“Thoughts on Eternity”
“God created man, and made him to be the image of his own eternity.” — Wisdom ii. 23.
Pale, starry fires! how bright ye shine!
How calm through heaven’s pure pathway move!
Yet, when ye fail, this soul of mine
Shall glow in brighter worlds above.
A living spark of quenchless light,
Enkindled by the eternal Sun;
My spirit, when ye sink in night,
An everlasting course shall run.
Who that unmeasured round can trace?
Who can compute eternity?
On planets, stars, and suns, I gaze;
They only speak of time to me.
Thought, by the immaterial mind,
To distant realms excursive sent,
Leaves all these glistening worlds behind,
And gains a loftier firmament;
Inquires of every throned power
Who earliest swell’d the choral hymn,
Hailing creation’s primal hour,
Of seraph flames, and cherubim.
“Say ye who saw each burning star
Dart its first beams athwart the gloom,
Ye sons of light! can ye declare
Duration’s infinite — TO COME?”
All heaven is hush’d! nor voice, nor lyre,
Dares to the mighty theme respond: —
Archangels, seraphs, veil’d, inquire
The wonders of the scene beyond.
He only knows! the Great! the High!
Whose own right hand his throne sustains,
Who is, who was! Eternity
His vast, profound abode, remains!
He from himself, essential Sun,
To me this spark of being gave,
His own eternal course to run,
Immortal life in Him to have.
He waked those intellectual fires
Which shoot through mists of death and time;
He breathed those infinite desires
Which rest but in himself sublime.
Creation rich in beauty glows,
Heaven’s spangled arch majestic rolls;
But God — a spirit only knows,
He dwells alone in hallow’d souls.
To feel the ecstasies of bliss, —
To taste unutterable woe, —
The high, the awful destinies
Of spirits bless’d or cursed, to know!
This, tenant of a house of clay,
This is the lot to thee assign’d!
And thou shalt see these fires decay,
And leave a flaming world behind!
Shalt stretch the bright, the buoyant wing,
To spirit’s awful Fountain soar;
Drink bliss and being at their spring,
And pant for earthly streams no more!
Eternity’s unmeasured round
From joy to joy shall bear thee on!
That depth, in which thy thoughts are drown ‘d,
Shall prove thy being’s bliss and crown.
But pause ! — An awful charge is thine!
The balance to thy hand is given!
Say! shall the scale to death decline?
Or lift thee up to life and heaven?