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Ah! what a sound will rise, how wild and dreary,
When the death-angel touches those swift keys!
What loud lament and dismal Miserere
Will mingle with their awful symphonies!
I hear even now the infinite fierce chorus,
The cries of agony, the endless groan,
Which, through the ages that have gone before us,
In long reverberations reach our own.
On helm and harness rings the Saxon hammer,
Through Cimbric forest roars the Norseman's song,
And loud, amid the universal clamour,
O'er distant deserts sounds the Tartar gong.
I hear the Florentine, who from his palace
Wheels out his battle-bell with dreadful din,
And Aztec priests upon their teocallis
Beat the wild war-drums made of serpent's skin ;
The tumult of each sacked and burning village;
The shout that every prayer for mercy drowns ;
The soldiers' revels in the midst of pillage;
The wail of famine in beleaguered towns ;
The bursting shell, the gateway wrenched asunder,
The rattling musketry, the clashing blade;
And ever and anon, in tones of thunder,
The diapason of the cannonade.
Is it, O man, with such discordant noises,
With such accursed instruments as these,
Thou drownest Nature's sweet and kindly voices,
And jarrest the celestial harmonies ?
Were half the power that fills the world with terror,
Were half the wealth bestowed on camps and courts,
Given to redeem the human mind from error,
There were no need of arsenals nor forts :
The warrior's name would be a name abhorred!
And every nation, that should lift again
Its hand against a brother, on its forehead
Would wear for evermore the curse of Cain !
Down the dark future, through long generations, The echoing sounds grow fainter and then cease; And like a bell, with solemn, sweet vibrations,
I hear once more the voice of Christ say, "Peace!"
Peace! and no longer from its brazen portals
The blast of War's great organ shakes the skies! But beautiful as songs of the immortals, The holy melodies of love arise.
THE royal sage, lord of the Magic Ring,
Solomon, once upon a morn in spring,
By Cedron, in his garden's rosiest walk,
Was pacing with a pleasant guest in talk,
When they beheld, approaching, but with face
Yet undiscerned, a stranger in the place.
How he came there, what wanted, who could be,
How dare, unushered, beard such privacy,
Whether 'twas some great Spirit of the Ring,
And if so, why he should thus daunt the king
(For the ring's master, after one sharp gaze,
Stood waiting, more in trouble than amaze),
All this the courtier would have asked; but fear
Palsied his utterance, as the man drew near.
The stranger seemed (to judge him by his dress)
One of mean sort, a dweller with distress,
Or some poor pilgrim; but the steps he took
Belied it with strange greatness; and his look
Opened a page in a tremendous book.
He wore a cowl, from under which there shone,
Full on the guest, and on the guest alone,
A face, not of this earth, half veiled in gloom
And radiance, but with eyes like lamps of doom,
Which, ever as they came, before them sent
Rebuke, and staggering, and astonishment,
With sense of change, and worse of change to be,
Sore sighing, and extreme anxiety,
And feebleness, and faintness, and moist brow,
The past a scoff, the future crying" Now!"
All that makes wet the pores, and lifts the hair;
All that makes dying vehemence despair,
Knowing it must be dragged it knows not where.
The excess of fear and anguish, which had tied
The courtier's tongue, now loosed it, and he cried,
"O royal master! Sage! Lord of the Ring,
I cannot bear the horror of this thing:
Help with thy mighty art. Wish me, I pray,
On the remotest mountain of Cathay."
Solomon wished, and the man vanished. Straight Up comes the terror, with his orbs of fate.
"Solomon," with a lofty voice said he,
"How came that man here, wasting time with thee? I was to fetch him, ere the close of day, From the remotest mountain of Cathay."
Solomon said, bowing him to the ground, "Angel of Death, there will the man be found."
SAINT PHILIP NERI AND THE YOUTH.
SAINT PHILIP NERI, as old readings say,
Met a young stranger in Rome's streets one day;
And being ever courteously inclined
To give young folks a sober turn of mind,
He fell into discourse with him; and thus
The dialogue they held comes down to us.
St. Tell me what brings you, gentle youth, to Rome?
Y. To make myself a scholar, sir, I come.
St. And, when you are one, what do you intend?
Y. To be a priest, I hope, sir, in the end.
St. Suppose it so- -what have you next in view?
Y. That I may get to be a canon, too.
St. Well; and how then?
Why, then, for aught I know,
I may be made a bishop.
Why, cardinal's a high degree
And yet my lot it possibly may be.
St. Suppose it was, what then?
Why, who can say
But I've a chance of being pope one day?
St. Well, having worn the mitre and red hat,
And triple crown, what follows after that?
Y. Nay, there is nothing further, to be sure,
Upon this earth that wishing can procure :
When I've enjoyed a dignity so high,
As long as God shall please, then I must die.
St. What! must you die? fond youth! and at the best
But wish, and hope, and may be all the rest!
Take my advice-whatever may betide,
For that which must be, first of all provide;
Then think of that which may be, and indeed,
When well prepared, who knows what may succeed?
But you may be, as you are pleased to hope,
Priest, canon, bishop, cardinal, and pope.
In the tempest of life when the wave and the gale
Are around and above, if thy footing should fail,
If thine eye should grow dim, and thy caution depart,
"Look aloft," and be firm, and be fearless of heart.
If the friend, who embraced in prosperity's glow,
With a smile for each joy and a tear for each woe,
Should betray thee when sorrows like clouds are arrayed,
"Look aloft" to the friendship which never shall fade.
Should the vision which hope spreads in light to thine eye,
Like the tints of the rainbow, but brighten to fly,
Then turn, and, through tears of repentant regret,
"Look aloft" to the sun that is never to set.
Should they who are dearest, the son of thy heart,
The wife of thy bosom, in sorrow depart,
"Look aloft" from the darkness and dust of the tomb,
To that soil where "affection is ever in bloom."
And, oh! when death comes in his terrors, to cast
His fears on the future, his pall on the past,
In that moment of darkness, with hope in thy heart,
And a smile in thine eye, "look aloft," and depart!