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Entombs its master, and the faithless plain,
If there he flies for help, with sudden yawn
Starts from beneath him. Shield me, gracious heaven,
O snatch me from destruction! if this globe,
This solid globe, which thine own hand hath made
So firm and sure, if this my steps betray:
If my own mother-earth from whence I sprung,
Riseup with rage unnatural to devour
Her wretched offspring, whither shall I fly?
Where look for succour? Where, but up to thee,
Almighty Father? Save, O save thy suppliant
From horrors such as these !—At thy good time
Let Death approach; I reck not—let him but come
In genuine form, not with thy vengeance arm'd,
Too much for man to bear. O rather lend
Thy kindly aid to mitigate his stroke, • ,
And at that hour when all aghast I stand
(A trembling candidate for thy compassion)
On this world's brink, and look into the next;
When my soul starting from the dark unknown,
Casts back a wishful look, and fondly clings
To her frail, prop, unwilling to be wrench'd
From this fair scene, from all her custom'd joys,
And all the lovely relatives of life,
Then shed thy comforts o'er me; then put on
The gentlest of thy looks. Let no dark crimes
In all their hideous forms then starting up
Plant themselves round my couch in grim array,
• And stab my bleeding heart with two-edg'd torture,
Sense of past guilt, and dread of future woe.
Far be the ghastly crew! and in their stead,
Let cheerful memory from her purest cells
Lead forth a goodly train of virtues fair,
Cherish'd in earliest youth, now paying back
With tenfold usury the pious care,
And pouring o'er my wounds the heavenly balm
Of conscious innocence.—But chiefly thou,
Whom soft-ey'd Pity once led down from Heaven
To bleed for man, to teach him how to live,
And, oh? still harder lesson! how to die:
Disdain not thou to smooth the restless bed
Of sickness and of pain.—Forgive the tear
That feeble nature drops, calm all her fears,
Wake all her hopes, and animate her faith,
Till my rapt soul, anticipating Heaven,
Bursts from the thraldom of encumbering clay,
And on the wing of ecstasy upborne,
Springs into Liberty, and Light, and Life!
'The house appointed for all living.' Job.
Whilst some affect the sun, and some the shade,
Some flee the city, some the hermitage;
Their aims as various as the roads they take
In journeying through life;—the task be mine
To paint the gloomy horrors of the tomb;
Th' appointed place of rendezvous, where all
These travellers meet.—Thy succours I implore,
Eternal King! whose potent arm sustains
The keys of hell and death.—The Grave, dread thing!
Men shiver when thou'rt named: nature, appall'd,
Shakes off her wonted firmness.—Ah! how dark
Thy long-extended realms, and rueful wastes \ .
Where nought but silence reigns, and night, dark night,
Dark as was chaos, ere the infant sun
Was roll'd together, or had tried his beams
Athwart the gloom profound.—The sickly taper
By glimmering through thy low-brow'd misty vaults,
(Furr'd round with mouldy damps and ropy slime)
Lets fall a supernumerary horror,
VOL. III. M
And only serves to make thy night more irksome.
Well do I know thee by thy trusty yew,
Cheerless, unsocial plant! tkat hrves to dwell
Midst skulls and coffins, epitaphs, and worms,
Where light-heel'd ghosts, and visionary shades,
Beneath the wan cold moon (as fame reports)
Embodied, thick, perform their mystic rounds.
No other merriment, dull tree! is thine.
See yonder ballow'd fane;—the pious work
Of names once famed, now dubious or forgot,
And buried midst the wreck of things which were;
There lie tnterr'd the more illustrious dead.
The wind is up: hark! how it howls! Methinks
Till now I never heard a sound so dreary:
Doors creak, and windows clap, and night's foul bird,
Rook'd in the spire, screams loud: the gloomy aisles,
Black-plaster'd, and hung round with shreds of 'scut-
And tatter'J coats of arms, send back the sound
Laden with heavier airs, from the low vaults,
The mansions of the dead.—Rous'd from their slumbers,
In grim array the grisly spectres rise,
Grin horrible, and obstinately sullen,
Pass and repass, hush'd as the foot of night.
Again the screech-owl shrieks: ungracious sound!
I'll hear no more: it makes one's blood run chill.
Quite round the pile, a row of reverend elms, (Coeval near with that) all ragged shew, Long lash'd by the rude winds. Some rift half down Their branchless trunks; others so thin a-top, That scarce two crows could lodge in the same tree. Strange things, the neighbours say, have happen'd here: Wild shrieks have issued .from the hallow tombs: Dead men have come Again, and walk'd about; And the great bell has toll'd, unrung, untouch'd. (Such tales, their cheer, at wake or gossiping, When it draws near the witching time of night.)
Oft in the lone church-yard at night I've seen, By glimpse of moonshine chequering through the trees. The school-boy, with his satchel in his hand, Whistling aloud to bear his courage up, And lightly tripping o'er the long flat stones, (With nettles skirted, and with moss o'ergrown,) That tell in homely phrase who lie below. Sudden he starts, and hears, or thinks he hears, The sound of something purring at his heels; Full fast he flies, and dares not look behind him, Till out of breath he overtakes his fellows; Who gather round, and wonder at the tale Of horrid apparition, tall and ghastly, That walks at dead of night, or takes his stand