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The Golden Legend   By: (1807-1882)

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Night and storm. LUCIFER, with the Powers of the Air, trying to tear down the Cross.

Lucifer. HASTEN! hasten! O ye spirits! From its station drag the ponderous Cross of iron, that to mock us Is uplifted high in air!

Voices. O, we cannot! For around it All the Saints and Guardian Angels Throng in legions to protect it; They defeat us everywhere!

The Bells. Laudo Deum verum Plebem voco! Congrego clerum!

Lucifer. Lower! lower! Hover downward! Seize the loud, vociferous bells, and Clashing, clanging, to the pavement Hurl them from their windy tower!

Voices. All thy thunders Here are harmless! For these bells have been anointed, And baptized with holy water! They defy our utmost power.

The Bells. Defunctos ploro! Pestem fugo! Festa decoro!

Lucifer. Shake the casements! Break the painted Panes that flame with gold and crimson! Scatter them like leaves of Autumn, Swept away before the blast!

Voices. O, we cannot! The Archangel Michael flames from every window, With the sword of fire that drove us Headlong, out of heaven, aghast!

The Bells. Funera plango! Fulgora frango! Sabbata pango!

Lucifer. Aim your lightnings At the oaken, Massive, iron studded portals! Sack the house of God, and scatter Wide the ashes of the dead!

Voices. O, we cannot! The Apostles And the Martyrs, wrapped in mantles, Stand as wardens at the entrance, Stand as sentinels o'erhead!

The Bells. Excito lentos! Dissipo ventos! Paco cruentos!

Lucifer. Baffled! baffled! Inefficient, Craven spirits! leave this labor Unto Time, the great Destroyer! Come away, ere night is gone!

Voices. Onward! onward! With the night wind, Over field and farm and forest, Lonely homestead, darksome hamlet, Blighting all we breathe upon!

( They sweep away. Organ and Gregorian Chant. )

Choir. Nocte surgentes Vig lemus omnes!



A chamber in a tower. PRINCE HENRY, sitting alone, ill and restless.

Prince Henry. I cannot sleep! my fervid brain Calls up the vanished Past again, And throws its misty splendors deep Into the pallid realms of sleep! A breath from that far distant shore Comes freshening ever more and more, And wafts o'er intervening seas Sweet odors from the Hesperides! A wind, that through the corridor Just stirs the curtain, and no more, And, touching the aeolian strings, Faints with the burden that it brings! Come back! ye friendships long departed! That like o'erflowing streamlets started, And now are dwindled, one by one, To stony channels in the sun! Come back! ye friends, whose lives are ended! Come back, with all that light attended, Which seemed to darken and decay When ye arose and went away! They come, the shapes of joy and woe, The airy crowds of long ago, The dreams and fancies known of yore, That have been, and shall be no more. They change the cloisters of the night Into a garden of delight; They make the dark and dreary hours Open and blossom into flowers! I would not sleep! I love to be Again in their fair company; But ere my lips can bid them stay, They pass and vanish quite away!

Alas! our memories may retrace Each circumstance of time and place, Season and scene come back again, And outward things unchanged remain; The rest we cannot reinstate; Ourselves we cannot re create, Nor set our souls to the same key Of the remembered harmony!

Rest! rest! O, give me rest and peace! The thought of life that ne'er shall cease Has something in it like despair, A weight I am too weak to bear! Sweeter to this afflicted breast The thought of never ending rest! Sweeter the undisturbed and deep Tranquillity of endless sleep!

( A flash of lightning, out of which LUCIFER appears, in the garb of a travelling Physician... Continue reading book >>

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