From out the dark of death, before the gates
Flung wide, that open into paradise--
More radiant than the white gates of the morn--
A human soul, new-born,
Stood with glad wonder in its luminous eyes,
For all the glory of that blessed place
Flowed thence, and made a halo round the face--
gentle, and strong with the rapt faith that waits
And faints not: sweet with hallowing pain
The face was, as a sunset after rain,
with a grave tender brightness. Now it turned
From the white splendours where God's glory burned,
And the long ranks of quiring cherubim--
Each with wing-shaded eyelids, near the throne,
Who sang--and ceased not--the adoring hymn
Of Holy, Holy! And the cloud of smoke
Went up from the waved censers, with the prayers
Of saints, that wafted outward blessing-freighted broke
Around him standing at the gate alone.
All down the radiant slope of golden stairs,
By which he climbed so late from earth to heaven,
It rolled impalpable--a fragrant cloud;
And still, turned from the Alleluias loud,
Beyond the portal-guarding angels seven,
He listened earthward, for a voice--a sound
Out of the dark that spread heneath profound.
No wind of God stirred in that cloudy land
That bordered all the River's thither side;
To his that called no voice responsive cried,
Or cleft the dark with flash of answering hand.
And soft the while, sheathed, as it were, within
The noise of heaven's rejoicing, to him stole
Beloved voices, long to earth a sole
Remembered sweetness only; sacred kept
As reliquaries are that guard from sin,
And wake the holy aim which else had slept.
How yearned his heart to those long parted ones
The amaranth, and the sacred flower which grew
A saintly lily by the jasper wall,
Making light shadows on those wondrous stones,
As the wind touched its slender stems and tall,
Turned not to sunward more divinely true,
Than his most worshipping soul to that which made
The light of heaven.
But now the nether shade
Grew luminous with white ascending wings,
And radiant arms of angels, who upbore
With tender hands another soul new-born,
Fairer than that last star whose bearing flings
Another beauty on the brow of morn.
Nearer the lovely vision rose, and more
Aerial clear each moment to his eyes,
Who stood in ecstacy of glad surprise,
And looks of joyous welcome, while the air was stirred
With the swift winnowing plumes approaching.
This I heard,
And only this,--"Oh! haste thee, spirit blest,
For thee and me remains at length the rest,
The welcome end of life's long toilsome road,
That leads us to our Father and our God."
And--"Oh beloved, is it thou indeed,
Hast reached before me these fair heavenly lands,
Who taught thine infant lips, with reverent heed
To say Our Father with small upraised hands:
How lovely are thine eyes, that have no pain,
And thy worn cheek, that keeps no travel-stain,
From mid-noon labour called to thy reward;
While I, at evening, a forgotten sheaf
Still left afield, in mingled trust and grief,
Waited the footsteps of our harvest Lord."
I heard no more--for wave succeeding wave--
A sea of intermittent music swelled and grew,
And filled the dome of heaven, all sharply cut
With spires of glittering crystal: all the land
Throbbed with the pulse of music keen, which clave
A shining path before them: hand in hand--
With their rapt faces toward the throne--the two
Went in together--and the gates were shut.