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When the sunset sleeps
Upon its snow.

THE EARTH.
And the weak day weeps

That it should be so.
O gentle Moon, the voice of thy delight
Fails on me like thy clear and tender light
Soothing the seaman, borne the summer night

Through isles for ever calm;
O gentle Moon, thy crystal accents pierce
The caverns of my pride's deep universe,
Charming the tiger joy, whose tramplings fierce

Made wounds which need thy balm.
Panthea. I rise as from a bath of sparkling water,
A bath of azure light, among dark rocks,
Out of the stream of sound.
Ione.

Ah me ! sweet sister,
The stream of sound has ebbed away from us,
And you pretend to rise out of its wave,
Because your words fall like the clear soft dew
Shaken from a bathing wood-nymph's limbs and hair.
Panthea, Peace, peace ! a mighty power, which is as

darkness,
Is rising out of Earth, and from the sky
Is showered like night, and from within the air
Bursts, like eclipse which had been gathered up
Into the pores of sunlight : the bright visions,
Wherein the singing spirits rode and shone,
Gleam like pale meteors through a watery night.

lone. There is a sense of words upon mine ear.
Panthea. A universal sound like words : Oh! list

DEMOGORGON.
Thou, Earth, calm empire of a happy soul,

Sphere of divinest shapes and harmonies,
Beautiful orb! gathering as thou dost roll
The love which paves thy path along the skies.

THE EARTH.
I hear: I am as a drop of dew that dies.

DEMOGORGON.
Thou Moon, which gazest on the nightly Earth

With wonder, as it gazes upon thee;
Whilst each to men, and beasts, and the swift birth
Of birds, is beauty, love, calm, harmony:

THE Moon.
I hear : I am a leaf shaken by thee !

DEMOGOP.GON.
Ye kings of suns and stars ! Dæmons and Gods,

Ætherial Dominations! who possess
Elysian, windless, fortunate abodes

Beyond Heaven's constellated wilderness

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A VOICE FROM ABOVE.
Our great Republic hears; we are blest, and bless.

DEMOGORGON.
Ye happy dead! whom beams of brightest verse

Are clouds to hide, not colours to portray,
Whether your nature is that universe
Which once ye saw and suffered-
A VOICE FROM BENEATH.

Or as they
Whom we have left, we change and pass away.

DEMOGORGON.
Ye elemental Genii, who have homes

From man's high mind even to the central stone
Of sullen lead ; from Heaven's star-fretted domes
To the dull weed some sea-worm battens on:

A CONFUSED VOICE.
We hear: thy words waken Oblivion.

DEMOGORGON.
Spirits ! whose homes are flesh: ye beasts and birds,

Ye worms and fish; ye living leaves and buds;
Lightning and wind; and ye untameable herds,
Meteors and mists, which throng air's solitudes.

A VOICE.
Thy voice to us is wind among still woods.

DEMOGORGON.
Man, who wert once a despot and a slave;

A dupe and a deceiver; a decay;
A traveller from the cradle to the grave
Through the dim night of this immortal day :

ALL
Speak! thy strong words may never pass away.

DEMOGORGON.
This the day, which down the void abysm
At the Earth-born's spell yawns for heaven's despotism,

And conquest is dragged captive through the deep;
Love, from its awful throne of patient power
In the wise heart, from the last giddy hour

Of dread endurance, from the slippery steep,
And narrow verge of crag-like agony, springs
And folds over the world its healing wings.
Gentleness, Virtue, Wisdom, and Endurance,
These are the seals of that most firm assurance

Which bars the pit over Destruction's strength :
And if, with infirm hand, Eternity,
Mother of many acts and hours, should free

The serpent that would clasp her with his length,
These are the spells by which to re-assume
An empire o'er the disentangled doom.

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To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite;
To forgive wrongs darker than death or night;

To defy Power, which seems omnipotent;
To love, and bear; to hope till Hope creates
From its own wreck the thing it contemplates

Neither to change, nor falter, nor repent;
This, like thy glory, Titan ! is to be
Good, great and joyous, beautiful and free;
This is alone Life, Joy, Empire, and Victory!

THE CENCI.

A TRAGEDY IN FIVE ACT S.

Dedication

TO LEIGH HUNT, ESQ.
MY DEAR FRIEND,

I INSCRIBE with your name, from a distant country,
and after an absence whose months have seemed years, this the
latest of my literary efforts.

Those writings which I have hitherto published, have been little else than visions which impersonate my own apprehensions of the beautiful and the just. I can also perceive in them the literary defects incidental to youth and impatience; they are dreams of what ought to be, or may be. The drama which I now present to you is a sad reality. I lay aside the presumptuous attitude of an instructor, and am content to paint, with such colours as my own heart furnishes, that which has been

Had I known a person more highly endowed than yourself with all that it becomes a man to possess, I had solicited for this work the ornament of his name. One more gentle, honourable, innocent and brave; one of more exalted toleration for all who do and think evil, and yet himself more free from evil; one who knows better how to receive, and how to confer a benefit, though he must ever confer far more than he can receive ; one of simpler, and, in the highest sense of the word of prrer life and manners, I never knew; and I had already been fo, tunate in friendships when your name was added to the list.

In that patient and irreconcilable enmity with domestic avd political tyranny and imposture which the tenor of your life

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has illustrated, and which, had I health and talents, should
illustrate mine, let us, comforting each other in our task, live
and die.

All happiness attend you!
Your affectionate friend,

PERCY B. SHELLEY.
ROME, May 29, 1819.

PREFACE.

A MANUSCRIPT was communicated to me during my travels in Italy, which was copied from the archives of the Cenci Palace at Rome, and contains a detailed account of the horrors which ended in the extinction of one of the noblest and richest families of that city, during the Pontificate of Clement VIII., in the year 1599. The story is, that an old man, having spent his life in debauchery and wickedness, conceived at length an implacable hatred towards his children; which showed itself towards one daughter under the form of an incestuous passion, aggravated by every circumstance of cruelty and violence. This daughter, after long and vain attempts to escape from what she considered a perpetual contamination both of body and mind, at length plotted with her mother-in-law and brother to murder their common tyrant. The young maiden, who was urged to this tremendous deed by an impulse which overpowered its horror, was evidently a most gentle and amiable being; a creature formed to adorn and be admired, and thus violently thwarted from her nature by the necessity of circumstances and opinion. The deed was quickly discovered; and, in spite of the most earnest prayers made to the Pope by the highest persons in Rome, the criminals were put to death. The old man had, during his life, repeatedly bought his pardon from the Pope for capital crimes of the most enormous and unspeakable kind, at the price of a hundred thousand crowns; the death, therefore, of his victims can scarcely be accounted for by the love of justice. The Pope, among other motives for severity, probably felt that whosoever killed the Count Cenci deprived his treasury of a certain and copious source of revenue. Such a story, it told so as to present to the reader all the feelings of those who once acted it, their hopes and fears, their confidences and misgivings, their various interests, passions, and opinions, acting

• The Papal Government formerly took the most extraordinary precautions against the publicity of facts which offer so tragical a demonstration of its own wickedness and weakness ; so that the communication of the MS, had become, until very lately, a matter of some difficulty.

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upon and with each other, yet all conspiring to one tremendous end, would be as a light to make apparent some of the most dark and secret caverns of the human heart.

On my arrival at Rome, I found that the story of the Cenci was a subject not to be mentioned in Italian society without awakening a deep and breathless interest: and that the feelings of the company never failed to incline to a romantic pity for the wrongs, and a passionate exculpation of the horrible deed to which they urged her, who has been mingled two centuries with the common dust. All ranks of people knew the outlines of this history, and participated in the overwhelming interest which it seems to have the magic of exciting in the human heart. I had a copy of Guido's picture of Beatrice, which is preserved in the Colonna Palace, and my servant instantly recognised it as the portrait of La Cenci.

This national and universal interest which the story produces and has produced for two centuries, and among all ranks of people in a great city, where the imagination is kept for ever active and awake, first suggested to me the conception of its fitness for a dramatic purpose. In fact, it is a tragedy which has already received, from its capacity of awakening and sustaining the sympathy of men, approbation and success. Nothing remained, as I imagined, but to clothe it to the apprehensions of my countrymen in such language and action as would bring it home to their hearts. The deepest and the sublimest tragic compositions, King Lear, and the two plays in which the tale of Edipus is told, were stories which already existed in tradition, as matters of popular belief and interest, before Shakspeare and Sophocles made them familiar to the sympathy of all succeeding generations of mankind.

This story of the Cenci is indeed eminently fearful and monstrous : anything like a dry exhibition of it on the stage would be insupportable. The person who would treat such a subject must increase the ideal, and diminish the actual horror of the events, so that the pleasure which arises from the poetry which exists in these tempestuous sufferings and crimes, may mitigate the pain of the contemplation of the moral deformity from which they spring. There must also be nothing attempted to make the exhibition subservient to what is vulgarly termed a moral purpose. The highest moral purpose aimed at in the highest species of the drama, is the teaching of the human heart, through its sympathies and antipathies, the knowledge of itself; in proportion to the possession of which knowledge every human being is wise, just, sincere, tolerant, and kind. If dogmas can do more, it is well: but a drama is no fit place for the enforcement of them. Undoubtedly no person can be truly dishonoured by the act of another; and the fit return to make to the most enormous injuries is kindness and forbearance, and a resolution to convert the injurer from his dark passions

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