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FATHER JARDINE

TRINITY CHURCH, ST. LOUIS

Around his loins, when the last breath had gone
From the gaunt frame—and death's encroaching mist,
A veil betwixt earth left and heaven won,
Told naught of all it wist—


Close to the flesh, sore-lashed by waves of pain,
They found the iron girth that ate his side,
Its links worn bright: the cruel, secret chain,
They found it when he died.


Son of the Church, though worldlings spake her creed
And smiled askance, even in the altar fold,
This man, this piteous soul, believed indeed
With the stern faith of old.


Unquestioning aught, aye, in the eager West
Surcharged with life that mocks the vague unknown,
His ligature of anguish unconfest
He wore alone—alone.


Alone? but trebly welded links of fate
More lives than one are bidden to endure,
Forged in a chain's indissoluble weight
Of agonies more sure.


His torture was self-torture; to his soul
No jest of time irrevocably brought
A woe more grim than underneath the stole
His gnawing cincture wrought.


Belike my garments,—yes, or thine,—conceal
The sorer wound, the pitiabler throe,
Not even the traitor Death shall quite reveal
For his rough mutes to know.


What the heart hungered for and was denied,
Still foiled with guerdons for a world to see
And envy it,—this furrows deep and wide
Its grooves in thee—in me.


Borne, always borne—what martyrdoms assoil
The laden soul from hostile chance and blind?
Nor time can loose the adamantine coil,
Nor Azrael unbind.


Redemption for the priest! but naught their gain
Who forfeit still the one thing asked of Earth,
Knowing all penance light beside this pain—
All pleasure, nothing worth.

1894