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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Here are some beautiful Marian verses......

in honor of the birthday month of the Blessed Virgin Mary on September 8th. The first poem was written by Sir Walter Scott as part of his epic work, "The Lady of the Lake." He grew to have very High Anglican sentiments and died reciting the "Stabat Mater." The second one was written by Rudyard Kipling, who found himself drawn to the legends of the Coptic Christians towards the end of his life. Both of these are religiously mystical and heart-felt.

Ave Maria

Ave Maria! Ave Maria! maiden mild!
Listen to a maiden's prayer!
Thou canst hear though from the wild,
Thou canst save amid despair.
Safe may we sleep beneath thy care,
Though banish 'd, outcast and reviled -
Maiden! hear a maiden's prayer;
Mother, hear a suppliant child!
Ave Maria!

Ave Maria! undefiled!
The flinty couch we now must share
Shall seem this down of eider piled,
If thy protection hover there.
The murky cavern's heavy air
Shall breathe of balm if thou hast smiled;
Then, Maiden! hear a maiden's prayer;
Mother, list a suppliant child!
Ave Maria!

Ave Maria! stainless styled!
Foul demons of the earth and air,
From this their wonted haunt exiled,
Shall flee before thy presence fair.
We bow us to our lot of care,
Beneath thy guidance reconciled;
Hear for a maid a maiden's prayer,
And for a father hear a child!
Ave Maria!

Our Lady of the Sackcloth

There was a Priest at Philae,
Tongue-tied, feeble, and old;
And the daily prayer to the Virgin
Was all the Office he could.

The others were ill-remembered,
Mumbled and hard to hear;
But to Mary, the two-fold Virgin,
Always his voice rang clear.

And the congregation mocked him,
And the weight of the years he bore,
And they sent word to the Bishop
That he should not serve them more.

(Never again at the Offering
When the Bread and the Body are one:
Oh, never the picture of Mary
Watching him serve her Son!)

Kindly and wise was the Bishop.
Unto the Priest said he: -
“Patience till thou art stronger,
And keep meantime with me.

“Patience a little; it may be
The Lord shall loosen thy tongue
And then thou shalt serve at the Offering
As it was when we were young.”

And the Priest obeyed and was silent,
And the Bishop gave him leave
To walk alone in the desert
Where none should see him grieve.

(Never again at the Offering
When the Wine and the Blood are one!
Oh, never the picture of Mary
Watching him honour her Son!)

Saintly and clean was the Bishop,
Ruling himself aright
With prayer and fast in the daytime
And scourge and vigil at night.

Out of his zeal he was minded
To add one penance the more –
A garment of harshest sackcloth
Under the robes he wore.

He gathered the cloth in secret
Lest any should know and praise –
The shears, the palm and the packthread –
And laboured it many ways.

But he had no skill in the making,
And failed and fretted the while;
Till the stood a Woman before him,
Smiling as Mothers smile.

Her feet were burned by the desert –
Like a desert-dweller she trod –
Even the two-fold Virgin,
Spouse and Bearer of God!

She took the shears and the sacking,
The needle and stubborn thread,
She cut, she shaped, and she sewed them,
And, “This shall be blessed,” she said.

She passed in the white hot noontide,
On a wave of the quivering air;
And the Bishop’s eyes were opened,
And he fell on his face in prayer.

But – far from the smouldering censers –
Far from the chanted praise –
Oh, far from the pictures of Mary
That had watched him all his days –

Far in the desert by Philae
The old Priest walked forlorn,
Till he saw in the head of her Riders
A Queen of the Desert-born.

High she swayed on her camel,
Beautiful to behold:
And her beast was belled with silver,
And her veils were spotted with gold!

Low she leaned from her litter –
Soft she spoke in his ear: -
“Nay, I have watched thy sorrow!
Nay, but the end is near!

“For again thou shalt serve at the Offering
And thy tongue shall be loosed in praise,
And again thou shalt sing unto Mary
Who has watched thee all thy days.

“Go in peace to the Bishop,
Carry him word from me –
That the Woman who sewed the sackcloth
Would have him set thee free!”

"Ave Maria....."


  1. Amazing poems! Our Lady of the Sackcloth could, I believe, be applied to any priest brave enough to offer the Tridentine Latin Mass today.
    Thank you Pearl.

  2. Oh, those ARE wonderful! Thank you!

    Sorrowful Mysteries

    How curious to sacrifice for Lent
    The happy Mysteries of the Rosary,
    Our Lady’s lifeline to humanity,
    A healing comfort in our banishment:

    The Joyful Mysteries in their innocence
    The Luminous singing of strange new power
    The Glorious for that triumphant hour --
    All gone for forty days of penitence

    The Rosary – a cord of wooden beads,
    And simple enough, as the best things are,
    Each bead a prayer, grander than any star,
    Sent farther, too – to praise, to pledge, to plead

    Slipping through all our lives with hopeful cheer.
    Four orders, then, of Mysteries, and three
    Merry and hopeful in their hymnody,
    Comfort indeed in our long exile here

    But, oh, that grim fourth, Mysteries of pain
    No longer balanced by the hopes of day
    Cruel lashes, then; grey ashes, then – we pray
    That we are more than horrors, scorned and profane

    With but a remnant of the Rosary
    Fearfully, weakly grasped in weary hands
    We follow God through grey-lit, forlorn lands
    And we too stumble on, to Calvary

  3. These are very beautiful poems and prayers. I really like the first one (but then again, I've always been a fan of shorter poems. Much easier to memorize.)

  4. Hi, Richard, Mack, and Kat!

    I'm so glad you liked the poems!

    Richard, the message of Kipling's poem is indeed universal and can be applied to the Latin Mass. I deeply wish that at least some of the Latin prayers and traditional music would be restored to the New Form of the mass. I like the way they blend old and new at EWTN.

    Kat, the Sir Walter Scott one is probably my favorite too because of it's simple beauty and Scottish charm. Plus, I was so suprised to find that Scott was connected with Schubert's "Ave Maria", the tune of which was orginally written to accompany this poem translated into German for an opera! Do you have any favorite religious poems/prayers?

    Mack, thank you for once again gracing my blog with your lovely poetry. It's interested because I have always found the Sorrowful Mysteries the easiest ones to meditate on. They are so human and yet so profound. I will be sure to gather your poems together and put them in an upcoming post :-)

    God Bless,