Obrazy na stronie
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Yet his cheek bore the mark of youth: Freshness and vigour knit his manly frame; The wisdom of old age was mingled there

With youth's primaeval dauntlessness; And inexpressible woe, Chastened by fearless resignation, gave An awful grace to his all-speaking brow.

SPIRIT.

Is there a God 1

AHASUERUS.

Is there a God?—aye, an almighty God,
And vengeful as almighty! Once his voice
Was heard on earth; earth shuddered at the sound;
The fiery-visaged firmament expressed
Abhorrence, and the grave of nature yawned
To swallow all the dauntless and the good
That dared to hurl defiance at his throne,
Girt as it was with power. None but slaves
Survived,—cold-blooded slaves, who did the work
Of tyrannous omnipotence; whose souls
No honest indignation ever urged
To elevated daring, to one deed
which gross and sensual self did not pollute.
These slaves built temples for the omnipotent fiend,
Gorgeous and vast: the costly altars smoked
With human blood, and hideous paeans rung
Through all the long-drawn aisles. A murderer heard
His voice in Egypt, one whose gifts and arts
Had raised him to his eminence in power,
Accomplice of omnipotence in crime,
And confident of the all-knowing one.
These were Jehovah's words.

From an eternity of idleness

I, God, awoke; in seven days' toil made earth

From nothing; rested, and created man:

I placed him in a paradise, and there

Planted the tree of evil, so that he

Might eat and perish, and my soul procure

Wherewith to sate its malice, and to turn,

Even like a heartless conqueror of the earth,

All misery to my fame. The race of men

Chosen to my honour, with impunity
May sate the lusts I planted in their heart.
Here I command thee hence to lead them on, •
Until, with hardened feet, their conquering troops
Wade on the promised soil through woman's blood,
And make my name be dreaded through the land.
Yet ever-burning flame and ceaseless woe
Shall be the doom of their eternal souls,
With every soul on this ungrateful earth,
Virtuous or vicious, weak or strong,—even all
Shall perish to fulfil the blind revenge
(Which you, to men, call justice) of their God.

The murderer's brow

Quivered with horror.

God omnipotent, Is there no mercy? must our punishment Be endless? will long ages roll away, And see no term 1 Oh, wherefore hast thou made In mockery and wrath this evil earth? Mercy becomes the powerful—be but just:

0 God! repent and save.

One way remains:

I will beget a son, and he shall bear
The sins of all the world: he shall arise
In an unnoticed corner of the earth,

And there shall die upon a cross, and purge

The universal crime; so that the few

On whom my grace descends, those who are marked

As vessels to the honour of their God,

May credit this strange sacrifice, and save

Their souls alive: millions shall live and die,

Who ne'er shall call upon their Saviour's name,

But, unredeemed, go to the gaping grave.

Thousands shall deem it an old woman's tale,

Such as the nurses frighten babes withal:

These, in a gulf of anguish and of flame,

Shall curse their reprobation endlessly,

Yet tenfold pangs shall force them to avow,

Even on their beds of torment, where they howl,

My honour and the justice of their doom.

What then avail their virtuous deeds, their thoughts

Of purity, with radiant genius bright,
Or lit with human reason's earthly ray 1
Many are called, but few will I elect.
Do thou my bidding, Moses!

Even the murderer's cheek
Was blanched with horror, and his quivering lips
Scarce faintly uttered—O almighty one,
I tremble and obey!

0 Spirit! centuries have set their seal

On this heart of many wounds, and loaded brain,

Since the incarnate came: humbly he came,

Veiling his horrible Godhead in the shape

Of'man, scorned by the world, his name unheard,

Save by the rabble of his native town,

Even as a parish demagogue. He led

The crowd; he taught them justice, truth, and peace

In semblance; but he lit within their souls

The quenchless flames of zeal, and blest the sword

He brought on earth to satiate with the blood

Of truth and freedom his malignant soul.

At length his mortal frame was led to death.

I stood beside him: on the torturing cross
No pain assailed his unterrestrial sense;
And yet he groaned. Indignantly I summed
The massacres and miseries which his name
Had sanctioned in my country, and I cried,
Go! go! in mockery.

A smile of godlike malice re-illumined
His fading lineaments.—I go, he cried,
But thou shalt wander o'er the unquiet earth

Eternally. The dampness of the grave

Bathed my imperishable front. I fell,
And long lay tranced upon the charmed soil.
When I awoke, hell burned within my brain,
which staggered on Its seat; for all around
The mouldering relics of my kindred lay,
Even as the Almighty's ire arrested them,
And in their various attitudes of death
My murdered children's mute and eyeless sculls
Glared ghastily upon me.

But my soul, From sight and sense of the polluting woe Of tyranny, had long learned to prefer Hell's freedom to the servitude of heaven. Therefore I rose, and dauntlessly began My lonely and unending pilgrimage, Resolved to wage unweariable war With my almighty tyrant, and to hurl Defiance at his impotence to harm Beyond the curse I bore. The very hand That barred my passage to the peaceful grave Has crushed the earth to misery, and given Its empire to the chosen of his slaves. These have I seen, even from the earliest dawn Of weak, unstable, and precarious power; Then preaching peace, as now they practise war, So, when they turned but from the massacre Of unoffending infidels, to quench Their thirst for ruin in the very blood That flowed in their own veins, and pitiless zeal Froze every human feeling, as the wife Sheathed in her husband's heart the sacred steel, Even whilst its hopes were dreaming of her love; And friends to friends, brothers to brothers stood Opposed in bloodiest battle-field, and war, Scarce satiable by fate's last death-draught waged, Drunk from the wine-press of the Almighty's wrath', Whilst the red cross, in mockery of peace, Pointed to victory! When the fray was done, No remnant of the exterminated faith Survived to tell its ruin, but the flesh, With putrid smoke poisoning the atmosphere, That rotted on the half extinguished pile.

Yes! I have seen God's worshippers unsheathe

The sword of his revenge, when grace descended,

Confirming all unnatural impulses,

To sanctify their desolating deeds;

And frantic priests waved the ill-omened cross

O'er the unhappy earth: then shone the Sun

On showers of gore from the upllashing steel

Of safe assassination, and all crime

Made stingless by the spirits of the Lord,

And blood-red rainbows canopied the land.

Spirit! no year of my eventful being

Has passed unstained by crime and misery, [slaves

Which flows from God's own faith. I've marked his

With tongues whose lies are venomous, beguile

The insensate mob, and whilst one hand was red

With murder, feign to stretch the other out

For brotherhood and peace; and that they now

Babble of love and mercy, whilst their deeds

Are marked with all the narrowness and crime

That freedom's young arm dare not yet chastise;

Reason may claim our gratitude, who now

Establishing the imperishable throne

Of truth, and stubborn virtue, maketh vain

The unprevailing malice of my foe,

Whose bootless rage heaps torments for the brave,

Adds impotent eternities to pain,

Whilst keenest disappointment racks his breast

To see the smiles of peace around them play,

To frustrate, or to sanctify their doom.

Thus have I stood,—through a wild waste of years

Struggling with whirlwinds of mad agony,

Yet peaceful, and serene, and self-enshrined,

Mocking my powerless tyrant's horrible curse

With stubborn and unalterable will,

Even as a giant oak, which heaven's fierce flame

Had scathed in the wilderness, to stand

A monument of fadeless ruin there;

Yet peacefully and movelessly it braves

The midnight conflict of the wintry storm,

As in the sun-light's calm it spreads

Its worn and withered arms on high
To meet the quiet of a summer's noon.

The Fairy waved her wand:
Ahasuenis fled
Fast as the shapes of mingled shade and mist,
That lurk in the glens of a twilight grove,
Flee from the morning beam:
The matter of which dreams are made
Not more endowed with actual life
Than this phantasmal portraiture
Of wandering human thought.

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