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And be his mate hereafter in the heavens
Before high God. Ah, great and gentle lord,
Who wast, as is the conscience of a saint
Among his warring senses, to thy knights—
To whom my false, voluptuous pride, that took
Full easily all impressions from below,
Would not look up, or half-despised the height
To which I would not or I could not climb-
I thought I could not breathe in that fine air,
That pure severity of perfect light-
I wanted warmth and colour which I found
In Lancelot-now I see thee what thou art,
Thou art the highest and most human too,
Not Lancelot, nor another. Is there none
Will tell the King I love him though so late?
Now-ere he goes to the great battle? none:
Myself must tell him in that purer life,
But now it were too daring. Ah, my God,
What might I not have made of thy fair world,
Had I but loved thy highest creature here?
It was my duty to have loved the highest:
It surely was my profit had I known:
It would have been my pleasure had I seen.
XXXIX. THE BURIAL OF JACOB.
Mr. Burns is author of "The Vision of Prophecy, and other poem.s."
It is a solemn cavalcade, and slow,
That comes from Egypt; never had the land, Save when a Pharaoh died, such pomp of woe Beheld; never was bier by such a band Of princely mourners followed, and the grand Gloom of that strange funereal armament Saddened the wondering cities as it went.
In Goshen he had died, that region fair
Which stretches east from Nilus to the wave
Of the great Gulf; and since he could not bear
To lay his ashes in an alien grave,
He charged his sons to bear them to the cave
Where slumbered all his kin, that from life's cares
And weariness his dust might rest with theirs.
For seventy days through Egypt ran the cry
Of woe, for Joseph wept: and now there came
Along with him the rank and chivalry
Of Pharaoh's court, the flower of Egypt's fame; High captains, chief estates, and lords of name, The prince, the priest, the warrior, and the sage, Made haste to join in that sad pilgrimage.
The hoary elders in their robes of state
Were there, and sceptred judges; and the sight Of their pavilions pitched without the gate
Was pleasant; chariots with their trappings bright Stood round,-till all were met, and every rite
Was paid; then at a signal the array
Moved with a heavy splendour on its way.
Its very gloom was gorgeous; and the sound
Of brazen chariots, and the measured feet
Of stately pacing steeds upon the ground,
Seemed, by its dead and dull monotonous beat,
A burden to that march of sorrow meet;
With music Pharaoh's minstrels would have come
Had Joseph wished,-'twas better they were dumb.
They pass by many a town then famed or feared,
But quite forgotten now; and over ground
Then waste, on which in after time were reared
Cities whose names were of familiar sound
For centuries,-Bubastus, and renowned
Pelusium, whose glories in decay
Gorged the lean desert with a splendid prey.
The fiery sons of Ishmael, as they scour
The stony glens of Paran with their hordes,
Watch their array afar, but dread their power:
Here first against mankind they drew their swords
In open warfare; as the native lords
Of the wild region held their free career,
And fenced the desert with the Arab spear.
But unmolested now the mourners pass,
Till distant trees, like signs of land, appear, And pleasantly they feel the yielding grass Beneath their feet, and in the morning clear They see with joy the hills of Canaan near; The camels scent the freshness of the wells, Far hidden in the depth of leafy dells.
At length they reach a valley opening fair
With harvest field and homestead in the sweep
Of olive-sprinkled hills, where they prepare
The solemn closing obsequies to keep;
For an appointed time they rest, and weep
With ceaseless lamentation, and the land
Rings with a grief it cannot understand.
The rites thus duly paid, they onward went
Across the eastern hills, and rested not
Till, slowly winding up the last ascent,
They see the walls of Hebron, and the spot
To him they bore so dear and unforgot,
Where the dark cypress and the sycamore
Weave their deep shadows round the rock-hewn door.
Now Jacob rests where all his kindred are,
The exile from the land in which of old
His fathers lived and died, he comes from far
To mix his ashes with their mortal mould.
There where he stood with Esau, in the cold
Dim passage of the vault, with holy trust
His sons lay down the venerable dust.
They laid him close by Leah, where she sleeps
Far from her Syrian home, and never knows
That Reuben kneels beside her feet and weeps,
Nor glance of kindly recognition throws
Upon her stately sons from that repose;
His Rachel rests far-sundered from his side,
Upon the way to Bethlehem, where she died.
Sleep on, O weary saint! thy bed is blessed;
Thou, with the pilgrim-staff of faith, hast passed
Another Jordan into endless rest:
Well may they sleep who can serenely cast
A look behind, while darkness closes fast
Upon their path, and breathe thy parting word,-
"For Thy salvation I have waited, Lord!"
XL.-SHIPWRECK IN DUBLIN BAY.
How beautifully still is all around!
Calm as the couch where slumber seals the eye
Of infant innocence, in deep repose
These sandy ridges and the waters sleep,
Wrapped in the golden effluence of day.
Far different the scene, when wintry winds
Rush from their frozen caves, and Eurus rides
On the dark clouds, when by her powerful spell
The attractive Moon has called around her throne
The congregated floods. Then roars the might
ocean, sheeted all in raging foam;
The labouring vessels fly; the thundering surge
Rolls o'er the piers; and mariners thank Heaven
That they are not at sea.
Yet Memory weeps
That night's sad horrors, when a luckless bark
Was hurled upon these sands. Elate with hope,
Some hundred warriors, who in many a field
Had gathered laurels, in this bark resought
Their native Erin. Nearer as they drew,
Each spell of country with magnetic power
Wrought in their souls, and all the joys of home
Rushed on their fancy. Some in thought embraced
Their happy parents, and the lover clasped
His fair one to his breast. Another morn,
And all these joys are real! Onward speed,
Thou fleet-winged bark! More fleet than sea-bird
The flood, she sped. Soon Erin's shores arose
Howth glimmered in the west, and Wicklow's hills
Were blue in the horizon. Then they hailed
Their own green island, and they chanted loud
Their patriot gratulations, till the sun
Gave them his last farewell. He sank in clouds
Of red portentous glare; when dreary night
Condensed around them, and a mountain swell
Announced the coming tempest. Wrapped in sleet
And arrowy fire, it came. The cutting blast
Smote sore;-yawned the precipitous abyss ;-
Roared the torn surges.-From his slippery stand
In vain the pilot cast a wistful look,
Some friendly light to spy ;-but all was dark;
Nor moon, nor star, nor beacon-light, was seen;
While in the yeasty foam, half-buried, toiled
The reeling ship. At length that dreadful sound
Which mariners most dread-the fierce, wild din
Of breakers, raging on the leeward shore,—
Appalled the bravest. On the sands she struck,
Shivering, as in the cold and deadly grasp
Of dissolution. Agonizing screams
Were heard within, which told that hope was fled.
Then might some counsel sage, perchance, have wrought
A great deliverance. But what shipwrecked crew
E'er list to counsel? Where 'tis needed most,
'Tis most despised. In such a fearful hour,
Each better feeling dies, and cruel self
Sears all of human in the heart of man.
None counselled safety-but a fell design
Rose in the captain's breast, above the throng
To close the hatches, while himself and crew
Flee to the boat, and hope or chance to 'scape