Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE SUN'S ECLIPSE -- JULY 8TH, 1842, by HORACE SMITH



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THE SUN'S ECLIPSE -- JULY 8TH, 1842, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Tis cloudless morning, but a frown misplaced
Last Line: The thrilling joy, whose tears were on my cheek!
Alternate Author Name(s): Smith, Horatio
Subject(s): Death; Earth; Eclipses; Sun; Dead, The; World


'TIS cloudless morning, but a frown misplaced,
Cold -- lurid -- strange,
The summer smile from Nature's brow hath chased.
What fearful change,
What menacing catastrophe is thus
Ushered by such prognostics ominous?

Is it the light of day, this livid glare,
Death's counterpart: --
What means the withering coldness in the air
That chills my heart,
And what the gloom portentous that hath made
The glow of morning a funereal shade?

O'er the Sun's disc a dark orb wins its slow
Gloom-deepening way,
Climbs -- spreads -- enshrouds -- extinguishes -- and lo!
The god of day
Hangs in the sky, a corpse! the usurper's might
Hath stormed his throne, and quenched the life of light!

A pall is on the earth -- the screaming birds
To covert speed;
Bewildered and aghast, the bellowing herds
Rush o'er the mead;
While men, pale shadows in the ghastly gloom,
Seem spectral forms just risen from the tomb.

Transient, though total, was that drear eclipse;
With might restored
The Sun regladdened earth -- but human lips
Have never poured
In mortal ears the horrors of the sight
That thrilled my soul that memorable night.

To every distant zone and fulgent star
Mine eyes could reach,
And the wide waste was one chaotic war;
O'er all and each,
Above -- beneath -- around me -- everywhere,
Was anarchy -- convulsion -- death -- despair.

'Twas noon, and yet a deep unnatural night
Enshrouded Heaven,
Save where some orb unsphered, or satellite
Franticly driven,
Glared as it darted through the darkness dread,
Blind -- rudderless -- unchecked -- unpiloted.

A thousand simultaneous thunders crashed,
As here and there
Some rushing planet 'gainst another dashed,
Shooting through air
Volleys of shattered wreck, when, both destroyed,
Foundered and sank in the engulfing void.

Others, self-kindled, as they whirled and turned
Without a guide,
Burst into flames, and rushing as they burned
With range more wide,
Like fire-ships that some stately fleet surprise,
Spread havoc through the constellated skies.

While stars kept falling from their spheres -- as though
The heavens wept fire,
Earth was a raging hell of war and woe
Most deep and dire,
Virtue was vice -- vice virtue -- all was strife,
Brute force was law -- justice the assassin's knife.

From that fell scene my space-commanding eye
Glad to withdraw,
I pierced the empyrean palace of the sky
And shuddering saw
A vacant throne -- a sun's extinguished sphere,
All else a void -- dark, desolate, and drear.

"What mean," I cried, "these sights unparalleled,
These scenes of fear?"
When lo! a voice replied, and Nature held
Her breath to hear,
"Mortal, the scroll before thine eyes unfurled,
Displays a soul eclipse -- an atheist world."

I woke -- my dream was o'er! What ecstacy
It was to know
That God was guide and guardian of the sky,
That man below
Deserved the love I felt -- I could not speak
The thrilling joy, whose tears were on my cheek!





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