Visions of the years gone by
Flash upon my mental eye;
Ages time no longer numbers,
Forms that share oblivion's slumbers,
Creatures of that elder world
Now in dust and darkness hurled,
Crushed beneath the heavy rod
Of a long forsaken God!
Hark! what spirit moves the crowd?
Like the voice of waters loud,
Through the open city gate,
Urged by wonder, fear, or hate,
Onward rolls the mighty tide--
Spreads the tumult far and wide.
Heedless of the noontide glare,
Infancy and age are there,--
Joyous youth and matron staid,
Blooming bride and blushing maid,--
Manhood with his fiery glance,
War-chief with his lifted lance,--
Beauty with her jewelled brow,
Hoary age with locks of snow:
Prince, and peer, and statesman grave,
White-stoled priest, and dark-browed slave,--
Plumed helm, and crowned head,
By one mighty impulse led--
Mingle in the living mass,
That onward to the desert pass!
With song and shout and impious glee,
What rush earth's myriads forth to see?
Hark! the sultry air is rent
With their boisterous merriment!
Are they to the vineyards rushing,
Where the grape's rich blood is gushing?
Or hurrying to the bridal rite
Of warrior brave and beauty bright?
Ah no! those heads in mockery crowned,
Those pennons gay with roses bound,
Hie not to a scene of gladness--
Theirs is mirth that ends in madness!
All recklessly they rush to hear
The dark words of that gifted seer,
Who amid a guilty race
Favour found and saving grace;
Rescued from the doom that hurled
To chaos back a sinful world.--
Self-polluted, lost, debased,
Every noble trait effaced,
To rapine, lust, and murder given,
Denying God, defying heaven,
Spoilers of the shrine and hearth,
Behold the impious sons of earth!
Alas! all fatally opposed,
The heart of erring man is closed
Against that warning, and he deems
The prophet's counsel idle dreams,
And laughs to hear the preacher rave
Of bursting cloud and whelming wave!
Tremble Earth! the awful doom
That sweeps thy millions to the tomb
Hangs darkly o'er thee,--and the train
That gaily throng the open plain,
Shall never raise those laughing eyes
To welcome summer's cloudless skies;
Shall never see the golden beam
Of day light up the wood and stream,
Or the rich and ripened corn
Waving in the breath of morn,
Or their rosy children twine
Chaplets of the clustering vine:--
The bow is bent! the shaft is sped!
Who shall wail above the dead?
What arrests their frantic course?
Back recoils the startled horse,
And the stifling sob of fear
Like a knell appals the ear!
Lips are quivering--cheeks are pale--
Palsied limbs all trembling fail;
Eyes with bursting terror gaze
On the sun's portentous blaze,
Through the wide horizon gleaming,
Like a blood-red banner streaming;
While like chariots from afar,
Armed for elemental war,
Clouds in quick succession rise,
Darkness spreads o'er all the skies;
And a lurid twilight gloom
Closes o'er earth's living tomb!
Nature's pulse has ceased to play,--
Night usurps the crown of day,--
Every quaking heart is still,
Conscious of the coming ill.
Lo, the fearful pause is past,
The awful tempest bursts at last!
Torrents sweeping down amain
With a deluge flood the plain;
The rocks are rent, the mountains reel,
Earth's yawning caves their depths reveal;
The forests groan,--the heavy gale
Shrieks out Creation's funeral wail.
Hark! that loud tremendous roar!
Ocean overleaps the shore,
Pouring all his giant waves
O'er the fated land of graves;
Where his white-robed spirit glides,
Death the advancing billow rides,
And the mighty conqueror smiles
In triumph o'er the sinking isles.
Hollow murmurs fill the air,
Thunders roll and lightnings glare;
Shrieks of woe and fearful cries,
Mingled sounds of horror rise;
Dire confusion, frantic grief,
Agony that mocks relief,
Like a tempest heaves the crowd,
While in accents fierce and loud,
With pallid lips and curdled blood,
Each trembling cries, "The flood! the flood!"