The Soul Captains
The Guardian of the Gate looked down and watched them coming on,
A close-knit rank of new-born souls treading the star-lit dawn,
Shoulder to shoulder and step by step … sturdy as shades might be …
And the Guardian of the Gate, perplexed, wondered whom he should see.
“What souls are these?” he asked at last, “who hold their heads erect:
Who bend no knee, whose eyes look up … are they without respect?
The Captain lifted a steady hand, saluted and thus replied:
“We are the souls of the Men who Dared, - who loved with courage – and died!
“We asked not why; we cared not why; we gave of our best in the fight;
The bitter or sweet; the cruel or kind … each as he saw the light:
We did not wince when the whip-lash stung, but strove by the rules we knew,
If you would have us on bended knee, none of us will go through.”
The Guardian of the Gate, wide-eyed, nodded his haloed head.
“This is the talk of the living,” he said, “and not the speech of the dead.”
The Captain smiled. “We are dead, indeed … but habit is strong in the soul
And the God we seek cares not to have men crawling to reach the Goal.
“We lived and loved; we wrought and laughed; we did what was given to do.
Not for rewards, and not through fright, but each to his standard true:
That the Master within grants peace and joy to humans made good through fear
We won’t believe, and we can’t believe … else why are we summoned here?”
The Guardian opened the Gateway wide. “Enter!” was his command,
“The depth and breadth of the Master’s love at last ye may understand!”
The Light of the Endless Peace shone down as he opened the judgment roll
And found their names. They had earned their rest – Captains of heart and soul!
-Everard Jack Appleton