The Little Portress

The stillness of the sunshine lies
Upon her spirit: silence seems
To look out from its place of dreams
When suddenly she lifts her eyes
To waken, for a little space,
The smile asleep upon her face.

A thousand years of sun and shower,
The melting of unnumbered snows
Go to the making of the rose
Which blushes out its little hour.
So old is Beauty: in its heart
The ages seem to meet and part.

Like Beauty's self, she holds a clear
Deep memory of hidden things -
The music of forgotten springs -
So far she travels back, so near
She seems to stand to patient truth
As old as Age, as young as Youth.

That is her window, by the gate.
Now and again her figure flits
Across the wall. Long hours she sits
Within: on all who come to wait.
Her Saviour too is hanging there
A foot or so above her chair.

'Soeur Marie de l'Enfant Jésus,'
You wrote it in my little book -
Your shadow-name. Your shadow-look
Is dimmer and diviner too,
But not to keep: it slips so far
Beyond us to that golden bar

Where angels, watching from their stair,
Half-envy you your tranquil days
Of prayer as exquisite as praise, -
Grey twilights softer than their glare
Of glory: all sweet human things
Which vanish with the whirr of wings.

Yet will you, when you wing your way
To whiter worlds, more whitely shine
Or shed a radiance more divine
Than here you shed from day to day -
High is His heaven a quiet star,
Be nearer God than now you are?

Charlotte Mew

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