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The servants of the servants of the Lord.
They dwelt in palaces, in purple clothed,
And in fine linen; therefore are they here;
And though they would not minister on earth,
Here penanced they perforce must minister:
Did not the Holy One of Nazareth,
Tell them, his kingdom is not of the world ?”
So saying, on they past, and now arrived 290 Where such a hideous ghastly groupe abode, That the Maid gazed with half-averting eye, And shudder'd : each one was a loathly corpse, The worm was feeding on his putrid prey, Yet had they life and feeling exquisite
295 Though motionless and mute.
- Most wretched men Are these,” the angel cried. 66 Poets thou see'st Whose loose lascivious lays perpetuated Their own corruption. Soul-polluted slaves, Who sate them down, deliberately lewd, 300 So to awake and pamper lust in minds Unborn; and therefore foul of body now As then they were of soul, they here abide Long as the evil works they left on earth Shall live to taint mankind. A dreadful doom ! Yet amply merited by all who thus
306 Have to the Devil's service dedicated The gift of song, the gift divine of Heaven!”
And now they reach'd a huge and massy pile,
Massy it seem'd, and yet with every blast
As to its ruin shook. There, porter fit,
Remorse for ever his sad vigils kept.
Pale, hollow-eyed, emaciate, sleepless wretch,
Inly he groan'd, or starting, wildly shriek'd,
Aye as the fabric tottering from its base, 315
'Threaten'd its fall, and so expectant still
Lived in the dread of danger still delay'd.
They enter'd there a large and lofty dome,
O'er whose black marble sides a dim drear light
Struggled with darkness from the unfrequent lamp.
Enthroned around, the murderers of mankind, 321
Monarchs, the great, the glorious, the august,
Each bearing on his brow a crown of fire,
Sat stern and silent. Nimrod, he was there,
First king, the mighty hunter; and that chief 325
Who did belie his mother's fame, that so
He might be called young Ammon. In this court
Cæsar was crown'd, the great liberticide;
And he who to the death of Cicero
Consented, though the courtly minion's lyre 330
Hath hymn'd his praise, though Maro sung to him,
And when death levell’d to original clay
The royal body, impious Flattery
Fell at his feet, and worshipp'd the new god.
Titus was here, the conqueror of the Jews, 335
He the delight of human-kind misnamed;
Cæsars and Soldans, Emperors and Kings,
All who for glory fought, here they were all,
Here in the Hall of Glory, reaping now
The meed they merited.
As gazing round 340
The Virgin mark'd the miserable train,
A deep and hollow voice from one went forth ;
“ Thou who art come to view our punishment,
Maiden of Orleans ! hither turn thine eye,
For I am he whose bloody victories
Thy power hath render'd vain. Lol I am here,
The hero conqueror of Agincourt,
Henry of England !..Wretched that I am!
I might have reign'd in happiness and peace,
My coffers full, my subjects undisturb'd, 350
And Plenty and Prosperity had loved
To dwell amongst them: but in evil hour
Seeing the realm of France, by faction torn,
I thought in pride of heart that it would fall
An easy prey. I persecuted those
355 Who taught new doctrines, though they taught the
And when I heard of thousands by the sword
Cut off, or blasted by the pestilence,
I calmly counted up my proper gains,
And sent new herds to slaughter. Temperate 360
Myself, no blood that mutinied, no vice
Tainting my private life, I sent abroad
Murder and Rape; and therefore am I doom'd,
Like these imperial sufferers, crown'd with fire,
Here to remain, till man's awaken'd eye 365
Shall see the genuine blackness of our deeds;
And warn'd by them, till the whole human race,
Equalling in bliss the aggregate we caused
Of wretchedness, shall form one brotherhood,
One universal family of love."
The Maiden, musing on the warrior's words,
Turn'd from the Hall of Glory. Now they reach'd
A cavern, at whose mouth a Genius stood,
In front a beardless youth, whose smiling eye
Beam'd promise, but behind, wither'd and old, 5
And all unlovely. Underneath his feet
Records obliterate lay, and laurels sere.
He held an hour-glass, and as the sands fall,
So pass the lives of men. By him they past 10
Along the darksome cave, and reach'd a stream,
Still rolling onward its perpetual course
Noiseless and undisturb’d. Here they ascend
A bark unpiloted, that down the stream,
Borne by the current, rush'd, which circling still,
Returning to itself, an island form'd;
Nor had the Maiden's footsteps ever reach'd
The insulated coast, eternally
Rapt round in endless whirl ; but Theodore
Drove with a spirit's will the obedient bark. 20
They land; a mighty fabric meets their eyes,
Seen by it's gem-born light. Of adamant
The pile was framed, for ever to abide
Firm in eternal strength. Before the gate
Stood eager Expectation, as to catch
The half-heard murmurs issuing from within,
Her mouth half-open'd, and her head stretch'd forth.
On the other side there stood an aged crone,
Listening to every breath of air; she knew
Vague suppositions and uncertain dreams 30
Of what was soon to come, for she would mark
The little glow-worm's self-emitted light,
And argue thence of kingdoms overthrown,
And desolated nations ; ever fillid
With undetermined terror, as she heard
35 Or distant screech-owl, or the regular beat Of evening death-watch.
66 Maid," the spirit cried, “ Here, robed in shadows, dwells Futurity. There is no eye hath seen her secret form, For round the Mother of Time, eternal mists 40 Hover. If thou would'st read the book of fate, Go in !"
The damsel for a moment paused, Then to the angel spake : “ All-gracious Heaven). Benignant in withholding, hath denied To man that knowledge. I, in faith assured, 45 Knowing my heavenly Father, for the best Ordaineth all things, in that faith remain Contented.”
“ Well and wisely hast thou said," So Theodore replied ; " and now, O Maid !