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Legends That Every Child Should Know

 The Beleaguered City 

      I have read, in some old marvellous tale
      Some legend strange and vague,
      That a midnight host of spectres pale
      Beleaguered the walls of Prague.
      Beside the Moldau's rushing stream.
      With the wan moon overhead,
      There stood, as in an awful dream,
      The army of the dead.
      White as a sea-fog, landward bound,
      The spectral camp was seen,
      And, with a sorrowful, deep sound,
      The river flowed between.
      No other voice nor sound was there,
      No drum, nor sentry's pace;
      The mist-like banners clasped the air,
      As clouds with clouds embrace.
      But, when the old cathedral bell
      Proclaimed the morning prayer,
      The white pavilions rose and fell
      On the alarmed air.
      Down the broad valley fast and far
      The troubled army fled;
      Up rose the glorious morning star,
      The ghastly host was dead.
      I have read, in the marvellous heart of man,
      That strange and mystic scroll,
      That an army of phantoms vast and wan
      Beleaguer the human soul.
      Encamped beside Life's rushing stream,
      In Fancy's misty light,
      Gigantic shapes and shadows gleam
      Portentous through the night.
      Upon its midnight battle-ground
      The spectral camp is seen,
      And, with a sorrowful, deep sound,
      Flows the River of Life between.
      No other voice, nor sound is there,
      In the army of the grave;
      No other challenge breaks the air,
      But the rushing of Life's wave.
      And, when the solemn and deep church-bell
      Entreats the soul to pray,
      The midnight phantoms feel the spell
      The shadows sweep away.
      Down the broad Vale of Tears afar
      The spectral camp is fled;
      Faith shineth as a morning star,
      Our ghastly fears are dead.

      THE END.

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