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Menken, Adah Isaacs



"Oh! I am sick of what I am. of all
Which I in life can ever hope to be.
Angels of light be pitiful to me."

THE cold chain of life presseth heavily on me to
The thundering pace of thought is curbed, and, like a
fiery steed, dasheth agains't the gloomy walls of my
prisoned soul.
Oh! how long will my poor thoughts lament their
narrow faculty? When will the rein be loosed from my impatient
Ah! then I will climb the blue clouds and dash down
to dust those jeweled stars, whose silent light wafts a
mocking laugh to the poor musician who sitteth before
the muffled organ of my great hopes. With a hand of
fire he toucheth the golden keys. All breathless and rapt
I lists for an answer to his sweet meaning, but the glittering
keys give back only a faint hollow sound--the echo of
a sigh!
Cruel stars to mock me with your laughing light!
Oh! see ye not the purple life-blood ebbing from my
But ye heed it not--and I scorn ye all.

Foolish stars! Ye forget that this strong soul will one
day be loosed.
I will have ye in my power yet, ill meet ye on the
grand door of old eternity.
Ah! then ye will not laugh, but shrink before me like
very beggars of light that ye are, and I will grasp from
your gleaming brows the jeweled crown, rend away your
glistening garments, and hold ye up blackened skeletons
for the laugh and scorn of all
angels, and then drive ye
out to fill this horrid space of darkness that I now
grovel in.
But, alas! I am weary, sick, and faint.
The chains do bind the shrinking flesh too close.

"Angels of light, be pitiful to me."

Oh! this life, after all, is but a promise--a poor promise,
that is too heavy to bear--heavy with blood, reeking
human blood. The atmosphere is laden with it. When
I shut my eyes it presses so close to their lids that I must
gasp and struggle to open them.
I know that the sins of untrue hearts are dogging up
the air-passages of the world,
and that we, who love and suffer, will soon be smothered, and in this terrible darkness too
For me--my poor lone, deserted body--I care not. I
am not in favor of men's eyes.

"Nor am I skilled immortal stuff to weave.
No rose of honor wear I on my sleeve."

But the soft silver hand of death will unbind the galling
bands that clasp the fretting soul in the narrow prison
house, and she may then escape the iron hands that would
crush the delicate fibres to dust.

O soul, where are thy wings? Have they with their,
rude hands torn them from thy mutilated form? We
must creep slowly and silently away through the midnight
darkness. But we are strong yet, and can battle with the
fiends who seek to drive us back to the river of blood.

But, alas! it is so late, and I am alone--alone listening
to the gasps and sighs of a weary soul beating her broken
wing against the darkened walls of her lonely cell.

"My labor is a vain and empty strife,
A useless tugging at the wheels of life."

Shall still live--filling no heart, working no good, and
the cries of my holy down-trodden race haunting me?
Beseeching me--me, with these frail arms and this poor
chained soul, to lift them back to their birthright of

Angels of light, be pitiful to me"

I have wéaried Heaven with my tears and prayers till I
have grown pale and old, but a shadow of my former self,
and all for power, blessed power! Not for myself--but
for those dearer and worthier than I--those from out
whose hearts my memory has died for ever.
But, alas! it is vain.
Prayers and tears will not bring back sweet hope and
I may still sigh and weep for these soft winged nestling
angels of my lost dreams till I am free to seek them in the
grand homes where I have housed them with the
goldenhaired son of the sky.
It is midnight, and the world is still battling--the weak
are falling, the strong and the wrong are exulting.
And I, like the dying stag, am hunted down to the
ocean border, still asking for peace and rest of the great
gleaming eyes that pierce the atmosphere of blood and
haunt me with their pleading looks. Whispers are there
--low, wailing whispers from white-browned children as
though I could bear their chained souls o'er Charon's
mystic river of their purple blood.
Alas! star after star has gone down till not one is in
sight. How dark and cold it is growing!
Oh, light! why have you fled to a faired land and left

"An unrigged hulk, to rot upon life's ford--
The crew of mutinous senses overboard?"

It is too late. I faint with fear of these atom-fiends
that do cling to my garments in this darkness.
Oh! rest for thee, my weary soul,
the coil is round thee all too fast.
Too close to earth thy pinions clasp:
A trance-like death hath o'er thee past.

Oh, soul! oh, broken soul, arise,
And plume thee for a prouder flight.
In vain, in vain--tis sinking now
And dying in eternal night.

"Suffer and be still."

Death will bind up thy powerful wings, and to the
organ music of my great hopes thou shalt beat sublimer
Wait until eternity.