Note: I wrote the following two prose poems when I was a very young teen.

Night crept stealthily on, day was swiftly waning as I gazed in silent wonder at the beauty all around me, never cursing, ne'er profaning, praising God for all I could see, and I wondered if another praised the Master same as me.

From within a Spirit told me that there was a beast who didn't, and a Voice kept calling, haunting me to go and find this beast who didn't. But I sighed and let it go unheeded, for I knew of no enormous beast, until the voice faintly died away, as embers to a red-hot flame.

Sometime later the great temptation wrought upon my soul a picture: Far, far away in a ghostly woodland of old, angry and vicious, a man (or beast) lived, in agony, his pestilent days away. Unconscious of this world and the one to come, he had naught to live for.

Existing in mind and body, In vain he strove to conquer agony. His soul was lost and bitter and happiness very vague. Wretched and empty his life remained, a horrible picture of terror. Tossing and turning hysterically, his thoughts had no end. Blindly he groped for the great antidote to terror—sleep. To no avail. I watched, amazed, wondering what would be his next movement. In my heart a great shadow of pity arose, pity for this forsaken living creature; yes, forsaken by the world and God—He had forsaken them.

I turned. I saw his lips move, yet no sound he uttered. Then . . . "They told me there was a Great One, I can recall their strange voices, but what was it they said?" He did not know I could hear him, but I saw him as he lay there In deep, tortured hope of recalling what they had said. "I slept, I dreamed," he murmured, "Long ago, it was—oh, long, long ago! If only I could sleep now, maybe the Vision would come again."

Stunned and bewildered, I stood as one dumbfounded. A great feeling of responsibility arose in me, a feeling that I must help this wretched one whose life was hopelessly a pattern of desolation.

The voice of night was calm and still as I stood in silent wonder. The moon shone forth and its great light illuminated the face of the sleepless one. I marveled at the oddity of it all. Once, outside, I was certain I heard a voice, but upon listening closely, I heard only the voice of night whispering my name softly.

Suddenly peace fled from me as terror surrounded my entire being. Imagined beasts and greater images of ghosts of ancient historical periods haunted me. Furiously my mind was in a whirl of bitter antagonism. Who was this wretched one lying alone, who spoke of a Great One? What was the meaning of it all?

My better senses returned. I heard a low moan from the man who lay nearby. His eyes were fluttering like a madman. In vain he strove to rise from the bed. His lips moved but there was no sound. Or was I deaf that I did not hear the words his lips said? I stared. Surely he was in a fit of terror. He did not seem to see me as he violently kicked and raged. What was I to do?

"Wretch!" I cried, "have you no sense of contentment? No peace of mind? Where is the soul of you? Wretch!" again I cried. Then . . . His eyes opened. Recognition was plain on his face. Now his lips moved and sound came to me. "So it's you," he said simply. Had I heard right, or was I dreaming? No, I was not dreaming. There was his face before me. He stared beyond me, seemingly looking at some far distant object of unusual interest. "There it is, finally—the vision. They told me it would come; I did not believe them, but there it is. Peace, oh, peace at last."

His eyes closed, a smile on his lips, he was gone. Forever his soul had vanished into a sweet peace of a certain eternity.

Copyright © 1949 Ruth Gillis


In this ghostly woodland of old dwelt a beast in human form, who had once belonged to God, body, soul, and entire being, Holy as the purest fountain, acceptable in the sight of God.

Yes, once he was true as the truest, being a vessel of the Lord: an humble servant of worthy statue, living only with one accord; living so that others soon saw his works and were amazed. Ah, yes! he was a Christian being, a living furnace of the Lord. He was happy, peace was in him, no hysterics, pain, or fear; the richest human being; he had nothing, but he had everything, he had the love of God. He lived daily by the Love Light that shone so luminously and bright. He gave no thought to disobedience or the means of turning back.

Ah, one day, 'twas in the springtime, softly the leaves were sweetly praying in the Peaceful Forest of Goodness, where he dwelt in those happy days. Happily the birds were singing hymns to his proud ear, when seemly out of nowhere a solid figure appeared before him: an angel with a crown as gleaming as the golden rising sun. In her hand she held a torch, flaming, beaming with the fire. Her wings were set with flashing diamonds, emeralds and the rarest jewels.

Ah, indeed, the trees stopped their praying and the birds became as silent, and the brook ceased its merry play, entranced. As for the man, he was a statue, intently gazing upon the angel. Then sweetly spoke the angel with a voice as soft as clouds, echoing in the silent forest, enchanting the very earth. "If thou ever turnest backward, o thou man, how dreadful then! The fate that will follow still remains the secret of I and only I! But at the very ending of thy great and awful plague, the peaceful vision shall give thee comfort and exceeding joy. Ah, but oh, don't take the chances, o, thy sir, live on in faith! Don't be tempted by the devil; overcome and thy joy is great! But remember what I tell you, don't forget thy awful fate. Live on in faith abundant and thy reward will be made great." Like a flash she was vanished. He stood like a carven statue, puzzling over the meaning of the warning. Surely he would not turn back, he of so great faith!

From amid the haughty foes came the devils. With their mighty power they convinced him to change. With rage he cursed the forest, and slowly, surely, it changed into a forest of bitter pestilence. He was consumed in the midst, a raving creature, a beast in human form. He was tormented with every plague. There was no rest. He tried to sleep; it would not come. Ah, how little he remembered of the angel!

One hundred years passed. He had had no comfort. It was early spring but the Forest of Pestilence gave forth no signs of springtime. The Death Wind howled mysteriously. The beast kicked with rage, cursing violently. From a distance the faint voice came: "Wretch! Have you no sense of contentment? No peace of mind? Wretch! Where is the soul of you?" Then a strange awakening came. With the eyes of an overjoyed child, he saw the Vision! The warning angel appeared in her glory and radiant brightness. To her rear was a new and holy city with a wall great and high, which had twelve gates with twelve angels at the gates. The building was of jasper, the gates of finest pearl. The street was of pure gold. The face of God was the light.

Turning to look closer, the man saw afar a pure river of life, clear as crystal, coming out of the throne of God. Slowly, bit by bit, the beat of his heart beat with the flowing water until his remaining life ebbed away, as the water continued to flow through the Holy City.

Copyright © 1949 Ruth Gillis


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