The Martyrdom Of St. Christina
I knew, I knew, it would be so,
That, in this long--expected hour,
Thou would'st not leave me, Christ, my Lord!
My poor blind--hearted enemies
Have brought me here to die,--even here,
In this my old delight, the Lake
Of dear Bolsena; they have tied
About my weak and slender neck
A ponderous millstone, that my frame
May be dragged down to surest death
Within that undulating tomb.
The stone is there,--the cord is there,
But the gross weight I cannot feel,
For round me, even while I pray,
Beautiful--wingèd childly shapes
Are gathering, smiling glorious smiles.
With what deep looks of sympathy
They dwell upon me! with what care
Some raise the cord, some raise the stone,
So that it cannot sway me down.
O my soul's lover! Saviour Christ! take this earnest of thy grace,
Assured that I shall lay aside
The coil of this tormented flesh,
Without a thought of fear or pain,--
That, when this mortal shell is cast
Into the stifling element,
That instrument of my distress
Will, at thy blessèd will, be changed
Into the very air of Heaven.
CHORUS OF ANGELS.
Sister Christine, sweetest Sister,
Know you not from whom we come?
See, we kneel around you kneeling,
Offering kind and loving duty,
All we can to soothe your suffering,
All we can to make you glad!
Ah! we see you look with wonder,
That our small and tender hands
Can raise up this heavy stone,
Without show of pain or labour:
Do you believe then,
That, because our long gold hair,
And our rosy--rounded faces,
And our laughing lips and eyes,
And our baby--moulded limbs
Are like those of earthly children,
We have not the strength, the glory, and the power,
Which our Father gives unto his dear ones,--
Which he will give to you, most happy Christine,
For you have loved him?
(ABOVE, SPEAKING TO AN ANGEL.)
Angel! to thee is given the noble charge
To bear this martyr--mantle perfect--white
To my dear daughter Christine there below;
That she, when clothed thus worthily, may pass
From the hard triumph of her prison--life
To the embraces of essential Love.
(KNEELING, AND HOLDING THE MANTLE.)
Burning with delight, I haste
This high mission to perform,--
But it is an awful task,
Even for an Angel's hands,
Such a power of God to hold,
As the sign of Martyrdom.
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