Thomas Campbell

Here you will find the Long Poem Last Man, The of poet Thomas Campbell

Last Man, The

All worldly shapes shall melt in gloom, 
The Sun himself must die, 
Before this mortal shall assume 
Its Immortality! 
I saw a vision in my sleep 
That gave my spirit strength to sweep 
Adown the gulf of Time! 
I saw the last of human mould, 
That shall Creation's death behold, 
As Adam saw her prime! 

The Sun's eye had a sickly glare, 
The Earth with age was wan, 
The skeletons of nations were 
Around that lonely man! 
Some had expired in fight,--the brands 
Still rested in their bony hands; 
In plague and famine some! 
Earth's cities had no sound nor tread; 
And ships were drifting with the dead 
To shores where all was dumb! 

Yet, prophet-like, that lone one stood 
With dauntless words and high, 
That shook the sere leaves from the wood 
As if a storm passed by, 
Saying, "We are twins in death, proud Sun, 
Thy face is cold, thy race is run, 
'Tis Mercy bids thee go. 
For thou ten thousand thousand years 
Hast seen the tide of human tears, 
That shall no longer flow. 

"What though beneath thee man put forth 
His pomp, his pride, his skill; 
And arts that made fire, floods, and earth, 
The vassals of his will;-- 
Yet mourn not I thy parted sway, 
Thou dim discrowned king of day: 
For all those trophied arts 
And triumphs that beneath thee sprang, 
Healed not a passion or a pang 
Entailed on human hearts. 

"Go, let oblivion's curtain fall 
Upon the stage of men, 
Nor with thy rising beams recall 
Life's tragedy again. 
Its piteous pageants bring not back, 
Nor waken flesh, upon the rack 
Of pain anew to writhe; 
Stretched in disease's shapes abhorred, 
Or mown in battle by the sword, 
Like grass beneath the scythe. 

"Ee'n I am weary in yon skies 
To watch thy fading fire; 
Test of all sumless agonies 
Behold not me expire. 
My lips that speak thy dirge of death-- 
Their rounded gasp and gurgling breath 
To see thou shalt not boast. 
The eclipse of Nature spreads my pall,-- 
The majesty of Darkness shall 
Receive my parting ghost! 

"This spirit shall return to Him 
That gave its heavenly spark; 
Yet think not, Sun, it shall be dim 
When thou thyself art dark! 
No! it shall live again, and shine 
In bliss unknown to beams of thine, 
By Him recalled to breath, 
Who captive led captivity. 
Who robbed the grave of Victory,-- 
And took the sting from Death! 

"Go, Sun, while Mercy holds me up 
On Nature's awful waste 
To drink this last and bitter cup 
Of grief that man shall taste-- 
Go, tell the night that hides thy face, 
Thou saw'st the last of Adam's race, 
On Earth's sepulchral clod, 
The darkening universe defy 
To quench his Immortality, 
Or shake his trust in God!"