In the midnight heavens burning
Thro’ ethereal deeps afar,
Once I watch’d with restless yearning
An alluring, aureate star;
Ev’ry eye aloft returning,
Gleaming nigh the Arctic car.
Mystic waves of beauty blended
With the gorgeous golden rays;
Phantasies of bliss descended
In a myrrh’d Elysian haze;
And in lyre-born chords extended
Harmonies of Lydian lays.
There (thought I) lies scenes of pleasure,
Where the free and blessed dwell,
And each moment bears a treasure
Freighted with a lotus-spell,
And there floats a liquid measure
From the lute of Israfel.
There (I told myself) were shining
Worlds of happiness unknown,
Peace and Innocence entwining
By the Crowned Virtue’s throne;
Men of light, their thoughts refining
Purer, fairer, than our own.
Thus I mus’d, when o’er the vision
Crept a red delirious change;
Hope dissolving to derision,
Beauty to distortion strange;
Hymnic chords in weird collision,
Spectral sights in endless range.
Crimson burn’d the star of sadness
As behind the beams I peer’d;
All was woe that seem’d but gladness
Ere my gaze with truth was sear’d;
Cacodaemons, mir’d with madness,
Thro’ the fever’d flick’ring leer’d.
Now I know the fiendish fable
That the golden glitter bore;
Now I shun the spangled sable
That I watch’d and lov’d before;
But the horror, set and stable,
Haunts my soul for evermore.