I HAVE been an acolyte
In the service of the Night,
Subtile incense I have burned,
Songs of silence I have learned, —
Spirit-uttered antiphon
That from aisle to aisle doth run
Through the deep cathedral wood.
There she blessed me as I stood,
There, or in her courts that lie
Open to the gemmëd sky.
Me with starlight she hath crowned,
And with purple wrapped me round, —
Darkling purple, strangely wrought
By the servants of her thought.
Mortal, whosoe’er thou art,
That dost bear a fevered heart,
Hither come and healëd be:
Night such grace will show to thee,
Thou shall tread the dewy stubble
Stranger to all fret and trouble,
While bright Hesper leans from heaven
Through the soft, dove-colored even,
While the grass-bird calleth peace
On the fields that have release
From the sickle and the rake.
Happy sigher ! thou shalt take
The rich breath of blossomed maize,
As the moist wind smoothly plays
With its misty silks and plumes.
Thou shalt peer through tangled glooms,
Where the fruited brier-rose
Fragrance on thy pathway throws,
And the firefly bears a link;
Where swart bramble-berries drink
Spicy dew, and shall be sweet,
Ripened by to-morrow’s heat;
Still, wherever thou dost pass,
Chimes the cricket in the grass ;
And the plover’s note is heard, —
Moonlight’s wild enchanted bird,
Flitting, wakeful and forlorn,
Round the meadow’s lately shorn.
Wilt thou come, and healëd be
Of the wounds Day gave to thee,
Come and dwell, an acolyte
Of the deep-browed holy Night ?
Edith M. Thomas.