the lay of the demon of night

by “Newark Muse”

Image: Pioneers of American Motorcycle Racing
Image: Pioneers of American Motorcycle Racing

        When the wild wind blows
        In its fearful might,
        And the pale moon throws
        But a feeble light:
        When the stars are at rest
        In their homes in the sky,
        And the light clouds haste
        In their swiftness by–
I love on the craggy rock to stand,
And brave the storm with a giant’s hand.

        When the sea-gull screams
        O’er the rolling wave,
        And the sea-lion dreams
        In his lonely cave:
        When the sentinel sleeps
        On his weary post,
        And the wanderer weeps
        For the home he has lost–
I gaze in pride on the world’s darkened mien–
The dreary king of a dreary scene.

        When the dark sea roars
        In its wakened wrath,
        And destruction lowers
        O’er the mariner’s path:
        When the cowardly slave
        Shrinks back in affright,
        And the nobly brave
        Turn away from the sight–
I perch on the top of the sailless mast,
And laugh when the whelming wave has past.

        When the murderer goes,
        At the midnight hour,
        To deal his blows
        With a fiendish power:
        As he leans o’er the bed
        Of his destined prey,
        Who hears not his tread
        And who heeds not his way–
I am there!  I am there!  at his right hand,
I nerve his arm and I speed his brand.

        On the tempest I ride
        On the bounding wave,
        From my island of pride
        Which the north seas lave:
        I hover when death
        And destruction are nigh,
        To hear the last breath
        And to catch the last sigh:
Ye may see me at midnight when the wild blast howls loud,
Abroad in the storm and arrayed in a shroud.

The roar of motorcycle engines was, for a short time, a feature of Sunday afternoons in Vailsburg. The Vailsburg Motordrome, constructed in 1912, was a high-banked, circular wooden racetrack with bleachers on top. It permitted speeds of up to ninety miles per hour. Two months after it opened, a horrific accident killed riders Eddie “Texas Cyclone” Hasha (pictured above), John Albright and six mostly young spectators, bringing motorcycle racing in Newark to an abrupt end. The shuttered Motordrome, damaged by a fire in 1915, was torn down along with the adjacent Electric Park. Vailsburg Park was built in their place.

“The Lay of the Demon of Night” appeared in the weekly New-Jersey Eagle of December 19, 1828.

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