Beyond the Hills of Dream

by William Wilfred Campbell


 

Lazarus


 

O FATHER ABRAM, I can never rest,
Here in thy bosom in the whitest heaven,
Where love blooms on through days without an even;
For up through all the paradises seven,
There comes a cry from some fierce, anguished breast,—
5

A cry that comes from out of hell’s dark night,
A piercing cry of one in agony,
That reaches me here in heaven white and high;
A call of anguish that doth never die;
Like dream-waked infant wailing for the light.
10

O Father Abram, heaven is love and peace,
And God is good; eternity is rest.
Sweet would it be to lie upon thy breast
And know no thought but loving to be blest
Save for that cry that nevermore will cease.
15

It comes to me above the angel-lyres,
The chanting praises of the cherubim;
It comes between my upward gaze and Him,
All-blessed Christ; a voice from the vague dim—
“O Lazarus, come and ease me of these fires.”
20

O Lazarus, I have called thee all these years,
It is so long for me to reach to thee,
Across the ages of this mighty sea,
That loometh dark, dense, like eternity;
Which I have bridged by anguished prayers and tears:

25

“Which I have bridged by knowledge of God’s love,
That even penetrates this anguished glare;
A gleaming ray, a tremulous star-built stair,
A road by which love-hungered souls may fare
Past hate and doubt, to heaven and God above.”
30

So calleth it ever upward unto me:
It creepeth in through heaven’s golden doors:
It echoes all along the sapphire floors:
Like smoke of sacrifice, it soars and soars,
It fills the vastness of eternity;
35

Until my sense of love is waned and dimmed:
The music-rounded spheres do clash and jar,
No more those spirit-calls from star to star,
Those harmonies that float and melt afar,
Those belts of light by which all heaven is rimmed.
40

No more I hear the beat of heavenly wings,
The seraph chanting in my rest-tuned ear:
I only know a cry, a prayer, a tear,
That rises from the depths up to me here;
A soul that to me suppliant leans and clings.
45

O Father Abram, thou must bid me go
Into the spaces of the deep abyss;
Where far from us and our God-given bliss,
Do dwell those souls that have done Christ amiss;
For through my rest I hear that upward woe.
50

I hear it crying through the heavenly night,
When curved, hung in space, the million moons
Lean planet-ward, and infinite space attunes
Itself to silence. As from drear gray dunes
A cry is heard along the shuddering light,
55

Of wild dusk-bird, a sad, heart-curdling cry,
So comes to me that call from out hell’s coasts;
I see an infinite shore with gaping ghosts!
This is no heaven, with all its shining hosts!
This is no heaven, until that hell doth die!
60

So spake the soul of Lazarus, and from thence,
Like new-fledged bird from its sun-jewelled nest,
Drunk with the music of the young year’s quest,
He sank out into heaven’s gloried breast,
Spaceward turned, toward darkness dim, immense.
65

Hellward he moved like a radiant star shot out
From heaven’s blue with rain of gold at even,
When Orion’s train and that mysterious seven
Move on in mystic range from heaven to heaven—
Hellward he sank, followed by radiant rout.
70

The liquid floor of heaven bore him up
With unseen arms, as in his feathery flight
He floated down toward the infinite night;
And each way downward, on the left and right,
He saw each moon of heaven like a cup
75

Of liquid, misty fire that shone afar
From sentinel towers of heaven’s battlements;
But onward, winged by love’s desire intense,
And sank, space-swallowed, into the immense,
While with him ever widened heaven’s bar.
80

’T is ages now long-gone since he went out,
Christ-urged, love-driven, across the jasper walls;
But hellward still he ever floats and falls,
And ever nearer come those anguished calls;
And far behind he hears a glorious shout.
85