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Thought: A Vision, a poem by Rosa Emma Salaman (1853)


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Thought: A Vision.
Amidst the solemn stillness of the night,
With noiseless step, appeared before my sight
A spectral form, shrouded in deepest gloom,
As if just risen from the silent tomb;
Beside my bed it stood, as though ’twere sent
From heaven, on some high mission sternly bent,
Some awful truth or message to convey,
And guide my erring steps in truth’s bright way.
Sleep from my eye-lids seemed at once to flee,
And, spell-bound by the awful mystery,
I held my breath in terror for a while;
Till, soothed by its mild look and gentle smile,
I said, “Whence comest thou?” and it replied,
In sweetest tones, “I come to be thy guide,
To lead thee to a region far more blest
Than any that thy feet have ever prest,
To join the band of kindred souls above,
Where earthly joys are changed to heavenly love.”
‘Twas Thought personified in human guise,
Who thus invited me towards the skies.
I rose as one entranced; he led the way,
And suddenly the night was turned to day;
So changed did all things now around appear!
So dazzling bright the glowing atmosphere!
As if the sun with its o’erpow’ring light
Had quenched the myriad lustrous orbs of night.
On, on we sped, and with such rapid pace,
That ‘twas in vain our actual path to trace;
When to a region of delight we came,
Lovelier than any land yet known to fame:
The air was balmy, and the sky serene,
And Beauty over all things reigned the queen.
I almost deemed it some celestial place,
Some intermediate state, where souls have grace
To end the course which they had not quite run—
Attain that holiness on earth begun,
Those sounds that fell upon my ravished ears
Were like the heavenly music of the spheres.
I stood transfixed, absorbed in purest joy,
Entranced with rapture, free from all alloy;
Nor were my feelings unperceived by Thought,
Who, quickly as a gleam of lightning, caught
That moment to bring scenes before my view,
As beautiful as strange, and strange as new.
The air seemed filled with spirits; on each beam
Which from the mid-day sun did downward stream
Numberless rays—e’en every ray did bear
A form ethereal on its golden chair.
Thought, whisp’ring, said—“It seemed as if the sun
Had crowned each head with glory it had won.”
I left the spot, and instantly I stood
‘Neath the dark shadow of umbrageous wood,
Whose rich and varied foliage all around,
Joined to a stillness, solemn and profound,
Gave to that hour a charm, which words were vain
To picture forth—so glorious was the reign
Of Beauty, Happiness, Content, Delight,
O’er all that met my wond’ring, joyous sight!
The gorgeous images which then arose
Within my soul, no language could disclose,
Beyond the glimmering of that hidden light
Which burns within, unclouded, pure, and bright.
“Oh! tell me then, all-powerful Thought,” I cried,
“At whose behest hast thou become my guide?
Show me the magic of thy wings, and I
Will night and day with thee for ever fly.
“How dost thou conquer time and distance too?
Wilt thou with this one truth my mind imbue,
Thou minister of all that’s wise and good—
(That is, if thou art rightly understood)?”
To which he answered—“God, who all things made,
From e’en the lowliest herb, or flow’ret’s blade,
Up to the orbs of heaven, in light array’d,
Gave me dominion over every mind,
In every human form by Him enshrined,
To lead their steps in duty’s path aright,
On every heart the moral law to write;
To show thee the rewards in store for those
Whose lives are holy, and whose hearts repose,
In purest faith, on God, who reigns above,
Fills heaven and earth with his unbounded love.”
I sought my guardian’s hand in mine to place;
But Thought had flown—I grasped but empty space;
Th’ ethereal form had vanished—’twas a dream!
Yet so distinct did every image seem,
That, while the power of memory shall last,
‘Twill seem as ever present—not as past.
And, oh! may this sweet vision of the brain,
With all th’ impressions following in its train,
Make me more anxious so to live and die,
As to regain the realms of bliss on high!

“Thought: A Vision” by Rosa Emma Collins née Salaman was published in her bound collections of poetry, Poems (1853), p. 57-64.






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