“Undying Light” by Richard Watson Gilder

by Ann Neilson

ap25.110.63

Jasper Francis Cropsey’s “Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania,” from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Undying Light.
By R[ichard]. W[atson]. Gilder
From the Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, 1886, pg. 790.

I.
WHEN in the golden western summer skies
A flaming glory starts, and slowly fades
Through crimson tone on tone to deeper shades,
There falls a silence, while the daylight dies
Lingering,—but not with human agonies
That tear the soul, or terror that degrades;
A holy peace the failing world pervardes
Nor any fear of that which onward lies;
For well, ah well, the darkened vale recalls
A thousand times ten thousand vanished suns;
Ten thousand sunsets from whose blackened walls
Reflamed the white and living day, that runs,
In light which brings all beauty to the birth,
Deathless forever round the ancient earth.

II.
O thou the Lord and Maker of life and light!
Full heavy are the burdens that do weigh
Our spirits earthward, as through twilight gray
We journey to the end and rest of night;
Though well we know to the deep inward sight
Darkness is but thy shadow, and the day
Where thou art never dies, but sends its ray
Through the wide universe with restless might.
O Lord of Light, steep thou our souls in thee!
That when the daylight trembles into shade,
And falls the silence of mortality,
And all is done,—we shall not be afraid,
But pass from light to light; from what doth seem
Into the very heart and heaven of our dream.