BETA

Horrible Stanzas.

I.

Fear haunts me like a sheeted ghost, there comes no rest to me,1
The swelling thoughts have sunk and fled which buoy’d my spirit free.2
A form of ill, unchanging still, a dark embodied shape3
Weighs my crush’d heart, and grimly waits to shut me from escape ;4
Dim-seen, as goul by starlight pale, gorged with his hideous fare,5
Yet all-distinct upon my soul there comes his wolfish glare.6

II.

The heaven is dark, as if a pall were spread upon the sky,7
And earth is like a grave to me, with vultures gather’d by ;8
And though I breathe, my soul lies dead, and o’er it floats a troop,9
Long-bill’d, of birds obscene and vile, prepared for bloody swoop;10
One—fiercer, deadlier than them all—one gloats upon my heart,11
And half I laugh in bitter joy, to think no blood will start !12

III.

No blood, no blood to wet his maw ! that blessed torrent’s flow13
Was suck’d by countless beaks and bills,—dried up long years ago !14
’Tis thus I dream, yet not in sleep ; for sleep, the torturer, brings15
Before my closed eyes a train of bright and noble things :16
The smiles of maidens fair and young, the glance of beauty bright,17
And tones remember’d long ago,—all fill me with delight.18

IV.

Then happy—like the Indian chief between his pangs of pain19
I quite forget in present ease the torture and the chain.20
A dream is mine. Sweet, mellow, faint, as if from o’er the sea,21
Or some calm lake, at evening heard, when hush’d the breezes be,22
A strain begins,—and o’er mine ear the blessed music falls,23
Bathing my heart, as moonlight bathes some donjon’s craggy walls ;24

V.

A spell of power—a talisman each anguish to allay25
And memory’s wand brings back again the long-departed day,26
The proud young time, when, free as air, I walk’d beneath the moon,27
And listen’d to one gentle voice that sung its witching tune ;28
I bend, in sleep, to kiss her brow, as ends that falling strain29
Gone ! Gone !—The agony comes on ! —The fiend is here again !30

VI.

Close, close beside me glooms the form that haunts me night and day ;31
The phantom stands beside my bed, in morning’s twilight grey,32
Dim, undefined, and terrible. Ah ! well my thrilling blood33
Told me that, foe to human kind, a demon near me stood.34
It spoke at last : and o’er my soul death’s deep’ning shadows flit35
I takes ye up for debt,” it said, “ and this-here is the writ.”36