Littell's Living Age/Volume 130/Issue 1674/The Conscience and Future Judgment


I sat alone with my conscience,
In a place where time had ceased,
And we talked of my former living
In the land where the years increased.
And I felt I should have to answer
The question it put to me,
And to face the answer and question
Throughout an eternity.
The ghosts of forgotten actions
Come floating before my sight,
And things that I thought were dead things
Were alive with a terrible might.
And the vision of all my past life
Was an awful thing to face, —
Alone with my conscience sitting
In that solemnly silent place.
And I thought of a far-away warning,
Of a sorrow that was to be mine,
In a land that then was the future,
But now is the present time.
And I thought of my former thinking
Of the judgment-day to be,
But sitting alone with my conscience
Seemed judgment enough for me.
And I wondered if there was a future
To this land beyond the grave;
But no one gave me an answer,
And no one came to save.
Then I felt that the future was present,
And the present would never go by,
For it was but the thought of my past life
Grown into eternity.
Then I woke from my timely dreaming,
And the vision passed away,
And I knew the far-away warning
Was a warning of yesterday, —
And I pray that I may not forget it,
In this land before the grave,
That I may not cry in the future,
And no one come to save.
And so I have learnt a lesson
Which I ought to have known before,
And which, though I learnt it dreaming,
I hope to forget no more.
So I sit alone with my conscience
In the place where the years increase,
And I try to remember the future
In the land where time will cease.
And I know of the future judgment,
How dreadful soe'er it be,
That to sit alone with my conscience
Will be judgment enough for me.