Suddenly and without warning they came
The Revealing Angels came.
Suddenly and simultaneously, through city streets.
Through quiet lanes and country roads they walked
They walked crying: "God has sent us to find
The vilest sinners of earth.
We are to bring them before him, before the Lord of Life."
Their voices were like bugles;
And then all war, all strife,
And all the noises of the world grew still;
And no one talked;
And no one toiled, but many strove to flee away
Robbers and thieves, and those sunk in drunkenness and crime,
Men and women of evil repute,
And mothers with fatherless children in their arms, all strove to hide.
But the Revealing Angels passed them by,
Saying: "Not you, not you.
Another day, when we shall come again
Unto the haunts of men,
Then we will call your names;
But God has asked us first to bring to him
Those guilty of greater shames
Than lust, or theft, or drunkenness, or vice
Yea, greater than murder done in passion,
Or self-destruction done in dark despair.
Now in his Holy Name we call:
Come one and all;
Come forth; reveal your faces."
Then through the awful silence of the world,
Where noise had ceased, they came
The sinful hosts.
They came from lowly and from lofty places,
Some poorly clad, but many clothed like queens;
They came from scenes of revel and from toil,
From haunts of sin, from palaces, from homes,
From boudoirs, and from churches.
They came like ghosts
The vast brigades of women who had slain
Their helpless, unborn children. With them trailed
Lovers and husbands who had said, "Do this,"
And those who helped for hire.
They stood before the Angels before the Revealing Angels they stood.
And they heard the Angels say,
And all the listening world heard the Angels say;
"These are the vilest sinners of all;
For the Lord of Life made sex that birth might come;
Made sex and its keen compelling desire
To fashion bodies wherein souls might go
From lower planes to higher
Until the end is reached (which is Beginning.)
They have stolen the costly pleasures of the senses
And refused to pay God's price.
They have come together, these men and these women,
As male and female they have come together
In the great creative act.
They have invited souls, and then flung them out into space;
They have made a jest of God's design.
All other sins look white beside this sinning;
All other sins may be condoned, forgiven;
All other sinners may be cleansed and shriven;
Not these, not these.
Pass on, and meet God's eyes."
The vast brigade moved forward, and behind them walked the Angels,
Walked the sorrowful Revealing Angels.
By Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Cosmopolitan 56 (January 1914): 196-197
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