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A Vision, a poem by Rosa Emma Salaman (1850)


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A Vision

Strange thoughts, and stranger visions rose
Before my mind’s delighted eye,
Which to the poet’s soul disclose
Such worlds of truth and witchery.

In silence, both by night and day,
With wisdom burning on my tongue,
I breathed the words I could not say,
On which my soul enraptured hung.

I uttered in soft tones and low,
The inspirations of my mind,
And beauteous verse, like music’s flow,
Melodious, vague, and undefined.

I saw my God, the Blessed One,
Unfold the dreams which we call Life,
A fragile web of shadows spun,
Woven with sorrow and with strife.

I saw the cause of every grief,
Which God will show to all one day,
When sadness, like an autumn leaf,
Will, like that leaf, be swept away;

So that in voices mild and clear,
We shall acknowledge He was just,
And wonder at the darkness here
Obscuring Hope, and Faith, and Trust.

The Prophet King in vain poured forth
The tender breathings of his heart;
To beings icebound as the north,
His spirit he could ne’er impart.

In vain his warm, ecstatic lyre
Its trembling chords of love awoke;
Few souls could breathe that living fire,
Few hearts to whose those echoes spoke.

And wisdom’s page is thus passed o’er,
And scanned by most unlearned eyes,
Who see not in prophetic lore
The road that leads beyond the skies

‘Tis not the written word alone,
Sublime, yet simple as a child,
This is sweet nature’s under tone,
In which she gives her lessons mild;

But Genius from her lofty ear
Beholds in Scripture’s hidden charms
A soul, a beauteous soul afar,
And clasps the spirit in her arms.

Spirit of Scripture! how divine
Thou shinest with thy golden wings,
Flitting around this soul of mine,
Revealing most mysterious things.

I list to thee, I hear thy voice
In sweet, and most pathetic numbers,
Making my inmost heart rejoice
Awhile mine eyes are closed in slumbers.

Spirit of Beauty! then didst thou
Descend and bless my mental sight;
Methinks I see thee even now
In mid-air floating on the night;
In dream-like loveliness didst glide,
A vision clad in robes so fair,
Thine arms extended from thy side,
As if to cleave the ambient air.

Sweet spirit of the earth and skies!
I see thy form in ether move;
Like light in darkness thou dost rise,
Emblem of light! thy name is Love.

The poem, “A Vision” by Rosa Emma Salaman, was written November 1850 and first published in the Occident and American Jewish Advocate 9:1, Nissan 5611/April 1851, p.31-33. I have added lines separating this poem into stanzas. –Aharon Varady


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