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O'ER the hush'd plain where sullen horror broods,
And darkest frown the Syrian solitudes,
Where Morn's soft steps no balmy fragrance leave,
And parch'd and dewless is the couch of Eve,
Thy form, pale city of the waste, appears
Like some faint vision of departed years.
In mazy cluster still, a giant train,
Thy sculptured fabrics whiten on the plain ;
Still stretch thy column'd vistas far away
The shadow'd dimness of their long array.
But where the stirring crowd, the voice of strife,
The glow of action, and the thrill of life?
the loud crash of yon huge fragment's fall,
The pealing answer of each desert hall,
The night-bird shrieking from her secret cell,
And hollow winds, the tale of ruin tell.
See, fondly lingering, Mithras' parting rays
Gild the proud towers once vocal with his praise;
But the cold altars clasping weeds entwine,
And Moslems worship at the godless shrine.
Yet here slow-pausing Memory loves to pour
Her magic influence o'er this pensive hour;
And oft as yon recesses deep prolong
The echoed sweetness of the Arab song,
Recalls that scene where Wisdom's sceptred child
First broke the stillness of the lonely wild.
From air, from ocean, from earth's utmost clime,
The summon'd genii heard the mutter'd rhyme;
The tasking spell their airy hands obey'd
And Tadmor glitter'd in the palmy shade.
Lo! to her feet the tide of ages brings
The wealth of nations, and the pomp of kings;
And far her warrior-queen from Parthia's plain
To the dark Æthiop spreads her ample reign;
Vain boast! e'en she who Imma's field along
Waked fiercer frenzy in the patriot throng,
And sternly beauteous, like the meteor's light,
Shot through the tempest of Emesa's fight-
While trembling captives round the victor wait,
Hang on his eye, and catch the word of fate-
Zenobia's self must quail beneath his nod,
A kneeling suppliant to the mimic god.
But one stood there amid that abject throng,
In truth triumphant and in virtue strong;
Beam'd on his brow the soul which, undismay'd,
Smiled at the rod, and scorn'd the uplifted blade.
O'er thee, Palmyra, darkest seem'd to lour
The boding terrors of that fatal hour;
Far from thy glade indignant Freedom fled,
And Hope, too, wither'd as Longinus bled.
Alone may man commune with heaven, or see
Only in savage wood
And sunny vale, the present Deity;
Or only hear his voice
Where the winds whisper, and the waves rejoice.
Thy steps, Almighty!-here, amidst the crowd,
Through the great city roll'd,
With everlasting murmur deep and loud,—
Choking the ways that wind,
'Mongst the proud piles, the works of human kind.
Thy golden sunshine comes
From the round heaven, and on their dwelling lies, And lights their inner homes;
For them thou fill'st with air the unbounded skies, And givest them the stores
Of ocean, and the harvest of its shores.
Quickening the restless mass that sweeps along; And this eternal sound,
Voices and foot-falls of the numberless throng,-
Like the resounding sea,
Or like the rainy tempest, speaks of Thee.
And when the hours of rest
Come, like a calm upon the mid-sea brine,
Hushing its billowy breast,-
The quiet of that moment, too, is Thine;
It breathes of Him who keeps
The vast and helpless city while it sleeps.
HAIL, holy light, offspring of heav'n first-born,
Or of the eternal coeternal beam
May I express thee unblamed? Since God is light,
And never but in unapproached light
Dwelt from eternity, dwelt then in thee,
Bright effluence of bright essence increate.
Or hear'st thou rather pure ethereal stream,
Whose fountain who shall tell? Before the sun,
Before the heav'ns thou wert, and at the voice
Of God, as with a mantle, didst invest
The rising world of waters dark and deep,
Won from the void and formless infinite.
Thee I revisit now with bolder wing,
Escaped the Stygian pool, though long detain'd
In that obscure sojourn, while in my flight Through utter and through middle darkness borne, With other notes than to the Orphean lyre,
of chaos and eternal night;
Taught by the heav'nly muse to venture down
The dark descent, and up to re-ascend,
Though hard and rare: thee I revisit safe,
And feel thy sov'reign vital lamp; but thou
Revisit'st not these eyes, that roll in vain
To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn ;
So thick a drop serene hath quench'd their orbs,
Or dim suffusion veil'd. Thus with the year
Seasons return; but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;
But cloud instead, and ever-during dark
Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men
Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair
Presented with a universal blank
Of Nature's works, to me expunged and razed,
And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.
So much the rather thou, celestial light,
Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers
Irradiate; there plant eyes, all mist from thence Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell
Of things invisible to mortal sight.