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Title: A poem on the earthquake at Lisbon
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
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                                ON THE




    Printed for W. OWEN, near _Temple-Bar_, 1755. [Price Sixpence.]



                                ON THE




    Calm was the Sky, the Sun serenely bright,
    Shot o’er the Sea long dazzling Streams of Light.
    Thro’ Orange Groves soft breathing Breezes play’d,
    And gather’d Sweets like Bees where e’er they stray’d.
    In fair Relievo stood the lofty Town,                              5
    Set off by radiant Lights and Shadows brown;
    While ev’ry Dome, each Cupola and Spire,
    Shone doubly gilt by the Sun’s lambent Fire.
    And where beneath, the Silver _Tagus_ flow’d,
    In many a stately Row tall Vessels rode;                          10
    So smooth it flow’d that all the various View,
    Reflected there, was downward seen anew,
    And as it softly stole along the Plain,
    Carry’d a floating Landskip to the Main.

      Within the Town gay Crowds were seen to stray,                  15
    While full Processions grac’d the festive Day.
    Mechanicks by their honest Labour fed,
    With chearful Visage earn’d their daily Bread;
    Misers were counting o’er their ill-got Store,
    But not contented meditating more.                                20
    Spendthrifts were just awak’d from Golden Dreams;
    Projectors were inventing Lottery Schemes;
    Merchants were storing Goods from _India_ brought;
    Clients were selling Lands which Lawyers bought.
    Behold a Youth, and sitting by his Side,                          25
    A Damsel new-betroth’d, his destin’d Bride;
    Around them throngs a Train of Virgins gay,
    Preparing Garments for the Marriage-day.
    Alas!--And now rings out the Matin Bell,
    The pious Matron issuing from her Cell,                           30
    Inspir’d by true Devotion joins the Crowd,
    And aw’d with Reverence seeks the House of God;
    There humbly prostrate kneels upon the Ground--
    Happy the Few that watching so are sound!

      Ill-fated City! there were Revels kept,                         35
    Devoid of Fear, they eat, they drank, they sleep’d.
    No friendly Voice like that of antient _Rome_,
    Was sent to give them Warning of their Doom:
    No Airy Warriours to each other clung,
    Such as ’tis said o’er destin’d _Sion_ hung;                      40
    But like a nightly Thief their dreadful Fate,
    Unlook’d for came and undermin’d their State.

      For with a sudden Shock the solid Ground,
    In dreadful Waves came rolling all around;
    Not those rough Seas beneath the frozen Pole,                     45
    Impell’d by Winds, more furious Billows roll.
    Earth’s Womb was heard to groan with hollow Roar,
    The Dwellings trembled--but Men trembled more.
    Aghast they reel like Drunkards here and there,
    And all distracted fly they know not where.                       50
    Destruction drives them from their dear Abodes,
    And where their Safety was, fell Ruin nodds.
    Husbands are here seen pressing thro’ the Throng,
    Nor know they drag their clinging Wives along.
    Coy Virgins of their Lovers once afraid,                          55
    Now hang on Strangers Necks and court their Aid.
    And there a ghastly Group of Women see!
    A Picture of the Ghosts they soon must be,
    Wringing their Hands, sad solemn Silence keep,
    While Infants wonder why their Mothers weep.                      60

      And now a Moment’s Pause, Fate’s Heralds lend,
    A dreadful Pause like that when Time shall end.

      Lo what a sudden Change! On Ruin’s Brink,
    The Proud turn humble, and the Thoughtless think.                 65
    Dark gloomy Sadness overclouds the Gay,
    And Hypocrites for once sincerely pray.
    In their own proper Shapes now Crimes appear,
    For Danger touching like _Ithuriel_’s Spear,
    Does by its Power the fatal Magic end;                            70
    Down falls the Vizor, and upstarts the Fiend!
    Atheists no longer can themselves deceive,
    And now too late they tremble and believe.
    But the good Man looks boldly on his Fate,
    Alone unshaken in a shaking State.                                75
      Again the Storm with double Fury rolls,
    And from the dreadful Deeps the Tempest howls.
    With thicker Throws now groans the lab’ring Earth,
    The sure Fore-runners of the fatal Birth.                         80
    The City loosen’d with repeated Shocks,
    Now to and fro from her Foundations rocks.
    Amaz’d, confounded, of all Sense bereft,
    The shipwreck’d Souls behold their Vessels cleft.
    Down from on high the shatter’d Tacklings rush,                   85
    And big with rattling Ruin Thousands crush.
    There gapes the vast Abyss with hideous Roar,
    And in its Entrails swallows Thousands more.
    Where should they run for Help? the gushing Tide
    Breaks in above, below, on every Side:                            90
    From Danger unto Danger they retreat,
    And while they shun one Death, another meet.

      So Mariners, _Charybdis’_ Rock to shun,
    Have into _Sylla_’s Whirlpools headlong run.
    But they between those Rocks and Pools might steer;               95
    Ten Thousand Rocks and Whirlpools threaten here.

      For those that ’scap’d the Caverns gaping wide,
    In endless Night the falling Ruins hide;
    And those the Ruins had denied a Tomb,
    The Fires on Funeral Piles alive consume.                        100

      Lo! where the Gulphs wide yawning round the Town,
    In swiftest Eddies drink the River down,
    With it the Navy down impetuous flies,
    And to the Centre a new Passage tries.

      Horror and Desolation you’d no more!
    And now that once fair Town with all her Store,                  105
    And ev’ry Soul that hail’d the rising Day,
    Heaving in Death like one vast Body lay.

      The Fires, that glimm’ring still with pale’y Red,
    Like Burial Tapers, nodded o’er the Dead,                        110
    Performing the last Office, as they wave,
    Add Dust and Ashes to the gen’ral Grave.

      Lo! the good King from out the ruin’d Heaps,
    By Providence divine, like _Lot_, escapes;                       115
    But _Lot_’s Command, while yet the City burn’d,
    The weeping King had disobey’d and turn’d:
    There in Salt Tears congeal’d, he fix’d had staid,
    And, like the Woman, a new Pillar made:
    Forbid his dear _Eurydice_ to view,
    Like _Orpheus_ he had look’d and perish’d too.                   120

      Viewing the dreadful Havock, sore he griev’d,
    And his sad Heart within his Bosom heav’d:
    Tow’rs, Houses, Palaces, all sunk to Ground,
    Ev’n God’s own Fanes in the dry Deluge drown’d!
    Like _Noah_ plac’d on _Ararat_ he stood,                         125
    And wail’d Mankind, while round him roll’d the Flood.
    But yet resign’d to that all pow’rful Sway,
    That kills and saves, that gives and takes away,
    Like _Job_ he griev’d, like _Job_ he kiss’d the Rod,
    And own’d the Justice of his angry God.                          130

      Slowly retiring thus with mournful Eye,
    _Anchises’_ Son beheld his burning _Troy_:
    By their own horrid Light while Temples shone,
    When Dwellings, Friends, and Treasures all were gone,
    The pious Prince resign’d, the Loss endures,                     135
    And safe within his Breast his Gods secures.

      From every Port there Merchants flock’d for Wealth,
    Poor pining Patients thither flew for Health:
    In vain the Lungs decay’d their Tone resume;
    In vain the Cheek regains it’s faded Bloom.                      140
    Of what Avail are now those wholesome Skies?
    For what its Air restor’d, its Earth destroys;
    And those whom for another Fate prepar’d,
    The short Catarrh and wheezing Asthma spar’d:
    Like fatted Victims drest with Garlands gay,                     145
    The general Consumption sweeps away.

      But let it not be thought, their horrid Deeds
    Had pull’d this dreadful Judgment on their Heads;
    Or that for Crimes too horrible to tell,
    Like guilty _Sodom_ Thunderstruck they fell;                     150
    Or like presumptuous _Dathan_: Other Climes
    Afford as frequent and as flagrant Crimes.
    But when o’er all Degeneracy prevails,
    And on the Minds grown callous Precept fails;
    Where only the least vicious are the best,                       155
    Some must be made Examples to the rest.
    The Chance was their’s----but why to them ’twas giv’n,
    Remains among the Mysteries of Heav’n;
    Which hides its Secrets from our erring Sense;
    For Chance on Earth in Heav’n is Providence.                     160

      As when to some Frontier by slow Blockade,
    And silent Sap, a sure Approach is made,
    If skilful Miners can their Chamber set,
    Under some Ravelin, Horn-work, or Lunette,
    The starting Pile a loud Explosion tears,                        165
    And all aloof the shatter’d Fragments bears;
    Stones, Arms, and blasted Guards together fly,
    And scatter’d round in one great Ruin lie:
    While those who neighbouring Bastions maintain,
    With Grief behold their Fellow-Soldiers slain;                   170
    Conscious of equal Guilt, none e’er presum’d
    To think for greater Crimes they first were doom’d;
    But thankful that so long themselves are spar’d,
    With double Vigilance they stand prepar’d.----

      So may the World----For now by dreadful Bands,                 175
    Lo the wide Universe invested stands!
    Winds, Flames, and Sulphur in her Bowels lurk,
    And in her hidden Chambers secret work.
    In this great Siege the Crown-works and Lunettes
    Are spacious Provinces and wealthy States;                       180
    Mountains her Curtains, Seas her Ditches are,
    And mighty Kingdoms are the Bastions there:
    And lo! where springs the Mine! the Mine of Fate!
    And in wide rushing Ruins whelms a State!

      Let none here deem this bold poetic Strain,                    185
    A wild unreal Fiction of the Brain.
    Who can with curious Eye this Globe survey,
    And not behold it tott’ring with Decay;
    All Things created God’s Designs fulfill,
    And nat’ral Causes work his destin’d Will.                       190
    And that eternal Word which cannot lie,
    To Mortals hath reveal’d in Prophecy,
    That in these latter Days such Signs should come,
    Preludes and Prologues to the gen’ral Doom.
    But not the Son of Man can tell that Day;                        195
    Then, left it find you sleeping, watch and pray!

      Ye silent Tenants of the dreary Deep,
    Whom rocking Nature lull’d to your last Sleep,
    And all the while rung out your passing Bell,
    Amidst the Ruins, tolling as it fell.                            200
    Ye who from Earth so hastily withdrew,
    That in your Deaths ye found your Burials too.
    Whom yet your Friends attended to your Grave,
    While flaming Piles instead of Torches wave.
    Dark Caves your State instead of sable Rooms.                    205
    And nodding Tow’rs instead of nodding Plumes.--

      Yet shall the Muses dress with Flowers your Bier,
    And o’er your Grave a Monument shall rear,
    Bearing the mournful Tale to after Age.
    Lo where in _AEtna_’s Womb the _Grecian_ Sage,                   210
    Plunging a voluntary Death endures,
    And seeks a Fate to find a Fame like yours;
    But more than _AEtna_’s Flames your Relicts burn,
    Your Pile’s a Continent, a Realm your Urn.
    And see, a weeping World in solemn State,                        215
    Sad, silent following mourns your hapless Fate!

      Now the too deeply plough’d and furrow’d Earth
    No Harvest yields, but feels a sudden Dearth;
    Like _Canaan_ blasted sinks beneath her Woes,
    And now no more with Milk and Honey flows.                       220
    When lo, _Britannia_ stretching forth her Hand,
    With kind Supply relieves the famish’d Land.
    Long may the sacred Gold those Temples bind,
    Where _Pharaoh_’s Power is us’d with _Joseph_’s Mind!
    His Brethren their great Preserver bless,                        225
    (To good Minds all are Brethren in Distress)
    And while they feast upon the welcome Gains,
    In each Man’s Sack the Price untouch’d remains.

      Oh Ground and Source of ev’ry social Tye!
    Soft soothing Balm of Grief, and Soul of Joy!                    230
    Fair Charity, thou Bond ’twixt Great and Small,
    Bright universal Medium joining all!
    Strong Chain that ties the Cottage to the Throne,
    Still rising till it links the THREE IN ONE;
    By thee, while yet on Earth thy Foot remains,                    235
    Ascending Angels mount the Ætherial Plains.
    By thee inspir’d our good _Samaritan_,
    (Great in the Monarch, greater in the Man!)
    A helpless People robb’d and bleeding sound,
    Pour’d out thy sacred Oil, and heal’d their Wound.               240

      And when, on op’ning of the Sixth great Seal,
    With her last Earthquake this round World shall reel,
    The Sun shall lose his Fires in endless Night,
    And the Moon turn’d to Blood glare horrid Light,
    When Comets dire shall sweep athwart the Sky,                    245
    And Stars like Leaves before the Tempest fly;
    When fervent Heat the Elements shall burn,
    And like a Furnace Earth to Ashes turn,
    And all the Heavens in that dreadful Day,
    Like to a Scroll roll’d up shall pass away----                   250
    When the Seventh Angel his last Trump shall found,
    And those whom God hath seal’d in _Myriad_’s Round,
    Shall raise to Heav’n the universal Song,
    And _Brunswick_ ’mong the foremost of the Throng,
    In Garments white array’d shall bend the Knee,                   255
    And bow before the Throne----Then Charity,
    Thou in his heav’nly Crown a Place shall bear,
    And sparkle in the Front the brightest Jewel there.


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