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The Way Of Love

The Way Of Love, A Narrative Poem
Author: Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)

There are things
When darkness hovers over earth
And day gives place to night,
Then lovers see the Milky Way
Gleam mystically bright,
And calling it the Way of Love
They hail it with delight.
 
She was a lady wondrous fair
A right brave lover he,
And sooth they suffered grievous pain
And sorrowed mightily,
For they were parted during life
By leagues of land and sea.
 
She died. Then Death came to the man.
He met him joyfully,
And said, "Thou Angel Death, well met!
Quick, do thy will with me,
That I may haste to greet my love
In Heaven's company."
 
Now on one side of Heaven he dwelt
And on the other, she.
And broad between them stretched sheer space
Whereon no way might be,
The empty, yawning, awful depth,
Unplumbed infinity.
 
The deathless spheric melody
Came gently to his ear,
And dulcet notes, the harmonies
Of Seraphs chanting near.
He heeded not for listening
His lady's voice to hear.
 
The Saints and Martyrs round him ranged
A goodly company,
The Virgin, robed in radiance,
The Holy Trinity.
He heeded not, but strained his eyes
His lady's face to see.
 
At last from far across the void
Her voice came, faint and sweet.
The bright-hued walls of Paradise
Did the glad sound repeat;
The distant stars on which she stood
Shone bright beneath her feet.
 
"Dear Love," she said, "Oh, come to me!
I cannot see your face.
O will not Lord Christ grant to us
To cross this sea of space?"
Then thrilled his heart with Love's own might.
He answered, by Love's grace.
 
"The world is wide, and Heaven is wide,
From me to thee is far,
Alas! across Infinity
No passageways there are.
Sweetheart, I'll make my way to thee,
I'll build it, star by star!"
 
Through all the curving vault of sky
His lusty blows rang out.
He smote the jewel-studded walls
And with a mighty shout
He tore the gleaming masonry
And posts that stood about.
 
He strove to build a massive bridge
That should the chasm span.
With heart upheld by hope and love
His great task he began,
And toiled and labored doughtily
To work his Godlike plan.
 
He took the heavy beams of gold
That round him he did see;
The beryl, jacinth, sardius,
That shone so brilliantly,
And no fair jewel would he spare
So zealously worked he.
 
He stole the gorgeous tinted stuffs
Whereof are sunsets made,
And his rude, grasping, eager hands
On little stars he laid;
To rob God's sacred treasure-house
He was no whit afraid.
 
And so for centuries he worked.
Across the void at last
A bridge of precious mold did stand
Completed, strong and fast.
So now the faithful lovers met
And all their woe was past.
 
But soon a shining angel guard
Sped to the throne of gold
And said, "Lord, see yon new-made bridge,
A mortal, overbold,
Has built it, scorning thy desire!"
Straightway the tale he told.
 
Then said: "Now, Master, Thou mayst see
The thing that has been wrought.
Speak, then, the word, stretch forth Thine hand
That with the speed of thought
This poor presumptuous work may fall
And crumble into naught."
 
God looked upon the angel then
And on the bridge below.
Then with His smile of majesty
He said: "Let all things know,
This bridge, which has by Love been built,
I will not overthrow."
 
When darkness hovers over earth
And day gives place to night,
Then lovers see the Milky Way
Gleam mystically bright,
And calling it the Way of Love,
They hail it with delight.

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