The Sign of Distress
'Twas a wild dreary night in the cheerless December,
'Twas a night only lit by a meteor's gleam;
'Twas the night of that night, I distinctly remember,
That my soul journeyed forth on the wings of a dream.
That dream found me happy, by tried friends surrounded,
Enjoying with rapture the comforts of wealth,
My cup overflowing, with blessings unbounded,
My heart fully charged from the fountains of health.
That dream left me wretched — by friendship forsaken,
Dejected, despairing, and wrapped in dismay,
By poverty, sickness and sorrow o'ertaken,
To every temptation and passion a prey,
In frenzy, the wine-cup I instantly quaffed at,
And habit and time made me quaff to excess,
But heated by wine, like a madman, I laughed at
The thought of e'er giving a Sign of Distress.
But wine sank me lower, by lying pretences,
It tattered my raiment and furrowed my face,
It palsied my sinews and pilfered my senses,
And forced me to proffer a Sign of Distress.
I reeled to a chapel where churchmen were kneeling,
And asking their Savior poor sinners to bless,
My claims I presented, the door of that chapel
Was slanmmed in my face at the Sign of Distress.
I strolled to the priest, to the servant of heaven,
And sued for relief with a wild eagerness;
He prayed that my sins might at last be forgiven,
And thought he had answered my Sign of Distress.
I staggered at last to the home of my mother,
Believing my prayers would meet with success;
But father, and mother, and sister and brother,
Disowned me, and taunted my Sign of Distress.
I lay down to die, as a stranger drew nigh me,
A spotless white lambskin adorning his dress,
My eye caught the emblem, and ere he passed by me,
I gave, as before, the sad Sign of Distress,
With Godlike emotions that messenger hastens
To grasp me, and whisper, "my brother, I bless
The hour of my life when I learned of the Masons,
To give and to answer your Sign of Distress."
Let a sign of distress by a Craftsman be given,
And though priceless to me is eternity's bliss,
May my name never enter the records of heaven,
Should I fail to acknowledge that Sign of Distress.