Page images
PDF
EPUB

6

Devoted prince, I cannot. Hell beneatla Is moved to meet thee. See the mighty dead, The kings, that sat on golden thrones, approach, The chief ones of the earth. "O Lucifer, 'Son of the morning, thou that vaunting said'st, “I will ascend the heavens; I will exalt “My throne above the stars of God; the clouds “Shall roll beneath my feet,” art thou too weak * As we ? art thou become like unto us? “Where now is all thy pomp? where the sweet sound • Of viol, and of harp?' with curious eye Tracing thy mangled corse, the rescued sons Of Solyma shall say, ' is this the man “That shook the pillars of the trembling earth, “That made the world a desert?' all the kings, Each in his house entomb'd, in glory rest, While unlamented lie thy naked limbs, The sport of dog's, and vultures. In that day Shall these imperial towers, this haughty queen, That in the midst of waters sits secure, Fall prostrate on the ground. Ill-ominous birds Shall o'er the unwholesome marshes scream for food; And hissing serpents by sulphureous pools Conceal their filthy brood. The traveller In vain sball ask where stood Assyria's pride : No trace shall guide his dubious steps; nor sage, Vers'd in historic lore, shall mark the site Of desolated Babylon.” Thus spake The seer, and with majestic step retir'da

FROM BOOK IV.

The City of Babylon having been taken by the Army of Cyrus,

Belshazzar is found in his Pleasure Garden, and slain.

[ocr errors]

WITHIN the walls Of Babylon was rais'd a lofty mound, Where flowers and aromatic shrubs adorn'd The pensile garden. For Nebassar's queen, Fatigu'd with Babylonia's level plains, Sigh'd for her Median home, where nature's hand Had scoop'd the vale, and cloth'd the mountain's

side With many a verdant wood; nor long she pin'd Till that uxorious monarch call'd on art To rival nature's sweet variety. Forthwith two hundred thousand slaves uprear'a This hill, egregious work; rich fruits o’erhang The sloping walks, and odorous shrubs entwine Their undulating branches. Thither flocks A multitude unseen, and, 'mid the groves And secret arbours all night long conceal'd, Silent, and sad, escape the victor's sword.

Now the glad sound of loud triumphal notes, Mix'd with the yells of terror and dismay, Are wafted through the concave arch of night To that imperial mansion, where the king Lies revelling with his minions. Nitocris First heard, and started. In that spacious room, On whose rich sides was 'painted many a chase, With all the warlike acts of Ninus old, And great Semiramis, she sat, and wove

a

Her variegated web. Her slaves around
With sprightly converse cheer'd the midnight hour ;
When sudden, chill'd with horror, in their arms
She sinks, a breathless corse. And now the noise
Invades Belshazzar's ear. A messenger,
And still another messenger arrives,
To tell him, all is lost. On the adverse wall
Instant his eye is fix'd: the characters,
Which yet remain, grow blacker, and increase
In magnitude tenfold: “ Where, where,” exclaims
The' affrighted prince, “O where is Daniel? where
Is that interpreter of heaven's decrees,
Whose curse prophetic on mine ear still sounds
More horrible than these alarming peals,
Which, as I speak, nearer and nearer roll,
The harbingers of slaughter. Haste, arise!
Tell him, I spare the tribes; tell him, I bow
To his Jehovah.” Thus Belshazzar spake,
When sudden, with impetuous uproar,
Through the wide portals rush'd an armed band,
Persians and Medes. Gobryas, and Gadatas,
Breathing fierce vengeance, and inveterate bate,
Conduct the bloody troop. Where, monarch,

where
Is now thy cruel wrath, thy pride, thy power?
Sunk on his knees behold Belshazzar bows
Before his rebel exiles ! “Spare, O spare
My life," the coward tyrant, trembling, cries;
“Let Cyrus wear my crown.

To barren sands, To regions, never trod by human foot Banish me, where I ne'er again may know Sweet social intercourse, but think, 0 think, How fearful 'tis to die.” Thus while he spake, With sword uplifted, o'er their bending king

The victors stood. And now perhaps his prayers,
And eyes, which upward rolling, long'd for life
Though miserable, had stopp'd the fatal blow,
Had not his murder'd son forbad the rage
Of Gobryas to subside. On his arch'd neck
The ponderous falchion fails, and at one stroke
Smites from its spouting trunk the sever'd head
Of Babylonia's monarch. Ever thus
Perish fell cruelty, and lawless power!

FROM BOOK VI.

After the Capture of Babylon, the Jews having been permitted

by Cyrus to rebuild their Temple, they reach Jerusalem-Re. new the Feasts-Lay the Foundation of the Tmple-The old Men weep.

Now dawns the morn, and on unt Olivet
The hoar-frost melts before the rising sun,
Which summons to their daily toil the world
Of beasts, of men; and all that wings the air,
And all that swims the level of the lake,
Or creeps the ground, bid universal hail
To day's bright regent. But the tribes were rous'd,
Impatient ev'n of rest, ere yet the stars
Withdrew their feeble light. Through every street
They bend their way: some Ananiah leads,
Some Phanuel, or what elders else were driven
In early youth from Sion. Not a spot
Remains unvisited; each stone, each beam,
Seems sacred. As in legendary tale,
Led by magician's hand some hero treads
Enchanted ground, and hears, or thinks he hears,

Aerial voices, or with secret dread
Sees unembodied shades, by fancy form’d,
Flit through the gloom ; so rescued Judah walk'd,
Amid the majesty of Salem's dust,
With reverential awe. Howbeit they soon
Remove the mouldering ruins; soon they clear
The obstructed paths, and every mansion raise,
By force, or time, impair'd. Then Jeshua rose
With all his priests; nor thou Zorobabel,
Soul of the tribes, wast absent. To the God
Of Jacob, oft as morn and eve returns,
A new-built altar smokes. Nor' do they not
Observe the feast, memorial of that age
When Israel dwelt in tents; the Sabbath too,
New moons, and every ritual ordinance,
First fruits, and paschal lamb, and rams, and goats,
Offerings of sin, and peace. Nor yet was laid
The temple's new foundation. Corn, and wine,
Sweet balm, and oil, they mete with liberal hand
To Tyrian, and Sidonian. To the sea
Of Joppa down they heave their stately trees
From Syrian Lebanon. And now they square
Huge blocks of marble, and with ancient rites
Anoint the corner stone. Around the priests,
The Levites, and the sons of Asaph stand
With trumpets, and with cymbals. Jeshua first,
Adorn’d in robes pontifical, conducts
The sacred ceremony. An ephod rich
Purple, and blue, comes mantling o'er his arms,
Clasp'd with smooth studs, round whose mean-

d’ring hem
A girdle twines its folds : to this by chains
Of gold is link'd a breastplate : costly gems,
Jasper, and diamond, sapphire, amethyst,

:

« PreviousContinue »