If I were a monk, and thou wert a nun,
Pacing it wearily, wearily,
From chapel to cell till day were done,
Oh! how would it be with these hearts of ours,
That need the sunshine, and smiles, and flowers?
To prayer, to prayer, at the matins’ call,
Morning foul or fair;
Such prayer as from lifeless lips may fall–
Words, but hardly prayer;
Vainly trying the thoughts to raise,
Which, in the sunshine, would burst in praise.
Thou, in the glory of cloudless noon,
The God revealing,
Turning thy face from the boundless boon,
Or in thy chamber’s still solitude,
Bending thy head o’er the legend rude.
I, in a cool and lonely nook,
Poring over some musty book,
Or on the parchment margin unrolled,
Painting quaint pictures in purple and gold.
Perchance in slow procession to meet,
In an antique, narrow, high-gabled street,
Thy dark eyes lifted to mine, and then
Heavily sinking to earth again.
Sunshine and air! warmness and spring!
Back to its cell each weary thing,
And the heart so withered, and dry, and old,
Most at home in the cloister cold.
Thou on thy knees at the vespers’ call,
I looking up on the darkening wall,
The chime so sweet to the boat at sea,
Listless and dead to thee and me!
Then to the lone couch at death of day,
Rising at midnight again to pray,
And if through the dark those eyes looked in,
Sending them far as a thought of sin.
And then, when thy spirit was passing away,
The earth-born dwelling returning to clay,
Over thee held the crucified Best,
But no warm face to thy cold cheek pressed.
And when my spirit was passing away,
The grey head lying ‘mong ashes grey,
No hovering angel-woman above,
Waiting to clasp me in deathless love.
But now, beloved, thy hand in mine,
My arm around thee, my lips on thine,
Oh! is not a better thing to us given
Than wearily going alone to heaven?