Later Poems

by Bliss Carman


 

The Angels of Man


 

THE word of the Lord of the outer worlds
Went forth on the deeps of space,
That Michael, Gabriel, Rafael,
Should stand before his face,
The seraphs of his threefold will,
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Each in his ordered place.

Brave Michael, the right hand of God,
Strong Gabriel, his voice,
Fair Rafael, his holy breath
That makes the world rejoice,—

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Archangels of omnipotence,
Of knowledge, and of choice;

Michael, angel of loveliness
In all things that survive,
And Gabriel, whose part it is

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To ponder and contrive,
And Rafael, who puts the heart
In every thing alive.

Came Rafael, the enraptured soul,
Stainless as wind or fire,

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The urge within the flux of things,
The life that must aspire,
With whom is the beginning,
The worth, and the desire;

And Gabriel, the all-seeing mind,

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Bringer of truth and light,
Who lays the courses of the stars
In their stupendous flight,
And calls the migrant flocks of spring
Across the purple night;
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And Michael, the artificer
Of beauty, shape, and hue,
Lord of the forges of the sun,
The crucible of the dew,
And driver of the plowing rain
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When the flowers are born anew.

Then said the Lord: "Ye shall account
For the ministry ye hold,
Since ye have been my sons to keep
My purpose from of old.

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How fare the realms within your sway
To perfections still untold?"

Answered each as he had the word.
And a great silence fell
On all the listening hosts of heaven

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To hear their captains tell,—
With the breath of the wind, the call of a bird,
And the cry of a mighty bell.

Then the Lord said: "The time is ripe
For finishing my plan,

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And the accomplishment of that
For which all time began.
Therefore on you is laid the task
Of the fashioning of a man;

"In your own likeness shall he be,

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To triumph in the end.
I only give him Michael’s strength
To guard him and defend,
With Gabriel to be his guide,
And Rafael his friend.
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"Ye shall go forth upon the earth,
And make there Paradise,
And be the angels of that place
To make men glad and wise,
With loving-kindness in their hearts,
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And knowledge in their eyes.

"And ye shall be man’s counselors
That neither rest nor sleep,
To cheer the lonely, lift the frail,
And solace them that weep.

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And ever on his wandering trail
Your watch-fires ye shall keep;

"Till in the far years he shall find
The country of his quest,
The empire of the open truth,

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The vision of the best,
Foreseen by every mother saint
With her new-born on her breast."