Thomas Aird

The Demonaic: Chapter VII: Miriam's Interview With Her Sainted Daughter, Judith

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The mourners from the house of wo, the minstrels forth were gone;
Deep in the middle watch of night state Miriam all alone,
Sleepless, in silent sorrow rocked, with fixèd gaze intense
On him dressed for the grave, her last, still dear inheritance.
“Peace!” said a voice like the far-off soft murmur of a wave;
Starting she turned, she saw—“My child! my Judith from the grave!”
With lips apart, with heaving heart, gazed Miriam on a form
Lovely beyond the power of death, the grave's polluting worm.
A lucid air enswathed her head: How excellent are they,
Dear God, Thy ransomed ones! On her consummate forehead lay
The moonlight of eternal peace, solemn and very sweet;
A snowy vesture beautiful came flowing o'er her feet.
“I see—I do—methinks I see my dear immortal child!
Come near me, God-given! Be not these the garments undefiled?
Those eyes, the spirit's sainted wells, o'erflowing still with love,
I know them! Ever look on me, my own celestial dove!

Art thou not come to take me hence, the awful worlds to see?
I long to go, I long to go, to dwell in heaven with thee!
“Ah no, 'tis but a dream!”—“Fear not, for I am ever thine!”
With beautiful tranquillity, with majesty divine,
Forth stepped the unblemished child of life, and with a meek embrace
Folded her mother's crowding heart, and kissed her breathing face:—
“Fear not: trust thou in Christ, who died this day mankind to save;
By whose dear leave I come to thee, redeemed from out the grave.
“Many have been, greatly beloved! thy days of trial sore,
Bereavement, sorrow, wandering, pain; but these shall soon be o'er:
And loss, wo, weariness, all pain, each want, each mortal load,
Are in the many-linkèd chain which draws earth up to God.
But look to Christ, the assurèd One, and thou for aye shalt stand
In the Lord's palaces of life, in the uncorrupted land.
“Oh, it is well with me, mother! No sin is there, no night;
There be the bliss-enamelled flowers, bathed with the dews of light;
Rivers of crystal, shaded with the nations' healing trees,
Whose fadeless leaves, life-spangled, shake in the eternal breeze;
The shining, shining host of saints; the angels' burning tiers;
And there God's face ineffable lights the perpetual years!”
“Speak of thy father, holy child! my youth's spouse, where is he?
Thy brother—he has left me too: Oh, are they saved like thee?
Then with great joy would I rejoice, and calmly wait the time
To join you all in Heaven. But speak, child of the unfailing prime!
Thy mother's yet on earth—how lone! shall they not also rise,
And come this night anew to bless these old o'erwearied eyes?”
“Fear not; rest thou in hope and peace; to thee, on earth below,
More of the Spirits' hidden world 'tis not allowed to know.
Now let me see my brother's face; night's mid-watch passes fleet,
And in the Holy City I the risen saints must meet,
To pass with them into the Heavens.” Slowly, with trembling hands,
In silence Miriam from his face undid the linen bands:—
“Judith, draw near and see his face; upon thy brother look.”
And she drew near: her glistering stole one moment ruffled shook;
Like light in tremulous water gleamed her eyes divine, as they
Gazed on her brother as he in his bloodless beauty lay;
With earth's dear frailty tempered still—Heaven's great and perfect years
Not yet attained—her eyes' sweet cups ran o'er with many tears.
She parted on his lofty brow his locks of yellow hair,
And kissed his forehead and his lips; then, with a sister's care,
Around his dead composèd face the grave's white folds she tied;
She took her mother by the hand, and led her from his side;
Then stood the ethereal creature clothed with peace serene:—“Thy leave,
Sweet mother! let me go; and say, dear one! thou wilt not grieve.”
“I shall not grieve, I will not grieve. But come, through the dark woods
Thy mortal mother shall thee guide, and o'er the crossing floods.
Oh I am greatly glad for thee, my young lamb of the fold!
Come near, and let me lead thee thus; thy mother gently hold!
For thou art washed in our Christ's blood! for thou art passing fair!
The very spirit of God's Heavens has breathed upon thy hair!

“Now let me guide thee forth. Nay, nay, the thought is foolish all,
That thou canst wandering err, that aught of ill can thee befall.
Young dweller of the Heavens! mine own! the angels pure that be,
Primeval creatures of God's hand, in light excel not thee!
Those vivid eyes can look through night! No monster of the wild,
Demon, or bandit of the cave, dares harm my sealèd child.
“In dazzling globes those angels wait, to bear thee with swift might
O'er the bowed tops of tufted woods to Zion's holy height!
Go then—ah! thou must go indeed!” She smiled, she turned to go;
But Miriam caught her shining skirts with a mother's parting wo,
And knelt, and clasped her hands. Then turned the daughter of the skies,
Raised, led the mourner to a couch, and breathed upon her eyes.
Deep sleep on Miriam fell. With face meek as the moon of night,
Far down in waveless water seen, a sleeping pearl of light,
A moment gazed that child on her; then brightening went. At morn,
With hope through sorrow, Miriam saw to dust her Herman borne.
Her faith was perfect now in Him whose blood for men had flowed.
Calm shone her evening life, and set in the bosom of her God.

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Thomas Aird