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THE DREAM OF EUGENE ARAM.
'Twas in the prime of summer time,
Came bounding out of school:
There were some that ran, and some that leapt,
Like troutlets in a pool.
Away they sped with gamesome minds,
And souls untouched by sin;
To a level mead they came, and there
Like sportive deer they coursed about,
As only boyhood can:
But the Usher sat remote from all,
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 leaned his head on his hands, and read
The book between his knees!
Leaf after leaf, he turned it o'er,
Nor ever glanced aside,
For the peace of his soul he read that book
In the golden eventide :
Much study had made him very lean,
And pale, and leaden-eyed.
At last he shut the ponderous tome,
"Oh God! could I so close my mind,
Then leaping on his feet upright,
Now up the mead, then down the mead,
And past a shady nook,
And, lo! he saw a little boy
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,-
And down he sat beside the lad,
And, long since then, of bloody men,
Of lonely folk cut off unseen,
And hid in sudden graves;
And how the sprites of injured men
He told how murderers walk the earth
With crimson clouds before their eyes,
"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,
One hurried gash with a hasty knife,—
"Nothing but lifeless flesh and bone,
And yet I feared him all the more,
There was a manhood in his look,
Seemed lit with ghastly flame ;-
And called upon his name!
"Oh God! it made me quake to see
But when I touched the lifeless clay,
"My head was like an ardent coal,
My wretched, wretched soul, I knew,
A dozen times I groaned; the dead
from forth the frowning sky,
"I took the dreary body up,
"Down went the corse 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.
"Oh Heaven! to think of their white souls,
And mine so black and grim !
I could not share in childish
Nor join in Evening Hymn : Like a Devil of the Pit I seemed,
'Mid holy Cherubim !
“And peace went with them, one and all,
And drew my midnight curtains round,
"All night I lay in agony,
In anguish dark and deep;
"One stern tyrannic thought, that made
Did that temptation crave,—
Still urging me to go and see
66 Heavily I rose up, as soon
And I saw the Dead in the river-bed,
Merrily rose the lark, and shook
The dew-drop from its wing;
But I never marked its morning flight,
I never heard it sing:
For I was stooping once again
Under the horrid thing.