Thomas Aird

The Last Day

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It might be noon; but Time's dull tide
On the dial-stone is petrified:
The lines are stretch'd from side to side,
But no shadows on its visage glide.
Some crook'd eclipse with twilight gloom
Prepares the earth, like curtain'd room
Where men may see an acted doom;
And coming pangs through the desert boom.
A burst—a trump—that peal of fear!
The voice of God—his judgment near:—
Upstarted from expiring trance,
The sun with restless fiery glance.—
'Twixt east and west—from south to north,
Heaven's clouds before that blast went forth!
A thrill of death,—that piercing tone
Throughout all living bones hath gone.—
The highest birds of wind are down,
And drowsy shades their pinions drown;
The horrors of eternal sleep
Fall darkly on each ruffl'd heap.
The ship that sail'd in gallant pride
And trode the sea-waves down,
Now moveless hangs on the white dull tide,
Like a thin and spectral crown,—
And these that lean by the tall mast's side
To faces of bone are petrified.
All still in the valley,—
A man on the hills;
The last that can tell ye
Of earth's last ills!
For backward smote with awful thrill,
The hearts of men at once stood still;
Yet half recoil'd, with startled ear
They seem to sit in death and hear.
The red sun glares
On each desert street,
And silence sits
At the dead men's feet.
The din of crowds, as crush'd by weight,
Hath died beneath each city gate.

Awake ye that slept,
For the days are summ'd,—
Cold shades that have wept
On the marbles benumb'd,
For years and for ages, are frighted away:
Old monuments rent
As with stroke of a wand;
The ashes long pent
Into being expand,—
White bundles of life from a handful of clay.
That peal smote the sea
And the dead of a thousand years were free.
Old ocean perplex'd
With all his waves,
Gave yearning forth
From his inmost caves.
Up rose like clouds the ocean crew,
And o'er the shudd'ring waters drew.
Pale sorrow wept
In each manly face,
So long to have slept
From his kindred race;—
But deeper thoughts each aspect bound,
Dim shores of living men around.

Beneath each winged point of Heaven,
All empty are the graves of rest;
Their secrets to the Judge are given,
The world of beings stands confess'd—
He comes—He comes—
The clouds careering,
And fiery skirts
Of pomp appearing!—
Now hour of dread! what soul may stay!
What wing shall help to flee away!
Before, behind, and round about,
The terrors of the Lord are out—
The spheres let loose
Like a jarring wheel—
The sun and stars
Like drunkards reel.
Fierce arms of fire
Scroll the blue rivers up,
And the ocean shrinks
In his mighty cup.
With dreadful array,
The Heavens o'er flow;
Clear fires run round
From each end of His bow;—
And the ardours of Heaven
Are throng'd around,
With stern resolve
Their aspects bound—
The Judge above—the world below—
Each wilder'd heart is to and fro.
Each soul like a book,
With its leaves in air,
Is fiercely shook
And its thoughts laid bare.—
What soul dares reveal,
Yet what soul can forget;
When that Eye like a seal
On all spirits is set.
With writhing sense of endless task,
How would the wicked shelter ask!

Fain for a dream! their spirits sink
Even to annihilation's brink.
Yet whither shrink? and where be hid?
Chas'd by that Eye without a lid?
In fierce recoil like bended bow,
They rise instinct with life and wo
To meet the Judge and meet the blow.
The blow hath sped—a doom unseen—
Unheard—hath touch'd each stagg'ring heart;—
The gnawing thought of what hath been
Is half the sinner's living part.
In wavering shoals together driven
They sink beneath the eye of Heaven;—
Like hurrying draught of bitter cup
Th' eternal gulf hath drunk them up.

Forth came glad airs on Heavenly wind,
Th' uprising arch of saints to greet;
And glory like a cloud behind
Burn'd sweetly on their heavenward feet.

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Thomas Aird