JAPHET in «Himmel und Erde»

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    1. Act, 3. Scene

    Japhet alone.

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    Ye wilds, that look eternal; and thou cave,
    Which seem'st unfathomable; and ye mountains,
    So varied and so terrible in beauty;
    Here, in your rugged majesty of rocks
    And toppling trees that twine their roots with stone
    In perpendicular places, where the foot
    Of man would tremble, could he reach them—yes,
    Ye look eternal! Yet, in a few days,
    Perhaps even hours, ye will be changed, rent, hurl'd
    Before the mass of waters; and yon cave,
    Which seems to lead into a lower world,
    Shall have its depths search'd by the sweeping wave,
    And dolphins gambol in the lion's den!
    And man—Oh, men! my fellow-beings! Who
    Shall weep above your universal grave,
    Save I? Who shall be left to weep? My kinsmen,
    Alas! what am I better than ye are,
    That I must live beyond ye? Where shall be
    The pleasant places where I thought of Anah
    While I had hope? or the more savage haunts,
    Scarce less beloved, where I despair'd for her?
    And can it be!—Shall yon exulting peak,
    Whose glittering top is like a distant star,
    Lie low beneath the boiling of the deep?
    No more to have the morning sun break forth,
    And scatter back the mists in floating folds
    From its tremendous brow? no more to have
    Day's broad orb drop behind its head at even,
    Leaving it with a crown of many hues?
    No more to be the beacon of the world,
    For angels to alight on, as the spot
    Nearest the stars? And can those words "no more"
    Be meant for thee, for all things, save for us,
    And the predestined creeping things reserved
    By my sire to Jehovah's bidding? May
    He preserve them, and I not have the power
    To snatch the loveliest of earth's daughters from
    A doom which even some serpent, with his mate,
    Shall 'scape to save his kind to be prolong'd,
    To hiss and sting through some emerging world,
    Reeking and dank from out the slime, whose ooze
    Shall slumber o'er the wreck of this, until
    The salt morass subside into a sphere
    Beneath the sun, and be the monument,
    The sole and undistinguish'd sepulchre,
    Of yet quick myriads of all life? How much
    Breath will be still'd at once! All beauteous world!
    So young, so mark'd out for destruction, I
    With a cleft heart look on thee day by day,
    And night by night, thy number'd days and nights.
    I cannot save thee, cannot save even her
    Whose love had made me love thee more; but as
    A portion of thy dust, I cannot think
    Upon thy coming doom without a feeling
    Such as—Oh God!

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