Early Writing in Canada
The Captivity in Babylon
11th Sep 2021Posted in: Early Writing in Canada, Joseph Hart Clinch 0

THE

CAPTIVITY IN BABYLON.

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THE

CAPTIVITY IN BABYLON

AND

OTHER POEMS.

——————

BY THE

REV. JOSEPH H. CLINCH, A.M.

——————

BOSTON:

JAMES BURNS, 104 WASHINGTON STREET.

……………

……………

1840.

[unnumbered page]

[handwritten: PS 1351

.C5]

DUTTON & WENTWORTH’S

Steam Press.

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CONTENTS.

THE CAPTIVITY IN BABYLON,

1

AMERICAN ANTIQUITIES,

61

MEMORY,

66

THE PLAY-GROUND REVISITED,

70

BY-GONE DAYS,

73

NIAGARA,

77

ATHENS,

82

SPRING,

85

TO A CLOUD,

89

RIZPAH,

93

LETHE,

98

THE PASSAGE OF THE JORDAN,

105

THE KENNEBEC,

111

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TO

THE EROSOPHIAN ADELPHI

OF

Waterbille College, Maine,

THIS POEM,

DELIVERED BEFORE THEM

AT THEIR RECENT ANNIVERSARY,

IS DEDICATED.

Boston, September, 1839. [unnumbered page]

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ERRATA

LOCATION

ERROR

Page 46, 47

Missing a footnote number

Page 56, 9.2

“.” added after “15”

[unnumbered page]

THE

CAPTIVITY IN BABYLON

I.

    NOT through the maze of philosophic song,

    Nor o’er the wilds of metaphysic lore,

    Although to these unnumbered themes belong,

    The muse to-day on trembling wing would soar;—

    In homely guise she seeks to wander o’er

    The fields of simple Narrative again,

    And, taught by voices from the Past, to pour

    Her descant wild, commingled with the strain

Which swept from Judah’s harps o’er Babel’s spacious plain. [page 1]

II.

    Broad is the plain of Shinar,1 and as fair

    As it is broad and fertile; vineyards rise

    And waving cornfields glimmer here and there

    Through groves of spreading palms: the cloudless skies

    Bend in blue arch above—the South wind’s sighs

    Breathe perfume round, and the Euphrates, slow,

    Deep and majestic, like a mirror lies

    Catching morn’s earliest glory, as still low

The orient sun springs up, bidding all nature glow.

III.

    But not on thee, Euphrates, his first smile

    Falls, as he looks on Earth;—long ere thy stream

    Reddens beneath his radiance, the tall pile

    Of Belus hails his coming, and a beam

    Of brightness wraps his towers in one rich gleam

    Of ruby and of gold: then down the wall

    Runs the rich glory, till, like fairy dream

    Palace and arch and dome and pillar tall

Burst brilliant on the eye from Night’s enclosing pall. [page 2]

IV.

    There standeth Babylon the mighty:2—grand,

    Lovely and lone amid the spreading plain,

    E’en as an Eastern queen may proudly stand

    Without a rival near: the eye in vain

    Strives the stupendous object to contain;

    For by the river’s brink on either side

    For many a mile (by tall and gilded fane

    And waving garden3 in exalted pride

O’ertopped) the giant wall outstretches high and wide.

V.

    And many a dark-browed gate, by massive shaft

    Flanked, and surmounted by deep chiselled stone,

    On which the handiwork of skilful craft

    Its efforts deemed exhausted, there hath shown

    Serpents bright scaled in many a tortuous zone

    Knotted and twined;—the valves of solid ore

    Below fling back the splendors o’er them thrown

    From the unclouded sun, while on the floor

Broadly the shadows sleep by niche and corridor. [page 3]

VI.

    Above, high up along the frowning wall

    Hang the embattled parapets, which sweep

    In long perspective onward, until all

    Melt in the distance, though the eye may keep

    For many a mile beyond (until the deep

    Dimness of space forbids) the towers which hide

    The archers and balistæ; bright they sleep,

    Crowning the long defences, in the tide

Which morning pours around on all that home of Pride.

VII.

    Within, along her streets of palaces,

    The mighty stream of human lie rolls by,—

    Sorrow and Joy, and Pain and careless Ease,

    Youth and Old Age—Beauty—Deformity—

    Health—Sickness—Want and Splendor—on the eye

    Press million after million, though the street

    Hath yet uncrowded space: the busy cry

    Of Labor, and the sounds of myriad feet

And Art’s continual hum, in one wild murmur meet. [page 4]

VIII.

    Nor from the streets alone the sounds of life

    Rise in commingled tones;—the porticoes—

    The temple steps—the walls—with noise are rife,—

    The bridge across the river’s deep repose

    Swarms with its thousands, and the stairs4 which close

    The stream on either hand are tenanted;

    And music over all its softness throws

    From many a pinnace, gilt and garlanded,

With flags and silken sails o’er broad Euphrates spread.

IX.

    And here and there along the level way

    Pass menial bands, with robes of Tyrian dye,

    Of guarding slaves, whose mistress goes to pay

    Her early call of courtesy:—on high

    O’er her gemmed litter spreads a canopy

    Of silk whose crimson folds the morning gale

    Plays gaily with, and flutters fitful by,

    Lifting the fringe, whose silver bells their tale

Of tinkling music tell—a soft, rich, slumberous wail. [page 5]

X.

    High on the echoing road which bends around

    The lofty summit of the broad-topped wall,

    Sweeps by, with glittering pomp and thundering sound,

    The chariot of some noble, whom the call

    Of duty of pleasure wakes to all

    The glories of the scene:—his prancing steeds

    Fret on the golden bit, and toss their tall

    White plumes, and shake their breast-encircling beads,

And stamp with restless foot, if aught their course impedes.

XI.

    While stationed at each gemmed and studded rein

    Attendants run in splendid dress arrayed,

    Their turbans looped with jewels and their cane

    Of office with bright rings of gold inlaid;

    And low upon the dust each servile head

    Bends in profound obeisance as that train

    Of gorgeous state sweeps by; too well repaid

    If the proud Satrap from his height but deign

To have his ivory wand, and bid them rise again. [page 6]

XII.

    But lo! he pauses o’er the Western gate,

    And looks across the plain with eager gaze,

    Along whose level margin (which but late

    Slept still and silent in the day-god’s blaze,

    Moving alone with morning’s gauze-like haze,)

    Now sweeps a long, dark, slowly moving train,

    Which, as it nears the City wall, displays

    Steeds, camels, oxen with groaning wain,

And footmen, dragging slow the weary step of pain.

XIII.

    Who may they be?—Traders from foreign land

    Laden with godly merchandise?—bright gold

    From distant Ophir? gems of Afric’s strand?

    Linens from Egypt? gums of price untold,

    And rich Sabæan odors, to be rolled

    In smoking incense at the gleaming shrine

    Of Belus or Ashtaroth? or hold

    Those heavy wains, the juice of Sibmah’s vine,

Or that from farther hills where milder suns may shine? [page 7]

XIV.

   Yet why with lance and banner come they on?

   Thy need not these on peaceful journey bent

   O’er Shinar’s plain to strong-armed Babylon.

   Is it some distant Satrap who hath sent

   His troops with long owed tribute, to prevent

   The monarch’s rising anger?—or the king

   Perchance hath humbled Judah, for he went

   From Babylon so purposed,5 and doth bring

The nation at his feet their lives and wealth to fling.

XV.

    Yes! tis rebellious Judah;—gleaming there

    In splendid heaps upon the wains behold

    Flagons and cups and goblets passing fair,

    And rich chased chalices with lips of gold—

    The vessels of their worship—formed to hold

    Incense and wine and blood of sacrifice;

    And golden lamps, and, wrapped in many a fold,

    The rich, mysterious Veil; and gems of price

Which decked her priests who stood in sacrificial guise. [page 8]

XVI.

    And altars there are piled in goodly show,

    Plated and cased with gold, around whose rim

    Rise crowns of chiselled ore in many a row,

    With brazen gratings for the quivering limb

    Of lighted sacrifice: the gold is dim

    Still with the sprinkled blood which fell around

    As, with the smoke, to Heaven arose the hymn

    From white stoled Levites, chanting to the sound

Of psaltery and of harp within the Temple’s bound.

XVII.

    And there are silver cymbals which gave out

    Their clashing music in the battle’s van,

    And bannered trumpets which prolonged the shout

    Which, through the land to hail the new-moon, ran

    From Beersheba to ocean-girdled Dan;

    There in rich piled the golden censers lie

    Dark with the incense smoke which rose to fan

    The sacrificial flame,—and, piled on high

Jewels and gems and vests and cloths of gorgeous dye. [page 9]

XVIII.

    And there, surmounting all the splendid heap,

    The gilded table stands, whereupon were laid,

    In golden baskets richly carved and deep,

    The cakes and loaves of consecrated bread;

    And there the Cherubim with wings outspread,

    Guarding the Mercy Seat—the golden lid

    Of the much treasured Ark,—wherein the dread

    Stone tables of the Law are closely hid,

And many a hold thing to touch and sight forbid.6

XIX.

    The escort to the gates their jaded steeds

    Urge in advance: wide at their coming flies

    The brazen door, and he the band who leads

    Springs through the arch and to the palace hies,

    To meet the Viceroy: there in humble guise

    He speaks the monarch’s orders to admit

    The captive nation—furnish due supplies—

    Assign their quarters—and at season fit

Duties entrust to each which none might intermit. [page 10]

XX.

    The massy bolts from every gate are drawn

    Along the Western wall, and two by two

    The weary captives march desponding on

    To exile and to bondage: there were few

    E’en in that home of triumph who could view

    With tearless eye the sad procession form;

    On every captive check the pallid hue

    Of pain and sorrow sat, and though still warm,

Like Summer’s rain, their tears, how bitter was that storm!

XXI.

    There passed the sorrowing Monarch by decree

    Of his stern foe forbid to see the woes

    Which none but demons could untroubled see;

    A linen bandage winds its foldings close

    Around his orbless brow,7 which burns and glows

    With smart or recent torture;—whilst his mind

    Revolves the double prophecy,8 he knows

    The truth he doubted once, when doubly blind,

From other hands than GOD’S, safety he sought to find. [page 11]

XXII.

    There passed the weeping Priest;—his ephod rent,

    His long, white vestment deeply soiled with blood,

    Partly from bleeding victim when he bent

    Before the altar,—partly from the flood

    Which flowed around him as in arms he stood

    Guarding the Temple from the spoiler’s hand—

    But all in vain! In melancholy mood

    He treads the streets of exile ’mid the band

With bondage cursed for sin, slaves in a foreign land.

XXIII.

    There passed the widowed Mother, at whose side

    Two weeping orphans clung—their father lay

    Lifeless amid the desolation wide

    Of overthrown Jerusalem, and they

    Following their wretched mother far away

    From their dear home, now swelled the troubled stream

    Of grief, which through the open gates, to-day

    Of Babylon flowed in, o’er which no beam

Of hope or comfort fell, its darkness to redeem. [page 12]

XXIV.

    There passed the childless Father, though his arm

    Bore what was late of nine the youngest born,

    Fair scions which, alas! the ruthless storm

    Had from the blighted trunk too rudely torn;

    For days of pain and sorrow he had worn

    That faded flower upon his heart, too dear—

    Too precious to relinquish; and forlorn

    His silent partner followed ever near,

Yet sorrow’s founts were dry, for neither shed a tear.

XXV.

    And there the noble Youth, whose brow displayed

    The lines of age by toil and misery traced,

    And at his side a pale and weeping maid

    Hands on the arm which clasps her fragile waist;

    In happier days that sinking form had graced

    Her childhood’s home, and that wan lover deemed,

    With youth’s impatience, Time too leaden-paced,

    And oft of coming hopes and joys he dreamed,

And that near marriage-feast which all too distant seemed; [page 13]

XXVI.

    Till, when that morning dawned, and many a guest

    Donned for the bridal halls his robes of pride,

    He saw the troops of Babylon invest

    The ancient City round on every side;—

    And hill and vale in morn’s refulgent tide

    Flashed with the gold and armour of the foe,

    And in the home where Pleasure should abide

    Came, all unbidden guests, Distress and Woe

And Terror, o’er the board their blasting sight to throw.

XXVII.

    On—on they passed:—a melancholy train—

    A concentration of all care—all woe—

    All heart-subduing sorrow and all pain

    That Hate and War and Conquest can bestow;

    There all the closest ties the heart can know

    Asunder had been rent, and despot Hate

    Had bade the cup of bitterness o’erflow,

    And yet it was not full! On their sad state

Exile and pinching want and degradation wait. [page 14]

XXVIII.

    Crushed and deserted Judah! thou hast left

    No name among the nations; for a race

    Once hated—scorned and humbled, has bereft

    Thee of thy ancient heritage and place:

    And slavery now, and toil and deep disgrace

    Must be thy portion. Once thou wast a queen,

    Virgin of Judah! and thy haughty face

    Was beautiful, but dreadful to be seen

By the fierce nations round who on thy aid would lean.

XXIX.

    But now thy sceptre is departed:—lone

    Thou sittest by the streams of Babylon,

    Waking in grief thy wild harp’s saddest tone,

    Wailing the former days and glories gone;

    For of thy greatness now remains not one

    Poor remnant, but within a foreign land,

    A stranger and a slave, thou toilest on,

    Eating the bread of sorrow, and thy hand

Fulfils from day to day a master’s stern command. [page 15]

XXX.

    No Temple sacred to JEHOVAH’S name,

    Arises near thee in its solemn state,

    Echoing with hallelujahs’ loud acclaim,

    From countless numbers, who impatient wait

    Admittance at its strong, majestic gate,

    Or from its ample court in volumes vast

    Rolling the smoke of sacrifice: stern Hate

    Hath to the ground its lofty turrets cast,

And o’er its broken walls hath Desolation passed.

XXXI.

    The holy fire9 in darkness hath gone out,

    So long preserved with strict religious care,

    No more in arms thy gathered people shout,

    And white-robed priests the Ark to battle bear;

    The Urim and the Thummin10 are not there,

    Nor golden cup of manna undecayed,

    Nor Aaron’s rod with budding blossoms fair,

    Nor those mysterious tablets which were made

On Sinai’s awful top, when GOD his power displayed. [page 16]

XXXII.

    Thy sins have been thy curse, and GOD hath used

    But as an instrument proud Babel’s might,

    To humble and to punish;—that, accused

    By thine own thoughts, and by the holy light

    Which prophecy shall shed, thy bondage-night

    May in its dark and lonely hours display

    Visions of mercy to thy spirit’s sight,

    To point to thee Hope’s angel-trodden way,

And bid thee feel thy sins, and mourn, repent, and pray.

            *            *            *            *            *           *

XXXIII.

    Years have passed by:—to Dura’s spacious plain

    Millions are hurrying, not from thee alone,

    Thou royal City, but they pour amain

    From distant provinces and tribes unknown;

    The neighbor towns and cities, too, have thrown

    Their streams of life thereon, and from the crowd

    Voices of every dialect and tone

    Rise mingled, as of old the discord loud

Rose that very plain,11 when GOD dispersed the proud. [page 17]

XXXIV.

    Thither from Persis came they, and the lands

    Of far Carmania—Syria also sent

    Her rough barbarians, with the distant bands

    Of Bactria and Armenia;—others bent

    Their steps from Media, and from many a tent

    Arabia poured her thousands; and the men

    Of Tadmor came: Elam and Susa lent

    Their dwellers with Ecbatana, for then

A summons called them there which none might hear again.

XXXV.

    Rising in splendor o’er each meaner thing,

    Tall, lone and glorious, stands a god of gold,12

    Whose features in the sunlight glimmering

    Smile warm and bright—though all within is cold.

    Ah! many an idol since to man hath told

    Its falsehood by such smiles. Then clear and high

    Arise the voice of heralds, who unfold

    The King’s command, to worship there or die

In yonder sea of flame that roars and flashes nigh. [page 18]

XXXVI.

    Forthwith harmonious tones upon the air

    Of that still morning rise with thrilling note,

    Wild as the sounds Æolian harp-strings bear,

    Now swelling near—now more and more remote,

    Yet in such sweet accordancy they float,

    That magic hands appear to guide the strain;

    The hushed and ravished multitude devote

    Attention so profound, that they remain

Forgetful of the god a moment on the plain.

XXXVII.

    Sudden the music ceased; to thought recalled,

    The head of all, as one vast body, bowed;

    Prostrate upon the earth they fall, appalled

    By the dark smoke which rose in sulph’rous cloud

    From the dread furnace near; the mighty crowd

    Sank—but erect, amid the suppliants there,

    Three noble forms remained—untrembling—proud—

    Bold in a righteous cause, they scorned to share

The rites to idols paid—the foul, unholy prayer. [page 19]

XXXVIII.

    And from the fiery trial forth they came

    Unblackened and unhurt; no hair was singed—

    No garment injured in that sea of flame;

    The fires had lost their energies, and tinged

    Scarce with a ruddier glow those features fringed

    With manhood’s earliest down; for GOD was there

    Supporting those who honored him, nor cringed

    Before a tyrant who would gold compare

With Him who rolls the orbs through boundless fields of air.

XXXIX.

    Awed into admiration of His power,

    The King ascribes to GOD the honor due,

    And loads with gifts the men who would not cower

    Before those threats whose ruthless ire they knew,

    Proving by faith that Judah’s GOD was true;—

    Stations of trust he delegates to those

    Whom late he doomed to ruin, and the Jew

    Perceived his burdens lightened, and his woes

Vanish before the smiles the monarch now bestows. [page 20]

XL.

    Heavy the griefs that Judah’s heart had pressed:

    For black had been her sins, and long the scroll

    Of her abominations; she had dressed

    Her priests in Baal’s vestments, and the stole

    Of those who from unhallowed censers roll

    The incense unto Dagon, and had built

    To unknown gods and devils, and the whole

    Bright host of Heaven rich altars, and in guilt,

E’en in GOD’S house, the blood of sacrifice had split.

XLI.

    She had profaned His Temple, and had given

    The worship due to Him to tree and stone,

    And thus called down the bitter wrath of Heaven

    Long waked, but long delayed:—her crimes had grown

    Beyond the reach of pardon, and the throne

    And sceptre passed away to other hands;

    Then in her long captivity her moan

    Ascended to the Mercy Seat, her bands

Are one by one relaxed, her wakening heart expands. [page 21]

XLII.

    Again the prophets of the Highest bear

    Kind messages of mercy, holding out

    Hope, pardon, peace, to penitence and prayer,

    But bitterer woes to those who blindly scout

    The offers of His love; doubt after doubt

    Melts like a cloud away; for grief had taught

    Humility of heart, and whilst about

    Their bosoms played the ever cheering thought

Of freedom and of home, their cares they half forgot.

XLIII.

    Among the messengers of GOD, who came

    In mercy to his people, Daniel rose,

    For wisdom honored much,—for holy flame

    Of inspiration more;—he came with those

    Sad exiles to the City of their foes

    A child,—supported o’er the toilsome road

    In that safe seat a mother’s love bestows,—

    Her tireless arm; and well the precious load

Repaid her tender care and blessed her lone abode. [page 22]

XLIV.

    And former monarchs to their palace led

    And loved the Hebrew boy, and soon he knew

    All lore by Eastern sages write or read,

    And angels from the founts of wisdom flew,

    And bathed his brow with inspiration’s dew,

    And touched his lips with fire; and when there came

    Heaven-messaged visions on the monarch’s view,

    That youth put all Chaldea’s seers to shame,

And thus to honors rose, to favor and to fame.

XLV.

    The courts of Belus’ temple flash with light

    Gleaming from thousand lamps; around are spread

    Banquets of royal luxury, which invite

    The sated sense anew. His mighty head

    High o’er the feast,13 with costly incense fed,

    The grim-eyed idol rears; and wanton song,

    And drunken revel, by Belshazzar led,

    Rise round it as fit worship, and prolong

E’en to the midnight hour the joys of that lewd throng. [page 23]

XLVI.

    Dizzy with love and wine, and deeming all

    Those pleasures naught, till stern excitement throw

    Her frenzied joys around him, at his call

    The slaves of proud Belshazzar, bending low,

    Bear in the golden cups, whose burnished glow

    Reflected once the altar of the LORD,

    In Judah’s ruined Temple; they o’erflow

    Now with unhallowed wine, where rites abhorred

And sensual pleasures reign around the madman’s board.

XLVII.

    And Nisroc, Ashtaroth and Bel behold

    Their sin-polluted altars freely flow

    With deep libations from those cups of gold

    Used in JEHOVAH’S worship long ago;

    The very flames that o’er their grimness throw

    A flickering radiance, rise from golden stem

    And polished branch, which caught its earliest glow

    From thy shrined Sheckinah, Jerusalem,

Flashing reflected light on purple, ore and gem. [page 24]

XLVIII.

    What dims the waning lamps?—Hath morning burst

    Too soon upon the revel?—No! a light

    As brilliant, but less gladsome, catches first

    The trembling monarch’s eye, and blasts his sight.

    His cheek hath lost its flush, and wild affright

    Seizes on him and all his thoughtless crew;

    Along the wall a visioned hand doth write

    Strange characters of fire, whose threatening hue

Throws with a fearful glare each object on the view.

XLIX.

    Summoned in haste with scrolls of mystic lore,

    And potent rods and robes of sombre dye,

    And girdles, with strange letters painted o’er,

    Swept by their snowy beards, the wise men hie,

    And by the seat of splendor prostrate lie,

    Waiting the King’s behest; his trembling hand

    Points to the flashing letters, and with eye

    Averted still, he bids the wondering band

Reveal the words of fate that all might understand. [page 25]

L.

    Dismayed they pause: their thoughtful eyes they strain

    Long on the gleaming words, then seek the line

    Of wisdom in their scrolls, but seek in vain;

    Each to the other makes some silent sign

    To ask if there be hope the words divine

    To read and to unravel, but reply

    Receiveth none, and still the letters shine,

    Glaring with awful brightness from on high,

Full on the baffled seers and the pale company.

LI.

    “What! is there none whose magic skill can read

    Those letters of astonishment and fear,”

    The King exclaimed, “and to their purport lead

    My troubled thoughts? Is there no prophet here?

    I will give glory to the godlike seer

    Who leads my mind this hidden thing to know.

    Wealth shall be his, and fame—he shall appear

    Enrobed in regal scarlet, while below

The throne but three degrees his seat I will bestow.” [page 26]

LII.

    Then, called in haste, Daniel before him stood,

    Severe, yet modest, and unawed, as one

    Long conversant with courts; the wall he viewed

    A moment where the wondrous writing shone,

    Then turned him to the King:14 “to me be none

    Such gifts, O Prince! but hear from lip unpaid

    The doom thou hast awaked and cannot shun,

    The judgments now to burst upon thy head,

Traced by the hand of GOD, and soon to be displayed.

LIII.

   “Thy sire by Sorrow’s teaching learned to own

   That GOD alone rules Earth: and that His will

   Bestows on each the sceptre and the throne,

   Till they their several destinies fulfil:—

   And this thou knew’st; and yet, rebellious still,

   Hath scorned JEHOVAH, daring to pollute

   These holy vessels, and from them to spill

   Libations at an imaged monster’s foot,

Honoring above thy GOD dæmon or the brute. [page 27]

LIV.

    “Hear then the message HE to thee conveys

    By this mysterious writing, clear and bright:

    MENE—thy kingdom hath fulfilled its days,

    Thy reign shall end on this eventful night:—

    TEKEL—the balance hath declared thee light,

    For thou by God’s just judgments hast been weighed,

    PEREZ, division cometh, and the might

    Of Media and of Persia shall invade

This thy ancestral seat, and seize thy sceptre-blade.”

LV.

   The prophet’s duty fulfilled—the hand

   Fades, like a fleeting shadow, from the view,

   No longer in their withering brightness stand

   Along the wall the mystic words which threw

   So late around their doom-denouncing hue;—

   Through heavy arch and brazen gateway passed

   The holy man, though oft as he withdrew,

   Pausing, a sad and pitying glance he cast

O’er the pale revellers there—that banquet was their last. [page 28]

LVI.

    But with the hand and with the words of fate

    Passed to the winds the terrors which had thrown

    Their cloud upon the festival;—elate

    Belshazzar bids his guests in gayest tone

    Drown graver thoughts, and leave the dim, unknown

    Future to seers and dreamers:—high in pride

    He lifts a bowl, whose golden radiance shone

    Bright through the purple stream which laves its side,

As on the ground he pours the full libation tide:—

LVII.

    Then to his lip:—but why in startled haste

    Doth his unsteady hand relax its hold,

    Bathing the marble pavement with rich waste,

    As rings upon its stones the empty gold?

    Why, springing to his feet, doth he unfold

    The royal purple from his breast, and throw

    His diadem to Earth? A shout hath rolled

    From broad Euphrates’ banks, and cries of woe

Rise on the midnight air and fill the courts below. [page 29]

LVIII.

    The Median is upon thee! He hath turned

    Aside Euphrates’ waters15 from their bed,

    And through its arch and empty channel learned

    The pathway to thy palace, and hath sped

    Up through the open gates, which should have spread

    Their barriers riverward, his course to stay;

    Hopeless defence! the infuriate foemen tread

    O’er useless arms, and on the marble way

The wine enfeebled guards and silken menials slay.

LIX.

    On, on like torrents from the mountains hurled,

    Rush the invaders to their glorious prey;

    The joys of sense have all of their lures unfurled,

    And beckon onward through the bloody way:

    Riches more vast than in her wildest play

    Fancy could paint or Avarice could require,

    Doth Babel, in her regal affluence, lay

    Before the astonished sense, and that soft fire

By lewd Astarté lit, and fanned by wild Desire. [page 30]

LX.

    And slight repulse from faint-souled troops they meet,

    And soft, luxurious slaves; wide, wide they swarm

    Through many a sculptured arch and palaced street,

    And Belus echoes to the loud alarm;

    Around his feet the jewelled floor is warm

    With blood of thousand worshippers, who lift

    Their hands to him for safety,—but his arm

    And glance alike are impotent, and swift

The Median’s sabre sweeps;—the tomb hath many a gift.

LXI.

    The courts which echoed late with shout and song

    And revelry and mirth,—resound with wail

    And shriek and lamentation, loud and long;

    The voice of Power can now no more avail,

    Nor Beauty’s mute appeal, as trembling, pale,

    She spreads her hands and lifts her brow of light,

    And those wild, lustrous eyes, whose eloquent tale

    Then first no pity moved;—the dæmon might

Of Fury baffled long, now gains its curbless height. [unnumbered page]

LXII.

    But of that coward herd which knelt before

    The Persian’s arm, one heart had thrown aside

    His woman’s softness, and stood forth no more

    A pale-eyed Sybarite; but kingly pride,

    And stern resolve to meet the o’erwhelming tide,

    And noble daring, in his form and eye,

    At length had found their home, and flashing wide

    His death-bestowing scymetar on high,

Swept with the whirlwind’s power, and bade the bravest fly.

LXIII.

    Behind a wall of slaughtered foes he stood,

    Like lion turned to bay; around him fell

    Arrow and javelin, thirsting for his blood,

    In frequent shower, ringing continuous knell

    Upon his full orbed shield; and oft the swell

    Of victory’s shouting, premature, arose,

    As near him flew some lance directed well,

    Of grazing arrow point, for still his foes

Feared his excited ire, nor dared around him close. [page 32]

LXIV.

    Sudden a shout was heard—a warrior sprang

    Beyond the bleeding mound, and, hand to hand,

    Long time their clashing blades and bucklers rang,

    While breathless stillness falls on either band;

    Invaders and invaded, on the grand

    Yet awful scene, intensely looking on,

    And leaning on their useless weapons, stand;

    One falls—Belshazzar’s fated life is gone—

Darius—thine alone is wide-walled Babylon.

LXV.

    Babel hath fallen, but Judah is not free—

    She hath but changed her master—yet her yoke

    Doth daily press less heavily, and she

    Dares to believe that Freedom’s keen-edged stroke,

    Which once in Egypt slavery’s fetters broke,

    Full soon may fall. Her sons to honors rise—

    Jewels and gold adorn the purple cloak

    Which vests her Daniel with authorities,

And powers, assigned to none but those whom monarchs prize. [page 33]

LXVI.

    O’er six score subject provinces preside

    As many favored nobles, over whom

    Is placed a high triumvirate, and wide

    Its sway, and irreversible its doom;

    It holds the reins of empire, and the room

    Wherein it sits, displays a thronging crew

    Of summoned princes, doffing helm and plume

    Before its power,—but chief is honor due

To him, first noble there,—a captive and a Jew!

LXVII.

    But in that chair of state doth Daniel meet

    The meed that haunteth all of humble state,

    By merit lifted to the dizzy seat

    Of influence and honor:—Envy—Hate—

    Assumed Contempt—yet inward Dread—await

    Around his path; his rivals, day by day,

    Station their spies around his palace gate,

    And seek to snare him, but his perfect way

Beams, like the virgin ore, more bright from the assay. [page 34]

LXVIII.

    And therefore he must fall: his virtue shines

    Too bright, too dazzling, for their clouded eyes,

    And his stern honor thwarts their base designs;

    He worships not their gods. The fact supplies

    A ready path to vengeance. Then arise

    Fawning and cunning voices round the throne:

    “O King! the good, the noble and the wise,

    Have framed an edict, that to thee alone

For thirty days shall prayer or suppliant vow be known.

LXIX.

    “And if to any other, save to thee,

    The voice of supplication shall ascend,

    Then with the lions let his portion be,

    Who dares the laws of Media to offend;

    That this be ‘stablished, let thy hand append

    Thy seal and signature, that every one

    Where’er thy mighty empire shall extend,

    May know the royal will.” The deed is done,—

And Media’s laws change not,—Daniel, thy race is run! [page 35]

LXX.

    The edict has gone forth:— “behold how smiles

    The stern triumvir as he hears his doom!

    Let him sneer on—he shall not scape our wiles,

    But sink accursed within a living tomb:—

    The sun’s descending glory lights the room

    Where stands our victim, but its parting ray

    Tomorrow shall that gorgeous hall illume,

    And find no Daniel there!”—He kneels to pray,

Turning with his hand and eye far to the West16 away:

LXXI.

    Sunrise is gilding Babylon:—again

    His foes assemble in the street below,

    Watching with eager eye and ear, to gain

    More certain proof their victim to o’erthrow;

    Morn’s balmy breathings through the casement flow,

    And there again the holy prophet kneels

    In calm yet deep devotion, and the glow

    Of solemn rapture lights his cheek, and seals

His brow with impress bright, which Truth alone reveals. [page 36]

LXXII.

    And noon again beholds him with his hands

    Expanded wide towards the bright Western skies,

    Where once in worship from the distant lands,

    The tribes went up to offer sacrifice;

    And as to Heaven his prayers, like incense, rise

    His dæmon foes behold, with raptured eyes,

    The proof which seals his doom and gluts their ire,

And to the palace-gates with hurried step retire.

LXXIII.

    And Daniel’s crime before the King is laid,

    And judgment asked by laws which cannot fail,

    And King Darius, by his haste betrayed,

    Mourns with hot tears, which cannot now avail,

    And sentence must go forth. Perplexed and pale,

    He bids his slaves the gloomy cavern ope,

    And whilst he strives his bitter grief to veil,

    The fearless victim strains the grating rope,

And to his prison sinks, dark, yet illumed with hope. [page 37]

LXXIV.

    Morning had scarcely streaked the Eastern sky

    With its first blush, ere kneels the King before

    The lions’ cavern with an anxious cry:

    “Servant of GOD! Can He thou dost adore

    Save thee indeed, and still the savage roar

    Of these infuriate monsters?” Then arose

    The prophet’s calm reply— “He can restore

    His servants, and deliverance work for those

Who on His mercy trust whose innocence He knows.”

LXXV.

    In haste the joyous Monarch bids hid slaves

    Remove the royal seal, and spread the gate

    Wide, which gave entrance to the gloomy caves,

    And bring the prophet forth,—that baffled Hate

    May meet the fearful doom it had so late

    Planned for the innocent; and forth they bore

    The man of GOD unharmed:—the doors of fate

    Close on his doomed accusers, and their gore

Flows ere their bodies touch the dark, sepulchral floor. [page 38]

LXXVI.

    But now from honors, courts and cares, retires

    The holy man, to studies and to prayer;

    Age had begun to quench his early fires,

    For seventy years had vanishes, since, a fair,

    A goodly child, his anxious mother bare

    His wearied limbs through Babel’s thronging street;

    And in these latter days ’twas his to share

    High converse, in his calm and fair retreat,

With angels spreading wide the Future’s mystic sheet.

LXXVII.

    Yea, many a glorious sight of after things

    Fell on his raptured eye—he saw displayed

    The Church’s future glory, and the wings

    Of angels and archangels o’er his head

    Flashed visible music, bearing news which bade

    His aged heart expand; from them he knew

    That seventy annual weeks17 should rise and fade,

    And then should wake on Earth’s adoring view

Messiah—Saviour—GOD of Gentile and of Jew; [page 39]

LXXVIII.

   And that the long captivity, which he

    And exiled Judah bore in that far land,

    Foreshadowed those dark years, ere man should see

    That bright and great deliverance from the hand

    Of Satan and of Sin; the high command

    Came from the throne of Glory, and he saw

    Those typic years were numbered, and the band

    Of Jews once more their ancient lot should draw,

And in their cherished home again restore the Law.

LXXIX.

    Darius sleeps where Media’s monarchs sleep,

    In monumental pomp, and on his throne

    The Persian Cyrus sits, his state to keep,

    And rule the subject nations, now his own;

    Isaiah’s heaven-taught pages had foreshown

    That his should be the glory to release

    Lone Judah from her chains, (Note 18) and bid her groan

    Melt into smiles—her long affliction cease,

And all her clouds disperse before the sun of Peace. [page 40]

LXXX.

    And deeply in his heart had sunk the word

    Of prophecy, and in his ardent mind

    Deep thoughts, like voices of the trumpet, stirred

    To noble deeds his soul, and he resigned

    His will to that high destiny and shrined

    Its mandates in his heart; and, ere a year

    Of regal sway had left its cares behind,

    The kingly proclamation, far and near,

Had bade the farthest bounds of that wide Empire hear.

LXXXI.

    “Thus saith the King:—GOD hath on me bestowed

    Power over all Earth’s Kingdoms, and hath bade

    My hand establish His beloved abode,

    Where once it stood in goodly show displayed;

    Let all whose vows to Israel’s GOD are paid—

    The only GOD—to Judah’s land return,

    Where’er among the subject nations spread,

    And build again the holy house, and burn

Incense and victim there, and there His judgements learn.”19 [page 41]

LXXXII.

    Then was there joy and gladness once again

    In that long exiled nation—Judah rose

    Bright from the dust, where she so long had lain,

    In all her virgin beauty, for the woes

    Which pressed her down now left her to repose;

    Then from her long and troubled sleep she waked

    To all the light which rising Freedom throws

    In genial streams to Earth, wherein she slaked

Those hopes so long deferred with which her heart had ached.

LXXXIII.

    Gladness and hope on every feature glowed,

    As band by band, and tribe by tribe, they pressed

    To Babel’s walls, by many a distant road,

    From town and province long their home of rest;

    And, as obedient to the King’s behest

    And their hearts’ homeward yearnings, ranged they stood

    On that wide plain, their faces to the West

    They turned, and streaming tears their cheeks bedewed,

Soft as the April shower, with nought of grief imbued. [page 42]

LXXXIV.

    And forth they went, a glad and goodly train;—

    How far unlike the melancholy crew

    Which seventy years before, in toil and pain,

    Along proud Babel’s streets their wailing threw;

    That race had well-nigh passed, and these, a new

    And proud assemblage, turned their willing feet

    To Judah’s vine-clad hills, and deemed they drew

    More vigorous breath, as balmy, soft and sweet,

The Western breeze from home their raptured senses greet.

LXXXV.

    Yet were there some among the joyous band,

    Who thro’ long years their treasured thoughts could throw

    Back to the scenes if childhood, and could stand,

    In memory, on the mount, whereon the glow

    Of the sun rested gorgeously, as low

    He wheeled his evening course, and bathed in light

    The Temple’s pinnacles, and bade them show

    Their golden outline, glittering, rich and bright,

Far o’er the lower lands till evening mixed with night. [page 43]

LXXXVI.

    And when from gilded spires the light has passed,

    Leaving the solemn Temple all in shade,

    It slept upon the waving column vast,

    Which in the calm, still twilight, reared its head—

    Smoke of the evening sacrifice—and played

    Brightly around its top, like that of yore,

    Whose moving course their fathers had obeyed,

    When, toiling through the wilderness, they bore

From Egypt hated land their tyrant’s cherished store.

LXXXVII.

    And oft upon that homeward march, they told

    Strange tales of all their childish eyes had viewed

    Within that glorious house—jewels and gold,

    And precious things, in brilliant order strewed—

    And gilded beams of odorous cedar wood

    Magnificently carved, and relics kept

    Within the ark, which could not be renewed,20

    Whose sad destruction Judah’s sons had wept

Oft in their exile home, e’en whilst their children slept. [page 44]

LXXXVIII.

    And when they told how all that glorious pile

    In ruins lay, o’erthrown and desolate—

    Mark for Samaria’s jibe and Gentile’s smile—

    The home where beasts or fiercer robbers wait—

    Their aged eyes o’erflowed; and then they sate

    One some rude stone, and gave the rein to grief,

    Till rose the thought that they to reinstate

    That holy house had come, and soft relief

Fell on their troubled hearts, and made their mourning brief.

LXXXIX.

    And with the renewed alacrity they sped

    Across the stony plains which skirt the bound

    Of Araby, and thence the deserts spread

    Far by the walls of Tadmor; till they found

    Their feet upon the pleasant vallies round

    Far-famed Damascus, and the waters blue

    Of Abana and Pharpar; then the mound

    Of Tabor glads their sight, and soon they knew

The ruined heaps of home which rose upon their view. [page 45]

XC.

    Nearer they came, till, by the gentle brook

    Of Kedron pausing, one,21 whose snowy hair

    Waved brightly in the sun, his station took

    Before the holy Mount, and kneeling there,

    With outstretched hands, and reverend forehead bare,

    He communed with his GOD, as erst he prayed

    In Babylon his fervent, fearless prayer,

    Though envious foes in ambush near were laid,

And though the lions’ den its yawning portals spread.

XCI.

    Thus ran his supplication:—“O, our GOD,

    Who with thy mighty hand didst hither lead

    Thy people from Ægyptia’s dark abode,

    From woes and pains and cruel bondage freed,—

    Hear us, O LORD,—bow down thine ear, and heed

    Thy people’s supplications;—for we know

    That we have sinned, and urged, by many a deed

    Of deadly hue, thy holy wrath to flow

On our deserving heads, with waves of bitter woe. [page 46]

XCII.

    “But let no more thy mighty anger burn,

    O GOD of mercy! From thy holy seat—

    Thy chosen heritage—in pity turn

    The fierceness of thy wrath. Behold we meet

    Bitter reproach and enmity’s fierce heat

    From the surrounding nations, and the gust

    Of fiery persecution; but repeat

    Thy favor as of yore, and from the dust

Restore thy holy hill, O Merciful and Just!

XCIII.

    “O, let thy servant’s voice before thy throne

    Meet blest acceptance! For thy mercy’s sake

    Look with compassion on this City lone,

    Which once thou deignd’st thy earthly home to make,

    And from thy Temple and thy altars take

    The deep reproach by Heathen tyrants brought;

    Behold our desolations, LORD, and break

    The heavy chains of sorrow, which have wrought

Anguish in every heart, and crushed each fondest thought.” [page 47]

XCIV.

    The prophet ceased; yet still he bent him there,

    Perchance in silent worship; but he kneels

    So long, so mute, so motionless in prayer,

    That each a silent apprehension feels,

    And oft a glance of strange inquiry steals,

    Yet fears to interrupt him, until one,

    At length, with hesitating step, reveals

    The half-suspected truth;—his course is run—

Fit death for life of prayer—in worship sets his sun!

XCV.

    And there, amid the prophets’ sepulchres,

    Daniel reposes—and around him rise

    The walls, rebuilt by sad artificers,

    And hindered long by cruel enemies;

    And well the tears became those aged eyes,23

    As, with the memories of the past, they view

    The far diminished glory which supplies

    Grace to that second Temple—yet they knew

At least it was their own,—the Temple of the Jew. [page 48]

XCVI.

    And after years beheld a glory24 fall

    On that late building, which surpassed the gold

    And gorgeous hangings which adorned the wall,

    The courts, the halls, the chambers of the old;

    When the long lapse of centuries had rolled

    Its destined course, and to the world revealed

    The HOLY ONE, whom prophets had foretold,

    The Saviour of the nations, who unsealed

Shadows and hidden types, whose letter he repealed.

XCVII.

    That second house no Shekinah could boast,

    Lighting the Mercy Seat, and showing there

    The presence of JEHOVAH to the host

    Who filled the courts with sacrifice and prayer;

    But through its halls and sculptured gateways fair,

    Passed, veiled in flesh, revealed to human eye,

    The mighty GOD Himself, who deigned to bear

    The sorrows of His people, to apply

Balm to their wounds, and died that they might never die. [page 49]

XCVIII.

    And from that meaner Temple, to all lands,

    Hath sped the word of life, o’er fertile plain,

    Deep-tangled forest, hot and burning sands,

    And o’er the wild and solitary main;

    Borne on by men of faith, through toil and pain

    And persecution, e’en to life’s las hour,

    And leaving, when their souls returned again

    To Him who sent them forth, a richer dower

Than ever monarch owned in time of palmiest power.

XCIX.

    And to these shores, unknown, when in their day

    Christ’s earliest heralds fought their holy fight,

    That word of power hath made resistless way,

    And changed the moral darkness into light;

    And in its train, refined, ennobled, bright,

    By rays reflected from its sacred flame,

    Its handmaid Science, like the moon at night,

    Shedding her silvery glory, meekly came,

To aid that blessed power, which gave her strength and fame. [page 50]

C.

    And here, where late the untutored Savage trod,

    She hath a seat to humanize the mind,

    And bring its noblest energies to GOD;

    To draw its vigor forth, and then to bind

    That vigor, strengthened, sanctified, refin’d,

    Down to the noblest task that man can know,

    The task to bless and reconcile mankind

    To GOD’s offended justice, and to show

What riches and what joys from Christ’s atonement flow.

CI.

    Go on and prosper! From this classic seat

    Let Truth, as from a centre, spread her rays,

    Diverging and increasing, till they meet

    And girdle earth in one wide, bright embrace!

    Onward their march, till error finds no place

    Wherein to hide; till every desert shore

    Bloom with the rose of Sharon—until praise

    Load the four winds with melody, and pour

One universal song, to peal for evermore! [page 51]

CII.

    Go on and prosper! Give to truth a voice

    Of trumpet tone, till through the Earth it sound

    Its glorious echoes, bidding man rejoice,

    Shaking Sin’s high-walled cities to the ground,

    And bidding bondage (where the mind is bound

    By Sin and Error,) cause the Earth to tread;

    That man redeemed, of every race, be found

    Like Judah, from the walls of Babel led,

Pressing to that blest home where dwells their glorious Head! [page 52]

NOTES.

NOTE 1. STANZA II. LINE 1.

Plain of Shinar.

   The plain of Shinar, lying E. of the Euphrates, and between it and the Tigris, is nearly 300 miles in length, and about 100 in breadth. Babylon was situated near its N. W. extremity. When the historian Herodotus visited Babylon, this plain was extremely fertile, but it is now little better than a morass, covered with sedge and weeds, and inhabited by loathsome reptiles, thus wonderfully verifying the words of the prophet, Isaiah xiii. 20, 21.

NOTE 2. STANZA IV. LINE 1.

Babylon the mighty.

   How well this epithet applies, may be learned form the descriptions which historians give of this wonderful City. It was built in an exact square, each side measuring 15 miles. It was entered by 100 gates, 25 on each side, all of solid brass. From each gate a street, 150 feet wide, ran entirely across the City, intersecting the other streets at right angles. The wall, comprising a circuit of 60 miles, was 350 feet in height, and 87 feet in thickness. The Euphrates, which ran through the City, was crossed about the centre by a magnificent bridge:—at its east end stood the old Palace and the Temple of Belus; at the west end was situated the new Palace, which occupied nine entire squares of the City, and must consequently have been about 8 miles in circumference; a vault below the bed of the river afforded a secret communication between the two Palaces. The Temple contained the statue of Jupiter Belus, of solid gold, forty feet high, probably the same which Nebuchadnezzar erected on the plain of Dura. Its weight was one thousand Babylonian talents, and its value consequently, must have been about $20,000,000. There were in the Temple, besides this, two other statues, of female deities, scarcely inferior in magnitude or value, which, together with the golden vessels, tables and other furniture, made the whole estimate of its riches amount to above $100,000,000. How are the mighty fallen! “Babylon, the glory of Kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency, shall be (and truly is) as when GOD overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.” [page 53]

NOTE 3. STANZA IV. LINE 8.

Waving garden.

   Perhaps nothing in that wonderful City was more wonderful than the hanging gardens. “To gratify his queen Amyte with a resemblance of her native mountains of Media, or to have a commanding prospect of the whole City, Nebuchadnezzar built them in his new Palace. They contained a square of 400 feet on each side, and consisted of terraces, one above another, carried up to the height of the walls of the City. Upon the uttermost terrace was a reservoir, supplied by an engine with water from the river.”—Brown’s Dictionary.

NOTE 4. STANZA VIII. LINE 5.

        The stairs.

   The river, where it passed through the City, was bounded on each side by a wall, of the same thickness with that which encompassed the City. In this wall, at the termination of each street, were brazen gates, and from them a descent by steps to the river.—Brown’s Dictionary.

NOTE 5. STANZA XIV. LINES 7 AMD 8.

                                 for he went

From Babylon so purposed.

   Josephus. Antiq. Book x. ch. viii., says—“they were indeed only generals of the King of Babylon, to whom Nebuchadnezzar committed the care of the siege of Jerusalem, for he abode himself in the City of Riblah.” There is little doubt, however, that he was present during a part of the time, and was certainly absent from Babylon when the captives arrived there.

NOTE 6. STANZA XVIII. LINE 9.

Many a holy thing to touch and sight forbid.

   These were the two tables of the Law—the golden pot of manna—Aaron’s rod that budded—and a copy of the Pentateuch. The ark was so sacred, that it was death for any but the priests to look at it, and was therefore carried under a cover.

NOTE 7. STANZA XXI. LINE 5.

His orbless brow.

   The eyes of Zedekiah, King of Judah, had been put out at Riblah, by command of Nebuchadnezzar, his children having been first murdered in his presence, as a punishment for his treachery and rebellion. [page 54]

NOTE 8. STANZA XXI. LINE 7.

The double prophecy.

   “Thou shall not escape out of his hand, but shall surely be taken and delivered into his hand; and thine eyes shall behold the eyes of the King of Babylon, and he shall speak with thee mouth to mouth, and thou shalt go to Babylon.”—Jeremiah xxxiv. 3.

   “I will bring him to Babylon, to the land of the Chaldeans; yet he shall not see it, though he shall die there.”—Ezekiel xii. 13.

NOTE 9. STANZA XXXI. LINE 1.

The holy fire.

   The sacred fire, which descended at the dedication o the Temple by Solomon, was preserved till about the beginning of the Captivity in Babylon.

NOTE 10. STANZA XXXI. LINE 5.

The Urim and the Thummin.

   These words signify lights and perfections, and are mentioned as being in the High Priest’s breastplate; but what they were cannot with any certainty be determined; all that is known about them is, that they were consulted on occasions of great moment, and by some means, impossible to be discovered, gave an oracular reply.

NOTE 11. STANZA XXXIII. LINE 9.

That very plain.

   The plain of Dura stretched away W. of the Euphrates, and as the temple of Belus lay on the E. side of the river, strictly speaking, in the plain of Shinar, the expression “that very plain” is not literally correct; yet as the two plains are often mentioned indiscriminately, when speaking of the region around Babylon, there cannot be any great impropriety in laying the scene of the confusion of tongues on the western side of the river.

NOTE 12. STANZA XXXV. LINE 2.

A god of gold.

   Probably the same as that afterwards known as the Jupiter Belus, in the Temple of Babylon. [page 55]

NOTE 13. STANZA XLV. LINE 5.

The feast.

   It is almost a hopeless task to attempt a description of Belshazzar’s feast, after it has been done so fully, so powerfully, and so poetically, in Martin’s wonderful picture. I have, therefore, done little else than to endeavor to bring the leading objects of that great picture again to the reader’s memory.

NOTE 14. STANZAS LII. LIII. LIV.

See Daniel v. 17—28.

NOTE 15. STANZA LVII. LINE 2.

                              He hath turned

Aside Euphrates’ waters.

   An enormous lake of about fifty miles in circumference, and from thirty to seventy-five feet deep, had formerly been dug on the west of the City, into which, during the annual freshet, caused by the melting of the Armenian snows, the superabundant waters of the river were diverted. Cyrus, despairing of taking the City by assault, turned off the stream of the Euphrates into this lake, and entered with his whole army through the low arches which carried the wall across the bed of the river. This, however, would have availed him nothing, but that the feast in honor of Belus happening the same night, had produced so great a neglect, that the gates leading down to the river, which were generally closed at night, had been left open, and the guards asleep or intoxicated, were unable to offer any effectual resistance to the victorious army.

NOTE 16. STANZA LXX. LINE 9.

To the West.

   It was, and still is, customary with the Jews, when offering up their supplications in a foreign land, to turn towards the Temple at Jerusalem: that was in accordance with the sentiment expressed in the prayer of Solomon, at the dedication.—1 Kings viii. 23—53

NOTE 17. STANZA LXXVII. LINE 7.

Seventy annual weeks.

   Daniel ix. 24—27. Prideaux had traced out, with great industry and learning, the exact date of the decree issued by Cyprus for the restoration of Jerusalem, and proves that exactly 490 years elapsed from that event to the birth of the Saviour. [page 56]

NOTE 18. STANZA LXXIX. LINES 5, 6, 7.

            Isaiah’s heaven-taught pages had foreshown

                                                That his should be the glory to release

                                                Lone Judah from her chains.

Isaiah xliv. 28.

NOTE 19. STANZA LXXXI.

Ezra. Chap. i. 2, 3, 4.

NOTE 20. STANZA LXXXVII. LINE 7.

Which could not be renewed.

   Not only the holy things kept within the Ark, but the Ark itself, and all its furniture, had been lost during the Captivity. The second Temple was also deficient in other things which the first possessed, viz. the Shekinah, or cloud of the Divine Presence—the holy fire—the Urim and Thummin—and the spirit of Prophecy.

NOTE 21. STANZA XC. LINE 2.

One.

   It is certain that Daniel lived until the very end of the Captivity, and there is nothing to render his return to Jerusalem improbable. There can, therefore, be no impropriety in introducing him here.

NOTE 22. STANZAS XCI. XCII. AND XCIII.

Daniel ix. 4—19.

NOTE 23. STANZA XCV. LINE 5.

And well the tears became those aged eyes.

Ezra iii. 12.

NOTE 24. STANZA XCVI. LINE 1.

A glory.

Haggai ii. 9.

[page 57]

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POEMS.

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POEMS.

AMERICAN ANTIQUITIES.

WHAT though they tell thee thou hast nought,

    Young land of beauty, to bear back

Midst crumbling tower and fane, our thought

    To Time’s long hallowed track,—

That thine antiquity began

    When other lands were growing old,

Thy name unwon, till Spain’s bold son

    Came to thy shores for gold;— [unnumbered page]

Heed not the imputation thrown

    So rashly on thy rising fame:

Each giant cone of thine was known

    When Rome was but a name;

Each glorious stream, which bears its foam

    To the vast Ocean’s deep repose,

Was known and named before a dome

    On Tyber’s banks arose.

His bow hath many a warrior bent

    In deadly conflict or the chase,

Whose long descent was closely blent

    With Judah’s royal race;

And many a sage had made his grave

    By ceaseless Niagara’s roar,

E’er Cæsar’s legions crossed the wave

    To Albion’s chalky shore.

What are the castles’ turrets gray,

    Clothed with the moss of centuries ten,

Of what the scenes of fierce affray

    Between half-savage men? [page 62]

Point to thy hills and rivers vast,

    Rife with the deeds of glory’s day,

Unknown because no muse hath shrined

    Their memories in her lay.

What are the pyramids which tower

    High o’er old Egypt’s sandy plain,

Those altars to Oblivion’s power,

    Which Time has touched in vain?

Thou too, if aught of praise redounds

    From home of death and mourning stone,

May’st boast thy mounds—thy burial grounds

    Of heroes long unknown.

When Israel’s tribes were captive led

    To Gozan’s deep and distant tide,

Far from the oppressor’s hand they fled

    O’er many a desert wide;

And many a foamy stream they passed,

    And many a forest wandered through,

And trod at last the barriers vast

    By Behring’s waters blue. [page 63]

But islands, since by fire subdued,*

    In ceaseless chain before them lay,

And o’er the flood on rafts of wood

    They took their untried way,

And trod these shores, before untrod

    By mortal foot since time began;

Alone—deserted by their God,—

    Deserting tyrant man.

And though full many an ancient rite

    Of sacrificial laws they bore,

Preserved through Error’s gloomy night,

    To this untrodden shore,

Their end and spirit were forgot,

    Their lifeless forms they held alone,

For they had brought no record fraught

    With Inspiration’s tone:

And thus they lost that art which bids

    Defiance to the tooth of Time;


   * The Fox Islands, some degrees South of Behring’s Straits, all bear traces of Volcanic action.

— The art of Writing.


[page 64]

When mounds and crumbling pyramids

    Forget the tale sublime;

And the exciting deeds, which filled

    The space of full two thousand years,

Lie unrevealed, in darkness sealed,

    Where never ray appears.

Long else had been the scroll of fame

    Thy storied Muse had handed down;

Else should thy lengthened annals claim

    Antiquity’s renown.

Lament it not: in every age

    Too long the tale of woes and crimes:

Would that sage had torn the page

    He traced in ancient times!

Happy, unhistoried, art thou,

    Happy, that thought may soar away

Where but Conjecture tells her how

    Transpired the former day.

Imagination paints with hues

    More fair than Truth—old artist stern—

Better the deeds of old to lose,

    Than blush the tale to learn. [page 65]

MEMORY.

“One clear idea wakened in the breast

By memory’s magic lets in all the rest”

                                                                                       MOORE.

HOW finely memory’s chords are strung!

    The slightest touch will wake a strain

Which long ago our childhood sung,

    But hath not wakened since again:

        Some far-off music faintly caught.

        Rouses the energies of thought,

And back upon the soul return

    Scenes, forms and faces long forgot,

Kind words that bade the bosom burn,

    And looks of Love which changeth not,

        Connected, how we know not well,

        With that faint music’s magic swell. [page 66]

        I sat a lazy brook beside,

        Marking its slow and silent tide;

It passed the tree that gave me shade,

        Scarce rippled by the knotted limb

Which lay across its course, and made

    A barrier to its waters dim,—

        Then with a long and gentle sweep

    Through level fields it held its way,

        Till down a chasm dark and deep

        It vanished with a sudden leap,

    Studding the rocks with silver spray.

All, all was strange, I sought in vain

    Semblance to some familiar scene;

The link was gone from memory’s chain,

    Severed the golden thread between

        Present and Past, which should convey

        The electric flash of thought away

To distant points of joy of tears,

        Made faint and fainter day by day

By the still thickening veil of years.

        I sat beside that lazy brook,

        Tracing the devious track it took, [page 67]

        And fancied in my waking dream

        I looked on Life’s symbolic stream;

Gentle and weak, but pure, at first,

    Leaving with smiles the fostering breast,

Where long and fondly it was nursed,

    Till, far beyond that home of rest,

        It mingled with the grosser tide,

        By many a distant source supplied;

In fuller strength and influence wide,

    But lower, level than before,

Sweeping along in stately pride,

    But decked with purity no more;

        Its surface wreathed with smiles and gold,

        Its breast beneath foul, dark and cold.

        As thus I mused, beneath mine eye

        A mimic vessel floated by:

The hull, a chip; the mast, a reed;

    A strip of bark supplied the sail;

The streaming flag, a water weed;

    The precious load, a rusty nail;

        That poor device of childhood’s play,

        To cheat the lagging hours away, [page 68]

        Gave the lost link to Memory’s chain,

        And when I raised mine eyes again

The scene had changed; before me spread

    The fields in recognition smiled,

        The tree above me seemed to shed

        The very leaves upon my head

    It showered around me when a child;

The twisted limb which swept the tide,

    Brought visions crowding on my brain

Of chip-boats caught by eddies wide,

    Deprived of mast, sail, pennon, vane,

        By bending twig or hanging bough;

        And so perchance the urchins now,

        Who play around this grassy brink,

        Behold their hopes and vessels sink.

So small the links that form the chain

    Which binds the Present to the Past;

So web-like are the chords we strain

    In thought across the torrent vast

        Of rolling years to scenes beyond,

        A slender, but a mighty bond,

        Like frail Al Sirat, which supplies

        The Moslem’s path to Paradise. [page 69]

THE PLAY-GROUND REVISITED.

ANOTHER tree, and yet the same,

    Round which in boyhood’s hour I played,

Witness of many an anxious game,

    Contested in its giant shade;

Beneath this branch the ring was made,

    Here was the line for “knuckling down,”

On yonder knarly root were laid

    Superfluous jackets, blue and brown,

And caps, that on each curly crown

    Were seldom seen, save when we went

Sworded and feathered through the town,

    On deeds of desperate knighthood bent:

And when, with Pleasure’s labor spent,

    Brief rest we sought in Summer’s heat,

Yon shady bench its refuge lent;

    E’en now upon its mouldering seat, [page 70]

With feelings deep and strangely sweet,

    Full many a well remembered name

In rudest letters carved I greet.—

    We yearn—how early! after Fame—

Alas! of all who joined our game

    When those young names were graved, how few

Since have I seen, or now may claim

    Our boyish friendships to renew.

O’er some of that once merry crew

    The grave has closed, o’er some the Sea,

Some to their homes have bade adieu

    For years, perchance eternally;

And some who stood around that tree

    Happy with childhood’s careless play,

From vice and sensual influence free,

    Have thrown their innocence away,

In vain pursuits grown early gray;

    In look deformed, in soul and mind

Degraded by the sins that prey

    Upon the vitals of mankind.

O! would they cast a look behind

    To this old tree, and think how fair,

From Guilt’s dark influence disentwined,

    Their hours of early boyhood were, [page 71]

Perchance they yet might breathe a prayer

    To be form Folly free again,

To fly from Pleasure’s dangerous snare,

    And break the links of Passion’s chain.

O! Joy is ever mixed with Pain

    In this strange world.—I cannot think

Of those who joined our merry train

    In former years, but I must shrink

From following Memory’s golden link

    When to the Lost my mind it leads:

I came to this old well to drink

    Refreshing draughts,—and lo! the seeds

Of bitter memories grow to weeds

    Upon its waters.—

                                       Yet the spring

Is not all filled with slimy reeds;—

    Flowers of rich hues and odors cling

Around its marge, and they shall fling

    Pleasure so sweet upon my sense,

That the fond thoughts and hopes they bring

    Shall drive all painful memories thence. [page 72]

BY-GONE DAYS.

        HOW do the mists of Memory dress

        Our childhood’s scenes in loveliness!

How through the vistas of the past

    Our thoughts will wander, and forget

The clouds above the present cast,

    While Fancy paints the fair vignette

        Which stands upon Life’s title-page

        With hues which glad the eye of age;

Hues which in truth it never wore,

    But which to childhood’s joyous eye

It seemed to wear in days of yore,

    And after life would fain believe,

Despite of cold philosophy,

    That Fancy there could not deceive. [page 73]

        How oft before my mental sight,

        Dressed in such robes of fairy light,

        Comes up the rude and rocky shore

        My infant footsteps wandered o’er.

The crescent beach along whose marge

    The waters of the ebbing tide

Their freight of weeds and foam discharge,

        Where tiny billows curl and break,

        Leaving a soft and snowy streak,

    The limits of two Empires wide;

    The frowning cliffs on either side

        With bases buried in the beach,

        Like giant arms extended, reach

    Far out where stormy billows ride

        And buffet with the wilder waves

        That roar around their echoing caves.

        While the blue water sleeps between

        Those rocky barriers all serene,

        A little bay whose soft repose

        Seldom and slight disturbance knows.

How oft across that placid bay

    Hath danced my Lilliputian barque,

And as it swiftly sped away

    Mine anxious eyes its course would mark, [page 74]

        Now bright with joy to see it brave

        Some ripple which I deemed a wave;

        Now dim with terror as its mast

        Bent to some overpowering blast,

        Which scarce disturbed the thistle down,

        Or shook the poppy’s silken crown.

        No merchant marked with greater glee

        His gallant, gold filled argosy

Press home, her voyage of peril done,

        Then I, when o’er the mighty tide,

        Stretching full fifty fathoms wide,

My six-inch ship her course had run,

        And struck with leaden keel the sand

        Which formed the “mark believe” far-land.

Those days have passed, and many a year

    Hath vanished since that beach I prest,

But still in memory’s eye as clear,

    As though but yesterday I drest,

    Sweet sister! aided well by thee,—

        My ship in muslin sails, and made

        My blocks of cork, my ropes of thread,

    And sent her o’er the mimic sea. [page 75]

Each cavern there, each stock and stone

    Brightly on memory’s vision glow,

Like old acquaintance kindly known.

    Ah! easier task those rocks to know

    Than face of friends seen long ago.

        The cavern and the rock are there,

        The very same they ever were,

        But those who watched my infant play,

        Oh, tell me where and what are they?

        Vanished or changed — and I should be

        As changed to them as they to me. [page 76]

NIAGARA.

    DESCRIBE Niagara!—Ah who shall dare

    Attempt the indescribable, and train

    Thought’s fragile wing to skim the heavy air,

    Wet with the cataract’s incessant rain?

    The glowing “muse of firer,” invok’d in vain

    By Shakespeare, who shall hope from Heaven to win?

    And “burning words” alone become the strain,

    Which to the mind would bring the awful din

Where seas in thunder fall, and eddying oceans spin.

    Long had the savage on thy glorious shroud

    Fring’d with vast from wreaths, gaz’d with stoic eye,

    And deemed that on thy rising rainbow cloud

    The wings of the Great Spirit hovered nigh,

    And, as he marked the solemn woods reply [page 77]

    In echoes to thy rolling thunder tone,

    He heard His voice upon the breeze go by,

    And his heart bowed—for to the heart alone

GOD, speaking through His works, makes what He utters known.

    But ages passed away—and to the West

    Came Europe’s sons to seek for fame or gold,

    And one, perchance, more daring than the rest,

    Lured by the chase, or by strange stories told

    By Indian guide of oceans downward rolled,

    Felt on his throbbing ear thy far-off roar,

    Then sped the mighty wonder to behold,

    Thy voice around him and thy cloud before,

Till breathless—trembling—rapt—he trod thy foaming shore.

    Upward he glazed to where, with furious hiss,

    Thy waters spurn the precipice, and leap

    Into the vexed and indistinct abyss,

    Where Rage and Tumult ceaseless battle keep,

    Filling, with roar monotonous and deep,

    The wearied echo;—there he fixed his gaze,

    Like one entranced who fears to break his sleep,

    Lest the wild vision fade that sleep doth raise,

All thought lock’d up and chain’d in stern and strange amaze. [page 78]

    Till, slowly rallying from the first surprize,

    Thought from its magic prison breaks at last,—

    The gazer from the foam-whirl lifts his eyes

    And scans thy whole area wild and vast;

    From point to point his eager glances cast,

    Take by degrees thy wide circumference in,

    And as his speechless wonder slowly passed,

    Delight succeeded, deep, intense and keen,

Heart, soul and sense absorbed in that unrivalled scene.

    Then through his mind like lightning flashed the thought,

    Once o’er the Patriarch’s soul in Bethel thrown,

    “Sure GOD is with me, and I knew it not,”

    I see his power in yon majestic zone

    Of mighty waters, and its thunder tone

    Brings to mine ear His voice—and deeply felt,

    And almost seen His Presence reigns alone.—

    Then meekly by the rock the wanderer knelt,

Feeling in awe and love his heart’s full fountain melt.

    And long with shaded eye and bended head

    He prayed before that Temple’s wond’rous veil,

    Whilst from its foot, in ceaseless eddies spread,

    The mist-cloud rose, like incense, on the gale; [page 79]

    And half he deemed that on its pinions frail

    His prayers, upborne, would blessed acceptance know;

    He rose with gladdened eye and heart to hail

    Mercy’s fair type and seal, the rainbow’s glow

Spanning with calm embrace the troubled scene below.

    And when the westering day-beam warned him back,

    Lingering he stood, as spell-bound by the strain,

    And oft he started on his homeward track,

    And oft returned one parting glance to gain;

    And twilight had usurped its fitful reign

    Ere to thy form his last farewell he bade,

    Then like an arrow, o’er the woody plain

    Homeward he hurried through the deepening shade,

Again in dreams to view thy wonders round him spread.

    And oft alone, and oft with friends he came

    To scan thy charms, and worship at thy shrine,

    And feel again devotion’s hallowed flame

    Blaze in thy presence fanned with breath divine:

    And oft from morning until day’s decline

    He sat and mused beside thee, for his eye

    Saw nowhere majesty and grace like thine;

    And in his soul thy mighty minstrelsy

Woke stern and glorious thoughts, and visions wild and high. [page 80]

    In silence long forgot the wanderer sleeps;—

    But still as when thou met’st his startled gaze,

    Thy glorious scene the heart in wonder steeps

    Of him who seeks thee in these later days:—

    Sublime in simple grandeur! Art can raise

    No rival to thy throne, nor words convey

    Thine image to the mind, though noblest lays

    Have vied in thy description.—Day by day

Thy roar shall speak of GOD till Nature fade away. [page 81]

ATHENS.

CITY of Gods and heroes! In the dust

    The foot of Time—the tyrant and the slave,

    Have trodden down thy glory, and the grave

Holds all thy greatness;—the corroding rust

Of centuries has bid the record pass

From sculptured marble and memorial brass;

The hundred columns of thy Parthenon

    Were all too few the massive roof to bear

    And undisturbed the birds and summer air

Find passage, where, disjointed one by one,

Pillar and portico the Earth have strewed,

Like ancient trees in forest solitude. [page 82]

The wingless Victory, in thine hour of pride

    Enshrined and chained, that she may never leave

    Her seat in the Acropolis, nor give

Her smiles to thine antagonist, has died:—

Unwinged and bound, like Love, her life must end,

She could not flee, and though couldst not defend,

And o’er her grave, deserted by thy sons,

    Oft hath the foeman’s shout of triumph rolled,

    And bondsmen’s slaves have given for strangers’ gold

The sculpture from her shrine, which barbarous Huns,

Less classic, but therein more truly kind,

Left in their desolating march behind.

Well could thy Pericles design, and well

    Thy Phidias execute; but how the rush

    Of Time and War and Ignorance may crush

Genius and Taste, thy ruined towers may tell.

The torch of Attila,—the iron shower

Of Venice,—and the Moslem’s grinding power

Have cursed thee in their turn; and from thy brow

    Have crumbled one by one the precious things

    Which Art designed to give thy glory wings

Wherewith to fly o’er Earth;—behold them now

Spurned by base feet, or borne across the sea

To lands unknown to fame when thou wert free. [page 83]

The works of man, erected for renown,

    Are fallen or falling,—but the hills remain

    Around thee, reared by GOD, and shall retain

Those names, which were the jewels of thy crown,

When time hath broken every chiselled stone,

And scarce their sites and stations shall be known.

The mount of Mars no mark of ruin shows—

    Cithæron is yet beautiful—the hill

    Of Pynx arises in its glory still—

Still on Hymettus evening’s radiance glows

And marks no change, though many a goodly wall,

Dug from its quarries, trembles to its fall.

Thou hast been long degraded, but thy night

    At length beholds a dawn, and o’er the plains

    Where late raged Anarchy, mild Order reigns,

And Law and Justice shed their equal light:—

And a New World, which had received no name

Till many a century since thy day of fame,

Sends her enlightened heralds to unbind

    The veil of Ignorance which wraps thy heart,

    Thou once proud fount of Knowledge and of Art,

And to relight within thy darkened mind

The lamp of holy truth, that thou again

May’st hold thy station in the ranks of men. [page 84]

SPRING.

CLOUDS of the mountain

    And mist of the plain,

Spray of the fountain

    And foam of the main,

Flee from your station

    On pinions of air,

The face of creation

    No shadow shall wear.

Bright from the Ocean

    O day-star, arise!

Speed thy glad motion

    Along the blue skies!

Scatter thy glory

    On valley and lea,

On mountain top hoary,

    On streamlet and tree. [page 85]

Leap from your slumber,

    Ye flowrets, in mirth,

Deck without number

    The bosom of Earth;

Give out your treasure

    Of odors and hues;

Stint not the measure

    Of joy ye diffuse.

Nature rejoices;

    Ye birds of the grove,

Pour out your voices

    Of music and love;

Stretch forth your pinions,

    Your plumage renew,

Air’s broad dominions

    Are open for you.

Swift flowing rivers

    Are open again;

Soft Spring delivers

    From fetters the main; [page 86]

Glad fins are lashing

    The billows in play—

Bright scales are flashing

    In streamlet and bay.

Forests are showing

    Green mantles again—

Verdure is glowing

    O’er valley and plain;

Labor is guiding

    The plough-share in toil,

Safely confiding

    The seed to the toil.

Soft breezes breathing

    From climates serene,

Where spice-flowers wreathing

    Their tendrils are seen,

Float rich and balmy

    O’er Nature’s broad breast,

And, whispering calmly,

    Hush sorrow to rest. [page 87]

Rejoice thee, O mortal,

    In spring’s gentle noon,

Death’s gloomy portal

    Shall open full soon—

And hallow life’s morning

    To life’s holy King,

And Death’s wintry warning

    No terrors shall bring. [page 88]

TO A CLOUD.

FLEECY cloud, I envy thee,

    Soft and white-robed wanderer there,

O’er a pure and silent sea,

    Lonely, passionless and fair;

Who on Earth would pine unblest,

    Mix with rage and strive with care,

Could be fly and be at rest

    In thy home of boundless air?

On thy free and gentle course

    What hast thou to fear or shun?

Even though the tempest hoarse

    Howl when darkness has begun, [page 89]

Thou upon his seeds can’st sit,

    Safe as when the evening sun

Hath thy quiet pathway lit

    To thy coming twilight dun.

Though the keen-edged lightning’s spear

    Through thy form a passage find,

Soon the wound shall disappear,

    Leaving not a pang behind.

Who the pains of Earth can bear,

    Pains of body and of mind,

Nor betray the aching care

    Which around his heart hath twined?

Thou canst look on all below

    From thy high and holy seat—

Smile at nations’ overthrow,

    Caused by man’s unbridled heat—

Mark the tide of human things

    O’er their ancient barriers beat—

And expand unruffled wings

    Where the storms of passion meet. [page 90]

Man their changes too may mark—

    Man may battle with their wave—

But amid the tumult dark

    Nought he finds that man should crave;

He may mix amid the fray,

    Now to cheer and now to save,

But he bears at best away

    Broken heart or troubled grave.

Oh! to spend with three on high,

    Lovely cloud, a sinless day,

In the free and holy sky,

    Far from care and strife away.

Hold! the wish were impious, vain;—

    Rather while on Earth we stay,

Strive its tumults to restrain—

    Strive its sorrows to allay.

Then when life’s brief sun hath gone

    Downward to its evening close,

If Religion’s hand hath drawn

    Glory round its soft repose, [page 91]

Far above thy home shall rise,

    Free the soul from fears and foes,

And from purer, holier skies,

    Pitying look on human woes.

Then, than thou more highly blest,

    Far its chainless wings shall sail,

Where no storm shall mar its rest,

    No dark shades its beauty veil;

But around its sinless breast,

    Light, whose glories cannot fail,

Still shall float a fadeless vest,

    Where the Sun himself were pale. [page 92]

RIZPAH.

    THE love of woman! what a deep

And fixed devotion marks her love!

Billows may rage, and whirlwinds sweep,

But they are powerless to remove

That rooted principle—her breast

Seems with its influence all possest—

In her it hath a mighty power,

Force cannot quench nor terror tame—

Slumber it may in joyous hour,

But blazes with redoubled flame

When foes invade or sorrows frown,

Or suffering seeks its light to drown—

It trembles to the slightest breath,

But conquers agony and death. [page 93]

    A female form, with hair unbound,

And haggard eye with famine dim,

And sunken cheek and wasted limb,

Sits houseless on the chilly ground,

Her thin hands clasped upon her knee,

Her head the rock’s hard pillow presses,

Whose points, despite her ample tresses,

Her fair brow lacerate—but she

Feels not the agony they bring,

For deeper woes her bosom wring—

The body’s pang how light and vain,

Compared with that intenser pain

Which numbs the heart and burns the brain!

    Who are the sleepers scattered round,

On whom her anxious looks repose?

Her quick ear, quickened by her woes,

Hath caught from far the whirring sound

Of night birds’ wings, and up the springs

To scare them from the sleepers’ bed—

The jackall’s cry is sounding nigh,

The panther steals with silent tread—

He cannot shun that watchful eye,

Which through the long night slumbers never— [page 94]

The surly bear goes prowling by,

But there is one who guards the way

Between him and his destined prey,

Frail, faint and sad, but dauntless ever!

The savage monsters shrink away

From those wild eyes unearthly ray,

They flee the gesture of that hand,

That hollow voice’s stern command—

The majesty of love is there

The strength of weakness, and the power

To do, to suffer, and to dare,

The high soul, nerved by dark despair,

Gives the frail arm in trial’s hour.

    The sun upon her sleepless eye

Rises in cloudless brilliancy—

But rouses not that slumbering band,

The objects of her ceaseless care—

Why wake they not to greet his rays?

The breeze of morning, soft and bland,

Lifts their long hair, and fluttering plays

Among their vesture—doth it there

For them no joyous influence bear? [page 95]

Nor summer’s sun, nor summer’s air

Shall glad their eye or warm their cheek—

Those livid features once were fair—

Fondly those blood-sealed lips could speak

Once to that lovely watcher—now

Death’s signet is upon their brow,

The bloated worm and foul decay

Have banquet held for many a day

Within their long insensate clay—

But she, whose fond maternal breast

Once formed the pillow of their rest,

For weeks unwearied and alone

Hath sat beside their gibbet stone,

Her only care to watch and weep,

The guardian of their dreamless sleep.

The dews by night, the heats by day

Have fallen on her defenceless head,

Nor chilled nor scorched her love away,

Nor sleep hath charmed her eyeballs red

From their long watch, nor hunger driven

Her wasted body from the rock,

Love its most holy power hath given

To that lone heart, by sorrow riven,

At frailty, famine, death to mock— [page 96]

She hath had strength to conquer all

That might the bravest breast appal.

    Rizpah! thy task is ended now—

Behold, o’er yonder mountain’s brow

The men of Judah come to bear

The bodies to their father’s tomb—

Bind up thy long dishevelled hair,

Chase from thy brow the cloud of gloom;—

With pomp thy dead they shall inhume,

Pomp that becomes the sons of Saul,

Fresh flowers upon the bier shall bloom;

And ‘scutcheons deck the funeral pall.

Quit then thy solitary seat

For some serene and fair retreat,

Where from the dismal scene removed,

Rife with the fate of those beloved,

Thy days and thy subsiding woe

On to their close may gently flow,

And thou of mothers queen confessed,

Shalt sleep with those thou lov’dst the best. [page 97]

LETHE.

        “GIVE me,” the sorrowing Roman cried,

        “To drink of Lethe’s blessed tide,

For woes too great for man to bear

    The Gods upon my heart have thrown,

And the dark spectre of despair

    Falls upon memory’s eye alone.

        Could I but taste that stream of Peace,

        Hope might revive and sorrow cease—

The past, a blank, the future free

    For new pursuits, and pleasures new,

Life may again move cheerily,

    Unblasted by the shades which threw

        Ill-omened colors, vaguely cast,

        Far o’er the future from the past.” [page 98]

        The lip is mute which woke the word—

        Long stilled the heart which sorrow stirred—

And Lethe’s stream, that could assuage

    The woes which curse the sons of clay,

Lives only in the classic page—

    The school-boy’s dream,—the poet’s lay.

        But if that fabled stream could glide

        Through earth, with all that power supplied

        With which mythology once thought

        Its dark and slumberous waters fraught,

        Still, still how few would bend the lip,

        That dim, oblivious stream to sip,—

Save those, who rushing on their fate,

    Weigh no results and count no cost,

Nor pause to think, or pause too late,

    When thought recalled declares them lost.

        What though along the path of life

        Lie many a trace of bitter strife,

What though the whirlwind and the storm

    At times across its course have driven,

Though rains too fierce and suns too warm

    Waste and sterility have given, [page 99]

        Have there not risen some holier joys

        Those hours of gloom to counterpoise?

        Were there not heights along the road

        Which floods have never overflowed?

        Were there no shady bowers to meet

        The scorching sun’s intensest heat?

        No rock, on caverned arches based,

        To shelter from the whirlwind’s haste?

Pause ere thine eager lip is wet

    With Lethe’s tide, and ponder o’er

The days and hours thou wouldst forget,

    Days, hours, to be reviewed no more—

        Think that within their circle rise

        All boyhood’s blessed memories,

        When through hope’s many-colored glass

        Thou look’dst on life, and saw it pass,

        With hues of beauty round in thrown,

        And gorgeous colors not its own,

When care was but a passing word,

    Whose meaning was to thee unknown,

When thou couldst carol like the bird, [page 100]

        And like the bird roam far and free

        By mossy rock or shady tree,

And deem their beauties thine alone—

    When grief, if grief assailed those hours,

Was but a passing summer cloud,

    Melting in brief and fitful showers,

        With rays of sunshine glancing through,

Too bright for shadows long to shroud,

        Or, if they shrouded, but to strew

        Their dimness with rainbow’s hue.

Think, ere thou taste the oblivious tide

    Thou wouldst from memory’s tablet blot

The blessings ripening youth supplied—

    Blessings which life reneweth not—

The generous warmth of hearts unchilled

    By contact with an icy world—

        The trusting confidence which filled

        The breast of childhood, yet unstilled,

    Through Doubt had many a missile hurled

        With butter force and deadly aim—

        Hours, when young Friendship’s sacred flame,

        Too bright to die, too soft to harm,

        Conferred on life a double charm— [page 101]

        Hours, when the thirst for happiness

        Came o’er the heart in such excess,

        That still the renovated sun

        Saw the pursuit again begun,

        And though condemned the prize to miss,

        The very chase itself was bliss—

        Hours, when the light of “Love’s young dream”

        Danced ceaseless o’er life’s onward stream,

        Changeful indeed, but ever bright,

        Like streamers of the northern light,

Aye, and as many-hued as they,

    Yet filled with warmth unknown to them,

The life springs glowed beneath its ray,

    Flashing and sparkling like the gem

        Filled with the strong electric spark

        Within the artist’s chamber dark.

Pause, if a wife have blessed thy side,

    Pure, loving and beloved by thee,

Pause, ere thou drink that flattering tide—

    Pause, if a child have climbed thy knee—

        Oh, canst thou in all after life

        Recall that soft delicious strife [page 102]

        Of doubt and joy and hope, which rolled

        Swift through thy heart when thou didst hold

That hand resigned to thee alone,

    And first didst feel its timid pressure

Gently responding to thin own,

    Proof that thou hadst obtained the treasure

        Much sought, and soon thy heart to cheer

        For long, long days of doubt and fear?

        Say, can thine after years renew

        That first strange thrilling joy which flew

O’er heart and brain when on thine ear

    Came up thy first-born’s plaintive cry,

Or when, beholding it, a tear

    Produced by feelings new and dear,

A father’s feelings—dimmed thine eye?

Joys such as these, and many more,

    Mortal thou canst, whoe’er thou art,

Draw out from Memory’s hidden store,

    To soften and to bless the heart.

The very retrospect of pain,

    Of sorrow, danger, woe and care, [page 103]

May waken feelings which contain

    More that is soothing, soft and fair,

Than sad or bitter.—

                                     If to lose

    With painful memories all the good

Be Lethe’s gift—be mine to choose

    That sweetest joy of solitude,

The memory of the past, with all

    Or dark, or bright her power can bring;—

And if the one may thought appal,

    The other still a light shall fling,

        So glorious that the shades of pain

        Shall sink to rise no more again. [page 104]

        

THE PASSAGE OF THE JORDAN.

THE hosts of God, by Joshua led,

    Approach the Jordan’s eddying tide,

And priests, with veiled and bended head,

    Bear to its grassy side

The Ark, beneath whose cherub wings

Are kept the pure and precious things;—

Behind the morn its radiance flings

    On bannered lance and buckler bright,

And brazen trump, whose music rings

    To hail the dawning light.

The flood before them boils and leaps

    Along its deep and rocky bed,

But still the moving column keeps

    Onward its fearless tread, [page 105]

As though no foamy current flowed

Between it and the blest abode,

To which by many a thorny road

    And desert plain its steps had past,

And which in morning’s glory glowed

    Green, beautiful and vast.

And now the Levites’ sandalled feet

    Are moistened by the river’s edge,

Which curls and breaks with murmur sweet

    Amid the bending sedge.

Yet pause they not; with heart of prayer,

And faith supported strength they bear

That which the torrent shall not dare

    Submerge or mar with angry tide—

They know not how—but know that there

    God will a way provide.

Their faith hath triumphed;—with the sound

    Of rushing thunder backward fly

The affrighted billows, and the ground

    They moistened now is dry; [page 106]

Cleft in the midst the waters stand

Obedient to their God’s command,

Towering aloft on either hand

    A glassy and resplendent heap,

Where scenes which blessed the promised land

    In mirrored beauty sleep.

And fearless down the dark defile

    The countless hosts of Israel go,

And loud from trump and harp the while

    The strains of gladness flow.

The depths that voices never gave,

But those of warring wind and wave,

Send from their dark and oozy grave

    The echoing tread of joyous throngs,

And praise of Him whose hand can save,

    In loud triumphant songs.

And now the farther shore they gain,

    And kneeling kiss the promised spot,

Which through long years of toil and pain

    Their anxious steps had sought.

Whilst with a wild and maddening roar

The tides, disjoined from shore to shore, [page 107]

Their long suspended waters pour

    To fill the yawning gulf between,

Closed is the bright mysterious door

    By which they entered in.

Christian, behold the typic shade

    Of that dim path prepared for thee—

Behold in Jordan’s tide displayed

    Death’s ever flowing sea.

Thou treadest still life’s desert plain

In toil and sorrow, care and pain;

Trials and doubts and fears maintain

    With thee a fierce and bitter strife,

And but for heavenly aid would gain

    The conquest o’er thy life.

Yet soon that toilsome war shall cease,

    And thou beside the floor shalt stand,

Beyond whose waves are realms of peace,

    A pure and holy land.

But if thou still hast kept the ark

Of God before thee as a mark, [page 108]

Fear not the troubled waters dark,

    Howe’er they rage and chafe and roar,

On that mysterious voyage embark,

    And GOD will guide thee o’er.

Pass boldly on in faith and prayer,

    And waves of doubt and floods of fear

Shall part and leave a passage there

    To changeless glories near.

The dim obscurity shall fail

In Death’s dark pass and shadowy vale,

And thou with gladdened eye shalt hail

    Bright glimpses of the glorious things

Which lie beyond and render pale

    The angels’ flashing wings.

And when thou’st gained that blessed shore

    Forever freed from sin and pain,

Death’s cheated waves shall hiss and roar,

    Mingling their streams again.

Thence ever closed, that shadowy door

Shall entrance give to earth no more— [page 109]

But thou shalt reach the golden floor

    By Jesus lit and angels trod,

Ever and ever to adore

    Thy Saviour and thy God. [page 110]

THE KENNEBEC.

        HE, who hath sped the billows o’er

        Which break on Maine’s rock-girdled shore,

        Will marvel when those rocks are passed,

        Which seem like sturdy barriers cast

Against the tempest and the tide,

    How calm within, how soft and far,

How robed in glory and in pride

    The smiles and hues of Nature are.

    There, Kennebec, like childhood’s dream,

    Flows on thy full and placid stream,

Now clasping in its soft embrace

    Some islet with its woody crown,

Now hurrying on with swifter pace

    Where rocky barriers sloping down

        Give narrower egress to thy tide,

        And press thy waves on either side. [page 111]

        And thou dost yield where Nature throws

        Her bars thy wide and expanse to close;

But where those puny efforts rise,

    Thrown up by man thy course to stay,

Thy waters free those bars despise,

    And thou dost sweep them all away,

        Thou wild not let his arm restrain

        Thy march to join the mighty main.

What lovely scenes, fair river, rise

    Along thy banks, and in thy stream

Reflected each in beauty lies

    Like paintings of a fairy dream.

        Through tangled dell and forest deep

        Thy new-born waves in gladness leap

Through groves once bright with council fire,

        By fortress-rock and signal hill,

        Where Indian warrior roamed at will,

And where, unworthy of their sire,

        His wretched offspring wander still,—

        His vigor and his spirit fled—

        All but the name changed, lost or dead. [page 112]

        But thou art sweeping on the same

        As when that race bestowed thy name,

        On by the rock which memory keeps

        Of where good Ralle in silence sleeps;

        On, by the vale and by the hill,

        The classic spires of Waterville,

And many a town of a lesser name,

        Till, sweeping round the broken bar

        Which man did make and thou didst mar,

Augusta, like some lovely dame,

        Sits by thy flood and sees her grace

        Reflected in thy glassy face.

        Thence on with calmer, deeper swell,

        Thou lav’st the shores of Hallowell;—

        Thence, onward still, thy streams divide,

        Twin sisters of thy widening tide,

        Gardiner and Pittston; fair they spread,

        ’Mid verdant slope and forest shade;

        The gothic spire that crowns the hill,

        In though, before me rises still,

Such as it rose, ere hid from view,

    By curving bank and wooded height, [page 113]

When to your shores we bade adieu,

    Homes of true kindness and delight.

        Ah! swiftly passed the light-winged hours,

        Amid your hospitable bowers,

        And soon arrived the destined day,

        To bear us from those bowers away,

        And soon upon her foamy path,

        The steamer gained the shores of Bath,

Where, pausing well-known forms to leave

    And stranger voyagers to receive,

Soon to thy tide she bade adieu

    And slept on ocean’s billows blue.

And oft in thought thy quiet scenes

    Come o’er my mind,—O gentle river,

And through thy green and waving screens

    I see the trembling sunlight quiver

        Across thy face; or, as at eve,

        When sunset’s beams a rose-robe weave,

        So deep the smile of Heaven impressed

        Along thy still and mirrored breast;

        I’ve seen extend from shore to shore

        The ripple of the boatman’s oar. [page 114]

        Still calm be thou, and calm the days

        Of those who on thy “banks and braes,”

        Have found a quiet, fair retreat!

        Far from thy vales be War’s red heat!

        Far, strife of arms and battle flood,

        Staining thy Paradise with blood!

        Rather let Peace to ploughshares beat

        The swords rash valour bade to shine

        Erewhile along thy northern line,

        And teach those nobler arts which spread,

        Not mar, the gifts which GOD has shed. [page 115]

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