The Dream of the Kings

Nebuchadnezzar, sleeping, saw a vision
That vanished with the night,
Troubled, he sought the seers and magicians
To call it back to light.
But none could tell it till Jehovah’s prophet
Read him the dream aright:
The symbols of the empires of the ages,
Their splendor and their might.

So have they come—the kingdoms of the Image—
So have they passed away;
Babylon, Persia, Greece of the shining beauty,
Proud Rome’s imperial sway;
Silver and gold have gone, and brass and iron:
Each had its little day,
Leaving a mass of mingled strength and weakness,
The iron and the clay.

Once more the kings of earth are dreaming, dreaming
Of that world-wide domain,
Of olden glories and of ancient greatness
Their sleeping souls are fain,
Striving with sword and spear, with force and fury,
That mastery to gain,
Every man’s hand they set against his fellow;
But all their dreams are vain.

Vain, O ye kings! Though you have called your captains,
Your mighty men of war,
Though you have summoned chariots and horsemen,
A hundred thousand score;
Time’s horologe will neither halt nor hasten
Nor yet the past restore;
Forfeit your crowns and all your thrones are falling;
Your dynasties are o’er.

Late, all too late; the hour of doom draws nearer,
Yet have not dreamed aright.
Have ye forgotten how the Image crumbled?
That yet the Stone must smite?
This is no dimness of the dawn, that brightens
To noonday’s flooding light;
It is the twilight, that can only darken
To black and hopeless night.

Iron of kings, their straining fingers grasping
A broken sceptre still;
Clay of the people, plastic, freshly moulded
By wach new potter’s skill;
Weakness and strength, united, yet divided,
They work Jehovah’s will;
Throughout the ages, blind and all unknowing,
His purpose they fulfill.

Only one King can make the world His Kingdom
And hold it for His own;
God’s ancient covenant His House established,
An everlasting throne.
Majesty, glory, power, and dominion
Are His and His alone,
Lord of all lords and King of all kings, eternal,
Great David’s greater Son.

—Annie Johnson Flint