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Heaven, a poem by Rosa Emma Salaman (1853)


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“By night I saw an angel in my dream,
and thus I questioned it concerning Heaven.”
Look down, blessed soul, from thy realms of light,
And tell me how thou didst wing thy flight
To the world of soul, from the world of clay?
And say who called thee from earth away?
Was it a voice which said, “depart!”
While Death’s cold hand was on thy heart?
Or didst thou go less suddenly
To life and immortality?
What beings met thee on the road,
When thou didst wing thy way to God?
Did angels pure, did seraphs meek,
Lead thee to the heaven that thou didst seek?
Did they deck thy bodiless form with a cloud,
Or with mist which encircles the moon as a shroud?
Or with the hues of the rainbow’s fire,
To dazzle the stars with thy bright attire?
Did they greet thee with love?—sweet spirit, say;
Or open in silence the gates of day?
Did they lull thee to rest, or wake thee to song,
When thou wert borne on their wings along?
While caged in the clayey form below,
Of heavenly glory what couldst thou know!
But now thou art gone, angelic soul,
To the realms long sought, the wished-for goal,
I pray thee softly speak in mine ear—
Oh! where is thy home in that radiant sphere?
Is it beneath the glorious throne
Where God sits night and day alone?
And there, and thee, does it behove
To sing his praise, and chant his love?
Or ’mongst the stars, say, dost thou shine
As one of them, or more divine?
‘Mid the sun’s radiance dost thou dwell?
Or does a moonbeam suit thee well,
To travel east, or to travel west,
As most beseems a spirit blest—
To pierce the ocean—gaze beneath—
Or skim the snowy mountain’s breath?
Or watcher of the earth art thou;
A holy one, upon whose brow
Sits calm resolve, and firm intent
To do His will—His instrument—
One of those ministering spirits who
Can search all nature through and through?
“I am, I am,” the Angel said;
“And well hast thou my mission read;
But, mortal, question me no more;
What though thy fervent spirit soar,
And thou wouldst fain enquire of me
Of all my spirit’s ecstacy,
And where my heavenly home I keep,
Or in what realms of bliss I steep
My spirit’s wings; enough to know
That heavenly voice which bid me go,
Which called me from the earth away,
Is the same voice I now obey.
When first the blessed call I heard,
I felt as some delighted bird,
Returning home; and now I fly
Through earth, through air, or through the sky.
And when is heard celestial sound,
The people of the skies look round
With haste, and speed to do His will;
Nor rest on tardy wing, until
All is fulfilled: and it is this
Obedience which with us is bliss;
It makes the heaven where we do dwell.
Nor is it place, or magic spell,
Which is our happiness. Oh, no!
All places, wheresoe’er we go,
Are full of God; nay, everywhere
We feel His presence and His care.
And this it is which makes us blest;
For this is heaven, and this is rest.”

“Heaven” by Rosa Emma Collins née Salaman was published in her bound collections of poetry, Poems (1853), pp. 72-76.






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