For Ever

A poem by Henry Kendall

Out of the body for ever,
Wearily sobbing, “Oh, whither?”
A Soul that hath wasted its chances
Floats on the limitless ether.

Lost in dim, horrible blankness;
Drifting like wind on a sea,
Untraversed and vacant and moaning,
Nor shallow nor shore on the lee!

Helpless, unfriended, forsaken;
Haunted and tracked by the Past,
With fragments of pitiless voices,
And desolate faces aghast!

One saith “It is well that he goeth
Naked and fainting with cold,
Who worshipped his sweet-smelling garments,
Arrayed with the cunning of old!

“Hark! how he crieth, my brothers,
With pain for the glittering things
He saw on the shoulders of Rulers,
And the might in the mouths of the Kings!

“This Soul hath been one of the idlers
Who wait with still hands, when they lack
For Fortune, like Joseph, to throw them
The cup thrust in Benjamin’s sack.

“Now, had he been faithful in striving,
And warring with Wrong to the sword,
He must have passed over these spaces
Caught up in the arms of the Lord.”

A second: “Lo, Passion was wilful;
And, glad with voluptuous sighs,
He held it luxurious trouble
To ache for luxurious eyes!

“She bound him, the woman resplendent;
She withered his strength with her stare;
And Faith hath been twisted and strangled
With folds of her luminous hair!

“Was it well, O you wandering wailer,
Abandoned in terrible space,
To halt on the highway to Heaven
Because of a glittering face?”

And another: “Behold, he was careful:
He faltered to think of his Youth,
Dejected and weary and footsore,
Alone on the dim road to Truth.

“If the way had been shorter and greener
And brighter, he might have been brave;
But the goal was too far and he fainted,
Like Peter with Christ on the wave!”

Beyond the wild haunts of the mockers
Far in the distance and gray,
Floateth that sorrowful spirit
Away, and away, and away.

Pale phantoms fly past it, like shadows:
Dim eyes that are blinded with tears;
Old faces all white with affliction
The ghosts of the wasted dead years!

“Soul that hath ruined us, shiver
And moan when you know us,” they cry
“Behold, I was part of thy substance!”
“And I” saith another “and I!”

Drifting from starless abysses
Into the ether sublime,
Where is no upward nor downward,
Nor region nor record of Time!

Out of the Body for ever
No refuge no succour nor stay
Floated that sorrowful Spirit
Away, and away, and away.

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