Ivo of Chartres

Now may it please my lord, Louis the king,
Lily of Christ and France! riding his quest,
I, Bishop Ivo, saw a wondrous thing.
There was no light of sun left in the west,
And slowly did the moon’s new light increase.
Heaven, without cloud, above the near hill’s crest.
Lay passion-purple in a breathless peace.
Stars started like still tears, in rapture shed,
Which without consciousness the lids release.
All steadily, one little sparkle red,
Afar, drew close. A woman’s form grew up
Out of the dimness, tall, with queen-like head,
And in one hand was fire ; in one, a cup.
Of aspect grave she was, with eyes upraised,
As one whose thoughts perpetually did sup
At the Lord’s table.
While the cresset blazed,
Her I regarded. “ Daughter, whither bent,
And wherefore ? ” As by speech of man amazed,
One moment her deep look to me she lent;
Then, in a voice of hymn-like, solemn fall,
Calm, as by rote, she spake out her intent:
“ I in my cruse bear water, wherewithal
To quench the flames of Hell; and with my fire
I Paradise would burn: that hence no small
Fear shall impel, and no mean hope shall hire,
Men to serve God as they have served of yore ;
But to his will shall set their whole desire,
For love, love, love alone, forevermore ! ”
And “love, love, love,” rang round her as she passed
From sight, with mystic murmurs o’er and o’er
Reverbed from hollow heaven, as from some vast,
Deep-colored, vaulted, ocean-answering shell.
I, Ivo, had no power to ban or bless,
But was as one withholden by a spell.
Forward she fared in lofty loneliness,
Urged on by an imperious inward stress,
To waste fair Eden, and to drown fierce Hell.
Helen Gray Cone.