There is a region dark and dun,
Whereto we slide but never run;
Which early was from chaos won,
Yet marks nor metes nor bounds has none---
They call that land, Oblivion.
No bells are there with clanging ring,
No birds are there to twitter and sing;
To reach its borders you must bring
Yourself to the edge of everything,
And then drop off---poor scatterling.
In rusted quiet are the vanes
Upon its spires; the window-panes
The spiders' workshops; naught complains
Of fears or throbs or aches or pains,
While wandering o'er its foggy plains.
It is the realm of Nowhere, where
The listless dwellers have no care,
No bitter past, nor future fair;
Memory and hope are useless there---
Hence from their eyes that vacant stare.
The ghosts---for dwellers there are those---
Have long time since, with many throes,
Stripped from themselves both flesh and woes,
That to the air, which coldly blows,
Their naked souls they might expose.
As in a dream they go and come,
Their voices ever hushed and dumb---
(Bees, straying there forget to hum)
They need not senses to benumb,
Hemp-juice nor wine of opium.
For reading they have little knack,
Although of books there is no lack,
All bound in suits of dullest black,
On which the worms have left their track---
The whole world's literary wrack.
Monarchs who ruled o'er kingdoms vast,
In olden ages dead and past,
By later monarchs overcast,
As shall Napoleon be at last,
Stalk those dominions grim and ghast.
Poets, who deemed their idle song,
Had perfect rhythm, amply strong
To shield it from the critic's thong,
There, with their lays forgotten long,
Silent and sallow, ever throng.
There struts the votary of the stage,
Who from the old poetic page,
Portrayed the grief and fear and rage,
Meant by the bard as lessons sage,
To gazers in a former age.
The sage and stern philosopher,
Dull gravity's prime minister,
Who let no passion pulses stir---
(Deeming who felt had stooped to err)
Moves aimless there, a wanderer.
Old thoughts, with proud and stately air,
Old projects, wonderful and rare,
Old promises, well-meant and fair,
Old grand designs, beyond compare---
Forevermore are floating there.
It is a land of fogs and mist
Which sunlight never yet has kist;
And that is why to it, I wist,
Move slowly the somnambulist,
The dreamer and the rhapsodist.
Thomas Dunn English, from The select poems (1894)