Love and Death

WHAT comfort this to souls that dread their fate:
Though in thick darkness long their image lie,
Oblivion shall be lighted soon or late
By some unknown, unconscious passer-by.
I, on the way to meet new love and fair,
Clinging to naught in heaven or earth beside,
Felt my dead love returning, unaware,
To seize the heart where reigned a breathing bride.
For lo, there passed me, on my altered course,
A stranger, who, despite the strangeness, wore
What stemmed new passion with a painful force,—
The semblance to my bride of years before.
Not this the face or figure of my dead,
More or less lovely, — ah, that matters not;
Like hers, the way of speech, the turn of head,
The wordless something not to be forgot.
Had this reminder come when loss was new,
How had my heart then quivered with regret,
And cross-like anguish thrust me through and through,
That her own self could nevermore be met!
But now, warm lips to greet me in an hour
Dismissed the wish for hers, long turned to dust;
The past surrendered to the present’s power,
And I, to-day, grudged not the grave its trust.
Instead of that, the thought flashed like a bolt,
Shocking my sense of faith and love sincere, —
Nay, like a crime from which I would revolt, —
“ The day has come you would not have her here.”
I had been sure, with grief at awful height,
That other love could never, never be ;
Both law and gospel giving ample right,
I start to-day at time’s strange alchemy.
Charlotte Fiske Bates.