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Alfred H. Miles, ed. The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century. 1907.

By The Course of Time (1827). IV. The Resurrection of the Body (From Books vii & viii)

Robert Pollok (1798–1827)

(From Book vii)

NOW starting up among the living changed,

Appeared innumerous the risen dead.

Each particle of dust was claimed: the turf,

For ages trod beneath the careless foot

Of men, rose, organised in human form;

The monumental stones were rolled away;

The doors of death were opened; and in the dark

And loathsome vault, and silent charnel-house,

Moving, we heard the mouldered bones that sought

Their proper place. Instinctive, every soul

Flew to its clayey part: from grass-grown mould

The nameless spirit took its ashes up,

Reanimate; and, merging from beneath

The flattering marble, undistinguished rose

The great, nor heeded once the lavish rhyme,

And costly pomp of sculptured garnish vain.

The Memphian mummy, that from age to age

Descending, bought and sold a thousand times,

In hall of curious antiquary stowed,

Wrapped in mysterious weeds, the wondrous theme

Of many an erring tale, shook off its rags;

And the brown son of Egypt stood beside

The European, his last purchaser.

In vale remote, the hermit rose, surprised

At crowds that rose around him, where he thought

His slumbers had been single; and the bard,

Who fondly covenanted with his friend,

To lay his bones beneath the sighing bough

Of some old lonely tree, rising, was pressed

By multitudes that claimed their proper dust

From the same spot, and he that, richly hearsed,

With gloomy garniture of purchased woe,

Embalmed, in princely sepulchre was laid,

Apart from vulgar men, built nicely round

And round by the proud heir, who blushed to think

His father’s lordly clay should ever mix

With peasant dust,—saw by his side awake

The clown that long had slumbered in his arms.

Self-purifying, unpolluted Sea!

Lover unchangeable, thy faithful breast

For ever heaving to the lovely moon,

That like a shy and holy virgin, robed

In saintly white, walked nightly in the heavens,

And to thy everlasting serenade

Gave gracious audience; nor was wooed in vain.

That morning, thou, that slumbered not before,

Nor slept, great Ocean! laid thy waves to rest,

And hushed thy mighty minstrelsy; no breath

Thy deep composure stirred, no fin, no oar;

Like beauty newly dead, so calm, so still,

So lovely, thou, beneath the light that fell

From angel-chariots sentinelled on high,

Reposed, and listened, and saw thy living change,

Thy dead arise. Charybdis listened, and Scylla;

And savage Euxine on the Thracian beach

Lay motionless; and every battle-ship

Stood still, and every ship of merchandise,

And all that sailed, of every name, stood still.

Even as the ship of war, full-fledged, and swift,

Like some fierce bird of prey, bore on her foe,

Opposing with as fell intent, the wind

Fell withered from her wings that idly hung;

The stormy bullet, by the cannon thrown

Uncivilly against the heavenly face

Of men, half sped, sank harmlessly, and all

Her loud, uncircumcised, tempestuous crew—

How ill prepared to meet their God!—were changed,

Unchangeable; the pilot at the helm

Was changed, and the rough captain, while he mouthed

The huge enormous oath. The fisherman,

That in his boat expectant watched his lines,

Or mended on the shore his net, and sang,

Happy in thoughtlessness, some careless air,

Heard Time depart, and felt the sudden change.

In solitary deep, far out from land,

Or steering from the port with many a cheer;

Or, while returning from long voyage, fraught

With lusty wealth, rejoicing to have escaped

The dangerous main, and plagues of foreign climes,

The merchant quaffed his native air, refreshed;

And saw his native hills in the sun’s light

Serenely rise; and thought of meetings glad,

And many days of ease and honour spent

Among his friends—unwarnèd man! even then

The knell of Time broke on his reverie,

And in the twinkling of an eye his hopes,

All earthly, perished all. As sudden rose,

From out their watery beds, the Ocean’s dead,

Renewed, and on the unstirring billows stood,

From pole to pole, thick covering all the sea—

Of every nation blent, and every age.

(From Book viii)

RESTORED to reason, on that morn, appeared

The lunatic, who raved in chains, and asked

No mercy when he died. Of lunacy,

Innumerous were the causes: humbled pride

Ambition disappointed, riches lost,

And bodily disease, and sorrow, oft

By man inflicted on his brother man;…

Take one example, one of female woe.

Loved by a father’s and a mother’s love,

In rural peace she lived, so fair, so light

Of heart, so good, and young, that reason scarce

The eye could credit, but would doubt, as she

Did stoop to pull the lily or the rose

From morning’s dew, if it reality

Of flesh and blood, or holy vision, saw,

In imagery of perfect womanhood.

But short her bloom, her happiness was short.

One saw her loveliness, and, with desire

Unhallowed burning, to her ear addressed

Dishonest words: “Her favour was his life,

His heaven; her frown, his woe, his night, his death.”

With turgid phrase, thus wove in flattery’s loom,

He on her womanish nature won, and age

Suspicionless; and ruined, and forsook:

For he a chosen villain was at heart,

And capable of deeds that durst not seek

Repentance. Soon her father saw her shame;

His heart grew stone, he drove her forth to want

And wintry winds, and with a horrid curse

Pursued her ear, forbidding all return.

Upon a hoary cliff that watched the sea,

Her babe was found—dead. On its little cheek,

The tear that nature bade it weep, had turned

An ice-drop, sparkling in the morning beam;

And to the turf its helpless hands were frozen.

For she, the woeful mother, had gone mad,

And laid it down, regardless of its fate,

And of her own. Yet had she many days

Of sorrow in the world, but never wept.

She lived on alms, and carried in her hand

Some withered stalks she gathered in the spring.

When any asked the cause, she smiled, and said

They were her sisters, and would come and watch

Her grave when she was dead. She never spoke

Of her deceiver, father, mother, home,

Or child, or heaven, or hell, or God; but still

In lonely places walked, and ever gazed

Upon the withered stalks, and talked to them;

Till wasted to the shadow of her youth,

With woe too wide to see beyond, she died—

Not unatoned for by imputed blood,

Nor by the Spirit, that mysterious works,