Page images

The oracles are dumb;


No voice or hideous hum

Runs through the arched roof in words deceiving. Apollo from his shrine

Can no more divine,

With hollow shriek the steep of Delphos leaving. No nightly trace or breathed spell

Inspires the pale-eyed priest from the prophetic cell.

The lonely mountains o'er,

And the resounding shore,


A voice of weeping heard and loud lament; From haunted spring, and dale

Edged with poplar pale,

The parting Genius is with sighing sent:

With flower-inwoven tresses torn,

The nymphs in twilight shade of tangled thickets mourn.

In consecrated earth,


The Lars and Lemures moan with midnight plaint;

And on the holy hearth,

In urns, and altars round,

A drear and dying sound

Affrights the Flamens at their service quaint;

And the chill marble seems to sweat,

While each peculiar power foregoes his wonted seat.




Peor and Baälim

Forsake their temples dim,

With that twice battered god of Palestine ;

And moonèd Ashtaroth,

Heaven's queen and mother both,

Now sits not girt with tapers' holy shine;

The Lybic Hammon shrinks his horn,


In vain the Tyrian maids their wounded Thammuz mourr.

And sullen Moloch, fled,

Hath left in shadows dread


His burning idol all of blackest hue; In vain with cymbals' ring

They call the grisly king,

In dismal dance about the furnace blue; The brutish gods of Nile as fast,

Isis and Orus, and the dog Anubis haste.


Nor is Osiris seen

In Memphian grove or green,

Trampling the unshowered grass with lowings loud: Nor can he be at rest

Within his sacred chest ;

Nought but profoundest Hell can be his shroud; In vain with timbreled anthems dark

The sable-stolèd sorcerers bear his worshipped ark.

He feels from Juda's land

The dreaded Infant's hand,


The rays of Bethlehem blind his dusky eyn: Nor all the gods beside

Longer dare abide;

Not Typhon huge ending in snaky twine!

Our Babe, to show his Godhead true,

Can in his swaddling bands control the damned crew.

So when the Sun, in bed

Curtained with cloudy red,


Pillows his chin upon an orient wave,

The flocking shadows pale

Troop to the infernal jail;

Each fettered ghost slips to his several grave;

And the yellow-skirted Fayes

Fly after the night-steeds, leaving their moon-loved maze.




But see the Virgin blest

Hath laid her Babe to rest:


Time is, our tedious song should here have ending:

Heaven's youngest-teemèd star

Hath fixed her polished car,

Her sleeping Lord with handmaid lamp attending:

And all about the courtly stable

Bright-harnessed angels sit in order serviceable.


EREWHILE of music, and ethereal mirth,
Wherewith the stage of air and earth did ring,
And joyous news of heavenly infant's birth,
My Muse with angels did divide to sing;

But headlong Joy is ever on the wing;

In wintry solstice like the shortened light

Soon swallowed up in dark and long out-living night.

For now to sorrow must I tune my song,

And set my harp to notes of saddest woe,

Which on our dearest Lord did seize ere long,

Dangers, and snares, and wrongs, and worse than so,
Which he for us did freely undergo:

Most perfect Hero, tried in heaviest plight

Of labours huge and hard,—too hard for human wight!

He, sovran Priest, stooping his regal head,
That dropped with odorous oil down his fair eyes,
Poor fleshly tabernacle entered,

[merged small][ocr errors]

His starry front low-roofed beneath the skies;

Oh, what a mask was there, what a disguise!

Yet more; the stroke of death he must abide;
Then lies him meekly down fast by his brethren's side.


These latest scenes confine my roving verse;
To this horizon is my Phoebus bound;

His godlike acts, and his temptations fierce,
And former sufferings, other where are found;
Loud o'er the rest Cremona's trump doth sound:
Me softer airs befit, and softer strings

Of lute, or viol still, more apt for mournful things.

Befriend me, Night! best patroness of grief;
Over the pole thy thickest mantle throw,

And work my flattered fancy to belief,

That Heaven and Earth are coloured with my woe:
My sorrows are too dark for day to know:

The leaves should all be black whereon I write !

And letters, where my tears have washed, a wannish white.

See! see the chariot! and those rushing wheels,

That whirled the prophet up at Chebar flood;
My spirit some transporting cherub feels,

To bear me where the towers of Salem stood,—
Once glorious towers, now sunk in guiltless blood;
There doth my soul in holy vision sit,

In pensive trance, and anguish, and ecstatic fit.

Mine eye hath found that sad sepulchral rock
That was the casket of Heaven's richest store;
And here, though grief my feeble hands up lock,
Yet on the softened quarry would I score
My plaining verse as lively as before;

For sure so well instructed are my tears,
That they would fitly fall in ordered characters.

Or should I, thence hurried on viewless wing,
Take up a weeping on the mountains wild,
The gentle neighbourhood of grove and spring
Would soon unbosom all their echoes mild;
And I (for grief is easily beguiled)

Might think the infection of my sorrows loud

Had got a race of mourners on some pregnant cloud.




This subject the Author finding to be above the years he had, when he wrote it, and nothing satisfied with what was begun, left it unfinished.


[To be set on a Clock-Casc.]

FLY, envious Time! till thou run out thy race;
Call on the lazy leaden-stepping hours,

Whose speed is but the heavy plummet's pace;
And glut thyself with what thy womb devours,
Which is no more than what is false and vain,
And merely mortal dross;

So little is our loss,

So little is thy gain!

For when as each thing bad thou hast entombed,

And last of all thy greedy self consumed,

Then long Eternity shall greet our bliss

With an individual kiss;

And Joy shall overtake us as a flood,

When everything that is sincerely good

And perfectly divine,

With Truth, and Peace, and Love, shall ever shine

About the supreme throne

Of him, to whose happy-making sight alone

When once our heav'nly-guided soul shall climb,

Then, all this earthly grossness quit,

Attired with stars, we shall for ever sit,

Triumphing over Death, and Chance, and thee, O Time!


YE flaming Powers, and wingèd Warriors bright!
That erst with music, and triumphant song,
First heard by happy watchful shepherds' ear,
So sweetly sung your joy the clouds along
Through the soft silence of the listening night,—
Now mourn! and, if sad share with us to bear
Your fiery essence can distil no tear,

Burn in your sighs, and borrow

Seas wept from our deep sorrow:



« PreviousContinue »