Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

180

Sung with the voice, and this the argument :

“Victory and triumph to the Son of God,
Now entering his great duel, not of arms,
But to vanquish by wisdom hellish wiles !
The Father knows the Son; therefore secure
Ventures his filial virtue, though untried,
Against whate'er may tempt, whate'er seduce,
Allure, or terrify, or undermine.
Be frustrate, all ye stratagems of Hell,
And, devilish machinations, come to nought !”

So they in Heaven their odes and vigils tuned.
Meanwhile the Son of God, who yet some days
Lodged in Bethabara, where John baptized,
Musing and much revolving in his breast
How best the mighty work he might begin
Of Saviour to mankind, and which way first
Publish his godlike office now mature,
One day forth walked alone, the Spirit leading
And his deep thoughts, the better to converse 190
With solitude, till, far from track of men,
Thought following thought, and step by step led on,
He entered now the bordering Desert wild,
And, with dark shades and rocks environed round,
His holy meditations thus pursued :-

“O what a multitude of thoughts at once
Awakened in me swarm, while I consider
What from within I feel myself, and hear
What from without comes often to my ears,
Ill sorting with my present state compared !
When I was yet a child, no childish play
To me was pleasing ; all my mind was set
Serious to learn and know, and thence to do,
What might be public good; myself I thought
Born to that end, born to promote all truth,
All righteous things. Therefore, above my years,
The Law of God I read, and found it sweet;

200

Made it my whole delight, and in it grew
To such perfection that, ere yet my age
Had measured twice six years, at our great Feast 210
I went into the Temple, there to hear
The teachers of our Law, and to propose
What might improve my knowledge or their own,
And was admired by all. Yet this not all
To which my spirit aspired. Victorious deeds
Flamed in my heart, heroic acts—one while
To rescue Israel from the Roman yoke ;
Then to subdue and quell, o'er all the earth,
Brute violence and proud tyrannic power,
Till truth were freed, and equity restored : 220
Yet held it more humane, more heavenly, first
By winning words to conquer willing hearts,
And make persuasion do the work of fear;
At least to try, and teach the erring soul,
Not wilfully misdoing, but unware
Misled ; the stubborn only to subdue.
These growing thoughts my mother soon perceiving,
By words at times cast forth, inly rejoiced,
And said to me apart, “ High are thy thoughts,
O Son! but nourish them, and let them soar 230
To what highth sacred virtue and true worth
Can raise them, though above example high ;
By matchless deeds express thy matchless Sire.
For know, thou art no son of mortal man ;
Though men esteem thee low of parentage,
Thy Father is the Eternal King who rules
All Heaven and Earth, Angels and sons of men.
A messenger from God foretold thy birth
Conceived in me a virgin ; he foretold
Thou shouldst be great, and sit on David's throne, 240
And of thy kingdom there should be no end.
At thy nativity a glorious quire
Of Angels, in the fields of Bethlehem, sung

To shepherds, watching at their folds by night,
And told them the Messiah now was born,
Where they might see him ; and to thee they came,
Directed to the manger where thou lay'st;
For in the inn was left no better room.
A star, not seen before, in heaven appearing,
Guided the wise men thither from the East, 250
To honour thee with incense, myrrh, and gold ;
By whose bright course led on they found the place,
Affirming it thy star, new-graven in heaven,
By which they knew thee King of Israel born.
Just Simeon and prophetic Anna, warned
By vision, found thee in the Temple, and spake,
Before the altar and the vested priest,
Like things of thee to all that present stood.'
This having heard, straight I again revolved
The Law and Prophets, searching what was writ 260
Concerning the Messiah, to our scribes
Known partly, and soon found of whom they spake
I am—this chiefly, that my way must lie
Through many a hard assay, even to the death,
Ere I the promised kingdom can attain,
Or work redemption for mankind, whose sins'
Full weight must be transferred upon my head.
Yet, neither thus disheartened or dismayed,
The time prefixed I waited ; when behold
The Baptist (of whose birth I oft had heard, 270
Not knew by sight) now come, who was to come
Before Messiah, and his way prepare !
I, as all others, to his baptism came,
Which I believed was from above ; but he
Straight knew me, and with loudest voice proclaimed
Me him (for it was shown him so froin Heaven)-
Me him whose harbinger he was ; and first
Refused on me his baptism to confer,
As much his greater, and was hardly won.

But, as I rose out of the laving stream,

280
Heaven opened her eternal doors, from whence
The Spirit descended on me like a dove;
And last, the sum of all, my Father's voice,
Audibly heard from Heaven, pronounced me his,
Me his beloved Son, in whom alone
He was well pleased : by which I knew the time
Now full, that I no more should live obscure,
But openly begin, as best becomes
The authority which I derived from Heaven.
And now by some strong motion I am led 290
Into this wilderness; to what intent
I learn not yet. Perhaps I need not know;
For what concerns my knowledge God reveals.”

So spake our Morning Star, then in his rise,
And, looking round, on every side beheld
A pathless desert, dusk with horrid shades.
The way he came, not having marked return,
Was difficult, by human steps untrod;
And he still on was led, but with such thoughts
Accompanied of things past and to come
Lodged in his breast as well might recommend
Such solitude before choicest society.

Full forty days he passed-whether on hill
Sometimes, anon in shady vale, each night
Under the covert of some ancient oak
Or cedar to defend him from the dew,
Or harboured in one cave, is not revealed;
Nor tasted human food, nor hunger felt,
Till those days ended ; hungered then at last
Among wild beasts. They at his sight grew mild, 310
Nor sleeping him nor waking harmed ; his walk
The fiery serpent fled and noxious worm ;
The lion and fierce tiger glared aloof.
But now an aged man in rural weeds,
Following, as seemed, the quest of some stray ewe,

300

Or withered sticks to gather, which might serve
Against a winter's day, when winds blow keen,
To warm him wet returned from field at eve,
He saw approach ; who first with curious eye
Perused him, then with words thus uttered spake :-- 320

“Sir, what ill chance hath brought thee to this place,
So far from path or road of men, who pass
In troop or caravan ? for single none
Durst ever, who returned, and dropt not here
His carcass, pined with hunger and with drouth.
I ask the rather, and the more admire,
For that to me thou seem'st the man whom late
Our new baptizing Prophet at the ford
Of Jordan honoured so, and called thee Son
Of God. I saw and heard, for we sometimes 330
Who dwell this wild, constrained by want, come forth
To town or village nigh (nighest is far),
Where aught we hear, and curious are to hear,
What happens new ; fame also finds us out.”

To whom the Son of God: “Who brought me hither Will bring me hence; no other guide I seek.”

“ By miracle he may,” replied the swain ; “ What other way I see not ; for we here Live on tough roots and stubs, to thirst inured More than the camel, and to drink go farMen to much misery and hardship born. But, if thou be the Son of God, command That out of these hard stones be made thee bread; So shalt thou save thyself, and us relieve With food, whereof we wretched seldom taste.”

He ended, and the Son of God replied :" Think'st thou such force in bread? Is it not written (For I discern thee other than thou seem'st), Man lives not by bread only, but each word Proceeding from the mouth of God, who fed 350 Our fathers here with inanna? In the Mount

340

« AnteriorContinuar »