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
 
Sacrilege
By Thomas Stephens Collier (1842–1893)
 
[Born in New York, N. Y., 1842. Died in New London, Conn., 1893.]

BESIDE the wall, and near the massive gate
  Of the great temple in Jerusalem,
The legionary, Probus stood elate,
  His eager clasp circling a royal gem.
 
It was an offering made by some dead king        5
  Unto the great Jehovah, when the sword
Amid his foes had mown a ghastly ring,
  Helped by the dreaded angel of the Lord.
 
There, on his rival’s crest, among the slain,
  Through the red harvest it had clearly shone,        10
Lighting the grimness of the sanguine plain
  With splendors that had glorified a throne.
 
Above the altar of God’s sacred place,
  A watchful star, it lit the passing years,
With radiance falling on each suppliant’s face,        15
  Gleaming alike in love’s and sorrow’s tears,
 
Till swept the war-tide through the sunlit vales
  Leading from Jordan, and the western sea
And the fierce host of Titus filled the gales
  With jubilant shouts and songs of victory.        20
 
Then came the day when over all the walls
  The Romans surged, and Death laughed loud and high,
And there was wailing in the palace halls,
  And sound of lamentations in the sky.
 
Torn from its place, it lay within the hand        25
  Of Probus, whose keen sword had rent a way,
With rapid blows, amid the priestly band
  Whose piteous prayers moaned through that dreadful day.
 
And there, beside the wall, he stopped to gaze
  Upon the fortune, that would give his life        30
The home and rest that come with bounteous days,
  And bring reward for toil and warlike strife.
 
There was no cloud in all Heaven’s lustrous blue,
  Yet suddenly a red flash cleft the air,
And the dark shadow held a deeper hue,—        35
  A dead man, with an empty hand, lay there.

  The Youth’s Companion. 1883.
 
 
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