The way was dark within the gloomy church-yard,
As I wandered through the woodland near the stream,
With slow and heavy tread
Through a city of the dead,
When suddenly I heard a dreadful scream.
My heart gave frantic leap, as when the roebuck
Is started by the clamor of the chase,
And I halted all atremble
In the vain hope to dissemble,
Or cloak the leaden pallor on my face.
'Twas in the ghostly month of grim December,
The frozen winds were bitter in their cry
And I muttered half aloud
To that white and silent crowd:
"'Tis a somber month to live in or to die."
And then as if in answer to my whisper,
Came a voice of some foul fiend from Hell:
"No longer live say I,
'Tis better far to die
And let the falling snow-flakes sound the knell."
Perched upon a tombstone sat the creature
Grewsome as an unquenched, burning lust.
Sitting livid there
With an open-coffin stare--
A stare that seemed the mocking of the just.
And in my thoughts the dreadful thing is sitting--
Sitting there with eyelids red and blear,
And see it there I will
'Til my restless soul is still
And the earth-clods roll and rumble on my bier.