Prometheus Unbound; a lyrical drama in four acts with other poems/Ode to Heaven

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For other versions of this work, see Ode to Heaven.




Palace-roof of cloudless nights!
Paradise of golden lights!
 Deep, immeasurable, vast,
Which art now, and which wert then!
 Of the present and the past,
Of the eternal where and when,
 Presence-chamber, temple, home,
 Ever-canopying dome,
 Of acts and ages yet to come!

Glorious shapes have life in thee,
Earth, and all earth’s company;
 Living globes which ever throng
Thy deep chasms and wildernesses;
 And green worlds that glide along;
And swift stars with flashing tresses;
 And icy moons most cold and bright,
 And mighty suns beyond the night,
 Atoms of intensest light.

Even thy name is as a god,
Heaven! for thou art the abode
 Of that power which is the glass
Wherein man his nature sees.
 Generations as they pass
Worship thee with bended knees.
 Their unremaining gods and they
 Like a river roll away:
 Thou remainest such alway.


Thou art but the mind’s first chamber,
Round which its young fancies clamber,
 Like weak insects in a cave,
Lighted up by stalactites;
 But the portal of the grave,
Where a world of new delights
 Will make thy best glories seem
 But a dim and noonday gleam
 From the shadow of a dream!


Peace! the abyss is wreathed with scorn
At your presumption, atom-born!
 What is heaven? and what are ye
Who its brief expanse inherit?
 What are suns and spheres which flee
With the instinct of that spirit
 Of which ye are but a part?
 Drops which Nature’s mighty heart
 Drives through thinnest veins. Depart!

What is heaven? a globe of dew,
Filling in the morning new
 Some eyed flower whose young leaves waken
On an unimagined world:
 Constellated suns unshaken,
Orbits measureless, are furled
 In that frail and fading sphere,
 With ten millions gathered there,
 To tremble, gleam, and disappear.