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The same foreboding awe I felt
"When at the altar's side we knelt,
And he, who as a pilgrim came,
Rose, winged and glorious, through the flame!
I slept not, though the wild bees made
A dreamlike murmuring in the shade,
And on me the warm-fingered hours
Pressed with the drowsy smell of flowers.
Before me, in a vision, rose
The hosts of Israel's scornful foes, —
Rank over rank, helm, shield, and spear,
Glittered in noon's hot atmosphere.
I heard their boast, and bitter word,
Their mockery of the Hebrew's Lord,
I saw their hands His ark assail,
Their feet profane His holy veil.
No angel down the blue space spoke,
No thunder from the still sky broke,
But in their midst, in power and awe,
Like God's waked wrath, Our Child I saw!
A child no more !— harsh-browed and strong,
He towered a giant in the throng,
And down his shoulders, broad and bare,
Swept the black terror of his hair.
He raised his arm — he smote amain,
As round the reaper falls the grain,
So the dark host around him fell,
So sank the foes of Israel!
Again I looked. In sunlight shone
The towers and domes of Askelon.
Priest, warrior, slave, a mighty crowd
Within her idol temple bowed.
Yet one knelt not; stark, gaunt, and blind,
His arms the massive pillars twined,—
An eyeless captive, strong with hate,
He stood there like an evil Fate.
The red shrines smoked — the trumpets pealed —
He stooped — the giant columns reeled —
Reeled tower and fane, sank arch and wall,
And the thick dust-cloud closed o'er all!
Above the shriek, the crash, the groan
Of the fallen pride of Askelon,
I heard, sheer down the echoing sky,
A voice as of an angel cry.—
The voice of him, who at our side
Sat through the golden eventide,
Of him, who on thy altar's blaze
Hose fire-winged, with his song of praise!
"Rejoice o'er Israel's broken chain,
Grey mother of the mighty slain!
Rejoice!" it cried, "He vanquished!
The strong in life is strong in death!
To him shall Zorah's daughters raise
Through coming years their hymns of praise,
And grey old men, at evening tell
Of all he wrought for Israel.
And they who sing and they who hear
Alike shall hold thy memory dear,
And pour their blessings on thy head,
Oh, mother of the mighty dead!"
It ceased: and though a sound I heard
As if great wings the still air stirred,
I only saw the barley sheaves,
And hills half hid by olive leaves.
I bowed my face, in awe and fear,
On the dear child who slumbered near,
""With me, as with my only son,
Oh God!" I said, "Thy -will Be Done!"
"Get ye up from the wrath of God's terrible day!
Ungirded, unsandalled, arise and away!
"Tis the vintage of blood — 'tis the fullness of time,
And vengeance shall gather the harvest of crime!
The warning was spoken — the righteous had gone,
And the proud ones of Sodom were feasting alone;
All gay was the banquet^the revel was long,
With the pouring of wine and the breathing of song.
'T was an evening of beauty; the air was perfume,
The earth was all greenness, the trees were all bloom;
And softly the delicate viol was heard,
Like the murmur of love or the notes of a bird.
And beautiful maidens moved down in the dance,
With the magic of motion and sunshine of glance;
And white arms wreathed lightly, and tresses fell free,
As the plumage of birds in some tropical tree.
Where the shrines of foul idols were lighted on high,
And wantonness tempted the lust of the eye;
Midst rites of obsceneness, strange, loathsome, abhorred,
The blasphemer scoffed at the name of the Lord.
Hark! the growl of the thunder — the quaking of earth!
Woe — woe to the worship, and woe to the mirth!
The black sky has opened — there's flame in the air —
The red arm of vengeance is lifted and bare!
Then the shriek of the dying rose wild where the song
And the low tone of love had been whispered along;
For the fierce flames went lightly o'er palace and bower,
Like the red tongues of demons, to blast and devour!
Down — down, on the fallen, the red ruin rained,
And the reveller sank with his wine-cup undrained;
The foot of the dancer, the music's loved thrill,
And the shout and the laughter grew suddenly still.
The last throb of anguish was fearfully given;
The last eye glared forth in its madness on Heaven!
The last groan of horror rose wildly and vain,
And death brooded over the pride of the Plain!
Sdn-light upon Judea's hills!
And on the waves of Galilee — On Jordan's stream, and on the rills
That feed the dead and sleeping sea! Most freshly from the green wood springs The light breeze on its scented wings; And gaily quiver in the sun The cedar tops of Lebanon!
A few more hours — a change hath come!
The sky is dark without a cloud! The shouts of wrath and joy are dumb,
And proud knees unto earth are bowed. A change is on the hill of Death, The helmed watchers pant for breath, And turn with wild and maniac eyes From the dark scene of sacrifice!
That Sacrifice ! — the death of Him —
The High and ever Holy One!
Well may the conscious Heaven grow dim,
And blacken the beholding Sun!
The wonted light hath fled away,
Night settles on the middle day,
And earthquake from his caverned bed
Is waking with a thrill of dread!
The dead are waking underneath!
Their prison door is rent away! And, ghastly with the seal of death,
They wander in the eye of day!