Shades that flit, besides the shades of the night;
Rustling sobs besides the sobs of the wind;
Steps of feet that pace with his on the right,
Steps that pace on the left, and steps behind.
“Nay, no fear that I shall be lone, at least!
Lo, there are throngs abroad,” said Canice the priest.
Deathly hands that pluck at his cassock’s hem;
Sighings of earthly breath that smite his cheek;
Canice the priest swings on, atune with them,
Hears the throbbings of pain, and hears them speak;
Hears the word they utter, and answers “Yea!
Yea, poor souls, for I heed; I pray, I pray.”
Lo, a gleam of gray, and the dark is done;
Hark, a bird that trills a song of the light.
Canice hies him home by the shine of the sun.
What to-day of those pallid wraiths of the night?
What of the woeful notes that had wailed and fled?
“Maria, ora pro illis!” Canice said.
“ALL THE LITTLE SIGHING SOULS”
When the heron’s in the high wood and the last
long furrow’s sown
With the herded cloud before her and her sea-sweet raiment blown
Comes Mary, Mary Shepherdess, a-seeking for her own.
Saint James he calls the righteous folk, Saint John
he calls the kind,
Saint Peter seeks the valiant men all to loose or bind,
But Mary seeks the little souls that are so hard to find.
All the little sighing souls born of dust’s
They who fed on bitter bread when the world was bare,
Frighted of the glory gates and the starry stair.
All about the windy down, housing in the ling,
Underneath the alder-bough linnet-light they cling,
Frighted of the shining house where the martyrs sing.
Crying in the ivy-bloom, fingering at the pane,
Grieving in the hollow dark, lone along the lane,
Mary, Mary Shepherdess gathers them again.
And O the wandering women know, in workhouse and in
They dream on Mary Shepherdess with doves about her head,
And pleasant posies in her hand, and sorrow comforted.
Saying: there’s my little lass, faring
fine and free,
There’s the little lad I laid by the holly tree,
Dreaming: There’s my nameless bairn laughing at her knee.
When the bracken-harvest’s gathered and the
frost is on the loam
When the dream goes out in silence and the ebb runs out in foam,
Mary, Mary Shepherdess, she leads the lost lambs home.
If I had a little maid to turn my tears away,
If I had a little lad to lead me when I’m gray,
All to Mary Shepherdess they’d fold their hands and pray.
The stars began to peep
Gone was the bitter day,
She heard the milky ewes
Bleat to their lambs astray.
Her heart cried for her lamb
Lapped cold in the churchyard sod,
She could not think on the happy children
At play with the Lamb of God.