by: Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

      T fell in the ancient periods
      Which the brooding soul surveys,
      Or ever the wild Time coined itself
      Into calendar months and days.
      This was the lapse of Uriel,
      Which in Paradise befell.
      Once among the Pleiads walking,
      Said overheard the young gods talking,
      And the treason too long pent
      To his ears was evident.
      The young deities discussed
      Laws of form and metre just,
      Orb, quintessence, and sunbeams,
      What subsisteth, and what seems.
      One, with low tones that decide,
      And doubt and reverend use defied,
      With a look that solved the sphere,
      And stirred the devils everywhere,
      Gave his sentiment divine
      Against the being of a line:
      "Line in nature is not found,
      Unit and universe are round;
      In vain produced, all rays return,
      Evil will bless, and ice will burn."
      As Uriel spoke with piercing eye,
      A shudder ran around the sky;
      The stern old war-gods shook their heads,
      The seraphs frowned from myrtle-beds;
      Seemed to the holy festival,
      The rash word boded ill to all;
      The balance-beam of Fate was bent;
      The bonds of good and ill were rent;
      Strong Hades could not keep his own,
      But all slid to confusion.
      A sad self-knowledge withering fell
      On the beauty of Uriel.
      In heaven once eminent, the god
      Withdrew that hour into his cloud,
      Whether doomed to long gyration
      In the sea of generation,
      Or by knowledge grown too bright
      To hit the nerve of feebler sight.
      Straightway a forgetting wind
      Stole over the Celestial kind,
      And their lips the secret kept,
      If in ashes the fibre-seed slept.
      But now and then truth-speaking things
      Shamed the angels' veiling wings,
      And, shrilling from the solar course,
      Or from fruit of chemic force,
      Procession of a soul in matter,
      Or the speeding change of water,
      Or out of the good of evil born,
      Came Uriel's voice of cherub scorn;
      And a blush tinged the upper sky,
      And the gods shook, they knew not why.

"Uriel" is reprinted from Early Poems of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Ralph Waldo Emerson. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell & Company, 1899.




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