Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE BELLS AT MIDNIGHT, by THOMAS BAILEY ALDRICH

Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE BELLS AT MIDNIGHT, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: How long, o sister, how long
Last Line: Surely, some chieftain's soul!
Subject(s): Assassination; Garfield, James Abram (1831-1881)

In their dark House of Cloud
The three weird sisters toil till time be sped;
One unwinds life, one ever weaves the shroud,
One waits to part the thread.



How long, O sister, how long
Ere the weary task is done?
How long, O sister, how long
Shall the fragile thread be spun?


'T is mercy that stays her hand,
Else she had cut the thread;
She is a woman too,
Like her who kneels by his bed!


Patience! the end is come;
He shall no more endure:
See! with a single touch! --
My hand is swift and sure!


Two Angels pausing in their flight.


Listen! what was it fell
An instant ago on my ear --
A sound like the throb of a bell
From yonder darkling sphere!


The planet where mortals dwell!
I hear it not ... yes, I hear;
How it deepens -- a sound of dole!


Listen! It is the knell
Of a passing soul --
The midnight lamentation
Of some stricken nation
For a Chieftain's soul!
It is just begun,
The many-throated moan ...
Now the clangor swells
As if a million bells
Had blent their tones in one!
Accents of despair
Are these to mortal ear;
But all this wild funereal music blown
And sifted through celestial air
Turns to triumphal paeans here!
Wave upon wave the silvery anthems flow;
Wave upon wave the deep vibrations roll
From that dim sphere below.
Come, let us go --
Surely, some chieftain's soul!

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