Ode to Fear

by William Collins

Thou, to whom the world unknown
With all its shadowy shapes is shown;
Who see’st appalled th’ unreal scene,
While Fancy lifts the veil between:
Ah Fear! Ah frantic Fear!
I see, I see thee near.
I know thy hurried step, thy haggard eye!
Like thee I start, like thee disordered fly,
For lo what Monsters in thy train appear!
Danger, whose limbs of giant mold
What mortal eye can fixed behold?
Who stalks his ground, an hideous form,
Howling amidst the midnight storm,
Or throws him on the ridgy steep
Of some loose hanging rock to sleep:
And with him thousand phantoms joined,
Who prompt to deeds accursed the mind:
And those, the fiends, who near allied,
O’er Nature’s wounds, and wrecks preside;
Whilst Vengeance, in the lurid air,
Lifts her red arm, exposed and bare:
On whom the ravening brood of fate,
Who lap the blood of sorrow, wait;
Who, Fear, this ghastly train can see,
And look not madly wild, like thee?

Thou who such weary lengths hast past,
Where wilt thou rest, mad nymph, at last?
Say, wilt thou shroud in haunted cell,
Where gloomy Rape and Murder dwell?
Or, in some hollowed seat,
‘Gainst which the big waves beat,
Hear drowning sea-men’s cries in tempest brought!
Dark power, with shuddering meek submitted thought
Be mine, to read the visions old,
Which thy awakening bards have told:
And lest thou meet my blasted view,
Hold each strange tale devoutly true;
Ne’er be I found, by thee o’erawed,
In that thrice-hallowed eve abroad,
When ghosts, as cottage-maids believe,
Their pebbled beds permitted leave,
And Goblins haunt from fire, or fen,
Or mine, or flood, the walks of men!
O thou whose spirit most possest
The sacred seat of Shakespeare’s breast!
By all that from thy prophet broke,
In thy divine emotions spoke:
Hither again thy fury deal,
Teach me but once like him to feel:
His cypress wreath thy meed decree,
And I, O Fear, will dwell with thee!