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Ancient Heart Grim Dawn


Oh! could I hope the wise and pure in heartMight hear my song without a frown, nor deemMy voice unworthy of the theme it tries,--I would take up the hymn to Death, and sayTo the grim power, The world hath slandered theeAnd mocked thee. On thy dim and shadowy browThey place an iron crown, and call thee kingOf terrors, and the spoiler of the world,Deadly assassin, that strik'st down the fair,The loved, the good--that breath'st upon the lightsOf virtue set along the vale of life,And they go out in darkness. I am come,Not with reproaches, not with cries and prayers,Such as have stormed thy stern insensible earFrom the beginning. I am come to speakThy praises. True it is, that I have weptThy conquests, and may weep them yet again:And thou from some I love wilt take a lifeDear to me as my own. Yet while the spellIs on my spirit, and I talk with theeIn sight of all thy trophies, face to face,Meet is it that my voice should utter forthThy nobler triumphs: I will teach the worldTo thank thee.--Who are thine accusers?--Who?The living!--they who never felt thy power,And know thee not. The curses of the wretchWhose crimes are ripe, his sufferings when thy handIs on him, and the hour he dreads is come,Are writ among thy praises. But the good--Does he whom thy kind hand dismissed to peace,Upbraid the gentle violence that took offHis fetters, and unbarred his prison cell?Raise then the Hymn to Death. Deliverer!God hath anointed thee to free the oppressedAnd crush the oppressor. When the armed chief,The conqueror of nations, walks the world,And it is changed beneath his feet, and allIts kingdoms melt into one mighty realm--Thou, while his head is loftiest, and his heartBlasphemes, imagining his own right handAlmighty, sett'st upon him thy stern grasp,And the strong links of that tremendous chainThat bound mankind are crumbled; thou dost breakSceptre and crown, and beat his throne to dust.Then the earth shouts with gladness, and her tribesGather within their ancient bounds again.Else had the mighty of the olden time,Nimrod, Sesostris, or the youth who feignedHis birth from Lybian Ammon, smote even nowThe nations with a rod of iron, and drivenTheir chariot o'er our necks. Thou dost avenge,In thy good time, the wrongs of those who knowNo other friend. Nor dost thou interposeOnly to lay the sufferer asleep,Where he who made him wretched troubles notHis rest--thou dost strike down his tyrant too.Oh, there is joy when hands that held the scourgeDrop lifeless, and the pitiless heart is cold.Thou too dost purge from earth its horribleAnd old idolatries; from the proud fanesEach to his grave their priests go out, till noneIs left to teach their worship; then the firesOf sacrifice are chilled, and the green mossO'ercreeps their altars; the fallen imagesCumber the weedy courts, and for loud hymns,Chanted by kneeling crowds, the chiding windsShriek in the solitary aisles. When heWho gives his life to guilt, and laughs at allThe laws that God or man has made, and roundHedges his seat with power, and shines in wealth,--Lifts up his atheist front to scoff at Heaven,And celebrates his shame in open day,Thou, in the pride of all his crimes, cutt'st offThe horrible example. Touched by thine,The extortioner's hard hand foregoes the goldWrong from the o'er-worn poor. The perjurer,Whose tongue was lithe, e'en now, and volubleAgainst his neighbour's life, and he who laughedAnd leaped for joy to see a spotless fameBlasted before his own foul calumnies,Are smit with deadly silence. He, who soldHis conscience to preserve a worthless life,Even while he hugs himself on his escape,Trembles, as, doubly terrible, at length,Thy steps o'ertake him, and there is no timeFor parley--nor will bribes unclench thy grasp.Oft, too, dost thou reform thy victim, longEre his last hour. And when the reveller,Mad in the chase of pleasure, stretches on,And strains each nerve, and clears the path of lifeLike wind, thou point'st him to the dreadful goal,And shak'st thy hour-glass in his reeling eye,And check'st him in mid course. Thy skeleton handShows to the faint of spirit the right path,And he is warned, and fears to step aside.Thou sett'st between the ruffian and his crimeThy ghastly countenance, and his slack handDrops the drawn knife. But, oh, most fearfullyDost thou show forth Heaven's justice, when thy shaftsDrink up the ebbing spirit--then the hardOf heart and violent of hand restoresThe treasure to the friendless wretch he wronged.Then from the writhing bosom thou dost pluckThe guilty secret; lips, for ages sealed,Are faithless to the dreadful trust at length,And give it up; the felon's latest breathAbsolves the innocent man who bears his crime;The slanderer, horror smitten, and in tears,Recalls the deadly obloquy he forgedTo work his brother's ruin. Thou dost makeThy penitent victim utter to the airThe dark conspiracy that strikes at life,And aims to whelm the laws; ere yet the hourIs come, and the dread sign of murder given.Thus, from the first of time, hast thou been foundOn virtue's side; the wicked, but for thee,Had been too strong for the good; the great of earthHad crushed the weak for ever. Schooled in guileFor ages, while each passing year had broughtIts baneful lesson, they had filled the worldWith their abominations; while its tribes,Trodden to earth, imbruted, and despoiled,Had knelt to them in worship; sacrificeHad smoked on many an altar, temple roofsHad echoed with the blasphemous prayer and hymn:But thou, the great reformer of the world,Tak'st off the sons of violence and fraudIn their green pupilage, their lore half learned--Ere guilt has quite o'errun the simple heartGod gave them at their birth, and blotted outHis image. Thou dost mark them, flushed with hope,As on the threshold of their vast designsDoubtful and loose they stand, and strik'st them down.Alas, I little thought that the stern powerWhose fearful praise I sung, would try me thusBefore the strain was ended. It must cease--For he is in his grave who taught my youthThe art of verse, and in the bud of lifeOffered me to the muses. Oh, cut offUntimely! when thy reason in its strength,Ripened by years of toil and studious searchAnd watch of Nature's silent lessons, taughtThy hand to practise best the lenient artTo which thou gavest thy laborious days.And, last, thy life. And, therefore, when the earthReceived thee, tears were in unyielding eyesAnd on hard cheeks, and they who deemed thy skillDelayed their death-hour, shuddered and turned paleWhen thou wert gone. This faltering verse, which thouShalt not, as wont, o'erlook, is all I haveTo offer at thy grave--this--and the hopeTo copy thy example, and to leaveA name of which the wretched shall not thinkAs of an enemy's, whom they forgiveAs all forgive the dead. Rest, therefore, thouWhose early guidance trained my infant steps--Rest, in the bosom of God, till the brief sleepOf death is over, and a happier lifeShall dawn to waken thine insensible dust.Now thou art not--and yet the men whose guiltHas wearied Heaven for vengeance--he who bearsFalse witness--he who takes the orphan's bread,And robs the widow--he who spreads abroadPolluted hands in mockery of prayer,Are left to cumber earth. Shuddering I lookOn what is written, yet I blot not outThe desultory numbers--let them stand.The record of an idle revery.




Ancient Heart Grim Dawn


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So he took the girdle and her hand withal, and cast his arms about her: and amidst the sweetness of their love and their safety, and assured hope of many days of joy, they spake together of the hours when they fared the razor-edge betwixt guile and misery and death, and the sweeter yet it grew to them because of it; and many things she told him ere the dawn, of the evil days bygone, and the dealings of the Mistress with her, till the grey day stole into the chamber to make manifest her loveliness; which, forsooth, was better even than the deeming of that man amidst the throng whose heart had been so drawn towards her. So they rejoiced together in the new day.


His mother is not once named. His father appears as a restless grim inexorable machine for stimulating thought and for enforcing discipline. Above all, He Who is the One Object of love, He Who made the human heart, and Who alone has the key to its deepest recesses, He is ignored of set purpose; or rather, I should say, "ignored" is not the word that does justice to the reality. At any rate, He is treated as if He were at best an hypothetical Being, Whose existence could not be scientifically verified, and Who therefore lay outside the range of practical considerations. Well, my brethren, we must admit it, this education achieved success. From one point of view it achieved splendid success; at any rate, such success as it ever aimed at. And few educated men of this generation--even among those who differ most widely from Mr. Mill on the most important questions that can possibly engage human attention--would deny that they owe something, at any rate, to his intellectual enterprise, to his clear and direct methods of investigation and of thought, to his passion for fact in that somewhat narrow sense wherein he understood the expression.


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