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THE POETICAL ALBUM.

SKETCHES

TAKEN FROM DOVER CASTLE DURING A STORM.

BY WILLIAM READ, ESQ.

I.

THE COMING ON OF THE STORM.

Threescore and ten I can remember well,
Within the volume of which time I've seen
Hours dreadful, and things strange; but this sore night
Hath trified former knowing.

MACBETH.

THE sun went down in splendour ;-as he went,
A crimson glory streaked the occident,
Lingering like hope ; and clouds were floating, bright
As ruby islands in a sea of light ;-
Awhile they wore all hues—then wavering, weak,
Waned like the blush that warms a virgin's cheek,
Till all were lost. Then Twilight drew her hood,
Dropped with pale stars ; and scowling Darkness stood,

B

Like a dim spectre, on the eastern hill,
Vestured in clouds, and lingering there until
His hour was come. Then sobbing gusts plained by ;-
The vexed-wave flung its silver crest on high ;-
The sea-gull shrieked on rapid-wheeling wing ;-
The steed pricked up his ear, as hearkening
To far, far sounds_neighed, started, tossed his head,
Then bounding off, gazed fierce and spirited;
The watch-dog bayed; the patient steer drew nigh-
There was a calm petition in his eye;
Unsocial birds forsook the wild woods far
And pecked and fluttered at the lattice bar :-
Nought breathed untroubled.

Hark! the ruffian squalls Rock to their base those bastion-circled walls, Whose towery crown, by time or siege unbowed, Frowns on the deep, and stays the passing cloud.

How baleful dark! though scarce an hour be gone
Since, through the bright-edged rack that hurried on,
The Moon looked out unsullied : while I gazed,
Athwart her path the vivid meteor blazed ;
And, as that herald of the brooding gale
Winged noiseless on, her crescent brow waxed pale:
She heard the rebel deep disown her sway,
And, like offended Beauty, turned away.
Then swooped the winds that hurl the giant oak
From Snowdon's altitude ;-the thunder broke
In deep, percussive, pealsso near, that earth
Shook as it threatened a volcano's birth;
And while the angled lightning quivered by
(Like types of a celestial tongue) the eye
Recoiled within itself-oppressed and awed-
As though it saw the written wrath of God
Gleam on the black and cloud-leafed book of night,
In letters of unutterable light !
It seemed as Ocean, weary of repose,
With all his storms, in bold rebellion rose,

To bow that Flag, obeyed where'er it veers,
Which braved their fury for a thousand years !
Yet, Ocean! thou hast been our friend—though thus
Convulsed with rage, the eye grows tremulous
That gazeth on thee; as might one, whose skill
Had wrought by spells some spirit to his will,
Start each deep wish indulged—to find it turn
In wrath upon himself, and fiercely spurn
The bondage it had brooked. Thy mighty arm
Was stretched between us and the locust-swarm.
That made all Earth an Egypt! Our ally,
When none beside was our's and Destiny
Had doomed us Ishmael's lot, opposing thus
Our hand to all, and every hand to us!
And thou hast borne us through-triumphant borne
The sun of glory spotless and unshorn!
Those days of strife-though not their memory-cease,
And all, but only thou, repose in peace.
Alas! ere ebbs this barrier-trampling tide,
The throb of many a temple shall subside ;
And beating hearts, that sicken at thy roar,
Be hushed to rest_and palpitate no more!

Now faint, and far, comes on the wail of death-
Heard as the tempest seems to pause for breath ;
And now the sheeted levin glares upon
A peopled deck, that idly hopes to shun
Those ambushed banks o'er which the breakers rave-
A crash !_a shriek! The ocean is their grave !
Would that one victim might appease the blast !
Ah no!—the cry of death is deepening fast;
And minute-guns, above the surging swell,
Boom on the gale the Pilot's passing-bell !
And there be some to whom this morning's sun
Revealed the cliffs their thoughts had dwelt upon
Through exiled years; and bade, all peril past,
The warm heart hail its native hills at last !
As fair to-morrow's sun those hills may greet,
But then the surf shall be their winding-sheet !

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