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Alexander Anderson

From A Song of Labour (1873)

In my boyhood time long years ago,
   When life was half divine,
I read, with a horror you may not know,
   The story of Frankenstein --

That student wild and deep who wrought
   Alone in his silent room,
Till the monster-man of his midnight thought
   Took shape in the ghostly gloom.

Then when life woke up in each heavy limb,
   And the pulses began to play,
And its dull, blank eyes open'd up on him,
   He rush'd from his work away.

But still through his life, when Hope held high
   Her cup full to the brim,
The demon whose life was his came by
   And dash'd the bliss from him.

Ah! fearful story it was and seem'd
   To wear little purpose then;
But its deeper truths have upon me gleam'd
   Since I look'd as a man on men.

For still in the hurry and fret of life,
   When I see the brow bent down,
And the hand stretch'd out for the straws of strife,
   Instead of the golden crown,

Then I whisper -- Here is one who moulds
   In his heart, and knows it not,
A monster that yet will burst its folds,
   And haunt him from spot to spot --

Haunt him till life's frail powers grow weak,
   And the hopes we keep to cheer
Turn away from the deathlike brow and cheek,
   And come no more anear.

Ah me! what wisdom this might teach,
   If we lent but our ear and will;
What inward things would rise up and preach,
   For our better guidance still!

But this working world rolls on, and we shape
   All things but the high divine;
And still, far down in our heart, we ape
   The story of Frankenstein.