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To stir his secret pain without avail;
For all who knew and loved him then perceived That there was drawn an adamantine veil
Between his heart and mind,—both unrelieved Wrought in his brain and bosom separate strife. Some said that he was mad, others believed
That memories of an antenatal life
From God's displeasure, like a darkness, fell
By mortal fear or supernatural awe :
"But through the soul's abyss, like some dark
Through shattered mines and caverns underground, Rolls, shaking its foundations; and no beam
"Of joy may rise, but it is quenched and drowned In the dim whirlpools of this dream obscure. Soon its exhausted waters will have found
“ A lair of rest beneath thy spirit pure, Athanase!-in one so good and great, Evil or tumult cannot long endure."
So spake they, idly of another's state
Men held with one another; nor did he,
Another, not himself, he to and fro
That which he knew not, how it galled and bit His weary mind, this converse vain and cold; For like an eyeless nightmare grief did sit
Upon his being; a snake which fold by fold Pressed out the life of life, a clinging fiend Which clenched him if he stirred with deadlier hold ;
And so his grief remained—let it remain untold.*
* The Author was pursuing a fuller development of the ideal character of Athanase, when it struck him that in an attempt at extreme refinement and analysis, his conceptions might be betrayed into the assuming a morbid character. The reader will judge whether he is a loser or gainer by this difference.-Author's Note.
FRAGMENTS OF PRINCE ATHANASE.❤
PRINCE ATHANASE had one beloved friend,
* The idea Shelley had formed of Prince Athanase was a good deal modelled on Alastor. In the first sketch of the poem he named it Pandemos and Urania. Athanase seeks through the world the one whom he may love. He meets in the ship in which he is embarked, a lady, who appears to him to embody his ideal of love and beauty. But she proves to be Pandemos, or the earthly and unworthy Venus, who, after disappointing his cherished dreams and hopes, deserts him. Athanase, crushed by sorrow, pines and dies. “On his death-bed, the lady, who can really reply to his soul, comes and kisses his lips."-The Death-bed of Athanase. The poet describes her
Her hair was brown, her spherèd eyes were brown,
Yet when the spirit flashed beneath, there came
This slender note is all we have to aid our imagination in shaping out the form of the poem, such as its author imaged.
With his wise words; and eyes whose arrowy
Shone like the reflex of a thousand minds.
He was the last whom superstition's blight
Had spared in Greece-the blight that cramps and blinds,
And in his olive bower at Enoe
Had sat from earliest youth. Like one who finds
A fertile island in the barren sea,
One mariner who has survived his mates
With soul-sustaining songs, and sweet debates Of ancient lore, there fed his lonely being: "The mind becomes that which it contemplates,"
And thus Zonoras, by for ever seeing
A bloodier power than ruled thy ruins then,
Was grass-grown-and the unremembered tears
And as the lady looked with faithful grief
And blighting hope, who with the news of death Struck body and soul as with a mortal blight, She saw beneath the chestnuts, far beneath,
An old man toiling up, a weary wight;
Of the wood fire, and round his shoulders fall,
And Athanase, her child, who must have been Then three years old, sat opposite and gazed In patient silence.
SUCH was Zonoras; and as daylight finds
Thus through his age, dark, cold, and tempest-tost