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Here Hezekiah’s life is almost done !
So good, and yet, alas! so short, 'tis spun:
Th’ end of the line was ravel’d, weak, and old;
Time must go back, and afford better hold 650
To tie a new thread to it, of fifteen years:
"Tis done; th’ all-mighty power of prayer and tears!
Backward the sun, an unknown motion, went ;
The stars gaz'd on, and wonder'd what he meant.
Manasses next (forgetful man () begins; 655
Enslav’d and sold to Ashur by his sins;
Till, by the rod of learned misery taught,
Home to his God and country both he’s brought:
It taught not Ammon, nor his hardness brake;
He's made th' example he refus'd to take. 660
Yet from this root a goodly cyon springs;
Josiah, best of men, as well as kings.
Down went the calves, with all their gold and cost;
The priest then truly griev'd Osiris lost;
These mad Egyptian rites till now remain’d ; 665
Fools they their worser thraldom still retain'd :
In his own fires Moloch to ashes fell,
And no more flames must have besides his hell;
Like end Astarte's horned image found,
And Baal's spired stone to dust was ground: 670
No more were men in female habit seen,
Nor they in men's, by the lewd Syrian queen:
No lustful maids at Benos' temple sit,
And, with their bodies' shame, their marriage get:
The double Dagon neither nature saves, 675
Nor flies she back to th’ Erythraean waves.
The travelling sun sees gladly from on high
His chariots burn, and Nergal quenched lie ;
The king's impartial anger lights on all,
From fly-blown Accaron to the thundering Bafil. 680
Here David's joy unruly grows, and bold,
Nor could sleep's silken chain its violence hold,
Had not the Angel, to seal fast his eyes,
The humours stirr'd, and bade more mists arise:
When straight a chariot hurries swift away, 685
And in it good Josiah bleeding lay; -
One hand's held up, one stops the wound; in vain
They both are us'd : alas! he's slain, he's slain.
Jehoias and Jehoi'chim next appear;
Both urge that vengeance which before was near : «
He in Egyptian fetters captive dies, 691.
This by more courteous anger murder'd lies.
His son and brother next do bonds sustain,
Israel's now solemn and imperial chain.
Here’s the last scene of this proud city’s state; 695
All ills are met ty’d in one knot of Fate.
Their endless slavery in this trial lay;
Great God had heap'd-up ages in one day:
Strong works around the wall the Chaldees build,
The town with grief and dreadful business fill'd; 700
To their carv'd gods the frantick women pray,
Gods, which as near their ruin were as they.
At last in rushes the prevailing foe,
Does all the mischief of proud conquest show :
The wondring babes from mothers’ breasts are rent,
And suffer ills they neither fear'd nor meant; 706
No silver reverence guards the stooping age,
No rule or method ties their boundless rage :
The glorious temple shines in flame all o'er,
Yet not so bright as in its gold before : 710
Nothing but fire or slaughter meets the eyes;
Nothing the ear but groans and dismal cries.
The walls and towers are level'd with the ground,
And scarce aught now of that vast city’s found |
But shards and rubbish, which weak signs mightkeep
Of forepast glory, and bid travellers weep. 716
Thus did triumphant Assur homewards pass,
And thus Jerusalem left, Jerusalem that was 1
This Zedechiah saw, and this not all;
Before his face his friends and children fall, 720
The sport of insolent victors; this he views,
A king and father once ill Fate could use
His eyes no more to do their master spite;
All to be seen she took, and next his sight.
Thus a long death in prison he outwears; 725
Bereft of grief’s last solace, ev’n his tears.
Then Jeconiah's son did foremost come,
And he who brought the captiv’d nation home:
A row of worthies in long order pass'd
O'er the short stage; of all old Joseph last. 730
Fair angels pass'd by next in seemly bands,
All gilt, with gilded baskets in their hands:
Some, as they went, the blue-ey’d violets strew,
Some, spotless lilies in loose order threw;
Some did the way with full-blown roses spread, 735
Their smell divine, and colour strangely red;
Not such as our dull gardens proudly wear,
Whom weathers taint, and winds’ rude kisses tear:
Such, I believe, was the first rose’s hue,
Which at God's word in beauteous Eden grew; 740
Queen of the flowers which made that orchard gay !
The morning blushes of the spring's new day.
With sober pace an heavenly maid walks in,
Her looks all fair; no sign of native sin
Through her whole body writ; immoderate grace 745
Spoke things far more than human in her face:
It casts a dusky gloom o'er all the flowers;
And with full beams their mingled light devours!
An Angel straight broke from a shining cloud,
And press'd his wings, and with much reverence
bow'd ; 750
Again he bow’d, and grave approach he made,
And thus his sacred message sweetly said: [call
“Hail, full of Grace! thee the whole world shall
“Above all blest; Thee, who shalt bless them all.
“Thy virgin womb in wondrous sort shall shroud 755
“Jesus the God (and then again he bow'd); -
“Conception the great Spirit shall breathe on thee;
“Hail thou! who must God's wife, God's mother,
“ be t” With that, his seeming form to heaven he rear'd; She low obeisance made, and disappear'd, 760
Lo a new star three eastern sages see
(For why should only earth a gainer be f)
They saw this Phosphor's infant-light, and knew
It bravely usher'd in a Sun as new :
VOL. II. 2
They hasted all this Rising Sun to adore; 765
With them rich myrrh and early spices bore:
Wise men no fitter gift your zeal could bring;
You'll in a noisome stable find your King.
Anon a thousand devils run roaring in;
Some with a dreadful smile deform'dly grin; 770
Some stamp their cloven paws, some frown, and tear
The gaping snakes from their black-knotted hair;
As if all grief, and all the rage of hell,
Were doubled now, or that just now they fell:
But, when the dreaded maid they entering saw, 775
All fled with trembling fear and silent awe.
In her chaste arms th' eternal infant lies,
Th' Almighty voice chang'd into feeble cries.
Heaven contain'd virgins oft, and will do more;
Never did virgin contain Heaven before. 789
Angels peep round to view this mystick thing,
And Halleluiah round, all Halleluiah sing.
No longer could good David quiet bear
Th’ unwieldy pleasure which o'erflow'd him here: -
It broke the fetters, and burst ope his eye; 785
Away the timorous forms together fly:
Fix’d with amaze he stood; and time must take,
To learn if yet he were at last awake.
Sometimes he thinks that Heaven this vision sent,
And order'd all the pageants as they went; 790
Sometimes, that only't was wild Phansy's play,
The loose and scatter'd relicks of the day.
When Gabriel (no blest spirit more kind or fair)
Bodies and clothes himself with thicken'd air;