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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.
Nile shall pursue his changeless way;

Those pyramids shall fall;
Yea! not a stone shall stand to tell

The spot whereon they stood;
Their very site shall be forgotten,

As is their builder's name!

Behold yon steril spot;
Where now the wandering Arab's tent

Flaps in the desert blast.
There once old Salem's haughty fane
Reared high to heaven its thousand golden domes,
And in the blushing face of day

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
Of this barbarian nation, which imposture
Recites till terror credits, are pursuing
Itself into forgetfulness.

Where Athens, Rome, and Sparta stood,
There is a moral desert now:
The mean and miserable huts,
The yet more wretched palaces,
Contrasted with those ancient fanes,
Now crumbling to oblivion;
The long and lonely colonnades,
Through which the ghost of Freedom stalks,

Seem like a well-known tune,
which, in some dear scene we have loved to hear,

Remembered now in sadness.

But, oh! how much more changed,

How gloomier is the contrast

Of human nature there!
Where Socrates expired, a tyrant's slave,
A coward and a fool, spreads death around—

Then, shuddering, meets his own.
Where Cicero and Antoninus lived,
A cowled and hypocritical monk

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,
Metropolis of the western continent:

There, now, the mossy column-stone,
Indented by time's unrelaxing grasp,

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,
Seems, to the unwilling sojourner, whose steps

Chance in that desert has delayed,
Thus to have stood since earth was what it is.

Yet once it was the busiest haunt,
"Whither as to a common centre, flocked
Strangers, and ships, and merchandise:
Once peace and freedom blest
The cultivated plain:
But wealth, that curse of man,
Blighted the bud of its prosperity:
Virtue and wisdom, truth and liberty,
Fled, to return not, until man shall know
That they alone can give the bliss

Worthy a soul that claims
Its kindred with eternity.

There's not one atom of yon earth

But once was living man;
Nor the minutest drop of rain,
That hangeth in its thinnest cloud,
But flowed in human veins:
And from the burning plains
Where Lybian monsters yell,
From the most gloomy glens
Of Greenland's sunless clime,
To where the golden fields
Of fertile England spread
Their harvest to the day,
Thou canst not find one spot
Whereon no city stood.

How strange is human pride!
I tell thee that those living things,
To whom the fragile blade of grass,

That springeth in the morn

And perisheth ere noon,

Is an unbounded world;
I tell thee that those viewless beings,
Whose mansion is the smallest particle
Of the impassive atmosphere,
Think, feel, and live like man;
That their affections and antipathies,

Like his, produce the Laws

Ruling their moral state;

And the minutest throb
That through their frame diffuses

The slightest faintest motion,

Is fixed and indispensable
As the majestic laws
That rule yon rolling orbs.

The Fairy paused. The Spirit,
In exstacy of admiration, felt
All knowledge of the past revived; the events

Of old and wondrous times,
Which dim tradition interruptedly
Teaches the credulous vulgar, were unfolded
In just perspective to the view;
Yet dim from their infinitude.

The Spirit seemed to stand
High on an isolated pinnacle;
The flood of ages combating below,
The depth of the unbounded universe

Above, and all around
Nature's unchanging harmony.

III.

Fairy! the Spirit said,

And on the Queen of Spells

Fixed her ethereal eyes,

I thank thee. Thou hast given
A boon which I will not resign, and taught
A lesson not to be unlearned. I know
The past, and thence I will essay to glean
A warning for the future, so that man
May profit by his errors, and derive

Experience from his folly:
For, when the power of imparting joy
Is equal to the will, the human soul

Requires no other heaven.

MAB.

Turn thee, surpassing Spirit!
Much yet remains unscanned.
Thou knowest how great is man,
Thou knowest his imbecility:
Yet learn thou what he is;
Yet learn the lofty destiny
Which restless time prepares
For every living soul.

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,

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