Robert Kirkland Kernighan
The Death Of Murderer - Poem by Robert Kirkland Kernighan
Within a hut along the shore,
Where all was wild and drear,
Around whose walls the dark waves pour
As cold and damp as fear,
A wasted wretch lay dying
With none to help him near.
Along the shore and o'er the seas,
The shades of even fell ;
And Death was riding on the breeze,
And on the ocean's swell
And that poor wretch lay dying,
With none to wish him well.
The lightning flashed, the cold sleet poured,
And loud the thunder roll'd ;
And on the beach the breakers roared,
And shook the hut so old,
Wherein that wretch lay dying
Dying in the cold.
His tongue was dry, his brain was crazed,
And matted was his hair ;
His sunken eyes were hot and glazed :
No human look was there
And he was mad and raving,
With hunger, thirst and care.
He raised him on his shrivelled arm,
And fearful gazed around ;
He heard the hissing ocean barm,
The sullen breakers sound :
And thus I heard him speaking,
While groveling on the ground :
' Ye dreadful thunders and ye lightnings,
And all ye noises of the night
Be still, be still !
that the Christ, the Savior Christ,
Would walk again upon the sea !
Then would the thunders, and the lightning,
And all the noises of the night
' Then I would die in peace for I am dying ;
Yes, dying ! and there are none to help me :
None ! none to wet my burning tongue with water
None to say a prayer to God for mercy !
' O, if I could but live another day
One short, short day my soul would have a chance
With God. Hark ! I heard a cry hush, be still !
Be still, ye thunders ! for I heard her cry
'T was I who murdered her ! I hear her screaming
On the sea ; her ghost lives among the rocks
'T was I who hid her bleeding body there !
' Why was she killed ? Unhand me and I '11 tell
'T was gold ! gold ! I worshipped it 't was my idol ;
And he came he of the smooth tongue with gold,
In the wild fury of a winter's storm.
He came with a knife in his hand, and gold,
And I listened to him, and in the deep darkness
I hastened forth, and and and she died that night,
' And I gave her bleeding body to the sea ;
But when the morning came she floated to
My door, and then I hid her 'mong the rocks ;
But she got out one winter night, and now
She walks the sea ! Why is she ever moaning ?
Hah ! I see her ! I see her bloody breast !
I see her white, white face in the darkness,
And she is coming to me. Take her away !
Save me ! Hide me ! Help me ! Her blood has dropt
Into mine eyes arid I am blind, blind, blind !
Her clammy hand is pressed upon my brow-
Mine aching temples throb as though a demon
Beat them 'gainst the rocks ! My brain burns like hell !
But O ! my heart can burn no more 't is ashes ;
My blood leaps through my veins like molten lead,
And black and loathsome serpents gnaw my flesh
And this is death, and I am dying dying !
And is there no power on earth to save me?
Will gold do gold? Be still ye thunders hush!
There 's gold at Raven's Peak I put it there
Among the rocks, an iron chest of gold ;
Hard, hard yellow gold, the price of my soul !
Take it take it all and curse me no more.
Water ! water ! Help ! Is no one near ?
Is there no one near? None to soothe the dying?
And none to close my staring eyes in death ?
Where are ye now who fawned upon me once?
Where are ye now who once basked in my smiles,
And robb'd me, at last, of all e'en my soul ?
And where art thou thou whitened sepulchre
Thou dark-eyed devil with raven hair,
Who led me to perdition where art thou ?
Hah ! I see you now in the dizzy dance
' Music, sweet music streams through the scented air,
And wealth, health, youth, beauty and dreamy love
Are there. Deceit is there, for thou art there.
And thou art queen of the dance, a royal
Princess could not be loved so well or more.
And thou art floating in the dance, and thou
Art beautiful beautiful as the moon
Of May, sailing through an ocean of clouds ;
Floating, as floats a snowy swan at morn,
Through hosts of tear-eyed water lilies.
And thou art mine, mine, mine ! body and soul !
The rubies that circle thy polished throat
Are mine ! The jewels in thy raven hair
Are mine ! Gold gleams on your snowy fingers
'T is mine ! And I am dying here with none
To help me but I will not die !
I will not die help me ! help me ye gods,
For one short day, and she I hate shall die !
I '11 tear her limb from! limb and grind her traitor's
Heart under my heel then I will
Die revenged ! Hark ! be still, I hear a moaning
A hollow moaning at my door, and now
I hear a wailing at my window ;
And now I hear a shrieking on the sea
What does it mean ? 'T is Death ! I feel his hand
Upon my brow, and O 't is cold cold as
The ice of winter ! and through my quaking flesh
A thrill creeps up ! up ! up ! e'en to my heart :
And yet I have no sickness still I feel
That this is Death, .and I have met him often ;
But never knew his strength before and I
Must go through yonder door, and he is watching ;
And, I must go with him. And on the shore
u A boat is waiting, darker than his curse,
And swifter than his hate ; and for a mast
There stands a demon, and for a sail
He spreads his somber wings, and at the helm
There sits a skeleton, pointing with one
Fleshless hand to the dark ocean, and with
The other, he becks impatient to me ;
And now they 're calling, and I must go am [gone !'
And thus he died, and no one heard
His dying words but me ;
He ne'er again bemoaned or stirred,
Nor writhed in agony.
Among the rocks I buried him
Beside the secret sea.
And when I hear the sobbing winds,
And ocean's breakers roar,
I think of him who, with his sins,
Lies buried on the shore ;
And then his wild eyes haunt me,
And will forever more.
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