by LUKE WOODARD (1832-1925)
“Thy brother’s blood!” I seem to hear
These words, in sad and plaintive tones,
Resounding thro’ my weary ear,
So like to Abel’s dying groans.
My soul to very madness stung,
Could I be deaf I gladly would,
Or still that ceaseless taunting tongue
That ever says “Thy brother’s blood.”
My memory seems to have a sting
Dipped in the venom of remorse,
And fancy makes of many a thing
A ghost that apes my brother’s corse.
Fain would I fly myself and leave
My former being all behind,
But like my shadow it will cleave,
And mock each effort of the mind.
Oh, is there no forgetfulness
Of all that I have been before,
No place where passion ’s hushed to rest,
And outraged conscience speaks no more?
O, Death! Say, cans’t thou not bestow
The rest which I so madly crave?
Then hasten thou and lay me low,
And hide me in the silent grave!
And yet if dreams infest the bed
Where mortal’s mouldering ashes lie,
And play their tortures on the dead—
’Twere surely no relief to die!
To every one I meet, my guilt
My blushing features will make known;
And since my brother’s blood I’ve spilt,
Each will in lieu demand my own.
Whither, oh! whither shall I flee ?
To God and man alike a foe,
The earth no refuge has for me,
And Heaven no pity will bestow!
I would not live, yet fear to die,
And yet to live were worse than death;
A hunted Vagabond am I,
And shall be to my latest breath!
My sin will crush me! Would it might!
Crush me to naught! Extinguish me!
Dissolve my soul in endless night,
And kindly bid me cease to be!