Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
 
1252. Thomas à Kempis
 
By Lizette Woodworth Reese
 
 
BROTHER of mine, good monk with cowlëd head,
Walled from that world which thou hast long since fled,
And pacing thy green close beyond the sea,
I send my heart to thee.
 
Down gust-sweet walks, bordered by lavender,        5
While eastward, westward, the mad swallows whir,
All afternoon poring thy missal fair,
Serene thou pacest there.
 
Mixed with the words and fitting like a tune,
Thou hearest distantly the voice of June,—        10
The little, gossipping noises in the grass,
The bees that come and pass.
 
Fades the long day; the pool behind the hedge
Burns like a rose within the windy sedge;
The lilies ghostlier grow in the dim air;        15
The convent windows flare.
 
Yet still thou lingerest; from pastures steep,
Past the barred gate the shepherd drives his sheep;
A nightingale breaks forth, and for a space
Makes sweeter the sweet place.        20
 
Then the gray monks by hooded twos and threes
Move chapelward beneath the flaming trees;
Closing thy book, back by the alleys fair
Thou followest to prayer.
 
Born to these brawling days, this work-sick age,        25
Oft long I for thy simpler heritage;
A thought of thee is like a breath of bloom
Blown through a noisy room.
 
For thou art quick, not dead. I picture thee
Forever in that close beyond the sea;        30
And find, despite this weather’s headlong stir,
Peace and a comforter.
 

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