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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Emma Huntington Nason (1845–1921)

Body and Soul

HERE at life’s silent, shadowy gate,

O Soul, my Soul, I lie and wait;

Faint in the darkness, blind and dumb,

O Soul, my promised comrade, come!

The morn breaks gladly in the east;

Hush! hark! the signs of solemn feast:

The softened footstep on the stair;

The happy smile, the chant, the prayer;

The dainty robes, the christening-bowl—

’Tis well with Body and with Soul.

Why lingerest thou at dawn of life?

Seest not a world with pleasure rife?

Hear’st not the song and whir of bird?

The joyous leaves to music stirred?

Thou too shalt sing and float in light;

My Soul, thou shalt be happy—quite.

But yet so young, and such unrest?

Thou must be glad, my glorious guest.

Here is the revel, here is mirth,

Here strains enchanting sway the earth;

Measures of joy in fullness spent:

My Soul, thou canst but be content.

Is this a tear upon my hand?

A tear? I do not understand.

Ripples of laughter, and a moan?

Why sit we thus, apart, alone?

Lift up thine eyes, O Soul, and sing!

He comes, our lover and our king!

Feel how each pulse in rapture thrills!

Look, at our feet the red wine spills!

And he—he comes with step divine,

A spirit meet, O Soul, for thine.

Body and Soul’s supremest bliss—

What, dost thou ask for more than this?

Stay, here are houses, lands, and gold;

Here, honor’s hand; here, gains untold:

Drink thou the full cup to the lees;

Drink, Soul, and make thy bed in ease.

Thou art my prisoner; thou my slave:

And thou shalt sip wherein I lave.

Nay? nay? Then there are broader fields,

Whose luring path a treasure yields:

Thou shalt the universe explore,

Its heights of knowledge, depths of lore;

Shalt journey far o’er land and sea:

And I, my Soul, will follow thee;

Will follow—follow—but I lag:

My heart grows faint, my footsteps flag.

And there are higher, holier things?

Is this a taunt thy spirit flings?

What is it, Soul, that thou wouldst say?

Thou erst had time to fast and pray.

Give me one word, one loving sign,

For this spent life of yours and mine!

I held thee fast by sordid ties?

I trailed thy garments, veiled thine eyes?

Go on, I come: but once did wait,

O Soul, for thee, at morning’s gate.

Canst thou not pause to give me breath?

Perchance this shadow, Soul, is death.

I stumble, fall—it is the grave:

I am the prisoner, I the slave;

And thou, strange guest, for aye art free:

Forgive me, Soul,—I could but be

The earth that soiled, the fleshly clod,

The weight that bound thee to the sod.

Dust unto dust! I hear the knell;

And yet, O Soul, I love thee well!