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The Babylonian Captivity

Charles Harpur 1813 (Windsor) – 1868 (Australia)

By far Euphrates’ stream we state,
  A weary band of herded slaves,
And over Judah’s fallen estate
  We wept into the passing waves.

On willow-boughs that o’er us bent
  Our once glad-sounding harps were hung,
That but the wild wind, as it went,
  Might grieve their wailful chords among.

But they who spoiled us—even they
  Who wasted us with daily wrongs,
To make them mirth did asking say:
  “Come sing us one of Zion’s songs!”

How can with us the will remain
  To strike the harp with fettered hand?
How can we sing a joyful strain
  As captives in a foreign land?

And when, Jerussalem! We let
  Thy memory pass on Time’s grey wing,
May our right hands at once forget
  Their mastery o’er the sounding string!

Yea, let our tongues to song be dumb,
  As in a dull and voiceless dream,
Till to thy courts again we come
  And thy redemption be the theme!

Then, Edom, thou shalt get thy wound!
  For thou, on Zion’s evil day,
Saidst—“Raze her beauty to the ground,
  And captive drive her sons away!”

And lo! Yet fiercer visions rise,
  The day is fixed, the hour is known,
When, Babylon! Thy fateful skies
  Shall raid red wrath and ruin down!

Till by thy towers all overthrown,
  Thy daughters, desolate as we,
Each with her shame shall sit alone,
  With shame and wild-faced misery!

And then may the avenger dash
  Thy children’s heads against stones;
For so, ’mid Zion’s falling crash,
  Didst thou with all our little ones.


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Submitted on May 13, 2011

1:17 min read

Charles Harpur

Charles Harpur was an Australian poet. more…

All Charles Harpur poems | Charles Harpur Books

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