The Spirit's Prophecy - Poem by Josias Homely
The earth turn'd round—Her atmosphere of light
Like a soft radiance round a sapphire flung
Enclosed her as a garment, whose fair hues
Of many-color'd blended harmony
Trembled, as the swift sun-rays shot along
Through the thin vapours of a calm, still sky.
A spirit folded then his azure wing,
And rested from his lone, adventurous flight,
Where the first sunbeams struck the outmost air
Where cloud had never soar'd, he 'lighted down
With joy upon the atmosphere of earth.
He, through a wilderness of many worlds.
Had pass'd, in quest of loveliness and bliss.
The fairest offsprings of the Parent Mind.
The Poet of a distant orb was he ;
His energy of thought had kill'd the dust
Which clung around his being's infancy,
And he was passing to the home of souls.
Wonder and love possess'd him as he hung
Like the pois'd falcon on the summer breeze
O'er that bright scene of varied loveliness,
And look'd—down on the dwelling-place of man.
The earth roll'd on—The sea lay spread beneath
The smiling sky, reflecting its fair tints,
Save where the wavelet flung its pearly crest
Of snowy foam upon the golden sands.
'How beautiful' the joyous spirit said,
'Those fields of azure waters—there may dwell
'Creatures it were immortal joy to love'—
As from her cloud the lammergiere descends,
He plung'd into the deep, and rested, where
Millions of zoophiles with ceaseless toil
Were buildins; future continents for men.
There for himself each tiny architect
Rear'd his small dwelling—it became his tomb.
His fate—to live, to struggle, and to die,
A moving atom, knowing nought beyond
The precincts of his prison cell. His world,
His house in life, his sepulchre in death.
The wonders of unreasoning instinct there
He saw. Unconscious of a tendency
It labour'd, and scarce knowing life it lived
Unconscious too of death ; at length it died,
And then its atoms mingled with the stone,
Its everlasting monumental urn.
It knew not aught existed but itself.
The millions of its kindred all around
Toiling to change the bottom of the deep.
Building another surface for a world,
Claim'd not its sympathies ; darkly alone
The animated atom lived and died.
'How wonderful is life' the spirit said,
'Existing in the dust ! Here first it dawns,
'A living stone receives it and transmits
'Its essence to another : yet there dwells
'In this blunt consciousness no sense of self,
'Nor sympathy for others—love may waste
'Its own eternal energies, unbless'd
'By that exchange which is its crowning joy.
'This form of life, however beautiful,
'Claims not from me a spirit's kindred love.'
The earth turn'd round—The deep lay liush'd in night.
The spirit shot along the darken'd waves
Until the sunrise of another dawn
With golden sparkle tip'd each heaving wave.
The finny families with gem-like scales
Came rushing by in happy multitudes ;
Some gaily sporting in the morning beams
With ever varying hues, which trembling changed
In each glad motion, swift as flitting thoughts.
The widely spreading waters, canopied
By that blue heaven's serenity, and lit
By soften'd sun-rays shooting through their depths,
Seem'd for the happy tribes a home of bliss.
The pilgrim of the universe rejoic'd
In sympathetic gladness Avith the glad.
But soon the tyrants of the deep appear'd.
The weak became their prey ! They fed upon
The quivering bodies of their victims frail
Ere life had parted from their trembling food.
His love-born, sympathetic joy repress'd.
With all the sadness which the blest can know,
The spirit, borne upon a zephyr's wing,
Far from the ocean flew—away—away.
The earth roll'd on—and evening's holy calm
Hung o'er the valley of a forest old.
Where tree and shrub had for a thousand years
Lived, grown, decayed, and pass'd again to dust,
Their fruits unpluck'd, their beauty unobserv'd.
Blue watei'-lilies seem'd to catch with joy
The falling diamonds from a fountain's gush,
O'er which an aged willow hung far round
Its waving boughs, which bent to kiss the stream,
And all its drooping garlands seem'd to sigh
And whisper words, as through them pass'd the breeze.
The sweet-briars trembled when the willow waved
And flung around their breath of rich perfume ;
The swift wing'd birds Avhich knew not of restraint,
And never dreamt of fear, from joyous flight
Rested, and sung their evening hymns.
High in the willow's canopy of green
A dove breathed forth her plaintive melody;
It seem'd the melting of her heart in love,
While half expiring with delight, she fed,
Caress'd, and murmur'd o'er her little brood.
A thrill of sweetest sympathy again
Made the glad spii'it tremble, much he fear'd.
While hovering round, to break the holy rest
Of the hush'd air; and when the passing breeze
'Rose like a sudden sigh among the leaves,
He grieved to see it stir the purple down
Upon her panting breast, and dreaded lest
Ruffling her pinion 'twould disturb her joy—
A falcon struck the anxious mother down.
And prey'd upon her heart. The spirit flew
From the green forest glade—away—away.
The earth turn'd round—The morning's beams
Fell on a mighty river, broad and deep,
In whose capacious estuary met
The waters of a continent. Wild woods
Spread wide and far, a tangled wilderness.
Where the young sapling sprung, uncheck'd, untrain'd,
Beside the aged tree in its decay.
Worn by the winds of centuries, and dead.
Through those green bowers of desolation pass'd
With silent flight the wond'ring spirit on,
But rested where the river's silvery tide
Curl'd round, and form'd a little tranquil bay,
Where thousands of wild flowers bent their heads
To look into the glassy stream, and shed
Their sweetest breath upon the whispering wave.
There in the hollow of a rifted rock,
Hung o'er with eglantines, he found a cave,
In which a youthful mother nurs'd a babe;
Half hidden in her flowing hair he lay,
And press'd with rosy lips her panting breast.
An unpremeditated lay of love,
The overflowing of her teeming heart
Fell from her ruby lips, which he repaid
With imitative murmur, as he shot
His keen, arch glances through her tresses dark
Hung like a veil around his joyous face,
Or where the song most pleas'd his childish thought,
He join'd the chorus of his deep rich laugh,
More musical to her than welcome lays
Chanted by Cherubim to happy souls.
Resting from toil, upon a mossy couch
Reposed a warrior of the wilderness.
TJncloth'd his sinewy limb, unclip'd his hair,
His half-clos'd eye still rested on the boy,
His drowsy ear drank in the lullaby
The mother chanted to the laughing child ;
And he the foremost of the tribe in fight,
The mighty chieftain, fierce and obdurate,
Sigh'd like a tender maid ; his heart of steel
Seem'd, drop by drop, dissolving into love.
So joyous was the sympathetic thrill
Which through his being pass'd, the spirit leapt
High in the air—it seem'd electric flame
Had shot from earth and pass'd into the clouds—
Then trembling like a sigh from lips that love,
Gently he sunk again towards the earth
And fell upon the waters—It might seem
That rain-drops, pure and all invisible,
Had dimpled for a while the smiling stream.
The warrior placed his hand upon his boy
And slept. Charm'd by that sacred touch, the child
(!losed the dark fringes o'er his flame-like eyes,
And sunk in smiling slumber. One alone
Kept an unwearied watch ; 'twas Adela,
The mother and the wife.
O man ! O man !
How little in thy turbulent career
Dost thou regard such watchful guardianship ?
O little dost thou reck how often she
Who loved thee in thy wayward infancy,
Sooth'd with enduring love thy fitful sleep.
And less regardest still, perhaps, her care,
Who rent like flax her earliest, tenderest ties
To walk the desert of the earth with thee.
When thou art wearied out with empty cares,
Or still more empty joys ; she vigil keeps.
Her heart bleeds silently, and all for thee.
While thou art lock'd, the while, in troubled sleep,
Unconscious of the charm her silent love
Is shedding, like a spell around thy rest.
A serpent to the heart of man, man is,
A pitiable, pardonable fool—
Ingrate to woman—demons laugh at him—
Angels forsake him—mercy's self forgets.
The spirit look'd upon the tranquil rest
Of those who slept, but more on her who watch'd.
There seem'd to emanate from her full heart
Magnetic influence, like secret spell
Binding the three in one, by sacred bands
Of living strength—the soul's attractive power.
There came a sound, so light, it scarcely struck
Upon the eager ear, but left in doubt—
Was it the crushing of a young, green bough ?
Or echo of a step, which might have press'd
With stealthy haste the primrose of the vale ?
It seem'd to thrill through every quiv'ring nerve
Of the fair sentinel ; and bending down
Upon the warrior's face, she whisper'd words
So soft, they scarcely seem'd a louder breath—
With noiseless motion soon he stood erect.
The woods were fill'd with secret enemies.
Foes to their tribe had trac'd their hiding place ;
Their shouts of vengeance now arose around.
Seizing the weapons of his warfare rude,
The hero with a shout of scorn replied.
The foes came rushing on—the foremost fell
Like slaughter'd hounds before the uprous'd wolf.
For death was in his hands—but soon he fell.
And with the curses of unconqucr'd hate
Upon his lips, expired. The boy they flung
High in the air, and caught him on a spear.
While yet his death-shriek echo'd through the dell.
The conqueror approach'd with hideous smile,
And offer'd Adela his lawless love !
She seem'd to yield—answer'd his loath'd caress
With sweet but guileful smile ; she watcli'd his eve ;
Saw by its deaden'd glare, suspicion slept
Within his brutal soul, then rais'd her arm,
A lightning flame seem'd gleaming round her hand,
A secret dagger through his treacherous heart
Shot like a meteor-bolt, so swift and sure,
That life rush'd out in one red boiling gush.
The tribe yell'd horribly a dreadful shout.
But ere their torturers could seize the blade
It cleft with deadly aim her own pure heart.
The blood of Adela fell heavily
In big and burning drops upon the flowers—
They bow'd their heads and died ; then silently
It crept through yellow sands into the stream—
The waters gurgled, curl'd, and rush'd away
In troubled circles, round the little creek,
As if to shun its sad companionship.
All living things that dwelt within the stream.
Cleft the bright air, or through the forest stray'd.
Forsook the woodland bay. The spirit rose
With heavy flight, though on immortal wing,
Shun'd the bright day, and rush'd into the night.
A shepherd boy who watch'd a slumb'ring flock.
Said, that a voice of weeping, sad, but sweet,
Floated around him in the calm, still air ;
And falling stars, which might be radiant tears.
Fell through the darkness all that solemn eve.
The world turn'd round—Again the morning broke
O'er the green pastures of a flow'r strew'd isle,
And sparkled on its playful mountain streams.
With music of his flagelet, the boy
Who said he had observed the falling stars,
Awoke his drowsy charge, and led them forth
To the green margin of a gushing stream.
With clarion shrill, from cot lo cot, the cock
Awoke the drowsy hinds, and spread the news
That day was walking o'er the eastern hills.
The swallow darted from the thatch with joy ;
The lark shook off the dew-drop form her wing,
Rose from her grassy nest with spiral flight,
And sang among the clouds. The birds which dip
Their pinions in the waters, sported there,
Beating with joyous wing the waving pool;
The generous steed aroused his noble strength.
Led by a child, commenced his willing toil.
A trumpet from their labours call'd the swains,
A priest brought forth a banner, blest it, bade'
His followers battle for the Prince of peace—
The earth was dyed with blood.
Check'd for a while, the spirit's sympathy ;
Compassion, by disdainful wonder, curb'd,
Lay darken'd for a moment in his thought.
But cloud of painful feeling could not rest
Upon his happy being. Yet to shun
Feelings which turn e'en love itself to pain,
Man must be shun'd, and his insane delights,
His cruel friendships, and his childish wars.
So rapid was the spirit's eager flight
From that dread scene of wrath and violence,
It seem'd the rushing of a hurricane—
The frighted sea-boy, to the rocking mast
Clung, as he heard it wail and groan around.
And saw the parting billows separate
In one long line before the sudden gust,
As from the isle of blood the spirit flew
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