Archive for April 9th, 2013

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Excerpt from “The Grave” by Robert Blair

While some affect the sun, and some the shade,
Some flee the city, some the hermitage;
Their aims as various, as the roads they take
In journeying through life;—the task be mine,
To paint the gloomy horrors of the tomb;
The appointed place of rendezvous, where all
These travellers meet.—Thy succours I implore,
Eternal king! whose potent arm sustains
The keys of Hell and Death.—The Grave, dread thing!
Men shiver when thou’rt named: Nature appall’d
Shakes off her wonted firmness. Ah! how dark
Thy long-extended realms, and rueful wastes!
Where nought but silence reigns, and night, dark night,
Dark as was chaos, ere the infant Sun
Was roll’d together, or had tried his beams
Athwart the gloom profound.—The sickly taper,
By glimmering through thy low-brow’d misty vaults
(Furr’d round with mouldy damps, and ropy slime),
Lets fall a supernumerary horror,
And only serves to make thy night more irksome.
Well do I know thee by thy trusty yew,
Cheerless, unsocial plant! that loves to dwell
‘Midst skulls and coffins, epitaphs and worms:
Where light-heel’d ghosts, and visionary shades,
Beneath the wan cold moon (as fame reports)
Embodied, thick, perform their mystic rounds:
No other merriment, dull tree! is thine.
See yonder hallow’d fane—the pious work
Of names once famed, now dubious or forgot,
And buried ‘midst the wreck of things which were;
There lie interr’d the more illustrious dead.
The wind is up: hark! how it howls! Methinks
Till now I never heard a sound so dreary:
Doors creak, and windows clap, and night’s foul bird,
Rook’d in the spire, screams loud: the gloomy aisles
Black-plaster’d, and hung round with shreds of ‘scutcheons,
And tatter’d coats of arms, send back the sound,
Laden with heavier airs, from the low vaults,
The mansions of the dead.—Roused from their slumbers,
In grim array the grisly spectres rise,
Grin horrible, and, obstinately sullen,
Pass and repass, hush’d as the foot of night.
Again the screech-owl shrieks: ungracious sound!
I’ll hear no more; it makes one’s blood run chill.
Quite round the pile, a row of reverend elms,
Coeval near with that, all ragged show,
Long lash’d by the rude winds: some rift half down
Their branchless trunks; others so thin at top,
That scarce two crows could lodge in the same tree.

From: http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext05/8pbbf10h.htm#section23

Date: 1743

By: Robert Blair (1699-1746)