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I saw them pause on their celestial way;

Then said I, with deep fear and doubt oppressed, “Beat not so loud, my heart, lest thou betray

The place where thy beloved are at rest !”

And he who wore the crown of asphodels,

Descending, at my door began to knock, And my soul sank within me, as in wells

The waters sink before an earthquake's shock.

I recognized the nameless agony,

The terror and the tremor and the pain, That oft before had filled or haunted me,

And now returned with threefold strength again.

The door I opened to my heavenly guest,

And listened, for I thought I heard God's voice ; And, knowing whatsoe'er He sent was best,

Dared neither to lament nor to rejoice.

Then with a smile, that filled the house with light,

“My errand is not Death, but Life,” he said And ere I answered, passing out of sight,

On his celestial embassy he 'sped.

’T was at thy door, O friend ! and not at mine,

The angel with the amaranthine wreath, Pausing, descended, and with voice divine,

Whispered a word that had a sound like Dcath.

Then fell upon the house a sudden gloom,

A shadow on those features fair and thin; And softly, from that hushed and darkened room,

Two angels issued, where but one went in.

All is of God! If He but wave his hand,

The mists collect, the rain falls thick and loud, Till, with a smile of light on sea and land,

Lo! He looks back from the departing cloud.

Angels of Life and Death alike are his ;

Without his leave they pass no threshold o'er; Who, then, would wish or dare, believing this,

Against his messengers to shut the door?


In broad daylight, and at noon,
Yesterday I saw the moon
Sailing high, but faint and white,
As a school-boy's paper kite.

In broad daylight, yesterday,
I read a Poet's mystic lay;

And it seemed to me at most

As a phantom, or a ghost.

But at length the feverish day
Like a passion died away,
And the night, serene and still,
Fell on village, vale, and hill.

Then the moon in all her pride,
Like a spirit glorified,
Filled and overflowed the night
With revelations of her light.

And the Poet's song again
Passed like music through my brain ;
Night interpreted to me
All its grace and mystery.

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