Darkness By Shakespeare

                   I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
                   The bright sun was extinguish'd, and the stars
                   Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
                   Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
                   Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
                    Morn came and went--and came, and brought no day,
                    And men forgot their passions in the dread
                    Of this their desolation; and all hearts
                    Were chill'd into a selfish prayer for light:
                    And they did live by watchfires--and the thrones,
                    The palaces of crowned kings--the huts,
                    The habitations of all things which dwell,
                    Were burnt for beacons; cities were consum'd,
                    And men were gather'd round their blazing homes
                    To look once more into each other's face;
                    Happy were those who dwelt within the eye
                    Of the volcanos, and their mountain-torch:
                    A fearful hope was all the world contain'd;
                    Forests were set on fire--but hour by hour
                    They fell and faded--and the crackling trunks
                    Extinguish'd with a crash--and all was black.
                    The brows of men by the despairing light
                    Wore an unearthly aspect, as by fits
                    The flashes fell upon them; some lay down
                    And hid their eyes and wept; and some did rest
                    Their chins upon their clenched hands, and smil'd;
                    And others hurried to and fro, and fed
                    Their funeral piles with fuel, and look'd up
                    With mad disquietude on the dull sky,
                    The pall of a past world; and then again
                    With curses cast them down upon the dust,
                    And gnash'd their teeth and howl'd: the wild birds shriek'd
                    And, terrified, did flutter on the ground,
                    And flap their useless wings; the wildest brutes
                    Came tame and tremulous; and vipers crawl'd
                    And twin'd themselves among the multitude,
                    Hissing, but stingless--they were slain for food.
                    And War, which for a moment was no more,
                    Did glut himself again: a meal was bought
                    With blood, and each sate sullenly apart
                    Gorging himself in gloom: no love was left;
                    All earth was but one thought--and that was death
                    Immediate and inglorious; and the pang
                    Of famine fed upon all entrails--men
                    Died, and their bones were tombless as their flesh;
                    The meagre by the meagre were devour'd,
                    Even dogs assail'd their masters, all save one,
                    And he was faithful to a corse, and kept
                    The birds and beasts and famish'd men at bay,
                    Till hunger clung them, or the dropping dead
                    Lur'd their lank jaws; himself sought out no food,
                    But with a piteous and perpetual moan,
                    And a quick desolate cry, licking the hand
                    Which answer'd not with a caress--he died.
                    The crowd was famish'd by degrees; but two
                    Of an enormous city did survive,
                    And they were enemies: they met beside
                    The dying embers of an altar-place
                    Where had been heap'd a mass of holy things
                    For an unholy usage; they rak'd up,
                    And shivering scrap'd with their cold skeleton hands
                    The feeble ashes, and their feeble breath
                    Blew for a little life, and made a flame
                    Which was a mockery; then they lifted up
                    Their eyes as it grew lighter, and beheld
                    Each other's aspects--saw, and shriek'd, and died--
                    Even of their mutual hideousness they died,
                    Unknowing who he was upon whose brow
                    Famine had written Fiend. The world was void,
                    The populous and the powerful was a lump,
                    Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless--
                    A lump of death--a chaos of hard clay.
                    The rivers, lakes and ocean all stood still,
                    And nothing stirr'd within their silent depths;
                    Ships sailorless lay rotting on the sea,
                    And their masts fell down piecemeal: as they dropp'd
                    They slept on the abyss without a surge--
                    The waves were dead; the tides were in their grave,
                    The moon, their mistress, had expir'd before;
                    The winds were wither'd in the stagnant air,
                    And the clouds perish'd; Darkness had no need
                    Of aid from them--She was the Universe.


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