The Phantom Bells


Paul Hamilton Hayne

Upveiled in yonder dim ethereal sea,

Its airy towers the work of phantom spells,

A viewless belfry tolls its wizard bells.

Pealed o'er this populous earth perpetually.

Some hear, some hear them not; but aye they be

Laden with one strange note that sinks or swells,

Now dread as doom, now gentle as farewells,

Time's dirge borne ever toward eternity.

Each hour in measured breath sobs out and dies,

While the bell tolls its requiem,—"Passing, past,"—

The sole sad burden of their long refrain.

Still, with those hours each pang, each pleasure flies,

Brief sweet, brief bitter,—all our days are vain,

Knolled into dread forgetfulness at last.

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