The River Path
No bird-song floated down the hill,
The tangled bank below was still;
No rustle from the birchen stem,
No ripple from the water's hem.
The dusk of twilight round us grew,
We felt the falling of the dew;
For, from us, ere the day was done,
The wooded hills shut out the sun.
But on the river's farther side
We saw the hill-tops glorified,--
A tender glow, exceeding fair,
A dream of day without its glare.
With us the damp, the chill, the gloom
With them the sunset's rosy bloom;
While dark, through willowy vistas seen,
The river rolled in shade between.
From out the darkness where we trod,
We gazed upon those bills of God,
Whose light seemed not of moon or sun.
We spake not, but our thought was one.
We paused, as if from that bright shore
Beckoned our dear ones gone before;
And stilled our beating hearts to hear
The voices lost to mortal ear!
Sudden our pathway turned from night;
The hills swung open to the light;
Through their green gates the sunshine showed,
A long, slant splendor downward flowed.
Down glade and glen and bank it rolled;
It bridged the shaded stream with gold;
And, borne on piers of mist, allied
The shadowy with the sunlit side!
"So," prayed we, "when our feet draw near
The river dark, with mortal fear,
"And the night cometh chill with dew,
O Father! let Thy light break through!
"So let the hills of doubt divide,
So bridge with faith the sunless tide!
"So let the eyes that fail on earth
On Thy eternal hills look forth;
"And in Thy beckoning angels know
The dear ones whom we loved below!"