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Bible Stories And Religious Classics by Philip P. Wells


The Conversion of Northumbria

The black-hair'd gaunt Paulinus
By ruddy Edwin stood: --
|Bow down, O king of Deira,
Before the blessed Rood!
Cast out thy heathen idols,
And worship Christ our Lord.|
-- But Edwin look'd and ponder'd,
And answer'd not a word.

Again the gaunt Paulinus
To ruddy Edwin spake:
|God offers life immortal
For his dear Son's own sake!
Wilt thou not hear his message,
Who bears the keys and sword?|
-- But Edwin look'd and ponder'd,
And answer'd not a word.

Rose then a sage old warrior;
Was five-score winters old;
Whose beard from chin to girdle
Like one long snow-wreath roll'd: --
|At Yule-time in our chamber
We sit in warmth and light,
While cold and howling round us
Lies the black land of Night.

|Athwart the room a sparrow
Darts from the open door:
Within the happy hearth-light
One red flash -- and no more!
We see it come from darkness,
And into darkness go: --
So is our life, King Edwin!
Alas, that it is so!

|But if this pale Paulinus
Have somewhat more to tell;
Some news of Whence and Whither,
And where the soul will dwell; --
If on that outer darkness
The sun of hope may shine; --
He makes life worth the living!
I take his God for mine!|

So spake the wise old warrior;
And all about him cried:
|Paulinus' God hath conquer'd!
And he shall be our guide: --
For he makes life worth living
Who brings this message plain,
When our brief days are over,
That we shall live again.|

-- Unknown

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