The City Of Sin
Lo! Death hath rear’d himself a throne In a strange city, all alone, Far down within the dim west — Where 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 any thing of ours — Oh no! — O no! — ours never loom To heaven with that ungodly gloom! Time-eaten towers that tremble not! Resemble nothing that is ours. Around, by lifting winds forgot, Resignedly beneath the sky The melancholy waters lie. No holy rays from heaven come down On the long night-time of that town, But light from out the lurid sea Streams up the turrets silently — Up thrones — up long-forgotten bowers Of scultur’d 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, All Hades, from a thousand thrones, Shall do it reverence, And Death to some more happy clime Shall give his undivided time.