[Page [163]]

LINES

ON HEARING, THREE OR FOUR YEARS AGO, THAT CONSTANTINOPLE WAS SWALLOWED UP BY AN EARTHQUAKE;

A Report, though false, at that time generally believed.

1 FALLEN are thy towers, Byzantium! towers that stood
2 Before the Turk's dread fury, when he came,
3 The crescent sparkling amidst Christian blood,
4 And to the reeking den of Moloch turned
5 Sophia's holy fane! Where, where are now,
6 Imperial city, the late proud remains
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7 Of thy brave founder's greatness, when he clothed
8 In worldly grandeur pure Religion's form;
9 Then placed beside him, placed upon a throne,
10 The lowly Nazarene's meek simple child! ....
11 He, wandering then upon a Christian land,
12 Stranger at home had been, nor known again
13 His artless rites, his followers, in the domes
14 Filled with the sparkling shrine, the rich-robed priests,
15 And pomp of earthly greatness ........ But not long
16 Lived there his name .... Science and art, farewell!
17 The foe of light and love, Mohammed, comes,
18 And Constantine's proud race exists no more.
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19 But, sons of Mahomet, the towers he built,
20 Though by your anger spared, have fallen now,
21 And crushed your bloody race! A mightier arm
22 Than his who raised, or spared, yon domes came forth;
23 From the hot sable rolling cloud it came,
24 And crumbled them to dust! .... The wind, the air,
25 Seem in strict silence bound, but smiling still
26 Appears the face of day; assassin-like,
27 Smiling, though conscious of intended death.
28 But Nature trembles at her own repose;
29 The brute creation dread forebodings shake;
30 While man alone is bold ..... But see where now
31 The labouring ocean, in fantastic shapes
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32 And sudden swells, her heaving bosom rears;
33 Like the mad Pythia, when the Delphian god
34 Spoke by her fraudful lips .... But here, alas!
35 A real God that world of waters moves
36 To do his dreadful bidding! ....
36 Hark! he comes!
37 The thunder's roar, the rush of winds proclaim
38 The Mighty One is near .... But oh! when past
39 His power, and those he spared raised up their heads,
40 Where was the eye could bear upon the waste
41 To gaze, and mark the ruin stretching wide!
42 Oh! ye were blest, ye victims, ye who fell
43 Deep in the yawning chasm! .... " Where are now,"
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44 The sad survivor cries, "my peaceful home,
45 The sacred mosque I loved, the child, the wife
46 I clasped but now; the city towering high,
47 Proud in its strength? .... Disperse, thou gloomy cloud,
48 And let me gaze on them!" The cloud's dispersed;
49 But he beholds no city, he can trace
50 No vestige of his home: a putrid lake
51 Or barren ground replace them, and proclaim,
52 Devouring earthquake, thy resistless power.
53 ENGLAND! blest country, from such woes as these
54 Thy temperate clime preserves thee; lightly felt,
55 If ever, by thy comfort-breathing shores,
56 The earthquake desolating distant lands:
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57 And .... thou hast cause to lift thy voice most high,
58 In the great choir of nations hymning praise.
59 But ye, who wander from your native shores,
60 While haply such calamity draws near
61 As sunk Byzantium; ye, whose eager hearts
62 Anticipate a glad return to scenes
63 Ye shall behold no more, for ever swept
64 From off the earth, unconscious heirs of woe;
65 For you I mourn! .... Methinks I see the cheek
66 Flushed with delight, chastized perhaps by fear,
67 When your own land approaches .... See the eye
68 Misty with tears ope wide its eager lid
69 To catch the well-known objects! Horrid change!
70 Fear pales that glowing cheek, and dries that eye,
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71 "It is our native shore, .... but where are gone
72 The fanes, the spires, erewhile our city's pride?"
73 I hear you cry. "The pilot is deceived,
74 And hope deceived us too .... 'Tis not our land!"
75 But soon the mournful certainty ye guess,
76 And leap to shore; and there ye call in vain
77 On all ye loved .... Throughout the silent streets
78 That yet remain, perhaps some meagre form
79 May trembling steal along, and tell the tale;
80 While on the ruins some lone maniac sits,
81 And, as he points to where the chasm yawned,
82 Boasts of the treasures earth preserves for him;
83 Or, while a sudden beam of reason darts,
84 Screams his discordant anguish, and commands
85 Earth to give back his children! ....
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86 Angel of woe, that from the eternal hand
87 Receivest thy dread commission, going forth
88 To flap thy sable pinions o'er the world,
89 And shed unnumbered evils, which appear
90 To piety's uplifted eye as good
91 Concealed in evil's garb; .... angel of woe,
92 Upon thy awful power I've pondered oft,
93 In all its dark varieties, I've sought
94 The horrid path where Madness stalks along
95 In fancied majesty, or from his cell
96 Sends the loud shriek, or more afflicting laugh;
97 And, as I hurried from the o'erwhelming scene,
98 Have shuddering owned thy awful presence there, ....
99 I've seen thee by the death-bed sit, and bid
100 The silent corse to speak again, and urge
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101 The eyes for ever closed to ope once more
102 And beam as they were wont: .... and I have walked
103 In slow procession to the opening grave,
104 And seen thee triumph when the earth received
105 The form beloved, and the deep bursting groan
106 Bespoke affliction's forced composure o'er,
107 And agony victorious! I have gazed
108 Upon the guilty wretch, when, doomed to die,
109 Terror has vanquished him, and his pale cheek
110 Has proved the falsehood of his vaunting tongue,
111 While, to his startled fancy, in the rear
112 Of Death came judgement, and the world to come
113 Unfolded all its horrors! There, O there,
114 Thee I beheld, and fled from! .... and I've heard
115 How on the sultry suffocating breath
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116 Of livid pestilence, thou, floating wide,
117 Hast done thy master's bidding! Vain were then
118 The ties of nature! from the parent's grasp
119 The child has forced its once sustaining hand,
120 And, horror-struck, has from contagion fled!
121 While the fond parent, from his dying child
122 Vainly his aid imploring, terror-winged,
123 Has urged his selfish flight
* It is said that scenes like this were only too frequent in America, when the yellow fever first raged there.
! And there thou wert ....
124 But when the earthquake's varied horrors come,
125 All, all thy ministers are waiting round,
126 Fear, Madness, Pestilence, Pain, Famine, Death,
127 And all the AGONIES COMBINED are there!

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Title (in Source Edition): LINES ON HEARING, THREE OR FOUR YEARS AGO, THAT CONSTANTINOPLE WAS SWALLOWED UP BY AN EARTHQUAKE;
Themes:
Genres: blank verse; occasional poem

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Source edition

The Warrior's Return, and Other Poems. By Mrs. Opie. 2d. ed. London: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, Paternoster-row, 1808, pp. [163]-172. 

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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.