The Bishop of Brechin and I

She stands upon the verge of maidenhood,
The world of woman's life before her lies;
Forms of the great and beautiful and good
Loom through the mist, that shrouds it from her eyes.

She stands and trembles, like a dove forsaking
For the first time, her native forest glade,
And startled hears life's heavy surges breaking
Along the shore where childhood's roses fade.

And as she gazes, on her innocent face
There falls a shadow, solemn, deep, but fair,
A form of love and earnestness and grace
Bends o'er her path, and broods a moment there.

Type of that love and strength (her earthly dower)
Christ gave His Church to comfort and to chide,
The bearer of a great transmitted power,
The key to open, and the staff to guide.

Close in his shadow yet awhile she lingers,
As birds shrink into shelter at hot noon,
And tears drop slowly thro' her close prest fingers,
For he must pass and leave her lonely soon.

His gifted hand is on her golden hair,
His mellow voice is whispering calm and mild
The priestly benediction and the prayer,
And “God will let us meet again, my child.”

Then smile across thy tears, our drooping dove,
There's not a pang, a feeling, vainly given,
No form of trust, or reverence, or love,
But hath its perfecting in earth or heaven.

Yea, even childhood's chaplet of pure flowers,
That wither at thy feet so mournfully,
Shall crown thy brow again, in after hours
Of childlike faith, and meek humility.

And he, though nevermore, if Heaven decree,
His hand shall press thy locks of drooping gold,
Though ne'er again thine eye his face should see,
And far apart each wave of life be roll'd.

Yet, when he poureth out with fervid glance
To the great Shepherd, all a shepherd's cares,
Sure, for the little lamb he met by chance
His soul will plead, and meet thee in his prayers.

Sure, when ye kneel in commune with your Lord,
Ye two shall meet—nor haply thus alone,
I know thy spirit drank each low breathed word,
Nor doubted once of its prophetic tone.

Still if thou wilt, of benedictial greeting,
Dream on, with kindling eye and glowing cheek,
Why should thy God deny an earthly meeting?
Those hands to bless thee and those lips to speak?

And ever to thine heart that word be nigh,
To soothe each fond regret, each parting pain,
When bright things only rise to pass thee by,
Soft whispering—“God will let us meet again.”

Ah! was he making tryste in Paradise?
Had he too heard the tones that seem to stray
Around thee, bringing tears into our eyes
As angels whisper'd: “Sister, come away”?

Had he too mark'd in that sweet face of thine
The awful nameless charm we shrink to see?
And traced therein each barely sharpen'd line,
The tender tint, the moulded symmetry?

The light behind the eyes so richly bright,
As if the struggling spirit nearer drew
Unto its prison gates, and prone for flight
Look'd forth impatient from their bars of blue?

Ah! if these signs betoken that we fear,
How shall we teach our hearts that soothing strain?
How shall we learn awhile to miss thee here,
And murmur—“God will let us meet again”?
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