Life and Death.

I called two Spirits from before God’s throne,1
What wilt thou give me, Life ?” I asked of one,2
Whose presence seemed half shadow and half sum,3
I’ll give thee hours of joy, bright hours, glowing4
With the hot sun of love, sweet hours, flowing5
Calmly away in holy unity,6
With little children praying at thy knee,7
And thy beloved blessing them and thee !8
And hours of sorrow—sorrow for the loss9
Of friends and kindred, or the heavier cross10
Of children snatched in all their infant charms11
From the frail haven of a mother’s arms ;12
Or thy beloved’s heart may change and grieve thee,13
Or, like the rest, he too may die and leave thee !”14
So spake that angel : to the other turning,15
Above whose misty form a star was burning,16
What wilt thou give me, Death ?” I faltered,
mourning !
My gifts depend upon thyself :  if thou18
Use well the hours Life is bestowing now,19
I proffer thee eternity for time ;20
For earthly courts, God’s palaces sublime ;21
For withered buds, crowns of immortal flowers ;22
For fading leaflets, amaranthine bowers !23
And I will give thee more. Within my gate24
The lost and loved shall for thy presence wait ;25
The parents of thy youth—the friends for whom26
Thy tears have vainly fallen—all shall come !27
And a bright band of cherubs, robed in white,—28
On each fair head a coronal of light,29
Shall greet thee, happy mother, safely grown30
In angel purity, around God’s throne.31
And thy beloved shall wander at thy side,32
There, where no heart can change, Death can no more
And as the Spirit spake, the star of light34
Above his head grew gloriously bright ;35
And I beheld a countenance divine,36
Full of compassion, awful, yet benign !37
Then did the angels vanish, and with tears38
I prayed that I might so employ the years39
That Life should give, that with my parting breath40
I might reclaim the promises of Death !41