Sunday, 12th July, 2009

medals

from ‘The World of Dreams’

And is thy soul so wrapt in sleep?
Thy senses, thy affections, fled?
No play of fancy thine, to keep
Oblivion from that grave, thy bed?
Then art thou but the breathing dead:
I envy, but I pity too:
The bravest may my terrors dread,
The happiest fain my joys pursue.

Soon as the real World I lose,
Quick Fancy takes her wonted way,
Or Baxter’s sprites my soul abuse –
For how it is I cannot say,
Nor to what powers a passive prey,
I feel such bliss, I fear such pain;
But all is gloom, or all is gay,
Soon as th’ ideal World I gain.

Come, then, I woo thee, sacred Sleep!
Vain troubles of the world, farewell!
Spirits of Ill! your distance keep –
And in your own dominions dwell,
Ye, the sad emigrants from hell!
Watch, dear seraphic beings, round,
And these black Enemies repel;
Safe be my soul, my slumbers sound!

In vain I pray! It is my sin
That thus admits the shadowy throng.
Oh! now they break tumultuous in –
Angels of darkness fierce and strong.
Oh! I am borne of fate along;
My soul, subdued, admits the foe,
Perceives and yet endures the wrong,
Resists, and yet prepares to go.

Where am I now? and what to meet?
Where I have been entrapt before:
The wicked city’s vilest street,–
I know what I must now explore.
The dark-brow’d throng more near and more,
With murderous looks are on me thrust,
And lo! they ope the accursed door,
And I must go – I know I must!

That female fiend! – Why is she there?
Alas! I know her. – Oh, begone!
Why is that tainted bosom bare,
Why fix’d on me that eye of stone?
Why have they left us thus alone?
I saw the deed – why then appear?
Thou art not form’d of blood and bone!
Come not, dread being, come not near!

So! all is quiet, calm, serene;
I walk a noble mansion round –
From room to room, from scene to scene,
I breathless pass, in gloom profound:
No human shape, no mortal sound –
I feel an awe, I own a dread,
And still proceed! – nor stop nor bound –
And all is silent, all is dead.

Now I’m hurried, borne along,
All is business! all alive!
Heavens! how mighty is the throng,
Voices humming like a hive!
Through the swelling crowd I strive,
Bustling forth my way to trace:
Never fated to arrive
At the still-expected place.

George Crabbe, ‘The World of Dreams’ in The Complete Poetical Works, ed. by Norma Dalrymple-Champneys and Arthur Pollard, 3 vols (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 1988) III, pp.246-255.

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