The span of days, a poem

I beheld the sunset, transfixed by
The inferno in the clouds.
And there I saw the angels winging
Amidst the amber sunbeams.
Angels and archangels, least perfect
Of the nine choirs, most like us,
Happy in their imperfection
To play among the clouds.
And I wished I could free my soul
From its earthly prison
To soar amongst them between the fiery cumuli.

And so it came to pass that on a night
When the trees, like souls forsaken,
Grasped vainly with withered fingers
At the sapphire moonlight
That rent the dusky clouds,
I stood upon the parapet,
Arched my back like a lyre,
And as one crucified
Spread my arms wide,
And freed myself from earth’s jealous shackles.

And thus I ascended while
The moonlit ground receded beneath me
and I was among the nine choirs,
The flaming Ophanim,
The all seeing Cherubim,
And The Seraphim,
So bright that only One
Might look upon them
In their naked incandescent splendor,
Chanting the Trisagion in the ancient modes,
Dorian, Lydian, and Phrygian.

And still I ascended,
Wishing for nothing ever more
But to listen to their canticle
Until I heard a voice,
Or rather, felt it,
For it passed through me
Like a flaming sword,
And intoned within me,
Saying, “Why have you done this thing?
Do you not know that the span of your days
Is not yours to measure?
Leave us now, for but awhile longer,
Go back whence you came,
And finish what you have begun.”
And I felt myself descend
Along the sapphire moonbeam
Until I lighted amidst the snow and the trees
And I was home once more.
I left that place,
And continued in the world,
Knowing that I once had felt the breath of God.

–Stephen P. Smith

6 Responses to “The span of days, a poem”

  1. January 20, 2007 at 5:23 am

    looks like it’s taken a bit of inspiration from Milton. Tough gig.

    I like the couplet:

    “Chanting the Trisagion in the ancient modes,
    Dorian, Lydian, and Phrygian.”

    because of my old world musical tastes.



    Ah, I see we have something in common, at least music-wise.

    No, I wasn’t thinking of Milton here, although now that you mention it I can see why you would say that. But even so, that’s one hell of a compliment. Thank you!

  2. 2 The Rev.
    January 20, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    Wow. Thank you Smitty.


    Glad you enjoyed it.

  3. January 21, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    Absolutly touching Smith – right through my soul! You know it is said that god speaks through humans and Earth may be preceived as a prison of sorts but upon closer inspection in actuality it may be a self-made prison for it is “Heaven on Earth!” Golfgirl

    glad you enjoyed it!

  4. January 21, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    Cool! And what were you smoking when you wrote that? 🙂

    Nothing stronger than pipe tobacco, I assure you!

  5. January 21, 2007 at 9:15 pm

    Absolutely love the second verse, even though it might seem the least important. For a moment I heard Jan Garbarek and the Hilliard Ensemble in the background as you rose to the skies. It’s beautiful. I think what I enjoy the most with your poetry is that I have to completely surrender to your lines in order to access them fully. It’s risky, it’s passionate, and worth every moment of it. I am out of words….

    Thank you! I was trying to be a little more ambitious with this one, and I wasn’t sure if it completely worked or not. I’m glad you liked it!

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