The Avenger Of Blood.

A poem by Susanna Moodie

There were two sons of Ashur at work in the field,
And one to the other his passion revealed--
As the white barley bowed to the stroke of his scythe,
He burst out in accents exultingly blithe--

"I have wooed a young maid!--I have wooed and I've won,
On a lovelier face never glanced yon bright sun;
To the tall stately cedar my love I'll compare,
With her eyes' shaded glory, her long raven hair,
And her bosom as white as the snow when it gleams
On Lebanon's heights, ere washed down by the streams.
She has ravished and filled my rapt soul with delight;
She's more dear to my heart than yon heavens to my sight."--

"And who is the chosen?" his comrade replied,
Whilst the deepest of crimson his swarthy cheek dyed,
His severed lips trembled, his eagle eye fell
With a glance on his kinsman that urged him to tell.--
"'Tis Iddo's bright daughter!"--The words were scarce said--
At the feet of his brother young Simeon lay dead.--
It was but one blow on those temples so fair,
One fierce cry of anger and jealous despair;
And shuddering with horror his stern rival stood,
And gazed on those features disfigured with blood.--

Weep, fratricide, weep!--'tis in vain that you cast
Your arms round that pale form, the struggle is past;
'Tis in vain that chilled heart to your bosom you press,
Its stillness increases your frantic distress.
You have scattered the gems in youth's beautiful crown,
And his sun at mid-day has in darkness gone down;
He never shall bind for your false love a wreath,
The hand of the bridegroom is stiffened in death.
Then dash from those wild eyes the fast-flowing tear,
And fly!--for the City of Refuge is near.--
There's a murmur of voices, a shout on the wind,
Fly! fly! the Avenger of Blood is behind!--

He fled like an arrow just launched from the bow,
O'erwhelm'd with remorse and distracted with woe;
The victim of passion--he'd gladly give all
Life's dearest enjoyments that hour to recall.
The stain on his hands added wings to his flight,
As onward he sped through the shadows of night,
And his startled ear caught in the wind's fitful moan,
As it swept through the forest, a faint dying groan;
The leaves rustling near sent a chill to his heart,
And oft backward he glanced with an agonized start,
And felt on his throat, parched and swollen with dread,
The soul-thrilling grasp of the phantom-like dead.
That pang was too great for the sinner to bear,
And his fears found a voice in wild shrieks of despair!

But the night and its long noon of horrors is past,
A broad line of light on the blue hills is cast,
And the city of refuge before him appears,
Like a beacon of hope, giving rest to his fears--
"But hark!--the avenger of blood is at hand;
Dost thou hear the loud shouts of his death-dooming band?
The trampling of horses rings sharp on the breeze,
And armour is glancing at times through the trees;
On! on! for thy life!--if they compass the plain,
Thy sentence is sealed and all rescue is vain?"--

He strains every nerve--he redoubles his speed,
And strength is supplied in the moment of need,
The race is for life--and the city is won,
Ere its broad towers reflect the first beams of the sun.--

One proud glance of triumph the fugitive threw
On the band of pursuers that burst on his view,
He shook his clenched hand--and a tremulous cry
Rose and died on his pale lips their wrath to defy;
But the effort, too mighty, has severed in twain
His heart-strings--he staggers and sinks to the plain,
And the cold dews that moisten that toil-crimsoned face
Tell that death claims his victim, the prize of the race,
That the city no refuge to guilt can afford--
He has found an Avenger of Blood in the Lord!

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