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Benedetta Minelli

Dinah Maria Mulock Craik 1826 (Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire) – 1887 (Shortlands, London)



I.

THE NOVICE.

IT is near morning. Ere the next night fall
I shall be made the bride of heaven. Then home
To my still marriage chamber I shall come,
And spouseless, childless, watch the slow years crawl.

These lips will never meet a softer touch
Than the stone crucifix I kiss; no child
Will clasp this neck. Ah, virgin-mother mild,
Thy painted bliss will mock me overmuch.

This is the last time I shall twist the hair
My mother's hand wreathed, till in dust she lay:
The name, her name, given on my baptism-day,
This is the last time I shall ever bear.

O weary world, O heavy life, farewell!
Like a tired child that creeps into the dark
To sob itself asleep, where none will mark,--
So creep I to my silent convent cell.

Friends, lovers whom I loved not, kindly hearts
Who grieve that I should enter this still door,
Grieve not. Closing behind me evermore,
Me from all anguish, as all joy, it parts.

Love, whom alone I loved; who stand'st far off,
Lifting compassionate eyes that could not save,
Remember, this my spirit's quiet grave
Hides me from worldly pity, worldly scoff.

'T was less thy hand than Heaven's which came between,
And dashed my cup down. See, I shed no tears:
And if I think at all of vanished years,
'T is but to bless thee, dear, for what has been.

My soul continually does cry to thee;
In the night-watches ghost-like stealing out
From its flesh tomb, and hovering thee about;
So live that I in heaven thy face may see!

Live, noble heart, of whom this heart of mine
Was half unworthy. Build up actions great,
That I down looking from the crystal gate
Smile o'er our dead hopes urned in such a shrine.

Live, keeping aye they spirit undefiled,
That, when we stand before our Master's feet,
I with an angel's love may crown complete
The woman's faith, the worship of the child.

Dawn, solemn bridal morn; ope, bridal door;
I enter. My vowed soul may Heaven take;
My heart its virgin spousal for thy sake;
O love, keeps sacred thus forevermore.

II.

THE SISTER OF MERCY.

IS it then so?--Good friends, who sit and sigh
While I lie smiling, are my life's sands run?
Will my next matins, hymned beyond the sun,
Mingle with those of saints and martyrs high?

Shall I with these my gray hairs turned to gold,
My aged limbs new clad in garments white,
Stand all transfigured in the angels' sight,
Singing triumphantly that moan of old,--

Thy will be done? It was done. O my God,
Thou know'st, when over grief's tempestuous sea
My broken-wingèd soul fled home to Thee,
I writhed, but never murmured at Thy rod.

It fell upon me, stern at first, then soft
As parent's kisses, till the wound was healed;
And I went forth a laborer in Thy field:--
They best can bind who have been bruisèd oft.

And Thou wert pitiful. I came heart-sore,
And drank Thy cup because earth's cups ran dry:
Thou slew'st me not for that impiety,
But madest the draught so sweet, I thirst no more.

I came for silence, heavy rest, or death:
Thou gavest instead life, peace, and holy toil:
My sighing lips from sorrow didst assoil,
And fill with righteous thankfulness each breath.

Therefore I praise Thee that Thou shuttest Thine ears
Unto my misery: didst Thy will, not mine:
That to this length of days Thy hand divine,
My feet from falling kept, mine eyes from tears.

Sisters, draw near. Hear my last words serene:
When I was young I walked in mine own ways,
Worshipped--not God: sought not alone His praise;
So he cut down my gourd while it was green.

And then He o'er me threw His holy shade,
That though no other mortal plants might grow,
Mocking the beauty that was long laid low,
I dwelt in peace, and His commands obeyed.

I thank Him for all joy and for all pain:
For healèd pangs, for years of calm content:
For blessedness of spending and being spent
In His high service where all loss is gain.

I bless Him for my life and for my death;
But most, that in my death my life is crowned,
Since I see there, with angels gathering round,
My angel. Ay, love, thou hast kept thy faith,

I mine. The golden portals will not close
Like those of earth, between us. Reach thy hand!
No miserere, sisters. Chant out grand
Te Deum laudamus. Now,--'t is all repose.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:56 min read
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Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

Dinah Maria Craik (; born Dinah Maria Mulock, also often credited as Miss Mulock or Mrs. Craik) was an English novelist and poet. She is best remembered for her novel John Halifax, Gentleman, which presents the mid-Victorian ideals of English middle-class life.  more…

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