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A Vision Of Resurrection

Ambrose Bierce 1842 (Meigs County) – 1914 (Chihuahua)

I had a dream. The habitable earth
Its continents and islands, all were bare
Of cities and of forests. Naught remained
Of its old aspect, and I only knew
(As men know things in dreams, unknowing how)
That this was earth and that all men were dead.
On every side I saw the barren land,
Even to the distant sky's inclosing blue,
Thick-pitted all with graves; and all the graves
Save one were open-not as newly dug,
But rather as by some internal force
Riven for egress. Tombs of stone were split
And wide agape, and in their iron decay
The massive mausoleums stood in halves.
With mildewed linen all the ground was white.
Discarded shrouds upon memorial stones
Hung without motion in the soulless air.
While greatly marveling how this should be
I heard, or fancied that I heard, a voice,
Low like an angel's, delicately strong,
And sweet as music.

-'Spirit,' it said, 'behold
The burial place of universal Man!
A million years have rolled away since here
His sheeted multitudes (save only some
Whose dark misdeeds required a separate
And individual arraignment) rose
To judgment at the trumpet's summoning
And passed into the sky for their award,
Leaving behind these perishable things
Which yet, preserved by miracle, endure
Till all are up. Then they and all of earth,
Rock-hearted mountain and storm-breasted sea,
River and wilderness and sites of dead
And vanished capitals of men, shall spring
To flame, and naught shall be for evermore!
When all are risen that wonder will occur.
'Twas but ten centuries ago the last
But one came forth-a soul so black with sin,
Against whose name so many crimes were set
That only now his trial is at end.
But one remains.'

Straight, as the voice was stilled
That single rounded mound cracked lengthliwise
And one came forth in grave-clothes. For a space
He stood and gazed about him with a smile
Superior; then laying off his shroud
Disclosed his two attenuated legs
Which, like parentheses, bent outwardly
As by the weight of saintliness above,
And so sprang upward and was lost to view
Noting his headstone overthrown, I read:
'Sacred to memory of George K. Fitch,
Deacon and Editor-a holy man
Who fell asleep in Jesus, full of years
And blessedness. The dead in Christ rise first.'

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Ambrose Bierce

Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce was an American editorialist, journalist, short story writer, fabulist, and satirist. more…

All Ambrose Bierce poems | Ambrose Bierce Books

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