Ella Wheeler Wilcox (5 November 1850 - 30 October 1919 / Johnstown Center / Rock County / Wisconsin)
Three Souls there were that reached the Heavenly Gate,
And gained permission of the Guard to wait.
Barred from the bliss of Paradise by sin,
They did not ask or hope to enter in.
'We loved one woman (thus their story ran);
We lost her, for she chose another man.
So great our love, it brought us to this door;
We only ask to see her face once more.
Then will we go to realms where we belong,
And pay our penalty for doing wrong.'
'And wert thou friends on earth?' (The Guard spake thus.)
'Nay, we were foes; but Death made friends of us.
The dominating thought within each Soul
Brought us together, comrades, to this goal,
To see her face, and in its radiance bask
For one great moment-that is all we ask.
And, having seen her, we must journey back
The path we came-a hard and dangerous track.'
'Wait, then,' the Angel said, 'beside me here,
But do not strive within God's Gate to peer
Nor converse hold with Spirits clothed in light
Who pass this way; thou hast not earned the right.'
They waited year on year. Then, like a flame,
News of the woman's death from earth-land came.
The eager lovers scanned with hungry eyes
Each Soul that passed the Gates of Paradise.
The well-beloved face in vain they sought,
Until one day the Guardian Angel brought
A message to them. 'She has gone,' he said,
'Down to the lower regions of the dead;
Her chosen mate went first; so great her love
She has resigned the joys that wait above
To dwell with him, until perchance some day,
Absolved from sin, he seeks the Better Way.'
Silent, the lovers turned. The pitying Guard
Said: 'Stay (the while his hand the door unbarred),
There waits for thee no darker grief or woe;
Enter the Gates, and all God's glories know.
But to be ready for so great a bliss,
Pause for a moment and take heed of this:
The dearest treasure by each mortal lost
Lies yonder, when the Threshold has been crossed,
And thou shalt find within that Sacred Place
The shining wonder of her worshipped face.
All that is past is but a troubled dream;
Go forward now and claim the Fact Supreme.'
Then clothed like Angels, fitting their estate,
Three Souls went singing, singing through God's Gate.
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