Fame, wisdom, love, and power were mine,
And health and youth possess'd me;
My goblets blushed from every vine,
And lovely forms caress'd me;
I sunn'd my heart in beauty's eyes,
And felt my soul grow tender;
All earth can give, or mortal prize,
Was mine of regal splendour.
I strive to number o'er what days
Remembrance can discover
Which all that life or earth displays
Would lure me to live over.
There rose no day, there roll'd no hour
Of pleasure unembitter'd;
And not a trapping deck'd my power
That gall'd not while it glitter'd.
The serpent of the field, by art
And spells, is won from harming;
But that which coils around the heart,
Oh! who hath power of charming?
It will not list to wisdom's lore,
Nor music's voice can lure it;
But there it stings for evermore
The soul that must endure it.
When coldness wraps this suffering clay,
Ah! whither strays the immortal mind?
It cannot die, it cannot stray,
But leaves its darken'd dust behind.
Then, unembodied, doth it trace
By steps each planet's heavenly way?
Or fill at once the realms of space,
A thing of eyes, that all survey?
Eternal, boundless, undecay'd,
A thought unseen, but seeing all,
All, all in earth or skies display'd
Shall it survey, shall it recall:
Each fainter trace that memory holds
So darkly of departed years,
In one broad glance the soul beholds,
And all that was at once appears.
Before Creation peopled earth,
Its eye shall roll through chaos back;
And where the farthest heaven had birth,
The spirit trace its rising track.
And where the future mars or makes,
Its glance dilate o'er all to be,
While sun is quench'd or system breaks,
Fix'd in its own eternity.
Above or Love, Hope, Hate, or Fear,
It lives all passionless and pure:
An age shall fleet like earthly year;
Its years as moments shall endure.
Away, away, without a wing,
O'er all, through all, its thought shall fly:
A nameless and eternal thing
Forgetting what it was to die.
The King was on his throne,
The Satraps throng'd the hall.
A thousand bright lamps shone
O'er that high festival.
A thousand cups of gold,
In Judah deem'd divine --
Jehovah's vessels hold
The godless Heathen's wine.
In that same hour and hall,
The fingers of a hand
Came forth against the wall,
And wrote as if on sand:
The fingers of a man; --
A solitary hand
Along the letters ran,
And traced them like a wand.
The monarch saw and shook,
And bade no more rejoice;
All bloodless wax'd his look,
And tremulous his voice.
"Let the men of lore appear,
The wisest of the earth,
And expound the words of fear,
Which mar our royal mirth."
Chaldea's seers are good,
But here they have no skill:
And the unknown letters stood
Untold and awful still.
And Babel's men of age
Are wise and deep in lore;
But now they were not sage,
They saw -- but knew no more.
A captive in the land,
A stranger and a youth,
He heard the king's command,
He saw that writing's truth,
The lamps around were bright,
The prophecy in view;
He read it on that night --
The morrow proved it true.
"Belshazzar's grave is made,
His kingdom pass'd away,
He, in the balance weigh'd,
Is light and worthless clay.
The shroud his robe of state,
His canopy the stone:
The Mede is at his gate!
The Persian on his throne!"
Poetry: Lord Byron - Hebrew Melodies - Part 5 - All is vanity. saith the preacher - When coldness wraps this sufferin clay - Vision of Belshazzar - Links to more Byron
Ricardo M Marcenaro - Facebook
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