A lonely mortal, wasted, faint, yet staid,
Paused in the deep Cathedral-portal's shade;
The footworn threshold-stone his lips salute,
A moment pause in adoration mute,
Then with uplifted eye and forehead bare
Those fasting lips his purpose grand declare:--
Upon those lowly ways thy saints have trod,
My weary feet would enter, O my God!
Flinty, perchance, those ways, and hard to find;
To feet unused like mine how steep to climb;
Yet safe while kept, they all my heart ensnare
Of Jesu's pilgrims meek the sacred garb to wear.
Behind me lies the city of my life,
Its once dear joys, their rapture and their strife;
Hope's smiling temple and triumphal arch,
Ambition's sculptured wreaths; the festive march
Still sounding in my ear, and dearer still
Young love's Arcadian pipes with tender memories fill.
Weep, O my heart, yet break not nor despair,
Though vanquished lies that city once so fair!
Death sacked its temples--colonnades of joy;
Its playful fountains hastened to destroy,
And round me laid its crested towers of pride,
In mournful, hopeless ruins, crumbling side by side.
Forth from their beauty's melancholy waste
Meekly my feet essay, my God, to haste;
The ashes of my pleasant places, lo!
I scatter on my head as forth I go,
Like penitential dust, and tear and sigh
Are offered at the shrine of Majesty on high.
My pilgrim staff, my scallop shell, are all
I covet of world's wealth; and poor and small
The crucifix I place upon my breast,
My all of solace and my all of rest;
My book, my guide, my wisdom here are stored,
Thou suffering image of th' Incarnate Word!
Afar, quite melting in my western sky,
And mingling with its ever gorgeous dye,
The walls celestial of a city fair
I can discern, most beauteous and most rare;
Towards that my pilgrim footsteps quickening turn,
For those, eternal gates, alone, I sigh and burn!