Thomas Aird

The Demonaic: Chapter III: Miriam Follows Herman To The Sepulchres

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Deep in the hollow night, a voice to Miriam's slumbering ear
Seemed thus to say, “Sleep'st thou, when I can sleep not, mother dear?”
She started, listened, all was still:—“'Tis but a dream's wild freak;
These haggard fancies vex me so, since grief has made me weak!
Yet, Demon-borne, in that dark storm, from out the watery waste,
Unseen by me, he might have come.” She rose with trembling haste;
Quickly attired, she looked abroad: the clouds away were gone;
Blue ether, as if newly washed, with dewy gleams wide shone;
The stars were very lustrous; and in the abyss of night
The moon was set severely pure, a well of living light;
Deep peace lay in the shadowy vales; the solemn woods were still;
And nought was heard, save oft the bark of fox upon the hill.

Again upon her bed she lay, sleep hovered o'er her eyes;
Again unto her lattice came that voice, and called her thrice.
“'Tis but the Tempter-fiend!” she said, and wept unto her God;
Yet still from hope and changeless love again she looked abroad;
She heard a cry—she knew that voice! with beating heart she ran,
And followed through the glimmering trees the figure of a man.
His form was hid:—“Heaven help,” she prayed, “a mother's weary side!
No farther can I go!” Again his shadow she espied;
Again forgot her weariness, and ran with all her speed!
To have him now, to have him now—it is her son indeed!
At length she came unto the place of the white sepulchres,
And paused—shall she pursue him there? For now deep fear was hers:
For heavy clouds came o'er the moon; darkness fell all around;
A shuddering wind grieved in the trees, skirting the charnel ground;
Then clamoured birds obscene; and yells as from lean hounds of blood,
Mixed with careering laughter, rose; choked shrieks as from the flood,
And gallowing cries, like grappled fiends' clinched with the last despair,
And hurried through Hell's fire-wrought gates, thickened the midnight air.

And Miriam saw white wispy fires dance, warped with vapours close,
Like exhalations kindled from the rotten churchyard gross.
She feared the vexed Fiend, feared the ghosts of milky babes to brave,
And fretted age that cannot rest within the wormy grave.
Yet there oft heard she Herman's voice: and morning soon shall rise:
Beneath a tree she sate to watch, but sleep o'ertook her eyes.

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Thomas Aird