Page images
PDF
EPUB

And now cross Fates a watch about thee

keep.

Canst thou be careless now? now canst thou sleep?

LVIII

"Where art thou, man? what cowardly mistake Of thy great self hath stolen king Herod from

thee?

O, call thyself home to thyself; wake, wake,
And fence the hanging sword Heaven throws
upon thee:

Redeem a worthy wrath, rouse thee, and shake
Thyself into a shape that may become thee.

Be Herod, and thou shalt not miss from me
Immortal stings to thy great thoughts, and
thee."

LIX

So said, her richest snake, which to her wrist
For a beseeming bracelet she had tied
(A special worm it was as ever kissed

The foamy lips of Cerberus 1), she applied
To the king's heart; the snake no sooner hissed
But Virtue heard it, and away she hied.

Dire flames diffuse themselves through every vein;

This done, home to her Hell she hied amain.

LX

He wakes, and with him (ne'er to sleep) new

fears:

His sweat-bedewèd bed hath now betrayed him

1 The three-headed dog that guarded the gate of Hades. Around his necks snakes coiled.

To a vast field of thorns; ten thousand spears
All pointed in his heart seemed to invade him:
So mighty were th' amazing characters

With which his feeling dream had thus dis-
mayed him,

He his own fancy-framèd foes defies:

In rage, "My arms, give me my arms," he

cries.

LXI

As when a pile of food-preparing fire
The breath of artificial lungs embraves,
The cauldron-prisoned waters straight conspire,
And beat the hot brass with rebellious waves;
He murmurs, and rebukes their bold desire;

Th' impatient liquor frets, and foams, and raves,
Till his o'erflowing pride suppress the flame,
Whence all his high spirits and hot courage

came.

LXII

So boils the firèd Herod's blood-swollen breast,
Not to be slaked but by a sea of blood.
His faithless crown he feels loose on his crest,

Which on false tyrant's head ne'er firmly stood. The worm of jealous envy and unrest,

To which his gnawed heart is the growing food,

Makes him impatient of the lingering light,
Hate the sweet peace of all-composing Night.

LXIII

A thousand prophecies, that talk strange things, Had sown of old these doubts in his deep breast;

And now of late came tributary kings,
Bringing him nothing but new fears from th'
East,

More deep suspicions, and more deadly stings,
With which his feverous cares their cold in-
creased;

And now his dream (Hell's firebrand), still
more bright,

Showed him his fears, and killed him with the
sight.

LXIV

No sooner therefore shall the Morning see

(Night hangs yet heavy on the lids of Day), But all the counsellors must summoned be

To meet their troubled lord: without delay Heralds and messengers immediately

Are sent about, who posting every way

To th' heads and officers of every band,
Declare who sends, and what is his command.

LXV

Why art thou troubled, Herod? what vain fear

Thy blood-revolving breast to rage doth move? Heaven's King, Who doffs Himself weak flesh to

wear,

Comes not to rule in wrath, but serve in love: Nor would He this thy feared crown from thee

tear,

But give thee a better with Himself above.

Poor jealousy! why should He wish to prey
Upon thy crown, Who gives His own away?

[ocr errors]

LXVI

Make to thy reason, man, and mock thy doubts; Look how below thy fears their causes are; Thou art a soldier, Herod; send thy scouts,

See how He's furnished for so feared a war. What armour does He wear? a few thin clouts. His trumpets? tender cries. His men, to dare So much? rude shepherds. What His steeds?

alas,
Poor beasts! a slow ox and a simple ass.

IL FINE DEL PRIMO LIBRO.

THE HYMN OF ST. THOMAS

IN ADORATION OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT
Ecce Panis Angelorum: Adoro Te

WITH powers my poor heart hath

all the

Of humble love and loyal faith,

Thus low (my hidden life) I bow to Thee,
Whom too much love hath bow'd more low for me.
Down, down, proud Sense, discourses die,
Keep close, my soul's inquiring eye;
Nor Touch nor Taste must look for more,
But each sit still in his own door.

Your ports are all superfluous here,
Save that which lets in Faith, the ear.
Faith is my skill; Faith can believe
As fast as Love new laws can give.
Faith is my force: Faith strength affords
To keep pace with those pow'rful words.
1 Gates-doors.

And words more sure, more sweet than they,
Love could not think, Truth could not say.

O let Thy wretch find that relief
Thou didst afford the faithful thief.
Plead for me, Love! allege and show
That Faith has farther here to go,
And less to lean on: because then
Though hid as God, wounds writ Thee man;
Thomas might touch, none but might see

At least the suffering side of Thee;

And that too was Thyself which Thee did cover, But here ev'n that's hid too which hides the other.

Sweet, consider then, that I,
Though allowed nor hand nor eye

To reach at Thy loved face; nor can
Taste Thee God, or touch Thee Man,
Both yet believe, and witness Thee
My Lord too, and my God, as loud as he.

Help, Lord, my faith, my hope increase, And fill my portion in Thy peace: Give love for life; nor let my days Grow, but in new powers to Thy Name and Praise.

O dear memorial of that Death

Which lives still, and allows us breath,
Rich, Royal Food, Bountiful Bread,
Whose use denies us to the dead;
Whose vital gust alone can give
The same leave both to eat and live.
Live ever, Bread of loves, and be
My life, my soul, my surer self to me.

« PreviousContinue »