English poetry

Poets Х Biographies Х Poems by Themes Х Random Poem Х
The Rating of Poets Х The Rating of Poems

Poem by Bessie Rayner Parkes

The Black Death

WHAT is it? a speck in the distance,
A rumour that flies in the air,
Too faint to be met by resistance,
Too strong to be braved by despair.

Just whispered about the street-corners,
Just traced by the timorous pen;
Like some scandal breathed out by suborners,
Which poisons the spirit of men.

Where is it? but yesterday even
A man galloped in from the plain,
His eyes were a terrible leaven
Of horror, suspicion, and pain.

He galloped straight up to the Town House,
And none heard the news which he said;
Thank God for the miles he had ridden,
For the horse which he rode dropped dead!

The rumour grows darker and darker,
Each moment the agony swells;
Some say, "'Tis the trade of the doctors;"
And some, "They have poisoned the wells."

A threatening doom o'er the city,
It hangs like a terrible sword;
No man for his fellow has pity,
When both dread the curse of the Lord.

To-night there's a crowd in the market,
But scattered like leaves on the blast;
A moment may drive them asunder--
For whom will this night be the last?

No wonder they start in their slumbers,
Or count every tremulous breath;
Alas! who can reckon the numbers
To be reaped in the harvest of Death,

When the fear that now floats like a vapour,
So shadowy, formless, and vague,
Is wrought up to a terrible presence,
And named, not in whispers, The Plague?

Bessie Rayner Parkes

Bessie Rayner Parkes's other poems:
  1. The Old Chateau
  2. Rome
  3. On a Group of Justice and Charity
  4. A Midsummer NightТs Dream
  5. Firelight

Poem to print Print


Last Poems

To Russian version


English Poetry. E-mail eng-poetry.ru@yandex.ru