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At last surrounds their sight
A globe of circular light,
That with long beams the shame-faced night arrayed
The helmed cherubim
And sworded seraphim,
Are seen in glittering ranks with wings displayed ;
Harping in loud and solemn quire,
With unexpressive notes to Heaven's new-born Heir.
Such music, as ’tis said,
Before was never made,
But when of old the sons of morning sung,
While the Creator great
His constellations set,
And the well-balanced world on hinges hung;
And cast the dark foundations deep,
And bid the weltering waves their oozy channel keep.
Ring out, ye crystal spheres!
Once bless our humble ears,
If ye have power to touch our senses so ;
And let your silver chime
Move in melodious time;
And let the base of Heaven s deep organ blow;
And, with your ninefold harmony,
Make up full consort to the angelic symphony.
For, if such holy song
Inwrap our fancy long,
Time will run back, and fetch the age of gold;
And speckled Vanity
Will sicken soon and die,
And leprous Sin will melt with earthly mould ;
And Hell itself will pass away,
And leave her dolorous mansions to the peering day.
Yea, Truth and Justice then
Will down return to men,
Orbed in a rainbow; and, like glories wearing,
Mercy will sit between,
Throned in celestial sheen
With radiant feet the tissued clouds down steering;
And Heaven, as at some festival,
Will open wide the gates of her high palace hall.
But wisest Fate says no;
This must not yet be so:
The babe lies yet in smiling infancy,
That on the bitter cross
Must redeem our loss;
So both himself and us to glorify: Yet first, to those ychained in sleep, The wakeful trump of Doom must thunder through the deep,
With such a horrid clang
As on Mount Sinai rang,
While the red fire and smouldering clouds out brake:
The agèd earth aghast,
160 With terror of that blast,
Shall from the surface to the centre shake;
When at the world's last session,
The dreadful Judge in middle air shall spread his throne.
And then, at last, our bliss
Full and perfect is,
But now begins; for, from this happy day,
The old Dragon, under ground
In straiter limits bound;
Not half so far casts his usurpéd sway,
And, wroth to see his kingdom fail,
Swinges the scaly horror of his folded tail.
The oracles are dumb;
No voice or hideous hum
Runs through the arched roof in words deceiving.
Apollo from his shrine
Can no more divine,
With hollow shriek the steep of Delphos leaving.
No nightly trace or breathèd spell
Inspires the pale-eyed priest from the prophetic cell.
The lonely mountains o'er,
And the resounding shore,
A voice of weeping heard and loud lament;
From haunted spring, and dale
Edged with poplar pale,
The parting Genius is with sighing sent :
With flower-inwoven tresses torn,
The nymphs in twilight shade of tangled thickets mourn.
In consecrated earth,
And on the holy hearth,
The Lars and Lemures moan with midnight plaint;
In urns, and altars round,
A drear and dying sound
Affrights the Flamens at their service quaint;
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 battered god of Palestine ;
And moonèd Ashtaroth,
Heaven's queen and mother both,
Now sits not girt with tapers' holy shine ;
The Lybic Hammon shrinks his horn,
In vain the Tyrian maids their wounded Thammuz mourr.
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 unshowered 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 timbreled anthems dark
The sable-stolèd sorcerers bear his worshipped 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
Longer dare abide;
Not 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
Curtained with cloudy red,
Pillows his chin upon an orient wave,
The flocking shadows pale
Troop to the infernal jail;
Each fettered ghost slips to his several grave; And the yellow-skirted Fayes Fly after the night-steeds, leaving their moon-loved maze.
But see! the Virgin blest
Hath laid her Babe to rest :
Time is, our tedious song should here have ending:
Heaven's youngest-teemèd star
Hath fixed her polished car,
Her sleeping Lord with handmaid lamp attending:
And all about the courtly stable
Bright-harnessed 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 divide to sing;
But headlong Joy is ever on the wing;
In wintry solstice like the shortened light
Soon swallowed 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, sovran Priest, stooping his regal head,
That dropped with odorous oil own his fair eyes,
Poor fleshly tabernacle enterèd,
His starry front low-roofed beneath the skies;
Oh, 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 Phæbus bound;