Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1861–1889
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889
 
The Dead Solomon
By John Aylmer Dorgan (1836–1867)
 
[Born in Philadelphia, Penn., 1836. Died there, 1867. Studies. 1862.]

          “And when he had decreed that Solomon should die, nothing discovered his death to them except the creeping thing of the earth, which gnawed his staff.
  “And when his body fell down, the Genii plainly perceived that had they known what is secret they had not continued in a vile punishment.”

KING SOLOMON stood in the house of the Lord,
  And the Genii silently wrought around,
Toiling and moiling without a word,
  Building the temple without a sound.
 
Fear and rage were theirs, but naught        5
  In mien or face, of fear or rage:
For had he guessed their secret thought,
  They had pined in hell for many an age.
 
Closed were the eyes that the demons feared;
Over his breast streamed his silver beard;        10
  Bowed was his head, as if in prayer,
  As if, through the busy silence there,
The answering voice of God he heard.
 
Solemn peace was on his brow,
  Leaning upon his staff in prayer;        15
And a breath of wind would come and go,
And stir his robe, and beard of snow,
  And long white hair;
But he heeded not,
Wrapt afar in holy thought.        20
 
King Solomon stood in the house of the Lord,
  And the Genii silently wrought around,
Toiling and moiling without a word,
  Building the temple without a sound.
 
And now the work was done,        25
  Perfected in every part;
  And the demons rejoiced at heart,
  And made ready to depart,
But dared not speak to Solomon,
To tell him their task was done,        30
  And fulfilled the desire of his heart.
 
So around him they stood with eyes of fire,
  Each cursing the king in his secret heart,—
Secretly cursing the silent king,
  Waiting but till he should say “Depart”;        35
Cursing the king,
Each evil thing:
But he heeded them not, nor raised his head;
For King Solomon was dead!
 
Then the body of the king fell down;        40
  For a worm had gnawed his staff in twain;
He had prayed to the Lord that the house he planned
Might not be left for another hand,
  Might not unfinished remain;
So praying, he had died;        45
  But had not prayed in vain.
 
So the body of the king fell down;
And howling fled the fiends amain;
Bitterly grieved, to be so deceived,
  Howling afar they fled;        50
Idly they had borne his chain,
  And done his hateful tasks, in dread
Of mystic penal pain,—
  And King Solomon was dead!
 
 
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