Littell's Living Age/Volume 131/Issue 1698/Nigh at Hand


Through mists that hide from me my God, I see
A shapeless form; Death comes, and beckons me:
I scent the odors of the spirit land:
And, with commingled joy and terror, hear
The far-off whispers of a white-robed band: —
Nearer they come — yet nearer — yet more near:
Is it rehearsal of a "welcome" song
That will be in my heart and ear, ere long?
Do these bright spirits wait till Death may give
The soul its franchise — and I die to live?

Does fancy send the breeze from yon green mountain?
(I am not dreaming when it cools my brow.)
Are they the sparkles of an actual fountain
That gladden and refresh my spirit now?
How beautiful the burst of holy light!
How beautiful the day that has no night!

Open! ye everlasting gates! I pray —
Waiting, but yearning — for that perfect day!
Hark! to these allelujahs! "Hail! all hail!"
Shall they be echoed by a sob and wail?
Friends, "gone before," these are your happy voices:
The old, familiar sounds: my soul rejoices!

Ah! through the mists, the great white throne I see:
And now a saint in glory beckons me.
Is Death a foe to dread? the Death who giveth
Life — the unburthened life that ever liveth!
Who shrinks from Death? Come when he will or may,
The night he brings will bring the risen day;
His call — his touch — we neither seek nor shun:
His life is ended when his work is done.
Our spear and shield no cloud of Death can dim:
He triumphs not o'er us — we conquer him!

How long, O Lord, how long, ere I shall see
The myriad glories of a holier sphere?
And worship in thy presence: — not as here
In chains that keep the shackled soul from thee!

My God! let that eternal home be near!

Master! I bring to Thee a soul opprest:
"Weary and heavy laden:" seeking rest:
Strengthen my faith: that, with my latest breath,
I greet thy messenger of mercy — Death!

Argosy.S. C. Hall.