Before the Virgin Mother and her Child,
The last, pale, low-burnt taper flickered out,
But in the darkness, smooth and fathomless,
Still twinkled like a star the holy lamp
That cast a dusky glow upon her face.
Then through the numbing cold peace fell on me,
Submission and the gracious gift of tears,
For when I looked, Oh! blessèd miracle,
Her lips had parted and Our Lady smiled!
And then I knew that Love is worth its pain
And that my heart was richer for his sake,
Since lack of love is bitterest of all.
To say one name whose sweetness grows so strange
The day is broad awake—the first long beam
Of level sun finds Sister Marta's face,
And trembling there it lights a timid smile
Upon the lips that say so many prayers,
And have no words for hate and none for love.
But when she passes where her prayers have gone,
Will God not smile a little sadly then,
And send her back with gentle words to earth
That she may hold a child against her breast
And feel its little hands upon her hair?
We weep before the Blessed Mother's shrine,
To think upon her sorrows, but her joys
What nun could ever know a tithing of?
The precious hours she watched above His sleep
Were worth the fearful anguish of the end.
Yea, lack of love is bitterest of all;
Yet I have felt what thing it is to know
One thought forever, sleeping or awake;