Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1861–1889
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889
 
Communion
By David Gray (1836–1888)
 
      WHEN the great South-wind, loud,
      Leaps from his lair of cloud,
And treads the darkness of the sea to foam;
      When wild awake is night,
      And, not too full nor bright,        5
      The moon sheds stormy light
        From heaven’s high dome;
 
      Then, while I only keep
      Watch of the sounding deep,
And midnight, and the white shore’s curving form,        10
      Wakeful, I let the din
      Of their shrill voices in,
      And feel my spirit win
        Strength from the storm.
 
      Strength from the wrestling air        15
      It wins, till I can bear
To beckon him who waits for me, apart—
      Him, the long dead, whom love,
      Deathless, hath set above
      All other Lares of        20
        My hearth and heart.
 
      The house is still, and swept,
      Save where the wind has crept,
And utters at the door its cry of fear.
      While the weak moonbeams swim        25
      Down from the casement dim,
      I wait for sign of him:
        Hush! he is here;
 
      Betwixt the light and gloom
      He fronts me, in mid-room;        30
I stir not, nor a greeting hand extend;
      But the loud-throbbing breast
      And silence greet him best,
      Beloved, yet awful, guest—
        Spirit, yet friend!        35
 
      He speaks not, but I brook
      In his calm eyes to look,
And dare an utterance of my dread delight:
      Oh, as in midnights flown,
      Bide with me, thou long-gone;        40
      Are we not here alone—
        We and the night?
 
      Then gliding on a space,
      He takes the ancient place,
Vacant so long, a sorrow’s desolate shrine.        45
      Night shuts us in, yet seems
      Lit, as in festal dreams,
      And the storm past us streams
        In song divine.
 
      Slips, then, from my sick heart        50
      Its covering of sad art;
Joy rushes back in speech as sweet as tears;
      Tell me, I cry, O friend,
      Whose calm eyes see the end,
      Unto what issues bend        55
        The awful years?
 
      Tell me what view is won,
      From mountains of the sun,
Over this earth’s unstarred and blackened sphere.
      This life of weary breath        60
      Vainly one questioneth—
      Oh! from the halls of death
        What cheer? What cheer?
 
 
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