Patrick Regan has kindly shared the material from his George Heath site with readers of the Victorian Web, who may wish to consult the original.

I sat beside the window, sad and still,
      The gauzy curtains round about me fell,
I looked away o'er misty vale and hill,
      O'er silent field and forest, rock and dell;
Night's mystic spirit held my soul in thrall,
      A shadowy presence filled the azure void,
A solemn quietude pervaded all,
      And there was — rest —
                Rest in the eventide.

I wiped my tear-stained eyes, and gazed and gazed;
      A torrent-gush of moonlight burst around;
Night's solemn brow grew bright, the river blazed,
      And floods of glory filled the vast profound;
The village roofs, the church, the tombs, the spire,
      The landscape stretching out on every side,
The charmed hills lay steeped in milky fire,
      And there was rest —
                Rest in the eventide.

And not one pinion clove the dreaming air,
      And not one footfall from the street uprose;
The amorous radiance trembled everywhere,
      And never a sound disturbed the mute repose.
The sad earth turned her wan face to the night
      To woo the rest which garish day denied;
The pitying sister bathed her brow with light,
      And bade her rest —
                Rest in the eventide.

The rapt effulgence, sleeping white and calm,
      The slumb'rous presence clasping earth and skies,
Fell on my troubles like a healing balm,
      Or the soul-shadowings of pitying eyes.
The billowy surge of sorrow ceased to roll,
      Upon my cheeks the scalding grief-drops dried,
A holy thrill of peace enwrapt my soul,
      And there was rest —
                Rest at the eventide.

I turned my eyes away, and rose and crept
      Up to the curtained couch with bated breath,
Where two wan beings knelt and sadly wept
      O'er one who slept the still pale sleep of death.
One hour agone the weary wheels had ceased,
      Hope, fear, uncertainty were laid aside;
The panting, toiling spirit was released,
      And there was rest —
                Rest in the eventide.

I drew the white sheet slowly, slowly down,
      A rigid object met my yearning sight;
A round, fair head, with tresses golden brown
      Streaming profusely o'er a pillow white;
A still, white face with lips all mutely closed,
      Thin hands stretched meekly down on either side,
A waxen breast that motionless reposed
      In marble rest —
                Rest at the eventide.

And can this be, I thought, the hand I grasped,
      The form that learned to love me long ago;
Is this the being which my glad arms clasped?
      These — these the lips that, smiling, thrilled me so?
Are these the eyes that wept whene'er I wept?
      This the chaste breast that with me grieved and joyed?
This the sole head that on my bosom slept?
      The fairest, best!
                My love — one year my bride!

Back o'er my soul the old mad yearning rushed,
      I strained the limp form fiercely to my breast;
Adown my cheeks, on hers, a torrent gushed,
      And on the cold, cold lips my own I pressed;
I called on her with each endearing name,
      But still no answering touch, no voice replied;
Unbroken was the charm, and still the same
      That icy rest —
                Rest of the eventide.

And yet, how lifelike seemed that quiet face!
      The golden glory slumb'ring 'mongst the hair,
Each feature chiselled with divinest grace,
      Each outline, graven on my heart, was there:
And yet, 'twas only fairest moulded clay,
      The trammel which the soul had cast aside;
The glory and the light had passed away,
      And there was rest —
                Rest at the eventide.

And can this marble-like, this placid form,
      This mass of earth, I mused, of fairest mould,
Have once withstood the brunt of Sorrow's storm?
      Basked in the sunshine; shivered in the cold?
Have once been torture-wrung and passion-swayed,
      Crossed, tempted, buffeted, afflicted, tried?
This mute frail form in cerements white arrayed,
      Proving the rest —
                Rest of the eventide?

Ah, yes! the tempest-rack had o'er it passed,
      And passion fierce had held a brief, dark sway;
Affliction too had racked, but only cast
      A chaster glory round the drooping clay,
But wrought a tinge of sadness on that brow,
      But made her tenderer and more human-eyed,
But scourged that marble breast, so peaceful now
      In painless rest —
                Rest of the eventide.

For when the ocean boiled, the tempest raged,
      And clouds of horror did her bark o'erwhelm,
She cried for help, and One the storm assuaged,
      Came o'er the plaint-wave and took the helm,
And steered it safely o'er the treach'rous deep,
      And moored it firmly on that stormless side —
("For thus he giveth his beloved sleep") —
      And there was rest —
                Rest in the eventide.

I knelt and moaned, "Oh! what is life to me
      Without the partner of my manhood's choice?
A lonely wanderer on the great rough sea,
      With no consoling hand, no cheering voice:
Oh, take me too, dear Lord! and, free from care,
      Lay me to slumber sweetly by her side;
In death, as life, unparted let me share
      With her the rest —
                Rest of the eventide."

In one wild quenchless agony of prayer
      The tempest sorrow of my life surged out,
Its idol-dream, its anguish and despair,
      Its passion flame, its madness, sin, and doubt.
Then came a gentle whisper, "Peace, be still."
      A wondrous gladness filled my bosom's void;
A mystic calm, a hallowed strength of will,
      A gleam of rest —
                Rest of the eventide.

Even so, oh Father! Marvellous, Infinite!
      Thy will be done; Thou judgest truest what is best.
The idol from my heart Thou tookest, that I might
      Grope the darkness through for Thee my rest:
So lead me on the shadow-land, till I
      Roam where the deathless evermore abide;
And there with her, the lost, the found! enjoy
      That holiest rest —
                Rest of the eventide.


Victorian Web George Heath Contents

Last modified 3 September 2002