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Is sworn to do the deed : The day of rest
No peace, no comfort, brings his woe-worn spirit;
Self-curst, the hallow'd dome he dreads to enter;
He dares not pray; he dares not sigh a hope ;
Annihilation is his only heaven.
Loathsome the converse of his friends! he shuns
The human face; in ev'ry careless eye
Suspicion of his purpose seems to lurk.
Deep piny shades he loves, where no sweet note
Is warbled, where the rook unceasing caws:
Or far in moors, remote from house or hut,
Where animated nature seems extinct,
Where ev’n the hum of wand'ring bee ne'er breaks
The quiet slumber of the level waste;
Where vegetation’s traces almost fail,
Save where the leafless cannachs wave their tufts
Of silky white, or massy oaken trunks
Half-buried lie, and tell where greenwoods grew,
There on the heathless moss outstretch'd, he broods
O'er all his ever-changing plans of death :
The time, place, means, sweep, like a moon-light
In fleet succession, o'er his clouded soul,
The poignard, and the opium draught, that brings
Death by degrees, but leaves an awful chasm
Between the act and consequence,—the flash
Sulphureous, fraught with instantaneous death ;--
The ruin’d tower perch'd on some jutting rock,
So high that, 'tween the leap and dash below,
The breath might take its flight in midway air,-
This pleases for a time ; but on the brink,
Back from the toppling edge his fancy shrinks
In horror ; sleep at last his breast becalms,-
He dreams 'tis done ; but starting wild awakes,
Resigning to despair his dream of joy.
Then hope, faint hope revives—hope that Despair
May to his aid let loose the demon Frenzy,
To lead scar'd Conscience blindfold o'er the brink
Of Self-destruction's cataract of blood.
Most miserable, most incongruous wretch !
Dar’st thou to spurn thy life, the boon of God,
Yet dreadest to approach his holy place !
O dare to enter in! may be some word,
Or sweetly chaunted strain, will in thy heart
Awake a chord in unison with life.
What are thy fancied woes to his whose fate
Is (sentence dire !) incurable disease,-
The outcast of a lazar-house, homeless,
Or with a home where eyes do scowl on him?
Yet he, ev'n he, with feeble step draws near,
With trembling voice joins in the song of praise.
Patient he waits the hour of his release ;
He knows he has a home beyond the grave.
OR turn thee to that house, with studded doors, And iron-visor'd windows,-even there The Sabbath sheds a beam of bliss, tho' faint; The debtor's friends (for still he has some friends) Have time to visit him; the blossoming pea, That climbs the rust-worn bars, seems fresher
ting'd; And on the little turf, this day renew'd, The lark, his prison mate, quivers the wing With more than wonted joy. See, thro' the bars, That pallid face retreating from the view, That glittering eye following, with hopeless look, The friends of former years, now passing by In peaceful fellowship to worship God:
With them in days of youthful years, he roam'd
O'er hill and dale, o'er broomy knowe; and wist
As little as the blythest of the band
Of this his lot; condemn’d, condemn'd unheard,
The party for his judge: (13)—among the throng,
The Pharisaical hard-hearted man
He sees pass on, to join the heav'n-taught prayer,
Forgive our debts, as we forgive our debtors :
From unforgiving lips most impious prayer !
O happier far the victim, than the hand
That deals the legal stab! The injur'd man
Enjoys internal, settled calm ; to him
The Sabbath bell sounds peace; he loves to meet
His fellow sufferers, to pray and praise :
And many a prayer, as pure as e'er was breath'd
In holy fanes, is sigh'd in prison halls.
Ah me! that clank of chains, as kneel and rise