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None dare from Lee the hand withhold ;
He rules and scoffs the crowd.
But still at heart there lies a secret fear;
For now the year's dread round is drawing near.
He swears; but he is sick at heart;
He laughs; but he turns deadly pale.
His restless eye and sudden start-
These tell the dreadful tale
That will be told: it needs no words from thee,
Thou self-sold slave to fear and misery.
Bond-slave of sin, see there—that light!
“Ha! take me-take me from its blaze!”
Nay, thou must ride the steed tonight!
But many weary days
And nights will shine and darken o'er thy head,
Ere thou wilt go with him to meet the dead.
Again the ship lights all the land ;
Again Lee strides the spectre-beast;
Again upon the cliff they stand--
This once thou ’lt be released !-
Gone horse and ship; but Lee's last hope is o’er;
Nor laugh, nor scoff, nor rage, can help him more.
His spirit heard that spirit say,
6 Listen! I twice have come to thee.
Once more—and then a dreadful way!
And thou must go with me!”
Ay, cling to earth as sailor to the rock !
Sea-swept, suck'd down in the tremendous shock,
He goes !--So thou must loose thy hold,
And go with death; nor breathe the balm
Of early air, nor light behold,
Nor sit thee in the calm
Of gentle thoughts, where good men wait their close.-
In life, or death, where look'st thou for repose ?
Who's yonder on that long, black ledge,
Which makes so far into the sea ?
See! there he sits, and pulls the sedge-
Poor, idle Matthew Lee !
So weak and pale ? A year and little more,
And thou didst lord it bravely round this shore.
And on the shingles now he sits,
And rolls the pebbles ’neath his hands ;
Now walks the beach ; then stops by fits,
And scores the smooth, wet sands;
Then tries each cliff, and cove, and jut, that bounds
The isle; then home from many weary rounds.
They ask him why he wanders so,
From day to day, the uneven strand ?
_“I wish, I wish that I might go!
But I would go by land;
And there's no way that I can find—I've tried
All day and night! "—He look'd towards sea and sigh'd.
It brought the tear to many an eye,
That, once, his eye had made to quail.
“Lee, go with us; our sloop rides nigh;
Come! help us hoist her sail.”
He shook.—“ You know the spirit-horse I ride!
He'll let me on the sea with none beside !"
He views the ships that come and go,
Looking so like to living things.
O! 't is a proud and gallant show
Of bright and broad spread wings
Flinging a glory round thein, as they keep
Their course right onward through the unsounded deep.
And where the far-off sand-bars lift
Their backs in long and narrow line,
The breakers shout, and leap, and shift,
And send the sparkling brine
Into the air; then rush to mimic strife:
Glad creatures of the sea! How all seems life!-
But not to Lee. He sits alone;
No fellowship nor joy for him.
Borne down by wo, he makes no moan,
Though tears will sometimes dim
That asking eye.-0, how his worn thoughts crave-
Not joy again, but rest within the grave.
The rocks are dripping in the mist
That lies so heavy off the shore.
Scarce seen the running breakers ;-list
Their dull and smother'd roar!
Lee hearkens to their voice.—“I hear, I hear
You call.-Not yet!—I know my time is near!”
And now the mist seems taking shape,
Forming a dim, gigantic ghost,-
Enormous thing !- There's rio escape;
'T is close upon the coast.
Lee kneels, but cannot pray.—Why mock him so?
The ship has clear'd the fog, Lee, see her go!
A sweet, low voice, in starry nights,
Chants to his ear a plaining song:
Its tones core winding up those heights,
Telling of wo and wrong;
And he must listen till the stars grow dim,
The song that gentle voice doth sing to him.
O, it is sad that aught so mild
Should bind the soul with bands of fear;
That strains to soothe a little child,
The man should dread to hear!
But sin hath broke the world's sweet peace-unstrung
The harmonious chords to which the angels sung.
In thick, dark nights he'd take his seat
High up the cliffs, and feel them shake,
As swung the sea with heavy beat
Below—and hear it break
With savage roar, then pause and gather strength,
And then, come tumbling in its swollen length.
But thou no more shalt haunt the beach,
Nor sit upon the tall cliff's crown,
Nor go the round of all that reach,
Nor feebly sit thee down,
Watching the swaying weeds :—another day,
And thou 'It have gone far hence that dreadful way.
To night the charmed number 's told.
“ Twice have I come for thee," it said.
“ Once more, and none shall thee behold.
Come! live one, to the dead!"
So hears his soul, and fears the coming night;
Yet sick and weary of the soft, calın light.
Again he sits within that room;
all day he leans at that still board;
None to bring comfort to his gloom,
Or speak a friendly word.
Weaken’d with fear, lone, haunted by remorse,
Poor, shatter'd wretch, there waits he that pale horse.
Not long he 'll wait.—Where now are gone
Peak, citadel, and tower, that stood
Beautiful, while the west sun shone,
And bathed them in his flood
Of airy glory ?-Sudden darkness fell ;
And down they sank, peak, tower, and citadel.
The darkness, like a dome of stone,
Ceils up the heavens.—”T is hush as death
All but the ocean's dull, low moan.
How hard Lee draws his breath!
He shudders as he feels the working Power.
Arouse thee, Lee! up! man thee for thine hour!
'Tis close at hand: for there, once more,
The burning ship. Wide sheets of flame
And shafted fire she show'd before ;
Twice thus she hither came ;-
But now she rolls a naked hulk, and throws
A wasting light; then, settling, down she goes.
And where she nk, up slowly came
The Spectre-Horse from out the sea.
And there he stands! His pale sides flame.
He'll meet thee shortly, Lee.
He treads the waters as a solid floor:
He's moving on. Lee waits him at the door.
They've met.—“I know thou com’st for me,"
Lee's spirit to the spectre said,
“I know that I must go with thee-
Take me not to the dead.
It was not I alone that did the deed!”
Dreadful the eye of that still, spectral steed!
Lee cannot turn. There is a force
In that fix'd eye, which holds him fast.
How still they stand !—that man and horse.
-Thine hour is almost past." “O, spare me,” cries the wretch, “thou fearful one!” -“ My time is full-I must not go alone.” “I'm weak and faint. 0, let me stay!”
-“ Nay, murderer, rest nor stay for thee !" The horse and man are on their way;
He bears him to the sea. Hark! how the spectre breathes through this still night! See, from his nostrils streams a deathly light!
He's on the beach; but stops not there.
He's on the sea! -- Lee, quit the horse !
Lee struggles hard.—’T is mad despair !-
"Tis vain! The spirit-corse
Holds him by fearful spell ;-he cannot leap.
Within that horrid light he rides the deep.
It lights the sea around their track-
The curling comb, and dark steel wave:
There, yet, sits Lee the spectre's back-
Gone! gone! and none to save !
They're seen no more ; the night has shut them in.
May heaven have pity on thee, man of sin !
The earth has wash'd away its stain.
The seal’d-up sky is breaking forth,
Mustering its glorious hosts again
From the far south and north.
The climbing moon plays on the rippling sea.
-0, whither on its waters rideth Lee ?