Friday, 24 April 2009
From 'The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket' by Robert Lowell (1917-1977)
There once the penitents took off their shoes
and then walked barefoot the remaining mile,
And the small trees, a stream and hedgerows file
Slowly along the munching English lane.
Like cows to the old shrine, until you lose
Track of your dragging pain.
The stream flows down under the druid tree.
Shiloah's whirlpools gurgle and make you glad
And whistled Sion by that stream. But see:
Our Lady, too small for her canopy,
Sits near the altar. There's no comeliness
At all or charm in that expressionless
Face with its heavy eyelids. As before,
This face, for centuries a memory.
Non est species, neque decor
Expressionless expresses God: it goes
Past castled Sion. She knows what God knows,
Not Calvary's Cross nor crib at Bethlehem
Now, and the world shall come to Walsingham.