BETA

THE DEMONIAC : A POEM IN SEVEN CHAPTERS,

Chapter I.

MIRIAM’S INTERVIEW WITH CHRIST.

I.

In the green month of Zif, afar, beneath a palm-tree sate,1
In the wide plain of Jericho, a mother desolate.2
Her lips were cover’d with her robe, and on her head she cast3
The dust of earth. And over her the hours unheeded pass’d.4
Forth from the neighbouring trees came Christ, and steod at Miriam’s feet ;5
His face with peace and ardour blent, unutterably sweet,6

II.

She raised her head, she saw him, knelt, clasp’d his knees fervently : —7
Help me, great Man of Nazareth ! give back my son to me !8
Take pity on a mother’s loins, broken with weary pain !9
Over the cloudy hills I go—I seek him still in vain !10
Hope’s but the liar and the lie : sleep flees from me : for food,11
Thy handmaid oft is fain to pick harsh berries from the wood :12

III.

My heart breaks : Tell me, where is he ? ”— “ Daughter of Judah, how13
Should I thy son know ? ”— “ I have seen thy might—a prophet thou !14
And I have heard thee speak great things, like arrows dipp’d in gall,15
Shot from a bow, against the proud ; have seen before them fall16
The brows of haughty men : But aye, like honey-drops, distill17
Thy words, the spirits of the grieved with healing balm to fill.18

IV.

Tell me, where is my Herman wild ? At first, I staid at home,19
Till it was cruel so to rest, whilst he was forced to roam.20
At morn I look’d for him, from noon on to the twilight dim ;21
And when in the uncertain light the evening shadows swim,22
I shaped him thence : He came not—God from love has cast him forth ;23
But he is dear to me, and I will hunt him o’er the earth.24

V.

Hear me, thou Man of Nazareth ! O ! then thy handmaid bless !25
Pride dares not in thy presence live : the tale of my distress26
I hide not from thee, God had given, to glad my widowhood,27
Two children fair exceedingly, but not more fair than good.28
Peace to my Judith in the grave ! She died in her young days :29
God took her to himself : and I bless’d the Almighty’s ways.30

VI.

And Herman yet was left to me, my hope ! my more than joy !31
Bright as a mother’s restless heart would fashion forth her boy !32
With power, like an anointed child’s, with glory his brow was clad ;33
His cheek with virgin health : How bloom’d the beauty of his head !34
His young eye was as when the sun shines in an eagle’s eye ;35
A life within a life was there, burnish’d, and bold, and shy.36

VII.

And scarce the silky blossom of his yellow beard was seen,37
When he the ancient forests traced with slings and arrows keen :38
Heroic daring from each limb breathed: as the posting winds39
Fleet, o’er the hills so high and bright he chased the dappled hinds.40
Then with the men of Napthali, a lion-hunter bold,41
He toss’d his golden head afar on their snowy mountains cold.42

VIII.

His boyhood with just joys enlarged, no guilt had spoilt, no fear ;43
Nor painted women lured his youth,—hence was his spirit clear.44
And I had taught him the great acts of old embattled kings,45
Champions, and sainted sages, priests, judges, all mighty things,46
Till, from deep thought, his eye was like a prophet’s burden’d eye :47
And he was now a man indeed, built for a purpose high,48

IX.

God of my fathers ! if my hopes in him presumptuous were,49
From him to me the punishment, temper’d with love, transfer !50
Help us, thou Man of God! Perhaps by hopeless passions bound51
And render’d weak, the mastery a demon o’er him found :52
Reason and duty all, all life, his being all became53
Subservience to the wild strange law that overbears his frame,54

X.

Dark as the blue piled thunderlofts then grew his forehead high ;55
And gleam’d like their vein’d lightnings, rash and passionate, his eye ;56
For he was sorely vex’d and fierce. Anon, in gentle fits,57
Like idle hermit looking at the clouds, all day he sits.58
At length he fled far from my care ; he felt his life disgraced :59
Pride took him to the wilderness—shame keeps him in the waste.60

XI.

Strong as the eagle’s wings of quest, on aimless errands runs61
The beauteous savage of my love; but still his mother shuns.62
Along the dizzy hills that reel up in the cloudy rack,63
O’er tumbling chasms, by desert wells, he speeds his boundless track ;64
And in the dead hours of the night, when happier children lie65
In slumber seal’d, he journeys far the flowing rivers by.66

XII.

And oft he haunts the sepulchres, where the thin shoals of ghosts67
Flit shivering from Death’s chilling dews : to their unbodied hosts,68
That churm through night their feeble plaint, he yells :  At the red morn69
Meets the great armies of the winds, high o’er the mountains borne,70
Leaping against their viewless rage, tossing his arms on high,71
And hanging balanced o’er sheer steeps against the morning sky.72

XIII.

His food from honey of the rocks and old cleft trees is drawn,73
From wild-fowl caught in weedy pools by the raw light of dawn,74
From berries, all spontaneous fruits. In winter, in the caves75
Of hills he sleeps : the summer tree above his slumber waves :76
Nature’s wild commoner, my child ! On the blear autumn eves,77
When small birds shriek adown the wind, he lies among the leaves.78

XIV.

By day the sun, the frost by night, weariness, want, and pain,79
Sorely his young eyes must have spoilt ; and dried his wasted brain.80
Gone are his youth’s fine hopes: And mine, what are they ? My poor child,81
Sweet Patience for thy minister, go with thee to the wild !82
What shalt thou do when sickness comes ? How much it grieveth me,83
That from thy mother’s love thou shouldst, as from an enemy, flee !84

XV.

For him these chasten’d bones of mine have stood the winter’s shock,85
I’ve crept to reach him as he sate on the bald top of the rock ;86
When summer has enlarged the year upon the pleasant mountains,87
I’ve seen him sit long hours afar beside their spangled fountains ;88
But the coy lightning of his eye sleeps not: My art is vain :89
Swift as a roe-buck he is gone ; and I must weep again.90

XVI.

Charmers, exorcists of old skill, wizards that muttering go,91
All that deal subtly, I have tried: I add but sin to woe.92
The Expiation-feast I’ve kept. Ive pray’d by many a tomb93
Of prophets, fervid men of old, that God would change his doom ; —94
All’s vain ! No, no, it shall not be; for I will track the earth,95
Reach—hold him with strong bands of love—and drive the demon forth ! ”96

XVII.

A cry rung in the distant woods : And Miriam rose and ran ;97
But turn’d, came back, knelt, kiss’d the robe of that mild holy Man,—98
For anxious hope is dutiful. With beating heart again99
She turn’d away, ere Jesus spake, and sought the woody plain :100
And through the rustling alleys, through the wild glades, one by one,101
She wander’d half the summer day, but could not see her son.102

Chapter II.

MIRIAM’S INTERVIEW WITH HER SON, HERMAN THE DEMONIAC.

I.

On Jordan’s banks, beneath a tree, then Miriam sate and wept.103
She heard a groan : A man from out the shrubs before her crept :104
And, like the Serpent damn’d of God—as if to crush the worm105
Of hunger that within him gnaw’d, and ground his writhing form106
He trail’d his belly in the dust : his eye, that keenly burn’d107
With famine’s purging fire, to her—his mother—was upturn’d.108

II.

Bread ! bread ! Oh bread ! ” feebly he cried. Her little store she took,109
Stoop’d, gave it to his trembling clutch; brought water from the brook110
In hollow leaves ; stood, gazed on him with patience strange ; then she111
Sate, gently drew his yellow head, and laid it on her knee :112
With kiss long as an exile’s kiss, she clung unto him there ;113
Bedew’d his cheek with silent tears, and wiped them with her hair.114

III.

He slept, like an o’erwearied babe. She held her sobbing breast,115
To stir him not ; and hid his eyes, that he might longer rest ;116
Arranged his far-descending locks, dishonour’d with the dust.117
And long and calmly did he sleep beneath her sacred trust.118
At length he started with a groan, he knelt upon his knee : —119
Thou mother ! why hast thou not sought Jesus the Christ for me ?120

IV.

Ha ! this is harsh : O ! pardon me ! I know thy love, well tried,121
Has me by the tall forests sought, and by the pastures wide,122
Rocks, and dim sepulchres : dear one ! O ! think me not unkind ;123
The fiend has kept me from you so, wild as the wintry wind :124
He takes me far, he brings me near : athwart your path I fleet ;125
But never in the green or dry wilderness you must meet.126

V.

Blest are the dead ! What though their face no more beholds the sun,127
Though fill’d with barren ashes be the breast of each loved one,128
With dusty motes confused and dull the jewel of the eye ;129
Yet are they gone, and are at rest; how peacefully they lie !130
Whilst I—would I were dead, smit through with blue plagues, each sore ill,131
And not a wretched vessel fill’d with an infernal will !132

VI.

I am thy quarry of the wild ! my faithful huntress thou !133
And thinkst thou not thy toils for me my spirit down must bow ?134
The fiend will come again ; leave me ere I leave thee :  Away !135
Spend not thy sweet limbs ; so shall I less truly be thy prey.”—136
Speak not to me ; I will not go : thinkst thou thy youth’s first prime137
Was half so dear to me as thou, now old before thy time ?138

VII.

But come with me: fear not ; ’ tis past: we’ll hear soft waters flow ;139
The stock-dove in the twilight woods shall soothe us as we go,140
Which aye so well thou lovedst to hear ; the stars, that softly burn141
O’er the green pasture-hills, shall light our homeward glad return ;142
And then the holy moon will rise, and lead us all the way,143
And the very God of peace and love will guard our home for aye ! ”144

VIII.

Ha ! this is vain: why art thou here ? haste, there is but one hope :145
The Man of Nazareth alone can with the demon cope :146
Man ? Nay—the Son of God ; for oft have I, in midnight hours,147
Heard in Engaddi’s howling caves whisperings of the Dark Powers148
Speak of Messiah, and declare Jesus the same to be :149
And, from some great event at hand, this pause is given to me.”150

IX.

To-day—O ! had I him constrain’d !  With my own thoughts oppress’d,151
Even I can see him more than man : From house to house distress’d152
He breathes his noiseless peace : by shores of lakes, on the dim hills,153
He teaches men : the lazar-house his beaming presence stills :154
A new spirit whispers through the woods of him to me at eve :155
All nature seems with conscious hopes of some great change to heave.”156

X.

Lord God ! the fiend ! hark ! ” Herman cried. “ He left me here at noon,157
Hungry and sick among the brakes ; and comes he then so soon ? ”158
Up from the shores of the Dead Sea came a dull booming sound :159
The leaves shook on the trees : thin winds went wailing all around.160
Then laughter shook the sullen air. To reach his mother’s hand,161
The young man grasp’d, but back was thrown convulsed upon the sand.162

XI.

No time was there for Miriam’s love. He rose ; a smother’d gleam163
Was on his brow ; with fierce motes roll’d his eye’s distemper’d beam.164
He smiled—’twas as the lightning of a hope about to die165
The last time from the furrow’d brows of Hell’s eternity.166
Like sun-warm’d snakes, rose on his head a storm of golden hair,167
Tangled : And thus on Miriam fell hot breathings of despair : —168

XII.

Perish the breasts that gave me milk ! yea, in thy mouldering heart,169
Good thrifty roots I’ll plant, to stay, next time, my hunger’s smart :170
Red-vein’d derived apples I shall eat with savage haste,171
And see thy life-blood blushing through, and glory in the taste ! ”—172
Peace ! ” Miriam cried ; “ thou bitter fiend ! ’ tis thou, and not my son,173
That speaks. Demon accursed ! I know, I scorn thee, thou dark One !174

XIII.

Glory beyond thy power, dark One ! Him in the end of days175
My son redeem’d from thee—to Heaven my father’s God will raise ;176
Whilst thou—ha ! outcast from that God ! —forth shalt be driven to dwell177
With horned flames and Blasphemy, in the red range of Hell :178
There prey the old Cares ; the Furies there whirl their salt whips for aye,179
And faces faded in the fire look upward with dismay.180

XIV.

And sighs are there, and doleful cries, and tongues with anguish dumb ;181
And through that glaring fierce abyss of years, no hope can come.—182
Fiend ! leave my child—God’s child ! —Avaunt ! down to thy chambers blue183
Of sulphur go ! the palaces of Sodom yawn for you.”—184
Amen, Amen, Amen!” the fiend with yelling laughter cried ;185
And like an arrow from the bow, her Herman left her side.186

XV.

Stay ! ” she exclaim’d ; “ hear me, my son ; I spake not thus to you ! ”187
Swift o’er the desert shore he ran ; she hasted to pursue :188
Crushing the salt-surf samphire weeds, and many a crusted cake189
Of salt, stumbling o’er pits, she went: she saw Gomorrah’s lake :190
She saw her son plunge in the waves ; but fast-descending night,191
Mingled with storms, fell on the deep, and hid him from her sight.192

XVI.

And she by the dark waters of great confusion stood ;193
Call’d on her son, pray’d to her God, to save him from the flood.194
She beat her breast, she cursed her tongue which to the demon gave195
Suggestion thus to drown her boy. She met the lashing wave ;196
And, bending forward, listen’d in each pause of the storm’s sweep,197
And thought she heard her Herman cry for help from out the deep.198

XVII.

Then howl’d the wind its wildest staves : she turn’d, intensely gazed,199
And seem’d to see his arms above the flashing waters raised.200
She felt at length that she was mock’d : Along the barren shore201
Far did she wander, and sate down when she could go no more.202
The storm was now o’erblown ; the moon rose o’er the lulled sea.203
She look’d behind her—murky crags rose beetling awfully.204

XVIII.

Strange heads came stretching from the clefts of people shelter’d there,—205
Wild tenants of the rock, waked by the cries of her despair,206
Or by the tempest roused With threats, they bade her thence be gone,207
Nor vex their drowsy caves of night with her untimely moan.208
What creature of the shore art thou ? ” they cried. “ Thee hence betake ! 209
A woman ? And hast dared to meet the storm-blast of the Lake ?210

XIX.

To hear the smother’d voices rack the Sodomitish sea,211
Of Spirits pent in the whelm’d rooms ? Whence may thy sorrows be ?212
Seek’st thou the apples fair and false ? ” Thence, back did Miriam run,213
Less from her dread of violence, than haste to seek her son.214
She sought till dawn ; but found him not : Homeward she turn’d her then ;215
And as she went, sobbing, she cried, “ God help the poor drown’d men ! ”216

Chapter III.

MIRIAM FOLLOWS HERMAN TO THE SEPULCHRES.

I.

Deep in the hollow night, a voice to Miriam’s slumbering ear217
Seem’d thus to say, “ Sleep’st thou, when I can sleep not, mother dear ? ”218
She started—listen’d—all was still : —“ ’ Tis but a dream’s wild freak :219
These haggard fancies vex me so, since grief has made me weak !220
Yet, yet in that dark hour of storms, from out the wat’ry waste,221
Unseen by me, he might have come.” She rose with trembling haste ;222

II.

Quickly attired, she look’d abroad : The clouds away were gone ;223
Blue ether, as if newly wash’d, with dewy gleams far shone ;224
The stars were very lustrous; and in the a of night225
The moon was set, severely pure, a well of living light.226
Deep peace lay in the shadowy vales : the solemn woods were still :227
And nought was heard, save oft the bark of wild fox on the hill.228

III.

Again upon her bed she lay, sleep hover’d o’er her eyes ;229
Again unto her lattice came that voice, and call’d her twice.230
’ Tis but the tempter-fiend ! ” she cried : She wept ; call’d on her God ; 231
Yet still from hope and changeless love again she look’d abroad ;232
She heard a cry—she knew that voice with beating heart she ran,233
And follow’d through the glimmering trees the figure of a man.234

IV.

His form was hid : “ Heaven help,” she cried, “ a mother’s weary side !235
No farther can I go ! ” Again his shadow she espied ;236
And fast forgot her weariness ; half wish’d to have the speed237
Of demons too, to overtake—it is her son indeed !238
But now she came unto the place of the white sepulchres ;239
And paused—shall she pursue him there ? Deep fear her bosom stirs.240

V.

For deepening clouds came o’er the moon : darkness fell all around ;241
A shuddering wind grieved in the trees, skirting the charnel ground.242
Then birds obscene clamour’d : and yells as from lean hounds of blood,243
Mix’d with careering laughter rose ; choked shrieks as from the flood ;244
And gallowing cries, like gra pled fiends’ clinch’d with the last despair,245
And hurried through Hell’s fire-wrought gates, thicken’d the midnight air.246

VI.

And Miriam saw white wispy fires dance, warp’d with vapours close,247
Like exhalations kindled from the rotten churchyard gross.248
She fear’d the vex’d fiend, fear’d the ghosts of milky babes to brave,249
And fretted age that cannot rest within the wormy grave.250
Yet there she heard oft Herman’s voice : and morning soon shall rise :251
Beneath a tree she sate to watch ; but sleep o’ertook her eyes.252

Chapter IV.

HERMAN’S SICKNESS.

I.

’Twas now the time, when stepping down from her ethereal bowers,253
The touch of Spring’s dew-sandall’d feet kindles the earth with flowers.254
Fair rose the morn on Judah’s hills. And Miriam waked : a band255
Of earnest men drew nigh ; there Christ led Herman by the hand.256
Woman, thy son’s restored to thee,” the blessed Jesus said ;257
And with a shriek of joy she clasp’d, she kiss’d, her Herman’s head !258

II.

And he, too, wept, like one in whom pride is o’ermaster’d last.259
Meanwhile, with modesty divine, Jesus away had pass’d.260
Then Miriam took her Herman’s hand, and led him to her home.261
Quiet days pass’d : he lived like one by some strange blight o’ercome :262
Day was to him as night’s ghost : with austere serenity263
He bow’d his doom’d head, and prepared himself quickly to die.264

III.

His spirit pined, his days declined. His mother watch’d the while265
With silent grief, as if herself and him she could beguile :266
From morn to night watch’d : if he sigh’d, she rose at midnight oft,267
Stoop’d o’er his head, and touch’d his cheek with hers so kind and soft :268
And brought him food, true as the bird, that plies its little quest269
Around the hedges all day long, to still its yearning nest.270

Chapter V.

HERMAN’S BLESSING.

I.

’Twas now the golden autumn-tide. Herman lay on his bed :271
Through a small lattice on his face the yellow light was shed : —272
Is it the matin hour, mother ? ”—for she was near at hand.273
No, my dear boy ; the setting sun shines sweetly o’er our land :274
With songs unto the fountains go the maids in a long train ;275
Why loiterest thou, dear idle one ? Up, list to them again.276

II.

Loved wert thou by them all.—I see th’ illumined hills of oak ;277
Valleys, where bow the cumber’d trees ’ neath autumn’s mellow yoke ;278
The glitt’ring streams ; the upstay’d heavens of glory o’er our head.279
The barley-harvest days are come,—I see the reapers spread.280
Be up, my boy ! be up, fair boy ! and make thy mother glad :281
Sure health is dawning on thy face ; and we shall ne’er be sad.”282

III.

He raised his head with fearful haste ; but drooping nature fail’d :283
Feebly he groan’d. Yet, yet with might his filial heart prevail’d ;284
Again he rose ; he took her hand ; — “ Eternal God above,285
Keep this tried mother when I die, and recompense her love !286
Her very love has almost been my cursing minister,287
So solemn has it made my life, so full of cares for her.288

IV.

Keen as the wild wolf’s following o’er the glazed wintry waste,289
Biting the blast, whetting his fangs, upon the prey to haste,290
She hunted my distemper’d life—her heart could ne’er stand still ! —291
Even where the sun unseals the snows, high on the perilous hill.292
Of whom but thee ? of none but thee, thou mother, dearest, best !293
Speak I : Beneath thy weight of love my spirit lies oppress’d.294

V.

I die from thee : I soon must go : my days are a swift stream :295
Thy fond hopes must be shatter’d like the frailty of a dream.296
Yet fear not ; He that heal’d thy son, shall soothe thee o’er my dust ;297
And thou shalt raise thy forehead crown’d with an immortal trust ;298
And, with salvation beautified, to thee it shall be given299
To walk, with the redeem’d on high, the starry floor of Heaven.300

VI.

What shall I say, that when I die my mother may not weep ?301
My blood, my life, would I could frame into one blessing deep !302
Spring, and dew-dropping heaven, each star of goodliest influence,303
Trees weeping balms, all precious things—O ! I would not go hence,304
Till I could bless thee with all things ! Hear me yet—”
Nay : cease, cease !
305
I love thee so ! I love thee so ! I cannot he at peace !306

VII.

But to the Holy City I this night, this hour, will haste :307
Jesus is there : mercy I’ll have.” Beside his. bed she placed308
Food—would not hear his kind reproof—hasted away—paused—turn’d309
Again bent o’er him, and with love unutterable burn’d310
Pray’d leave to go—staid not to hear denial or assent :311
And all the night led by the moon, wide o’er the hills she went.312

Chapter VI.

MIRIAM AT THE HILL OF CALVARY.

I.

At dawn she reach’d Jerusalem. But Jesus was not there ;313
For he was gone to Galilee : She turn’d with mute despair ;314
With weary limbs retraced her path. Months slowly roll’d away ;315
Yet Herman lived, passing through each gradation of decay,316
Then Miriam was assured that Christ was in Jerusalem.317
And through the silent night again she went in quest of him.318

II.

The morn arose. And Miriam heard the sound of camel bells.319
Another step—before her far a whiten’d valley swells :320
For from wide lands, and distant isles, the Passover could still321
Bring up the scatter’d tribes of God unto his holy hill :322
With tents the gorgeous vale was fill’d ; but all deserted stood,323
Save that some slaves went here and there to give the camels food.324

III.

To Miriam’s question they replied that men were gone to see325
A strange impostor crucified with thieves on Calvary.326
Then went she on until she saw, above the city fair,327
The Temple like a snowy mount far up in the clear air.328
Around its upward-circling courts, she saw the forms of men,329
That bending westward look’d as if some distant thing to ken.330

IV.

Still was the sky. At once on them a mighty whirlwind fell,331
And toss’d their garments seen afar ; and brought with many a swell332
The city’s din tumultuous. A blind and smothering fear333
On Miriam came ; with breathless haste she to the gates drew near,334
Pass’d through the hurrying streets, and gain’d the foot of Calvary.335
She turn’d—a pomp processional, and shouting crowds, were nigh.336

V.

She saw—blind to all else, she saw Him whom she came to seek337
Bearing his cross : and thorns were crush’d around that brow so meek !338
Immortal anguish held his face ; yet temper’d with a look339
That seem’d prepared, no shame, no pain, from mortal man to brook ;340
Ready to burst all bands, to flash, put indignation on,341
To shake—to thunder-strike—to quell his foes as from a throne.342

VI.

This was his majesty. Yet still patience his aspect bound.343
How can she ask, in such an hour, his help ? He turn’d half round ;344
She felt that he read all her heart, when on her face was stay’d345
That eye, like an abyss of love : With clasped hands she pray’d,346
Mute lips, eyes veil’d with reverent hope. He turn’d from her again ;347
Yet left her to believe, with joy, her prayer had not been vain.348

VII.

How can she selfish be ? How dare she leave that hill ? She burn’d349
With holy gratitude to Christ : Upward she slowly turn’d ;350
She saw the throngs go closing up ; the winding pomp before351
A lustre all unnatural upon its ensigns bore,352
Beneath a burning sun that smote the summit of the hill.353
An ominous cloud, behind, o’erhung the City dark and still.354

VIII.

Softly she join’d a company of women. And they stood355
Afar, and oft with quick short look the glancing summit view’d.356
They saw not what was done,—from this the greater was their fear.357
Mute, with white lips, forward they bent as if some shriek to hear.358
Horror on Miriam fell : she thought of Herman, and was glad359
That in his sickness a just cause to haste away she had.360

IX.

She went ; yet oft look’d back : She saw th’ uplifted cross at last,361
And shriek’d, and faster went till she the gates of Zion pass’d.362
She pass’d the silent vale of tents, the camels grazing wide ;363
The glittering streams shone in the sun, and shone the mountain side ;364
A forest near, when she its first outstanding trees had won,365
A horror of great darkness fell : the quenched day was done.366

X.

She went into the night-lock’d wood. Silence reign’d, like th’ old sleep367
That watch’d life’s gates, ere God call’d up Being from the hoar deep.368
Then a sound shook the mountain bars, as when some fallen pile369
Of ages sends a dull far voice o’er sea and sounding isle.370
Without a breath the forest shook and then the earth was rock’d ; 371
And trees fell crashing all around ; and birds of night were shock’d372

XI.

From out their rifted nests : screaming, with helpless wings they beat373
The ground, and came and fiercely peck’d, fluttering o’er Miriam’s feet.374
Steps, as if shod with thunder, ran. Through the infested wood,375
Slowly had Miriam groped her way, and in its skirts she stood,376
When all at once burst forth the day from out the folds of night ;377
And with rebounding glory flash’d along the heavens of light.378

XII.

Wedges of terror clove her heart : stumbling she hasted on379
With dazzled eyes, she reach’d her home—her Herman’s life was gone !380
Reeling she turn’d—rush’d blindly forth—wildly her sorrow burst381
Back to her couch she flew—she kiss’d his dead lips : then she cursed382
Her journey, cursed that darkness jest and beat her breast, and cried,383
Had I not gone—had I been here, my Herman had not died ! ”384

Chapter VII.

MIRIAM’S INTERVIEW WITH HER SAINTED DAUGHTER, JUDITH.

I.

The “ bread of men,”* and “cup” were o’er, the minstrels‡ forth were gone ;385
And in the middle watch of night sate Miriam all alone,386
Sleepless, in silent sorrow rock’d, with fixed gaze intense387
On him dress’d for the grave, her last, still dear, inheritance.388

* Ezekiel, xxiv, 17.
† Jeremiah, xxvi. 7.
‡ Matthew, ix, 23.
Peace ! ” said a voice, like the far-off whisper of a soft wave ;389
She started, turn’d, she saw— “ My child ! my Judith from the grave ! ”390

II.

With lips apart, with heaving heart, gazed Miriam on a form,391
Lovely beyond the power of death, the grave’s polluting worm.392
A lucid air enswathed her head. How excellent are they,393
Dear God, thy ransom’d ones ! On her consummate forehead lay394
The moonlight of eternal a solemn and very sweet.395
A snowy vesture beautiful came flowing o’er her feet.396

III.

I see ! I do ! methinks I see my dear immortal child !397
Come near me, God-given ! Be not these the garments undefiled ?398
Those eyes, the spirit’s sainted wells, o’erflowing still with love,399
I know them ! Ever look on me, my own celestial dove !400
Art thou not come to take me hence, the awful worlds to see ?401
I long to go—I long to go, to dwell in Heaven with thee !402

IV.

Ah ! no, ’ tis but a dream ! ”— “ Fear not, for I am ever thine ! ”403
With beautiful tranquillity, with majesty divine,404
Forth stepp’d th’ unblemish’d Child of Life, and with a meek embrace,405
Folded her mother’s crowding heart, and kiss’d her breathing face : —406
Fear not : trust thou in Christ, who died this day mankind to save,407
By whose dear leave I come to thee, redeem’d from out the grave.408

V.

Many have been, greatly beloved ! thy days of trial sore,409
Bereavement, grief, wanderings, and pain ; but these shall soon be o’er :410
And loss, woe, weariness, all pain, each want, each earthly load,411
Work the strange fiercely-linked chain that draws earth up to God.412
But look to Christ, th’ assured One, and thou for aye shalt stand413
In the Lord’s palaces of Life, in th’ uncorrupted land.414

VI.

O ! it is well with me, mother ! No sin is there, no night ;415
There be the bliss-enamell’d flowers bathed with the showers of light ;416
Rivers of crystal, shaded with the nations’ healing trees,417
Whose fadeless leaves, life-spangled, shake in the eternal breeze ;418
The shining, shining multitudes ; the angels’ burning tiers ;419
And there God’s face ineffable lights the perpetual years ! ”420

VII.

Speak of thy father, holy Babe ! my youth’s spouse, where is he ?421
Thy brother—he has left me too—O ! are they saved like thee ?422
Then with great joy would I rejoice, and calmly wait the time423
To join you all in Heaven. But speak, child of th’ unfailing prime !424
Thy mother’s yet on earth—how lone? Shall they not also rise,425
And come this night anew to bless these old o’erwearied eyes ? ”426

VIII.

Fear not : rest thou in hope and peace. To thee, on earth below,427
More of the Spirits’ hidden world ’ tis not allow’d to know.428
Now let me see my brother’s face ; night’s mid watch passes fleet,429
And in the Holy City I the risen saints must meet,430
To pass with them into the Heavens.” Silent, with trembling hands,431
Miriam from Herman’s face slowly undid the linen bands : —432

IX.

Judith, draw near and see his face ; upon thy brother look.”433
And she drew near. Her glistering stole one moment ruffed shook ;434
Like light in tremulous water gleam’d her eyes divine, as they435
Gazed on young Herman’s face as he in his bloodless beauty lay.436
With earth’s dear frailty temper’d still—Heaven’s great and perfect years437
Not yet attain’d—her eyes’ sweet cups ran o’er with silver tears.438

X.

She parted on his lofty brow his locks of yellow hair ;439
She Kiss’d his forehead and his lips ; then with a sister’s care,440
Around his imaged face serene, the grave’s white folds she tied ;441
She took her mother by the hand, and led her from his side ;442
Then stood th’ ethereal creature clothed with waveless peace:— “ Thy leave,443
Sweet mother, let me go ; and say, dear one ! thou wilt not grieve.”444

XI.

I shall not grieve ; I will not grieve. But come, through the dark woods445
Thy mortal mother shall thee guide, and o’er the crossing floods.446
O ! I am greatly glad for thee, my young lamb of the fold !447
Come near, and let me lead thee thus : thy mother gently hold !448
For thou art wash’d in our Christ’s blood ! For thou art passing fair !449
The very Spirit of God’s Heavens has breathed upon thy hair !450

XII.

Now let me guide thee forth. Nay, nay, the thought is foolish all,451
That thou canst wandering err, that aught of ill can thee befall.452
Young dweller of the Heavens! mine own! the angels pure that be,453
Primeval creatures of God’s hand, in light excel not thee !454
Those vivid eyes can look through night ! No monster of the wild,455
Demon, or bandit of the cave, dares harm my sealed child !456

XIII.

In dazzling globes those angels wait, to bear thee with swift might,457
O’er the bow’d tops of tufted woods to Zion’s holy height.458
Go then—Ah ! thou must go indeed ! ” She smiled—she turn’d to go ;459
But Miriam caught her shining skirts with a mother’s parting woe,460
And knelt, and clasp’d her hands : Then turn’d the daughter of the skies,461
Raised—led the mourner to a couch, and breathed upon her eyes.462

XIV.

Deep sleep on Miriam fell, With face meek as the moon of night,463
Far down in waveless water seen, a sleeping pearl of light,464
A moment gazed that child on her ; then brightening went. At morn,465
With hope through sorrow, Miriam saw to dust her Herman borne.466
Her faith was perfect now in Him whose blood for men had flow’d.467
Calm shone her evening life, and set in the bosom of her God.468
END OF THE DEMONIAC.