IN silence with averted head by night the "evil three" have fled. And cold and stiff the body lies Beneath the gloomy winter skies.
Yet, had you been a watcher there. That dismal night beside the dead. Had you that night been kneeling there, Beside the dead in tears and prayer. You might have seen, amid the air, A flickering, dim, auroral light, Which hovered on the midnight air, And, seeing in the gloomy sky This mystic strange, celestial light Contending with the powers of night. You might have taken hope thereby.
There was, alas! no watcher there To mark this radiance in the air. To gaze with ernest, tearful eye Upon this radiance in the sky. There was no watcher there, alas! To ask in anxious whispers low, "Will not this light still brighter grow, Or will it from the heavens pass And leave me plunged in deeper gloom Beside this cold and lonely tomb?"
Meanwhile the light increased—although Beside the grave no mourner stood Amid the lonesome solitude— And as with tints of blue and gold, And flashes of prismatic flame, It lighted up the midnight cold, Along the plain in beauty came A shining and majestic form,
And as it came the winter's storm, As if abashed, its fury checked. No more above and round the path, Beneath the wind's tempestuous wrath, The snowy billows heave and toss; A sacred calm as he draws nigh Pervades at once the earth and sky. His robe was blue, its borders decked With evergreen and scarlet moss; His hands upon each other rest, Due north and south, due east and west; The open palms together pressed As if engaged in silent prayer. He thus had formed with pious care The holy symbol of the cross. A lamb doth close beside him go, Whose whiter fleece rebukes the snow: These things sufficiently proclaim His mystic office and his name. Beside the grave he comes and stands, Still praying there with folded hands; And, while he prays, see drawing near Another shining form appear, His right hand on his bosom pressed, As if by bitter grief distressed, The other pointing to the skies, And, as he weeps, each radiant tear, That from his sad and earnest eyes Falls on the earth, is transformed there To violets blue and blossoms fair, That sweetly perfume all the air.1 A third one now appears in sight, Arrayed in royal robes of light, A "lordly lion" walks in pride. More glorious far; and at his side And he who came in glory last Between the others gently passed,
1 Ebers, the German Egyptologist, informs us that the Egyptians believed the tears of the immortals had this creative power.
And, looking down upon the dead, With level, open palms outspread, A holy benediction said.
This done, the first one, by command, The dead god taketh by the hand: At once through all the body flies The same warm flush that marks the skies. The shrunken features, cold and white, A moment shine with life and light. A moment only—'tis in vain: Unconquered Death resumes his reign.
So doth a solitary wave Leap up amid the lonely night, And catch a gleam of life and light, And then sink helpless in its grave. To raise the god the first thus failed— The powers of darkness yet prevailed; So to the second he gives place, Who, like the first one, by command, The sun-god taketh by the hand, And, looking downward in his face With pleading voice and earnest eyes, On Phoebus calls and bids him rise. Though at his touch the blood unbound. With rapid current red and warm Runs swiftly through the prostrate form, Yet silent on the frozen ground The god lies in a trance profound, Devoid of motion, deaf to sound.
Alas! alas! what doth remain? Shall death and darkness ever reign, And night eternal hide the day? Then said the third one, "Let us pray." And full of faith and strong intent, His prayer to IH. VAH. upward went. "Amen "was said— "so mote it be!" And then the last one of the three Arose and stretching forth his hand,
Calls on the dead, and gives command In IH. VAH.'S name to rise and stand.
Then up rose Phoebus in his pride, With the "lordly lion" by his side, And earth and sky with his glory shone As again he sat on his golden throne. For the voice of God is nature's law, And strong was the grip of the lion's paw.
Appendix to Part Second
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