James Lionel Michael

(October 1824 – 26 April 1868 / London, England)

Personality Poem by James Lionel Michael


"Death is to us change, not consummation."
Heart of Midlothian.

A change! no, surely, not a change,
   The change must be before we die;
Death may confer a wider range,
   From pole to pole, from sea to sky,
It cannot make me new or strange
   To mine own Personality!

For what am I? -- this mortal flesh,
   These shrinking nerves, this feeble frame,
For ever racked with ailments fresh
   And scarce from day to day the same --
A fly within the spider's mesh,
   A moth that plays around the flame!

THIS is not I -- within such coil
   The immortal spirit rests awhile:
When this shall lie beneath the soil,
   Which its mere mortal parts defile,
THAT shall for ever live and foil
   Mortality, and pain, and guile.

Whatever Time may make of me
   Eternity must see me still
Clear from the dross of earth, and free
   From every stain of every ill;
Yet still, where-e'er -- what-e'er I be,
   Time's work Eternity must fill.

When all the worlds have ceased to roll,
   When the long light has ceased to quiver
When we have reached our final goal
   And stand beside the Living River,
This vital spark -- this loving soul,
   Must last for ever and for ever.

To choose what I must be is mine,
   Mine in these few and fleeting days,
I may be if I will, divine,
   Standing before God's throne in praise, --
Through all Eternity to shine
   In yonder Heaven's sapphire blaze.

Father, the soul that counts it gain
   To love Thee and Thy law on earth,
Unchanged but free from mortal stain,
   Increased in knowledge and in worth,
And purified from this world's pain,
   Shall find through Thee a second birth.

A change! no surely not a change!
   The change must be before we die;
Death may confer a wider range
   From world to world, from sky to sky,
It cannot make me new or strange
   To mine own Personality!

Submitted: Saturday, January 4, 2003

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