Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
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Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
 
Clarence’s Dream
By William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
 
(See full text.)

  Clarence.—O, I have passed a miserable night,
So full of fearful dreams, of ugly sights,
That, as I am a Christian faithful man,
I would not spend another such a night,
Though ’twere to buy a world of happy days;        5
So full of dismal terror was the time.
  Brakenbury.—What was your dream, my lord? I pray you, tell me.
  Clar.—Methought that I had broken from the Tower,
And was embarked to cross to Burgundy;
And in my company, my brother Gloster:        10
Who from my cabin, tempted me to walk
Upon the hatches: thence we looked toward England,
And cited up a thousand heavy times,
During the wars of York and Lancaster
That had befallen us. As we paced along        15
Upon the giddy footing of the hatches,
Methought that Gloster stumbled; and, in falling,
Struck me, that thought to stay him, overboard,
Into the tumbling billows of the main.
O heaven! methought what pain it was to drown!        20
What dreadful noise of water in mine ears!
What sights of ugly death within mine eyes!
Methought I saw a thousand fearful wrecks;
A thousand men, that fishes gnawed upon;
Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl,        25
Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels,
  All scattered in the bottom of the sea.
Some lay in dead men’s skulls; and in those holes
Where eyes did once inhabit, there were crept
(As ’twere in scorn of eyes) reflecting gems,        30
That wooed the slimy bottom of the deep,
And mocked the dead bones that lay scattered by.
  Brak.—Had you such leisure in the time of death
To gaze upon these secrets of the deep?
  Clar.—Methought I had: and often did I strive        35
To yield the ghost: but still the envious flood
Kept in my soul, and would not let it forth
To seek the empty, vast, and wandering air;
But smothered it within my panting bulk,
Which almost burst to belch it in the sea.        40
  Brak.—Awaked you not with this sore agony?
  Clar.—O, no, my dream was lengthened after life,
O, then began the tempest to my soul!
I passed, methought, the melancholy flood,
With that grim ferryman which poets write of,        45
Unto the kingdom of perpetual night.
The first that there did greet my stranger soul,
Was my great father-in-law, renowned Warwick,
Who cried aloud,—“What scourge for perjury
Can this dark monarchy afford false Clarence?”        50
And so he vanished: then came wandering by
A shadow like an angel, with bright hair
Dabbled in blood; and he shrieked out aloud,—
“Clarence is come,—false, fleeting, perjured Clarence,—
That stabbed me in the field by Tewksbury;—        55
Seize on him, Furies, take him to your torments!”
With that, methought, a legion of foul fiends
Environed me, and howlèd in mine ears
Such hideous cries, that with the very noise,
I trembling waked, and, for a season after,        60
Could not believe but that I was in hell,
Such terrible impression made my dream.
 
 
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