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But, like the skeleton at the feast,
There groups of merry children played, There youths and maidens dreaming strayed;
O precious hours! O golden prime,
From that chamber, clothed in white,
All are scattered now and fled,
Never here, forever there,
THE TWO ANGELS.
Two angels, one of Life and one of Death,
Passed o'er our village as the morning broke; The dawn was on their faces, and beneath, The sombre houses hearsed with plumes of
Their attitude and aspect were the same,
Alike their features and their robes of white; But one was crowned with amaranth, as with
flame, And one with asphodels, like flakes of light.
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
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 Death.
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.