Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

Sit at the feet of History-through the night
Of years, the steps of virtue she shall trace,
And show the earlier ages, where her sight
Can pierce the eternal shadows o'er their face;-
When, from the genial cradle of our race,
Went forth the tribes of men, their pleasant lot
To choose, where palm-groves cooled their dwelling-place,

Or freshening rivers ran; and there forgot
The truth of heaven, and kneeled to gods that heard them not.

Those ages have no memory—but they left
A Record in the desert-columns strown
On the waste sands, and statues fallen and cleft,
Heaped like a host in battle overthrown;
Vast ruins, where the mountain's ribs of stone
Were hewn into a city; streets that spread
In the dark earth, where never breath has blown
Of heaven's sweet air, nor foot of man dares tread
The long and perilous ways-the “Cities of the Dead.”

See tombs of monarchs to the clouds up-piled-
Who perished, but whose eternal tombs remain-
And the black precipice, abrupt and wild,
Pierced by long toil and hollowed to a fane;-
Huge piers and frowning forms of gods sustain
The everlasting arches, dark and wide,
Like the night heaven, when clouds are black with rain.

But idly skill was tasked, and strength was plied
All was the work of slaves, to swell a despot's pride.

But virtue cannot dwell with slaves nor reign
O'er those who cower to take a tyrant's yoke;
She left the down-trod nations in disdain,
And flew to Greece, when liberty awoke,
New born, amid those glorious vales, and broke
Sceptre and chain with her fair youthful hands :
As rocks are shivered in the thunder stroke.

And lo! in full-grown strength an empire stands
Of leagued and rival states, the wonder of the lands.

Oh, Greece! thy flourishing cities were a spoil
Unto each other; thy hard hand oppressed
And crushed the helpless; thou didst make thy soil
Drunk with the blood of those that loved thee best;
And thou didst drive, from thy unnatural breast,
Thy just and brave to die in distant climes;
Earth shuddered at thy deeds, and sighed for rest

From thine abominations; after times,
That yet shall read thy tale, will tremble at thy crimes.

Yet there was that within thee which has saved
Thy glory, and redeemed thy blotted name;
The story of thy better deeds, engraved
On fame's unmouldering pillar, puts to shame
Our chiller virtue; the high art to tame
The whirlwind of the passions was thine own;
And the pure ray, and from thy bosom came,

Far over many a land and age has shone,
And mingles with the light that beams from God's own throne.

And Rome—thy sterner, younger sister she
Who awed the world with her imperial frown-
Rome drew the spirit of her race from thee,-
The rival of thy shame and thy renown.
Yet her degenerate children sold the crown
Of earth's wide kingdoms to a line of slaves;
Guilt reigned, and woe with guilt, and plagues came down,

Till the north broke its flood-gates, and the waves Whelmed the degraded race, and weltered o'er their graves.

[ocr errors]

Vainly that ray of brightness from above,
That shone around the Galilean lake,-
The light of hope, the leading star of love,-
Struggled, the darkness of that day to break;
Even its own faithless guardians strove to slake,
In fogs of earth, the pure immortal flame;
And priestly hands for Jesus' blessed sake,

Were red with blood; and charity became,
In that stern war of forms, a mockery and a 'name.

They triumphed, and less bloody rites were kept
Within the quiet of the convent cell;
The well-fed inmates pattered prayer, and slept
And sinned and liked their easy penance well,
Where pleasant was the spot for men to dwell,
Amid its fair broad lands the abbey lay,
Sheltering dark orgies that were shame to tell,

And cowled and barefoot beggars swarmed the way,
All in their convent weeds of black, and white, and gray.

Oh, sweetly the returning muses' strain,
Swelled over that famed stream, whose gentle tide
In their bright lap the Etrurian vales detain,
Sweet, as when winter storms have ceased to chide,
And all the new-leaved woods, resounding wide,
Sent out wild hymns upon the scented air.
Lo! to the smiling Arno's classic side

The emulous nations of the west repair,
And kindle their quenched urns, and drink fresh spirit there.

At last the earthquake came the shock that hurled
To dust, in many fragments dashed and strown,
The throne, whose roots were in another world,
And whose far-stretching shadow awed our own.
From many a proud monastic pile, o’erthrown,
Fear-struck, the hooded inmates rushed and fled;
The web, that for a thousand years had grown

O’er prostate Europe, in that day of dread
Crumbled and fell, -as fire dissolves the flaxen thread.

Thus error's monstrous shapes from earth are driven ;
They fade, they fly—but truth survives their flight;
Earth has no shades to quench that beam of heaven:
Each ray that shone, in early time, to light
The faltering footsteps in the path of right,-
Each gleam of clearer brightness shed to aid
In man's maturer day his bolder sight,-

All blended, like the rainbow's radiant braid,-
Pour yet, and still shall pour, the blaze that cannot fade !

BRYANT.

THE PASSAGE OF THE RED SEA.

(B.c. 1491.)

They come-they come !
See, see the sabre flashing through the gloom,
And the deadly scythe from out the battle car,
And the lance-head glittering like a baleful star,

Portending Israel's doom.
Hark! to the rolling of the chariot-wheel,

And the neighing of the war-horse in his ire,
And the fearful straining of his hoof of steel,
Spurning the mountain-flint that flashes fire.

Hark to the booming drum,
The braying of the trumpet and the boastful cheer,
Pealing in horrid echoes on the frighted ear-

They come—they come.

They come—they come !
Now, now they've clambered up the gorge's height,

And for a moment, in its rugged jaws
(Like a fierce mountain-torrent gathering all its might
In one huge billow, ere it bursts its banks at night)

They pause-
Pennon and scarf, and gallant plumage fair,
Spread out and fluttering on the mountain air,
Like ocean's whitening spray.

Hark! to the hum,
The cheer, the charge, the bursting battle-cry;
Rider and steed and chariot headlong fly,
Down, down the mountain way

They come.
“ Thou Mighty of Battles, for Israel's sake,

Smite the crest of the horseman, the chariot-wheel break; Check the speed of the swift, crush the arm of the strong, And lead thine own people in safety along.”

Lo! 'twixt that dread, exultant host,

And Israel's chastened, timid throng,
The awful pillar-cloud has crossed,
And Egypt, in its shadow lost,

In blind rage gropes along.
Near and more near, with sullen roar,

Beneath their feet the white surge raves;
The prophet-chief stands on the shore,
His eye upturned, his hand stretched'o'er

The phosphorescent waves.
Deep yawn the ocean's billows wild,

Its coral depths disclosed are seen,
The lashing surge sinks calm and mild,
The mighty waves in walls are piled,

And Israel walks between.

While ever through that fearful night,

God's solemn, lustrous glory beams,
And safe beneath its holy light
His wondering people speed their flight

Between the harmless streams.

Onward the vengeful Pharoah flies,

'Mid Egypt's lordly chivalry-
The mists of heaven are in their eyes,
The greedy waves o’erwhelm their prize,

And roar around in glee.
Slowly and chill, the morning spreads

Its light along the lonely shore;
No billows lift their whitening heads,
The waves sleep in the cavern beds

Of ages long before.
See where the glittering water laves

The high and rugged coral coast;
The sea-bird screams along the waves,
And smells afar the timeless graves

Of Egypt's once proud host.

But Israel's hymn is pealing far

To God, that triumphs gloriously“The Lord, the mighty man of war, That hurls the captain and his car

Into the hungry sea.”
And Israel's maids, with dance and glee,

And timbrel sweet, take up the strain-
“ The Lord hath triumphed gloriously;
The Lord hath crushed the enemy,
And Israel's free again!"

Dublin University Magazine.

a

ABSALOM.
The pall was settled. He who slept beneath
Was straighten'd for the grave; and as the folds
Sunk to the still proportions, they betray'd
The matchless symmetry of Absalom:
The soldiers of the King trod to and fro,
Clad in the garb of battle, and their Chief,
The mighty Joab, stood beside his bier
And gazed upon the dark pall steadfastly,
As if he feard the slumberer might stir.
A low step startled him! but the bent form
Of David'enter'd, and he gave command
In a low tone to his few followers,
Who left him with the dead. "The king stood still
Till the last echo died; then throwing off
The sackcloth from his brow, and laying back
The pall from the still features of his child,
He bow'd his head upon him, and broke forth

In the resistless eloquence of woe-
“ Alas, my noble boy !-that thou should'st die!

Thou, who wert made so beautifully fairThat death should settle in thy glorious eye,

And leave his stillness in this clustering hair !
How could he mark thee for the silent tomb,

My proud boy, Absalom?
Cold is thy brow, my son !-and I am chill,

As to my bosom I have tried to press thee-
How was I wont to feel my pulse's thrill,

Like a rich harp-string, yearning to caress thee!.
And hear thy sweet my Father' from these dumb

And cold lips, Absalom !
And oh, when I am stricken, and my heart

Like a bruis'd reed is waiting to be broken,
How will its love for thee, as I depart,

Yearn for thine ear to drink its last deep token ! It were so sweet, amid death's gathering gloom,

To see thee, Absalom !

« PredošláPokračovať »