A CLASH of human tongues within
Made the bright room a dreary jail;
Dull webs of talk the idle spin
Turned all its glow and color pale.
Outside, the peaceful sunset sky
Was burning, deepening with the night;
One great star, glittering still and high,
Sent o’er the sea its track of light.
And wearily I spoke, and heard
An empty echo of reply,
Fretting like some imprisoned bird
That longs to break its cage and fly;
When suddenly the din seemed stilled,
Rarer the air so dense before;
A mystic rapture warmed and thrilled
My heart, and I was dull no more.
Joy stole to me with sweet surmise,
With sense of some unmeasured good;
There was no need to lift my eyes
To know who on the threshold stood,
More splendid than the brilliant night
That looked in at the window-pane,
Welcome as to parched fields the light,
Refreshing touch of summer rain!
She moved with recognition sweet,
She bowed with courtesy calm and kind,
As graceful as the waving wheat
That bends before the summer wind.
Swift sped the step of lagging time,
As if a breeze of morning blew;
Clear as the ring of Chaucer’s rhyme
The vapid, idle talking grew!
I heard her rich tones sounding through
The many voices like a strain
Of lofty music, strong and true,
And perfect joy was mine again.
I did not seek her radiant face,
Bright as spring light when winter dies,
But warm across the crowded space
I felt the gaze of noble eyes;
And in that glorious look, at last,
I seemed like one with sins forgiven,
With all life’s pain and sorrow passed,
Entering the open gates of heaven!
Celia Thaxter.