Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1835–1860
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. VI–VIII: Literature of the Republic, Part III., 1835–1860
 
The Revellers
By William Davis Gallagher (1808–1894)
 
[Born in Philadelphia, Penn., 1808. Died, 1894. From Miami Woods,… and Other Poems. 1881.]

THERE were sounds of mirth and revelry
In an old ancestral hall,
And many a merry laugh rang out,
And many a merry call;
And the glass was freely passed around,        5
And the red wine freely quaffed;
And many a heart beat high with glee
And the joy of the thrilling draught—
    In that broad and huge ancestral hall,
    Of the times that were, of old.        10
 
A voice arose, as the lights grew dim,
And a glass was flourished high:
“I drink to Life!” said a Reveller bold,
“And I do not fear to die.
I have no fear—I have no fear—        15
Talk not of the vagrant, Death,
For he’s but a grim old gentleman,
And wars but with his breath.”
    A boast well worthy a revel-rout
    Of the times that were, of old.        20
 
“We drink,” said all, “We drink to Life
And we do not fear to die!”
Just then a rushing sound was heard,
As of quick wings sweeping by;
And soon the old latch was lifted up,        25
And the door flew open wide,
And a stranger strode within the hall
With an air of martial pride:
    In visor and cloak, like a secret knight
    Of the times that were, of old.        30
 
He spoke: “I join in your revelry,
Bold sons of the Bacchan rite,
And I drink the toast ye have filled to drink,
The pledge of yon dauntless knight:
Fill high—fill higher—we drink to Life,        35
And we scorn the vagrant, Death,
For he’s but a grim old gentleman,
And wars but with his breath.”
    A pledge well worthy a revel-rout
    Of the times that were, of old.        40
 
“He’s a noble soul, that champion knight,
And he wears a martial brow;
Oh, he’ll pass the gates of Paradise,
To the regions of bliss below!”
The Reveller stood in deep amaze—        45
Now flashed his fiery eye;
He muttered a curse—then shouted loud,
“Intruder, thou shalt die!”
    And his sword leaped out, like a baron’s brave,
    Of the times that were, of old.        50
 
He struck—and the stranger’s guise fell off,
When a phantom before him stood,
A grinning, and ghastly, and horrible thing,
That curdled his boiling blood.
He stirred not again, till the stranger blew        55
A blast of his withering breath;
Then the Reveller fell at the Phantom’s feet
And his conqueror was—DEATH!
    In that broad and high ancestral hall,
    Of the times that were, of old.        60
 
 
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