The Forlorn Hope (Hall)/Poems/The Dream of the Exile

2042432The Forlorn Hope — The Dream of the Exile1836Samuel Carter Hall


The breeze came gently o'er me from the west,
Where the last sun-beams linger ere they part;
Along the beach I lay, to sleep, and rest
My wearied limbs, and still more wearied heart;
When forth from out the blue and boundless sea,
That long had circled and imprisoned me,
I saw a fair and fruitful land arise,
And knew, at once, my native shore and skies.

Quicker than thought I passed, and stood before
The well-known dwelling of my child and wife,
Yet could not pass the threshold of the door
That kept me forth from all I loved of life;
My heart was chill'd—though from within there came
A voice that seem'd to murmur my own name—
While tongue, nor hand, nor foot, obeyed my will,
But powerless, motionless, I stood there still.

A mist was o'er my eyes—yet I could see,
Through the closed lattice, the dim forms of two
Whose hearts were mine—none other could they be!
They were not strangers, that full well I knew:
But dark and dull as was the outward gloom
It was less deep than that within the room,
And vainly were mine eyeballs strain'd to trace
More than the outline of a form and face.

How death-like all that was within I deemed,
All save the music of a human voice;
But that so faint and so unearthly seem'd,
It chilled the hope that would have said "Rejoice!"
Was it the breathing of my wife or boy?
Was it a tone of sadness or of joy,
That, like a fearful though a welcome spell
On the one sense that owned me master, fell?

The mist was slowly passing from my sight—
Its darkness every moment grew less deep—
Till I beheld my wife; all draped in white
She lay upon a couch in gentle sleep:
And our boy watched, and sigh'd to hear her sigh,
To mark how pale her cheek, how sunk her eye!
Sorrow that fair form must have sadly bowed—
Oh, God of judgment! she was in her shroud!

At once my tongue was loosed, my limbs were free,
I burst the casement, and I madly spoke,
And my boy started, wildly looked on me
And shriek'd so fearfully, that I awoke—
To hear the ocean's never varied sound
And the wild sea-mew, wheeling round and round—
Where hope, the sunlight of the soul, ne'er beams—
A broken-hearted exile, even in dreams!