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God’s Witnesses
by [?]


Upon the plain of Dura stood an image great and high,
With golden forehead broad and bright beneath the morning sky;
All regal in its majesty and kingly in its mien,
The grandest and most glorious thing the world had ever seen!

Full sixty cubits high in air the lordly head was reared,
And robed in gold from head to foot the stately form appeared;
Adown the breast six cubits broad, a flood of yellow gold,
All deftly wrought with matchless skill, its shining tresses rolled.

And, fronting thus the rising sun, it sent back ray for ray–
A golden flood of arrowy light–into-the face of day;
While round its feet, in awe and dread, all Shinar stood amazed,
And up into that radiant face with reverent wonder gazed.

Woke sackbut, psaltery, and harp, woke dulcimer and flute,–
Then prone in dust fell prince and peer, in lowly worship mute!
The wise, the gifted, and the great, the lordly and the base
Before the image bent the knee, and bowed in dust the face.

Not all!–for lo, three princely men, with calm, unaltered mien,
With unbowed heads and folded arms, gaze on the unhallowed scene!
The golden image awes them not, nor yet the king’s decree,
They bow not at the idol’s shrine, nor bend the servile knee.

“Wake, sackbut, psaltery, and harp–wake yet again!”–but nay,
With calm, pale faces, sad and stern, they slowly turn away;
The monarch’s wrath, the furnace-flame, death, death,–they know it
Yet all these horrors powerless are those high hearts to appal!

Haste, haste, obsequious minions, bear the tidings to your lord!
Go, tell him there are some who dare to disobey his word;
Men of the captive, Hebrew race, men high in place and power,
Who scorn to bow their haughty necks at his command this hour!

“Go, bring them nigh!” the monarch cries, with fury in his face,
“And set them here before my throne, these men of Hebrew race!
Now, Shadrach, Meshach, answer me, and thou, Abednego,
They tell me ye refuse to bow and worship!–is it so?

“But hearken: if, what time ye hear once more the pealing swell
Of sackbut, psaltery, and harp, ye bend in homage–well;
If not, the fiery furnace shall your quivering flesh devour!
Then where’s the God can rescue you from my avenging power?”

Then answered they, the captive three, in calm, respectful tone,
While over each young, fearless brow faith’s hallowed radiance shone,
“Behold, our God is for us now–our God, O King! and He
Is able to deliver us from the fierce flames and thee!

“Yea, and He will deliver us!–yet be it known to thee,
O King, that could we truly know, that so it would not be,
E’en then, we would not bow us down, or worship at the shrine
Of this vain image thou hast reared, or any god of thine!”

“Now lead ye forth these haughty men!” the wrathful monarch cried,
The while his face grew dark with rage and fury, so defied;
“Yea, heat the furnace seven fold, and in the fiercest flame
Blot out forever from the day each impious scorner’s name!

“Ay, bind them well, ye mighty men, ye warriors stern and bold,
And let your cords be very strong, your fetters manifold!
For neither they nor He they trust shall foil my kingly ire,
Or save them from the wrathful flame of this devouring fire!

“Now cast them in!–but, oh!–my men!–they fade like morning mist!
Slain by the fierce, out-leaping flame no mortal may resist!
My warriors bold!–alas, alas!–I did not will it so!
Scathed by the fiery blast of death meant only for my foe!”