Verse > Anthologies > W. Garrett Horder, ed. > The Poets’ Bible: New Testament
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W. Garrett Horder, comp.  The Poets’ Bible: New Testament.  1895.
 
When He beheld the City
Edward Hayes Plumptre (1821–1891)
 
And when He beheld the city He wept over it.

    THEY climbed the Eastern slope
Which leads from Jordan up to Olivet;
And they who earlier dreams could not forget
    Were flushed with eager hope.
 
    They gained the crest, and lo!        5
The marble temple in the sunset gleamed,
And golden light upon its turrets streamed,
    As on the stainless snow.
 
    They shout for joy of heart,
But He, the King, looks on as one in grief;        10
To heart o’erburdened weeping brings relief
    The unbidden tear-drops start:
 
    “Ah, had’st thou known, e’en thou
In this thy day the things that make for peace;”
Alas! no strivings now can work release,        15
    The night is closing now.
 
    On all thy high estate,
Thy temple-courts and palaces of pride,
Thy pleasant pictures and thy markets wide,
    Is written now “Too late.”        20
 
    Time was there might have been
The waking up to life of higher mood,
The knowledge of the only Wise and Good,
    Within thy portals seen;
 
    But now the past is past,        25
The last faint light by blackening clouds is hid;
Thy heaped-up sins each hope of grace forbid,
    The sky is all o’ercast;
 
    And soon from out the cloud
Will burst the storm that lays thee low in dust,        30
Till shrine and palace, homes of hate and lust,
    Are wrapt in fiery shroud.
 
    And is it not so still?
He looks on Churches, Nations, and he grieves,
When each its own true path of wisdom leaves,        35
    To work completest ill.
 
    Thou Mother of the East,
Church of the Basils, Clement, Athanase,
How art thou fallen, holiest turned to base,
    The greatest to the least!        40
 
    Thou would’st not turn aside
From endless wranglings of a wisdom vain,
And so the sword of Islam smote in twain
    Thy glory and thy pride.
 
    And thou, the nation’s Queen,        45
Throned in the West, the Seven proud hills thy home,
Heir of the might of old imperial Rome,
    What end for thee is seen?
 
    Thou too hast had thy day,
The call to turn from darkness to the light,        50
From fraud and force, false creed and idol rite,
    To Truth’s keen searching ray.
 
    Thou did’st not, would’st not know
What made for life, and purity, and peace,
And now each year the guilt and gloom increase,        55
    Sure presage of great woe.
 
    Thine evil choice was made,
Thou fain would’st queen it o’er the nations round,
And now they bring thy Babel to the ground,
    And thou in dust art laid.        60
 
    And thou too, Mother mine,
Church of our fathers, wilt thou close thine eyes,
Turn from the light, refusing to be wise,
    Till sleep of death is Thine?
 
    Fierce wranglings, hot debate,        65
Distrust of all the progress of the years,
Vain clinging to the past, and groundless fears,
    Is this thy final state?
 
    Oh, wake, repent, and live,
Ere all thy foes shall hem thee round about;        70
False friends within, and tempest storms without,
    All signs their warning give.
 
    Ah! if the blest can weep
As they behold upon the sea of glass,
The mirrored forms of Earth’s great story pass,        75
    Like shadows o’er the deep.
 
    Sure now they mourn and wail
O’er barren strife, false zeal, and wasted strength:
Wilt thou not wake, arise, and claim at length,
    The life that shall not fail?        80
 
    Rise—thy sun is not yet set
Though thick the mist, and dark the future’s path,
And all around are signs of gathering wrath,
    The light is with thee yet.
 
    Only be true, be bold,        85
Bridge the broad gulf that widens every hour,
Face coming dangers, keep thy ancient dower,
    Unite the new and old.
 
 
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