There sat a raven ’mid the pines so dark,
The pines so silent and so dark at morn
A ragged bird with feathers rough and torn,
Whetting his grimy beak upon the bark,
And croaking hoarsely to the woods forlorn.
Blood red the sky and misty in the east—
Low vapours creeping bleakly o’er the hills—
The rain will soon come plashing on the rills—
No sound in all the place of bird or beast,
Save that hoarse croak that all the woodland fills.
A slimy pool all rank with rotting weeds,
Close by the pines there at the highway side;
No ripple on its green and stagnant tide,
Where only cold and still the horse-leech breeds—
Ugh! might not here some bloody murder hide!
Pshaw! ... Cold the air slow stealing through
Scarce rustling the moist leaves beneath its tread—
A fearful breast thus holds its breath for dread!
There is no healthful music in this breeze,
It sounds ... ha! ha! ... like sighs above the dead!
What frights yon raven ’mid the pines so dark,
The pines so silent and so dark around,
With ne’er accomplish’d circlings to the ground
Ruffling his wings so ragged and so stark?
Some half-dead victim haply hath he found.
Ho! raven, now with thee I’ll share the spoil!
This way, methinks, the dying game hath trod—
Ay! broken twigs, and blood upon the sod—
These thorns are sharp! well! soon will end the toil—
This bough aside, and then the prize ... My God!...
ON THE DEATH OF THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON.
The Land stood still to listen all that day,
And ’mid the hush of many a wrangling tongue,
Forth from the cannon’s mouth the signal rung,
That from the earth a man had pass’d away—
A mighty Man, that over many a field
Roll’d back the tide of Battle on the foe,—
Thus far, no further, shall thy billows go.
Who Freedom’s falchion did right nobly wield,
Like potter’s vessel smiting Tyrants down,
And from Earth’s strongest snatching Victory’s crown;
Upon the anvil of each Battle-plain,
Still beating swords to ploughshares. All is past,—
The glory, and the labour, and the pain—
The Conqueror is conquer’d here at last.
Yet other men have wrought, and fought, and won,
Cutting with crimson sword Fame’s Gordian knot,
And, dying, nations wonder’d—and forgot,—
But this Man’s name shall circle with the sun;
And when our children’s children feel the glow,
That ripens them unconsciously to men,
Asking, with upturn’d face, “What did he then?”
One answer from each quicken’d heart shall flow—
“This Man submerg’d the Doer in the Deed,
Toil’d on for Duty, nor of Fame took heed;
Hew’d out his name upon the great world’s sides.
In sure-aim’d strokes of nobleness and worth,
And never more Time’s devastating tides
Shall wear the steadfast record from the Earth.”