Retire, ye waves, roll back your crested heads,
Presume not to approach the royal host,
That presses onward to your bosom now,
In glittering pomp, and panoply of war.
See how they tower, those lordly swelling waves,
And form a pathway, wall’d on either side;
Rides the king safely now.
The billows roll,
But not in sport--not as when tempests lash
Their angry heads--but with a sullen sound,
Murmuring, and low, and moaning as in fear;
They heave and rise, then slowly sink again,
Awaiting but the word that sets them free.
Yet what hath he, that kingly one, to fear?
Have they not pass’d in safety o’er the path?
They, his hereditary bondsmen--and shall he,
A monarch, a thrones king, with all his train,
His gorgeous, glittering host of armed men,
Yield to base coward fear? Away the thought!
He comes to conquer; hear ye not that shout?
It tells of victory already won.
The strange commotion in that armed mass.
They turn, they flee! O gods of Egypt, help!
Help! For the waters overwhelm them now.
Vain prayer! Wild shrieks burst on the affrighted ear,
And now the mad waves triumph o’er the sound.
Whose voice thus echoes o’er the raging waste?
Who calls for help in that wild surging sea?
Mighty and dreaded Pharaoh, is it thou?
Thou! Why the very waves laugh thee to scorn;
And of thy train, the meanest follower
Claims brotherhood with Egypt’s haughty king,
And boasts as lordly sepulchre.
Chariot, and horse, and rider, each alike
Engulfed in one vast grave.
Now on the air,
And borne across those waters, comes the sound
Of woman’s voice; exultingly it swells;
Earth hears it, and rejoices, and the sea
Flows with a softer murmur to the sound.
“A song, a song of praise to Israel’s God,
Whose strong right arm hath triumphed o’er our foes;
Who can now point to where proud Pharaoh trod?
Above his head the circling waters close?
Life high your voice,
Let earth, and sea, and air, repeat again
The loud hosannahs of our joyful strain.
“Oh! Raise our glorious song of praise on high,
Our hallelujahs to the God of Hosts;
Praise Him whose arm had brought deliv’rance nigh,
Whose will has triumphed o’er man’s sinful boasts.
Lift high your voice!
The steed and rider hath he overthrown?
Shout ye his name--the Lord our God is one!”
Ages have roll'd, have circling rolled away,
Since fond lips breathed aloud that joyful prayer,
Yet fancy sweeps across the busy brain,
Recalling shapes and voices mingling there.
Oh, woman! Weak and powerless, yet unto thee is given
The task to prune the budding branch, and bid it bloom for heaven.