Israel In Egypt. Book Twenty-Third. Poem by Edwin Atherstone

Israel In Egypt. Book Twenty-Third.

Meanwhile, within the heart of the dead sun,
After that glory angelic had passed out,
Long time reigned silence, night impierceable,
As in the depth of Chaos. Where they had fallen,
There the awe--stricken Spirits of Evil still,
Confounded lay; powerless to move, or speak,
Or of aught clearly think,--as though a stroke
From hand unseen had staggered very life.
At length, permitted so, the astonished Powers
From that dread stun 'gan waken. Satan first,
As mightiest, strength and courage returning felt;
And his great voice sent forth; the downcast host
Exhorting, and emboldening. His old art
Remembering then,--on the substantial night,
Once more that dark clear ruby glow he brought,
Which, solely, during ages long, had been
Their dungeon's radiance. Gladdened by the sight,
And by their leader's summons,--from the floor
Uprose the myriads; yet with motion slow;
Aspects of strange confusion, and dismay;
And, in crowds gathering, their dark fears, and thoughts,
Gloomily muttered. But, in little time,
When he had looked among them, and beheld
Their trampled fires rekindling, Satan then,
Tower--like upon his lofty throne stood up,
Silence awaiting: and, when all was hushed,
Thus spake. ``Companions loved! and still the most,
When in adversity most,--few words now hear;
And treasure them; that they your spirits may lift
Above this gloomy present: for, be assured,
But brief repulse we have suffered,--not defeat.
Right on our course toward godhead go we still;
Not greatly, through this mischief, turned aside.
Oft have I told you, that, though all our might,
As in one arm, we could together wield,
Yet powerless were we, in the strife with Him
Who now Almighty is,--the one sole God,
Because, of all Existences, the first;
By half eternity, eldest of all.
Hence the discomfiture that just hath fallen.
No longer here safe conference may we hold.
That miscreant hath betrayed us; and the eye
Which, else, would ne'er have reached it,--from this hour
Ne'er will turn from it: steadfast as a hill
Upon a plain, here will it ever rest.
Even now, be sure, it sees us; and the ear,
Noteth each word we speak. Some fitter place,
Ere long shall we discover. Unto this,
A farewell everlasting bid we now;
And straight to Earth again; therein to do
As ye all know. When meet it shall become
That we again assemble, council to hold,
Then shall the word go forth,--of time, and place,
Instructing you. Meanwhile, be strong, and bold;
Hopeful,--nay confident; for, every age,
Toward godhead speeds us on assuredly,
As every league, by earthly traveller trod,
Speeds toward his journey's end. His sum of leagues
Accomplished,--well he knoweth that the place
For which he seeketh, must before him lie:
And, all our cycles past,--as truly we,
Know that the godhead looked for will be found.
Not less this knoweth He, the already God;
And His whole might will wield to baffle us.
Henceforth, then, double caution must be ours.
The traitor, doubtless, hath our scheme made known,
Touching that youth and maiden; and 'tis crushed.
Eyes, now, of tenfold vigilance will watch,
If we evade them not, our every act;
Ears, tenfold keen, will hearken even our thoughts,
If heedless be we. Shut your natures up,
As gems shut up in rocks. Let your own eyes
Be sunbeams: but, against angelic gaze,
Stand ye impierceable, as cliff 'gainst wind.
Enough: be wise: and, now, in stillness hence.''

The sign he gave; and, swift as flash of light,
The millions vanished. Through the void immense
Again came Stygian blackness, solitude,
And silence, for the eternity to come.
While thus in heaven and hell God's justice ruled,--
O'erwhelmed by darkness inconceivable,
As 'neath a coal--black ocean, Egypt lay,
A blot on face of earth! So thick the Night,
That the hand felt it, and the breath was clogged.
All sounds, as though through piles of wool, came dulled:
Noise, close at hand, seemed distant: tones of man,
Weak were as woman's: even his own voice,
To each seemed that of stranger. From the place
Whereon he had stood when the last ponderous wave
Of blackness fell,--aided by touch alone
Of hand, and foot, dared any man to stir.
Happy were they who nigh to couch, or bed,
Had found themselves; in chair, or even on floor,
Of their own dwellings. They who were abroad,
In field, or plain, or road,--at the first frown
Of darkness, fearing Plague at hand, ran on,
Eager for shelter,--wheresoe'er, or what:
But all the Israelites, who in the field,
Or on the public works, then labored,--led,
They knew not how,--through the fast--gathering gloom
Boldly walked onward, each unto his house.
Therein, behold, a pleasant light they found,
Soft, clear, and shadowless,--as if air itself
Radiant had grown; or every separate thing
Self--luminous. Yet, when the in--dwellers looked
From door, or window,--lo! before them stood
Blackness like solid rock! The hand of God,
Toward their deliverance stretched, therein they saw;
And with glad hearts,--for so had been enjoined,--
Due preparation made, against the hour
When, suddenly, to all should summons come,
From bondage to depart. But, for the men
Of Egypt, then abroad, who shelter sought,
Few were there who could reach it; for, with foot
Far fleeter, came the Terror; and flung night,
Pitch--black, and vast as mountains over them;
That staggered were they; wildly glared around;
Hurriedly stopped; and through the stifling air,
Sent shriek on shriek,--till, feeling all in vain,
With a low wailing of despair they sank,
Each where he stood; and lay upon the ground,
Trembling, and moaning: eagerly listening, now,
For any sound of life; now, with wide eyes,
Athirst for glimpse of light, staring toward heaven;
Now, for help feebly calling on their gods.
But, more and more, like a substantial weight,
They felt the Blackness press them; and lay mute,
Shivering, and panting; with a horrible dread
Lest nameless Things of Darkness, roaming then,
Should come upon them. Over the whole land
At length was midnight stillness: bird, nor beast,
Uttered a sound, or dared to stir at all:
Thronged cities silent were as sepulchres:
No man spake word; none from his place arose:
On every living soul throughout the realm,--
The Chosen people except,--such horror was,
As if, alive, entombed. Hour dragged on hour;
Each a long day appearing. ``Was the earth
Death smitten?'' many thought; ``the sun gone out?
Or, had the terrible god of Darkness come,
The universe to destroy?'' But, for the king,
Assuredly knew he, that through the might
Of Hebrew magic alone, the mischief was,--
Though threatened not; and therein he beheld
That second Plague, and last, which, by the voice
Of the dead Hebrew, through strong spells enforced,
Had been predicted. But, like all before,
Soon would it pass: meantime must be endured:
For, not again to the proud sorcerer
Should Pharaoh bow; imploring that his God
Would turn away the scourge. The Plague should die
Its natural death; and, afterward, by death
Not natural, he who sent it. When dropped down
The first great cloud--pall,--fearing what might come,--
A second Plague of flies, perchance, or hail,--
At swiftest toward the chamber of his queen
Had he sped on; his keen eye glancing still
At window after window, as he passed;
And, wonder--stricken, noting, that, through each,
Still fiercer glared the Terror: nay, so swift
Night smote, and trod down Day, that, when he stood
Within the door, already darkness such
Had veiled the earth, that, save as by her voice,
Answering his own, directed, he knew not
Which way to stir the foot. Fever, at eve,
Had come upon her; and her bed she kept.
At length he stood beside her: her small hand,--
Cold now, and shivering,--took, and gayly said.

``Be not afraid, my Sirois. In few hours
All will again be sunshine. Hebrew spells
Once more are working: but the last time this;
And, like all former Plagues, soon will it die.
Come nought but mid--day darkness,--by my troth
We may enjoy the trick; a pleasant change
From the old course may find it. At the worst,
Lamplight for sunlight, a few hours shall have;
No monstrous evil. Calm thee, then, my life:
Think 'tis but night, a little out of time;
And close thy lids, and soothe thy thoughts to peace:
Soon then sweet sleep will come, and pleasant dreams
Of sunny days: and, when thine eyes re--ope,
The veritable sun will gladden them.
Here will I sit beside thee, thy soft hand
Still clasping; and, when daylight comes again,
Will wake thee with a kiss. A little while
Lie still, and speak not; then, in this dead hush,
Perforce will sleep fall on thee.'' Thus spake he,
Calm mind pretending; though within his soul
Darkly perplexed,--unknowing what might come.

Hours passed, and brought no change. Oft looked he up
Toward window, hoping some slight quiver to see
Of the day's eyelids: but one solid black
Were window, and wall, alike. Hour after hour;
And but the heavier grew the palpable night;
Pressing the flesh, and making thick the breath,
As with dense dust. Mysterious horror came
On the proud king,--a dread lest the whole world
Should be about to perish, by the doom
Even of the gods who made it: for, by might
Of Hebrew spells, impossible seemed it now,
Such evil could be. Like heavy hammer--strokes
His heart--throbs rang,--sole sound that he could hear:
All silent else, as if leagues deep in earth
He had been caverned. But, at length, the voice
Of Sirois, faint as whisper; and the hand
Compressing his, aroused him. Burning thirst,
She said, was on her: on him, too, was thirst
Insatiable. Where water--vessels stood,
And cups, well knew he; and, with hand and foot,
Feeling the way, he walked; and, having found,--
Task harder still,--brought them; and, pouring forth,
Gave her to drink; and, afterward, himself
Drank eagerly: and then again he soothed
His terrified queen; and with a cheerful tone
Encouraged her, ``for soon the spell must die,
And daylight come anew.'' But, when she spake,
Saying how pleasant even the poorest lamp,
That gloom to cheer, would be,--he lifted up
His voice, attendance calling. Yet no tongue
Spake in return: nor, when again he called,
And yet again at strongest, came reply.
Up got he then: with arms outstretched, and foot
Feeling his way, along the chamber groped,
The door to find: but, as in labyrinth lost,
Long wandered. With a joyful heart at length,
He struck upon it: opened wide; and sent
Loud summons: ``Ye who hear me, answer now;--
It is the king who speaks.'' Came then a voice,
As from far distance, saying, ``Light of Day,
I hear thee; but I know not where I am.''

``Bring hither lamps,'' cried Pharaoh,--``or call out,
Whoe'er thou art, on them who have the charge;
And say, that, to the chamber of the queen,
Pharaoh commandeth them.'' Thereat the voice
Cried, ``Whoso heareth, let him answer now:
For, through my mouth speaks Pharaoh.'' Seemed it then
That answer came, though Pharaoh heard it not;
For, soon, again the voice arose, and spake.

``Unto the chamber of the queen bring lamps:
Or, upon them who have the charge, call out;
And bid them speed; for so the king commands.''
That having heard, Pharaoh his way groped back,
By the queen's voice directed; and again
Beside her sat; again, with soft words, strove
Her terror to calm. Hour after hour dragged on;
Yet came no touch of daylight, and no lamp:
And wroth had Pharaoh been, but that strong fear
The rising anger smothered. A faint voice,
High--pitched, as if far off, at length he heard,--
``Where is the king? that we the lamps may bring
Into his presence.'' ``The king sitteth yet
In the queen's chamber,'' answered Pharaoh then,
Calling aloud. ``Light of the Sun, we stand
Even at the door thereof,'' returned the voice;
``For thereon, by the lamps, have we descried
The gilded Apis: but the king doth speak
As if far off.'' ``In the queen's chamber I
Verily am,'' cried Pharaoh; ``but, for you,
Ye are not nigh it yet: when ye draw near
The lights will tell your coming.'' ``Glory of Day,''
The voice replied, ``as I do live, we stand
Within the door thereof; three goodly lamps,
Of purest naphtha, bearing in our hands.
Haply the king, at distance, see'th them not;
For we ourselves, a dark gleam only see,
As through black glass. Where sitteth now the king?
Let him still speak aloud; so may the voice
Guide us to find him.'' Then, at highest pitch,
Pharaoh cried out,--again, and yet again,
Answering their call: and fearfully, and slow,
Hand, and foot, groping, nigh, and nigher, they came.
But, not till near as span's length the first light
Approached him, saw he the dark dismal gleam,
Like worn moon through dense fog: nor, till the lamp
Touched the king's hand, did he who bore it know
That he drew nigh him. Pharaoh took it then,
And waved it round, and groaned; for, mockery all
He found it; to that chamber giving light,
Such as to hill--top gives the glow--worm's beam,
In the deep vale beneath. Even when the three
Together stood, strength had they not enough
To show the bearers' faces. ``Get ye back,''
Said Pharaoh; ``two of these, to light you, take;
And bring back many; filled, but kindled not:
So, from one, dying, may the next take life.
And bid ye hither food, and wine; for hence,
Till daylight cometh, can I not depart.''
So fared the king. At length, well nigh three days
Had run; and ponderous still as ever lay
The blackness on the land; silence like death;
Utter stagnation. Oft, with prayers, and tears,
The gentle queen had striven, the stubborn heart
Of Pharaoh to subdue, that he might send
To Moses, and beseech him, with his God
To plead for suffering Egypt: yet, till now,
Hard had he been as iron: but, at last,
Worn out with horror, and fast growing dread
Lest even on themselves might famine fall,--
Darkness enduring,--to her earnest prayer
He yielded: and on them who, by command,
Without the door attended,--called, and said;
``Go, some of you, and quickly as ye may;
And say to Moses, `the king waiteth thee;
Come thou before him.''' Then the weeping queen
Dried up her tears; and thanks spake; and lay still;
Undoubting of the end. Yet hours passed by,
And Moses came not, nor the messengers:
Through that chaotic night a way to find,
The task so difficult. But, what time the sun
Far under earth had dipped, a voice they heard;
``Light of the worlds! without the door even now
The Hebrew standeth: all alone he came;
Walking as in the daylight. Will the king
His pleasure speak?'' ``Let him draw nigh; for here
Must I talk with him,'' Pharaoh said. ``And thou,
My Sirois,'' he whispered,--``mark not word
That shall be spoken: turn away thy face,
And shut thine ear; lest, if harsh speech arise,
Thou may betray thyself.'' Scarce had he ceased,
When near him was a voice; and, when he looked,
Lo! Moses stood before him; visible,
Like a pale flame; his countenance severe,
Yet not in wrath; but with stern sanctity
Of upright judge, addressing criminal.

``At last thy proud heart bendeth, mighty king;''
Solemnly said he: ``mighty among men;
But, in the sight of God, less than the mote,
Seen only in the sunbeam. Know'st thou now
The hand of God stretched o'er thee? Wilt thou now
His word obey, and let our people go?''

Then Pharaoh trembled; for the voice, though soft,
Awed him like thunder; and his tongue lay mute.
But shame burned in him, lest, before the queen,
Weak he should seem; and soon, speech mastering,
Briefly he answered. ``Go ye; serve the Lord.
Only your flocks and herds behind you leave:
Your little--ones take with you.'' ``Nay, not so,''
Firmly said Moses: ``thou must likewise give
For sacrifices, and burnt offerings;
That we may sacrifice unto the Lord.
Our cattle also shall go with us: none,
No not a hoof shall there be left behind;
For thereof must we take, to serve the Lord:
And wherewith we must serve Him, know we not,
Till thither come we.'' ``Even as ye will
Then get ye forth,'' said Pharaoh, hurriedly;
``So that ye first this pestilent darkness chase,--
However brought,--by spells, or by your god,--
And give us day again.'' ``Even yet thy heart
Hard is, I see,'' said Moses; ``and thy words
Of the tongue only. Ne'ertheless, to show
That Israel's God is Lord of all the earth,
And of the heavens, and of all things that be,--
Behold, when I shall pray to Him, this Plague
Will He take from you. But, if wickedly still
Thou disobey,--then heavier still, be sure,
His rod will fall on Egypt; till, with tears,
Ye shall implore us go.'' Thus having said,
On Pharaoh a stern warning look he cast;
Then, walking as in day, the chamber left.

Through these three days and nights, o'er all the land,
Deeper had grown the horror. Sleep was none,
Or but for moments,--so all ears were strained,
Sound whatsoe'er to catch, that might denote
Life, motion, presence, action, suffering, aught
Which good, or evil coming, might portend,--
So were all eyes into the solid night
Eager to pierce; some feeble spark to find
Mid day's black ashes. Thus all Egypt lay,
Dark, soundless, as the vaults 'neath ocean's bed.

But, even at noon of midnight, there went up
A cry throughout the land; a voice of joy.
They who in field, or road, lay perishing,
Upstarted; for, on that chaotic gloom,
In a moment, lo! a sunrise glory sprang,
Dazzling all eyes. ``Day! day!'' the myriads cried,
``Thanks to the gods,--day, day!'' Yet, looking up,
Stars only saw they, numberless, burning bright,
As ne'er before they had burned; like well--filled lamps,
After long darkness, kindled suddenly.
The dwellers in the cities, villages,
And lonely houses,--as at clarion--call,
Started beneath the light--stroke; and cried ``Day!''
And rushed abroad, plunging within the beams,
As in a bath; some, shrieking in their joy;
Some, laughing; weeping, some; and wondering all,
When they looked up, to see that stars alone
Such daylight gave them. But, in little while,
All eyes saw common night; clear, yet still dark:
And, when joy's fire its brightest sparks had spent,
On most,--though hunger--pinched,--with giant power
Came Sleep; some, striking down even where they stood;
Some, hurrying to their rest on couch, or bed,
Or floor, if nighest. But yet many there were,
So, to the very soul, all horror--struck
By those three days of darkness, that, even then,
Feared they the sun had perished in the sky;
Night had become eternal. On their lids
Sleep touched not: toward the bright stars, earnestly
They turned their eyes, counting the slow--paced hours:
And, nigher to the morning as they drew,
On the clear east, silent and doubtful, gazed;
Watching for first weak beam, that trumpet would be
To herald Day--god's rising. Pale they stand,
Anxious, and tremulous; for the stars proclaim
That now the hour is come. Doth sight, at last,
Truth tell them? Doth a faintest pearl--tint wash
Earth's dark rim orient? Or, but cheat of sense,
Hope and fear--troubled, is it? Tremblingly,
Myriads of eyes 'neath close--pressed palms are hid;
Opened again,--and shut--and opened anew:
And still, at every glance, stronger is hope,--
Doubt weaker--weaker--dead! ``Day, day,--'tis day!''
Sky kindles: and from city, field, and plain,
Steams up the voice of joy. Again pour forth
The roused--up sleepers: every living soul
That strength hath, to the street, or field, flies out;
On morn's clear radiance looking, as on thing
Wondrous, unseen before: the sweet, fresh air
Drinking more eagerly than thirsty man
Of the sparkling grape--juice drinks: even on bare ground,
And leafless tree, Plague--ravaged, looking now
As on some beauteous picture: from each sight,
And sound, a rapture taking,--the great bliss
Once more within a living world to feel.
The birds, though faint with hunger, thirst, and fright,
Send up glad voices; and with clanging wings
Speed through the air, their 'customed haunts to find.
Like prisoners from dark dungeon suddenly freed,--
Uttering strange sounds of joy, gambol the beasts:
Even the huge river--horse, and crocodile,
Wild with brute rapture, headlong into Nile
Plunge--tempesting the stream. O'er all the land
Again is life: eyes see, ears hear, tongues speak,
Limbs move: life, life is over all things: death
Died with the darkness. Such the tumult of joy
At light's great resurrection! Many there were,
Who saw in this the hand of Israel's God:
And Him they reverenced; and his servant, too,
That wondrous Moses, by whom had been done,
Marvels unknown before throughout the world:
And earnestly they hoped, the king, at length,
Faithful would be; and let all Israel go.

But not so purposed Pharaoh. Soul--rejoiced,
He saw the solid blackness, to clear air
Changed in a moment: and now, confident
That the last Plague was gone; and, thenceforth, peace
Eternal should he have,--in his bad heart
He laughed at Moses; as at some poor dupe,--
A fool snared easily; and, when noon drew nigh;
And the great Hebrew, standing near his throne,
Questioned him, wherefore proclamation none;
As promised, had gone forth,--that Israel,
Men, women, children, herds, and cattle all,
Might go into the wilderness,--with scorn
Thus answered he. ``Thou hast well played thy game,
Bold sorcerer; and I, mine. Thy tricks of art,
By tricks of guile were met. And now I know,
That in thy quiver not one shaft is left.
Fool! if thou brought that darkness; and, at will,
Could'st bid it last,--hadst thou not cunning enough
To keep us prisoned till yourselves were free?
Thou'st lost occasion; and occasion last.
Thou hast been spendthrift of thy wizard--wealth;
And now art beggar. If some straggling spell,
Forgotten, thou should find,--I caution thee,
Well use it. Meantime, broken sorcerer,
I scorn thee, and defy; thee, and thy god
Alike: impostor thou,--imposture he!
Thou'lt try thy wand again: one grain of lead
Would o'erbuy all its worth. Thou wert a fire;
Art ashes; iron wert,--art glass; a hill
Wert thou in pride,--a molehill art become:
Thy sun is set; the waters of thy seas
Are dried up in their continents: from thy bones,
Flesh, blood, and marrow are gone: thou art a puff
Of smoke upon the wind,--or aught beside,
More weak and worthless still. Thou hast thy staff;
Bring with it now a Blood--Plague, as before,--
And I will place upon thy head my crown,
And hail thee Egypt's king. But, well thou know'st
That all thy tricks are o'er. Wizard, and fool!
Life to permit thee, is myself to be
Foolish as thou: yet, live; and, morn and night,
Thank Pharaoh's mercy. But, presume no more
To come before him. Get thee quickly hence,
Out of my sight! Take heed unto thyself!
See thou my face no more: for, in that day
Thou darest to see it, surely shalt thou die!''

By Pharaoh's frantic threatening all unmoved,
As, by the brawl of waters at its foot,
The cloud--o'erlooking cliff,--on the flushed face,
In a stern anger Moses gazed; and thus.

``Thou hast well spoken, king: uncalled, unsent,
I see thy face no more. But, hearken now.
My quiver, thou sayst is empty; my sun set;
My waters all dried up. Oh, blind of eye,
And hard of heart! imagin'st thou, even yet,
That art of mine these Plagues hath brought on thee;
And dream'st thou that, worn out, it can no more;
And safely, therefore, may thou fling at me
Threat, and derision? In the quiver whence came
The arrows that have smitten thee, lie yet
Ten thousand times ten thousand, ten times told;
And greater far,--for 'tis the quiver of God!
I do but warn thee, saying,--`the bow is bent:
Obey, and 'scape the shaft:' for so to me
The Voice hath spoken. That small buzzing fly,
Now hovering o'er thy head, as easily
Might wield the thunder, as man's deepest art
Such Plagues might bring. From first, to last, still thus
Have I declared it to thee. In thy palm
Could'st thou scoop ocean; and, when highest he stands,
In the sun's face fling it, and his fire dash out,--
Still, against Israel's God, more feeble thou,
Than worm against the earthquake: and from Him,
Again I tell thee, have these judgments come:
And bend to Him thou must. Nay, even now,
When most thy pride is, doth the day draw nigh:
For thus to me hath spoken the Lord God.
`Yet one plague more on Pharaoh will I bring,
And upon Egypt: afterward will he
Let you go hence; nay, he shall thrust you forth.
For, in the midst of Egypt will I go,
About the midnight; and the first--born all,
Throughout the land shall die: from the first--born
Of Pharaoh on the throne, to the first--born
Of the maidservant, toiling at the mill;
And the first--born of beasts. And a great cry
Shall be throughout the land; such as, before,
Hath been none like it; and shall never be.
But, 'gainst the children of Israel, not a dog
Shall move his tongue,--either 'gainst man, or beast:
That ye may know how that the Lord hath put
Difference 'twixt Egypt, and our Israel.'
And those thy servants, Pharaoh, with fierce look
Now glaring on me,--who, with bitterest hate,
And lies, and scoffs pursue me evermore,--
Even they shall come before me, and bow down,
And cry, `now get thee out from Egypt,--thou,
And all thy people.' After that, O king,
Will we go forth: for all the land will cry,
Imploring us to go; even jewels, and gold,
Thrusting upon us, lest we should delay;
And evils worse should follow. Warning none,
As heretofore, now give I: thy bad course
Is run; and to thyself, at last, thou'rt left.
Promise, or oath, to thee such fetter is,
As gossamer--thread to foot of elephant.
A sea of promises thou'dst gulp at once,
Lightly as draught from Nile. Thou hast been weighed,
And art found wanting: sin on sin hast done;
Hast lied to God; even four times hast thou lied,
Unto the God of Israel: and His hand
Is lifted; and nought now can stay the blow.
Word more to thee were vain: bide thou the doom!''

Thus stirred to righteous wrath, the meek man sent
Upon the king, and his much wondering court,
Glances that staggered them; and with great voice,
As with nigh thunder, shook them: gathered then
His robe about him, bending not the head,
And from the hall went forth. Astounded sat
King, priests, and rulers; each upon the face
Of the other looking; and all pale and mute.
But, in a little while, Thamusin rose,
And bowed before the king; and, with bold words,
By Satan prompted, flung defiance and scorn
At Moses, and his threats. And, after him,
Spake Necho, subtly; Hophra, with stern voice;
And others of the priests, all demon--fired,
Making their mock at Moses, and his God.
But in the heart of Pharaoh, most, the fiend
Waked disbelief, and scorn; that, in the end,
Upstarting from his throne, loudly he laughed
At the dread threatening; and his court dismissed.

Exulting in their victory, forth went they;
Joyously laughing also: yet, at heart,
Oft a strange horror felt, which their loud mirth
Stopped in the midst; shooting through nerve and brain,
Like icy lightning: for the voice and look
Of the Hebrew came back on them, trumpet--strong,
Saying, `the truth he speaketh; so will be.'

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