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    THE WANDERING JEW.   Table of Contents     BELSHAZZER'S FEAST.

Bibb, Eloise
Poems

- JUDITH.


JUDITH.

I.


O, that the years had language! time would
tell,
Of one bright night the moon has loved so
well,
For oft in darkness when she hides her
face,
She'll to the stars with energy and grace
Relate in her soft tongue the scenes of yore,
Repeat her strange experience once more.
The night upon which she dotes --' twas
grand, sublime,
More perfect sure than any other time,
She bathed unsparingly the hill, the brook,
Within its depths a glance of pride she took.

O Juda! if thou wast endowed with power,
Thou would'st describe that grand and solemn
hour.
In yonder sacred oratory there,
Thou dost behold a woman strangely fair,
With classic brow and jet-like dreamy eyes,
Whose liquid depth outrivalled Italy's skies';
And pencilled brows 'neath glossy, raven
hair.
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Adorned the lids with silken fringes fair.
Though haircloth clothed that form of matchless
grace,
It could not hide the beauty of that face.

With hands devoutly clasped she's heard to
say,
"O God! send Holofernes far away;
Let not that tyrant's hand my people slay,
O pity Juda, Lord, again I pray!
My people all in agony and fear,
Dost pray thine anger soon will disappear.
With ashes on their heads they mourn and
weep,
Too overcome with anguish e'en to sleep.
Forsake us not, O Lord, for woe is me,
Forget thy wrath, and set my people free."
And while she prayed a ray of heavenly
light,

Upon her soul was shed,--all things were
bright;
And with a vision cleared by sacred love,
She saw her mission handed from above,
And rising cast the hair cloth far away,
And 'rayed her form in garments bright as
day.
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To Holofernes' camp with serving maid,
A lengthened visit to that tyrant paid,
And charmed his sense with beauty's dazzling
power,
And waited patiently for victory's hour.

II.


O sound the trumpets; let the bells ring
out,
Their cadence has a mournful sound
throughout,
To merry hearts a night of joy they tell,
To one they ring a solemn funeral knell.
A banquet Holofernes gives to-night,
And honors Judith who has charmed his
sight.
But he and officers have drunk so free,
They fail their imminent danger now to
see;
Upon their couches wrapt in soundest sleep,
Forgetful of the vigils they should keep.
But who is this so near the tyrant's tent,
With eyes uplifted prayerfully is bent?
Then softly rising, near his couch she
steals,
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With one wild prayer again to heaven appeals;
Then from its scabbard soon his sword she
draws,
And lifts aloft-- and then, one awful pause
Before it falls. She quickly grasps the
head,
For Holofernes, Juda's foe, is dead.
Rejoice, Bethulia, God has pitied thee,
And noble Judith set thy people free.
O, hail to thee, thou joy of Israel!
Thy name o'er nations cast a wholesome
spell,
Long live thy valor 'mong the deeds of
fame,
And may oblivion never know thy name,
Thou art the glory of Jerusalem,
Of dauntless knights, thou art the queen of
them,
Posterity will ever reverence thee,
Before thy shrine all Juda bends the knee.
Stay any rejoicings yet a longer time,
And honor Judith with anthems divine.
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    THE WANDERING JEW.   Table of Contents     BELSHAZZER'S FEAST.