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One night, while peaceful in my bed
I lay, unwitting what befell,
By Morpheus' arms clasped close,
In blissful rest, I slumber'd well.
When suddenly, unto my ears
There came a dreadful, piercing sound,
So strange unto my startl'd mind,
I left my bed with single bound.
And then, transfix'd unto the floor,
I stood, in terror pinion'd there,
With drops of sweat upon my brow,
And eyes with fix'd and rigid stare.
I listen'd for the dreadful sound,
Which brought such terror to my brain;
And then, with wildly beating heart,
I heard the fearful noise again.
Affrighted yet, I heard the noise,
Which, tho' 'twas modified in tone,
It terror brought unto my heart,
And from my lips it drew a groan.
For horror yet was in the sound,
That froze my blood, and fix'd my eye;
It seem'd to me a demon's shriek,
Or wailing banshee's boding cry.
But soon my eyes unfix'd their stare,
My senses clearer now became,
And borne unto my sharpen'd ear,
I heard a sound, but not the same.
Within the plaster'd wall, near by,
I heard a grinding, ringing tone -
A mouse was gnawing at a board;
That was the sound, and that alone.
I waited then, and listen'd long;
But naught there came unto my ear,
Save this, and lying down again,
I wonder'd what had caus'd my fear.
And then I thought 'tis thus with us -
We mortals, who, with darken'd sight
See things, and fearful sounds do hear,
Which cause our narrow senses fright.
But when we waken from this dream,
With senses join'd to earth no more,
Our brighten'd faculties will see
No fear, where fear there was before.
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