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

By Poems Old and New. III. After

Charles Dent Bell (1819–1898)

I HID my face, I spake no word,

I fell upon the bed and wept;

And there, while nothing moved or stirred,

Shaken by grief I slept.

I slept at first a restless sleep,

With throbbing heart and aching head;

For even slumber’s self did keep

Some memories of the dead.

I dreamt. The sorrow passed away,

I wept no more, no longer sighed,

Though in the chamber where she lay,

And where that morn she died.

Methought I saw her after death,

And knowing well that she was dead;

And yet no terror choked my breath,

Or bowed my wondering head.

I saw her now a spirit bright,

Freed from the weak and mortal frame,

And clad in raiment all of light,

Which flashed like lambent flame.

The form that lay there stilled in death,

That bent before his cruel power,

Was but the fair and outward sheath

That held the fragrant flower.

She met my gaze with such a look,

That to my very soul did thrill;

And all my quivering pulses shook

And all my heart stood still.

A yearning love was in my eye,

I felt that she was leaving me;

I cried, “Oh, let me also die,

That I may go with thee!”

While thus I spake, a voice I heard,

Come ringing down the heavens afar;

And sweeter sounded every word,

Than song of Morning Star.

She turned to hear the voice that spoke,

And glowing rapture filled her eye;

And as upon her ear it broke,

Her glance was raised on high.

She passed at once upon the way

That leads through depths of dazzling light,

To worlds where everlasting day,

Place never gives to night.

I saw her gliding up on high,

Where burning suns in glory move;

I saw her mounting thro’ the sky

Drawn by the force of love.

Her path lay thro’ the star-strewn skies,

By argent moon, keen, bright, and clear;

Orb after orb flashed on her eyes,

Globed each in silver sphere.

Thus held she on her upward way,

Where gleam the golden gates afar;

At length beneath her feet there lay,

Both sun, and moon, and star.

And still she kept her upward flight,

Until she reached the happy place,

Where God dwells in the perfect light,

And shows His awful face.

Thro’ Heaven’s door there poured a flood

Of melody and thrilling song;

And, bathed in glory, there she stood,

Close to the shining throng.

And One stepped forth to meet her there,

A crown upon His kingly brow,

With dazzling eyes and radiant hair,

And face with love aglow.

He took her to the Fountain’s brink,

Whence flow the living rills of light;

And, stooping down, I saw her drink

The waters pure and bright.

I heard the six-winged Seraphim,

As they beheld her forward come,

Pause in their loud adoring hymn,

To bid her welcome home.

Christ led her then beneath the shade

Of the green mystic Tree of Life,

Whose fragrant leaves fall not, nor fade,

Whose boughs with fruit are rife.

She plucked with joy the blushing flowers,

That grew in happy gardens there,

And never wither as do ours,

But bloom for ever fair.

And there I saw the streets of gold,

And sea of glass that burned with fire,

And starry gates their doors unrolled,

As He led her ever higher.

I heard the holy angels cry,

One to another, as they sang,

In strange delicious melody,

That thro’ the heavens rang.

I heard her voice amongst the choir,

And knew it well from all the rest;

And as she struck her golden lyre,

Methought it sounded best.

And still she moved ’midst rainbow dyes,

Along the crystal floor of heav’n,

Full in the Day of Paradise,

Which never wanes to ev’n.

And so Christ led her ever on,

Thro’ bending ranks of angels bright,

Until she stood before the throne,

There lost within God’s light.

So passed she from my straining eyes;

And then I woke with sudden start,

Full of a sweet, tho’ sad surprise,

And throbbings of the heart.

Alas! I woke to weary day,

To see her lying on the bed,

Where white, and calm, and still she lay,

One of the blessed dead.

But from my aching heart had gone

The bitter anguish and the pain;

I said, “O God, Thy will be done,

I ask her not again.

“I would not, if I could, dear Lord,

Recall her to this world of woe;

Nor might I, could I speak the word,

Draw her from Thee below.

“No! Let her live before Thy face,

And follow Thee thro’ pastures fair;

Patient I’ll tarry here a space,

Then seek her with Thee there.”