Page images

Ten livid lips said, heavenly blue,
And ten accused a darker hue.


I asked a matron which she deemed With fairest light of beauty beamed; She answered, some thought both were fair Give her blue eyes and golden hair. I might have liked her judgment well, But, as she spake, she rung the bell, And all her girls, nor small nor few, Came marching in — their eyes were blue ! I asked a maiden; back she flung The locks that round her forehead hung, And turned her


- a glorious one,
Bright as a diamond in the sun
On me, until, beneath its rays,
I felt as if my hair would blaze;
She liked all



green: She looked at me; what could she mean?

Ah! many lids Love lurks between,
Nor heeds the coloring of his screen;
And when his random arrows fly,
The victim falls, but knows not why.
Gaze not upon his shield of jet,
The shaft upon the string is set;
Look not beneath his azure veil,
Though every limb were cased in mail.

[ocr errors]

Well, both might make a martyr break
The chain that bound him to the stake,
And both, with but a single ray,
Can melt our very


away. And both, when balanced, hardly seem To stir the scales, or rock the beam; But that is dearest, all the while, That wears for us the sweetest smile.

Yes, dear, departed, cherished days,

Could Memory's hand restore
Your morning light, your evening rays,

From Time's gray urn once more,
Then might this restless heart be still,

This straining eye might close;
And Hope her fainting pinions fold,

While the fair phantoms rose.

But, like a child in ocean's arms,

We strive against the stream,
Each moment further from the shore,

Where life's young fountains gleam-
Each moment fainter wave the fields,

And wilder rolls the sea ;
The mist grows dark - the

sun goes

down Day breaks, and where are we?

EDGAR A. Poe. 1811-1849.

Mr. Poe belonged to one of the oldest and most respectable families in Baltimore. When he was about two years of age, his father and mother both died. He was adopted by a Mr. Allan, of Richmond, Va., with whom he visited Great Britain, where he passed four or five years at a school near London. On returning to this country, he went to Jefferson University, and took the highest honors, though dissipated in his habits. He joined an expedition in aid of Greece, but went to St. Petersburg, where he was involved in many difficulties. On coming back to this country, he entered the Military Academy, at West Point. Dissatisfied with this, he left, and determined to devote himself to authorship. His poems are few, but some of them evince high poetic genius. His prose writings are more numerous. He married his cousin, whose mother seems to have loved him as her own son, and who, in all his erratic courses, followed him with the tenderest interest, and the most touching devotedness.

HEAR the sledges with the bells —

Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells !

How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,

In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens, seem to twinkle

With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,

In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,

Bells, bells, bells -
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.
Hear the mellow wedding bells,

Golden bells !
What a world of happiness their harmony foretells !

Through the balmy air of night
How they ring out their delight!
From the molten-golden notes,

And all in tune,
What a liquid ditty floats
To the turtle dove that listens, while she gloats

On the moon!
O, from out the sounding cells,
What a gush of euphony voluminously wells !

How it swells !

How it dwells
On the Future! how it tells

Of the rapture that impels,
To the swinging and the ringing

Of the bells, bells, bells,
of the bells, bells, bells, bells,

Bells, bells, bells -
To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells !

Hear the loud alarum bells

Brazen bells !
What a tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells !

In the startled ear of night
How they scream out their affright!

[ocr errors]

Too much horrified to speak,
They can only shriek, shriek,

Out of tune,
In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,
In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire,

Leaping higher, higher, higher,

With a desperate desire,
And a resolute endeavor

Now now to sit, or never,
By the side of the pale-faced moon!

O, the bells, bells, bells!
What a tale their terror tells

Of despair!
How they clang, and clash, and roar!

What a horror they outpour
On the bosom of the palpitating air!
Yet the ear, it fully knows,

By the twanging

And the clanging,
How the danger ebbs and flows ;
Yet the ear distinctly tells,

In the jangling

And the wrangling
How the danger sinks and swells,
By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells --

Of the bells -
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,

Bells, bells, bells
In the clamor and the clangor of the bells !
Hear the tolling of the bells

Iron bells !
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels !

In the silence of the night,

How we shiver with affright,
At the melancholy menace of their tone !

sound that floats
From the rust within their throats


Is a groan.

[ocr errors]

And the people -ah, the people! -
They that dwell up in the steeple,

All alone,
And who, tolling, tolling, tolling,

In that muffled monotone,
Feel a glory in so rolling

On the human heart a stone -
They are neither man nor woman
They are neither brute nor human

They are Ghouls :
And their king it is who tolls;
And he rolls, rolls, rolls,

A pæan from the bells !
And his merry bosom swells

With the pæan of the bells!
And he dances, and he yells;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the pæan of the bells -

Of the bells :
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,

To the throbbing of the bells
Of the bells, bells, bells -

To the sobbing of the bells;
Keeping time, time, time,

As he knells, knells, knells,
In a happy Runic rhyme,

To the rolling of the bells
Of the bells, bells, bells;

To the tolling of the bells —
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,

Bells, bells, bells -
To the moaning and the groaning of the bells !

« PreviousContinue »