The Fall Of Jerusalem

A poem by Alfred Tennyson

Jerusalem! Jerusalem!
Thou art low! thou mighty one,
How is the brilliance of thy diadem,
How is the lustre of thy throne
Rent from thee, and thy sun of fame
Darken’d by the shadowy pinion
Of the Roman bird, whose sway
All the tribes of earth obey,
Crouching ’neath his dread dominion,
And the terrors of his name!

How is thy royal seat–whereon
Sate in days of yore
Lowly Jesse’s godlike son,
And the strength of Solomon,
In those rich and happy times
When the ships from Tarshish bore
Incense, and from Ophir’s land,
With silken sail and cedar oar,
Wafting to Judea’s strand
All the wealth of foreign climes–
How is thy royal seat o’erthrown!
Gone is all thy majesty:
Salem! Salem! city of kings,
Thou sittest desolate and lone,
Where once the glory of the Most High
Dwelt visibly enshrin’d between the wings
Of Cherubims, within whose bright embrace
The golden mercy-seat remain’d:
Land of Jehovah! view that sacred place
Abandon’d and profan’d!

Wail! fallen Salem! Wail:
Mohammed’s votaries pollute thy fane;
The dark division of thine holy veil
Is rent in twain!
Thrice hath Sion’s crowned rock
Seen thy temple’s marble state,
Awfully, serenely great,
Towering on his sainted brow,
Rear its pinnacles of snow:
Thrice, with desolating shock,
Down to earth hath seen it driv’n
From his heights, which reach to heaven!

Wail! fallen Salem! Wail:
Though not one stone above another
There was left to tell the tale
Of the greatness of thy story,
Yet the long lapse of ages cannot smother
The blaze of thine abounding glory;
Which thro’ the mist of rolling years,
O’er history’s darken’d page appears,
Like the morning star, whose gleam
Gazeth thro’ the waste of night,
What time old ocean’s purple stream
In his cold surge hath deeply lav’d
Its ardent front of dewy light.
Oh! who shall e’er forget thy bands which brav’d
The terrors of the desert’s barren reign,
And that strong arm which broke the chain
Wherein ye foully lay enslav’d,
Or that sublime Theocracy which pav’d
Your way thro’ ocean’s vast domain,
And on, far on to Canaan’s emerald plain
Led the Israelitish crowd
With a pillar and a cloud?

Signs on earth and signs on high
Prophesied thy destiny:
A trumpet’s voice above thee rung,
A starry sabre o’er thee hung;
Visions of fiery armies, redly flashing
In the many-colour’d glare
Of the setting orb of day;
And flaming chariots, fiercely dashing,
Swept along the peopled air,
In magnificent array:
The temple doors, on brazen hinges crashing,
Burst open with appalling sound,
A wond’rous radiance streaming round!

‘Our blood be on our heads!’ ye said:
Such your awless imprecation:
Full bitterly at length ’twas paid
Upon your captive nation!
Arms of adverse legions bound thee,
Plague and pestilence stood round thee;
Seven weary suns had brighten’d Syria’s sky,
Yet still was heard th’ unceasing cry–
From south, north, east, and west, a voice,
‘Woe unto thy sons and dauthers!
Woe to Salem! thou art lost!’
A sound divine
Came from the sainted, secret, inmost shrine:
‘Let us go hence!’–and then a noise–
The thunders of the parting Deity,
Like the rush of countless waters,
Like the murmur of a host!

Though now each glorious hope be blighted,
Yet an hour shall come, when ye,
Though scatter’d like the chaff, shall be
Beneath one standard once again united;
When your wandering race shall own,
Prostrate at the dazzling throne
Of your high Almighty Lord,
The wonders of his searchless word,
Th’ unfading splendours of his Son!

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