Virginia Lucas Poetry Scrapbook

"Darkness," by Lord Byron

Poem Transcription   
“I had a dream, which was not all a dream.                              
The bright sun was extinguishd, 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, 
All men forgot their passions in the dread 
Of this their desolations; all and all hearts 
Were chill'd into a selfish prayer for light: 
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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 consumed, 
And men were gather'd round their blaz[?]ing homes 
To look once more into each other's face; 
Happy were those who dwelt within the eye 
Of the volcanoes, and their mountain-Torch: 
A fearful hope was all the world contained;
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; some did rest 
Their chins upon their clenched hands, and smiled; 
And others hurried to and fro, and fed 
Their funeral piles with fuel, and look'd up 
With mad disquietude upon 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 shriek
And, terrified, did flutter on the ground, 
And flap their useless wings; the wildest brutes 
Came tame, and tremulous; and vipers crawled 
And twined 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
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.
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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 devoured, 
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 
Lured their lank jaws; himself sought out no food, 
But with a piteous and perpetual moan, 
And a quick desolate cry, licking the hand 
Which answered 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 raked up, 
And shivering scraped 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, treeless, herbless, 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, 
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And their masts fell down piece meal, 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 expired 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.”

Page by Maddie Gallo
Information About the Poem

Biography of Lord Byron

Description of the poem's formal elements

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