February 4, 2011

Edward Tullidge: "A Chapter From 'The Prophet of the Nineteenth Century'"

(An Unpublished Poem By E. W. Tullidge)

Gathering of the Grand Council of Hell. Speech of Satan: He reviews the past, glories in his rebellion, and boasts of the victories of the infernal host. The wicked glee of his Council. Their determination not to yield the dominion of the earth, but to battle to the last. Satan calls attention to the Latter-day Work; he informs his princes and lords that it is about to commence, and that the Grand Councils of heaven were even then sitting upon the matter. The intelligence strikes them with terror, and even their chief is for a moment overcome. Arrival of a herald announcing the dismissal of the Celestial Assembly and the departure of the Father and Son from the courts of day to reveal themselves to Joseph the Chosen. A celestial Messenger bears a Petition from the Youth. Furious breaking up of the Infernal Council.

When Silence, waiting, walks her solemn round,              1
And busy Life in slumber spells is bound,
Great sable Night, who veils the King of day,
In awful grandeur treads her misty way.
Where mark her footsteps curling vapours spread,          5
And darkness circles round Natura's head;
Grim sentinels of horrid Death's domain
Keep watch till morning breaks the spell again:
Then Pluto's horrid regions start to life,
And haunts of Mischief are with murder rife;                 10
The ghostly world unlocks its prison doors,
And on the earth its phantom army pours;
And spirits, doomed to dwell with black Despair,
With measured steps tread incorporeal air
To haunted glen or adamantine cave,                            15
Where sea-gods visit and the surges lave,
Or crumbling ruins of some castle bold
Of extinct races, where dread spirits hold
A midnight, whirling, demon, revelry,
Or consultations o’er their misery.                                20
Thus in the confines dread of sulph’rous hell—
The prison-house of spirit-hosts that fell,
Where grim Despair and sable Night retire—
Regions of horrors and of lurid fire—
There dwell descendants of the Gods above,                25
For crimes and malice hurled from realms of love,
Who, goaded by their fierce internal flames,
Will writhe, and curse, and spit out dreadful names
Against the sacred Majesty of heaven,
Or, by their direful hate and anguish riven,                     30
Will rush to plot some fiendish horrid plan
To roll fresh floods of woe on fallen man.
       The lords of hell a solemn conclave hold;
Its princes gather and Its warriors bold.
Not like the rushing of a lawless band                           35
Do these assemble; but a council grand:
With stem resolves the awful congress meet,
And sullenly each takes his princely seat:
Throughout the region of the dark domains
A fearful and a heavy silence reigns.                             40
       Now hell's great king the car of Mars ascends;
The vengeful god of war his chief attends,
And open flies the monarch's palace gate
Where chosen guards their mighty lord await.
His cavalcade with funeral steps advance;                    45
All catch his mood and wait his speaking glance.
Well might be hell's infernal sceptre hold,
And rule those fallen, rebel spirits bold!
His sunken eyes that look like darkened suns,
Would smite with awe and blast hell's fiercest ones.      50
O'er his broad chest he hangs his massive head,
Which waves as the impatient coursers trend,
As does old Ocean when the storm-king roars
And heaves the billows on the sea-girt shores:
And gloomy thoughts o'er his dark spirit brood,            55
Which give new blackness to his fearful mood:
But, like the pent-up fury of volcanic fire,
It bursts and blazes out tempestuous ire,
“On!” On!” he cries. His voice like thunder rolls:
‘Twould shake the earth and echo round the poles.       60
The demon coursers heed their master's cry.
And o'er the trembling ground like whirlwinds fly.
The council hall the rushing chariot gains;
The steeds then halt and proudly shake their manes;
The Chief descends, the vaulted chamber strides,          65
‘Mid shouts of welcome, as if many tides
Had furious met, and, roaring, dashed their spray
To kiss the clouds. Thus, as he bent his way
Where stood his throne exalted 'bove his peers,
Their voices mingle - frighted Chaos hears.                    70
Now hell's great monarch takes the sov'reign chair,
And grasps the sceptre which his princes fear;
Then, waving it in mystic circles round,
Deep silence reigned, and made its spells profound.

As when the treacherous calm the storm king rides,       75
And close behind old Boreas fiercely strides,
When air is dead and with foul gases filled,
And Ocean's breathing seems for ever stilled,
Dark clouds roll up and blot the azure blue,
The dreadful sign affrighted sailors view:                       80
It tells of storm to their accustomed eye,
And shipmates drowned, around their vessel cry,
And mocking sprites are chuckling in their ears:
The Tempest, with his foaming coursers, nears.
Thus the deceitful calm that reigned in hell                      85
When Satan, rising, broke the death-like spell.
“Companions—Princes—Chieftains, famed in war,
“Whose dreadful prowess set the heavens ajar,
“When nobly we defied their sovereign's might,—
“I’ll call ye greater—even Gods by right!”                     90
With boastful pride, he spake in accents bold;
His mighty voice like rumbling thunder rolled.
As stands a frowning mountain near the skies,
To which when Spring returns, old Winter hies.
And caps its summit with eternal snow,                         95
Nor deigns to heed the genial sun below;
So stood the awful king.
He seemed like some great rebel-god dethroned
Of standing high, who once creations owned,
And having paused, to let his words digest,                   100
Again he spake, and thus his lords addressed:—
“I have not called you here, ye princes great,
“To counsel o'er events of little weight:
“Such weighty matters ne'er before us rose
“As that which I would now to you disclose.                 105
“Call up the past; let mem'ry take its sway,
“And on it mount to realms of endless day—
“Our native home—that dear primeval world
“Where once we dwelt till heaven's dread sovereign hurled
“His bolts of thunder in resistless storms,                      110
“That brought dismay and paralyzed our arms.
“But for that dreadful, unforeseen surprise,
“We had been now the monarchs of the skies:
“But, though o'erwhelmed by heaven's resistless ire,
“Compelled to yield, and from those scenes retire,          115
“We were not crushed. Our strength and hate remained;      
“And even now the loss might be regained.
“Perchance that dreadful, unforgotten day,
“Which gave him vict'ry, brought to us dismay,
“Like His own thunder-cloud that hides the sun,             120
“Might be the prelude of a brighter one,
“When He the vanquished, we the victors stand,
“And heaven be conquered by our mighty band.
“Then you with me shall greater glory share,
“And earth and heaven shall both our sceptre fear.          125
“We were before but striplings in the fight,
“And unprepared to brave the tyrant's might,
“But now familiar with the deadly field:
“Our arms have often made his generals yield;
“Our skill in subtle stratagems of war                               130
“Has brought renown and sent our names afar.                                    
“When from the hand of her creative sire
“Fair Eden bounded, decked in rich attire,
“With thousand graces to bewitch the sense,
“And fragrant breath that made delight intense,                 135
“The cunning serpent I myself inspired,
“And woman's mind with ardent longings fired;
“For in that Paradise of virgin life
“Grew fruit forbidden both to man and wife;
“Its luscious clusters ravished woman's heart:                   140
“She ate that fruit, and gave her husband part:
“It cost them Eden, filled the world with woes,
“And showed to heaven we were no common foes.

“When man by our insidious snares was caught,
“And earth into our iron bondage brought,                       145    
“Displeasure seized the monarch of the skies,
“And o'er mankind His dreadful tempest flies.
“To break the spells with which the earth was bound,
“He sent the floods, and nearly all were drowned.
“Ha! Ha! That was a victory! Well might boast                150
“The wrathful monarch and his slavish host!
“It sent us captives to our dread domain,
“And gave us kingdoms to extend our reign!
“When man his broken race revived again,
“And shot his branches over land and main,                    155
“We led them on: still were mankind our prey:
“They hailed our sceptre and obeyed our sway:
“We ruled their kingdoms, made their lords our slaves,
“And held the sons when greened the fathers' graves.
“E'en Jacob's offspring—chosen of the skies—                160
“The people sacred in Jehovah's eyes,
“On whom He poured the richest streams of grace,
“We made a hardened and rebellious race;
“The Prophets stiffened in their martyred gore;
“The guilty fathers guilty children bore;                              165
“When came the Son to break our iron bands,
“And wrest the sceptre from our powerful hands,
“(My haughty rival—him whose name I hate,—
“With whom we battled in the first estate,)
“We fired our minions, hung him on the cross;                   170
“His life and kingdom were at once his loss;
“Blows were his honours, mock'ry his renown,
“The rugged tree his throne, and thorns his crown:
“Say, my brave princes, was not triumph here!!
“Was he not mighty on his bloody bier!!”                         175
He paused: a wicked glee inspired his band,
While servile, taunting imps the mock'ry fanned:
Convulsive Laughter all his chorus brings;
With boist'rous mirth, the council chamber rings.
As when a struggling wretch, with cares opprest,             180
By hope forsaken, anguish in his breast,
And hurried on, with madness in his brain,
To find in death oblivion for his pain,
Makes suicide the antidote of woe,
And by self-murder sends his ghost below,                      185
Finds as he dies a mocking host is near
To fright his soul and chuckle in his ear;
So was the humour of that rebel host
Called up by their more wicked chieftain's boast:
Again he speaks; again a heavy spell                               190
Hangs o'er the fierce assembled crew of hell.

“Ye know, my lords, since that triumphal day
“When David's heir and they who owned his sway
“Were, by our direful wrath, deprived of breath
“And sent as captives to the realms of death,                    195
“Our vengeful arms no Prophet host has dared,
“But hell's dread sceptre every nation feared.
“Monarchs of earth!—its undisputed lords!—
“We gave the honours, meted out rewards,
“And Virtue's children—Merit’s gifted race,                    200
“We sank in mis'ry, heaped on them disgrace,
“Robed them in rags, exalted them to slaves,
“And Nature's nobles found unhonoured graves.
“To those with spirits kindred to our own
“We gave distinction, built for them the throne:                205
“Say, princes, say—shall our strong chains be broke,
“And earth released from our long-fettered yoke?
“Shall any from our grasp dominion tear;
“And earth, redeemed, another's sceptre fear?
“Shall we resign our glorious hard-earned fame,              210
“And do obeisance to my rival's name?
“No,—by hell's infernal, awful powers, no!
“We will not yield, but give back blow for blow!
“Defiant still we stand, defiant will remain,
“Till we the vict'ry or extinction gain.”                            215
At this the dreadful council filled with rage.
Determined still their rebel war to wage,
Gave signs approving, bellowed out a cheer,
And then prepared again their chief to hear.
“Heroes of hell!” he said,—“unconquered braves!          220
(His voice grew deep and hollow as the grave's,)
“I need not tell you how the Seers of old,
“By vain illusions and conceits made bold,
“Foretold that in the latter times should rise
“A mighty kingdom towering to the skies,—                   225
“That Saintly dreamers held a foolish boast
“That it should break and scatter all our host.
“Know, then, my lords, those vaunted times now loom,
“And we must conquer or receive our doom.
“Those spirits fore-ordained to lead the way,                 230
“And usher in my hated rival's sway,
“In daring bands are setting out for earth,
“And thousands have already had their birth.
“The final struggle has not yet begun,
“Nor do they see the race which they will run;               235
“But this I know—Ere long the dreadful strife
“Will have commenced and started into life:
“Aye, even now the councils of the skies
“(The news I gather from my faithful spies,)
“Are met to meditate some fruitful plan                          240
“To break our spells and rescue fallen man;
“Yet end their consultation how it may,
“We still will battle—still maintain our sway.”
He ceased, and terror fell on all around,
While chains of horror hell's assembly bound:               245
E'en he, their haughty king, whose lofty boast
Was made to stimulate his drooping host,
Gave up his soul to inward anguish dire.
As when a mountain, by volcanic fire
Convulsed and groaning, heaves from side to side,        250
With fierce internal strife, its lava tide,
So inward raged the awful king of hell,
Till with stern pride he broke the painful spell.
And now again the chief essays to speak,
And, by fresh boasts, the settled horror break,              255
When, rushing in, like some damned wretch who flies
From wrathful Justice as his victim dies,
A speedful herald came. The council starts.
He speaks, and thus the weighty news imparts:—
“Monarch of all, and ye our chieftains brave,                  260
“I bear great matter—herald tidings grave!”—
“The news!” the impetuous monarch cried:
The herald, with a trembling haste, replied—
“E'en now the councils of the skies dismiss,
“And strains of joy ring through the realms of bliss:         265
“The Father and the Son the courts of day
“In glory left; to earth they bent their way.
“Just as I entered, through our watchful spies
“Came startling news, in which great import lies.
“A messenger of God on lightning wing                          270
“Petition bears to heaven's eternal king,
“Sent by the youth whose future course we fear—
“Anointed and pre-ordinated Seer!
“Urged by the whisperings of auspicious fate,
“He claims the blessings which for him await.”               275
“Enough! Enough!” the sovereign roared and frowned,—
His mighty voice the herald's feebler drowned.
“Away, my lords! Crush all who brave our sway!
“Flood them—drown them with hate! Away, away!”

As, when the home-bound ship its haven nears,            280
And happy sailors give to joy their fears,
The spiteful gale with madden'd fury roars,
And fain would wreck them on their native shores;
Then dash the billows, roll the mountain waves,
And round the ship appear deep briny graves;              285
The sea-gods now exasperation gain,
And foaming hosts come rushing o'er the main;
So raged that rebel host against the Seer,
When they beheld his mighty mission near;
And, breaking up, they rushed with horrid yell,              290
Which echoed through the vast domain of hell.

E.W. Tullidge, "A Chapter From the Prophet of the Nineteenth Century," The Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star no. 1, vol. 20, 2 January 1858, 14-16.


judithM said...

One may argue over the quality of the poetry, but I certainly admire the effort it took, and am grateful for early efforts to memorialize the Prophet Joseph and the Restoration, which are certainly worthy of a Miltonian epic.

BHodges said...

found another excerpt:


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