At The Convent Gate.

A poem by Henry Austin Dobson

Wistaria blossoms trail and fall
Above the length of barrier wall;
And softly, now and then,
The shy, staid-breasted doves will flit
From roof to gateway-top, and sit
And watch the ways of men.

The gate's ajar. If one might peep!
Ah, what a haunt of rest and sleep
The shadowy garden seems!
And note how dimly to and fro
The grave, gray-hooded Sisters go,
Like figures seen in dreams.

Look, there is one that tells her beads;
And yonder one apart that reads
A tiny missal's page;
And see, beside the well, the two
That, kneeling, strive to lure anew
The magpie to its cage!

Not beautiful--not all! But each
With that mild grace, outlying speech,
Which comes of even mood;--
The Veil unseen that women wear
With heart-whole thought, and quiet care,
And hope of higher good.

"A placid life--a peaceful life!
What need to these the name of Wife?
What gentler task (I said)--
What worthier--e'en your arts among--
Than tend the sick, and teach the young,
And give the hungry bread?"

"No worthier task!" re-echoes She,
Who (closelier clinging) turns with me
To face the road again:
--And yet, in that warm heart of hers,
She means the doves', for she prefers
To "watch the ways of men."

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