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Poem by Dinah Maria Craik

After Sunset

REST--rest--four little letters, one short word,
Enfolding an infinitude of bliss--
Rest is upon the earth. The heavy clouds
Hang poised in silent ether, motionless,
Seeking nor sun nor breeze. No restless star
Thrills the sky's gray-robed breast with pulsing rays,
The night's heart has throbbed out.
No grass blade stirs,
No downy-wingèd moth comes flittering by
Caught by the light--Thank God, there is no light,
No open-eyed, loud-voiced, quick motioned light,
Nothing but gloom and rest.
A row of trees
Along the hill horizon, westward, stands
All black and still, as if it were a rank
Of fallen angels, melancholy met
Before the amber gate of Paradise--
The bright shut gate, whose everlasting smile
Deadens despair to calm.
O, better far
Better than bliss is rest! If suddenly
Those burnished doors of molten gold, steel-barred,
Which the sun closed behind him as he went
Into his bridal chamber--were to burst
Asunder with a clang, and in a breath
God's mysteries were revealed--His kingdom came--
The multitudes of heavenly messengers
Hastening throughout all space--the thunder quire
Of praise--the obedient lightnings' lambent gleam
Around the unseen Throne--should I not sink
Crushed by the weight of such beatitudes,
Crying, 'Rest, only rest, thou merciful God!
Hide me within the hollow of Thy hand
In some dark corner of the universe,
Thy bright, full, busy universe, that blinds,
Deafens, and tortures--Give me only rest!'

O for a soul-sleep, long and deep and still!
To lie down quiet after the weary day,
Dropping all pleasant flowers from the numbed hands,
Bidding good-night to all companions dear,
Drawing the curtains on this darkened world,
Closing the eyes, and with a patient sigh
Murmuring 'Our Father'--fall on sleep, till dawn! 

Dinah Maria Craik

Dinah Maria Craik's other poems:
  1. Westward Ho!
  2. At Even-Tide
  3. Rothesay Bay
  4. In Swanage Bay
  5. A True Hero

Poems of the other poets with the same name:

  • William Allingham After Sunset ("The vast and solemn company of clouds")

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