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TO THE ALABASTER SARCOPHAGUS, DEPOSITED IN THE

BRITISH MUSEUM.

BY HORACE SMITH, ESQ.

THOU Alabaster relic! while I hold

My hand upon thy sculptured margin thrown,
Let me recall the scenes thou couldst unfold,

Might'st thou relate the changes thou hast known;
For thou wert primitive in thy formation,
Launched from the Almighty's hand at the creation.

Yes—thou wert present when the stars and skies

And worlds unnumbered rolled into their places ;
When God from chaos bade the spheres arise,

And fixed the blazing sun upon its basis,
And with his finger on the bounds of space
Marked out each planet's everlasting race.

many thousand

How

ages from thy birth
Thou slept st in darkness it were vain to ask,
Till Egypt's sons upheaved thee from the earth,

And year by year pursued their patient task,
Till thou wert carved and decorated thus,
Worthy to be a king's sarcophagus !

What time Elijah to the skies ascended,

Or David reigned in holy Palestine,
Some ancient Theban monarch was extended

Beneath the lid of this emblazoned shrine,
And to that subterraneous palace borne
Which toiling ages in the rock had worn.

Thebes, from her hundred portals, filled the plain,

To see the car on which thou wert upheld.
What funeral pomps extended in thy train,

What banners waved, what mighty music swelled,

As armies, priests, and crowds bewailed in chorus, Their King—their God-their Serapistheir Orus !

Thus to thy second quarry did they trust

Thee, and the lord of all the nations round, Grim king of silence ! Monarch of the dust!

Embalmed, anointed, jewelled, sceptered, crowned, Here did he lie in state, cold, stiff, and stark, A leathern Pharaoh grinning in the dark.

Thus

ages rolled ; but their dissolving breath Could only blacken that imprisoned thing, Which wore a ghastly royalty in death,

As if it struggled still to be a king ;
And each dissolving century, like the last,
Just dropped its dust upon thy lid, and passed.

The Persian conqueror o'er Egypt poured

His devastating hostma motley crew ;
The steel-clad horseman,—the barbarian horde,-

Music and men of every sound and hue,-
Priests, archers, eunuchs, concubines, and brutes,
Gongs, trumpets, cymbals, dulcimers, and lutes.

Then did the fierce Cambyses tear away

The ponderous rock that sealed the sacred tomb; Then did the slowly penetrating ray

Redeem thee from long centuries of gloom, And lowered torches flashed against thy side, As Asia's king thy blazoned trophies eyed.

Plucked from his grave, with sacrilegious taunt,

The features of the royal corse they scanned ; Dashing the diadem from his temple gaunt,

They tore the sceptre from his graspless hand ; And on those fields, where once his will was law, Left him for winds to waste and beasts to gnaw.

Some pious Thebans, when the storm was past,

Upclosed the sepulchre with cunning skill, And nature, aiding their devotion, cast

Over its entrance a concealing rill; Then thy third darkness came, and thou didst sleep Twenty-three centuries in silence deep.

But he from whom nor pyramids nor sphynx

Can hide its secrecies, Belzoni came ; From the tomb's mouth unloosed the granite links,

Gave thee again to light, and life, and fame, And brought thee from the sands and desarts forth, To charm the pallid children of the North !

Thou art in London, which, when thou wert new,

Was what Thebes is, a wilderness and waste, Where savage beasts more savage men pursue ;

A scene by nature cursed,—by man disgraced. Now—_'tis the world's metropolis ! _The high Queen of arms, learning, arts, and luxury !

Here, where I hold my hand, 'tis strange to think

What other hands, perchance, preceded mine ; Others have also stood beside thy brink,

And vainly conned the moralizing line ! Kings, sages, chiefs, that touched this stone, like me, Where are ye now ?-Where all must shortly be.

All is mutation ;-he within this stone

Was once the greatest monarch of the hour. His bones are dust_his very name unknown ! Go, learn from him the vanity of

power; Seek not the frame's corruption to controul,

But build a lasting mansion for thy soul. New Monthly Magazine.

Thou desolate and dying year!

Emblem of transitory man, Whose wearisome and wild career,

Like thine, is bounded to a span ; It seems but as a little day

Since nature smiled upon thy birth, And spring came forth in fair array,

To dance upon the joyous earth.

Sad alteration !_Now how lone,

How verdureless is nature's breasts Where ruin makes his empire known,

In autumn's yellow vesture drest :
The sprightly bird, whose carol sweet

Broke on the breath of early day-
The summer flowers she loved to greet-

The bird—the flowers_oh where are they?

Thou desolate and dying year!

Yet lovely in thy lifelessness, As beauty stretched upon the bier

In death's clay-cold and dark caress ; There's loveliness in thy decay,

Which breathes, which lingers round thee still, Like memory's mild and cheering ray

Beaming upon the night of ill.

Yet-yet the radiance is not gone

Which shed a richness o'er the scene, Which smiled upon the golden dawn

When skies were brilliant and sereneOh! still a melancholy smile

Gleams upon nature's aspect fair, To charm the eye a little while,

Ere ruin spreads his mantle there !

Thou desolate and dying year!

Since Time entwined thy vernal wreath, How often love hath shed the tear,

And knelt beside the bed of death : How many hearts, that lightly sprung

When joy was blooming but to die, Their finest chords by death unstrung,

Have yielded life's expiring sigh.

And pillowed low beneath the clay,

Have ceased to melt—to breathe—to burn, The proud, the gentle, and the gay,

Gathered unto the mouldering urn!
Whilst freshly flowed the frequent tear

For love bereft affection fled
For all that were our blessings here,
The loved

the lost the sainted dead !

Thou desolate and dying year!

The musing spirit finds in thee
Lessons impressive and severe

Of deep and stern morality !-
Thou teachest how the germ of youth,

Which blooms in being's dawning day,-
Planted by Nature reared by Truth-

Withers like thee in dark decay.

Promise of youth! Fair as the form

Of heaven's benign and golden bow,
Thy smiling arch begirds the storm,

And sheds a light on every woe:
Hope wakes for thee, and to her tongue,

A tone of melody is given,
As if her magic voice were strung

With the empyreal fire from heaven;

And love, which never can expire,

Whose origin is from on high,

D

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