Alexander Pope

(21 May 1688 – 30 May 1744 / London / England)

The Messiah : A Sacred Eclogue


Ye nymphs of Solyma! begin the song,
To heavenly themes sublimer strains belong.
The mossy fountains, and the sylvan shades,
The dreams of Pindus, and the Aonian maids,
Delight no more - O thou, my voice inspire,
Who touched Isaiah's hallowed lips with fire!

Rapt into future times the bard begun,
A virgin shall conceive, a Virgin bear a son!
From Jesse's root behold a branch arise,
Whose sacred flower with fragrance fills the skies;
The ethereal Spirit o'er its leaves shall move,
And on its top descend the mystic Dove.
Ye heavens! from high the dewy nectar pour,
And in soft silence shed the kindly shower!
The sick and weak, the healing Plant shall aid,
From storms a shelter, and from heat a shade.
All crimes shall cease, and ancient fraud shall fail;
Returning justice lift aloft her scale.
Peace o'er the world her olive wand extend,
And white robed innocence from heaven descend.

Swift fly the years, and rise the expected morn!
O spring to light, auspicious Babe, be born!
See! nature hastes her earliest wreaths to bring,
WIth all the incense of the breathing spring!
See! lofty Lebanon his head advance,
See! nodding forests on the mountains dance:
See! spicy clouds from lowly Sharon rise;
And Carmel's flowery top perfumes the skies.
Hark! a glad voice the lonely desart cheers;
Prepare the way! a God, a God appears:
A God, a God! the vocal hills reply,
The rocks proclaim the approaching Deity.
Lo! earth receives him from the bending skies!
Sink down ye mountains, and ye vallies rise!
With heads declined ye cedars homage pay!
Be smooth ye rocks, ye rapid floods give way!
The Saviour comes! by ancient bards foretold:
Hear him ye deaf, and all ye blind, behold!
He from thick films shall purge the visual ray,
And on the sightless eye-ball pour the day.
'Tis he the obstructed paths of sound shall clear,
The dumb shall sing, the lame his crutch forego,
And leap exulting like the bounding roe:
No sigh, no murmer the wide world shall hear;
From every face he wipes off every tear.
In adamantine chains shall death be bound,
And hell's grim tyrant feel the eternal wound.
As the good shepherd tends his fleecy care,
Seeks freshest pastures and the purest air:
Explores the lost, the wandering sheep directs,
By day o'ersees them, and by night protects;
The tender lambs he raises in his arms,
Feeds from his hand, and in his bosom warms!
Thus shall mankind his guardian care engage,
The promis'd father of the future age.
No more shall nation against nation rise,
Nor ardent warriors meet with hateful eyes;
Nor fields with gleaming steel be cover'd o'er,
The brazen trumpets kindle rage no more;
But useless lances into scythes shall bend,
And the broad faulchion in a plough-share end.
Then palaces shall rise: the joyful son
Shall finish what his short-liv'd fire begun;
Their vines a shadow to their race shall yield,
And the same hand that sow'd, shall reap the field.
The swain in barren desarts with surprise
Sees lillies spring, and sudden verdure rise,
And starts amidst the thirsty wilds to hear
New falls of water murmuring in his ear;
On rifted rocks, the dragon's late abodes,
The green reed trembles, and the bulrush nods.
Waste sandy vallies once perplex'd with thorn,
The spiry fir and shapely box adorn;
The leafless shrubs the flow'ring palms succeed,
And odorous myrtle to the noisome weed.
The lambs with wolves shall grace the verdant mead,
And boys in flow'ry bands the tyger lead;
The steer and lion at one crib shall meet,
And harmless serpents lick the pilgrim's feet.
The smiling infant in his hand shall take
The crested basilisk and speckled snake;
Pleas'd, the green lustres of the scales survey,
And with their forky tongues shall innocently play.

Rise, crown'd with light, imperial Salem rise!
Exalt thy tow'ry head, and lift thy eyes!
See! a long race thy spacious courts adorn;
See! future sons and daughters yet unborn,
In crowding ranks on ev'ry side arise,
Demanding life, impatient for the skies!
See! barb'rous nations at thy gates attend,
Walk in thy light, and in thy temple bend;
See! thy bright altars throng'd with prostrate kings,
And heap'd with products of Sabaean springs!
For thee Idume's spicy forests blow,
And seeds of gold in Ophir's mountains glow.
See! heav'n its sparkling portals wide display,
And break upon thee in a flood of day!
No more the rising sun shall gild the morn,
Nor ev'ning Cynthia fill her silver horn;
But lost, dissolv'd in thy superior rays,
One tide of glory, one unclouded blaze,
O'erflow thy courts: the Light Himself shall shine
Reveal'd, and God's eternal day be thine!
The seas shall waste, the skies in smoke decay,
Rocks fall to dust, and mountains melt away;
But fix'd his word, his saving pow'r remains,
Thy realm for ever lasts, thy own Messiah reigns.

Submitted: Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Edited: Wednesday, May 25, 2011

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