The Blazing Heart

WHO are ye, spirits, that stand
In the outer gloom.
Each with a blazing heart in hand,
Which lighteth the dark beyond the tomb ?
“ Oh, we be souls that loved
Too well, too well !
Yet, for that love, though sore reproved,
(Oh, sore reproved!) have we ’scaped hell.
“ ’Scaped hell, but gained not heaven.
Woe, woe and alas!
Only, to us this grace is given,
To light the dark where the dead must pass.
“ Behind us the shadows throng,
And the mists are gray ;
But our blazing hearts light the soul along
From grave to yon gate that hides the day.”
Who may this lady be
At my right hand ?
“ This is the heart which for Antony
Changed from soft flesh to a burning brand.”
“ This for Æneas glowed,
Is glowing still.”
“This kindled for Phaon; the flame it showed
No waters of ocean could quench or kill.
This shape, with the flowing hair ?
“ She loved so much
That even the Sinless heard her prayer,
Pitied her pangs, and suffered her touch.”
Bid the sounds of crackling cease!
“ They blaze, they burn ! ”
Let me flee back to my coffined peace !
“ Pass on (they beckon) ; there’s no return.”
Spirits, why press ye close ?
I am faint with fear!
“ Already thy heart like an ember glows;
Pluck it forth from thy bosom; thy place is here.”
Happy Francesca! thine
Is the fairer lot.
Better with him in hell to pine
Than stand in cool shadows by him forgot!
Alice Williams Brotherton.