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Zophiel. (Invocation)

Thou with the dark blue eye upturned to heaven,
  And cheek now pale, now warm with radiant glow,
  Daughter of God,--most dear,--
  Come with thy quivering tear,
  And tresses wild, and robes of loosened flow,--
  To thy lone votaress let one look be given!

  Come Poesy! nor like some just-formed maid,
  With heart as yet unswoln by bliss or woe;--
  But of such age be seen
  As Egypt's glowing queen,
  When her brave Roman learned to love her so
  That death and loss of fame, were, by a smile, repaid.

  Or as thy Sappho, when too fierce assailed
  By stern ingratitude her tender breast:--
  Her love by scorn repaid
  Her friendship true betrayed,
  Sick of the guileful earth, she sank for rest
  In the cold waves embrace; while Grecian muse bewailed.

  Be to my mortal eye, like some fair dame--
  Ripe, but untouched by time; whose frequent blush
  Plays o'er her cheek of truth
  As soft as earliest youth;
  While thoughts exalted to her mild eye rush--
  And the expanded soul, tells 'twas from heaven it came.

  Daughter of life's first cause; who, when he saw
  The ills that unborn innocents must bear,
  When doomed to come to earth--
  Bethought--and gave thee birth
  To charm the poison from affliction there;
  And from his source eternal, bade thee draw.

  He gave thee power, inferior to his own
  But in control o'er matter. 'Mid the crash
  Of earthquake, war, and storm,
  Is seen thy radiant form
  Thou com'st at midnight on the lightning's flash,
  And ope'st to those thou lov'st new scenes and worlds unknown.

  And still, as wild barbarians fiercely break
  The graceful column and the marble dome--
  Where arts too long have lain
  Debased at pleasure's fain,
  And bleeding justice called on wrath to come,
  'Mid ruins heaped around, thou bidst thy votarists wake.

  Methinks I see thee on the broken shrine
  Of some fall'n temple--where the grass waves high
  With many a flowret wild;
  While some lone, pensive, child
  Looks on the sculpture with a wondering eye
  Whose kindling fires betray that he is chosen thine. [FN#1]

  [FN#1] Genius, perhaps, has often, nay generally, been awakened and the whole future bent of the mind thus strongly operated upon, determined, by some circumstance trivial as this.

  Or on some beetling cliff--where the mad waves
  Rush echoing thro' the high-arched caves below,
  I view some love-reft fair
  Whose sighing warms the air,
  Gaze anxious on the ocean as it raves
  And call on thee-alone, of power to sooth her woe.

  Friend of the wretched; smoother of the couch
  Of pining hope; thy pitying form I know!
  Where thro' the wakeful night,
  By a dim taper's light,
  Lies a pale youth, upon his pallet low,
  Whose wan and woe-worn charms rekindle at thy touch.

  Friendless--oppressed by fate--the restless fires
  Of his thralled soul prey on his beauteous frame--
  Till, strengthened by thine aid,
  He shapes some kindred maid,
  Pours forth in song the life consuming flame,
  And for awhile forgets his sufferings and desires.

  Scorner of thoughtless grandeur, thou hast chose
  Thy best-beloved from ruddy Nature's breast:
  The grotto dark and rude--
  The forest solitude--
  The craggy mount by blushing clouds carest--
  Have altars where thy light etherial glows. [FN#2]

  [FN#2] Every nation, however rude, has, as it has been justly observed, a taste for poetry. This art after all that has and can be said for and against it, is the language of nature, and among the relics of the most polished and learned nations little has survived except such as simply depicts those natural feelings and images which have ever existed and ever must continue. Most of the great poets have been individuals of humble condition rising from the mass of the people by that natural principle which causes the most etherial particles to rise and the denser to sink to the earth. But, as Byron exquisitely says, in one of the most wonderfully beautiful pages he ever composed,

  "Many are poets who have never penned
  Their inspirations, and, perchance, the best;
  They felt, they loved, and died; but would not lend
  Their thoughts to meaner beings; they comprest
  The god within them, and rejoined the stars
  Unlaurel'd upon earth."

  In the place where I now write amid several hundred Africans of different ages, and nations, the most debased of any on the face of the earth, I have been enabled to observe, even in this, last link of the chain of humanity, the strong natural love for music and poetry.

  Any little incident which occurs on the estate where they toil, and which the greater part of them are never suffered to leave, is immediately made the subject of a rude song which they, in their broken Spanish, sing to their companions; and thereby relieve a little the monotony of their lives.

  I have observed these poor creatures, under various circumstances, and though, generally, extremely brutal, have, in some instances, heard touches of sentiment from them, when under the influence of grief, equal to any which have flowed from the pen of Rousseau.

  Thy sovereign priest by earth's vile sons was driven
  To make the cold unconscious earth his bed: [FN#3]
  The damp cave mocked his sighs--
  But from his sightless eyes,
  Wrung forth by wrongs, the anguished drops he shed,
  Fell each as an appeal to summon thee from heaven.

  Thou sought'st him in his desolation; placed
  On thy warm bosom his unpillowed head;
  Bade him for visions live
  More bright than worlds can give;
  O'er his pale lips thy soul infusive shed
  That left his dust adored where kings decay untraced.

  [FN#3] "On the banks of the Meles was shown the spot where Critheis, the mother of Homer, brought him into the world, and the cavern to which he retired to compose his immortal verses. A monument erected to his memory and inscribed with his name stood in the middle of the city--it was adorned with spacious porticos under which the citizens assembled."

  Source of deep feeling--of surpassing love--
  Creative power,--'tis thou hast peopled heaven
  Since man from dust arose
  His birth the cherub owes [FN#4]
  To thee--by thee his rapturous harp was given
  And white wings tipp'd with gold that cool the domes above.

  [FN#4] The Indians (says M. de Voltaire) from whom every species of theology is derived, invented the angels and represented them in their ancient book the "Shasta," as immortal creatures, participating in the divinity of their creator; against whom a great number revolted in heaven, "Les Parsis ignicoles, qui subsistent encore ont communique a l'auteur de la religion des anciens Perses les noms des anges que les premiers Perses reconnaissaient. On en trouve cent-dix- neuf, parmi desquels ne sont ni Raphael ni Gabriel que les Perses n'adopterent que long-tems apres. Ces mots sont Chaldeens; ils ne furent connus des Juifs que dans leur captivite."

  Husher of secret sighs--from childhood's hour
  The slave of Fate, I've knelt before thy throne;
  To thy loved courts have sped
  Whene'er my heart has bled,
  And every ray of bliss that heart has known
  Has reached it thro' thy grief-dispelling power.

  Fain thro' my native solitudes I'd roam
  Bathe my rude harp in my bright native streams
  Twine it with flowers that bloom
  But for the deserts gloom,
  Or, for the long and jetty hair that gleams
  O'er the dark-bosomed maid that makes the wild her home. [FN#5]

  [FN#5] This invocation when composed was intended to precede a series of poems entitled Occidental Eclogues; which work the writer has never found opportunity to finish.

  I sing not for the crowd, or low or high--
  A pensive wanderer on life's thorny heath
  Earth's pageants for my view
  Have nought: I love but few,
  And few who chance to hear thy trembling breath,
  My lyre, for her who wakes thee, have a sigh. [FN#6]

  [FN#6] It may not be improper to observe that these stanzas were composed during a period of misfortune and dejection.

  Forsake me not! none ever loved thee more!
  Fair queen, I'll meet woe's fearfulest frown--and smile;
  If mid the scene severe
  Thou'lt drop on me one tear,
  And let thy flitting form sometimes beguile
  The present of its ills--I'll scorn them and adore.

  Then warm the form relentless fate would chill--
  Dark lours my night--Oh! give me one embrace!
  If every pain I bear
  Befit me for thy care,
  Come sorrow--scorn--desertion--I can chase
  Despair, fell watching for her victim still.
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Submitted by halel on July 15, 2020

7:15 min read

Maria Gowen Brooks

Maria Gowen Brooks was an American poet. She impressed Edgar Allan Poe and the English Poet Laureate, Robert Southey, who promoted her best-known poem Zophiël. more…

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    "Zophiel. (Invocation)" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 26 Oct. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/54333/zophiel.-(invocation)>.

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