As a shadow He flew, but sorrow and wail
Came up from his path, like the moan of the gale.
His quiver was full, though his arrows fell fast
As the sharp hail of winter when urged by the blast.
He smiled on each shaft as it flew from the string,
Though feathered by fate, and the lightning its wing.
Unerring, unsparing, it sped to its mark,
As the mandate of destiny, certain and dark.
The mail of the warrior it severed in twain,
The wall of the castle it shivered amain:
No shield could shelter, no prayer could save,
And Love's holy shrine no immunity gave.
A babe in the cradle its mother bent o'er,
The arrow is sped, and that babe is no more!
At the faith-plighting altar, a lovely one bows,
The gem on her finger, in Heaven her vows;
Unseen is the blow, but she sinks in the crowd,
And her bright wedding-garment is turned to a shroud!
On flew the Destroyer, o'er mountain and main,
And where there was life, there, there are the slain!
No valley so deep, no islet so lone,
But his shadow is cast, and his victims are known.
He paused not, though years rolled weary and slow,
And Time's hoary pinion drooped languid and low:
He paused not till Man from his birth-place was swept,
And the sea and the land in solitude slept.
On a mountain he stood, for the struggle was done,
A smile on his lip for the victory won.
The city of millions, lone islet and cave,
The home of the hermit, all earth was a grave!
The last of his race, where the first saw the light,
The monarch had met, and triumphed in fight:
Swift, swift was the steed, o'er Shinar's wide sand,
But swifter the arrow that flew from Death's hand!
O'er the mountain he seems like a tempest to lower,
Triumphant and dark in the fulness of power;
And flashes of flame, that play round his crest,
Bespeak the fierce lightning that glows in his breast.
But a vision of wonder breaks now on his sight;
The blue vault of heaven is gushing with light,
And, facing the tyrant, a form from the sky
Returns the fierce glance of his challenging eye.
A moment they pause, two princes of might,
The Demon of Darkness, an Angel of Light!
Each gazes on each, no barrier between
And the quivering rocks shrink aghast from the scene!
The sword of the angel waves free in the air;
Death looks to his quiver, no arrow is there!
He falls like a pyramid, crumbled and torn;
And a vision of light on his dying eye borne,
In glory reveals the blest souls of the slain,
And he sees that his sceptre was transient and vain;
For, 'mid the bright throng, e'en the infant he slew,
And the altar-struck bride, beam full on the view!