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Rivers

Methought I saw a vision at my bed.

Ere rosy dawn upraised her glowing spear;

But whence the revelation, wherefore sped,

From what far clime or yet remoter year,

I know not—Only that two rivers spread

Through realms of solitude.   This fell in wild career

 

Of gorges deep ; and that had scarce career

At all, or ripple; like a lily-bed

Untouched by any wind in all the year;

A stillness brooded; drowsy branches spread

Their shadowed silences ; and never spear

Of sunlight entered, ere the last soft twilight sped.

 

But this was tossed along its banks, and sped

Howling down-Stream ; wherein at mid-career

'Twas caught by rocks that scourged it on its bed ;

As by the Inquisition many a year

Long since, were martyrs scourged on rack outspread,

Or tossed in agony from spear to cruel spear.

 

From rock to rock, from pinnacle or spear.

Through whirling pools that sucked it to its bed,

The tortured river leapt.   Year after year

Fresh fountains formed, and fought, and broke, and spread

Screaming in terror of their own career;

And all the welkin thrilled, as wailing echo sped.

 

Thereat an Angel from the zenith sped.

Folding great wings, and pointing with his spear ;

I turned, and lo ! that other Stream outspread

Beneath the feet of God.   Its calm career

Was shadowed o'er by healing leaves ; its bed

A crystal, where sweet water weltered all the year.

 

Ah, sacred stream of life, that year by year

Bearest from earth our Saints, with hands out-spread

To God ! Their parting is indeed a spear

Whose point is in our hearts who watch their bed.

But they are happy ; and a glad career

Awaits reunion, when sorrow's self is sped.

 

" Yet look," the Angel spake with wings outspread,

" Where ends the Stream of sin its mad career;

In yon red lake of fire, which glows upon its bed."




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