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A poem by William Lisle Bowles

The Ark: A Poem For Music

Title:     The Ark: A Poem For Music
Author: William Lisle Bowles [More Titles by Bowles]


High on Imaus' solitary van,
Which overlooked the kingdoms of the world,
With stature more majestic, his stern brow
In the clear light, the thunder at his feet;
In his right hand the flaming sword that waved
O'er Eden's gate; and in his left the trump,
That on the day of doom shall sound and wake
Earth's myriads, starting from the wormy grave,
The great archangel stood: and, hark, his voice!


It comes, it comes, o'er cities, temples, towers;
O'er mountain heights I see the deluge sweep;
Heard ye from earth the cry at that last hour?
Heard ye the tossing of the desert deep?
How dismal is its roar!
I heard the sound of multitudes no more.
Great Lord of heaven and earth, thy voice is fate;
Thou canst destroy, as first thou didst create!

He stood and sounded the archangel's trump;
And now a choir of seraphim drew near,
By Raphael led: in sad and solemn strains,
They raised their supplication to Heaven's throne.


O Thou whose mighty voice, "Let there be light!"
Dread Chaos heard, when the great sun from night
Burst forth, and demon shadows fled away,
And the green earth sprang beautiful to day!
Oh! merciful in judgment, hear our prayer;
Behold the world which Thou hast made so fair,
And man the mourner, man the sinner, spare.


Oh! what a change have sin and sorrow made!
In the beginning, God created heaven
And earth; and man, amid the works of God,
Majestic stood, his noblest creature, formed
In God's own image; and his fair abode
Was visited by seraph shapes of light,
And sin and death were not.


Mourn, mourn, ye bowers
Of paradise, ye pleasant hills and woods!
Mourn; for the dreadful voice hath passed that shrunk
Your streams, and withered all your blooming flowers.
And thou, created in God's image, man!
Go forth into the nether world; "for dust
Thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."


So, led by Sin and Death, and his pale troop,
Impatient came, and all this goodly scene,
As at the withering of a demon's curse, was blasted.
Then they two went forth, from whom
Their children sorrow and sin and death derived:
They two went forth into the forlorn world,
Heart-struck, but not despairing.
From that hour
Death's shadow walks on earth, a hideous form,
Saddening the very sun; and giant crimes
Have multiplied, till to the throne of God,
And the serene air of untroubled bliss,
The noise of violence, and the cries of blood,
Have from the ground ascended.
Therefore God
Me hath commissioned to uplift the trump
Of doom, and sweep this world of sin away!

[The end]
William Lisle Bowles's poem: Ark: A Poem For Music