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Age, at his fig-tree, rested from his toil,
And manly vigour tilled the unfailing soil;
Green sprang the turf, by holy footsteps trod,
Round the pure altars of the living GOD;
Till foul idolatry those altars stained,
And lust and revelry through Eden reigned.
Then fled the people's glory and defence,
The joys of home, the peace of innocence;
Sin brought forth sorrows in perpetual birth,
And the last light from heaven forsook the earth,
Save in one forest glen, remote and wild,
Where yet a ray of lingering mercy smiled,
Their quiet course where Seth and Enoch ran,
And God and angels deigned to walk with man.
Now from the east, supreme in arts and arms,
The tribes of Cain, awakening war alarms,
Full in the spirit of their father, came
To waste their brethren's lands with sword and flame.
In vain the younger race of Adam rose,
With force unequal, to repel their foes;
Their fields in blood, their homes in ruins lay,
Their whole inheritance became a prey;
The stars, to whom as gods they raised their cry,
Rolled, heedless of their offerings, through the sky;
Till urged on Eden's utmost bounds at length,
In fierce despair they rallied all their strength.
They fought, but they were vanquished in the fight,
Captured, or slain, or scattered in the flight:
The morning battle-scene at eve was spread
With ghastly heaps, the dying and the dead;
The dead unmourned, unburied left to lie,
By friends and foes, the dying left to die.
The victim, while he groaned his soul away,
Heard the gaunt vulture hurrying to his prey,
Then, strengthless, felt the ravening beak, that tore His widened wounds, and drank the living gore.
One sole surviving remnant, void of fear, Woods in their front, Euphrates in their rear, Were sworn to perish at a glorious cost, For all they once had known, and loved, and lost; A small, a brave, a melancholy band, The orphans and the childless of the land. The hordes of Cain, by giant chieftains led, Wide o'er the north their vast encampment spread: A broad and sunny champaign stretched between; Westward, a maze of waters girt the scene;
There on Euphrates, in its ancient course,
Three beauteous rivers rolled their confluent force,
Whose streams, while man the blissful garden trod,
Adorned the earthly Paradise of GOD;
But since he fell, within their triple bound,
Fenced a lone region of forbidden ground;
Meeting at once, where high athwart their bed
Repulsive rocks a curving barrier spread,
The embattled floods, by mutual whirlpools crost,
In hoary foam and surging mist were lost;
Thence, like an Alpine cataract of snow,
White down the precipice they dashed below;
There in tumultuous billows broken wide,
They spent their rage, and yoked their fourfold tide;
Through one majestic channel, calm and free,
The sister rivers sought the parent sea.
The midnight watch was ended : down the west,
The glowing moon declined towards her rest;
Through either host the voice of war was dumb;
In dreams the hero won the fight to come;
No sound was stirring, save the breeze that bore
The distant cataract's everlasting roar,
When from the tents of Cain a youth withdrew;
Secret and swift, from post to post he flew,
And passed the camp of Eden, while the dawn
Gleamed faintly o'er the interjacent lawn.
Skirting the forest, cautiously and slow,
He feared at every step to start a foe;
Oft leaped the hare across his path, upsprung
The lark beneath his feet, and soaring, sung;
What time, o'er eastern mountains seen afar,
With golden splendour, rose the morning star,
As if an angel-sentinel of night,
From earth to heaven had winged his homeward flight,--
Glorious at first, but lessening by the way,
And lost insensibly in higher day.
From track of man and herd his path he chose,
Where high the grass, and thick the copsewood rose;
Thence by Euphrates' banks his course inclined,
Where the grey willows trembled to the wind;
With toil and pain their humid shade he cleared,
When at the porch of heaven the sun appeared,
Through gorgeous clouds that streaked the orient sky,
And kindled into glory at his eye;
While dark amidst the dews that glittered round,
From rock and tree, long shadows traced the ground.
Then climbed the fugitive an airy height,
And resting, back o'er Eden cast his sight.
Far on the left, to man for ever closed,
The Mount of Paradise in clouds
reposed: The gradual landscape opened to his view ; From Nature's face the veil of mist withdrew, And left, in clear and purple light revealed, The radiant river, and the tented field; The black pine-forest, in whose girdle lay The patriot phalanx, hemmed in close array; The verdant champaign narrowing to the north, Whence from their dusky quarters sallied forth The proud invaders, early roused to fight, Tribe after tribe emerging into light; Whose shield and lances, in the golden beams, Flashed o'er the restless scene their flickering gleams, As when the breakers catch the morning glow, And ocean rolls in living fire below; So round the unbroken border of the wood, The giants poured their army like a flood, Eager to force the covert of their foe, And lay the last defence of Eden low.
From that safe eminence, absorbed in thought,
Even till the wind the shout of legions brought,
He gazed,-his heart recoiled,—he turned his head,
And o'er the southern hills his journey sped.
Who was the fugitive ?-in infancy
A youthful mother's only hope was he,
Whose spouse and kindred, on a festal day,
Precipitate destruction swept away:
Earth trembled, opened, and entombed them all;
She saw them sinking, heard their voices call
Beneath the gulf,--and agonized, aghast,
On the wild verge of eddying ruin cast,
Felt in one pang, at that convulsive close,
A widow's anguish, and a mother's throes ;
A babe sprang forth, an inauspicious birth
Where all had perished that she loved on earth.
Forlorn and helpless, on the upriven ground,
The parent with her offspring, Enoch found ;
And thence with tender care and timely aid,
Home to the Patriarchs' glen his charge conveyed.
Restored to life, one pledge of former joy,
One source of bliss to come, remained,- her boy!
Sweet in her eye the cherished infant rose,
At once the seal and solace of her woes ;
When the pale widow clasped him to her breast,
Warm gushed the tears, and would not be represt;
In lonely anguish, when the truant child
Leaped o'er the threshold, all the mother smiled.
In him while fond imagination viewed
Husband and parents, brethren, friends renewed,
Each vanished look, each well-remembered grace
That pleased in them, she sought in Javan's face ;
For quick his eye and changeable its ray,
As the sun glancing through a vernal day;
And like the lake, by storm or moonlight seen,
With darkening furrows or cerulean mien,
His countenance, the mirror of his breast,
The calm or trouble of his soul expressed.
As years enlarged his form, in moody hours
His mind betrayed its weakness with its powers
Alike his fairest hopes and strangest fears
Were nursed in silence, or divulged with tears;
The fulness of his heart repressed his tongue,
Though none might rival Javan when he sung.
He loved, in lonely indolence reclined,
To watch the clouds, and listen to the wind;
But from the north, when snow and tempest came,
His nobler spirit mounted into flame;
With stern delight he roamed the howling woods,
Or hung in ecstacy o'er headlong floods.
Meanwhile excursive fancy longed to view
The world, which yet by fame alone he knew :
The joys of freedom were his daily theme,
Glory the secret of his midnight dream;
That dream he told not; though his heart would ache,
His home was precious for his mother's sake.
With her the lowly paths of peace he ran,
His guardian angel, till he verged to man ;
But when her weary eye could watch no more,
When to the grave her timeless corse he bore,
Not Enoch's counsels could his steps restrain ;
He fled, and sojourned in the land of Cain.
There, when he heard the voice of Jubal's lyre,
Instinctive genius caught the ethereal fire ;
And soon, with sweetly-modulating skill,
He learned to wind the passions at his will,
To rule the chords with such mysterious art,
They seemed the life-strings of the hearer's heart!
Then glory's opening field he proudly trod,
Forsook the worship and the ways of GOD,
Round the vain world pursued the phantom fame,
And cast away his birthright for a name.
Yet no delight the minstrels bosom knew,
None save the tones that from his harp he drew,
And the warm visions of a wayward mind,
Whose transient splendour left a gloom behind,
Frail as the clouds of sunset, and as fair,
Pageants of light, resolving into air.
The world, whose charms his young affections stole,
He found too mean for an immortal soul ;
Wound with his life, through all his feelings wrought,
Death and eternity possessed his thought ;
Remorse impelled him, unremitting care
Harassed his path, and stung him to despair.
Still was the secret of his griefs unknown,
Amidst the universe he sighed alone ;
The fame he followed, and the fame he found,
Healed not his heart's immedicable wound;
Admired, applauded, crowned, where'er he roved,
The bard was homeless, friendless, unbeloved.
All else that breathed below the circling sky
Were linked to earth by some endearing tie;
He only, like the ocean-weed uptorn,
And loose along the world of waters borne,
Was cast companionless, from wave to wave,
On life's rough sea-and there was none to save.
The giant king, who led the hosts of Cain,
Delighted in the minstrel and his vein;
No hand, no voice, like Javan's could control,
With soothing concords, his tempestuous soul.
With him the wandering bard, who found no rest
Through ten years' exile, sought his native west ;
There from the camp retiring, he pursued
His journey to the Patriarchs' solitude.
This son of peace no martial armour wore,
A scrip for food, a staff in hand he bore ;
Flaxen his robe; and o'er his shoulder hung,
Broad as a warrior's shield, his harp unstrung,
A shell of tortoise, exquisitely wrought
With hieroglyphics of embodied thought;
Jubal himself enchased the polished frame ;
And Javan won it in the strife for fame,
Among the sons of music, when their sire
To his victorious skill adjudged the lyre.
’T was noon, when Javan climbed the bordering hill By many an old remembrance hallowed still,