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XX.

“ And then he set up such a headless howl,

66 That all the saints came out, and took him in; “ And there he sits by St Paul, cheek by jowl;

“ That fellow Paul—the parvenù! The skin “ Of Saint Bartholomew, which makes his cowl

“ In heaven, and upon earth redeem'd his sin “ So as to make a martyr, never sped “ Better than did this weak and wooden head.

XXI.

“ But had it come up here upon its shoulders,

“ There would have been a different tale to tell : “The fellow feeling in the saints beholders

“ Seems to have acted on them like a spell, “ And so this very foolish head heaven solders

“ Back on its trunk: it may be very well, “ And seems the custom here to overthrow “ Whatever has been wisely done below.”

XXII.

The Angel answer'd, “ Peter! do not pout;

“ The king who comes has head and all entire, “ And never knew much what it was about

“ He did as doth the puppet-by its wire, “ And will be judged like all the rest, no doubt:

My business and your own is not to inquire “ Into such matters, but to mind our cue" Which is to act as we are bid to do.”

XXIII.

While thus they spake, the angelic caravan,

Arriving like a rush of mighty wind,
Cleaving the fields of space, as doth the swan

Some silver stream (say Ganges, Nile, or Inde,
Or Thames, or Tweed) and midst them an old man

With an old soul, and both extremely blind,
Halted before the gate, and in his shroud
Seated their fellow-traveller on a cloud.

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XXIV.

But bringing up the rear of this bright host

A Spirit of a different aspect waved
His wings, like thunder-clouds above some coast

Whose barren beach with frequent wrecks is paved; His brow was like the deep when tempest-tost;

Fierce and unfathomable thoughts engraved
Eternal wrath on his immortal face,
And where he gazed a gloom pervaded space.

XXV.

As he drew near, he gazed upon the gate

Ne'er to be enter'd more by him or sin, With such a glance of supernatural hate,

As made Saint Peter wish himself within ; He potter'd with his keys at a great rate,

And sweated through his apostolic skin : Of course his perspiration was but ichor, Or some such other spiritual liquor.

XXVI.

The very cherubs huddled altogether,

Like birds when soars the falcon; and they felt A tingling to the tip of every feather,

And form’d a circle like Orion's belt
Around their poor old charge; who scarce knew whither

His guards had led him, though they geptly dealt
With royal manes (for by many stories,
And true, we learn the angels all are Tories.)

XXVII.

As things were in this posture, the gate flew

Asunder, and the flashing of its hinges Flung over space an universal hue

Of many-coloured flame, until its tinges Reach'd even: our speck of earth, and made a new

Aurora borealis spread its fringes O'er the North Pole; the same seen, when ice-bound, By Captain Parry's crews, in “ Melville's Sound.”

XXVIII.

And from the gate thrown open issued beaming

A beautiful and mighty Thing of Light, Radiant with glory, like a banner streaming

Victorious from some world-o'erthrowing fight: My poor comparisons must needs be teeming

With earthly likenesses, for here the night Of clay obscures our best conceptions, saving Johanna Southcote, or Bob Southey raving.

XXIX.

'Twas the archangel Michael : all men know

The make of angels and archangels, since There's scarce a scribbler has not one to show,

From the fiends' leader to the angels' prince.
There also are some altar-pieces, though

I really can't say that they much evince
One's inner notions of immortal spirits;
But let the connoisseurs explain their merits.

XXX.

Michael flew forth in glory and in good;

A goodly work of him from whom all glory And good arise; the portal past-he stood;

Before him the young cherubs and saint hoary, (I say young, begging to be understood

By looks, not years; and should be very sorry To state, they were not older than Saint Peter, But merely that they seem'd a little sweeter.)

XXXI.

The cherubs and the saints bow'd down before

That arch-angelic Hierarch, the first Of Essences angelical, who wore

The aspect of a god; but this ne'er nurst Pride in his heavenly bosom, in whose core

No thought, save for his Maker's service, durst Intrude, however glorified and high ; He knew him but the viceroy of the sky.

XXXII.

He and the sombre silent Spirit met

They knew each other both for good and ill; Such was their power, that neither could forget

His former friend and future foe; but still There was a high, immortal, proud regret

In either's eye, as if 'twere less their will Than destiny to make the eternal years Their date of war, and their “Champ Clos” the spheres.

XXXIII.

But here they were in neutral space: we know

From Job, that Sathan hath the power to pay A heavenly visit thrice a year or so ;

And that “the Sons of God,” like those of clay,
Must keep him company; and we might show,

From the same book, in how polite a way
The dialogue is held between the Powers
Of Good and Evil-but 'twould take up hours.

XXXIV.

And this is not a theologic tract,

To prove with Hebrew and with Arabic
If Job be allegory or a fact,

But a true narrative; and thus I pick
From out the whole but such and such an act

As sets aside the slightest thought of trick.
'Tis every tittle true, beyond suspicion,
And accurate as any other vision.

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