The sunset on Judah's high places grew pale,
And purple tints shadowed the gorge and the vale,
While Venus in beauty, with dilating eye,
Out-riding the star-host, looked down from the sky
On the city that struggled with foemen below, -
Jerusalem, peerless in grandeur and woe!
O'er the fast crumbling walls thronged the cohorts of Rome,
Their batteries thundered on palace and dome,
And the children of Israel in voiceless despair
At the foot of the Temple had breathed a last prayer;
For their armies were spent in the unequal strife,
And Famine was maddening the pulses of life,
The pestilence lurked in the zephyr's soft breath,
And the gall-drops were poured from the drawn sword of Death.
The Night with starred garments moved noiseless on high,
When they felt a hot blast on the cool air draw nigh; -
Did pinions infernal rejoicing sweep by?
They beheld a wild flash o'er the firmament shine; -
Came there aid from above, - a legation divine?
There is fire on the mount, there is smoke in the air;
The red flames shoot upward with bright, spectral glare;
Men of Jacob, draw nigh, but like Moses unshod,
'T is the shrine of Jehovah, the temple of God.
The cherubim drooped and the pomegranates lay
In the dust with the lamps that had glimmered all day;
The censers and altar the ashes must claim,
Though their unalloyed gold be the gold of Parvaim.
Fierce raged the consumer insatiate and strong,
And cursed was its light by that soul-stricken throng,
Who beheld their destruction and anguish and shame,
Engraved by the lurid and forked tongues of flame,
On pillar and pommel and chapiter high,
Distinct as the law they had dared to defy,
Was traced through the cloud where the Deity shone
By the finger of God on the tablets of stone;
They beheld e'en the Holy of Holies consume;
Then with frenzied bemoaning lamented their doom.
The cedars of Lebanon thrilled with the wail
That swept like a torrent Jehoshaphat's vale;
Mount Tabor and Zion re-echoed afar
The voice of lamenting for Judah's lost star;
The Kedron replied from its sanctified glade;
The olive-leaves shook in Gethsemane's shade;
And a strange world came forth from the regions of space
And hung like a sword o'er the grave of that race;
While the watchman, who terror-struck gazed on the sight,
Not a signal gave forth from his fire-girded height,
But breathlessly muttered, with cold lips and pale,
"'T is the tenth day of Lous, - Jerusalem, wail!"
Day dawned o'er Judea, but never again
Might the sunbeam in splendor flash back from her fane.
No prophet stood forth, and, with prescience sublime,
Told of light in the Future unkindled by Time:
No poet-king sounded his lyre o'er her tomb;
No ruler went up 'mid the cloud's awful gloom
And fervently plead with Jehovah's fierce ire;
No God on Mount Sinai descended in fire;
The eyes of the daughters of Rachel were dim;
The priesthood were anguished by visions of HIM
Who, patient and God-like, climbed Calvary's side;
The ancient men sorrowed by Siloah's tide,
And Israel to shame and oppression were sold,
To bondage and exile for ages untold;
And the hearts of the captives grew hollow and dry
As the fruit that o'er Sodom hangs fair to the eye.