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A Fugue Of Hell
by [?]


The shouts ceased, and the exultation died
Slowly into a sort of empty wail,
Half hope and half despair, for still the sign
Had not yet blazed upon their eager eyes.
Then as I sat in wondering agony,
Praying, yet fearing, for the greatest cause
That ever souls of men in balance set
‘Gainst everlasting doom, there rose again
The voice of their great leader, Lucifer,
The rebel angel, and outcast of God:
“Lo, hosts of Hell,” he cried, “inheritors
Of death diurnal, strangely mingled with
Relentless life, what shall we say to God
Who waits and watches? Shall we pray or curse,
Implore or threaten? Can we move Him thus?
Burn not the lightnings yet in His right hand
With which He struck us to confusion once?
And laughs He not in thunderbolts the same
As once pursued our howling flight to Hell?
Befits it rather, think ye not, my hosts,
That we should send on high in one accord
A mighty threnody–a hymn of Hell,
Inspired by pain and sung in bitterest woe,
As our best offering,–and await His word?”

He ceased, and for the moment all was still;
Then plaintive as the rhythmic dawn of stars
Upon a night of sorrow, rose a strain
Of lamentation, such as when the sea
Makes moan unto an earthquake’s inward throes.
Then circling outward passed the rising tones
Of that sad minstrelsy, and then again
Backward it swept like a great tidal wave
Of anguish, all Hell’s anarchy of grief
Set to a sounding fugue. Grim-throated rose
The awful hymn, and mingling with the wail
Of voices, pealed the cymbals’ brassy clang;
The thunderous organs bellowed through the gloom,
And, rocking Hell’s foundations, burst a blare
Of stormy trumpets crying: “Woe, woe, woe!”
Methought the angels must have wept to hear,
Methought their tears had dropt like healing rain
Upon the fires of torment, and assuaged
Their blazing wrath, so piteous was the strain.

The music ceased, the echoes sobbed away
Like a tumultuous sorrow, when, behold!
The black veil lifted from the mountain’s crest,
And on its glorious summit flamed the Star!