BETA

And art thou then for ever set ! thy ray1
No more to rise and gild the front of day,2
Far-beaming Babylon ? Those massive gates,3
Through which to battle rush’d a hundred
states ;
4
That cloud-crown’d wall along whose giddy
height
5
Cars on with rival cars in fearless flight6
What ! could not all protect thee ! Ah ! in
vain
7
Thy bulwarks frown’d defiance o’er the plain :8
Fondly, in ancient majesty elate,9
Thou sat’st unconscious of impending fate,10
Nor brasen gates, nor adamantine wall,11
Can save a guilty people from their fall.12
Was it for this those wondrous turrets rose,13
Which taught thy feebled youth their scorn
of foes ?
14
For this, that earth her mineral stores re-
sign’d,
15
And the wan artist in his dungeon pined :16
Destined, as death crept on with mortal
stealth,
17
And the flush’d hectic mimick’d rosy health,18
’Mid gasping crowds to ply the incessant
loom,
19
While morbid vapours linger’d in the gloom ?20
Silent for seventy years, it’s frame unstrung,21
On Syrian bough Judæa’s harp had hung :22
Deaf to their despots’ voice, her tribes no
more
23
Waked Sion’s music on a foreign shore ;24
But oft, his tide where broad Euphrates rolls,25
Felt the keen insult pierce their patriot souls ;26
And still, as homeward turn’d the longing
eye,
27
Gush’d many a tear, and issued many a sigh,28
Yet not for ever flows the fruitless grief !29
Cyrus and Vengeance fly to their relief.30
Mark where he comes, th’ Anointed of
the Lord !
31
And wields with mighty arm his hallow’d
sword.
32
Reluctant realms their sullen homage pay,33
As on the heaven-led hero bends his way34
Opposing myriads press the fatal plain,35
And Sardis bars her two-leaved brass in vain ;36
Her secret hoards the hostile bands unfold,37
And grasp with greedy joy the cavern’d gold.38
Then to new fields ‘they urge their rapid
course,
39
And rebel states augment the swelling force :40
Firm to their end, mid scenes of rural love,41
Unsoften’d by those scenes the victors move :42
And, as in lengthening line their ranks ex-
pand,
43
Spread wider ruin through the ravaged land.44
But Babylon th’ approaching war derides,45
And shakes the harmless battle from her
sides.
46
In vain the ram it’s vigorous shock applies ;47
The mines descend, th’ assailing towers arise48
’Till Treason comes the bafiled chief to aid :49
And briefer arts succeed the long blockade.50
With hardy sinew Persia’s labouring host51
Wrest the huge river from his native coast ;52
And bid his flood it’s wonted track forgo,53
’Twixt other banks, through lands unknown
to flow
54
—The task is done; and with obsequious
tides
55
Euphrates follows, as a mortal guides.56
His surgeless channel, now a pervious vale,57
Invites the foot where navies spread the sail ;58
And soon no barrier but the eastern main59
Shall bound the conqueror’s progress, or his
reign.
60
Thus, when from heaving Ætna’s restless
caves
61
Impetuous Fire precipitates his waves,62
The flaming ruin rushes on the plain,63
And art and nature rear their mounds in vain.64
Should some high-rampired town obstruct
his course,
65
The red invader rises in his force ;66
And scornful of the check, and proudly free,67
Extends his blazing triumph to the sea :68
With refluent stream the straiten’d billows
flow,
69
And yield new regions to th’ insatiate foe.70
Yet naught devoted Babylon alarms ;71
Domestic treason, or a world in arms.72
’Midst her gay palaces and festal bowers73
Flutter’d in sportive maze the rose crown’d
hours :
74
Loud burst the roar of merriment around,75
And wanton dance light tripp’d it o’er the
ground
76
When, bent the long-drawn revelry to spy,77
Hush’d in grim midnight Vengeance hover’d
nigh.
78
Nor vain her care; by wine’s soft power
subdued,
79
The courtly troop, with gladden’d eye, she
view’d :
80
The frantic mob in drunken tumult lost,81
The drowsy soldier nodding at his post,82
The gate unclosed, the desert wall survey’d ;83
And call’d her Cyrus to unsheath his blade,84
Quaff then, Belshazzar—quaff, imperial
Boy,
85
The luscious draught, and drain the mad-
dening joy ;
86
To equal riot rouse thy languid board,87
And bid the satrap emulate his lord.88
With pencill’d lids, the scandal of their race,89
Thy crowded halls a thousand princes grace.90
Ill on such legs the warrior-greaves appear,91
Ill by such hands is grasp’d the deathful
spear :
92
Fitter ’ mid Syria’s harlot train to move,93
And wage in safer fields the wars of love.94
Alternate ranged (with faces scarce more fair,95
Or hearts more soft) that virgin train is there :96
The virgin’s wish her half-closed eyes impart,97
And blushless matrons boast th’ adulterous
heart.
98
On ardent wing the rank contagion flies,99
Sigh heaves to sigh, and glance to glance
replies.
100
Let these the achievements of thy Gods re-
hearse,
101
Raise the loud hymn, and pour the unholy
verse ;
102
Proceed ! with sacrilege enhance thy wine !103
Bid the vase circle, torn from Salem’s shrine.104
Empire and wealth for thee unite their
charms ;
105
For thee bright beauty spreads her willing
arms :
106
Who shall control thy raptures, or destroy ?107
Give then the night, the poignant night, to
joy.
108
—Ha ! why that start ! those horror-gleam-
ing eyes !
109
That frozen cheek, whence life’s warm crim-
son flies !
110
That lip, on which the unfinish’d accents
break !
111
Those hairs erect with life! those joints that
shake !
112
The wondrous hand, which stamps yon wall
with flame,
113
Speaks the fear just, that labours in thy
frame ;
114
As round it sheds self-mov’d the living ray,115
Which mocks the lustre of thy mimic day.116
Haste ! call thy seers ; or, if their skill be
vain,
117
Let Daniel’s art the blazing lines explain.118
Haste ! for the prophet bring the scarlet vest ;119
If so, seduced, his words may sooth thy
breast.
120
Ah ! no : that phantom with the stile of fate121
Inscribes the doom of thee, thy race, thy state.122
In curses then, rash Youth, the hour upbraid,123
When first by pleasure’s meteor-beam be-
tray’d
124
From virtue’s path thy heedless foot declined,125
And whelm’d in sordid sense the devious
mind.
126
In vain ! Even now is wrought the deed of
death :
127
This moment ends thy glories, and thy
breath !
128
Above, beneath thee feasts th’ insatiate worm,129
Completes the murtherer’s rage, and dissi-
pates thy form.
130
See where, twin sons of Vengeance and
Despair,
131
March Gobryas and Gadatas. Hold, rash
pair :
132
’Tis parricide ! Can nothing then atone133
Your private wrongs, save Babylon undone ?134
As monarchs smile, or frown, shall patriot
fire
135
With selfish fervor flourish, or expire ?136
No : when th’ insulting Mede is at your
gates,
137
And your pale country shakes through all
her states,
138
For her your cherish’d enmity forego,139
To wreak its fury on the public foe :140
Renounce the hoarded malice of your breast,141
And only struggle, who shall serve her best.142
Hark ! ’ Tis the cry of Conquest : full
and clear,
143
Her giant voice invades the startled ear.144
With death’s deep groans the shouts of tri-
umph rise ;
145
The mingled clamour mounts the reddening
skies.
146
From street to street the flames infuriate
pour,
147
Climb the tall fane, and gild the tottering
tower :
148
In cumbrous ruin sink patrician piles,149
And strew amid the dust their massive spoils ;150
While, with stern forms dilating in the blaze,151
Danger and Terror swell the dire amaze.152
Now yield those Gods, whom prostrate
realms adored !
153
Though Gods, unequal to a mortal sword !154
In aweless state the unworshipp’d idols stand,155
And tempt with sacred gold the plunderer’s
hand.
156
Now bend those groves, whose sloping bow-
ers among
157
The Attic warbler thrill’d her changeful song :158
Their varied green where pensile gardens
spread,
159
And Median foliage lent it’s grateful shade.160
There oft, of courts and courtly splendor
tired,
161
The fragrant gale Assyria’s Queen respired ;162
With blameless foot through glades exotic
roved,
163
And hail’d the scenes her happier prime had
loved.
164
Now stoops that tower, from whose broad
top the eye
165
Of infant Science pierced the midnight sky :166
First dared ’ mid worlds before unknown to
stray.
167
Scann’d the bright wonders of the milky way ;168
And, as in endless round they whirl’d along,169
In groups arranged, and named the lucid
throng :
170
Nay, in their glittering aspect seem’d to spy171
The hidden page of human destiny !172
Vain all her study ! in that comet’s glare,173
Which shook destruction from it’s horrid
hair,
174
Of her sage train, deep-versed in stellar law,175
Not one his country’s hastening fate foresaw ;176
Not one observed the tempest’s gathering
gloom,
177
Or with prophetic tongue foretold her doom.178
Vocal no more with pleasure’s sprightly lay179
Her fretted roofs shall Babylon display ;180
No more her nymphs in graceful band shall
join,
181
Or trace with flitting step the mazy line.182
But here shall Fancy heave the pensive sigh,183
And moral drops shall gather in her eye.184
As ’ midst her day-dreams distant ages rise,185
Glowing with nature’s many-coloured dies ;186
Resound the rattling car, th’ innumerous
feet,
187
And all the tumult of the breathing street ;188
The murmur of the busy, idle throng ;189
The flow of converse, and the of
song : —
190
Starting she wakes, and weeps as naught
she sees,
191
Save trackless marshes and entangled trees :192
As naught she hears, save where amid the
brake
193
Uncoils his monstrous length the crested
snake ;
194
Save, of the casual traveller afraid,195
Where the owl shrieking seeks a dunner
shade ;
196
Save where, as o’er th’ unsteadfast fen she
roves,
197
The mournful bittern shakes th’ encircling
groves.
198