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Ring out, ye crystal spheres !
Once bless our human ears,
If ye have power to touch our senses so ;
And let your silver chime
Move in melodious time ;
And let the bass of heaven's deep organ blow;
And with your ninefold harmony
Make up full consort to the angelic symphony.
For, if such holy song
Enwrap our fancy long,
Time will run back and fetch the Age of Gold ; to se general
And speckled Vanity
Will sicken soon and die,
And leprous Sin will melt from 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 outbrake :
The aged Earth, aghast
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 usurped 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 archèd roof in words deceiving.
Apollo from his shrine
Can no more divine,
With hollow shriek the steep of Delphos leaving.
No nightly trance, or breathed 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 forgoes 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 Libyc Hammon shrinks his horn ;
In vain the Tyrian maids their wounded Thammuz mourn.
And sullen Moloch, Aed,
Hath left in shadows dread
His burning idol all of blackest hue;
In vain with cymbals'
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 worshiped 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 damnèd crew.
So, when the sun in bed,
Curtained with cloudy red,
230 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 fays 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.
YE flaming Powers, 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 listening 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 Heaven's heraldry whilere
Entered 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 le, that dwelt above
High-throned in secret bliss, for us frail dust
Emptied his glory, even to nakedness;
And that great covenant which we still transgress
And the full wrath beside
Of vengeful justice bore for our excess,
Ard seals obedience first with wounding smart
This day ; but oh! ere long,
Huge pangs and strong
Will pierce more near his heart.
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 outliving 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 !