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The Scourge Of Heaven.
by [?]

(“La, voyez-vous passer, la nuee.”)


Hast seen it pass, that cloud of darkest rim?
Now red and glorious, and now gray and dim,
Now sad as summer, barren in its heat?
One seems to see at once rush through the night
The smoke and turmoil from a burning site
Of some great town in fiery grasp complete.

Whence comes it? From the sea, the hills, the sky?
Is it the flaming chariot from on high
Which demons to some planet seem to bring?
Oh, horror! from its wondrous centre, lo!
A furious stream of lightning seems to flow
Like a long snake uncoiling its fell ring.


The sea! naught but the sea! waves on all sides!
Vainly the sea-bird would outstrip these tides!
Naught but an endless ebb and flow!
Wave upon wave advancing, then controlled
Beneath the depths a stream the eyes behold
Rolling in the involved abyss below!

Whilst here and there great fishes in the spray
Their silvery fins beneath the sun display,
Or their blue tails lash up from out the surge,
Like to a flock the sea its fleece doth fling;
The horizon’s edge bound by a brazen ring;
Waters and sky in mutual azure merge.

“Am I to dry these seas?” exclaimed the cloud.
“No!” It went onward ‘neath the breath of God.


Green hills, which round a limpid bay
Reflected, bask in the clear wave!
The javelin and its buffalo prey,
The laughter and the joyous stave!
The tent, the manger! these describe
A hunting and a fishing tribe
Free as the air–their arrows fly
Swifter than lightning through the sky!
By them is breathed the purest air,
Where’er their wanderings may chance!
Children and maidens young and fair,
And warriors circling in the dance!
Upon the beach, around the fire,
Now quenched by wind, now burning higher,
Like spirits which our dreams inspire
To hover o’er our trance.

Virgins, with skins of ebony,
Beauteous as evening skies,
Laughed as their forms they dimly see
In metal mirrors rise;
Others, as joyously as they,
Were drawing for their food by day,
With jet-black hands, white camels’ whey,
Camels with docile eyes.

Both men and women, bare,
Plunged in the briny bay.
Who knows them? Whence they were?
Where passed they yesterday?
Shrill sounds were hovering o’er,
Mixed with the ocean’s roar,
Of cymbals from the shore,
And whinnying courser’s neigh.

“Is’t there?” one moment asked the cloudy mass;
“Is’t there?” An unknown utterance answered: “Pass!”


Whitened with grain see Egypt’s lengthened plains,
Far as the eyesight farthest space contains,
Like a rich carpet spread their varied hues.
The cold sea north, southwards the burying sand
Dispute o’er Egypt–while the smiling land
Still mockingly their empire does refuse.

Three marble triangles seem to pierce the sky,
And hide their basements from the curious eye.
Mountains–with waves of ashes covered o’er!
In graduated blocks of six feet square
From golden base to top, from earth to air
Their ever heightening monstrous steps they bore.

No scorching blast could daunt the sleepless ken
Of roseate Sphinx, and god of marble green,
Which stood as guardians o’er the sacred ground.
For a great port steered vessels huge and fleet,
A giant city bathed her marble feet
In the bright waters round.

One heard the dread simoom in distance roar,
Whilst the crushed shell upon the pebbly shore
Crackled beneath the crocodile’s huge coil.
Westwards, like tiger’s skin, each separate isle
Spotted the surface of the yellow Nile;
Gray obelisks shot upwards from the soil.