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Palmyra (2nd Edition)

---anankta ton pantôn huperbal-
lonta chronon makarôn.
Pindar. Hymn. frag. 33

Spirit of the days of yore!
Thou! who, in thy haunted cave,
By the torrent's sounding shore,
Mark'st the autumnal tempest rave:
Or, where on some ivied wall
Twilight-mingled moonbeams fall,
Deep in aisles and cloisters dim,
Hear'st the grey monks' verpser hymn:
Or, beneath the cypress shade,
Where forgotten chiefs are laid,
Pacing slow with solemn tread,
Breathest the verse that wakes the dead---
By the ivied convent lone,
By the Runic warrior's stone,
By the mountain-cataract's roar,
Spirit! thee I seek no more.
Let me, remote from earthly care,
Thy philosophic vigils share,
Amid the wrecks of ancient time,
More sad, more solemn, more sublime,
Where, half-sunk in seas of sand,
Thedmor's marble wastes expand.

These silent wrecks, more eloquent than speech,
Full many a tale of awful note impart:
Truths more severe than bard or sage can teach
This pomp of ruin presses on the heart
Sad through the palm the evening breezes-sigh:
No sound of man the solitude pervades,
Where shattered forms of ancient monarchs lie,
Mid grass-grown halls, and falling colonnades.
Beneath the drifting sand, the clustering weed,
Rest the proud relics of departed power.
None may the trophy-cinctured tablet read,
On votive urn, or monumental tower,
Nor tell whose wasted forms the mouldering tombs embower.

Enthusiast fancy, robed in light,
Dispels oblivion's deepening night.
Her charms a solemn train unfold,
Sublime on evening clouds of gold,
Of sceptred kings, in proud array,
And laurelled chiefs, and sages grey.
But whose the forms, oh fame! declare,
That crowd majestic on the air?
Pour from thy deathless roll the praise
Of kings renowned in elder days.
I call in vain! The welcome strain
Of praise to them no more shall sound:
Their actions bright must sleep in night,
Till time shall cease his mystic round.
The glories of their ancient sway
The stream of years has swept away:
Their names, that nations heard with fear,
Shall ring no more on mortal ear.
Yet still the muse's eye may trace
The noblest chief of Thedmor's race,
Who, by Euphrates' startling waves,
Bade outraged Rome her prostrate might unfold,
Tore from the brow of Persia's pride
The wreath in crimson victory dyed,
And o'er his flying slaves
Tumultuous ruin rolled.
Throned by his side, a lovely form,
In youthful majesty sublime,
Like sun-beams through the scattering storm,
Shines through the floating mists of time:
Even as in other years she shone,
When here she fixed her desert-throne,
Triumphant in the transient smiles of fate;
When Zabdas led her conquering bands
O'er Asia's many-peopled lands,
And subject monarchs thronged her palace-gate:
Ere yet stern war's avenging storm,
Captivity's dejected form,
And death, in solitude and darkness furled,
Closed round the setting star, that ruled the eastern world.

Dim shades around her move again,
From memory blotted by the lapse of years:
Yet, foremost in the sacred train,
The venerable sage appears,
Who once, these desolate arcades
And time-worn porticoes among,
Disclosed to princely youths and high-born maids
The secret fountains of Mæonian song,
And traced the mazy warblings of the lyre,
With all a critic's art, and all a poet's fire.

What mystic form, uncouth and dread,
With withered cheek, and hoary head,
Swift as the death-fire cleaves the sky,
Swept on sounding pinions by?
'Twas Time. I know the foe of kings,
His scythe, and sand, and eagle-wings:
He cast a burning look around,
And waved his bony hand, and frowned.
Far from the spectre's scowl of fire,
Fancy's feeble forms retire:
Her air-born phantoms melt away,
Like stars before the rising day.

One shadowy tint enwraps the plain:
No form is near, no steps intrude,
To break the melancholy reign
Of silence and of solitude.
Ah! little thought the wealthy proud,
When rosy pleasure laughed aloud,
And music, with symphonious swell,
Attuned to joy her festal shell,
That here, amid their ancient land,
The wanderer of the distant days
Should mark, with sorrow-clouded gaze,
The mighty wilderness of sand,
While not a sound should meet his ear,
Save of the desert-gales, that sweep,
In modulated murmurs deep,
The wasted graves above
Of those, who once had revelled here
In hap
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:37 min read
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Thomas Love Peacock

Thomas Love Peacock was an English novelist, poet, and official of the East India Company. more…

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