Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE UNBIDDEN GUEST, by LUELLA J. CASE



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THE UNBIDDEN GUEST, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I come! Ye have lighted your festal hall
Last Line: Fling off the wreath, -- to your homes, and pray.
Alternate Author Name(s): Bartlett, Luella
Subject(s): God


I COME! Ye have lighted your festal hall,
And music is sounding its joyous call,
And the guests are gathering -- the young -- the fair,
With the flower-wreath'd brow, and the braided hair.
I come, but so noiseless shall be my way
Through the smiling crowds of the young and gay,
Not a thought shall rise in a careless breast
Of me, the Unseen, the Unbidden Guest;
Not an under-tone on the ear shall swell,
Smiting your hearts like a funeral knell.

I come! Let the music's echoing note
Still through the air of your ball-room float,
Let the starry lamps' soft radiance throw
On the rose-touch'd cheek, and the brow of snow,
Not a freezing pulse, not a thrill of fear,
Shall tell that the King of the Grave is near;
Not a pallid face, not a rayless eye,
Shall whisper of me as I hurry by,
Marking the doom'd I shall summon away
To their low, dark cells, in the house of clay.

We have met before! Ay, I wander'd here
In the festal hours of the parted year,
And many a beautiful form has bow'd
To the sleep that dwells in the damp white shroud!
They died when the first spring blossom was seen,
They faded away when the groves were green,
When the suns of Autumn were faint and brief,
On the wither'd grass, and the changing leaf;
And here there is many a pulse shall fail,
Ere the suns of the passing year grow pale.

Then swell the proud strains of your music high,
As the measured hours of your life flit by;
Let the foot of the thoughtless dancer be
As fleet as it will, it eludes not me!
I shall come when life's morning ray is bright,
I shall come in the hush of its waning light,
I shall come when the ties of earth cling fast,
When love's sweet voice is a voice of the Past!
To your homes, and pray; -- for ye wait your doom,
The shroud, the coffin, the lonely tomb!

Ye would quail, ye tremblers, to see me here
Yet the mission I hold is of love, not fear
A healing I bear to the couch of pain,
I fling from the spirit its cumbering chain,
And weary old age to my rest shall hie
With a smiling lip, and a grateful eye.
When life, like a sorrowful mourner, weeps
O'er the grave where its early promise sleeps,
Oh, earth has no balm like the cup I bring!
Why say ye I come with the dart and sting?

My voice shall be sweet in the maiden's ear,
As the voice of her lover whispering near;
And my footstep so soft by the infant's bed,
He will deem it his mother's anxious tread,
And his innocent eyes will gently close,
As I kiss from his bright young lips the rose.
Oh, the good and the pure have nought to fear,
When my voice in the gathering gloom they hear!
Away from the dance, ye revellers gay,
Fling off the wreath, -- to your homes, and pray.





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