ANN RADCLIFFE (1764–1823)

High mid Alverna’s awful steeps,
          Eternal shades, and glooms and silence dwell,
Save, when the lonely gale resounding sweeps,
          Sad, solemn strains are faintly heard to swell:

Enthron’d amid the wild impending rocks,
          Involv’d in clouds, and brooding future woe,
The demon Superstition Nature shocks,
          And waves her Sceptre o’er the world below.

Around her throne, amid the mingling glooms,
          Wild – hideous forms are slowly seen to glide;
She bids them fly to shade earth’s brightest blooms,
          And spread the blast of Desolation wide.

See! in the darkened air their fiery course!
          The sweeping ruin settles o’er the land,
Terror leads on their steps with madd’ning force,
          And Death and Vengeance close the ghastly band!

                    Mark the purple streams that flow!
                    Mark the deep empassioned woe!
                    Frantic Fury’s dying groan!
                    Virtue’s sigh, and Sorrow’s moan!

Wide – wide the phantoms swell the loaded air
With shrieks of anguish – madness and despair!
          Cease your ruin! spectres dire!
                    Cease your wild terrific sway!
          Turn your steps – and check your ire,
                    Yield to peace and mourning day!

[SOURCE: Ann Radcliffe, A Sicilian Romance, 2 vols (London: T. Hookham, 1790), vol. 2, pp. 30–1.]

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