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- Miscellaneous Poems - 2/8 -


And would at last have won my will, Had I not, wretch! been doom'd to prove Th' extremes of mortal good and ill.

In youth! health! joy! in beauty's pride! They droop'd--as flowers when blighted bow; The dire infection came: --they died, And I was cursed--as I am now; - Nay, frown not, angry friend,--allow That I was deeply, sorely tried; Hear then, and you must wonder how I could such storms and strifes abide.

Storms!--not that clouds embattled make, When they afflict this earthly globe; But such as with their terrors shake Man's breast, and to the bottom probe; They make the hypocrite disrobe, They try us all, if false or true; For this one Devil had power on Job; And I was long the slave of two.

PHYSICIAN.

Peace, peace, my friend; these subjects fly; Collect thy thoughts--go calmly on. -

PATIENT.

And shall I then the fact deny? I was--thou know'st--I was begone, Like him who fill'd the eastern throne, To whom the Watcher cried aloud; That royal wretch of Babylon, Who was so guilty and so proud.

Like him, with haughty, stubborn mind, I, in my state, my comforts sought; Delight and praise I hoped to find, In what I builded, planted! bought! Oh! arrogance! by misery taught - Soon came a voice! I felt it come; "Full be his cup, with evil fraught, Demons his guides, and death his doom!"

Then was I cast from out my state; Two fiends of darkness led my way; They waked me early, watch'd me late, My dread by night, my plague by day! Oh! I was made their sport, their play, Through many a stormy troubled year; And how they used their passive prey Is sad to tell: --but you shall hear.

And first before they sent me forth. Through this unpitying world to run, They robb'd Sir Eustace of his worth, Lands, manors, lordships, every one; So was that gracious man undone, Was spurn'd as vile, was scorn'd as poor, Whom every former friend would shun, And menials drove from every door.

Then rose ill-favour'd Ones, whom none But my unhappy eyes could view, Led me, with wild emotion, on, And, with resistless terror, drew. Through lands we fled, o'er seas we flew, And halted on a boundless plain; Where nothing fed, nor breathed, nor grew, But silence ruled the still domain.

Upon that boundless plain, below, The setting sun's last rays were shed, And gave a mild and sober glow, Where all were still, asleep, or dead; Vast ruins in the midst were spread, Pillars and pediments sublime, Where the gray mass had form'd a bed, And clothed the crumbling spoils of time.

There was I fix'd, I know not how, Condemn'd for untold years to stay: Yet years were not;--one dreadful Now Endured no change of night or day; The same mild evening's sleeping ray Shone softly solemn and serene, And all that time I gazed away, The setting sun's sad rays were seen.

At length a moment's sleep stole on, - Again came my commission'd foes; Again through sea and land we're gone, No peace, no respite, no repose; Above the dark broad sea we rose, We ran through bleak and frozen land; I had no strength their strength t'oppose, An infant in a giant's hand.

They placed me where those streamers play, Those nimble beams of brilliant light; It would the stoutest heart dismay, To see, to feel, that dreadful sight: So swift, so pure, so cold, so bright, They pierced my frame with icy wound; And all that half-year's polar night, Those dancing streamers wrapp'd me round.

Slowly that darkness pass'd away, When down upon the earth I fell, - Some hurried sleep was mine by day; But soon as toll'd the evening bell, They forced me on, where ever dwell Far-distant men, in cities fair, Cities of whom no travellers tell, Nor feet but mine were wanderers there.

Their watchmen stare, and stand aghast, As on we hurry through the dark; The watch-light blinks as we go past, The watch-dog shrinks and fears to bark; The watch-tower's bell sounds shrill; and, hark The free wind blows--we've left the town - A wild sepulchral ground I mark, And on a tombstone place me down.

What monuments of mighty dead! What tombs of various kinds are found! And stones erect their shadows shed On humble graves, with wickers bound, Some risen fresh, above the ground, Some level with the native clay: What sleeping millions wait the sound, "Arise, ye dead, and come away!"

Alas! they stay not for that call; Spare me this woe! ye demons, spare! They come! the shrouded shadows all, - 'Tis more than mortal brain can bear; Rustling they rise, they sternly glare At man upheld by vital breath; Who, led by wicked fiends, should dare To join the shadowy troops of death!

Yes, I have felt all man can feel, Till he shall pay his nature's debt; Ills that no hope has strength to heal, No mind the comfort to forget: Whatever cares the heart can fret, The spirits wear, the temper gall, Woe, want, dread, anguish, all beset My sinful soul!--together all!

Those fiends upon a shaking fen Fix'd me, in dark tempestuous night; There never trod the foot of men, There flock'd the fowl in wint'ry flight; There danced the moor's deceitful light Above the pool where sedges grow; And when the morning-sun shone bright, It shone upon a field of snow.

They hung me on a bow so small, The rook could build her nest no higher; They fix'd me on the trembling ball That crowns the steeple's quiv'ring spire; They set me where the seas retire, But drown with their returning tide; And made me flee the mountain's fire, When rolling from its burning side.

I've hung upon the ridgy steep Of cliffs, and held the rambling brier; I've plunged below the billowy deep, Where air was sent me to respire; I've been where hungry wolves retire; And (to complete my woes) I've ran Where Bedlam's crazy crew conspire Against the life of reasoning man.

I've furl'd in storms the flapping sail, By hanging from the topmast-head; I've served the vilest slaves in jail, And pick'd the dunghill's spoil for bread; I've made the badger's hole my bed: I've wander'd with a gipsy crew; I've dreaded all the guilty dread, And done what they would fear to do.

On sand, where ebbs and flows the flood, Midway they placed and bade me die; Propp'd on my staff, I stoutly stood When the swift waves came rolling by; And high they rose, and still more high, Till my lips drank the bitter brine; I sobb'd convulsed, then cast mine eye, And saw the tide's re-flowing sign.

And then, my dreams were such as nought Could yield but my unhappy case;


Miscellaneous Poems - 2/8

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