Ad Leones

CHAINED to the dungeon wall, she slept.
Rome, moonlit, reveled overhead;
She heard not. She had prayed and wept,
Haggard with anguish, wild with dread.
She was too fair, too young, to die ;
Life was too sweet, and home too dear.
God touched her with his sleep: a sigh —
And she had ceased to weep or fear.
She slept, yet, sleeping, seemed awake:
A fair Child held her virgin hand;
They walked by an enchanted lake ;
They walked in a celestial land.
One thing she saw, and one she heard.
There were a thousand rose-red trees ;
Each red-rose leaf sang like a bird.
“ What trees, dear Child,” she asked, “ are these ? ”
“These,” said the Child, “are called Love’s Bower:
They fade not; constantly they sing;
Each flower appears more fire than flower.
Now, see the roots from which they spring.”
She looked ; she saw, far down the night,
The earth, the city whence she came,
And Nero’s gardens red with light, —
The light of martyrs wrapped in flame.
She woke with heaven still in her eyes.
Rome, moonlit, reveled overhead.
She feared no more the lion’s cries ;
Flames were but flowers, and death was dead.
William Canton.