What wasted years, with angry voice he cries,
I wage vain wars with yonder hated skies?
Still, as I walk th’ unmeasur’d round of things,
From deepest ill what good perpetual springs;
What order shines, where blest confusion lay,
And from the night of death, what splendid day?
How near me seem’d, ere Bethlehem’s wonder rose,
The final victory o’er my struggling foes;
All nations won to ignorance, and sin,
Without the Gentile, and the Jew within?
How near, when cross’d, he met th’ accursed doom,
Or lay, extinguish’d in the mortal tomb?
Yet then, even whilst I felt my pinions rise
Above the arches of a thousand skies,
Even then, deep plunged beneath the lowest hell,
As erst when hurl’d from heav’n, my kingdom fell,
And oh, by what foul means! An angel I,
A god, the rival of yon haughty sky!
They the last sweepings of the clay-born kind,
The dunghill’s offspring, and the reptile’s mind.
Yet their creating voice, with startling sound,
From death and darkness wak’d the world’s wide round;
Before it crumbled, mid my groans and tears,
The Pagan fabric of a thousand years;
The spells, the rites, the pomp, the victims fled,
The fanes all desert, and the lares dead.
In vain fierce persecution hedg’d their way;
In vain dread power’s huge weight incumbent lay;
As sand-built domes dissolve before the stream,
As visions fleet upon th’ awakening beam,
The structure fled; while hell was rack’d to save,
And all my heaven-bright glories sought the grave.
Amaz’d, awhile, I saw the ruin spread,
My hopes, my efforts, with my kingdom, dead.
But soon I bade the floods of vengeance roll,
Soon rous’d anew my mightiness of soul,
With arts my own, th’ opposer’s power withstood,
And reign’d once more the universal God;
Mine, by all poisoning wealth, his sons I made,
And Satan preached, while proud Messiah fled.
Surpriz’d, enrag’d, to see his wiles outdone,
His power all vanquish’d, and his kingdom gone,
From the stern North, he hail’d my darling host,
A whelming ocean, spread to every coast;
My Goths, my Huns, the cultur’d world o’er-ran,
And darkness buried all the pride of man.
On dozing realms he pour’d his vengeance dread,
On putrid bishops, and on priests half dead,
Blotted, at one great stroke, the work he drew,
And saw his gospel bid mankind adieu.
The happy hour I seiz’d; the world my own:
Full in his church I fix’d my glorious throne;
Thrice crown’d, I sate a God, and more than God;
Bade all earth’s nations shiver at my nod;
Dispens’d to men the code of Satan’ laws,
And made my priests the columns of my cause.
In their bless’d hands the gospel I conceal’d,
And new-found doctrines, in it’s stead, reveal’d;
Of gloomy visions drew a fearful round,
Names of dire look, and words of killing sound,
Where, meaning lost, terrific doctrines lay,
Maz’d the dim soul, and frighten’d truth away;
Where noise for truth, for virtue pomp was given,
Myself the God promulg’d, and hell the heaven.
Timothy Dwight: The Triumph of Infidelity (1788)