'TIS of the Father Hilary.
He strove, but could not pray: so took
The darkened stair, where his feet shook
A sad blind echo. He kept up
Slowly. 'Twas a chill sway of air
That autumn noon within the stair,
Sick, dizzy, like a turning cup.
His brain perplexed him, void and thin:
He shut his eyes and felt it spin;
The obscure deafness hemmed him in.
He said: "the air is calm outside."
He leaned unto the gallery
Where the chime keeps the night and day:
It hurt his brain,--he could not pray.
He had his face upon the stone:
Deep 'twixt the narrow shafts, his eye
Passed all the roofs unto the sky
Whose greyness the wind swept alone.
Close by his feet he saw it shake
With wind in pools that the rains make:
The ripple set his eyes to ache.
He said, "Calm hath its peace outside."
He stood within the mystery
Girding God's blessed Eucharist:
The organ and the chaunt had ceased:
A few words paused against his ear,
Said from the altar: drawn round him,
The silence was at rest and dim.
He could not pray. The bell shook clear
And ceased. All was great awe,--the breath
Of God in man, that warranteth
Wholly the inner things of Faith.
He said: "There is the world outside."
Ghent: Church of St. Bavon.
Last modified: 23 March 1996