I slept, I dreamt!
Wouldst know my thought?
Oh, that such dreams
I had but sought!
Methought I stood by a river bright,
Which wandered far away,
And the sun beamed on with a golden light
Where a lovely island lay.
But suddenly, behind a cloud,
That sun’s bright orb was cast;
And that fair island in a shroud
Of darkness dense was past.
And then a small white speck appeared,
Relieved against that island dark;
Nearer and nearer still it came, —
A small but heavy-rolling bark!
It drifted on, and touched the strand —
A straight, rude plank, with awning o’er,
And in it lay a coffin old,
From which a fair girl sprang on shore.
I saw the stark and withered corse —
I shudder as I tell the tale! —
I saw the glaring, staring eyes,
And wrinkled lips so pale.
That chilling, creeping sight of death
I shall remember evermore;
Yet, in the parting of a breath,
That fair maiden sprang on shore.
I turned me to the coffin then; —
The strange boat-bier was gone;
Beside the silent, flowing stream
Stood that young girl alone.
Angelic beauty marked each line
Of her calm, lovely face,
And small bright wings of a pearly hue
Proved her of angel race.
She took my hands and sweetly smiled,
And looked into my face:
She said, “Thy rose is fading; come,
And share with me my Master’s grace.”
She led me then from place to place,
Explained the Maker’s love,
And showed me many a wondrous thing,
The work of God above.
But I awoke!
My dream took flight,
And on me shone
The moon’s pale light.
Yes: I have carefully scanned that dream:—
I shall float upon Life’s swift current,
And touch on the shores of Eternity,
A dead, cold corse, abhorrent.
But from death unto life I shall spring up swift,
And, reaching that deathless Land,
Death-born into Life by the death of my Lord,
Ever live at that Lord’s right hand.
Come! spirit-guest! myself that shall be;
Come, dwell in my innermost thought;
Come, teach me to live as a being of life,
Whom death cannot injure in aught.
Menie Parkes, Poems, F. Cunninghame, Sydney, , pages 79-81
This is an expanded version of Menie Parkes’ poem “The Dream” which was published in The Empire (Sydney, NSW), Tuesday 19 June 1855, page 5. This version includes six extra stanzas, in addition to various minor word changes and punctuation alterations.
bark = (also spelt “barque”) a small sailing ship in general, or specifically a sailing ship with three (or more) masts, in which the aftmost mast is fore-and-aft rigged, whilst the other masts are square-rigged
corse = (archaic) corpse