The Apostate: A Fragment

John Lyon

I knew him, ere the roots of bitterness
Had grown to putrid cancer in his soul.
Then Revelation's light gleamed o'er his mind
In strange fantastic dreams of future bliss;
He saw the dawn, and this was quite enough   [5]
For speculation's visionary claim.
Precocious, in a day from childhood to
A man, he grew a giant of his kind;
Until his head was in the clouds, and there
He saw the myst'ries of the aerial world!  [10]
All knowledge, ere it was revealed, he knew.
The knotty points in Scripture he could solve,
By presto touch of tailsmanic wand,
And, Patriarch-like, had the discerning gift
To know the ancient seeds of Israel's race.  [15]
The spirits of all men he could discern,
And oft, through speculation's vain conceit,
He did interpret, to indignation,
And raise the fouler passions of a few;
While some admired, in sycophantic phrase,  [20]
That made the humbler of the Saints to blush.
The Gathering was his constant theme; for he
Had dreamed of golden gates, and pearly walls,
And palaces, and ghostly saints at ease
Reclining 'neath the palm-tree's shade at noon.  [25]
And so he left, to seek his fairy land
Uncounselled, in his own imaginings.
But ah! he thought not of the fiery path
Where persecution, poverty, and death,
Await the just, ere they can sing the song  [30]
Of ransom'd ones, by suffering perfect made.

Thus, full of novelty's romance, he found
The city of the Saints, and with it all
The stern realities of life. His hope,
Like morning mist, evaporated quite,  [35]
And with it, all his dreams of phantom bliss
Which nightly pictur'd out Elysian fields,
Woods, lawns, and bowers, and wizard, winding streams,
By crystal founts, and cool refreshing groves!
Amazed beyond description to rehearse,  [40]
He tried to reconcile his blasted hopes,
Where he beheld the toil-worn sons of God
Rolling the stone of Joseph, pond'rous grown:
Still disaffection's deadly, 'venomed sting
Withered his schemes, till every sense became  [45]
Corrupt, and dead. He neither saw, nor felt,
Nor heard, nor savour'd of the things of God.
Then falsehood came, and with it came distrust:
Truth error seemed, and lies appeared as truth!
And holy men were swindling vagabonds!  [50]
The Temple, once revered, stood folly's shrine!
His jaundiced eye suspiciously reversed
The objects he perceived, or thought he saw.
The name, that erst gave pleasure's pure delight,
Rang in his ears a strange delusive sound.  [55]
Like smould'ring embers still his hatred burned
In his foul mind, till every passion burst
Their prison'd fire, and blazed one sulph'rous flame
Of malice, hotter than the Stygian lake!
And so he fell from his gigantic height,  [60]
As we have seen a falling meteor fall
From out the starry vault, which never had,
'Mong constellations, a fixed residence,
Save the combustive fluid of scattered gas,
That, kindled by the windy current, flashed,  [65]
And falling, seemed a blazing orb of heaven!

Forgotten, nearly twenty moons he'd left
Nauvoo! when lo! in Scotland I beheld
This strange, outlandish looking man at church
Among the Saints. I wondered much, I watched  [70]
Him when the congregation sang in praise
The songs of Zion! but his lips moved not,
And when they knelt, he stood a statue mute
Amidst the prostrate throng of worshippers.
His bas'lisk eye in rolling anguish told  [75]
The gnawings of the bitter worm within.
I met him after service, and he strove
To imitate the Saints' fond welcome greet,
But when his hand touched mine,--Lord save me, how
I shook! Touched with his influence of despair;  [80]
It ran like lightning o'er my mortal frame,
Benumbing all the energies of life.
The Prophet, Saints, and all their labours were
His theme of execration and contempt.
Anon he railed of horrid, murd'rous deeds,  [85]
Of av'rice, cruelty, and heartless fraud,
Pollution, and a thousand evil ways
Unheard of, save in his degen'rate heart.
Apostles! fiends in human shape, he viewed;
The Priesthood! dupes, or duped. In madness thus  [90]
He raved, and counted o'er his money lost;--
The turning period of his selfish soul--
And like old Shylock, grinned in bitter spite
To have his "pound of flesh." We parted thus.
'Twas past all patience, longer to endure.  [95]

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