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Denis Florence MacCarthy
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 64 pages of information about Poems.

I.

Long years ago, when the Devil was loose
 And faith was sorely tried,
Three monks of Basle went out to walk
 In the quiet eventide.

A breeze as pure as the breath of Heaven
 Blew fresh through the cloister-shades,
A sky as glad as the smile of Heaven
 Blushed rose o’er the minster-glades.

But scorning the lures of summer and sense,
 The monks passed on in their walk;
Their eyes were abased, their senses slept,
 Their souls were in their talk.

In the tough grim talk of the monkish days
 They hammered and slashed about,—­
Dry husks of logic,—­old scraps of creed,—­
 And the cold gray dreams of doubt,—­

And whether Just or Justified
 Was the Church’s mystic Head,—­
And whether the Bread was changed to God,
 Or God became the Bread

But of human hearts outside their walls
 They never paused to dream,
And they never thought of the love of God
 That smiled in the twilight gleam.

II.

As these three monks went bickering on
 By the foot of a spreading tree,
Out from its heart of verdurous gloom
 A song burst wild and free,—­

A wordless carol of life and love,
 Of nature free and wild;
And the three monks paused in the evening shade
 Looked up at each other and smiled.

And tender and gay the bird sang on,
 And cooed and whistled and trilled,
And the wasteful wealth of life and love
 From his happy heart was spilled.

The song had power on the grim old monks
 In the light of the rosy skies;
And as they listened the years rolled back,
 And tears came into their eyes.

The years rolled back and they were young,
 With the hearts and hopes of men,
They plucked the daisies and kissed the girls
 Of dear dead summers again.

III.

But the eldest monk soon broke the spell;
 “’Tis sin and shame,” quoth he,
“To be turned from talk of holy things
 By a bird’s cry from a tree.

“Perchance the Enemy of Souls
 Hath come to tempt us so. 
Let us try by the power of the Awful Word
 If it be he, or no!”

To Heaven the three monks raised their hands
 “We charge thee, speak!” they said,
“By His dread Name who shall one day come
 To judge the quick and the dead,—­

“Who art thou?  Speak!” The bird laughed loud
 “I am the Devil,” he said. 
The monks on their faces fell, the bird
 Away through the twilight sped.

A horror fell on those holy men,
 (The faithful legends say,)
And one by one from the face of earth
 They pined and vanished away.

IV.

So goes the tale of the monkish books,
 The moral who runs may read,—­
He has no ears for Nature’s voice
 Whose soul is the slave of creed.

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