Evening Guests.

If in the silence of this lonely eve,1
With the street-lamp pale-flickering on the wall,2
A spirit were to say to me— ‘ Believe,3
Thou shalt be answered. Call !’ —Whom should I call ?4
And then I were to see thee gliding in5
With thy pale robes (that in long-empty fold6
Lie in my keeping)—and my fingers, thin7
As thine were once—to feel in thy safe hold ;8
I should fall weeping on thy neck, and say9
I have so suffered since—since’—— But the tears10
Would cease, remembering how they count thy day,11
A day that is with God a thousand years.12
Then, what are these sad weeks, months, years of mine13
To thine all-measureless infinitude ?14
What my whole life, when myriad lives divine15
May rise, each leading to a higher good ?16
I lose myself—I faint. Beloved—best !17
Sit in thy olden, dear humanity18
A little while, my head upon thy breast,19
And then I will go back to Heaven with thee,20

Should I call Thee ?— Ah no, I would not call !21
But if, by some invisible angel led,22
Thy foot were at the door, thy face, voice—all23
Entering—Oh joy !  Oh life unto the dead !24
Then I, pale-smiling with a deep content,25
Would give to thee the welcome long unknown ;26
And ’stead of those kind accents daily sent27
To cheer me, I should hear thine own—thine own !28
Thou too, like the beloved guest late gone,29
Wouldst sit and clasp my feeble hand in thine ;30
’Twould grieve thee to know why it grew so wan,31
Therefore I would smile on, and give no sign.32
And thou, soft-speaking in the olden voice,33
Perchance with a compassionate tremble stirred,34
Wouldst change this anguished doubt to full rejoice,35
And heal my soul with each balm-dropping word.36
So—talking of things meet for such as we37
Affection, strong as life, solemn as death,38
Serene as that divine eternity39
Where I shall meet thee, who wert my soul’s breath40
Upon this crowned eve of many eves41
Thou know’st—a third of life and all its lore42
Would climax like a breaking wave. Who grieves43
Though it should break, and cease for evermore ?44