BETA

The Tear.

I was led in a dream to the gate of the Upper Heaven, and I saw many
sights on which I must be silent ; and I heard many sweet sounds, like the
voices of angels, hymning to their lyres. And the seraph Uriel was with
me, for he is the regent of the sun, and the conductor of errant sojourners
through the paths of Infinity. And the light of Heaven dazzled mine eyes
long before I reached its glorious portal ; and I must have sunk beneath its
insufferable splendour, had not the angel shaded me with his ambrosial
wings, and touched mine eyes with balm of amarant, which only grows in
Heaven. And when he touched them with this balm, I felt them strength-
ened, and I could gaze undazzled on any part of the bright Kingdom save
one ; and I asked Uriel the cause of this pene, light, and he said it was
the light of the Sanctuary. And, lo ! at the gate of Heaven stood a pedestal
Jasper, and on this pedestal a vessel of pure sapphire, encircled with gold
—and within this vessel lay a tear, which evaporated not in the light of Hea-
ven, but remained the same for ever. And I said unto the angel, “ Whence
cometh this tear ? ” And he answered, “ From the eye of an earth-born
maiden, named Leila ; if thou wouldst know more of this tear, speak to it—
it will answer thee.” Then I marvelled, saying, “ Can a tear answer ? ”—
Yea,” responded Uriel, “ this tear is not as other tears,—it hath a spirit
within it, and a voice, for the sake of the maiden Leila by whom it was shed.”
Then, methinks, I spoke to the tear, and a voice arose from its bed of sap-
phire in reply.

BARD.

Crystal gem of mortal birth,1
Fairer than the gems of earth,2
Was it Grief that bade thee mount3
Upwards from thy coral fount ?4
Was it Care, with dewy sigh,5
Moulded thee on Leila’s eye?6

TEAR.

Minstrel, nay, it was not Care7
With his breath that framed me there ;8
Neither did I quit my fount,9
From its crystal floor to mount,10
( Like the dew on autumn’s leaf,)11
By the sceptred spell of Grief.12

BARD.

Jewel of a maiden fair,13
Was it Mirth that brought thee there ?14
Was it touch of Laughter’s spell15
That o’erflow’d thine azure well ?16

TEAR.

Neither Mirth invoked me here,17
( Yet thou seest I am a tear,)18
Nor Despair’s terrific dart19
Bade me from my fountain start ;20
Tear like me had never birth21
Or by Sorrow or by Mirth.22
Whilome was my fountain dry,23
Laughter beam’d in Leila’s eye ;24
Round her bosom Joy was flung,25
Mirth was floating on her tongue ;26
And her step was gay and light,27
And her eye was pure and bright ;28
And her soul, with Rapture fraught,29
Harbour’d no desponding thought ;30
But a vision of Distress31
Came athwart her loveliness,32
Like a thunder-cloud in June,33
Or a mist before the moon :34
Straight the voice of Pity fell35
Over her spirit, as a spell,36
And her eye distill’d a tear37
Lovelier than Grief may rear :38
Unto me the power was given39
Leila’s cause to plead in Heaven,40
For I have been shed upon41
Others’ sorrows—not her own.42
And I inclined my head while the voice was yet speaking ; and it seem-
ed to come from the drop within the vessel of sapphire—and I knew the
tear to be a spirit. And I said to Uriel, “ Do all tears find their way to
Heaven ? ” But he answered, “ Nay—none but those of compassion : all
other tears perish, as a drop of water, when they are shed; but those of
pity come hither, and, after sojourning for a season at the gate of Heaven,
lo ! some of them are changed into jewels, and hang upon the crowns of
the archangels ; others are mingled with the fountain of benevolence, and
they all plead with seraphic tongues for those that shed them.” And I
knew from this response of the angel that there were no tears like those of
compassion.