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Bid them all avaunt for ever!

Blot them from his feverish

view!

Still forgotten crimes are rising, and his tortured soul

pursue. He will doff his purple robes, in sackcloth and in ashes

lie. What is time? A day dream. Oh, that burning word,

eternity! Not enough? Why looks the Baptist with that fix'd and

solemn gaze? Gold and silver, pearls and rubies, on the temple gate shall

blaze. Not enough? Why looks the Baptist piercing through his

soul and life? Ha! the queen, his royal consort! nay, his brother Philip's

wife. Herod shrank, but smiled Herodias, though the gathering

vengeance drain'd Lip of blood, and cheek of blushes. Further answer she

disdain'd, But arose, drew forth the monarch, said their royal tryst

was o'er; And that night in chains the Baptist press’d Machærus’

dungeon floor.

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Thrice since then had Spring and Summer carpeted the

earth with flowers ; But those dreary walls unchanging fenced his slow and

changeless hours, Save there grew ’twixt blocks of granite from some chance

sown seed a fern; And the captive watch'd it ever with the daylight's first

return, Drinking in the earliest sunbeam, beaded with its dewy

tears, All its tender leaflets laden and emboss'd for future years. And it spake to him. It chanced there visited his lonely

cell, Chuza, seneschal of Herod; and a word of power that fell From the Baptist's lips found lodgement in the deep repose

of thought Hidden in a kindred nature, truthful, generous, nobly

wrought. So it was, an unknown friendship unsuspected entrance

gains For a love that loved their master better, dearer for his

chains; Whence he knew ONE name was wafted now on every

passing breath,

Filling Judea's hills and valleys with the fame of Naza

reth. Joy for thee! no weak reed shaken by the fickle fitful

wind :

No soft courtier clothed in raiment woven in the looms of

Ind:

O true prophet, more than prophet! voice of God! Mes

siah's friend! Burning, shining, let thy beacon blaze unwavering to the

end !

Musing thus his past, the captive on his watch nor slept

nor stirr'd, And the hours slid by unheeded, and the cock crew twice

unheard : And the dewy stars more faintly glimmer'd in the doubtful

gloom, And the bursts of mirth were fewer from the royal banquet

room.

Thither Galilee had summon'd all her loveliness and state, And her loveliest there seem'd lovelier, and her greatness

there more great: Flow'd the purple wine like water: Eden's perfumes

fillid the hall;

And the lamps through roseate colors shed a soften'd light

on all.

Mirth and Music hand in hand were floating through the

fairy scene; All were praising Herod's glory, all were lauding Herod's

queen; When at given sign was silence, and the guests reclined

around, And a lonely harper, waking from the chords a dreamlike

sound, Breathed delight and soft enchantment over ear and heart

and soul : None could choose but list, and listening, none their ten

derest thoughts control : When the young, the fair Salome, from her chamber gently

slid.

Nor loose veil, nor golden tresses half her mantling blushes

hid:

Young Salome, sixteen summers scarcely on her bloom had

smiled; Art was none, but artless beauty ; Nature's simplest, fond

est child. At the banquet's edge she linger'd, to her mother's side

she press’d,

And assay'd to dance, and falter'd trembling; but again

caress'd, As those wild notes with a stronger witchery on her spirit

fell, Stole into the midst, and startled, timid as a young gazelle, Trod the air with printless footsteps, as the breezes tread

the sea,

Moved to every tone responsive, like embodied melody: Till embolden'd, as she floated like a cloud of light along, Mingled with melodious music gentler cadences of song, And when every ear was ravish’d, every heart subdued

with love, Dropp'd at length, as drops the skylark from its azure

home above, Swiftly with an angel's swiftness, with a mortal's sweetness

sweet, Glowing, trembling, trusting, loving — dropp'd at length at

Herod's feet.

Heaven be witness, Herod grants her the petition she

prefers:

Half his kingdom were mean dowry for a loveliness like

hers.

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