I walk down the Valley of Silence-

Down the dim, voiceless valley-alone!

And I hear not the fall of a footstep

Around me, save God's and my own;

And the hush of my heart is as holy

As hovers where angels have flown!


Long ago was I weary of voices

Whose music my heart could not win;

Long ago I was weary of noises

That fretted my soul with their din;

Long ago I was weary of places

Where I met but the human - and sin.


I walked in the world with the worldy;

I craved what the world never gave;

And I said: "In the world each Ideal,

That shines like a star on life's wave,

Is wrecked on the shores of the Real,

And sleeps like a dream in a grave."


And still did I pine for the Perfect,

And still found the False with the True;

I sought 'mid the Human for Heaven,

But caught a mere glimpse of its Blue;

And I wept when the clouds of the Mortal

Veiled even that glimpse from my view.


And I toiled on, heart-tired, of the Human,

And I moaned 'mid the mazes of men,

Till I knelt, long ago, at an altar

And I heard a voice call me. Since then

I walk down the Valley of Silence

That lies far beyond mortal ken.


Do you ask what I found in the Valley?

'Tis my Trysting Place with the Divine.

And I fell at the feet of the Holy,

And above me a voice said: "Be mine."

And there arose from the depths of my spirit

An echo- "My heart shall be Thine."


Do you ask how I live in the Valley?

I weep- and I dream- and I pray.

But my tears are as sweet as the dewdrops

That fall on the roses in May;

And my prayer, like a perfume from censers,

Ascendeth to God night and day.


In the hush of the Valley of Silence

I dream all the songs that I sing;

And the music floats down the dim Valley,

Till each finds a word for a wing,

That to hearts, like the Dove of the Deluge,

A message of peace they may bring.


But far on the deep there are billows

That shall never break on the beach;

and I have heard songs in the Silence

That never shall float into speech;

And I have had dreams in the Valley

Too lofty for language to reach.


And I have seen Thoughts in the Valley-

Ah! me, how my spirit was stirred!

And they wear holy veils on their faces,

Their footsteps can scarcely be heard;

They pass through the Valley like virgins,

Too pure for the touch of a word!


Do you ask me the place of the Valley,

Ye hearts that are harrowed by Care?

It lieth afar between mountains,

And God and His angels are there;

And one is the dark mount of Sorrow,

And one the bright mountain of Prayer.


-From a typed-copy from an out-of-print, public domain book. The typed-copy was made for a reading that I gave in Public Speaking class at the University of Detroit on March 2, 1967. - James A. Petrait


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