« IndietroContinua »
And the chill marble seems to sweat,
While each peculiar power foregoes his wonted seat.
Peor and Baälim
Forsake their temples dim,
With that twice-batter'd god of Palestine;
And mooned Ashtaroth,
Heaven's queen and mother both,
Now sits not girt with tapers' holy shine;
The Libyc Hammon shrinks his horn,
In vain the Tyrian maids their wounded Thammuz
And sullen Moloch, fled,
Hath left in shadows dread
His burning idol all of blackest hue;
In vain with cymbals' ring
They call the grisly king,
In dismal dance about the furnace blue;
The brutish gods of Nile as fast,
Isis, and Orus, and the dog Anubis, haste.
Nor is Osiris seen
In Memphian grove or green,
Trampling the unshower'd grass with lowings loud: Nor can he be at rest
Within his sacred chest;
Nought but profoundest hell can be his shroud;
In vain with timbrell'd anthems dark
The sable stoled sorcerers bear his worshipt ark.
He feels from Juda's land
The dreaded infant's hand,
The rays of Bethlehem blind his dusky eyn; Nor all the gods beside
Nor Typhon huge ending in snaky twine:
Our Babe to shew his Godhead true
Can in his swaddling bands control the damned crew.
So, when the sun in bed,
Curtain❜d with cloudy red,
Pillows his chin upon an orient wave,
The flocking shadows pale
Troop to the infernal jail,
Each fetter'd ghost slips to his several grave;
And the yellow-skirted fays
Fly after the night-steeds, leaving their moon-loved
But see, the Virgin blest
Hath laid her Babe to rest;
Time is, our tedious song should here have ending: Heaven's youngest-teemed star
And all about the courtly stable
Hath fix'd her polish'd car,
Her sleeping Lord, with hand-maid lamp, attend
Bright-harness'd angels sit in order serviceable.
EREWHILE of music, and ethereal mirth,
Wherewith the stage of air and earth did ring,
And joyous news of heavenly Infant's birth,
My muse with angels did invite to sing;
But headlong joy is ever on the wing,
In wintry solstice like the shorten'd light,
Soon swallow'd up in dark and long out-living night.
For now to sorrow must I tune my song,
And set my harp to notes of saddest woe,
Which on our dearest Lord did seize ere long, Dangers, and snares, and wrongs, and worse than so, Which he for us did freely undergo:
Most perfect Hero, tried in heaviest plight
Of labours huge and hard, too hard for human wight!
He, sov'reign priest, stooping his regal head,
That dropt with odorous oil down his fair eyes,
Poor fleshy tabernacle entered,
His starry front low-rooft beneath the skies:
O, what a mask was there, what a disguise!
Yet more; the stroke of death he must abide,
Then lies him meekly down fast by his brethren's side.
These latest scenes confine my roving verse;
To this horizon is my Phoebus bound:
His godlike acts, and his temptations fierce,
And former sufferings, other-where are found;
Loud o'er the rest Cremona's trump doth sound;
Me softer airs befit, and softer strings
Of lute, or viol still, more apt for mournful things.
Befriend me, night, best patroness of grief:
Over the pole thy thickest mantle throw,
And work my flatter'd fancy to belief,
That heaven and earth are colour'd with my woe;
My sorrows are too dark for day to know;
The leaves should all be black whereon I write, And letters, where my tears have wash'd, a wannish white.
See, see the chariot, and those rushing wheels,
That whirl'd the prophet up at Chebar flood;
My spirit some transporting cherub feels,
To bear me where the towers of Salem stood,
Once glorious towers, now sunk in guiltless blood;
There doth my soul in holy vision sit,
In pensive trance, and anguish, and ecstatic fit.
Mine eye hath found that sad sepulchral rock
That was the casket of Heaven's richest store,
And here though grief my feeble hands up-lock,
Yet on the soften'd quarry would I score
My plaining verse as lively as before;
For sure so well instructed are my tears,
That they would fitly fall in order'd characters.
Or should I thence hurried on viewless wing
Take up a-weeping on the mountains wild,
The gentle neighbourhood of grove and spring
Would soon unbosom all their echoes mild;
And I (for grief is easily beguiled)
Might think the infection of my sorrows loud Had got a race of mourners on some pregnant cloud. This subject the author finding to be above the years he had, when he wrote it, and nothing satisfied with what was begun, left it unfinished.
UPON THE CIRCUMCISION.
YE flaming powers, and winged warriors bright,
That erst with music, and triumphant song,
First heard by happy watchful shepherd's ear,
So sweetly sung your joy the clouds along
Through the soft silence of the listening night;
Now mourn; and, if sad share with us to bear
Your fiery essence can distil no tear,
Burn in your sighs, and borrow
Seas wept from our deep sorrow:
He, who with all heaven's heraldry whilere
Enter'd the world, now bleeds to give us ease.
Alas, how soon our sin
Sore doth begin
His infancy to seize !
O more exceeding love, or law more just?
Just law indeed, but more exceeding love!
For we, by rightful doom remediless,
Were lost in death, till he, that dwelt above,
High-throned in secret bliss, for us frail dust
Emptied his glory, even to nakedness;
And that great covenant which we still transgress
And the full wrath beside
Of vengeful justice bore for our excess;
And seals obedience first, with wounding smart,
This day; but, O! ere long,
Huge pangs and strong
Will pierce more near his heart.
O FAIREST flower, no sooner blown but blasted,
Soft silken primrose fading timelessly,
Summer's chief honour, if thou hadst out-lasted
Bleak winter's force that made thy blossom dry;
For he, being amorous on that lovely die
That did thy cheek envermeil, thought to kiss,
But kill'd, alas! and then bewail'd his fatal bliss.
For since grim Aquilo, his charioteer,
By boisterous rape the Athenian damsel got,
He thought it touch'd his deity full near,
If likewise he some fair one wedded not,
Thereby to wipe away the infamous blot
Of long uncoupled bed and childless eld,
Which, 'mongst the wanton gods, a foul reproach was
So, mounting up in icy-pearled car,
Through middle empire of the freezing air
He wander'd long, till thee he spied from far;
There ended was his quest, there ceased his care:
Down he descended from his snow-soft chair,
But, all unwares, with his cold kind embrace Unhoused thy virgin soul from her fair biding-place.
Yet thou art not inglorious in thy fate;
For so Apollo, with unweeting hand,
Whilom did slay his dearly-loved mate,
Young Hyacinth, born on Eurotas' strand,
Young Hyacinth, the pride of Spartan land;
But then transform'd him to a purple flower:
Alack, that so to change thee Winter had no power!
Yet can I not persuade me thou art dead,
Or that thy corse corrupts in earth's dark womb,
Or that thy beauties lie in wormy bed,
Hid from the world in a low-delved tomb;
Could Heaven for pity thee so strictly doom?
Oh no! for something in thy face did shine
Above mortality, that shew'd thou wast divine.
Resolve me, then, oh soul most surely blest!
(If so it be that thou these plaints dost hear);
Tell me, bright spirit, where'er thou hoverest,
Whether above that high first-moving sphere,
Or in the Elysian fields (if such were there);
Oh say me true, if thou wert mortal wight,
And why from us so quickly thou didst take thy flight?
Wert thou some star which from the ruin'd roof
Of shaked Olympus by mischance didst fall;
Which careful Jove in nature's true behoof
Took up, and in fit place did reinstall?
Or did of late Earth's sons besiege the wall
Of sheeny heaven, and thou, some goddess fled,
Amongst us here below to hide thy nectar'd head?
Or wert thou that just maid, who once before
Forsook the hated earth, O tell me sooth,
And camest again to visit us once more?
Or wert thou that sweet-smiling youth?
Or that crown'd matron sage, white-robed Truth?