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To her it seemed an age had rolled away; -
And every hour but added to her woes:
Her soul was crushed within her, for each stay
Was stricken from her fast as it arose;
The fever, too, was raging, and her blood
Was hot and hasty as a lava flood.
She was so restless, from the stony seat,
Though scarcely touching, she would spring again,
And pace the cold, damp earth, with naked feet;
Or suddenly would stop, as though in pain–
'T was reason reeling, she her temples beat,
And said a lump of lead was in her brain;
Then 'gainst the door she flew — the bolted door —
And tore it with her nails till they were sore.
And in her frantic fits she wildly raved,
And named her lover and her friends at home ;
She said they cruel were — they misbehaved —
They knew she loved them, but they still were dumb,
And then all-piteously she craved
That they would only for an instant come;—
She would do so, if they were in her stead,
And bring them water and a little bread.
This could no longer last: 'twas day the tenth,
Since she was buried in that vault alive;
And so exhausted was her feeble strength,
That now ’twas useless 'gainst her fate to strive:
And Death stood near her — he was come at length –
Uplifted was his dart, prepared to drive
Through all her heartstrings at a fatal throw,
She sank upon the steps, to wait the blow.
She sat, all motionless, resigned, and meek;
For reason had returned, with flickering ray;
Her thoughts were solemn, and she did not speak;
She knew her parting soul was on its way;
Her heart was fluttering, and she felt so weak | –
The time was precious, and she leaned to pray ;
Then gently turning, to relieve her side,
She backward fell — and, with a gasp, she died.
Time flew apace; his wings were on a strain,
So fast he flapped them in his haste to fly;
And Death was at his dirty work again,
For ’t was decreed her brother too must die.
*T was done; and he a stiffening corse was lain;
The frantic mother heard his latest sigh.
Again the vault must ope: the sexton hoar,
With mattock and with spade, dug to the door.
The bolts were loosened, and within he gazed,
And something saw — but what he could not tell:
The more he looked, the more was he amazed,
Until he moved descending to the cell :
“Great God of heaven ''' – his quivering hands he raised :
The iron mattock from his fingers fell; —
There lay, or leaned, the poor, uncoffined maid,
Just where she died, in cap and shroud arrayed
One hand was grasping the projecting wall,
The other clutching fast her bony knee,
As though she'd struggled to prevent the fall,
When falling backward to eternity;
Her face turned upward, and 't was marked by all
The vital pangs of her last agony ;
Her slightly-shrivelled, death-discolored feet,
Protruded from beneath the winding-sheet.
Her hair had lengthened—which her friends could see—
And, loosely drooping, o'er her shoulder spread;
For still 't was growing most luxuriantly,
And drew nutrition from that lifeless head:
Unearthly were those locks — so rank and free —
Their slimy surface filled the soul with dread;—
'T is passing strange, that thus the hair should thrive,
And better live, with nothing else alive
Old sextons we have known to rob the grave:
Full gladly do they dig, in hopes to find
The loathsome tresses, which with care they save —
Once more to flutter in the wanton wind;—
But first they sell them to some coiffeur knave,
Who freely pays to keep the public blind.
The most of all you wear — those fine false curls —
Have seen the sepulchre;— believe it, girls'
How can you place them o'er your polished brow,
And let them dally with your healthful cheek?
'T is well that they lack language; for, I trow,
They'd tell a startling tale, if they could speak
About the crawling worm, who travels slow,
Because that he is round, and fat, and sleek:
And yet you mungle, round each lovely head,
The plumage of the living with the dead!
The maiden's mother, rocking to and fro,
Was wildly wailing her maternal grief;
Beseeching Death, who laid her children low,
To grant unto herself the like relief;
The grave was welcome, and she wooed the blow:
While thus she wept, she trembled like a leaf;
Her lifeless daughter was entombed in vain,
Since thus on hated earth they met again.
The widow's voice was there the only sound;
Her ceaseless sighs and sobs alone were heard;
For, from the many who were gathered round,
Arose nor sudden scream nor whispered-word.
All silently they stood — 't was holy ground —
And scarce a rigid limb or muscle stirred:
With pallid face they gazed, benumbed by awe,
Their starting eyeballs fixed on what they saw.
The winds were sportive, and a playful gust
Gave rustling motion to the maiden's dress;
Whilst round her mouldy neck and faded bust
The ringlets rolled; for every loosened tress
Was lightly lifted — and so life-like —just
As when on earth she moved, our eyes to bless:
A sickening shudder ran through all the crowd,
They deemed the corse was rising in its shroud!
An aged woman told to me the tale;
All anxiously I pressed the same to hear;
And whilst she did the mournful theme bewail,
Her eyes were filling with a scalding tear:
I felt my bloodless cheek was turning pale;
And through my veins there crept a chilling fear:
With her own sight she saw the sightless maid;
And proof I since have had 't was truth she said.
'Twas in her girlish days, when she was proud;
Her wondrous beauty many lovers drew :
But when she saw that virgin in her shroud,
Her self-esteem was lowered — a peg or two ; —
And others vain as she, who joined the crowd,
And came, all-breathless, such a sight to view,
Retired with ashy lip and lowly heart,
Resolving from that hour with Pride to part.
For she was lovely once—the sleeper there —
The lines of beauty every eye could trace —
The Grecian features and the jetty hair,
All damp and dewy in that charnel-place;—
But then she had a grim and ghastly stare,
Which e'en the shining sun could not erase;
Though life was round her, and the hum of life,
She moved not — stirred not — to renew the strife; —
The strife of being, which we all endure;
The strong, who face it, and the weak, who fly;
Nor wealth's exempt, nor poverty secure —
Each has its heavy heart and weeping eye;
The mighty monarch, and the throneless boor,
Alike must struggle, and alike must die :
Of all who ever lived, and were forgiven,
But two escaped alive from earth to heaven.
If all were Enochs, then we all might sup
From life's full chalice, welling to the brim;