The Dream of the Reveller
Around the board the guests were met, the lights above them beaming, And in their cups, replenish'd oft, the ruddy wine was streaming; Their cheeks were flush'd their eyes were bright, their hearts with pleasure bounded, The song was sung, the toast was given, and loud the revel sounded. I drain'd a goblet with the rest, and cried, " Away with sorrow! Let us be happy for to-day; what care we for to-morrow?" But as I spoke, my sight grew dim, and slumber deep came o'er me, And, 'mid the whirl of mingling tongues, this vision pass'd before me. Methought I saw a demon rise: he held a mighty bicker, Whose burnish'd sides ran brimming o'er with floods of burning liquor; Around him press'd a clamorous crowd, to taste this liquor, greedy, But chiefly came the poor and sad, the suffering and the needy; All those oppress'd by grief or debt, the dissolute, the lazy, Blear-eyed old men and reckless youths, and palsied women crazy; " Give, give!" they cried, " Give, give us drink, to drown all thought of sorrow; If we are happy for to-day, we care not for to-morrow!" The first drop warm'd their shivering skins, and drove away their sadness; The second lit their sunken eyes, and fill'd their souls with gladness; The third drop made them shout and roar, and play each furious antic; The fourth drop boil'd their very blood; and the fifth drop drove them frantic. " Drink!" said the Demon, " Drink your fill! drink of these waters mellow; — They'll make your eye-balls sear and dull, and turn your white skins yellow; They'll fill your homes with care and grief, and clothe your backs with tatters; They'll fill your hearts with evil thoughts; but never mind! — what matters? " Though virtue sink, and reason fail, and social ties dissever, I'll be your friend in hour of need, and find you homes for ever; For I have built three mansions high, three strong and goodly houses, To lodge at last each jolly soul who all his life carouses. The first , it is a spacious house, to all but sots appalling, Where, by the parish bounty fed, vile, in the sunshine crawling, The worn-out drunkard ends his days, and eats the dole of others, A plague and burthen to himself, an eyesore to his brothers. " The second is a lazar-house, rank, fetid, and unholy; Where, smitten by diseases foul and hopeless melancholy, The victims of potations deep, pine on the couch of sadness, Some calling Death to end their pain, and others wrought to madness: The third and last is black and high, the abode of guilt and anguish, And full of dungeons deep and fast, where death-doom'd felons languish; So drain the cup, and drain again! One of my goodly houses, Shall lodge at last each jolly soul who to the dregs carouses!" But well he knew — that Demon old — how vain was all his preaching, The ragged crew that round him flock'd were heedless of his teaching; Even as they heard his fearful words, they cried, with shouts of laughter, — " Out on the fool who mars to-day with thought of an hereafter! We care not for thy houses three; we live but for the present; And merry will we make it yet, and quaff our bumpers pleasant." Loud laugh'd the fiend to hear them speak, and, lifting high his bicker, " Body and soul are mine!" said he, " I'll have them both for liquor."
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