The Lyre Resumed: Or A Requiem at the Tomb of a Beloved Friend
The Lyre Resumed:
Or A Requiem at the Tomb of a Beloved Friend
“We bless thy holy name for all thy servants departed this life in thy faith and fear.” — Communion Service.
Sweet evening, lovely are thy tranquil hours,
Mid summer skies, when halcyon breezes stray,
Fragrant with balmy breath of closing flowers;
When mild thou beam’st with Sol’s retiring ray,
While in the empurpled west,
Sinks his bright orb to rest,
And clouds of gorgeous dyes dissolve in pensive gray.
Yet softer than those incense-breathing airs,
Whose light wings rustle through the leafy grove;
More lovely than those pale and twinkling stars
That faintly gem the deepening arch above;
More hallow’d on the mind,
By memory’s power refined,
Come from yon distant world the forms of those we love.
So, wandering far, by angel-harps beguiled,
The pensive Muse to themes unearthly stray ‘d;
The light of heaven, with gentlest radiance mild,
As its own peerless bow, around her play’d:
But, ah! that lambent sign,
Those soothing sounds Divine,
Presaged the gathering storm, the wreck that storm has made.
In murmurs loud the howling tempest woke,
No breeze AEolian swept the poet’s lyre;
Its slender strings the gusty whirlwind broke,
All save the sparks of heaven’s own hallow’d fire;
That overwhelming flood,
That drenching rain subdued,
And bade the fairy forms of Fancy’s train retire.
Yet come, sweet lyre! all broken as thou art,
And let me tune thy simple chords again;
Perchance thy melodies may ease my heart,
My heart oppress’d with languishment and pain;
For soft thy numbers flow,
In plaintive tones, and slow,
And thou wast taught to breathe full many a pensive strain.
Or, lured again by minstrelsy Divine,
Within the pure, the curtain’d realms of light,
O, might thy lays with harping angels join,
And bring once more, in tenderest radiance bright,
Those hallow’d forms to view,
Which late their splendours threw
Athwart thy trembling wires, like moonbeams o’er the night!
The world and time receding far behind,
Full on my sight celestial visions stole,
Spirits of light, who, erst in flesh confined,
Held o’er my heart a tender sweet control;
A sainted parent dear,
And friends and kindred near,
Whisper’d of heavenly joys, and claim’d my yielding soul.
But, ah! while lingering, listening to the call,
No voice reveal’d, that, with that sacred band,
He, whom my heart had fondly own’d its all,
That he so soon amidst their ranks should stand,
And join with them to cry,
“O come! come up on high,
Come, and rejoin thy friends in this delightsome land.”
Ah, no! I knew not that the Power Divine,
Severely kind, e’en then the word had given;
I saw not the commission’d angel’s sign,
As swift he floated through ethereal heaven.
I felt not then the dart
Which since has pierced my heart,
The fatal shaft of death, through thine relentless driven.
Most loved! most loving! in the quiet grave
Thine ever rests, from torturing sorrow free;
Bright beams of glory o’er thy spirit wave,
And all is sight, and joy, and bliss, with thee.
But mine still weeps and bleeds,
Still pang to pang succeeds,
And Grief’s sad springs are fed by active Memory.
Fresh o’er my mind, in every charm array’d,
Flit the fair shadows of departed joys; —
The enlivening smile that made the morning glad,
The evening cheer’d by friendship’s soothing voice;
The untold tenderness,
By heaven design’d to bless
The calm, sweet peace that crown’d affection’s earliest choice.
These, these are past! and other visions rise,
Visions of deep and solitary gloom;
Yet brighten’d by a glory from the skies, —
Glory, that could the sufferer’s couch illume,
Chase the pale spectre Fear,
Though Pain and Death were there,
And all that train which throngs the passage to the tomb.
O Memory! soothing, torturing as thou art,
On these sad scenes thy deepest lines impress;
Nor ever, ever from my bleeding heart,
May ought their monitory stamp efface.
They point my upward way;
Why lingering should I stay,
When what I loved on earth has found in heaven a place?
The gathering mists on life’s lone vale descend,
The wind breathes chill along the leafless grove,
No shepherd comes his timid charge to tend,
By strength to succour, to sustain by love.
Silent and cheerless all,
Save where the moonbeams fall,
Fitful, and pale, and weak, through struggling clouds above.
Yet far beyond, where turbid meteors swell
Their threatening piles, beneath the wintry sky,
Faith views the land where sainted spirits dwell,
Through heaven’s blue arch her sweeping pinions fly,
And in the blest abode
Of those e’en now with God,
Reclaims her loved, lost friends, and joins their company.
Fair are the realms of everlasting day!
Bright is the sun that in that region shines!
Temper’d, and calm, and pure, is every ray!
No clouds obscure it, and no night confines.
O spirits of the blest!
How hallow’d is your rest;
Yours is perennial spring, a year that ne’er declines!
No glistening tears suffuse the downcast eye,
No sighs of grief the heaving bosom rend;
There anguish pours no more its piteous cry,
Nor pain, nor death, their empire there extend.
Hail, glorious heirs of light!
Soon to your mansions bright,
Redeem’d from earth and sin, I too would fain ascend.
Yet say, from realms of empyrean bliss,
Where heaven’s own joys in full profusion flow,
Stoop ye not sometimes down to visit this,
This frail, this fleeting, failing world of woe?
Stand ye not sometimes nigh,
To catch the rising sigh,
Still struggling in the breasts of suffering friends below?
No mortal coil confines your vigorous powers,
Nature’s firm barriers to your impulse yield,
O’er height, o’er depth, the unprison’d spirit towers,
Sweeps earth’s low boundaries and heaven’s argent field.
And wilt thou come to me?
And, by thy ministry,
Compose my fluttering heart, my steps from danger shield ?
Yes! though the veil of flesh awhile divide
Thy form of glory from my tearful eye;
I will rejoice to think thee still my guide,
Nor feel my solitude when thou art nigh;
The voice I loved to hear
Shall still my sorrows cheer,
And grief its sighs suspend in such society.
And wilt thou not, replete with heavenly joy,
To me reveal the secret of thy bliss?
Teach me the thoughts that angel-minds employ,
The language of celestial ecstasies,
Till, fill’d with light Divine,
My spirit too shall shine,
And wing, with thine, its way to realms of purest peace?
Hark! what a sound, a swell of bliss was there!
What raptured tones of reverential love!
Heard ye not floating, on the ambient air,
The echoing triumphs of the bless’d above?
O, hear ye not that cry,
That shout of victory,
As towards the sapphire throne their shining spirits move?
Not warriors crown’d with spoils, or flush’d with fame,
So rich a triumph ever raised below.
Not reapers, when from harvest fields they came,
Exulting, with such transports learn’d to glow,
As fire that hallow’d throng,
While loud they raise the song
To Him who tried their faith, and brought them conquerors through.
Hail! holy, happy, all victorious band!
How have ye pass’d the furnace unconsumed?
How bright ye shine as stars in his right hand,
Whose blood redeem’d you, and whose light illumed!
True, ye have tasted death;
But he too slept beneath,
And sanctified the grave, wherein ye lie entomb’d.
Jesus! atoning Lamb! triumphant Lord!
Fountain of life to saints above, below!
Thy saving name these ransom’d hosts record,
Thy saving name thy suffering servants know,
Who still with thee sustain
The cross of grief and pain,
Till thou shalt bid them rise, and share thy victory too.
Yes! join d in Thee, the cheering, quickening Soul,
The Sun in whom the rays of glory meet,
The Church is one! one pure, one beauteous whole!
And soon, assembled round thy shining seat,
One mighty sound shall swell,
One song of triumph tell,
The mystery fulfill’d! the family complete!