Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE PROPHETESS, by LETITIA ELIZABETH LANDON



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THE PROPHETESS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: In the deep silence of the midnight hours
Last Line: The wide world round us is one mighty tomb.
Alternate Author Name(s): L. E. L.; Maclean, Letitia


IN the deep silence of the midnight hours,
I call upon ye, oh ye viewless powers!
Before whose presence mortal daring cowers.

I have subdued ye to my own stern will,
I fear ye not; but I must shudder still,
Faint with the awful purpose ye fulfil.

Not for myself I call the aether-born,
They have no boon my being doth not scorn --
Wholly and bitterly am I forlorn.

Dearly is bought the empire of the mind;
It sitteth on a sullen throne, designed
To elevate and part it from its kind.

Long years my stricken soul has turned away
From the sweet dreams that round my childhood lay:
Would it still owned their false but lovely sway!

In the dark grave of unbelief they rest,
Worthless they were, and hollow, while possest.
I am alone -- unblessing, and unblest!

Knowledge is with me -- guest that once received
Love, hope, ambition, are no more believed;
And we disdain what formerly had grieved.

A few fair flowers around their colours fling,
But what does questioning their sources bring?
That from corruption and from death they spring.

'Tis thus with those sweet dreams which life begin,
We weary of them, and we look within:
What do we find? Guile, suffering, and sin.

I know my kind too well not to despise
The gilded sophistry that round it lies:
Hate, sorrow, falsehood -- mocking their disguise.

Oh, thou old world! so full of guilt and cares,
So mean, so small -- I marvel Heaven bears
Thy struggle, which the seeing almost shares.

Yet, mine ancestral city, for thy sake
A lingering interest on this earth I take;
In the dim midnight 'tis for thee I wake.

Softly the starlight falleth over fanes
That rise above thy myrtle-wooded plains,
Where summer hath her loveliest domains.

Beneath, the gardens spread their pleasant shade,
The lutes are hushed that twilight music made,
Sleep on the world her honey-spell hath laid.

Sweet come the winds that o'er these flower-beds rove,
I only breathe the perfumes that ye love.
Spirits! my incense summons ye above.

What of yon stately city, where are shrined
The warrior's and the poet's wreath combined --
All the high honours of the human mind!

Her walls are bright with colours, whose fine dyes
Embody shapes that seem from younder skies,
And in her scrolls the world's deep wisdom lies.

What of her future? -- Through the silvery smoke
I see the distant vision I invoke.
These glorious walls have bowed to time's dark yoke.

I see a plain of desert sand extend
Scattered with ruins, where the wild flowers bend,
And the green ivy, like a last sad friend.

Low are the marble columns on the sand,
The palm-trees that have grown among them stand
As if they mocked the fallen of the land.

Hence, ye dark Spirits! bear the dream away;
To-morrow but repeateth yesterday;
First, toil -- then, desolation and decay.

Life has one vast stern likeness in its gloom,
We toil with hopes that must themselves consume --
The wide world round us is one mighty tomb.





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