Israel In Egypt. Book Eleventh. Poem by Edwin Atherstone

Israel In Egypt. Book Eleventh.

All night, that beauteous vision of the day,--
In dreams intense, by subtle demon wrought,--
Vivid as life, to the eye of Sethos moved,
Stirring to yet worse madness: for, not now,
As in his waking hours, the loveliness,
The beauty exquisite, the matchless grace,
Alone inflamed him; but desires impure,
Thoughts carnal, images foul, that even to heat
Of fierce delirium fired him. Waking, he raved,
Cursing the unreal: sleeping, dreams again
The real seemed; the waking, a bad dream.
So on till morn; when, body fever--parched,
Mind staggering as with frenzy, he arose:
Plunged in the bath; then wandered out alone;
Sick, melancholy, loathing at all food;
But one thing seeing; for one only thing,
Body and soul insatiate. ``When the day
That I again shall see her?'' he exclaimed:
``When will all sky grow brighter at her voice?
When, eye to eye, will soul with soul discourse?
When shall I touch that hand of living light?
When take new life in the air she purifies?....
But ha--that day, perchance, hath now been fixed;--
I had forgotten them: our noble guests
May marvel at mine absence. I must haste
To greet them: and to learn on what blest morn
Will come that double sunshine. Speed it, gods!
For, till I breathe that heaven, I suffocate
With this gross air of earth!'' That said, he went;
And to the princely guests,--though mind--distraught,--
Due honor; and amusements, to their years
And station fit; with hasty zeal, like one
Conscious of past neglect, 'gan offer them.
Nor failed he soon to question, of the time
When Goshen they should visit: and half life
Esteemed the short delay, when they the morn
Of the third day appointed. But he saw,--
Blaming, as cause, his own scant courtesy,--
That on the face of the young prince,--so bright
On the day past, and joyous,--shadow hung;
That in his tones, his motions, his discourse,
Sadness, or gloom, now mingled; as with one
Care--pressed, or pride--offended. Thence, the more
Strove he to feign a gladness of the heart;
And, with such pleasures as they would accept,
To speed away the hours. Airily laughed
The beauteous princess; and with cheerful word,
And sunny look, and movement full of life,
Strove both to gladden. But her brother's brow
All day was sad: and Sethos, with hot fits
Of resolute mirth, laughter, and boisterous talk,--
Strangely commixed with wild bewilderments,
That fixed both eye and tongue; and absent made
All objects present; present, but one thing,
Afar off absent,--all day vainly strove
To waft away the cloud. ``The third blest morn!
The third blest morn!''--still in his soul he said;
``Oh! come, thou third blest morn; and bring me heaven!''

In that same night just past, while in the heart
Of Egypt's prince a tempting Spirit had poured
Passion's hot fire,--beside a chaster couch
Had the fallen Zuriel stood,--a dream impure
Subtly infusing. The last waking thoughts
Of Reuben, after prayer, had been of God;
His goodness unto Israel, in the days
Of Abraham, and long after: since that time,
How, as it seemed, His countenance had changed
Toward the once favored people,--their own sins
Surely the cause,--and to long slavery
He had resigned them. But remembrance, then,
Of that great promise, unto Moses given,
With rapture filled him. Glorious to his eye
Appeared the mighty gathering, when, from bonds,
All Israel should go forth: even like a hymn
From choiring angels, heard he the great voice
Of her glad children, singing unto God
The song of their thanksgiving, as they marched,
Happy and free, leaving their chains behind;
Their backs toward Egypt, and their faces bright
Still looking toward that happy Promised Land,
Flowing with milk and honey. But, on thoughts
Rapturous as these intent,--like crystal stream,
Now seen, now lost, amid a vast expanse
Of plain, hill, forest,--evermore stole in
One image, purest, loveliest. Themes most high,
Of God, and of His ways to man, no check
Disturbing felt, when on them, unaware,
Intruded that sweet aspect; for a song
Of prayer and praise embodied, Rachel seemed;
Holiness visible made: and when her voice
With tongues celestial mingled,--discord none
He felt, but even yet sweeter harmony;
One tuneful lyre the more. On heaven, and her,
Alternate musing, in serenest joy
The youthful Hebrew lay; till balmy sleep
Came on him; and ecstatic vision brought.

Standing, he seemed, before the open gate
Of the bright realms above; and looking in
On angels and archangels numberless;
Great shoals of living light; yet, mid that vast,
At large all moving; brighter all than flame
Of sun--touched diamond. Some, o'er golden harps
Bowing the head, swept their pure hands; and some,
With face uplifted toward a distant Shrine
Of inconceivable glory, sang aloud,
In harmony transcendent, choral hymns
Of gratitude and praise. As if a sea,
With all its waves had chaunted unto heaven,--
So numerous seemed the voices of those blest.

Some, singly, musing; some, in pairs, discourse,--
Like loving sisters,--holding, wandered nigh
Even to the gate; and soon, mid those who passed,--
With their benignant faces, sunlike bright,
Pouring upon him bliss,--a countenance,
Bright also, though with tint of earthly love,
He saw bent oft upon him; that same face
Which, on the day just past, even to his soul
Strange fire had shot,--terror, and wilderment,
All unconceived till then. yet no amaze
Disturbed him now, amid heaven's courts to see
That form and countenance, angelic--fair,
Albeit earth--tinted. With the shining host,
Herself as bright, he saw the Syrian maid
Easily mingling; and her gentle voice,
All musical as theirs, discoursing heard.
And when, as oft, while lingering nigh, she turned
The deep, clear azure of her eyes on his,
Love told they, love intense; yet mortal love,
Not angel's unto angel: still, not gross,
Or aught unchaste denoting, seemed they yet;
But such as, 'twixt the maid and youth most pure,
Might speak a blameless heart--bond. But, at length,
Wild change came o'er his vision. With quick step,
From out the portal came that Shining One,
And took him by the hand. On the instant, lo!
Heaven vanished; and within a sparry cave
By the sea's marge he stood; in hers, his hand
Still tenderly pressed; her bright, consuming eyes,--
As in that fiery onset of the day,--
Lightening again upon him: her low voice,
With mortal words, yet tones angelic--sweet,
Pouring in torrents passionate earthly love;
Till even from crown to foot a trembling came,
An ague--quaking on him; as if soul
Itself had caught distemperature, and shook
With every flesh--throb. Yet no power had he
To loose his hand; to turn away his gaze
From love--tormenting beams, which lines of steel
Seemed, rather than of light; with rigor such,
Eye unto eye they fixed. A foot to move,
That he might fly,--impossible he felt,
As to leap Horeb: 'gainst her magic voice
Deaf ear to turn,--yet harder than to shut
The sense 'gainst doubled thunder. To the stake,
With chains of iron, hand and foot firm bound,
The martyr not more helpless stands exposed
To bigot's demon--rage, than now stood he,
To blaze of demon--love. ``Oh beauteous youth!''
She cried,--and on the brow, the eye, the lip,
Kisses of fire pressed: ``life of all my life!
Soul of my soul! Immortal is my love!
Immortal must be thine: no pause,--no change!
Oh never come one smallest point of time,
To see thee absent from me! Two in one,
Together let us grow: to both one life,
One thought, one feeling only; so that each
Must with the other live; or, separate, die;
Die both, one lost to the other. Let our loves,
Though twain at first, be one; as two bright flames,
Touching, commingle, and but one become;
One, doubly bright and warm...Thy tongue is mute;
But thy heart speaks: through all thy beauteous frame,
Love's lightning plays: thine eyes are springs of fire:
Thy lips are in a tremble, as to breathe
Love's rapture: but thy youthful innocence
Dares not the utterance. Yet I know thou lovest;
Thou dost; thou shalt; for, ah! thy love to gain,
Heaven have I lost! Within those blissful realms
Never may I return! But, with thee blest,
Heaven's joys I wish not back. Thine earthly love
I know; and beautiful indeed is she
As aught not heavenly. But, with heavenly, earth
Nought hath, comparison worthy. Cold the love
Of earth--born, to the blaze of Spirit--fire!
She loves thee; but herself loves even more;
For, wouldst thou but embrace her, and kiss, thus,--
Sternly would she repulse thee; nay, command
To show thy face no more. Cold love, to mine!
For, reckless of all formal ceremony;
The altar and the priest esteeming nought,
While on thy beauty looking,--thus, and thus,
Close do I lock thee; kiss on burning kiss
Thus shower upon thee; and thy lovely cheek
On my warm bosom lay. Oh, pillowed there,
Let love's soft sleep fall on thee!'' Shame, and fear,
And sense of foulest sin,--though all his soul
Revolted 'gainst the allurement,--tortured him,
Even as with death--pangs: but the terrible power
Was irresistible! Speak, or move, or look,
Save as she willed, he could not. As a flower
Bends its frail head beneath the steady breeze,
So, to the gentle pressure of her arm,
Bowed down his burning face, till on the soft
Ambrosial pillow, more than half revealed,
His hot cheek touched. In vain to lift it thence
He struggled; vainly strove his eyes to close
Against the deadly beauty; all in vain
Strove breath to hold 'gainst fragrance exquisite,--
The love--mist floating o'er it! ``Come, fair youth,''
She said, at length, and raised him; ``those bright waves
Invite us: like a bath of sunbeams, they
Will wanton round our limbs; yet cool the heat
Of this noon hour: there let us plunge, and sport;
And, afterwards, in the soft twilight shade
Of the cave's farthest depths, where rose--leaf couch,
Odorous and fresh awaits us, all day lie,
And whisper thoughts of love...Thou tremblest more;
Thine earthly modesty, a phantasm, holds
O'er thy mild soul unworthy tyranny.
Be strong, and vanquish it. With angel's love,
Mingles not foolish shame: 'tis earth--born, gross,
To pure love hostile. Rouse thee then, sweet youth;
Break the poor fetter. See, beside the marge
Of the bright wave we stand. Fling boldly off
Those earth--clouds, woven in looms; and, spirit--clear,
Shine forth in sunlight. Look; I lead the way.''

She ceased; and on herself his terrified eyes
Fixed irresistibly. But, load on load,
Would crush at length the elephant; and shame
On shame upheaped, and agony for sin,
Or sense of sin, though on him forced, and loathed,--
Doubled, and yet redoubled, shook his soul,
Till life itself seemed passing. With quick hands
Her robe she doffed, and cast upon the ground,
And stood, a second daylight;--but, to him,
A dread incarnate lightning! Smiling fire,
Toward him then sprang she; opened wide her arms,
And hotly clasped him. As, in tropic climes,
Falls the fierce sun--stroke, smiting unto death,--
Even so, beneath that terrible beauty--stroke,--
Beauty like heaven's, but, ah! impure as hell,--
Down sank he, as if dead. One tremulous cry,
Falling, he uttered; ``Help me, oh my God!''
Then dropped; and saw no more. But that faint sound
Aroused him; or celestial aid, perchance,
Came on the prayer; for, suddenly, he woke,
Quivering and panting; and found all a dream!
Sunshine succeeding blackness of earth's depths,
Poor contrast were to his transcendent joy,
Guiltless awaking from foul dream of sin.
Guiltless in will; but ah! not guiltless all,--
Shuddering, he thought: for, whence, but from himself,
From his own heart impure, could have arisen
The sin--clouds that had soiled him; wrapped his soul
As in the smoke of hell; had shut him out
From sight of heaven, of angels, and of God!
Whence, whence, but from himself! In agony
He wept, and prayed forgiveness; and was cheered.
As, in the silent night, a distant strain
Of slow, sweet music steals upon the ear,
Lulling the sick, or sorrowful, to rest,--
So, on his spirit--ear a sweet voice stole,
Hushing his grief; whispering that, welcomed not,
In minds even purest might a foul thought creep,
Or be thrust in; and leave no stain behind:
That God had seen his struggles; had his strength,
And weakness known; and would not from him ask
Beyond his power to do. Like a still sea,
Smiling in sunshine after storm of night,
Quiet he lay at last. Soft sleep came on,
Gentle as twilight of a summer's eve,
When all the winds are hushed; and earth and sky
Seem musing on their God. Like pale, pure fire,
Noiselessly trailing o'er the clear dark vault,
Ere night shuts closely in,--so on his mind,
Heaven meditating, half in slumber wrapped,--
Last image, seen a moment, and then lost
In dreamless sleep,--as if from heaven it looked,
And went again,--shone his blest Rachel's face;
A gleam of holiness. Her look of love
Through his whole being seemed to penetrate,
Like a new life breathed in. All clear again,
Happy and calm he felt; and, smiling, slept.

In that same hour, while o'er the Hebrew youth,
Permitted so, the sorcery of hell
Wrought its dread charms,--beside that purest couch
Where lay the Hebrew maiden, Aziel stood,--
The delicate Spirit, for a like bad work
Appointed; on the spotless to bring stain;
The virgin snow to sully with foul foot;
With sulphur--clouds the ether, heavenly clear,
To blacken, and make gross. Ah! fairest flower,
The poison--blast is breathing on thee now!
In holy night, when sweetest dew should fall,
Refreshing, life--sustaining,--creeps an air
Pestiferous, yea with deadliest venom charged,
To wither up thy beauty; sap thy strength;
Kill thy life--essence; and a blackened stem
Leave rotting, where had bloomed earth's loveliest flower!
Will heavenly aid protect thee? or, as he,
The loved--one of thy soul, wilt thou be left
Alone to abide the onset? What canst thou,--
By innocence only, strong,--against the wiles
Of him, from all hell's millions singled out,
As fatal most, for beauty, gentleness,
Grace, tenderness; and eloquence to speak,
In music ravishing, all seductive thoughts,--
Love--sparks at first, but kindling soon to flame,--
What canst thou, maiden blest! Yet there thou liest,
Beauteous and pure as angel: and the foe
Bends over thee; and on thy fancy tries,--
Gentle of tint at first, then warmer hued,--
Visions of sin to paint. A dream he raised
Of a young king, from some far distant land,
Solely by fame of her great beauty brought,
To woo her for his queen. In mortal form,
Never before had lived perfection such,
In face, shape, voice, air, motion, eloquence,
As in that royal youth, who,--standing now,--
Now kneeling,--now upstarting to his feet,--
In very ecstacy of passion wild;
yet graceful ever; beautiful and bright,
Even when vehement most,--like a great stream
From earth outgushing, poured love's torrent forth.
First, chastely cool, as bent to woo a bride;
Soon, amorously warm, as if to inflame
With passion loose, a mistress: quickly then,
Exciting words and tones; foul looks, fierce shot
Of arrowy fire, to white heat raised, from eyes
Distent with carnal longing,--'gan to urge
The terrible assault: at length, raised arms,
Hands quivering with mere madness of desire
To touch, to embrace, drew near her. So his spell
Essayed her fancy: yet, amazed, he saw
That on her soul impression made it none,
More than would dew on granite. By one throb,
Not quicker beat her heart. Those burning words
Innoxious fell, as a poor idiot's talk,
In tongue unknown; and, when the love--mad shape,
With arms outstretched, drew nigh her,--she but raised,
Though sleeping, her own arm, repellantly,
And lo! in his despite, the wicked dream
Fled from her; and he saw that, in its place,
A holy vision came. Though darkest night,
Yet, clearly as in sunshine, his keen eye
All things beheld. Throughout the fierce assault,
Calm as a cloudless sky, that exquisite face,
Like to a sleeping infant's had reposed:
But now,--the hell--storm past, and holy dream
Lifting her spirit,--underneath their lids
He saw the meek, adoring eyes upturned;
The pure lips gently moved; and heard the breath
Of pious aspiration toward her God.

He saw, and heard, and trembled. Deepest awe
Through his whole Essence ran. To harm her more,
Powerless he felt; nor mourned the bad power lost.
For, on that chosen maiden while he looked,
Her seraph--face, as with celestial fire
Illuminate, in fervor of deep prayer,--
Came on him, spirit--thrilling, like a ray
Of that same light, all unapproachable,
Whose splendor rounds the throne. He stood transfixed!

As when an exile,--in some far--off land,
Absent long years, and hopeless of return,--
Wandering at evening, lonely, sad of heart,
Musing of home, and kindred ever lost,--
Mid the deep silence catches suddenly,
From hill--side, or hushed valley, faint, yet clear,
His own loved country's music;--simple song,
Perchance, with which his nursing mother lulled
His childish sorrow; or a plaintive air,
Sung by the maiden he had loved, and lost;
Or proud chaunt of victorious fatherland,
Now blotted from the nations,--sick at heart,
He sighs, he groans, he trembles, weeps, kneels down,
Lifts quivering hands to heaven, and prays for death
To loose him from his misery,--even so,
But with intenseness thousandfold more keen,
Felt the fallen angel, hearing once again
Heaven's music in that prayer; in that pure face,
Heaven's radiance once more seeing. As a dream
Of ages long gone by,--the infinite bliss
Of holiness, in presence of his God,
Came vividly on him. Like the first dim grey
Of opening dawn, repentance on him stole:
He sighed, as Spirits sigh; he groaned, he wept;
He bowed the head, like one all desolate;
All hopeless; through eternity all lost!

But, in awhile, again erect he stood,
As one ashamed of weakness that had passed;
And with himself, in agitated mood,
Self--contradictory oft, thus held commune.

``Poor folly this! What now with heaven have I!
What unto me its holiness; its bliss!
Have I not lost them ever! What avails
To look upon this purity, which brings
Celestial air about me,--never more
To me the breath of life! Allegiance, now,
To my companions fallën, not to Him
Who spurns them, owe I. Yet, the strict command
By Satan given, and by the general voice,
Have I not failed to accomplish? Am I weak
For evil made, by gazing on the good?
Or, haply, not my weakness may it be,
But strength within herself, my power to foil?
Or strength from heaven sent down? Angelic might
Hovers, perchance, about her; and a shield,
Impierceable by ill, holds over her.
Yet, surely, of such presence, were it here,
Had I felt token. But, whate'er the cause,
Alike my failure is; steel panoply
Not more impervious to the rose's thorn,
Than her pure soul to keenest darts of sin.
What then? Shall I new guile attempt? new dreams,
To stain her holy spirit? 'Tis my task.
Here came I, not to reason, but obey:
And, disobedient, what may I not dread!''

He paused, and gazed upon the sleeping maid;
Listening the fervent prayer that still went up
From scarcely moving lips. Another shock,--
A lightning flash of bitterest remorse,--
Pierced through his whole Essential. ``Never more!
Oh never more,'' he cried, ``shall breath of sin
From me thy pure soul touch! Oh God! Oh God
Thou All--Beneficent, All Great, All Wise!
What madness seized us; what ingratitude;
To fall away from Thee: Thine easy rule,
For our own happiness best, to disobey!
What could the mightiest of archangels hope,
Against Omnipotence!...For myself, true is,
By folly fell I,--not original sin
Within myself conceived; but swayed by words
Of greater far than I. Yet, their offence,
Mine also made I;--to their bad design
My weakness lending....Ah, thou greatest, worst
From thy ambition, Satan, what dire ills
On all have fallën, whom thine eloquence,
Thy reasonings specious, thy tremendous power,--
All but omnipotent seeming,--lured to join
In thy most foul rebellion!...And even yet
Thy madness rages; by all evils past
Untaught, Heaven's Lord, and thy poor self, to know!
Still the mere dust--speck, 'gainst the universe,
Thou'dst put into the scale; and balanced hold!
Oh! if thy God, Almighty to inflict,
Were not as great in pity to withhold,
How hadst thou fared! how all who with thee fell!
Exile from Heaven a tyrannous doom ye think,
Though free throughout Creation else to roam:
What if we still,--as when at first outcast,--
Prisoned, and motionless, in yon blank orb
Had suffered punishment; light ever quenched;
Eternity before us, without hope!...
Oh God! thy pitying hand, I feel, it was,
Which lift that burthen from us! Yet, alas!
How did we thank Thee! Goodness infinite
Alone, thine anger just could have subdued,
When, for Thy boon, we gave ingratitude;
Scoffed at Thy lenience; and, with vauntings mad,
Even threatened Thy dominion! Did a worm
Boast to hurl down the sun from out his place,
Not greater were the folly!...Yet, with them,
Fallen as they are, for ever am I cast;
A mole--hill amid mountains: and, as least,
Perforce must yield obedience; or abide
Their uttermost wrath....But, weakest of them all
In act,--strong for endurance feel I now;
And will the trial make: for their command
Never will I perform: this heavenly pure
Shall not by me be stained. I made essay
Toward the bad bidding, and was foiled. Perchance,
So should I plead, excuse it would be held;
And censure I might 'scape. But no! as breath
Of plague, plague genders, so the sight of good,
With love of good infects. I will not lie,
One truth withholding. Fall on me what may,
I will avow that, not my strength alone,
But my will also failed, their work to do:
That, could I, by the impulse of one breath,
Steep her pure soul in foulness, I would live
In pangs of mortal death ten thousand years,
Rather than breathe it! Oh, even bliss it were,
The worst to endure, in such cause suffering!
For, though, before inexorable God,
Repentance useless; prayer impossible;
Heaven lost to me for ever,--yet I feel,
That, for itself alone, the good is good,
Beyond all pleasure, and all profit else.
Let me lie prisoned, knowing that from sin,
Through my weak aid, that heavenly--pure--one 'scaped,--
And happier were I, than, from sun to sun,
Radiantly flashing through the universe.
Rest thee, then, fairest flower of mortal growth,--
Or of heaven rather, to this earthly soil
For but brief time transplanted. Were my power
Strong as my will, never should breath of sin
Be cast upon thee more. My task it is
To hover o'er thee; poison thy pure thoughts.
My station I will keep; but, as I may,
Defend, not harm thee. Oh that I might dare
On God cry out to shield thee! or might speed
Even to Heaven's gate, and call an angel down,
To guard thee from all ill! But I am lost,
And weak,--and who would hearken to my prayer!
All that I can, I will. To die for thee,--
Far as a Spirit can be made to die,--
Prepared I wait; though on me misery fall
Heavier than on created thing beside!
Yea, miserable most of all that lives,
Too surely must I be! from Heaven exiled,
For sin 'gainst God; from my companions driven,
For sin 'gainst them; in some drear solitude,
Sentenced, perchance, long cycles to abide,
Mournful and silent; by no sound, or sight,
Of living thing e'er visited; my groans
And sighs, sole music; conscience, ever harsh,
For sin rebuking; and a timid voice,
Excuse in weakness pleading,--sole discourse!
But, my one act of good will lighten all.
On thy pure spirit, maiden blest, I'll think;
And that shall be my music: on the bliss
Of Heaven, as once I knew it,--though all lost,--
Thousands of years, unpausing, will I muse;
Till, haply, in sweet vision it may come
Gloriously back upon me; as, in dreams,
To miserable man a new life comes;
Pleasure, for pain; for sorrow, bringing joy.
What though, at waking, all mere shadow proves,
Yet real as reality it is,
Unknowing that he sleeps. And such a dream,--
Dream, haply, of long ages,--may be mine:
And I in Heaven, amid the unnumbered blest,
As in the time of old, may seem to live;
Of sin unconscious, of the wrath of God,--
Holy and happy, while, alas! from bliss
Cast out; by all good angels shunned;
By even the fallen driven forth, with scorn and hate,--
In some drear solitude my spirit pines,
For ever fading; like a plant of earth,
From light shut out, and warmth, and rain, and dew;
Till, a dead stalk, it drops to earth, and rots,
And melts into the air. And, though like end
This Essence cannot know; yet, greater far
The misery, in worst gloom of death to live,
Than to die wholly,--utterly extinct;
True Nothing to be made,--as once I was,
As I would supplicate again to be,
If, of offended God, I so dared ask!.....
Ah! as thou pray'st, blest maiden, might I pray,--
Unwearied, through eternity, would I
Beseech forgiveness! But all hope is dead!
I cannot pray! not even in thought, dare I
A supplication whisper! Heaven is gone!
Gone, gone for ever! God to me is lost!
I must endure my doom! Yet, though no prayer
To Thee, incensed Creator, may I breathe,--
In my great misery let me humbly own,
Less far than my desert my suffering is!
Bowed then in spirit as to lowest dust,
O merciful God, I thank Thee!''.... At those words,
Through his whole Being suddenly there ran
A feeling wonderful; unknown till then;
Soothing as sweet sleep after frenzy's rage;
As plaintive music, following tempest's roar;
As cool breeze on the desert's fiery breath;
As water--drops upon a burning wound!
In a strange ecstacy awhile he stood,
Then with himself thus questioned. ``What is this?
I dare not think...and yet...but no! no! no!
Impossible it is! No hope can be
Of mitigated wrath! My punishment,--
The punishment of all the rebel host,--
By Him Unchangeable pronounced, must be
Alike unchangeable!...And yet, not so:
For, on our primitive doom, came there not sign
Of wrath subsiding, or of pity awaked?
Our darkness was made light; our dungeon--doors
Were opened; and power given all space to roam.
Dare I, then, hope that, in my wretchedness,
God hath beheld me; and, in mercy, chased
A Spirit--darkness from me? Ah, no, no!
My misery is deserved! Nought have I done,
Nought can I do, to purge away offence;
And, so, dare dream of pardon. 'Twas but trick
Of Spirit--nature; such as, in poor man,
Fancy oft plays; sounds giving to the ear,
Sights to the eye, substance to sense of touch,
When, truly, all around him is but nought!....
Or, rather, was it not, thou blessed one,
An effluence sent from thee? the genial warmth
From thy pure spirit--fire? the rays benign
From thy clear nature,--with heaven's sacred light
Filled to o'erflowing, as yon moon serene,
With the sun's glory is filled? Yea, even so:
Thy light it was which my dark spirit illumed,
As sunbeams fire the cloud: or fragrance 'twas,
Celestial, from thee, heavenly flower, breathed forth
On my polluted sense; more exquisite
Than balmiest breeze of spring, on haggard wretch,
First from the close--pent sick--room, or foul jail,
To light and air brought forth.....Yet, if, from thee,
Holy and pure, to my fallen nature comes
Aught of celestial effluence,--surely still
Within me lives,--though in eternal death
Seeming all quenched,--some latent spark of fire,
Heaven--born; and capable, perchance....Ah no!
As the stone wall gives echo to sweet sounds,
Seeming to speak, while yet no life it hath,--
So I, to heavenly purity all dead,
But seem to feel it; but an echo give,
To its divinest music,--no response,
Life, and like nature tokening. As man's clay,
After the breath hath fled, to what it was
In flush of youth,--even such my spirit is now,
To its original nature. I have sinned;
Have God displeased; my place in Heaven have lost!
The punishment is just! What I have earned,
Unmurmuring will I bear. And more must bear
Than even my desert: since, not alone
Heaven's punishment for disobedience, due,
Will lie upon me; but avengement harsh,
Unjust, from those to whom obedience none,
Save by God disobeying, could I yield.........
Yet choice there cannot be. Offended Heaven
Will not remit my doom; offended Hell
Will pour its vengeance on me. Not the less,
One heavenly ray will light my prison--house;
One air of heaven will be my breath of life;
One tone of heavenly music bring me bliss:
For, through eternity, of God, and Heaven,
Shall all my musings be: in every thought,
In every act, if power to act remain,
One sole rule will I follow,--so to think,
So do, as if in presence of my God,
Sinless again I stood......Even now I feel
As though a wafting of celestial air
Had cooled Hell's fever;--the reward, perchance,
Of conscience, for my one good act performed;
For future good resolved.....Or, is it more?
Can it be God--bestowed,--not inward--born?
A token that....but ah! I dare not think!
One glimpse of Heaven, would be as death to me;
Death by joy's lightning! No, no; never again,
In its reality, may that bliss be mine!.....
But, in my visions, will I cover o'er
All the blank vast with sun--bright counterfeits
Of its exceeding glories. Henceforth, such
Shall be my Heaven; though in profoundest depth
Of dead space buried; where nor light, nor sound,
Nor any form of life hath ever been,
Since there Creation perished!.....Maiden blest,
To thy pure nature owe I this new life!
Thy holiness hath re--created good
In my lost spirit! Would that I could see
A band of glorious angels bear thee up,
And place thee, with thy countenance more bright
Than sunbeams, near the Shrine; and hear thy voice
Praising the Omnipotent, All Wise, All Good;
And, haply, mercy on the contrite fallen,
Of the All--Merciful praying! Meantime, here,--
Sent as thine enemy, but to watchful guard,
Far as I may, by thy sweet strength transformed,--
Gratefully wait I. Be thy slumber calm;
Happy thy waking; blissful all thy days;
Till thy pure spirit pass; and Heaven's glad gates
Fly open, to receive thee evermore!''

Error Success