Comparison of Texts of 1860 and 1867 Editions
Part I, Canto III, Verse I
1860 Chapman & Hall / Ticknor & Fields
RISE, O Muse, in the wrath of thy rapture divine,
And sweep with a finger of awe every line,
Till it tremble and burn, as thine own glances burn
Through the vision thou kindlest! wherein I discern
All the unconscious cruelty hid in the heart
Of mankind; all the limitless grief we impart,
Unawares, to each other; the limitless wrong
We inflict without heed, as we hurry along
In this boisterous pastime of life. So we toy
With the infinite! so, in our sport we destroy
What we made not, and cannot remake thro' the whole
Of existence, those feelings which are, in the soul,
Future heavens or hells! so we recklessly scorn,
In each other, Life's solemn significance!
Worn In a too careless breast, lo! the flower, left to bloom
Bound the desolate moral inscribed on a tomb -
'Youth, Hope, Beauty, Innocence, Tenderness, Trust,'
(So it runs,) 'this was Woman. Behold, it is dust!
'This was Woman: it lived and it breath'd: and it said
'"I love, and love dies not.''' Behold, it is dead.
'This was woman: our hearts at her feet we laid down;
'It is dust: and we trample it under our own.'
Are we doom'd then, O sister, O brother, to war
On each other for ever? half-lives as we are!
Still impell'd to unite, still from union self-thrust,
Like those poor wounded worms we see writhe in the dust,
Blindly groping about, with the instinct of pain,
For each other, their maim'd life to mingle again.
We, that need help and healing, O sister, O brother,
Are we cannibals still of the hearts of each other?
In despite of its much-boasted science and art,
Is this civilized world still a savage at heart?
Mourn, O Muse, - not indeed for the wrongs Life hath felt -
These have mourners enough in the world; mourn, and melt
Into tears else unshed, for the wrongs Life hath wrought,
By the transient desire and the trivial thought;
For the man (be he lover or loved) that doth jest
With the passionate earnest of love in the breast
Of a woman; for the woman (or maiden, or wife)
That doth sport with the passionate earnest of life
In the heart of a man. Mourn, O Muse, for the soul,
When her truest seem truthless, her fairest so foul!
I have seen falsehood veil'd by the virginal cheek
Of a child; I have seen the immaculate, meek
Desdemona false; Imogen wanton; have seen
Juliet faithless ; and she, the chaste Ithacan Queen,
Choose a swine from her suitors, and from his embrace
Rise to write to her lord that she pined for his face
In a tender Ovidian strain! I have seen
The young bride shrewdly eyeing the cypress between
Her first year's orange blossoms, and blush not to crave
From the couch of a bridegroom the price of his grave!
Blush, O Muse, blush and burn! I have seen, I have seen,
At the feet of a wanton with false-modest mien,
The giants of Genius and Power enchain'd,
While paler and paler their foreheads have waned.
Yes! this life is the war of the False and the True.
Yet this life is a truth; though so complex to view
That its latent veracity few of us find!
But alas! for that man who, in judging mankind
From a false point of view, should disloyally deal
With the truth the world keeps, though the world may conceal.
Ay, the world but a frivolous phantasm seems,
And mankind in the mass but as motes in sun-beams;
But when Fate, from the midst "if this frivolous nature,
Selects for her purpose some frail human creature,
And the Angel of Sorrow, outstretching a wan
Forefinger to mark him, strikes down from the man
The false life that hid him, the man's self appears
A solemn reality: Him the dread spheres
Of heaven and hell with their forces dispute,
And dare we be indifferent? Hence, and be mute,
Light scoffer, vain trifler! Through all thou discernest
A Greater than thou is at work, and in earnest;
And he who dares trifle with man, trifles too
With man's awful Maker.
---------------------There's terror that's true
In that tale of a youth who, one night at a revel,
Amidst music and mirth lured and wiled by some
Follow'd ever one mask through the mad masquerade,
Till, pursued to some chamber deserted ('tis said),
He unmask'd with a kiss, the strange lady, and stood,
Face to face with a Thing not of flesh nor of blood.
In this Masque of the Passions call'd life there's no human
Emotion, though mask'd, or in man or in woman,
But, when faced and unmask'd, it will leave us at last
Struck by some supernatural aspect aghast.
For Truth is appalling and eltrich, as seen
By this world's artificial lamplights, and we screen
From our sight the strange vision that troubles our life.
Alas! why is Genius for ever at strife
"With the world, which, despite the world's self, it ennobles?
Why is it that Genius perplexes and troubles
And offends the effete life it comes to renew?
'Tis the terror of Truth! 'tis that Genius is true!
Part I, Canto III, Verse I
Last revised: 10 January 2012