Verse > John Greenleaf Whittier > The Poetical Works in Four Volumes
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John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892).  The Poetical Works in Four Volumes.  1892.
 
Religious Poems
The Cities of the Plain
 
“GET ye up from the wrath of God’s terrible day!
Ungirded, unsandalled, arise and away!
’T is the vintage of blood, ’t is the fulness of time,
And vengeance shall gather the harvest of crime!”
 
The warning was spoken—the righteous had gone,        5
And the proud ones of Sodom were feasting alone;
All gay was the banquet—the revel was long,
With the pouring of wine and the breathing of song.
 
’T was an evening of beauty; the air was perfume,
The earth was all greenness, the trees were all bloom;        10
And softly the delicate viol was heard,
Like the murmur of love or the notes of a bird.
 
And beautiful maidens moved down in the dance,
With the magic of motion and sunshine of glance;
And white arms wreathed lightly, and tresses fell free        15
As the plumage of birds in some tropical tree.
 
Where the shrines of foul idols were lighted on high,
And wantonness tempted the lust of the eye;
Midst rites of obsceneness, strange, loathsome, abhorred,
The blasphemer scoffed at the name of the Lord.        20
 
Hark! the growl of the thunder,—the quaking of earth!
Woe, woe to the worship, and woe to the mirth!
The black sky has opened; there ’s flame in the air;
The red arm of vengeance is lifted and bare!
 
Then the shriek of the dying rose wild where the song        25
And the low tone of love had been whispered along;
For the fierce flames went lightly o’er palace and bower,
Like the red tongues of demons, to blast and devour!
 
Down, down on the fallen the red ruin rained,
And the reveller sank with his wine-cup undrained;        30
The foot of the dancer, the music’s loved thrill,
And the shout and the laughter grew suddenly still.
 
The last throb of anguish was fearfully given;
The last eye glared forth in its madness on Heaven!
The last groan of horror rose wildly and vain,        35
And death brooded over the pride of the Plain!

  1831.
 
 
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