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THE DREAM OF EUGENE ARAM.*
'Twas in the prime of summer time,
An evening calm and cool,
Came bounding out of school ;
Like troutlets in a pool.
Away they sped, with gamesome minds
And souls untouch'd by sin ;
They drave the wickets in:
Over the town of Lynn.
Like sportive deer they coursed about,
And shouted as they ran-
As only boyhood can:
A melancholy man!
* The late Admiral Burney went to school at an establishment where the unhappy Eugene Aram was usher, subsequent to his crime. The Admiral stated that Aram was generally liked by the boys; and that he used to discourse to them about murder, in somewhat of the spirit which is attributed to him in this poem.
His hat was off, his vest apart,
To catch Heaven's blessed breeze; For a burning thought was on his brow,
And his bosom ill at ease : So he leaned his head on his hands, and read
The book between his knees.
Leaf after leaf he turn'd it o'er,
Nor ever glanced aside ;
In the golden eventide :
At last he shut the ponderous tome;
And fixed the brazen hasp; • O God! could I so close my mind,
And clasp it with a clasp."
Then leaping on his feet upright,
Some moody turns he took-
And past a shady nook-
That pored upon a book.
“My gentle lad, what is 't you read
Romance, or fairy fable !
Of kings and crowns unstable ?”
“ It is the Death of Abel.”
The usher took six hasty strides,
As smit with sudden pain-
Then slowly back again; And down he sat beside the lad,
And talked with him of Cain.
And long since then, of bloody men,
Whose deeds tradition saves ;
And hid in sudden graves ;
And murders done in caves !
And how the sprites of injured men
Shriek upward from the sod-
To show the burial clod;
Are seen in dreams from God!
fle told how murderers walked the earth
Beneath the curse of Cain
And flames about their brain ;
Its everlasting stain!
“And well," quoth he, “I know, for truth,
Their pangs must be extremeWo, wo, unutterable wo—
Who spill life's sacred stream! For why ? Methought, last night, I wrought
A murder in a dream!
« One that had never done me wrong
A feeble man and old; I led him to a lonely field,
The moon shone clear and cold; Now here, said I, this man shall die,
And I will have his gold !
“Two sudden blows with a ragged stick,
And one with a heavy stone,
And then the deed was done;
But lifeless flesh and bone !
“Nothing but lifeless flesh and bone,
That could not do me ill;
For lying there so still ;
That murder could not kill!
“ And lo! the universal air
Seemed lit with ghastly flame-
Were looking down in blame ;
And called upon his name!
“ Oh God! it made me quake to see
Such sense within the slain !
The blood gushed out amain!
Was scorching in my brain !
My head was like an ardent coal,
My heart was solid ice;
Was at the Devil's price;
Had never groan’d but twice!
“ And now from forth the frowning sky,
From the heaven's topmost heighi I heard a voice—the awful voice
Of the blood-avenging sprite ; • Thou guilty man! take up thy dead,
And hide it from my sight!
“ I took the dreary body up,
And cast in a tream
The death was so extreme
Was nothing but a dream).
“ Down went the corse with a hollow plunge
And vanish'd in a pool ;
And wash'd my forehead cool,
That evening in the school.
“ Oh heaven! to think of their white souls,
And mine so black and grim !
Nor join in evening hymn;
'Mid holy cherubim.
“ And peace went with them one and all,
And each calm pillow spread;
That lighted me to bed,
With fingers bloody red !
“All night I lay in agony,
From weary chime to chime,
That racked me all the time,
Fierce impulse unto crime!