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He prayed for Israel—and his voice went up
The pall was settled. He who slept beneath Was straightened for the grave; and, as the folds Sank to the still proportions, they betrayed The matchless symmetry of Absalom. His hair was yet unshorn, and silken curls Were floating round the tassels as they swayed To the admitted air, as glossy now As when, in hours of gentle dalliance, bathing The snowy fingers of Judea's daughters. His helm was at his feet; his banner, soiled With trailing through Jerusalem, was laid, Reversed, beside him ; and the jewelled hilt, Whose diamonds lit the passage of his blade, Rested, like mockery, on his covered brow. The soldiers of the king trod to and fro, Clad in the garb of battle ; and their chief, The mighty Joab, stood beside the bier, And gazed upon the dark pall steadfastly, As if he feared the slumberer might stir. A slow step startled him. He grasped his blade As if a trumpet rang; but the bent form Of David entered, and he gave command, In a low tone, to his few followers, And left him with his dead. The king stood still
Till the last echo died; then, throwing off
“Alas ! my noble boy! that thou shouldst die !
Thou, who wert made so beautifully fair ! That death should settle in thy glorious eye,
And leave his stillness in this clustering hair ! How could he mark thee for the silent tomb!
My proud boy, Absalom !
“Cold is thy brow, my son! and I am chill,
As to my bosom I have tried to press thee ! How was I wont to feel my pulses thrill,
Like a rich harp-string, yearning to caress thee, And hear thy sweet 'My father!' from these dumb
And cold lips, Absalom !
“But death is on thee. I shall hear the gush
Of music, and the voices of the young; And life will pass me in the mantling blush,
And the dark tresses to the soft winds flung ; But thou no more, with thy sweet voice, shalt come
To meet me, Absalom !
“ And oh! when I am stricken, and my heart,
Like a bruised reed, is waiting to be broken, How will its love for thee, as I depart,
Yearn for thine ear to drink its last deep token! It were so sweet, amid death's gathering gloom,
To see thee, Absalom !
“And now, farewell! 'Tis hard to give thee up,
With death so like a gentle slumber on thee ;
And thy dark sin!-Oh! I could drink the cup,
If from this woe its bitterness had won thee. May God have called thee, like a wanderer, home,
My lost boy, Absalom !”
He covered up his face, and bowed himself
'Twas at the royal feast, for Persia won
By Philip's warlike son:
On his imperial throne :
His valiant peers were placed around,
(So should desert in arms be crowned.)
Happy, happy, happy pair !
Timotheus, placed on high
Amid the tuneful choir,
With flying fingers touched the lyre:
And beavenly joys inspire.
When he to fair Olympia pressed,
With ravished ears
Affects to nod,
The praise of Bacchus then the sweet musician sung,
The jolly god in triumph comes ;
Flushed with a purple grace,
He shows his honest face:
Bacchus, ever fair and young,
Drinking joys did first ordain ;
Rich the treasure,
Sweet the pleasure,
Soothed with the sound, the king grew vain ;
Fought all his battles o'er again;
The master saw the madness rise ;
He chose a mournful Muse,
Soft pity to infuse :
By too severe a fate,
And weltering in his blood;
With not a friend to close his eyes.
Revolving in his altered soul
The various turns of Chance below;
And tears began to flow.
The mighty master smiled to see
Softly sweet, in Lydian measures,
Soon he soothed his soul to pleasures.
Never ending, still beginning,
If the world be worth thy winning,