Thomas Love Peacock 1785 (Weymouth, Dorset) – 1866
---anankta ton pantôn huperbal-
lonta chronon makarôn.
Pindar. Hymn. frag. 33
As the mountain-torrent rages,
Loud, impetuous, swift, and strong,
So the rapid streams of ages
Rolls with ceaseless tide along.
Man's little day what clouds o'ercast!
How soon his longest day is past!
All-conquering DEATH, in solemn date unfurl'd,
Comes, like the burning desert blast,
And sweeps him from the world.
The noblest works of human pow'r
In vain resist the fate-fraught hour;
The marble hall, the rock-built tow'r,
Alike submit to destiny:
OBLIVION's awful storms resound;
The massy columns fall around;
The fabric totters to the ground,
And darkness veils its memory!
'Mid SYRIA's barren world of sand,
Where THEDMOR's marble wastes expand.
Where DESOLATION, on the blasted plain,
Has fix'd his adamantine throne,
I mark, in silence and alone,
His melancholy reign.
These silent wrecks, more eloquent than speech,
Full many a tale of awful note impart;
Truths more sublime than bard or sage can teach
This pomp of ruin presses on the heart.
Whence rose that dim, mysterious sound,
That breath'd in hollow murmurs round?
As sweeps the gale
Along the vale,
Where many a mould'ring tomb is spread,
Awe-struck, I hear,
In fancy's ear,
The voices of th' illustrious dead:
As slow they pass along, they seem to sigh,
"Man, and the works of man, are only born to die!"
As scatter'd round, a dreary space,
Ye spirits of the wise and just!
In reverential thought I trace
The mansions of your sacred dust,
Enthusiast FANCY, rob'd in light,
Pours on the air her many-sparkling rays,
Redeeming from OBLIVION's deep'ning night
The deeds of ancient days.
The mighty forms of chiefs of old,
To VIRTUE dear, and PATRIOT TRUTH sublime,
In feeble splendor I behold,
Discover'd dimly through the mists of TIME,
As through the vapours of the mountain-stream
With pale reflection glows the sun's declining beam.
Still as twilight's mantle hoary
Spreads progressive on the sky,
See, in visionary glory,
Darkly-thron'd, they sit on high.
But whose the forms, oh FAME, declare,
That crowd majestic on the air?
Bright Goddess! come, on rapid wings,
To tell the mighty deeds of kings.
Where art thou, FAME?
Each honor'd name
From thy eternal roll unfold:
Awake the lyre,
In songs of fire,
To chiefs renown'd in days of old.
I call in vain!
The welcome strain
Of praise to them no more shall sound:
Their actions bright
Must sleep in night,
Till TIME shall cease his mystic round.
The dazzling glories of their day
The stream of years has swept away;
Their names, that struck the foe with fear,
Shall ring no more on mortal ear!
Yet faithful MEMORY's raptur'd eye
Can still the godlike form descry,
Of him, who, on EUPHRATES' shore,
From SAPOR's brow his blood-stain'd laurels tore,
And bade the ROMAN banner stream unfurl'd;
When the stern GENIUS of the startling waves
Beheld on PERSIA s host of slaves
Tumultuous ruin hurl'd!
Meek SCIENCE too, and TASTE refin'd,
The grave with deathless flow'rs have dress'd,
Of him whose virtue-kindling mind
Their ev'ry charm supremely bless'd;
Who trac'd the mazy warblings of the lyre
With all a critic's art, and all a poet's fire.
Where is the bard, in these degen'rate days,
To whom the muse the blissful meed awards,
Again the dithyrambic song to raise,
And strike the golden harp's responsive chords?
Be his alone the song to swell,
The all-transcendent praise to tell
Of yon immortal form,
That bursting through the veil of years,
In changeless majesty appears,
Bright as the sun-beams thro' the scatt'ring storm!
What countless charms around her rise!
What dazzling splendor sparkles in her eyes!
On her radiant brow enshrin'd,
MINERVA's beauty blends with JUNO's grace;
The matchless virtues of her godlike mind
Are stamp'd conspicuous on her angel-face.
Hail, sacred shade, to NaATURE dear!
Though sorrow clos'd thy bright career,
Though clouds obscur'd thy setting day,
Thy fame shall never pass away!
Long shall the mind's unfading gaze
Retrace thy pow'r's meridian blaze,
When o'er ARABIAN deserts, vast and wild,
And EGYPT s land, (where REASON's wakeful eye
First on the birth of ART and SCIENCE smil'd,
And bade the shades of mental darkness fly)
And o'er ASSYRIA's many-peopled plains,
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"Palmyra (1st Edition)" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 19 Sep. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/36753/palmyra-(1st-edition)>.