Our Lady's Exile

Twelve years, and down on earth the time was long;
She was dreaming all alone in her leaf-framed bower,
What time the limes and almonds were in flower;
Outside the casement was a white bird's song,
Ringing and clinging; there was scent of spice
From some far opening door in Paradise.

About her were magnolias, white and red,
And palms like emerald flame went leaping up
From the poor setting of an earthen cup;
Lilies grew pale, and roses crimsoned:
At dawn, a little angel like a child
Brought them to her, and kissed her gown, and smiled.

Such heavenly visitants were often here,
For this one brought her flowers, and that one fruit;
And here, one sitting tinkled to his lute,
Singing the songs that Lord Christ loves to hear;
And there, one floated in the gathering gloom
Like a flushed lily, or a rose in bloom.

Across the sun his birds, the cherubim,
Went flying home like distant flakes of light,
And a late lark was scaling heaven's blue height,
Seeking to trace the self-same path to him;
Then the sun setting caught her robe's white fold,
And lit her mournful eyes with sudden gold.

" How long?" she sighed. If but the door would swing,
And Michael enter in his silvery mail
And the plumed helmet, where the ringed stars pale,
And glow about his curled hair glittering,
And lean to her, and place the torch a-lit
In her tired hands that oft times longed for it.

No sign: the red hearts of the roses burned
Love-lit; a fiery moon was in the sky,
And the night-wind was trembling like a sigh;
Faint and far-off the ringdoves yearned and mourned,
And from the olives came a voice forlorn —
That bird who leans her heart upon a thorn.
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