Doom by Christopher Brennan

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Dead night, unholy quiet, doom, and weird
Are heavy on its roof,
The palace-keep that prosperous Evil rear'd
Defiant, heaven-proof.

Founded in fraud, mortar'd with blood, and clamp'd
With clutching iron hands,
It frown'd down right, its flaunted scutcheon ramp'd
Above the abject lands.

And now, the sentinels have left that gate
Nor bar protects, nor pin,
But high and wide the portal yawns, till Fate
And Judgment enter in.

A groaning trembles thro' the massive vaults,
A muttering down the halls,
As closer still the impending thunder halts
Nor yet the levin falls.

A panic whispering round the galleries
Runs twittering: then the hush,
And in the dimmest nooks divining eyes
See blackness throng and crush.

Palsied, with fix'd and writhen face, high Sin
Stares from the shrouded throne
With glassy eyes whose gaze is turn'd within
-- Where at the last are known

Ate and Ruin, each Erinys-shape
Dire, ineluctable,
From whom nor death nor madness brings escape
-- And least, the House of Hell.

This is their doom, deserv'd, complete and due,
That they themselves must know
Whose witless hand it was that overthrew
With self-inflicted blow

Their monstrous dream; to know their own the sword
That smote them from the skies,
That stretch'd in dust the Dagon they adored,
And shatter'd their emprise;

Their own the skill that most industrious built
This pit of their despair
Star-high, smooth-rounded, baffling, where their guilt
Must find eternal lair.

The enginery they wrought, whose maw they fed
With fume and fire of hate,
To break his house above their neighbour's head,
Hath left theirs desolate.

And Evil knows at last, all overtoil'd,
The law whereby it must,
By self stupidity and dulness foil'd,
Still labour for the Just.

This is their punishment: there is no worse;
What have they left to dread
Who reck not of the living orphan's curse,
The slow wrath of the dead?

Tho' for a while, lest from the festering lie
Our air drink poison-shade,
The scavengers of Justice yet must ply
Their stern and simple trade,

(For sword and rope are hungry, axe and block
Demand their grim repast,
Whereof who would defraud them, shakes the rock
On which his house stands fast)

Our vengeance now is full: what else must fall
Can add no best, no worst;
The cup is brimm'd whence they have drunken gall,
Where we have slaked our thirst.

Our vengeance is complete, deserv'd, and won,
And sevenfold seventyfold
The retribution on the guilty one
Is levied, summ'd, and told.

We that have suffer'd with the suffering right --
For all our doubts and fears,
For all our anguish in the muttering night,
For all our blood and tears,

For dread and for dismay, and that foul rape
Man's spirit but scarce withstood
When from the Pit, in our usurped shape,
The Abominable was spew'd --

Lo, their cold agony and icy sweat,
Their self-damnation known!
Let justice come: What need we vengeance yet?
Its wreaking was their own.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 November 1918;
and later in
The Cairns Post, 25 November 1918;
A Chant of Doom and Other Verses by Christopher Brennan, 1918; and
The Verse of Christopher Brennan edited by A. R. Chisholm, 1960.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on November 9, 2011 7:00 AM.

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