Selections from the American poets
William Cullen Bryant
J. B. VAN SCHAICK.
JOSHUA COMMANDING THE SUN AND MOON TO STAND STILL.
THE day rose clear on Gibeon. Her high towers
Flash'd the red sunbeams gloriously back,
And the wind-driven banners, and the steel
Of her ten thousand spears caught dazzlingly
The sun, and on the fortresses of rock
Play'd a soft glow, that as a mockery seem'd
To the stern men who girded by its light.
Beth-Horon in the distance slept, and breath
Was pleasant in the vale of Ajalon,
Where armed heels trod carelessly the sweet
Wild spices, and the trees of gum were sho [ gap: ;reason: printing error ]Page 284
By the rude armour on their branches hung.
Suddenly in the camp without the walls
Rose a deep murmur, and the men of war
Gather'd around their kings, and "Joshua!
From Gilgal, Joshua!" was whisper'd low,
As with a secret fear, and then, at once,
With the abruptness of a dream, he stood
Upon the rock before them. Calmly then
Raised he his helm, and with his temples bare,
And hands uplifted to the sky, he pray'd:
"God of this people, hear! and let the sun
Stand upon Gibeon, still; and let the moon
Rest in the vale of Ajalon!" He ceased:
And lo! the moon sits motionless, and earth
Stands on her axis indolent. The sun
Pours the unmoving column of his rays
In undiminish'd heat; the hours stand still;
The shade hath stopp'd upon the dial's face;
The clouds and vapours that at night are wont
To gather and enshroud the lower earth,
Are struggling with strange rays, breaking them up,
Scattering the misty phalanx like a wand,
Glancing o'er mountain tops, and shining down
In broken masses on the astonish'd plains.
The fever'd cattle group in wondering herds;
The weary birds go to their leafy nests,
But find no darkness there, and wander forth
On feeble, fluttering wing to find a rest;
The parch'd, baked earth, undamp'd by usual dews,
Has gaped and crack'd, and heat, dry, midday heat,
Comes like a drunkard's breath upon the heart.
On with thy armies, Joshua! The Lord
God of Sabaoth is the avenger now!
His voice is in the thunder, and his wrath
Poureth the beams of the retarded sun,
With the keen strength of arrows, on their sight
The unwearied sun rides in the zenith sky;
Nature, obedient to her Maker's voice,
Stops in full course all her mysterious wheels.Page 285
On! till avenging swords have drunk the blood
Of all Jehovah's enemies, and till
Thy banners in returning triumph wave;
Then yonder orb shall set mid golden clouds,
And, while a dewy rain falls soft on earth,
Show in the heavens the glorious bow of God,
Shining, the rainbow-banner of the skies.