« PreviousContinue »
The time of rest, the promised sabbath comes.
Six thousand years of sorrow have well nigh
Fulfill'd their tardy and disastrous course
Over a sinful world. And what remains
Of this tempestuous state of human things,
Is merely as the working of a sea
Before a calm, that rocks itself to rest.
For He whose car the winds are, and the clouds 740
The dust that waits upon his sultry march
When sin hath moved him and his wrath is hot,
Shall visit earth in mercy; shall descend
Propitious, in his chariot paved with love,
And what his storms have blasted and defaced
For man's revolt, shall with a smile repair.
Sweet is the harp of prophecy: too sweet
Not to be wrong'd by a mere mortal touch;
Nor can the wonders it records be sung
To meaner music, and not suffer loss.
But when a poet, or when one like me,
Happy to rove among poetic flowers,
Though poor in skill to rear them, lights at last
On some fair theme, some theme divinely fair 20,
Such is the impulse and the spur he feels
To give it praise proportioned to its worth,
That not to attempt it, arduous as he deems
The labour, were a task more arduous still.
Oh scenes surpassing fable, and yet true, Scenes of accomplish'd bliss! which who can see 760 Though but in distant prospect, and not feel
20 True she is fair, oh how divinely fair!
His soul refresh'd with foretaste of the joy?
Rivers of gladness water all the earth,
And clothe all climes with beauty; the reproach
Of barrenness is past. The fruitful field 21
Laughs with abundance; and the land once lean,
Or fertile only in its own disgrace,
Exults to see its thistly curse repealed.
The various seasons woven into one,
And that one season an eternal spring,
The garden fears no blight, and needs no fence,
For there is none to covet, all are full.
The lion and the libbard and the bear
Graze with the fearless flocks. All bask at noon
Together, or all gambol in the shade
Of the same grove, and drink one common stream.
Antipathies are none. No foe to man
Lurks in the serpent now; the mother sees
And smiles to see her infant's playful hand
Stretch'd forth to dally with the crested worm,
To stroke his azure neck, or to receive
The lambent homage of his arrowy tongue.
All creatures worship man, and all mankind
One Lord, one Father. Error has no place;
That creeping pestilence is driven away,
The breath of heaven has chased it. In the heart
No passion touches a discordant string,
But all is harmony and love. Disease
Is not. The pure and uncontaminate blood
Holds its due course, nor fears the frost of age.
21 The folds shall be full of sheep: the valleys also shall stand so thick with corn that they shall laugh and sing.
One song employs all nations, and all cry
Worthy the Lamb, for he was slain for us!"
The dwellers in the vales and on the rocks
Shout to each other; and the mountain tops
From distant mountains catch the flying joy,
Till nation after nation taught the strain,
Each rolls the rapturous Hosanna round.
Behold the measure of the promise fill'd,
See Salem built, the labour of a God!
Bright as a sun the sacred city shines;
All kingdoms and all princes of the earth
Flock to that light; the glory of all lands
Flows into her, unbounded is her joy,
And endless her increase. Thy rams are there
Nebaioth, and the flocks of Kedar 22 there;
The looms of Ormus, and the mines of Ind23,
And Saba's spicy groves pay tribute there.
Praise is in all her gates. Upon her walls,
And in her streets, and in her spacious courts
Is heard salvation. Eastern Java there
Kneels with the native of the farthest West,
And Æthiopia spreads abroad the hand
And worships. Her report has travell'd forth
Into all lands. From every clime they come
To see thy beauty, and to share thy joy
23 High on a throne of royal state which far Outshone the wealth of Ormus and of Ind.
22 Nebaioth and Kedar, the sons of Ishmael and progenitors of the Arabs, in the prophetic scripture here alluded to, may be reasonably considered as representatives of the Gentiles at large. C.
O Sion! an assembly such as earth
Saw never, such as heaven stoops down to see.
Thus heavenward all things tend. For all were once Perfect, and all must be at length restored. So God has greatly purposed; who would else In his dishonoured works himself endure Dishonour, and be wrong'd without redress. Haste then, and wheel away a shatter'd world, Ye slow-revolving seasons! We would see (A sight to which our eyes are strangers yet,) A world that does not dread and hate his laws, And suffer for its crime: would learn how fair The creature is that God pronounces good, How pleasant in itself what pleases him. Here every drop of honey hides a sting; Worms wind themselves into our sweetest flowers, And even the joy that haply some poor heart Derives from heaven, pure as the fountain is, Is sullied in the stream; taking a taint From touch of human lips, at best impure. Oh for a world in principle as chaste As this is gross and selfish! over which Custom and prejudice shall bear no sway That govern all things here, shouldering aside The meek and modest truth, and forcing her To seek a refuge from the tongue of strife In nooks obscure, far from the ways of men 24. Where violence shall never lift the sword, Nor cunning justify the proud man's wrong,
From the cheerful ways of men
Leaving the poor no remedy but tears.
Where he that fills an office, shall esteem
The occasion it presents of doing good
More than the perquisite: where law shall speak
Seldom, and never but as wisdom prompts
And equity; not jealous more to guard
A worthless form, than to decide aright :
Where fashion shall not sanctify abuse,
Nor smooth good-breeding (supplemental grace,)
With lean performance ape the work of love.
Come then, and added to thy many crowns
Receive yet one, the crown of all the earth,
Thou who alone art worthy! it was thine
By ancient covenant ere nature's birth,
And thou hast made it thine by purchase since,
And overpaid its value with thy blood.
Thy saints proclaim thee King; and in their hearts
Thy title is engraven with a pen
Dipt in the fountain of eternal love.
Thy saints proclaim thee King; and thy delay
Gives courage to their foes, who, could they see
The dawn of thy last advent long-desired,
Would creep into the bowels of the hills,
And flee for safety to the falling rocks.
The very spirit of the world is tired
Of its own taunting question ask'd so long,
"Where is the promise of your Lord's approach ?"
The infidel has shot his bolts
Till his exhausted quiver yielding none,
He gleans the blunted shafts that have recoiled,
And aims them at the shield of truth again.
The veil is rent, rent too by priestly hands,