« PreviousContinue »
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 breathèd 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 mooned 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,
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,
Most perfect Hero, tried in heaviest plight
Of labours huge and hard,-too hard for human wight!
He, sovran Priest, stooping his regal head,
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;
These latest scenes confine my roving verse;
His godlike acts, and his temptations fierce,
Of lute, or viol still, more apt for mournful things.
Befriend me, Night! best patroness of grief;
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,
My spirit some transporting cherub feels,
To bear me where the towers of Salem stood,
Once glorious towers, now sunk in guiltless blood;
In pensive trance, and anguish, and ecstatic fit.
Mine eye hath found that sad sepulchral rock
For sure so well instructed are my tears,
Or should I, thence hurried on viewless wing,
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;
Whose speed is but the heavy plummet's pace;
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!
UPON THE CIRCUMCISION.
YE flaming Powers, and wingèd Warriors bright!
Burn in your sighs, and borrow
Seas wept from our deep sorrow: