Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE UNKNOWN GOD, by ANNA LETITIA BARBAULD

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THE UNKNOWN GOD, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: To learned athens, led by fame
Last Line: Ah! Still that altar stands.
Alternate Author Name(s): Aikin, Anna Letitia
Subject(s): God; Athens, Greece

To learned Athens, led by fame,
As once the man of Tarsus came,
With pity and surprise
'Midst idol altars as he stood,
O'er sculptured marble, brass and wood,
He roll'd his awful eyes.

But one, apart, his notice caught,
That seemed with higher meaning fraught,
Graved on the wounded stone:
Nor form, nor name was there express'd;
Deep reverence filled the musing breast,
Perusing -- "To the God unknown."

Age after age has rolled away,
Altars and thrones have felt decay,
Sages and saints have risen;
And, like a giant roused from sleep
Man has explored the pathless deep,
And lightnings snatched from heaven.

And many a shrine in dust is laid,
Where kneeling nations homage paid,
By rock, or fount, or grove:
Ephesian Dian sees no more
Her workmen fuse the silver ore,
Nor capitolian Jove.

E'en Salem's hallowed courts have ceas'd
With solemn pomps her tribes to feast;
No more the victim bleeds:
To censers, filled with rare perfumes,
And vestments from Egyptian looms,
A purer rite succeeds.

Yet still, where'er presumptuous man
His Maker's essence strives to scan,
And lifts his feeble hands;
Tho' saint and sage their powers unite,
To fathom that abyss of light,
Ah! still that altar stands.

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