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AALBEC! thou glorious city! where the sun,
Long ages back, mysterious worship won;
Where, turning eastward, myriads bent the knee,
Well might Day's burning god be proud of thee.
As now he sinks behind the cedared hills,
Bathing with gold the rocks and falling rills,
Doth he not view, with sad, regretful eye,
The beauteous wreck of glories long gone by,
And teach the desert wind to creep and moan
Around each prostrate shaft and ivied stone ?
City of mystery! by whose hands were piled
These gorgeous fanes on Syria's lonely wild ?
No record tells, but Roman art is here,
More rich than chaste, more splendid than severe.
Who reared yon stones ? or were they upward hurled,
The huge foundations of a granite world ?
A hundred giants could not lift them there,
Did Eblis build their mass, or powers of air ?
We ask in vain, and only marvelling stand,
And scarce believe that work by human hand.
And yet, perchance, far back in history's night,
These blocks were heaved by old Phænician might,
And here, since Abraham walked the world, have lain,
The elder Baalbec's dark and sole remain.
ND fast beside the olive-bordered way
Stands the blessed home, where Jesus deigned to
The peaceful home, to zeal sincere
And heavenly contemplation dear,
Where Martha loved to wait with reverence meet,
And wiser Mary lingered at Thy sacred feet.
Still through decaying ages as they glide,
Thou lov'st thy chosen remnant to divide;
Sprinkled along the waste of years
Full many a soft green isle appears :
Pause where we may upon the desert road,
Some shelter is in sight, some sacred safe abode.
His “Peace be with you !” was yet audible
In the rapt porch of Mary's charmed ear;
And in the low rooms t' was as if the air,
Hushed with his going forth, had been the breath
Of angels left on watch, so conscious still
The place seemed of his presence! Yet, within,
The family by Jesus loved were weeping,
For Lazarus lay dead.
And Mary sat By the pale sleeper. He was young to die. The countenance whereon the Saviour dwelt With his benignant smile, — the soft, fair lines Breathing of hope, were still all eloquent, Like life well mocked in marble. That the voice, Gone from those pallid lips, was heard in heaven, Toned with unearthly sweetness, – that the light, Quenched in the closing of those stirless lids, Was veiling before God its timid fire, New-lit, and brightening like a star at eve, That Lazarus, her brother, was in bliss, Not with this cold clay sleeping, -- Mary knew. Her heaviness of heart was not for him ! But close had been the tie by death divided. The intertwining locks of that bright hair That wiped the feet of Jesus, the fair hands Clasped in her breathless wonder while he taught, Scarce to one pulse thrilled more in unison, Than with one soul this sister and her brother Had locked their lives together. In this love, Hallowed from stain, the woman's heart of Mary Was, with its rich affections, all bound up. Of an unblemished beauty, as became An office by archangels filled till now, She walked with a celestial halo clad; And while, to the Apostles' eyes, it seemed
She but fulfilled her errand out of heaven,
Sharing her low roof with the Son of God,
She was a woman, fond and mortal still;
And the deep fervor, lost to passion's fire,
Breathed through the sister's tenderness. In vain
Knew Mary, gazing on that face of clay,
That it was not her brother. He was there, –
Swathed in that linen vesture for the grave,
The same loved one in all his comeliness,
And with him to the grave her heart must go.
What though he talked of her to angels, — nay,
Hovered in spirit near her? -- 't was that arm
Palsied in death, whose fond caress she knew!
It was that lip of marble with whose kiss,
Morning and eve, love hemmed the sweet day in ;
This was the form by the Judean maids
Praised for its palm-like stature, as he walked
With her by Kedron in the eventide, –
The dead was Lazarus !
The burial was over, and the night
Fell upon Bethany, and morn, and noon.
And comforters and mourners went their way,
But death stayed on! They had been oft alone,
When Lazarus had followed Christ to hear
His teachings in Jerusalem; but this
Was more than solitude. The silence now
Was void of expectation. Something felt
Always before, and loved without a name,
Joy from the air, hope from the opening door,
Welcome and life from off the very walls,
Seemed gone, and in the chamber where he lay
There was a fearful and unbreathing hush,
Stiller than night's last hour. So fell on Mary
The shadows all have known who, from their hearts,
Have released friends to heaven. The parting soul
Spreads wing betwixt the mourner and the sky !
As if its path lay, from the tie last broken,
Straight through the cheering gateway of the sun;
And, to the eye strained after, 't is a cloud
That bars the light from all things.
Now as Christ Drew near to Bethany, the Jews went forth With Martha, mourning Lazarus. But Mary Sat in the house. She knew the hour was nigh When He would go again, as he had said, Unto his father; and she felt that he, Who loved her brother Lazarus in life, Had chose the hour to bring him home through death In no unkind forgetfulness. Alone, She could lift up the bitter prayer to heaven, “Thy will be done, O God!”. but that dear brother Had filled the cup and broke the bread for Christ; And ever, at the morn, when she had knelt And washed those holy feet, came Lazarus To bind his sandals on, and follow forth With drooped eyes, like an angel, sad and fair, Intent upon the Master's need alone. Indissolubly linked were they! And now, To go to meet him, Lazarus not there, And to his greeting answer, “It is well !”