On the hills the mad winds roar,
And the tall pines toss and groan;
Round the headland—down the shore—
Stormy spirits shriek and moan.
Inky darkness wraps the sky;
Not a glimpse of moon or star;
And the stormy-petrels cry
Out along the harbor-bar.
Seated by their blazing hearth—
John and Hannah—snug and warm—
What if darkness wrap the earth?
Drive the sleet and howl the storm!
Let the stormy-petrels fly!
Let the moaning breakers beat!
Hark! I hear an infant cry
And the patter of baby-feet:
And Hannah listened as she spoke,
But only heard the driving rain,
As on the cottage-roof it broke
And pattered on the window-pane.
And she sat knitting by the fire
While pussy frolicked at her feet;
And ever roared the tempest higher,
And ever harder the hailstones beat.
“Hark! the cry—it comes again!”
“Nay, it is the winds that wail,
And the patter on the pane
Of the driving sleet and hail”
Replied the farmer as he piled
The crackling hemlock on the coals,
And lit his corn-cob pipe and smiled
The smile of sweet contented souls.
Aye, let the storm rave o’er the earth;
Their kine are snug in barn and byre;
The apples sputter on the hearth,
The cider simmers on the fire.
But once again at midnight high,
She heard in dreams, through wind and sleet,
An infant moan, an infant cry,
And the patter of baby-feet.
Half-waking from her dreams she turned
And heard the driving wind and rain;
Still on the hearth the fagots burned,
And hail beat on the window-pane.
John rose as wont, at dawn of day;
The earth was white with frozen sleet;
And lo his faithful Fido lay
Dead on the door-stone at his feet.
The day of truth is dawning. I behold
O’er darksome hills the trailing robes of gold
And silent footsteps of the gladsome dawn.
The morning breaks by sages long foretold;
Truth comes to set upon the world her throne.
Men lift their foreheads to the rising sun,
And lo the reign of Reason is begun.
Fantastic phantasms fly before the light—
Pale, gibbering ghosts and ghouls and goblin fears:
Man who hath walked in sleep—what thousands years?
Groping among the shadows of the night,
Moon-struck and in a weird somnambulism,
Mumbling some cunning cant or catechism,
Thrilled by the electric magic of the skies—
Sun-touched by Truth—awakes and rubs his eyes.
Old Superstition, mother of cruel creeds,
O’er all the earth hath sown her dragon-teeth.
Lo centuries on centuries the seeds
Grew rank, and from them all the haggard breeds
Of Hate and Fear and Hell and cruel Death.
And still her sunken eyes glare on mankind;
Her livid lips grin horrible; her hands,
Shriveled to bone and sinew, clutch all lands
And with blind fear lead on or drive the blind.
Ah ignorance and fear go hand in hand,
Twin-born, and broadcast scatter hate and thorns,
They people earth with ghosts and hell with horns,
And sear the eyes of truth with burning brand.