The Course Of Time. Book Vii.

As one who meditates at evening tide,
Wandering alone by voiceless solitudes,
And flies in fancy, far beyond the bounds
Of visible and vulgar things, and things
Discovered hitherto, pursuing tracts
As yet untravelled, and unknown, thro' vast
Of new and sweet imaginings; if chance
Some airy harp, waked by the gentle sprites
Of twilight, or light touch of sylvan maid,
In soft succession fall upon his ear,
And fill the desert with its heavenly tones;
He listens intense, and pleased exceedingly,
And wishes it may never stop; yet when
It stops, grieves not; but to his former thoughts
With fondest haste returns: so did the Seer,
So did his audience, after worship past,
And praise in heaven, return to sing, to hear
Of man; not worthy less the sacred lyre,
Or the attentive ear: and thus the bard,
Not unbesought, again resumed his song.
In customed glory bright, that morn the sun
Rose, visiting the earth with light, and heat,
And joy; and seemed as full of youth, and strong
To mount the steep of heaven, as when the Stars
Of morning sung to his first dawn, and night
Fled from his face: the spacious sky received
Him blushing as a bride, when on her looked
The bridegroom: and spread out beneath his eye
Earth smiled. Up to his warm embrace the dews,
That all night long had wept his absence, flew:
The herbs and flowers, their fragrant stores unlocked,
And gave the wanton breeze, that newly woke,
Revelled in sweets, and from its wings shook health,
A thousand grateful smells: the joyous woods
Dried in his beams their locks, wet with the drops
Of night: and all the sons of music sung
Their matin song; from arboured bower, the thrush
Concerting with the lark that hymned on high:
On the green hill the flocks, and in the vale
The herds rejoiced: and light of heart the hind
Eyed amorously the milk-maid as she passed,
Not heedless, though she looked another way.
No sign was there of change: all nature moved
In wonted harmony: men as they met
In morning salutation, praised the day,
And talked of common things: the husbandman
Prepared the soil, and silver tongued hope,
Promised another harvest: in the streets,
Each wishing to make profit of his neighbour,
Merchants assembling, spoke of trying times,
Of bankruptcies, and markets glutted full:
Or crowding to the beach, where, to their ear,
The oath of foreign accent, and the noise
Uncouth of trade's rough sons, made music sweet,
Elate with certain gain, beheld the bark,
Expected long, enriched with other climes,
Into the harbour safely steer; or saw,
Parting with many a weeping farewell sad,
And blessing uttered rude, and sacred pledge,
The rich laden carack, bound to distant shore;
And hopefully talked of her coming back
With richer fraught: or sitting at the desk,
In calculation deep and intricate,
Of loss and profit balancing, relieved,
At intervals, the irksome task, with thought
Of future ease, retired in villa snug.
With subtle look, amid his parchments sat
The lawyer, weaving his sophistries for count
To meet at mid-day. On his weary couch
Fat luxury, sick of the night's debauch,
Lay groaning, fretful at the obtrusive beam,
That through his lattice peeped derisively:
The restless miser had begun again
To count his heaps: before her toilet stood
The fair, and, as with guileful skill she decked
Her loveliness, thought of the coming ball,
New lovers, or the sweeter nuptial night.
And evil men of desperate lawless life,
By oath of deep damnation leagued to ill
Remorselessly, fled from the face of day,
Against the innocent their counsel held,
Plotting unpardonable deeds of blood,
And villanies of fearful magnitude:
Despots, secured behind a thousand bolts,
The workmanship of fear, forged chains for man:
Senates were meeting; statesmen loudly talked
Of national resources, war and peace;
And sagely balanced empires soon to end:
And faction's jaded minions, by the page
Paid for abuse, and oft repeated lies,
In daily prints, the thorough-fare of news,
For party schemes made interest, under cloak
Of liberty, and right, and public weal:
In holy conclave, bishops spoke of tythes,
And of the awful wickedness of men:
Intoxicate with sceptres, diadems,
And universal rule, and panting hard
For fame, heroes were leading on the brave
To battle: men, in science deeply read,
And academic theory, foretold
Improvements vast: and learned sceptics proved
That earth should with eternity endure;
Concluding madly that there was no God.
No sign of change appeared; to every man
That day seemed as the past. From noontide path
The sun looked gloriously on earth, and all
Her scenes of giddy folly smiled secure.
When suddenly, alas, fair Earth! the sun
Was wrapt in darkness, and his beams returned
Up to the throne of God; and over all
The earth came night, moonless and starless night.
Nature stood still: the seas and rivers stood,
And all the winds; and every living thing.
The cataract, that like a giant wroth,
Rushed down impetuously, as seized, at once,
By sudden frost with all his hoary locks,
Stood still: and beasts of every kind stood still.
A deep and dreadful silence reigned alone!
Hope died in every breast; and on all men
Came fear and trembling: none to his neighbour spoke;
Husband thought not of wife; nor of her child
The mother; nor friend of friend; nor foe of foe.
In horrible suspense all mortals stood;
And as they stood, and listened, chariots were heard
Rolling in heaven: revealed in flaming fire,
The angel of God appeared in stature vast,
Blazing; and lifting up his hand on high,
By Him that lives for ever, swore, that Time
Should be no more.—Throughout creation heard
And sighed: all rivers, lakes, and seas, and woods;
Desponding waste, and cultivated vale;
Wild cave, and ancient hill, and every rock
Sighed: earth, arrested in her wonted path,
As ox struck by the lifted axe, when nought
Was feared, in all her entrails deeply groaned.
A universal crash was heard, as if
The ribs of nature broke, and all her dark
Foundations failed: and deadly paleness sat
On every face of man, and every heart
Grew chill, and every knee his fellow smote.
None spoke, none stirred, none wept; for horror held
All motionless, and fettered every tongue.
Again o'er all the nations silence fell:
And, in the heavens, robed in excessive light,
That drove the thick of darkness far aside,
And walked with penetration keen thro' all
The abodes of men, another angel stood,
And blew the trump of God.—Awake, ye dead!
Be changed ye living! and put on the garb
Of immortality! Awake! arise!
The God of judgment comes. This said the voice:
And silence, from eternity that slept
Beyond the sphere of the creating word,
And all the noise of Time, awakened, heard.
Heaven heard, and earth, and farthest hell thro' all
Her regions of despair: the ear of Death
Heard, and the sleep that for so long a night
Pressed on his leaden eyelids, fled: and all
The dead awoke, and all the living changed.
Old men, that on their staff, bending had leaned,
Crazy and frail; or sat, benumbed with age,
In weary listlessness, ripe for the grave,
Felt through their sluggish veins, and withered limbs,
New vigour flow: the wrinkled face grew smooth;
Upon the head, that time had razored bare,
Rose bushy locks; and as his son in prime
Of strength and youth, the aged father stood.
Changing herself, the mother saw her son
Grow up, and suddenly put on the form
Of manhood: and the wretch, that begging sat
Limbless, deformed, at corner of the way,
Unmindful of his crutch, in joint and limb,
Arose complete: and he that on the bed
Of mortal sickness, worn with sore distress,
Lay breathing forth his soul to death, felt now
The tide of life and vigour rushing back;
And looking up beheld his weeping wife,
And daughter fond, that o'er him, bending stooped
To close his eyes: the frantic madman too,
In whose confused brain, reason had lost
Her way, long driven at random to and fro,
Grew sober, and his manacles fell off.
The newly sheeted corpse arose, and stared
On those who dressed it: and the coffined dead,
That men were bearing to the tomb—awoke,
And mingled with their friends: and armies, which
The trump surprised, met in the furious shock
Of battle, saw the bleeding ranks, new fallen,
Rise up at once, and to their ghastly cheeks
Return the stream of life in healthy flow.
And as the anatomist, with all his band
Of rude disciples, o'er the subject hung,
And impolitely hewed his way, thro' bones
And muscles of the sacred human form,
Exposing barbarously to wanton gaze,
The mysteries of nature—joint embraced
His kindred joint, the wounded flesh grew up,
And suddenly the injured man awoke,
Among their hands, and stood arrayed complete
In immortality—forgiving scarce
The insult offered to his clay in death.
That was the hour, long wished for by the good,
Of universal Jubilee to all
The sons of bondage; from the oppressor's hand
The scourge of violence fell; and from his back,
Heal of its stripes, the burden of the slave.
The youth of great religious soul—who sat
Retired in voluntary loneliness,
In reverie extravagant now wrapt,
Or poring now on book of ancient date,
With filial awe; and dipping oft his pen
To write immortal things; to pleasure deaf
And joys of common men; working his way
With mighty energy, not uninspired,
Thro' all the mines of thought; reckless of pain,
And weariness, and wasted health; the scoff
Of pride, or growl of Envy's hellish brood;
While Fancy, voyaged far beyond the bounds
Of years revealed, heard many a future age,
With commendation loud, repeat his name—
False prophetess! the day of change was come—
Behind the shadow of eternity,
He saw his visions set of earthly fame;
For ever set: nor sighed, while thro' his veins
In lighter current ran immortal life;
His form renewed to undecaying health;
To undecaying health his soul, erewhile
Not tuned amiss to God's eternal praise.
All men in field and city; by the way,
On land or sea; lolling in gorgeous hall,
Or plying at the oar; crawling in rags
Obscure, or dazzling in embroidered gold;
Alone, in companies, at home, abroad;
In wanton merriment surprised and taken;
Or kneeling reverently in act of prayer;
Or cursing recklessly, or uttering lies;
Or lapping greedily from slander's cup
The blood of reputation; or between
Friendships and brotherhoods devising strife;
Or plotting to defile a neighbour's bed;
In duel met with dagger of revenge;
Or casting on the widow's heritage
The eye of covetousness; or with full hand
On mercy's noiseless errands unobserved
Administering; or meditating fraud
And deeds of horrid barbarous intent;
In full pursuit of unexperienced hope,
Fluttering along the flowery path of youth;
Or steeped in disappointment's bitterness—
The fevered cup that guilt must ever drink,
When parched and fainting on the road of ill;
Beggar and king, the clown and haughty lord;
The venerable sage, and empty fop;
The ancient matron, and the rosy bride;
The virgin chaste, and shriveled harlot vile;
The savage fierce, and man of science mild;
The good and evil, in a moment, all
Were changed, corruptible to incorrupt,
And mortal to immortal ne'er to change.
And now descending from the bowers of heaven,
Soft airs o'er all the earth, spreading were heard,
And Hallelujahs sweet, the harmony
Of righteous souls that came to repossess
Their long neglected bodies: and anon
Upon the ear fell horribly the sound
Of cursing, and the yells of damned despair,
Uttered by felon spirits that the trump
Had summoned from the burning glooms of hell,
To put their bodies on—reserved for wo.
Now starting up among the living changed,
Appeared innumerous the risen dead.
Each particle of dust was claimed: the turf,
For ages trod beneath the careless foot
Of men, rose organized in human form;
The monumental stones were rolled away;
The doors of death were opened; and in the dark
And loathsome vault, and silent charnel house,
Moving were heard the mouldered bones that sought
Their proper place. Instinctive every soul
Flew to its clayey part: from grass-grown mould,
The nameless spirit took its ashes up,
Reanimate: and merging from beneath
The flattered marble, undistinguished rose
The great—nor heeded once the lavish rhyme,
And costly pomp of sculptured garnish vain.
The Memphian mummy, that from age to age
Descending, bought and sold a thousand times,
In hall of curious antiquary, stowed,
Wrapt in mysterious weeds, the wondrous theme
Of many an erring tale, shook off its rags;
And the brown son of Egypt stood beside
The European, his last purchaser.
In vale remote the hermit rose, surprised
At crowds that rose around him, where he thought
His slumbers had been single: and the bard,
Who fondly covenanted with his friend
To lay his bones beneath the sighing bough
Of some old lonely tree, rising was pressed
By multitudes, that claimed their proper dust
From the same spot: and he, that richly hearsed,
With gloomy garniture of purchased wo,
Embalmed in princely sepulchre was laid,
Apart from vulgar men, built nicely round
And round by the proud heir who blushed to think
His father's lordly clay should ever mix
With peasant dust—saw by his side awake
The clown, that long had slumbered in his arms.
The family tomb, to whose devouring mouth
Descended sire and son, age after age,
In long unbroken hereditary line,
Poured forth at once the ancient father rude,
And all his offspring of a thousand years.
Refreshed from sweet repose, awoke the man
Of charitable life; awoke and sung:
And from his prison house, slowly and sad,
As if unsatisfied with holding near
Communion with the earth, the miser drew
His carcase forth, and gnashed his teeth, and howled,
Unsolaced by his gold and silver then.
From simple stone in lonely wilderness,
That hoary lay, o'er-lettered by the hand
Of oft frequenting pilgrim, who had taught
The willow tree to weep at morn and even
Over the sacred spot—the martyr saint
To song of seraph harp triumphant rose,
Well pleased that he had suffered to the death.
“The cloud caped towers, the gorgeous palaces,”
As sung the bard by Nature's hand anointed,
In whose capacious giant numbers rolled
The passions of old Time, fell lumbering down.
All cities fell, and every work of man,
And gave their portion forth of human dust,
Touched by the mortal finger of decay.
Tree, herb, and flower, and every fowl of heaven,
And fish, and animal, the wild and tame,
Forthwith dissolving crumbled into dust.
Alas, ye sons of strength! ye ancient oaks!
Ye holy pines! ye elms! and cedars tall!
Like towers of God, far seen on Carmel mount,
Or Lebanon, that waved your boughs on high,
And laughed at all the winds—your hour was come.
Ye laurels, ever green! and bays, that wont
To wreath the patriot and the poet's brow;
Ye myrtle bowers! and groves of sacred shade!
Where Music ever sung, and Zephyr fanned
His airy wing, wet with the dews of life,
And Spring for ever smiled, the fragrant haunt
Of Love, and Health, and ever dancing Mirth—
Alas! how suddenly your verdure died,
And ceased your minstrelsy, to sing no more.
Ye flowers of beauty! penciled by the hand
Of God who annually renewed your birth,
To gem the virgin robes of nature chaste,
Ye smiling featured daughters of the Sun!
Fairer than queenly bride, by Jordan's stream
Leading your gentle lives, retired, unseen;
Or on the sainted cliffs of Zion hill,
Wandering, and holding with the heavenly dews,
In holy revelry, your nightly loves,
Watched by the stars, and offering every morn
Your incense grateful both to God and man,
Ye lovely gentle things! alas, no spring
Shall ever wake you now! ye withered all,
All in a moment drooped, and on your roots
The grasp of everlasting winter seized.
Children of song! ye birds that dwelt in air,
And stole your notes from angels lyres, and first
In levee of the morn, with eulogy
Ascending, hailed the advent of the dawn;
Or, roosted on the pensive evening bough,
In melancholy numbers sung the day
To rest, your little wings, failing dissolved
In middle air, and on your harmony
Perpetual silence fell. Nor did his wing,
That sailed in track of gods sublime, and fanned
The sun, avail the eagle then; quick smitten,
His plumage withered in meridian height,
And in the valley sunk, the lordly bird,
A clod of clay. Before the ploughman, fell
His steers, and in mid-way the furrow left:
The shepherd saw his flocks around him, turn
To dust: beneath his rider fell the steed
To ruins: and the lion in his den
Grew cold and stiff, or in the furious chase,
With timid fawn, that scarcely missed his paws.
On earth no living thing was seen but men,
New changed, or rising from the opening tomb.
Athens, and Rome, and Babylon, and Tyre,
And she that sat on Thames, queen of the seas!
Cities once famed on earth, convulsed through all
Their mighty ruins, threw their millions forth.
Palmyra's dead, where Desolation sat,
From age to age, well pleased in solitude,
And silence, save when traveller's foot, or owl
Of night, or fragment mouldering down to dust,
Broke faintly on his desert ear, awoke.
And Salem, holy city, where the prince
Of life, by death, a second life secured
To man, and with him from the grave, redeemed,
A chosen number brought, to retinue
His great ascent on high, and give sure pledge
That death was foiled,—her generations now
Gave up, of kings, and priests, and Pharisees;
Nor even the Sadducee, who fondly said
No morn of Resurrection ere should come,
Could sit the summons; to his ear did reach
The trumpet's voice; and ill prepared for what
He oft had proved should never be, he rose
Reluctantly, and on his face began
To burn eternal shame. The cities too,
Of old ensepulchred beneath the flood,
Or deeply slumbering under mountains huge,
That earthquake—servant of the wrath of God—
Had on their wicked population thrown,
And marts of busy trade, long ploughed and sown,
By history unrecorded, or the song
Of bard, yet not forgotten their wickedness
In heaven—poured forth their ancient multitudes,
That vainly wished their sleep had never broke.
From battle-fields, where men by millions met
To murder each his fellow, and make sport
To kings and heroes—things long since forgot—
Innumerous armies rose, unbannered all,
Unpanoplied, unpraised; nor found a prince,
Or general then, to answer for their crimes.
The hero's slaves, and all the scarlet troops
Of antichrist, and all that fought for rule—
Many high-sounding names, familiar once
On earth, and praised exceedingly; but now
Familiar most in hell—their dungeon fit,
Where they may war eternally with God's
Almighty thunderbolts, and win them pangs
Of keener wo—saw, as they sprung to life,
The widow, and the orphan ready stand,
And helpless virgin, ravished in their sport,
To plead against them at the coming Doom.
The Roman legions, boasting once how loud
Of liberty, and fighting bravely o'er
The torrid and the frigid zone; the sands
Of burning Egypt, and the frozen hills
Of snowy Albion, to make mankind
Their thralls, untaught that he who made or kept
A slave, could ne'er himself be truly free—
That morning gathered up their dust which lay
Wide scattered over half the globe: nor saw
Their eagled banners then. Sennacherib's hosts,
Embattled once against the sons of God,
With insult bold, quick as the noise of mirth,
And revelry, sunk in their drunken camp,
When death's dark angel, at the dead of night,
Their vitals touched, and made each pulse stand still—
Awoke in sorrow: and the mulitudes
Of Gog, and all the fated crew that warred
Against the chosen saints, in the last days,
At Armageddon, when the Lord came down,
Mustering his hosts on Israel's holy hills,
And from the treasures of his snow and hail
Rained terror, and confusion rained, and death,
And gave to all the beasts, and fowls of heaven
Of captain's flesh, and blood of men of war,
A feast of many days—revived, and doomed
To second death,—stood in Hamonah's vale.
Nor yet did all that fell in battle rise
That day to wailing: here and there were seen,
The patriot bands, that from his guilty throne
The despot tore, unshackled nations, made
The prince respect the people's laws, drove back
The wave of proud invasion, and rebuked
The frantic fury of the multitude
Rebelled, and fought and fell for liberty
Right understood,—true heroes in the speech
Of heaven, where words express the thoughts of him
Who speaks—not undistinguished these, tho' few,
That morn arose, with joy and melody.
All woke—the north and south gave up their dead:
The caravan, that in mid-journey sunk,
With all its merchandise, expected long,
And long forgot, ingulphed beneath the tide
Of death, that the wild spirit of the winds,
Swept in his wrath along the wilderness,
In the wide desert woke, and saw all calm
Around, and populous with risen men:
Nor of his relics thought the pilgrim then,
Nor merchant of his silks and spiceries.
And he—far voyaging from home and friends,
Too curious, with a mortal eye to peep
Into the secrets of the Pole, forbid
By nature, whom fierce winter seized, and froze
To death, and wrapped in winding sheet of ice,
And sung the requiem of his shivering ghost,
With the loud organ of his mighty winds,
And on his memory threw the snow of ages—
Felt the long absent warmth of life return,
And shook the frozen mountain from his bed.
All rose of every age, of every clime:
Adam and Eve, the great progenitors
Of all mankind, fair as they seemed that morn,
When first they met in paradise, unfallen,
Uncursed—from ancient slumber broke, where once
Euphrates rolled his stream; and by them stood,
In stature equal, and in soul as large,
Their last posterity—tho' poets sung,
And sages proved them far degenerate.
Blest sight! not unobserved by angels, nor
Unpraised—that day 'mong men of every tribe
And hue, from those who drank of Tenglio's stream,
To those who nightly saw the hermit cross,
In utmost south retired,—rising were seen,
The fair and ruddy sons of Albion's land,
How glad! not those who travelled far, and sailed
To purchase human flesh; or wreath the yoke
Of vassalage on savage liberty;
Or suck large fortune from the sweat of slaves;
Or with refined knavery to cheat,
Politely villanous, untutored men
Out of their property; or gather shells,
Intaglios rude, old pottery, and store
Of mutilated gods of stone, and scraps
Of barbarous epitaphs defaced, to be
Among the learned the theme of warm debate,
And infinite conjecture, sagely wrong!
But those, denied to self, to earthly fame
Denied, and earthly wealth, who kindred left,
And home, and ease, and all the cultured joys,
Conveniences, and delicate delights
Of ripe society; in the great cause
Of man's salvation greatly valorous,
The warriors of Messiah, messengers
Of peace, and light, and life, whose eye unscaled,
Saw up the path of immortality,
Far into bliss—saw men, immortal men,
Wide wandering from the way; eclipsed in night,
Dark, moonless, moral night; living like beasts;
Like beasts descending to the grave untaught
Of life to come, unsanctified, unsaved:
Who strong, tho' seeming weak; who warlike, though
Unarmed with bow and sword; appearing mad,
Tho' sounder than the schools alone ere made
The doctor's head; devote to God and truth,
And sworn to man's eternal weal—beyond
Repentance sworn, or thought of turning back;
And casting far behind all earthly care,
All countryships, all national regards,
And enmities; all narrow bournes of state
And selfish policy; beneath their feet
Treading all fear of opposition down;
All fear of danger; of reproach all fear;
And evil tongues;—went forth, from Britain went,
A noiseless band of heavenly soldiery,
From out the armory of God equipped
Invincible—to conquer sin; to blow
The trump of freedom in the despot's ear;
To tell the bruted slave his manhood high,
His birthright liberty, and in his hand
To put the writ of manumission, signed
By God's own signature; to drive away
From earth the dark infernal legionry
Of superstition, ignorance, and hell:
High on the pagan hills, where Satan sat
Encamped, and o'er the subject kingdoms threw
Perpetual night, to plant Immanuel's cross,
The ensign of the Gospel, blazing round
Immortal truth; and in the wilderness
Of human waste to sow eternal life;
And from the rock, where sin with horrid yell
Devoured its victims unredeemed, to raise
The melody of grateful hearts to Heaven.
To falsehood, truth; to pride, humility;
To insult, meekness; pardon, to revenge;
To stubborn prejudice, unwearied zeal;
To censure, unaccusing minds; to stripes,
Long suffering; to want of all things, hope;
To death, assured faith of life to come,
Opposing—these, great worthies, rising, shone
Thro' all the tribes and nations of mankind,
Like Hesper, glorious once among the stars
Of twilight, and around them flocking stood,
Arrayed in white, the people they had saved.
Great Ocean too, that morning, thou, the call
Of restitution heardst, and reverently
To the last trumpet's voice in silence listened!
Great Ocean! strongest of creation's sons!
Unconquerable, unreposed, untired;
That rolled the wild, profound, eternal bass,
In Nature's anthem, and made music, such
As pleased the ear of God. Original,
Unmarred, unfaded work of Deity;
And unburlesqued by mortal's puny skill.
From age to age enduring and unchanged:
Majestical, inimitable, vast,
Loud uttering satire day and night on each
Succeeding race, and little pompous work
Of man. Unfallen, religious, holy sea!
Thou bowedst thy glorious head to none, fearedst none,
Heardst none, to none didst honour, but to God
Thy maker—only worthy to receive
Thy great obeisance. Undiscovered sea!
Into thy dark, unknown, mysterious caves,
And secret haunts, unfathomably deep
Beneath all visible retired, none went,
And came again, to tell the wonders there.
Tremendous sea! what time thou lifted up
Thy waves on high, and with thy winds and storms
Strange pastime took, and shook thy mighty sides
Indignantly—the pride of navies fell;
Beyond the arm of help, unheard, unseen,
Sunk friend and foe, with all their wealth and war;
And on thy shores, men of a thousand tribes,
Polite and barbarous, trembling stood, amazed,
Confounded, terrified, and thought vast thoughts
Of ruin, boundlessness, omnipotence,
Infinitude, eternity: and thought
And wondered still, and grasped, and grasped, and grasped
Again—beyond her reach exerting all
The soul to take thy great idea in,
To comprehend incomprehensible;
And wondered more, and felt their littleness.
Self-purifying, unpolluted sea!
Lover unchangeable! thy faithful breast
For ever heaving to the lovely moon,
That like a shy and holy virgin, robed
In saintly white, walked nightly in the heavens,
And to thy everlasting serenade
Gave gracious audience; nor was wooed in vain.
That morning, thou, that slumbered not before,
Nor slept, great Ocean! laid thy waves to rest,
And hushed thy mighty minstrelsy. No breath
Thy deep composure stirred, no fin, no oar;
Like beauty newly dead, so calm, so still,
So lovely, thou, beneath the light that fell
From angel-chariots sentineled on high,
Reposed, and listened, and saw thy living change,
Thy dead arise. Charybdis listened, and Scylla;
And savage Euxine on the Thracian beach
Lay motionless: and every battle ship
Stood still; and every ship of merchandise,
And all that sailed, of every name, stood still.
Even as the ship of war, full fledged, and swift,
Like some fierce bird of prey, bore on her foe,
Opposing with as fell intent, the wind
Fell withered from her wings, that idly hung;
The stormy bullet, by the cannon thrown
Uncivilly against the heavenly face
Of men, half sped, sunk harmlessly, and all
Her loud, uncircumcised, tempestuous crew,
How ill prepared to meet their God! were changed
Unchangeable—the pilot at the helm
Was changed, and the rough captain, while he mouthed
The huge enormous oath. The fisherman,
That in his boat expectant watched his lines,
Or mended on the shore his net, and sung,
Happy in thoughtlessness, some careless air,
Heard Time depart, and felt the sudden change.
In solitary deep, far out from land,
Or steering from the port with many a cheer,
Or while returning from long voyage, fraught
With lusty wealth, rejoicing to have escaped
The dangerous main, and plagues of foreign climes,
The merchant quaffed his native air refreshed,
And saw his native hills in the sun's light
Serenely rise, and thought of meetings glad,
And many days of ease and honour spent
Among his friends—unwarned man! even then
The knell of Time broke on his reverie,
And in the twinkling of an eye his hopes,
All earthly, perished all. As sudden rose,
From out their watery beds, the Ocean's dead,
Renewed, and on the unstirring billows stood,
From pole to pole, thick covering all the sea;
Of every nation blent, and every age.
Wherever slept one grain of human dust,
Essential organ of a human soul,
Wherever tossed—obedient to the call
Of God's omnipotence, it hurried on
To meet its fellow particles, revived,
Rebuilt, in union indestructible.
No atom of his spoils remained to Death;
From his strong arm by stronger arm released,
Immortal now in soul and body both,
Beyond his reach, stood all the sons of men,
And saw behind his valley lie unfeared.
O Death! with what an eye of desperate lust,
From out thy emptied vaults, thou then didst look
After the risen multitudes of all
Mankind! Ah, thou hadst been the terror long,
And murderer of all of woman born.
None could escape thee: in thy dungeon house,
Where darkness dwelt, and putrid loathsomeness,
And fearful silence, villanously still,
And all of horrible and deadly name,—
Thou satt'st from age to age insatiate,
And drank the blood of men, and gorged their flesh,
And with thy iron teeth didst grind their bones
To powder—treading out beneath thy feet
Their very names and memories: the blood
Of nations could not slake thy parched throat.
No bribe could buy thy favour for an hour,
Or mitigate thy ever cruel rage
For human prey. Gold, beauty, virtue, youth;
Even helpless swaddled innocency failed
To soften thy heart of stone: the infant's blood
Pleased well thy taste—and while the mother wept,
Bereaved by thee, lonely and waste in wo,
Thy ever grinding jaws devoured her too.
Each son of Adam's family beheld,
Where'er he turned, whatever path of life
He trode, thy goblin form before him stand,
Like trusty old assassin, in his aim
Steady and sure as eye of destiny,
With scythe, and dart, and strength invincible
Equipped, and ever menacing his life.
He turned aside, he drowned himself in sleep,
In wine, in pleasure; travelled, voyaged, sought
Receipts for health from all he met; betook
To business; speculate; retired; returned
Again to active life; again retired;
Returned; retired again; prepared to die;
Talked of thy nothingness; conversed of life
To come; laughed at his fears; filled up the cup;
Drank deep; refrained; filled up; refrained again;
Planned; built him round with splendour, won applause;
Made large alliances with men and things;
Read deep in science and philosophy,
To fortify his soul; heard lectures prove
The present ill, and future good; observed
His pulse beat regular; extended hope;
Thought, dissipated thought, and thought again;
Indulged, abstained, and tried a thousand schemes,
To ward thy blow, or hide thee from his eye;
But still thy gloomy terrors, dipped in sin,
Before him frowned, and withered all his joy.
Still, feared and hated thing, thy ghostly shape
Stood in his avenues of fairest hope;
Unmannerly, and uninvited, crept
Into his haunts of most select delight:
Still on his halls of mirth, and banqueting,
And revelry, thy shadowy hand was seen
Writing thy name of Death. Vile worm, that gnawed
The root of all his happiness terrene; the gall
Of all his sweet; the thorn of every rose
Of earthly bloom; cloud of his noon-day sky;
Frost of his spring; sigh of his loudest laugh;
Dark spot on every form of loveliness;
Rank smell amidst his rarest spiceries;
Harsh dissonance of all his harmony;
Reserve of every promise, and the if
Of all to-morrows—now beyond thy vale
Stood all the ransomed multitude of men;
Immortal all; and in their visions saw
Thy visage grin no more. Great payment day!
Of all thou ever conquered, none was left
In thy unpeopled realms, so populous once.
He, at whose girdle hangs the keys of death
And life—not bought but with the blood of Him
Who wears, the eternal Son of God, that morn
Dispelled the cloud that sat so long, so thick,
So heavy o'er thy vale, opened all thy doors,
Unopened before, and set thy prisoners free.
Vain was resistance, and to follow vain.
In thy unveiled caves, and solitudes
Of dark and dismal emptiness, thou satt'st,
Rolling thy hollow eyes: disabled thing!
Helpless, despised, unpitied, and unfeared,
Like some fallen tyrant, chained in sight of all
The people: from thee dropped thy pointless dart;
Thy terrors withered all; thy ministers,
Annihilated, fell before thy face;
And on thy maw eternal hunger seized.
Nor yet, sad monster! wast thou left alone,
In thy dark dens some phantoms still remained,
Ambition, Vanity, and earthly Fame;
Swollen Ostentation, meagre Avarice,
Mad Superstition, smooth Hypocrisy,
And Bigotry intolerant, and Fraud,
And wilful Ignorance, and sullen Pride;
Hot Controversy, and the subtile ghost
Of vain Philosophy, and worldly Hope,
And sweet lipped hollow-hearted Flattery—
All these, great personages once on earth,
And not unfollowed, nor unpraised, were left,
Thy ever unredeemed, and with thee driven
To Erebus, thro' whose uncheered wastes,
Thou mayest chase them with thy broken scythe
Fetching vain strokes to all eternity,
Unsatisfied, as men who, in the days
Of Time, their unsubstantial forms pursued.