A Poem On The Last Day - Book II
Now man awakes, and from his silent bed,
Where he has slept for ages, lifts his head;
Shakes off the slumber of ten thousand years,
And on the borders of new worlds appears.
Whate'er the bold, the rash adventure cost,
In wide Eternity I dare be lost.
The Muse is wont in narrow bounds to sing,
To teach the swain, or celebrate the king.
I grasp the whole, no more to parts confined,
I lift my voice, and sing to human kind:
I sing to men and angels; angels join,
While such the theme, their sacred songs with mine.
Again the trumpet's intermitted sound
Rolls the wide circuit of creation round,
An universal concourse to prepare
Of all that ever breathed the vital air;
In some wide field, which active whirlwinds sweep,
Drive cities, forests, mountains to the deep,
To smooth and lengthen out the' unbounded space,
And spread an area for all human race.
Now monuments prove faithful to their trust,
And render back their long committed dust.
Now charnels rattle; scatter'd limbs, and all
The various bones, obsequious to the call,
Self-moved, advance; the neck perhaps to meet
The distant head; the distant legs, the feet.
Dreadful to view, see through the dusky sky
Fragments of bodies in confusion fly,
To distant regions journeying, there to claim
Deserted members, and complete the frame.
When the world bow'd to Rome's almighty sword,
Rome bow'd to Pompey, and confess'd her lord.
Yet, one day lost, this deity below
Became the scorn and pity of his foe.
His blood a traitor's sacrifice was made,
And smoked indignant on a ruffian's blade.
No trumpet's sound, no gasping army's yell,
Bid, with due horror, his great soul farewell.
Obscure his fall: all weltering in his gore,
His trunk was cast to perish on the shore!
While Julius frown'd the bloody monster dead,
Who brought the world in his great rival's head.
This sever'd head and trunk shall join once more,
Though realms now rise between, and oceans roar.
The trumpet's sound each vagrant-mote shall hear,
Or fix'd in earth, or if afloat in air,
Obey the signal wafted in the wind,
And not one sleeping atom lag behind.
So swarming bees, that, on a summer's day,
In airy rings and wild meanders play,
Charm'd with the brasen sound, their wanderings end,
And, gently circling, on a bough descend.
The body thus renew'd, the conscious soul,
Which has perhaps been fluttering near the pole,
Or midst the burning planets wondering stray'd,
Or hover'd o'er where her pale corpse was laid;
Or rather coasted on her final state,
And fear'd or wish'd for her appointed fate:
This soul, returning with a constant flame,
Now weds for ever her immortal frame.
Life, which ran down before, so high is wound,
The springs maintain an everlasting round.
Thus a frail model of the work design'd
First takes a copy of the builder's mind,
Before the structure firm with lasting oak,
And marble bowels of the solid rock,
Turns the strong arch, and bids the columns rise,
And bear the lofty palace to the skies;
The wrongs of Time enabled to surpass,
With bars of adamant, and ribs of brass.
That ancient, sacred, and illustrious dome,
Where soon or late fair Albion's heroes come,
From camps and courts, though great, or wise, or just,
To feed the worm, and moulder into dust;
That solemn mansion of the royal dead,
Where passing slaves o'er sleeping monarchs tread,
Now populous o'erflows: a numerous race
Of rising kings fill all the' extended space.
A life well-spent, not the victorious sword,
Awards the crown, and styles the greater lord.
Nor monuments alone, and burial earth,
Labour with man to this his second birth;
But where gay palaces in pomp arise,
And gilded theatres invade the skies,
Nations shall wake, whose unrespected bones
Support the pride of their luxurious sons.
The most magnificent and costly dome
Is but an upper chamber to a tomb.
No spot on earth but has supplied a grave,
And human skulls the spacious ocean pave.
All's full of man; and at this dreadful turn,
The swarm shall issue, and the hive shall burn.
Not all at once, nor in like manner, rise:
Some lift with pain their slow unwilling eyes;
Shrink backward from the terror of the light,
And bless the grave, and call for lasting night.
Others, whose long-attempted virtue stood
Fix'd as a rock, and broke the rushing flood;
Whose firm resolve nor beauty could melt down,
Nor raging tyrants from their posture frown:-
Such, in this day of horrors, shall be seen
To face the thunders with a godlike mien:
The planets drop, their thoughts are fix'd above;
The centre shakes, their hearts disdain to move:
An earth dissolving, and a heaven thrown wide,
A yawning gulf, and fiends on every side,
Serene they view, impatient of delay,
And bless the dawn of everlasting day.
Here greatness prostrate falls; there strength gives place:
Here lazars smile; there beauty hides her face.
Christians, and Jews, and Turks, and Pagans stand,
A blended throng, one undistinguish'd band.
Some who, perhaps, by mutual wounds expired,
With zeal for their distinct persuasions fired,
In mutual friendship their long slumber break,
And hand in hand their Saviour's love partake.
But none are flush'd with brighter joy, or, warm
With juster confidence, enjoy the storm,
Than those whose pious bounties, unconfined,
Have made them public fathers of mankind.
In that illustrious rank, what shining light
With such distinguish'd glory fills my sight?
Bend down, my grateful Muse, that homage show
Which to such worthies thou art proud to owe.
Wykeham, Fox, Chicheley! hail, illustrious names,
Who to far-distant times dispense your beams!
Beneath your shades, and near your crystal springs,
I first presumed to touch the trembling strings.
All hail, thrice-honour'd! 'Twas your great renown
To bless a people, and oblige a crown.
And now you rise, eternally to shine,
Eternally to drink the rays Divine.
Indulgent God! O how shall mortal raise
His soul to due returns of grateful praise,
For bounty so profuse to human kind,
Thy wondrous gift of an eternal mind?
Shall I, who, some few years ago, was less
Than worm, or mite, or shadow can express,-
Was nothing; shall I live, when every fire
And every star shall languish and expire?
When earth's no more, shall I survive above,
And through the radiant files of angels move?
Or, as before the throne of God I stand,
See new worlds rolling from His spacious hand,
Where our adventures shall perhaps be taught,
As we now tell how Michael sung or fought?
All that has being in full concert join,
And celebrate the depths of Love Divine!
But O! before this blissful state, before
The' aspiring soul this wondrous height can soar,
The Judge, descending, thunders from afar,
And all mankind is summon'd to the bar.
This mighty scene I next presume to draw:
Attend, great Anna, with religious awe.
Expect not here the known successful arts
To win attention, and command our hearts:
Fiction, be far away; let no machine
Descending here, no fabled God, be seen:
Behold the God of gods indeed descend,
And worlds unnumber'd His approach attend!
Lo! the wide theatre, whose ample space
Must entertain the whole of human race,
At Heaven's all-powerful edict is prepared,
And fenced around with an immortal guard.
Tribes, provinces, dominions, worlds o'erflow
The mighty plain, and deluge all below:
And every age and nation pours along;
Nimrod and Bourbon mingle in the throng;
Adam salutes his youngest son; no sign
Of all those ages which their births disjoin.
How empty learning, and how vain is art,
But as it mends the life, and guides the heart!
What volumes have been swell'd, what time been spent,
To fix a hero's birth-day or descent!
What joy must it now yield, what rapture raise,
To see the glorious race of ancient days!
To greet those worthies who perhaps have stood
Illustrious on record before the flood!
Alas! a nearer care your soul demands,
Caesar unnoted in your presence stands.
How vast the concourse! not in number more
The waves that break on the resounding shore,
The leaves that tremble in the shady grove,
The lamps that gild the spangled vault above.
Those overwhelming armies, whose command
Said to one empire, ``Fall;'' another, ``Stand;''
Whose rear lay wrapp'd in night, while breaking dawn
Roused the broad front, and call'd the battle on:
Great Xerxes' world in arms, proud Cannae's field,
Where Carthage taught victorious Rome to yield;
(Another blow had broke the Fates' decree,
And earth had wanted her fourth monarchy
Immortal Blenheim, famed Ramillia's host:-
They all are here, and here they all are lost:
Their millions swell to be discern'd in vain,
Lost as a billow in the' unbounded main.
This echoing voice now rends the yielding air,
For judgment, judgment, sons of men, prepare!
Earth shakes anew; I hear her groans profound;
And hell through all her trembling realms resound.
Whoe'er thou art, thou greatest power of earth,
Bless'd with most equal planets at thy birth:
Whose valour drew the most successful sword,
Most realms united in one common lord;
Who, on the day of triumph, saidst, ``Be Thine
The skies, Jehovah: all this world is mine:''
Dare not to lift thine eye.-Alas! my Muse,
How art thou lost! what numbers canst thou choose?
A sudden blush inflames the waving sky,
And now the crimson curtains open fly;
Lo! far within, and far above all height,
Where heaven's great Sovereign reigns in worlds of light;
Whence Nature He informs, and, with one ray
Shot from His eye, does all her works survey,
Creates, supports, confounds! where time, and place,
Matter, and form, and fortune, life, and grace,
Wait humbly at the footstool of their God,
And move obedient at His awful nod;
Whence He beholds us vagrant emmets crawl
At random on this air-suspended ball:
(Speck of creation!) if He pour one breath,
The bubble breaks, and 'tis eternal death.
Thence issuing I behold, (but mortal sight
Sustains not such a rushing sea of light!)
I see, on an empyreal flying throne
Sublimely raised, Heaven's everlasting Son;
Crown'd with that majesty which form'd the world,
And the grand rebel flaming downward hurl'd
Virtue, Dominion, Praise, Omnipotence,
Support the train of their triumphant Prince.
A zone, beyond the thought of angels bright,
Around Him, like the zodiac, winds its light.
Night shades the solemn arches of His brows,
And in His cheek the purple morning glows.
Where'er serene He turns propitious eyes,
Or we expect, or find, a Paradise:
But if resentment reddens their mild beams,
The Eden kindles, and the world's in flames.
On one hand, Knowledge shines in purest light;
On one, the sword of Justice, fiercely bright.
Now bend the knee in sport, present the reed;
Now tell the scourged impostor He shall bleed!
Thus glorious through the courts of heaven the Source
Of life and death eternal bends His course;
Loud thunders round Him roll, and lightnings play;
The' angelic host is ranged in bright array:
Some touch the string, some strike the sounding shell,
And mingling voices in rich concert swell;
Voices seraphic! bless'd with such a strain,
Could Satan hear, he were a god again.
Triumphant King of Glory! Soul of Bliss!
What a stupendous turn of fate is this!
O whither art thou raised above the scorn
And indigence of Him in Bethlem born!
A needless, helpless, unaccounted guest,
And but a second to the fodder'd beast!
How changed from Him who, meekly prostrate laid,
Vouchsafed to wash the feet Himself had made!
From Him who was betray'd, forsook, denied,
Wept, languish'd, pray'd, bled, thirsted, groan'd, and died;
Hung pierced and bare, insulted by the foe,
All heaven in tears above, earth unconcern'd below!
And was't enough to bid the sun retire?
Why did not Nature at Thy groan expire?
I see, I hear, I feel, the pangs Divine;
The world is vanish'd,-I am wholly Thine.
Mistaken Caiaphas! Ah! which blasphemed,-
Thou, or thy Prisoner? which shall be condemn'd?
Well mightst thou rend thy garments, well exclaim;
Deep are the horrors of eternal flame!
But God is good! 'Tis wondrous all! E'en He
Thou gavest to death, shame, torture, died for thee.
Now the descending triumph stops its flight
From earth full twice a planetary height.
There all the clouds, condensed, two columns raise
Distinct with orient veins, and golden blaze:
One fix'd on earth, and one in sea, and round
Its ample foot the swelling billows sound.
These an immeasurable arch support,
The grand tribunal of this awful court.
Sheets of bright azure, from the purest sky,
Stream from the crystal arch, and round the columns fly.
Death, wrapp'd in chains, low at the basis lies,
And on the point of his own arrow dies.
Here high-enthroned the' eternal Judge is placed,
With all the grandeur of His Godhead graced;
Stars on His robes in beauteous order meet,
And the sun burns beneath His awful feet.
Now an archangel eminently bright,
From off his silver staff of wondrous height,
Unfurls the Christian flag, which waving flies,
And shuts and opens more than half the skies:
The cross so strong a red, it sheds a stain,
Where'er it floats, on earth, and air, and main;
Flushes the hill, and sets on fire the wood,
And turns the deep-dyed ocean into blood.
O formidable Glory! dreadful bright!
Refulgent torture to the guilty sight.
Ah, turn, unwary Muse, nor dare reveal
What horrid thoughts with the polluted dwell.
Say not, (to make the Sun shrink in his beam,)
Dare not affirm, they wish it all a dream;
Wish, or their souls may with their limbs decay,
Or God be spoil'd of His eternal sway.
But rather, if thou know'st the means, unfold
How they with transport might the scene behold.
Ah how, but by repentance, by a mind
Quick and severe its own offence to find;
By tears, and groans, and never-ceasing care,
And all the pious violence of prayer?
Thus then, with fervency till now unknown,
I cast my heart before the' eternal throne,
In this great temple, which the skies surround,
For homage to its Lord a narrow bound:-
``O Thou! whose balance does the mountains weigh,
Whose will the wild tumultuous seas obey,
Whose breath can turn those watery worlds to flame,
That flame to tempest, and that tempest tame;
Earth's meanest son, all trembling, prostrate falls,
And on the Boundless of Thy goodness calls.
``O give the winds all past offence to sweep,
To scatter wide, or bury in the deep!
Thy power, my weakness, may I ever see,
And wholly dedicate my soul to Thee.
Reign o'er my will; my passions ebb and flow
At Thy command, nor human motive know.
If anger boil, let anger be my praise,
And sin the graceful indignation raise.
My love be warm to succour the distress'd,
And lift the burden from the soul oppress'd.
O may my understanding ever read
This glorious volume, which Thy wisdom made!
Who decks the maiden Spring with flowery pride?
Who calls forth Summer, like a sparkling bride?
Who joys the mother Autumn's bed to crown,
And bids old Winter lay her honours down?
Not the great Ottoman, or greater Czar,
Not Europe's arbitress of peace and war.
May sea and land, and earth and heaven, be join'd,
To bring the' eternal Author to my mind!
When oceans roar, or awful thunders roll,
May thoughts of Thy dread vengeance shake my soul!
When earth's in bloom, or planets proudly shine,
Adore, my heart, the Majesty Divine!
``Through every scene of life, or peace or war,
Plenty or want, Thy glory be my care!
Shine we in arms? or sing beneath our vine?
Thine is the vintage, and the conquest Thine:
Thy pleasure points the shaft, and bends the bow;
The cluster blasts, or bids it brightly glow:
'Tis Thou that lead'st our powerful armies forth,
And giv'st great Anne Thy sceptre o'er the north.
``Grant I may ever, at the morning ray,
Open with prayer the consecrated day;
Tune Thy great praise, and bid my soul arise,
And with the mounting sun ascend the skies:
As that advances, let my zeal improve,
And glow with ardour of consummate love;
Nor cease at eve, but with the setting sun
My endless worship shall be still begun.
``And O! permit the gloom of solemn night
To sacred thought may forcibly invite.
When this world's shut, and awful planets rise,
Call on our minds, and raise them to the skies;
Compose our souls with a less dazzling sight,
And show all nature in a milder light;
How every boisterous thought in calms subsides!
How the smooth'd spirit into goodness glides!
O how Divine! to tread the Milky Way,
To the bright palace of the Lord of Day;
His court admire, or for His favour sue,
Or leagues of friendship with His saints renew;
Pleased to look down, and see the world asleep,
While I long vigils to its Founder keep!
``Canst Thou not shake the centre? O control,
Subdue by force, the rebel in my soul!
Thou, who canst still the raging of the flood,
Restrain the various tumults of my blood;
Teach me, with equal firmness, to sustain
Alluring pleasure, and assaulting pain.
O may I pant for Thee in each desire!
And with strong faith foment the holy fire!
Stretch out my soul in hope, and grasp the prize
Which in Eternity's deep bosom lies!
At the great day of recompence behold,
Devoid of fear, the fatal book unfold!
Then, wafted upward to the blissful seat,
From age to age my grateful song repeat;
My Light, my Life, my God, my Saviour see,
And rival angels in the praise of Thee!''
Edward Young's Other Poems
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