The reeds are idly waving o'er the marshy ground,
The rank and ragged herbage rots on many a mound,
And desolate pools and marshes deadly lie around.
There is no life nor motion, save the winds that fly
With the close-muffled clouds in silence through the sky,
There is no sound to stir it, save the Bittern's cry;
The Bittern, sitting sadly on the fluted edges
Of pillars once the prop and pride of palace ledges,
Now smear'd with damp decay and sunk in slimy sedges;
Shatter'd and sunken, with the sculptured architrave
Peering above the surface of the sluggish wave,
Like a gaunt limb thrust fleshless from a shallow grave.
The Bittern sitteth sadly on the time-worn stone,
Upon life's mouldering relics, fearfully alone,
Searing the silence ofttimes with his solemn tone.
The Bittern--monarch of the sad and dreary place,
Mocking the pride and pageant of a ruin'd race,
Whose very name's forgotten, and whose deeds have left no trace.
The pleasant songs of peace, the lute, the lover's sigh,
The statesman's eloquence, the warrior's battle-cry
Have pass'd,--and like their echo from the heedless sky,
The lonely Bittern's note comes sadly floating by.
Oh, melancholy sound! Shall thus for ever end
The glory and the greatness whither all hopes tend,
And as the Past comes booming shall the Present wend?
No ear to listen to the old and hard-earn'd glory,
That wore the heart out, made the locks grow scant and hoary,
No ear to listen, and no tongue to tell the story!
The Bittern sitteth 'midst the marshes of the Past,
Sitteth amidst the ruins, whilst the hours fleet fast,
And at his own hoarse cry he looketh round aghast.
The hours fleet fast unnoted, and the time is nigh,
When even he on noiseless wings shall soar on high,
Till his deep note is lost amid the azure sky.