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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Burning of Fairfield

By Timothy Dwight (1752–1817)

[Greenfield Hill. 1794.]

NOW Night, of all her stars forlorn,

Majestic up the sky was borne.

A cloud immense her misty car,

Slow-sliding through the burdened air;

Her wreath of yew; a cypress wand

Uplifted by her magic hand;

Pale, shrouded fears her awful train,

And spectres gliding on the plain:

While Horror, o’er the sable world,

His ensigns through the expanse unfurled.

When lo! the southern skies around

Expanded wide with turrets crowned;

With umbered skirts, with wary gleam,

Uprose an awful ridge of flame,

Shed far its dreary lustre round

And dimly streaked the twilight ground.

Dark clouds with many a dismal stain

Hung hovering o’er the gleaming main;

While deep the distant, hollow roar

Waved echoing from the illumined shore;

And from each heaven-directed spire

Climbed bending pyramids of fire.

Meantime, a storm in western skies,

Thick, heavy, vast, began to rise,

Rolled swift on burdened winds along,

And brooded o’er the plundering throng,

In deeper night the heavens arrayed

And stretched its pall of boundless shade.

Forth shot the fierce and lurid flame

(The world, dim-rising in the beam),

Lessened the conflagrative spires,

And blended with their light its fires.

Again new darkness spread the main,

The splendors brightening rose again.

The thunder with earth-rending sound

Shook every vale and hill around;

While at each pause with solemn voice

The murmuring flames prolonged the noise.

It seemed the final day was come,

The day of earth’s protracted doom;

The Archangel’s voice began to call

The nations of this guilty ball:

The hills to cleave, the skies to rend,

Tumultuous elements to blend;

And Heaven, in pomp tremendous, came

To light the last, funereal flame.