Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
1429. Beyond
By Hannah Parker Kimball
ONCE when the wind was on the roof,
And nature seemed to question fate,
A fiery angel, in a dream,
Called on a soul to contemplate.
“Look well about thy precincts, learn        5
What is thy gain, thy final stock,
Obtained from living day by day.”
(Hark, how the winds the elm-trees rock!)
The man’s soul cast a glance about.
The place wherein it dwelt was small,—        10
No vast horizon; every side
Was bounded by a narrow wall.
But well it knew those precincts, well
The carven furniture; the shelf,
Laden with books; the tinted wall        15
Adorned with pictures of itself,
And of the Father and the Son,
And myriad saints; and then the earth
With all the senses’ arabesques,
That man had planned since man had birth.        20
“Are these thy treasures? These are dead,”
The fiery angel, in despite,
Cried out: “What wouldst thou gain for these,
If thou shouldst stand in God’s own light?—
“If He should rive these walls away?        25
What sayest thou? Lo, the drifting sun,
The moon, the stars, the sky, God’s sky,
Are sights a soul should look upon.
“Pray Him to break these walls away.”
The soul shrank back, with hanging head:        30
“The moon rides free, the stars dance high,
The sun shines bright: these sights I dread.”
The walls seemed riven by a sword;
The moon rode free, the wind blew sweet,
The stars danced high; then sunshine lay        35
In glory at the soul’s free feet.
It seemed to stand in a wide land;
Around it high the heavens soared;
It seemed to wither with the light,
Yet joy through all its being poured.        40
Then darkened grew the sky on high,
And suddenly the sunshine fled;
The wind howled shrill; the soul, aghast,
A woke and trembled on its bed.
It saw the carven furniture,        45
The painted pictures on the wall,
The shelf, bowed under heavy lore,
The costly treasures one and all.
Moonlight lay ghostly over them
(Outside the wind was in the trees,        50
The wind blew free, the stars shone high),
And all the life seemed gone from these.
The soul arose and paced about.
“It was a vision of the night;
Still must I linger in this place:        55
But O the wind, the sun, the light!”


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