Anna Hempstead Branch

(1875-1937 / United States)

The Name - Poem by Anna Hempstead Branch

When I come back from secret dreams
   In gardens deep and fair,
How very curious it seems --
   This mortal name I bear.

For by this name I make their bread
   And trim the household light
And sun the linen for the bed
   And close the door at night.

I wonder who myself may be,
   And whence it was I came --
Before the Church had laid on me
   This frail and earthly name.

My sponsors spake unto the Lord
   And three things promised they,
Upon my soul with one accord
   Their easy vows did lay.

My ancient spirit heard them not.
   I think it was not there.
But in a place they had forgot
   It drank a starrier air.

Yes, in a silent place and deep --
   There did it dance and run,
And sometimes it lay down to sleep
   Or sprang into the sun.

The Priest saw not my aureole shine!
   My sweet wings saw not he!
He graved me with a solemn sign
   And laid a name on me.

Now by this name I stitch and mend,
   The daughter of my home,
By this name do I save and spend
   And when they call, I come.

But oh, that Name, that other Name,
   More secret and more mine!
It burns as does the angelic flame
   Before the midmost shrine.

Before my soul to earth was brought
   Into God's heart it came,
He wrote a meaning in my thought
   And gave to me a Name.

By this Name do I ride the air
   And dance from star to star,
And I behold all things are fair,
   For I see them as they are.

I plunge into the deepest seas,
   In flames I, laughing, burn.
In roseate clouds I take my ease
   Nor to the earth return.

It is my beauteous Name -- my own --
   That I have never heard.
God keeps it for Himself alone,
   That strange and lovely word.

God keeps it for Himself -- but yet
   You are His voice, and so
In your heart He is calling me,
   And unto you I go.

Love, by this Name I sing, and breathe
   A fresh, mysterious air.
By this I innocently wreathe
   New garlands for my hair.

By this Name I am born anew
   More beautiful, more bright.
More roseate than angelic dew,
   Apparelled in delight.

I'll sing and stitch and make the bread
   In the wonder of my Name,
And sun the linen for the bed
   And tend the fireside flame.

By this Name do I answer yes --
   Word beautiful and true.
By this I'll sew the bridal dress
   I shall put on for you.

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Read poems about / on: dance, star, beautiful, daughter, sun, god, sometimes, hair, sleep, home, alone, light, dream, running, spring

Poem Submitted: Saturday, January 4, 2003

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