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The Poetical Works of George MacDonald

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great church in an empty square, A haunt of echoing tones!

Feet pass not oft enough to wear

The grass between the stones.

The jarring hinges of its gates

A stifled thunder boom;

The boding heart slow-listening waits,

As for a coming doom.

The door stands wide. With hideous grin,

Like dumb laugh, evil, frore,

gulf of death, all dark within, Hath swallowed half the floor.

Its uncouth sides of earth and clay

O'erhang the void below;

Ah, some one force my feet away,

Or down I needs must go!

See, see the horrid, crumbling slope!

It breathes up damp and fust!

What man would for his lost loves grope

Amid the charnel dust!

Down, down! The coffined mould glooms high!

Methinks, with anguish dull,

enter by the empty eye
Into a monstrous skull!

Stumbling on what I dare not guess,

Blind-wading through the gloom,

Still down, still on, I sink, I press,

To meet some awful doom.

My searching hands have caught a door

With iron clenched and barred:

Here, the gaunt spider's castle-core,

Grim Death keeps watch and ward!

Its two leaves shake, its bars are bowed,

As if a ghastly wind,

That never bore a leaf or cloud,

Were pressing hard behind.

They shake, they groan, they outward strain:

What thing of dire dismay

Will freeze its form upon my brain,

And fright my soul away?

They groan, they shake, they bend, they crack;

The bars, the doors divide;

flood of glory at their back Hath burst the portals wide!

In flows a summer afternoon;

I know the very breeze!

It used to blow the silvery moon

About the summer trees.

The gulf is filled with flashing tides;

Blue sky through boughs looks in;

Mosses and ferns o'er floor and sides

A mazy arras spin.

The empty church, the yawning cleft,

The earthy, dead despair

Are gone, and I alive am left

In sunshine and in air!

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