“For Babylon” / Memorable Fancies #1357

“ … Babylon of the golden sandals … ” — Sibylline Oracles, Book 5

[The following is a free-verse adaptation of the Biblical Apocalypse of John (the book, also known as “Revelations,” that D.H. Lawrence called “A Hymn of Hate,”) Chapters 14-18]

What I saw: Angel a-wíng in heaven, proud Gospel in its claws, crying

      Fear God; for his judgment is surely come.

And there followed a second angel, saying,

Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city. And the smoke of her torment shall rise up for ever and ever: and they shall have no rest day or night which adore the beast, her image, the print of her name.

Then the angel scorched with fire, and the people of Babylon burned in great heat and blasphemed the god which caused this plague;

      but Babylon repented not.

And a third angel poured out agony and disease; and the people gnawed their tongues in pain and blasphemed the god of their torment,

      but Babylon repented not.

And then one last angel took up a great stone and flung it into the sea, saying,

      THUS shall that great city Babylon be thrown down

      and found no more at all.

There were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; great earthquakes, so mighty an earthquake, so great —

and the city

fell in pieces.

Thus did great Babylon come before God.

And all the angels shouted lustily,

Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the hold of every foul spirit, the cage of every unclean beast. For the kings of the earth have lain with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich with abundance of her pleasures.

As she hath glorified herself and lived deliciously, so much torment give her. Famine, and death, and mourning shall be hers. She shall be utterly burned with fire, for STRONG is the GOD that judges her!

The kings of the earth who lived deliciously with her shall lament when they see the smoke of her burning, standing far off in fear of her torment, saying,

Alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour is thy judgment come.

And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn for her; for no man any more buys their merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones; pearls, fine linen, purple, silk, scarlet, all manner vessels of ivory, all manner vessels of most precious wood, and brass, and iron, and marble; cinnamon, odours, ointments, frankincense, wine, oil and wheat, beasts and sheep, horses and chariots ― and the bodies and souls of men.

The apples thy soul hath lusted for are departed from thee, and all things fat and goodly are perished from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.

The merchants of these things which waxed rich by her stood far off in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning, saying,

Alas, alas that great city, clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and gold, and pearls! For in one hour so great riches are brought to naught.

Every one that sails in ships, and those that gain their living by sea, these also stood afar off, and cried, when they saw the smoke of her burning,

      Was there ever a city like Babylon, that great city?

And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and mourning,

Alas, alas that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea! For in one hour is she come to naught.

And the voice of harpers, and pipers, and flute-players

shall be heard no more at all

in thee;

and no workman of any craft

shall be found any more

in thee;

and the noise of millstones

shall be heard no more at all

in thee.

Candles shall shine

no more at all

in thee;

and the song of bride and bridegroom

shall be heard no more at all

in thee:

For thy merchants were princes of the earth; through thine enchantments were all deceived; and in thee was found the blood of saints and all that were slain upon the earth.

And then I heard a great multitude like mighty thunder, shouting and laughing


Again they cried,


And then a voice from heaven at first quiet, barely a whisper,

RIGHTEOUS are the judgments of God.

Then louder,

REJOICE ye holy prophets;

And more confident,

for God hath AVENGED you on Babylon, that great


And the smoke of her burning, and the joy of her life, and the flesh of her people, rose up for ever and ever.

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We honor her with our love.

Great Babylon, hear us.

102 Lord show me a sign

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