Lyrics of Life (1909)/Before the Dawn
BEFORE THE DAWN
I looked on beauteous forms, as I lay dreaming,
But on no form as beautiful as thine,
Who here, amid the moonbeams white and holy,
Standest in silence by this bed of mine.
I looked on faces fair, as I lay sleeping,
But on no face that seemed so nobly sweet
As that which in the pallid light above me
My wondering, half-awakened sense doth greet.
Who and what art thou? Have I kept thee waiting?
My sleep was as a river deep and calm;
Bring'st thou perchance some word of import for me?
Hast thou for broken hearts, like mine, some balm?
Who and what art thou? In my tranquil vision
I gazed through rifted clouds on azure skies,—
I seemed to gaze beyond them,—but naught moved me
Like the deep pity in thy brooding eyes.
Why art thou here to-night? I have been lonely—
Have waited, prayed, for such an one as thou,
To still with presence kind my pulse's throbbing,
To lay a cooling touch upon my brow.
Tell me thy name! Then, pain and fear forgotten,
I straightway will arise and follow thee,
Who, as I think, art hither come to guide me
To larger hope and opportunity.
Tell me thy name! I long, I need, to hear it!
Thy name!—I may not plead, for failing breath,—
With look compassionate, the august stranger
Made answer very softly: "I am Death."