And I saw him slowly rise
With his sad unearthly eyes,
Meeting mine with meek surprise,
And a voice came solemnly:
“Never more on mortal ground
For they soul shall rest be found,
But when bells at midnight sound
Thou must rise and come with me.”
Then my forehead smote the floor,
Swooning, and I knew no more,
Till I heard the chancel door
Open for the choristers:
But the stranger’s form was gone,
And the church was dim and lone:
Through the silence, one by one
Stole the early worshippers.
I an ageing now I know;
That was many years ago,
Yet or I shall rest below
In the grave where none intrude,
Night by night I roam the street,
And that awful form I meet,
And I follow pale and fleet,
With a ghostly multitude.
Every night I see his face,
With its sad and burdened grace,
And the torn and bloody trace,
That in hands and feet he has.
Once my life was dark and bad;
Now its days are strange and sad,
And the people call me mad:
See, they whisper as they pass.
Even now the echoes roll
From the swinging bells that toll;
It is midnight, now my soul
Hasten, for he glideth by.
Stranger, ’tis no phantasie:
Look! my master waits for me
Mutely, but thou canst not see
With the mortal blinded eye.
In his dim chapel day by day
The organist was wont to play,
And please himself with fluted reveries;
And all the spirit’s joy and strife,
The longing of a tender life,
Took sound and form upon the ivory keys;
And though he seldom spoke a word,
The simple hearts that loved him heard
His glowing soul in these.
One day as he wrapped, a sound
Of feet stole near; he turned and found
A little maid that stood beside him there.
She started, and in shrinking-wise
Besought him with her liquid eyes
And little features, very sweet and spare.
“You love the music, child,” he said,
And laid his hand upon her head,
And smoothed her matted hair.
She answered, “At the door one day
I sat and heard the organ play;
I did not dare to come inside for fear;
But yesterday, a little while,
I crept half up the empty aisle
And heard the music sounding sweet and clear;
To-day I thought you would not mind,
For, master dear, your face was kind,
And so I came up here.”
“You love the music then,”
And still he stroked her golden head,
And followed out some winding reverie;
“And you are poor?” said he at last;
The maiden nodded, and he passed
His hand across his forehead dreamingly;
“And will you be my friend?” he spake,
“And on the organ learn to make
Grand music here with me?”