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“ A flock of vampire-bats before the glare Of the tropic sun, bringing, ere evening, Strange night upon some Indian isle. Thus were
“ Phantoms diffused around; and some did fling Shadows of shadows, yet unlike themselves, Behind them ; some like eaglets on the wing
“ Were lost in the white day; others like elves
“ And others sate chattering like restless apes
“ Of kingly mantles ; some across the tiar Of pontiffs sate like vultures ; others played Under the crown which girt with empire
“ A baby's or an idiot's brow, and made Their nests in it. The old anatomies Sate hatching their bare broods under the shade
“Of demon wings, and laughed from their dead eyes To reassume the delegated power, Arrayed in which those worms did monarchize
“ Who made this earth their charnel. Others more Humble, like falcons, sate upon the fist Of common men, and round their heads did soar ;
486 isle, Boscombe MS. || vale, Mrs. Shelley, 1824.
497 sate like vultures, Boscombe MS. || rode, like demons, Mrs. Shelley, 1824.
“ Or like small gnats and flies, as thick as mist On evening marshes, thronged about the brow Of lawyers, statesmen, priest and theorist;
“ And others, like discolored flakes of snow, On fairest bosoms and the sunniest hair, Fell, and were melted by the youthful glow
“ Which they extinguished ; and, like tears, they
A veil to those from whose faint lids they rained In drops of sorrow.
I became aware
“Of whence those forms proceeded which thus
stained The track in which we moved.
After brief space, From every form the beauty slowly waned;
firmest limb and fairest face The strength and freshness fell like dust, and
left The action and the shape without the grace
“Of life. The marble brow of youth was cleft With care ; and in those eyes where once hope
shone, Desire, like a lioness bereft
“Of her last cub, glared ere it died; each one Of that great crowd sent forth incessantly These shadows, numerous as the dead leaves blown “ In autumn evening from a poplar tree. Each like himself and like each other were At first; but some, distorted, seemed to be
510 lawyer, statesman, Rossetti. 515 those || eyes, Rossetti conj.
“ Obscure clouds, moulded by the casual air; And of this stuff the car's creative ray Wrought all the busy phantoms that were there,
“ As the sun shapes the clouds. Thus on the way Mask after mask fell from the countenance And form of all; and, long before the day
“ Was old, the joy, which waked like heaven's
glance The sleepers in the oblivious valley, died; And some grew weary of the ghastly dance,
“ And fell, as I have fallen, by the wayside;Those soonest from whose forms most shadows
passed, And least of strength and beauty did abide.”
“Then, what is life? I cried.”
530 Each like himself, and each like other, were . . Rossetti. 534 Wrought, Boscombe MS. || Wrapt, Mrs. Shelley, 1824.