"Trite Thoughts in a Place of Worship." by Jane Taylor (1783-1824)
THESE courts, how amiable! 't is sweet
To spend the day of rest,
Where minds in pure communion meet
(Though but a stranger guest),
Where Peace and Love their hearts expand
And Friendship's holy flame is fanned.
When clouds of fragrant incense rise
(The prayer of hearts sincere)
When hymns of praise address the skies,
'T is pleasant to be here!
But while my soul the influence feels,
A vision o'er my fancy steals.
I hear the rush of noiseless wings,
A viewless form descry;
The keys of death and hell he brings,
Commissioned from on high:
The walls with solemn airs resound,
And sable banners wave around.
Angel of death!–with pallid shroud
O'er his high stature spread,
He moves amid the unconscious crowd,
With slow and silent tread;
Marks who shall first, and latest fall;
But drops the mantle over all.
May none escape–the chosen few,
That Friendship fain would spare?
Nay, Death hath oft his favorites too,
And O, his taste is rare!
The crowd he often passes by–
To fix on such his hollow eye.
That head in hoary honors dressed–
A pillar in his place–
That blooming pair whom love has blessed
With such peculiar grace–
These youths and maids–a fair array;
And does he beckon these away?
There is a voice, familiar now,
And soon must this be hushed!
And must that high and thoughtful brow
By death's rude hand be crushed?
Beneath these stones that head shall hide,
With one to slumber at his side.
An age rolls on–in Fancy's eye
I see the distant day;
Strangers these vacant seats supply–
Our fathers, where are they?
The faithful marble does but tell,
They served their generation well.
The vision fades;–but others rise,
Too bright for mortal gaze;–
A vista opens in the skies–
'T is but a moment's blaze,
And straight the wondrous scene departs,
For still the veil is on our hearts.