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THE VISION OF SIN.
I HAD a vision when the night was late :
Moved with violence, changed in hue,
And then I looked up toward a mountain-tract,
a month and year,
gray and gap-toothed man as lean as death, Who slowly rode across a withered heath, And lighted at a ruined inn, and said:
“ Wrinkled ostler, grim and thin!
Here is custom come your way;
Stuff his ribs with mouldy hay.
See that sheets are on my bed ;
It is long before you weci.
“ Slip-shod waiter, lank and sour,
At The Dragon on the heath! Let us have a quiet hour,
Let us hob-and-nob with Death.
“I am old, but let me drink;
Bring me spices, bring me wine ; I remember, when I think,
That my youth was half divine. “ Wine is good for shrivelled lips,
When a blanket wraps the day, When the rotten woodland drips,
And the leaf is stamped in clay. “ Sit thee down, and have no shame,
Cheek by jowl, and knee by knee: What care I for any name?
What for order or degree ? “Let me screw thee up a peg:
Let me loose thy tongue with wine : Callest thou that thing a leg?
Which is thinnest ? thine or mine ?
“ Thou shalt not be saved by works:
Thou hast been a sinner too: Ruined trunks on withered forks,
Empty scarecrows, I and you ! “ Fill the cup, and fill the can:
Have a rouse before the morn : Every moment dies a man,
Every moment one is born.
“We are men of ruined blood;
Therefore comes it we are wise. Fish are we that love the mud,
Rising to no fancy-flies.
“ Name and fame! to fly sublime
Through the courts, the camps, the schools, Is to be the ball of Time,
Bandied by the hands of fools.
“ Friendship !to be two in one
Let the canting liar pack ! Well I know, when I am gone, How she mouths behind my
back, “ Virtue to be good and just
Every heart, when sifted well, Is a clot of warmer dust,
Mixed with cunning sparks of hell. “O! we two as well can look
Whited thought and cleanly life As the priest, above his book
Leering at his neighbor's wife. “Fill the cup, and fill the can:
Have a rouse before the morn: Every moment dies a man,
Every moment one is born. “ Drink, and let the parties rave :
They are filled with idle spleen, Rising, falling, like a wave.
For they know not what they mean,
“ He that roars for liberty
Faster binds a tyrant's power; And the tyrant's cruel glee
Forces on the freer hour.
“ Fill the can, and fill the cup:
All the windy ways of men Are but dust that rises up,
And is lightly laid again.
“ Greet her with applausive breath,
Freedom, gayly doth she tread; In her right a civic wreath,
In her left a human head.
“ No, I love not what is new;
She is of an ancient house : And I think we know the hue
Of that cap upon her brows.
“Let her go ! her thirst she slakes
Where the bloody conduit runs: Then her sweetest meal she makes
On the first-born of her sons.
“ Drink to lofty hopes that cool
Visions of a perfect State: Drink we, last, the public fool,
Frantic love and frantic hate.
“ Chant me now some wicked stave,
Till thy drooping courage rise, And the glow-worm of the grave
Glimmer in thy rheumy eyes. 6 Fear not thou to loose thy tongue;
Set thy hoary fancies free; What is loathsome to the
young Savors well to thee and me.
“ Change, reverting to the
years, When thy nerves could understand What there is in loving tears,
And the warmth of hand in hand.
“ Tell me tales of thy first love
April hopes, the fools of chance ; Till the graves begin to move,
And the dead begin to dance.