Triumphal arch, that fill'st the sky
When storms prepare to part,
I ask not proud Philosophy
To teach me what thou art.
Still seem, as to my childhood's sight,
A midway station given,
For happy spirits to alight,
Betwixt the earth and heaven.
Can all that optics teach, unfold
Thy form to please me so,
As when I dreamt of gems and gold
Hid in thy radiant bow?
When science from creation's face
Enchantment's veil withdraws,
What lovely visions yield their place
To cold material laws!
And yet, fair bow, no fabling dreams,
But words of the Most High,
Have told why first thy robe of beams
Was woven in the sky.
When o'er the green undeluged earth
Heaven's covenant thou didst shine,
How came the world's gray fathers forth
To watch thy sacred sign!
And when its yellow lustre smiled
O'er mountains yet untrod,
Each mother held aloft her child
To bless the bow of God.
The earth to thee her incense yields,
The lark thy welcome sings,
When, glittering in the freshen'd fields,
The snowy mushroom springs.
How glorious is thy girdle, cast
O'er mountain, tower, and town,
Or mirror'd in the ocean vast
A thousand fathoms down!
As fresh in yon horizon dark,
As young thy beauties seem,
As when the eagle from the ark
First sported in thy beam.
For, faithful to its sacred page,
Heaven still rebuilds thy span;
Nor lets the type grow pale with age
That first spoke peace to man.