Europe at the Play

O LANGUID audience, met to see
The last act of the tragedy
On that terrific stage afar,
Where burning towns the footlights are —
O listless Europe, day by day
Callously sitting out the play!

So sat, with loveless count'nance cold,
Round the arena, Rome of old.
Pain, and the ebb of life's red tide,
So, with a calm regard, she eyed,
Her gorgeous vesture, million-pearled,
Splashed with the blood of half the world.
High was her glory's noon: as yet
She had not dreamed her sun could set!
As yet she had not dreamed how soon
Shadows should vex her glory's noon.
Another's pangs she counted nought;
Of human hearts she took no thought;
But in dread nightfall, vengeance vast
Whetted its hungry scythe at last.

Perchance in tempest and in blight,
On Europe, too, shall fall the night!
She sees the victim overborne,
By worse than ravening lions torn.
She sees, she hears, with soul unstirred,
And lifts no hand, and speaks no word,
But vaunts a brow like theirs who deem
Men's wrongs a phrase, men's rights a dream.
Yet haply she shall learn, too late,
In some blind hurricane of Fate,
How fierily alive the things
She held as fool's imaginings,
And, though circuitous and obscure,
The feet of Nemesis how sure.
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