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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.
And souls untouched by sin;
They drave the wickets in :
Over the town of Lynn.
And shouted as they ran,-
As only boyhood can :
A melancholy man !
To catch heaven's blessed breeze ;
And his bosom ill at ease :
The book between his knees !
Nor ever glanced aside,
In the golden eventide :
And pale, and leaden-eyed.
At last he shut the ponderous tome,
With a fast and fervent grasp
And fixed the brazen hasp :
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;
Whose deeds tradition saves ;
And hid in sudden graves ;
And murders done in caves ;
Shriek upward from the sod,
To show the burial clod ;
Are seen in dreams from God !
He told how murderers walk 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 !
A feeble man, and old;
The moon shone clear and cold :
And I will have his gold !
And one with a heavy stone,
And then the deed was done :
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 heart as solid ice;
Was at the Devil's price :
Had never groaned but twice !
From the Heaven's topmost height, 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 it in a stream,-
The depth was so extreme :-
Is nothing but a dream ! “ Down went the corse with a hollow plunge,
And vanished in the pool;
And washed 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,
In anguish dark and deep ;
But stared aghast at Sleep :
The keys of Hell to keep ! “ All night I lay in agony,
From weary chime to chime, With one besetting horrid hint,
That racked me all the time ; A mighty yearning, like the first
Fierce impulse unto crime ! “ One stern tyrannic thought, that made
All other thoughts its slave;
The Dead Man in his grave ! “ Heavily I rose up, as soon
As light was in the sky,
With a wild misgiving eye;
For the faithless stream was dry. “ Merrily rose the lark, and shook
The dew-drop from its wing :
I never heard it sing :
Under the horrid thing.