Adah Isaacs Menken

(1835-1868 / the United States)

The Release - Poem by Adah Isaacs Menken

I.
'Carry me out of the host, for I am wounded.'
The battle waged strong.
A fainting soul was borne from the host.
The tears robed themselves in the scarlet of guilt, and crowned with iron of wrong, they trod heavily on the wounded soul,
Bound close to the dark prison-walls, with the clanking chains of old Error.
Malice and Envy crept up the slimy sides of the turrets to mark out with gore-stained fingers the slow hours of the night.
The remorseless Past stood ever near, breathing through the broken chords of life its never-ending dirge.
Yet, Ahab-like, the poor soul lingered on, bleeding and pining, pleading and praying.
Only through its mournful windows did the yearning soul dare speak;
Still through the tears did it ever vainly reach outward some kindred soul to seek.
Unheeding did the ranks sweep by;
And the weary soul sank back with all its deep unuttered longings to the loneliness of its voiceless world.
Hearing only the measured tread of Guile and Deceit on their sentinel round.
Wherefore was that poor soul of all the host so wounded?
It struggled bravely.
Wherefore was it doomed and prisoned to pine and strive apart?
It battled to the last. Can it be that this captive soul was a changeling, and battled and struggled in a body not its own?
Must Error ever bind the fetters deep into the shrinking flesh?
Will there come no angel to loose them?
And will Truth lift up her lamp at the waking?
Shall the cold tomb of the body grow warm and voice forth all the speechless thought of the soul when the sleeping dead shall rise?
Will there be no uprising in this world?
O! impatient Soul, wait, wait, wait.


II

'The Angel
Who driveth away the demon band
Bids the din of battle cease.'
O prisoned Soul, up in your turrets so high, look down from thy windows to-day!
Dash down the rusty chains of old Error, and unbar the iron doors,
Break the bonds of the Past on the anvil of the Present.
O give me some token for the music that I have sent through your lonely chambers!
Wave but the tip of your white wing in greeting to the Angel that I have sent you!
Look forth on thy fellow Soul pausing at the gate!
List to the sound of his voice that rushes past the red roof, and with unfurled wings, sweeps up its music through the ivory gates to thee!
No other song can thrill its echoes up to thy captive life.
For this Angel hath chilled the hot hand of Sin, and crushed down the grave of the crimson eyes of the Past.
The daylight looms up softly, and feathery Hope is on guard.
O waiting Soul, come forth from your turrets, so lone and high!
Listen to the low sweet music of promise, rushing wildly through floods of God-inspiration of love, up to Eternity.
Tremble not at the bars. Come forth!
The tongue you fear sleeps in frozen silence, and doth thy mighty secret keep.


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, September 16, 2010



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