The Night Ride

Victor James Daley

THE RED sun on the lonely lands
    Gazed, under clouds of rose,
As one who under knitted hands
    Takes one last look and goes.

Then Pain, with her white sister Fear,
    Crept nearer to my bed:
“The sands are running; dost thou hear
    Thy sobbing heart?” she said.

There came a rider to the gate,
    And stern and clear spake he:
“For meat or drink thou must not wait,
    But rise and ride with me.”

I waited not for meat or drink,
    Or kiss, or farewell kind—
But oh! my heart was sore to think
    Of friends I left behind.

We rode o’er hills that seemed to sweep
    Skyward like swelling waves;
The living stirred not in their sleep,
    The dead slept in their graves.

And ever as we rode I heard
    A moan of anguish sore—
No voice of man or beast or bird,
    But all of these and more.

“Is it the moaning of the Earth?
Dark Rider, answer me!”
“It is the cry of life at birth”
He answered quietly:

“But thou canst turn a face of cheer
    To good days still in store;
Thou needst not care for Pain or Fear—
    They cannot harm thee more.”

Yet I rode on with sullen heart,
    And said with breaking breath,
“If thou art he I think thou art,
    Then slay me now, O Death!”

The veil was from my eyesight drawn—
    “Thou knowest now,” said he:
“I am the Angel of the Dawn!
    Ride back, and wait for me.”

So I rode back at morning light,
    And there, beside my bed,
Fear had become a lily white
    And Pain a rose of red.

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