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Of Princedoms and of Powers; and in the name
Of Cherubim and Seraphim, go forth I
Go, in the name of Patriarchs and Prophets ;
And of Apostles and Evangelists,
Of Martyrs and Confessors ; in the name
Of holy Monks and Hermits ; in the name
Of holy Virgins ; and all Saints of God,
Both men and women, go ! Go on thy

course ;
And may thy place to-day be found in peace
And may thy dwelling be the Holy Mount
Of Zion : — through the Name of Christ, our
Lord,



196 THE DREAM OF GERONTIIJS.

§ 2-
Soul of Gerontius.

I went to sleep ; and now I am refresh'd,
A strange refreshment : for 1 feel in me
An inexpressive lightness, and a sense
Of freedom, as I were at length myself.
And ne'er had been before. How still it is I
I hear no more the busy beat of time,
No, nor my fluttermg breath, nor struggling

pulse ;
Nor does one moment differ from the next.
I had a dream ; yes : — some one softly said
" He's gone ; " and then a sigh went round

the room.
And then I surely heard a priestly voice
Cry " Subvenite ; " and they knelt in prayer.
I seem to hear him still ; but thin and low,
And fainter and more faint the accents come,
As at an ever-widening interval.
Ah ! whence is this } What is this sever-
ance .?
This silence pours a solitariness
Into the very essence of my soul ;



THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS. 197

And the deep rest, so soothing and S3 sweet,
Hath something too of sternness and of pain.
For it dri^/es back my thoughts upon their

spring
By a strange introversion, and perforce
1 now begin to feed upon myself.
Because I have nought else to feed upon.

Am I alive or dead ? I am not dead,

But in the body still ; for I possess

A sort of confidence which clings to me.

That each particular organ holds its place

As heretofore, combining with the rest

Into one symmetry, that wraps me round,

And makes me man; and surely I could move,

Did 1 but will it, every part of me.

And yet I cannot to my sense bring home

By very trial, that I have the power.

' Tis strange ; I cannot stir a hand or foot,

I cannot make my fingers or my lips

By mutual pressure witness each to each,

Nor by the eyelid's instantaneous stroke

Assure myself I have a body still.

Nor do I know my very attitude.

Nor if I stand, or lie, or sit, or kneel.



190 THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS.

So much I know, not knowing how I know,
That the vast universe, where I have dwelt,
Is quitting me, or I am quitting it.
Or I or it is rushing on the wings
Of hght or Hghtning on an onward course.
And we e'en now are million miles apart,
Yet ... is this peremptory severance
Wrought out in lengthening measurements of

space.
Which grow and multiply by speed and dme ?
Or am I traversing infinity
By endless subdivision, hurrying back
From finite towards infinitesimal.
Thus dyin^^ out of the expansive world .?

Another marvel : some one has me fast
Wiihin his ample palm ; 'tis not a grasp
Such as they use on earth, but all around
Over the surface of my subtle being,
As though I were a sphere, and capable
To be accosted thus, a uniform
And gentle pressure tells me I am not
Self-moving, but borne forward on my way.
And hark ! 1 hear a singing ; yet in s(joth
I cannot of that music rightly say



THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS. 1 99

Whether 1 hear, or touch, or taste the tones
Oh, what a heart-subduing melody !

Angel.

My work is done,
My task is o'er,

And so I come,

Taking it home,
For the crown is won,

Alleluia,
For evermore.

My Father gave
In charge to me

This child of earth

E'en from its birth,
To serve and save,

Alleluia,
And saved is he.

This child of clay
To me was given,
To rear and train
By sorrow and pain



200 THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS,

In the narrow way,

Alleluia,
From earth to heaven.

Soul.

It is a member of that family

Of wondrous beings, who, ere the worlds

were made,
Millions of ages back, have stood around
The throne of God : — he never has known

sin ;
But through those cycles all but infinite,
Has had a strong and pure celestial life,
And bore to gaze on the unveil'd face of God,
And drank from the everlasting Fount of

truth,
And served Him with a keen ecstatic love.
Hark ! he begins again.

Angel.

O Lord, hovv' wonderful in depth and height,
But most in man, how wonderful Thou art !
With what a love, what soft persuasive might
Victorious o'er the stubborn fleshly heart,



THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS. 201

Thy tale complete of saints Thou dost pro-
vide,

To fill the throne which angels lost through
pride !

He lay a grovelling babe upon the ground,
Polluted in the blood of his first sire,
With his whole essence shatter'd and un-
sound,
And coil'd around his heart a demon dire,
Which was not of his nature, but had skill
To bind and form his op'ning mind to ill.

Then was I sent from heaven to set right
The balance in his soul of truth and sin,

And I have waged a long relentless fight,
Resolved that death-cnviron'd spirit to win,

Which from its fallen state, when all was lost,

Had been repurchased at so dread a cost.

Oh, what a shifting parti-color 'd scene

Of hope and fear, of triumph and dismay.

Of recklessness and penitence, has been
The history of that dreary, life-long fray !

And oh, the grace to nerve him and to lead,

How patient, prompt, and lavish at his need I



202 THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS.

man, strange composite oi neaven and

earth !
Majesty dwarf'd to baseness ! fragrant flower
Running to poisonous seed I and seeming
worth
Cloking corruption ! weakness mastering
power !
Who never art so near to crime and shame,
As when thou hast achieved some deed of
name ; —

How should ethereal natures comprehend

A thing made up of spii-it and of clay,
Were we not task'd to nurse it and to tend,
Link'd one to one throughout its mortal
day ?
More than the Seraph in his height of place,
The Angel-guardian knows and loves the ran-
som'd race.

Soul.

Now know I surely that I am at length
Out of the body ; had I part with earth,

1 never could have drunk those accents in,
And not have worshipp'd as a god the voice



THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS. 203

That was so musical ; but now I am

So whole of heart, so calm, so self-possess'd,

With such a full content, and with a sense

So apprehensive and discriminant,

As no temptation can intoxicate.

Nor have I even terror at the thought

That I am clasp'd by such a saintliness.

Angel.
All praise to Him, at whose sublime decree

The last are first, the first become the last ;
By whom the suppliant prisoner is set free,
By whom proud first-borns from their
thrones are cast.

* * * * Hs *

§ 3-
Soul.

I will address him. Mighty one, my Lord,
My Guardian Spirit, all hail !

Angel.
All hail, my child !
My child and brother, hail ! what wouldest
thou .?



204 THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS.

Soul.

I would have nothing but to speak with thee
For speaking's sake. I wish to hold with thee
Conscious communion ; though I fain wouki

know
A maze of things, were it but meet to ask,
And not a curiousness.

Angel.

You cannot now
Cherish a wish which ought not to be wish'd.

Soul.

Then I will speak. I ever had believed
That on the moment when the struggling soul
Quitted its mortal case, forthwith it fell
Under the awful Presence of its God,
There to be judged and sent to its own place.
What lets me now from going to my Lord ?

Angel.

Thou art not let ; but with extremest speed
Art hurrying to the Just and Holy Judge :



THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS. 205

For scarcely art thou disembodied yet.
Divide a moment, as men measure time,
Into its million-million-millionth part,
Yet even less than that the interval
Since thou didst leave the body ; and the priest
Cried "Subvenite," and they fell to prayer ;
Nay, scarcely yet have they begun to pray.

For spirits and men by different standards mete
The less and greater in the flow of time.
By sun and moon, primeval ordinances —
By stars which rise and set harmoniously —
By the recurring seasons, and the swing.
This way and that, of the suspended rod
Precise and punctual, men divide the hours.
Equal, continuous, for their common use.

Not so with us in the immaterial world ;
But intervals in their succession
Are measured by the living thought alone
And grow or wane with its intensity.
And time is not a comm.on property ;
But what is long is short, and swift is slow,
And near is distant, as received and grasp'd
By this mind and by that, and every one



2o5 THE DREAM OE GERONTIUS.

Is standard of his own chronology.

And memory lacks its natural resting-points

Of years, and centuries, and periods.

It is thy very energy of thought

Which keeps thee from thy God.

Soul.

Dear Angel, say,
Why have I now no fear at meeting Him.?
Along my earthly life, the thought of death
And judgment was to me most terrible.
1 had it aye before me, and I saw
The Judge severe e'en in the Crucifix.
Now that the hour is come, my fear is fled ;
And at this balance of my destiny,
Now close upon me, I can forward look
With a serenest joy.

Angel.

It is because
Then thou didst fear, that now thou dost not

fear,
Thou hast forestall'd the agony, and so
For thee the bitterness of death is past.



THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS. 207

Also, because already in thy soul

The judgment is begun. That day of doom,

One and the same for the collected world —

That solemn consummation for all flesh,

Is, in the case of each, anticipate

Upon his death : and, as the last great day

In the particular judgment is rehearsed,

So now, too, ere thou comest to the Throne,

A presage falls upon thee, as a ray

Straight from the Judge, expressive of thy lot.

That calm and joy uprising in thy soul

Is first-fruit to thee of thy recompense,

And heaven begun.

§4.

Soul.
But hark ! upon my sense
Comes a fierce hubbub, which would make

me fear,
Could I be frighted.

Angel.
We are now arrived
Close on the judgment-court ; that sullen howl
Is from the demons who assemble there.



20 8 THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS.

It is the middle region, where of old
Satan appeared among the sons of God,
To cast his jibes and scoifs at holy Job.
So now his legions throng the vestibule,
Hungr}' and wild, to claim their property,
And gather souls for hell. Hist to their cry.

Soul.
How sour and how uncouth a dissonance !

Demons.

Low-born clods
Of brute earth,
They aspire
To become gods.
By a new birth,
And an extra grace,
And a score of merits,
As if aught
Could stand in place

Of the high thought.
And the glance of fire
Of the great spirits,
The powers blest.



THE DREAM OF GEKONTIUS. 209

The lords by right,
The primal owners,
Of the proud dwelling
And realm of lights —
Dispossess'd,
Aside thrust,

Chuck'd down
By the sheer might
Of a despot's will,

Of a tyrant's frown.
Who after expelling
Their hosts, gave,
Triumphant still, '
And still unjust,

Each forfeit crown
To psalm-droners,
And canting groan ers,

To every slave,
And pious cheat,

And crawling knave,
Who lick'd the dust
Under his feet.



14



2IO THE DREAM OF GERONTWS.

Angel.

It is the restless panting of their being ;
Like beasts of prey, who, caged within their

bars,
In a deep hideous purring have their Ufe,
And an incessant pacing to and fro.

% ik ^ Hi

Soul.

How impotent they are ! and yet on earth
They have repute for wondrous power and

skill ;
And books describe, how that the very face
Of the Evil One, if seen, would have a force
Even to freeze the blood, and choke the life
Of him who saw it.

Angel.

In thy trial- state
Thou hadst a traitor nestling close at home,
Connatural, who with the powers of hell
Was leagued, and of Thy senses kept the keys,
And to that deadliest foe unlock'd thy heart.
And therefore is it, in respect of man,



THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS, 211

Those fallen ones show so majestical.

But, when some child of grace, Angel or Saint,

Pure and upright in his integrity

Of nature, meets the demons on their raid,

They scud away as cowards from the fight.

Nay, oft hath holy hermit in his cell,

Not yet disburden 'd of mortality,

Mock'd at their threats and warlike overtures ;

Or, dying, when they swarm 'd like flies,

around,
Defied them, and departed to his Judge.



Demons.

Virtue and vice,

A knave's pretence,
'Tis all the same ;
Ha ! ha !

Dread of hell-fire,
Of the venomous flame,
A coward's plea.
Give him his price,

Saint though he be,
Ha ! ha !



2 12 TFIE DREAM OF GERONTIUS.

From shrewd good sense

He'll slave for hire ;
Ha ! ha !

And does but aspire
To the heaven above

With sordid aim,
And not from love.

Ha ! ha 1



Soul.

I see not those false spirits ; shall I see
My dearest Master, when I reach His throne?
Or hear, at least, His awful judgment-word
With personal intonation, as I now
Hear thee, not see thee. Angel ? Hitherto
All has been darkness since I left the earth ;
Shall I remain thus sight-bereft all through
My penance-time ? It so, how comes it then
That I am hearing still, and taste, and touch,
Yet not a glimmer of that princely sense
Which binds ideas in one, and makes them
live ?



THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS. 213

AngeLo

Nor touch, nor taste, nor hearing hast thou

now ;
Thou Uvest in a world of signs and types,
The presentations of most holy truths,
Living and strong, which now encompass thee.
A disembodied soul, thou hast by right
No converse with aught beside thyself;
But, lest so stern a solitude should load
And break thy being, in mercy are vouchsafed
Some lower measures of perception,
Which seem to thee, as though through chan-
nels brought.
Through ear, or nerves, or palate, which are

gone.
And thou art wrapp'd and swathed around in

dreams,
Dreams that are true, yet enigmatical ;
For the belongings of thy present state,
Sai-e through such symbols, come not home

to thee.
And thus thou tell'st of space, and time, and

size,
Of fragrant, solid, bitter, musical,



214 THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS.

Of fire, and of refreshment after fire *
As (let me use similitude of earth,
To aid thee in the knowledge thou dost ask),
As ice which blisters may be said to burn.
Nor hast thou now extension, with its parts
Correlative, — long habit cozens thee, —
Nor power to move thyself, nor limbs to move.
Hast thou not heard of those, who after loss
Of hand or foot, still cried that they had

pains
In hand or foot, as though they had it still .?
So is it now with thee, who hast not lost
Thy hand or foot, but all which made up

man.
So will it be, until the joyous day
Of resurrection, when thou wilt regain
All thou hast lost, new-made and glorified.
How, even now, the consummated Saints
See God in heaven, I may not explicate ;
Meanwhile, let it suffice thee to possess
Such means of converse as are granted thee,
Though, till that Beatific Vision, thou art

blind.



THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS. 215

Soul.

His will be done !
I am not M^orthy ere to see again
The face of day ; far less His countenance.
Who is the very sun. * ^ * * * >}c

Angel.

Yes, — for one moment thou shalt see thy

Lord.
Thus will it be : what time thou art arraign' d
Before the dread tribunal, and thy lot
Is cast for ever, should it be to sit
On His right hand among His pure elect.
Then sight, or that which to the soul is sight,
As by a lightning-flash, will come to thee,
And thou shalt see, amid the dark profound,
Whom thy soul loveth and would fain ap-
proach, —
One moment; but thou knowest not, my

child.
What thoa dost ask ; that sight of the Most

Fair
Will gladden thee, but it will pierce thee too.



2l6 THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS.

Soul.

Thou speakest darkly, Angel ; and an awe
Falls on me, and a fear lest I be rash.

Angel.

There was a mortal, who is now above
In the mid glory : he, when near to die,
Was given communion with the Crucified, —
Such, that the Master's very wounds were

stamp'd
Upon his flesh ; and, from the agony
Which thriU'd through body and soul in that

embrace,
Learn that the flame of the Everlasting Love
Doth burn ere it transform.



. . . Hark to those sounds !
They come of tender beings angelical,
Least and most childlike of the sons of God.



THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS. 217

First Choir of Angelicals.

Praise to the Holiest in the height,

And in the depth be praise ;
In all His words most wonderful ;

Most sure in all His ways !

To us His elder race He gave

To battle and to win,
Without the chastisement of pain,

Without the soil of sin.

The younger son He will'd to be

A marvel in His birth :
Spirit and flesh his parents were ;

His home was heaven and earth.

The Eternal bless'd His child, and arm'd

And sent him hence afar,
To serve as champion in the field

Of elemental war.

To be His Viceroy in the world

Of matter, and of sense ;
Upon the frontier, towards the foe

A resolute defence.



2l8 THE DREAM OF CERONTIUS.

Angel.

We now have pass'd the gate, and are within
The House of Judgment ; and whereas on

earth
Temples and palaces are form'd of parts
Costly and rare, but all material,
So in the world of spirits nought is found.
To mould withal, and form into a whole,
But what is immaterial ; and thus
The smallest portions of this edifice.
Cornice, or frieze, or balustrade, or stair —
The very pavement is made up of life —
Of holy, blessed, and immortal beings,
Who hymn their Maker's praise continually.

Second Choir of Angelicals.

Praise to the Holiest in the height,

And in the depth be praise :
In all His words most wonderful ;

Most sure in all His ways !

Woe to thee, man ! for he was found

A recreant in the fight ;
And lost his heritage of heaven.

And fellowship with light.



THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS. 219

Above him now the angry sky,

Around the tempest's din ;
Who once had Angels for his friends,

Had but the brutes for kin.

O man ! a savage kindred they ;

To flee that monster brood
He scaled the seaside cave and clomb

The giants of the wood.

With now a fear, and now a hope,
With aids which chance supplied,

From youth to eld, from sire to son,
He lived, and toil'd, and died.

He dreed his penance age by age ,

And step by step began
Slowly to doff his savage garb,

And be again a man.

And quicken'd by the Almighty's breath,

And chasten'd by His rod,
And taught by angel-visitings.

At length he sought his God ;



2 20 THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS.

And learn'd to call upon His Name

And in His faith create
A household and a father-land

A city and a state.

Glory to Him who from the mire,

In patient length of days,
Elaborated into life

A people to His praise !

Soul.

The sound is like the rushing of the wind —
The summer wind — among the lofty pines ;
Swelling and dying, echoing round about,
Now here, now distant, w41d and beautiful ;
While, scatter'd from the branches it has

stirred,
Descend ecstatic odors.

Third Choir of Angelicals,

Praise to The Holiest in the height,

And in the depth be praise :
In all His words most wonderful ;

Most sure in all His ways !



THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS. 22 L

The Angels, as beseemingly

To spirit-kind was given,
At once were tried and perfected,

And took their seats in heaven.

For them no twilight or eclipse ;

No growth and no decay :
'Twas hopeless, all-ingulfing night,

Or beatific day.

But to the younger race there rose

A hope upon its fall ;
And slowly, surely, gracefully,

The morning dawn'd on all.

And ages, opening out, divide

The precious, and the base.
And from the hard and sullen mass

Mature the heirs of grace.

O man ! albeit the quickening ray.

Lit from his second birth,
Makes him at length what once he was,

And heaven grows out of earth ;



222 THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS.

Yet still between that earth and heaven-

His journey and his goal —
A double agony awaits

His body and his soul.

A double debt he has to pay

The forfeit of his sins :
The chill of death is past, and now

The penance-fire begins.

Glory to Him, who evermore

By truth and justice reigns ;
Who tears the soul from out its case,

And burns away its stains !

Angel.

They sing of thy approaching agony,
Which thou so eagerly didst question of:
It is the face of the Incarnate God
Shall smite thee with that keen and sjubtle
pain ;

And yet the memory which it leaves will be
A sovereign febrifuge to heal the wound ;
And yet withal it will the wound provoke,
And aggravate and widen it the more.



THE DREAM GF GERONTIUS. 223

Soul.

Thou speakest mysteries ; still methinks I

know
To disengage the tangle of thy words :
Yet rather would I hear thy angel voice,
Than for myself be thy interpreter.

Angel.

When then — if such thy lot — thou seest thy

Judge,
The sight of Him will kindle in thy heart
All tender, gracious, reverential thoughts.
Thou wilt be sick with love, and yearn for

Him,
And feel as though thou couldst but pity Him,
That one so sweet should e'er have placed

Himself
At disadvantage such, as to be used
So -vilely by a being so vile as thee.
There is a pleading in His pensive eyes
Will pierce thee to the quick, and trouble

thee.
And thou wilt hate and loathe thyself; for,

though



2 24 THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS.

Now sinless, thou wilt feel that thou hast

sinn'd,
As never thou didst feel ; and wilt desire
To slink away, and hide thee from His sight :
And yet wilt have a longing aye to dwell
Within the beauty of His countenance.
And these two pains, so cc»unter and so

keen, —
The longing for Him, when thou seest Him

not ;
The shame of self at thought of seeing Him, —
Will be thy veriest, sharpest purgatory.

Soul.

]\Iy soul is in my hand : I have no fear, —
In His dear might prepared for weal or woe.
But hark 1 a grand, mysterious harmony :
It floods me like the deep and solemn sound
Of many waters.

Angfx.

We have gain'd the stairs
Which rise towards the Presence-chamber ;
there



THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS. 225

A band of mighty Angels keep the way

On either side, and hymn the Incarnate God.



Angels of the Sacred Stair.

Father, whose goodness none can know, but
they
Who see Thee face to face,
By man hath come the infinite display

Of thy victorious grace ;
But fallen man — the creature of a day —

Skills not that love to trace.
It needs, to tell- the triumph Thou hast

wrought.
An Angel's deathless fire, an Angel's reach
of thought.

It needs that very Angel, who with awe

Amid the garden shade.
The great Creator in His sickness saw,

Soothed by a creature's aid.
And agonized, as victim of the Law

Which He Himself had made.
15



2 26 THE DREAM OF GERONTWS.



For who can praise Him in His depth and

height,
But he who saw Him reel amid that solitary

fidit ?



Soul.

Hark ! for the Hntels of the presence-gate
Are vibrating and echoing back the strain.



Fourth Choir of Angelicals.

Praise to the Hohest in the height,
And in the depth be praise ;

In all His words most wonderful ;
jVIost sure in all His ways !

The foe blasphemed the Holy Lord,

As if He reckoned ill.
In that He placed His puppet man

The frontier place to fill.

For, even in his best estate,
With amplest gifts endued,

A sorry sentinel was he,
A being of flesh and blood.



THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS. 227

As though a thing, who for his help

Must needs possess a wife,
Could cope with those proud rebel hosts

Who had angelic life.

And when, by blandishment of Eve,

That earth-born Adam fell,
He shriek'd in triumph, and he cried,

' ' A sorry sentinel ;

" The Maker by His word is bound.

Escape or cure is none ;
He must abandon to his doom,

And slay His darling Son."

Angel.

And now the threshold, as we traverse it
Utters aloud its glad responsive chant.

Fifth Choir of Axgelicals.

Praise to the Holiest in the height,

And in the depth be praise :
In all His words most wonderful ;

Most sure in all His ways !



22 8 THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS.

O loving wisdom of our God !

When all was sin and shame,
A second Adam to the fight

And to the rescue came.

O wisest love ! that flesh and blood

Which did in Adam fail,
Should strive afresh against their foe,

Should strive and should prevail ;



And thai a higher gift than grace
Should flesh and blood refine,

God's Presence and His veiy Self,
And Essence all-divine.



O generous love ! that He who smote

In man for man the foe,
The double agony in man

For man should undergo ;

And in the garden secretly,

And on the cross on high.
Should teach His brethren and inspire

To suffer and to die.



THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS. 229

§ 6.

Angel.

Thy judgment now is near, for we are come
Into the veiled presence of our God.


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