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The Charmer
by [?]


Socrates. –‘However, you and Simmias appear to me as if you wished to sift this subject more thoroughly, and to be afraid, like children, lest, on the soul’s departure from the body, winds should blow it away.’

* * * * *

“Upon this Cebes said, ‘Endeavor to teach us better, Socrates. * * * Perhaps there is a childish spirit in our breast, that has such a dread. Let us endeavor to persuade him not to be afraid of death, as of hobgoblins.’

“‘But you must charm him every day,’ said Socrates, ‘until you have quieted his fears.’

“‘But whence, O Socrates,’ he said, ‘can we procure a skilful charmer for such a case, now you are about to leave us.’

“‘Greece is wide, Cebes,’ he replied: ‘and in it surely there are skilful men, and there are also many barbarous nations, all of which you should search, seeking such a charmer, sparing neither money nor toil, as there is nothing on which you can more reasonably spend your money.'”–( Last conversation of Socrates with his disciples, as narrated by Plato in the Phaedo. )

* * * * *

“We need that Charmer, for our hearts are sore
With longings for the things that may not be;
Faint for the friends that shall return no more;
Dark with distrust, or wrung with agony.

“What is this life? and what to us is death?
Whence came we? whither go? and where are those
Who, in a moment stricken from our side,
Passed to that land of shadow and repose?

“And are they all dust? and dust must we become?
Or are they living in some unknown clime?
Shall we regain them in that far-off home,
And live anew beyond the waves of time?

“O man divine! on thee our souls have hung;
Thou wert our teacher in these questions high;
But, ah, this day divides thee from our side,
And veils in dust thy kindly-guiding eye.

“Where is that Charmer whom thou bidst us seek?
On what far shores may his sweet voice be heard?
When shall these questions of our yearning souls
Be answered by the bright Eternal Word?”

So spake the youth of Athens, weeping round,
When Socrates lay calmly down to die;
So spake the sage, prophetic of the hour
When earth’s fair morning star should rise on high.

They found Him not, those youths of soul divine,
Long seeking, wandering, watching on life’s shore–
Reasoning, aspiring, yearning for the light,
Death came and found them–doubting as before.

But years passed on; and lo! the Charmer came–
Pure, simple, sweet, as comes the silver dew;
And the world knew him not–he walked alone,
Encircled only by his trusting few.

Like the Athenian sage rejected, scorned,
Betrayed, condemned, his day of doom drew nigh;
He drew his faithful few more closely round,
And told them that his hour was come to die.

“Let not your heart be troubled,” then he said;
“My Father’s house hath mansions large and fair;
I go before you to prepare your place;
I will return to take you with me there.”

And since that hour the awful foe is charmed,
And life and death are glorified and fair.
Whither he went we know–the way we know–
And with firm step press on to meet him there.