Old Spookses’ Pass, Malcolm’s Katie and Other Poems

by Isabella Valancy Crawford




Joy’s City hath high battlements of gold;
    Joy’s City hath her streets of gem-wrought flow’rs;
She hath her palaces high reared and bold,
And tender shades of perfumed lily bowers;
But ever day by day, and ever night by night,
An Angel measures still our City of Delight. [Page 195]

He hath a rule of gold, and never stays,
    But ceaseless round the burnish’d ramparts glides;
He measures minutes of her joyous days,
    Her walls, her trees, the music of her tides;
The roundness of her buds—Joy’s own fair city lies,
Known to its heart-core by his stern and thoughtful eyes.

Above the sounds of timbrel and of song,
    Of greeting friends, of lovers ‘mid the flowers,
The Angel’s voice arises clear and strong:
    “O City, by so many leagues thy bow’rs
Stretch o’er the plains, and in the fair high-lifted blue
So many cubits rise thy tow’rs beyond the view.”

Why dost thou, Angel, measure Joy’s fair walls?
    Unceasing gliding by their burnish’d stones;
Go, rather measure Sorrow’s gloomy halls;
    Her cypress bow’rs, her charnel-house of bones;
Her groans, her tears, the rue in her jet chalices;
But leave unmeasured more, Joy’s fairy palaces.

The Angel spake: “Joy hath her limits set,
    But Sorrow hath no bounds—Joy is a guest
Perchance may enter; but no heart puls’d yet,
    Where Sorrow did not lay her down to rest;
She hath no city by so many leagues confin’d,
I cannot measure bounds where there are none to find.”
[Page 196]