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The Scourge Of Heaven.
by [?]


From a cavern wide
In the rent cloud’s side,
In sulphurous showers
The red flame pours.
The palaces fall
In the lurid light,
Which casts a red pall
O’er their facades white!

Oh, Sodom! Gomorrah!
What a dome of horror
Rests now on your walls!
On you the cloud falls,
Nation perverse!
On your fated heads,
From its fell jaws, a curse
Its lightning fierce spreads!

The people awaken
Which godlessly slept;
Their palaces shaken,
Their offences unwept!
Their rolling cars all
Meet and crash in the street;
And the crowds, for a pall,
Find flames round their feet!

Numberless dead,
Round these high towers spread,
Still sleep in the shade
By their rugged heights made;
Colossi of rocks
In ill-steadied blocks!
So hang on a wall
Black ants, like a pall!

To escape is in vain
From this horrible rain!
Alas! all things die;
In the lightning’s red flash
The bridges all crash;
‘Neath the tiles the flame creeps;
From the fire-struck steeps
Falls on the pavements below,
All lurid in glow,
Rolling down from on high!

Beneath every spark,
The red, tyrannous fire
Mounts up in the dark
Ever redder and higher;
More swiftly than steed
Uncontrolled, see it pass!
Horrid idols all twist,
By the crumbling flame kissed
In their infamous dread,
Shrivelled members of brass!

It grows angry, flows on,
Silver towers fall down
Unforeseen, like a dream
In its green and red stream,
Which lights up the walls
Ere one crashes and falls,
Like the changeable scale
Of a lizard’s bright mail.
Agate, porphyry, cracks
And is melted to wax!
Bend low to their doom
These stones of the tomb!
E’en the great marble giant
Called Nabo, sways pliant
Like a tree; whilst the flare
Seemed each column to scorch
As it blazed like a torch
Round and round in the air.

The magi, in vain,
From the heights to the plain
Their gods’ images carry
In white tunic: they quake–
No idol can make
The blue sulphur tarry;
The temple e’en where they meet,
Swept under their feet
In the folds of its sheet!
Turns a palace to coal!
Whence the straitened cries roll
From its terrified flock;
With incendiary grips
It loosens a block,
Which smokes and then slips
From its place by the shock;
To the surface first sheers,
Then melts, disappears,
Like the glacier, the rock!
The high priest, full of years,
On the burnt site appears,
Whence the others have fled.
Lo! his tiara’s caught fire
As the furnace burns higher,
And pale, full of dread,
See, the hand he would raise
To tear his crown from the blaze
Is flaming instead!

Men, women, in crowds
Hurry on–the fire shrouds
And blinds all their eyes
As, besieging each gate
Of these cities of fate
To the conscience-struck crowd,
In each fiery cloud,
Hell appears in the skies!


Men say that then, to see his foe’s sad fall
As some old prisoner clings to his prison wall,
Babel, accomplice of their guilt, was seen
O’er the far hills to gaze with vision keen!
And as was worked this dispensation strange,
A wondrous noise filled the world’s startled range;
Reached the dull hearing that deep, direful sound
Of their sad tribe who live below the ground.


‘Gainst this pitiless flame who condemned could prevail?
Who these walls, burnt and calcined, could venture to scale?
Yet their vile hands they sought to uplift,
Yet they cared still to ask from what God, by what law?
In their last sad embrace, ‘midst their honor and awe,
Of this mighty volcano the drift.
‘Neath great slabs of marble they hid them in vain,
‘Gainst this everliving fire, God’s own flaming rain!
‘Tis the rash whom God seeks out the first;
They call on their gods, who were deaf to their cries,
For the punishing flame caused their cold granite eyes
In tears of hot lava to burst!
Thus away in the whirlwind did everything pass,
The man and the city, the soil and its grass!
God burnt this sad, sterile champaign;
Naught living was left of this people destroyed,
And the unknown wind which blew over the void,
Each mountain changed into a plain.


The palm-tree that grows on the rock to this day,
Feels its leaf growing yellow, its slight stem decay,
In the blasting and ponderous air;
These towns are no more! but to mirror their past,
O’er their embers a cold lake spread far and spread fast,
With smoke like a furnace, lies there!

Translated by J.N. FAZAKERLEY