2. Vain, fluctuating state

From Belshazzar, HWV 61, Act I

George Frideric Handel
e minor → B major
3/4 → 4/4

English text


Vain, fluctuating state of human empire!
First, small and weak, it scarcely rears its head,
Scarce stretching out its helpless infant arms,
Implores protection of its neighbour states,
Who nurse it to their hurt. Anon, it strives
For pow’r and wealth, and spurns at opposition.
Arriv’d to full maturity, it grasps
At all within its reach, o’erleaps all bounds,
Robs, ravages and wastes the frighted world.
At length, grown old and swell’d to bulk enormous,
The monster in its proper bowels feeds
Pride, luxury, corruption, perfidy,
Contention, fell diseases of a state,
That prey upon her vitals. Of her weakness
Some other rising pow’r advantage takes,
(Unequal match!) plies with repeated strokes
Her infirm aged trunk: she nods, she totters,
She falls, alas, never to rise again!
The victor state, upon her ruins rais’d,
Runs the same shadowy round of fancied greatness,
Meets the same certain end.

About the text

  • Author: Charles Jennens


  • Violino I
  • Violino II
  • Viola
  • Nitocris (Soprano)
  • Continuo


Similar instrumentation

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