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VIII All at once I looked up with terror. He was there. He himself with his human air. On the narrow pathway, just before. I saw the back of him, no more-- He had left the chapel, then, as I. I forgot all about the sky. No face: only the sight Of a sweepy garment, vast and white, With a hem that I could recognize. I felt terror, no surprise; My mind filled with the cataract, At one bound of the mighty fact. "I remember, he did say "Doubtless that, to this world's end, "Where two or three should meet and pray, "He would be in their midst, their friend; "Certainly he was there with them!" And my pulses leaped for joy Of the golden thought without alloy, Then I saw his very vesture's hem. Then rushed the blood back, cold and clear, With a fresh enhancing shiver of fear; And I hastened, cried out while I pressed To the salvation of the vest, "But not so, Lord! It cannot be "That thou, indeed, art leaving me-- "Me, that have despised thy friends! "Did my heart make no amends? "Thou art the love of God--above "His power, didst hear me place his love, "And that was leaving the world for thee. "Therefore thou must not turn from me "As I had chosen the other part! "Folly and pride o'ercame my heart. "Our best is bad, nor bears thy test; "Still, it should be our very best. "I thought it best that thou, the spirit, "Be worshipped in spirit and in truth, "And in beauty, as even we require it-- "Not in the forms burlesque, uncouth, "I left but now, as scarcely fitted "For thee: I knew not what I pitied. "But, all I felt there, right or wrong, "What is it to thee, who curest sinning? "Am I not weak as thou art strong? "I have looked to thee from the beginning, "Straight up to thee through all the world "Which, like an idle scroll, lay furled "To nothingness on either side: "And since the time thou wast descried, "Spite of the weak heart, so have I "Lived ever, and so fain would die, "Living and dying, thee before! "But if thou leavest me----"


from "Christmas Eve" by Robert Browning