The Description Continued


As John him writes, more came to sight:
Each plane of that place, it had three gates.
So twelve in succession I espied,
The portals paved in richest plates
And every gate a margarite--
A perfect pearl that never fades.
On each one was a name inscribed
Of the children of Israel, following their dates,
That is to say, by their birthdays;
The eldest, thus, was first thereon.
And such light each street illuminates,
There needeth neither sun nor moon.


Of sun or moon had they no need;
The self of God was their lamp light,
The Lamb the lantern his flock to lead;
By him shone the city eternally bright.
Thru hearth and home my gaze did speed,
For, subtly clear, naught blocked the light.
The high throne there then might ye heed,
With all its apparelment bedight
As John the Apostle doth plainly cite.
The high God himself there sits eftsoon;
From the throne a river runs outright,
Brighter than both the sun and moon.


Sun or moon shone ne'er so sweet;
Ever that fulgent flood flowed out.
Swiftly it swung through every street,
Without any filth or gall or glut.
A church therein had been conceit,
As would chapel or temple that e'er was built--
The Almighty, he was the minister meet,
The Lamb, the sacrifice redeeming debt.
The gates all shut were never yet;
Evermore open they at every zone.
But none entereth there escaping threat
Who bears any spot under the moon.


The moon to encroach there has no might--
Too spotty it is, of body too grim.
And also there were is never night,
Why shouldst the moon its compass climb?
Compared to that all worthy light
Which shines upon the brook's fine brim
The planets are in too poor a plight
And the sun itself full far too dim.
Around that water are trees full trim
That twelve fruits of life can bear full soon;
Twelve times a year they bear full limbed
And renew their crop with every moon.


Under the moon so great a marvel
No fleshly heart might e'er endure
As when that city my sight did assail.
So fair thereof was its nature,
I stood as still as a dazed quail
For fascination with that figure.
Felt I neither rest nor travail,
So raptured was I with its gleam full pure.
For I dare say with conscience sure
Had a bodily being 'bided that boon,
Through all the clerks had him in cure,
His life had been lost under the moon.

Copyright (c) 1983