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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