THE MASS AT DAWN
Thou the traitorous, the constant!
Come again! The church in sadness
Meditates: 'God! How the stars gleam!
What unending light of diamonds!
Space is now a blazing chapel.
Oh, what myriad lamps in heaven!
In the air what deep transparence!
Ah, would but one star come hither,
Fix itself among my shadows!
Ah, if but its trembling brightness
Would illuminate my shadows!'
On a night in chill December . . .
How did it befall? We know not1 . . .
One cold night, so cold, so frigid
That amid the radiant heavens,
All the stars, bestrewn and scattered
Like a rain of orange blossoms,
Shivered—it was then a pilgrim
Came there, sad and solitary.
'Twixt acanthus leaves, deep carven
On a capital, which, fallen,
Overturned upon the herbage,
Had become a vase of foliage,
His gnarled staff he placed; then forward
Took his way, the steps ascending,
Portico and portal passing.
The birds whispered, 'Who is coming?
Who is this? A saint? An image,
From its ancient niche downfallen?'
No, it is a man! The pilgrim
Passed from sight at length, and vanished
In the depths of dim, dark shadows.
Suddenly it creaked, the temple;
Fleeting flashes crossed the shadows,
As if shining flags were passing.
And a miracle was wrought there:
Rose the porch, severe, triumphant;
All the walls grew whole and solid,
All the pillars rose unbroken,