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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1653. Robert Southey to Walter Savage Landor, 13 July 1809 ⁠* 

16.

When the broad Ocean on Ladurlad’s head,
Had closed & arch’d him oer,
With steady tread he held his way
Adown the sloping shore.
The dark-green waves with emerald hue
Imbue the beams of day;
And on the wrinkled sand below.
Rolling their mazy network to & fro,
Light shadows shift & play.
The hungry shark at scent of prey
Toward Ladurlad darted,
Beholding then that human form erect,
How like a God the depths he trod
Appalld the sea-wolf started
And in his fear departed
Onward Ladurlad went with heart elate
And now hath reachd the ancient Citys gate

Wondering awhile he stood to gaze
Upon the works of elder days.
The brazen portals open stood
Even as the fearful multitude
Had left them when they fled
Before the rising flood.
High overhead sublime
The mighty arch its storied vault outspread
Which dwarfd the puny piles of younger time.
With the deeds of days of yore
The ample arch was sculpturd oer
And many a godlike form there met his eye,
And many an emblem dark of mystery.
Thro these wide portals oft had Bali rode
Triumphant from his proud abode,
When in his greatness he bestrode
The Aullay, hugest of four-footed kind,
The Aullay-horse that in his force
With elephantine trunk could bind
And lift the elephant, & on the wind
Whirl him away, with sway & swing
Even like a pebble from the practised sling.

Those streets which never since the days of yore
By human footstep had been visited,
These streets which never more
A human foot shall tread,
Ladurlad trod. In sunlight & sea-green
The thousand palaces were seen
Of that proud city whose superb abodes
Seemd reard by Giants for the immortal Gods.
How silent & how beautiful they stand
Like Kings of Nature, – the eternal rocks
Themselves not firmer. Neither hath the sand
Drifted within their gates & choakd their doors,
Nor slime defild their pavements & their floors
Did then the Ocean wage
His war for love & envy, not in rage
O thou fair City, that he spares thee thus?
Art thou Varounins capital & Court
Where all the Sea-Gods for delight resort,
A place too godlike to be held by us
The poor degenerate children of the earth?
A feeble wretched race of dwarfish birth.
So thought Ladurlad, & he lookd around,
Weening to hear the sound
Of mermaids shell, & song
Of choral throng, from some imperial hall
Wherein the Immortal Powers at festival
Their high carousals keep.
But all is silence dread,
Silence profound & dead
The everlasting stillness of the deep.

Thro many a solitary street
And silent market-place & lonely square,
Armd with the mighty curse, behold him fare.
And now his feet attain the imperial fane
Where Bali held of old his aweful reign
What once had been the Garden spread around,
Fair Gardens, once which wore perpetual green
Where all sweet flowers thro all the year were found
And all fair fruits were thro all seasons seen
A place of Paradise where each device
Of emulous Art with Nature sought to vie,
And Nature on her part
Displayd new powers wherewith to vanquish Art
The Swerga-God himself with envious eye
Surveyd those peerless Gardens in their prime
Nor ever did the Lord of Light
Who circles Earth & Heaven upon his way
Behold from eldest time a goodlier sight
Than where the groves which Bali in his might
Made for his chosen palace of solace & delight

It was a Garden still beyond all price
Even yet it was a place of Paradise
For where the mighty Ocean could not spare
There had he with his own creation
Sought to repair his work of devastation
And here were coral bowers
And grots of madrepores,
And beds of sponge as soft & fair
As moss which erst grew there.
And here were living flowers
Which like a bud compacted
Their purple cups contracted
And now in open blossom spread.
Stretched like green anthers many a seeking head
And arborets of jointed stone were there,
And plants of fibres fine as silkworms thread
Yea beautiful as mermaids golden hair
Upon the waves dispread;
Others that like the broad banana growing
Raisd their long wrinkled leaves of purple hue
Like streamers wide out-flowing.
And whatsoeer the depths of Ocean hide
From human eyes, Ladurlad there espied,
Trees of the deep, & shrubs & fruits, & flowers
As fair as ours
Wherewith the Sea-Nymphs love their locks to braid,
When to their Fathers hall at festival
Repairing, they in emulous array
Their charms display
To grace the banquet & the solemn day.

The golden fountains had not ceasd to flow,
And where they mingled with the briny sea,
There was a sight of wonder & delight
To see the fish, like birds in air
Above Ladurlad flying.
Round those strange waters they repair;
Their scarlet fins outspread & flying
They float with gentle motion there;
And now upon those little wings,
As if to dare forbidden things
With xxx wilful purpose bent,
Swift as an arrow from a bow
They dart across, & to & fro
In rapid glance like lightning go
Thro that unwonted element.
Almost at scenes so wonderous fair
Ladurlad had forgot
The mighty cause which led him there;
His busy eye was every where,
His mind had lost all thought,
His heart surrendered to the joys
Of sight was happy as a boys.
But soon the awakening thought recurs
Of him who in the sepulchres
Hopeless of human aid in chains is laid,
And her who on the shore
By night & day her weary watch will keep
Till she shall see them issue from the deep.

Now hath Ladurlad reached the Court
Of the Great Palace of the King; its floor
Was of the solid rock, & there before
The imperial door
A mighty Image on the steps was laid,
Of stature huge, of countenance serene;
A crown & sceptre at his feet were laid;
One hand a scroll displayd,
The other pointed there, that all might see,
My name is Death, it said,
In mercy have the Gods appointed me.
Two brazen gates beneath him night & day
Stood open; & within them you behold
Descending steps which in the living stone
Were hewn, a spacious way
Down to the Chambers of the Kings of old.

Trembling with hope the adventurous man descends
The sea green light of day
Not far along the vault extended;
But where the slant reflection ended
Another light was seen
Of red & fiery hue,
That with the water blended
And gave the secrets of the Tombs to view

Deep in the marble rock the Hall
Of Death was hollowed out, a chamber wide
Low-roofd & long. On either side
Each in his own alcove & on his throne
The Kings of old were seated; in his hand
Each held the sceptre of command
From whence across the scene of endless night
A carbuncle diffused its everlasting light

So well had the embalmers done their part
With spice & precious unguents to imbue
The perfect corpse, that each had still the hue
Of living man; & every limb was still
Supple & firm & full, as when of yore
Its motion answered to the moving will.
The robes of royalty which once they wore
Long since had mouldered off & left them
Naked upon their thrones behold them there
Statues of actual flesh. – a fearful sight
Their large & ray less eyes
Dimly reflecting to that gem-born light,
Glazd, fixd & meaningless, yet opend wide
Their ghastly balls belied
The mockery of life in all beside.

But if amid these Chambers drear
Death were a sight of shuddering & of fear
Life was a thing of stranger horror here
For at the farther end in yon alcove
Where Bali should have lain had he obeyd
Mans common lot, behold Ereenia laid
Strong fetters link him to the rock; his eye
Now rolls & widens as with effort vain
He strives to break the chain,
Now seems to brood upon his misery:
Before his place of durance, on the floor
Coil couchant upon coil a serpent lay
One of the mighty monsters of the deep,
Whom Lorrinite encountering on the way
There stationed his perpetual guard to keep
In the sport of wanton power she charmd him there
As if to mock the Glendoveers despair.

With red & kindling eye
The enormous Snake beholds
A living man draw nigh,
And rushing on his folds
Stretches & stoops his head from side to side
His dreadful teeth unsheathd, his jaws extended wide
Naked Ladurlad stood, yet not for that
Dismayd, the Curse was his strong panoply.
In haste he glances round with eager eye
If chance he might espy
Weapon wherewith to meet the arduous fight.
Exulting at the sight
Fallen on the throne its lifeless lord beside
The broad moon-bending scymetar he spied,
And the death-doing crees
Whose very blade had lain so many an age in peace.

On both he seizes, one in either hand
Lo! he advances to that dreadful foe,
And full upon his head he deals the blow.
But not as if thro yielding air,
Past the descending scymeter,
Its deadened way the heavy water broke;
And that great serpent clothd with scale on scale
As in impenetrable mail
Uninjured might have met its mightiest stroke;
Aslant the monster turnd his head
And with his armed jaws outspread
Wide for their banquet seizd Ladurlads side.
As easily as in the blithesome hour
Of spring a child doth crop the meadow flower.
So easily had then those armed jaws
Snapt him in twain, but for the mighty power
Which had exempted him from Natures laws.

Strange power of charms! for arms of strongest steel
That ever yet were forged by human hand
Might not those fangs withstand;
Yet harmless on his naked side they glide
Their grip inflicts no bruise within
Nor have their keen points edge razed the tender skin.
Up rose the snake, & round the impassive foe
With supple motion wreathd his lengthening coils;
Then tightened all their folds with stress & strain.
Nought would the raging Tygers strength avail
If once involved with those dreadful coils {mighty toils};
The armd Rhinoceros so claspd, in vain
Had trusted to his hide of rugged mail.
His bones all broken & the breath of life
Driven out from his crushd lungs in that unequal strife.

Ereenia groand in anguish at the sight
Of this dread fight. Once more the Glendoveer
Essayd to break his bonds, & fears
For that brave spirit who had sought him here
Stung him to wilder strugglings. From the rock
Half up he raisd himself; with might & main
Pluckd at the adamantine chain,
And now with long & unrelaxing strain
In obstinate effort of indignant strength
Labourd & strove in vain
Till his immortal sinews faild at length,
And yielding with an inward groan to Fate
He let himself again
Fall on his prison bed of stone.
Body & chain, alike, with lifeless weight,
There motionless he lay
And watchd the end of that portentous fray.

Claspt in the coils of his huge enemy
Behold Ladurlad stand
Uninjurd, undismayed,
He dropt the useless scymetar to take
The crees in his right hand
And with its short sharp blade essayd
Between the jointed scales to stab the snake
Slight hurt that little weapon made
In the huge bulk of his involving foe,
Yet blood was on the blade;
Ladurlad saw it tinge with purple stain
The water, & again he drove the blow.
The briny water entering in the wound
Spurrd the fierce snake with prick of sudden pain
A moment he relaxd in every round,
Then knit his coils again with closer strain,
And forcing forward bore him to the ground

Struggling they lay in mortal fray
All day, while day was in the upper sphere,
For light of day
And natural darkness never entered here.
All night with unabated might
They waged the unremitting fight.
In vain on that impenetrable foe
The angry Serpent still essays to bite;
In vain Ladurlad still with many a blow
The incumbent Snake assails,
The crees glides off with baffled stroke
Upon the impervious scales,
Or gliding in to reach the skin
Gives wounds which weaken less than they provoke

A second day a second night
They grappled still in useless fight.
The third comes on, the fourth is gone.
Another comes, another goes,
And still no respite, no repose
But day & night, & night & day
Struggling in mortal grief they lay,
And still they wage with mutual rage
The unremitting fray.
But when the seventh morning came,
The Serpents worn & weary frame
At length in that dread combat fails,
And weaker weaker every hour
He yields beneath strong Natures power
For now the Curse prevails

The exhausted Snake no more can keep
His painful watch; his eyes opprest
Are fainting for their natural sleep
His living flesh & blood must rest
The snake must sleep or die.
Then he full faint & languidly
Unwreathes his rings to fly.
And slowly oer the floor he trails
His stiff & heavy length of scales.
But that unweariable foe
Whom sleep came never nigh,
Pursues him still with many a blow.
He will not let the combat cease;
No respite, not a moments peace
He gives, & plants at last the crees
Within the monsters eye.
That mortal blow concludes the fight.
No more the spell of Lorrinite
Can hold the monster in his agony.
Death breaks her spell: he turns for flight
His pangs supply the strength to fly,
And darting from the cell
He rushes to the upper light
There undisturbd to die.

So! cried Ladurlad, when he sees himself
Rid of the dreadful foe,
That obstinate work is done. One labour more!
Awhile he stood & eyed
Ereenias chain, & tried
The rivets, deep in-driven. Then from the floor
The scymetar he took, in both his hands
Uplifted, & with mighty stroke
Hewd at the chain; the baser metal yields
To its fine edge; & lo the Glendoveer
Rises & snaps the half severed links, & stands
Freed from his broken bands

______

17.

This is the appointed night
The night of joy & consecrated mirth
When from his judgement-seat in Padalon
By Yamens throne,
Bali goes forth, that he may walk the earth
Unseen, & hear his name
Still hymnd & honourd by the grateful voice
Of humankind, & in his fame rejoice.
Therefore from door to door & street to street
With willing feet
Shaking their fire brands the glad children run;
Bali, great Bali they acclaim
Whereer they run they bear the mighty name
Whereer they meet
Bali, great Bali still their choral tongues repeat
Therefore at every door the votive flames
Thro pendant lanthorns sheds its painted light
And rockets hissing upward thro the sky
Fall like a shower of stars
From Heavens black canopy.
Therefore on yonder mountainous temple height
The brazen cauldron blazes thro the night.
Huge as a ship that travels the main sea
Is that capacious brass, its wick as tall
As is the mast of some great admiral.
Ten thousand votaries bring
Camphor & ghee to feed the sacred flame,
And while thro regions round the nations see
Its fiery pillar curling high in heaven
Bali, great Bali! they exclaim
For ever hallowed to his blessed name
Honour & praise to him for evermore be given.

Why art thou not among the festive throng
Bali, O Mighty One! to hear thy fame?
Still as of yore with pageantry & song
The glowing streets along
They celebrate thy name
Bali, great Bali! still
The grateful habitants of earth acclaim
Bali! great Bali! still
The ringing walls & echoing towers proclaim.
From yonder mountain the portentous flame
Still blazes to the nations as before,
All things appear to human eyes the same,
As perfect as of yore,
To human eyes, – but how unlike to thine
For thou wert wont to see
The Company divine
That with their presence came to honour thee
For all the blessed ones of mortal birth
Who have been clothed with immortality
From the eight-corners of the Earth
From the seven Worlds assembling, all
Wont to attend the solemn festival.
Then did thine eyes behold
The wide air peopled with that glorious train
Now mayst thou seek the blessed ones in vain
For Earth & Air are now beneath the Rajahs reign.

Therefore the Mighty One hath walk’d the earth
In sorrow & solitude to night,
The sound of human mirth
To him is no delight;
He turns away from that ungrateful sight,
Hallowed not now by visitants divine;
And there he bends his melancholy way,
Where in yon full-orbd moons refulgent light
The golden towers of his old city shine
Above the silver sea. The mighty Chief
There bent his way in grief
As if sad thought indulgd would work their own relief

There he beholds upon the sand
A lonely Maiden in the moonlight stand.
The sea{land}-breeze lifts her locks of jet,
The waves around her polishd ancles play,
Her bosom with the salt sea-spray is wet;
Her arms were crost unconsciously to fold
That bosom from the cold,
While statue-like she seems her watch to keep
Gazing intently on the restless deep.

Seven miserable days had Kalyal there
From earliest dawn till evening watchd the deep.
Six nights within the chamber of the rock
Had laid her down & found in prayers
That comfort which she sought in vain from sleep
But when the seventh night came,
Never should she behold her father more
The wretched Maiden said in her despair;
Yet would not quit the shore,
Nor turn her eyes one moment from the sea,
Never before
Had Kalyal watchd it so impatiently,
Never so eagerly had hoped before,
As now when she believed & said all hope was oer.

Beholding her how beautiful she stood
In that strange solitude,
Bali from his invisibility
Had x issued then to know her cause of woe.
But that in the air beside her he espied
Two powers of evil for her hurt allied,
Foul Arvalan & dreadful Lorrinite
The Mighty One they could not see,
And marking with what demon-like delight
They kept their innocent prey in sight
He waits expecting what the end may be.

She starts – there is a loud & strange commotion!
It seems as if some monster lashd the ocean –
And lo the glittering spray
Rises like dust beneath a whirlwinds sway.
Appalld the Maiden stood,
Anon the mighty uproar dies away.
The foam showers up no more,
And floating many a rood
A monster, hugest of the ocean brood,
Weltering & lifeless drifts toward the shore.
Backward she starts in fear before the flood,
And when the waves retreat
They leave their hideous burthen at her feet.

She ventures to approach with timid tread.
She starts & half draws back in fear,
Then stops & stretches forth her head
To see if that huge Snake indeed be dead.
Now growing bold the Maid advances near
And when she views his bloody scales, & sees
Still in his eye the deadly crees
Infixed & deeply driven,
She lifts her hands exultingly
In gratitude to Heaven.
Then spreading them towards the sea,
While joyful tears bedim her streaming eyes,
Come! come my Father – come to me!
Ereenia come! she cries.
Lo! from the opening deep they rise
And to her Fathers arms the happy Kalyal flies.

She turnd from him to meet with beating heart
The Glendoveers embrace,
Now turn to me, for mine thou art!
Foul Arvalan exclaimd, his loathsome face
Came forth & from the air
In fleshy form he burst
Alway in terror & despair
Had Kaylal seen that form & face accurst
But yet so sharp a pang had neer
Shot with a thrill like death thro all her frame,
As now when in her hour of joy the Spectre came

Vain is resistance now,
The fiendish laugh of Lorrinite is heard
And at her dreadful word
The Asuras once again appear
And seize Ladurlad & the Glendoveer –
Hold your accursed hands!
A voice exclaimd, whose dread commands
Were feard thro all the realms of Padalon,
And there among them in the midnight air
The presence of the mighty Bali shone,
He making manifest his mightiness
Put forth on every side an hundred arms,
And seizd the Sorceress, maugre all her charms
Her & her fiendish ministers he caught
With force as irresistible as fate,
And that unhappy soul to whom
The Almighty Rajahs power availeth not
Living to avert, nor dead to mitigate his righteous doom
Help – help – Kehama – Father help! he cried –
But Bali tarried not to abide
That mightier one, – with irresistible feet
He stampt & cleft the earth: it opened wide
And gave him way to his own judgement seat.
Down like a plummet to the world below
He sunk & bore his prey
To righteous punishment & endless woe.

_________

18.

The Earth by Balis feet divided
Closed oer his way, as to the judgement seat
He plunged & bore his prey.
Scarce had the shock subsided,
When darting from the Swergas heavenly heights
Kehama like a thunderbolt alights.
In wrath he came, a bickering flame
Flashd from his eyes which made the moonlight dim,
And passion forcing way from every limb
Like furnace smoke with terrors wrapt him round.
He smote the ground,
Earth trembled underneath the dreadful stroke
Again in sunder riven.
He hurld in rage his whirling weapon down.
But lo the flamy chuckra to his feet
Returnd, by some resisting force redriven,
And from the abyss the voice of Bali came.
Not yet O Rajah hast thou won
The realms of Padalon!
Earth & the Swerga are thine own.
But till Kehama shall subdue the throne
Of Hell, in torments Yemen holds his son.

Fool that he is! in torments let him lie!
Kehama, wrathful at his son, replied.
But what am I
That thou shouldst brave me? – Kindling in his pride
The dreadful Rajah cried.
Ho! Yamen! Hear me! God of Padalon
Prepare thy throne
And let the Amreeta cup
Be ready for my lips when I anon
Triumphantly shall take my seat thereon
And plant upon thy neck my royal feet.

In voice like thunder thus the Rajah cried
Impending oer the abyss with menacing hand
Put forth, as in the action of command
And eyes which darted their red anger down.
Then drawing back, he let the earth subside
And as his wrath relaxd, surveyd
Thoughtful & silently the Maid.
Her eye the while was on the farthest sky,
Where like a meteor, up the etherial height
Ereenia rose, & past away from sight.
Never had she so joyfully
Beheld the coming of the Glendoveer.
Dear as he was & he deserved to be,
As now she saw him rise & disappear.
Come now what will, within her heart said she
For thou art safe, & what should Kalyal fear?

Meantime the Almighty Rajah, late
In power & majesty & wrath cl arrayd,
Had laid his terrors by,
And gazed upon the Maid.
Pride could not quit his eye,
Nor that relentless nature from his front
Depart, yet whoso had beheld him there,
Had felt some admiration mixd with dread
And might have said,
That sure he seemd to be the Lord of Men
Less than the greatest that he could not be
Who carried in his port such might & majesty

In fear no longer for the Glendoveer,
Now toward the Rajah Kalyal glanced her eyes
As if to ask what doom awaited her;
Once raised & they revert not, for surprize
As tho with fascination held them there,
So strange it was to see the change
Of purport in that all-commanding brow
That thoughtfully was bent upon her now.
Wondering, she gazd, the while her Fathers eye
Was fixd upon Kehama haughtily:–
It spake defiance to him, high disdain,
Stern patience unsubduable by pain,
And pride triumphant over agony
Ladurlad, said the Rajah, thou & I
Alike have done the will of Destiny
Unknowing each to what the impulse tended
But now that over Earth & Heaven my reign
Is stablished & the ways of Fate are plain
Before me, here our enmity is ended.
I take away the curse. As this he said
The fire which in Ladurlads heart & brain
Was burning, fled, & left him free from pain.
So rapidly his torments were departed
That at the sudden ease he started
As with a shock, & to his head
His hands up-fled
Like one who felt thro every failing limb
The power & sense of life forsaking him.

Then turning to the Maid the Rajah cried,
O Virgin above all of mortal birth
Favourd alike in beauty & in worth,
And in the glories of thy destiny,
Now let thy happy heart exult with pride,
For Fate hath chosen thee
To be Kehamas bride
To be the Queen of Heaven & Earth
And of whatever worlds beside
Infinity may hide. For I can see
The writing which at thy nativity
All knowing Nature wrought upon thy brain,
In branching veins which to the gifted eye,
Map out the mazes of futurity.
There is it written, Maid, that thou shalt share
The Amreeta cup, that drink divine
Which giveth immortality.
Come Maiden mine.
High-fated one ascend the subject sky,
And by Kehamas side
Sit on the Swerga throne his equal bride.

Oh never – never – Father! Kalyal cried,
It is not as he saith, it cannot be, –
I – I – his bride?
Nature is never false – he wrongeth her
My heart belies such lines of destiny, –
There is no other true interpreter!

At that reply Kehamas darkening brow
Bewrayed the anger which he yet supprest.
Counsel thy daughter, – tell her thou art now
Free from thy curse, he said, & bid her bow
In thankfulness to Fates benign behest –
Bid her her stubborn will restrain
For Destiny at last must be obeyed,
And tell her while obedience is delayd
Thy Curse will turn again.

Rajah, Ladurlad cried, she needeth not
My counsel; she hath answered as she ought
Talk not to us of Destiny,
For tho all other things
Were subject to the starry influencings,
And bowd submissive to thy tyranny,
The virtuous heart & absolute will are free.
Thus in their wisdom did the Gods decree
When they created man. Let come what will
This is our rock of strength: in every ill, –
Sorrow – oppression, pain & agony,
The spirit of the good is unsubdued,
And suffer as they may they triumph still.

Obstinate fools exclaimd the offen Dreadful One
Fate & my pleasure must be done
And ye resist in vain,
Take your fit guerdon till we meet again
So saying his vindictive hand he flung
Towards them, filld with curses, then on high
Aloft he sprung & vanished thro the sky.

_____

19.

The Rajah scattering curses as he rose
Soard to the Swerga & resumd his throne.
Not for his own redoubled agony
Which now thro heart & brain
With renovated pain
Rushd to its seat, Ladurlad breathes that groan.
That groan is for his child; he groand to see
The lovely one defil’d with leprosy,
Which as the Enemy vindictive fled
Oer all her frame with quick contagion spread.
She wondering at events so passing strange,
And filld with hope & fear
And joy to see the Tyrant disappear,
And glad expectance of her Glendoveer,
Perceivd not in herself the hideous change.
His burning pain she thought, had forced the groan
Her father breathd, his agonies alone
Were present to her mind, she claspt her knees
Wept for his Curse, & did not feel her own.

Nor when she saw her plague, did her good heart,
True to itself, even for a moment fail.
Ha! Rajah, – with disdainful smile she cries
Mighty & wise & wicked as thou art
Shall thy blind vengeance act a friendly part!
Shall I not thank thee for this scurf & scale
Of dire deformity, whose loathsomeness,
Safer than panoply of strongest mail,
Arms me against all foes? Oh – better so,
Better such foul disgrace
Than that this innocent face
Should tempt thy wooing, .. that I need not dread;
Nor ever impious foe
Will offer outrage now, nor farther woe
Will beauty draw on my unhappy head –
Safe thro the unholy world may Kalyal go!

Her face in virtuous pride
Was lifted to the skies.
As him & his poor vengeance she defied.
But earthward as she ceasd, she turned her eyes
As if she sought to hide
The tear which in her own despite would rise? ..
Did then the thought of her own Glendoveer
Call forth that natural tear?
Was it a womans fear
A thought of earthly love which troubled her?
Like yon thin cloud along the moonlight sky
That flits before the wind
And leaves no trace behind
The womanly pang past over Kalyals mind
This is a loathsome sight to human eye,
Half shrinking at herself the Maiden thought,
Will it be so to him? – oh surely not!
The immortal Powers who see
Thro the poor wrapping of mortality,
Behold the soul, the beautiful soul within,
Exempt from age & withering malady,
And undeformd while pure & free from sin.
A loathsome sight, – but not to eyes divine –
Ereenia not to thine!

The wrongful thought of fear, the womanly pain
Had past away, her heart was calm again.
She raisd her head expecting now to see
The Glendoveer appear
Where hath he fled, quoth she
That he should tarry now? Oh had she known
Whither the adventurous Son of Heaven was flown
Strong as her spirit was it had not borne
The aweful thought, nor dar’d to hope for his return.

For he in search of Seevas throne was x gone
To tell his tale of wrong,
To let the dread Destroyer know
That tyranny reignd paramount below.
In search of Seevas own abode,
The daring one began his heavenly road,
Oh wild emprize! above the farthest skies
He hoped to rise!
Him who thron’d beyond the reach of thought
The Alone, the Inaccessible he sought!
Oh wild emprize! for when in days of yore
For proud preeminence of power
Brama & Veeshnoo wild with rage contended
And Seeva in his might
Their dread contention ended
Before their sight
In form a fiery column did he tower,
Whose head above the highest height extended,
Whose base below the deepest depth descended.
Downward its depth to sound
Veeshnoo a thousand years explord
The fathomless profound
And yet no base he found,
Upward to reach its head
Ten myriad years the ambitious Brama soar’d
And still as up he fled
Above him still the Immeasurable spread;
The rivals ownd their Lord
And trembled & adord..
How shall the Glendoveer attain
What Brama & what Veeshnoo sought in vain.

Neer did such thought of lofty daring enter
Celestial Spirits mind.. Oh wild adventure
That throne to find!
For he must leave behind
This World that in the centre
Within its salt sea girdle lies confin’d;
Yea the seven Earths, that each with its own Ocean,
Ring clasping ring, compose the mighty round.
What power of motion
In less than endless years shall bear him there
{Along the limitless extent}
To the utmost bound of the remotest spheres?
What strength of wing
Suffice to pierce the golden Firmament
That closes all within?
Yet he hath past the measureless extent
And pierced the golden Firmament.
For Faith hath given him power, & Space & Time
Vanish before that energy sublime.
Nor doth eternal Night
And outer Darkness check his resolute flight.
By strong desire thro all he makes his way
Till Seeva’s seat appears; – behold Mount Calasay.

Behold the Silver Mountain! round about
Seven ladders stand, so high the aching eye
Seeking their top in vain amid the sky
Might deem they led from earth to highest heaven.
Ages would pass away
And Worlds with age decay,
Ere one whose patient feet from ring to ring
Must win their upward way
Could reach the summit of Mount Calasay.
But that strong power which nervd his wing
That all-surmounting will,
Intensity of faith & holiest love
Sustaind Ereenia still,
And he hath gaind the plain, the sanctuary above.

Lo there the Silver Bell
That self-sustaind hangs buoyant in the air,
Lo the broad Table there too bright
For mortal sight,
From whose four sides the bordering gems unite
Their hamonizing rays,
In one mid fount of many-colourd light.
The stream of splendour, flashing as it flows
Plays round & feeds the stem of yon celestial Rose
Where is the Sage whose wisdom can declare
The hidden things of that mysterious flower,
The secret Triangle is there
Holding the Emblem which no Tongue may tell.
Is this the Heaven of Heavens where Seeva’s self doth dwell?

Here first the Glendoveer
Felt his wing flag & paus’d upon his flight.
Was it that fear came over him when here
He saw the imagined throne appear?
Not so for his immortal sight
Endured the Table’s light.
Distinctly he beheld all things around,
And doubt & wonder rose within his mind
That this was all he found.
Howbeit he raisd his voice & spake,
There is Oppression in the world below,
Earth groans beneath the yoke, yea in her woe
She asks if the Avengers eye is bland.
Awake O Lord awake!
Too long thy vengeance sleepeth! Holy One
Put thou thy terrors on for mercy’s sake
And strike the blow in justice to mankind

So as he pray’d, interior faith he felt
His spirit it seem’d to melt
With ardent yearnings of increasing love
Upward he turnd his eyes
As if there should be something yet above,
Let me not, Seeva, seek in vain! he cries
Thou art not here, – for how should these contain thee
Thou art not here, – for how should I sustain thee
But thou whereer thou art
Canst hear the voice of prayer
Canst hear the humble heart
Thy dwelling who can tell,
Or who, O Lord, hath seen thy secret throne?
But thou art not alone,
Not unapproachable!
O all-embracing Mind
Thou who art every where,
When all who seek shall find,
Hear me O Seeva! hear the supplicants prayer!

So saying up he sprang
And struck the Bell which self-suspended, hung
Before the mystic Rose.
From side to side the silver tongue
Melodious swung, & far & wide
Soul-thrilling tones of heavenly music rung.
Abashd confounded,
It left the Glendoveer, –
Yea all astounded.
In overpowering fear & deep dismay.
For when that Bell had sounded
The Rose with all the Mysteries it surrounded
The Bell, the Table & Mount Calasay
The Holy Hill itself with all thereon,
When as a morning dream before the day
Dissolves away, they faded & were gone.

Where shall he rest his wing, where turn for flight,
For all around is Light,
Primal, essential, all-pervading Light!
Heart cannot think, nor tongue declare
Nor eyes of Angel bear
That glory, unimaginably bright;
The Sun himself had seemd
A speck of darkness there
Amid that Light of Light.

Down fell the Glendoveer.
Down thro all regions to our mundane sphere
He fell; but in his ear
A voice which from within him came was heard,
The indubitable word
Of Him to whom all secret things are known,
Go ye who suffer, go to Yamens throne,
He hath the remedy for every woe
He setteth right whateer is wrong below. [1] 

__________________________

[MS torn] more sections will conclude the poem, & I expected to have finished them six weeks ago, but since my mind has been in a right state my body has not. My summer cold is upon me, & I lie abed as late as I possibly can, because the moment I wake it wakes with me, & it is better to be asleep than to be wholly employed in sneezing & blowing an excoriated nose. About half the next section however is written, & a weeks work, as soon as I get a weeks comfort, will carry me triumphantly to the end.

Scott was detained so long in London that I could not accompany him back to Edinburgh as we intended. In May I could have gone, & he was detained till the end of June. My visit therefore is prorogued sine die, – but probably it will take place early in the winter. His bookseller Ballantyne was here lately, & his advice to me was to sell the copy right of whatever I wrote, because he said booksellers repaid themselves by selling off shares of the copy-right, – more persons were thus interested in the success of the book, & consequently greater efforts were made to sell it. This may be true, but it is a truth which is not applicable to my case, for it is utterly impossible that the Poem should become popular now, – the copy right therefore is worth little or nothing at present, & my yet if it be as good as I believe it to be, there will come a time when it has its reward. The better way I think will be to print it in a pocket volume, & let it take its chance. 200 pages will hold the poem & about 150 more the notes.

Saving the obstinate catarrh which comes every year for six or eight weeks with the warm weather, – we are going on well. Thank you for your Letters to G. Riquelmi, [2]  – it vexes me that you should have spoken unjustly of the Portugueze, a people whom I know & love as much as you do the Spaniards. – I have offered to defend Frere against the friends of Sir John Moore, in the shape of a reviewal of James Moores books, [3]  in the Quarterly, & if this offer be accepted I shall make some use of these letters of yours. Wordsworth has written upon the Cintra Convention & the affairs of Spain, [4]  – in spite of a difficult style you will admire his true eloquence & true philosophy.

God bless you

RS.

Keswick. July 13. 1809.


Notes

* Address: To/ Walter Savage Landor Esqr/ 9. South Parade/ Bath/ Single Sheet
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: Victoria and Albert Museum, National Art Library Manuscripts, MS Forster 48 G.31 1/18–23
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey’s The Curse of Kehama (London, 1810), Books 16–19. For the text, and for other manuscript drafts, see volume 4 of Robert Southey: Poetical Works 1793–1810, gen ed. Lynda Pratt, 5 vols (London, 2004). BACK

[2] In Three Letters written in Spain to Don Francisco Riquelme (1809), Landor gave his views on the war in the peninsula from the perspective of one involved in the fighting. BACK

[3] John Moore (1761–1809; DNB), the British commander of the British forces in the Peninsular, was killed in battle at Corunna on 16 January 1809 after a disastrous retreat. Southey was highly critical of Moore’s conduct, accusing him, for example, of forming ‘unjust and self-paralysing prejudices against the Spanish people’, Edinburgh Annual Register for 1809, 2.1 (1811), 479. James Moore (1762–1860; DNB), defended his elder brother’s conduct in A Narrative of the Campaign of the British Army in Spain (1809). Southey did not write an article on this subject. BACK

[4] A defeated French army was allowed by the British to evacuate Portugal under the terms of the Convention of Cintra (30 August 1808). On 27 December 1808 and 13 January 1809 Wordsworth published, in The Courier, an article condemning the Convention. In May 1809 Longmans published the article as a pamphlet: Concerning the Relations of Great Britain, Spain, and Portugal, to Each Other, and to the Common Enemy, at this Crisis; and Specifically as Affected by the Convention of Cintra. BACK

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August 2013