Madeline in Church

Here, in the darkness, where this plaster saint
  Stands nearer than God stands to our distress,
And one small candle shines, but not so faint
  As the far lights of everlastingness,
I'd rather kneel than over there, in open day
  Where Christ is hanging, rather pray
  To something more like my own clay,
  Not too divine;
  For, once, perhaps my little saint
  Before he got his niche and crown,
  Had one short stroll about the town;
  It brings him closer, just that taint—
  And anyone can wash the paint
  Off our poor faces, his and mine!
 
Is that why I see Monty now? equal to any saint, poor boy, as good as gold,
But still, with just the proper trace
Of earthliness on his shining wedding face;
And then gone suddenly blank and old
The hateful day of the divorce:
Stuart got his, hands down, of course
Crowing like twenty cocks and grinning like a horse:
But Monty took it hard. All said and done I liked him best,—
He was the first, he stands out clearer than the rest.
  It seems too funny all we other rips
  Should have immortal souls; Monty and Redge quite damnably
  Keep theirs afloat while we go down like scuttled ships.—
  It's funny too, how easily we sink,
  One might put up a monument, I think
  To half the world and cut across it "Lost at Sea!"
I should drown Jim, poor little sparrow, if I netted him to-night—
  No, it's no use this penny light—
  Or my poor saint with his tin-pot crown—
  The trees of Calvary are where they were,
  When we are sure that we can spare
  The tallest, let us go and strike it down
  And leave the other two still standing there.
  I, too, would ask Him to remember me
  If there were any Paradise beyond this earth that I could see.
  Oh! quiet Christ who never knew
  The poisonous fangs that bite us through
  And make us do the things we do,
  See how we suffer and fight and die,
  How helpless and how low we lie,
  God holds You, and You hang so high,
  Though no one looking long at You,
  Can think You do not suffer too,
But, up there, from your still, star-lighted tree
  What can You know, what can You really see
  Of this dark ditch, the soul of me!
 
  We are what we are: when I was half a child I could not sit
Watching black shadows on green lawns and red carnations burning in the sun,
  Without paying so heavily for it
  That joy and pain, like any mother and her unborn child were almost one.
  I could hardly bear
  The dreams upon the eyes of white geraniums in the dusk,
  The thick, close voice of musk,
  The jessamine music on the thin night air,
  Or, sometimes, my own hands about me anywhere
  The sight of my own face (for it was lovely then) even the scent of my own hair,
  Oh! there was nothing, nothing that did not sweep to the high seat
  Of laughing gods, and then blow down and beat
  My soul into the highway dust, as hoofs do the dropped roses of the street.
  I think my body was my soul,
  And when we are made thus
  Who shall control
  Our hands, our eyes, the wandering passion of our feet,
  Who shall teach us
  To thrust the world out of our heart: to say, till perhaps in death,
  When the race is run,
  And it is forced from us with our last breath
  "Thy will be done"?
If it is Your will that we should be content with the tame, bloodless things.
  As pale as angels smirking by, with folded wings—
  Oh! I know Virtue, and the peace it brings!
 
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"Madeline in Church" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 21 Sep. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/5545/madeline-in-church>.

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