At first you will know not what they mean,
And you may never know,
And we may never tell you: —
These sudden flashes in your soul,
Like lambent lightning on snowy clouds
At midnight when the moon is full.
They come in solitude, or perhaps
You sit with your friend, and all at once
A silence falls on speech, and his eyes
Without a flicker glow at you: —
You two have seen the secret together,
He sees it in you, and you in him.
And there you sit thrilling lest the Mystery
Stand before you and strike you dead
With a splendor like the sun’s.
Be brave, all souls who have such visions!
As your body’s alive as mine is dead,
You’re catching a little whiff of the ether
Reserved for God Himself.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Edgar Lee Masters's poem Faith Matheny


  1. Emily says:

    My theatre teacher said that you could interpret as two ways. The first way is falling in love. It’s talking about how the secret, which is love, is shared between you two, and you should enjoy it while you’re alive. And how love is just like catching a taste of heaven. The second way is faith. I didn’t have him explain that to me cause I liked the one about falling in love, but it’s also talking about your faith in God.

  2. Sandra says:

    This poem is about the people getting in touch with the realm of the spiritual or after life. It is also saying that we should all be thankful that we are alive and enjoy every moment. It speaks of the fear of God and if we were ever to see God we would be struck dead. When you have visions and dreams you are getting a taste of heaven (a whiff of the ether).

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