« PreviousContinue »
The warning was spoken; the righteous had gone,
And the proud ones of Sodom were feasting alone;
All gay was the banquet; the revel was long,
With the pouring of wine and the breathing of song.
'T was an evening of beauty; the air was perfume, The earth was all greenness, the trees were all bloom; And softly the delicate viol was heard,
Like the murmur of love or the notes of a bird.
And beautiful maidens moved down in the dance, With the magic of motion and sunshine of glance; And white arms wreathed lightly, and tresses fell free As the plumage of birds in some tropical tree.
Where the shrines of foul idols were lighted on high,
And wantonness tempted the lust of the eye;\
Midst rites of obsceneness, strange, loathsome, ab-
The blasphemer scoffed at the name of the Lord.
Hark! the growl of the thunder, the quaking of
Woe, woe to the worship, and woe to the mirth! The black sky has opened, there's flame in the air,
The red arm of Vengeance is lifted and bare!
Then the shriek of the dying rose wild where the song And the low tone of love had been whispered along; For the fierce flames went lightly o'er palace and bower, Like the red tongues of demons, to blast and devour!
Down, down on the fallen the red ruin rained,
And the reveller sank with his wine-cup undrained :
The foot of the dancer, the music's loved thrill,
And the shout and the laughter grew suddenly still.
The last throb of anguish was fearfully given;
The last eye glared forth in its madness on Heaven!
The last groan of horror rose wildly and vain,
And death brooded over the pride of the plain !
John Greenleaf Whittier.
THE WELL OF SYCHAR.
WEET was the hour, O Lord! to thee,
At Sychar's lonely well,
When a poor outcast heard thee there
Thy great salvation tell.
Thither she came; but O, her heart,
All filled with earthly care,
Dreamed not of thee, nor thought to find
The hope of Israel there.
Lord! 't was thy power, unseen, that drew
The stray one to that place,
In solitude to learn of thee
The secrets of thy grace.
There Jacob's erring daughter found
Those streams, unknown before,
The water-brooks of life, that make
The weary thirst no more.
And, Lord, to us, as vile as she,
Thy gracious lips have told
That mystery of love, revealed
At Jacob's well of old.
In spirit, Lord, we 've sat with thee
Beside the springing well
Of life and peace, and heard thee there
Its healing virtues tell.
Dead to the world, we dream no more
Of earthly pleasures now;
Our deep, divine, unfailing spring
Of grace and glory thou!
No hope of rest in aught beside,
No beauty, Lord, we see;
And, like Samaria's daughter, seek
And find our all in thee.
HAGAR IN THE WILDERNESS.
WEARY waste of blank and barren land,
A lonely, lonely sea of shifting sand,
A golden furnace gleaming overhead,
Scorching the blue sky into bloody red;
And not a breath to cool, and not a breeze
To stir one feather of the drooping trees;
Only the desert wind with hungry moan,
Seeking for life to slay, and finding none;
Only the hot Sirocco's burning breath,
Spangled with sulphur-flame, and winged with death;
No sound, no step, no voice, no echo heard,
No cry of beast, no whirring wing of bird;
The silver-crested snake hath crept away
From the fell fury of that Eastern day;
The famished vultures by the failing spring
Droop the foul beak and fold the ragged wing;
And lordly lions, ere the chase be done,
Leave the blank desert to the desert-sun.
Ah! not alone to him, turn thee and see
Beneath the shadow of yon balsam tree
A failing mother of a fainting son
Resting to die deserted and alone.
Turn thee and mark the mother's gentle care
Stripping the fillet from her silken hair,
So it may fall to shade his feeble frame,
A glossy curtain from the noonday flame;
See, at her feet the shrivelled flagon cast,
The last drop drained, the sweetest and the last.
Drained at her darling's lip to still his cries,
A mother's free and final sacrifice.
Look, she hath taken it, and yet again
Presses the flagon,
presses but in vain.
The scrip is emptied and the flagon dry,
And nothing left them but the leave to die.
To die, and one so young and one so true,
And both so beautiful and brave to view:
She, with her braided locks more black than night,
And eye so darkly, deeply, wildly bright;
He, with his slender limbs and body bare,
And small hands tangled in his mother's hair,
And there to whiten on the desert-sands,
A landmark for the laden desert bands!
That thought is stamping anguish on her brow,
That dread hath taught her what she utters now.
"Son of my soul! the happy days are done;
Thy little course and mine are nearly run;
The white tents wave on Kirjath-Arba's plain,
No home for us, no resting-place again:
Before yon orb is sunken from the sky
Together in the desert we must die."
Yet was she speaking; but the cry of joy
Burst from the bosom of the dying boy.
His eager finger pointed to the plain,
His eye had light, his cheek its life again.
'Look, mother! look! we will not die to-day; Look where the water glistens! come away!
She turned, O, fairest sight, if sight it be,
The sleeping silver of that inland sea.
She gazed, O gaze of hope and life and light!
Those crystal waters glancing pure and bright;
From Seir's red crags and Hazargaddah's heath,
Eastward to Eder and the Sea of Death.
The dismal wilderness was past and gone,