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Death holds no fear for the Christian. He knows he will slip through its boney fingers into the arms of Jesus. Let these poems about death and heaven be an encouragement to you.
Good-bye, proud world, I'm going home:
Thou art not my friend, and I'm not thine.
Long through thy weary crowds I roam;
A river-ark on the ocean brine,
Long I've been tossed like the driven foam,
But now, proud world, I'm going home.
Good-bye to Flattery's fawning face;
To Grandeur with his wise grimace;
To upstart Wealth's averted eye;
To supple Office, low and high;
To crowded halls, to court and street;
To frozen hearts and hasting feet;
To those who go, and those who come;
Good-bye, proud world! I'm going home.
I'm going to my own hearth-stone,
Bosomed in yon green hills alone,--
A secret nook in a pleasant land,
Whose groves the frolic fairies planned;
Where arches green, the livelong day,
Echo the blackbird's roundelay,
And vulgar feet have never trod
A spot that is sacred to thought and God.
O, when I am safe in my sylvan home,
I tread on the pride of Greece and Rome;
And when I am stretched beneath the pines,
Where the evening star so holy shines,
I laugh at the lore and the pride of man,
At the sophist schools, and the learned clan;
For what are they all in their high conceit,
When man in the bush with God may meet?
RALPH WALDO EMERSON
"That day, a day of wrath, a day of trouble and
distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and
gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of the trumpet
and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high
towers!"--ZEPHANIAH i. 15, 16.
Day of vengeance, without morrow!
Earth shall end in flame and sorrow,
As from Saint and Seer we borrow.
Ah! what terror is impending,
When the Judge is seen descending,
And each secret veil is rending!
To the throne, the trumpet sounding,
Through the sepulchres resounding,
Summons all, with voice astounding.
Death and Nature, mazed, are quaking,
When, the grave's long slumber breaking,
Man to judgment is awaking.
On the written Volume's pages,
Life is shown in all its stages--
Judgment-record of past ages.
Sits the Judge, the raised arraigning,
Darkest mysteries explaining,
Nothing unavenged remaining.
What shall I then say, unfriended,
By no advocate attended,
When the just are scarce defended?
King of majesty tremendous,
By thy saving grace defend us,
Fount of pity, safety send us!
Holy Jesus, meek, forbearing,
For my sins the death-crown wearing,
Save me, in that day, despairing!
Worn and weary, thou hast sought me;
By thy cross and passion bought me--
Spare the hope thy labors brought me!
Righteous Judge of retribution,
Give, O give me absolution
Ere the day of dissolution!
As a guilty culprit groaning,
Flushed my face, my errors owning,
Hear. O God, Thy suppliant moaning!
Thou to Mary gav'st remission,
Heard'st the dying thief's petition,
Bad'st me hope in my contrition.
In my prayers no worth discerning,
Yet on me Thy favor turning,
Save me from that endless burning!
Give me, when Thy sheep confiding
Thou art from the goals dividing.
On Thy right a place abiding!
When the wicked are rejected,
And by bitter flames subjected,
Call me forth with Thine elected!
Low in supplication bending.
Heart as though with ashes blending;
Cure for me when all is ending.
When on that dread day of weeping
Guilty man in ashes sleeping
Wakes to his adjudication,
Save him, God! from condemnation!
From the Latin of THOMAS ¿ CELANO
Translation of JOHN A. DIX
Methinks we do as fretful children do,
Leaning their faces on the window-pane
To sigh the glass dim with their own breath's stain,
And shut the sky and landscape from their view;
And, thus, alas! since God the maker drew
A mystic separation 'twixt those twain,--
The life beyond us and our souls in pain,--
We miss the prospect which we are called unto
By grief we are fools to use. Be still and strong,
O man, my brother! hold thy sobbing breath,
And keep thy soul's large windows pure from wrong;
That so, as life's appointment issueth,
Thy vision may be clear to watch along
The sunset consummation-lights of death.
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING
E'en such is time; that takes in trust
Our youth, our joys, our all we have,
And pays us but with earth and dust;
Who in the dark and silent grave,
When we have wandered all our ways,
Shuts up the story of our days:
But from this earth, this grave, this dust,
My God shall raise me up, I trust.
SIR WALTER RALEIGH
Methinks, when on the languid eye
Life's autumn scenes grow dim;
When evening's shadows veil the sky;
And pleasure's siren hymn
Grows fainter on the tuneless ear,
Like echoes from another sphere,
Or dreams of seraphim--
It were not sad to cast away
This dull and cumbrous load of clay.
It were not sad to feel the heart
Grow passionless and cold;
To feel those longings to depart
That cheered the good of old;
To clasp the faith which looks on high,
Which fires the Christian's dying eye,
And makes the curtain-fold
That falls upon his wasting breast,
The door that leads to endless rest.
It seems not lonely thus to lie
On that triumphant bed,
Till the pure spirit mounts on high
By white-winged seraphs led:
Where glories, earth may never know,
O'er "many mansions" lingering glow,
In peerless lustre shed.
It were not lonely thus to soar
Where sin and grief can sting no more.
And though the way to such a goal
Lies through the clouded tomb,
If on the free, unfettered soul
There rest no stains of gloom,
How should its aspirations rise
Far through the blue unpillared skies,
Up to its final home,
Beyond the journeyings of the sun,
Where streams of living waters run!
WILLIS GAYLORD CLARK
All worldly shapes shall melt in gloom,
The Sun himself must die,
Before this mortal shall assume
I saw a vision in my sleep,
That gave my spirit strength to sweep
Adown the gulf of time!
I saw the last of human mould
That shall creation's death behold,
As Adam saw her prime!
The sun's eye had a sickly glare,
The skeletons of nations were
Around that lonely man!
Some had expired in fight,--the brands
Still rusted in their bony hands,
In plague and famine some!
Earth's cities had no sound nor tread;
And ships were drifting with the dead
To shores where all was dumb!
Yet, prophet-like, that lone one stood,
With dauntless words and high,
That shook the sear leaves from the wood,
As if a storm passed by,
Saying, We are twins in death, proud Sun!
Thy face is cold, thy race is run,
'Tis Mercy bids thee go;
For thou ten thousand thousand years
Hast seen the tide of human tears,
That shall no longer flow.
What though beneath thee man put forth
His pomp, his pride, his skill;
And arts that made fire, flood, and earth
The vassals of his will?
Yet mourn I not thy parted sway,
Thou dim, discrowned king of day;
For all those trophied arts
And triumphs that beneath thee sprang,
Healed not a passion or a pang
Entailed on human hearts.
Go, let oblivion's curtain fall
Upon the stage of men.
Nor with thy rising beams recall
Life's tragedy again:
Its piteous pageants bring not back,
Nor waken flesh, upon the rack
Of pain anew to writhe;
Stretched in disease's shapes abhorred,
Or mown in battle by the sword,
Like grass beneath the scythe.
Even I am weary in yon skies
To watch thy fading fire;
Test of all sumless agonies,
Behold not me expire.
My lips, that speak thy dirge of death,--
Their rounded gasp and gurgling breath
To see thou shalt not boast.
The eclipse of Nature spreads my pall,
The majesty of darkness shall
Receive my parting ghost!
This spirit shall return to Him
Who gave its heavenly spark;
Yet think not, Sun, it shall be dim
When thou thyself art dark!
No! it shall live again, and shine
In bliss unknown to beams of thine,
By Him recalled to breath,
Who captive led captivity,
Who robbed the grave of victory,
And took the sting from death!
Go, Sun, while mercy holds me up
On Nature's awful waste
To drink this last and bitter cup
Of grief that man shall taste,--
Go, tell the night that hides thy face,
Thou saw'st the last of Adam's race,
On earth's sepulchral clod,
The darkening universe defy
To quench his immortality,
Or shake his trust in God!
If I were told that I must die to-morrow,
That the next sun
Which sinks should bear me past all fear and sorrow
For any one,
All the fight fought, all the short journey through.
What should I do?
I do not think that I should shrink or falter,
But just go on,
Doing my work, nor change nor seek to alter
Aught that is gone;
But rise and move and love and smile and pray
For one more day.
And, lying down at night for a last sleeping,
Say in that ear
Which hearkens ever: "Lord, within thy keeping
How should I fear?
And when to-morrow brings thee nearer still,
Do thou thy will."
I might not sleep for awe; but peaceful, tender,
My soul would lie
All the night long; and when the morning splendor
Flushed o'er the sky,
I think that I could smile--could calmly say,
"It is his day."
But if a wondrous hand from the blue yonder
Held out a scroll,
On which my life was writ, and I with wonder
To a long century's end its mystic clew,
What should I do?'
What could I do, O blessed Guide and Master,
Other than this;
Still to go on as now, not slower, faster,
Nor fear to miss
The road, although so very long it be,
While led by thee?
Step after step, feeling thee close beside me,
Through thorns, through flowers, whether the tempest hide thee,
Or heavens serene,
Assured thy faithfulness cannot betray,
Thy love decay.
I may not know; my God, no hand revealeth
Thy counsels wise;
Along the path a deepening shadow stealeth,
No voice replies
To all my questioning thought, the time to tell;
And it is well.
Let me keep on, abiding and unfearing
Thy will always,
Through a long century's ripening fruition
Or a short day's;
Thou canst not come too soon; and I can wait
If thou come late.
SARAH WOOLSEY (Susan Coolidge)
Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.
ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON
Vital spark of heavenly flame!
Quit, O quit this mortal frame!
Trembling, hoping, lingering, flying,
O, the pain, the bliss of dying!
Cease, fond nature, cease thy strife,
And let me languish into life!
Hark! they whisper; angels say,
Sister spirit, come away!
What is this absorbs me quite?
Steals my senses, shuts my sight,
Drowns my spirits, draws my breath?
Tell me, my soul, can this be death?
The world recedes; it disappears!
Heaven opens on my eyes! my ears
With sounds seraphic ring:
Lend, lend your wings! I mount! I fly!
O Grave! where is thy victory?
O Death! where is thy sting?
It lies around us like a cloud,--
A world we do not see;
Yet the sweet closing of an eye
May bring us there to be.
Its gentle breezes fan our cheek;
Amid our worldly cares
Its gentle voices whisper love,
And mingle with our prayers.
Sweet hearts around us throb and beat,
Sweet helping hands are stirred,
And palpitates the veil between
With breathings almost heard.
The silence--awful, sweet, and calm--
They have no power to break;
For mortal words are not for them
To utter or partake.
So thin, so soft, so sweet they glide,
So near to press they seem,--
They seem to lull us to our rest,
And melt into our dream.
And in the bush of rest they bring
'Tis easy now to see
How lovely and how sweet a pass
The hour of death may be.
To close the eye, and close the ear,
Rapt in a trance of bliss,
And gently dream in loving arms
To swoon to that--from this.
Scarce knowing if we wake or sleep,
Scarce asking where we are,
To feel all evil sink away,
All sorrow and all care.
Sweet souls around us! watch us still,
Press nearer to our side,
Into our thoughts, into our prayers,
With gentle helpings glide.
Let death between us be as naught,
A dried and vanished stream;
Your joy be the reality.
Our suffering life the dream.
HARRIET BEECHER STOWE
I never saw a moor,
I never saw the sea;
Yet know I how the heather looks,
And what a wave must be.
I never spake with God,
Nor visited in heaven;
Yet certain am I of the spot
As if the chart were given.
One sweetly solemn thought
Comes to me o'er and o'er;
I am nearer home to-day
That I ever have been before;
Nearer my Father's house,
Where the many mansions be;
Nearer the great white throne,
Nearer the crystal sea;
Nearer the bound of life,
Where we lay our burdens down;
Nearer leaving the cross,
Nearer gaining the crown!
But lying darkly between,
Winding down through the night,
Is the silent, unknown stream.
That leads at last to the light.
Closer and closer my steps
Come to the dread abysm:
Closer Death to my lips
Presses the awful chrism.
Oh, if my mortal feet
Have almost gained the brink;
If it be I am nearer home
Even to-day than I think;
Father, perfect my trust;
Let my spirit feel in death,
That her feet are firmly set
On the rock of a living faith!
"Who would not go"
With buoyant steps, to gain that blessed portal,
Which opens to the land we long to know?
Where shall be satisfied the soul's immortal,
Where we shall drop the wearying and the woe
In resting so?
"Ah, who would fear?"
Since, sometimes through the distant pearly portal,
Unclosing to some happy soul a-near,
We catch a gleam of glorious light immortal,
And strains of heavenly music faintly hear,
Breathing good cheer!
"Who would endure"
To walk in doubt and darkness with misgiving,
When he whose tender promises are sure--
The Crucified, the Lord, the Ever-living--
Keeps us those "mansions" evermore secure
By waters pure?
Oh, wondrous land!
Fairer than all our spirit's fairest dreaming:
"Eye hath not seen," no heart can understand
The things prepared, the cloudless radiance streaming.
How longingly we wait our Lord's command--
His opening hand!
O dear ones there!
Whose voices, hushed, have left our pathway lonely,
We come, erelong, your blessed home to share;
We take the guiding hand, we trust it only--
Seeing, by faith, beyond this clouded air,
That land so fair!
There is a land of pure delight,
Where saints immortal reign;
Infinite day excludes the night,
And pleasures banish pain.
There everlasting spring abides,
And never-withering flowers;
Death, like a narrow sea, divides
This heavenly land from ours.
Sweet fields beyond the swelling flood
Stand dressed in living green;
So to the Jews old Canaan stood,
While Jordan rolled between.
But timorous mortals start and shrink
To cross this narrow sea,
And linger shivering on the brink,
And fear to launch away.
Oh! could we make our doubts remove,
Those gloomy doubts that rise,
And see the Canaan that we love
With unbeclouded eyes--
Could we but climb where Moses stood,
And view the landscape o'er,
Not Jordan's stream, nor death's cold flood
Should fright us from the shore.
The world is very evil,
The times are waxing late;
Be sober and keep vigil,
The Judge is at the gate,--
The Judge that comes in mercy,
The Judge that comes with might,
To terminate the evil,
To diadem the right.
When the just and gentle Monarch
Shall summon from the tomb,
Let man, the guilty, tremble,
For Man, the God, shall doom!
Arise, arise, good Christian,
Let right to wrong succeed;
Let penitential sorrow
To heavenly gladness lead,--
To the light that hath no evening,
That knows nor moon nor sun,
The light so new and golden,
The light that is but one.
And when the Sole-Begotten
Shall render up once more
The kingdom to the Father,
Whose own it was before,
Then glory yet unheard of
Shall shed abroad its ray,
Resolving all enigmas,
An endless Sabbath-day.
For thee, O dear, dear Country!
Mine eyes their vigils keep;
For very love, beholding
Thy happy name, they weep.
The mention of thy glory
Is unction to the breast,
And medicine in sickness,
And love, and life, and rest.
O one, O only Mansion!
O Paradise of Joy,
Where tears are ever banished,
And smiles have no alloy!
Beside thy living waters
All plants are, great and small,
The cedar of the forest,
The hyssop of the wall;
With jaspers glow thy bulwarks,
Thy streets with emeralds blaze,
The sardius and the topaz
Unite in thee their rays;
Thine ageless walls are bonded
With amethyst unpriced;
Thy Saints build up its fabric,
And the corner-stone is Christ.
The Cross is all thy splendor,
The Crucified thy praise;
His laud and benediction
Thy ransomed people raise:
"Jesus, the gem of Beauty,
True God and Man," they sing,
"The never-failing Garden,
The ever-golden Ring;
The Door, the Pledge, the Husband,
The Guardian of his Court;
The Day-star of Salvation,
The Porter and the Port!"
Thou hast no shore, fair ocean!
Thou hast no time, bright day!
Dear fountain of refreshment
To pilgrims far away!
Upon the Rock of Ages
They raise thy holy tower;
Thine is the victor's laurel,
And thine the golden dower!
Thou feel'st in mystic rapture,
O Bride that know'st no guile,
The Prince's sweetest kisses,
The Prince's loveliest smile;
Unfading lilies, bracelets
Of living pearl thine own;
The Lamb is ever near thee,
The Bridegroom thine alone.
The Crown is he to guerdon,
The Buckler to protect,
And he himself the Mansion,
And he the Architect.
The only art thou needest--
Thanksgiving for thy lot;
The only joy thou seekest--
The Life where Death is not.
And all thine endless leisure,
In sweetest accents, sings
The ill that was thy merit,
The wealth that is thy King's!
Jerusalem the golden,
With milk and honey blest,
Beneath thy contemplation
Sink heart and voice oppressed.
I know not, O I know not,
What social joys are there!
What radiancy of glory,
What light beyond compare!
And when I fain would sing them,
My spirit fails and faints;
And vainly would it image
The assembly of the Saints.
They stand, those halls of Zion,
Conjubilant with song,
And bright with many an angel,
And all the martyr throng;
The Prince is ever in them,
The daylight is serene;
The pastures of the Blessed
Are decked in glorious sheen.
There is the Throne of David,
And there, from care released,
The song of them that triumph,
The shout of them that feast;
And they who, with their Leader,
Have conquered in the fight,
Forever and forever
Are clad in robes of white!
O holy, placid harp-notes
Of that eternal hymn!
O sacred, sweet reflection,
And peace of Seraphim!
O thirst, forever ardent,
Yet evermore content!
O true peculiar vision
Of God cunctipotent!
Ye know the many mansions
For many a glorious name,
And divers retributions
That divers merits claim;
For midst the constellations
That deck our earthly sky,
This star than that is brighter--
And so it is on high.
Jerusalem the glorious!
The glory of the Elect!
O dear and future vision
That eager hearts expect!
Even now by faith I see thee,
Even here thy walls discern;
To thee my thoughts are kindled,
And strive, and pant, and yearn.
Jerusalem the only,
That look'st from heaven below,
In thee is all my glory,
In me is all my woe;
And though my body may not,
My spirit seeks thee fain,
Till flesh and earth return me
To earth and flesh again.
O none can tell thy bulwarks,
How gloriously they rise!
O none can tell thy capitals
Of beautiful device!
Thy loveliness oppresses
All human thought and heart;
And none, O peace, O Zion,
Can sing thee as thou art!
New mansion of new people,
Whom God's own love and light
Promote, increase, make holy,
Thou City of the Angels!
Thou City of the Lord!
Whose everlasting music
Is the glorious decachord!
And there the band of Prophets
United praise ascribes,
And there the twelvefold chorus
Of Israel's ransomed tribes.
The lily-beds of virgins,
The roses' martyr-glow,
The cohort of the Fathers
Who kept the faith below.
And there the Sole-Begotten
Is Lord in regal state,--
He, Judah's mystic Lion,
He, Lamb Immaculate.
O fields that know no sorrow!
O state that fears no strife!
O princely bowers! O land of flowers!
O realm and home of Life!
On that securest shore,
I hope thee, wish thee, sing thee,
And love thee evermore!
I ask not for my merit,
I seek not to deny
My merit is destruction,
A child of wrath am I;
But yet with faith I venture
And hope upon my way;
For those perennial guerdons
I labor night and day.
The best and dearest Father,
Who made me and who saved,
Bore with me in defilement,
And from defilement laved,
When in his strength I struggle,
For very joy I leap,
When in my sin I totter,
I weep, or try to weep:
Then grace, sweet grace celestial,
Shall all its love display,
And David's Royal Fountain
Purge every sin away.
O mine, my golden Zion!
O lovelier far than gold,
With laurel-girt battalions,
And safe victorious fold!
O sweet and blessed Country,
Shall I ever see thy face?
O sweet and blessËd Country,
Shall I ever win thy grace?
I have the hope within me
To comfort and to bless!
Shall I ever win the prize itself?
O tell me, tell me, Yes!
Exult! O dust and ashes!
The Lord shall be thy part;
His only, his forever,
Thou shalt be, and thou art!
Exult, O dust and ashes!
The Lord shall be thy part;
His only, his forever,
Thou shalt be, and thou art!
From the Latin of BERNARD DE MORLAIX
Translation of JOHN MASON NEALE
These poems about death remind us of the fact we will all face it. Study what death really is and more in our course: Death and Beyond.