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On The Way To Church

Wilfrid Scawen Blunt 1840 (Petworth House) – 1922 (United Kingdom)



There is one I know. I see her sometimes pass
In the morning streets upon her way to Mass,
A calm sweet woman with unearthly eyes.
Men turn to look at her, but ever stop,
Reading in those blue depths the death of hope
And a wise chastisement for thoughts unwise.

Pure is her brow as of a marble Saint.
Her brown hair pencils it with ripples faint.
There is no shadow on it and no light.
Her cheeks are pale like lilies in eclipse.
Hardly a little redness on her lips
Paints the sad smile where all the rest is white.

Tall is she and bent forward like a reed
Which the wind toys with as she walks with speed:
Girl--like her limbs and virginal her waist.
Of the world's wonders there is none so sweet
As this, the summer lightning of her feet,
Speeding her onward like a fawn in haste.

What is her secret? All the world has tried
To guess it. One I knew in guessing died
And was no wiser for his mortal pain.
Each has turned sadder from the thankless quest,
And gone back silent, even if he guessed,
Knowing all answer would be counted vain.

I knew her once. I know her not to--day.
Our eyes meet sometimes, but hers turn away
Quicker from mine than from the rest that look.
Her pale cheek quivers, a flush comes and goes,
As in the presence of a soul that knows,
And her hands tighten on her missal book.

Men have done evil yet have won to Heaven,
Lived in blood guiltiness yet died forgiven.
May I not, I too, one day win my grace?
Ah no. The sacrilege of this worst sin
Outweighs all grace. I dare not enter in
Nor kneel, God's robber, near that angel face.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Wilfrid Scawen Blunt

Wilfrid Scawen Blunt was an English poet and writer. more…

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