University of Virginia Library



But who was SHE (if Luke attest)
Whom generations hail for blest—
Immaculate though human one;
What diademed and starry Nun—
Bearing in English old the name
And hallowed style of HOLIDAME;
She, She, the Mater of the Rood—
Sprang she from Ruth's young sisterhood?”
On cliff in moonlight roaming out,
So Clarel, thrilled by deep dissent,
Revulsion from injected doubt
And many a strange presentiment.
But came ere long profound relapse:
The Rhyme recurred, made voids or gaps
In dear relations; while anew,
From chambers of his mind's review,
Emerged the saint, who with the Palm
Shared heaven on earth in gracious calm,
Even as his robe partook the hue.
And needs from that high mentor part?
Is strength too strong to teach the weak?
Though tame the life seem, turn the cheek,
Does the call elect the hero-heart?—
The thunder smites our tropic bloom:
If live the abodes unvexed and balmy—
No equinox with annual doom;
If Eden's wafted from the plume
Of shining Raphael, Michael palmy;
If these in more than fable be,
With natures variously divine—
Through all their ranks they are masculine;


Else how the power with purity?
Or in yon worlds of light is known
The clear intelligence alone?
Express the Founder's words declare,
Marrying none is in the heaven;
Yet love in heaven itself to spare—
Love feminine! Can Eve be riven
From sex, and disengaged retain
Its charm? Think this—then may ye feign
The perfumed rose shall keep its bloom,
Cut off from sustenance of loam.
But if Eve's charm be not supernal,
Enduring not divine transplanting—
Love kindled thence, is that eternal?
Here, here's the hollow—here the haunting!
Ah, love, ah wherefore thus unsure?
Linked art thou—locked, with Self impure?
Yearnings benign the angels know,
Saint Francis and Saint John have felt:
Good-will—desires that overflow,
And reaching far as life is dealt.
That other love!—Oh heavy load—
Is naught then trustworthy but God?
On more hereof, derived in frame
From the eremite's Thebæan flame,
Mused Clarel, taking self to task,
Nor might determined thought reclaim:
But, the waste invoking, this did ask:
“Truth, truth cherubic! claim'st thou worth
Foreign to time and hearts which dwell
Helots of habit old as earth
Suspended 'twixt the heaven and hell?”
But turn thee, rest the burden there;
To-morrow new deserts must thou share.