AH me, how heavily the night comes down,
Fade the curved shores, the blue hills' serried throng,
The darkening waves we oared in light and song:
Joy melts from us as sunshine from the sky;
And Patience with sad eye
Takes up her staff and drops her withered crown.
Our small boat heaves upon the heaving river,
The flickering shore-lights come and go by fits;
Towering 'twixt earth and heaven dusk silence sits,
Death at her feet; above, infinity;
Between, slow drifting by,
Our tiny boat, like life, floats onward ever.
Pale, mournful hour,--too early night that falls
Come not too soon! Return, return, bright day,
Kind voices, smiles, blue mountains, sunny bay!
In vain! Life's dial cannot backward fly:
The dark time comes. Low lie,
And listen, soul. Oft in the night, God calls.
* * * * * *
Light, light on the black river! How it gleams,
Like troops of pale ghosts on their pensive march,
Treading the far heavens in a luminous arch,
Each after each: phantasms serene and high
From that eternity
Where all earth's sharpest woes grow dim as dreams.
Let us drink in the glory, full and whole,
Gaze, till it lulls all pain, all vain desires:--
See now, that radiant bow of pillared fires
Spanning the hills like dawn, until they lie
In soft tranquillity,
And all night's ghastly glooms asunder roll.
Look, look again! the vision changes fast,
That was heaven's gate with its illumined road,
But this is heaven; the very throne of God
Hung with flame curtains of celestial dye
While to and fro innumerous angels haste.
I see no more the stream, the boat that moves
And we who sit, poor prisoners of clay:
It is not night, it is immortal day,
Where the One Presence fills eternity,
And each, His servant high,
Forever praises and forever loves.
O soul, forget the weight that drags thee down
Know thyself. As this glory wraps thee round,
Let it melt off the chains that long have bound
Thy strength. Stand free before thy God and cry--
'My Father, here am I:
Give to me as thou wilt--first cross, then crown.'