Page images
PDF
EPUB

sun

The immortal spirit struggles to be free,

He gave the Nubian lion but to live, Then, even then, that hope forsakes him not, To rage its hour, and perish; but on man For it exists beyond the narrow verge

He lavish'd immortality, and Heaven. Of the cold sepulchre.— The petty joys

The eagle falls from her aërial tower, Of Meeting life indignantly it spurn’d,

And mingles with irrevocable dust : And rested on the bosom of its God.

But man from death springs joyful,
This is man's only reasonable hope ;

Springs up to life and to elernity.
And 't is a hope which, cherish'd in the breast, Oh that, insensate of the favouring boon,
Shall not be disappointed.--Even he,

The great exclusive privilege bestow'd
The Holy One--Almighty-who elanced

On us unworthy triflers, men should dare The rolling world along its airy way,

To treat with slight regard the proffer'd Heaven,
Even He will deign to smile upon the good, And urge the lenient, but All-Just, to swear
And welcome him to these celestial seats,

In'wrath, “ They shall not enter in ray rest!"
Where joy and gladness hold their changeless reign. Might I address the supplicative strain,
Thou, proud man! look upon yon starry vault, To thy high foot-slool, I would pray that thou
Survey the countless gems which richly stud Wouldst pity the deluded wanderers,
The Night's imperial chariot;-telescopes

And fold them, ere they perish, in thy flock.
Will show thee myriads more innumerous

Yea, I would bid thee pity them, through Him Than the sea-sand ;-each of those little lamps Thy well-beloved, who, upon the cross, Is the great source of light, the centr

Blo a dead sacrifice for human sin, Round which some other mighty sisterhood And paid, with bitter agony, the debt of planets travel, every planet stock'd

of primitive transgression. With living beings impotent as thee.

Oh! I shrink, Now, proud man! now, where is thy greatness fled? My very soul doth shrink, when I reflect What art thou in the scale of universe ?

That the time hastens, when in vengeance clothed, Less, less than nothing !-Yet of thee the God Thou shall come down to stamp the seal of fate Who built this wondrous frame of worlds is careful, On erring mortal man. Thy chariot wheels As well as of the mendicant who begs

Then shall rebound to earth's remotest caves, The leavings of thy table. And shalt thou And stormy ocean from his bed shall start Lift up thy thankless spirit, and contemn

At the appalling summons. Oh! how dread, His heavenly providence? Deluded fool!

On the dark eye of miserable man, Even now the thunderbolt is wing'd with death, Chasing his sins in secrecy and gloom, Even now thou totterest on the brink of hell. Will burst the effulgence of the opening Heaven; How insignificant is mortal man,

When to the brazen trumpet's deafening roar, Bound to the hasty pinions of an hour;

Thou and thy dazzling cohorts shall descend, How poor, how trivial in the vast conceit

Proclaiming the fulfilment of the word ! Of infinite duration, boundless space!

The dead shall start astonish'd from their sleep! God of the universe! Almighty one!

The sepulchres shall groan and yield their prey, Thou who dost walk upon the winged winds, The bellowing floods shall disembogue their charge Or with the storm, thy rugged charioteer,

Of human victims.-From the farthest nook Swift and impetuous as the northern blast,

of the wide world shall troop their risen souls, Ridest from pole to pole ; Thou who dost hold From him whose bones are bleaching in the waste The forked lightnings in thine awful grasp, Of polar solitudes, or him whose corpse, And reinest-in the earthquake, when thy wrath Whelm'd in the loud Atlantic's vexed tides, Goes down towards erring man, I would address Is wash'd on some Caribbean prominence, To Thee my parting pæan : for of Thee,

To the lone tenant of some secret cell Great beyond comprehension, who thyself

In the Pacific's vast

realın, Art Time and Space, sublime Infinitude,

Where never plummet's sound was heard to part Of Thee has been my song—With awe I kneel The wilderness of water; they shall come Trembling before the footstool of thy state, To greet the solemn advent of the Judge. My God! my Father! I will sing to Thee! Thou first shalt summon the elected saints A hymn of laud, a solemn canticle,

To their apportion'd Heaven! and thy Son, Ere on the cypress wreath, which overshades At thy right hand, shall smile with conscious joy The throne of Death, I hang my mournful lyre, On all his past distresses, when for them And give its wild strings to the desert gale. He bore humanity's severest pangs. Rise, Son of Salem! rise, and join the strain! Then shalt thou seize the avenging cimeter, Sweep to accordant tones thy tuneful harp, And, with a roar so loud and horrible And, leaving vain laments, arouse thy soul As the stern earthquake's monitory voice, To exultation. Sing, hosanna sing,

The wicked shall be driven to their abode,
And hallelujah, for the Lord is great

Down the immitigable gulf, to wail
And full of mercy! He has thought of man; And gnash their teeth in endless agony.
Yea, compass'd round with countless worlds, has
thought

Rear thou aloft thy standard.—Spirit, rear
Of we poor worms, that batten in the dews Thy flag on high Invincible and throned
Of morn, and perish ere the noonday sun.

In un participated might. Behold Sing to the Lord, for he is merciful :

Earth's proudest boasts, beneath thy silent sway

[ocr errors]

Sweep headlong to destruction; thou, the while, And thinks the season yet shall come, when Time
Unmoved and heedless, thou dost hear the rush Will wafi him to repose, to deep repose,
Of mighty generations as they pass

Far from the unquietness of life~from noise
To the broad gulf of ruin, and dost stamp

And tumult far-beyond the flying clouds, Thy signet on them, and they rise no more. Beyond the stars, and all this passing scene, Who shall contend with Time-unvanquish'd Time, Where change shall cease, and time shall be no mcra.. The conquerer of conquerors, and lord Of desolation ?-Lo! the shadows fly, The hours and days, and years and centuries, They fiy, they fly, and nations rise and fall.

THE CHRISTIAD,
The young are old, the old are in their graves.

A DIVINE POEM.
Heard'st thou that shout! It rent the vaulted skies ;
It was the voice of people,-mighty crowds—

This was the work which the author had most at heart. His Again! 't is hush'd - Time speaks, and all is hush’d; riper judgment would probably have perceived that the subIn the vast multitude now reigns alone

ject was ill chosen. What is said so well in the Censura Unruffled solitude. They all are still ;

Literaria of all Scriptural subjects for narrative poetry, apAll-yea, the whole—the incalculable mass,

plies peculia: ly to this. “Any thing taken from it, leaves

the story imperfect; any thing added to it, disgusts and alStill as the ground that clasps their cold remains.

most shocks us us impious. As Omar said of the Alexan

drian Library, we may suy of sucd writings; it' they contain Rear thou aloft thy standard-Spirit, rear

only what is in the Scriptures, they are superfluous; is what Thy flag on high! and glory in thy sirength.

is not in them, they are faise."--It may be added, that the But dost thou know the season yet shall come,

mixture of mythology makes truth itsell' appear fabulous.

There is great power in the execution of this fragment.-In When from its base thine adamantine throne

editing these remains, I have, with that decorum which it Shall tumble; when thine arm shall cease to strike, is to be wished all editors would observe, abstained from inThy voice forget its petrifying power;

forming the reader what he is to admire and what he is not ; When saints shall shout, and Time shall be no more!

but I cannot refrain from saying that the two last stanzas Yea, lle doth come—the mighty champion comes,

greatly affected me, when I discovered them written on the

leaf of a different book, and apparently long after the first Whose potent spear shall give thee thy death-wound,

canto; and greatly shall I be mistaken if they do not affect Shall crush the conqueror of conquerors,

the reader also.-R. Southey.
And desolate stern Desolation's lord.
Lo! where he cometh! the Messiah comes !
The King! the Comforter! the Christ !-He comes

BOOK I.
To burst the bonds of death, and overturn

I.
The power of Time.—Hark! the trumpet's blast
Rings o'er the heavens!—They rise, the myriads rise-

I sing the Cross !_Ye white-robed angel choirs, Even from their graves they spring, and burst the

Who know the chords of harmony to sweep, chains

Ye who o'er holy David's varying wires Of torpor-He has ransom'd them,

Were wont of old your hovering watch to keep,

Oh, now descend! and with your harpings deep, Forgotten generations live again,

Pouring sublime the full symphonious stream Assume the bodily shapes they own'd of old,

Of music, such as soothes the saint's last sleep, Beyond the flood :-the righteous of their times

Awake my slumbering spirit from its dream, Embrace and weep, they weep the tears of joy.

And teach me how to exalt the high mysterious

theme. The sainted mother wakes, and in her lap Clasps her dear babe, the partner of her grave,

II. And heritor with her of heaven,-a flower

Mourn! Salem, mourn! low lies thine humbled state, Wash'd by the blood of Jesus from the stain

Thy glittering fanes are levell’d with the ground: Of native guilt, even in its early bud.

Fallen is thy pride !—Thine halls are desolate! And hark! those strains, how solemnly serene

Where erst was heard the timbrel's sprightly They fall, as from the skies-at distance fall

sound, Again more loud—the hallelujahs swell:

And frolic pleasures tripp'd the nightly round, The newly-risen catch the joyful sound;

There breeds the wild fox lonely,—and aghast They glow, they burn; and now with one accord

Stands the mute pilgrim at the void profound, Bursts forth sublime from every mouth the song Unbroke by noise, save when the hurrying blast Of praise to God on high, and to the Lamb

Sighs, like a spirit, deep along the cheerless waste Who bled for mortals.

III.

It is for this, proud Solyma! thy towers Yet there is peace for man.-Yea, there is peace Lie crumbling in the dust ; for this forlorn Even in this noisy, this unsettled scene;

Thy genius wails along thy desert bowers, When from the crowd, and from the city far,

While stern Destruction laughs, as if in scorn, Haply he may be set (in his late walk

That thou didst dare insult God's eldest-born: O'ertaken with deep thought) beneath the boughs And with most bitter persecuting ire, Of honeysuckle, when the sun is gone,

Pursued his footsteps till the last day-dawn And with fixt eye, and wistful, he surveys

Rose on his fortunes and thou saw'st the fire The solemn shadows of the Heavens sail,

That came to light the world, in one great flash expire 2 R

*

493

IV.

X. Oh! for a pencil dipt in living light,

*T was there, yet shuddering from the burning lake To paint the agonies that Jesus bore !

Satan had fix'd their next consistory,
Oh! for the long-lost harp of Jesse's might, When parting last he fondly hoped to shake

To hymn the Savior's praise from shore to shore, Messiah's constancy,--and thus to free
While seraph hosts the lofty pæcan pour,

The powers of darkness from the dread decree And Heaven enraptured lists the loud acclaim! or bondage brought by him, and circumvent

May a frail morial dare the theme explore ! The unerring ways of Him whose eye can see May he to human ears his weak song frame? The womb of Time, and, in its embryo pent, Oh! may he dare to sing Messiah's glorious name? Discern the colors clear of every dark event. V.

XI. Spirits of pity! mild crusaders, come!

Here the stern monarch stay'd his rapid fight, Buoyant on clouds around your minstrel float,

And his thick hosts, as with a jetty pall, And give him eloquence who else were dumb,

Hovering, obscured the north star's peaceful light And raise to feeling and to fire his note! And thou, Urania! who dost still devole

Waiting on wing their haughty chieftain's call Thy nights and days to God's eternal shrine,

He, meanwhile, downward, with a sullen fall, Whose mild eyes ’lumined what Isaiah wrote,

Dropt on the echoing ice. Instant the sound Throw o'er thy Bard that solemn stole of thine,

Of their broad vans was hush'd, and o'er the hall, And clothe him for the fight with energy divine.

Vast and obscure, the gloomy cohorts bound,

Till, wedged in ranks, the scat of Satan they surVI.

round. When from the temple's lofty summit prone,

XII.
Satan, o'ercome, fell down; and, throned there,
The son of God confest, in splendor shone ;

High on a solium of the solid wave,
Swift as the glancing sunbeam cuts the air,

Prankt with rude shapes by the fantastic frost, Mad with defeat, and yelling his despair,

He stood in silence ;- now keen thoughts engrave

Dark figures on his front; and, tempest-tost, Fled the stern king of Hell—and with the glare

He fears to say that every hope is lost. Of gliding meteors, ominous and red,

Meanwhile the multitude as death are mute: Shot athwart the clouds that gather'd round his head.

So, ere the tempest on Malacca's coast,

Sweet Quiet, gently touching her soft lute,
VII.

Sings to the whispering waves the prelude to dispute Right o'er the Euxine, and that gulf which late

XIII.
The rude Massagetæ adored, he bent
His northering course, while round, in dusky state

At length collected, o'er the dark Divan
The assembling fiends their summond troops

The arch-fiend glanced, as by the Boreal blaze augment,

Their downcast brows were seen, and thus began Clothed in dark mists, upon their way they went;

His fierce harangue :-Spirits! our better days While, as they pass'd to regions more severe,

Are now elapsed; Moloch and Belial's praise The Lapland sorcerer swell’d with loud lament

Shall sound no more in groves by myriads irod. The solitary gale, and, fill'd with fear,

Lo! the light breaks — The astonish'd nations The howling dogs bespoke unholy spirits near.

gaze!

For us is lifted high the avenging rod !
VIII.

For, spirits, this is He,-this is the Son of God!
Where the North Pole, in moody solitude,
Spreads her huge tracks and frozen wastes around,

XIV. There ice-rocks piled aloft, in order rude,

What then shall Satan's spirit crouch to fear? Form a gigantic hall, where never sound

Shall he who shook the pillars of God's reign Startled dull Silence' ear, save when profound Drop from his unnerved arm the hostile spear? The smoke-frost mutter'd: there drear Cold for aye Madness! The very thought would make me fain

Thrones him,-and, fix'd on his primeval mound, To tear the spanglets from yon gaudy plain, Ruin, the giant, sits; while stern Dismay

And hurl them at their Maker!-Fix'd as fate, Stalks like some woe-struck man along the desert way. I am his Foe! — Yea, though his pride should deign

To soothe mine ire with half his regal state,
IX.

Still would I barn with fixt, unalterable hate.
In that drear spot, grim Desolation's lair,
No sweet remain of life encheers the sight;

xv.
The dancing heart's blood in an instant there Now hear the issue of my curst emprize :

Would freeze to marble.-Mingling day and night When from our last sad synod I took flight, (Sweet interchange, which makes our labours Buoy'd with false hopes, in some deep-laid disguise, Jight)

To tempt this vaunted Holy One to write Are there unknown; while in the summer skies His own self-condemnation ; in the plight

The sun rolls ceaseless round his heavenly height, Of aged man in the lone wilderness, Nor ever sets till from the scene he Ales,

Gathering a few stray sticks, I met his sight, And leaves the long bleak night of half the year to And, leaning on my staff, seem'd much 10 guess rise

What cause could mortal bring to that forlorn recess.

XVI.

XXII. Then thus in homely guise I featly framed

Senseless and stunn'd I lay: till, casting round My lowly speech:-"Good sir, what leads this way My half-unconscious gaze, I saw the foe Your wandering steps? Must hapless chance be Borne on a car of roses to the ground, blamed

By volant angels; and as sailing slow That you so far from haunt of mortals stray ? He sunk, the hoary battlement below,

Here have I dwell for many a lingering day, While on the tall spire slept the slant sunbeam, Nor trace of man have seen; but how! methought Sweet on the enamour'd zephyr was the flow

Thou wert the youth on whom God's holy ray Of heavenly instruments. Such strains oft seem, I saw descend in Jordan, when John taught On star-light hill, to soothe the Syrian shepherd's That he to fallen man the saving promise brought." dream.

XXIII. XVII. “I am that man,” said Jesus, “I am He!

I saw blaspheming. Hate renew'd my strength;

I smote the ether with my iron wing,
But truce to questions-Canst thou point my feet
To some low hut, if haply such there be

And left the accursed scene.—Arrived at length In this wild labyrinth, where I may meet

In these drear halls, to ye, my peers! I bring With homely greeting, and may sit and eat;

The tidings of defeal. Hell's haughty king For forty days I have tarried fasting here,

Thrice vanquish'd, baffled, smitten and dismay'd ! Hid in the dark glens of this lone retreat,

O shame! Is this the hero who could fling

Defiance at his Maker, while, array'd
And now I hunger; and my fainting ear
Longs much to greet the sound of fountains gushing High o'er the walls of light, rebellion's banners play'd
near."

XXIV.
XVUI.

Yet shall not Heaven's bland minions triumph long Then thus I answer'd wily :-“ If, indeed,

Hell yet shall have revenge.- glorious sight Son of our God thou be'st, what need to seek

Prophetic visions on my fancy throng. For food from men ?-Lo! on these flint stones feed,

I see wild Agony's lean finger write Bid them be bread! Open thy lips and speak, Sad figures on his forehead !Keenly bright And living rills from yon parch'd rock will break.”

Revenge's flambeau burns! Now in his eyes Instant as I had spoke, his piercing eye

Stand the hot tears,—immantled in the night, Fix'd on my face ;

-the blood forsook my cheek. Lo! he retires to mourn -I hear his cries! I could not bear his gaze! my mask slipp'd by ; He faints-he falls—and, lo 'l is true, ye powers I would have shunnd his look, but had not power to fly. he dies. XIX.

XXV. Then he rebuked me with the holy word

Thus spake the chieftain,-and, as if he view'd Accursed sounds! but now my native pride The scene he pictured, with his foot advanced Return'd, and by no foolish qualm deterr'd,

And chest inflated, motionless he stood, I bore him from the mountain's woody side, While under his uplifted shield he glanced Up to the summit, where, extending wide

With straining eye-ball fix’d, like one entranced Kingdoms and cities, palaces and fanes,

On viewless air ;-thither the dark platoon Bright sparkling in the sunbeams, were descried; Gazed wondering, nothing seen, save when there And in gay dance, amid luxuriant plains,

danced Tripp'd to the jocund reed the emasculated swains. The northern flash, or fiend late fled from noon,

Darken'd the disk of the descending moon. XX. “ Behold," I cried, “ these glories! scenes divine !

XXVI. Thou whose sad prime in pining want decays; Silence crept stilly through the ranks.—The breeze And these, O rapture! these shall all be thine,

Spake most distinctly. As the sailor stands, If thou wilt give to me, not God, the praise. When all the midnight gasping from the seas Hath he not given to indigence thy days ?

Break boding sobs, and to his sight expands Is not thy portion peril here and pain?

High on the shrouds the spirit that commands Oh! leave his temples, shun his wounding ways: The ocean-farer's life ; so stiff-s0 sear Seize the tiara! these mean weeds disdain,

Stood each dark power;—while through their Kneel, kneel, thou man of woe, and peace and

numerous bands splendor gain."

Beat not one heart, and mingling hope and fear XXI.

Now told them all was lost, now bade revenge appear “Is it not written," sternly he replied, “Tempt not the Lord thy God ?" Frowning he

XXVII. spake,

One there was there, whose loud defying tongue And instant sounds, as of the ocean tide,

Not hope nor fear had silenced, but the swell
Rose, and the whirlwind from its prison brake, Of over-boiling malice. Utterance long
And caught me up aloft, till in one flake,

His passion mock'd, and long he strove to tell The sidelong volley met my swift career,

His laboring ire; still syllable none fell And smote me earthward.—Jove himself might From his pale quivering lip; but died away quake

For very fury; from each hollow cell At such a fall: my sinews crack'd, and near Half sprang his eyes, that cast a flamy ray, Obscure and dizzy sounds seem'd ringing in mine ear. And

195

race

XXVIII.

which lost us Heaven, that we are inferior to the "This comes," at length burst from the furious chief, Thunder-bearer: In subtlety—in subtlety alone we

“ This comes of distant counsels! Here behold are his equals. Open war is impossible. The fruits of wily cunning! the relief

Which coward policy would fain unfold,
To soothe the powers that warr'd with Heaven

Thus we shali pierce our conqueror, through the of old! O wise! O potent! O sagacious snare!

Which as himself he loves; thus if we fall, And, lo! our prince—the mighty and the bold,

We fall not with the anguish, the disgrace There stands he, spell-struck, gaping at the air,

Of falling unrevenged. The stirring call While Heaven subverts his reign, and plants her

Of vengeance rings within me! Warriors all, standard there."

The word is vengeance, and the spur despair.

Away the coward wiles - Death's coal-black XXIX.

pall Here, as recover'd, Satan fix'd his eye

Be now our standard !–Be our torch the glare Full on the speaker; dark it was and stern: or cities fired! our fifes, the shrieks that fill the air He wrapt his black vest round him gloomily, And stood like one whom weightiest thoughts Him answering rose Mecasphim, who of old,

Far in the silence of Chaldea's groves, concern. Him Moloch mark'd, and strove again to turn Was worshipp'd, God of Fire, with charms untold His soul to rage.“ Behold, behold,” he cried, And mystery. His wandering spirit roves, “The lord of Hell, who bade these legions spurn.

Now vainly searching for the flame it loves, Almighty rule—behold, he lays aside

And sits and mourns like some white-robed sire The spear of just revenge, and shrinks, by man defied.” Where stood his temple, and where fragrant

cloves XXX.

And cinnamon upheap'd the sacred pyre, Thus ended Moloch, and his (burning) tongue And nightly magi watch'd the everlasting fire.

Hung quivering, as if (mad) to quench its heat In slaughter. So, his native wilds among,

He waved his robe of flame, he cross'd his breast, The famish'd tiger pants, when, near his seat, And sighing_his papyrus scarf survey'd,

Press'd on the sands, he marks the traveller's feet. Woven with dark characters; then thus address'd Instant low murmurs rose, and many a sword The troubled council :

Had from its scabbard sprung; but toward the seat
Of the arch-fiend all turn'd with one accord,

I.
As loud he thus harangued the sanguinary horde. Thus far have I pursued my solemn theme

With self-rewarding toil, thus far have sung

Or godlike deeds, far loftier than beseem Ye powers of Hell, I am no coward. I proved this

The lyre which I in early days have strung; of old. Who led your forces against the armies of And now my spirits faint, and I have hung Jehovah ? Who coped with Ithuriel and the thunders The shell, that solaced me in saddest hour, of the Almighty? Who, when stunned and confused

On the dark cypress! and the strings which rung ye lay on the burning lake, who first awoke and

With Jesus' praise, their harpings now are o'er, collected your scattered powers ? Lastly, who led Or, when the breeze comes by, moan, and are heard you across the unfathomable abyss to this delightful

no more. world, and established that reign here which now toiters to its base? How, therefore, dares yon treach. And must the harp of Judah sleep again? erous fiend to cast a stain on Satan's bravery? he Shall I no more reanimate the lay? who preys only on the defenceless—who sucks the Oh! thou who visitest the sons of men, blood of infants, and delights only in acts of ignoble Thou who dost listen when the humble pray, cruelty and unequal contention. Away with the One little space prolong my mournful day! boaster who never joins in action, but, like a cormo- One little lapse suspend thy last decree! ránt, hovers over the field to feed upon the wounded, I am a youthful traveller in the way, and overwhelm the dying. True bravery is as remote And this slight boon would consecrate to thee, from rashness as from hesitation; let us counsel coolly, Ere I with Death shake hands, and smile that I am free hut let us execute our counselled purposes determinately. In power we have learnt, by that experiment

496

THE END.

« PreviousContinue »