We whose hearts were alone giving our God renown,
Under the wheels of hell we are fallen down!
False the heaven we built, fashion’d of purity;
’Tis heathen heavens, made out of sin, stand high.
Come, make much of our God! Comfort his ears with song,
Lest his pride the gods with their laughter wrong,
Seeing, huddled as beasts held by a fearful night
Full of lions and hunger, his folk crouch to the heathen might.
Old Men. Jehovah, still we refrain from crying to the infamous gates That open easily into the heavens thy mind of jealousy hates. Power is in them: hast thou no power? Wilt thou not beware Lest thy mood now press our minds to venturous despair?
Fool’d, fool’d, fool’d are our lives, held by the world in jeer;
With crazed eyes we behold veils of enormous fear
Hiding dreadfully those marvellous gates and stairs
Where the heathen delighted with sin throng with their prosperous prayers.
Old Men. Yea, hung like the front of pestilent winds, thunderous dark before The way into the heathen heavens, terrible curtains pour, Webs of black imagination and woven frenzy of sin; And yet we know power on earth belongs to those within.
Yea, through Jehovah’s jealousy,
Burning dimly at last we see
The great brass made like rigid flame,
The gates of the heavens we dare not name.
Take hold of wickedness! Yea, have heart
To tear the darkness of sin apart;
And find, beyond, our comforted sight
Flash full of a glee of fiery light,—
The gods the heathen know through sin,
The gods who give them the world to win!
This may I not escape. My world hath need
Of me who still hold God firm in my mind.
It is no matter if I fail: I must
Send the God in me forth, and yield to him
The shaping of whatever chance befall.—
Ozias! hateful thou hast made thyself
To me; for thou hast hatefully soiled my beauty,
My preciousest, given me to attire my soul
For her long marriage festival of life.
Yet I must make request to thee, and thou
Must grant it. When the sun is down to-night,
Quietly set the main gate open: I
Will pass therethrough and treat with Holofernes.
Ozias. What, wilt thou go to be murdered by these fiends?
Judith. Ask nothing, but do simply my request.
I will: so thou shalt know the reverent heart
I have for thee, although its worship thou
So bitterly despisest; but thy will
Shall be a sacred thing for me to serve.
Thou hast thy dangerous demand, because
It is thou who askest, it is I who may
Grant it to thee,—this only! Yea, I will send
Thy heedless body among risks that thou,
Looking alone at the great shining God