Menella Bute Smedley

He Preached To The Spirits In Prison

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Not only in that other world, O friends,
Do spirits sigh against their chain!
Not only there is long Remembrance vain,
And Hope incapable of noble ends!
There is no house nor heart, no day nor night,
Where some imprisoned thing that should be free
Pines not unconsciously,
Like one born blind, who knows not of the Light
Yet weeps at sunrise. When the Preacher cries,
And, under all the roof, immortal eyes
Look up and listen, cries he not to these?
Alas! he can but move them, as a breeze
Moves, though it cannot turn, the coming sea!
But if a great Deliverer spake (we know
He did and shall), the spirits should arise,
His voice should change all faces instantly,
And that vast congregation of the skies

Which sees God as He is, thereby to grow
For ever like Him, should be manifest
Here among daily men, for it is here
Behind the bars. Then should the Love, which dies
For those it trusts too little, cast out fear,
Be generous and gentle, and at rest,
And so be perfect. Then should Truth appear
(She needs no more), and dumb appeals, which dwell
In secret places of the heart, should swell
To needless thunders, where all feet outrun
Their summons. Then should every shadow cease,
And all the sky grow tender to the sun,
And hindrances and trifles melt away,
Showing the soul in lineaments of peace
Bare as a statue, where all lines betray
Some early vision of divinity.
As if a people, which had never heard
Of any sound but speech, should at a word
Shake to the birth of music, sense and power
Coming together, all the air possest
With unknown glory, uttering in an hour
The grand, sweet, language of Eternity!

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Menella Bute Smedley