Edwin and Paulinus
_The Conversion of Northumbria_
The black-hair'd gaunt Paulinus By ruddy Edwin stood:-- "Bow down, O king of Deira, Before the blessed Rood! Cast out thy heathen idols, And worship Christ our Lord." --But Edwin look'd and ponder'd, And answer'd not a word.
Again the gaunt Paulinus To ruddy Edwin spake: "God offers life immortal For his dear Son's own sake! Wilt thou not hear his message, Who bears the keys and sword?" --But Edwin look'd and ponder'd, And answer'd not a word.
Rose then a sage old warrior; Was five-score winters old; Whose beard from chin to girdle Like one long snow-wreath roll'd:-- "At Yule-time in our chamber We sit in warmth and light, While cold and howling round us Lies the black land of Night.
"Athwart the room a sparrow Darts from the open door: Within the happy hearth-light One red flash--and no more! We see it come from darkness, And into darkness go:-- So is our life, King Edwin! Alas, that it is so!
"But if this pale Paulinus Have somewhat more to tell; Some news of Whence and Whither, And where the soul will dwell;-- If on that outer darkness The sun of hope may shine;-- He makes life worth the living! I take his God for mine!"
So spake the wise old warrior; And all about him cried: "Paulinus' God hath conquer'd! And he shall be our guide:-- For he makes life worth living Who brings this message plain, When our brief days are over, That we shall live again."