Mrs. S. A. Collins



An Earthquake

by Mrs. S. A. Collins

I will tell you a story my dearies.

      Of which happened so long ago;

When our country was new and everything then

      Seemed progressing so very slow.

It is of a distant city,

      Afar in a foreign land,

Where many people were gathered

      To worship at God's command.

It was in the month of November,

      The very first day I've been told,

In the year seventeen hundred and seventy-five.

      This story you see is old.

Lisbon, Portugal 's fair city,

      Had buildings towering high;

The church-spires looked so great and grand,

      Against the bright blue sky.

And as the people gathered there,

      On this eventful day,

They little thought before the noon

      They would all be swept away.

The bells had all ceased ringing,

      The churches crowded seemed;

To worship "all saints day" they came,

      Of danger never dreamed.

But at forty minutes after nine,

A rumbling noise was heard,

Like thunder in the distance:

      Those people scarcely stirred.

When louder, louder came the sound,

      The earth began to shake,

And very soon the masses there

      Knew the horrors of an earth-quake.

One shock and then another came.

      Bringing misery, pain and death,

And those who were among the ruins,

Prayed for help with dying breath.

In six short minutes we are told,

      Thirty thousand slept,

Crushed by falling brick and stone,

      While three thousand more had crept

Upon a marble quay just built

      On the bank of the river there.

This seemed to them a refuge,

      For they were crazed with fear.

The ground seemed to move like some sea-wave,

      The water went and came,

And soon a wave of monstrous strength

      Left not one to tell his name.

Among the buildings, ruins now,

The fire king seemed to reign;

That devastation, pain, and death

      Were there was very plain.

The earth seemed very much disturbed

      For a month or more they say.

I do not wonder, do you dears?

      That it trembled so for days.

For such awful things in memory,

      Make us almost tremble yet,

When we think of so many people there

      Going quickly down to death:

Without a place of safety,

      No refuge far or near,

We can but pause and, meditate,

      Then drop for them a tear.