The Story Of The Faithful Soul by Adelaide Anne Procter

FOUNDED ON AN OLD FRENCH LEGENDThe fettered Spirits lingerIn purgatorial pain,With penal fires effacingTheir last faint earthly stain,Which Life’s imperfect sorrowHad tri …

FOUNDED ON AN OLD FRENCH LEGEND

The fettered Spirits linger
In purgatorial pain,
With penal fires effacing
Their last faint earthly stain,
Which Life’s imperfect sorrow
Had tried to cleanse in vain.

Yet on each feast of Mary
Their sorrow finds release,
For the Great Archangel Michael
Comes down and bids it cease;
And the name of these brief respites
Is called “Our Lady’s Peace.”

Yet once–so runs the Legend–
When the Archangel came
And all these holy spirits
Rejoiced at Mary’s name;
One voice alone was wailing,
Still wailing on the same.

And though a great Te Deum
The happy echoes woke,
This one discordant wailing
Through the sweet voices broke;
So when St. Michael questioned,
Thus the poor spirit spoke:-

“I am not cold or thankless,
Although I still complain;
I prize our Lady’s blessing
Although it comes in vain
To still my bitter anguish,
Or quench my ceaseless pain.

“On earth a heart that loved me,
Still lives and mourns me there,
And the shadow of his anguish
Is more than I can bear;
All the torment that I suffer
Is the thought of his despair.

“The evening of my bridal
Death took my Life away;
Not all Love’s passionate pleading
Could gain an hour’s delay.
And he I left has suffered
A whole year since that day.

“If I could only see him,–
If I could only go
And speak one word of comfort
And solace,–then, I know
He would endure with patience,
And strive against his woe.”

Thus the Archangel answered:-
“Your time of pain is brief,
And soon the peace of Heaven
Will give you full relief;
Yet if his earthly comfort
So much outweighs your grief,

“Then, through a special mercy
I offer you this grace,–
You may seek him who mourns you
And look upon his face,
And speak to him of comfort
For one short minute’s space.

“But when that time is ended,
Return here, and remain
A thousand years in torment,
A thousand years in pain:
Thus dearly must you purchase
The comfort he will gain.”

* * *

The Lime-trees’ shade at evening
Is spreading broad and wide;
Beneath their fragrant arches,
Pace slowly, side by side,
In low and tender converse,
A Bridegroom and his Bride.

The night is calm and stilly,
No other sound is there
Except their happy voices:
What is that cold bleak air
That passes through the Lime-trees
And stirs the Bridegroom’s hair?

While one low cry of anguish,
Like the last dying wail
Of some dumb, hunted creature,
Is borne upon the gale:-
Why does the Bridegroom shudder
And turn so deathly pale?

* * *

Near Purgatory’s entrance
The radiant Angels wait;
It was the great St. Michael
Who closed that gloomy gate,
When the poor wandering spirit
Came back to meet her fate.

* * *

“Pass on,” thus spoke the Angel:
“Heaven’s joy is deep and vast;
Pass on, pass on, poor Spirit,
For Heaven is yours at last;
In that one minute’s anguish
Your thousand years have passed.”

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