Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The sole true Something—This ! In Limbo Den

It frightens Ghosts as Ghosts here frighten men—

For skimming in the wake it mock'd the care

Of the old Boat-God for his Farthing Fare ;

Tho' Irus' Ghost itself he ne'er frown'd blacker on,

The skin and skin-pent Druggist crost the Acheron,

Styx, and with Puriphlegethon Cocytus,—

(The very names, methinks, might thither fright us—)

Unchang'd it cross'd—& shall some fated Hour

Be pulveris'd by Demogorgon's power

And given as poison to annilate Souls—

Even now It shrinks them! they shrink in as Moles

(Nature's mute Monks, live Mandrakes of the ground)

Creep back from Light—then listen for its Sound;—

See but to dread, and dread they know not why—

The natural Alien of their negative Eye.

'Tis a strange place, this Limbo!—not a Place,

Yet name it so;—where Time & weary Space

Fettered from flight, with night-mair sense of fleeing,

Strive for their last crepuscular half-being ;—

Lank Space, and scytheless Time with branny hands

Barren and soundless as the measuring sands,

Not mark'd by flit of Shades,unmeaning they

As Moonlight on the dial of the day!

But that is lovely—looks like Human Time,—

An Old Man with a steady Look sublime,

That stops his earthly Task to watch the skies;

But he is blind—a Statue hath such Eyes;—

Yet having moon-ward turn'd his face by chance,

Gazes the orb with moon-like countenance,

With scant white hairs, with foretop bald & high,

He gazes still,—his eyeless Face all Eye;—

As 'twere an organ full of silent Sight,

His whole Face seemeth to rejoice in Light!

Lip touching lip, all moveless, bust and limb,

He seems to gaze at that which seems to gaze on him!

No such sweet sights doth Limbo Den immure,

Wall'd round, and made a Spirit-jail secure,

By the mere Horror of blank Naught-at-all,

Whose circumambience doth these Ghosts enthral.

A lurid thought is growthless, dull Privation,

Yet that is but a Purgatory curse;

Hell knows a fear far worse,

A fear—a future fate.—'Tis positive Negation !

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