The goat-cup, straight, drew down the skies
And lit them in lunatick wise:
What had been rose went scarlet red,
And the pearl tints grew like the dead.
And the fresh primrose of the morn
Was the wet red of rain-spoiled corn.
Now, with a head that aches and nods
I hold weak hands out to the gods;
And oh! forgiving gods and kind,
They give me healing to my mind,
And show me once again the lawn
Green and clear-gemmed with dews of dawn.
O gods, who look down from above
Upon our tangle of lust and love,
And, in your purity, perceive
The worth of what our follies leave:
Give us but this, and sink the rest—
To know that dew and dawn are best.
Now I am cast into the serpent pit
And, catching difficult breath
From the writhing, loathsome, ceaseless stir of it,
The venomous whispers of curling, clasping Death,
I lift my soul out of the pit to Thee
And reaching with my soul to where Thou art
Look down, seeing with free heart
The beast God gave my soul for company
Lie with companions fit;
And bid, with a good will,
The serpent-fangs of ill
Take their foul fill
Of the foul fell it wore.
Though a thousand serpent heads were raised to slay,
A thousand twisting coils writhed where it lay,
There lies the beast, there let it lie for me
And agonize and rave;
For Thou has raised my soul, Thy soul, to Thee!
Thy soul, dear Lord, Thou hast been strong to save!
AT THE GATE.
The monastery towers, as pure and fair
As virgin vows, reached up white hands to Heaven;
The walls, to guard the hidden heart of prayer,
Were strong as sin, and white as sin forgiven;
And there came holy men, by world’s woe driven;
And all about the gold-green meadows lay
Flower-decked, like children dear that keep May-holiday.
“Here,” said the Abbot, “let us
spend our days,
Days sweetened by the lilies of pure prayer,
Hung with white garlands of the rose of praise;
And, lest the World should enter with her snare—
Enter and laugh and take us unaware
With her red rose, her purple and her gold—
Choose we a stranger’s hand the porter’s keys to hold.”
They chose a beggar from the world outside
To keep their worldward door for them, and he,
Filled with a humble and adoring pride,
Built up a wall of proud humility
Between the monastery’s sanctity
And the poor, foolish, humble folk who came
To ask for love and care, in the dear Saviour’s name.
For when the poor crept to the guarded gate
To ask for succour, when the tired asked rest,
When weary souls, bereft and desolate,
Craved comfort, when the murmur of the oppressed
Surged round the grove where prayer had made her nest,
The porter bade such take their griefs away,
And at some other door their bane and burden lay.