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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:
Two sudden blows with a ragged stick,
One hurried gash with a hasty knife-
Nothing but lifeless flesh and bone,
And yet I feared him all the more,
And lo! the universal air
Seemed lit with ghastly flame-
Oh, how it made me quake to see
But when I touched the lifeless clay,
For every clot, a burning spot
Was scorching in my brain!
And now from forth the frowning sky,
I took the dreary body up,
My gentle boy, remember this
Is nothing but a dream!
Down went the corpse with a hollow plunge, And vanished in the pool;
Anon I cleansed my bloody hands,
And washed my forehead cool, And sat among the urchins young That evening in the school!
That night I lay in agony,
In anguish dark and deep;
All night I lay in agony,
From weary chime to chime, With one besetting horrid hint, That racked me all the timeA mighty yearning, like the first Fierce impulse unto crime!
One stern, tyrannic thought, that made
Did that temptation crave-
Heavily I rose up-as soon
Merrily rose the lark, and shook
But I never marked its morning flight,
For I was stooping once again
Under the horrid thing.
With breathless speed, like a soul in chase, I took him up and ran
There was no time to dig a grave
Before the day began:
In a lonesome wood, with heaps of leaves, I hid the murdered man!
And all that day. I read in school,
And a mighty wind had swept the leaves,
Then down I cast me on my face,
For I knew my secret then was one
So wills the fierce avenging sprite,
Oh, how that horrid, horrid dream
And my red right hand grows raging hot,
And still no peace for the restless clay
The horrid thing pursues my soul-
That very night, while gentle sleep
Two stern-faced men set out from Lynn,
And Eugene Aram walked between,
[Vast as is the theme on which Legare expatiates, the delivery of this extract should not be accompanied by any strong rhetorical effects. The breast will naturally expand. the eye dilate, and the the voice swell stronger and higher, as the speaker dwells upon "what is," and in his "mind's eye" contemplates "what is to be."]
SIR, I dare not trust myself to speak of my country with the rapture which I habitually feel when I contemplate her marvelous history. But this I will say that, on my return to it, after an absence of only four years, I was filled with wonder at all I saw and all I heard. What is to be compared with it? I found New York grown up to almost double its former size, with the air of a great capital, instead of a mere flourishing commercial town, as I had known it. I listened to accounts of voyages of a thousand miles in magnificent steamboats on the waters of those great lakes, which, but the other day, I left sleeping in the primeval silence of nature, in the recesses of a vast wilderness; and I felt that there is a grandeur and a majesty in this irresistible onward march of a race, created, as I believe, and elected, to possess and people a continent, which belong to few other objects, either of the moral or material world.
We may become so much accustomed to such things that they shall make as little impression upon our minds as the glories of the heavens above us; but, looking on them, lately, as with the eye of the stranger, I felt, what a recent English traveler is said to have remarked, that far from being without poetry, as some have falsely alleged, our whole country is one great poem.
Sir, it is so; and if there be a man that can think of what is doing, in all parts of this most blessed of all lands, to embellish and advance it-who can contemplate that living mass of intelligence, activity and improvement, as it rolls on, in its sure and steady progress, to the uttermost extremities of the West-who can see scenes of savage desolation transformed, almost with the suddenness of enchantment, into those of fruitfulness and beauty, crowned with flourishing cities, filled with the noblest of all populations -if there be a man, I say, that can witness all this, passing under his very eyes, without feeling his heart beat high, and his imagination warmed and transported by it, be sure, sir, that the raptures of song exist not for him; he would
listen in vain to Tasso or Camoens, telling a tale of the wars of the knights and crusaders, or of the discovery and conquest of another hemisphere.
THE HOUR OF DEATH.
[This gentle monody is so full of tender melancholy that it is almost impossible for any person to recite it amiss. The voice should, as it were harmonize to the low cadence of the falling leaves.]
LEAVES have their time to fall,
And flowers to wither at the north-wind's breath, And stars to set,-but all,
Thou hast all seasons for thine own, O Death!
Day is for mortal care,
Eve for glad meetings round the joyous hearth, Night for the dreams of sleep, the voice of prayer, But all for thee, thou mightiest of the earth.
The banquet hath its hour,
Its feverish hour ot mirth and song and wine; There comes a day for grief's o'erwhelming power. A time for softer tears-but all are thine.
Youth and the opening rose
May look like things too glorious for decay,
Leaves have their time to fall,
And flowers to wither at the north-wind's breath, And stars to set, but all,
Thou hast all seasons for thine own, O Death!
We know when moons shall wane,
When summer birds from far shall cross the sea, When autumn's hue shall tinge the golden grainBut who shall teach us when to look for thee?
Is it when spring's first gale
Comes forth to whisper where the violets lie?