Henrietta Cordelia Ray

Rare medieval Spirit, brooding Seer!
Grand lovely Poet! scaling heights divine,
And lifting from grave mysteries the veil. —
Through the dim centuries thou speakest still
In tones of thunder: And subdued by awe,
We listen; for thy intuitions fine,
Thy insight keen, discovered motives hid,
And aim close wound in aim, thou coulds’t perceive,
Unwinding minor aims in which ’twas wrapt.
Knit with the very fibres of thy soul,
Thy country’s weal a cherished charge became.
And Destiny, stern frowning o’er the land,
Upheaved thy feelings and inflamed thy speech.
Indignant at the wrong that tortured thee —
Proud exile, banished from thy sunny home —
With stern denunciation thou dids’t wage
Against the law’s lax mandates bloody war,
And all unawed, rebuked the false decrees
Alike of potentates and factions bold,
The pure “white flower” waving in thy hand.
Thy thought, self-poised, self-centered, dragged thy soul
Into what depths of grief and deepest pain!
But to posterity thou dids’t bequeath —
Despite the scathing of thy contest fierce —
Thy reveries’ illuminated page.
The groans of spirits plunged in woe’s abyss,
The sweet repentance of the wistful souls,
Climbing in patience Purgatory’s steep,
Called thee to muse on life’s strange mystery.
Before thy vision what fair vistas, stretched,
Empurpled with the glow of Paradise!
Thou heards’t in dreams the harmonies sublime
Of martyr glorified rapturous saint.
And one, thy Beatrice celestial, she
Who woke thy heart’s best love and sweetest joy,
Alone was meet to guide thy willing steps
From planet to fixed star and onward still,
Above the splendour of the luminous star,
Where blessed souls their orisons uplift,
And Isles supernal bloom with amaranth fair, —
Up to the Empyrean’s crystal courts,
Where Majesty Divine enthrones itself.
And soon the Perfect Vision met they gaze!
The mystic Trinity, all solved by light,
Three colors, three reflections in one, —
Christ was revealed — the Human, the Divine!
God’s plan for our redemption clear to thee!
And now, O lonely Spirit, brooding Seer,
So long in conflict, weary with unrest,
Within the beatific realms above,
Bathes in that Light Ineffable thou dwell’st,
O yearning Soul! at last, at last in peace.



From The A.M.E. Church Review.Vol. 1 No. 3. January 1885. Ed. B.T. Tanner. Publishing House of African M.E. Church: Philadelphia. pp. 251. Print.

c/o. The Library Company of Philadelphia