De Profundis.

A poem by John Hartley

Down in the deeps of dark despair and woe; -
Of Death expectant; - Hope I put aside;
Counting the heartbeats, slowly, yet more slow, -
Marking the lazy ebb of life's last tide.
Sweet Resignation, with her opiate breath,
Spread a light veil, oblivious, o'er the past,
And all unwilling handmaid to remorseless Death,
Shut out the pain of life's great scene, - the last.

When, lo! from out the mist a slender form
Took shape and forward pressed and two bright eyes
Shone as two stars that gleam athwart the storm,
Grandly serene, amid the cloud-fleck'd skies.
"Not yet," she said, "there are some sands to run,
Ere he has reached life's limit, and no grain
Shall lie unused. Then, when his fight is done,
Pronounce the verdict, - be it loss or gain."

I felt her right hand lightly smooth my brow,
Her left hand on my heart; and a sweet thrill
Swept all the strings of being, and the flow
Of a full harmony aroused the dormant will.
Death slunk away, sweet Resignation paled,
And Hope's bright star made all the future bright;
The clouds were rent; - a woman's love prevailed,
And dragged a sinking soul once more to love and light.

Angels there are who walk this troublous world,
Whose wings are hid beneath poor mortal clay,
Lest their effulgence to man's eyes unfurled,
Might scare the timid-hearted ones away.
The whispered word, the smile, the gentle tone,
Love-prompted from a woman's heaving breast,
Enforce her claim to make the world her throne,
Beyond compare, - of all God's gifts the best.

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