Home  »  Manfred  »  Act II

Lord Byron (1788–1824). Manfred.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Act II

Scene IV

The Hall of ARIMANES.—ARIMANES on his Throne, a Globe of Fire, surrounded by the SPIRITS.

Hymn of the SPIRITS

Hail to our Master!—Prince of Earth and Air!

Who walks the clouds and waters—in his hand

The sceptre of the elements which tear

Themselves to chaos at his high command!

He breatheth—and a tempest shakes the sea;

He speaketh—and the clouds reply in thunder;

He gazeth—from his glance the sunbeams flee;

He moveth—earthquakes rend the world asunder.

Beneath his footsteps the volcanoes rise;

His shadow is the Pestilence; his path

The comets herald through the crackling skies;

And planets turn to ashes at his wrath.

To him War offers daily sacrifice;

To him Death pays his tribute; Life is his,

With all its infinite of agonies—

And his the spirit of whatever is!


First Des. Glory to Arimanes! on the earth

His power increaseth—both my sisters did

His bidding, nor did I neglect my duty!

Second Des. Glory to Arimanes! we who bow

The necks of men, bow down before his throne!

Third Des. Glory to Arimanes! we await

His nod!

Nem.Sovereign of Sovereigns! we are thine,

And all that liveth, more or less, is ours,

And most things wholly so; still to increase

Our power, increasing thine, demands our care,

And we are vigilant.—Thy late commands

Have been fulfilled to the utmost.


A Spirit.What is here?

A mortal!—Thou most rash and fatal wretch,

Bow down and worship!

Second Spirit.I do know the man—

A Magian of great power and fearful skill!

Third Spirit./ Bow down and worship, slave! What, know’st thou not

Thine and our Sovereign?—Tremble, and obey!

All the Spirits. Prostate thyself, and thy condemned clay,

Child of the Earth! or dread the worst.

Man.I know it;

And yet ye see I kneel not.

Fourth Spirit.’Twill be taught thee.

Man.’Tis taught already;—many a night on the earth,

On the bare ground, have I bow’d down my face,

And strew’d my head with ashes; I have known

The fullness of humiliation, for

I sunk before my vain despair, and knelt

To my own desolation.

Fifth Spirit.Dost thou dare

Refuse to Arimanes on his throne

What the whole earth accords, beholding not

The terror of his Glory?—Crouch! I say.

Man.Bid him bow down to that which is above him,

The overruling Infinite, the Maker

Who made him not for worship—let him kneel,

And we will kneel together.

The Spirits.Crush the worm!

Tear him in pieces!—

First Des.Hence! Avaunt!—he’s mine.

Prince of the Powers invisible! This man

Is of no common order, as his port

And presence here denote. His sufferings

Have been of an immortal nature, like

Our own; his knowledge and his powers and will,

As far as is compatible with clay,

Which clogs the ethereal essence, have been such

As clay hath seldom borne; his aspirations

Have been beyond the dwellers of the earth

And they have only taught him what we know—

That knowledge is not happiness, and science

But an exchange of ignorance for that

Which is another kind of ignorance.

This is not all; the passions, attributes

Of earth and heaven, from which no power, nor being,

Nor breath from the worm upwards is exempt,

Have pierced his heart; and in their consequence

Made him a thing, which I, who pity not,

Yet pardon those who pity. He is mine,

And thine, it may be;—be it so, or not,

No other Spirit in this region hath

A soul like his—or power upon his soul.

Nem.What doth he here then?

First Des.Let him answer that.

Man.Ye know what I have known; and without power

I could not be amongst ye: but there are

Powers deeper still beyond—I come in quest

Of such, to answer unto what I seek.

Nem.What wouldst thou?

Man.Thou canst not reply to me.

Call up the dead—my question is for them.

Nem.Great Arimanes, doth thy will avouch

The wishes of this mortal?


Nem.Whom wouldst thou


Man.One without a tomb—call up Astarte.


Shadow! or Spirit!

Whatever thou art

Which still doth inherit

The whole or a part

Of the form of thy birth,

Of the mould of thy clay

Which return’d to the earth,

Re-appear to the day!

Bear what thou borest,

The heart and the form,

And the aspect thou worest

Redeem from the worm.


Who sent thee there requires thee here!

[The phantom of ASTARTE rises and stands in the midst.

Man.Can this be death? there’s bloom upon her cheek;

But now I see it is no living hue,

But a strange hectic—like the unnatural red

Which Autumn plants upon the perish’d leaf.

It is the same! Oh, God! that I should dread

To look upon the same—Astarte!—No,

I cannot speak to her—but bid her speak—

Forgive me or condemn me.


By the power which hath broken

The grave which enthrall’d thee,

Speak to him who hath spoken,

Or those who have call’d thee!

Man.She is silent,

And in that silence I am more than answer’d.

Nem.My power extends no further, Prince of Air!

It rests with thee alone—command her voice.

Ari.Spirit—obey this sceptre!

Nem.Silent still!

She is not of our order, but belongs

To the other powers. Mortal! thy quest is vain,

And we are baffled also.

Man.Hear me, hear me—

Astarte! my belovèd! speak to me:

I have so much endured, so much endure—

Look on me! the grave hath not changed thee more

Than I am changed for thee. Thou lovedst me

Too much, as I loved thee: we were not made

To torture thus each other, though it were

The deadliest sin to love as we have loved.

Say that thou loath’st me not, that I do bear

This punishment for both, that thou wilt be

One of the blessèd, and that I shall die;

For hitherto all hateful things conspire

To bind me in existence—in a life

Which makes me shrink from immortality—

A future like the past. I cannot rest.

I know not what I ask, nor what I seek;

I feel but what thou art—and what I am;

And I would hear yet once before I perish

The voice which was my music—Speak to me!

For I have call’d on thee in the still night,

Startled the slumbering birds from the hush’d boughs,

And woke the mountain wolves, and made the caves

Acquainted with thy vainly echo’d name.

Which answer’d me—many things answer’d me—

Spirits and men—but thou wert silent all.

Yet speak to me! I have outwatch’d the stars,

And gazed o’er heaven in vain in search of thee,

Speak to me! I have wander’d o’er the earth,

And never found thy likeness—Speak to me!

Look on the fiends around—they feel for me:

I fear them not, and feel for thee alone.

Speak to me! though it be in wrath;—but say—

I reck not what—but let me hear thee once—

This once—once more!

Phantom of Astarte.Manfred!

Man.Say on, say on—

I live but in the sound—it is thy voice!

Phan. Manfred! To-morrow ends thine earthly ills.


Man.Yet one word more—am I forgiven?


Man.Say, shall we meet again?


Man.One word for mercy! Say, thou lovest me.

Phan.Manfred![The Spirit of ASTARTE disappears.

Nem.She’s gone, and will not be recall’d;

Her words will be fulfill’d. Return to the earth.

A Spirit. He is convulsed—This is to be a mortal

And seek the things beyond mortality.

Another Spirit. Yet, see, he mastereth himself, and makes

His torture tributary to his will.

Had he been one of us, he would have made

An awful spirit.

Nem.Hast thou further question

Of our great sovereign, or his worshippers?


Nem.Then for a time farewell.

Man.We meet then! Where? On the earth?—

Even as thou wilt: and for the grace accorded

I now depart a debtor. Fare ye well![Exit MANFRED.

(Scene closes.)