Thomas Parnell

Here you will find the Long Poem Jonah of poet Thomas Parnell


Thus sung the king?some angel reach a bough
From Eden's tree to crown the wisest brow;
And now thou fairest garden ever made,
Broad banks of spices, blossom'd walks of shade,
O Lebanon! where much I love to dwell,
Since I must leave thee Lebanon, farewel!

Swift from my soul the fair Idea flies,
A wilder sight the changing scene supplies,
Wide seas come rolling to my future page,
And storms stand ready when I call, to rage.
Then go where Joppa crowns the winding shore,
The prophet Jonah just arrives before,
He sees a ship unmooring, soft the gales,
He pays, and enters, and the vessel sails.

Ah wou'dst thou fly thy God? rash man forbear, 
What land so distant but thy God is there?
Weak reason, cease thy voice.?They run the deep,
And the tir'd prophet lays his limbs to sleep.
Here God speaks louder, sends a storm to sea,
The clouds remove to give the vengeance way;
Strong blasts come whistling, by degrees they roar
And shove big surges tumbling on to shore;
The vessel bounds, then rolls, and ev'ry blast
Works hard to tear her by the groaning mast;
The sailors doubling all their shouts and cares
Furl the white canvas, and cast forth the wares,
Each seek the God their native regions own,
In vain they seek them, for those Gods were none.
Yet Jonah slept the while, who solely knew,
In all that number, where to find the true.
To whom the pilot: sleeper, rise and pray,
Our Gods are deaf; may thine do more than they.

But thus the rest: perhaps we waft a foe
To heav'n itself, and that's our cause of woe;
Let's seek by lots, if heav'n be pleas'd to tell;
And what they sought by lots, on Jonah fell:
Then whence he came, and who, and what, and why
Thus rag'd the tempest, all confus'dly cry,
Each press'd in haste to get his question heard,
When Jonah stops them with a grave regard.

An Hebrew man you see, who God revere,
He made this world, and makes this world his care,
His the whirl'd sky, these waves that lift their head,
And his yon land, on which you long to tread.
He charg'd me late, to Nineveh repair,
And to their face denounce his sentence there:
Go, said the vision, prophet, preach to all,
Yet forty days and Nineveh shall fall.
But well I knew him gracious to forgive,
And much my zeal abhor'd the bad shou'd live,
And if they turn they live; then what were I
But some false prophet when they fail to die?
Or what I fanci'd had the Gentiles too
With Hebrew prophets, and their God to do?
Drawn by the wilful thoughts, my soil I run,
I fled his presence and the work's undone.

The storm increases as the prophet speaks,
O'er the toss'd ship a foaming billow breaks, 
She rises pendant on the lifted waves
And thence descries a thousand watry graves,
Then downward rushing, watry mountains hide
Her hulk beneath in deaths on ev'ry side.
O, cry the sailors all, thy fact was ill,
Yet, if a prophet, speak thy master's will,
What part is ours with thee? can ought remain
To bring the blessings of a calm again?

Then Jonah?mine's the death will best atone
(And God is pleas'd that I pronounce my own)
Arise and cast me forth, the wind will cease,
The sea subsiding wear the looks of peace,
And you securely steer. For well I see
Myself the criminal, the storm for me.

Yet pity moves for one that owns a blame,
And awe resulting from a prophet's name;
Love pleads, he kindly meant for them to die,
Fear pleads against him, lest they pow'r defy:
If then to aid the flight abets the sin,
They think to land him, where they took him in.
Perhaps to quit the cause might end the woe,
And God appeasing, let the vessel go.
For this they fix their oars and strike the main,
But God withstands them, and they strike in vain.

The storm increases more with want of light,
Low black'ning clouds involve the ship in night,
Thick batt'ring rains fly thro' the driving skies,
Loud thunder bellows, darted light'ning flies,
A dreadful picture night-born horrour drew,
And his, or theirs, or both their fates, they view.

Then thus to God they cry; Almighty pow'r,
Whom we ne'er knew 'till this despairing hour,
From this devoted blood thy servants free,
To us he's innocent, if so to thee;
In all the past we see thy wond'rous hand,
And that he perish, think it thy command.

This pray'r perform'd, they cast the prophet o'er,
A surge receives him and he mounts no more;
Then stills the thunder, cease the flames of blue,
The rains abated and the winds withdrew,
The clouds ride off, and as they march away,
Thro' ev'ry breaking shoots a chearful day;
The sea, which rag'd so loud, accepts the prize, 
A while it rolls, then all the tempest dies,
By gradual sinking, flat the surface grows,
And safe the vessel with the sailors goes.
The L