African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

Charlotte L. Forten Grimke, "The Angel's Visit" (1888)

The Angel's Visit

'Twas on a glorious summer eve, —
A lovely eve in June, —
Serenely from her home above
Looked down the gentle moon;
And lovingly she smiled on me,
And softly soothed the pain —
The aching, heavy pain that lay
Upon my heart and brain.

And gently 'mid the murmuring leaves,
Scarce by its light wings stirred,
Like spirit voices soft and clear,
The night wind's song was heard;
In strains of music sweet and low
It sang to me of peace;
It bade my weary, troubled soul
Her sad complainings cease.

For bitter thoughts had filled my breast,
And sad, and sick at heart,
I longed to lay me down and rest,
From all the world apart.
"Outcast, oppressed on earth," I cried,
"O Father, take me home;
O, take me to that peaceful land
Beyond the moon-lit dome.

"On such a night as this," methought,
"Angelic forms are near;
In beauty unrevealed to us
They hover in the air.
O mother, loved and lost," I cried,
"Methinks thou'rt near me now;
Methinks I feel thy cooling touch
Upon my burning brow.

"O, guide and soothe thy sorrowing child;
And if 'tis not His will
That thou shouldst take me home with thee,
Protect and bless me still;
For dark and drear had been my life
Without thy tender smile,
Without a mother's loving care,
Each sorrow to beguile."

I ceased: then o'er my senses stole
A soothing dreamy spell,
And gently to my ear were borne
The tones I loved so well;
A sudden flood of rosy light
Filled all the dusky wood,
And, clad in shining robes of white,
My angel mother stood.

She gently drew me to her side,
She pressed her lips to mine,
And softly said, "Grieve not, my child;
A mother's love is thine.
I know the cruel wrongs that crush
The young and ardent heart;
But falter not; keep bravely on,
And nobly bear thy part.

"For thee a brighter day's in store;
And every earnest soul
That presses on, with purpose high,
Shall gain the wished-for goal.
And thou, beloved, faint not beneath
The weary weight of care;
Daily before our Father's throne
I breathe for thee a prayer.

"I pray that pure and holy thoughts
May bless and guard thy way;
A noble and unselfish life
For thee, my child, I pray."
She paused, and fondly bent on me
One lingering look of love,
Then softly said, — and passed away, —
"Farewell! we'll meet above. "

I woke, and still the silver moon
In quiet beauty shone;
And still I heard amid the leaves
The night wind's murmuring tone;
But from my heart the weary pain
Forevermore had flown;
I knew a mother's prayer for me
Was breathed before the throne.

First published in AME Church Review, 1888

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