When I said this, the cloud of witnesses
Turned their heads sideways, and the cloud grew dim I saw their faces half, but now their bliss
Gleamed low, like the old moon in the new moon's rim.
Then as I gazed, a better kind of light On every outline 'gan to glimmer and swim,
Faint as the young moon threadlike on the night,
Just born of sunbeams trembling on her edge: 'Twas a great cluster of profiles in sharp white.
Had some far dawn begun to drive a wedge
Into the night, and cleave the clinging dark? I saw no moon or star, token or pledge
Of light, save that manifold silvery mark,
The shining title of each spirit-book. Whence came that light? Sudden, as if a spark
Of vital touch had found some hidden nook
Where germs of potent harmonies lay prest, And their outbursting life old Aether shook,
Rose, as in prayer to lingering promised guest,
From that great cone of faces such a song, Instinct with hope's harmonical unrest,
That with sore weeping, and the cry "How long?"
I bore my part because I could not sing. And as they sang, the light more clear and strong
Bordered their faces, till the glory-sting
I could almost no more encounter and bear; Light from their eyes, like water from a spring,
Flowed; on their foreheads reigned their flashing hair;
I saw the light from eyes I could not see. "He comes! he comes!" they sang, "comes to our prayer!"
"Oh my poor heart, if only it were He!"
I cried. Thereat the faces moved! those eyes Were turning on me! In rushed ecstasy,
And woke me to the light of lower skies.