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A Poem On The Last Day - Book II

Edward Young 1681 (Upham) – 1765 (Welwyn)

Now man awakes, and from his silent bed,
Where he has slept for ages, lifts his head;
Shakes off the slumber of ten thousand years,
And on the borders of new worlds appears.
Whate'er the bold, the rash adventure cost,
In wide Eternity I dare be lost.

The Muse is wont in narrow bounds to sing,
To teach the swain, or celebrate the king.
I grasp the whole, no more to parts confined,
I lift my voice, and sing to human kind:
I sing to men and angels; angels join,
While such the theme, their sacred songs with mine.

Again the trumpet's intermitted sound
Rolls the wide circuit of creation round,
An universal concourse to prepare
Of all that ever breathed the vital air;
In some wide field, which active whirlwinds sweep,
Drive cities, forests, mountains to the deep,
To smooth and lengthen out the' unbounded space,
And spread an area for all human race.

Now monuments prove faithful to their trust,
And render back their long committed dust.
Now charnels rattle; scatter'd limbs, and all
The various bones, obsequious to the call,
Self-moved, advance; the neck perhaps to meet
The distant head; the distant legs, the feet.
Dreadful to view, see through the dusky sky
Fragments of bodies in confusion fly,
To distant regions journeying, there to claim
Deserted members, and complete the frame.

When the world bow'd to Rome's almighty sword,
Rome bow'd to Pompey, and confess'd her lord.
Yet, one day lost, this deity below
Became the scorn and pity of his foe.
His blood a traitor's sacrifice was made,
And smoked indignant on a ruffian's blade.
No trumpet's sound, no gasping army's yell,
Bid, with due horror, his great soul farewell.
Obscure his fall: all weltering in his gore,
His trunk was cast to perish on the shore!
While Julius frown'd the bloody monster dead,
Who brought the world in his great rival's head.
This sever'd head and trunk shall join once more,
Though realms now rise between, and oceans roar.
The trumpet's sound each vagrant-mote shall hear,
Or fix'd in earth, or if afloat in air,
Obey the signal wafted in the wind,
And not one sleeping atom lag behind.

So swarming bees, that, on a summer's day,
In airy rings and wild meanders play,
Charm'd with the brasen sound, their wanderings end,
And, gently circling, on a bough descend.

The body thus renew'd, the conscious soul,
Which has perhaps been fluttering near the pole,
Or midst the burning planets wondering stray'd,
Or hover'd o'er where her pale corpse was laid;
Or rather coasted on her final state,
And fear'd or wish'd for her appointed fate:
This soul, returning with a constant flame,
Now weds for ever her immortal frame.
Life, which ran down before, so high is wound,
The springs maintain an everlasting round.

Thus a frail model of the work design'd
First takes a copy of the builder's mind,
Before the structure firm with lasting oak,
And marble bowels of the solid rock,
Turns the strong arch, and bids the columns rise,
And bear the lofty palace to the skies;
The wrongs of Time enabled to surpass,
With bars of adamant, and ribs of brass.

That ancient, sacred, and illustrious dome,
Where soon or late fair Albion's heroes come,
From camps and courts, though great, or wise, or just,
To feed the worm, and moulder into dust;
That solemn mansion of the royal dead,
Where passing slaves o'er sleeping monarchs tread,
Now populous o'erflows: a numerous race
Of rising kings fill all the' extended space.
A life well-spent, not the victorious sword,
Awards the crown, and styles the greater lord.

Nor monuments alone, and burial earth,
Labour with man to this his second birth;
But where gay palaces in pomp arise,
And gilded theatres invade the skies,
Nations shall wake, whose unrespected bones
Support the pride of their luxurious sons.
The most magnificent and costly dome
Is but an upper chamber to a tomb.
No spot on earth but has supplied a grave,
And human skulls the spacious ocean pave.
All's full of man; and at this dreadful turn,
The swarm shall issue, and the hive shall burn.

Not all at once, nor in like manner, rise:
Some lift with pain their slow unwilling eyes;
Shrink backward from the terror of the light,
And bless the grave, and call for lasting night.
Others, whose long-attempted virtue stood
Fix'd as a rock, and broke the rushing flood;
Whose firm resolve nor beauty could melt down,
Nor raging tyrants from their posture frown:-
Such, in this day of horrors, shall be seen
To face the thunders with a godlike mien:<
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

4:02 min read
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Edward Young

Edward Young, LVO is the current Deputy Private Secretary to Queen Elizabeth II. more…

All Edward Young poems | Edward Young Books

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