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Three by Madeleva II

Sonnets by Sister M. Madeleva, C.S.C.


I think the story of Shalott is wrong;
Oh! not the "four gray walls and four gray towers,"
The placid isle and prettiness of flowers,
Nor the sweet incongruity of song.
The river slipping by the summer long,
The lads and lasses, barley fields and bowers,
The listless maid, weaving the livelong hours,
The knight; all these are proper; these belong.

But not youth cursed by love, unwitting how,
Drifting to death upon a senseless tide!
Girl, let your mirror break, your web blow wide;
Nail love's bright flag with life's upon your prow.
Know that you have not ever lived till now.
Who said that love would curse and kill you, lied.

(from Penelope)


This is your home to which you are returning.
Because you have so hungered for the place,
Shall we not stop to say the simple grace
That you have spent a passionate lifetime learning?
Upon the hearth a brave, new fire is burning;
The flowers you hoped would greet you in the vase
You wished, are here; here that grave, tender face
You tell me is the sum of all your yearning.

The threshold's peace, impatient to possess you,
More lovely than, homesick, you clamored for;
Music at once to shatter and caress you;
The voice you dream, the hands that you adore;
All, all are here to welcome and to bless you.
Come to my waiting heart! What will you more?

(from A Question of Lovers)


I seek you always. Have I never seen you?
Let's ask if any bird has seen the air,
Or flower the light, though these are everywhere.
Choose any veil you will. Set it between you
And my beholding. Know it shall not screen you
From me. What occult vestures you may wear,
Too dread or dull or difficult to bear,
Are mirrors meaning naught unless they mean you.

Is beauty something I cannot discover?
Is truth a thing that only children know?
Are you not mine who are the whole world's lover?
Can I not find you in all winds that blow,
In the wild loneliness of lark and plover,
In slender shadow trees upon the snow?

(from Four Girls)

The Four Last Things: Collected Poems (1959) pp. 48, 103, and 163f.

See also Three by Madeleva: Poems by Sister M. Madeleva, C.S.C.

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Sun. 08/03/03 01:01:54 PM
Categorized as Literary & Sunday Poetry Series.


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Cor ad cor loquitur J. H. Newman — “Heart speaks to heart”