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Nothing—it stands to tell
A melancholy tale, to give
An awful warning; soon Oblivion will steal silently
The remnant of its fame.
Monarchs and conquerors there Proud o'er prostrate millions trod— The earthquakes of the human race; Like them, forgotten when the ruin
That marks their shock is past.
Beside the eternal Nile,
The Pyramids have risen.
Those pyramids shall fall;
The spot whereon they stood;
As is their builder's name!
Behold yon steril spot;
Flaps in the desert blast.
Exposed its shameful glory. Oh! many a widow, many an orphan cursed The building of that fane; and many a father, Worn out with toil and slavery, implored The poor man's God to sweep it from the earth, And spare his children the detested task Of piling stone on stone, and poisoning
The choicest days of life,
To soothe a dotard's vanity, There an inhuman and uncultured race Howled hideous praises to their Demon-God; They rushed to war, tore from the mother's womb The unborn child,—old age and infancy Promiscuous perished; their victorious arms Left not a soul to breathe. Oh! they were fiends But what was he that taught them that the God Of nature and benevolence had given A special sanction to the trade of blood?
His name and theirs are fading, and the tales
Where Athens, Rome, and Sparta stood,
Seem like a well-known tune,
Remembered now in sadness.
But, oh! how much more changed,
How gloomier is the contrast
Of human nature there!
Then, shuddering, meets his own.
Prays, curses, and deceives.
Spirit! ten thousand years
Have scarcely past away, Since, in the waste where now the savage drinks His enemy's blood, and aping Europe's sons,
Wakes the unholy song of war,
Arose a stately city,
There, now, the mossy column-stone,
Which once appeared to brave
All, save its country's ruin;
There the wide forest scene, Rude in the uncultivated loveliness
Of gardens long run wild,
Chance in that desert has delayed,
Yet once it was the busiest haunt,
Worthy a soul that claims
There's not one atom of yon earth
But once was living man;
How strange is human pride!
That springeth in the morn
And perisheth ere noon,
Is an unbounded world;
Like his, produce the Laws
Ruling their moral state;
And the minutest throb
The slightest faintest motion,
Is fixed and indispensable
The Fairy paused. The Spirit,
Of old and wondrous times,
The Spirit seemed to stand
Above, and all around
Fairy! the Spirit said,
And on the Queen of Spells
Fixed her ethereal eyes,
I thank thee. Thou hast given
Experience from his folly:
Requires no other heaven.
Turn thee, surpassing Spirit!
Behold a gorgeous palace, that, amid
Yon populous city, rears its thousand towers
And seems itself a city. Gloomy troops
Of centinels, in stern and silent ranks,
Encompass it around: the dweller there
Cannot be free and happy; hearest thou not
The curses of the fatherless, the groans
Of those who have no friend 1 He passes on:
The King, the wearer of a gilded chain
That binds his soul to abjectness, the fool
Whom courtiers nickname monarch, whilst a slave
Even to the basest appetites—that man
Heeds not the shriek of penury: he smiles
At the deep curses which the destitute
Mutter in secret, and a sullen joy
Pervades his bloodless heart when thousands groan
But for those morsels which his wantonness
Wastes in unjoyous revelry, to save
All that they love from famine: when he hears
The tale of horror, to some ready-made face
Of hypocritical assent he turns,
Smothering the glow of shame, that spite of him,
Flushes his bloated cheek.
Now to the meal Of silence, grandeur, and excess, he drags His palled, unwilling appetite. If gold, Gleaming around, and numerous viands called From every clime, could force the loathing sense To overcome satiety,—if wealth, The spring it draws from, poisons not,—or vice, Unfeeling, stubborn vice, converteth not Its food to deadliest venom; then that king Is happy; and the peasant who fulfils His unforced task, when he returns at even, And by the blazing faggot meets again Her welcome for whom all his toil is sped, Tastes not a sweeter meal.
Behold him now Stretched on the gorgeous couch; his fevered brain Reels dizzily awhile: But, ah! too soon The slumber of intemperance subsides,