Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
170. Sonnets
(From the Series Relating to Edgar Allan Poe)
By Sarah Helen Whitman

WHEN first I looked into thy glorious eyes,
And saw, with their unearthly beauty pained,
Heaven deepening within heaven, like the skies
Of autumn nights without a shadow stained,
I stood as one whom some strange dream enthralls;        5
For, far away in some lost life divine,
Some land which every glorious dream recalls,
A spirit looked on me with eyes like thine.
Even now, though death has veiled their starry light,
And closed their lids in his relentless night,—        10
As some strange dream, remembered in a dream,
Again I see, in sleep, their tender beam;
Unfading hopes their cloudless azure fill,
Heaven deepening within heaven, serene and still.

Oft since thine earthly eyes have closed on mine,
Our souls, dim-wandering in the hall of dreams,
Hold mystic converse on the life divine,
By the still music of immortal streams;
And oft thy spirit tells how souls, affied
By sovran destinies, no more can part,—        20
How death and hell are powerless to divide
Souls whose deep lives lie folded heart in heart.
And if, at times, some lingering shadow lies
Heavy upon my path, some haunting dread,
Then do I point thee to the harmonies        25
Of those calm heights whereto our souls arise
Through suffering,—the faith that doth approve
In death the deathless power and divine life of love.

On our lone pathway bloomed no earthly hopes:
Sorrow and death were near us, as we stood        30
Where the dim forest, from the upland slopes,
Swept darkly to the sea. The enchanted wood
Thrilled, as by some foreboding terror stirred;
And as the waves broke on the lonely shore,
In their low monotone, methought I heard        35
A solemn voice that sighed, “Ye meet no more.”
There, while the level sunbeams seemed to burn
Through the long aisles of red, autumnal gloom,—
Where stately, storied cenotaphs inurn
Sweet human hopes, too fair on Earth to bloom,—        40
Was the bud reaped, whose petals pure and cold
Sleep on my heart till Heaven the flower unfold.

If thy sad heart, pining for human love,
In its earth solitude grew dark with fear,
Lest the high Sun of Heaven itself should prove        45
Powerless to save from that phantasmal sphere
Wherein thy spirit wandered,—if the flowers
That pressed around thy feet, seemed but to bloom
In lone Gethsemanes, through starless hours,
When all who loved had left thee to thy doom,—        50
Oh, yet believe that, in that hollow vale
Where thy soul lingers, waiting to attain
So much of Heaven’s sweet grace as shall avail
To lift its burden of remorseful pain,
My soul shall meet thee, and its Heaven forego        55
Till God’s great love, on both, one hope, one Heaven bestow.


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