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 John Hay
1839 - 1905


A sentinel angel sitting high in glory

Heard this shrill wail ring out from Purgatory; ---

"Have mercy, mighty angel !    Hear my story.

" I loved, --- and, blind with passionate love, I fell.

Love brought me down to death, and death to Hell:

For God is just, and death for sin is well.

"I do not rage against His high decree,

Nor for myself do ask that grace shall be;

But for my Love on earth, who mourns for me.

"Great Spirit !    Let me see my Love again,

And comfort him one hour, and I were fain

To pay a thousand years of fire and pain ! "

Then said the pitying angel  ---  "Nay !    Repent

That wild vow: look !    The dial-finger's bent

Down to the last hour of thy punishment !

But still she wail'd  ---  "I pray thee let me go !

I can not rise to peace and leave him so:

O, let me soothe him in his bitter woe ! "

The brazen gates ground sullenly ajar,

And upward, joyous, like a rising star,

She rose and vanish'd in the ether far.

But soon adown the dying sunset sailing,

And like a wounded bird her pinions trailing,

She flutter'd back, with broken-hearted wailing.

She sobb'd  ---  "I found him by the summer sea

Reclined, his head upon a maiden's knee, ---

She curl'd his hair and kiss'd him.  Woe is me ! "

She wept:  "Now let my punishment begin !

I have been fond and foolish.  Let me in

To expiate my sorrow and my sin ! "

The angel answer'd  ---  "Nay, sad soul !    Go higher !

To be deceived in your true heart's desire

Was bitterer than a thousand years of fire."


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