Tag Archives: Catholic Poetry

Prayer of a Soldier in France by Joyce Kilmer

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Prayer of a Soldier in France

By Joyce Kilmer
My shoulders ache beneath my pack
(Lie easier, Cross, upon His back).
I march with feet that burn and smart
(Tread, Holy Feet, upon my heart).
Men shout at me who may not speak
(They scourged Thy back and smote Thy cheek).
I may not lift a hand to clear
My eyes of salty drops that sear.
 –
(Then shall my fickle soul forget
Thy agony of Bloody Sweat?)
 –
My rifle hand is stiff and numb
(From Thy pierced palm red rivers come).
 –
Lord, Thou didst suffer more for me
Than all the hosts of land and sea.
 –
So let me render back again
This millionth of Thy gift. Amen.
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The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

I posted this song/poem last year. Unfortunately, I did it on the wrong feast day! I published this not on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe but on the Feast of the saint to whom she appeared, Juan Diego. This year, however, the post is going up on the right feast day, December 12!

The song below is (or was) sung by pilgrims to the chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico. I found it near the end of the book America’s Treasure: The Virgin of Guadalupe, by Helen Behrens. The original song is, I think, written in Aztec, not Spanish. Below is the English version, accompanied by the Aztec title.

I would have included the Aztec in this post, except that I could not be sure I would not misspell a word. It is probably possible to find Tonantzin Icuic somewhere on the Internet; it may even be possible to find the song being sung. I do not know. If these two options are somehow unavailable, I recommend you try to find America’s Treasure: The Virgin of Guadalupe. It is a fascinating little book, with lots of amazing details – including this song!

God and Mary go with you!

The Mithril Guardian

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Song to Our Mother

(Tonantzin Icuic)

At the foot of the hill

Where the roses bloomed

I contemplate the Virgin

Who captured my heart.

Mother mine of Guadalupe

Mother mine, all love,

We beg thee to give us

Thy benediction and peace.

No other nation on earth

Has been so blessed by God

For that the Indians of Mexico

Carry thee in their hearts.

Guadalupe, Guadalupe,

The name that brings us joy,

May it be ever on our lips

With great devotion.

Mayest thou be praised in heaven

Sweet Virgin Mother of God

And on earth beloved

From end to end of our land.

On Tepeyac she appeared

Like a divine Star

She is there to be our light

To protect and guide us.

Glory to the Immortal Princess

Who freed us from great evil

And to make us happy

She crushed the serpent.

Guadalupe, Guadalupe,

The name that brings us solace

It’s the name of my mother,

Of my mother and of God’s.

Vigil of the Immaculate Conception by Maurice Francis Egan

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Vigil of the Immaculate Conception

by Maurice Francis Egan

A sword of silver cuts the fields asunder—
A silver sword to-night, a lake in June—
And plains of snow reflect, the maples under,
The silver arrows of a wintry moon.

The trees are white with moonlight and with ice-pearls;
The trees are white, like ghosts we see in dreams;
The air is still: there are no moaning wind-whirls;
And one sees silence in the quivering beams.

December night, December night, how warming
Is all thy coldness to the Christian soul:
Thy very peace at each true heart is storming
In potent waves of love that surging roll.

December night, December night, how glowing
Thy frozen rains upon our warm hearts lie:
Our God upon this vigil is bestowing
A thousand graces from the silver sky.

O moon, O symbol of our Lady’s whiteness;
O snow, O symbol of our Lady’s heart;
O night, chaste night, bejewelled with argent brightness,
How sweet, how bright, how loving, kind thou art.

O miracle: to-morrow and to-morrow,
In tender reverence shall no praise abate;
For from all seasons shall we new jewels borrow
To deck the Mother born Immaculate.

The Vigil at Arms by Louise Imogen Guiney

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The Vigil at Arms

by Louise Imogen Guiney

Keep holy watch with silence, prayer, and fasting
Till morning break, and all the bugles play;
Unto the One aware from everlasting
Dear are the winners: thou art more than they.

Forth from this peace on manhood’s way thou goest,
Flushed with resolve, and radiant in mail;
Blessing supreme for men unborn thou sowest,
O knight elect! O soul ordained to fail!

The Wild Ride by Louise Imogen Guiney

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The Wild Ride

by Louise Imogen Guiney

I hear in my heart, I hear in its ominous pulses,
All day, on the road, the hoofs of invisible horses,
All night, from their stalls, the importunate pawing and neighing.

Let cowards and laggards fall back! But alert to the saddle
Weatherworn and abreast, go men of our galloping legion,
With a stirrup-cup each to the lily of women that loves him.

The trail is through dolor and dread, over crags and morasses;
There are shapes by the way, there are things that appal or entice us:
What odds? We are Knights of the Grail, we are vowed to the riding.

Thought’s self is a vanishing wing, and joy is a cobweb,
And friendship a flower in the dust, and glory a sunbeam:
Not here is our prize, nor, alas! after these our pursuing.

A dipping of plumes, a tear, a shake of the bridle,
A passing salute to this world and her pitiful beauty;
We hurry with never a word in the track of our fathers.

I hear in my heart, I hear in its ominous pulses,
All day, on the road, the hoofs of invisible horses,
All night, from their stalls, the importunate pawing and neighing.

We spur to a land of no name, outracing the storm-wind;
We leap to the infinite dark like sparks from the anvil.
Thou leadest, O God! All’s well with Thy troopers that follow.

Borderlands by Louise Imogen Guiney

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Borderlands

by Louise Imogen Guiney

Through all the evening,
All the virginal long evening,
Down the blossomed aisle of April it is dread to walk alone;
For there the intangible is nigh, the lost is ever-during;
And who would suffer again beneath a too divine alluring,
Keen as the ancient drift of sleep on dying faces blown?

Yet in the valley,
At a turn of the orchard alley,
When a wild aroma touched me in the moist and moveless air,
Like breath indeed from out Thee, or as airy vesture round
Thee,
Then was it I went faintly, for fear I had nearly found Thee,
O Hidden, O Perfect, O Desired! O first and final Fair!

Prayer to the Virgin of Chartres by Henry Adams

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Prayer to the Virgin of Chartres

by Henry Adams

Gracious Lady:–

Simple as when I asked your aid before;
Humble as when I prayed for grace in vain
Seven hundred years ago; weak, weary, sore
In heart and hope, I ask your help again.

You, who remember all, remember me;
An English scholar of a Norman name,
I was a thousand who then crossed the sea
To wrangle in the Paris schools for fame.

When your Byzantine portal was still young
I prayed there with my master Abailard;
When Ave Maris Stella was first sung,
I helped to sing it here with Saint Bernard.

When Blanche set up your gorgeous Rose of France
I stood among the servants of the Queen;
And when Saint Louis made his penitence,
I followed barefoot where the King had been.

For centuries I brought you all my cares,
And vexed you with the murmurs of a child;
You heard the tedious burden of my prayers;
You could not grant them, but at least you smiled

If then I left you, it was not my crime,
Or if a crime, it was not mine alone.
All children wander with the truant Time.
Pardon me too! You pardoned once your Son!

For He said to you:–“Wist ye not that I
Must be about my Father’s business?” So,
Seeking his Father he pursued his way
Straight to the Cross towards which we all must go.

So I too wandered off among the host
That racked the earth to find the father’s clue.
I did not find the Father, but I lost
What now I value more, the Mother,–You!

I thought the fault was yours that foiled my search;
I turned and broke your image on its throne,
Cast down my idol, and resumed my march
To claim the father’s empire for my own.

Crossing the hostile sea, our greedy band
Saw rising hills and forests in the blue;
Our father’s kingdom in the promised land!
–We seized it, and dethroned the father too.

And now we are the Father, with our brood,
Ruling the Infinite, not Three but One;
We made our world and saw that it was good;
Ourselves we worship, and we have no Son.

Yet we have Gods, for even our strong nerve
Falters before the Energy we own.
Which shall be master? Which of us shall serve?
Which wears the fetters? Which shall bear the crown?

Brave though we be, we dread to face the Sphinx,
Or answer the old riddle she still asks.
Strong as we are, our reckless courage shrinks
To look beyond the piece-work of our tasks.

But when we must, we pray, as in the past
Before the Cross on which your Son was nailed.
Listen, dear lady! You shall hear the last
Of the strange prayers Humanity has wailed.