A monologue from the play by Lord Byron
NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Lord Byron: Six Plays. Lord Byron. Los Angeles: Black Box Press, 2007.
JAPHET: Ye wilds, that look eternal; and thou cave,
Which seem’st unfathomable; and ye mountains,
So varied and so terrible in beauty;
Here, in your rugged majesty of rocks
And toppling trees that twine their roots with stone
In perpendicular places, where the foot
Of man would tremble, could he reach them—yes,
Ye look eternal! Yet, in a few days,
Perhaps even hours, ye will be changed, rent, hurl’d
Before the mass of waters; and yon cave,
Which seems to lead into a lower world,
Shall have its depths search’d by the sweeping wave,
And dolphins gambol in the lion’s den!
And man—Oh, men! my fellow-beings! Who
Shall weep above your universal grave,
Save I? Who shall be left to weep? My kinsmen,
Alas! what am I better than ye are,
That I must live beyond ye? Where shall be
The pleasant places where I thought of Anah
While I had hope? or the more savage haunts,
Scarce less beloved, where I despair’d for her?
And can it be!—Shall yon exulting peak,
Whose glittering top is like a distant star,
Lie low beneath the boiling of the deep?
No more to have the morning sun break forth,
And scatter back the mists in floating folds
From its tremendous brow? no more to have
Day’s broad orb drop behind its head at even,
Leaving it with a crown of many hues?
No more to be the beacon of the world,
For angels to alight on, as the spot
Nearest the stars? And can those words “no more”
Be meant for thee, for all things, save for us,
And the predestined creeping things reserved
By my sire to Jehovah’s bidding? May
He preserve them, and I not have the power
To snatch the loveliest of earth’s daughters from
A doom which even some serpent, with his mate,
Shall ‘scape to save his kind to be prolong’d,
To hiss and sting through some emerging world,
Reeking and dank from out the slime, whose ooze
Shall slumber o’er the wreck of this, until
The salt morass subside into a sphere
Beneath the sun, and be the monument,
The sole and undistinguish’d sepulchre,
Of yet quick myriads of all life? How much
Breath will be still’d at once! All beauteous world!
So young, so mark’d out for destruction, I
With a cleft heart look on thee day by day,
And night by night, thy number’d days and nights.
I cannot save thee, cannot save even her
Whose love had made me love thee more; but as
A portion of thy dust, I cannot think
Upon thy coming doom without a feeling
Such as—Oh God!