Out of the Shell

Sarah Bridges Stebbins
retrieved from
Arthur’s Home Magazine,
vol.5, 1882
Out of my shell! what a marvelous change!
What glorious sights! what wonderful space!
And all this while my imprisoning home
Has been poised in midst of this grander place!
And I in the dark with this light around,
In silence shut with such harmonies near.
There feeble and curbed in such limits barred!
So strong, and unfettered, expanding here!
What did I know in such dim, narrow sphere
That pressed me around, upon every side!
For if I but stirred in outreaching dream,
Lo! a wall, instead of horizon wide!
For still vaguely I felt the world beyond,
And beat restless wings ’gainst inclosing cell,
In fancies of soaring to other states,
Each one but a larger and brighter shell!
Just a touch when the hour had come at last,
And my house of bondage fell all away!
Then, with opened vision and plumed for flight,
I came forth, new born, to this cloudless day!
Out of my shell! Was I ever confined
Such a weary time in that shattered vase?
What a dungeon frail to entrammel growth!
When endless realm to this freedom displays!
O soul of man, like a bird in the shell,
Thus encompassed by glowing world unseen,
Thou, too, midst eternity’s circling light
In thy prison of flesh hast folded been!
When moment of death deliverance gives,
Then only thou knowest the truth of life,
How small and cramped was thy dwelling of clay
The infinite round with what glories rife!
—Sarah Bridges Stebbins.

“Out of the Shell”
by “Sarah Bridges Stebbins”
John Habberton (1842–1921)

Transcribed and edited by
Jeffrey Merrow, October, 2018.
Tadalique and Company, Publishers.
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