Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, CHARADE, by HORACE SMITH

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CHARADE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Oh! What a glorious city! -- behold
Last Line: But the warfare is over: there's peace in my third!
Alternate Author Name(s): Smith, Horatio
Subject(s): Beauty; Death; Fate; Flowers; Hearts; Dead, The; Destiny

OH! what a glorious city! -- behold
Its obelisks, pyramids, sphinx-guarded fanes,
You gaze on Bubastis in Egypt of old,
And hark! to those sacred melodious strains!
The dulcimer, harp, shawm, and tabret combine
With the choral rejoicings and anthems that burst
From yon temple's august and magnificent shrine,
Where prostrated crowds are adoring my First.
How strange the conflicting caprices and whims
Of blind superstition! some ages are fled,
And the object which living was worshipped with hymns,
And graced with an apotheosis when dead,
In Europe is marked for proscription and ban,
As leagued with the foul and unsanctified crew
Who ply the black art that's forbidden to man,
And with spirits of darkness dark courses pursue.

And where is my changeable Second displayed?
In the belle and the bird, in the damsel and crone,
In the foul and the fair, in the matron and maid,
In the dabbler in mud, in the queen on her throne.
Who can reckon its changes of form and abode?
Arched and square, low and dirty, distorted and strait,
It is seen in the ditch, on the dunghill, the road,
In the huts of the poor, in the halls of the great.
It is pure flesh and blood, when from Nature's own hand:
Made by man, its diversified substance is found
In the fish of the deep, in the beasts of the land,
In the trees of the field, in the ore under ground.
If sometimes 'tis worn unembellished and plain,
By the wives or the daughters of niggardly churls,
At others 'tis decked with a glittering train
Of diamonds and amethysts, rubies and pearls.

In my populous Third what a withering change
From the bushy Bubastis my first gave to sight:
No sunbeam, no moon gilds its desolate range;
All is silence profound and perpetual night.
It has numberless houses and each one contains
A single inhabitant ever asleep,
No footfall is heard in its streets and its lanes,
In the midst of a crowd there is solitude deep.
Here lovers whose union has long been denied,
Often meet, but no love-breathing whisper is heard;
Here bitterest foemen are placed side by side,
But the warfare is over: there's peace in my Third!

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