Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
 
977. The Blazing Heart
 
By Alice Williams Brotherton
 
 
    WHO are ye, spirits, that stand
      In the outer gloom,
Each with a blazing heart in hand,
Which lighteth the dark beyond the tomb?
 
    “Oh, we be souls that loved        5
      Too well, too well!
Yet, for that love, though sore reproved,
(Oh, sore reproved!) have we ’scaped hell.
 
    “’Scaped hell, but gained not heaven.
      Woe, woe and alas!        10
Only—to us this grace is given,
To light the dark where the dead must pass.
 
    “Behind us the shadows throng,
      And the mists are gray;
But our blazing hearts light the soul along        15
From grave to yon gate that hides the day.”
 
    Who may this lady be
      At my right hand?
“This is the heart which for Anthony
Changed from soft flesh to a burning brand.”        20
 
    “This for Æneas glowed,
      Is glowing still.”
“This kindled for Phaon; the flame it showed
No waters of ocean could quench or kill.”
 
    This shape, with the flowing hair?        25
      “She loved so much
That even the Sinless heard her prayer,
Pitied her pangs, and suffered her touch.”
 
    Bid the sounds of crackling cease!
      “They blaze, they burn!”        30
Let me flee back to my coffined peace!
“Pass on (they beckon); there ’s no return.”
 
    Spirits, why press ye close?
      I am faint with fear!
“Already thy heart like an ember glows;        35
Pluck it forth from thy bosom, thy place is here.”
 
    Happy Francesca! thine
      Is the fairer lot.
Better with him in hell to pine
Than stand in cool shadows by him forgot!        40
 

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