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Did wander darkling in the eternal space,

Rayless, and pathless; and the icy earth

Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;

Morn came, and went—and came and brought no day,

And men forgot their passions in the dread

Of this their desolation: and all hearts

Were chilled into a selfish prayer for light:

And they did live by watchfires—and the thrones,

The palaces of crowned kings—the huts,

The habitations of all things which dwell,

Were burnt for beacons; cities were consumed,

And men were gathered round their blazing homes

To look once more into each other's face;

Happy were those who dwelt within the eye

Of the volcanos, and their mountain-torch:.

A fearful hope was all the world contained;

Forests were set on fire—but hour by hour

They fell and faded—and the crackling trunks

Extinguished with a crash—and all was black.

The brows of men by the despairing light

Wore an unearthly aspect, as by fits

The flashes fell upon them; some lay down

And hid their eyes and wept; and some did rest

Their chins upon their clenched hands, and smiled;

And others hurried to and fro, and fed

VOL. III. H I** ,

Their funeral piles with fuel, and looked up

With mad disquietude on the dull sky,

The pall of a past world; and then again

With curses cast them down upon the dust,

And gnashed their teeth and howled; the wild birds shrieked,

And, terrified, did flutter on the ground,

And flap their useless wings; the wildest brutes

Came tame and tremulous; and vipers crawled

And twined themselves among the multitude,

Hissing, but stingless—they were slain for food;

And war, which for a moment was no more,

Did glut himself again; a meal was bought

With blood, and each sate sullenly apart

Gorging himself in gloom: no love was left;

All earth was but one thought—and that was death,

Immediate and inglorious; and the pang

Of famine fed upon all entrails—men

Died, and their bones were tombless as their flesh.;

The meagre by the meagre were devoured;

Even dogs assailed their masters, all save one,

And he was faithful to a corse, and kept

The birds and beasts and famished men at bay,

Till hunger clung them, or the drooping dead

Lured their lank jaws! himself sought out no food,

But with a piteous and perpetual moan

And a quick desolate cry, licking the hand

Which answered not with a caress—he died.

The crowd was famished by degrees; but two

Of an enormous city did survive,

And they were enemies; they met beside

The dying embers of an altar-place,

Where had been heaped a mass of holy things

For an unholy usage; they raked up,

And shivering scraped with their cold skeleton hands

The feeble ashes, and their feeble breath

Blew for a little life, and make a flame

Which was a mockery; then they lifted up

Their eyes as it grew lighter, and beheld

Each other's aspects—saw, and shrieked, and died—

Even of their mutual hideousness they died,

Unknowing who he was upon whose brow

Famine had written fiend. The world was void,

The populous and the powerful was a lump,

Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless—

A lump of death—a chaos of hard clay,

The rivers, lakes, and ocean all stood still,

And nothing stirred within their silent depths:

Ships sailorless lay rotting on the sea,

And their masts fell down piecemeal; as they dropped

They slept on the abyss without a surge—

i The waves were dead; the tides were in their grave,

The moon their mistress had expired before;

The winds were withered in the stagnant air,
And the clouds perished; darkness had no need
Of aid from them—She was the universe.



Prostrate in the dust
Those walls were laid, and towns and temples stood
Tottering in frightful ruins, as the flame
Had left them, black and bare; and through the streets?
All with the recent wreck of war bestrewn,
Helmet and turban, scymitar and sword,
Christian and Moor in death promiscuous lay,
Each where they fell; and blood flakes, parched and

Like the dry slime of some receding flood;
And half-burnt bodies, which allured from far
The wolf and raven, and to impious food .
Tempted the houseless dog.

A thrilling pang,
A sweat like death, a sickness of the soul
Came over Roderick. Soon they past away.
And admiration in their stead arose,

Stem joy, and inextinguishable hope,
With wrath, and hate, and sacred vengeance now
Indissolubly linked. O valiant race,
O people excellently brave, he cried,
True Goths ye fell, and faithful to the last;
Though overpowered, triumphant, and in death
Unconquered! Holy be your memories!
Blessed and glorious now and evermore
Be your heroic names I—Led by the sound,
As thus he cried aloud, a woman came
Toward him from the ruins. For the love
Of Christ, she said, lend me a little while
Thy charitable help I—Her words, her voice,
Her look, more horror to his heart conveyed
Than all the havoc round: for though she spake
With the calm utterance of despair, in tones
Deep-breathed and low, yet never sweeter voice
Poured forth its hymns in ecstacy to heaven.
Her hands were bloody, and her garments stained
With blood, her face with blood and dust defiled.
Beauty and youth, and grace and majesty,
Had every charm of form and feature given;
But now upon her rigid countenance
Severest anguish set a fixedness
Ghastlier than death.

She led him through the streets

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