Death-Doomed.

A poem by Will Carleton

They're taking me to the gallows, mother--they mean to hang me high;
They're going to gather round me there, and watch me till I die;
All earthly joy has vanished now, and gone each mortal hope,--
They'll draw a cap across my eyes, and round my neck a rope;
The crazy mob will shout and groan--the priest will read a prayer,
The drop will fall beneath my feet and leave me in the air.
They think I murdered Allen Bayne; for so the Judge has said,
And they'll hang me to the gallows, mother--hang me till I'm dead!

The grass that grows in yonder meadow, the lambs that skip and play,
The pebbled brook behind the orchard, that laughs upon its way,
The flowers that bloom in the dear old garden, the birds that sing and fly,
Are clear and pure of human blood, and, mother, so am I!
By father's grave on yonder hill--his name without a stain--
I ne'er had malice in my heart, or murdered Allen Bayne!
But twelve good men have found me guilty, for so the Judge has said,
And they'll hang me to the gallows, mother--hang me till I'm dead!

The air is fresh and bracing, mother; the sun shines bright and high;
It is a pleasant day to live--a gloomy one to die!
It is a bright and glorious day the joys of earth to grasp--
It is a sad and wretched one to strangle, choke, and gasp!
But let them damp my lofty spirit, or cow me if they can!
They send me like a rogue to death--I'll meet it like a man;
For I never murdered Allen Bayne! but so the Judge has said,
And they'll hang me to the gallows, mother--hang me till I'm dead!

Poor little sister 'Bell will weep, and kiss me as I lie;
But kiss her twice and thrice for me, and tell her not to cry;
Tell her to weave a bright, gay garland, and crown me as of yore,
Then plant a lily upon my grave, and think of me no more.
And tell that maiden whose love I sought, that I was faithful yet;
But I must lie in a felon's grave, and she had best forget.
My memory is stained forever; for so the Judge has said,
And they'll hang me to the gallows, mother--hang me till I'm dead!

Lay me not down by my father's side; for once, I mind, he said
No child that stained his spotless name should share his mortal bed.
Old friends would look beyond his grave, to my dishonored one,
And hide the virtues of the sire behind the recreant son.
And I can fancy, if there my corse its fettered limbs should lay,
His frowning skull and crumbling bones would shrink from me away;
But I swear to God I'm innocent, and never blood have shed!
And they'll hang me to the gallows, mother--hang me till I'm dead!

Lay me in my coffin, mother, as you've sometimes seen me rest:
One of my arms beneath my head, the other on my breast.
Place my Bible upon my heart--nay, mother, do not weep--
And kiss me as in happier days you kissed me when asleep.
And for the rest--for form or rite--but little do I reck;
But cover up that cursed stain--the black mark on my neck!
And pray to God for his great mercy on my devoted head;
For they'll hang me to the gallows, mother--hang me till I'm dead!

But hark! I hear a mighty murmur among the jostling crowd!
A cry!--a shout!--a roar of voices!--it echoes long and loud!
There dashes a horseman with foaming steed and tightly-gathered rein!
He sits erect!--he waves his hand!--good Heaven! 'tis Allen Bayne!
The lost is found, the dead alive, my safety is achieved!
For he waves his hand again, and shouts, "The prisoner is reprieved!"
Now, mother, praise the God you love, and raise your drooping head;
For the murderous gallows, black and grim, is cheated of its dead!

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