Why tarries Sisera? His mother stands
At the high window, where her eye commands
The hill and vale afar, while waning day
Shows not her son, in all the winding way.
Forth from the lattice goes her earnest cry,
'Where art thou, Sisera? My son, O why,
While o'er the world this solemn twilight steals,
Why tarry thus thy burning chariot wheels?
'When wilt thou come triumphant from the plain,
With Israel's spoils and captives in thy train;
Thy parent's pride, a shouting kingdom's boast,
Thou valiant leader of a dauntless host?
'How went the battle? None will come and tell
Where the dart entered, or the javelin fell;
What shield was shivered, which the trusty sword
That met its aim, or whose the blood that poured.
'If that I gave thee from my own rich veins
Empurple earth's cold sod, what hope remains?
Thy nation's glory must with thee depart;
And one dread swell will burst thy mothers heart!
'But why thy joyful coming thus delay?
Is it to share the spoil, and take the prey?
Dim grows the distance to my weary eye;
Nor hoof, nor wheel, nor foot of man comes nigh!'
Why, hapless mother, does he not return!
Go to the Kenite's distant place, and learn!
Fly to the tent on Zaanaim's plain;
Ask Heber's wife for hint thou call'st in vain!
Enter her tent, and slowly raise the veil;
Lift that spread mantle; see the fatal nail!
Behold thy son, as now he lieth low;
Inglorious chief! and by a woman's blow!
Is this the brow that thou hast hoped to see
Twined with the laurel, high in victory?
The blood thou gav'st him in a form so fair
Is thick around it, on the matted hair!
Pierced through the temples! pillowed on the ground!
Is this the head that glory should have crowned?
Was the fair captive's needle-work to deck,
With many colors, this poor severed neck?
Oh! 't is a fearful thing to be a rod
Used on a people, by the hand of God,
To bring his children back, when they offend;
To chasten them; then have the scourge's end!
To Tabor's mount the bands of Barak drew,
In arms but feeble; in their numbers, few;
While Jabin's hosts, with Sisera their head,
By Kishon's stream the valley overspread.
With strong war-chariots they took the field;
With prancing horses, gleaming spear and shield.
Thick as the grass they overran the plain,
Like that, when mown, to strow it with the slain.
When to the onset, like a stream that gushed
Forth from the mount, the men of Israel rushed;
The Lord of hosts was with them in the fight,
And death, or dread seized every Canaanite.
The ancient river felt its heavy tide
Swell with the blood that flowed upon its side.
Horses and horsemen weltered in the waves,
That bore down thousands into restless graves.
Then Sisera, unchiefed, with none to head,
Leaped from his iron chariot and fled.
His steps the fugitive in terror bent
To ask of Jael refuge in her tent.
She gave him milk; and 'in a lordly dish,'
She brought him food; she granted him his wish
Here to be screened from Barak; but his sleep
She fastened on him! it is long and deep!
Oh, Sisera! it was a fearful thing
To be the minion of an evil king;
Against an injured people to contend,
Who had the God of armies for their friend