Poem Themes •
Random Poem •
The Rating of Poets • The Rating of Poems
Poem by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Mother of the Fair Delight, Thou handmaid perfect in God's sight, Now sitting fourth beside the Three, Thyself a woman-Trinity,— Being a daughter born to God, Mother of Christ from stall to rood, And wife unto the Holy Ghost:— Oh when our need is uttermost, Think that to such as death may strike Thou once wert sister sisterlike! Thou headstone of humanity, Groundstone of the great Mystery, Fashioned like us, yet more than we! Mind'st thou not (when June's heavy breath Warmed the long days in Nazareth,) That eve thou didst go forth to give Thy flowers some drink that they might live One faint night more amid the sands? Far off the trees were as pale wands Against the fervid sky: the sea Sighed further off eternally As human sorrow sighs in sleep. Then suddenly the awe grew deep, As of a day to which all days Were footsteps in God's secret ways: Until a folding sense, like prayer, Which is, as God is, everywhere, Gathered about thee; and a voice Spake to thee without any noise, Being of the silence:—“Hail,” it said, “Thou that art highly favourèd; The Lord is with thee here and now; Blessed among all women thou.” Ah! knew'st thou of the end, when first That Babe was on thy bosom nurs'd?— Or when He tottered round thy knee Did thy great sorrow dawn on thee?— And through His boyhood, year by year Eating with Him the Passover, Didst thou discern confusedly That holier sacrament, when He, The bitter cup about to quaff, Should break the bread and eat thereof?— Or came not yet the knowledge, even Till on some day forecast in Heaven His feet passed through thy door to press Upon His Father's business?— Or still was God's high secret kept? Nay, but I think the whisper crept Like growth through childhood. Work and play, Things common to the course of day, Awed thee with meanings unfulfill'd; And all through girlhood, something still'd Thy senses like the birth of light, When thou hast trimmed thy lamp at night Or washed thy garments in the stream; To whose white bed had come the dream That He was thine and thou wast His Who feeds among the field-lilies. O solemn shadow of the end In that wise spirit long contain'd! O awful end! and those unsaid Long years when It was Finishèd! Mind'st thou not (when the twilight gone Left darkness in the house of John,) Between the naked window-bars That spacious vigil of the stars?— For thou, a watcher even as they, Wouldst rise from where throughout the day Thou wroughtest raiment for His poor; And, finding the fixed terms endure Of day and night which never brought Sounds of His coming chariot, Wouldst lift through cloud-waste unexplor'd Those eyes which said, “How long, O Lord?” Then that disciple whom He loved, Well heeding, haply would be moved To ask thy blessing in His name; And that one thought in both, the same Though silent, then would clasp ye round To weep together,—tears long bound, Sick tears of patience, dumb and slow. Yet, “Surely I come quickly,”—so He said, from life and death gone home. Amen: even so, Lord Jesus, come! But oh! what human tongue can speak That day when Michael came to break From the tir'd spirit, like a veil, Its covenant with Gabriel Endured at length unto the end? What human thought can apprehend That mystery of motherhood When thy Beloved at length renew'd The sweet communion severèd,— His left hand underneath thine head And His right hand embracing thee?— Lo! He was thine, and this is He! Soul, is it Faith, or Love, or Hope, That lets me see her standing up Where the light of the Throne is bright? Unto the left, unto the right, The cherubim, succinct, conjoint, Float inward to a golden point, And from between the seraphim The glory issues for a hymn. O Mary Mother, be not loth To listen,—thou whom the stars clothe, Who seëst and mayst not be seen! Hear us at last, O Mary Queen! Into our shadow bend thy face, Bowing thee from the secret place, O Mary Virgin, full of grace!
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Dante Gabriel Rossetti's other poems:
English Poetry. E-mail email@example.com