Elizabeth Singer Rowe

(1674-1737 / England)

The History Of Joseph A Poem In Ten Books ,Book 1 - Poem by Elizabeth Singer Rowe

Celestial Muse that on the blissful plain
Art oft invok'd, to guide th' immortal strain;
Inspir'd by thee, the first-born sons of light
Hail'd the creation in a tuneful flight:
Pleas'd with thy voice, the spheres began their round,
The morning stars danc'd to the charming sound;
Yet thou hast often left the crystal tow'rs,
To visit mortals in their humble bow'rs.
Favour'd by thee the courtly swain of old,
Beneath mount Horeb sacred wonders told,
Of boundless chaos, and primaeval night,
The springs of motion and the seeds of light.
The sun stood still, to hear his radiant birth,
With the formation of the balanc'd earth.
The moon on high check'd her nocturnal car,
And list'ning staid, with ev'ry ling'ring star.
The hills around, and lofty Sinah heard
By whose command their tow'ring heads were rear'd.
The flow'rs their gay original attend;
Their tufted crowns the groves, adoring, bend.
The fountains rose, the streams their course withheld,
To hear the ocean's wond'rous source reveal'd.
The birds sit silent on the branches near,
The flocks and herds their verdant food forbear.
The swains forgot their labour while he sung,
How, from the dust, their great forefather sprung:
A vital call awoke him from the ground,
The moving clay obey'd th' almighty sound.
Thus sung in lofty strains the noble bard;
The heav'ns and earth their own formation heard.
But thou, propitious Muse, a gentler fire
Didst breathe, and tune to softer notes the lyre,
When royal Lebanon heard the am'rous king
The beauties of his lov'd Egyptian sing:
The sacred lays a mystic sense infold,
And things divine in human types were told.
Disdain not, gentle pow'r, my song to grace,
While I the paths of heav'nly justice trace;
And twine a blooming garland for the youth,
Renown'd for honour, and unblemish'd truth.
Let others tell of ancient conquests won,
And mighty deeds by favour'd heroes done;
(Heros enslav'd to pride, and wild desires)
A virgin Muse, a virgin theme requires;
Where vice and wanton beauty quit the field,
And guilty loves to stedfast virtue yield.
Jacob, with heav'n's peculiar favour blest,
Leaving the fertile regions of the East,
(Where Haran, then a noble city, stood,
Between fair Tigris, and Euphrates flood)
From Laban fled, and by divine command
Pursu'd his journey to his native land.
Loaded with wealth, his num'rous camels bore
His wives, his children, and his household store;
Of purchas'd slaves he led an endless train,
His flocks and herds engross'd the wide champain.
The shepherd's art was all his fathers knew,
His sons the same industrious life pursue;
The God his pious ancestors ador'd
Th' almighty God, at Bethel, he implor'd:
An altar there, with grateful vows he rear'd,
Where twice the radiant vision had appear'd;
The pow'rs of hell the dreadful omen fear'd:
Each demon trembles in his hollow shrine,
The raving priests amazing things divine.
In Himmon's vale a fane to Moloch stood,
Around it rose a consecrated wood;
Whose mingled shades excluded noon-day light,
And made below uninterrupted night.
Pale tapers hung around in equal rows,
The mansion of the sullen king disclose;
Seven brazen gates its horrid entrance guard;
Within the cries of infant ghosts were heard;
On seven high altars rise polluted fires,
While human victims feed the ruddy spires.
The place, Gehenna call'd, resembled well
The native gloom and dismal vaults of hell.
'Twas night, and goblins in the darkness danc'd,
The priests in frantick visions lay entranc'd;
While here conven'd the Pagan terrors sat,
In solemn council, and mature debate,
T'avert the storm impending o'er their state.
Th' apostate princes with resentment fir'd,
Anxious, and bent on black designs, conspir'd
To find out schemes successful to efface
Great Heber's name, and crush the sacred race;
From whence they knew, the long predicted king,
Th' infernal empire's destin'd foe should spring;
Who conqu'ror o'er their vanquish'd force should tread,
And all their captive chiefs in triumph lead.
Th' affair their deepest policy commands,
And brought them hither, from remotest lands;
From Ur, Armenia, and Iberia's shores,
From Nile, and Ophir rich with golden ores,
And where the Adrian wave, and where th' Atlantick roars.
Nesroth appears, his amber chariot drawn
With snowy steeds: him at the rising dawn
The Syrian worships from his airy hills,
Whose vales with wealth the fam'd Araxis fills.
Belus forsakes his high frequented domes,
And o'er the famous plains of Shinah comes:
Plegor descends his mount; to him were paid,
With impious rites, libations for the dead.
Imperious Rimmon came, whose mansion stood
On the fair banks of Pharphar's lucid flood.
Osiris left his Nile, and thund'ring Baal
The rock, whence Arnon's plentous waters fall.
Mithra, whom all the East adores, was there;
And like his own resplendent planet fair,
With yellow tresses, and enchanting eyes
Dissembling beauty, would the fiend disguise.
Nor fail'd a deity of female name,
Astarte, with her silver cressent came:
Melita left her Babylonian bow'rs;
Where wanton damsels, crown'd with blushing flow'rs,
In all the summer's various lustre gay,
Detested Orgies to the goddess pay.
These various pow'rs, their various schemes propose
But none th' assemble pleas'd, till Mithra rose;
(Of an alluring mien above the rest)
Who thus th' apostate potentates address'd.
Mankind by willing steps to ruin move,
Their own wild passions their destruction prove,
But the most fatal is forbidden love.
Old Jacob boasts a daughter young and fair,
Fond Leah's glory and peculiar care:
Her eyes inflame the gazing Pagans hearts,
Young Shechem has already felt their darts;
Who lately saw her with her virgin train,
Near Shalem, wand'ring o'er the dewy plain.
I'll fill his youthful breast with mad desire,
By fraud, or force, his wishes to acquire.
The coming day he does a feast prepare,
By me instructed how to hide the snare:
Fair Dinah is his sister's promis'd guest,
Impatient love will soon complete the rest.
The damsel's wrongs her brothers will inflame
To right, with hostile arms, the Hebrew's shame:
By which provok'd, the Canaanites shall join
With us t'abolish this detested line.
Revenge and bloody faction are my care,
Moloch replies; thine be the soft affair:
Without Instructions thou canst act thy part,
Well-practis'd in the nice alluring art;
Euphrates' banks, the Senac's conscious shades,
Attest thy freedom with th' Assyrian maids:
Thy voice, applauded in the heav'nly groves,
Was there devoted to terrestrial loves:
Thy sacred lyre to human subjects strung,
No more with tiresome Hallelujahs rung;
This grac'd thy hand, a quiver hung behind,
Nor fail'd thy sparkling eyes to charm the beauteous kind.
The bold example of thy loose amours,
Prevail'd on numbers of the heav'nly pow'rs;
Who vainly had the first probation stood,
Proof to ambition, obstinately good.
Long after I, with my associates, fell;
Thy friends enlarg'd the monarchy of hell;
On softer motives you abhorr'd the skies,
Allur'd by women's captivating eyes:
The sons of God thus with the race of man
Were mingled; hence the giant stock began.
Our plot requires us now, and if it fail,
I'll, in my turn, the hated tribe assail;
Domestic faction may at last prevail.
Joseph, his doting father's life and joy,
By well-concerted means we must destroy;
This youth, above the rest, excites my fear,
Divine presages in his face appear;
Officious Gabriel's care to him confin'd,
Foretels a man for mighty things design'd:
His brethren, acted by my pow'rful fire,
Against his envy'd life shall all conspire.
Joseph remov'd, old Jacob's greatest prop,
The race shall mourn, in him, their blasted hope.
Here Moloch ceas'd; th' infernal spirits rose,
Crowning the double plot with vast applause.

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, October 14, 2010

Poem Edited: Thursday, October 14, 2010

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