George MacDonald

(10 December 1824 – 18 September 1905 / Huntly, Aberdeenshire, Scotland)

If I Were A Monk, And If Thou Wert A Nun - Poem by George MacDonald

If I were a monk, and thou wert a nun,
Pacing it wearily, wearily,
Twixt chapel and cell till day were done-
Wearily, wearily-
How would it fare 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 weary lips might fall-
Words, but hardly prayer-
The chapel's roof, like the law in stone,
Caging the lark that up had flown!

Thou, in the glory of cloudless noon,
The God-revealing,
Turning thy face from the boundless boon-
Painfully kneeling;
Or, in brown-shadowy solitude,
Bending thy head o'er the legend rude!

I, in a bare and lonely nook,
Gloomily, gloomily,
Poring over some musty book,
Thoughtfully, thoughtfully;
Or painting pictures of things of old
On parchment-margin in purple and gold!

Perchance in slow procession to meet,
Wearily, wearily,
In antique, narrow, high-gabled street,
Wearily, wearily;
Thine eyes dark-lifted to mine, and then
Heavily sinking to earth again!

Sunshine and air! bird-music and spring!
Merrily, merrily!-
Back to its cell each weary thing,
Wearily, wearily!
Our poor hearts, withered and dry and old,
Most at home in the cloister cold!

Thou slow rising at vespers' call,
Wearily, wearily;
I looking up on the darkening wall,
Wearily, wearily;
The chime so sweet to the boat at sea,
Listless and dead to thee and me!

At length for sleep a weary assay,
On the lone couch wearily!
Rising at midnight again to pray,
Wearily, wearily!
And if through the dark dear eyes looked in,
Sending them far as a thought of sin!

And at last, thy tired soul passing away,
Dreamily, dreamily-
Its worn tent fluttering in slow decay,
Sleepily, sleepily-
Over thee held the crucified Best,
But no warm cheek to thy cold cheek pressed!

And then my passing from cell to clay,
Dreamily, dreamily!
My gray head lying on ashes gray,
Sleepily, sleepily!
But no woman-angel hovering above,
Ready to clasp me in deathless love!

Now, now, ah, now! thy hand in mine,
Peacefully, peacefully;
My arm round thee, and my lips on thine,
Lovingly, lovingly-
Oh! is not a better thing to us given
Than wearily going alone to heaven?


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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 9, 2010



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