Rack, Wheel and Faggot Pyre

To this bless’d scheme I forc’d the struggling mind;
Faith sunk beneath me; sense her light resign’d;
Before rebellious conscience clank’d the chain;
The rack, the wheel, unbosomed all their pain;
The dungeon yawn’d; uprose the faggot pyre,
And, fierce with vengeance, twin’d the livid fire,
These woes I form’d on earth; beyond the tomb,
Of dreams, I built the purgatorial doom;
Hurl’d round all realms the interdictive peal;
Shut kings from heaven, and nations scourg’d to hell;
All crimes forgave; those crimes indulg’d again;
Disclos’d the right divine to every sin;
To certain ecstasies the faithful led;
Damn’d Doubt, when living; double damn’d, when dead;
O’er bold Inquiry bade all horrors roll,
And to its native nothing shrunk the soul.
Thus, round the Gothic wild, my kingdom lay,
A night, soon clouded o’er a winter’s day.
But oh, by what fell fate, to be entomb’d
Are bright ambition’s brightest glories doom’d?
While now my rival every hope forsook,
His arts, his counsels, and his sceptre broke,
This vast machine, so wondrous, so refin’d,
First, fairest offspring even of Satan’s mind,
This building, o’er all buildings proudly great,
Than Heaven more noble, and more fix’d than fate,
This glorious empire fell; the world grew pale,
And the skies trembled, at the dreadful tale.

Timothy Dwight: The Triumph of Infidelity (1788)

 

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