Belshazzar

The midnight hour was soon to come;
In peace and quiet laid Babylon.

Only in the King's palace, up there,
His followers rejoice, the torches flare.

Belshazzar, up there in the royal hall,
Was holding a royal feast with them all.

The vassals sat in rows that shine,
They emptied goblets of sparkling wine.

The goblets clinked, the vassals cheered;
The stubborn King was seemingly pleased.

The King's cheeks glow like fire, at once;
The wine helps grow his defiant arrogance.

And this defiance carries him away, blindly;
And with a sinful word he blasphemes the divinity.

And he boasts insolently and blasphemes wildly;
The host of vassals roars approvingly.

The King called with a haughty glance;
The servant hurries and returns at once.

On his head he bore many vessels, golden,
That were, from Jehovah's temple, stolen.

And the King seized with his impious hand
A sacred cup filled up to the rand.

And he empties it to the bottom hastily,
And with a foaming mouth, he shouts loudly:

Jehovah! For thee I proclaim my eternal scorn.
I am the King of Babylon!

But hardly had the terrible words rung out,
When the King felt a secret fear in his heart.

The piercing laughter died away suddenly;
The stillness in the hall became deathly.

And look, look! On the white wall over there,
A human hand appears, coming from no where;

And wrote, and wrote on the white wall letters of fire
And wrote again, then proceeded to expire.

The King sat there,  gazingly staring,
Deathly pale, his knees were shaking.

The host of vassals sat coldly terrified,
They sat very still and made no sound.

The magicians came, but none of them all
Could  interpret the flaming writing on the wall.

But Belshazzar, with all his might
Was slain by his vassals, that very night.

 

Heinrich Heine (1797-1856)

 

 

 

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