Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. III. Sorrow and Consolation
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume III. Sorrow and Consolation.  1904.
 
V. Death and Bereavement
Awakening
Washington Gladden (1836–1918)
 
DOWN to the borders of the silent land
      He goes with halting feet;
He dares not trust; he cannot understand
      The blessedness complete
That waits for God’s beloved at his right hand.        5
 
He dreads to see God’s face, for though the pure
      Beholding him are blest,
Yet in his sight no evil can endure;
      And still with fear oppressed
He looks within and cries, “Who can be sure?”        10
 
The world beyond is strange; the golden streets,
      The palaces so fair,
The seraphs singing in the shining seats,
      The glory everywhere,—
And to his soul he solemnly repeats        15
 
The visions of the Book. “Alas!” he cries,
      “That world is all too grand;
Among those splendors and those majesties
      I would not dare to stand;
For me a lowlier heaven would well suffice!”        20
 
Yet, faithful in his lot this saint has stood
      Through service and through pain;
The Lord Christ he has followed, doing good;
      Sure, dying must be gain
To one who living hath done what he could.        25
 
The light is fading in the tired eyes,
      The weary race is run;
Not as the victor that doth seize the prize,
      But as the fainting one,
He nears the verge of the eternities.        30
 
And now the end has come, and now he sees
      The happy, happy shore;
O fearful, and faint, distrustful soul, are these
      The things thou fearedst before—
The awful majesties that spoiled thy peace?        35
 
This land is home; no stranger art thou here;
      Sweet and familiar words
From voices silent long salute thine ear;
      And winds and songs of birds,
And bees and blooms and sweet perfumes are near.        40
 
The seraphs—they are men of kindly mien;
      The gems and robes—but signs
Of minds all radiant and of hearts washed clean;
      The glory—such as shines
Wherever faith or hope or love is seen.        45
 
And he, O doubting child! the Lord of grace
      Whom thou didst fear to see—
He knows thy sin—but look upon his face!
      Doth it not shine on thee
With a great light of love that fills the place?        50
 
O happy soul, be thankful now and rest!
      Heaven is a goodly land;
And God is love; and those he loves are blest;—
      Now thou dost understand;
The least thou hast is better than the best        55
 
That thou didst hope for; now upon thine eyes
      The new life opens fair;
Before thy feet the blessèd journey lies
      Through homelands everywhere;
And heaven to thee is all a sweet surprise.        60
 
 
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