I stood upon a hill, and watched the death
Of the day's turmoil. Still the glory spread
Cloud-top to cloud-top, and each rearing head
Trembled to crimson. So a mighty breath
From some wild Titan in a rising ire
Might kindle flame in voicing his desire.
Soft stirred the evening air; the pine-crowned hills
Glowed in an answering rapture where the flush
Grew to a blood-drop, and the vesper hush
Moved in my soul, while from my life all ills
Faded and passed away. God's voice was there
And in my heart the silence was a prayer.
There was a day when to my fearfulness
Was born a joy, when doubt was swept afar
A shadow and a memory, and a star
Gleamed in my sky more bright for the distress.
The stillness breathed thanksgiving, and the air
Wafted, methought, the incense of a prayer.
Heaven sets no bounds of bead-roll or appeal;
And when the fiery heart with mute embrace
Bends, tremblingly, but for a moment's space
It needs no words that cry, no limbs that kneel.
As meteors flash, so, in a moment's light,
Life, darting forth, touches the Infinite.
All my prayers wordless? Nay, I can recall
A night not so long past but that each thought
Lives at this hour, and throbs again unsought
When Silence broods, and Night's chill shadows fall;
Then Darkness' thousand pulses thrilled and stirred
With the dear grace of a remembered word;
And I was still, thy voice enshrouding me.
Like the strong sweep of ocean-breath the power
Of one resistless thought transformed my hour
Of love-dreams to a fear. All hopelessly
I knew love's impotence, and my despair
Stretched soul-hands forth, and quivered to a prayer.
My passionate heart cried out: "If his dear life
Through stress of keen temptation merits aught
Of penance or requital, be it wrought
Upon my life. If only through the strife
Is won the peace, through drudgery the gain,
Give him the issue, and to me the pain!"
Some day, in our soul's course o'er trackless lands,
Swayed oft by adverse winds, or swept along
In Fate's wild current with the fluttering throng
Towards Sin's engulfing maelstrom, spirit hands
Will brace our trembling wings, and through the night
Point and upbear in our last trembling flight.