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The Soul's Destiny

In the liquid vault of ether hung the starry gems of light,
Blazing with unwonted splendor on the ebon brow of night;
Far across the arching concave like a train of silver lay,
Nebulous, and white, and dreamy, heaven's star-wrought Milky Way.

I was gazing, gazing upward, all my senses captive fraught,
From the earnest contemplation of celestial glories caught,
When the thought arose within me, as the ages onward roll
What may be th' eternal portion of the vast, th' immortal soul?

When the crimson tide of Nature ceases from its ruddy flow,
And these decaying bodies mouldering are so cold and low,
And the loathsome grave-worm feeding on the still and pulseless
Where may be the immortal spirit, what may be its deathless part?

Deep and far within the ether stretched my eyes their anxious gaze,
While the swelling thoughts within me grew a wild and wildered maze,
Then came floating on the distance, softly to my listening ears,
Low, thrilling harmonies of worlds whirling in their bright spheres.

From the sparkling orb of Venus, sweetest star that gems the blue,
Soon a form of seraph beauty burst upon my raptured view;
Wavy robes were floating round her, and her richly-clustering hair
Lay like golden-wreathed moonbeams round her forehead young and fair.

Then a company of seraphs gathered round this form so bright,
And unfurled their snowy pinions in those realms of crystal light,
Sweeping swiftly onward, onward with their music-breathing wings,
Till they passed the distant orbit where the mighty Neptune swings.

Then from stormy, wild Orion, to the dragon's fiery roll,
And the sturdy Ursa Major tramping round the Boreal pole,
On to stately Argo Navis rearing diamond spars on high,
Starry bands of seraph wanderers clove the azure of the sky.

Lofty awe and adoration all my throbbing bosom filled,
Every pulse and nerve in nature with ecstatic wonder thrilled.
O, were these bright, shining millions disembodied human souls,
That casting off earth's fettering bonds had gained immortal goals!

On each face there beamed a brightness mortal words can ne'er
Seemed it the concentred glory of the boundless universe.
O, 'twas light, 'twas love, 'twas wisdom, science, knowledge, all
'Twas the ultimate perfection of the God-like human mind!

One by one the constellations sank below the horizon's rim,
And with grief I found my starry vision growing earthly dim;
While all the thrilling harmonies, that filled the air around,
Died off in far, sweet echoings, within the dark profound.

Bowing then with lowly seeming on the damp and dewy sod,
All my soul in adoration floated up to Nature's God,
While the struggling thoughts within me found voice in earnest
'Almighty Father, let my soul one day those glories share!'

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

2:20 min read

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper born to free parents in Baltimore Maryland was an African American abolitionist and poet more…

All Frances Ellen Watkins Harper poems | Frances Ellen Watkins Harper Books

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