Paul at Athens

From The Libertarian Labyrinth
Jump to: navigation, search

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.

B. W. Ball.