Page images
PDF
EPUB

Glittering, the sunny surge; thy mariners,
On ivory benches, furled the embroidered sails,
That looms of Egypt wove, or to the oars,
That measuring dipped, their choral sea-songs sung ;
The multitude of isles did shout for thee,
And cast their emeralds at thy feet, and said,
Queen of the Waters, who is like to thee!

So wert thou glorious on the seas, and saidst,
I am a god, and there is none like me.
But the dread voice prophetic is gone forth :
Howl, for the whirlwind of the desert comes !
Howl ye again, for Tyre, her multitude
Of sins and dark abominations cry
Against her, saith the Lord; in the mid seas
Her beauty shall be broken ; I will bring
Her pride to ashes ; she shall be no more;
The distant isles shall tremble at the sound
When thou dost fall; the princes of the sea
Shall from their thrones come down, and cast away
Their gorgeous robes; for thee they shall take up
A bitter lamentation, and shall say,
How art thou fallen, renowned city! thou,
Who wert enthroned glorious on the seas,
To rise no more!

William Lisle Bowles.

TYRE.

THE

THE wild and windy morning is lit with lurid fire ; The thundering surf of ocean beats on the rocks And hurls its foamy volume along the hollow shores, And calls with hungry clamor, that speaks its long

of Tyre, Beats on the fallen columns and round the headland

roars,

desire : “Where are the ships of Tarshish, the mighty ships

of Tyre?”

Within her cunning hạrbor, choked with invading sand, No galleys bring their freightage, the spoils of every

land, And like a prostrate forest, when autumn gales have

blown, Her colonnades of granite lie shattered and o’erthrown; And from the reef the pharos no longer flings its fire, To beacon home from Tarshish the lordly ships of

Tyre.

Where is thy rod of empire, once mighty on the

waves, Thou that thyself exaltedst, till kings became thy slaves ? Thou that didst speak to nations, and saw thy will

obeyed, Whose favor made them joyful, whose anger sore

afraid, Who laid'st thy deep foundations, and thought them

strong and sure, And boasted midst the waters, Shall I not aye endure ?

Where is the wealth of ages that beaped thy princely

mart? The pomp of purple trappings; the gems of Syrian

art;

The silken goats of Kedar; Sabæa's spicy store;
The tributes of the islands thy squadrons homeward

bore, When in thy gates triumphant they entered from the

sea

With sound of horn and sackbut, of harp and psaltery?

Howl, howl, ye ships of Tarshish! the glory is laid

waste : There is no habitation; the mansions are defaced. No mariners of Sidon unfurl your mighty sails ; No workmen fell the fir-trees that grow in Shenir's

vales, And Bashan's oaks that boasted a thousand years of

sun, Or hew the masts of cedar on frosty Lebanon.

Rise, thou forgotten harlot! take up thy harp and

sing: Call the rebellious islands to own their ancient king: Bare to the spray thy bosom, and with thy hair un

bound, Sit on the piles of ruin, thou throneless and dis

crowned ! There mix thy voice of wailing with the thunders of

the sea,

And sing thy songs of sorrow, that thou remembered

be !

Though silent and forgotten, yet Nature still laments The pomp and power departed, the lost magnificence : The hills were proud to see thee, and they are sadder

now; The sea was proud to bear thee, and wears a troubled

brow, And evermore the surges chant forth their vain desire: “Where are the ships of Tarshish, the mighty ships of Tyre?”

Bayard Taylor.

Zarephath.

THE WIDOW OF ZAREPHATH.

THERE fell no rain on Israel. The sad trees,

. , Reft of their coronals, and the crisp vines, And flowers whose dewless bosoms sought the dust, Mourned the long drought. The miserable herds Pined on, and perished mid the scorching fields, And near the vanished fountains where they used Freely to slake their thirst, the moaning flocks Laid their parched mouths, and died.

A holy man, Who saw high visions of unuttered things, Dwelt in deep-musing solitude apart Upon the banks of Cherith. Dark-winged birds, Intractable and fierce, were strangely moved To shun the hoarse cries of their callow brood, And night and morning lay their gathered spoils Down at his feet. So of the brook he drank, Till pitiless suns exhaled that slender rill

Which, singing, used to glide to Jordan's breast.
Then, warned of God, he rose and went his way
Unto the coast of Zidon. Near the gates
Of Zarephath he marked a lowly cell
Where a pale, drooping widow, in the depth
Of desolate and hopeless poverty,
Prepared the last, scant morsel for her son,
That he might eat and die.

The man of God,
Entering, requested food. Whether that germ
Of self-denying fortitude, which stirs
Sometimes in woman's soul, and nerves it strong
For life's severe and unapplauded tasks,
Sprang up at his appeal, or whether he
Who ruled the ravens wrought within her heart,
I cannot say, but to the stranger's hand
She gave the bread. Then, round the famished boy
Clasping her widowed arms, she strained him close
To her wan bosom, while his hollow eye
Wondering and wishfully regarded her
With ill-subdued reproach.

A blessing fell From the majestic guest, and every morn The empty store which she had wept at eve, Mysteriously replenished, woke the joy That ancient Israel felt when round their camp The manna lay like dew. Thus many days They fed, and the poor famine-stricken boy Looked up with a clear eye, while vigorous health Flushed with unwonted crimson his pure cheek, And bade the fair flesh o'er his wasted limbs

« PreviousContinue »