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The Body Speaking to the Soul Which Just Left It, a poem by Rosa Emma Salaman (1842)


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The Body Speaking to the Soul Which Just Left It

How exquisite and shadowy thou art,
Departed soul! And ‘tis for this we part;
Thou wert too beautiful to dwell within
This earthly form, or be defiled by sin.

I soon shall fade away, now thou art fled,
For they will come and lay me with the dead;
But if they call this death, why long before,
Wert thou not summon’d to that blissful shore?

Angels were waiting to encircle thee
Within their arms of pure transparency;
Thy robe of love, woven with sunny beams,
Clings round thee as a veil; and now it seem
As if it shed a ling’ring, parting ray,
Before it enters everlasting day.

Beautiful soul! Dost thou not wonder why
Thou couldst have borne so long this earthly tie?
Which kept thee struggling, panting to be free,
Hidden awhile from thine eternity?

And yet not hidden quite; for thro’ these eyes
How often didst thou shine, as if the skies
Were open to thy view; and not the less
Were they the home of all thy tenderness.

Nay, stay not, look not, on this fading clay,
For unto dust I shall return this day;
Dust must return unto its native earth,
The spirit flies to Him who gave it birth.

Depart, fly hence, bright spiritual thing,
No longer prisoner; tho’ thine asure wing
Still flutters round the frail abode, to take
One farewell look of pity, for the sake
Of long companionship with me endured.
No wonder then that thou wert so allured
By all that met thy gaze of soul and mind,
By converse intellectual—refined;

No wonder, if in me thou wert so pained,—
This pallid cheek with tears so often stained!
Because thy essence could not mingle here
With earthly thoughts and wishes—cold and drear;

But spirit-like, and on immortal wing,
Translucent as a stay, didst fly and sing;
Whilst I, alone, abstractedly did sit
Waiting my soul’s return; till then unfit
For mortal commune; for these lips were mute,—
And I, of thee bereft, felt destitute.

Thou wert my inward melody, my muse,
And into this cold heart didst once infuse
The warmth, which made it feel while here below,
Such holy rapture spirits only know.

Farewell! They bear me hence unto the grave,
They would not mourn, could they, like me, but have
One moment’s glimpse of my departed soul,
To mark its blessedness; no bell would toll
For me, the casket, while the pearl is borne
On golden clouds at eve and blush of morn.

Then fly, fly up,—seraphs are calling thee;
Their liquid voices blend in harmony;
Lie gently down upon that last rich tone,
’Twill bear thee onward to the heavenly throne,
Where, thro’ that blue ethereal space above
Thou seest the light of never-ending love.

The poem, “The Body Speaking to the Soul Which Just Left It.” by Rosa Emma Salaman, was written in March 1842 and first published in the Occident and American Jewish Advocate 2:4, Tamuz 5604, July 1844, p. 200-202. I have added lines separating the poem into a number of stanzas. –Aharon N. Varady


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