Royall Tyler

(1757-1826 / the United States)

The Test Of Conjugal Love - Poem by Royall Tyler

Deprendi miserum est.-
Hor. Sat.
On his fever burnt bed, quick gasping for breath,
Lay Strephon, convulsed with pain,
While the wind in his throat shook the rattle of death,
The hot blood rag'd through the swollen vein.
Large drops of cold sweat on his forehead did stand;
The lustre was dim'd in his eye;
While the chill of his feet, and the chill of his hand,
Pronounc'd that poor Strephon must die.
His neighbours all wept, and his kindred all cried,
With handkerchiefs held to each eye,
While a boy and a girl sobb'd loud at his side,
To think that their father must die.
But who can describe the fond griefs of his wife,
Her shriekings, her tears, and despair,
When she vow'd that same hour should end her own life,
And tore off by handfuls her hair.
Oh death! thou fell monster, in anguish she rav'd,
Oh spare my dear husband, Oh spare,
Throw thy ice dart at me, let my husband be sav'd,
Or I sink in a whirl of despair.
Oh how shall I live, when my husband is dead,
Or why this loath'd life should I save,
Then haste, welcome death, take me in his stead,
Or I'll go with my love to the grave.
The wind whistl'd high, the old mansion about,
And rock'd like a cradle the floor,
When death in the entry stood knocking without,
With his knuckle of bone on the door.
And he bursted the lock, and the door open'd wide,
And in the slim spectre slow strode,
And he rattl'd his jaws and he rattl'd his side,
As over the threshold he trod.
Who's here, cried the spectre, who calls loud for me,
Who wants death? the thin spectre then said;
Why, who? cried the wife, why, who should it be?
But the gentleman there on the bed.

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, September 22, 2010

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