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Alfred H. Miles, ed. The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century. 1907.

By Poems. II. A Dream

Bernard Barton (1784–1849)

A DREAM came lately in the hours

To nightly slumber due;

It pictur’d forth no fairy bowers

To Fancy’s raptur’d view;

It had not much of marvels strange,

Nor aught of wild and frequent change:—

But all seem’d real—ay! as much,

As now the page I trace

Is palpable to sight and touch;

Then how could doubt have place?

Yet was I not from doubt exempt,

But ask’d myself if still I dreamt.

I felt I did; but, spite of this,

Ev’n thus in dreams to meet,

Had much, too much of dearest bliss

Though not enough to cheat:

I knew the vision soon would fade,

And yet I bless’d it while it stay’d.

But oh, thy look!—It was not one

That earthly features wear;

Nor was it aught to fear or shun,

As fancied spectres are:

’Twas gentle, pure, and passionless,

Yet full of heavenly tenderness.

One thing was strange.—It seem’d to me

We were not long alone;

But many more were circling thee,

Whom thou on earth hadst known;

Who seem’d as greeting thy return

From some unknown, remote sojourn.

To them thou wast, as others be

Whom on this earth we love;

I marvell’d much they could not see

Thou camest from above;

And often to myself I said,

“How can they thus approach the dead?”

But though all these, with fondness warm,

Said, “Welcome!” o’er and o’er,

Still that expressive shade, or form,

Was silent, as before!

And yet its stillness never brought

To them one hesitating thought.

I only knew thee as thou wert;

A being not of earth!

Yet had I not the power to exert

My voice to check their mirth;

For blameless mirth was theirs, to see,

Once more, a friend belov’d like thee.

And so apart from all I stood,

Till tears, though not of grief,

Afforded, to that speechless mood,

A soothing, calm relief:

And, happier than if speech were free,

I stood, and watch’d thee silently!

I watch’d thee silently, and while

I mus’d on days gone by,

Thou gav’st me one celestial smile—

One look that cannot die.

It was a moment worthy years!

I woke, and found myself in tears.