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A drear and dying sound
Affrights the Flamens at their service quaint; And the chill marble seems to sweat,
195 Which each peculiar pow'r foregoes his wonted seat. Peor and Baälim Forsake their temples dim,
With that twice-batter'd God of Palestine; And mooned Ashtaroth,
200 Heav'ns queen and mother both,
Now sits not girt with tapers' holy shine ; Tho Libyc Hammon shrinks his horn, In vain the Tyrian maids their wounded Thammuz mourn. And sullen Moloch, fled,
205 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 unshow'r'd grass with lowings loud: 215 Nor can
he be at rest Within his sacred chest;
Naught but profoundest hell can be his shroud ;
In vain with timbrellid anthems dark
The sable-stoled sorcerers bear his worshipt ark. 220
He feels from Juda's land
The dreaded Infant's hand,
The rays of Bethlehem blind his dusky eyn;
Nor all the gods beside
Longer dare abide,
Nor Typhon huge ending in snaky twine:
Our Babe, to show his Godhead true,
Can in his swaddling bands control the damned crew.
So, when the sun in bed,
Curtain'd with cloudy red,
230 Pillows his chin upon an orient wave, The flocking shadows pale Troop to th' infernal jail,
Each fetter'd ghost slips to his several grave; And the yellow-skirted Fayes
235 Fly after the night-steeds, leaving their moon-lov'd maze. But see, the Virgin blest Hath laid her Babe to rest;
Time is, our tedious song should here have ending; Heav'n's youngest-teemed star
240 Hath fix'd her polish'd car,
Her sleeping Lord with handmaid lamp attending:
And all about the courtly stable
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 heav'nly Infant's birth,
My muse with Angels did divide 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,
10 Dangers, and snares, and wrongs, and worse than 80, Which he for us did froely undergo :
Most perfect Hero, tried in heaviest plight Of labours huge and hard, too hard for human wight! He, sovran priest, stooping his regal head,
15 That dropt with odorous oil down his fair eyes, Poor fleshy tabernacle entered, His starry front low-rooft beneath the skies:. 0, what a mask was there, what a disguise !
Yet more; the stroke of death he must abide, 20
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 god-like acts, and his temptations fierce,
And former sufferings, other where are found; 25
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 heav'n 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,
35 Seo, see the chariot, and those rushing wheels, That whirld the Prophet up at Chebar flood; My spirit some transporting Cherub feels, To bear me where the tow'rs of Salem stood, Once glorious tow'rs, now sunk in guiltless blood; 40
There doth my soul in holy vision sit,
In pensive trance, and anguish, and ecstatic fit.
Mine eye had found that sad sepulchral rock
That was the casket of Heav'n's richest store,
And here though grief my feeble hands up-lock, 45
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 50
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 beguild)
Might think th' infection of my sorrows loud 55 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 pow'rs, and winged warriors bright,
That erst with music, and triumphant song,
First heard by happy watchful shepherds' ear,
So sweetly sung your joy the clouds along
Through the soft silence of the list'ning 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 heav'n'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-thron’d in secret bliss, for us frail dust
Emptied his glory, ev'n 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, 0! ere long,
Huge pangs and strong
Will pierce more near his heart.
ON THE DEATH OF A FAIR INFANT.
Dying of a Cough.
O FAIREST flow'r, no sooner blown but blasted,
Soft silken primrose fading timelessly,
Summer's chief honour, if thou hadst ont-lasted
Bleak-winter's force that made thy blossom dry;
For he, being amorous on that lovely dye
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 boist'rous rape th’ Athenian damsel got,
He thought it touch'd his deity full near,
If likewise he some fair one wedded not,
Thereby to wipe away th’ infámous blot
Of long-uncoupled bed and childless eld,
Which, 'mongst the wanton gods, a foul reproach was held.
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 ceas'd his care:
Down he descended from his snow-soft chair,
But, all unwares, with his cold-kind embrace 20
Unhous’d thy virgin soul from her fair biding-place.
Yet art thou not inglorious in thy fate;
For so Apollo, with unweeting hand,
Whilom did slay his dearly-loved mate,
Young Hyacinth, born on Eurotas' strand,
25 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 Heav'n for pity thee so strictly doom?
Oh no! for something in thy face did shine
Above mortality, that show'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 th’ Elysian fields (if such there were); 40
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 shak'd 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-heavin, and thou, some goddess fled,
Amongst us here below to hide thy nectar'd head?
Or wert thou that just maid, who once before 50
Forsook the hated earth, O tell' me sooth,
And cam’st again to visit us once more?
Or wert thou that sweet-smiling youth?
Or that crown'd matron sage, white-robed Truth?
Or any other of that heav'nly brood
55 Let down in cloudy throne to do the world some good ?
Or wert thou of the golden-winged host,
Who, having clad thyself in human weed,
To earth from thy prefixed seat didst post,
And after short abode fly back with speed,
60 As if to show what creatures heav'n doth breed;
Thereby to set the hearts of men on fire
To scorn the sordid world, and unto heav'n aspire?
But oh! why didst thou not stay here below
To bless us with thy heav'n-lov'd innocence,
To slake his wrath whom sin hath made our foo
To turn swift-rushing black perdition hence,
Or drive away the slaughtering pestilence,
To stand 'twixt us and our deserved smart? But thou canst best perform that office where thou art. 70 Then thou, the mother of so sweet a child, Her false imagin'd loss cease to lament, Ahd wisely learn to curb thy sorrows wild; Think what a present thou to God hast sent, And render him with patience what he lent;
75 This if thđu do, he will an offspring give, That till the world's last end shall make thy name to live.
FLY, envious Time, till thou run out thy race;
Call on the lazy leaden-stepping hours,
Whose speed is but the heavy plummet's pace;
And glut thyself with what thy womb devours,
Which is no more than what is false and vain,
And merely mortal dross;
So little is our loss,
So little is thy gain!
For when as each thing bad thou hast entomb’d,
And last of all thy greedy self consumid,
Then long Eternity shall greet our bliss
With an individual kiss;
And Joy shall overtake us as a flood,
When every thing that is sincerely good
And perfectly divine,
With Truth, and Peace, and Love, shall ever shine
About the supreme throne
Of Him, ť whose happy-making sight alone
When once our heav'nly-guided soul shall clime,
Then, all this earthy grossness quit,
Attir'd with stars, we shall for ever sit,
Triumphing over Death, and Chance, and thee,
AT A SOLEMN MUSIC. BLEST pair of Sirens, pledges of heav'n's joy, Sphere-born, harmonious sisters, Voice and Verse, Wed your divine sounds, and mix'd pow'r eniploy