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And by the voice of all its elements
To preach the gen’ral doom *. When were the winds
Let Nip with such a warrant to destroy ;
When did the waves so haughtily o’erleap
Their ancient barriers, deluging the dry ?
Fires from beneath, and meteors † froin above,
Portentous, unexampled, unexplained,
Have kindled beacons in the skies, and th' old
And crazy earth has had her shaking fits
More frequent, and forgone her usual rest.
Is it a time to wrangle, when the props
And pillars of our planet seem to fail,
And Nature $ with a dim and fickly eye
To wait the close of all? But grant her end
More distant, and that prophecy demands
A longer refpite, unaccomplish'd yet ;
Still they are frowning signals, and bespeak
Displeasure in his breast who smites the earth
Or heals it, makes it languish or rejoice.
And ’tis but seemly, that where all deserve
And stand exposed by common peccancy
To what no few have felt, there should be peace,
And brethren in calamity should love.
Alas for Sicily! rude fragments now
Lie scatter'd where the shapely column stood.
Her palaces are duft. In all her streets
The voice of singing and the sprightly chord
Are filent. Revelry and dance and show
Suffer a syncope and folemn pause,
While God performs upon the trembling stage
Of his own works, his dreadful part
How does the earth receive him ?-With what signs
Of gratulation and delight, her king?
Pours she not all her choicest fruits abroad,
Her sweetest flowers, her aromatic gums,
Disclosing paradise where'er he treads ?
She quakes at his approach. Her hollow womb
Conceiving thunders, through a thousand deeps
And fiery caverns roars beneath his foot.
The hills move lightly and the mountains smoke,
For he has touch'd them. From th' extremest point
Of elevation down into th' abyss,
His wrath is busy and his frown is felt.
The rocks fall headlong and the vallies rise,
The rivers die into offensive pools,
And, charged with putrid verdure, breathe a gross
And mortal nuisance into all the air.
What solid was, by transformation strange
Grows fluid, and the fixt and rooted earth
Tormented into billows heaves and swells,
Or with vortiginous and hideous whirl
Sucks down its prey insatiable. Immense
The tumult and the overthrow, the pangs. .
And agonies of human and of brute
Multitudes, fugitive on ev'ry side,
And fugitive in vain. The fylvan scene
Migrates uplifted, and with all its soil
Alighting in far distant fields, finds out
A new poffeffor, and survives the change.
Ocean has caught the frenzy, and upwrought
To an enormous and o'erbearing height,
Not by a mighty wind, but by that voice
Which winds and waves obey, invades the shore
Resistless. Never such a sudden food,
Upridged so high, and sent on such a charge,
Possess'd an inland scene. Where now the throng
That press’d the beach, and hafty to depart
Look'd to the sea for safety? They are gone,
Gone with the refluent wave into the deep,
A prince with half his people. Ancient tow'rs,
And roofs embattled high, the gloomy scenes
Where beauty oft and letter'd worth consume
Life in the unproductive shades of death,
Fall prone; the pale inhabitants come forth,
And, happy in their unforeseen release
From all the rigors of restraint, enjoy
The terrors of the day that sets them free.
Who then that has thee, would not hold thee fast
Freedom! whom they that lose thee, so regret,
That ev'n a judgment making way for thee,
Seems in their eyes, a mercy, for thy fake.
Such evil sin hath wrought; and such a flame
Kindled in heaven, that it burns down to earth,
And in the furious inquest that it makes
On God's behalf, lays waste his fairest works.
The very elements, though each be meant
The minister of man, to serve his wants,
Conspire against him. With his breath, he draws
A plague into his blood. And cannot use
Life's necessary means, but he must die.
Storms rise t'o'erwhelm him: or if stormy winds
Rise not, the waters of the deep shall rise,
And needing none assistance of the storm,
Shall roll themselves alhore, and reach him there.