Faint from the bell the ghastly echoes fall,
That grates within the grey cathedral tower;
Let me not enter through the portal tall,
Lest the strange spirit of the moonless hour
Should give a life to those pale people, who
Lie in their fretted niches, two and two,
Each with his head on pillowy stone reposed,
And his hands lifted, and his eyelids closed.
*** Books by John Ruskin
From many a mouldering oriel, as to flout,
Its pale, grave brow of ivy-tressed stone,
Comes the incongruous laugh, and revel shout-
Above, some solitary casement, thrown
Wide open to the wavering night wind,
Admits its chill, so deathful, yet so kind,
Unto the fevered brow and fiery eye
Of one, whose night hour passeth sleeplessly.
Ye melancholy chambers! I could shun
The darkness of your silence, with such fear,
As places where slow murder has been done,
How many noble spirits have died here
Withering away in yearnings to aspire
Gnawed by mocked hope-devoured by their own fire!
Methinks the grave must feel a colder bed
To spirits such as these, than unto common dead.
John Ruskin was born on this day (February 8th ) in 1819…