A Winter Minster

A poem by Michael Earls

(For Fr. C. L. O'Donnell)


The interlacing trees
Arise in Gothic traceries,
As if a vast cathedral deep and dim;
And through the solemn atmosphere
The low winds hymn
Such thoughts as solitude will hear.
To lead your way across
Gray carpet aisles of moss
Unto the chantry stalls,
The sumach candelabra are alight;
Along the cloister walls,
Like chorister and acolyte,
The shrubs are vested white;
The dutiful monastic oak
In his gray-friar cloak
Keeps penitential ways
And solemn orisons of praise;
For beads upon the cincture-vine
Red berries warm with color shine,
And to their constant rosary
The bedesmen firs incline;
And fair as frescoes be
Among the shrines of Italy,
These lights and shadows are,
Impalpable in gray and green
Upon the hills afar
And the gold westering sun between.
The music! Hark!
Oh, an it be no rapturous lark,
Yet has the lesser chant
The blessedness of song.
The snowbird mendicant
Intones the antiphon-
Et laboremus nos;

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