The Virgin Mother

A poem by George William Russell

Who is that goddess to whom men should pray
But her from whom their hearts have turned away,
Out of whose virgin being they were born,
Whose mother nature they have named in scorn
Calling its holy substance common clay.

Yet from this so despised earth was made
The milky whiteness of those queens who swayed
Their generations with a light caress,
And from some image of whose loveliness
The heart built up high heaven when it prayed.

Lover, your heart, the heart on which it lies,
Your eyes that gaze, and those alluring eyes,
Your lips, the lips they kiss, alike had birth
Within this dark divinity of earth,
Within this mother being you despise.

Ah, when I think this earth on which we tread
Hath borne these blossoms of the lovely dead,
And made the living heart I love to beat,
I look with sudden awe beneath my feet
As you with erring reverence overhead.

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