Homesick In Heaven

A poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes

THE DIVINE VOICE
Go seek thine earth-born sisters, - thus the Voice
That all obey, - the sad and silent three;
These only, while the hosts of Heaven rejoice,
Smile never; ask them what their sorrows be;

And when the secret of their griefs they tell,
Look on them with thy mild, half-human eyes;
Say what thou wast on earth; thou knowest well;
So shall they cease from unavailing sighs.


THE ANGEL
Why thus, apart, - the swift-winged herald spake, -
Sit ye with silent lips and unstrung lyres
While the trisagion's blending chords awake
In shouts of joy from all the heavenly choirs?

FIRST SPIRIT
Chide not thy sisters, - thus the answer came; -
Children of earth, our half-weaned nature clings
To earth's fond memories, and her whispered name
Untunes our quivering lips, our saddened strings;

For there we loved, and where we love is home,
Home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts,
Though o'er us shine the jasper-lighted dome: -
The chain may lengthen, but it never parts!

Sometimes a sunlit sphere comes rolling by,
And then we softly whisper, - can it be?
And leaning toward the silvery orb, we try
To hear the music of its murmuring sea;

To catch, perchance, some flashing glimpse of green,
Or breathe some wild-wood fragrance, wafted through
The opening gates of pearl, that fold between
The blinding splendors and the changeless blue.


THE ANGEL
Nay, sister, nay! a single healing leaf
Plucked from the bough of yon twelve-fruited tree
Would soothe such anguish, - deeper stabbing grief
Has pierced thy throbbing heart -


THE FIRST SPIRIT
Ah, woe is me! I from my clinging babe was rudely torn;
His tender lips a loveless bosom pressed;
Can I forget him in my life new born?
Oh that my darling lay upon my breast!


THE ANGEL
And thou? -


THE SECOND SPIRIT
I was a fair and youthful bride,
The kiss of love still burns upon my cheek,
He whom I worshipped, ever at my side, -
Him through the spirit realm in vain I seek.

Sweet faces turn their beaming eyes on mine;
Ah! not in these the wished-for look I read;
Still for that one dear human smile I pine;
Thou and none other! - is the lover's creed.


THE ANGEL
And whence thy sadness in a world of bliss
Where never parting comes, nor mourner's tear?
Art thou, too, dreaming of a mortal's kiss
Amid the seraphs of the heavenly sphere?


THE THIRD SPIRIT
Nay, tax not me with passion's wasting fire;
When the swift message set my spirit free,
Blind, helpless, lone, I left my gray-haired sire;
My friends were many, he had none save me.

I left him, orphaned, in the starless night;
Alas, for him no cheerful morning's dawn
I wear the ransomed spirit's robe of white,
Yet still I hear him moaning, She is gone!


THE ANGEL
Ye know me not, sweet sisters? - All in vain
Ye seek your lost ones in the shapes they wore;
The flower once opened may not bud again,
The fruit once fallen finds the stem no more.

Child, lover, sire, - yea, all things loved below, -
Fair pictures damasked on a vapor's fold, -
Fade like the roseate flush, the golden glow,
When the bright curtain of the day is rolled.

I was the babe that slumbered on thy breast.
And, sister, mine the lips that called thee bride.
Mine were the silvered locks thy hand caressed,
That faithful hand, my faltering footstep's guide!

Each changing form, frail vesture of decay,
The soul unclad forgets it once hath worn,
Stained with the travel of the weary day,
And shamed with rents from every wayside thorn.

To lie, an infant, in thy fond embrace, -
To come with love's warm kisses back to thee, -
To show thine eyes thy gray-haired father's face,
Not Heaven itself could grant; this may not be!

Then spread your folded wings, and leave to earth
The dust once breathing ye have mourned so long,
Till Love, new risen, owns his heavenly birth,
And sorrow's discords sweeten into song!

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