Edwin Atherstone

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Edwin Atherstone (1788 - 1872) was an English Romantic poet, known chiefly for his epic poems The Fall of Nineveh and Israel in Egypt. They are based on ancient history and The Bible.


  • It was a day of gloom, and strange suspense,
    And feverish, and inexplicable dread,
    In Herculaneum's walls. The heavy, thick,
    And torrid atmosphere; the solid, vast,
    And strong--edg'd clouds, that through the firmament
    In various and opposing courses moved:--
    The wild scream of the solitary bird
    That, at long intervals, flew terror-driven
    On high:--the howling of the red-ey'd dog
    As he gaz'd trembling on the angry heavens:-
    The hollow moans that swept along the air,
    Though every wind was lock'd,-portended all
    That nature with some dire event was big,
    And labour'd in its birth.
    • The Last Days of Herculaneum (1821)
  • Tombed in the solid night of starless space;
    From nearest living orb so far removed,
    That light, of all material things most swift,
    Myriads on myriads of earth's years must speed,
    Ere the mere outskirts of that Stygian gloom,
    If ever, it might reach,-at rest eterne,
    Lies the cold wreck of an extinguished sun.
    Prime glory once of all heaven's radiant host;
    Body, for soul of purest light most fit-
    'Tween its first darkening, and eclipse complete,
    Streamed years which might eternity appear;
    While into ether, like the particles,
    Invisible, which are the breath of flowers,
    The mighty bulk its softer elements
    Still ever was exhaling. As when flesh
    And sinew of earth's monster Mastodon,
    By the slow wasting of the elements,
    All are dissolved, and hard, enduring bones
    Alone remain,- even so, of this immense,-
    When, by the ocean waves of centuries,
    Millions succeeding millions, worn away,-
    The adamantine skeleton alone,
    In darkness, silence, utter solitude,
    A ruin for eternity, was left.
    • Israel in Egypt, Book the First (1861)
  • In flame and smoke the wondrous city sinks!
    Her walls are gone! her palaces are dust!
    The desert is around her, and within!
    Like shadows have the mighty passed away!

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