« PředchozíPokračovat »
The waves were white, and red the morn,
In the noisy hour when I was born;
And the whale it whistled, the porpoise rolled,
And the dolphins bared their backs of gold;
And never was heard such an outcry wild
As welcomed to life the ocean child!
I've lived since then, in calm and strife,
Full fifty summers a sailor's life,
With wealth to spend and a power to range,
But never have sought, nor sighed for change;
And death, whenever he comes to me,
Shall come on the wild unbounded sea!
THE SEVENTH PLAGUE OF EGYPT.
WAS morn-the rising splendour rolled
On marble towers and roofs of gold;
Hall, court, and gallery below,
Were crowded with a living flow;
Egyptian, Arab, Nubian there,
The bearers of the bow and spear;
The hoary priest, the Chaldee sage,
The slave, the gemmed and glittering page-
Helm, turban, and tiara, shone
A dazzling ring round Pharaoh's throne.
There came a man-the human tide
Shrank backward from his stately stride:
His cheek with storm and time was tanned;
A shepherd's staff was in his hand;
A shudder of instinctive fear
Told the dark king what step was near;
On through the host the stranger came,
It parted round his form like flame.
He stooped not at the footstool stone,
He clasped not sandal, kissed not throne;
Erect he stood amid the ring,
His only words" Be just, O king!"
On Pharaoh's cheek the blood flushed high,
A fire was in his sullen eye;
Yet on the chief of Israel
No arrow of his thousands fell:
All mute and moveless as the grave
Stood chilled the satrap and the slave.
"Thou'rt come," at length the monarch spoke;
Haughty and high the words outbroke :
"Is Israel weary of its lair,
The forehead peeled, the shoulder bare ?
Take back the answer to your band;
Go, reap the wind; go, plough the sand;
Go, vilest of the living vile,
To build the never-ending pile,
Till, darkest of the nameless dead,
The vulture on their flesh is fed.
What better asks the howling slave
Than the base life our bounty gave?"
Shouted in pride the turbaned peers,
Upclashed to heaven the golden spears.
King! thou and thine are doomed !--Behold!"
The prophet spoke-the thunder rolled!
Along the pathway of the sun
Sailed vapory mountains, wild and dun.
"Yet there is time," the prophet said:
He raised his staff-the storm was stayed:
"King! be the word of freedom given:
What art thou, man, to war with Heaven?"
There came no word-the thunder broke!
Like a huge city's final smoke,
Thick, lurid, stifling, mixed with flame,
Through court and hall the vapours came.
Loose as the stubble in the field,
Wide flew the men of spear and shield;
Scattered like foam along the wave,
Flew the proud pageant, prince and slave:
Or, in the chains of terror bound,
Lay, corpse-like, on the smouldering ground.
"Speak, king!—the wrath is but begun-
Still dumb?—then, Heaven, thy will be done!"
Echoed from earth a hollow roar
Like ocean on the midnight shore,
A sheet of lightning o'er them wheeled,
The solid ground beneath them reeled;
In dust sank roof and battlement;
Like webs the giant walls were rent;
Red, broad, before his startled gaze,
The monarch saw his Egypt blaze.
Still swelled the plague-the flame grew pale;
Burst from the clouds the charge of hail;
With arrowy keenness, iron weight,
Down poured the ministers of fate;
Till man and cattle, crushed, congealed,
Covered with death the boundless field.
Still swelled the plague-uprose the blast,
The avenger, fit to be the last;
On ocean, river, forest, vale,
Thundered at once the mighty gale.
Before the whirlwind flew the tree,
Beneath the whirlwind roared the sea;
A thousand ships were on the wave—
Where are they?-ask that foaming grave!
Down go the hope, the pride of years,
Down go the myriad mariners;
The riches of Earth's richest zone,
Gone, like a flash of lightning, gone!
And, lo! that first fierce triumph o'er,
Swells Ocean on the shrinking shore;
Still onward, onward, dark and wide,
Ingulfs the land the furiest tide.
Then bowed thy spirit, stubborn king,
Thou serpent, reft of fang and sting;
Humbled before the prophet's knee,
He groaned, "Be injured Israel free!"
To heaven the sage upraised his wand;
Baok rolled the deluge from the land;
Back to its caverns sank the gale;
Fled from the noon the vapours pale;
Broad burned again the joyous sun:
The hour of wrath and death was done.
PASSAGE OF THE RED SEA.
FOR many a coal-black tribe and cany spear,
The hireling guards of Misraim's throne, were there.
From distant Cush they trooped, a warrior train,
Siwah's green isle and Senaar's marly plain;
On either wing their fiery coursers check
The parched and sinewy sons of Amalek;
While close behind, inured to feast on blood;
Decked in Behemoth's spoils, the tall Shangalla strode.
'Mid blazing helms, and bucklers rough with gold,
Saw ye how swift the scythèd chariots rolled?
Lo, these are they whom, lords of Afric's fates,
Old Thebes hath poured through all her hundred gates,
Mother of armies! How the emeralds glowed,
Where, flushed with power and vengeance, Pharaoh rode!
And stoled in white, those brazen wheels before,
Osiris' ark his swarthy wizards bore;
And still responsive to the trumpet's cry,
The priestly sistrum murmured-Victory!
Why swell these shouts that rend the desert's gloom?
Whom come ye forth to combat?-warriors, whom?