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NARRATIVE AND LEGENDARY
“ THOUGH sunken in his hede, his eyes were brighte
The OLD CLERKE,
THE DREAM OF EUGENE ARAM.
An evening calm and cool,
Came bounding out of school :
Like troutlets in a pool.
Away they sped with gainsome 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 rang-
As only boyhood can:
A melancholy man!
His hat was off, his vest apart,
To catch Heaven's blessed breeze ; For a burning thought was in his brow,
And his bosom ill at ease : So he lean’d 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 :
And pale and leaden-eyed.
At last he shut the ponderous tome;
With a fast and a fervid grasp He strain'd the dusky covers close,
And fix'd 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,Now up the mead, then down the mead,
And past a shady nook, And, lo! he saw a little boy
That pored upon a book!
“ My gentle lad, what is't you read
Romance or fairy fable? Or is it some historic page,
Of kings and crowns unstable?” The young boy gave an upward glance,
" It is The Death of Abel.'
The usher took six hasty strides,
As smit with sudden pain,-
Then slowly back again ;
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 !
He told how murderers walk'd 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 extreme,Woe, woe, unutterable woe
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
Seem'd lit with ghastly flame,-
Were looking down in blame:
And called upon his name !