The Rainbow

By Thomas Campbell

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 luster smiled
O’er mountains yet untrod,
Each mother held aloft her child
To bless the bow of God.
Methinks, thy jubilee to keep,
The first-made anthem rang
On earth, delivered from the deep,
And the first poet sang.
Nor ever shall the Muse’s eye
Unraptured greet thy beam;
Theme of primeval prophecy,
Be still the prophet’s theme!
The earth to thee her incense yields,
The lark thy welcome sings,
When, glittering in the freshened fields,
The snowy mushroom springs.
How glorious is thy girdle, cast
O’er mountain, tower, and town,
Or mirrored 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.

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