Nuns of the Perpetual Adoration

Calm, sad, secure; behind high convent walls,
   These watch the sacred lamp, these watch and pray:
And it is one with them when evening falls,
   And one with them the cold return of day.

These heed not time; their nights and days they make
   Into a long returning rosary,
Whereon their lives are threaded for Christ's sake;
   Meekness and vigilance and chastity.

A vowed patrol, in silent companies,
   Life-long they keep before the living Christ.
In the dim church, their prayers and penances
   Are fragrant incense to the Sacrificed.

Outside, the world is wild and passionate;
   Man's weary laughter and his sick despair
Entreat at their impenetrable gate:
   They heed no voices in their dream of prayer.

They saw the glory of the world displayed;
   They saw the bitter of it, and the sweet;
They knew the roses of the world should fade,
   And be trod under by the hurrying feet.

Therefore they rather put away desire,
   And crossed their hands and came to sanctuary
And veiled their heads and put on coarse attire:
   Because their comeliness was vanity.

And there they rest; they have serene insight
   Of the illuminating dawn to be:
Mary's sweet Star dispels for them the night,
   The proper darkness of humanity.

Calm, sad, secure; with faces worn and mild:
   Surely their choice of vigil is the best?
Yea! for our roses fade, the world is wild;
   But there, beside the altar, there is rest.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 05, 2023

1:13 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 1,389
Words 241
Stanzas 8
Stanza Lengths 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4

Ernest Christopher Dowson

Ernest Christopher Dowson was born in 1867 at Lea in Kent England he was an English poet novelist and writer of short stories associated with the Decadent movement Most of his life was spent in France more…

All Ernest Christopher Dowson poems | Ernest Christopher Dowson Books

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