A Death

A poem by Abram Joseph Ryan

Crushed with a burden of woe,
Wrecked in the tempest of sin:
Death came, and two lips murmured low,
"Ah! once I was white as the snow,
In the happy and pure long ago;
But they say God is sweet -- is it so?
Will He let a poor wayward one in --
In where the innocent are?
Ah! justice stands guard at the gate;
Does it mock at a poor sinner's fate?
Alas! I have fallen so far!
Oh, God! Oh, my God! 'tis too late!
I have fallen as falls a lost star:

"The sky does not miss the gone gleam,
But my heart, like the lost star, can dream
Of the sky it has fall'n from. Nay!
I have wandered too far -- far away.
Oh! would that my mother were here;
Is God like a mother? Has He
Any love for a sinner like me?"

Her face wore the wildness of woe --
Her words, the wild tones of despair;
Ah! how can a heart sink so low?
How a face that was once bright and so fair,
Can be furrowed and darkened with care?
Wild rushed the hot tears from her eyes,
From her lips rushed the wildest of sighs,
Her poor heart was broken; but then
Her God was far gentler than men.

A voice whispered low at her side,
"Child! God is more gentle than men,
He watches by passion's dark tide,
He sees a wreck drifting -- and then
He beckons with hand and with voice,
And he sees the poor wreck floating in
To the haven on Mercy's bright shore;
And He whispers the whisper of yore:
`The angels of heaven rejoice
O'er the sinner repenting of sin.'"

* * * * *

And a silence came down for a while,
And her lips they were moving in prayer,
And her face it wore just such a smile
As, perhaps, it was oft wont to wear,
Ere the heart of the girl knew a guile,
Ere the soul of the girl knew the wile,
That had led her to passion's despair.

Death's shadows crept over her face,
And softened the hard marks of care;
Repentance had won a last grace,
And the Angel of Mercy stood there.

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