Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IV. The Higher Life
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IV. The Higher Life.  1904.
 
VII. Death: Immortality: Heaven
Edwin and Paulinus: The Conversion of Northumbria
Anonymous
 
THE BLACK-HAIRED gaunt Paulinus
  By ruddy Edwin stood:—
“Bow down, O king of Deira,
  Before the blessèd Rood!
Cast out thy heathen idols,        5
  And worship Christ our Lord.”
—But Edwin looked and pondered,
  And answered not a word.
 
Again the gaunt Paulinus
  To ruddy Edwin spake:        10
“God offers life immortal
  For his dear Son’s own sake!
Wilt thou not hear his message,
  Who bears the keys and sword?”
—But Edwin looked and pondered,        15
  And answered not a word.
 
Rose then a sage old warrior
  Was fivescore winters old;
Whose beard from chin to girdle
  Like one long snow-wreath rolled:—        20
“At Yule-time in our chamber
  We sit in warmth and light,
While cold and howling round us
  Lies the black land of Night.
 
“Athwart the room a sparrow        25
  Darts from the open door:
Within the happy hearth-light
  One red flash,—and no more!
We see it come from darkness,
  And into darkness go:—        30
So is our life, King Edwin!
  Alas, that it is so!
 
“But if this pale Paulinus
  Have somewhat more to tell;
Some news of Whence and Whither,        35
  And where the soul will dwell;—
If on that outer darkness
  The sun of hope may shine;—
He makes life worth the living!
  I take his God for mine!”        40
 
So spake the wise old warrior;
  And all about him cried,
“Paulinus’ God hath conquered!
  And he shall be our guide:—
For he makes life worth living        45
  Who brings this message plain,
When our brief days are over,
  That we shall live again.”
 
 
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