Paul at Athens
PAUL AT ATHENS.
Zealot uncouth, whose seething brain
With theomaniac visions glows, What seek'st thou where Athena's fane
Empurpled mount and sea o'erbrows ? No desert-cradled prophet here
His mystic rancor ever poured; But blue-eyed Pallas, calm, austere,
The might of reason, is adored.
To song and dance and joyous thought
The muse of Hellas sane inspires; No dream of doom the soul o'erwrought
To pentecostal madness fires. Yon is the stately Stoa, where
Wise Zeno taught with fluent might; Amid his listening pupils there
Serenely walked the Stagirite.
Of hero-moulding ethics stern
The founder one; the laws of thought The other clearly did discern
With keenest introvision fraught. O wandering dreamer! well may shine
With wild, unsteady light thine eyes, Gazing at altar, marble shrine,
Where glorious shapes of beauty rise.
Bards, sages, artists, statesmen grand, With Jove-like brows, a noble throng,
In bronze and stone, on every hand, Confront thee as thou mov'st along.
What bring'st thou from the desert far,
Palm-shaded sand and blazing sun? Fanatic Zeal! thou com'st to mar
All that the might of thought has done.
Reason is by thy narrow race
Unheeded—nigh dethroned in thee. Thou heraldest the mind's disgrace,
First of a priestly pedigree. Because of thee for ages long
Shall Thought in chains and darkness sit, While reign a wild and squalid throng
Of monks, fierce foes of wisdom, wit;
And science, manhood, leave the world
In total, thousand-yeared eclipse; Sense, judgment, into exile hurled,
No utterance find from human lips. Fanatic Asia's rancor fierce
Shall poison Europe's spirit proud; Long, long 'twill be ere Reason pierce
With sun-bright shafts Faith's murky cloud.