PROLOGUE TO HELLAS by Percy Bysshe Shelley HERALD OF ETERNITY: It is the day when all the sons of God Wait in the roofless senate-house, whose floor Is Chaos, and the immovable abyss Frozen by His steadfast word to hyaline ... The shadow of God, and delegate _5 Of that before whose breath the universe Is as a print of dew. Hierarchs and kings Who from your thrones pinnacled on the past Sway the reluctant present, ye who sit Pavilioned on the radiance or the gloom _10 Of mortal thought, which like an exhalation Steaming from earth, conceals the ... of heaven Which gave it birth. ... assemble here Before your Father's throne; the swift decree Yet hovers, and the fiery incarnation _15 Is yet withheld, clothed in which it shall annul The fairest of those wandering isles that gem The sapphire space of interstellar air, That green and azure sphere, that earth enwrapped _20 Less in the beauty of its tender light Than in an atmosphere of living spirit Which interpenetrating all the ... it rolls from realm to realm And age to age, and in its ebb and flow _25 Impels the generations To their appointed place, Whilst the high Arbiter Beholds the strife, and at the appointed time Sends His decrees veiled in eternal... _30 Within the circuit of this pendent orb There lies an antique region, on which fell The dews of thought in the world's golden dawn Earliest and most benign, and from it sprung Temples and cities and immortal forms _35 And harmonies of wisdom and of song, And thoughts, and deeds worthy of thoughts so fair. And when the sun of its dominion failed, And when the winter of its glory came, The winds that stripped it bare blew on and swept _40 That dew into the utmost wildernesses In wandering clouds of sunny rain that thawed The unmaternal bosom of the North. Haste, sons of God, ... for ye beheld, Reluctant, or consenting, or astonished, _45 The stern decrees go forth, which heaped on Greece Ruin and degradation and despair. A fourth now waits: assemble, sons of God, To speed or to prevent or to suspend, If, as ye dream, such power be not withheld, _50 The unaccomplished destiny. NOTE: _8 your Garnett; yon Forman, Dowden. ... CHORUS: The curtain of the Universe Is rent and shattered, The splendour-winged worlds disperse Like wild doves scattered. _55 Space is roofless and bare, And in the midst a cloudy shrine, Dark amid thrones of light. In the blue glow of hyaline Golden worlds revolve and shine. _60 In ... flight From every point of the Infinite, Like a thousand dawns on a single night The splendours rise and spread; And through thunder and darkness dread _65 Light and music are radiated, And in their pavilioned chariots led By living wings high overhead The giant Powers move, Gloomy or bright as the thrones they fill. _70 ... A chaos of light and motion Upon that glassy ocean. ... The senate of the Gods is met, Each in his rank and station set; There is silence in the spaces-- _75 Lo! Satan, Christ, and Mahomet Start from their places! CHRIST: Almighty Father! Low-kneeling at the feet of Destiny ... There are two fountains in which spirits weep _80 When mortals err, Discord and Slavery named, And with their bitter dew two Destinies Filled each their irrevocable urns; the third Fiercest and mightiest, mingled both, and added Chaos and Death, and slow Oblivion's lymph, _85 And hate and terror, and the poisoned rain ... The Aurora of the nations. By this brow Whose pores wept tears of blood, by these wide wounds, By this imperial crown of agony, By infamy and solitude and death, _90 For this I underwent, and by the pain Of pity for those who would ... for me The unremembered joy of a revenge, For this I felt--by Plato's sacred light, Of which my spirit was a burning morrow-- _95 By Greece and all she cannot cease to be. Her quenchless words, sparks of immortal truth, Stars of all night--her harmonies and forms, Echoes and shadows of what Love adores In thee, I do compel thee, send forth Fate, _100 Thy irrevocable child: let her descend, A seraph-winged Victory [arrayed] In tempest of the omnipotence of God Which sweeps through all things. From hollow leagues, from Tyranny which arms _105 Adverse miscreeds and emulous anarchies To stamp, as on a winged serpent's seed, Upon the name of Freedom; from the storm Of faction, which like earthquake shakes and sickens The solid heart of enterprise; from all _110 By which the holiest dreams of highest spirits Are stars beneath the dawn... She shall arise Victorious as the world arose from Chaos! And as the Heavens and the Earth arrayed Their presence in the beauty and the light _115 Of Thy first smile, O Father,--as they gather The spirit of Thy love which paves for them Their path o'er the abyss, till every sphere Shall be one living Spirit,--so shall Greece-- SATAN: Be as all things beneath the empyrean, _120 Mine! Art thou eyeless like old Destiny, Thou mockery-king, crowned with a wreath of thorns? Whose sceptre is a reed, the broken reed Which pierces thee! whose throne a chair of scorn; For seest thou not beneath this crystal floor _125 The innumerable worlds of golden light Which are my empire, and the least of them which thou wouldst redeem from me? Know'st thou not them my portion? Or wouldst rekindle the ... strife _130 Which our great Father then did arbitrate Which he assigned to his competing sons Each his apportioned realm? Thou Destiny, Thou who art mailed in the omnipotence Of Him who tends thee forth, whate'er thy task, _135 Speed, spare not to accomplish, and be mine Thy trophies, whether Greece again become The fountain in the desert whence the earth Shall drink of freedom, which shall give it strength To suffer, or a gulf of hollow death _140 To swallow all delight, all life, all hope. Go, thou Vicegerent of my will, no less Than of the Father's; but lest thou shouldst faint, The winged hounds, Famine and Pestilence, Shall wait on thee, the hundred-forked snake _145 Insatiate Superstition still shall... The earth behind thy steps, and War shall hover Above, and Fraud shall gape below, and Change Shall flit before thee on her dragon wings, Convulsing and consuming, and I add _150 Three vials of the tears which daemons weep When virtuous spirits through the gate of Death Pass triumphing over the thorns of life, Sceptres and crowns, mitres and swords and snares, Trampling in scorn, like Him and Socrates. _155 The first is Anarchy; when Power and Pleasure, Glory and science and security, On Freedom hang like fruit on the green tree, Then pour it forth, and men shall gather ashes. The second Tyranny-- CHRIST: Obdurate spirit! _160 Thou seest but the Past in the To-come. Pride is thy error and thy punishment. Boast not thine empire, dream not that thy worlds Are more than furnace-sparks or rainbow-drops Before the Power that wields and kindles them. _165 True greatness asks not space, true excellence Lives in the Spirit of all things that live, Which lends it to the worlds thou callest thine. ... MAHOMET: ...Haste thou and fill the waning crescent With beams as keen as those which pierced the shadow _170 Of Christian night rolled back upon the West, When the orient moon of Islam rode in triumph From Tmolus to the Acroceraunian snow. ... Wake, thou Word Of God, and from the throne of Destiny _175 Even to the utmost limit of thy way May Triumph ... Be thou a curse on them whose creed Divides and multiplies the most high God.