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Evan Roberts Quote : Christian Books : 1. A Strain of Jonah the Prophet.

Fathers Of The Third Century Tertullian Appendix by Unknown

1. A Strain of Jonah the Prophet.

1. A Strain of Jonah the Prophet.

After the living, aye -- enduring death

Of Sodom and Gomorrah; after fires

Penal, attested by time-frosted plains

Of ashes; after fruitless apple-growths,

5 Born but to feed the eye; after the death

Of sea and brine, both in like fate involved;

While whatsoe'er is human still retains

In change corporeal its penal badge:

A city -- Nineveh -- by stepping o'er

10 The path of justice and of equity,

On her own head had well-nigh shaken down

More fires of rain supernal. For what dread

Dwells in a mind subverted? Commonly

Tokens of penal visitations prove

15 All vain where error holds possession. Still,

Kindly and patient of our waywardness,

And slow to punish, the Almighty Lord

Will launch no shaft of wrath, unless He first

Admonish and knock oft at hardened hearts,

20 Rousing with mind august presaging seers.

For to the merits of the Ninevites

The Lord had bidden Jonah to foretell

Destruction; but he, conscious that He spare;

The subject, and remits to suppliants

25 The dues of penalty, and is to good

Ever inclinable, was loth to face

That errand; lest he sing his seerly strain

In vain, and peaceful issue of his threats

Ensue. His counsel presently is flight:

30 (If, howsoe'er, there is at all the power

God to avoid, and shun the Lord's right hand

'Neath whom the whole orb trembles and is held

In check: but is there reason in the act

Which in his saintly heart the prophet dares?)

35 On the beach-lip, over against the shores

Of the Cilicians, is a city poised,

Far-famed for trusty port -- Joppa her name.

Thence therefore Jonah speeding in a barque

Seeks Tarsus, through the signal providence

40 Of the same God; nor marvel is't, I ween,

If, fleeing from the Lord upon the lands,

He found Him in the waves. For suddenly

A little cloud had stained the lower air

With fleecy wrack sulphureous, itself

45 By the wind's seed excited: by degrees,

Bearing a brood globose, it with the sun

Cohered, and with a train caliginous

Shut in the cheated day. The main becomes

The mirror of the sky; the waves are dyed so

50 With black encirclement; the upper air

Down rushes into darkness, and the sea

Uprises; nought of middle space is left;

While the clouds touch the waves, and the waves all

Are mingled by the bluster of the winds

55 In whirling eddy. 'Gainst the renegade,

'Gainst Jonah, diverse frenzy joined to rave,

While one sole barque did all the struggle breed

'Twixt sky and surge. From this side and from that

Pounded she reels; 'neath each wave-breaking blow

60 The forest of her tackling trembles all;

As, underneath, her spinal length of keel,

Staggered by shock on shock, all palpitates;

And, from on high, her labouring mass of yard

Creaks shuddering; and the tree-like mast itself

65 Bends to the gale, misdoubting to be riven.

Meantime the rising clamour of the crew

Tries every chance for barque's and dear life's sake:

To pass from hand to hand the tardy coils

To tighten the girth's noose: straitly to bind

70 The tiller's struggles; or, with breast opposed,

T' impel reluctant curves. Part, turn by turn,

With foremost haste outbale the reeking well

Of inward sea. The wares and cargo all

They then cast headlong, and with losses seek

75 Their perils to subdue. At every crash

Of the wild deep rise piteous cries; and out

They stretch their hands to majesties of gods,

Which gods are none; whom might of sea and sky

Fears not, nor yet the less from off their poops

80 With angry eddy sweeping sinks them down.

Unconscious of all this, the guilty one

'Neath the poop's hollow arch was making sleep

Re-echo stertorous with nostril wide

Inflated: whom, so soon as he who guides

85 The functions of the wave-dividing prow

Saw him sleep-bound in placid peace, and proud

In his repose, he, standing o'er him, shook,

And said, |Why sing'st, with vocal nostril, dreams,

In such a crisis? In so wild a whirl,

90 Why keep'st thou only harbour? Lo! the wave

Whelms us, and our one hope is in the gods.

Thou also, whosoever is thy god,

Make vows, and, pouring prayers on bended knee,

Win o'er thy country's Sovran!|

Then they vote

95 To learn by lot who is the culprit, who

The cause of storm; nor does the lot belie

Jonah: whom then they ask, and ask again,

|Who? whence? who in the world? from what abode,

What people, hail'st thou?| He avows himself

100 A servant, and an over-timid one,

Of God, who raised aloft the sky, who based

The earth, who corporally fused the whole:

A renegade from Him he owns himself,

And tells the reason. Rigid turned they all

105 With dread. |What grudge, then, ow'st thou us? What now

Will follow? By what deed shall we appease

The main?| For more and far more swelling grew

The savage surges. Then the seer begins

Words prompted by the Spirit of the Lord:

110 |Lo! I your tempest am; I am the sum

Of the world's madness: 'tis in me,| he says,

|That the sea rises, and the upper air

Down rushes; land in me is far, death near,

And hope in God is none! Come, headlong hurl

115 Your cause of bane: lighten your ship, and cast

This single mighty burden to the main,

A willing prey!| But they -- all vainly! -- strive

Homeward to turn their course; for helm refused

To suffer turning, and the yard's stiff poise

120 Willed not to change. At last unto the Lord

They cry: |For one soul's sake give us not o'er

Unto death's maw, nor let us be besprent

With righteous blood, if thus Thine own right hand

Leadeth.| And from the eddy's depth a whale

125 Outrising on the spot, scaly with shells,

Unravelling his body's train, 'gan urge

More near the waves, shocking the gleaming brine,

Seizing -- at God's command -- the prey; which, rolled

From the poop's summit prone, with slimy jaws

130 He sucked; and into his long belly sped

The living feast; and swallowed, with the man,

The rage of sky and main. The billowy waste

Grows level, and the ether's gloom dissolves;

The waves on this side, and the blasts on that,

135 Are to their friendly mood restored; and, where

The placid keel marks out a path secure,

White traces in the emerald furrow bloom.

The sailor then does to the reverend Lord

Of death make grateful offering of his fear;

140 Then enters friendly ports.

Jonah the seer

The while is voyaging, in other craft

Embarked, and cleaving 'neath the lowest waves

A wave: his sails the intestines of the fish,

Inspired with breath ferine; himself, shut in;

145 By waters, yet untouched; in the sea's heart

And yet beyond its reach; 'mid wrecks of fleets

Half-eaten, and men's carcasses dissolved

In putrid disintegrity: in life

Learning the process of his death; but still --

150 To be a sign hereafter of the Lord --

A witness was he (in his very self),

Not of destruction, but of death's repulse.

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