At Last

A poem by Abram Joseph Ryan

Into a temple vast and dim,
Solemn and vast and dim,
Just when the last sweet Vesper Hymn
Was floating far away,
With eyes that tabernacled tears --
Her heart the home of tears --
And cheeks wan with the woes of years,
A woman went one day.

And, one by one, adown the aisles,
Adown the long, lone aisles,
Their faces bright with holy smiles
That follow after prayer,
The worshipers in silence passed,
In silence slowly passed away;
The woman knelt until the last
Had left her lonely there.

A holy hush came o'er the place,
O'er the holy place,
The shadows kissed her woe-worn face,
Her forehead touched the floor;
The wreck that drifted thro' the years --
Sin-driven thro' the years --
Was floating o'er the tide of tears,
To Mercy's golden shore.

Her lips were sealed, they could not pray,
They sighed, but could not pray,
All words of prayer had died away
From them long years ago;
But ah! from out her eyes there rose --
Sad from her eyes there rose --
The prayer of tears, which swiftest goes
To Heaven -- winged with woe.

With weary tears, her weary eyes,
Her joyless, weary eyes,
Wailed forth a rosary; and her sighs
And sobs strung all the beads;
The while before her spirit's gaze --
Her contrite spirit's gaze --
Moved all the mysteries of her days,
And histories of her deeds.

Still as a shadow, while she wept,
So desolately wept,
Up thro' the long, lone aisle she crept
Unto an altar fair;
"Mother!" -- her pale lips said no more --
Could say no more --
The wreck, at last, reached Mercy's shore,
For Mary's shrine was there.

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