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And dewy Sleep, which from Night's secret springs
Gently as Nile the land o'erflows.
When, lo! from the high countries of refined day,
The golden heaven without allay—
Whose dross, in the creation purg’d away,
Made up the sun's adulterate ray—
Michael, the warlike prince, does downwards fly,
Swift as the journeys of the sight,
Swift as the race of light,
And with his winged will cuts through the yielding
sky. - -
He pass'd through many a star, and, as he pass'd,
Shone (like a star in them) more brightly there
Than they did in their sphere.
On a tall pyramid's pointed head he stopp'd at last,
And a mild look of sacred pity cast
Down on the sinful land where he was sent,
T’inflict the tardy punishment.
“Ah! yet,” said he, “yet, stubborn king! repent,
“Whilst thus unarm'd I stand,
“Ere the keen sword of God fill my commanded
“Suffer but yet thyself, and thine to live:
“Who would, alas ! believe
“That it for man,” said he,
“So hard to be forgiven should be,
“And yet for God so easy to forgive!”
He spoke, and downwards flew, And o'er his shining form a well-cut cloud he threw,
Made of the blackest fleece of Night, And close-wrought to keep in the powerful light, Yet wrought so fine it hinder'd not his flight; But through the key-holes and the chinks of doors, And through the narrow'st walks of crooked pores, He pass'd more swift and free, . Than in wide air the wanton swallows flee. He took a pointed Pestilence in his hand; The spirits of thousand mortal poisons made The strongly-temper'd blade, The sharpest sword that e'er was laid Up in the magazines of God to scourge a wicked land. Through Egypt's wicked land his march he took, And as he march'd the sacred first-born strook Of every womb : none did he spare, [heir. None, from the meanest beast to Cenchre's purple
The swift approach of endless night
Breaks ope the wounded sleepers' rolling eyes;
They' awake the rest with dying cries,
And darkness doubles the affright;
The mixed sounds of scatter'd deaths they hear,
And lose their parted souls 'twixt grief and fear.
Louder than all the shrieking women's voice
Pierces this chaos of confused noise;
As brighter lightning cuts a way
Clear and distinguish'd through the day.
With less complaints the Zoan temples sound,
When the adored heifer's drown'd,
And no true mark'd successor to be found.
Whilst health and strength, and gladness does pos-
The festal Hebrew cottages;
The blest Destroyer comes not there,
To interrupt the sacred cheer
That new begins their well-reformed year:
Upon their doors he read, and understood,
God's protection, writ in blood;
Well was he skill'd i' th' character Divine;
And, though he pass'd by it in haste,
He bow'd, and worship'd, as he pass'd,
The mighty mystery through its humble sign.
The sword strikes now too deep and near,
Longer with its edge to play;
No diligence or cost they spare
To haste the Hebrews now away:
Pharaoh himself chides their delay;
So kind and bountiful is Fear !
But, oh! the bounty which to fear we owe,
Is but like fire struck out of stone; -
So hardly got, and quickly gone,
That it scarce out-lives the blow.
Sorrow and fear soon quit the tyrant's breast;
Rage and revenge their place possess'd ;
With a vast host of chariots and of horse,
And all his powerful kingdom's ready force,
The travelling nation he pursues;
Ten times o'ercome, he still th’ unequal war renews.
Fill'd with proud hopes, “At least,” said he, “Th’ Egyptian Gods, from Syrian magick free, “Will now revenge themselves and me; “Behold what passless rocks on either hand, “Like prison-walls, about them stand, “Whilst the sea bounds their flight before! “And in our injured justice they must find “A far worse stop than rocks and seas behind; “Which shall with crimson gore “New paint the water's name, and double dye the “shore.”
He spoke; and all his host Approv’d with shouts th’ unhappy boast; A bidden wind bore his vain words away, And drown'd them in the neighbouring sea. No means to escape the faithless travellers spy, And, with degenerous fear to die, Curse their new-gotten liberty. But the great Guide well knew he led them right, And saw a path hid yet from human sight: He strikes the raging waves, the waves on either side Unloose their close embraces, and divide; And backwards press, as in some solemn show The crowding people do (Though just before no space was seen) To let the admired triumph pass between. The wondering army saw on either hand [stand: The no-less-wondering waves like rocks of crystal
They march'd betwixt, and boldly trod
The secret paths of God.
And here and there all scatter'd in their way
The sea's old spoils, and gaping fishes, lay
Deserted on the sandy plain:
The sun did with astonishment behold
The inmost chambers of the open'd main;
For, whatsoe'er of old
By his own priests the poets has been said,
He never sunk till then into the ocean's bed.
Led cheerfully by a bright captain, Flame,
To th' other shore at morning-dawn they came,
And saw behind th' unguided foe
March disorderly and slow.
The prophet straight from th’ Idumean strand
Shakes his imperious wand:
The upper waves, that highest crowded lie,
The beckoning wand espy;
Straight their first right-hand files begin to move,
And, with a murmuring wind,
Give the word “March " to all behind.
The left-hand squadrons no less ready prove,
But, with a joyful, louder noise,
Answer their distant fellows' voice,
And haste to meet them make,
As several troops do all at once a common signal
What tongue th’ amazement and th’ affright can tell
Which on the Chamian army fell,