The Deserted Churchyard.

There lay an ancient churchyard1
Upon a heathy hill,2
And oft of yore I linger’d there,3
Amid the twilight still ;4
For ’t was a’ place deserted,5
And all things spoke a tone,6
Whose wild lone music vibrated7
To things for ever gone.8
Yes ! Nature’s face look’d lonelier9
To Fancy’s brooding eye,10
The marshy moors—the mountains—11
And solitary sky ;12
And there was like a mournfulness13
Upon the fitful breeze,14
As it wail’d among the hoary weeds,15
Or mounted through the trees.16
Around were gnarly sycamores,17
And, by the wizard stream,18
I lay in youth’s enchanted ring,19
When life was like a dream ;20
And spectral generations pass’d21
Before my thought like waves,22
Men that, for creeping centuries,23
Had moulder’d in their graves.24
There, as the west was paling,25
And the evening star peep’d out,26
I leant to watch the impish bat,27
That flitting shriek’d about ;28
Or the crow that to the forest,29
With travel-wearied wing,30
Sail’d through the twilight duskily,31
Like some unearthly thing.32
The scowl of Desolation33
Hung o’er it like a shade ;34
And Ruin there, amid the moss,35
Her silent dwelling made ;36
Only unto the elements37
’T was free, and human breath38
Felt like unhallow’d mockery,39
In that calm field of death.40
Within that solitary place41
No monuments were seen42
Of woman’s love, or man’s regret,43
To tell that suck had been ;44
And, to the soul’s wild question,45
Oh, dead ! where are ye flown ?”46
Waved to and fro, in mournful guise,47
The thistle’s beard of down.48
There, as I loiter’d, pondering,49
Amid the mantling night,50
Upon the old grey wall the hawk51
Would silently alight ;52
And, rushing from the blasted hills,53
With rain-drops on its wing,54
The wind amid the hemlocks55
Would desolately sing.56
Life, and the living things of earth,57
Would vanish far away,58
As there, in vague abstraction,59
Amid the graves I lay :60
The world seem’d an enchanted world,61
A region dim and drear,62
A shadowy land of reverie,63
Where Silence dwelt with Fear.64
’Twas hard to think that Passion65
Had stirr’d how many a breast66
Which now, beneath the nettles rank,67
Decay’d in lonely rest ;68
That once they loved like kindred,69
These unacknowledged dead,70
From whose bare, wasted bones at length71
Ev’n famish’d dormice fled.72
For ages there no mourner73
To wail his loss had come ;74
The dead, and their descendants,75
Like yesterday, were dumb ;76
And sang the hoary cannach,77
Upon the casual wind,78
A dirge for generations79
That left no trace behind.80
So dreary and so desolate81
That churchyard was and rude,82
That phantasy upon the verge83
Of night and chaos stood ;84
And, like a sibyl’s chronicle,85
Mysteriously it told,86
In hieroglyph and symbol,87
The shadowy days of old.88