Percy Bysshe Shelley
SCENE.—A Ravine of Icy Rocks in the Indian Caucasus. Prometheus is discovered bound to the Precipice. Panthea and Ione are seated at his feet. Time, night. During the Scene, morning slowly breaks.Prometheus speaks: Monarch of Gods and Dæmons, and all SpiritsBut One, who throng those bright and rolling worldsWhich Thou and I alone of living thingsBehold with sleepless eyes! regard this EarthMade multitudinous with thy slaves, whom thouRequitest for knee-worship, prayer, and praise,And toil, and hecatombs of broken hearts,With fear and self-contempt and barren hope.Whilst me, who am thy foe, eyeless in hate,Hast thou made reign and triumph, to thy scorn,O'er mine own misery and thy vain revenge.Three thousand years of sleep-unsheltered hours,And moments aye divided by keen pangsTill they seemed years, torture and solitude,Scorn and despair,—these are mine empire:—More glorious far than that which thou surveyestFrom thine unenvied throne, O Mighty God!Almighty, had I deigned to share the shameOf thine ill tyranny, and hung not hereNailed to this wall of eagle-baffling mountain,Black, wintry, dead, unmeasured; without herb,Insect, or beast, or shape or sound of life.Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, for ever!
No change, no pause, no hope! Yet I endure.I ask the Earth, have not the mountains felt?I ask yon Heaven, the all-beholding Sun,Has it not seen? The Sea, in storm or calm,Heaven's ever-changing Shadow, spread below,Have its deaf waves not heard my agony?Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, for ever!
The crawling glaciers pierce me with the spearsOf their moon-freezing crystals, the bright chainsEat with their burning cold into my bones.Heaven's wingèd hound, polluting from thy lipsHis beak in poison not his own, tears upMy heart; and shapeless sights come wandering by,The ghastly people of the realm of dream,Mocking me: and the Earthquake-fiends are chargedTo wrench the rivets from my quivering woundsWhen the rocks split and close again behind:While from their loud abysses howling throngThe genii of the storm, urging the rageOf whirlwind, and afflict me with keen hail.And yet to me welcome is day and night,Whether one breaks the hoar frost of the morn,Or starry, dim, and slow, the other climbsThe leaden-coloured east; for then they leadThe wingless, crawling hours, one among whom—As some dark Priest hales the reluctant victim—Shall drag thee, cruel King, to kiss the bloodFrom these pale feet, which then might trample theeIf they disdained not such a prostrate slave.Disdain! Ah no! I pity thee. What ruinWill hunt thee undefended through wide Heaven!How will thy soul, cloven to its depth with terror,Gape like a hell within! I speak in grief,Not exultation, for I hate no more,As then ere misery made me wise. The curseOnce breathed on thee I would recall. Ye Mountains,Whose many-voicèd Echoes, through the mistOf cataracts, flung the thunder of that spell!Ye icy Springs, stagnant with wrinkling frost,Which vibrated to hear me, and then creptShuddering through India! Thou serenest Air,Through which the Sun walks burning without beams!And ye swift Whirlwinds, who on poisèd wingsHung mute and moveless o'er yon hushed abyss,As thunder, louder than your own, made rockThe orbèd world! If then my words had power,Though I am changed so that aught evil wishIs dead within; although no memory beOf what is hate, let them not lose it now!What was that curse? for ye all heard me speak.