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* HARD by the gates of hell her dwelling is,
There whereas all plagues and harmes abound,
Which punish wicked men that walk amiss :
It is a darksome delve farre under ground,
With thorns and barren brakes environ'd round,
That none the same way may out win.
Yet many ways to enter may be found,
But none to issue forth when one is in;
For discord harder is to end than to begin.
And all within the riven walles were hung
With ragged monuments of times fore-past,
Of which the sad effects of discord sung:
There were rent robes and broken sceptres plac't,
Altars defild, and holy things defact,
Dishevered spears, and shields ytorne in twaine,
Great cittys ransack't, and strong castles ras't,
Nations captived, and huge armies slain ;
Of all which ruines there some reliques did re-
There was the signe of antique Babylon,
Of fatal Thebes, of Rome that reigned long,
Of sacred Salem, and sad Ilion;
memory of which on high there hong
The golden apple (cause of all their wrong),
For which the three faire goddesses did strive :
There also was the name of Nimrod strong ;
Of Alexander, and his princes five, Which shar'd to them the spoils which he had
And there the reliques of the drunken fray
The which among the Lapithees befell;
And of the bloody feast, which sent away
So many centaurs' drunken souls to hell,
That under great Alcides' fury fell;
And of the dreadful discord which did drive
The noble Argonauts to outrage fell,
That each of life sought other to deprive,
All mindless of the golden fleece which made them
And eke of private persons many moe,
That 'twere too long a work to count them all :
Some of sworne friends, that did their faith
Some of borne brethren, prov'd unnatural;
Some of deare lovers, foes perpetual ;
Witness their broken bands there to be seen,
Their girlonds rent, their bowres dispoiled all ;
The monuments whereof there byding been, As plaine as at the first, when they were fresh
Such was the house within : but all without,
The barren ground was full of wicked weeds
Which she herself had sowen all about,
Now growen great, at first of little seeds,
The seeds of evil words, and factious deedes ;
Which when to ripeness due they growen are, Bring forth an infinite increase, that breedes
Tumultuous trouble, and contentious jarre, The which must often end in bloodshed and in
YE nymphs of Solyma, begin the song :
To heav'nly themes sublimer strains belong.
The mossy fountains and the sylvan shades,
The dreams of Pindus and th' Aonian maids,
Delight no more. O Thou, my voice inspire,
Who touch'd Isaiah's hallow'd lips with fire !
Rapt into future times, the bard begun :
A virgin shall conceive, a virgin bear a Son!
From Jesse's root behold a Branch arise,
Whose sacred flower with fragrance fills the skies ;
Th'ethereal Spirit o'er its leaves shall move,
And on its top descends the mystic Dove.
Ye heavens, from high the dewy nectar pour,
And in soft silence shed the kindly shower;
The sick and weak the healing Plant shall aid,
From storms a shelter, and from heat a shade.
All crimes shall cease, and ancient frauds shall
Returning justice lift aloft her scale ;
Peace o'er the world her olive-wand extend,
And white-robed Innocence from heaven descend.
Swift fly the years, and rise th' expected morn;
Oh, spring to light! auspicious Babe, be born!
See, Nature hastes her earliest wreaths to bring,
With all th' incense of the breathing spring;
See lofty Lebanon his head advance;
See nodding forests on the mountains dance ;
See spicy clouds from lowly Sharon rise,
And Carmel's flow'ry top perfume the skies !
Hark! a glad voice the lonely desert cheers :
Prepare the way! a God, a God appears !
A God! a God! the vocal hills reply ;
The rocks proclaim th' approaching Deity.
Lo, earth receives Him from the bending skies ;
Sink down, ye mountains; and, ye valleys, rise;
With heads declin'd, ye cedars, homage pay;
Be smooth, ye rocks; ye rapid floods, give way!
The Saviour comes, by ancient bards foretold ;
Hear him, ye deaf; and all ye blind, behold!
He from thick films shall purge the visual ray,
And on the sightless eyeball pour the day ;
'Tis He th' obstructed paths of sound shall clear,
And bid new music charm th’ unfolding ear;
The dumb shall sing, the lame his crutch forego,
And leap exulting like the bounding roe :
No sigh, no murmur, the wide world shall hear ;
every face He wipes off every tear.
In adamantine chains shall Death be bound,
And hell's grim tyrant feel th' eternal wound.
As the good shepherd tends his fleecy care,
Seeks freshest pasture, and the purest air ;
Explores the lost, the wand'ring sheep directs,
By day o'ersees them, and by night protects ;
The tender lambs he raises in his arms,
Feeds from his hand, and in his bosom warms—
Thus shall mankind His guardian care engage,
The promis’d Father of the future age.
No more shall nation against nation rise,
Nor ardent warriors meet with hateful eyes,
Nor fields with gleaming steel be cover'd o’er,
The brazen trumpets kindle rage no more ;
But useless lances into scythes shall bend,
And the broad falchion in a ploughshare end :
Then palaces shall rise ; the joyful son
Shall finish what his short-liv'd sire begun;
Their vines a shadow to their race shall yield,
And the same hand that sow'd shall reap the field.
The swain in barren deserts with surprise
Sees lilies spring, and sudden verdure rise ;
And starts, amidst the thirsty wilds, to hear
New falls of water murmuring in his ear.
I BROKE the spell that held me long,
The dear, dear witchery of song.
I said, the poet's idle lore
Shall waste my prime of years no more;
For poetry, though heavenly born,
Consorts with poverty and scorn.
I broke the spell—nor deemed its power
Could fetter me another hour.