Behold, by Raphael shown, Love's sacrament!
Earth's curtains part, God's veil is lifted up;
There comes a Child, forth from His Bosom sent
To rule the feast of life, His Bread and Cup,
His purpose making plain with man to sup.
Out-streams the light, accomplished is the Sign,
A Virgin-Mother clasps a Babe Divine.
Her lovely feet descend the cloudy stair,
Great succour bringing to a world forlorn;
On either side a man and woman share
A common rapture, welcoming the dawn
Of God's new day, the everlasting morn—
Of such a day as shall from East to West
Dispel the darkness, doing Love's behest.
He turns a face all radiant to the Sun,
Enamoured of the sight he looks upon;
She to the end of what is now begun
Downgazes, stooping, shadowed by the throne
Made by a Maiden's arms, maternal grown;
Than ivory most fair, than purest gold,
More ivory, more fair, and stronger to uphold.
On cherubs twain, whom watching has made wise,
A spell has fallen—a prophetic dream;
Their upward-gazing and far-seeing eyes,
Like stars reflected in a tranquil stream,
To look beyond the Child and Mother seem;
A twisted thorn-branch and a cross to them
Arc manifest — His throne and diadem.
High heaven open stands, and there a crowd
Of worshippers with love-lit eyes appear,
Like stars down-gazing through a fleecy cloud,
Dimly discerned as morning draweth near
Spreading a radiant pall upon night's bier.
The blessed thing the Sign doth signify
They partly know, and are made glad thereby.
But more the Mother knows, and more she sees
Than soaring angel or than climbing saint;
Her heart familiar grown with mysteries
Of God's own working under love's constraint,
The remedy she knows for man's complaint.
The clouds are all beneath her, and above
The light of life, the radiancy of love.
And He, Whom Lord of love and life we hail,
Is on her bosom borne, a blossom fair;
The pentecostal breath that lifts her veil
Has fanned His royal brow, and stirred His hair.
And kissed His lips just parted for a prayer.
That spirit-wind shall blow, that Face shall shine,
Till all His brothers know their Father's Sign.