Verse > Anthologies > Jessie B. Rittenhouse, ed. > The Second Book of Modern Verse
Jessie B. Rittenhouse, ed. (1869–1948).  The Second Book of Modern Verse.  1922.
The Name
Anna Hempstead Branch
WHEN I come back from secret dreams
  In gardens deep and fair,
How very curious it seems—
  This mortal name I bear.
For by this name I make their bread        5
  And trim the household light
And sun the linen for the bed
  And close the door at night.
I wonder who myself may be,
  And whence it was I came—        10
Before the Church had laid on me
  This frail and earthly name.
My sponsors spake unto the Lord
  And three things promised they,
Upon my soul with one accord        15
  Their easy vows did lay.
My ancient spirit heard them not.
  I think it was not there.
But in a place they had forgot
  It drank a starrier air.        20
Yes, in a silent place and deep—
  There did it dance and run,
And sometimes it lay down to sleep
  Or sprang into the sun.
The Priest saw not my aureole shine!        25
  My sweet wings saw not he!
He graved me with a solemn sign
  And laid a name on me.
Now by this name I stitch and mend,
  The daughter of my home,        30
By this name do I save and spend
  And when they call, I come.
But oh, that Name, that other Name,
  More secret and more mine!
It burns as does the angelic flame        35
  Before the midmost shrine.
Before my soul to earth was brought
  Into God’s heart it came,
He wrote a meaning in my thought
  And gave to me a Name.        40
By this Name do I ride the air
  And dance from star to star,
And I behold all things are fair,
  For I see them as they are.
I plunge into the deepest seas,        45
  In flames I, laughing, burn.
In roseate clouds I take my ease
  Nor to the earth return.
It is my beauteous Name—my own—
  That I have never heard.        50
God keeps it for Himself alone,
  That strange and lovely word.
God keeps it for Himself—but yet
  You are His voice, and so
In your heart He is calling me,        55
  And unto you I go.
Love, by this Name I sing, and breathe
  A fresh, mysterious air.
By this I innocently wreathe
  New garlands for my hair.        60
By this Name I am born anew
  More beautiful, more bright.
More roseate than angelic dew,
  Apparelled in delight.
I’ll sing and stitch and make the bread        65
  In the wonder of my Name,
And sun the linen for the bed
  And tend the fireside flame.
By this Name do I answer yes—
  Word beautiful and true.        70
By this I’ll sew the bridal dress
  I shall put on for you.


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