« AnteriorContinuar »
And once again those ghastly pains,
Shoot to and fro through heart and reins,
And through his brain like lightning pass.
I've heard of one, a gentle Soul,
Though given to sadness and to gloom,
And for the fact will vouch, — one night
It chanced that by a taper's light
This man was reading in his room ;
Bending, as you or I might bend
At night o'er any pious book,
When sudden blackness overspread
The snow-white page on which he read,
And made the good man round him look.
The chamber walls were dark all round, -
And to his book he turned again ; —
The light had left the lonely taper,
And formed itself upon the paper
Into large letters, bright and plain!
The goodly book was in his hand, —
And, on the page, more black than coal,
Appeared, set forth in strange array,
A word, — which to his dying day
Perplexed the good man's gentle soul.
The ghostly word, thus plainly seen,
Did never from his lips depart;
But he hath said, poor gentle wight!
It brought full many a sin to light
Out of the bottom of his heart.
Dread Spirits ! to confound the meek
Why wander from your course so far,
Disordering color, form, and stature!
- Let good men feel the soul of nature,
And see things as they are.
Yet, potent Spirits ! well I know
How ye, that play with soul and sense,
Are not unused to trouble friends
Of goodness, for most gracious ends, —
And this I speak in reverence !
But might I give advice to you,
Whom in my fear I love so well ;
From men of pensive virtue go,
, Dread Beings! and your empire show
On hearts like that of Peter Bell.
Your presence often have I felt
In darkness and the stormy night ;
And, with like force, if need there be,
Ye can put forth your agency
When earth is calm, and heaven is bright.
Then, coming from the wayward world,
That powerful world in which ye dwell,
Come, Spirits of the Mind ! and try,
To-night, beneath the moonlight sky,
What may be done with Peter Bell !
-0, would that some more skilful voice
My further labor might prevent!
Kind Listeners, that around me sit,
I feel that I am all unfit
For such high argument.
I've played, I've danced, with my narration ;
I loitered long ere I began :
Ye waited then on my good pleasure;
Pour out indulgence still, in measure
As liberal as ye can!
Our Travellers, ye remember well,
Are thridding a sequestered lane;
And Peter many tricks is trying,
And many anodynes applying,
To ease his conscience of its pain.
By this his heart is lighter far;
And, finding that he can account
So snugly for that crimson stain,
His evil spirit up again
Does like an empty bucket mount.
And Peter is a deep logician Who hath no lack of wit mercurial; “ Blood drops, leaves rustle, yet,” quoth he, “ This poor man never, but for me, Could have had Christian burial.
“ And, say the best you can, 't is plain,
That here has been some wicked dealing:
No doubt the Devil in me wrought;
I'm not the man who could have thought
An Ass like this was worth the stealing!”
So from his pocket Peter takes
His shining horn tobacco-box;
And, in a light and careless way,
As men who with their purpose play,
Upon the lid he knocks.
Let them whose voice can stop the clouds,
Whose cunning eye can see the wind,
Tell to a curious world the cause
Why, making here a sudden pause,
The Ass turned round his head, and grinned.
Appalling process! I have marked
The like on heath, in lonely wood;
And, verily, have seldom met
A spectacle more hideous, - yet
It suited Peter's present mood.
And, grinning in his turn, his teeth
He in jocose defiance showed, -
When, to upset his spiteful mirth,
A murmur, pent within the earth,
In the dead earth beneath the road,
Rolled audibly! it swept along,
A muffled noise, - a rumbling sound !-
'T was by a troop of miners made,
Plying with gunpowder their trade,
Some twenty fathoms underground.
Small cause of dire effect! for, surely,
If ever mortal, King or Cotter,
Believed that earth was charged to quake
And yawn for his unworthy sake,'
'T was Peter Bell the Potter.
But, as an oak in breathless air
Will stand though to the centre hewn ;
Or as the weakest things, if frost
Have stiffened them, maintain their post;
So he, beneath the gazing moon! --
The Beast bestriding thus, he reached
A spot where, in a sheltering cove,
A little chapel stands alone,
With greenest ivy overgrown,
And tufted with an ivy grove;