Mars Hill

Winthrop Mackworth Praed

(From Athens)


HERE, where wild Fancy wondrous fictions drew,

And knelt to worship, till she thought them true,

Here, in the paths which beauteous Error trod,

The great Apostle preached the Unknown God!

  Silent the crowd were hushed; for his the eye

Which power controls not, sin cannot defy;

His the tall stature, and the lifted hand,

And the fixed countenance of grave command;

And his the voice which, heard but once, will sink

So deep into the hearts of those that think,

That they may live till years and years are gone,

And never lose one echo of its tone.

Yet when the voice had ceased, a clamor rose,

And mingled tumult rang from friends and foes;

The threat was muttered, and the galling gibe,

By each pale sophist and his paltry tribe;

The haughty stoic passed in gloomy state,

The heartless cynic scowled his grovelling hate,

And the soft garden’s rose-encircled child

Smiled unbelief, and shuddered as he smiled.

  Tranquil he stood; for he had heard,—could hear

Blame and reproach with an untroubled ear;

O’er his broad forehead visibly were wrought

The dark deep lines of courage and of thought;

And if the color from his cheek was fled,

Its paleness spoke no passion and no dread.

The meek endurance and the steadfast will,

The patient nerve, that suffers and is still,

The humble faith, that bends to meet the rod,

And the strong hope, that turns from man to God,—

All these were his; and his firm heart was set,

And knew the hour must come,—but was not yet.