“A Vagary of One Sick” by Charles Henry Foster
by Ann Neilson
A Vagary of One Sick.
By Charles Henry Foster
From the Knickerbocker, Volume 49, February, 1857, pg. 154.
SHROUDED phantoms flit before me, ghastly faces meet my gaze!
Spectral arms with bony fingers clutch the air!
Hist! that sad sepulchral moaning—worlds of anguish it betrays:
Anguish as of damnéd spirits, panting in the nether blaze,
Uttering forth a late repentance, in wild regretful prayer,
While their tones sink ever lower, as they lapse to mute despair.
Now the pallid ghosts are gathered from each dark and weltering tomb,
Where they brood o’er livid corpses cold and stark;
And the goblins hold their revel, even here within my room,
Moving fleetly to-and-fro amid this dull and mid-night gloom,
Goblins wan and melancholy, dwellers of the sunless dark,
From the dusky shores of OREUS echoing with trifaucal bark.*
And the agile gnomes come hither, elf and elemental sprite;
Restless riders of the tempest and the wind:
How the myriad mingled demons my whole shrinking soul affright!
Mingled of divine and human, finding fierce malign delight;
Finding sharp, exulting rapture in this torment of my mind:
How they follow, with grim purpose, each some other close behind!
Thronging denser still and faster, yet the apparitions come;
Skeletons and gliding shades in sombre train;
Gaunt and haggard shapes of slain ones, as if called by beat of drum;
Famished lips and eyeless sockets: I would shriek, but I am dumb!
All my swollen heart is bursting with an infinite of pain:
Oh! the cruel, boundless horror of this fever of my brain!
Orono, on the Penobscot, (Maine.)
*’CERBERUS hæc ingens latratu regna trifauci
Personat.’ VIRG. Æn. Lib. VI.
‘Ore trilingui.’ HOR. Lib. II., Car. XIX., et Lib. III., Car. XI.