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"Then through a special mercy
I offer you this grace,— You may seek him who mourns you
And look upon his face, And speak to him of comfort
For one short minute's space.
"But when that time is ended,
Return here, and remain
A thousand years in pain:
The comfort he will gain."
The Lime-trees' shade at evening
Beneath their fragrant arches,
In low and tender converse,
The night is calm and stilly,
Except their happy voices:
That passes through the Lime-trees,
While one low cry of anguish,
Like the last dying wail
Is borne upon the gale:—
And turn so deathly pale 1
Near Purgatory's entrance
The radiant Angels wait; It was the great St. Michael
Who closed that gloomy gate When the poor wandering spirit
Came back to meet her fate.
"Pass on," thus spoke the Angel: "Heaven's joy is deep and vast;
Pass on, pass on, poor Spirit,
In that one minute's anguish
AN you open that ebony Casket? Look, this is the key: but stay, Those are only a few old letters Which I keep,—to burn some day.
Yes, that Locket is quaint and ancient;
But leave it, dear, with the ring, And give me the little Portrait
Which hangs by a crimson string.
I have never opened that Casket
Since, many long years ago.
But I want you to see the Portrait:
I wonder if you can trace
Left now in my faded face.
It was like me once; but remember
The weary relentless years,
And its long, long rain of tears.
Is it stange to call it my Portrait?
Nay, smile, dear, for well you may, To think of that radiant Vision
And of what I am to-day.
With restless, yet confident longing
Into deep and exhaustless Treasures,
With that trust which leans on the Future,
Until she has taught us to tremble
How that young, light heart would have pitied
A quiet and weary woman
Yet I—who shall soon be resting,
Can look back with a deeper pity
It is strange; but Life's currents drift us
So surely and swiftly on,
And how many things are gone:
And forget, while to-day absorbs us,
How the old, old ties are loosened,
And we say that our Life is fleeting
But we fancy that we—we only
So now and then it is wisdom
To gaze, as I do to-day, At a half-forgotten relic
Of a Time that is passed away.