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The world he loved, and made For love; and oft have we obey'd
His frequent mission with delighted pinions :
And wherefore speak'st thou of destruction near?
In their true place, with the angelic choir,
They would have seen
And not inquired their Maker's breath of me:
And even the spirits' knowledge shall grow less
When all good angels left the world, ye stay'd, Stung with strange passions, and debased
By mortal feelings for a mortal maid : But ye are pardon'd thus far, and replaced With your pure equals. Hence! away! away!
And lose eternity by that delay.
Aza. And thou! if earth be thus forbidden In the decree
To us until this moment hidden,
Dost thou not err as we
Raph. I came to call ye back to your fit sphere, In the great name and at the word of God. Dear, dearest in themselves, and scarce less dear That which I came to do: till now we trod Together the eternal space; together
Let us still walk the stars. True, earth must die! Her race, return'd into her womb, must wither,
And much which she inherits: but oh! why
In their immeasurable forfeiture.
Long must I war
To be created, and to acknowledge him Who midst the cherubim
Made him as suns to a dependent star,
I loved him - beautiful he was: oh heaven! Save his who made, what beauty and what power Was ever like to Satan's! Would the hour
In which he fell could ever be forgiven!
With him, or with his God, is in your choice:
And ye to woman's — beautiful she is,
Ye cannot die;
Shall pass away,
While ye shall fill with shrieks the upper sky
Whose memory in your immortality
Shall long outlast the sun which gave them day.
The agony to which they must be heirs—
I hear the voice which says that all must die
The deep shall rise to meet heaven's overflow. Few shall be spared,
It seems; and, of that few, the race of Cain
In vain would be implored
For the remission of one hour of woe, Let us resign even what we have adored, And meet the wave, as we would meet the sword, If not unmoved, yet undismay'd, And wailing less for us than those who shall Survive in mortal or immortal thrall,
And, when the fatal waters are allay'd,
And yours to live for ever:
Or living, is but known to the great Giver.
I would not keep this life of mine of clay
Nor see ye lose a portion of his grace,
And as your pinions bear ye back to heaven, Think that my love still mounts with thee on high, Samiasa!
And if I look up with a tearless eye,
'Tis that an angel's bride disdains to weep-
Oh my heart! my heart!
Thy prophecies were true!
And yet thou wert so happy too! The blow, though not unlook'd for, falls as new: But yet depart !
For me. Away! nor weep!
Thou canst not weep; but yet
May'st suffer more, not weeping: then forget
Father and thou, archangel, thou!
Let them not meet this sea without a shore,
Noah. Peace, child of passion, peace!
Live as he wills it-die, when he ordains,
To alter his intent
For a mere mortal sorrow. Be a man!
The depth beneath us hides our own dear land,
Who, who, our tears, our shrieks, shall then command? Can we in desolation's peace have rest?
Oh God! be thou a God, and spare
Yet while 'tis time!
Renew not Adam's fall:
Mankind were then but twain,
But they are numerous now as are the waves
And the tremendous rain, [graves, Whose drops shall be less thick than would their Were graves permitted to the seed of Cain.
Noah. Silence, vain boy! each word of thine's a crime.
Angel! forgive this stripling's fond despair.
Raph. Seraphs! these mortals speak in passion : Ye! Who are, or should be, passionless and pure,
May now return with me.
And aliens from your God, Farewell!
Japh. Alas! where shall they dwell? Hark, hark! Deep sounds, and deeper still, Are howling from the mountain's bosom: There's not a breath of wind upon the hill,
Yet quivers every leaf, and drops each blossom: Earth groans as if beneath a heavy load.
Noah. Hark, hark! the sea-birds cry!
In clouds they overspread the lurid sky, And hover round the mountain, where before Never a white wing, wetted by the wave, Yet dared to soar,
Even when the waters wax'd too fierce to brave.
Soon it shall be their only shore,
And then, no more! Japh.
The sun! the sun! He riseth, but his better light is gone, And a black circle, bound
His glaring disk around,
Proclaim's earth's last of summer days hath shone !
It cometh! hence, away!
Leave to the elements their evil prey!
How darest thou look on that prophetic sky, And seek to save what all things now condemn, In overwhelming unison
With just Jehovah's wrath !
Juph. Can rage and justice join in the same path? Noah. Blasphemer! darest thou murmur even now? Raph. Patriarch, be still a father! smooth thy brow: Thy son, despite his folly, shall not sink: He knows not what he says, yet shall not drink
With sobs the salt foam of the swelling waters; But be, when Passion passeth, good as thou,
Nor perish like Heaven's children with Man's
Aho. The tempest cometh; Heaven and Earth
Between our strength and the Eternal Might!
Sam. But ours is with thee: we will bear ye far To some untroubled star, Where thou and Anah shalt partake our lot:
And if thou dost not weep for thy lost earth, Our forfeit heaven shall also be forgot. [birth! Anah. Oh my dear father's tents, my place of And mountains, land, and woods! when ye are not, Who shall dry up my tears?
Raph. Rebel! thy words are wicked as thy deeds Shall henceforth be but weak: the flaming sword, Which chased the first-born out of Paradise,
Still flashes in the angelic hands.
Aza. It cannot slay us: threaten dust with death, And talk of weapons unto that which bleeds. What are thy swords in our immortal eyes?
Raph. The moment cometh to approve thy strength;
And learn at length
How vain to war with what thy God commands: Thy former force was in thy faith.
Enter Mortals, flying for refuge.
The heavens and earth are mingling-God! oh God!
Hark! even the forest beasts howl forth their prayer! The dragon crawls from out his den,
To herd, in terror, innocent with men ; And the birds scream their agony through air. Yet, yet, Jehovah! yet withdraw thy rod Of wrath, and pity thine own world's despair! Hear not Man only but all Nature plead ! Raph. Farewell, thou earth! ye wretched sons of
I cannot, must not, aid you. 'Tis decreed ! [Exit RAPHAEL. Japh. Some clouds sweep on as vultures for their
prey, While others, fix'd as rocks, await the word At which their wrathful vials shall be pour'd. No azure more shall robe the firmament, Nor spangled stars be glorious: Death hath risen: In the Sun's place a pale and ghastly glare Hath wound itself around the dying air. '
Aza. Come, Anah ! quit this chaos-founded prison, To which the elements again repair,
To turn it into what it was: beneath
Its mother's-Let the coming chaos chafe
The vast known and immeasurable unknown.
And shall I, for a little gasp of breath,
No; let me die, as I have lived, in faith,
Where shall we fly?
Not to the mountains high;
For now their torrents rush, with double roar, To meet the ocean, which, advancing still, Already grasps each drowning hill,
Nor leaves an unsearch'd cave.
Enter a Woman.
Woman. Oh, save me, save! Our valley is no more:
My father and my father's tent,
My brethren and my brethren's herds,
The pleasant trees that o'er our noonday bent
[This poem carries with it the peculiar impress of the writer's genius. It displays great vigour, and even a severity of style, throughout; which is another proof, if proof were needed, that elevation of writing is to be obtained only by a rigid regard to simplicity. It may be perused without shocking the feelings of the sensitive, or furnishing an object for the discriminating morality of the Lord Chancellor. Lord Byron has evidently endeavoured to sustain the interest of this poem, by depicting natural but deep drawn thoughts, in all their freshness and intensity, with as little fictitious aid as possible. Nothing is circumlocutory: there is no going about and about to enter at length upon his object, but he impetuously rushes into it at once. All over the poem there is a gloom cast suitable to the subject: an ominous fearful hue, like that which Poussin has flung over his inimitable picture of the Deluge. We see much evil, but we dread more. All is out of earthly keeping, as the events of the time are out of the course of nature. Man's wickedness, the perturbed creation, fear-struck mortals, demons passing to and fro in the earth, an overshadowing solemnity, and unearthly loves, form together the materials. That it has faults is obvious: prosaic passages, and too much tedious soliloquising: but there is the vigour and force of Byron to fling into the scale against these: there is much of the sublime in description, and the beautiful in poetry. Prejudice, or ignorance, or both, may condemn it; but, while true poetical feeling exists amongst us, it will be pronounced not unworthy of its distinguished
It appears that this is but the first part of a poem ; but it is likewise a poem, and a fine one too, within itself. We confess that we see little or nothing objectionable in it, either as to theological orthodoxy, or general human feeling. It is solemn, lofty, fearful, wild, tumultuous, and shadowed all over with the darkness of a dreadful disaster. Of the angels who love the daughters of men we see little, and know less and not too much of the love and passion of the fair lost mortals. The inconsolable despair preceding and accompanying an incomprehensible catastrophe pervades the whole composition; and its expression is made sublime by the noble strain of poetry in which it is said or sung.- WILSON.
This Mystery" has more poetry and music in it than any of Lord Byron's dramatic writings since "Manfred;" and has also the peculiar merit of throwing us back, in a great degree, to the strange and preternatural time of whichit professes to treat. It is truly, and in every sense of the word, a meeting of " Heaven and Earth: " angels are seen ascending and descending, and the windows of the sky are opened to deluge the face of nature. We have an impassioned picture of the strong and devoted attachment inspired into the daughters of men by angel forms, and have placed before us the emphatic picture of "woman wailing for her demon lover." There is a like conflict of the passions as of the elements — all wild, chaotic, uncontrollable, fatal; but there is a discordant harmony in all this a keeping in the colouring and the time. In handling the unpolished page, we look upon the world before the Flood, and gaze upon a doubtful blank, with only a few straggling figures, part human and part divine; while, in the expression of the former, we read the fancies,
ethereal and lawless, that lifted the eye of beauty to the skies, and, in the latter, the human passions that" drew an gels down to earth." JEFFREY.
Among all the wonderful excellences of Milton, nothing surpasses the pure and undisturbed idealism with which he has drawn our first parents, so completely human as to excite our most ardent sympathies, yet so far distinct from the common race of men as manifestly to belong to a higher and uncorrupted state of being In like manner, his Paradise is formed of the universal productions of nature-the flowers, the fruits, the trees, the waters, the cool breezes, the soft and sunny slopes, the majestic hills that skirt the scene; yet the whole is of an earlier, a more prolific, a more luxuriant vegetation: it fully comes up to our notion of what the earth might have been before it was "cursed of its Creator." This is the more remarkable, as Milton himself sometimes destroys, or at least mars, the general effect of his picture, by the introduction of incongruous thoughts or images. The poet's passions are, on occasions, too strong for his imagination, drag him down to earth, and, for the sake of some ill-timed allusion to some of those circumstances, which had taken possession of his mighty mind, he runs the hazard of breaking the solemn enchantment with which he has spell-bound our captive senses. Perhaps, of later writers, Lord Byron alone has caught the true tone, in his short drama called "Heaven and Earth." Here, notwithstanding that we cannot but admit the great and manifold delinquencies against correct taste, particularly some perfectly ludicrous metrical whimsies, yet all is in keeping - all is strange, poetic, oriental; the lyric abruptness, the prodigal accumulation of images in one part, and the rude simplicity in others above all, the general tone of description as to natural objects, and of language and feeling in the scarcely mortal beings which come forth upon the scene, seem to throw us upward into the age of men before their lives were shortened to the narrow span of three-score years and ten, and when all that walked the earth were not born of woman. MILMAN.
The Mystery of "Heaven and Earth" is conceived in the best style of the greatest masters of poetry and painting. It is not unworthy of Dante, and of the mighty artist to whom we have alluded. As a picture of the last deluge, it is incomparably grand and awful. The characters, too, are invested with great dignity and grace. Nothing can be more imposing and fascinating than the haughty,and imperious, and passionate beauty of the daughter of Cain; nor any thing more venerable than the mild but inflexible dignity of the patriarch Noah, We trust that no one will be found with feelings so obtuse, with taste so perverted, or with malignity so undisguised, as to mar the beauties of pictures like these, by imputing to their author the cool profession of those sentiments which he exhibits as extorted from perishing mortals, in their last instant of despair and death. Such a poem as this, if read aright, is calculated, by its lofty passion and sublime conceptions, to exalt the mind and to purify the heart beyond the power of many a sober homily. It will remain an imperishable monument of the transcendent talents of its author; whom it has raised, in our estimation, to a higher pitch of pre-eminence than he ever before attained.-M. Mag.]
THE ILLUSTRIOUS GOETHE
A STRANGER PRESUMES TO OFFER THE HOMAGE
OF A LITERARY VASSAL TO HIS LIEGE LORD, THE FIRST OF EXISTING WRITERS,
WHO HAS CREATED THE LITERATURE OF HIS OWN COUNTRY,
AND ILLUSTRATED THAT OF EUROPE.
THE UNWORTHY PRODUCTION WHICH THE AUTHOR VENTURES TO INSCRIBE TO HIM
IN publishing the following Tragedies I have only to repeat, that they were not composed with the most remote view to the stage. On the attempt made by the managers in a former instance, the public opinion has been already expressed. With regard to my own private feelings, as it seems that they are to stand for nothing, I shall say nothing.
For the historical foundation of the following compositions the reader is referred to the Notes.
The Author has in one instance attempted to preserve, and in the other to approach, the "unities;" conceiving that with any very distant departure from them, there may be poetry, but can be no drama.
[On the original MS. Lord Byron has written:-" Mem. Ravenna, May 27. 1521.-I began this drama on the 13th of January, 1821; and continued the two first acts very slowly, and by intervals. The three last acts were written since the 13th of May, 1821 (this present month); that is to say, in a fortnight." The following are extracts from Lord Byron's diary and letters :
January 13. 1821. Sketched the outline and Dram. Pers. of an intended tragedy of Sardanapalus, which I have for some time meditated. Took the names from Diodorus Siculus, (I know the history of Sardanapalus, and have known it since I was twelve years old.) and read over a passage in the ninth volume of Mitford's Greece, where he rather vindicates the memory of this last of the Assyrians. Carried Teresa the Italian translation of Grillparzer's Sappho. She quarrelled with me, because I said that love was not the loftiest theme for a tragedy; and, having the advantage of her native language, and natural female eloquence, she overcame my fewer arguments. I believe she was right. I must put more love into Sardanapalus' than I intended."
"May 25. I have completed four acts. I have made Sardanapalus brave, (though voluptuous, as history represents him,) and also as amiable as my poor powers could render him. I have strictly preserved all the unities hitherto, and mean to continue them in the fifth, if possible; but NOT for the stage."
May 30. By this post I send you the tragedy. You will remark that the unities are all strictly preserved. The scene passes in the same hall always the time, a summer's night, about nine hours or less; though it begins before sunset, and ends after sunrise. It is not for the stage, any more than the other was intended for it; and I shall take better care this time that they don't get hold on 't."
"July 14. I trust that Sardanapalus' will not be mistaken for a political play; which was so far from my intention, that I thought of nothing but Asiatic history. My object
He is aware of the unpopularity of this notion in present English literature; but it is not a system of his own, being merely an opinion, which, not very long ago, was the law of literature throughout the world, and is still so in the more civilised parts of it. But "nous avons changé tout cela," and are reaping the advantages of the change. The writer is far from conceiving that any thing he can adduce by personal precept or example can at all approach his regular, or even irregular predecessors; he is merely giving a reason why he preferred the more regular formation of a structure, however feeble, to an entire abandonment of all rules whatsoever. Where he has failed, the failure is in the architect,—and not in the art. 4
has been to dramatise, like the Greeks (a modest phrase), striking passages of history and mythology. You will find all this very unlike Shakspeare; and so much the better in one sense, for I look upon him to be the worst of models, though the most extraordinary of writers. It has been my object to be as simple and severe as Alfieri, and I have broken down the poetry as nearly as I could to common language. The hardship is that, in these times, one can neither speak of kings nor queens without suspicion of politics or personalities. I intended neither."
July 22. Print away, and publish. I think they must own that I have more styles than one. • Sardanapalus ' is, however, almost a comic character: but, for that matter, so is Richard the Third. Mind the unities, which are my great object of research. I am glad Gifford likes it as for the million, you see I have carefully consulted any thing but the taste of the day for extravagant coups de théâtre.'
Sardanapalus was published in December, 1821, and was received with very great approbation.]
2 ["Well knowing myself and my labours, in my old age, I could not but refect with gratitude and diffidence on the expressions contained in this dedication, nor interpret them but as the generous tribute of a superior genius, no less original in the choice than inexhaustible in the materials of his subjects." GOETHE.]
3["Sardanapalus" originally appeared in the same volume with The Two Foscari."]
["In this preface," (says Mr. Jeffrey) Lord Byron renews his protest against looking upon any of his plays as having been composed with the most remote view to the stage; and, at the same time, testifies in behalf of the unities, as essential to the existence of the drama-according to what was till lately, the law of literature throughout the world, and is still so in the more civilised parts of it.' We do not think these opinions very consistent; and we think that