Lo! Death hath rear'd himself a throne
In a strange city, all alone,
Far down within the dim west--
And the good, and the bad, and the worst, and the best,
Have gone to their eternal rest.
There shrines, and palaces, and towers
Are--not like anything of ours--
O! no--O! no--ours never loom
To heaven with that ungodly gloom!
Time-eaten towers that tremble not!
Around, by lifting winds forgot,
Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters lie.
A heaven that God doth not contemn
With stars is like a diadem--
We liken our ladies' eyes to them--
But there! that everlasting pall!
It would be mockery to call
Such dreariness a heaven at all.
Yet tho' no holy rays come down
On the long night-time of that town,
Light from the lurid, deep sea
Streams up the turrets silently--
Up thrones--up long-forgotten bowers
Of sculptur'd ivy and stone flowers--
Up domes--up spires--up kingly halls--
Up fanes--up Babylon-like walls--
Up many a melancholy shrine
Whose entablatures intertwine
The mast--the viol--and the vine.
There open temples--open graves--
Are on a level with the waves--
But not the riches there that lie
In each idol's diamond eye,
Not the gaily-jewell'd dead
Tempt the waters from their bed:
For no ripples curl, alas!
Along that wilderness of glass--
No swellings hint that winds may be
Upon a far-off happier sea:
So blend the turrets and shadows there
That all seem pendulous in air,
While from the high towers of the town,
Death looks gigantically down.
But lo! a stir is in the air!
The wave! there is a ripple there!
As if the towers had thrown aside,
In slightly sinking, the dull tide--
As if the turret-tops had given
A vacuum in the filmy heaven:
The waves have now a redder glow--
The very hours are breathing low--
And when, amid no earthly moans,
Down, down, that town shall settle hence,
Hell rising from a thousand thrones
Shall do it reverence,
And Death to some more happy clime
Shall give his undivided time.