The Doomed City

Lo! Death hath rear'd himself a throne
In a strange city, all alone,
Far down within the dim West -
And the good, and the bad, and the worst, and the best,
Have gone to their eternal rest.

There shrines, and palaces, and towers
Are - not like anything of ours -
O! no - O! no - ours never loom
To heaven with that ungodly gloom!
Time-eaten towers that tremble not!
Around, by lifting winds forgot,
Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters lie.

A heaven that God doth not contemn
With stars is like a diadem
We liken our ladies' eyes to them -
But there! that everlasting pall!
It would be mockery to call
Such dreariness a heaven at all.

Yet tho' no holy rays come down
On the long night-time of that town,
Light from the lurid, deep sea
Streams up the turrets silently -

Up thrones - up long-forgotten bowers
Of sculptured ivy and stone flowers -
Up domes - up spires - up kingly halls -
Up fanes - up Babylon-like walls -
Up many a melancholy shrine,
Whose entablatures intertwine
The mask - the viol - and the vine.

There open temples - open graves
Are on a level with the waves -
But not the riches there that lie
In each idol's diamond eye,
Not the gaily-jewell'd dead
Tempt the waters from their bed:
For no ripples curl, alas!
Along that wilderness of glass -
No swellings hint that winds may be
Upon a far-off happier sea:
So blend the turrets and shadows there
That all seem pendulous in air,
While from the high towers of the town
Death looks gigantically down.

But lo! a stir is in the air!
The wave! there is a ripple there!
As if the towers had thrown aside,
In slightly sinking, the dull tide -
As if the turret-tops had given
A vacuum in the filmy Heaven:
The waves have now a redder glow -
The very hours are breathing low -
And when, amid no earthly moans,
Down, down that town shall settle hence,
Hell, rising from a thousand thrones,
Shall do it reverence,
And Death to some more happy clime
Shall give his undivided time.