THE HOMELESS POOR POEM by Adelaide Anne Procter

Poetry from A Chaplet of Verses.

Adelaide Anne Procter


CALM the City lay in midnight silence,
Deep on streets and roofs the snow lay white;
Then I saw an Angel spread his pinions
Rising up to Heaven to meet the nigh.

In his hands he bore two crowns of lilies,
Sweet with sweetness not of earthly flowers,
But a coronal of prayers for Heaven,
He had gathered through the evening hours.

He had gathered in that mighty City
Through whose streets and pathways he had trod,
Till he wove into a winter garland
Prayers that faithful hearts had sent to God.

Through the azure midnight he was rising;
As I watched, I saw his upward flight
Checked by a mighty Angel, whose stern challenge,
Like a silver blast, rang through the night.

Then strange words upon the silence broke,
And I listened as the Angels spoke.

The Angel of Prayers
‘I have come from wandering through the city,
I have been to seek a garland meet
To be placed before His Throne in Heaven,
To be laid at His dear Mother’s feet.

‘I have been to one of England’s Havens—
To a HOME for peace and honour planned,
Where the kindly lights of joy and duty
Meet and make the glory of the land.

‘There I heard the ring of children’s laughter
Hushed to eager silence; I could see
How the father stroked their golden tresses
As they clustered closer round his knee.

‘And I heard him tell, with loving honour,
How the wanderers to Bethlehem came,
And I saw each head in reverence bowing
When he named the Holy Child’s dear name.

‘Then he told how houseless, homeless, friendless,
They had wandered wearily and long—
Of the manger where our Lord was cradled,
Of the Shepherds listening to our song.

‘As he spoke I heard his accents falter,
And I saw each childish heart was stirred
With a loving throb of tender pity
At the sorrowful, sweet tale they heard.

‘As the children sang their Christmas carol
I could see the mother’s eyes grow dim,
And she held her baby closer—feeling
Most for Mary through her love for him.

‘So I gathered from that home, as flowers
All the tender, loving words I heard
Given this night to Jesus and to Mary—
Look at them, and say if I have erred.’

The Angel of Deeds
‘In that very street, at that same hour,
In the bitter air and drifting sleet,
Crouching in a doorway was a mother,
With her children shuddering at her feet.

‘She was silent—who would hear her pleading?
Men and beasts were housed—but she must stay
Houseless in the great and pitiless city,
Till the dawning of the winter day.

‘Homeless—while her fellow-men are resting
Calm and blest: their very dogs are fed,
Warm and sheltered, and their sleeping children
Safely nestled in each little bed.

‘She can only draw her poor rags closer
Round her wailing baby—closer hold
One, the least and sickliest—while the others
Creep together, tired, hungry, cold.

‘What are these poor flowers thou hast gathered?
Cast such fragile, worthless tokens by:
Will He prize mere words of love and honour
While His Homeless Poor are left to die ?

‘He has said—His truths are all eternal—
What He said both has been and shall be
What ye have not done to these My poor ones
Lo! ye have not done it unto Me.’

Then I saw the Angel with the flowers
Bow his head and answer, ‘It is well,’
As he cast a wreath of lilies earthward,
And I saw them wither as they fell.

Once again the Angel raised his head;
Smiled and showed the ether wreath and said:—

The Angel of Prayers
‘I have been where kneeling at the Altar,
Hushed in reverent awe, a faithful throng
Have this night adored the Holy Presence,
Worshipping with incense, prayer, and song.

‘Every head was bowed in loving honour,
Every heart with loving awe was thrilled;
Earth and things of earth seemed all forgotten;
He was there—and meaner thoughts were stilled,

‘There on many souls in strait and peril
Did that gracious Benediction fall,
With the strength or peace or joy or warning,
He could give, who loved and knew them all.

‘There was silence, but all hearts were speaking:
When the deepest hush of silence fell,
On the fragrant air and breathless longing
Came the echo of one silver bell.

‘On each spirit such a flood of sweetness
Broke as we who dwell in Heaven feel,
Then the Adoremus in eternum,
Jubilant and strong, rolled peal on peal.

‘They had given holy adoration,
Tender words of love and praise; all bright
With the dew of contrite tears—such blossoms
I am bearing to His throne to-night.’

The Angel of Deeds
‘Pause again—these flowers are fair and lovely,
Radiant in their perfume and their bloom:
But not far from where you plucked this garland
Is a squalid place in ghastly gloom.

‘There black waters in their luring silence
Under loathsome arches crawl and creep,
There the rats and vermin herd together….
There God’s poor ones sometimes come to sleep.

‘There the weary come, who through the daylight
Pace the town, and crave for work in vain;
There they crouch in cold and rain and hunger,
Waiting for another day of pain.

‘In slow darkness creeps the dismal river;
From its depths looks up a sinful rest;
Many a weary, baffled, hopeless wanderer
Has it drawn into its treacherous breast.

‘There is near another River flowing,
Black with guilt, and deep as hell and sin;
On its brink even sinners stand and shudder—
Cold and hunger goad the homeless in.

‘Yet these poor ones to His heart are dearer
For their grief and peril: dear indeed
Would have been the love that sought and fed them,
Gave them warmth and shelter in their need.

‘For His sake those tears and prayers are offered
Which you bear as flowers to His throne;
Better still would be the food and shelter,
Given for Him and given to His own.

‘Praise with loving deeds is dear and holy,
Words of praise will never serve instead:
Lo! you offer music, hymn, and incense—
When He has not where to lay His head.’

Then once more the Angel with the Flowers
Bowed his head, and answered, ‘It is well,’
As he cast a breath of lilies earthwards,
And I saw them wither as they fell.

So the Vision faded, and the Angels
Melted far into the starry sky;
By the light upon the eastern Heaven
I could see another day was nigh.

Was it quite a dream?   O God! we love Him;
All our love, though weak, is given to Him—
Why is it our hearts have been so hardened?
Why is it our eyes have been so dim?

Still as for Himself the Infant Jesus
In His little ones asks food and rest—
Still as for His Mother He is pleading
Just as when He lay upon her breast.

Jesus, then, and Mary still are with us—
Night will find the Child and Mother near,
Waiting for the shelter we deny them,
While we tell them that we hold them dear.

Help us, Lord! not these Thy poor ones only,
They are with us always, and shall be:
Help the blindness of our hearts, and teach us,
In Thy homeless ones to succour Thee.

Adelaide Anne Procter – A Chaplet of Verses

A Chaplet of Verses by Adelaide Anne Procter