener certes, than its knowledge-tree.

We’ll have the cypress for the tree of life,

More eminent for shadow: for the rest,

We’ll build it dark with towns and pyramids,

And temples, if it please you:—we’ll have feasts

And funerals also, merrymakes and wars,

Till blood and wine shall mix and run along

Right o’er the edges. And, good Gabriel

(Ye like that word in heaven), I too have strength—

Strength to behold Him and not worship Him,

Strength to fall from Him and not cry on Him,

Strength to be in the universe and yet

Neither God nor his servant. The red sign

Burnt on my forehead, which you taunt me with,

Is God’s sign that it bows not unto God,

The potter’s mark upon his work, to show

It rings well to the striker. I and the earth

Can bear more curse.

Gabriel.O miserable earth,

O ruined angel!

Lucifer.Well, and if it be!

I chose this ruin, I elected it

Of my will, not of service. What I do,

I do volitient, not obedient,

And overtop thy crown with my despair

My sorrow crowns me. Get thee back to heaven,

And leave me to the earth, which is mine own

In virtue of her ruin, as I hers

In virtue of my revolt! Turn thou from both

That bright, impassive, passive angelhood,

And spare to read us backward any more

Of the spent hallelujahs!

Gabriel.Spirit of scorn,

I might say, of unreason! I might say,

That who despairs, acts; that who acts, connives

With God’s relations set in time and space;

That who elects, assumes a something good

Which God made possible; that who lives, obeys

The law of a Life-maker . . .

Lucifer.Let it pass!

No more, thou Gabriel! What if I stand up

And strike my brow against the crystalline

Roofing the creatures,—shall I say, for that,

My stature is too high for me to stand,—

Henceforward I must sit? Sit thou!

Gabriel.I kneel.

Lucifer. A heavenly answer. Get thee to thy heaven,

And leave my earth to me!

Gabriel.Through heaven and earth

God’s will moves freely, and I follow it,

As colour follows light. He overflows

The firmamental walls with deity,

Therefore with love; his lightnings go abroad,

His pity may do so, his angels must,

Whene’er he gives them charges.


I and my demons, who are spirits of scorn,

Might hold this charge of standing with a sword

’Twixt man and his inheritance, as well

As the benignest angel of you all.

Gabriel. Thou speakest in the shadow of thy change.

If thou hadst gazed upon the face of God

This morning for a moment, thou hadst known

That only pity fitly can chastise:

Hate but avenges.

Lucifer.As it is, I know

Something of pity. When I reeled in heaven,

And my sword grew too heavy for my grasp,

Stabbing through matter, which it could not pierce

So much as the first shell of,—toward the throne;

When I fell back, down,—staring up as I fell,—

The lightnings holding open my scathed lids,

And that thought of the infinite of God,

Hurled after to precipitate descent;

When countless angel faces still and stern

Pressed out upon me from the level heavens

Adown the abysmal spaces, and I fell

Trampled down by your stillness, and struck blind

By the sight within your eyes,—’twas then I knew

How ye could pity, my kind angelhood!

Gabriel. Alas, discrowned one, by the truth in me

Which God keeps in me, I would give away

All—save that truth and his love keeping it,—

To lead thee home again into the light

And hear thy voice chant with the morning stars,

When their rays tremble round them with much song

Sung in more gladness!

Lucifer.Sing, my Morning Star!

Last beautiful, last heavenly, that I loved!

If I could drench thy golden locks with tears,

What were it to this angel?

Gabriel.What love is.

And now I have named God.

Lucifer.Yet, Gabriel,

By the lie in me which I keep myself,

Thou’rt a false swearer. Were it otherwise,

What dost thou here, vouchsafing tender thoughts

To that earth-angel or earth-demon—which,

Thou and I have not solved the problem yet

Enough to argue,—that fallen Adam there,—

That red-clay and a breath,—who must, forsooth,

Live in a new apocalypse of sense,

With beauty and music waving in his trees

And running in his rivers, to make glad

His soul made perfect?—is it not for hope,

A hope within thee deeper than thy truth,

Of finally conducting him and his

To fill the vacant thrones of me and mine,

Which affront heaven with their vacuity?

Gabriel. Angel, there are no vacant thrones in heaven

To suit thy empty words. Glory and life

Fulfil their own depletions; and if God

Sighed you far from him, his next breath drew in

A compensative splendour up the vast,

Flushing the starry arteries.

Lucifer.What a change!

So, let the vacant thrones and gardens too

Fill as may please you!—and be pitiful,

As ye translate that word, to the dethroned

And exiled, man or angel. The fact stands,

That I, the rebel, the cast out and down,

Am here and will not go; while there, along

The light to which ye flash the desert out,

Flies your adopted Adam, your red-clay

In two kinds, both being flawed. Why, what is this?

Whose work is this? Whose hand was in the work?

Against whose hand? In this last strife, methinks,

I am not a fallen angel!

Gabriel.Dost thou know

Aught of those exiles?

Lucifer.Ay: I know they have fled

Silent all day along the wilderness:

I know they wear, for burden on their backs,

The thought of a shut gate of Paradise,

And faces of the marshalled cherubim

Shining against, not for them; and I know

They dare not look in one another’s face,—

As if each were a cherub!

Gabriel.Dost thou know

Aught of their future?

Lucifer.Only as much as this:

That evil will increase and multiply

Without a benediction.

Gabriel.Nothing more?

Lucifer. Why so the angels taunt! What should be more?

Gabriel. God is more.

Lucifer.Proving what?

Gabriel.That he is God,

And capable of saving. Lucifer,

I charge thee by the solitude he kept

Ere he created,—leave the earth to God!

Lucifer. My foot is on the earth, firm as my sin.

Gabriel. I charge thee by the memory of heaven

Ere any sin was done,—leave earth to God!

Lucifer. My sin is on the earth, to reign thereon.

Gabriel. I charge thee by the choral song we sang,

When up against the white shore of our feet

The depths of the creation swelled and brake,—

And the new worlds, the beaded foam and flower

Of all that coil, roared outward into space

On thunder-edges,—leave the earth to God!

Lucifer. My woe is on the earth, to curse thereby.

Gabriel. I charge thee by that mournful Morning Star

Which trembles . . .

Lucifer.Enough spoken. As the pine

In norland forest drops its weight of snows

By a night’s growth, so, growing toward my ends

I drop thy counsels. Farewell, Gabriel!

Watch out thy service; I achieve my will.

And peradventure in the after years,

When thoughtful men shall bend their spacious brows

Upon the storm and strife seen everywhere

To ruffle their smooth manhood and break up

With lurid lights of intermittent hope

Their human fear and wrong,—they may discern

The heart of a lost angel in the earth.


(chanting from Paradise, while Adam and Eve fly across the Sword-glare).

Hearken, oh hearken! let your souls behind you

Turn, gently moved!

Our voices feel along the Dread to find you,

O lost, beloved!

Through the thick-shielded and strong-marshalled angels,

They press and pierce:

Our requiems follow fast on our evangels,—

Voice throbs in verse.

We are but orphaned spirits left in Eden

A time ago:

God gave us golden cups, and we were bidden

To feed you so.

But now our right hand hath no cup remaining,

No work to do,

The mystic hydromel is spilt, and staining

The whole earth through.

Most ineradicable stains, for showing

(Not interfused!)

That brighter colours were the world’s forgoing,

Than shall be used.

Hearken, oh hearken! ye shall hearken surely

For years and years,

The noise beside you, dripping coldly, purely,

Of spirits’ tears.

The yearning to a beautiful denied you

Shall strain your powers;

Ideal sweetnesses shall overglide you,

Resumed from ours.

In all your music, our pathetic minor

Your ears shall cross;

And all good gifts shall mind you of diviner,

With sense of loss.

We shall be near you in your poet-languors

And wild extremes,

What time ye vex the desert with vain angers,

Or mock with dreams.

And when upon you, weary after roaming,

Death’s seal is put,

By the foregone ye shall discern the coming,

Through eyelids shut.

Spirits of the Trees.

Hark! the Eden trees are stirring,

Soft and solemn in your hearing!

Oak and linden, palm and fir,

Tamarisk and juniper,

Each still throbbing in vibration

Since that crowning of creation

When the God-breath spake abroad,

Let us make man like to God!

And the pine stood quivering

As the awful word went by,

Like a vibrant music-string

Stretched from mountain-peak to sky;

And the platan did expand

Slow and gradual, branch and head;

And the cedar’s strong black shade

Fluttered brokenly and grand:

Grove and wood were swept aslant

In emotion jubilant.

Voice of the same, but softer.

Which divine impulsion cleaves

In dim movements to the leaves

Dropt and lifted, dropt and lifted,

In the sunlight greenly sifted,—

In the sunlight and the moonlight

Greenly sifted through the trees.

Ever wave the Eden trees

In the nightlight and the noonlight,

With a ruffling of green branches

Shaded off to resonances,

Never stirred by rain or breeze.

Fare ye well, farewell!

The sylvan sounds, no longer audible,

Expire at Eden’s door.

Each footstep of your treading

Treads out some murmur which ye heard before.

Farewell! the trees of Eden

Ye shall hear nevermore.

River Spirits.

Hark! the flow of the four rivers—

Hark the flow!

How the silence round you shivers,

While our voices through it go,

Cold and clear.

A softer Voice.

Think a little, while ye hear,

Of the banks

Where the willows and the deer

Crowd in intermingled ranks,

As if all would drink at once

Where the living water runs!—

Of the fishes’ golden edges

Flashing in and out the sedges;

Of the swans on silver thrones,

Floating down the winding streams

With impassive eyes turned shoreward

And a chant of undertones,—

And the lotos leaning forward

To help them into dreams!

Fare ye well, farewell!

The river-sounds, no longer audible,

Expire at Eden’s door.

Each footstep of your treading

Treads out some murmur which ye heard before.

Farewell! the streams of Eden

Ye shall hear nevermore.

Bird Spirit.

I am the nearest nightingale

That singeth in Eden after you;

And I am singing loud and true,

And sweet,—I do not fail.

I sit upon a cypress bough,

Close to the gate, and I fling my song

Over the gate and through the mail

Of the warden angels marshalled strong,—

Over the gate and after you.

And the warden angels let it pass,

Because the poor brown bird, alas,

Sings in the garden, sweet and true.

And I build my song of high pure notes,

Note over note, height over height,

Till I strike the arch of the Infinite,

And I bridge abysmal agonies

With strong, clear calms of harmonies,—

And something abides, and something floats,

In the song which I sing after you.

Fare ye well, farewell!

The creature-sounds, no longer audible,

Expire at Eden’s door.

Each footstep of your treading

Treads out some cadence which ye heard before.

Farewell! the birds of Eden,

Ye shall hear nevermore.

Flower Spirits.

We linger, we linger,

The last of the throng,

Like the tones of a singer

Who loves his own song.

We are spirit-aromas

Of blossom and bloom.

We call your thoughts home,—as

Ye breathe our perfume,—

To the amaranth’s splendour

Afire on the slopes;

To the lily-bells tender,

And grey heliotropes;

To the poppy-plains keeping

Such dream-breath and blee

That the angels there stepping

Grew whiter to see:

To the nook, set with moly,

Ye jested one day in,

Till your smile waxed too holy

And left your lips praying:

To the rose in the bower-place,

That dripped o’er you sleeping;

To the asphodel flower-place,

Ye walked ankle-deep in.

We pluck at your raiment,

We stroke down your hair,

We faint in our lament

And pine into air.

Fare ye well, farewell!

The Eden scents, no longer sensible,

Expire at Eden’s door.

Each footstep of your treading

Treads out some fragrance which ye knew before.

Farewell! the flowers of Eden,

Ye shall smell nevermore.

[There is silence. Adam and Eve fly on, and never look back. Only a colossal shadow, as of the dark Angel passing quickly, is cast upon the Sword-glare.

Scene.—The extremity of the Sword-glare.

Adam. Pausing a moment on this outer edge

Where the supernal sword-glare cuts in light

The dark exterior desert,—hast thou strength,

Beloved, to look behind us to the gate?

Eve. Have I not strength to look up to thy face?

Adam. We need be strong: yon spectacle of cloud

Which seals the gate up to the final doom,

Is God’s seal manifest. There seem to lie

A hundred thunders in it, dark and dead;

The unmolten lightnings vein it motionless;

And, outward from its depth, the self-moved sword

Swings slow its awful gnomon of red fire

From side to side, in pendulous horror slow,

Across the stagnant ghastly glare thrown flat

On the intermediate ground from that to this.

The angelic hosts, the archangelic pomps,

Thrones, dominations, princedoms, rank on rank,

Rising sublimely to the feet of God,

On either side and overhead the gate,

Show like a glittering and sustainèd smoke

Drawn to an apex. That their faces shine

Betwixt the solemn clasping of their wings

Clasped high to a silver point above their heads,—

We only guess from hence, and not discern.

Eve. Though we were near enough to see them shine,

The shadow on thy face were awfuller,

To me, at least,—to me—than all their light.

Adam. What is this, Eve? thou droppest heavily

In a heap earthward, and thy body heaves

Under the golden floodings of thine hair!

Eve. O Adam, Adam! by that name of Eve—

Thine Eve, thy life—which suits me little now,

Seeing that I now confess myself thy death

And thine undoer, as the snake was mine,—

I do adjure thee, put me straight away,

Together with my name! Sweet, punish me!

O Love, be just! and, ere we pass beyond

The light cast outward by the fiery sword,

Into the dark which earth must be to us,

Bruise my head with thy foot,—as the curse said

My seed shall the first tempter’s! strike with curse,

As God struck in the garden! and as he,

Being satisfied with justice and with wrath,

Did roll his thunder gentler at the close,—

Thou, peradventure, mayst at last recoil

To some soft need of mercy. Strike, my lord!

I, also, after tempting, writhe on the ground,

And I would feed on ashes from thine hand,

As suits me, O my tempted!

Adam.My beloved,

Mine Eve and life—I have no other name

For thee or for the sun than what ye are,

My utter life and light! If we have fallen,

It is that we have sinned,—we: God is just;

And, since his curse doth comprehend us both,

It must be that his balance holds the weights

Of first and last sin on a level. What!

Shall I who had not virtue to stand straight

Among the hills of Eden, here assume

To mend the justice of the perfect God,

By piling up a curse upon his curse,

Against thee—thee?

Eve.For so, perchance, thy God,

Might take thee into grace for scorning me;

Thy wrath against the sinner giving proof

Of inward abrogation of the sin:

And so, the blessed angels might come down

And walk with thee as erst,—I think they would,—

Because I was not near to make them sad

Or soil the rustling of their innocence.

Adam. They know me. I am deepest in the guilt,

If last in the transgression.


Adam.If God,

Who gave the right and joyaunce of the world

Both unto thee and me,—gave thee to me,

The best gift last, the last sin was the worst,

Which sinned against more complement of gifts

And grace of giving. God! I render back

Strong benediction and perpetual praise

From mortal feeble lips (as incense-smoke,

Out of a little censer, may fill heaven),

That thou, in striking my benumbèd hands

And forcing them to drop all other boons

Of beauty and dominion and delight,—

Hast left this well-beloved Eve, this life

Within life, this best gift between their palms,

In gracious compensation!

Eve.Is it thy voice?

Or some saluting angel’s—calling home

My feet into the garden?

Adam.O my God!

I, standing here between the glory and dark,—

The glory of thy wrath projected forth

From Eden’s wall, the dark of our distress

Which settles a step off in that drear world—

Lift up to thee the hands from whence hath fallen

Only creation’s sceptre,—thanking thee

That rather thou hast cast me out with her

Than left me lorn of her in Paradise,

With angel looks and angel songs around

To show the absence of her eyes and voice,

And make society full desertness

Without her use in comfort!

Eve.Where is loss?

Am I in Eden? can another speak

Mine own love’s tongue?

Adam.Because with her, I stand

Upright, as far as can be in this fall,

And look away from heaven which doth accuse,

And look away from earth which doth convict,

Into her face, and crown my discrowned brow

Out of her love, and put the thought of her

Around me, for an Eden full of birds,

And lift her body up—thus—to my heart,

And with my lips upon her lips,—thus, thus,—

Do quicken and sublimate my mortal breath

Which cannot climb against the grave’s steep sides

But overtops this grief.

Eve.I am renewed.

My eyes grow with the light which is in thine;

The silence of my heart is full of sound.

Hold me up—so! Because I comprehend

This human love, I shall not be afraid

Of any human death; and yet because

I know this strength of love, I seem to know

Death’s strength by that same sign. Kiss on my lips,

To shut the door close on my rising soul,—

Lest it pass outwards in astonishment

And leave thee lonely!

Adam.Yet thou liest, Eve,

Bent heavily on thyself across mine arm,

Thy face flat to the sky.

Eve.Ay, and the tears

Running, as it might seem, my life from me,

They run so fast and warm. Let me lie so,

And weep so, as if in a dream or prayer,

Unfastening, clasp by clasp, the hard tight thought

Which clipped my heart and showed me evermore

Loathed of thy justice as I loathe the snake,

And as the pure ones loathe our sin. To-day,

All day, beloved, as we fled across

This desolating radiance cast by swords

Not suns,—my lips prayed soundless to myself,

Striking against each other—“O Lord God!”

(’Twas so I prayed) “I ask Thee by my sin,

“And by thy curse, and by thy blameless heavens,

“Make dreadful haste to hide me from thy face

“And from the face of my beloved here

“For whom I am no helpmeet, quick away

“Into the new dark mystery of death!

“I will lie still there, I will make no plaint,

“I will not sigh, nor sob, nor speak a word,

“Nor struggle to come back beneath the sun

“Where peradventure I might sin anew

“Against thy mercy and his pleasure. Death,

“O death, whatever it be, is good enough

“For such as I am: while for Adam here,

“No voice shall say again, in heaven or earth,

It is not good for him to be alone.”

Adam. And was it good for such a prayer to pass,

My unkind Eve, betwixt our mutual lives?

If I am exiled, must I be bereaved?

Eve. ’Twas an ill prayer: it shall be prayed no more;

And God did use it like a foolishness,

Giving no answer. Now my heart has grown

Too high and strong for such a foolish prayer,

Love makes it strong and since I was the first

In the transgression, with a steady foot

I will be first to tread from this sword-glare

Into the outer darkness of the waste,—

And thus I do it.

Adam.Thus I follow thee,

As erewhile in the sin.—What sounds! what sounds!

I feel a music which comes straight from heaven,

As tender as a watering dew.

Eve.I think

That angels—not those guarding Paradise,—

But the love-angels, who came erst to us,

And when we said ’God,’ fainted unawares

Back from our mortal presence unto God,

(As if he drew them inward in a breath)

His name being heard of them,—I think that they

With sliding voices lean from heavenly towers,

Invisible but gracious. Hark—how soft!

Faint and tender.

Mortal man and woman,

Go upon your travel!

Heaven assist the human

Smoothly to unravel

All that web of pain

Wherein ye are holden.

Do ye know our voices

Chanting down the Golden?

Do ye guess our choice is,

Being unbeholden,

To be hearkened by you yet again?

This pure door of opal

God hath shut between us,—

Us, his shining people,

You, who once have seen us

And are blinded new!

Yet, across the doorway,

Past the silence reaching,

Farewells evermore may,

Blessing in the teaching,

Glide from us to you.

First Semichorus.

Think how erst your Eden,

Day on day succeeding,

With our presence glowed.

We came as if the Heavens were bowed

To a milder music rare.

Ye saw us in our solemn treading,

Treading down the steps of cloud,

While our wings, outspreading

Double calms of whiteness,

Dropped superfluous brightness

Down from stair to stair.

Second Semichorus.

Or oft, abrupt though tender,

While ye gazed on space,

We flashed our angel-splendour

In either human face.

With mystic lilies in our hands,

From the atmospheric bands

Breaking with a sudden grace,

We took you unaware!

While our feet struck glories

Outward, smooth and fair,

Which we stood on floorwise,

Platformed in mid-air.

First Semichorus.

Or oft, when Heaven-descended,

Stood we in our wondering sight

In a mute apocalypse

With dumb vibrations on our lips

From hosannas ended,

And grand half-vanishings

Of the empyreal things

Within our eyes belated,

Till the heavenly Infinite

Falling off from the Created,

Left our inward contemplation

Opened into ministration.


Then upon our axle turning

Of great joy to sympathy,

We sang out the morning

Broadening up the sky,

Or we drew

Our music through

The noontide’s hush and heat and shine,

Informed with our intense Divine:

Interrupted vital notes

Palpitating hither, thither,

Burning out into the æther,

Sensible like fiery motes.

Or, whenever twilight drifted

Through the cedar masses,

The globèd sun we lifted,

Trailing purple, trailing gold

Out between the passes

Of the mountains manifold,

To anthems slowly sung:

While he,—aweary, half in swoon

For joy to hear our climbing tune

Transpierce the stars’ concentric rings,—

The burden of his glory flung

In broken lights upon our wings.

[The chant dies away confusedly, and Lucifer appears.

Lucifer. Now may all fruits be pleasant to thy lips,

Beautiful Eve! The times have somewhat changed

Since thou and I had talk beneath a tree,

Albeit ye are not gods yet.

Eve.Adam! hold

My right hand strongly! It is Lucifer—

And we have love to lose.

Adam.I’ the name of God,

Go apart from us, O thou Lucifer!

And leave us to the desert thou hast made

Out of thy treason. Bring no serpent-slime

Athwart this path kept holy to our tears!

Or we may curse thee with their bitterness.

Lucifer. Curse freely! curses thicken. Why, this Eve

Who thought me once part worthy of her ear

And somewhat wiser than the other beasts,—

Drawing together her large globes of eyes,

The light of which is throbbing in and out

Their steadfast continuity of gaze,—

Knots her fair eyebrows in so hard a knot,

And down from her white heights of womanhood

Looks on me so amazed,—I scarce should fear

To wager such an apple as she plucked

Against one riper from the tree of life,

That she could curse too—as a woman may—

Smooth in the vowels.

Eve.So—speak wickedly!

I like it best so. Let thy words be wounds,—

For, so, I shall not fear thy power to hurt.

Trench on the forms of good by open ill—

For, so, I shall wax strong and grand with scorn,

Scorning myself for ever trusting thee

As far as thinking, ere a snake ate dust,

He could speak wisdom.

Lucifer.Our new gods, it seems,

Deal more in thunders than in courtesies.

And, sooth, mine own Olympus, which anon

I shall build up to loud-voiced imagery

From all the wandering visions of the world,

May show worse railing than our lady Eve

Pours o’er the rounding of her argent arm.

But why should this be? Adam pardoned Eve.

Adam. Adam loved Eve. Jehovah pardon both!

Eve. Adam forgave Eve—because loving Eve.

Lucifer. So, well. Yet Adam was undone of Eve,

As both were by the snake. Therefore forgive,

In like wise, fellow-temptress, the poor snake—

Who stung there, not so poorly! [Aside.

Eve.Hold thy wrath,

Beloved Adam! let me answer him;

For this time he speaks truth, which we should hear,

And asks for mercy, which I most should grant,

In like wise, as he tells us—in like wise!

And therefore I thee pardon, Lucifer,

As freely as the streams of Eden flowed

When we were happy by them. So, depart;

Leave us to walk the remnant of our time

Out mildly in the desert. Do not seek

To harm us any more or scoff at us,

Or ere the dust be laid upon our face,

To find there the communion of the dust

And issue of the dust,—Go!

Adam.At once, go!

Lucifer. Forgive! and go! Ye images of clay,

Shrunk somewhat in the mould,—what jest is this?

What words are these to use? By what a thought

Conceive ye of me? Yesterday—a snake!


Adam.A strong spirit.

Eve.A sad spirit.

Adam. Perhaps a fallen angel.—Who shall say!

Lucifer. Who told thee, Adam?

Adam.Thou! The prodigy

Of thy vast brows and melancholy eyes

Which comprehend the heights of some great fall.

I think that thou hast one day worn a crown

Under the eyes of God.

Lucifer.And why of God?

Adam. It were no crown else. Verily, I think

Thou’rt fallen far. I had not yesterday

Said it so surely, but I know to-day

Grief by grief, sin by sin.

Lucifer.A crown, by a crown.

Adam. Ay, mock me! now I know more than I knew:

Now I know that thou art fallen below hope

Of final re-ascent.



A spirit who expected to see God

Though at the last point of a million years,

Could dare no mockery of a ruined man

Such as this Adam.

Lucifer.Who is high and bold—

Be it said passing!—of a good red clay

Discovered on some top of Lebanon,

Or haply of Aornus, beyond sweep

Of the black eagle’s wing! A furlong lower

Had made a meeker king for Eden. Soh!

Is it not possible, by sin and grief

(To give the things your names) that spirits should rise

Instead of falling?

Adam.Most impossible.

The Highest being the Holy and the Glad,

Whoever rises must approach delight

And sanctity in the act.

Lucifer.Ha, my clay-king!

Thou wilt not rule by wisdom very long

The after generations. Earth, methinks,

Will disinherit thy philosophy

For a new doctrine suited to thine heirs,

And class these present dogmas with the rest

Of the old-world traditions, Eden fruits

And Saurian fossils.

Eve.Speak no more with him,

Beloved! it is not good to speak with him.

Go from us, Lucifer, and speak no more!

We have no pardon which thou dost not scorn,

Nor any bliss, thou seest, for coveting,

Nor innocence for staining. Being bereft,

We would be alone.—Go!

Lucifer.Ah! ye talk the same,

All of you—spirits and clay—go, and depart!

In Heaven they said so, and at Eden’s gate,

And here, reiterant, in the wilderness.

None saith, Stay with me, for thy face is fair!

None saith, Stay with me, for thy voice is sweet!

And yet I was not fashioned out of clay.

Look on me, woman! Am I beautiful?

Eve. Thou hast a glorious darkness.

Lucifer.Nothing more?

Eve. I think, no more.

Lucifer.False Heart—thou thinkest more!

Thou canst not choose but think, as I praise God,

Unwillingly but fully, that I stand

Most absolute in beauty. As yourselves

Were fashioned very good at best, so we

Sprang very beauteous from the creant Word

Which thrilled behind us, God himself being moved

When that august work of a perfect shape,

His dignities of sovran angel-hood,

Swept out into the universe,—divine

With thunderous movements, earnest looks of gods,

And silver-solemn clash of cymbal wings.

Whereof was I, in motion and in form,

A part not poorest. And yet,—yet, perhaps,

This beauty which I speak of, is not here,

As God’s voice is not here, nor even my crown—

I do not know. What is this thought or thing

Which I call beauty? Is it thought, or thing?

Is it a thought accepted for a thing?

Or both? or neither?—a pretext—a word?

Its meaning flutters in me like a flame

Under my own breath, my perceptions reel

For evermore around it, and fall off,

As if it too were holy.

Eve.Which it is.

Adam. The essence of all beauty, I call love.

The attribute, the evidence, and end,

The consummation to the inward sense,

Of beauty apprehended from without,

I still call love. As form, when colourless,

Is nothing to the eye,—that pine-tree there,

Without its black and green, being all a blank,—

So, without love, is beauty undiscerned

In man or angel. Angel! rather ask

What love is in thee, what love moves to thee,

And what collateral love moves on with thee;

Then shalt thou know if thou art beautiful.

Lucifer. Love! what is love? I lose it. Beauty and love

I darken to the image. Beauty—love!

[He fades away, while a low music sounds.

Adam. Thou art pale, Eve.

Eve.The precipice of ill

Down this colossal nature, dizzies me:

And, hark! the starry harmony remote

Seems measuring the heights from whence he fell.

Adam. Think that we have not fallen so! By the hope

And aspiration, by the love and faith,

We do exceed the stature of this angel.

Eve. Happier we are than he is, by the death.

Adam. Or rather, by the life of the Lord God!

How dim the angel grows, as if that blast

Of music swept him back into the dark.

[The music is stronger, gathering itself into uncertain articulation

Eve. It throbs in on us like a plaintive heart,

Pressing, with slow pulsations, vibrative,

Its gradual sweetness through the yielding air,

To such expression as the stars may use,

Most starry-sweet and strange! With every note

That grows more loud, the angel grows more dim,

Receding in proportion to approach,

Until he stand afar,—a shade.

Adam.Now, words.


He fades utterly away and vanishes, as it proceeds.

Mine orbèd image sinks

Back from thee, back from thee,

As thou art fallen, methinks,

Back from me, back from me.

O my light-bearer,

Could another fairer

Lack to thee, lack to thee?

Ah, ah, Heosphoros!

I loved thee with the fiery love of stars

Who love by burning, and by loving move,

Too near the throned Jehovah not to love.

Ah, ah, Heosphoros!

Their brows flash fast on me from gliding cars,

Pale-passioned for my loss.

Ah, ah, Heosphoros!

Mine orbèd heats drop cold

Down from thee, down from thee,

As fell thy grace of old

Down from me, down from me,

O my light-bearer,

Is another fairer

Won to thee, won to thee?

Ah, ah, Heosphoros,

Great love preceded loss,

Known to thee, known to thee.

Ah, ah!

Thou, breathing thy communicable grace

Of life into my light,

Mine astral faces, from thine angel face,

Hast inly fed,

And flooded me with radiance overmuch

From thy pure height.

Ah, ah!

Thou, with calm, floating pinions both ways spread,

Erect, irradiated,

Didst sting my wheel of glory

On, on before thee

Along the Godlight by a quickening touch!

Ha, ha!

Around, around the firmamental ocean

I swam expanding with delirious fire!

Around, around, around, in blind desire

To be drawn upward to the Infinite—

Ha, ha!

Until, the motion flinging out the motion

To a keen whirl of passion and avidity,

To a dim whirl of languor and delight,

I wound in gyrant orbits smooth and white

With that intense rapidity.

Around, around,

I wound and interwound,

While all the cyclic heavens about me spun.

Stars, planets, suns, and moons dilated broad,

Then flashed together into a single sun,

And wound, and wound in one:

And as they wound I wound,—around, around,

In a great fire I almost took for God.

Ha, ha, Heosphoros!

Thine angel glory sinks

Down from me, down from me—

My beauty falls, methinks,

Down from thee, down from thee!

O my light-bearer,

O my path-preparer,

Gone from me, gone from me!

Ah, ah, Heosphoros!

I cannot kindle underneath the brow

Of this new angel here, who is not thou.

All things are altered since that time ago,—

And if I shine at eve, I shall not know.

I am strange—I am slow.

Ah, ah, Heosphoros!

Henceforward, human eyes of lovers be

The only sweetest sight that I shall see,

With tears between the looks raised up to me.

Ah, ah!

When, having wept all night, at break of day

Above the folded hills they shall survey

My light, a little trembling, in the grey.

Ah, ah!

And gazing on me, such shall comprehend,

Through all my piteous pomp at morn or even

And melancholy leaning out of heaven,

That love, their own divine, may change or end,

That love may close in loss!

Ah, ah, Heosphoros!

Scene.Farther on. A wild open country seen vaguely in the approaching night.

Adam. How doth the wide and melancholy earth

Gather her hills around us, grey and ghast,

And stare with blank significance of loss

Right in our faces! Is the wind up?


Adam. And yet the cedars and the junipers

Rock slowly through the mist, without a sound,

And shapes which have no certainty of shape

Drift duskly in and out between the pines,

And loom along the edges of the hills,

And lie flat, curdling in the open ground—

Shadows without a body, which contract

And lengthen as we gaze on them.

Eve.O life

Which is not man’s nor angel’s! What is this?

Adam. No cause for fear. The circle of God’s life

Contains all life beside.

Eve.I think the earth

Is crazed with curse, and wanders from the sense

Of those first laws affixed to form and space

Or ever she knew sin.

Adam.We will not fear;

We were brave sinning.

Eve.Yea, I plucked the fruit

With eyes upturned to heaven and seeing there

Our god-thrones, as the tempter said,—not GOD.

My heart, which beat then, sinks. The sun hath sunk

Out of sight with our Eden.

Adam.Night is near.

Eve. And God’s curse, nearest. Let us travel back

And stand within the sword-glare till we die,

Believing it is better to meet death

Than suffer desolation.

Adam.Nay, beloved!

We must not pluck death from the Maker’s hand,

As erst we plucked the apple: we must wait

Until he gives death as he gave us life,

Nor murmur faintly o’er the primal gift

Because we spoilt its sweetness with our sin.

Eve. Ah, ah! dost thou discern what I behold?

Adam. I see all. How the spirits in thine eyes

From their dilated orbits bound before

To meet the spectral Dread!

Eve.I am afraid—

Ah, ah! the twilight bristles wild with shapes

Of intermittent motion, aspect vague

And mystic bearings, which o’ercreep the earth,

Keeping slow time with horrors in the blood.

How near they reach . . . and far! How grey they move—

Treading upon the darkness without feet,

And fluttering on the darkness without wings!

Some run like dogs, with noses to the ground;

Some keep one path, like sheep; some rock like trees;

Some glide like a fallen leaf, and some flow on

Copious as rivers.

Adam.Some spring up like fire;

And some coil . . .

Eve.Ah, ah! dost thou pause to say

Like what?—coil like the serpent, when he fell

From all the emerald splendour of his height

And writhed, and could not climb against the curse,

Not a ring’s length. I am afraid—afraid—

I think it is God’s will to make me afraid,—

Permitting these to haunt us in the place

Of his belovèd angels—gone from us

Because we are not pure. Dear Pity of God,

That didst permit the angels to go home

And live no more with us who are not pure,

Save us too from a loathly company—

Almost as loathly in our eyes, perhaps,

As we are in the purest! Pity us—

Us too! nor shut us in the dark, away

From verity and from stability,

Or what we name such through the precedence

Of earth’s adjusted uses,—leave us not

To doubt betwixt our senses and our souls,

Which are the more distraught and full of pain

And weak of apprehension!

Adam.Courage, Sweet!

The mystic shapes ebb back from us, and drop

With slow concentric movement, each on each,—

Expressing wider spaces,—and collapsed

In lines more definite for imagery

And clearer for relation, till the throng

Of shapeless spectra merge into a few

Distinguishable phantasms vague and grand

Which sweep out and around us vastily

And hold us in a circle and a calm.

Eve. Strange phantasms of pale shadow! there are twelve.

Thou who didst name all lives, hast names for these?

Adam. Methinks this is the zodiac of the earth,

Which rounds us with a visionary dread,

Responding with twelve shadowy signs of earth,

In fantasque apposition and approach,

To those celestial, constellated twelve

Which palpitate adown the silent nights

Under the pressure of the hand of God

Stretched wide in benediction. At this hour,

Not a star pricketh the flat gloom of heaven:

But, girdling close our nether wilderness,

The zodiac-figures of the earth loom slow,—

Drawn out, as suiteth with the place and time,

In twelve colossal shades instead of stars,

Through which the ecliptic line of mystery

Strikes bleakly with an unrelenting scope,

Foreshowing life and death.

Eve.By dream or sense,

Do we see this?

Adam.Our spirits have climbed high

By reason of the passion of our grief,

And, from the top of sense, looked over sense

To the significance and heart of things

Rather than things themselves.

Eve.And the dim twelve. . . .

Adam. Are dim exponents of the creature-life

As earth contains it. Gaze on them, beloved!

By stricter apprehension of the sight,

Suggestions of the creatures shall assuage

The terror of the shadows,—what is known

Subduing the unknown and taming it

From all prodigious dread. That phantasm, there,

Presents a lion, albeit twenty times

As large as any lion—with a roar

Set soundless in his vibratory jaws,

And a strange horror stirring in his mane.

And, there, a pendulous shadow seems to weigh—

Good against ill, perchance; and there, a crab

Puts coldly out its gradual shadow-claws,

Like a slow blot that spreads,—till all the ground,

Crawled over by it, seems to crawl itself.

A bull stands hornèd here with gibbous glooms;

And a ram likewise: and a scorpion writhes

Its tail in ghastly slime and stings the dark.

This way a goat leaps with wild blank of beard;

And here, fantastic fishes duskly float,

Using the calm for waters, while their fins

Throb out quick rhythms along the shallow air.

While images more human——

Eve.How he stands,

That phantasm of a man—who is not thou!

Two phantasms of two men!

Adam.One that sustains,

And one that strives,—resuming, so, the ends

Of manhood’s curse of labour.* Dost thou see

That phantasm of a woman?

Eve.I have seen;

But look off to those small humanities

Which draw me tenderly across my fear,—

Lesser and fainter than my womanhood,

Or yet thy manhood—with strange innocence

Set in the misty lines of head and hand.

They lean together! I would gaze on them

Longer and longer, till my watching eyes,

As the stars do in watching anything,

Should light them forward from their outline vague

To clear configuration.

[Two Spirits, of Organic and Inorganic Nature, arise from the ground.

But what Shapes

Rise up between us in the open space,

And thrust me into horror, back from hope!

Adam. Colossal Shapes—twin sovran images,

With a disconsolate, blank majesty

Set in their wondrous faces! with no look,

And yet an aspect—a significance

Of individual life and passionate ends,

Which overcomes us gazing.

O bleak sound,

O shadow of sound, O phantasm of thin sound!

How it comes, wheeling as the pale moth wheels,

Wheeling and wheeling in continuous wail

Around the cyclic zodiac, and gains force,

And gathers, settling coldly like a moth,

On the wan faces of these images

We see before us,—whereby modified,

It draws a straight line of articulate song

From out that spiral faintness of lament,

And, by one voice, expresses many griefs.

First Spirit.

I am the spirit of the harmless earth.

God spake me softly out among the stars,

As softly as a blessing of much worth;

And then his smile did follow unawares,

That all things fashioned so for use and duty

Might shine anointed with his chrism of beauty—

Yet I wail!

I drave on with the worlds exultingly,

Obliquely down the Godlight’s gradual fall;

Individual aspect and complexity

Of gyratory orb and interval

Lost in the fluent motion of delight

Toward the high ends of Being beyond sight—

Yet I wail!

Second Spirit.

I am the spirit of the harmless beasts,

Of flying things, and creeping things, and swimming;

Of all the lives, erst set at silent feasts,

That found the love-kiss on the goblet brimming,

And tasted in each drop within the measure

The sweetest pleasure of their Lord’s good pleasure—

Yet I wail!

What a full hum of life around his lips

Bore witness to the fulness of creation!

How all the grand words were full-laden ships

Each sailing onward from enunciation

To separate existence,—and each bearing

The creature’s power of joying, hoping, fearing!

Yet I wail!

Eve. They wail, beloved! they speak of glory and God,

And they wail—wail. That burden of the song

Drops from it like its fruit, and heavily falls

Into the lap of silence.

Adam.Hark, again!

First Spirit.

I was so beautiful, so beautiful,

My joy stood up within me bold to add

A word to God’s,—and, when His work was full,

To “very good” responded “very glad!”

Filtered through roses did the light enclose me,

And bunches of the grape swam blue across me—

Yet I wail!

Second Spirit.

I bounded with my panthers: I rejoiced

In my young tumbling lions rolled together:

My stag, the river at his fetlocks, poised

Then dipped his antlers through the golden weather

In the same ripple which the alligator

Left, in his joyous troubling of the water—

Yet I wail!

First Spirit.

O my deep waters, cataract and flood,

What wordless triumph did your voices render

O mountain-summits, where the angels stood

And shook from head and wing thick dews of splendour!

How, with a holy quiet, did your Earthy

Accept that Heavenly, knowing ye were worthy!

Yet I wail!

Second Spirit.

O my wild wood-dogs, with your listening eyes!

My horses—my ground-eagles, for swift fleeing!

My birds, with viewless wings of harmonies,

My calm cold fishes of a silver being,

How happy were ye, living and possessing,

O fair half-souls capacious of full blessing!

Yet I wail!

First Spirit.

I wail, I wail! Now hear my charge to-day,

Thou man, thou woman, marked as the misdoers

By God’s sword at your backs! I lent my clay

To make your bodies, which had grown more flowers:

And now, in change for what I lent, ye give me

The thorn to vex, the tempest-fare to cleave me—

And I wail!

Second Spirit.

I wail, I wail! Behold ye that I fasten

My sorrow’s fang upon your souls dishonoured?

Accursed transgressors! down the steep ye hasten,—

Your crown’s weight on the world, to drag it downward

Unto your ruin. Lo! my lions, scenting

The blood of wars, roar hoarse and unrelenting—

And I wail!

First Spirit.

I wail, I wail! Do you hear that I wail?

I had no part in your transgression—none.

My roses on the bough did bud not pale,

My rivers did not loiter in the sun;

I was obedient. Wherefore in my centre

Do I thrill at this curse of death and winter?—

Do I wail?

Second Spirit.

I wail, I wail! I wail in the assault

Of undeserved perdition, sorely wounded!

My nightingale sang sweet without a fault,

My gentle leopards innocently bounded.

We were obedient. What is this convulses

Our blameless life with pangs and fever pulses?

And I wail!

Eve. I choose God’s thunder and His angels’ swords

To die by, Adam, rather than such words.

Let us pass out and flee.

Adam.We cannot flee.

This zodiac of the creatures’ cruelty

Curls round us, like a river cold and drear,

And shuts us in, constraining us to hear.

First Spirit.

I feel your steps, O wandering sinners, strike

A sense of death to me, and undug graves!

The heart of earth, once calm, is trembling like

The ragged foam along the ocean-waves:

The restless earthquakes rock against each other;

The elements moan ‘round me—“Mother, mother”—

And I wail!

Second Spirit.

Your melancholy looks do pierce me through;

Corruption swathes the paleness of your beauty.

Why have ye done this thing? What did we do

That we should fall from bliss as ye from duty?

Wild shriek the hawks, in waiting for their jesses,

Fierce howl the wolves along the wildernesses—

And I wail!

Adam. To thee, the Spirit of the harmless earth,

To thee, the Spirit of earth’s harmless lives,

Inferior creatures but still innocent,

Be salutation from a guilty mouth

Yet worthy of some audience and respect

From you who are not guilty. If we have sinned,

God hath rebuked us, who is over us

To give rebuke or death, and if ye wail

Because of any suffering from our sin,

Ye who are under and not over us,

Be satisfied with God, if not with us,

And pass out from our presence in such peace

As we have left you, to enjoy revenge

Such as the heavens have made you. Verily,

There must be strife between us, large as sin.

Eve. No strife, mine Adam! Let us not stand high

Upon the wrong we did to reach disdain,

Who rather should be humbler evermore

Since self-made sadder. Adam! shall I speak—

I who spake once to such a bitter end—

Shall I speak humbly now who once was proud?

I, schooled by sin to more humility

Than thou hast, O mine Adam, O my king—

My king, if not the world’s?

Adam.Speak as thou wilt.

Eve. Thus, then—my hand in thine—

. . . Sweet, dreadful Spirits!

I pray you humbly in the name of God,

Not to say of these tears, which are impure—

Grant me such pardoning grace as can go forth

From clean volitions toward a spotted will,

From the wronged to the wronger, this and no more!

I do not ask more. I am ‘ware, indeed,

That absolute pardon is impossible

From you to me, by reason of my sin,—

And that I cannot evermore, as once,

With worthy acceptation of pure joy,

Behold the trances of the holy hills

Beneath the leaning stars, or watch the vales

Dew-pallid with their morning ecstasy,—

Or hear the winds make pastoral peace between

Two grassy uplands,—and the river-wells

Work out their bubbling mysteries underground,—

And all the birds sing, till for joy of song

They lift their trembling wings as if to heave

The too-much weight of music from their heart

And float it up the æther. I am ‘ware

That these things I can no more apprehend

With a pure organ into a full delight,—

The sense of beauty and of melody

Being no more aided in me by the sense

Of personal adjustment to those heights

Of what I see well-formed or hear well-tuned,

But rather coupled darkly and made ashamed

By my percipiency of sin and fall

In melancholy of humiliant thoughts.

But, oh! fair, dreadful Spirits—albeit this

Your accusation must confront my soul,

And your pathetic utterance and full gaze

Must evermore subdue me,—be content!

Conquer me gently—as if pitying me,

Not to say loving! let my tears fall thick

As watering dews of Eden, unreproached;

And when your tongues reprove me, make me smooth,

Not ruffled—smooth and still with your reproof,

And peradventure better while more sad!

For look to it, sweet Spirits, look well to it,

It will not be amiss in you who kept

The law of your own righteousness, and keep

The right of your own griefs to mourn themselves,—

To pity me twice fallen, from that, and this,

From joy of place, and also right of wail,

“I wail” being not for me—only “I sin.”

Look to it, O sweet Spirits!

For was I not,

At that last sunset seen in Paradise,

When all the westering clouds flashed out in throngs

Of sudden angel-faces, face by face,

All hushed and solemn, as a thought of God

Held them suspended,—was I not, that hour,

The lady of the world, princess of life,

Mistress of feast and favour? Could I touch

A rose with my white hand, but it became

Redder at once? Could I walk leisurely

Along our swarded garden, but the grass

Tracked me with greenness? Could I stand aside

A moment underneath a cornel-tree,

But all the leaves did tremble as alive

With songs of fifty birds who were made glad

Because I stood there? Could I turn to look

With these twain eyes of mine, now weeping fast,

Now good for only weeping,—upon man,

Angel, or beast, or bird, but each rejoiced

Because I looked on him? Alas, alas!

And is not this much woe, to cry “alas!”

Speaking of joy? And is not this more shame,

To have made the woe myself, from all that joy?

To have stretched my hand, and plucked it from the tree,

And chosen it for fruit? Nay, is not this

Still most despair,—to have halved that bitter fruit,

And ruined, so, the sweetest friend I have,

Turning the Greatest to mine enemy?

Adam. I will not hear thee speak so. Hearken, Spirits!

Our God, who is the enemy of none

But only of their sin, hath set your hope

And my hope, in a promise, on this Head.

Show reverence, then, and never bruise her more

With unpermitted and extreme reproach,—

Lest, passionate in anguish, she fling down

Beneath your trampling feet, God’s gift to us

Of sovranty by reason and freewill,

Sinning against the province of the Soul

To rule the soulless. Reverence her estate,

And pass out from her presence with no words!

Eve. O dearest Heart, have patience with my heart!

O Spirits, have patience, ‘stead of reverence,

And let me speak, for, not being innocent,

It little doth become me to be proud.

And I am prescient by the very hope

And promise set upon me, that henceforth

Only my gentleness shall make me great,

My humbleness exalt me. Awful Spirits,

Be witness that I stand in your reproof

But one sun’s length off from my happiness—

Happy, as I have said, to look around,

Clear to look up!—And now! I need not speak—

Ye see me what I am; ye scorn me so,

Because ye see me what I have made myself

From God’s best making! Alas,—peace forgone,

Love wronged, and virtue forfeit, and tears wept

Upon all, vainly! Alas, me! alas,

Who have undone myself, from all that best,

Fairest and sweetest, to this wretchedest

Saddest and most defiled—cast out, cast down—

What word metes absolute loss? let absolute loss

Suffice you for revenge. For I, who lived

Beneath the wings of angels yesterday,

Wander to-day beneath the roofless world:

I, reigning the earth’s empress yesterday,

Put off from me, to-day, your hate with prayers:

I, yesterday, who answered the Lord God,

Composed and glad as singing-birds the sun,

Might shriek now from our dismal desert, “God,”

And hear him make reply, “What is thy need,

Thou whom I cursed to-day?”


Eve.I, at last,

Who yesterday was helpmate and delight

Unto mine Adam, am to-day the grief

And curse-mete for him. And, so, pity us,

Ye gentle Spirits, and pardon him and me,

And let some tender peace, made of our pain,

Grow up betwixt us, as a tree might grow,

With boughs on both sides! In the shade of which,

When presently ye shall behold us dead,—

For the poor sake of our humility,

Breathe out your pardon on our breathless lips,

And drop your twilight dews against our brows,

And stroking with mild airs our harmless hands

Left empty of all fruit, perceive your love

Distilling through your pity over us,

And suffer it, self-reconciled, to pass!

Lucifer rises in the circle.

Lucifer. Who talks here of a complement of grief?

Of expiation wrought by loss and fall?

Of hate subduable to pity? Eve?

Take counsel from thy counsellor the snake,

And boast no more in grief, nor hope from pain,

My docile Eve! I teach you to despond

Who taught you disobedience. Look around:—

Earth spirits and phantasms hear you talk unmoved,

As if ye were red clay again and talked!

What are your words to them—your grief to them—

Your deaths, indeed, to them? Did the hand pause,

For their sake, in the plucking of the fruit,

That they should pause for you, in hating you?

Or will your grief or death, as did your sin,

Bring change upon their final doom? Behold,

Your grief is but your sin in the rebound,

And cannot expiate for it.

Adam.That is true.

Lucifer. Ay, that is true. The clay-king testifies

To the snake’s counsel,—hear him!—very true.

Earth Spirits. I wail, I wail!

Lucifer.And certes, that is true.

Ye wail, ye all wail. Peradventure I

Could wail among you. O thou universe,

That holdest sin and woe,—more room for wail!

Distant Starry Voice. Ah, ah, Heosphoros! Heosphoros!

Adam. Mark Lucifer! He changes awfully.

Eve. It seems as if he looked from grief to God

And could not see him. Wretched Lucifer!

Adam. How he stands—yet an angel!

Earth Spirits.We all wail!

Lucifer (after a pause). Dost thou remember, Adam, when the curse

Took us in Eden? On a mountain-peak

Half-sheathed in primal woods and glittering

In spasms of awful sunshine at that hour,

A lion couched, part raised upon his paws,

With his calm massive face turned full on thine,

And his mane listening. When the ended curse

Left silence in the world, right suddenly

He sprang up rampant and stood straight and stiff,

As if the new reality of death

Were dashed against his eyes, and roared so fierce,

(Such thick carnivorous passion in his throat

Tearing a passage through the wrath and fear)

And roared so wild, and smote from all the hills

Such fast keen echoes crumbling down the vales

Precipitately,—that the forest beasts,

One after one, did mutter a response

Of savage and of sorrowful complaint

Which trailed along the gorges. Then, at once,

He fell back, and rolled crashing from the height

Into the dusk of pines.

Adam.It might have been.

I heard the curse alone.

Earth Spirits.I wail, I wail!

Lucifer. That lion is the type of what I am.

And as he fixed thee with his full-faced hate,

And roared, O Adam, comprehending doom,

So, gazing on the face of the Unseen,

I cry out here between the Heavens and Earth

My conscience of this sin, this woe, this wrath,

Which damn me to this depth.

Earth Spirits.I wail, I wail!

Eve. I wail—O God!

Lucifer.I scorn you that ye wail,

Who use your petty griefs for pedestals

To stand on, beckoning pity from without,

And deal in pathos of antithesis

Of what ye were forsooth, and what ye are;—

I scorn you like an angel! Yet, one cry

I, too, would drive up like a column erect,

Marble to marble, from my heart to heaven,

A monument of anguish to transpierce

And overtop your vapoury complaints

Expressed from feeble woes.

Earth Spirits.I wail, I wail!

Lucifer. For, O ye heavens, ye are my witnesses,

That I, struck out from nature in a blot,

The outcast and the mildew of things good,

The leper of angels, the excepted dust

Under the common rain of daily gifts,—

I the snake, I the tempter, I the cursed,—

To whom the highest and the lowest alike

Say, Go from us—we have no need of thee,—

Was made by God like others. Good and fair,

He did create me!—ask him, if not fair!

Ask, if I caught not fair and silverly

His blessing for chief angels on my head

Until it grew there, a crown crystallized!

Ask, if he never called me by my name,

Lucifer—kindly said as “Gabriel”—

Lucifer—soft as “Michael!” while serene

I, standing in the glory of the lamps,

Answered “my Father,” innocent of shame

And of the sense of thunder. Ha! ye think,

White angels in your niches,—I repent,

And would tread down my own offences back

To service at the footstool? that’s read wrong!

I cry as the beast did, that I may cry—

Expansive, not appealing! Fallen so deep,

Against the sides of this prodigious pit

I cry—cry—dashing out the hands of wail

On each side, to meet anguish everywhere,

And to attest it in the ecstasy

And exaltation of a woe sustained

Because provoked and chosen.

Pass along

Your wilderness, vain mortals! Puny griefs

In transitory shapes, be henceforth dwarfed

To your own conscience, by the dread extremes

Of what I am and have been. If ye have fallen,

It is but a step’s fall,—the whole ground beneath

Strewn woolly soft with promise! if ye have sinned,

Your prayers tread high as angels! if ye have grieved,

Ye are too mortal to be pitiable,

The power to die disproves the right to grieve.

Go to! ye call this ruin? I half-scorn

The ill I did you! Were ye wronged by me,

Hated and tempted and undone of me,—

Still, what’s your hurt to mine of doing hurt,

Of hating, tempting, and so ruining?

This sword’s hilt is the sharpest, and cuts through

The hand that wields it.

Go! I curse you all.

Hate one another—feebly—as ye can!

I would not certes cut you short in hate,

Far be it from me! hate on as ye can!

I breathe into your faces, spirits of earth,

As wintry blast may breathe on wintry leaves

And lifting up their brownness show beneath

The branches bare. Beseech you, spirits, give

To Eve who beggarly entreats your love

For her and Adam when they shall be dead,

An answer rather fitting to the sin

Than to the sorrow—as the heavens, I trow,

For justice’ sake gave theirs.

I curse you both,

Adam and Eve. Say grace as after meat,

After my curses! May your tears fall hot

On all the hissing scorns o’ the creatures here,—

And yet rejoice! Increase and multiply,

Ye in your generations, in all plagues,

Corruptions, melancholies, poverties,

And hideous forms of life and fears of death,—

The thought of death being always imminent,

Immoveable and dreadful in your life,

And deafly and dumbly insignificant

Of any hope beyond,—as death itself,

Whichever of you lieth dead the first,

Shall seem to the survivor—yet rejoice!

My curse catch at you strongly, body and soul,

And He find no redemption—nor the wing

Of seraph move your way; and yet rejoice!

Rejoice,—because ye have not, set in you,

This hate which shall pursue you—this fire-hate

Which glares without, because it burns within—

Which kills from ashes—this potential hate,

Wherein I, angel, in antagonism

To God and his reflex beatitudes,

Moan ever, in the central universe,

With the great woe of striving against Love—

And gasp for space amid the Infinite,

And toss for rest amid the Desertness,

Self-orphaned by my will, and self-elect

To kingship of resistant agony

Toward the Good round me—hating good and love,

And willing to hate good and to hate love,

And willing to will on so evermore,

Scorning the past and damning the to-come—

Go and rejoice! I curse you.[Lucifer vanishes.

Earth Spirits.

And we scorn you! there’s no pardon

Which can lean to you aright.

When your bodies take the guerdon

Of the death-curse in our sight,

Then the bee that hummeth lowest shall transcend you:

Then ye shall not move an eyelid

Though the stars look down your eyes;

And the earth which ye defilèd

Shall expose you to the skies,—

“Lo! these kings of ours, who sought to comprehend you.”

First Spirit.

And the elements shall boldly

All your dust to dust constrain.

Unresistedly and coldly

I will smite you with my rain.

From the slowest of my frosts is no receding.

Second Spirit.

And my little worm, appointed

To assume a royal part,

He shall reign, crowned and anointed,

O’er the noble human heart.

Give him counsel against losing of that Eden!

Adam. Do ye scorn us? Back your scorn

Toward your faces grey and lorn,

As the wind drives back the rain,

Thus I drive with passion-strife,

I who stand beneath God’s sun,

Made like God, and, though undone,

Not unmade for love and life.

Lo! ye utter threats in vain.

By my free will that chose sin,

By mine agony within

Round the passage of the fire,

By the pinings which disclose

That my native soul is higher

Than what it chose,

We are yet too high, O Spirits, for your disdain!

Eve. Nay, beloved! If these be low,

We confront them from no height.

We have stooped down to their level

By infecting them with evil,

And their scorn that meets our blow

Scathes aright.

Amen. Let it be so.

Earth Spirits.

We shall triumph—triumph greatly

When ye lie beneath the sward.

There, our lily shall grow stately

Though ye answer not a word,

And her fragrance shall be scornful of your silence:

While your throne ascending calmly

We, in heirdom of your soul,

Flash the river, lift the palm-tree,

The dilated ocean roll,

By the thoughts that throbbed within you, round the islands.

Alp and torrent shall inherit

Your significance of will,

And the grandeur of your spirit

Shall our broad savannahs fill;

In our winds, your exultations shall be springing!

Even your parlance which inveigles,

By our rudeness shall be won.

Hearts poetic in our eagles

Shall beat up against the sun

And strike downward in articulate clear singing.

Your bold speeches our Behemoth

With his thunderous jaw shall wield.

Your high fancies shall our Mammoth

Breathe sublimely up the shield

Of Saint Michael at God’s throne, who waits to speed him:

Till the heavens’ smooth-groovèd thunder

Spinning back, shall leave them clear,

And the angels, smiling wonder,

With dropt looks from sphere to sphere,

Shall cry “Ho, ye heirs of Adam! ye exceed him.”

Adam. Root out thine eyes, Sweet, from the dreary ground!

Beloved, we may be overcome by God,

But not by these.

Eve.By God, perhaps, in these.

Adam. I think, not so. Had God foredoomed despair

He had not spoken hope. He may destroy

Certes, but not deceive.

Eve.Behold this rose!

I plucked it in our bower of Paradise

This morning as I went forth, and my heart

Has beat against its petals all the day.

I thought it would be always red and full

As when I plucked it. Is it?—ye may see!

I cast it down to you that ye may see,

All of you!—count the petals lost of it,

And note the colours fainted! ye may see!

And I am as it is, who yesterday

Grew in the same place. O ye spirits of earth,

I almost, from my miserable heart,

Could here upbraid you for your cruel heart,

Which will not let me, down the slope of death,

Draw any of your pity after me,

Or lie still in the quiet of your looks,

As my flower, there, in mine.

[A bleak wind, quickened with indistinct Human Voices, spins around the Earth-zodiac, filling the circle with its presence; and then, wailing off into the East, carries the rose away with it. Eve falls upon her face. Adam stands erect.

Adam.So, verily,

The last departs.

Eve.So Memory follows Hope,

And Life both. Love said to me, “Do not die,”

And I replied, “O Love, I will not die.

I exiled and I will not orphan Love.”

But now it is no choice of mine to die:

My heart throbs from me.

Adam.Call it straightway back!

Death’s consummation crowns completed life,

Or comes too early. Hope being set on thee

For others, if for others then for thee,—

For thee and me.

[The wind revolves from the East, and round again to the East, perfumed by the Eden rose, and full of Voices which sweep out into articulation as they pass.

Let thy soul shake its leaves

To feel the mystic wind—hark!

Eve.I hear life.

Infant Voices passing in the wind.

O we live, O we live—

And this life that we receive

Is a warm thing and a new,

Which we softly bud into

From the heart and from the brain,—

Something strange that overmuch is

Of the sound and of the sight,

Flowing round in trickling touches,

With a sorrow and delight,—

Yet is it all in vain?

Rock us softly,

Lest it be all in vain.

Youthful Voices passing.

O we live, O we live—

And this life that we achieve

Is a loud thing and a bold

Which with pulses manifold

Strikes the heart out full and fain—

Active doer, noble liver,

Strong to struggle, sure to conquer,

Though the vessel’s prow will quiver

At the lifting of the anchor:

Yet do we strive in vain?

Infant Voices passing.

Rock us softly,

Lest it be all in vain.

Poet Voices passing.

O we live, O we live—

And this life that we conceive

Is a clear thing and a fair,

Which we set in crystal air

That its beauty may be plain!

With a breathing and a flooding

Of the heaven-life on the whole,

While we hear the forests budding

To the music of the soul—

Yet is it tuned in vain?

Infant Voices passing.

Rock us softly,

Lest it be all in vain.

Philosophic Voices passing.

O we live, O we live—

And this life that we perceive

Is a great thing and a grave

Which for others’ use we have,

Duty-laden to remain.

We are helpers, fellow-creatures,

Of the right against the wrong;

We are earnest-hearted teachers

Of the truth which maketh strong—

Yet do we teach in vain?

Infant Voices passing.

Rock us softly,

Lest it be all in vain.

Revel Voices passing.

O we live, O we live—

And this life that we reprieve

Is a low thing and a light,

Which is jested out of sight

And made worthy of disdain!

Strike with bold electric laughter

The high tops of things divine—

Turn thy head, my brother, after,

Lest thy tears fall in my wine!

For is all laughed in vain?

Infant Voices passing.

Rock us softly,

Lest it be all in vain.

Eve. I hear a sound of life—of life like ours—

Of laughter and of wailing, of grave speech,

Of little plaintive voices innocent,

Of life in separate courses flowing out

Like our four rivers to some outward main.

I hear life—life!

Adam.And, so, thy cheeks have snatched

Scarlet to paleness, and thine eyes drink fast

Of glory from full cups, and thy moist lips

Seem trembling, both of them, with earnest doubts

Whether to utter words or only smile.

Eve. Shall I be mother of the coming life?

Hear the steep generations, how they fall

Adown the visionary stairs of Time

Like supernatural thunders—far, yet near,—

Sowing their fiery echoes through the hills.

Am I a cloud to these—mother to these?

Earth Spirits. And bringer of the curse upon all these.

[Eve sinks down again.

Poet Voices passing.

O we live, O we live—

And this life that we conceive

Is a noble thing and high,

Which we climb up loftily

To view God without a stain;

Till, recoiling where the shade is,

We retread our steps again,

And descend the gloomy Hades

To resume man’s mortal pain.

Shall it be climbed in vain?

Infant Voices passing.

Rock us softly,

Lest it be all in vain.

Love Voices passing.

O we live, O we live—

And this life we would retrieve,

Is a faithful thing apart

Which we love in, heart to heart,

Until one heart fitteth twain.

“Wilt thou be one with me?”

“I will be one with thee.”

“Ha, ha!—we love and live!”

Alas! ye love and die.

Shriek—who shall reply?

For is it not loved in vain?

Infant Voices passing.

Rock us softly,

Though it be all in vain.

Aged Voices passing.

O we live, O we live—

And this life we would survive,

Is a gloomy thing and brief,

Which, consummated in grief,

Leaveth ashes for all gain.

Is it not all in vain?

Infant Voices passing.

Rock us softly,

Though it be all in vain.

[Voices die away.

Earth Spirits. And bringer of the curse upon all these.

Eve. The voices of foreshown Humanity

Die off;—so let me die.

Adam.So let us die,

When God’s will soundeth the right hour of death.

Earth Spirits. And bringer of the curse upon all these.

Eve. O Spirits! by the gentleness ye use

In winds at night, and floating clouds at noon,

In gliding waters under lily-leaves,

In chirp of crickets, and the settling hush

A bird makes in her nest with feet and wings,—

Fulfil your natures now!

Earth Spirits.Agreed, allowed!

We gather out our natures like a cloud,

And thus fulfil their lightnings! Thus, and thus!

Hearken, oh hearken to us!

First Spirit.

As the storm-wind blows bleakly from the norland,

As the snow-wind beats blindly on the moorland,

As the simoom drives hot across the desert,

As the thunder roars deep in the Unmeasured.

As the torrent tears the ocean-world to atoms,

As the whirlpool grinds it fathoms below fathoms,

Thus,—and thus!

Second Spirit.

As the yellow toad, that spits its poison chilly,

As the tiger, in the jungle crouching stilly,

As the wild boar, with ragged tusks of anger,

As the wolf-dog, with teeth of glittering clangour,

As the vultures, that scream against the thunder,

As the owlets, that sit and moan asunder,

Thus,—and thus!

Eve. Adam! God!

Adam.Cruel, unrelenting Spirits!

By the power in me of the sovran soul

Whose thoughts keep pace yet with the angel’s march,

I charge you into silence—trample you

Down to obedience. I am king of you!

Earth Spirits.

Ha, ha! thou art king!

With a sin for a crown,

And a soul undone!

Thou, the antagonized,

Tortured and agonized,

Held in the ring

Of the zodiac!

Now, king, beware!

We are many and strong

Whom thou standest among,—

And we press on the air,

And we stifle thee back,

And we multiply where

Thou wouldst trample us down

From rights of our own

To an utter wrong—

And, from under the feet of thy scorn,

O forlorn,

We shall spring up like corn,

And our stubble be strong.

Adam. God, there is power in thee! I make appeal

Unto thy kingship.

Eve.There is pity in Thee,

O sinned against, great God!—My seed, my seed,

There is hope set on Thee—I cry to thee,

Thou mystic Seed that shalt be!—leave us not

In agony beyond what we can bear,

Fallen in debasement below thunder-mark,

A mark for scorning—taunted and perplext

By all these creatures we ruled yesterday,

Whom thou, Lord, rulest alway! O my Seed,

Through the tempestuous years that rain so thick

Betwixt my ghostly vision and thy face,

Let me have token! for my soul is bruised

Before the serpent’s head is.

[A vision of Christ appears in the midst of the Zodiac, which pales before the heavenly light. The Earth Spirits grow greyer and fainter.

Christ.I am here!

Adam. This is God!—Curse us not, God, any more!

Eve. But gazing so—so—with omnific eyes,

Lift my soul upward till it touch thy feet!

Or lift it only,—not to seem too proud,—

To the low height of some good angel’s feet,

For such to tread on when he walketh straight

And thy lips praise him!

Christ.Spirits of the earth,

I meet you with rebuke for the reproach

And cruel and unmitigated blame

Ye cast upon your masters. True, they have sinned;

And true their sin is reckoned into loss

For you the sinless. Yet, your innocence

Which of you praises? since God made your acts

Inherent in your lives, and bound your hands

With instincts and imperious sanctities

From self-defacement. Which of you disdains

These sinners who in falling proved their height

Above you by their liberty to fall?

And which of you complains of loss by them,

For whose delight and use ye have your life

And honour in creation? Ponder it!

This regent and sublime Humanity,

Though fallen, exceeds you! this shall film your sun,

Shall hunt your lightning to its lair of cloud,

Turn back your rivers, footpath all your seas,

Lay flat your forests, master with a look

Your lion at his fasting, and fetch down

Your eagle flying. Nay, without this law

Of mandom, ye would perish,—beast by beast

Devouring,—tree by tree, with strangling roots

And trunks set tuskwise. Ye would gaze on God

With imperceptive blankness up the stars,

And mutter, “Why, God, hast thou made us thus?”

And pining to a sallow idiocy

Stagger up blindly against the ends of life,

Then stagnate into rottenness and drop

Heavily—poor, dead matter—piecemeal down

The abysmal spaces—like a little stone

Let fall to chaos. Therefore over you

Receive man’s sceptre!—therefore be content

To minister with voluntary grace

And melancholy pardon, every rite

And function in you, to the human hand!

Be ye to man as angels are to God,

Servants in pleasure, singers of delight,

Suggesters to his soul of higher things

Than any of your highest! So at last,

He shall look round on you with lids too straight

To hold the grateful tears, and thank you well,

And bless you when he prays his secret prayers,

And praise you when he sings his open songs

For the clear song-note he has learnt in you

Of purifying sweetness, and extend

Across your head his golden fantasies

Which glorify you into soul from sense.

Go, serve him for such price! That not in vain

Nor yet ignobly ye shall serve, I place

My word here for an oath, mine oath for act

To be hereafter. In the name of which

Perfect redemption and perpetual grace,

I bless you through the hope and through the peace

Which are mine,—to the Love, which is myself.

Eve. Speak on still, Christ! Albeit thou bless me not

In set words, I am blessed in hearkening thee—

Speak, Christ!

Christ.Speak, Adam! Bless the woman, man!

It is thine office.

Adam.Mother of the world,

Take heart before this Presence! Lo, my voice,

Which, naming erst the creatures, did express

(God breathing through my breath) the attributes

And instincts of each creature in its name,

Floats to the same afflatus,—floats and heaves

Like a water-weed that opens to a wave,—

A full leaved prophecy affecting thee,

Out fairly and wide. Henceforward, arise, aspire

To all the calms and magnanimities,

The lofty uses and the noble ends,

The sanctified devotion and full work,

To which thou art elect for evermore,

First woman, wife, and mother!

Eve.And first in sin.

Adam. And also the sole bearer of the Seed

Whereby sin dieth. Raise the majesties

Of thy disconsolate brows, O well-beloved,

And front with level eyelids the To-come,

And all the dark o’ the world! Rise, woman, rise

To thy peculiar and best altitudes

Of doing good and of enduring ill,

Of comforting for ill, and teaching good,

And reconciling all that ill and good

Unto the patience of a constant hope,—

Rise with thy daughters! If sin came by thee,

And by sin, death,—the ransom-righteousness,

The heavenly life and compensative rest

Shall come by means of thee. If woe by thee

Had issue to the world, thou shalt go forth

An angel of the woe thou didst achieve,

Found acceptable to the world instead

Of others of that name, of whose bright steps

Thy deed stripped bare the hills. Be satisfied;

Something thou hast to bear through womanhood,

Peculiar suffering answering to the sin,—

Some pang paid down for each new human life,

Some weariness in guarding such a life,

Some coldness from the guarded, some mistrust

From those thou hast too well served, from those beloved

Too loyally some treason; feebleness

Within thy heart, and cruelty without,

And pressures of an alien tyranny

With its dynastic reasons of larger bones

And stronger sinews. But, go to! thy love

Shall chant itself its own beatitudes

After its own life-working. A child’s kiss

Set on thy sighing lips shall make thee glad;

A poor man served by thee shall make thee rich;

A sick man helped by thee shall make thee strong;

Thou shalt be served thyself by every sense

Of service which thou renderest. Such a crown

I set upon thy head,—Christ witnessing

With looks of prompting love—to keep thee clear

Of all reproach against the sin forgone,

From all the generations which succeed.

Thy hand which plucked the apple I clasp close,

Thy lips which spake wrong counsel I kiss close,

I bless thee in the name of Paradise

And by the memory of Edenic joys

Forfeit and lost,—by that last cypress tree,

Green at the gate, which thrilled as we came out,

And by the blessed nightingale which threw

Its melancholy music after us,—

And by the flowers, whose spirits full of smells

Did follow softly, plucking us behind

Back to the gradual banks and vernal bowers

And fourfold river-courses.—By all these,

I bless thee to the contraries of these,

I bless thee to the desert and the thorns,

To the elemental change and turbulence,

And to the roar of the estranged beasts,

And to the solemn dignities of grief,—

To each one of these ends,—and to their end

Of Death and the hereafter.

Eve.I accept

For me and for my daughters this high part

Which lowly shall be counted. Noble work

Shall hold me in the place of garden-rest,

And in the place of Eden’s lost delight

Worthy endurance of permitted pain;

While on my longest patience there shall wait

Death’s speechless angel, smiling in the east,

Whence cometh the cold wind. I bow myself

Humbly henceforward on the ill I did,

That humbleness may keep it in the shade.

Shall it be so? shall I smile, saying so?

O Seed! O King! O God, who shalt be seed,—

What shall I say? As Eden’s fountains swelled

Brightly betwixt their banks, so swells my soul

Betwixt thy love and power!

And, sweetest thoughts

Of forgone Eden! now, for the first time

Since God said “Adam,” walking through the trees,

I dare to pluck you as I plucked erewhile

The lily or pink, the rose or heliotrope

So pluck I you—so largely—with both hands,

And throw you forward on the outer earth,

Wherein we are cast out, to sweeten it.

Adam. As thou, Christ, to illume it, holdest Heaven

Broadly over our heads.

[The Christ is gradually transfigured, during the following phrases of dialogue, into humanity and suffering.

Eve.O Saviour Christ,

Thou standest mute in glory, like the sun!

Adam. We worship in Thy silence, Saviour Christ!

Eve. Thy brows grow grander with a forecast woe,—

Diviner, with the possible of death.

We worship in Thy sorrow, Saviour Christ!

Adam. How do Thy clear, still eyes transpierce our souls,

As gazing through them toward the Father-throne

In a pathetical, full Deity,

Serenely as the stars gaze through the air

Straight on each other!

Eve.O pathetic Christ,

Thou standest mute in glory, like the moon!

Christ. Eternity stands alway fronting God;

A stern colossal image, with blind eyes

And grand dim lips that murmur evermore

God, God, God! while the rush of life and death,

The roar of act and thought, of evil and good,

The avalanches of the ruining worlds

Tolling down space,—the new worlds’ genesis

Budding in fire,—the gradual humming growth

Of the ancient atoms and first forms of earth,

The slow procession of the swathing seas

And firmamental waters,—and the noise

Of the broad, fluent strata of pure airs,—

All these flow onward in the intervals

Of that reiterated sound of—God!

Which word innumerous angels straightway lift

Wide on celestial altitudes of song

And choral adoration, and then drop

The burden softly, shutting the last notes

In silver wings. Howbeit in the noon of time

Eternity shall wax as dumb as Death,

While a new voice beneath the spheres shall cry,

“God! why hast thou forsaken me, my God?”

And not a voice in Heaven shall answer it.

[The transfiguration is complete in sadness.

Adam. Thy speech is of the Heavenlies, yet, O Christ,

Awfully human are thy voice and face!

Eve. My nature overcomes me from thine eyes.

Christ. In the set noon of time shall one from Heaven,

An angel fresh from looking upon God,

Descend before a woman, blessing her

With perfect benediction of pure love,

For all the world in all its elements,

For all the creatures of earth, air, and sea,

For all men in the body and in the soul,

Unto all ends of glory and sanctity.

Eve. O pale, pathetic Christ—I worship thee!

I thank thee for that woman!

Christ.Then, at last,

I, wrapping round me your humanity,

Which, being sustained, shall neither break nor burn

Beneath the fire of Godhead, will tread earth,

And ransom you and it, and set strong peace

Betwixt you and its creatures. With my pangs

I will confront your sins; and since those sins

Have sunken to all Nature’s heart from yours,

The tears of my clean soul shall follow them

And set a holy passion to work clear

Absolute consecration. In my brow

Of kingly whiteness shall be crowned anew

Your discrowned human nature. Look on me!

As I shall be uplifted on a cross

In darkness of eclipse and anguish dread,

So shall I lift up in my piercèd hands,

Not into dark, but light—not unto death,

But life,—beyond the reach of guilt and grief,

The whole creation. Henceforth in my name

Take courage, O thou woman,—man, take hope!

Your grave shall be as smooth as Eden’s sward,

Beneath the steps of your prospective thoughts,

And, one step past it, a new Eden-gate

Shall open on a hinge of harmony

And let you through to mercy. Ye shall fall

No more, within that Eden, nor pass out

Any more from it. In which hope, move on,

First sinners and first mourners! Live and love,—

Doing both nobly because lowlily!

Live and work, strongly because patiently!

And, for the deed of death, trust it to God

That it be well done, unrepented of,

And not to loss! And thence, with constant prayers,

Fasten your souls so high, that constantly

The smile of your heroic cheer may float

Above all floods of earthly agonies,

Purification being the joy of pain!

[The vision of Christ vanishes. Adam and Eve stand in an ecstasy. The Earth-zodiac pales away shade by shade, as the stars, star by star, shine out in the sky; and the following chant from the two Earth Spirits (as they sweep back into the Zodiac and disappear with it) accompanies the process of change.

Earth Spirits.

By the mighty word thus spoken

Both for living and for dying,

We our homage-oath, once broken,

Fasten back again in sighing,

And the creatures and the elements renew their covenanting.

Here, forgive us all our scorning;

Here, we promise milder duty:

And the evening and the morning

Shall re-organize in beauty

A sabbath day of sabbath joy, for universal chanting.

And if, still, this melancholy

May be strong to overcome us,

If this mortal and unholy

We still fail to cast out from us,

If we turn upon you, unaware, your own dark influences,—

If ye tremble when surrounded

By our forest pine and palm trees,

If we cannot cure the wounded

With our gum trees and our balm trees,

And if your souls all mournfully sit down among your senses,—

Yet, O mortals, do not fear us!

We are gentle in our languor;

Much more good ye shall have near us

Than any pain or anger,

And our God’s refracted blessing in our blessing shall be given.

By the desert’s endless vigil

We will solemnize your passions,

By the wheel of the black eagle

We will teach you exaltations,

When he sails against the wind, to the white spot up in heaven.

Ye shall find us tender nurses

To your weariness of nature,

And our hands shall stroke the curse’s

Dreary furrows from the creature,

Till your bodies shall lie smooth in death and straight and slumberful.

Then, a couch we will provide you

Where no summer heats shall dazzle,

Strewing on you and beside you

Thyme and rosemary and basil,

And the yew-tree shall grow overhead to keep all safe and cool.

Till the Holy Blood awaited

Shall be chrism around us running,

Whereby, newly-consecrated,

We shall leap up in God’s sunning,

To join the spheric company which purer worlds assemble:

While, renewed by new evangels,

Soul-consummated, made glorious,

Ye shall brighten past the angels,

Ye shall kneel to Christ victorious,

And the rays around his feet beneath your sobbing lips shall tremble.

[The phantastic Vision has all passed; the Earth-zodiac has broken like a belt, and is dissolved from the Desert. The Earth Spirits vanish, and the stars shine out above.


while Adam and Eve advance into the Desert, hand in hand.

Hear our heavenly promise

Through your mortal passion!

Love, ye shall have from us,

In a pure relation.

As a fish or bird

Swims or flies, if moving,

We unseen are heard

To live on by loving.

Far above the glances

Of your eager eyes,

Listen! we are loving.

Listen, through man’s ignorances—

Listen, through God’s mysteries—

Listen down the heart of things,

Ye shall hear our mystic wings

Murmurous with loving.

Through the opal door

Listen evermore

How we live by loving!

First Semichorus.

When your bodies therefore

Reach the grave their goal,

Softly will we care for

Each enfranchised soul.

Softly and unlothly

Through the door of opal

Toward the heavenly people,

Floated on a minor fine

Into the full chant divine,

We will draw you smoothly,—

While the human in the minor

Makes the harmony diviner.

Listen to our loving!

Second Semichorus.

There, a sough of glory

Shall breathe on you as you come,

Ruffling round the doorway

All the light of angeldom.

From the empyrean centre

Heavenly voices shall repeat,

“Souls redeemed and pardoned, enter,

For the chrism on you is sweet!”

And every angel in the place

Lowlily shall bow his face,

Folded fair on softened sounds,

Because upon your hands and feet

He images his Master’s wounds.

Listen to our loving!

First Semichorus.

So, in the universe’s

Consummated undoing,

Our seraphs of white mercies

Shall hover round the ruin.

Their wings shall stream upon the flame

As if incorporate of the same

In elemental fusion;

And calm their faces shall burn out

With a pale and mastering thought,

And a steadfast looking of desire

From out between the clefts of fire,—

While they cry, in the Holy’s name,

To the final Restitution.

Listen to our loving!

Second Semichorus.

So, when the day of God is

To the thick graves accompted,

Awaking the dead bodies,

The angel of the trumpet

Shall split and shatter the earth

To the roots of the grave—

Which never before were slackened—

And quicken the charnel birth

With his blast so clear and brave

That the Dead shall start and stand erect,

And every face of the burial-place

Shall the awful, single look reflect

Wherewith he them awakened.

Listen to our loving!

First Semichorus.

But wild is the horse of Death!

He will leap up wild at the clamour

Above and beneath.

And where is his Tamer

On that last day,

When he crieth Ha, ha!

To the trumpet’s blare,

And paweth the earth’s Aceldama?

When he tosseth his head,

The drear-white steed,

And ghastlily champeth the last moon-ray—

What angel there

Can lead him away,

That the living may rule for the Dead?

Second Semichorus.

Yet a Tamer shall be found!

One more bright than seraph crowned,

And more strong than cherub bold,

Elder, too, than angel old,

By his grey eternities.

He shall master and surprise

The steed of Death.

For He is strong, and He is fain.

He shall quell him with a breath,

And shall lead him where He will,

With a whisper in the ear,

Full of fear,

And a hand upon the mane,

Grand and still.

First Semichorus.

Through the flats of Hades where the souls assemble

He will guide the Death-steed calm between their ranks,

While, like beaten dogs, they a little moan and tremble

To see the darkness curdle from the horse’s glittering flanks.

Through the flats of Hades where the dreary shade is,

Up the steep of heaven will the Tamer guide the steed,—

Up the spheric circles, circle above circle,

We who count the ages shall count the tolling tread—

Every hoof-fall striking a blinder blanker sparkle

From the stony orbs, which shall show as they were dead.

Second Semichorus.

All the way the Death-steed with tolling hoofs shall travel,

Ashen-grey the planets shall be motionless as stones,

Loosely shall the systems eject their parts coæval,

Stagnant in the spaces shall float the pallid moons:

Suns that touch their apogees, reeling from their level,

Shall run back on their axles, in wild low broken tunes.


Up against the arches of the crystal ceiling,

From the horse’s nostrils shall steam the blurting breath:

Up between the angels pale with silent feeling

Will the Tamer calmly lead the horse of Death.


Cleaving all that silence, cleaving all that glory,

Will the Tamer lead him straightway to the Throne:

“Look out, O Jehovah, to this I bring before Thee,

With a hand nail-piercèd, I who am thy Son.”

Then the Eye Divinest, from the Deepest, flaming,

On the mystic courser shall look out in fire:

Blind the beast shall stagger where It overcame him,

Meek as lamb at pasture, bloodless in desire.

Down the beast shall shiver,—slain amid the taming,—

And, by Life essential, the phantasm Death expire.


Listen, man, through life and death,

Through the dust and through the breath,

Listen down the heart of things!

Ye shall hear our mystic wings

Murmurous with loving.

A Voice from below. Gabriel, thou Gabriel!

A Voice from above. What wouldst thou with me?

First Voice. I heard thy voice sound in the angels’ song,

And I would give thee question.

Second Voice. Question me!

First Voice. Why have I called thrice to my Morning Star

And had no answer? All the stars are out,

And answer in their places. Only in vain

I cast my voice against the outer rays

Of my Star shut in light behind the sun.

No more reply than from a breaking string,

Breaking when touched. Or is she not my star?

Where is my Star—my Star? Have ye cast down

Her glory like my glory? Has she waxed

Mortal, like Adam? Has she learnt to hate

Like any angel?

Second Voice. She is sad for thee.

All things grow sadder to thee, one by one.

Angel Chorus.

Live, work on, O Earthy!

By the Actual’s tension,

Speed the arrow worthy

Of a pure ascension!

From the low earth round you,

Reach the heights above you:

From the stripes that wound you,

Seek the loves that love you!

God’s divinest burneth plain

Through the crystal diaphane

Of our loves that love you.

First Voice. Gabriel, O Gabriel!

Second Voice. What wouldst thou with me?

First Voice. Is it true, O thou Gabriel, that the crown

Of sorrow which I claimed, another claims?

That He claims that too?

Second Voice.Lost one, it is true.

First Voice. That He will be an exile from his heaven,

To lead those exiles homeward?

Second Voice.It is true.

First Voice. That He will be an exile by his will,

As I by mine election?

Second Voice.It is true.

First Voice. That I shall stand sole exile finally,—

Made desolate for fruition?

Second Voice.It is true.

First Voice. Gabriel!

Second Voice.I hearken.

First Voice.Is it true besides—

Aright true—that mine orient Star will give

Her name of “Bright and Morning-Star” to Him,—

And take the fairness of his virtue back

To cover loss and sadness?

Second Voice.It is true.

First Voice. Untrue, Untrue! O Morning Star, O Mine,

Who sittest secret in a veil of light

Far up the starry spaces, say—Untrue!

Speak but so loud as doth a wasted moon

To Tyrrhene waters. I am Lucifer.

[A pause. Silence in the stars.

All things grow sadder to me, one by one.

Angel Chorus.

Exiled human creatures,

Let your hope grow larger!

Larger grows the vision

Of the new delight.

From this chain of Nature’s

God is the Discharger,

And the Actual’s prison

Opens to your sight.


Calm the stars and golden

In a light exceeding:

What their rays have measured

Let your feet fulfil!

These are stars beholden

By your eyes in Eden,

Yet, across the desert,

See them shining still!


Future joy and far light

Working such relations,

Hear us singing gently

Exiled is not lost!

God, above the starlight,

God, above the patience,

Shall at last present ye

Guerdons worth the cost.

Patiently enduring,

Painfully surrounded,

Listen how we love you,

Hope the uttermost!

Waiting for that curing

Which exalts the wounded,

Hear us sing above you—

Exiled, but not Lost!

[The stars shine on brightly while Adam and Eve pursue their way into the far wilderness. There is a sound through the silence, as of the falling tears of an angel.

* Adam recognizes in Aquarius, the Water-bearer, and Sagittarius, the Archer, distinct types of the man bearing and the man combating,—the passive and active forms of human labour. I hope that the preceding zodiacal signs—transferred to the earthly shadow and representative purpose—of Aries, Taurus, Cancer, Leo, Libra, Scorpio, Capricornus, and Pisces, are sufficiently obvious to the reader.

Her maternal instinct is excited by Gemini.

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University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005