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But He, her fears to cease,
Sent down the meek-ey'd Peace ;
She crown'd with olive green, came softly sliding
His ready harbinger,
With turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing;
And waving wide her myrtle wand,
She strikes a universal peace through sea and land.
No war, or battle's sound
Was heard the world around:
The idle spear and shield were high up hung,
Unstain'd with hostile blood,
The trumpet spake not to the armèd throng,
And kings sat still with awful eye,
As if they surely knew their sov'reign Lord was by.
But peaceful was the night,
Wherein the Prince of Light
His reign of peace upon the earth began:
The winds, with wonder whist,
Smoothly the waters kist,
Whispering new joys to the mild oceàn,
Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmèd wave.
The stars with deep amaze,
Stand fix'd in steadfast gaze,
Bending one way their precious influence,
And will not take their flight,
For all the morning light,
Or Lucifer that often warn'd them thence;
But in their glimmering orbs did glow,
Until their Lord Himself bespake, and bid them go.
And though the shady gloom
Had given day her room,
The sun himself withheld his wonted speed,
And hid his head for shame,
As his inferior flame
The new-enlighten'd world no more should need;
He was a greater Sun appear
Than his bright throne, or burning axletree, could bear.
The shepherds on the lawn,
Or ere the point of dawn,
Sate simply chatting in a rustic row;
Full little thought they then
That the mighty Pan
Was kindly come to live with them below;
Perhaps their loves, or else their sheep,
Was all that did their silly thoughts so busy keep.
When such music sweet
Their hearts and ears did greet,
As never was by mortal finger strook,
Answering the stringèd noise,
As all their souls in blissful rapture took :
The air, such pleasure loth to lose,
With thousand echoes still prolongs each heavenly close.
Nature that heard such sound,
Beneath the hollow round
Of Cynthia's seat, the airy region thrilling,
Now was almost won
To think her part was done,
And that her reign had here its last fulfilling ;
She knew such harmony alone
Could hold all heav'n and earth in happier union.
At last surrounds their sight
A globe of circular light,
That with long beams the shamefac'd night array'd;
And sworded Seraphim,
Are seen in glittering ranks with wings display'd,
With unexpressive notes to Heaven's new-born Heir.
Such music (as 'tis said)
Before was never made,
But when of old the Sons of Morning sung,
While the Creator great
His constellations set,
And the well-balanc'd world on hinges hung,
And cast the dark foundations deep,
And bid the welt'ring waves their oozy channel keep.
Ring out, ye crystal spheres,
If ye have power to touch our senses so;
Move in melodious time,
And let the bass of Heav'n's deep organ blow;
Make up full consort to th' angelic symphony.
For if such holy song
Inwrap our fancy long,
Time will run back, and fetch the age of gold,
Will sicken soon and die,
And leprous Sin will melt from earthly mould
And Hell itself will pass away,
And leave her dolorous mansions to the peering day.
Yea, Truth and Justice then
Will down return to men,
Orb'd in a rainbow; and, like glories wearing,
Mercy will set between,
Throned in celestial sheen,
With radiant feet the tissued clouds down steering:
And Heav'n, as at some festival,
Will open wide the gates of her high palace hall.
But wisest Fate says, No,
This must not yet be so,
The Babe yet lies in smiling infancy,
That on the bitter cross
Must redeem our loss;
So both himself and us to glorify;
Yet first to those ychain'd in sleep
The wakeful trump of doom must thunder through the deep,
With such a horrid clang
As on mount Sinai rang,
While the red fire and smouldering clouds outbrake :
The aged Earth aghast,
With terror of that blast,
Shall from the surface to the centre shake;
When at the world's last sessiòn,
The dreadful Judge in middle air shall spread his throne.
And then at last our bliss
Full and perfect is,
But now begins; for from this happy day
The old Dragon under ground
In straiter limits bound,
Not half so far casts his usurped sway,
And wroth to see his kingdom fail,
Swinges the scaly horror of his folded tail.
The oracles are dumb,
No voice or hideous hum
Runs thro' the archèd roof in words deceiving.
Can no more divine,
With hollow shriek the steep of Delphos leaving.
Inspires the pale-ey'd priest from the prophetic cell.
The lonely mountains o'er,
And the resounding shore,
A voice of weeping heard, and loud lament;
From haunted spring and dale
Edg'd with poplar pale,
The parting Genius is with sighing sent;
With flow'r-inwoven tresses torn
The Nymphs in twilight shade of tangled thickets
In consecrated earth,
And on the holy hearth,
The Lars, and Lemures moan with midnight plaint;
In urns, and altars round,
A drear and dying sound
Affrights the Flamens at their service quaint;
And the chill marble seems to sweat,
While each peculiar Power forgoes his wonted seat.
Peor and Baälim
Forsake their temples dim,
With that twice-batter'd god of Palestine;
Heaven's queen and mother both,
Now sits not girt with tapers' holy shine;
In vain the Tyrian maids their wounded Thammuz mourn.
And sullen Moloch fled,
Hath left in shadows dread
His burning idol all of blackest hue;
They call the grisly king,
In dismal dance about the furnace blue:
The brutish gods of Nile as fast,
Isis and Orus, and the dog Anubis haste.
Nor is Osiris seen
In Memphian grove or green,
Trampling the unshow'r'd grass with lowings loud :
Within his sacred chest,
Nought but profoundest hell can be his shroud;
The sable-stolèd sorcerers bear his worship'd ark.
He feels from Juda's land
The dreaded infant's hand,
The rays of Bethlehem blind his dusky eyn;
Not all the gods beside,
Longer dare abide,
Not Typhon huge ending in snaky twine :
Our Babe, to show his Godhead true,
Can in his swaddling bands control the damnèd crew.
So, when the sun in bed,
Curtain'd with cloudy red,
Pillows his chin upon an orient wave,
The flocking shadows pale
Troop to th' infernal jail,
Each fetter'd ghost slips to his several grave;
And the yellow-skirted Fayes
Fly after the night-steeds, leaving their moon-loved maze.
But see the Virgin blest
Hath laid her Babe to rest;