The Stranger

By George Sterling

"Who is he that knocks so loudly
    At the western gate?
Tell me, Love." And Love went proudly;
    And the hour was late.

Fell a silence. Love returning,
    Cried, "I fear thy guest!
In his head what eyes are burning!
    Sable is his crest!

"Nay! I dread him! Close thy portal!
    Be that presence banned!
It may be he is not mortal:
    Hazard not his hand!"

"Who is he that knocks so slowly
    At the western gate?
Tell me Grief?" And Grief went lowly;
    And the hour was late.

Came a laughter. Grief cried gladly,
    "Why, O Love! thy sighs?
Wherefore greet the guest so sadly?
    Tender are his eyes!

"On his crest the gloom discloses
    Stars of purest light.
In his hand immortal roses
    Flood the tranquil night."

 "Hold the gate, lest the bars be broken!
    Guard, O Life! the locks!
By the words that both have spoken,
    It is Death who knocks!"

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