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Back to the gloom the spectres fly apace

From the soft radiance of that light divine,
For evil may not ’bide aught pure on it to shine.

And the sweet breath that glowing lamp diffused
Drove back the venomed damps and night-mist cold,
And the numb spell of palsied horror loosed
From off his heart, then with fresh vigour bold
He climbed the filth-strewn path, while 'fore him rolled
The shapes obscene in the receding night,
With scowl of hellish hate, and yell, that told

Their frenzied malice deep, and baffled spite,
Helpless to harm the soul which dwelt in that pure light.

At length he reached the limit of the wood,
And strode once more beneath the cold still moon
While the fierce fiends who thirsted for his blood
Retreated to their den ; around him shone
The silent unscaled mountains, with their crown
Of everlasting snow, and ravines deep
Into whose gloom no ray could struggle down,

That held the glaciers in their restless sleep,
Ploughed the wild mountain's flanks with precipices steep.

Through stern defiles where dizzy chasms gaped
In their unfathomed darkness, and the way
O'er slippery rocks where headlong torrents leaped
Led onward, he strode fast without dismay,
Although before a demon's cavern lay,
Who kept the path with power and malice fell,
That none might pass unless with direful fray;

His mailed feet clashed along the rocky dell,
And the far echoes poured their long resounding swell.

The path now sank into a horrid glen
With cliffs on either hand; the footfall's sound
Warned the exulting demon, in his den
Le harnessed him for battle, and around

His shoulders girt his mail, and firmly bound
His swarthy brows with iron. Nearer drew
The pilgrim's fearless tread, the cursed ground

Groaned with an earthquake's anguish, and now through The darkness dank and deep his ruthless foe he knew.

The demon loomed ʼmid the surrounding night
Like some huge rock which from a mountain's side
Unnumbered storms have riven; a strange light
Shone from his dreadful form, and seemed to glide
In wreaths across his breast, and almost hide
With livid stain the breadth of chain-wrought mail
That wrapped him round; in savage hate and pride

He stood with devilish weapons to assail
All strong hearts who might dare the weary height to scale.

Agenor hastened on, while round him gleamed
The ethereal armour at the threatening war,
And from his crest long fiery pennons streamed
Like the fierce splendour of a burning star
Behind him through the night; and from afar
His spirit felt the mighty strength of God,
Who succoureth all who ever faithful are,

And hath upheld the souls of all who trod
In stern and simple trust the toilsome upward road.

“For thee no way is here,” the demon cried,
“ Return then whence thou camest, ere thy blood
Be shed upon the path ;” with one huge stride
He spanned the narrow way, and ready stood
To hurl the dauntless foe, who towards him strode,
Back from his breast, as some black fortress rolls
The headlong tide of war's impetuous flood

Down from its flank, and checks the ardent souls
Whose charge, nor fire, nor force, nor strength of arms
But wise as he was bold, the wary foe
Swerved from the stroke, which smote the rock behind
And cleft it to its base; the while Agenor's blow
Gashed deep the giant's side, who howled to find
Himself so sorely sped, and fierce did grind
His hellish teeth for anguish of that wound;
Again aloft the two-edged lightning shined,


When with his arms he wrapped Agenor round,
And ere the stroke could fall had borne him to the ground.

The demon griped his throat, and as his hand
Had lost its weapon, he uptore a stone
To crush Agenor's head, who with the brand
Still held within his grasp, smote ere 'twas thrown;
The blade through mail and belly went, and prone
The demon sank upon the uptorn rock,
And gasped his life away

with many a groan,
His nerveless hand forsook its deadly lock,
And slow the victor rose, but fainting, from the shock.

This battle won, the pilgrim 'gan to climb
With slow and painful step the craggy steep
Up which his pathway led ; o'er him sublime
The gathered snowdrifts hung, as if to sweep
The wanderer to destruction ; now to creep
O'er the sharp ridge of some projecting crag,
He cowers low, now scales a buttressed keep

Hewn by the storms; by ledge, and seam, and jag, (The eagle's perch) he doth his aching body drag.

At last the summit's gained, which to him shows
Such sight as seld hath gladdened human eyes;
With rosy smile the face of morning glows
O’er the round ocean's edge; beneath him lies
The dawn-empurpled snow; around him rise
The icy-crested aiguilles, 'mid whose spires

The early sunlight pours his crimson dyes,

Which leap up through them like a thousand fires,
As on through heaven's vast arch the panting day aspires.

The plains afar are wakening into life,
The smoke of mighty cities spreads, but sound
Either of human industry or strife
Reached never here; a voiceless calm sits round,
Save when some icy cliff the still profound
Breaks with its fall; the lightning leaps
Thousands of feet below, the storms are bound

Deep in the rocky valleys; sunlight sleeps
And silence ever here eternal vigil keeps.

The path now wound into a dreadful gorge
Cleft deep amid the mountains; while a river,
Hemmed in its rocky bed, was heard to urge
Its course below; the gray mists seemed to quiver
Up through the twilight, and a deadly shiver
Smote through Agenor's heart, as oft they rent,
And showed the abyss from which nought might deliver

If the foot slipped, brain reeled, or strength were spent, Or if to hide his way their chilling pall were lent.

Along the ledges of the beetling cliff
The pathway crept so narrow that the foot
At times could hardly tread ; let but a whiff
Of the fierce mountain blast, in wild pursuit
Of its affrighted prey, in madness shoot
Round some projecting crag, and it would sweep
The pilgrim from the path ; adown such route

Agenor slow and painfully did creep,
And gained at length that river's margin steep.

The waters issued from a cave, beneath
A mountain of black ice that had been reared
Out of the frosts of ages;

chill as death The river's sullen flow, the cold air seared

The pilgrim's visage, and no path appeared
Save through the caverned darkness ; with his lamp
Once more held in his grasp he onward steered

Through the thick midnight, and the numbing damp,
Thrilling the arches old with his resounding tramp.

The cavern seemed to pierce the mighty hill,
And far aloft its vaulted chambers flung
Into the depths of darkness ; louder still
Pealed the far echoes, and the black rocks rung
At each successive footfall; the path hung
Over the unseen river, swiftly rolled
Deep down on his right hand, or to the columns clung

Which rose out of the waters to uphold
The roof, in pillared aisles of most gigantic mould.

Still resolute, but weary, amid dangers new
Of rifts unseen which cleft the darksome way,
He struggled on, until a black lake threw
Its broad expanse before him ; in dismay
He wept like one whose fate hath cast away
His dearest hope; afar on either hand
The cavern's walls retreated, not a stay

Propped the black vault which those drear waters spanned, Whose calm no wave e'er shook, nor breath of zephyr fanned.

“ Alas!” he cried, “ that after all my toil
My star of hope should sink in depth of night,
And this drear gulf my faith and valour foil,
And cut me off from life ; almost in sight
Of the reward which nerved my limbs with might
I must lie down and die.” But now afar
Through the deep gloom pierced an approaching light,

Which waxed in glory, as a flaming star
Grows in its fiery path, and threats all heaven with war.

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