A Macabre Rime

I saw Death's passing avatar
Stride blindly through the night,
A-wending ‘round the stirless town
In mad and mindless flight.
And silent did its footfalls break,
No stillness did'st it rend,
That scarce I heard its nighing tread
As it met me ‘round the bend.
On terror's lance my heart impaled,
And dread my soul consumed,
For what mine damnèd eye beheld
When that wicked spectre loomed:
A darksome shade bedimmed the night,
Which shivered in its brace,
And swift unfurled its mortal fumes
That lay a man to waste.
Though shrouded, phantom sockets burned
A scorning grimly glare,
As shine the beams of hateful stars
On summits bleak and bare.
Anon the fiend spread wide its vans,
And shed its shadow lace,
For then, at last, I saw in tears
Its true infernal Face.
So laid the horror, stark and strange,
That know'st plain I should
The shape Death's icon took that eve.
Had I lived, I surely would.