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Poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Christus: A Mystery

THE GOLDEN LEGEND

PROLOGUE

THE SPIRE OF STRASBURG CATHEDRAL

Night and storm.  LUCIFER, with the Powers of the Air, trying to
tear down the Cross.

LUCIFER.
Hasten! hasten!
O ye spirits!
From its station drag the ponderous
Cross of iron, that to mock us
Is uplifted high in air!

VOICES.
Oh, we cannot!
For around it
All the Saints and Guardian Angels
Throng in legions to protect it;
They defeat us everywhere!

THE BELLS.
     Laudo Deum verum!
     Plebem voco!
     Congrego clerum!

LUCIFER.
Lower! lower!
Hover downward!
Seize the loud, vociferous bells, and
Clashing, clanging to the pavement,
Hurl them from their windy tower.

VOICES.
All thy thunders
Here are harmless!
For these bells have been anointed,
And baptized with holy water!
They defy our utmost power.

THE BELLS.
     Defunctos ploro!
     Pestem fugo!
     Festa decoro!

LUCIFER.
Shake the casements!
Break the painted
Panes, that flame with gold and crimson;
Scatter them like leaves of Autumn,
Swept away before the blast!

VOICES.
Oh, we cannot!
The Archangel
Michael flames from every window,
With the sword of fire that drove us
Headlong, out of heaven, aghast!

THE BELLS.
     Funera plango!
     Fulgura frango!
     Sabbata pango!

LUCIFER.
Aim your lightnings
At the oaken,
Massive, iron-studded portals!
Sack the house of God, and scatter
Wide the ashes of the dead!

VOICES.
Oh, we cannot!
The Apostles
And the Martyrs, wrapped in mantles,
Stand as warders at the entrance,
Stand as sentinels o'erhead!

THE BELLS.
     Excito lentos!
     Dissipo ventos!
     Paco cruentos!

LUCIFER.
Baffled! baffled!
Inefficient,
Craven spirits! leave this labor
Unto time, the great Destroyer!
Come away, ere night is gone!

VOICES.
Onward! onward!
With the night-wind,
Over field and farm and forest,
Lonely homestead, darksome hamlet,
Blighting all we breathe upon!

They sweep away. Organ and Gregorian Chant.

CHOIR.
Nocte surgentes
Vigilemus omnes!