Irene, the Dead
We stand beneath the soaring moon,
At midnight in the month of June —
An influence dewy, drowsy, dim,
Is dripping from her golden rim —
Grey towers are mouldering into rest,
Wrapping the fog around their breast. —
Looking like Lethe, see! the lake
A conscious slumber seems to take,
And would not for the world awake. —
The rosemary sleeps upon the grave —
The lily lolls upon the wave —
And [[a]] million cedars to and fro,
Are rocking lullabies as they go
To the lone oak that nodding hangs
Above yon cataract of Serangs.
All Beauty sleeps, and lo! where lies
Irene, with her destinies!
With casement open to the skies!
And hark! the sounds so low yet clear,
Like music of another sphere,
Which steals within the slumberer's ear,
Or so appear — or so appear —
"O lady sweet, how camest thou here?
"Strange are thine eyelids — strange thy dress —
"And strange thy glorious length of tress!
"Sure thou art come o'er far-off seas
"A wonder to our desert trees!
"Some gentle wind hath thought it right
"To open thy window to the night,
"And wanton airs from the tree-top
"So fitfully, so fearfully,
"And wave this crimson canopy,
"Like a banner o'er thy dreaming eye,
"That thro the floors, and down the wall
"Like ghosts the shadows rise and fall!
"Then for thine own beloved sake
"Lady, awake! — awake! awake!
The lady sleeps! — the dead all sleep —
At least as long as Love doth weep.
Entranced, the spirit loves to lie
As long as tears on Memory's eye:
But when a week or two go by,
And the light laughter chokes the sigh,
Indignant from the tomb doth take
Its way to Heavn'n — and sorrow forsake.
The lady sleeps — oh may her sleep,
As it is lasting, so be deep!
No icy worms about her creep!
I pray to God that she may lie
Forever with as calm an eye,
That chamber changed for one more holy,
That bed for one more melancholy!
Far in the forest dim and old,
For her may some tall vault unfold
Against whose sounding door she hath thrown
In childhood many an idle stone —
Some tomb which oft hath flung its black
And vampyre-wing-like pannels back
Fluttering triumphant o'er the palls
Of her old family funerals!