“Begin the woe, ye woods,
and tell it to the doleful winds
And doleful winds wail to the howling hills,
And howling hills mourn to the dismal vales,
And dismal vales sigh to the sorrowing brooks,
And sorrowing brooks weep to the weeping stream,
And weeping stream awake the groaning deep;
Ye heavens, great archway of the universe, put sack-cloth on;
And ocean, robe thyself in garb of widowhood,
And gather all thy waves into a groan, and utter it.
Long, loud, deep, piercing, dolorous, immense.
The occasion asks it, Nature dies, and angels come to lay
her in her grave.”
What Robert Pollock saw in poetic dream, you and I will see in positive reality—the judgment! the judgment!
“Seek Him that maketh the Seven Stars and Orion.”—Amos. v. 8
A country farmer wrote this text—Amos of Tekoa. He plowed the earth and threshed the grain by a new threshing-machine just invented, as formerly the cattle trod out the grain. He gathered the fruit of the sycamore-tree, and scarified it with an iron comb just before it was getting ripe, as it was necessary and customary in that way to take from it the bitterness. He was the son of a poor shepherd, and stuttered; but before the stammering rustic the Philistines, and Syrians, and Phoenicians, and Moabites, and Ammonites, and Edomites, and Israelites trembled.
Moses was a law-giver, Daniel was a prince, Isaiah a courtier, and David a king; but Amos, the author of my text, was a peasant, and, as might be supposed, nearly all his parallelisms are pastoral, his prophecy full of the odor of new-mown hay, and the rattle of locusts, and the rumble of carts with sheaves, and the roar of wild beasts devouring the flock while the shepherd came out in their defense. He watched the herds by day, and by night inhabited a booth made out of bushes, so that through these branches he could see the stars all night long, and was more familiar with them than we who have tight roofs to our houses, and hardly ever see the stars except among the tall brick chimneys of the great towns. But at seasons of the year when the herds were in special danger, he would stay out in the open field all through the darkness, his only shelter the curtain of the night, heaven, with the stellar embroideries and silvered tassels of lunar light.
What a life of solitude, all alone with his herds! Poor Amos! And at twelve o’clock at night, hark to the wolf’s bark, and the lion’s roar, and the bear’s growl, and the owl’s te-whit-te-whos, and the serpent’s hiss, as he unwittingly steps too near while moving through the thickets! So Amos, like other herdsmen, got the habit of studying the map of the heavens, because it was so much of the time spread out before him. He noticed some stars advancing and others receding.