THE SHRINES OF MARY POEM by Adelaide Anne Procter
Poetry from A Chaplet of Verses.
ADELAIDE ANNE PROCTER – THE SHRINES OF MARY POEM
THERE are many shrines of our Lady,
In different lands and climes,
Where I can remember kneeling
In old and beloved times.
They arise now like stars before me
Through the long, long night of years;
Some are bright with a heavenly radiance,
And others shine out through tears.
They arise too like mystical flowers,
All different, and all the same,—
As they lie in my heart like a garland
That is wreathed round Mary’s name.
Thus each shrine has two consecrations;
One all the faithful can trace,
But one is for me and me only,
Holding my soul with its grace.
A shrine in a quaint old Chapel
Defaced and broken with years,
Where the pavement is worn with kneeling,
And the step with kisses and tears.
She is there in the dawn of morning,
When the day is blue and bright,
In the shadowy evening twilight,
And the silent, starry night.
Through the dim old painted window
The Hours look down, and shed
A different glory upon her,
Violet, purple and red.
And there—in that quaint old Chapel
As I stood one day alone—
Came a royal message from Mary,
That claimed my life as her own.
I remember a vast Cathedral
Which holds the struggle and strife
Of a grand and powerful city,
As the heart holds the throb of a life.
Where the ebb and the flow of passion,
And sin in its rushing tide
Have dashed on that worn stone chapel,
Dashed, and broken, and died.
And above the voices of sorrow
And the tempter’s clamorous din,
The voice of Mary has spoken
And conquered the pain and the sin:
For long ages and generations.
Have come there to strive and to pray;
She watched and guided them living,
And does not forget them to-day.
And once, in that strange, vast City
I stood in its great stone square,
Alone in the crowd and the turmoil
Of the pitiless southern glare;
And a grief was upon my spirit,
Which I could not cast away,
It weighed on my heart all the night-time,
And it fretted my life all day.
So then to that calm cool refuge
I turned from the noisy street,
And I carried my burden of sorrow—
And left it at Mary’s feet.
I remember a lonely chapel
With a tender claim upon me,
It was built for the sailors only,
And they call it the Star of the Sea.
And the murmuring chant of the Vespers
Seems caught up by the wailing breeze,
And the throb of the organ is echoed
By the rush of the silver seas.
And the votive hearts and the anchors
Tell of danger and peril past;
Of the hope deferred and the waiting,
And the comfort that came at last.
I too, had a perilous venture,
On a stormy and treacherous main,
And I too was pleading to Mary
From the depths of a heart in pain.
It was not a life in peril—
Oh, God ! it was far, far more;
And the whirlpool of Hell’s temptations,
Lay between the wreck and the shore.
Thick mists hid the light of the beacon,
And the voices of warning were dumb—
So I knelt by the Altar of Mary,
And told her Her hour was come.
For she waits till Earth’s aid forsakes us,
Till we know our own efforts are vain;
And we wait, in our faithless blindness,
Till no chance but her prayers remain.
And now in that sea-side chapel
By that humble village shrine
Hangs a Heart of silver, that tells her
Of the love and the gladness of mine.
There is one far shrine I remember
In the years that are fled away,
Where the grand old mountains are guarding
The glories of night and day.
Where the earth in her rich, glad beauty
Seems made for our Lady’s throne,
And the stars in their radiant clusters
Seem fit for her crown alone.
Where the balmy breezes of summer
On their odorous pinions bear
The fragrance of orange blossoms,
And the chimes of the Convent prayer.
There I used to ask for Her blessing
As each summer twilight was grey;
There I used to kneel at her Altar
At each blue, calm dawn of day.
There in silence was Victory granted,
And the terrible strife begun,
That only with Her protection,
Could be dared, or suffered, or won.
If I love the name of that Altar,
And the thought of those days gone by,
It is only the Heart of Mary
And my own that remember why.
Where long ages of toil and of sorrow,
And Poverty’s weary doom,
Have clustered together so closely
That life seems shadowed with gloom,
Where crime that lurks in the darkness
And vice that glares at the day
Make the spirit of hope grow weary,
And the spirit of love decay,
Where the feet of the wretched and sinful
Have closest and oftenest trod,
Is a house, as humble as any,
Yet we call it the House of’ God.
It is one of our Lady’s Chapels ;
And though poorer than all the rest,
Just because of the sin and the sorrow,
I think she loves it the best.
There are no rich gifts on the Altar,
The shrine is humble and bare,
Yet the poor and the sick and the tempted
Think their home and their heaven is there.
And before that humble Altar
Where Our Lady of Sorrow stands,
I knelt with a weary longing
And I laid a vow in her hands.
And I know when I enter softly
And pause at that shrine to pray,
That the fret and the strife and the burden
Will be softened and laid away.
And the Prayer and the Vow that sealed it
Have bound my soul to that shrine,
For the Mother of Sorrows remembers
Her promise, and waits for mine.
It is one long chaplet of memories
Tender and true and sweet
That gleam in the Past and the Distance
Like lamps that burn at her feet.
Like stars that will shine for ever,
For time cannot touch or stir
The graces that Mary has given
Or the trust that we give to Her.
Past griefs are perished and over,
Past joys have vanished and died,
Past loves are fled and forgotten,
Past hopes have been laid aside.
Past fears have faded in daylight,
Past sins have melted in tears—
One Love and Remembrance only
Seems alive in those dead old years.
So wherever I look in the distance,
And whenever I turn to the Past,
There is always a shrine of Mary
Each brighter still than the last.
I will ask for one grace, O Mother!
And will leave the rest to thy will,
From one shrine of thine to another,
Let my Life be a Pilgrimage still!
At each one, O Mother of Mercy!
Let still more of thy love be given,
Till I kneel at the last and brightest—
The Throne of the Queen of Heaven.