Darkness: Lord Byron

darknessI had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguished,
And the stars did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air,
Morn came and went and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread of this their desolation,
And all hearts were chilled into a selfish prayer for light
And they did live by watch fires and the thrones,
The palaces of crowned kings, the huts,
The habitations of all things, which dwell,
Were burnt for beacons, cities were consumed,
And men were gathered round their blazing homes
To look once more into each other's face
Happy were those who dwelt within the eye,
Of the volcanoes, and their mountain-torch

A fearful hope was all the world contained,
Forests were set on fire, but hour-by-hour
They fell and faded, and the crackling trunks
Extinguished with a crash and all was black.
The brows of men by the despairing light wore an unearthly aspect,
As by fits, the flashes fell upon them,
Some lay down and hid their eyes and wept,
And some did rest their chins upon their clenched hands and smiled,
And others hurried to and fro, and fed their funeral piles with fuel,
And looked up with mad disquietude on the dull sky,

The pall of a past world, and then again
With curses cast them down upon the dust,
And gnashed their teeth and howled,
The wild birds shrieked and, terrified, did flutter on the ground,
And flap their useless wings,
The wildest brutes came tame and tremulous,
And vipers crawled and twined themselves among the multitude,
Hissing, but stingless, they were slain for food.
And War, which for a moment was no more, did glut himself again
A meal was bought with blood, and each sate sullenly apart
Gorging himself in gloom, no love was left,
All earth was but one thought, and that was death
Immediate and inglorious, and the pang
Of famine fed upon all entrails, men died,
And their bones were tombless as their flesh,

The meagre by the meagre were devoured,
Even dogs assailed their masters, all save one,
And he was faithful to a corpse,
And kept the birds and beasts and famished men at bay,
Till hunger clung them, or the dropping dead
Lured their lank jaws, himself sought out no food,
But with a piteous and perpetual moan,
And a quick desolate cry, licking the hand
Which answered not with a caress, he died.

The crowd was famished by degrees,
But two of an enormous city did survive, and they were enemies,
They met beside the dying embers of an altar-place
Where had been heaped a mass of holy things
For an unholy usage, they raked up,
And shivering scraped with their cold skeleton hands
The feeble ashes, and their feeble breath blew for a little life,
And made a flame which was a mockery,
Then they lifted up their eyes, as it grew lighter,
And beheld each other's aspects, saw, and shrieked, and died
Even of their mutual hideousness they died, unknowing who he was,
Upon whose brow Famine had written Fiend.

The world was void, the populous and the powerful was a lump,
Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless,
A lump of death, a chaos of hard clay.
The rivers, lakes and ocean all stood still,
And nothing stirred within their silent depths,
Ships sailorless lay rotting on the sea,
And their masts fell down piecemeal: as they dropped
They slept on the abyss without a surge,
The waves were dead; the tides were in their grave,
The moon, their mistress, had expired before,
The winds were withered in the stagnant air,
And the clouds perished,
Darkness had no need of aid from them,
She was the Universe.