Page:Landon in Literary Gazette 1823.pdf/136

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Literary Gazette 22nd November 1823, Page 747-748

Curses, and crashing boards, and infant words
Praying for mercy, and then childish screams
Of fear and pain. There were these the last night
The white walls of my cottage stood; they bound
And flung me down beside the oak, to watch
How the red fire gathered, like that of hell.
There sprang one to the lattice, and leant forth,
Gasping for the fresh air,—my own fair girl!
My only one! The vision haunts me still:
The white arms raised to heaven, and the long hair,
Bright as the light beside it, stiff on the head
Upright, from terror. In th' accursed glare
We knew each other; and I heard a cry
Half tenderness, half agony,—a crash,—
The roof fell in,—I saw my child no more!
A cloud closed around me, a deep thunder cloud,
Half darkness and half fire. At length sense came,
With a rememb'ring like that which a dream
Leaves, of vague horrors: but the heavy chain,
The loathsome straw which was mine only bed,
The sickly light through the dim bars, the damp,
The silence, were realities; and then
I lay on the cold stones and wept aloud,
And prayed the fever to return again
And bring death with it. Yet did I escape,—
Again I drank the fresh blue air of heaven,
And felt the sunshine laugh upon my brow;
I thought then I would seek my desolate home,
And die where it had been. I reached the place:
The ground was bare and scorched, and in the midst
Was a black heap of ashes. Frantickly
I groped amid them, ever and anon
Meeting some human fragment, skulls and bones
Shapeless and cinders, till I drew a curl,
A long and beautiful curl of sunny hair,
Stainless and golden, as but then just severed,
A love gift from the head: I knew the hair—
It was my daughter's! There I stood, and howled
Curses upon that night. There came a voice,
There came a gentle step;—even on that heap
Of blood and ashes did I kneel, and pour
To the great God my gratitude! That curl
Was wet with tears of happiness; that step,
That voice, were sweet familiar ones,—one child,
My eldest son, was sent me from the grave!
That night he had escaped. - - -