Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
The Worship of the Gibeonites
By Timothy Dwight (1752–1817)
  NOW o’er the hills red streams began to burn,
And bursting splendors usher’d in the morn;
With living dyes the flowers all beauteous glow’d,
O’er the glad fields etherial odors flow’d;
The forest echoed with a boundless song,        5
And rising breezes pour’d the strains along.
  Adorn’d with green before the palace lay
A spacious square, and smiled upon the day.
Here, ere the dawn the kindling skies illumed,
Or opening flowers the fragrant gales perfumed,        10
Of every age, a vast, assembled train
Pour’d from the lofty domes, and fill’d the plain.
  High in the midst two sacred altars shone,
Adorn’d with honors to their God, the Sun.
This, deck’d with art, and bright in royal pride,        15
With sable gore the quivering victim dyed:
On that, gay flowers in rich profusion lay,
And gales of Eden bore their sweets away.
  Here, white with age, in snowy vesture dress’d,
Aradon stood, their monarch, and their priest;        20
Red in his hand a torch refulgent shone,
And his fix’d countenance watch’d the rising sun.
  When first the flaming orb, with glorious rays,
Roll’d o’er the hills, and pour’d a boundless blaze;
Charmed at the sight, the monarch stretch’d his hand,        25
And touch’d the tributes with the sacred brand;
Through freshen’d air perfumes began to rise,
And curling volumes mounted to the skies.
Thrice to the earth the raptured suppliants bow’d,
Then struck the lyre, and hymn’d the rising god.        30
  “O thou, whose bursting beams in glory rise,
And sail, and brighten, through unbounded skies!
The world’s great Parent! heaven’s exalted King!
Sole source of good! and life’s eternal Spring!
All hail, while cloth’d in beauty’s endless ray,        35
Thy face unclouded gives the new-born day!
  “Above all scenes is placed thy heavenly throne;
Ere time began, thy spotless splendor shone;
Sublime from east to west thy chariot rolls,
Cheers the wide earth, and warms the distant poles;        40
Commands the vegetable race to grow,
The fruit to redden, and the flower to blow.
This world was born to change: the hand of Time
Makes, and unmakes the scenes of every clime.
The insect millions scarce the morn survive;        45
One transient day the flowery nations live;
A few short years complete the human doom;
Then pale death summons to the narrow tomb.
Lash’d by the flood, the hard rocks wear away;
Worn by the storm, the lessening hills decay;        50
Unchanged alone is thine exalted flame,
From endless years to endless years the same;
Thy splendors with immortal beauty shine,
Roll round the eternal heavens, and speak thy name divine
  “When thy bright throne, beyond old ocean’s bound,        55
Through nether skies pursues its destined round,
Lost in the ascending darkness, beauty fades;
Through the blank field, and through the woodland, spreads
A melancholy silence. O’er the plain
Dread lions roam, and savage terrors reign.        60
  “And when sad autumn sees thy face retire,
And happier regions hail thy orient fire,
High in the storm imperious winter flies,
And desolation saddens all the skies.
But when once more thy beam the north ascends,        65
Thy light invigorates, and thy warmth extends;
The fields rejoice, the groves with transport ring,
And boundless nature hails the sky-born spring.
  “Nor even in winter’s gloom, or night’s sad reign,
Darts the warm influence of thy beams in vain.        70
  “Beyond the main some fairer region lies,
Some brighter isles beneath the southern skies,
Where crimson war ne’er bade the clarion roar,
Nor sanguine billows dyed the vernal shore:
No thundering storm the day’s bright face conceals,        75
No summer scorches, and no frost congeals;
No sickness wastes, no grief provokes the tear,
Nor tainted vapors blast the clement year.
Round the glad day-star endless beauties burn,
And crowned with rainbows, opes the imperial morn;        80
A clear unbounded light the skies display,
And purple lustre leads the the changing day.
O’er conscious shades, and bowers of soft repose,
Young breezes spring, and balmy fragrance blows,
The fields all wanton in serenest beams,        85
Wake fairer flowers, and roll diviner streams;
Through the long vales aerial music roves,
And nobler fruitage dyes the bending groves.
  “Through spotless nations as the realm refined,
Thy influence there sublimes the immortal mind;        90
Its active pinions swift through nature roam,
Lose the low world, and claim a nobler home.
Their limbs, of endless life, with glory crown’d,
New youth improves, and growing charms surround:
On the bless’d shore thy splendors love to shine,        95
And raise thy sons each hour, to raptures more divine.”
  Thus ceased the sound: the harp’s melodious strain
Join’d the glad hymn, and charm’d the listening train;
A sparkling joy each speaking face display’d,
While light expanding lessen’d every shade.        100

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