[Enter LUCIFER and CAIN.]
/Cain./ How silent and how vast are these dim worlds!
For they seem more than one, and yet more peopled
Than the huge luminous brilliant orbs which swung
So thickly in the upper air, that I
Had deem'd them rather the bright populace
Of some all unimaginable heaven,
Than things to be inhabited themselves,
But that on drawing near them I beheld
Their swelling into palpable immensity
Of matter, which seem'd made for life to dwell on,
Rather than life itself. But here, all is
So shadowy and so full of twilight, that
It speaks of a day past.
/Lucifer./ It is the realm
Of death. -- Wouldst have it present?
/Cain./ Till I know
That which it really is, I cannot answer.
But if it be as I have heard my father
Deal out in his long homilies, 'tis a thing --
O God! I dare not think on't! Cursed be
He who invented life that leads to death!
Or the dull mass of life, that, being life,
Could not retain, but needs must forfeit it --
Even for the innocent!
/Lucifer./ Dost thou curse thy father!
/Cain./ Cursed he not me in giving me my birth?
Cursed he not me before my birth, in daring
To pluck the fruit forbidden?
/Cain./ Thou say'st well:
The curse is mutual 'twixt thy sire and thee --
But for thy sons and brother?
/Cain./ Let them share it
With me, their sire and brother! What else is
Bequeath'd to me? I leave them my inheritance.
Oh, ye interminable gloomy realms
Of swimming shadows and enormous shapes,
Some fully shewn, some indistinct, and all
Mighty and melancholy -- what are ye?
Live ye, or have ye lived?
/Lucifer./ Somewhat of both.
/Cain./ Then what is death?
/Lucifer./ What? Hath not He who made ye
Said 'tis another life?
/Cain./ Till now He hath
Said nothing, save that all shall die.
He one day will unfold that further secret.
/Cain./ Happy the day!
/Lucifer./ Yes; happy! when unfolded
Through agonies unspeakable, and clogg'd
With agonies eternal, to innumerable
Yet unborn myriads of unconscious atoms,
All to be animated for this only!
/Cain./ What are these mighty phantoms which I see
Floating around me? -- they wear not the form
Of the intelligences I have seen
Round our regretted and unenter'd Eden,
Nor wear the form of man as I have view'd it
In Adam's, and in Abel's, and in mine,
Nor in my sister-bride's, nor in my children's:
And yet they have an aspect, which, though not
Of men nor angels, looks like something, which
If not the last, rose higher than the first,
Haughty, and high, and beautiful, and full
Of seeming strength, but of inexplicable
Shape; for I never saw such. They bear not
The wing of seraph, nor the face of man,
Nor form of mightiest brute, nor aught that is
Now breathing; mighty yet and beautiful
As the most beautiful and mighty which
Live, and yet so unlike them, that I scarce
Can call them living.
/Lucifer./ Yet they lived.
/Lucifer./ On what thou callest earth
They did inhabit.
/Cain./ Adam is the first.
/Lucifer./ Of thine, I grant thee -- but too mean to be
The last of these.
/Cain./ And what are they?
/Lucifer./ That which
Thou shalt be.
/Cain./ But what /were/ they?
/Lucifer./ Living, high,
Intelligent, good, great, and glorious things,
As much superior unto all thy sire,
Adam, could e'er have been in Eden, as
The sixty-thousandth generation shall be,
In its dull damp degeneracy, to
Thee and thy son; -- and how weak they are, judge
By thy own flesh.
/Cain./ Ah me! and did /they/ perish?
Yes, from their earth, as thou wilt fade from thine.
/Cain./ But was /mine/ theirs?
/Lucifer./ It was.
/Cain./ But not as now.
It is too little and too lowly to
Sustain such creatures.
/Lucifer./ True, it was more glorious.
/Cain./ And wherefore did it fall?
/Lucifer./ Ask Him who fells.
/Cain./ But how?
/Lucifer./ By a most crushing and inexorable
Destruction and disorder of the elements,
Which struck a world to chaos, as a chaos
Subsiding has struck out a world: such things,
Though rare in time, are frequent in eternity. --
Pass on, and gaze upon the past.
/Cain./ 'Tis awful!
And true. Behold these phantoms! they were once
Material as thou art.
/Cain./ And must I be
/Lucifer./ Let He who made thee answer that.
I show thee what thy predecessors are,
And what they /were/ thou feelest, in degree
Inferior as thy petty feelings and
Thy pettier portion of the immortal part
Of high intelligence and earthly strength.
What ye in common have with what they had
Is life, and what ye /shall/ have -- death: the rest
Of your poor attributes is such as suits
Reptiles engender'd out of the subsiding
Slime of a mighty universe, crush'd into
A scarcely-yet shaped planet, peopled with
Things whose enjoyment was to be in blindness --
A Paradise of Ignorance, from which
Knowledge was barr'd as poison. But behold
What these superior beings are or were;
Or, if it irk thee, turn thee back and till
The earth, thy task -- I'll waft thee there in safety.
/Cain./ No: I'll stay here.
/Lucifer./ How long?
/Cain./ For ever! since
I must one day return here from the earth,
I rather would remain; I am sick of all
That dust has shewn me -- let me dwell in shadows.
/Lucifer./ It cannot be: thou now beholdest as
A vision that which is reality.
To make thyself fit for this dwelling, thou
Must pass through what the things thou seest have pass'd --
The gates of death.
/Cain./ By what gate have we enter'd
/Lucifer./ By mine! But, plighted to return,
My spirit buoys thee up to breathe in regions
Where all is breathless save thyself. Gaze on;
But do not think to dwell here till thine hour
/Cain./ And these, too; can they ne'er repass
To earth again?
/Lucifer./ /Their/ earth is gone for ever --
So changed by its convulsion, they would not
Be conscious to a single present spot
Of its new scarcely harden'd surface -- 'twas --
Oh, what a beautiful world it /was!/
/Cain./ And is.
It is not with the earth, though I must till it,
I feel at war, but that I may not profit
By what it bears of beautiful untoiling,
Nor gratify my thousand swelling thoughts
With knowledge, nor allay my thousand fears
Of death and life.
/Lucifer./ What thy world is, thou seest,
But canst not comprehend the shadow of
That which it was.
/Cain./ And those enormous creatures,
Phantoms inferior in intelligence
(At least so seeming) to the things we have pass'd,
Resembling somewhat the wild habitants
Of the deep woods of earth, the hugest which
Roar nightly in the forest, but tenfold
In magnitude and terror; taller than
The cherub-guarded walls of Eden, with
Eyes flashing like the fiery swords which fence them,
And tusks projecting like the trees stripp'd of
Their bark and branches -- what were they?
/Lucifer./ That which
The Mammoth is in thy world; -- but these lie
By myriads underneath its surface.
None on it?
/Lucifer./ No: for thy frail race to war
With them would render the curse on it useless --
'Twould be destroy'd so early.
/Cain./ But why /war?/
/Lucifer./ You have forgotten the denunciation
Which drove your race from Eden -- war with all things,
And death to all things, and disease to most things,
And pangs, and bitterness; these were the fruits
Of the forbidden tree.
/Cain./ But animals --
Did they, too, eat of it, that they must die?
/Lucifer./ Your Maker told ye, /they/ were made for you,
As you for Him. -- You would not have their doom
Superior to your own? Had Adam not
Fallen, all had stood.
/Cain./ Alas! the hopeless wretches!
They too must share my sire's fate, like his sons;
Like them, too, without having shared the apple;
Like them, too, without the so dear-bought /knowledge!/
It was a lying tree -- for we /know/ nothing.
At least it /promised knowledge/ at the /price/
Of death -- but /knowledge/ still: but what /knows/ man?
/Lucifer./ It may be death leads to the /highest/ knowledge,
And being of all things the sole thing certain,
At least leads to the /surest/ science: therefore
The tree was true, though deadly.
/Cain./ These dim realms!
I see them, but I know them not.
Thy hour is yet afar, and matter cannot
Comprehend spirit wholly -- but 'tis something
To know there are such realms.
/Cain./ We knew already
That there was death.
/Lucifer./ But not what was beyond it.
/Cain./ Nor know I now.
/Lucifer./ Thou knowest that there is
A state, and many states beyond thine own --
And this thou knewest not this morn.
/Cain./ But all
Seems dim and shadowy.
/Lucifer./ Be content; it will
Seem clearer to thine immortality.
/Cain./ And yon immeasurable liquid space
Of glorious azure which floats on beyond us,
Which looks like water, and which I should deem
The river which flows out of Paradise
Past my own dwelling, but that it is bankless
And boundless, and of an ethereal hue --
What is it?
/Lucifer./ There is still some such on earth,
Although inferior, and thy children shall
Dwell near it -- 'tis the phantasm of an ocean.
/Cain./ 'Tis like another world; a liquid sun --
And those inordinate creatures sporting o'er
Its shining surface?
/Lucifer./ Are its inhabitants;
The past leviathans.
/Cain./ And yon immense
Serpent, which rears its dripping main and vasty
Head ten times higher than the haughtiest cedar
Forth from the abyss, looking as he could coil
Himself around the orbs we lately look'd on --
Is he not of the kind which bask'd beneath
The trees of Eden?
/Lucifer./ Eve, thy mother, best
Can tell what shape of serpent tempted her.
/Cain./ This seems too terrible. No doubt the other
Had more of beauty.
/Lucifer./ Hast thou ne'er beheld him?
/Cain./ Many of the same kind (at least so call'd),
But never that precisely which persuaded
The fatal fruit, nor even of the same aspect.
/Lucifer./ Your father saw him not?
/Cain./ No; 'twas my mother
Who tempted him -- she tempted by the serpent.
/Lucifer./ Good man! whene'er thy wife, or thy son's wives,
Tempt thee or them to aught that's new or strange,
Be sure thou seest first who hath tempted /them./
/Cain./ Thy precept comes too late: there is no more
For serpents to tempt woman to.
/Lucifer./ But there
Are some things still which woman may tempt man to,
And man tempt woman: -- let thy sons look to it!
My counsel is a kind one: for 'tis even
Given chiefly at my own expense: 'tis true,
'Twill not be follow'd, so there's little lost.
/Cain./ I understand not this.
/Lucifer./ The happier thou! --
Thy world and thou are still too young! Thou thinkest
Thyself most wicked and unhappy: is it
/Cain./ For crime, I know not; but for pain,
I have felt much.
/Lucifer./ First-born of the first man!
Thy present state of sin -- and thou art evil,
Of sorrow -- and thou sufferest, are both Eden
In all its innocence compared to what
/Thou/ shortly may'st be; and that state again
In its redoubled wretchedness, a Paradise
To what thy sons' sons' sons, accumulating
In generations like to dust (which they
In fact but add to), shall endure and do. --
Now let us back to earth!
/Cain./ And wherefore didst thou
Lead me here only to inform me this?
/Lucifer./ Was not thy quest for knowledge?
/Cain./ Yes; as being
The road to happiness.
/Lucifer./ If truth be so,
Thou hast it.
/Cain./ Then my father's God did well
When He prohibited the fatal tree.
/Lucifer./ But had done better in not planting it.
But ignorance of evil doth not save
From evil; it must still roll on the same,
A part of all things.
/Cain./ Not of all things. No:
I'll not believe it -- for I thirst for good.
/Lucifer./ And who and what doth not? /Who/ covets evil
For its own bitter sake? -- /None/ -- nothing! 'tis
The leaven of all life, and lifelessness.
/Cain./ Within those glorious orbs which we behold,
Distant, and dazzling, and innumerable,
Ere we came down into this phantom realm,
Ill cannot come: they are too beautiful.
/Lucifer./ Thou hast seen them from afar --
/Cain./ And what of that?
Distance can but diminish glory -- they,
When nearer, must be more ineffable.
/Lucifer./ Approach the things of earth most beautiful,
And judge their beauty near.
/Cain./ I have done this --
The loveliest thing I know is loveliest nearest.
/Lucifer./ Then there must be delusion. -- What is that,
Which being nearest to thine eyes is still
More beautiful than beauteous things remote?
/Cain./ My sister Adah. -- All the stars of heaven,
The deep blue noon of night, lit by an orb
Which looks a spirit, or a spirit's world --
The hues of twilight -- the sun's gorgeous coming --
His setting indescribable, which fills
My eyes with pleasant tears as I behold
Him sink, and feel my heart float softly with him
Along that western paradise of clouds --
The forest shade -- the green bough -- the bird's voice --
The vesper bird's, which seems to sing of love,
And mingles with the song of cherubim,
As the day closes over Eden's walls; --
All these are nothing, to my eyes and heart,
Like Adah's face: I turn from earth and heaven
To gaze on it.
/Lucifer./ 'Tis fair as frail mortality,
In the first dawn and bloom of young creation,
And earliest embraces of earth's parents,
Can make its offspring; still it is delusion.
/Cain./ You think so, being not her brother.
My brotherhood's with those who have no children.
/Cain./ Then thou canst have no fellowship with us.
/Lucifer./ It may be that thine own shall be for me.
But if thou dost possess a beautiful
Being beyond all beauty in thine eyes,
Why art thou wretched?
/Cain./ Why do I exist?
Why art /thou/ wretched? why are all things so?
Even He who made us must be, as the maker
Of things unhappy! To produce destruction
Can surely never be the task of joy,
And yet my sire says He's omnipotent:
Then why is evil -- He being good? I ask'd
This question of my father; and he said,
Because this evil only was the path
To good. Strange good, that must arise from out
Its deadly opposite. I lately saw
A lamb stung by a reptile: the poor suckling
Lay foaming on the earth, beneath the vain
And piteous bleating of its restless dam;
My father pluck'd some herbs, and laid them to
The wound; and by degrees the helpless wretch
Resumed its careless life, and rose to drain
The mother's milk, who o'er it tremulous
Stood licking its reviving limbs with joy.
Behold, my son! said Adam, how from evil
/Lucifer./ What didst thou answer?
/Cain./ Nothing; for
He is my father: but I thought, that 'twere
A better portion for the animal
Never to have been /stung at all,/ than to
Purchase renewal of its little life
With agonies unutterable, though
Dispell'd by antidotes.
/Lucifer./ But as thou said'st
Of all beloved things thou lovest her
Who shared thy mother's milk, and giveth hers
Unto thy children --
/Cain./ Most assuredly:
What should I be without her?
/Lucifer./ What am I?
/Cain./ Dost thou love nothing?
/Lucifer./ What does thy God love?
/Cain./ All things, my father says; but I confess
I see it not in their allotment here.
And, therefore, thou canst not see if /I/ love
Or no, except some vast and general purpose,
To which particular things must melt like snows.
/Cain./ Snows! what are they?
/Lucifer./ Be happier in not knowing
What thy remoter offspring must encounter;
But bask beneath the clime which knows no winter!
/Cain./ But dost thou not love something like thyself?
/Lucifer./ And dost thou love /thyself?/
/Cain./ Yes, but love more
What makes my feelings more endurable,
And is more than myself, because I love it.
/Lucifer./ Thou lovest it, because 'tis beautiful,
As was the apple in thy mother's eye;
And when it ceases to be so, thy love
Will cease, like any other appetite.
/Cain./ Cease to be beautiful! how can that be?
/Lucifer./ With time.
/Cain./ But time has past, and hitherto
Even Adam and my mother both are fair:
Not fair like Adah and the seraphim --
But very fair.
/Lucifer./ All that must pass away
In them and her.
/Cain./ I'm sorry for it; but
Cannot conceive my love for her the less.
And when her beauty disappears, methinks
He who creates all beauty will lose more
Than me in seeing perish such a work.
/Lucifer./ I pity thee who lovest what must perish.
/Cain./ And I thee, who lov'st nothing.
/Lucifer./ And thy brother --
Sits he not near thy heart?
/Cain./ Why should he not?
/Lucifer./ Thy father loves him well -- so does thy God.
/Cain./ And so do I.
/Lucifer./ 'Tis well and meekly done.
/Lucifer./ He is the second born of flesh,
And is his mother's favourite.
/Cain./ Let him keep
Her favour, since the serpent was the first
To win it.
/Lucifer./ And his father's?
/Cain./ What is that
To me? should I not love that which all love?
/Lucifer./ And the Jehovah -- the indulgent Lord,
And bounteous planter of barr'd Paradise --
He, too, looks smilingly on Abel.
Ne'er saw Him, and I know not if He smiles.
/Lucifer./ But you have seen His angels.
Sufficiently to see they love your brother:
/His/ sacrifices are acceptable.
/Cain./ So be they! wherefore speak to me of this?
/Lucifer./ Because thou hast thought of this ere now.
/Cain./ And if
I /have/ thought, why recall a thought that -- /(he
pauses, as agitated)/ -- Spirit!
/Here/ we are in /thy/ world: speak not of /mine./
Thou hast shewn me wonders; thou has shewn me those
Mighty pre-Adamites who walk'd the earth
Of which ours is the wreck; thou hast pointed out
Myriads of starry worlds, of which our own
Is the dim and remote companion, in
Infinity of life: thou hast shewn me shadows
Of that existence with the dreaded name
Which my sire brought us -- Death; thou hast shewn me much --
But not all: shew me where Jehovah dwells,
In His special Paradise -- or /thine./
Where is it?
/Lucifer./ /Here,/ and o'er all space.
/Cain./ But ye
Have some allotted dwelling -- as all things;
Clay has its earth, and other worlds their tenants;
All temporary breathing creatures their
Peculiar element; and things which have
Long ceased to breathe /our/ breath, have theirs, thou say'st;
And the Jehovah and thyself have thine --
Ye do not dwell together?
/Lucifer./ No, we reign
Together; but our dwellings are asunder.
/Cain./ Would there were only one of ye! Perchance
An unity of purpose might make union
In elements which seem now jarr'd in storms.
How came ye, being spirits, wise and infinite,
To separate? Are ye not as brethren in
Your essence, and your nature, and your glory?
/Lucifer./ Art thou not Abel's brother?
/Cain./ We are brethren,
And so we shall remain; but were it not so,
Is spirit like to flesh? can it fall out?
Infinity with Immortality?
Jarring and turning space to misery --
/Lucifer./ To reign.
/Cain./ Did ye not tell me that
Ye are both eternal?
/Cain./ And what I have seen,
Yon blue immensity, is boundless?
/Cain./ And cannot ye both /reign/ then? -- is there not
Enough? -- why should ye differ?
/Lucifer./ We /both/ reign.
/Cain./ But one of you makes evil.
/Cain./ Thou! for
If thou canst do man good, why dost thou not?
/Lucifer./ And why not He who made? /I/ made ye not:
Ye are /His/ creatures, and not mine.
/Cain./ Then leave us
/His/ creatures, as thou say'st we are, or shew me
Thy dwelling, or His dwelling.
/Lucifer./ I could shew thee
Both; but the time will come thou shalt see one
Of them forevermore.
/Cain./ And why not now?
/Lucifer./ Thy human mind hath scarcely grasp to gather
The little I have shewn thee into calm
And clear thought; and thou wouldst go on aspiring
To the great double Mysteries! the /two Principles!/
And gaze upon them on their secret thrones!
Dust! limit thy ambition; for to see
Either of these, would be for thee to perish!
/Cain./ And let me perish, so I see them!
The son of her who snatch'd the apple spake!
But thou wouldst only perish, and not see them;
That sight is for the other state.
/Cain./ Of death?
/Lucifer./ That is the prelude.
/Cain./ Then I dread it less,
Now that I know it leads to something definite.
/Lucifer./ And now I will convey thee to thy world,
Where thou shalt multiply the race of Adam,
Eat, drink, toil, tremble, laugh, weep, sleep, and die.
/Cain./ And to what end have I beheld these things
Which thou hast shewn me?
/Lucifer./ Didst thou not require
Knowledge? And have I not, in what I shew'd,
Taught thee to know thyself?
/Lucifer./ Alas! I seem
/Lucifer./ And this should be the human sum
Of knowledge, to know mortal nature's nothingness:
Bequeath that science to thy children, and
'Twill spare them many tortures.
/Cain./ Haughty spirit!
Thou speak'st it proudly; but thyself, though proud,
Hast a superior.
/Lucifer./ No! by heaven, which He
Holds, and the abyss, and the immensity
Of worlds and life, which I hold with Him -- No!
I have a victor -- true; but no superior.
Homage He has from all -- but none from me:
I battle it against Him, as I battled
In highest heaven. Through all eternity,
And the unfathomable gulfs of Hades,
And the interminable realms of space,
And the infinity of endless ages,
All, all, will I dispute! And world by world,
And star by star, and universe by universe,
Shall tremble in the balance, till the great
Conflict shall cease, if ever it shall cease,
Which it ne'er shall, till He or I be quench'd!
And what can quench our immortality,
Or mutual and irrevocable hate?
He as a conqueror will call the conquer'd
/Evil;/ but what will be the /good/ He gives?
Were I the victor, /His/ works would be deem'd
The only evil ones. And you, ye new
And scarce-born mortals, what have been His gifts
To you already, in your little world?
/Cain./ But few! and some of those but bitter.
With me, then, to thine earth, and try the rest
Of his celestial boons to you and yours.
Evil and good are things in their own essence,
And not made good or evil by the giver;
But if He gives you good -- so call Him; if
Evil springs from /Him,/ do not name it /mine,/
Till ye know better its true fount; and judge
Not by words, though of spirits, but the fruits
Of your existence, such as it must be.
/One good/ gift has the fatal apple given --
Your /reason:/ -- let it not be over-sway'd
By tyrannous threats to force you into faith
'Gainst all external sense and inward feeling:
Think and endure -- and form an inner world
In your own bosom -- where the outward fails;
So shall you nearer be the spiritual
Nature, and war triumphant with your own.
Theatre: Lord Byron - Cain - Part II - Scene II - Closet Drama - Links
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