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by Thomas Bailey Aldrich

c. 1861

STRICKEN with thought, I staggered through the night;
The heavens leaned down to me with splendid fires;
The seven Pleiads, changed to magic lyres,
Made music as I went; and to my sight
A Palace shaped itself against the skies:
Great sapphire-studded portals suddenly
Opened upon vast Gothic galleries
Of gold and ebony, and I could see,
Through half-drawn curtains that let in the day,
Dim tropic gardens stretching far away!


Ah! what a wonder seized upon my soul,
When from that structure of the upper airs
I saw unfold a flight of crystal stairs
For my ascending. . . . . Then I heard the roll
Of unseen oceans clashing at the Pole. . . .
A terror fell upon me . . . . a vague sense
Of near calamity. O, lead me hence!
I shrieked, and lo! from out a darkling hole
That opened at my feet, crawled after me,
Up the broad staircase, creatures of huge size,
Fanged, warty monsters, with their lips and eyes
Hung with slim leeches sucking hungrily. -
Away, vile drug! I will avoid thy spell,
Honey of Paradise, black dew of Hell!