Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Russia: Vol. XX. 1876–79.

Asiatic Russia: Caucasus, the Mountains


By Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822)

(From Prometheus Unbound, Act I)

MONARCH of gods and demons, and all spirits

But One, who throng those bright and rolling worlds

Which thou and I alone of living things

Behold with sleepless eyes! regard this earth,

Made multitudinous with thy slaves, whom thou

Requitest 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 pangs

Till they seemed years, torture and solitude,

Scorn and despair, these are mine empire,

More glorious far than that which thou surveyest

From thine unenvied throne, O mighty God!

Almighty, had I deigned to share the shame

Of thine ill tyranny, and hung not here

Nailed 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 spears

Of their moon-freezing crystals; the bright chains

Eat with their burning cold into my bones.

Heaven’s winged hound, polluting from thy lips

His beak in poison not his own, tears up

My heart; and shapeless sights come wandering by,

The ghastly people of the realm of dream,

Mocking me; and the earthquake-fiends are charged

To wrench the rivets from my quivering wounds

When the rocks split and close again behind:

While from their loud abysses howling throng

The genii of the storm, urging the rage

Of 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 climbs

The leaden-colored east; for then they lead

The wingless, crawling hours, one among whom

—As some dark priest hales the reluctant victim—

Shall drag thee, cruel king, to kiss the blood

From these pale feet, which then might trample thee

If they disdained not such a prostrate slave.

Disdain! Ah no! I pity thee. What ruin

Will hunt thee undefended through the 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 curse

Once breathed on thee I would recall. Ye mountains,

Whose many-voiced echoes, through the mist

Of cataracts, flung the thunder of that spell!

Ye icy springs, stagnant with wrinkling frost,

Which vibrated to hear me, and then crept

Shuddering through India! Thou serenest air,

Through which the sun walks burning without beams!

And ye swift whirlwinds, who on poised wings

Hung mute and moveless o’er yon hushed abyss,

As thunder, louder than your own, made rock

The orbed world! If then my words had power,

Though I am changed so that aught evil wish

Is dead within; although no memory be

Of what is hate, let them not lose it now!

What was that curse? for ye all heard me speak.