The Angel With The Book

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

When to that house I came which, long ago,
My heart had builded of its joy and woe,
Upon its threshold, lo! I paused again,
Dreading to enter; fearing to behold
The place wherein my Love had lived of old,
And where my other self lay dead and slain.

I feared to see some shape, some Hope once dear,
Behind the arras dead; some face of Fear,
With eyes accusing, that would sear my soul,
Taking away my manhood and my strength
With heartbreak memories.... And yet, at length,
Again I stood within that house of dole.

Sombre and beautiful with stately things
The long hall lay; and by the stairs the wings
Of Life and Love rose marble and unmarred:
And all the walls, hung grave with tapestry,
Gesticulated sorrow; gazed at me,
Strange speculation in their dark regard.

Through one tall oriel the close of day
Glared with its crimson face and laid a ray,
A burning finger, on the stairway where
A trail of tears, as of a wounded heart,
Led to a passage with a room apart,
A room where Love had perished of despair.

Now all was empty; silent even of sighs;
And yet I felt within that room were eyes,
Unearthly eyes I dared not look upon,
That had seen God; within them hell and heaven
Of all the past. I dared not look, yet, even
As I drew back, my feet were slowly drawn.

Into that room lit with those eyes.... I saw
An Angel standing with the Book of Law;
His raiment lightening from head to feet,
And swords of flame and darkness in his eyes,
He stood, the great Book, open as the skies,
Like some great heart throbbing with rosy heat.

One moment blazed the vision: then I heard,
Not with my ears, but with my soul, this word:
"I am the Law through which Love is. Each one
Through me must win unto his heaven or hell.
I build the house in which all memories dwell.
Thy house is finished, and my task is done."

And where the vision burned was nothing. Fear
Bowed me to earth; for, flaming, very near,
I felt that Angel's presence, like a spell,
That turned my eyesight inward where I saw
That this was Love, whose other name is Law,
By whom was built my House of Heaven and Hell.

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