A SHADOW OF THE NIGHT
by: Thomas Bailey Aldrich
MORE POEMS BY THOMAS BAILEY ALDRICH
- lose on the edge of a midsummer dawn
- In troubled dreams I went from land to land,
- Each seven-colored like the rainbow's arc,
- Regions where never fancy's foot had trod
- Till then; yet all the strangeness seemed not strange,
- At which I wondered, reasoning in my dream
- With twofold sense, well knowing that I slept.
- At last I came to this our cloud-hung earth,
- And somewhere by the seashore was a grave,
- A woman's grave, new-made, and heaped with flowers;
- And near it stood an ancient holy man
- That fain would comfort me, who sorrowed not
- For this unknown dead woman at my feet.
- But I, because his sacred office held
- My reverence, listened; and 'twas thus he spake:--
- 'When next thou comest thou shalt find her still
- In all the rare perfection that she was.
- Thou shalt have gentle greeting of thy love!
- Her eyelids will have turned to violets,
- Her bosom to white lilies, and her breath
- To roses. What is lovely never dies,
- But passes into other loveliness,
- Star-dust, or sea-foam, flower, or winged air.
- If this befalls our poor unworthy flesh,
- Think thee what destiny awaits the soul!
- What glorious vesture it shall wear at last!'
- While yet he spoke, seashore and grave and priest
- Vanished, and faintly from a neighboring spire
- Fell five slow solemn strokes upon my ear.
- Then I awoke with a keen pain at heart,
- A sense of swift unutterable loss,
- And through the darkness reached my hand to touch
- Her cheek, soft-pillowed on one restful palm--
- To be quite sure!