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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
From ‘The Messiah’
By Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock (1724–1803)
 
SEVEN times the thunder’s stroke had rent the veil,
When now the voice of God in gentle tone
Was heard descending: “God is Love,” it spoke;
“Love, ere the worlds or their inhabitants
To life were called. In the accomplishment        5
Of this, my most mysterious, highest act,
Love am I still. Angels, ye shall behold
The death of earth’s great Judge, the eternal Son;
And ye shall learn to know the Deity,
With adoration new to invoke his name.        10
Should not his arm uphold ye, at the sight
Of that dread day in terror ye would fade;
For finite are your forms!” The voice now ceased.
Their holy hands the admiring angels clasped
In silent awe. A sign the Almighty made,        15
And in the face divine, Eloa read
The mandate given. To the celestial host
He cried, “Lift up your eyes to the Most High,
Ye chosen, favored children! Ye have longed
(God is your witness) to behold this day        20
Of his Messiah, this atoning day!
Shout, then, ye cherubim! behold your God;
The First and Last, the great Jehovah, deigns
To meet your wish. Yon seraph, messenger
From the eternal Son on your behalf,        25
Is to the altar sent. Had ye not been
Permitted thus to view the wondrous work
Of man’s redemption, secret it had passed
In solitary, silent mystery.
But now, while sons of earth shall joyful sing        30
This day throughout eternity, our voice
In shouts shall join their chorus. With glad eye
Of piercing vision shall we contemplate
This mystery of atonement; clearer far
Shall we perceive it than the weeping band,        35
Who, though in error clouded, faithful still
Surround their Savior. Ah, what shall befall
His hardened persecutors! From life’s book
Their names have long been blotted. Light divine
Jehovah grants alone to his redeemed;        40
No more with tears shall they behold the blood
For their atonement shed, but see its stream
Merge in the ocean of immortal life.
Oh, then in the soft lap of peace consoled,
The festival of light, and endless rest,        45
Triumphant shall they celebrate! Ye hosts
Of seraphim, and ye blest ransomed souls
Of righteous patriarchs, the jubilee,
The Sabbath of eternity, draws near!
Race after race of man shall thronging join        50
Your happy numbers, till, the reckoning filled,
The final doom pronounced, with glorious forms
All shall anew be clothed, and jointly taste
One universal bliss! Now, angels, haste!
Bid the seraphic guardians, who by God        55
To rule the spheres are stationed, straight prepare
To solemnize the great mysterious Day!
Ye patriarchs, from whom the Savior draws
His mortal lineage, to that sun repair
Which lights redemption’s theatre! From thence        60
Ye may your great Redeemer view! A day
Jehovah sanctifies; a holy day
Greater than that which by your festal songs,
Ye mighty seraphim, was solemnized,
When, from creation pausing, God proclaimed        65
His primal Sabbath. Then, full well ye know,
Angelic powers, how bright young Nature smiled,
How fresh and lovely; how the morning stars,
With you, to their Creator homage paid.
Behold, a greater work the eternal Son        70
Will soon accomplish! Haste then, angels, haste!
Proclaim it through creation! Lo, the day
Of the Messiah’s free obedience comes,
The Sabbath of the eternal covenant!”
  Eloa ceased. All Heaven in silence heard,—        75
Their eyes uplifted toward the sanctuary.
To Gabriel then a sign the Almighty made,
And swift the seraph to the throne advanced,
And secret charge received to bear behest
To Uriel, the sun’s regent, and to those        80
Who o’er the earth bear rule, of high import,
Touching the Savior’s death. Their golden seats
Meantime the high seraphic powers now left,
By Gabriel followed. Ere he yet approached
The mystic altar of the earth, his ear        85
Caught the deep murmured sighs, which low were breathed,
In fervent wishes for the expected hour
Of man’s salvation. There distinct arose
The voice of Adam, who through ages wept
His hapless fall. This was the altar seen        90
By him in Patmos, the high-favored seer
Of the new covenant: thence he heard the voice
Of martyred saints descend, whose plaintive cries
Mourned the delay of vengeance. Toward this spot
Gabriel advanced; when swift the first of men,        95
Eager to meet the coming seraph, flew.
A form impalpable of lustre clear
Enveloped Adam’s spirit, beautiful
As that fair thought which the creative mind
In model imaged for the form of Man,        100
When, from the sacred earth of Paradise,
Fresh from his Maker’s hand, youthful he sprung.
  With radiant smile, which o’er his beaming brow
Celestial light diffused, Adam drew near,
And earnest spoke. “Hail, gracious messenger!        105
While I thy lofty mission heard, my soul
In joy was rapt. May I then view the form
Of manhood by the Savior worn, that form
Of mercy, in whose meek disguise he deigns
My fallen race to save! Show me the trace,        110
O seraph, of my Savior’s earthly path:
My eye with awe shall view the distant track.
But may the first of sinners tread the spot
Whence the Messiah raised his face to heaven
And swore to ransom man? Maternal earth,        115
How do I sigh once more to visit thee!
I, thy first habitant! Thy barren fields
By God’s dread curse defaced, where now in garb
Of frail mortality, such earthly frame
As in the dust I left, the Savior walks,        120
Would lovelier meet mine eyes than thy bright plains,
Thou long-lost Paradise!” Adam here paused.
To whom the seraph: “I will speak thy wish
To the Redeemer: should his will divine
Grant thy petition, he will summon thee        125
His lowliest humiliation to behold.”
  Now had the angelic host all quitted heaven,
Spreading to distant spheres their separate flight.
Gabriel alone descended to the earth,
Which by the neighboring stars, as each rolled by        130
Its splendid orb, was hailed with joyful shouts.
The salutations glad reached Gabriel’s ear
In silver tones:—“Queen of the scattered worlds!
Object of universal gaze! Bright spot,
Again selected for the theatre        135
Of God’s high presence! Blest spectatress thou
Of his Messiah’s work of mystery!”
Thus sung the spheres; and through the concave vast
Angelic voices echoed back the sounds.
Gabriel exulting heard, and swift in flight        140
Reached earth’s dim surface. O’er her silent vales
Refreshing coolness and deep slumber hung
Yet undisturbed; dark clouds of mist still lay
Heaped heavily upon her mountain-tops.
Through the surrounding gloom Gabriel advanced        145
In search of the Redeemer. Deep within
A narrow cleft which rent the forked height
Of sacred Olivet, oppressed by thought
The Savior sleeping lay; a jutting rock
His resting-place. With reverence Gabriel viewed        150
His tranquil slumber, and in wonder gazed
On that hid majesty which man’s frail form,
By union with the Godhead, had acquired.
Still on the Savior’s face the traces beamed
Of grace and love; the smile of mercy there        155
Still lingered visible; still in his eye
A tear of pity hung. But faintly showed
Those outward tokens of his soul, now sunk
In sleep profound. So lies the blooming earth
In eve’s soft twilight veiled; her beauteous face,        160
Scarce recognized, so meets the inquiring eye
Of some close-hovering seraph, while aloft
In the yet lonely sky, the evening star
Shoots her pale radiance, calling from his bower
The contemplative sage. After long pause,        165
Gabriel thus softly cried:—“O Thou, whose eye
Omniscient searches heaven! who hear’st my words,
Though wrapped in sleep thy mortal body lies!
I have fulfilled thy mission. While my course
Returning I pursued, a fervent prayer        170
Adam implored me to convey. Thy face,
O gracious Savior, he on earth would see!
Now must I hasten, by Jehovah sent
On glorious ministration. Be ye hushed,
All living creatures! Every moment’s space        175
Of this swift-flying time, while here yet lies
The world’s Creator, dearer must ye deem
Than ages passed in duteous zeal for man.
Be still, ye whispering winds, as o’er this hill
Of lonely graves ye sweep, or sighing breathe        180
Your gentlest melodies! Descend, ye clouds,
And o’er these shades drop coolness and repose,
Deep and refreshing! Wave not your dark heads,
Ye tufted cedars! Cease, ye rustling groves,
While your Creator sleeps!” The seraph’s voice        185
In whispers low now sunk; and swift he flew
To join th’ assembled watchers, who, with him
(The faithful ministers of God’s high will)
Governed with delegated rule the earth.
Thither he hastened to proclaim the approach        190
Of man’s atonement by his Savior paid.
 
 
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