Methought I saw a dark and lonely tower,
In the blue, silent night abyss alone,
And on its ramparts stood two figures dim
By the grey starlight strewn.

One sat below in silence, pale and sad,
With dim eyes pouring o'er an ancient tome,
Whose page was faintly lit with silver glint,
From the wide starry dome.

One towered above with wild and fiery eyes
For gazing down the fathomless abyss,
Cleaving with golden gaze the purple gloom,
Fearful to know, or miss!

Then, while the eyes of one still pored the page,
And while the other searched the vast unknown,
Their words came faint, borne on the midnight wind,
Mocking its mystic moan:

" Sister, come down, come down! " The Reader spake,
" Nor seek to see what by this book we know,
Nor seek to doubt what we may thus believe. "
The other said, " Not so!

If there be that within you, gloomy, vast,
Hidden be that which it were life to find,
Aye, deeper still my winging gaze must search,
Leaving all else behind. "

" Sister, come down! " again the Reader spake,
" Lest you should see what it were death to know —
O Horror huge, to swallow all our hope,
From out yon gloom may grow! "

" I dare not come, " again the Watcher spake
" Nor Death nor Life shall take me unaware.
I, in whatever law yon darkness holds,
Will see and take my share. "

" Sister, come down! " the Reader said again,
" Nor dare to doubt that which is written here;
Thou could'st not pry into His secrets vast,
Did'st thou the eternal fear! "

" Do thou arise, " the Watcher straight replied,
" Nor dare to doubt God's truth in high and low:
Didst thou believe, thou could'st not fear to ask;
Sister, look up to know! "

" Sister, I dare not, " she who read replied,
Bending her pale head trembling o'er the book
" I dare not upward gaze, I know not why,
Sister, I dare not look. "

" Doubter! " the Watcher thundered from above,
" Blinded blasphemer of the things of God —
See — the dawn breaks, the long red ranks of flame
The brightening clouds have trod.

See the dawn breaks, and in the purpled vault
Behold the mystic, the eternal name
Anger to Reader's, and to Watcher's doubt,
In characters of flame.

Slowly the Reader rose, with features pale,
'Gainst the sky's violet reared in stern relief,
Spake with bowed head, " Lord, I do now believe,
Help thou mine unbelief. "
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