The lights of joy at midnight hour
Were up in ancient Babylon.
Beauty and Pleasure, Pride and Power,
Were gathered round Belshazzar's Throne.
In farther halls the dance went on,
A pomp of circling peers was nigh;
Yet sate the King as if alone,
In boding gloom, he knew not why.
That midnight hour, forth came a Hand
And wrote along the darkened wall.
In fiery rows the letters stand,
And flaming out the King appal.
From round him, like a garment, tall
The princely heads, awed to the earth.
The Horror runs from hall to hall,
Devouring up the distant mirth.
When twice the King with manlier brow
A glance of those dread letters took,
Their bickering lightnings seemed to bow,
And court his steady scanning look.
But who their calm control might brook?
Deep, deeper sunk the Monarch's head.
Again the lines careering shook,
And blazed impatient to be read.
A pause like death! and far was heard
The coming sound of stately feet:
High prophet old, and mystic bard,
Have left their nightly trancèd seat:
The bold young Queen has bid them meet,