Shriven Poem by Henry Cuyler Bunner


A.D. 1425.

I have let the world go.
That’s the door that closed
Behind the holy father. I am shrived.
All’s done—all’s said—all’s shaped and rounded out—
And one hour yet to wait for death. Good Lord!
How easy ‘twas to let this vain life go;
Why, I protest, I who have fought for life
These fifty years, more times than I would count,
I gave the poor thing up but now as though
I toss’d away a shilling—ask the priest!
I gave up life as lightly as I gave him
For an altar-cloth that scarf of cloth of gold
The King bound round my arfa at Agincourt.

One hour—one hour! and then a tug o’ the heart
And I shall see the saints. How plain they make it,
These honest men of God! Was it at Lisle
I met that paunchy little yellow friar,
Like Cupid in a cassock with the jaundice,
And played at cards with him two days together?
Stay, ‘twas at Calais, where I fought the count—
By ‘r Lady, but they mock’d him !—‘twas at Calais—
Now had I had some converse with that brother
It might have been the better for my soul
Though ‘tis all one, I take it, now. . . . The Abbess!
He told a master story of an Abbess—
An Abbess and a Clerk—but godly talk,
If I remember me aright . . . we had not.

Ay, ‘tis fair lying here, to watch the sun
Creep up yon walL I would that I had thought
To give that priest the ruby in my hilt
To buy him better store of sacred oil—
The anointed go to Paradise, methinks,
Something too rancid-flavored.
What’s the clock?
This hour’s too full of minutes—minutes—minutes.
Ah, well, I have done with time. ‘Tis but an hour.
I have let the world go.
Would my dog were here!

Error Success