Eloise Alberta Bibb
Belshazzer's Feast - Poem by Eloise Alberta Bibb
The sun has sunk 'neath yonder distant hill,
A hush pervades the world and all is still;
And twilight shadows lengthen into night,
That screens earth's beauties from the eager sight.
The city seems to sleep, yet, many a scene
Of sin, of misery and sorrow keen
This hour enacted 'neath the garb of night,
Most terrifying to the human sight.
But hark! - these sounds - are they of revelry?
What means this grand and pompous pageantry, -
These notes rung from the harp and tabrets's soul,
That wake the brain and o'er the senses roll.
All Babylon awakes to view the sight,
Of lords and princes 'rayed in garments white;
And mark their march to yonder stately hall,
Where sits Belshazzar, king and lord of all.
And here on rich divan of sumptuous rate,
This king of Babylon in robes of state,
Has deigned to feast with lords and ladies fair,
Who bow before his august presence there.
More beauteous scene the eye will ne'er behold,
Than all those sculptured forms in matchless mould,
That rise above those towering columns grand,
And seem to form one powerful, heavenly band.
'Beneath the porphyry pillars that uphold
The arabesque - work of the roof of gold,
A stately peristyle in grand array,
With moresque work stands proud, as well it may,
For artists would their souls mortgage away,
But to behold this work of art one day;
And from this bower of Eden, rich perfume,
Like Brahma's burning founts, the hall illume.
Belshazzar speaks, 'I issue this command,
That all the sacred vessels now on hand,
Within the temple of Jerusalem,
Be brought to me that I dispose of them,
And we will drink, my wives and princes all,
Make merry here within this stately hall.
Long live the gods of gold, of brass and wood,
But cursed be the kingdom of the good.'
Why does he cease? and why this sudden hush,
A moment past there was an obvious rush;
The tabret and the harp are heard no more,
The jests and jokes of king and lords are o'er,
Belshazzar's face is of an ashen hue,
His joints are loosed, and why - his conscience knew.
The eyes of all within that lofty hall,
Are turned upon a hand that's on the wall.
It writes mysterious words that no one knew,
The king would give to know their purport true
A scarlet robe, a chain of priceless gold,
His kingdom e'en, their meaning to unfold,
In vain he bade the wise men rise and speak,
'Twas folly sure their import now to seek;
The queen bethought of Hebrew Daniel's fame,
And mentioned to the king the prophet's name.
And Daniel entering in the stately hall,
Soon reads the words inscribed upon the wall;
He gave a solemn warning to the king,
And loud the echoes through the building ring;
''Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.' - see,
I will, O king, these words explain to thee:
Thou art found wanting for thou hast been weighed,
Thy kingdom numbered, and a section made.'
'Bring forth the scarlet robe,' Belshazzar cried,
With death-like face that bore no marks of pride,
'And on his neck put on this chain of gold,
And make him ruler, who these things have told;'
And then the kingly head in dark despair,
Was bowed upon his breast as if in prayer;
Too late, Belshazzar, time for thee is o'er,
Thou wilt offend thy maker never more.
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